Friday 26 August 2022

Crazy Train


Out of touch with the bed-time weather watch, start early at 5am in lashing rain. Running round the garden in PJs in the pishing rain, regret the volume and assortment of patio cushions and throws that I a) own and b) have left out. Opted to avoid the Tetris game to get big wet things in the not quite big enough cushion box, so just threw them in the door. Back in bed, dreamed of dining room dramas in a damp cushion shop.  Awake for the second time I  prepped for work by stalking t’net for wedding pix of my friend’s daughter. She totally nailed that beautiful bridal look.


To the hospital for yet another post-cancer check. My life-saving surgery left a mutilated mess, that due to Covid and other waiting list pressures took four years to resolve. Was relieved that my recent MRI shows all is well: the implant is not leaking, just my body pushing back agin the alien invasion.


To the South Bank for a work white-board sesh. Can’t complain about travelling South when my lovely colleague was schleping from Wales. In the muggy weather I ditched travel trainers and opted for sandals. A tap dancer preacher sharing notions of peace, love and harmony serenaded my Piccadilly Line trip, but redeemed himself by calling me ‘his queen’. Footwear error materialised as a tourist’s oversized suitcase spun out of control and caught my almost bare foot as I changed lines. Limped to the Northern Line which was working overdrive in the heat, with a brain-splitting racket, only a fraction more jarring than tap shoes, and with a lot less rhythm.  A walk along a corridor, downstairs, up some other stairs, around a corner and into a lift - a quick and easy station exit does not make. Mixing with work mates is lush and productive n’all that, but the sweat box office and missed connections home add to why I prefer watering the allotment to commuting. Inspired by feedback on the blog, spend the evening on the old cliché collection that is my oeuvre.  Don’t think Alan Bennett need worry.


A thunderstorm woke me. Two cushions left in the garden last night, were left to drown as the dining room remains a dank cushion emporium. Welcomed the lack of watering now needed at the crispy patch, especially in this latest hose-pipe ban. When it dried out long enough to do some harvesting I thought it's a great year for blackberries, tomatoes and spuds. No clue what's happened to the courgettes, squashes and pumpkins. Spied a fox carrying a single shoe across the lottie. Wonder at the symbolism but then raced to pick up the boy’s car. It’s a manual. I’m out of practice with the gear things. Think his little black insurance box may just have got his worst score ever.


Wake. Write my journal. Drink a pint of water. March for 30 minutes and start the step count towards 10k, ablutions, laundry, dishwasher, wordle and still at my home desk by 9.05am. At lunchtime I think about practising mindfulness and gratitude, but wonder instead why I put obstacles to time wasting in my day. Think about 5 portions of home grown freshly harvested veg and fruit, but opt for more deliciously unhealthy munch.

Making plans for the long weekend, am inspired by Alan Bennet’s diaries, where, if only for the sake of his diary, he records his visits to tiny churches. This weekend Britain’s biggest SciFiFan and I will explore more of London’s markets, as Churches aren't our thing. And there's not too many lighthouses in London, as diarised by another author. We’ve rejected Portobello as the Notting Hill Carnival is on. And although I am seeking thrills/looking for blog fodder, the crowds are likely just too much.

Monday 22 August 2022

I can’t wait for the weekend to begin


Finally the rains came after the driest of dry spells in decades. The biblical proportions kept me home, and plugged into work longer than usual.


The rain relented. Apart from that small window when I left the house, out of practice in carrying an umbrella.


Arrived early enough in the City to enjoy the magnificence of London's engineering and architecture. I do love art in any form, and firmly subscribe to practicing senseless acts of beauty. Question though, in an urban environment, the creation of a metal tree, instead of an actual green real one. Still, the metal tree, in the shadow of the Gherkin, did look cool. Uncomfortableness increased by sitting outside Swingers Club, while awaiting my work tribe. Thoroughly enjoyed team building, the breaking of bread and fun and games involving bats and balls. My sporting prowess in calling a golf club a bat, shows my pride in said prowess. Loved achieving one of the largest scores, even if the game was won by one with the lowest score, confirming my sports skills.


Tried to process the desperate sadness that a special fellow traveller on what we call our ‘cancer journey’ who started out before me, and inspired my own recovery - including chemo quilting - is no longer with us.


Uni-gal returned for one whole hour to transform her ‘pit of despair’ bedroom. As I had already tackled it, sent her off to buy ice for my 'rewind' festival weekend guests. My lovelies who  morphed over the past 5 decades from disheveled convent school girls into the accomplished and elegant group now known as our very own Personal Board of Directors (PBoDs). We listen to each other’s challenges, make recommendations, and vote on actions. This weekend the agenda included the important business of fat chewing and making merry with cocktails, to the anthems of our youth, with our dedication demonstrated through an 8 hour 80s playlist.  

Attending overseas business, our Chair was missed. Though, I like to think her role as a commercial CEO for a global outfit was shaped, somewhat, by her proficient performance aged 12, to ‘Never smile at a crocodile’.  We met in our second decade, before ambitions, opinions, partners, offspring and professions were imagined, let alone realised. Although in truth our Chair was probably born with ambition.

Hoping the neighbours shared our delight at garden disco lights and 80s revival into the wee small hours. But we don’t often get to gather, free of the debris of our lives. Was surprised at how little we know of each other’s professional lives and discussion did briefly turn to the world of work. After extensive education, training and experience the Psycho(therapist) wondered why she’d bothered when my Forensic friend summarised a difficult issue with a cuttingly quick quip. As the Forensic one mentioned her ever expanding professional role, it was noted, she hasn’t done bad for that girl in the grey ra-ra skirt, fag constantly in gob, who was so brilliant at glaring. The Artist, obviously mainly looked cool, and despite not actually pursuing a career as an artist, will forever retain that school-day signature.


