Friday, 29 January 2010

Stuffed sheep's stomach.

I should have been writing a blog about haggis!

We have been to two Burns suppers this year already and still have a big fat haggis in the fridge. Too many people invited us before we could invite them. Just as well because they put on a better party than we're going to. The first was an elaborate affair with about 30 guests in a Mansion house just outside the city. The hostess had been a drama and speech teacher so you can imagine the presentation was really quite dramatic, sadly the Piper had already been invited to another party, just as well since the noise of the bagpipes played inside a house is about as loud as a jumbo jet landing in your garden. There was an awful lot of audience participation which in years gone by would have scared the living daylights out of me, but the new me takes it all in my stride and is even prepared to read out poetry in broad Scots! The second, on Burns night itself was a much quieter affair around at the neighbour's house, then we could just relax and enjoy the food company. When we get visitors who are not used to Scotland we like to give them a taste of haggis, but not until they've had a couple of days to stew over the idea of eating this strange dish. Without exception everyone has enjoy haggis, even when they've been told what has been stuffed into a sheep's stomach to make it! Saturday, we will finally get rid of our own haggis with just a few close friends, no bagpipes or poetry, just a few glasses of wine or whisky for those who want it.

I finally went to see somebody about my strange voice. The tube went through the nose and down into the voice box and I gurgled a few sounds the for doctor while he a good look around. Quite relieved to find there were no nasty growths in there thank goodness. There was a lot of red soreness so I probably have silent reflux! I have been given yet another leaflet listing all the things which I should not eat or drink, if I add all the lists from all the leaflets have had over the last few years and taken more seriously I soon will be able to eat anything! Seems if you like it is bad for you, Haggis at least wasn't on the list. Next I get to see a speech therapist, perhaps I can turn this to my advantage, something has to bring back my old sweet voice!

The thought of something nasty in their has not helped my mood recently, hardly a record year on offer but at least it might help lighten my mood now that I know I'm not in immediate danger of popping my clogs! Though I have noticed that posts about death and fish gather more comments than just about any other posts I have ever made. Perhaps I should change the direction of the blog, perhaps in search of lost fish would be a better title and make me more popular, I shall have to think about this.

This post has been brought to you by the magic of new technology, I chat at the computer and sometimes the words I speak appear on screen and one day when it understands what I'm talking about I can imagine this could even be faster than my one finger on each hand typing. It certainly spells a lot better than I do but doesn't always understand my croaky voice.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

A taxing day

A visitor during the big freeze sent me a link to a site selling grippers the fit on shoes to aid walking on snow and ice. I suspect that now that the money has been spent on these things we shall not be bothered with the stuff ever again. Certainly anything threatened by the meteo fails to reach us at the last moment but it falls on the road to Glasgow! To get our moneys worth they are going to hang on the wall as an artwork so that they can be found if we are unlucky enough to get more bad weather, no doubt by then the rubber will have perished and they will not work. Not in optimistic mood after a fraught day.

A day of my life wasted.

If you are truly the worlds most incompetent computer programer you are probably employed by UK government to run their online tax system. Last year was a nightmare and finally refused to accept the codes to donate over payment to transgender charity as in previous years when done on paper. This year to be different it just will not let me in! Non of the passwords sent are accepted and noting tells you that after three attempts the system locks you out for two hours and the password is now void anyway! Only after waiting an age on the phone do they tell you this. It is all a pantomime anyway, they know they are not going to get anything from me and it will only cost them to process the account and then as usual they will send me a threatening demand for NO MONEY which must be paid by a certain date. This is almost funny but I know someone who has taken a job with the tax office to see him out till retirement and his department has written off several billion in overpayments which they can’t be bothered to chase down! He is a minion and wants to stay that way and not have this **** on his head, they know he is brighter than the fools in charge and keep trying to promote him but he wants to sleep with a clear conscience.

Monday, 25 January 2010

16 1/2 inches, 42 cm.

Evidence for Anji, see he is not moving any more! must have been ageing, lost a lot of bright colour. Yesterday after a good vigourous swim about for the first time in his life he came up to the surface and had a good look at me face to face!


