Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The seasonal celebration of someone very special's Birthday

No, I'm not talking about Jesus Christ, but myself. I'm having a well earned break from packing - having rewarded myself with a birthday Yakult. Helps with the Irritable Bowel Syndrome on these occasions. And I must document the weather today. I can't actually remember a day when the sun shone on my birthday before. The problem being that the sun, having had his hat on, basking in short lived glory is having an early night as he seems to do at this time of year.

I've been informed by the solicitors that we have exchanged contracts. So it's all on for tomorrow. And one of the main reasons why I'm so excited is that I was unpacking the shed in the sunshine - although we don't have a shed at the new house, we do have a south facing garden, so even in the depths of winter if the sun is shining, it will be shining on us, just like it was today.

Phil has bought me a beautiful art-deco style watch with diamente stones to match the engagement ring, beautiful. I love Christmas. Not just for selfish reasons because it's my birthday, I like getting presents and lovely food. But everyone is in a good mood, especially me. I love the music, the decorations, the carols, the christmas cyclamens and pansies. Christmas cards, seeing family and friends. And drinking Grand Annee Bollinger, in the true style of a dedicated champagne anarcho-socialist.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

We're moving on Thursday - and the grass really is that lovely oppulent shade of green Up North

It's excellent news. We're moving the day after tomorrow and have a wonderful removals company who I feel like I'm related to after 5 minutes of conversation. I'm making progress on all three of my essays, done a little bit of Xmas shopping and getting ready to pack. I did well in the interview although I didn't get the job, but they said I was second which is better than being last.

And 'Mirrors of Mortality'? Yes, I did get a copy - from one of the authors - totally ludicrous. It's like borrowing a recording of Yesterday from Paul McCartney. No library had it, not on Amazon and out of print - apparently it's easier to smoke and play music in libraries these days.

So we will be in by Xmas. OK, we won't have broadband, but of course before broadband there was always TV (although you can't look up things on TV) but anyway finding Nemo is on. I'm a Muse for Blaglady too, which is helping me reassert my sense of importance. VIP.

And the invention of the acronym? - yes in the twentieth century so the traditional view of the birth of POSH is not Port Outward Starboard Home. That's another story.

And I'm making Phil Connie's Cous Cous tonight.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Nothing to report

apart from:
- we're waiting for a roof guarantee before the house goes through
- I have a job interview on Monday in Yorkshire. Yorkshire brace yourself.
- I oscilate between excitement and hatred of my chosen academic topic/s - death, disease, dementia and the twentieth century
- Florence Nightingale might have had dementia. Whether the confirmation of this would interest or be worthwhile to anyone else apart from me is another question.
- Laying bets on how old I will be before I never do any more photocopying, mail outs or arranging meetings. And it's 2 to 1 at 85, 9 to 4 at 86 etc etc ad infinitum yada yada yada. Have I ever used my brain in paid employment?
- I'm now part time and it's wonderful
- I'm doing more cleaning than ever before in my life - put it down to being a student again. I will literally do anything to avoid a) going to the library b) writing anything worth reading c) surfing worthwhile internet sites and taking notes. What percentage of historians hate libraries and always have done? I take it back. It's not that I hate it. I just don't like spending large amounts of my own personal, me time there when 98% of the books are missing - even from the effing british library. Yes I drove for two hours to find a book was missing from the British Library of all places. Phil thinks nicking books from libraries should be a capital offence. Castration would be alright with me. But what's happening to me? One minute I'm happy and joyous full of the joys of spring-ish winter, the next- I'm turning into a nazi. Help! 'Euthanasia'. Sounds appealing. Especially for the ones who nick from libraries. Anyone got a copy of 'Mirrors of Mortality' from 1981?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Spending too much time in certain places

You know when you've spent too much time anywhere when something hasn't worked for ages - say over a period of weeks, months. To the extent where you think it's never going to be fixed. And then when you happen to be there, someone is fixing it. This happened to me in the ladies toilets on Wednesday morning in Kings Cross station when they were fixing a broken entry gate.

On the plus side myself and Connie have had a very pleasant evening watching the Proclaimers top 50 singalong tunes on 'The Hits'. To the extent I'm thinking of buying their album I like their music choices so much. Connie wasn't too impressed with me owning 'Armarillo' - her favourite bit is when Ronnie Corbett falls over on the video. I love it. Jeffrey from rainbow looks a tad on the thin side.

I had a change from acupuncture - shiatsu. First time I've had it. Very nice - like massage with bony fingers. She told me I needed to do fun things. Non-cerebal. I felt watching the Hits was appropriate. They seem to be repeating what the Proclaimers picked from before now - like Billie Jean and Amarillo. I suppose they have to pay large royalties. Another cost saving exercise. I decided that music is one of the ways I relax. But then couldn't get the dowloading thing to work so have to wait until Phil gets here anyway. I've made a note of everything I want to download from the Proclaimers suggestions. Visually I think they've improved with age - one of them has stopped wearing glasses.

The house in leeds is on the verge of going through. Other news, I was suitably undiplomatic in the diplomacy lecture. I said 'It's history from above really isn't it?' He said yes it was. Then I said 'Why can't we do a history of protest - two million people walked against the Iraq war, why aren't we studying that?'. Eyes down, be quiet.

This week was the origins of the second world war. I was on the verge of comatose until the last question 'Why did Britain follow a policy of appeasing the dictators?'. Because our rulers preferred, or thought they preferred, the fascists to the reds. Inevitable is a dirty word in history. Thank God.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Being diplomatic about diplomacy

I have to write and publish 300 words on a historical article regarding diplomacy by tomorrow. It's not assessed, I'm not paid for it and most importantly I'm more interested in the history of ant secretions than diplomacy. Or the giant weird black ladybirds we kept on getting until the cold hit. In fact the history of virtually anything else except diplomacy. I have a book by Richard J Evans (who I respect - he's a good writer) but I disagree with him in his attacks on postmodernism. His argument is that the best way to argue with people is on their sources, where they're getting their facts from. I feel like he's dictating to me on what I can argue with people about. Why can't I just say 'Look, I've had a hard day, I'm a union rep defending poorly paid people from bullying and cuts. Diplomacy was never relevant and it isn't now. Shut up. Read your own article and write your own reviews. I've got better things to read. It's called _______' [Insert favourite book title].

But I have to be diplomatic. I'm paying these people good money to teach me things. The other problem is that (and this is a technical issue) we have to analyse the sources of the article. My good friend (who shall remain nameless) photocopied the article so I'm almost eternally grateful as it saved an estimated 5 hours of work trawling round this and there looking for the damn thing. Anyway, the bibliography and references weren't photocopied. So I have an article which I'm not interested in, with the actual information I need unavailable.

Where are those black ladybirds?

Monday, November 12, 2007

The answer to our prayers

I was chatting to a friend and it seems that quite a few people are on the verge of nervous breakdowns at the moment. I was encouraging the use of sleeping tablets. But the real answer to our prayers is one I had strangely and stupidly forgotten about until another friend mentioned it: The interest-only mortgage. It seems to be a relatively new invention but everyone's at it and it seems to take that stress and overwork out of every day life, not to mention the benefits of hundreds of extra pounds each month.

I will suggest it to husband shortly. Hopefully a third party (our new accountant of all people) will convince and life will be bearable again. We will be together, not apart. On an even keel and not worrying about cash as you do. I feel a two day week coming on.

I wrote myself a list of priorities today as I was banging on to someone else about how crucial this was for wedding planning. Top of it and underlined was 'Living Together'. In fact I don't remember underlining any of my priorities for the wedding, so I'm pretty convinced that this major priority will soon see fruition.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Working Ten Hour Days

I've realised quite late on in life the ten-hour-working-day-lifestyle which these lawyers, teachers, Chief Execs and city types go on about. I've already got routines which make it possible. Some people call them 'snacks'. We have a 'fruit at work' scheme at work, where you pay 20p for a piece of fruit. So at about 2pm I purchase 2 pieces of fruit. I eat them at 5pm. This then keeps me going until I leave work at 7ish, eating dinner at 7.30ish.

The other trick is having early nights. I'm now the Queen of this. Twice this week I've been in bed at 8.30 - fast asleep by 9.

I feel a bit how God must feel - the all-seeing-eye when no-one else is around. Then you bump into someone who's from another office also leaving the same time as you, and make small talk about how this is the busiest time of year and the problems of information technology these days. I don't suppose God has to join in the small talk.

I'm enjoying work and I'm enjoying my course. It's excellent.
Not enjoying being apart from my husband. But when I think about him I smile, the separation is only a temporary thing. Smiling's been pretty permanent since 20052005.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Connie's Cous-Cous

I have to admit the wonderful Connie is an amazing chef and makes a damn fine meal. She has taught me how to make her Cous-Cous which I have to make on Thursday to prove I've learnt it.

You take an onion and fry it until golden brown- about seven minutes - laterally adding two cloves of diced garlic. Boil the kettle for the cous cous. You then add one packet of Passata (sieved italian tomatoes). You then add half a chopped red pepper and a chopped courgette. Then cover the cous cous with the boiled water and let it soak. Then add a tin of chick peas to the tomato mixture and reduce for about 3 minutes, adding a handful of fresh coriander. You add some vegetable stock and mixed seasoning to the mixture. Then serve with the cous-cous and a slice of lime.

Delicious, the quickest thing in the world and good for you.

The blog is I'm afraid the last thing on my list of priorities. It may well have served its purpose in getting me writing confidently, trying to improve with feedback in preparation for the MA.

Anyway it's probably a nice way to keep in touch with friends and family, although Connie is instilling me with a renewed paranoia about identity theft. I know the last time I tried to knock the blog on the head I had some rather unpleasant news which meant I carried it on for therapeutic purposes.