The PBoDs walked through fields and woods to shake off the Friday night excesses, to enjoy brunch, cooked and cleared by none of us. En-route the Spaniard joined us - a label from a couple of years spent on an Spanish island, many moons ago. Like the Artist I pay no attention to the intervening years of career and business building, and retain nicknames of bygone days.

Youth was relived in getting the bus back from brunch. We resisted seating ourselves at the back of the top deck, as once we might - though the giggles and squeals returned, I am sure to the amusement and enjoyment of our fellow travellers. I hope the neighbourhood agrees how lovely these guests were, with the beautiful sounds of raucous laughter, screaming stories of highs and lows, blaring out about boys we may, or may not, have intimately known, and the obligatory and obviously hilarious cock jokes – surely a convent education hangover if ever there was one. We are bound by much: shared and lived experiences, rejected religion and somehow knowing that three is the magic number for offspring.  

Each are lovely, no matter their troubles, all kind, concerned and funny. Really really funny. And I discovered middle aged moms make the best guests: toilet rolls are replenished, washing up is done, recycling finds its way past the kitchen, patio blankets are folded, bathrooms and bedrooms are left as found, and laundry is deposited by machines, without expecting or asking for any of it.


Writing this on Sunday night the house is quiet, but full of flowers, chocolates and cocktail remnants. I ruminate on the joy of old friends, and smile at shared memories of a French teacher chasing a tall boy with a fire extinguisher, around a sports field, cheered by 600 girls hanging out windows.

Feel blessed. And determined that in this next while we will make plans beyond the responsibilities that fill our days and forever include time to laugh at cock jokes.

Roll on the next rewind.

Saturday 13 August 2022

Locks, stock & broken barrels

Last night in London’s latest heat wave I fell asleep in the garden, amid the beauty of blink-and-you-miss-em shooting stars. Magical dreams of stargazing and daring do’s were rudely awoken by my favourite boy shaking me to tell me I was asleep in the garden. Well the house was hot as toast and the garden’s cool breeze allowed me to do community service to the many mozzies and midges who feasted happily enough on me. 

The boy wanted me awake in the wee small hours to share his irritation at being awoken himself by a gaggle of drunk uni-gals trying to break in as the front door was not opening. I tried the door in equal disbelief and irritation. Unusually they were right and open it would not. 

By the time I properly had my bearings, the girls were trundling down the road. With the ever so excellent plan of going the long way round to the back: down our road, into another, across a dark field, to climb through a brambled ditch, and hedge of holly, while wearing the thin and skimpy things so loved by uni-gals on a hot and balmy night. All while ignoring the detail that the locks at the back of the house are as impenetrable as the front. In hindsight I’m glad my boy woke me instead of marauding girls breaching the back boundary. 

I cut through the internal assault course that is our garage and tried to not wake the whole neighbourhood in chasing the girls down the road and pssssting them to join me via the garage. 

Like a gift that keeps on giving, this morning the really convenient door fun continued as my boy came and went a couple of times, before 7.30am via the garage assault course. We take security seriously so opening any of our doors is not easy. To protect our prized possessions such as the laundry, a thousand unfinished art projects, bulk buy specials of toilet roll and the discontinued hobbies of lockdown, opening the garage door is particularly tricky, requiring at least one of you to be awake and inside. My boy, doing the pre-work favours to the dog was outside obviously. 

I had another go at the front door lock but still it would not play.

By this time my uni-gal was up and said she’d let me in via the convenient garage route if I needed to go out. Returning from the crispy patch formerly known as my allotment I knocked to be let in. Then I phoned. Then I rang the doorbell on the useless front door. Again. And again. After a not-so-short short while, stood in the blistering heat, in a moment of karmic harmony the uni-gal was finally roused from her own al-fresco slumber by me holding a finger on the door bell. If I hadn’t woken all the neighbours last night with my slip-slapping flip flops and loud pssssting at the pissed ones, the morning bell should have done the trick. Our previous residents must have been deaf as posts as the doorbell sounds like a fire drill. All so I could be let in to my own home. And yet. She couldn’t open the garage door. In addition to requiring a lock-and bolt negotiator on the inside, a little brute force is also needed. 

Home and dry after her hefty shove, I set about finding somewhere open on a Saturday that both sold and stocked locks. Being a lazy old sort I sought an exact replacement to avoid any filing of holes or repainting of our ancient front door. I now know the usual lock selling shops either don’t open on Saturdays or do not stock our specialist model. Aided by google, I finally found one that both answered the phone and had our lock in stock. After I picked myself up off the floor at the price I wondered if having a human door controller inside the garage at all times was feasible given our many comings and goings. Luckily the available stockist knows his locking onions and asked some pertinent questions. After flummoxing me with lock anatomy and barrels and finishes, he offered some simple advice. The lock might not need replacing. And may not in fact be dead. Just dead-locked. I didn’t know that was a thing. But then again, as life so often demonstrates, you don’t know what you don’t know.  And in my experience, most often, once you do know more of what you didn’t, life and the universe, make so much more sense. 

Back through the garage assault course, squeezing past overflowing shelves and the boiling water tank, in climbing temperatures, and outside with a key I coaxed the lock back from its dead state to the life we know and love as a thing that opens the door to easily let us in and out. 

So, if ever you find yourself in need of locking tips or stock, especially on a Saturday, I can thoroughly recommend

Friday 12 August 2022

Til we meet again

 I took comfort in receiving this picture from my relation on Wednesday evening. It’s a red moon rising over Coum, the place of my mother’s birth, just outside Dingle on the west of Ireland, in the Kingdom of Kerry. It is my happy place so views from there are always welcomed, no matter the darkness of the day.  

Earlier that day we bid final farewell to my brother Jarlath. With his twin John they were the eldest cousins on my mother’s side, from my generation of the Clann a’ Choma, as the Quinn’s from Coum are sometimes known. By strange coincidence, the eldest cousins, my twin brothers, shared a birthday with our youngest cousin, Padraig. 

