The Natural Order

Because Myfanwy is my pen name people are a bit anxious sometimes – is it ok to call me Myfanwy? or my given name? Either, I say – I answer to anything. But that’s not quite true, as a dream last night reminded me.

I was looking for the loo, something I often search for in dreams. I blame my granny for over-potty-training me as a tot because missing loos are obviously a source of Foxy subconscious concern from their frequent occurrence – or rather, absence – in dreams. I was in a sprawling, ramshackle old mansion, that had apparently been converted into some kind of Con-Dem prep school – every bathroom was filled by noisy, frolicsome infants who didn’t seem inclined to make way for someone of a more sensitive disposition preferring a peaceful audience-free pee.

On my explorations I met a charming chap I knew – in the dream, that is. Never met him in real life though with hindsight he might be a dissolute uncle of Fergus McGonigal. Charmingly he pounced, charmingly he swept me into an embrace, ‘Lavinia,’ he breathed, moving in for a snog.

What?’ I wasn’t charmed.

‘Lavina,’ he repeated, with clearer diction – obviously used to deaf old bats.

At the age of eleven I grew far too fast, so that starting secondary school I was one of the tallest in the class and a size fourteen. It meant everyone knew who I was and I was a handy target for all the lazier bullies – especially Mr Stanning when he wanted to hurl the board rubber at someone in the back row: he couldn’t miss. I took to sitting at the front. Besides, it was the only way my myopic vision could see the board – or Mr Stanning’s expression – in the first place. Everyone knew who I was. I hated it. (A year later other kids had caught up and whizzed past me; I stopped growing at twelve, pretty much spot on average height for our cohort but by then it was too late. Meanwhile, I became an academic.)

Now, however, I sometimes have to pinch myself to make sure I exist at all. When I ask my teens to do the dishes or some other minor chore there’s a resounding silence and, later, denial of all knowledge. I am their house elf.

At work it’s not always more comforting; one of our volunteers – let’s call her Nell – can’t tell the difference between me and manager, Tess. Admittedly, Tess and I are almost identical – we’re both female. So what if Tess’s three feet taller than me, ten years older than me, short blond hair not long dark hair and totally different dress sense – it’s amazing anyone can tell us apart.

The other day Nell arrived while I was steaming a rail of clothes. ‘Hullo, Tess.’

‘Myfanwy. It’s Tess’s day off.’

She peered at me, frowning, checking Tess wasn’t taking the piss. ‘Oh, yes. Myfanwy. Make me a cup of coffee.’

Helen Mort has a fascinating blog post on names HERE. Some people cannot recognise faces. Others cannot remember names. Either must be a problem as we are apes that thrive on intricate social connections.

I never did find a loo in my dream. Instead I woke up, thanked god I don’t have to work with that many children, and came up here to write this (any metaphor the reader finds is intended).


My decrepit but much-used and loved compact camera died a few days ago; it had been through a lot over the years but bouncing six feet down a jagged rocky gully into a stream proved too much – cracked screen, damaged lens mechanism and innards. It was more than ten years old and had taken thousands of pictures – some of which I was rather pleased with. Not worthwhile to repair, sadly.

Here’s a chap we met on the hills on that outing:

And this is its very last picture, a view from the east flank of Worcester Beacon looking over Great Malvern towards Worcester:


(Early birthday present from husband: new camera, just arrived – hurrah! But now to get to grips with all its fabulous intricacies and potential…)

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4 Responses to The Natural Order

  1. Ron says:

    Thoroughly entertaining. Thanks. Sorry I have to run. I have to go find your bullies and kick their arses…

  2. Interesting post, Myfanwy. My problem is having a (given) surname that’s almost too memorable, which brings about a different set of challenges, the most common being people I meet for the first time passing the comment “… ooh, that’s an unusual name…” I variously respond by either just agreeing or, if I’m feeling that way out, fighting back with “well, to me it’s not!” As for people spelling it correctly, that’s another story. You can see understand why I adopted a pen-name!

    • Myfanwy Fox says:

      Ah! Yes, it’s easier to have an easy name. Mind you, almost no one spells my married surname correctly, either.
      Sorry for the delay replying – been on holiday (she says smuggly).

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