While it's still going - other lovely news to impart is that I spent Sunday with my cousin and family, and got reinvigorated nuptial-wise with the viewing of unseen marital photographs.
Husband has a week off and I had the earliest night ever last night of 8.30pm. I would love to say that the house sale is progressing as fast as Paula Radcliffe's postnatal running achievements. Hopefully we'll still be in for Christmas, although I'll be so busy writing essays that I suspect the house will be bottom of the list of priorities, although higher than the blog.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Reading and Writing

When the Tories talked about 'Back to Basics' I'm sure one of their things was emphasising reading and writing. They didn't mention what rate at what level. Anyway, I'm doing reading about ten thousand a day (that's words) and writing about a thousand. I've calculated at that rate I should have three essays written in about 48 hours. So actually only one week off work. So I've negotiated with my boss to keep my hours up. I'm turning into the bastard child of myself. Anarchist come feminist come socialist with a healthy bit of cynicism and death monitoring. I want to read Frankenstein but am a bit worried as it's out of our era (twentieth century girls/boys). I just think it's a bit ironic that a 'horror' story which presumably was a moral tale was written by the ok, legitimate child of arguably the world's first anarchist and feminist (Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin). There's a lesson there, but I don't know what it is.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Getting back to a history of dementia

I'm happy again with my dementia idea. Pleased to be going to the national archives today and hopefully look at some real death certificates. Deciding now my first essay will be "A history of 'dying from old age'". I will look at any trends and ask if there is comfort in that final diagnosis or whether it's better to be more scientific. It could even be a brief history of the death certificate I suppose. Second essay will be A historiogaphy of dying and third will be an oral history and dying. I'm starting to wonder how many words we're supposed to be reading and how many words writing. Presumably we have to read about 100,000 a month and write about a tenth of that.

One thing's for sure. I haven't got time to think about whether the alphabet is random or not. Who cares anyway?

Monday, October 15, 2007

The alphabet

I think I can talk about why today was excellent. I 'skim-read' a whole journal article written by a bit of a prat and summarised it in about ten nano-seconds. Work is a four letter word. So is Rent. And Land. And Lord. And Lady. Carpet, boiler and plumber are longer words than four letters. Death has five.

The alphabet is a funny old thing. We like to think of its randomness, but is it? For example I had my Ipod on what I thought was random but it was playing everything in artist order from A-Z. I only needed to get from A to B to get fully satiated. In fact the world wouldn't be too bad if all the artists were obliterated from C onwards. I had, for example, Abba, AC/DC, Arctic Monkeys, The Beatles (under B confusingly) Aretha Franklin. And then you've got Life itself. As a teenager you feel at ease with the alphabet. You feel ingratiated with all the letters from a to z of course. And I spent my twenties disproving this and just getting to know A to B. Then C crops up. We've got enough Connies in the world to write a few internationally renowned comedy scripts. And some more four letter words and six letter ones beginning with c that we can't mention at this juncture. And it's only now approaching the mid-thirties mark that I feel strong enough to even start writing some of these d-words down. Death. Dementia.

And at the other end of the spectrum I've decided that all the words ending in ie are my favourites. Especially my favourite names. Of course I'm biassed because they're my favourite people. Aunties and the rest of you know who you are and I won't embarass you here.

And what would have happened if the musical language had gone up to I? Is this possible? Has anyone ever tried it? Why not from A-Z? Invent a piano where middle L is the key we all know. Random my A***.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

An excellent and terrible week

I can't go into detail about why the week was terrible or excellent. This is one of the things about blogging. You're your own censor. And probably tougher than Mary Whitehouse as the very people who read this thing are the people you least want to offend. To be honest if Mary Whitehouse was my reader I'd be more entertaining. But being called dull has never been much of an insult. But I can talk about the football and rugby. But I won't. Anyway, I'm back into dementia which I'm sure is a good thing. Essay one will be a study of deaths due to old age, essay two, a historioraphy of dying and the dissertation 'a history of dementia' as it has been all along apart from one or two days last week when I was feeling morbid. Suffice to say life is full of good and bad things.

Tomorrow I'm going to print off my blog so I can delete all the polls. I think I was the only person who enjoyed them so they're being evicted. Airbrushed right out of history (except I'm keeping a hard copy).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Cheered up by a 'Social History of Dying'

Believe it or not I've been cheered up by the above book released this year by Allan Kellehear which I just bought at Waterstones.

1) I agree with him
2) He mentions dementia A LOT
3) studying death isn't that depressing
4) you can prepare for death and there are well managed, good, deaths
5) It would be a waste of four years research not to do a history of dementia
6) It's a fact we're all going to die, there's no point denying it
7) A history of dementia hasn't been done before in this country
8) I'm already an expert in it

A History of Death

My history of dementia may as well be a history of death. How come it's only taken me until now to realise what a depressing topic it is? In fact a history of death would be better, slightly more hope as you'd be able to talk about the after-life which I can't really in history of dementia.

It's a pretty well known fact everyone dies, yet debatable whether we can prepare for it at all.

Anyway in Africa so my friends tell me, death is not as much of a taboo. My friend C went back there a couple of years ago and one of her friends had attended 200 funerals that year. She missed her father's funeral and had a video of it instead from her family. Perhaps we can prepare for it more than we think. I'm got a brilliant book called 'Dying Well' by Richard Reoch. I thought 'I'd better read this to get ready for studying dementia'. But it needs to be read with a box of tissues to hand.

A History of Love is much more appealing. Skip the social just like Blaglady said. Nothing you can do that can't be done. Nothing you can make that can't be made.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Will the Professor Sir sign my book?

A bit like Oliver Twist going to back for more (alright nothing like it) I approached Professor Sir Roderick Floud to ask him if he would mind signing my book 'Quantiative Methods for Historians'. Anyway he said 'of course'. In fact it was much easier than getting more porridge or even, a better analogy, easier than getting Richard Bacon to sign an autograph in Whitby the other week - husband had to fake a headache in the hotel corridor. In this case I just simply asked. Or perhaps it was the absence of embarrased husband present which did the trick. Anyway I'm taking it in on Wednesday.

The course is outstanding. I'm certainly not disappointed. In fact the opposite. We were told all day today that this course is not only the nation-leader, it's the world-leader. In fact the whole 'school' is. There's only nine of us on the whole course (which is absolutely ridiculous as this is the only twentieth century history department in the whole country) and one of those is part time. We get one to one tuition on our options (surely only matched by Oxbridge) and we pick our essays for the Core Courses. As long as they don't overlap, much, but they can interweave. So for example I could do a 'Twenty-first century history of dementia' for my dissertation, with my Core Course 1 essay 'A history of age discrimination in the 1990s' with Core Course 2 essay being 'A post-war historiography of geriatrics'. I was going to do Madness & Society as an option at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the history of medicine but it's only available next term. So I'm going to do 'Interview Skills for historians' as I'm hoping to interview geriatricians etc.

Everyone on the course seems very nice indeed. We're a mixed bunch which is quite nice, and we all like a beer, but not too much of it.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Morganos

I've had a week's holiday. Well annual leave during which time I've moved twice (Once in London and once to Yorkshire). So it doesn't feel like a holiday. But I feel less stressed than I imagine Tony Soprano feeling, so it's all ok. I'm all cosy in my lovely new accommodation in Stoke Newington. The good thing about having live-in landladys is that they pamper you. Well the one I've got does so it feels like home from home. Even the broadband works. The only problem is being apart from the husband and all the other responsibilities that come with being of a certain age. Anyway we had a Soprano fest me and the other half and it was great.

Friday, September 28, 2007


Moving house has never been one of those tips mentioned in a 'How to Relax' book of the 1990s. Or 80s. Or Now. Or probably ever.

But we've done it. And unpacking one box takes approximately one hour. So by 2008 we might have unpacked, except we've got to move again in probably December. So I'm coping by sleeping. The bedroom in 'Courtyard Cottage' is deceptively free of boxes. It's a box free haven, overlooking a beautiful crab apple tree in its prime.

My ambition this week was to unpack the kitchen. However this was overambitious. So instead we've been dining out (how unlike us). But being up North the prices are literally four times cheaper so this suits us fine. My new ambition is to meditate thrice daily, cloaking myself in a relaxed ambience and to stop having over-ambitious plans.

The cats are fine. Because they've been imprisoned the moment they got here
they don't mind too much about being inside. Except if I go in the garden. Which I'm very much enjoying - it's south facing.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A social history of Love

With a bit of luck Blaglady is going to call her latest poetry book 'Anna Tatton's Social History of Love' Immortalising me before I have to do any work to do the same. [there you go anonymity busted. Didn't take long. But I've got a different name now anyway Ha ha].

She had an excellent idea of making what she's written already Volume One, then having the appendix as a list of chapters for the second volume. Anyway I didn't quite understand it but it sounded brilliant.

I've been wanting to write a social history of love ever since I read 'History of God' and 'History of the Orgasm', both of which are excellent books. But no one appears to have done 'History of Love' so after I've done my History of dementia I'm going to have a crack at it. You can look up my early thoughts on this (Sept 3rd 2006).

I think my chapters will be thus:
1) What is Love?
1.5) Love and biology
2) Love and Evolution
3) The Greeks and Love
4) The Romans and Love
4.5) St Paul's letter to the Corinthians and religion etc
5) Medieval Love
6) Early Modern Love
7) Shakespeare and that era
8) Victorians including Freud & Marx
9) One Love
10) The Twentieth Century and Love including homosexuality
11) What's the difference between Care and Love?
12) The Beatles
13) What's the difference between 'being in love' and loving someone/thing?
14) Measuring love
14.5) Tragedy, wars and Love - eg Iraq, Cassablanca [watched this yesterday for the first time]
15) Love : A Manifesto - the Secular Ideal for the twenty-first century

I reckon this one's an even bigger project than dementia. Hopefully finished by 2023.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

'I do not want any friends on facebook'

Not a quote from me, but my mother. I've tried talking her through it on the phone and it hasn't worked. So she only has one friend at the moment - who has apparently said it's ok to disown her.

Re: dementia. Nothing to moan about really. In my day job (the one I get paid for so I have to be careful what I say here) we had a presentation on these sort of issues and I was impressed. They turned it into a plea for help which was quite cunning. Of course, with me they were pushing at an open door. Not sure about x and y though.