Today is known by some as the glorious 12th and the start of the grouse season. Shooting ain’t my bag, as in my world mom’s don’t do guns. But it is how I remember my sister Cathy’s anniversary. I saw my first shooting star the night she died. I later discovered it wasn’t any kind of a celestial celebration of her life, as I first thought and hoped.  Apparently clusters of shooting stars are common in mid-August. Still, on the glorious 12th, with shooting stars, she will forever be remembered by me. I’ll be out tonight looking for them in her memory.

We said our goodbyes to her and Jarlath’s twin, John, more than a decade ago.  

Earlier this summer, on the twin’s 70th birthday, and Padraig’s 42nd, Padraig passed. 

I truly wish to not be so acquainted with death and grief. My memories, shared experiences, and photo frames are full of the dead. The symbolism of my surviving siblings now fitting into one car as we accompany a final journey multiples the heartbreak of the individual losses. Despite the distress of the changing ratio of the living to dead in my phone contacts I will not delete them. I want to remember them, without letting the guilt of grief steal my potential moments of joy. For as Buddha said: joy is never diminished by being shared. And I do believe, life is for the living, while we can. But also maybe grief might not weigh quite so heavy in being shared. 

As is the way of families, I share a name with Jarlath’s daughter, Shivaun, and Padraig’s sister, Siobhán. 

On September the 3rd, Siobhán will walk the Dingle Marathon in aid of The Kerry Hospice Foundation, in memory of Padraig. Friends and family plan to join her for sections of her walk.  I hope to as well. 

Padraig received great care from the Kerry Hospice Foundation, a voluntary palliative care organisation. This is Siobháns fundraising page for the Kerry Hospice in memory of Padraig:

And this is Shivaun’s fundraising page for the British Heart Foundation in memory of Jarlath here:

Tuesday 9 August 2022

Rest in peace brother

As Jarlath’s youngest sister one of my earliest childhood memories was him bathing us little ones (most probably as a parental punishment) and his horror at having to deal with my wild long hair, getting shampoo in my eyes and then singing to me to stop my tears, or to stop Mom hearing!

But I can’t think of Jar without thinking of his love of Cars. Cars. Cars. And more cars.

Knowing his car mania our sister Cathy once gave him the money to find her a car. He turned up at our parent’s house in surburban Cockfosters with a bright pink American monstrosity. According to another car obsessed brother it was actually a Chevrolet Camero but it’s position on the driveway was a horror to our Mom.  Jar loved it, and had fits of real belly laughs whenever it was mentioned. He thought it was pink, and therefore a proper statement girl’s car.  Our Dad loved it too and wanted to keep it, although gawd knows what that would have done for his pensioner street cred.

Jarlath was also a very happy camper, which extended to mad-cap camper van conversion plans. Another obsession of his was checking my tyres, oil and water, and would shout in horror at my lacking car maintenance, and general disinterest in motors. The thrill he got from being a petrol head and driving, was lost on me.

Recently I was delighted that he got to take his beloved wife and daughters back to our mother’s birth place in the west of Ireland. I can only imagine what that meant to him after staying away for so long. To me, it is the most magical place in the world.

The legend of where the name Jarlath comes from might go some way to explain Jar’s car thing:

In the province of Connacht, in Western Ireland, within the County of Galway, a 6th century Abbot sent out his monk, Jarlath, to cure his wanderlust.  "Go, and wherever your chariot wheel breaks, there shall be the site of your new monastery". 

Less than 5 miles out, at Tuam, the chariot wheel broke; Jarlath the Monk built a Monastery, and the town of Tuam grew up around it. Today the broken chariot wheel remains the heraldic symbol there. 100 years ago our Pa was born in Tuam (before the Irish Free State was established).

Tomorrow I join my siblings, family and friends to accompany Jar on his final journey.

Rest in peace brother

Wednesday 1 April 2020

Love in a time of the Rona

Marching through the fields during my daily government approved exercise I saw, in the distance, a young couple, walking slowly, clearly practising social distancing. I knew they were a couple as could hear them arguing from some way off.  Sure, ‘tis hard to argue quietly when you’re a) you feel quite strongly about something b) you’re in a field and c) you’re more than one meter apart.  

I did try not to eavesdrop, but short of putting my hands over my ears, eavesdropping was inevitable.

She couldn’t understand why he didn’t want to move in with her, at her Mom’s. It was alright for her, he said, because she wasn’t working, and because it was her Mom. But he was supposed to be working remotely. And that’s why he couldn’t talk to her on the phone all day. She said she’d set up a desk in her bedroom. But he thought work video calls might be awkward while she was still in bed, as he starts early. But she could get up with him, they could have breakfast together, before she left him to his work. He couldn’t see this working well for him, and what was wrong with the ways things were? 

As I said, I tried not to eavesdrop but this was all pretty loud, but they stopped arguing for a while, as while I marched past them, so I didn’t get to hear how it got resolved.

They stayed in my mind afterwards, and I had questions that I felt might never be answered. I was now invested in this love story, and was left wondering just what happened next?  

Well, as luck would have it, the next evening I ventured out again for my daily government approved exercise, and decided to take a different route. You can imagine my delight when I saw him standing on a corner. Then I spied her, walking, kind-of-happy-skipping, towards him. I crossed the road, to keep my distance social, as is the way now, in this weird world we’re living in. Despite being on the other side of the road I could see the grins on both their faces. It made me feel warm inside. She was swinging a sandwich bag and shouted ‘I’ve brought snacks’, presumably to make their socially distanced government approved daily exercise, a little more enjoyable, and date-night-like. Or, was I missing something? Are snacks now a euphemism for something else? Just look what's happened to aubergines! And would he be willing to touch her sandwich bag, without the required, but sadly in short-supply hand sanitiser?

As I said, I’m now really invested in this love in the time of the Rona story.