The kinetic element to pond life is no more, it is not just sleeping, it is an ex fish and from the way it has been playing with me and my emotions these past two weeks obviously a Monty Python fan!

Funeral was a private affair, just family, at 2 pm gmt.

You were a brute but we miss you.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Blue sky day, blue sky thinking.

If I have seemed a bit off form and lax in posting these last couple of months it could be that I have not been the happiest of bunnies. My old sweet voice has turned to a croak and I am still waiting to attend an appointment with ENT to see if there is anything obvious causing it, it could be the meds. to keep the bones in tip top condition! A little HRT could help do that job but I am still waiting for that box of sweeties. My local health service has given up on me, took their time! I have been passed on to a clinic which has turned out to be a bit over 180 miles roundtrip.

I had called to make an appointment in the second week in December when the letter arrived and I was given the choice of early on the next Monday just 60 hours hence or today. I had something arranged for the Monday which would take so rearranging so I went for today with the risk of awful winter conditions to contend with. As soon as the phone call finished I set about rearranging my Monday so as to be able to call back and hope the Monday was still open. By now it was lunchtime so I left a message to make the change and I would call back to confirm later. No calls either way worked all afternoon so I was resigned to a five week wait for an appointment for I knew not what! I presumed it would be endocrinology since that was the department which had thrown me out but… I emailed someone who had been to this clinic to get some idea of what it was like so as not to arrive totally cold, then I started to stew. This is someone who refused to say that their appendix was grumbling because I did not want to be on a two year countdown on a waiting list, I don’t do well stewing like that. I eat too much and gain weight and with this miserable weather have not had much exercise!

As predicted but times ten! The weather has been beyond anything we have seen since 1981 when we smart enough to spend a month in northern France enjoying the winter markets and the fabulous christmas food that was available and missed it all. For over three weeks it has been almost impossible to even get the car out to the road and everywhere has had walkways of solid ice causing record numbers of broken bones. It is not a good time to be dying, all the long term beds are full of multiple fracture victims! Local authorities have failed to stock salt since we have has a few mild winters, this is like not having a fire extinguisher because there has not been a fire for a while! As it turned out it has been the best day for a couple of months and Glasgow, a city where webbed feet is almost obligatory was mild dry and bright. This was going to be a solitary trip, who in their right mind would put themselves through such a trip in the winter if it was not necessary? Julie never questioned the calendar note and I would have slipped off for the day and then done some me things in the city after the 11 am visit to the clinic but stir crazy Julie saw the weather forecast and declared that she wanted to come for a visit to the refurbished Kelvingrove museum. We used to visit this city quite regularly but as the places we were interested in slowly closed down or changed we have only passed through, we finally worked out it had been nearly a decade since we had spent a day there together!

As luck would have it the museum is only a short walk from the clinic so all was arranged. The drive through was an eye opener, mile after mile of near stationary traffic heading into work in numerous place, we arrange our travel to avoid traffic, a minute holdup at lights is a traffic jam to me. Then there were countless miles of the only east west road completely dug up for rebuilding, about a year so far! 40 mph limits with camera controlled average speed limit computer system did not help. So instead of a lazy coffee in the museum cafe then a lazy saunter to the clinic I arrived with only six minutes to spare, no coffee.

The clinic was quite busy with dozens of people waiting in the reception area many of whom seemed to have interestingly contracted infections if what I overheard was correct. I was given a short form for personal information to fill in and told to wait in the first floor waiting room. I just had time for bladder relief and tidy up myself then a couple of minutes in an empty waiting room to myself before I was called and led to a very small room and given a seat. I felt a little naked with no nail colour but I had wanted to be able to show my poor shattered nails. Julie had marvelous nails when she was on HRT, now for the first time in thirty years she has longer stronger nails than me. Suzy who had met this doctor had not mentioned a salient fact which became obvious within microseconds! There was not going to be much discussion about my nails or my interesting blood chemistry and no new blood was going to be sucked out, this was going to be the kind of intimate chat I had manage to avoid for a long lifetime! I was trapped and all that anxiety about this sort of situation had not prepared me for the actuality.

When he started by saying “we have an hour” I knew I really had been caught!