On things which I presumably can drone on about till the cows come home (an apt phrase from my childhood - they destroyed the potatoes and lettuce I was growing in our vegetable patch 21 years ago). Namely the docu-soap on telly last night about entrepreneurs in a Ugandan village. Needless to say, I had tears in my eyes. One minute a child dying of malnutrition. Next minute, an awe inspiring demonstration of human spirit through dance and song. The human spirit is so bright when you expect it to be deadened.

Why isn't NICE monitoring the £20bn wasted on Sure Start?

I bought a brilliant book a while ago to help me with the MA - Roweena Murray's How to Write a Thesis. Anyway point one of her five points to prevent yourself from getting writers block is to become addicted to writing. Not sure I'm there yet. Then point two is to 'finish today's writing session by defining tomorrow's 3) Do writing before everything else 4) don't worry about done or undone writing 5) gather together all the writing you've done and notice how much there is '.

Good tips.

Anyway I'm going to try and make the blog as dementia orientated as possible so I can see all my writing mount up.

Today I'm fuming because there was a report out a few weeks ago saying there was no evidence that the government's half baked £20billion 'Sure Start' programme has any impact. Of course, now I've actually been elected with a brief to improve older people's services there are a multitude of things that that £20bn could have been spent on which actually have EVIDENCE to support their case for improvements. Including implementing their own guidelines, perhaps having some of their beloved 'targets' on dementia like they do for cancer for example.

The fact is age discrimination is endemic, it's not just institutionalised it's blatant. My thesis, which is supposed to be a history of dementia could be a history of age discrimination. Lives at a certain age are just less valuable to our society. And doctors have told me that.

TO answer my last question I had votes in the hundreds (700people voted) and I was fourth out of five. So my husband has to slap himself on the face say a hundred times.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The three crowns should get one star

I hate to be middle class. But on the other hand there's no getting away from it, once you are middle class (and many of us are there from birth of course) you can't really complain. For fifteen quid, for which you can also buy 3 useless handbags, a printer cartridge and a second hand mobile phone, you can also buy a delicious meal in Stoke Newington with not bad service, which seems to be on the up. And let me emphasise the word delicious. One of the most underestimated words in the british language if you ask me. Anyway that's fifteen quid very well spent. You're full, you've had adequate, in fact more than adequate, artistic inspiration for the day, and you feel satiated.

I'm delighted to report that the governors are all lovely and I've managed to slip a few faux pas in all over the place, with the discreet coded etc to benefit the hospital. Our Chair is Uberkid - Chair of the London Museum (my favourite museum) amongst other achievements which are too lengthy for this short blog. I enjoyed it much more than the so-called training the other day. Much more informative and enjoyable. Long live democracy. As you can guess I'm a new convert. Get my 'results' tomorrow (how many people voted for me!). I'll be living off this election business for years. Well at least one.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A good day and a bad day - Will Big Governor evict herself? You decide (NOT!)

Anyway. Can't decide how much I can legitimately get away with. Not much is probably the correct answer, so being so risk averse I will go with that. Had some horrific training yesterday. I don't believe it will be bringing any of the organisations I'm connected with into disrepute to say that. However if there are any of my lawyer friends reading this who are still speaking to me, if you do suspect me of breaking any laws, especially ones which may affect my income, can you please let me know. You see, I can just delete the words. And, no-one, bar the police, MI5 and the FBI, plus computer geeks will ever know.

Perhaps I'm on safer ground moaning about Tamoxifen. To be honest, now I've got used to it it's fine.

So back to moaning about the training yesterday. I attended training on dementia. It was absolutely rubbish. It was like (and forgive me for being pompous and arrogant, but now I'm elected I'm entitled) Einstein attending A Level Physics classes. Or Shakespeare an oral english examination. Or Tony Blair BTEC in diplomacy. There was this bloke, I could call him a _____, but now I'm elected I don't think my language will plunge to those depths. Let me put it like this: I disagreed with him.
He said potato. I said tomato. It was like that. I don't want to be libellous you see so without going into any detail whatsoever I'll just leave it at that. But I'm right and he is wrong. And he is a ______.

So to cheer myself up I rang up homerton hospital and found out I'm the guv'nor. [should read 'a']

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

She's the guv'nor!

It should read 'She's a governor'. Anyway I'm now a bona-fide elected governor of Homerton Hospital. No doubt this means that this blog will be shut down, so whatever you are reading is a piece of history.

I've been celebrating with blaglady - she's entered the world of paid employment at the tender age of 97 so we cracked open the prosecco. If there's spelling and pc mistakes in this I apologise. Jim Davidson would know better. To cut a short story pissed, there was a lot of meat on at the hope and anchor so in my new responsible state I ate it all. Long live Megadeth.

On a more serious note I hope to champion the causes of whoever pays me the most (joke) and marries me the most times (not so funny).

Nepotism is a funny old game. Fortunately it doesn't existin the NHS.

I'm not as happy as Larry - Blaglady will contest he was an ex's ex' ex of mine. Power breeds responsibility which breeds stress= money which breeds living in London. Me in Leeds is out of the equation. AT =PM SQUARED minus facebook. Somehow it doesn't add up and I've got to do a lot of reading.
And tell me again - who was the youngest prime minister ever elected who was a woman? And what happened to her burning ambitions to see improvements in the number of dementia cases diagnosed?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Three amazing things

1) Even in the depths of despair writing a list of ten annoying things, one instantly thinks of so many lovely things. Like Hoxton Hall where we had our event on Saturday. It was an original cockney music hall and you can imagine Marie Lloyd flouncing around with everyone drinking too much, people rammed in to the balconies. It only lasted six years and lost its license because it was too rowdy and you can imagine the racket everyone made at the peak of the industrial revolution forgetting their worries walking through the narrow streets on their way home.
2) Delicious chicken salad in a cafe, with roasted peppers, avocado, goats cheese and balsamic vinegar
3) Brian from Big Brother defending himself so well against the homophobic bullying of Jim Davidson. If only one of the women could have done such a good job against his misogynist tirades.

The ten most annoying things in the world

1) Mondays
2) Computers
3) Telephones/their operating companies/fax machines
4) Printers
5) pestilence/poverty/death/global warming/disasters
6) Shops which don't sell organic malted whole grain flour
7) Jim Davidson
8) The media
9) zealots
10) dementia

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Perfect Diagnosis

They give you an appointment to give you the results. Then they rang to check I was attending and bringing someone with me.

Then we had the appointment. With the same doctor who I'd had all along. And he was there with two other people. One sitting down and one standing. There was a little bit of small talk. And then the nice doctor said 'I'm sorry to say but the lump is malignant.' And they let us ask a load of questions. The doors were locked to stop us being interrupted. And he said I probably wouldn't remember much of the conversation as it's shocking news so we could just go home now, tell the family, and come back next week to discuss the treatment plan. And then the person sitting down introduced herself as the breast cancer nurse who would be the main point of contact, she gave me her pager details and a load of leaflets - about breast cancer, its treatment and alternative treatment at the breast cancer centre. And that was that. As perfect a textbook diagnosis you could ask for.

But God help you if you get dementia. Chances are (50%) you or your relatives will never get a diagnosis. And the diagnosis is never perfect. The so-called 'Nice' guidelines recommend not to tell you if they think you don't want to know. There is nobody applying the sorts of standards of Cancer Care to dementia. Nobody will ever discuss a treatment plan with you, mainly because there isn't one, because the care slips through the gaps between personal care (social services) and health care. It's a long, difficult death, lasting 20 years but you won't die at home or in a hospice. They're all for cancer patients (95%).

I won't be cycling round the world I'm afraid. Or doing a triathlon, or in fact anything where some poor souls have to sponsor me. Cancer patients are well served. And they have plenty of people, dead and alive fighting for their corner. I don't know whether to crack open the champagne or cry for 2 years over the death of this Cancer Superwoman. I prefer Cherie Booth to be honest.

But if I help a quicker and better diagnosis for even one dementia patient I'll be a little happier. If I stop one doctor writing 'Old Age' as the primary cause on one death certificate I'll be a little happier. And I will be very sanctimonious about it indeed. As sanctimonious and victorious as the next cancer superwoman. And if anyone writes poison pen letters telling me to vote Tory, euthanasia works, have chemo once a week, stop reading, stop studying, worship Madonna, stop eating out, sell my engagement ring or some other thing that I don't want to do in a million years I won't be dignified. I will tell them to piss off.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Is 'All you need is Love' the best song ever composed?

There's nothing that you can write that isn't written.

But that wasn't a line from the song.

Anyway we've had a lovely weekend, despite my husband not forgiving me for booking us into the worst hotel in the world. He recorded me a video of it for posterity to make us laugh if ever we get depressed. We had an overlap with Yorkshire rental arrangements where it meant he didn't have anywhere to live for 2 nights and this 'Lodge' was my answer.

And then we moved him into this cottage near York - friends renting it to us. And I got thinking about friendship again. Would I be friends with my relatives if I wasn't related to them? And some friends are like relatives anyway. You've grown up with some of them. And like relatives, because you're friends with them say for example because they're friends with your mum, you don't really have that much choice. And neither do they. You have all this small talk business. Are you enjoying work? Did you watch Supernanny? But I still love em. All of em.

I'm just about to celebrate 20 years of friendship with one of my friends. It was actually last year (the 20 year anniversary date) but we both had too much on. We've been through everything together, sort of. And a lot not together. And we're probably quite different now. We went to Donnington 88 together and nearly got crushed in the Guns N Roses push. She introduced me to good music and nice people. I made friends with her friends, she made friends with mine. I became part of the family for a while. She was always beautifully dressed. She had a few boyfriends and so did I. She got engaged. I moved to London. She got married. I moved jobs. She became a teacher. I became a preacher (not). And she came to my wedding and stayed right to the end. When I treasured my 'Shortcuts to Bounching back from heartbreak' after splitting up from Silly-boy, I wrote inside 'What is a friend?'. That's one.

Anyway the answer to the question is possibly.