Thursday 26 March 2020

I Think We're Alone Now

Social distancing continues. Yet, the fields behind my home have never been so busy.

The not-so-little-littleun continues to find ways to amuse herself: exercise (short-lived); connecting the bicycle with the pump (not yet connected bicycle with her backside, but clearly doesn't want to peak too soon); a marvel legend movie marathon (and I discovered there were no owls in Guardians of the Galaxy, I was clearly confused with another Guardians film); scrubbing every pair of trainers she owns (is the the low point?) and baking. Though to be fair, baking is a fairly regular thing anyways.

She's doing better than the young woman next door: when her father told (aka shouted) at her get some fresh air she took to a sun-lounger wrapped in her duvet. I've no judgement here, as am expecting duvet sun bathing to take on in this house too. It is after all, only early in Spring.

I'm permanently plugged into Zoom, Teamworks and Teams while working from home, and trying to remember which group I'm in, and whether I'm on mike or camera or both, or muted.  The office game of 'through the key hole' took a downward turn today with the 'whose shower curtain is this' photo competition, but hoping 'something old' might raise the bar upwards, if only a fraction.

Times are tough. But not that tough.

Stay well, and keep your distance.

Friday 20 March 2020

It's all going to pot

Social isolation Day 3. Managed 10,000 steps at lunchtime, through a muddy field and a deserted wood. Came across 3 humans, 7 dogs and 6 horses, though thankfully not all at the same time. The horses were a welcome addition and the human/dog ratio seemed about right.

Over on mothergoat makes I created a post about turning toilet rolls in pots for seedlings and wondering, really, what the hell is going on with the obsessive making thing? Then I remembered that's what social isolation does to you. At least I'm not talking to the cat all day this time. Because I'm already pretty practiced at amusing myself at home from when I had the cancer thing and couldn't go out, and travel was off the cards. At least this time I don't feel sick as a dog.

Today is International Happiness Day, which I'm pretty sure was made up just to combat the weirdness of our new world order. But I embraced it anyway, and told the trees as much, as I walked through the woods.

Roll on 2021...

Thursday 19 March 2020

I remember, I remember when I lost my mind

Day 2 of working from home for the foreseeable. Thankfully, the much-anticipated London lock-down didn’t materialise, yet still no humans were spotted on either of my two walks.

I often work at home, and usually have no problem focusing or settling down. Today, however felt different. I’ve vowed to keep off the news tomorrow outside of breakfast and tea-time to see if that helps the feeling that I might very well be losing my mind.

The wider family group chat today turned to ways to keep yourself amused at home. In previous times when trapped at home (through parenting or illness) I remember sewing as a saviour for believing being held captive could be productive instead of actual mental torture. So, clearly with time on my hands, this evening I created a mothergoat makes for quilting. Well the first steps anyway, as I didn’t have that much time.  And, if I don’t actually lose my mind I’ll return to it and add more steps, if the interest is there.

The best thing I’ve heard so far about this crazy time we’re living in was the lasagne being made in Wembley. If I knew how to add audio files to blog posts I’d share it with you. I laughed out loud, and don’t we all need a bit more of that?

Wednesday 18 March 2020

The times they are a changing

My thoughts go out to those affected by the Corona virus at this disturbing and worrying time.

Fortunately I’ve not really been affected. Yet. Because you can’t really count the inability to get a supermarket delivery and visiting a horror store at the weirdest moment in shopping history.

I developed hoarding tendencies long ago, as like many single parents I have experience of being quarantined with small children and the vomit bug. So, no need for me, to do any panic buying. 

I also have a habit of clicking, without checking volume. We go from one solitary banana to three bunches being delivered. And the pantry is full of things the fam can’t bear to eat any more of. But that was then. These times are changing and sweetcorn will soon be making a supper comeback. 

I can’t get a delivery slot so I'll have to do more real shopping, with less choice. I'm praying sweetcorn isn't the only product in the tinned goods aisle. 

Like an awful lot of folk across the globe, I’m practicing social distancing. Number of humans spotted on my morning commute/hike round a muddy field was zero. That was odd. Not even one dog-walker. My lunchtime wander to the allotment, again saw zero humans, so I couldn’t trial the effectiveness of the advice to carry a bamboo cane at all times - to ensure the correct social distance. I could have used the cane to practice baton twirling but sadly only thought of that upon my return home, but it's banked as a mental health save if this goes on too long. 

The whole office is working from home, yet I think I communicated more with the team today than in a regular working day. Group video calls are the new normal. Though seeing colleagues in their own natural habitats left me feeling Attenborough-like. So yeah, these times they are a changing.

Tomorrow I plan to re-balance my 'snacks' to 'steps' ratio. Shouldn’t be too hard as I’ve eaten all the good snacks. 

Sweetcorn anyone?

Thursday 11 January 2018

I would walk 500 miles

As good for the soul as the waistline, walking is my most favoured pastime - after adoring the gorgeous dustbin-lids of course. 

Walking fills my free time, my inbetween time, and my ‘I need to get from a to b’ time. It’s how I prefer to get about. Alone, or in a group, or with my best walking chum. For thinking alone, or chatting with a mate, whoever returned from a walk in a bad mood? There’s no special kit, membership fees, schedule nor rules – though it is always worth doing a quick weather check and best, really, to put something comfy on your feet.

This round of chemo has been harsh. It’s robbed me of enthusiasm. Watering eyes and nose kill any pleasure in reading or watching tv. Aching bones, fatigue, and sore feet keep me stilled. And, with a mouth as dry as dust, neither food nor chat bring any thrill.

So when life’s joys feel limited…thank goodness for the comfort and joy of Clare Baldings.  Her Ramblings on BBC Radio 4 have a simple premise - she goes for a walk and talks to folk. At series 37 it’s obviously a winning formula. With the wind on the microphone, her breathy chats share the joy of walking about the UK and Ireland for different people. Laying down with my eyes closed, I hear why walking, in general, or in particular is important or meaningful to the folk.