“Do I want to ask any questions?” was an easy start. I was lost for words so let him start his interrogation. Clearly this guy has watched all those spy films where enemy agents are encouraged to cough up all their deepest hidden secrets. I have been absolutely open with my thoughts and memories over this last year on my blog and have covered quite a range of time and experiences over the last year. His interrogator seemed to suck most of that out in this one session!

Something had clicked in my head that said here is your chance to say what you feel once and for all, at last, for better or for worse there would be some sort of record. Being me I answered all questions openly and honestly even when they sometimes brought me to moments of emotional speechlessness. I also said exactly what I thought about the process the system puts us through and what I thought was absurd and back to front about it. All together it was really cathartic and I was left feeling like a tension had been released. At that point he said well I am the psychiatrist you have always feared and now you will have to come back for another appointment with another to see about desired drugs! Oh well. And then the killer statement “that he felt that he could support me for as far as I decided to take this process…”

Knock over with feather springs to mind! I know we covered a lot of ground in what turned out to be an hour and a half and I had said things which I thought would count against me, I only wanted a box of sweeties and something which I had never imagined possible, in fact had been told forty years ago would never come to pass has been dangled there as an attainable goal on day.

I have been through a second grilling and the mood in the house is strange to say the least. I have said that this was a step I did not think I would be able to take or one I would ever ask Julie to have to support me through but suddenly as if the seriousness of my state has become totally clarified and authenticated has subtly changed from accepting to supportive. Will she still be like this when she has had time to sleep on it? Just what will the future bring? I just don’t know.

Friday, 15 January 2010

My rotten French

ready for the next power cut.

Thought it was time that I started to try and improve my French from horrendous to bearable. Naturally since we are trying to organise the contents of the house, a Herculean job, nearly everything we want to find is now buried and lost. My prepaid prescription card, worth a hundred times it’s weight in gold has vanished off the face of the earth and the French CDs have also gone into hiding.

More relaxing and entertaining would be to watch French movies, they are always entertaining and so unlike anything the brits can manage. We watched two on consecutive nights, one recorded off air the other a DVD. Both had subtitles which could not be switched off, great you are probably thinking, compare what is said to what it means.

The movies we watched were, La Vie en Rosé and Ma Vie en Rosé.

One was about a crazy drunken singer who seems to have drunk herself to death the second a really sweet film about a child who knows that she is a girl but the rest of the world thinks she is a boy and boy are they going to make each others lives as miserable as hell to prove it, naturally once everyone is thoroughly miserable they realise they were stupid and wrong and possibly some of them live happily ever after.

Though well made I would pay not to see the first again, the second while full of angst I would, did watch again.

So has it helped my French any? Well my hearing is getting slightly worse with age and I do find it quite difficult to hear exactly what is being said. Sadly I hear and understand enough to know that the person who writes the subtitles fancies themselves as a writer and feels free to write a slightly different story to the one on the screen! Enough of a difference for you to think they have put up the wrong subtitles! I don’t want to have to read the subtitles all the time I want to watch the film, rather miss some of the dialogue than be driven insane and have to keep groaning out loud or howling when they get it completely wrong!

Well this is not going to be much help, have to seek out some discs where I can switch off the titles.

My biggest difficulty is that I can often follow a conversation in a group without any pressure put on me to join in. Sometimes I make the big mistake of letting on that I have understood what has been said, even stupidly laughing at a joke someone has made. This has resulted in scary face to face dialogue with someone who switches on high speed, never have to stop to breathe, dialect and I am like a rabbit in the headlights, moments from death! I never paid “any” attention to French at school since I knew that I would never need to know it. Seems that I could have ignored most of the things I did listen to for they are mainly useless now but this one thing would have been some use. The little I did learn from a teach yourself French book weeks before the final exam, which the teacher told be in an honest but demeaning way that I would never pass, is so old fashioned it is of almost no use now. For a while I was quite good at building site French so was good with words foe hammer, nails, screws, joist, buckets and trailers and will never go hungry in a restaurant for want of understanding the menu, menu as in English is quite different from menu in French!