Friday, August 31, 2007


Someone, who will remain nameless, has asked me to write their business plan for a 'dragon's den' application for an innovative bakery idea they've got up their sleeve. Anyway to make a short story extremely long, I've been trying to think of how I would make their innovative cakes (I haven't been let on to the actual invention so I could be totally wrong on that to start with) fit in with my business ethics. This happened to coincide with a meeting I attended in a professional capacity. What I learnt (well, more reinforced what I already knew) at this meeting is that care is absolutely shocking for those people with 'complex' needs at home. What happens if you have multiple scelorosis, motor neurone disease or Alzheimers is that you're effectively fending for yourself. Nobody, for example is prepared to feed these people, apart from their relatives. The District Nurses are (allegedly) only willing to replace bandages, Home Care workers do the hoovering. 'Feeding' is part of the grey area between personal care, health care, domicilliary care and home care. Money isn't the issue. It's just how it's organised. I was suitably livid after discussing this for a while and was thinking of how I could possibly persuade the Dragons to give me loads of dosh to solve this problem and combine it with my friend's application. And I came up with 'Advo-cake'. It would combine advocacy with cakes. Poor people would be able to get a home-delivered cake in return for a nominal sum (say £1) a week. Then they could upgrade if they wanted to a sort of Car Breakdown Service for themselves where they get an emergency advocate to see them if they get a 'long term condition'. For the £1 a week service we'd be able to keep an eye on people and slip in the odd leaflet informing them of how the system works.

Anyway, business was never really my strong point. Or cakes. I might retract the business plan idea, especially as we've got so much on at the moment.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Offer accepted

The offer on the house has been accepted. So only another four months of stress and juggling about eleven balls to go. Except it's more like a year as it's only then that the MA is over. I'm resorting to read Richard Rorty on my lunch break. Good distraction. There's a good poem in there too. My problem is I seem to discover these academics I like, just when they've recently died. Like Roy Porter. He died about six months before I tried to contact him. And Richard Rorty wrestled with the reaper of grimness two months ago. I give up on this poetry lark. Rorty & Porter would approve.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Blogging on the train

GNER is quite amazing, certainly compared to MEGABUS. In fact slicing your knuckles with a blunt razor blade is quite good compared to Megabus. Anyway, they've got wifi, which my wonderful husband managed to sort out for me before I departed. So here I am typing aware on the World Wide Web publishing to the 'world'. And it's a bit of an experiment. I'm quite pleased it's a little experiment I seem to have beaten even Blaglady to. You can survey the scene and report back to your 'readers' or 'market' or 'friends' or 'self'. Anyway there's a couple in their thirties sitting at the table down and to the right. They're married. I've clocked the rings. She's Asian he looks northern. They look like teachers and I'm wondering if they're coming back from the Leeds Festival. And basically that's what everyone who's on this train looks like they're doing. So it's not a very interesting or exciting experiment. The married guy with glasses married to the Asian lady is now asleep. That says it all really.

But I bet Tony Blair is now regretting he didn't do a journal when he was in office. I'd hate to have to try and remember all the interesting bits 10 years from now that happened today. We saw my cousin and her fiancee for example. They showed us how they've converted a garage into a bedroom, and they've got two reception rooms in this new house. They recommended that we didn't live in Halifax. And then we had an afternoon nap. It's all these titbits of information that just get lost in the melay. Although ironically today ten years ago of course Princess Diana died so most people remember a lot of detail about that day as it's etched on our memories. I remember that I was in London staying in this awful place near Turnpike Lane, which had mice, with my Ex. Radio One was playing non stop funeral music which I woke up to thought it was weird, then they said why. I was doing my post-grad diploma in journalism and had this brain wave of building on the anti-media backlash that occured by burning loads of tabloids in the streets. But I never sorted it out. I still think about what a missed opportunity that was. I hated the media, it was a stupid idea to do a vocational course in that area. I failed the diploma. The rest, as they say, is history.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Ten Amazing Things (to do on holiday)

1) Watch Kate Nash perform (on telly)
2) Kiss your husband
3) Make sure you bring your slippers, especially if you're going up North. In fact come to think of it don't bother otherwise
4) Read GErmaine Greer's article on Princess Diana in the Sunday Times.
5) Then have a heated debate on the defammation laws with your husband
6) And then look them up on his phone on Wikipedia
7) Then moan about the internet on his phone - ie you can't read it. Hopefully distracting him from the fact that you've lost the debate.
8) Go for at least one amazing meal per day. Like The Durham Ox near York.
9) Try something like Beetroot Souffle.
10) Then start saying things like 'Is it me or are people at festivals getting younger?' And Look at the sky out of the window. Thanking your lucky stars you're not actually at a festival, getting dirty/too hot/cold/bored/annoyed/stuck in traffic. And finish your wedding thank you cards.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Excited about the 'new', postmodern history of dementia

There's so much going on at the moment, hardly got time to breathe. We've put an offer on a house in Leeds - 2 bed semi in Chapel Allerton £150k. I'm supposed to be doing all the research for my course which starts in October. We're renting our flat out, moving to York temporarily, applying for jobs left right and centre, trying to make friends with my brother's friends in London so we're not Mr and Mrs Billy-no-mates up there. Fitting in work around that and the usual being a quite frankly pathetic friend to all my existing friends in London. Then there's all the financial rubbish linked to this - sorting out a loan to put as a deposit on the second house, trying not to think about the stock market crash, how much debt we're already in.

Anyway I'm still happy, most excited about my MA. I just think that with house buying 'property' is so much about luck, I know normal people would be most excited about that. But in many ways the more you own the more you have to worry about. Doing an MA in the history of dementia is a totally different kettle of fish. There's an element of luck, but it's much reduced.

I'm narrowing down my field. It's going to be called 'The Forgotten Forgetting: The deaths of a generation in the 1990s, a post-modern history of dementia". I'm going to link the rise in age discrimination which I will prove occured in the 90s with increasing, untimely and unreported deaths from dementia, hand in hand with a reduction in real terms expenditure on treatment of the disease. The documentary with Barbara and Malcolm Pointon supports this, plus the report from the National Audit Office a few weeks ago. I feel vindicated. Like Dementia's Joan of Arc. Perhaps not a brilliant analogy. Anyway...

I'm about to email my (brilliant) tutor and ask her how many death certificates she thinks I should look at - 100 or 1000? I'm trying to cram in all the primary source research before I actually start which is a tad ridiculous. It worked when I was doing my undergrad stuff though. Then you effectively concentrate on writing up for the next 9 months.

The other problem is I can't decide whether I'm a postmodernist or not. They're all a bit weird. And the modernists seem to write better stuff. What I think is that we're in the postmodern era. The era when infinity seems as weird and wonderful as it really is, when people talk about nonsense. Progress seems a distant era, perhaps when our parents were growing up. So we're all postmodernists now, whether we like it or not. I prefer postmodern to 'new' as it conjurs up 'new' labour images which make me feel a bit sick. And the 'neo-philiacs' in Private Eye. But the 'neophiliacs' manage to distance themselves from the postmodernists just by putting that word in front of themselves. I don't think they can escape.

Friday, August 03, 2007

How long before I stop wearing a coat?

I've come to Leeds for the weekend to acclimatise before we move here. The thing you easily forget about up North is how about 1% of the population wear coats, even if the temperature is about 10 degrees below Zero. But the fascinating thing is I USED TO NEVER WEAR A COAT EITHER. Back in the day, when Northern cities really were run down, I never wore a coat out, in January. So the moral of the tale is that non-coat wearing is a purely cultural phenomenon. I won't be able to get Northerners to wear coats, they'll infiltrate my softie southernised culture and persuade me not to wear it, in their subtle, influencing ways. But how long will it take?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A two star review of 'Hope and Glory Britain 1900-2000' by Peter Clarke

Another of the stupid IT things which annoys me is Amazon book reviews. Blaglady introduced me to this hobby a few years ago. But unfortunately for them I give them detailed, negative reviews and those ones they don't publish which really gets on my nerves. But now, this is critical. One of the things about studying & writing is that you have to try and write every day. So you can get feedback, improve your style, find your niche, get confidence, improve spelling and so on. So I'm going to start publishing my negative reviews on my blog. This will also help with my MA, where summarising books is a good skill to have, obviously especially if they're relevant.

So here goes:

Yes, the Spectator and the Telegraph rave about this book, but for most of us, who have to read it anyway as it's a core text on a reading list, we struggle to give it three stars. In fact the three stars it's getting is just in case any of the professors who have contributed to it and will be marking my work shortly might read this review and spot who I am. Anyway to cut a long story short, if you enjoy watching the History Channel (which incidentally in our house is called 'The War Channel') if you like Newsnight, Dragon's den, subscribe to the Economist and want to be a Merchant Banker when you graduate, then I suspect you'll devour it in less than 2 hours, and give it 5 stars here.

For me, it's a bit too much like nineteenth century historians would write about the twentieth century, for example on page 53 'Asquith stepped effortlessly into the premiership in 1908 and looked the part immediately'. You know what? I don't care about Asquith. That was under the 'Fiscal Crisis' by the way if that whets your appetite.

As it proceeds through the twentieth century it gets quite hilarious,as the book tries to stay up to date, almost as if the publishers want you to have it as a coffee table book and as if you'd pick it up to remember what was going on in 1992. So on page 414 there's a footnote 'It was not known that Major himself had had an affair in the 1980s with the Conservative junior minister Edwina Currie until the publication in 2002 of Currie's memoirs'.

It's not so much history as politics. The twentieth century is treated in the standard way of a progressively improving place with good chaps leading the way. Boring, turgid and ridiculous. And who, by the way, was the Metric Equivalents of Imperial Units Chart on page 6 published for? Some French metric historical political enthusiasts who might have picked up the book by accident? I wonder how many times the owners of this book have thought - ooh, how many hundredweights are in a tonne, I might pick up my Peter Clarke history text book to check?

I did like the prologue, where he looked like he was going to talk about interesting stuff like married women having 10 pregnancies, but actually the whole book is more like an instruction manual to the mood swings of prime ministers and imperial heavyweights.