I take in the sights and sounds, and the whimsy of people. I hear their history, I see their geography, and I share their interest.  A group of women started to walk together upon retiring, another walks to wellness. Grief is walked away, charity walks are practiced, literary journeys are retraced, costumes are worn, and nature is explored and enjoyed.

From the comfort of my home I’m appreciating our glorious landscape in changing weather and seasons. From the Isle of Man, to Belfast, the Peaks to Yorkshire, Wales to Scotland.
Listening to Clare, I almost feel as if I’ve been out, got out of breath and been a bit sociable. Instead of laying here, in a can’t be arsed fug of a mood. 

Thinking south coast next.

Sunday 31 December 2017

Plot Change

As I wait for the bells to sound out 2017 I’m saying good-riddance to that bummer of a year. Discounting Trump, Kim Jong-Un, and May-bot’s general election, it was only the second half that really stank. 2017 began on a personal high - I hit the big 5.0 in Venice with the three dustbin lids. The beautiful city was picture perfect with a light dusting of snow. And though the endless steps and bridges covered in icy-compacted snow were deathly dangerous, they looked oh so pretty. There was also that sibling trip to sunny Mallorca, a lush school gang celebration in Brighton and a fantastic family reunion in Ireland.

Fast forward: mid-year, mid-house move, and a mid-life health MOT. After a battery of tests involving very little dignity, large needles, biopsies, scans and hanging about in breezy NHS waiting rooms in very thin gowns, I found myself in the middle of a massive life plot change.  Unexpectedly and reluctantly I joined the not-so-exclusive club of the estimated 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK and I am now one of the ‘one in eight women diagnosed with breast cancer’. My cancer is common in the over 60s and those that don’t breast feed. I fit neither group, but found comfort in other statistics like the excellent survival rates, and the increasing proportion of people living longer. My outlook is pretty great: this was caught early, and the treatment plan has proven itself with fantastic, and constantly improving, results.  

Despite the limitations of working in systems designed in the 1940s the NHS staff have been unfailingly brilliant. But, there’s no denying the treatment, so far, has been grim. My oncologist described chemotherapy as akin to flooding your body with poison and predictably, I’ve lost most of my hair.  I was surprised at how little that bothered me, though I’m presently enjoying a moratorium on selfies. The first batch of hair to go was a very small clump and was in the main distressing because I was in the loo at work and about to go into a meeting. Over the following days I learnt losing shoulder-length hair is very very annoying.  And, adding plunging the shower to the daily chore list was a real bore. 

My eldest tried, badly, to cut my hair. We ended up clippering it to an inch all over, which thankfully led to much less plunging of the shower, and a general reduction in the amount of hair scattered about the house. My boy decided to brave the shave in solidarity. His short clippered head and beard made his face look rounder and he looked tougher than his usual cheeky blinder long top look. Sadly, I didn’t look tough so much as a twin to my follicle-challenged brothers – not an attractive look for a woman of any age.  Earrings, a bright lipstick and an assortment of hats have sort of provided a solution to looking less like my brothers. 

In true teen-girl style, my little-un said, categorically, she would not join the shaving party:  it had taken a long time to grow her hair long; she wasn’t feeling that look, and couldn’t see how it would help me in anyway for us all to look like weirdos. In these strange and uncertain times, it is gratifying to note: the outlook of teenagers remains unchanged. 

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Just Another Manic Monday

I’ve been a little like Mrs Pee’d off from Pissy Street recently and I wondered whether my chi is so out of sorts that I’ve become a magnet for crap. But that’s only on the dark days. Like yesterday. That was one manic Monday. 

My day started earlier than usual as the kitchen was to be out of bounds from 8am. Due to the arrival of the plasterer. Due to the kitchen ceiling inexplicably falling down in the early hours of Saturday morning. That was a joyful moment, especially after I’d spent Friday in a rare cleaning frenzy. Saturday was spent filling rubble sacks and hovering and wiping away the black dust accumulated in the ceiling over a hundred years. I cleaned outside and inside kitchen cupboards, every utensil, surface, picture, mirror and the large collection of odds and sods on the entire ground floor. (If I’m honest a large proportion of odds and sods actually went in the bin as that was how the moment took me). 

As a respite I put in a couple of hours at the shopping festival walking the length and breadth of the town on the treasure hunt with the littleun whilst handing out leaflets for Sunday’s Palmers Green Festival. Then the littleun and I spent a few joyous hours being sociable with the girl’s rugby group, minus my own rugby girl (but that’s another story and luckily it doesn’t involve A&E this time). And Sunday’s Festival, in the park, though tiring, was a real fun success. But I digress. Finishing the Monday morning clearout would certainly pay off later in reducing the volume of what would need to be cleared of pink plaster dust. 

Though contributing to the laundry backlog, the littleuns sports morning was another excuse to escape the hell at home. For a while anyways and my regular readers know just how much I love a laundry backlog. Managed to catch the Littleun’s big moment in the relay race after my own dash back to pay the plasterer and survey the volume of pink dust. The Sports Day low point was the kid that stacked over the finishing line and seeing his hand hanging at a completely unnatural angle from his arm. At least he won the race though, and I heard his operation went well this morning. Hanging around a hot sports field without any trees for shade is not in anyway exhausting and doesn’t make you feel like you just want to lay down in a cool dark room with your eyes closed for a very long time. 

Teengirl and I headed home to clean, hoover, scrape and start the first kitchen wash down of the day. She soon announced she was taking me out to lunch. That’s a first and I was shocked but I think she saw my bad mood pout and decided a change of scenery was as good as a rest. Alongwith an overwhelming desire to not have to clean anything. Ever. Again. She was right. Lunch cheered me. It didn’t last. 

