Although in my mind I’m still the eager, naïve 22 year-old who came to Israel to work and study (and get away from the depressing climate and weedy men of the UK), I have to face the fact that time has not passed me by. I’m constantly getting messages from my body telling me ‘that’s enough,’ ‘time to sit down for a while,’ ‘don’t overdo things,’ and especially from my back, which is taking its revenge on me for having neglected it for all these years.

While at school I avoided gym and physical exertion of any kind, in my forties I started exercising and have continued to do so on an almost daily basis ever since. It may have helped as I still have the use of my arms and legs, which is something to be thankful for at my advanced age (76), but the messages from my body keep coming thick and fast.

I do what I can to assuage my miserable muscles. When I start an intensive cooking session, e.g., on a Friday afternoon when my entire family (15 in all) is coming for dinner I enclose myself in a special back support belt (I always think of Abraham ‘girding his loins’ when I put it on). I have a special high chair in the kitchen so that I can sit at the sink when I peel and cut vegetables. I saw it at a friend’s house and immediately demanded one for myself. This entailed my other half taking a trip to a part of Israel which we had never visited before, but he came back with the precious object, and it has served me faithfully ever since. And in order to follow the instructions of the physiotherapist whom I consulted about my back pain I rest for twenty minutes in between half hour cooking sessions. Approximately.

If that were all, I could consider myself fortunate, but I’m afraid that my mind seems to be developing a mind of its own. It has taken to deciding what is important and what is not. Hence, I managed to find myself on holiday abroad without such basic essentials as toothbrush and sunscreen. But I console myself with the thought that those things can easily be bought at the nearest pharmacy, which is not the case with regard to prescription medicines and a disk-on-key with essential material, which has been known to happen.

There was a time when going on a journey overseas was a hazardous affair, involving tearful departures and the possibility of untoward events. Today, however, most people seem to think there’s nothing to it. They hop on a plane and fly off to all kinds of exotic and unfamiliar destinations without batting an eyelid. For me, however, it involves getting out my packing list and checking it time and again. And still I forget things. I have worked out the reason why this happens (too many things to think about), but that is no consolation. My mind as well as my body is showing signs of wear and tear. I’m beginning to wonder whether it isn’t perhaps time to just give up, stay at home, put my feet up and take up knitting.