Time to start thinking about how to put on a show in the chapel gallery in May, seems an eternity away but time melts like the snow. I have the audience! Going to improve the French tourist economy all by myself! Now have to experiment with presentation so as to be able to get it all in our wee car. Spent a while today with an artist friend who’s work I like and we played with some painting ideas to create interesting substrates to mount the images. I am not going to frame and glaze a show as I normally would, time to start experiments...

If this is all a bit disjointed I blame it on yet another power cut plunging us into darkness and messing up all the heating controls and clocks and the fact that you are getting stream of consciousness post as usual.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

2D or to do 3D, that is the question.

As requested by Melissa, now remember film reviews is not what I do...

I have been to the movies, first time we have been able to get out long enough to see anything for nearly a month. Forgot what heat was, there was enough to have melted most of the snow we had just in that cinema, probably to force you out to buy a cool drink but the film was so long it already tested bladder function to the limit.

So if you have an enormous pile of money, almost enough to make most of all the other films made this year can you mix live and animation in a realistic way? Can you make actions fluid and natural whilst maintaining beautiful compositions even through the most complex changes of point of view in animation or camera movement with live action? Yes. Makes me think they were fans of Stanley Kubrick.

So bad guys want to plunder the resources where there is already an indigenous stable ecosystem. The thugish mainly male grunts have loads of vicious weaponry which they are happy to use to get their way if they can’t buy their way in by offering a few buttons and to build roads where non are wanted or needed. A few scientists are allowed in not so much to do research as to communicate with the humanoids via human / native clones.

Now it becomes heart of darkness / apocalypse now, those sent on a mission are converted and go native. Like vietnam huge military might of fuel bombs and airborne fire power and troop landings fought with primitive weapons, ask those who lost soldiers in vietnam to bamboo sharpened and poisoned.

Once you have seen the principle characters much of the plot is not going to surprise you and you can tick off plot points you have guessed as a sideline but the presentation and in depth magical environments are wondrous to behold. He net told me it was to be regular presentation which is what I wanted to see first but on arrival it was 3D but being cheap Tuesday we could afford the extra price. When film changes presentation there is often a phase where the technology gets in the way and the new form is poorly understood. Trailers for some films showed this, girls bouncing on trampolines assets wobbling towards the camera in a gross fashion, exaggerated perspectives euch! This film was restrained in it’s use of depth in sound and vision, a few items fly towards you to wake you up and some delicate atmospherics fill the cinema in a few scenes to great effect.

You could not see who the good guys were by them having macs, in the future all computers are going to be great but the really good guys don’t have them or need them, they live in peace and harmony with nature.

Highly recomended, if I ever et the chance to see it in Imax I shall, Oh, the film.




Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Learning in the dark

So why would anybody want to buy a laptop? Well the power has gone off for the forth time today and there is not much you can do in a modern home, albeit one that is a hundred and sixty years old, at 21.45 without power on some sort. This wee beauty is all charged up now that I know not to leave it in sleep mode! Spooky backlit keyboard glowing in the darkness, life goes on. Power went off some days ago during the really cold spell, food was cooking and had five minutes before the potatoes would be ready, we just kept sipping our glass of wine and chatting to our guest who had even brought most of the food due to her guests stuck in snow. No panic, in the days of “T” I would have probably rushed around looking to find emergency light and make suredoors etc were closed to conserve heat. Sometimes now I think that I am too relaxed but when the car slides on ice it gets corrected without drama and heightened sense of urgency, I do not miss the “T” high alert mode at all. Days ago power was restored in less than an hour and we hardly noticed, this is starting to look more serious. On the positive side temperatures are not too low outside so the water pipes will not freeze if this goes on too long but it is no longer cold enough to keep the contents of the freezer cold. We once visited an old privately owned stone tower house using our name and it’s being the same as an excuse. The owners were very friendly and delighted to show us round, they said that if the heating went off it took eleven days before the walls stopped radiating stored heat but it also took eleven days to warm the place up! This house is not dissimilar with two foot thick stone walls and cold air circulating behind the plaster interior walls. I never thought I would end up living in a mseum piece like this house since I had been dreaming of building a functional modern house since I was running round the foundation trenches of the house my parents were building from the age of eighteen months till I was three. The house they built was single story because my father had lost a leg during the second world war and since most of the building stock had been damaged in the air raids there was little choice of suitable accommodation available. The house was the envy of all their friends and was much better than most I ever visited as a child but already I could see the faults I would not build into a house when my time came. I aproved of most of the plumbing being kept simple and direct to the outside, little chance of damaging the fabric of the building with a pipe freeze, no drain ever got blocked like it does with modern narrow plastic pipes. What really frustrated me most was the siting of the house central on the plot and fore-square to the road completely failing to utilise the sun. This house is exactly the same, positioned to not absorb any solar heat except on a blank gable wall and a little in the bathroom in the mornings! Victorians, often praised for their ingenuity and drive were a bunch of fools and not as good at building as their reputations would have you believe. We have to spend a large proportion on ever increasingly expensive energy to keep this place habitable when just turning the building ninety degrees to face a better view and moving it’s position by ten feet would have given a house with solar heated rooms for most of the hose and a fully utiisable garden. I would also have been able to sunbathe in the house without being overlooked and never had to suffer the winter SAD syndrome.