Arriving home, more pink plaster dust had settled, making the ground floor look as though we hadn’t yet started. After the third mop of the floors I gave up and resolved to spend my last half hour before the evening frenzy enjoying the sunshine in the garden. I’m blessed with some brilliant neighbours. Then there are others. Whilst one bad apple doesn’t make the whole bunch bad a tiny bit of manure in a bucket of spring water spoils the lot. Those others have been behaving anti-socially and are driving all the decent folks to distraction. I only lasted 5 minutes in the garden before the troublesome tribe drove me indoors. 

Then Teenboy walked in with his hand over his nose, with blood pouring everywhere. I took a few deep breaths before establishing he had simply sneezed as he got off the bus starting the most massive nosebleed. Ever! He assured me that being so tall, no-one could actually reach his nose to punch him. So we cleaned him up and stopped the bleed before throwing another bucket of water over the front step, where a large amount of his blood had spilled. I had already thrown lots of water over the plaster dust on the front step. Isn’t it just great when you have to do the same dull ole domestic chores again and again and again? I ran around with the mop for the fourth time, though half hour later I wondered why I bleeding bothered. As I waited for the littleun to be dropped home I asked the troublesome tribe whether it was really necessary to rev their clapped out engine for half an hour? They tried the ‘no english’ trick. Perhaps it was the heat, or perhaps it was all that mopping but I really wasn’t in the mood for that ole chestnut and by the end of our little convo they were left in no doubt that I wasn’t buying it. 

After that things went a bit Pete Tong. I kicked my three dustbin lids into the garden to play to give me space for one last mopping before I started supper. What followed is kind of unbelievable but it involved the troublesome tribe, threats to kill, mention of guns, a 999 call, a stabbing and the entire boundary of my property, front and back, becoming a crime scene. Luckily we were all on the safe side of the wall. But can you see where I’m coming from with the crap magnet thang? 

Cooking dinner as witness statements were written at my kitchen table was kinda surreal. Once victim and perpetrator were carted off I chatted with the neighbours about a plan of action. Because we’ve had enough. And we’re reclaiming our street. We are agreed that the volume of males hanging about, drinking alcohol, revving their cars, playing their truly awful music at an unbearable volume, the wads of cash changing hands, and the volume of bed linen being laundered are probably indicative of a brothel. I’m less convinced than others that drugs are also being dealt, but perhaps I’m just in denial. 

Then I remembered I had some unresolved issues with my other son, which is how I now see my fave nephew. So we sat and had a quiet chat in the garden, to the accompaniment of another row amongst the tribe outside our wall. Teengirl and I saw in the wee small hours with the first draft of her uni personal statement whilst I sewed up Teenboy’s school trousers. I don’t know what that boy gets up to at school but I spend more time than I like sewing his uniform back up. I managed one laundry load, just to bring me back from the brink of laundry backlog hell. A bit more noise from the neighbours led me to bed resolving that someone, somewhere would be dealing with a woman with da mission in the morning. And that was my manic Monday. 

Today was a different saucepan of saucy stuff and was in actual fact a terrific Tuesday. I sent a three page email cataloguing recent events with the troublesome tribe and the ineffectiveness of our safer neighbourhood team. The subject was simply 'HELP'. I sent it to my local counsellor and the safer neighbourhood team which appear incapable of making the neighbourhood any safer. Most of their time seems to be spent convincing people that it's really not worth bothering complaining as they can't do anything anyway. And I'm not buying that. ‘In for a penny’ and all that and I copied the email to my MP and the local police Chief Super. If I could have wasted any more work time on tracking down email addresses for anyone with a job title in the borough I would have. But I actually had to do some work in the office. How inconvenient was that? 

As we sat down to tea tonight I was happy with the rain as it keeps the troublesome tribe behind closed doors. Then, I received an email reply from my local counsellor. He’s definitely got my vote. As I read his email out the dustbin lids and I agreed we are all in love with Bambos Charalambos. Not only is he the only one who actually bothered replying to my ranting email today, he’s already got a five point action plan in place to ‘start’ dealing with the troublesome tribe. 

The only low point to the day was hearing the littleun retell her show and tell monologue. She’d shared the fear and excitement of living in a crime scene, with all the gruesome details of last nights 999 event. I’m hoping she edited out the bad language (mine included), alongwith an explanation of what a brothel is. I’m a little bit heartbroken that not only did she experience it but she shared it with the other littleuns in her class. I don’t know how her teacher handled it, but I really would rather she didn’t have to. And I’m even more resolved that it’s the last time she will. Tonight I started rallying the neighbours: hardly a difficult task as I discovered they have all contacted the safer neighbourhood teams: some have been taking photographs, some car registrations, and we’ve all got Bambos on our side. My broken ceiling has been replaced and not that much more dust has settled in the kitchen. Ok so the laundry situation is still dire, but hey, you can't have everything. 

 And, tomorrow is going to be a Wow Wednesday as I’m on the road to Wembley to see Take That and Party! 

It could be the greatest day!

Saturday 14 May 2011

Rant of the day: not sponsored by o2

Apparently o2’s new ad campaign demonstrates that customers are its priority. That makes my laugh: as an o2 customer I feel the exact opposite. Their customer service folks are well trained and polite. Which is lovely, but spectacularly useless in resolving much.

I’ve had the same mobile number for more than a decade, so am really rather keen to keep it. A couple of year’s ago the queer fella bought me an iphone as a peace offering. Iphone’s can do many things, but sadly it didn’t prove to be up to saving our marriage.

Anyways I should have my own mobile account in my own name. Kindly, the queer fella rang o2 and asked them to transfer the account to me. They couldn’t. They suggested he gave notice and ported the number to my new account.

I thought about moving back to Orange, as in my experience their customer care is better than any other phone company I’ve been with (and I’ve been with a few). However, the absence of any Orange service in my home is a teeny bit of a turn off. So, I stuck with o2. I thought it’d make the changeover easier. Especially as customers are their priority ‘n all.