Tamoxifen advice

They're being very strict with me about taking Tamoxifen and finally I'm getting used to it thank God.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Fed up with Facebook

Facebook is all well and good, but the problem with the real world is the rain. You never think 'Oh, I can't be bothered to switch on the computer because xyz might happen'. Yet tonight, with a nice invitation to go out and because I might, God forbid, get slightly wet and go to bed later than 10pm, I'm thinking 'I can't be bothered'. Yet I can be bothered to look at random photographs of strangers plus people I haven't seen for fifteen, twenty years and realise that on Facebook's stupid options you don't have 'sister' of friend or dare I say it, neighbour. I suppose in America people don't make friends with their neighbours because they're all rednecks.

If I sound bitter, that's because I am. We had another meeting this morning - me and xyz. Another friend of mine from a few years ago said 'Never cry in front of your enemies'. At the time I took this very seriously - ended up on medication for a while. Z said something similar this morning 'You've got to be dispassionate, forget the emotion, look at the legal intricacies'. I did a politician-esque speech in response to this saying that passion creates politics and politics creates the law. Yet, with superb irony and quite hilariously my voice broke half way through (through emotion of course) and I couldn't finish the speech, with tears in my eyes. So Z and my other friend from years ago are right. Of course.

Tony Blair's final speech had an impact on me, “If it is on occasion the place of low skullduggery it is more often the place for the pursuit of noble causes" about the houses of parliament. For me, belief is not science, because if I don't agree with something I WILL find the evidence to support my view. And that's what most politicians are like. Belief comes from passion not from science. And science comes from belief anyway - belief in something has to trigger where you're getting your so-called facts from.

People say, you've got to de-politicise xyz. I think, Politicise. Let's introduce 'neighbour' as an option on Facebook. It'd be a good start. Make friends with the Rednecks. Easier than doing an impression of Tony Blair at a meeting.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

We're moving to Leeds

Yes, sorry to disappoint all our London fans, and much in the same way that Posh and Becks have gone to LA, we're going to Leeds. Husband has got a job there, I've got family there, we can buy a castle, what more can I say?

Homerton hospital is back on course for its privatisation plans, the people using our drive as a toilet for both number ones and twos can carry on in peace, Leeds Bicycle Users Group are quaking in their boots, and my employers have cracked open the champagne.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Tatton for Governor

I'm standing for Governor of Homerton Hospital under the combined banner of the Green Party and Keep Hackney NHS Public. Against cuts and privatisation and for expansion of services. Anyway there's a postal strike today so because I posted my form yesterday means it might not get in. If I do get in to the contest, it's the first contested election I'll be standing in. I have stood to be elected before for things, but when nobody else wants to do it, so I've always got in.

I've decided already that if they try to do anything I don't like then I'll resign, so if I do get elected I might not keep the post for long. The other problem is that next year I'm likely to be very busy indeed. Doing my MA which I'm even more enthusiastic about than ever because of the National Audit Office report on dementia, this governor thing, which may not take off of course, and the job which I'm wanting to keep to as many hours as possible for financial reasons. And I'm enjoying it which is quite unusual for me. And my wifely duties, which take up much more time than you think.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Three Amazing Things (TAT)

1) I managed to get almost all my points across at an important meeting
2) My bank account is not overdrawn
3) I now have 36 friends on Facebook.

I do feel like it's draining my energy though - I know that's not an amazing thing, but I just can't keep it up. There's only so much time you can spend looking up your brother's school friends on Facebook, before the TV license man comes round and locks you up. Time I could be spending actually seeing or speaking to my real friends in the real world, in the new, fresh air pubs. Or paying the TV license. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if they used this blog in court on that issue. Or the other. In fact I'll just save all that time management nonsense and just hop over to the police station. Except I can cycle now. Ha ha. You see the fourth amazing thing pops up and we're back to FAT all over again.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Overtaking Men

My new bike is absolutely amazing, not only can I almost do wheelies, but I can stop quite quickly, I can go at what feels like a hundred miles an hour, the bike doesn't click when you push your foot down, and you feel like you're flying. And this morning I overtook two men. Just to clarify that amazing fact, I have NEVER overtaken anyone on my old 'KingCYCLE' bike - even the disabled, obese and children (sometimes all three in that category) would overtake me. And this morning, as I was zooming down Kingsland Road, which doesn't seem the death trap it seemed on Friday, I overtook two men on my way to work, as if I was in the Tour De France or something. And the fact that I was heading for a car door didn't faze me, I touched the brakes and hey presto, nearly over the handlebars, but yes, stationary.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Tatton Mayhem

There is an event on the mountain cyclists calendar called 'Mountain Mayhem'. My equivalent, which incidentally doesn't raise that much for charity funnily enough is called 'Tatton Mayhem'. It involves driving round North London with a lot of rubbish in your car, following policemen with Thai Brides taking you to fields. My husband lasted about 4.5 nano seconds. Then you spend what could be 5 lovely hours, but instead you're the inspector of some mobile toilets for the Royal College of Nursing, without any clinical wipes, literally sitting around. Your husband meanwhile has run off with the Thai bride, and her girlfriend, a phillopeno woman, selling off all your clothes for five pounds. And I'm not joking.

Welcome to the world of Carbooting. A bit like Dogging, without the celebrities. Anyway, to cut a long story short, we made about thirty quid, which considering we were selling off ten grammes of mould was quite good. We came back. I made a roast, we moaned again about friends on facebook not being categorised on 'carboot' level, then put Paolo on facebook and Phil is watching 'Coming to America'. Paolo is still on Facebook, but at least he's quiet. But Police Academy 2 is better - and we should know because we watched it about 2 minutes ago.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Tatton, Queen of the Elves

I'm sitting here trying to concentrate on blogging/facebook whilst Lord of the Rings is on. And just about getting away with it. It looks like I'm an enthusiastic minute taker of the dwarves of Gondor. Husband is none the wiser as the DVD is laced with a tasty combo of crack/cocaine/heroin. At least I think it is as I haven't got any other logical explanation for the clinical signs of addiction in this room currently.

TO be honest, I think actually watching a video of people going on their home computers and facebooking/googling/blogging is more interesting than this pap. The skulls of Gondor/Mandor/Horses/summoned dead/Endor/Condorman are on the screen now.

I'm thinking about my new bike (Specialised Hard Rock) and the carboot sale tomorrow. We're selling garbage to bargain hunters. We've done our research on Ebay and a lot of crappy shot glasses just go unsold, so we're banking on the normal Tattontastic 3pm 5p sale phenomenon that's shocked Holloway Road into elvish submission recently. They love it and last time lapped up mouldy, rusty crap at 5p a time. No doubt my Dad will get on to me about laying into my readership/clientele.

Call it arrogance, call it a sense of humour, but I think the Elves will reign supreme and see a break even at least.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Pouilly de Fume, Steak Au Poive & Tamoxifen

My wonderful husband cooked the most delicious Steak Au Poivre last night - despite having never cooked it before - whilst I relaxed supping Pouilly De Fume we brought back from honeymoon, which I thought was absolutely delicious combining bone dry excitement with gooseberries and apple. Marvellous, can life get any better? I was thinking to myself as I was browsing the National Audit Office report on dementia.

Finally a report comes out and I love it.

Tamoxifen is quite simply a different kettle of fish. Give me the national audit office report any day of the week. Tamoxifen, definitely a Tuesday night thing.

I quite like living up to Blaglady's 'odd blog' title.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Succumbbed to Facebook - after 5 nanoseconds

Rather than waiting for inspiration from my parents, which is hardly 21st century motivational management textbook speak (and I should know), I just emailed all the people in my inbox who I could be bothered to, who wouldn't be too offended to find out I was 'left wing'. And hey presto, I now have eleven friends. And I've put away all the clothes, started taking Tamoxifen at night, which is de-rigeur for all us sensitive people who hate it and other various things like pack the tea spoons I got for the office at the weekend.

Fascinating stuff. But more fascinating would you believe that the sort of stuff that comes up on Facebook. I'm amazed there aren't photos of people putting their rubbish out, cleaning their teeth and turning their ignition in their cars on their way to work.

I think it's for more arty people than me - you can see the people who've spent hours on their pages, doting every t and making themselves sound amazing.

Jealousy. One of the seven deadly sins I believe.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Flabbergasted by Facebook - the perils of 21st century friendship

There's been a lot in the media over the past few weeks about even old people like us having to get on 'Facebook'. And dare I say it, we have a few, Ahem, young friends who recently suggested that we may as well not live than not be on facebook. And one of my even older friends than myself sent me an email today requesting that I become a friend of theirs on it - she's got 61 herself!

So feeling bamboozelled, I felt I had to join - you can't see them you see if you don't. Anyway what was flabbergasting was that you register and then it automatically searches through your email addresses and shows you everyone in your address book who has a 'facebook' page. I felt like I was pilfering through peoples' underwear drawers and had to look away. The photos some of my so-called friends have up there are shocking. Most of them haven't got photos - they're the ones I know better and I have no idea what that means, if it does have a meaning.

Anyway to cut a long story short I'm not going to email any of my so-called friends asking them to be my friends as I don't want to disappoint myself if they then refuse to call me a friend. I might check what the etiquette is in these situations, or alternatively wait for my parents to do it, which normally means it's about time I did it.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

More Wedding Highlights

Nikos's Mum saying I'm the most beautiful bride ever.
Joe, Dad and Richie Rich Rich saying I was stunning
Phil saying I look amazing
Dad saying it was like a country wedding out of Pride and Prejudice with everyone milling around outside the chapel
Helen saying I'm the nicest person she's ever met
Auntie Enid saying that we radiated happiness through the marquee
Cheryl saying we were the happiest couple she's ever seen
Len's wonderful video with everyone saying their memories of us
And the dress is still immaculate

Friday, June 15, 2007

Photos are up!

It sounds sad, but I'm almost as excited about my photos being on the web than when I got engaged and when I got married. You re-live it you see. Especially with our photographer who is quite frankly a genius

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The problem with blaming yourself

The problem with blaming yourself is that it's the start of depression. If you can get out of that habit, like many politicians know, you're on the way to a relatively happy life. Last year when I had the world's most painful biopsy and had to take a week off work for pain, due to everyone's reaction at the time, I thought it was my poor pain tolerance. I now know that is absolute rubbish - yesterday I had the same procedure and today I am absolutely fine - in no pain whatsoever. It was how the nasty doctor did it - with insufficient local anaesthetic in the wrong place. The nice doctor (who is from Slovakia) yesterday let me hold Phil's hand, and I held the nurse's hand in my other hand. Not to mention a better, more gentle approach.

