Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Various thoughts which have occurred to me

One muses, does one not, when waiting at bus stops, or just walking along, or doing the washing up?

Here are various thoughts which have come to me at various points, not always in time for them to be useful.

1) The first concerns Virgil - Publius Vergilius, who wrote The Aeneid, which we studied in Latin at school. Our teacher, though perfectly nice, must have been the most boring person in Edinburgh. Possibly she still is, since looking back on it I suppose she was only in her 20s or early 30s, though I thought she was seriously middle-aged. Anyway, every night she gave us a passage of this poetic masterpiece (or as I thought of it then this deeply tedious tome) to prepare. Then in class the following day she would pick on someone and this someone would have to stand up and translate the relevant bit.

Not being a person who thought homework was a good use of her valuable time, I never opened the book at home, which inconvenienced me somewhat if Miss G chose me in class. I had to translate it off the top of my head, which didn't always work terribly well.

Many of my classmates were quite diligent and could make a slightly better stab at it than I could. But one girl, A, used to stand up and fluently spout forth. I was amazed that anyone would bother to work so hard. After all, we found out what it meant in the end anyway because the teacher always went over it.

It wasn't till years afterwards that it occurred to me that I could have gone to a shop and bought a translation. Then I could have "done" the homework in a fraction of the time and impressed poor Miss G.

Having had this thought, I did buy a translation and discovered to my amazement that The Aeneid was literature - something that Miss G had never communicated to us.

2) This is a more recent discovery related to our bath. The picture above is actually Bath, which is a beautiful city, more beautiful than our tub. Our bathroom, however, has a window above the bath, quite high up, which we keep slightly open most of the time, but every night before I leap into the bubbles, I climb on to the side of the bath and close the window - because I don't want to be cold and because I am a shortish person and can't otherwise reach it. As I get older and creakier, I think to myself that one day it might not be a good idea to balance thus precariously, and then what? Must I lie shivering in my tub?

When I decide that I'm sufficiently clean, I stand up in the bath, open the window again to let the steam out and then proceed with the drying bit of the operation.

It wasn't till I broke my ankle in January and felt it definitely wasn't a good idea to go clambering on the sides of baths that it occurred to me that I could also shut the window, pre-bath, by standing in it instead. Problem solved.

We've lived in this house now for 22 years. It took me 21 and a half to figure this out.

3) As stated, I am not a tall person. I might be 5'3'' in shoes. And one mildly irritating thing about being shortish is that while I'm walking smartly along, little legs a-blur, tall people stroll slowly past me. When I say "slowly" I mean that they're taking far fewer steps than I am, but they're easily overtaking me. This is particularly noticeable when I'm walking into college being left behind by tall young men with long legs.

I sometimes study their legs as they depart (purely in the spirit of research, you understand) and amazed by the difference that a few inches of leg make in the length of stride.

Yesterday, as I paced along, quite a small chap passed me. I was indignant: he was an Oriental gentleman and really not much taller than I. His legs looked much the same length as mine. Yet even he was doing the stroll-past thing. Then it dawned on me: feet. It's not just the legs: it's the feet too. Big feet propel you further than small ones. So I'm doubly handicapped: shortish with smallish feet.


  1. I totally understand your comment about how long you've lived in the house. I tend to memorize a number of years, such as "we've lived here five years" and I just continue to say the same thing, no matter how much time passes. It's not until someone actually asks me the date something happened that it dawns on me I've been saying the same thing and been wrong the last few years.

  2. I'm 5' 2" and adopt an elongated stride. I probably look ridiculous but it enables me to overtake my much taller friend when we go for our run. I think you have to factor in springiness. I had a Eureka moment with two kitchen cupboards which I won't bore you with here but it made life a lot easier.

  3. Ah yes. Those sort of thoughts. Yesterday all I could think of was how much rubbish is written by estate agents. Properties "boast" central heating/patios/double glazing. All views are stunning/superb, all gardens super.

    Like you, I boast short legs and smallish feet. Unlike you (and anyway, I'm not sure I believe you - remember we've met!) I don't leap into the bath. My dignity is in short enough supply as it is.

    Carry on thinking though; I'm sure it's good for you.

  4. Husband is a logical thinker with a superb memory for facts and figures (actually very useful in his line of work). He approaches a task in the same way, always, even when it is giving him problems. I have a more scatterbrain approach. I come along, see him (or others) doing something, and say "Wouldn't it be easier/work better if you did it this way?"
    There are times when grown men have scowled at me because they had not thought of something that I saw in an instant.
    It's not actually a skill I appreciate in myself!

  5. you are so funny...this made me smile, no small achievement in the middle of marking.

    Ok, back to it, now I have had my treat...

    oh, and I have HUGE feet and I am always overtaken wherever I am...

  6. ha ha ha ha ...love the random thought-ettes, especially the one about feet.. always find feet wuite funny, don't know why!

  7. Come visit southern california, I am constantly surprised by how very slowly everyone walks here. I see their legs and feet moving, their stride seems normal, and yet their progress is glacial. On campus I was regularly trapped behind a raft of slow-moving but otherwise sprightly young undergraduates.

  8. LOL! Join the club. I also have short legs and smallish feet, and most people leave me behind when I'm walking at my usual pace. I used to have to run to keep up wiht Ken, but now his lungs aren't working well, the situation is reversed, and I have to wait for him to catch up with me. I would rather be running after him again...

  9. You're soooo funny Isabelle! I've been thinking a lot about your little family lately -- nothing related to short feet and legs! Do you suppose this is the calm before the storm? (And by storm, I mean a very fun and exciting storm!)