The changeover failed to happen. I made a large number of calls to o2. As did the the queer fella. Some of the calls dropped off just when I thought things would be fixed. To their irritation, I am sure, I kept calling back and gave the whole sorry story from scratch to a fair few of their reps. Which was only half as irritating as their ‘hold’ musak. Their best suggestion was for the queer fella and I to be in the same room and phone them together, then they MAY be able to sort it out. We are separated. We live in different cities. That was their best suggestion.

After a week of this farce, the queer fella got hold of someone at o2 with a bit of sense who broke the rules and phoned me whilst talking to him on another line. Simples people. Within 24 hours my old number ported through and miraculously worked. All was forgiven.

That was last month.

This morning, my new shiny iphone had no service. I did all the usual on/off stuff. Still nada. The phone shop in the high street repeated the on/off stuff and directed me to the o2 shop, a short drive away. They did the same stuff, without resolution. They offered a new sim card if I confirmed to customer service that I am who I am. Which is, a customer: their priority.

Inexplicably customer service said the sim card had been disconnected and my phone number was being ported elsewhere. But I pay by direct debit I say, like that makes any kind of any difference! So customers are a priority except when they want to use their phones.

Where has it been ported to? It wasn’t entirely clear. Who requested the port? And when? And why would someone do this?. They didn’t know but, they did say: there appears to have been some confusion with your account. Demonstrating once again my priority status.

I was inside an o2 shop so I didn’t get cut off and after less than half an hour of hold ‘musak’ they got me up and running again. Although the customer service guy wasn’t entirely sure how that happened and was as surprised as me when one last on/off thing worked.

Feel better now. My rant is over, but if you’re looking to port a number I’d suggest avoiding o2.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Pain in the bum

I missed the first 30 seconds of Sunday’s Rugby tournament. So I missed Teengirl hitting the deck. The ambulance arrived before me so I was greeted by a bit of party and an entonox high in the back of the van. Sadly, for every giggle there was a bit of a scream.

The next five hours were spent, mainly waiting, in Watford General Hospital: a couple of hours in a corridor, a painful body board slide and a very silly incident with a high girl and a bedpan. In the absence of any other amusement I ate all the packed food. Well, she was nil by mouth and I was bored. There’s only so much amusement to be had from laughter mixed with tears. And there was quite a large quantity of food, designed for a long day of high energy on a rugby pitch. Don’t think sitting in an NHS chair counts, but what can I say? Time goes slower in a hospital than anywhere else on earth.

It wasn’t all dull though, we had Gollum in the next bay to keep us amused. I don’t suppose it was actually Gollum, but the ancient creature both looked and sounded like the real thing. In hindsight, it doesn’t take much to amuse a Teengirl mainlining laughing gas or a bored woman. And it wasn’t all time wasted: she revised for biology by applying her knowledge to blood pressure. Am hoping in the real exam the intermittent hysteria will be missing. Like Queen Victoria, the attending nurse looked the opposite to amused. Think the whole of Watford breathed a sigh of relief when proper pain relief was finally given and Teengirl shut up and fell asleep.

A couple of exams and x-rays later they said: 'Nothing broken. Take these pills and crutches and bugger off. It’s just a pain in the bum'. No really, it is a pain in the bum. Also known as Ischiogluteal something. A soft tissue injury – right where the hamstring joins the pelvis. That’s the bit that’s used when bending the knee, straightening the hip or when sitting. Sitting is a painful problem. Next week Teengirl has AS exams. Where a certain amount of sitting will, no doubt, be required.

So to the Physio today to speed up the heal. It was painful for Teengirl, and for me to watch her do a few simple exercises. In the absence of food in my bag I chewed my nails.

We’re back again on Friday for more torture. And a bit of hope that soon she’ll be able to sit.

Saturday 7 May 2011

A Sporting Chance

Parenting is not an olympic sport. It can require olympic sized skill and stamina so perhaps it should be. Or does that stink a little too much of martydom? Which I’m avoiding this week. Like the sofa as a) I never get hold of the tv controls, b) the drone of either dustbin telly or teen drama does my head in and c) I tend to fall asleep as soon as I get the chance to sit down.

Sticking with the Olympics, apparently one in six mums failed to apply for the London Olympic ticket ballot because they were too busy looking after their children. That’s according to the P&G eggheads anyway. I didn’t apply either. Booking tickets was on my todo list for a while which probably puts it in the 50% of the list that should be crossed off as soon as written because about that proportion will never ever be achieved.

So I didn’t apply, partly because I'm a bit busy and partly because once my day was done on the very last booking day twitter and facebook told me not to bother. You’d think the geeks behind the website would know the last hours of the last day were going to be busy. And you’d think they’d know how annoying ticket websites are in general. They are geeks after all. I’ve only just recovered from the Take That ticket fandango and the last thing I want to do at the end of a long day is press refresh. Refresh. Refresh.

I’d like to go to the London Olympics. It’s a chance in a lifetime. And, they are only a stone’s throw from where we live. We’ve put up with the roadwork improvements long enough (only another year to go). Ok so the first night they went on sale none of the dustbin lids could agree on what they’d like to watch, but I don’t care. I’d happily watch any of it. Especially that curling business. That looks great. And I love a bit of ribbon twirling as much as the next one. Am resigned to the fact that the opening and closing ceremonies will probably look better on the telly. Except for the crowds. There’s a limit to how many we can fit on the sofa at any one time.

So find myself slightly cheered that P&G is giving away tickets to demonstrate its commitment to supporting mums and families. All you have to do is buy one of their brands for a chance to win tickets.

I’m not a hugely brand loyal type. And I don't know what products are P&G. I think they make Olay. That's one of those old fashioned face creams that is a must have for all beauty regimes, but frankly it’s too strongly associated with Granny for my liking. As opposed to knitting which is totally OK, granny is allowed to start some trends, but I don’t take my beauty hints from the over 80s. Yet.