Other good news is that the wedding presents arrived yesterday - and we've unpacked and used some of them. The cats have already smashed one. Trotsky is a lot better (as you might hope after three thousand sterling pounds).

We've seen the photos and we love them - although I'm a bit disappointed that we haven't got some key people. But hey ho. They go up on the web at the weekend - can't wait.

We've reached a compromise with the Today programme and Capital - if I get up before Phil I'm allowed to put Capital on.

A beautiful mauve poppy has flowered today in the garden. Photo forthcoming.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Breaking A Golden Rule aka 'Don't bother to read this I'm just moaning'

My number one Golden Rule, which I'm about to break, is that Bad News should always be delivered face to face. This came from my days working at Hackney Council where we knew there were going to be redundancies, and someone from the finance team told me I was going to be made redundant - leaving an answerphone message on my mobile phone. I was devastated. When it came down to it, my manager at the time called me into his office and told me. It wasn't that bad like that. You can't really feel much when it's just you and this other guy sitting in the office with as much time as you want. You just want to go home and get out of there.

Anyway the 6th June isn't a very lucky day for us to put it mildly. On that day last year I had a mammogram - not that bad considering it was 6.6.6. Yesterday was in a different league. To start with all over the BBC was news that the NHS is £500m in surplus. This caused an angry row with me and my husband. Not particularly that we disagreed with each other, but because he said it wasn't healthy me getting angry about something I can't do anything about. My point was that the NHS is the most important thing we've got - more important than education as if you haven't got anyone to educate then you're b**gg**. So the point of it being in 'surplus' is what exactly? I said to Phil it's like Oxfam deciding it wants to put £200million in its reserves - in fact it's worse as this money is simply going back to the Treasury. To his credit, Hubby then emailed his doctor mates and asked them how many extra junior doctor training posts this 'surplus' would create. The answer is around 40,000.

This takes us neatly to the second unpleasant thing - Hubby still hasn't got a job in August he found out yesterday. Nothing unusual or too upsetting about that you might think, apart from the fact that he is a qualified surgeon, and that this news just isn't coincidental from the BBC's positive crappy spin.

Then the annual mammogram I had turned out not to be as straightforward as we were hoping. It was all very pleasant apart from the fact I've got to go back on Wednesday for a biopsy. Apparently there's what they're hoping is 'scar tissue' - and this needs to be confirmed. Last year I had to have four days off work - just because I was in so much pain from the dratted biopsy. The woman who did it was most unpleasant - she wouldn't even let me hold Phil's hand. It was awful - worse pain than the op almost. And everyone kept on saying to me 'But it's only a biopsy, what do you mean you can't ride your bike?'. Initially I blamed the woman who did it, later on I thought 'well they had to almost kill me to find out..'. Now I'm back blaming her again. Luckily this time I'm having it done at my favourite, local hospital and the lovely Polish or whatever she is, lady doctor, who reminds me a bit of Eva Herzegovina is doing it instead of the other horrible doc. But of course this news wasn't good.
I prepared so well for the chemo - Dr S said the best anyone has ever prepared for it - so it's not even worth thinking about having to have more.

Then I arrived home to be told a friend had died (yes she was v old and yes it was expected)
and then in the post was a letter telling me my grant application for funds for the MA course I want to do has been refused - because one of the forms got in late. Then this morning
taking Trottems to the Vet was much more traumatic than I thought - it took both of us to hold her as she was squawking in pain.

So deciding I was too fragile and not in a fit state to be at work I'm at home, 'Blogging my Way Through Cancer'. And I'd better stop before the thought police arrest me.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Honeymoon Heaven - and a dislocated hock

Technically I'm still on honeymoon - professionally at least. Not returning to work until Wednesday. Hubby has returned to work. The honeymoon was brilliant - a more apt word than wonderful I think - as it has a more refreshing quality to it. Refreshed is certainly how you feel after cycling 250 miles in a few days.

Anyway, we dined like Kings, drank like bishops and cycled like professionals, and felt, acted like and actually were newly-weds. How long does that title last for? I'm hoping a couple of years at least.

Everything has been so amazing the past couple of weeks I'm trying to draw out every second. So glad we got a videographer (we called him the Video Nazi actually - that's another story). Also so looking forward to the photos! That's one of my jobs for today - booking the viewing. Even my Dad said he thought the photographer was good.

We came back last week and found that Trotsky was limping. Phil, with some authority, said it looked like a fox bite. The next day it seemed a bit worse so I took her to the Vets. (Gay VET, Gay VET - sang to the tune of GAY BAR, GAY BAR - that's also another story). It is a dislocated Hock - or ankle. They've quoted us THREE THOUSAND POUNDS. Fortunately I ignored my husband's advice a year ago and the animal is insured, so we don't have to worry about that side of things. The service you get at the Vet is quite incredible. The Vet examined the cat and then said, I need to talk to the orthopaedic surgeon and in walks this other young lady, who concurs with the £3k price tag and diagnosis.

Yes, it's about ten times as good a service as the NHS, but at an infinitely inflated price tag, it's unethical for humans. And, in the words of Sara Cox, Wrong Diddly Wrong Wrong.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Yes, we are now betrothed and the wedding was amazing! Not just the happiest day of my life, but Phils too - and he said so in his speech. I want to record everything that happened before we forget all the wonderful things that weren├Ęt scripted. Like Venus, the Goddess of Love appearing at the end of the day, appearing to eclipse the moon; we went outside at about nine o'clock and there was the brightest star I've ever seen, right next to the Moon. An old farmer neighbour of Mum's was even out there staring and one of Mum's friends said she'd never seen it before.
We're on honeymoon now - Phil is in the hotel room synchcronizing the cycle map the company have given us with his palm computer. We want to do a food diary - had marvellous food again - but before we do that I'm going to list all my favourite bits of Saturday, 19th May 2007.
- getting ready with Nellie and Aoife and Sarah, the pink champagne and pink sapphire necklace wedding presents from Mr Morgan
- walking into the chapel and seeing all the familiar smiling faces of our friends and family - like Jules, Sam, Shirley and Derrick, Judith and Angela, Julia, Cathryn winked at me
- laughing with Mum and Jenny in the morning
- Elspeth's arch and the lovely flowers from Erica, the horsechesnut and hawthorn in flower
- Len doing the funny stories on video
_ everyone saying how gorgeous the dress was _ and me saying that Jo made it
- my little bridesmaids Poppy and Nina
- the ceremony
- looking into Phil's eyes as we say the vows
- feeling his hands on mine,
- Phil stroking and pummelling my hands as he's trying to talk to me with his hands, probably trying to tell me to keep still and stop looking round!
- Text from James
- John and Anni at the Chapel and their hugs
- the sunshine
- Joe and Aoife singing surprise 'Your love is going to last'
- Dad's speech
- Phil's speech
- Joe leaving easy care label on shirt
- Joel's speech - when Pete wheeled out their Nan's trolley
- Bridget and Helen getting on so well
- Aoife doing face painting
- the first barn dance _ Joe dancing funny
- Jo and Graham dancing together
- Mum dancing with cousin in law David looking happy
- having a Hartington beer with Phil
- Erica crying with happiness
- Anthony, Joe and Pete breakdancing to Salt N Pepa 'Whatta Man'
- Joe and Phil doing sound effects LONG NOOOOR for bus annoucements
- Nellie and Richard dancing to 9-5
- singing on the bus
- Horsechesnut flowering outside Elspeth's barn


Sunday, May 06, 2007

How to organise a wedding on Tamoxifen

1) Go for some acupuncture to negate the side effects of Tamoxifen
2) Delegate everything
3) Relax

It's getting to crunch time now - exactly who is coming to the wedding and that's the interesting bit. Some people who are only invited to the evening do are coming up for two nights, and some people are dropping out of the whole thing. And fascinatingly was my algebraic code cracking system any guide to this behaviour? The answer to this question is probably no, not at all. Fans of this blog will know that a couple of months ago I devised a genius plot to decide who to invite to the wedding. Potential guests were given a 3-4 digit code. A number to start with, based on the number of times I have seen them in the past 2 years, a letter from A to D for intensity of relationship ie A for very intense once I do see them, down to D for not very intense at all, in fact do they like me? And a Y or N if Phil has met them. So for example some people would get a score of 0DN - ie I hadn't seen them at all in the past 2 years which isn't a very good start, it's not very intense when I do see them, and Phil also hasn't met them. So really I was all set to cross them off the list. Then I invited everyone I wanted to, so the code was ditched. Anyway, what's happened is that some of the ODNs are quite keen and booked themselves two nights up there, a 1AY has dropped out totally, a what-I thought was a 0BN but is probably more like a 0XN now I think about it is not coming, a 2AN has dropped out and a 75AY is threatening not to come, those latter two claiming they can't afford it.

I think age should have been factored in a bit - the over 50s are the keenest, there's no getting away from it. Phil's quite disappointed that one of his 4AYs has dropped out and a 3AY of his has got a wedding on the same day. So today I'm sorting the wheat from the chaff (mainly AYs from the DNs) and some lucky people may get 'upgrades' and get an invite to the whole thing. That's if they want to as of course some people are so offended that they didn't get an invite to the day do in the first place they won't come at all now.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Gwen Stefani here I come

Apparently with my hair appropriately styled i now look like Gwen Stefani. Isn't she married to someone quite interesting? Anyway to cut a long story short I haven't got enough time to laze around blogging all day. Too busy taking unused IPODS back to shops and collecting packages that people haven't put enough stamps on. And I thought I'd be hand making all my favours like all the BEST BRIDES do. But I am a BAD BRIDE. Everyone thinks the hand carved pebbles is too big a job and would end up looking hopelessly amateurish, especially with someone with as much artistic talent as Spud from Trainspotting.

We watched that the other day, hungover, and we all felt quite pleased that we had mere hangovers, not uncontrollable addictions. Smug in fact.

I want to know the difference between smugness and happiness. Perception that's all. Anyway. I'm off to the Post Office.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

£250 free make-up - if you've had breast cancer

One of the brilliant things that they don't really shout about at Fulham's Breast Cancer Haven is the sessions where they give away £250 worth of free make up. You get a two hour session where you plaster it all on as well and we all look like a million dollars when we leave, even if we feel like tuppence hapenny. The session is actually called 'Look Good Feel Great'. I went yesterday, perfect timing for the wedding of course, although it felt like responsibility piling up on me rather than layers of free radicals, as of course you've got to put the time in to learn how to do the stuff. We were there for two hours - there are 12 steps apparently to make up. I looked a bit like Marilyn Monroe when I left - although Phil on his better days says I look like Boris Johnson. That's a step up from Andy Warhol. My hair has gone white blond you see. Another day, another hair style.

Today I'm planning to go to B&Q & 'hobbycraft'. One of my better ideas is to get some large pebbles and inscribe people's names on them for the favours - so they can use them as paperweights. We'll see how far I get with that bright idea.

We've booked the honeymoon - Hurrah - can't wait although it's a lot like hard work cycling 40 miles a day. Cycling in the Loire Valley. Phil has created a new, married blog for us. I want to call it 'Morganisation'.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bottling Happiness; Positive Stress

When you're depressed, they say to you 'you've got to think rationally'. But they don't say anything when you're happy. Thank God. I don't think there could be anything more irritating than when you're at your happiest people try and give you advice.

Yesterday I tried on the dress, underwear, veil, shoes and hair pieces all together for the first time and if I do say so myself it looked great. And the thing is, when little things go wrong when you're happy - like driving through a red light, cutting up a cyclist, paying £3.50 to park, not being able to park, you're not bothered. Even Adam Brimmeloe on the Today programme not mentioning the doctors' lobby of parliament didn't faze me. I carried on in my new happy busy state. Nuptial therapy. I might patent it, although St Paul and his incriminating letter to the Corinthians might sue me.

And we've still got so much to do - fake tan, lighter hair, eyebrows plucked, evening invites, speeches, favours, transport, water the plants, pay for the booze, get the shoes, nails, pamper session, look at the michelin guide, book the honeymoon, talk to the relatives. It's all go.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Everything is great!

Everything is great at the moment. Have a lovely new job with new people who are all wonderful. I have my wedding CD on at the moment - I managed to actually use the CD player. And I'm charging up my new IpoD to put all the wedding disco songs on. And the sun is shining and only a month to go to the wedding!

It's all consuming now - every second we're doing wedding related activities and I wish I could bottle the feelings I feel now to sample in years to come when I may have a blue day. If only life were so simple. I just can't wait to smile and laugh all day - but every second will be recorded to re-live at will. We've almost got all the outfits, everything is booked, and nothing is denting my amazing good mood.

Upside Down, Boy - you turn me, inside out and round and round! I'm crazy to think you're all mine. As long as the sun continues to shine there's a place for you in my heart - that's the bottom line.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hackney Holiday - Acupuncture and manicure

Had a great day which kicked off with some wedding debates - how many chairs to get for example. I then had a lovely long session of meditation where Marmite and Trottems joined me, gazing at the rose buds in the garden. In one of my many magazines it said that the new way of getting rid of greenfly is just smudging them off with your finger - apparently they don't come back, it's 'organic' and quick. Slightly messy though, and not convinced of its effectiveness. Those are the sorts of thoughts which come into your head when meditating and you have to quickly get back to thinking of nothing. Then I tootled off to my acupuncture session which was very refreshing and therapeutic. I immediately felt great. Holiday at home - not much can beat it, especially when you've got a little bit more money to spend than nothing.

My body now virtually tip top, I'm also getting more concerned with beauty issues - my nails were next on the list. And in true holiday style I had a manicure - from a lovely pregnant Indian girl. She was thrilled as the baby is the first grandchild, grand SON in fact, for her in-laws where she has moved to from Delhi. A wonderful hand massage together with beautiful nails.

Then I got home to work on bringing down the numbers for the wedding - which isn't a very nice job. I want everyone on my list to come, but realistically they can't. I've created a brilliantly logical system. Everyone is given a number to start with - number of times I've seen them in the past two years. Then an 'intensity' letter - ABC or D for the 'intensity' of the relationship A = intense. Then a Y/N if Phil has met them or not. So some people have got OBN like Order of the Brown Nose in Private Eye. Evening Do. And the great thing about that is that it's virtually unlimited.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Blogging my way through cancer

Early on in my diagnosis, Mum gave me a book called 'Writing my way through cancer' which I immediately chucked in the garden, and it is now almost ruined. I was annoyed as the woman was such a moaning minnie. In such circumstances one undoubtedly compares onself with AN other and this woman was a published writer, which got my green tentacles up to start with, she was about double my age, and the cancer was less dramatic. I didn't find reading about her whinging very helpful, especially then. Now I too can see the benefits of documenting one's experiences - in my case blogging. With blogging, as one's parents and friends, not to mention the Stazi, thought police, MI6 and the FBI are reading then you invariably have to make the thing upbeat and keep moaning, especially about anyone with two pence worth of power, to a minimum.

I do think it's a bit of a myth that creativity thrives on misery - surely good writing and art comes with practise and experience? So I'm going to try, against the best wishes of the Royal College of Censors, to carry on with my blog, even if it gets slightly dull with my limited propensity to moan.

And what else have I learnt or changed with the a) cancer/b) blogging/c) engagement (they all seem to merge into one and it's difficult to separate them)? Well from cancer - a) stay upbeat. Blogging - remember who pays the bills. You may think it's you, but actually it's the british tax payer and 99.9% of the time you don't agree with them so b) keep your opinions to yourself. Engagement - Enjoy and keep your eye on the budget (see b).

Monday, March 26, 2007

Two Amazing Things - Sunshine and Hairdressers

There's not much more amazing than these two things - sunshine and haircare. Sunshine especially when you're on holiday gives you this wonderful escapist, freedom feel. You've won the battle, the streets are deserted, everyone else is at work, apart from the Turkish hairdressers where there's two weddings. Especially carefree in a thoroughly Turkish hairdressers. There's continental drum and bass blaring out, the sun's bouncing off the floor and mirrors, a lovely breeze blowing all the ciagrette smoke away, foreign language whirring over your head, close your eyes and the sound of water splashing over your locks could be the costa del stokey. You're reading a book about frogs, get a haircut better than vidal sassoon for a quarter of the price and come out looking a little bit more like Kylie, especially now you're 55 kilos! Hurrah. Panic over about the weight loss. On top of that all the treatment has finished, bar Tamoxifen, which I haven't quite made my mind up about. And the sun is still shining. On my blonde hair...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Ten Amazing Things (Tat)

1) I am carrying on with my blog
2) Ten Amazing Things spells Tat
3) My blog is listed on Three Beautiful Things, so to show my gratitude I'll do the same, again
4) Blaglady says she bets 3bt isn't being investigated. Ha. But she has 'He who shall not be named'. I didn't bother with that.
5) Only people like Nelson Mandela and Mark Steel, not to mention most of the cabinet like Madelson and Jack Straw get 'investigated'.
6) Hits have gone up again
7) Profile views are at 500 nearly
8) I will not mention work again on this blog. Promise.
9) Are numbers 4-8 really amazing things? Surely I'm scraping the barrel. Funny can be amazing. Well, sometimes.
10) Watched most of Northanger Abbey and spoke on phone to Blaglady.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Not knowing what day it is

One of the things about being off work for such a long time is you don't know the day or the date at any point. The days merge into a sort of grey durge. And I haven't been on TOP FORM the past two weeks. The Radiotherapy has done its work - and finished - but left me feeling exhausted, a very sore left breast which is inflammed and that's apparently what's making me feel sick. But I start work next Wednesday, with an interview too and so has Phil.

I'm reading Possession by AS Byatt at the moment, which is a great read prior to me starting an MA in October as it's all about academia. I am hoping that all this reading is improving my writing - Mum always said that's the best way. I haven't found 'Possession' as good as 'Kitchen Confidential' in this respect. Perhaps I feel overawed by the quality of the former, overawed to the extent of total inactivity.

I think Mum gave me Possession for my sixteenth birthday - so it's taken me seventeen years to read it! And this sort of random fact makes you think about other objects and influences in one's life. What's the oldest object I've been given? Why've I kept it for so long? And what about 'services' you've benefitted from years ago. School teaching. But also learning to ride a bike, swim, read and talk. Skills that most people take for granted are passed down from parents. The wonders of science, rarely lost from the first generation that learns 'the truth'. AS Byatt's character 'Ellen' is given laudanam for a headache. These days everyone's got a stash of paracetamol or ibruprofen. And they're not addictive.

But - we may have to move. To the 'West Midlands'. Where Phil's got his interview. A big area. Phil's already saying Ludlow. I was impressed as it was mentioned yet again in 'Country Life' as the best place to live in the country. Not just for foodies. It has a good Council. Very tempting. For someone like me who values local government.

And I think we've decided to go ahead with the marquee on the school field. Yes, it'll be hassle but as Phil pointed out yesterday I've got four weeks of holiday to take before April as I've been off sick for so long. The gorgeous dress is finished. As soon as I'm better I can start getting excited about that again.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Philosophising whilst cycling

I'm cycling to my radiotherapy appointments every day which is an hour of exercise so the diet has been binned. And cycling is wonderful, the flats you pass with tiny balconies, the houses with still-to- flower climbing trees, the cafes with scents of coffee and curry, the long nineteenth century tree-lined roads with families on their way to school, the beautiful parks thronging with bird song,(which I can't identify and wish I could) even in the rain . Then at the bottom of Pitfield Street you arrive in the city, at a junction I'm so happy to say adapted for cyclists with a crossing for us and the pedestrians. Then we all cycle the same route (they always overtake me) and the buildings get taller, the pedestrians more numerous, and the streets darker. Finally I arrive on Moorgate and waiting at the traffic lights to turn on to the Roman London Wall and the sound of footsteps is hypnotic. E taught me to say 'Ohm' in my head whilst meditating and it's so lovely to do it just there, where right in the thick of the action all you can hear are thousands of feet softly tapping quickly to their different destinations. And I'm overtaken again as I wonder how many millions of journeys have occured on that straight road and how it might have looked two thousand years ago.