I think P&G make lots of laundry product, but I’m not really prepared to muck about with those since I had to rewash our entire family’s holiday wardrobe less than 24 hours before departure due to an alergic reaction to my last change of powder. I’ve stuck with the same product for the past decade.

So all you have to do is buy a product. But I bet you then have to tear off a label, without tearing off the teeny tiny print on where you have to send the smallest bit of paper. Which will be thrown in the bottom of the bucketsized handbag where it will languish until after the next Olympic deadline. Should task the littleun. She is the most consciencous in our house. Whosoever fills out the form, gets to choose the event. Or do you get what you’re given when your hoping to get them free with the soap?

I should say despite the mentions, this blog is not actually sponsored by P&G. If it were I would say so. As bloggers do it with integrity. I’m not against being sponsored as clearly I’m not against payment. Have been thinking of signing up for that sort of thing but it probably requires form filling and a fair ole bit of refresh refresh refresh. And today, I’ve too much laundry.

Hey ho.

Monday 2 May 2011

The long weekend

The garden is as dry as dust. Shall climb down from my cross and spend more time watering. Am bored of martyrdom now anyway. And the alliums are out - they always make me want to spend more time in the garden.

With the dustbin lids away for a couple of days I indulged in a little Royal Wedding coverage. Or rather a lot. I love a posh frock and a big hat. Though Posh’s own ensemble left me a little cold. The bride looked beautiful, the groom looked bald, and everyone was chirpy. So chirpy infact, Twitter crashed.

Was loving the fact that I had full control of the tv, with no interruptions. Bestmumchum popped over to avoid all the chat at her house. She talked over the wedding but I let her off as she came with a cup of hot frothy coffee. Noone does pomp like London. It was all bloody marvellous. If I was left with one lasting impression it is, without a doubt, that The Duchess, like me, has a supersis.

I didn’t waste the whole weekend stalking the royals: I met up with my forensic mate. We haven’t shopped together for years. I worried her taste was deteriorating as she pointed out some summer sandals. They looked like something Granny might wear. I need worry no more as she said she was actually looking for Granny.

The little-un started as an austringer's apprentice with Uncle Dolittle training her in the dark art of Falconry. I marvel at her calmness and practicality when in close proximity to a bird with large eyes and talons, and dead meat. Squeemish she ain't. I on the other hand, feet ill just looking at the kit. To my mind it ticks too many boxes on the potential serial killer list. Or is that just me?

The house clearance continues - in preparation for finding a buyer and moving. As a former hoarder, even I find it unbelievable just how much has accumulated under this roof. The charity shop has done well, as will the dump, when I get there.

Best of all: the ebay holiday fund is coming along nicely.

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Widsom of the week

As I get older, I just prefer to knit.
Tracey Ullman

Monday 25 April 2011

Jokes, jollity and juvenile jinks

A Scotsman walks into a bar. Meets a couple of friends, who hail from the wilds of Wales (a bit like the wild west only a tad damper) and a London Irish (not the rugby teams, just cultural heritage). They share a drink. Or maybe two. Later a bite to eat. And one for the road perhaps. The United Kingdom represented in one bar: except this being London, none in the bar were actually English.

An intro to a tacky joke? No just my usual, yet rare, night out with a couple of old mates. After a few giggles, and a lorra laughs we have another one for the road. Who knows when we’ll meet again. Except, with all the predictability of a bad bar joke, whenever the three of us are together, overexcitement tends to take over. We do have a little previous for throwing off the shackles of middle age and behaving as we once did, when we first met, a long long time ago. Which is totally becoming for our age and stature. Obviously.

Now on the wrong side of 40 I’m trying to wise up and avoid seeing them too soon after breakfast. Well that Scot clearly has hollow legs and we clearly do not. Especially when wearing killer heels (clearly not the Scotsman). I was overjoyed to find the late train home easy enough. All without a hint of Eurostar or any whispers of wandering towards Paris. And it wasn’t even the very last late train. I’d also powdered my nose before boarding. A clever trick, after having so many for the road. A fun night out, and a comfortable journey home, without crossed legs, eyes or fingers for a safe passage, with no mishaps, on the right line, and heels in tact too.

Like Cinderella, all my recent martyrdom has left me out of practice on how to stay out after midnight. Absentmindedly I wonder who’s having the house party down our way? The heaving music and loud laughter made me miss my youth when I may have tried my luck at getting into a do after the witching hour, instead of hearing my bed calling my name. Loudly and clearly. Alongwith an overwhelming desire to get those bleeding heels off.

Accepting I’m way past all that late night party malarkey I fumble for a key I hadn’t remembered to take out with me. I knock on my own front door and a stranger lets me in.

Guess that’s what you get for leaving Teengirl home alone for a whole evening. Thoughts of Facebook fuelled trash-fests swam round my head, or was that just the wine?

Rather regretted that last one for the road as a strange sensation took over my feet and I feared losing the use of them. Both. At the same time. Relieved to at least have made it home before realising my feet were broken. Just had to make it past all the teenagers before taking the heels off. Shoes off and I realise my mistake. It's the floors that are wrong. Teenagers are clearly not able to keep sticky drinks in their hands and prefer instead to throw them about the floors making it virtually impossible to pick one foot up after putting it down. The following day I discover vertical surfaces are included in the sticky drink target practice, but luckily when the house was full I wasn’t climbing the walls so didn’t notice. I saved that treat for Teengirl the following day.

I hobbled into the garden and found Teengirl. ‘Good party?’.

Sternly, she said ‘it’s not a party’. Apparently less than twenty people doesn’t count.

A little tired and emotional I may have been but I realise they aren't a bad bunch. Turning the music down a tad and engaging in a little washing up quickly did the trick in the teen clearing scheme of things.

Ah to be young again.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Worry of the day

I worry that martyrdom is taking over my days