Mum's best friend J's philosophy was 'to enjoy life as much as possible without harming anyone else'. I love thinking about thinking, nowhere more than on my bike where if I think a dodgy not-nice thought I can quickly think about avoiding hitting the pavement or how wet my bum/hands/legs are. I think about Dave Gorman and his quest to find other Dave Gormans. And my quest to find other A. Tattons. We found one last night - perhaps the only other in the country - on 'my tube'. She recorded a twenty second song 'Santa Baby'; coincidentally on my birthday. She's probably twenty years younger than me. Are they any thirty three year old, breast cancer inflicted, ex-Kylie-Minogue lookalike, NHS manager, expert patient trained, engaged, left-wing, feminist, cat loving, arctic-monkey-loving, food loving, aspiring writer/historians out there with the name Tatton? I think about feminism and its economic basis - equality of pay but not culturally.

Then I arrive at the hospital and you're in and out in 2 minutes, while they play 'Coldplay' on their ghetto blaster and you're zapped. Inappropriate I think, as not only is it too gloomy but 90% of the clientele are over 50. I ponder the merits of not only the 'gowns' they give you, but why they can't give you a bag to put all your stuff in each day as you trail round from waiting room, to changing room to the space age treatment room.

And the journey home. Empty streets on the way back as everyone's at their desks. Jeeves and Wooster take me back to the twentieth century and I wonder how people become butlers.
We had a lovely meal last night - at the Three Crowns on the High Street. High Standards and not too high a price - Phil got the champers and the roses. I bought the meal. We both ate, listened, talked and laughed. That's twenty-first century feminism for you.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Spoke too soon - feeling rough

Quicker than you can say 'Feminism is dead - look at the popularity of Life on Mars' I feel ill again. An overwhelming tiredness, which even for me, is unusual in that it's stopping me watch 'Diagnosis Murder'. Also haven't done the jobs I wanted to do like book my hairdressing appointment (Phil now says I look like David Milliband and that, believe me, is below the belt). I haven't done things like put the tins away from the shopping. But the Tattonmeister came round yesterday for a short trip - he has now played on a grammy award nominated song so that's very good. He kept making me laugh - like when we tried to visit the Church Street squat and they wouldn't let us in because they were 'shut'. He said he was going to complain. Tiredness is one of the side effects from radiotherapy so I don't know why I'm so shocked. I was just hoping I might feel like doing slightly more interesting things than lying around dozing.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Happy again

It takes a hell of a lot to get rid of my brilliant mood from the 19th May last year (a certain proposal) so I'm as happy now just about as I was then, having recovered from chemo, psychotic episode, cancer, work etc. I've just submitted the application to do the MA I want to do in October and really looking forward to that. We've scaled down the wedding considerably - Mum has found a marquee for hire for £400 - ten times cheaper than the other one we had booked. We're going to get married late afternoon so we can get away with giving everyone one meal - which is going to be a buffet. And I've cancelled the creche - nobody seemed to be into that idea. I've read two books in the past week which I enjoyed very much - going through chemo I couldn't even concentrate long enough to watch telly or listen to the radio - had to do jigsaws. I've read 'Small Island' which was a look at post-war racism, but I didn't like it that much, couldn't empathise with the characters. Then I read 'the Time Traveller's wife' which I really loved - always had a fascination with time travel; examining questions of philosophy, free will and history.

My hair is long enough to have a parting now - although Phil's calling me Hitler, I think I look like Maria Von Trapp.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Change of plans

Had a terrible week of illness - just a nasty virus which combined with radiotherapy has left me unable to get out of bed most of the week. Just recovering now. This has put the wedding plans on the back burner, in fact on a slow, conservative, back-burner. In fact on a bunsen burner. Yes, the wedding plans are on the brink of being totally changed. Being genuinely sick all week has made me feel like the mutated son of Gordon Brown and Ebeneezer Scrooge on a Monday morning. The half pay is starting to bite, combined with daytime TV which seems to be constantly about 'Cash in the Attic', places in the sun, spendaholics, adverts for loan sharks and debt agencies. Inflation's rising, unemployment's rising & both me and Phil might be out of a job, interest rates are on the increase and polar bears are dying. It's starting to seem ludicrous to spend not hundreds, but thousands of pounds on one day when we haven't got that money. Yes we have 'equity' but it isn't cash. But then, our revised wedding list (of ten guests each) includes no aunties, cousins and hardly any friends. And what would I spend what in real terms will be £50K on? You can't get much for that these days apparently, apart from a decent wedding.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A wonderful day

Yesterday was Phil's presentation of his membership of the Royal College of Surgeons and it was brilliant. I was quite looking forward to the day - but we'd thought we only had three tickets to the ceremony - so I was opting out and just coming to the dinner. Then at the last minute the Royal College said there were spare tickets so I was able to come to the ceremony. It snowed yesterday so that made it memorable in the first place and les parentios came down the night before so we had a leisurely start with some bacon butties that really threw the diet out of the window to start with. We got a cab to treat ourselves and because it's quite reasonable split between four so we arrived in good time. And when we saw the flag with the coat of arms flying above the large building that set the day off to a great start. It's a huge building well designed for all the hob knobbing - plenty of reception rooms and halls to feel very grand in. The first hall where Phil had to register had a marble floor and a few statues, one of which had a bit of a tale to it. The lady who donated the marble floor and the statue (of herself and her late husband who was a surgeon) had fallen in love with the sculptor and wanted his ashes also deposited in the statue along with hers and her late husband's. But it didn't happen in the end as their love affair ended. There was a huge statue of John Hunter - one of the first proper surgeons where people were having some photos taken - and we didn't know who he was. To remedy our lack of knowledge we went to the museum, in the building, which was excellent. I think that was why I enjoyed the day so much - because Phil's and the other surgeons' awards were put so well in their historical context. And what an amazing historical context to be part of! With my campaigning on this and that - to try and get ongoing funding for the NHS, to help older peoples' services and promote equality - I can lose sight so easily of all the progress that's made by humanity for humanity over what are very short time scales. The museum and the Royal College of Surgeons pointed this out so well. It was quite humbling and awe inspiring to think of all the progress made by each one of the 200 or so surgeons in the huge Edward Lumley hall where they each waited for their handshake from Bernard Ribeiro, the President. That all the knowledge of past medical interventions is so quickly passed down from these highly qualified doctors to their less experienced colleagues. And as we were sitting there, waiting for the ceremony to begin I felt SO happy and proud, not just because of Phil's achievements but for all of us, as the surgeons had come from all over the world - Africa, Asia, New Zealand - and each of them probably saving more lives than John Hunter could dream of. Tears of gratitude and joy welled in my eyes. The anatomical knowledge which Hunter clearly studied in great depth is now simply taken for granted almost, we knew we didn't need to ask Phil what was what - he knows it - it's a given. And the machines from as late as 1957 just looked so old and out of date - yet this is only a generation ago!
I wasn't expecting the art to be as inspirational either - in the museum they had a painting of the original 'Siamese Twins' and in the Hall a Hans Holbein of Henry VIII handing over a charter to the original association of Barber-Surgeons. Awesome. I probably won't have such an enjoyable day until the wedding!

Monday, January 22, 2007

The anti-climax of finishing a good book

I was trying to make it last as long as possible, but I've just finished a brilliant book and now I feel deflated. I suppose I can always read it again, a bit like looking at your wedding album over and over again. I like looking at other peoples'. I suspect I won't even like looking at my own that much - but who knows? I just can't wait.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Rediscovering coffee, politics, John Wesley Harding and Claire Rayner

The new diet has meant that I've been recently giving up tea and coffee which has seemed unduly harsh. Well I'm having a lovely day with a delicious black coffee with organic sugar (it's a compromise), listening to John Wesley Harding reading Claire Rayner's autobiography. Phil is on a 24 hour shift. I'm thoroughly enjoying all of the four activities. Why Claire Rayner isn't Dame Claire Rayner is beyond me. She had a terrible childhood, and then through a lot of hard work and pure determination has had an incredibly successful life, helping others along the way.

The wedding planning is going very well. We've ordered the wedding rings, copying the in-laws every step of the way, hoping if we do so some of their happy married life might rub off on us! We're having engraved 'Anna & Phil forever' on the inside of each of the rings.

Radiotherapy starts on a week on Tuesday, the 30th. I'm hoping to cycle there each time which will see me exceed the government target of 1.5 hours of exercise each week. It'll be that daily.

My friend Robert also got engaged recently and we're going to his engagement party on Friday, and his fiancee D is a personal trainer who gave me a free session on Tuesday. There's some cellulite busting exercises which quite frankly I don't believe. It's too difficult. The fact is I can't motivate myself with exercise - it's boring. Unless I'm cycling. It's the quickest way to get from A to B in London.

Celebrity Big Brother has entered the world of parody. I know I was complaining that they edit everything out on the live programme. Well they've been showing racist bullying on the edited show. Thankfully the general public, politicians and the media have picked up on this and for once since Princess Diana's death I've been watching the news avidly. It's great to see racists get their just desserts and I hope Danielle and Jo also get evicted now. It's one of my favourite debates - Free Speech. How far does it go? Should we let anyone say whatever they like? Fascinating.

I've been watching the news more, and in fact getting involved - I voted on the Politics Show Prime Ministers Questions event. I feel better for it. Viewers had to vote with their phones (free) - you had to press 5 when you thought something someone was saying was good and 0 when it was rubbish. I pressed 5 when Keith Vaz MP asked Tony Blair about racism. And I pressed 0 when David Cameron asked Tony Blair about a stupid Home Office letter. They should do it for Question Time too which I also enjoyed. People seem to think that sexism is the acceptable face of racism. IE if we bully the bullies back then that's ok. Edwina Curry called the bullies 'b*tches' and 'sl*gs'. Dimbleby the Chair didn't pick her up on it - it was left to someone else on the panel. Why is that acceptable?