BPC, earlier today we were able to get the car out onto the road because of yesterday’s effort to drain away the melt water. This allowed us to visit broken arm girl who said she could not get up her driveway and therefore could not attend her hospital appointment to check out her bones and bone density. We arrived to find that she was not joking or just being over cautious, the drive made ours seem like nothing, this we could not even stand on because the dripping from an enormous tree had created a beautifully thick curved ice sheet. The only option I could see was to drive down then chip out tracks in the ice to allow us to drive out again. Getting a lot of exercise at the moment!

While the bones were being checked we headed for the cafe, hardly needed to have organised ipod and reading matter since this was the lace to be to met people! Three cousins stopped to chat, two visiting old friends incarcerated in the hospital and the other just in to negotiate an early retirement from the madness of the hospital, who will see to our skin defects now? His son inlaw works in emergency in another hospital where they have lost count of the broken bones due to the uncleared pathways and roads, would you stop keeping fire extinguishers just because there had not been a fire for awhile! Stopped off for messages (supplies to you) then returned broken arm home, In a year or two full function may return, take care out there. Gale has promised us only a short respite before more snow, perhaps this time it will be something I can use the cross country skis on.

Ideas for my exhibition at the end of may are setting now, it has to be portable enough to fit into our wee car for the thousand mile trip there and look good when up. I have not given up all hope of sales but it is an unknown market and anything which comes back will find a new use in the future. Really this is a vanity project which will liven up my wilting CV. As you may remember it is an interesting old chapel building in a village within sight of the Mediterranean and the show runs for three weeks from the end of May. When I have been asked what I am up to this is the most interesting thing I have planned for the year, the rest is house repairs, so I tell them about it and casually say that they can come to the opening if they want. Seems that quite a few want!

tI am not to sure why they want to come to this opening but I have had to phone my sister inlaw and give her the news that there are going to be ten of us flying, training or driving in for the event and a few days each side. Perhaps I have oversold this event or the draw of time in the south is a stronger draw, anyhow we have a house party of some of my closest family and friends. At this point I loose track of reality for a while and drift into a world of speculation, what if we are all enjoying ourselves at a beach party or having a celebratory meal back home with some of our French friends joining us, would this not be an ideal time to slip in a declaration of who and what I am while everyone is relaxed on the local produce, it is the countries' largest wine region! If we go to the beach I may have to confess anyway though I doubt many would want to come to my favourite beach where confessions should be unnecessary if they just use their eyes.

Two hours and the town is still in darkness. The hater of candles has given up and decided to go to bed, not a romantic bone in her body. It is a couple of hours early for me but before it gets cold I think I shall join her but take the iPod incase she starts to get noisy.

We survived, after a couple of hours of random music I paid a visit and between entering the bedroom and reaching the bed the led on the radio alarm came on. A quick walk about the house to switch off anything which had come on by it's self then went to see why the heating was not making any background noise, it took nearly two minutes to work out that I was in a cupboard with a torch and the power had gone off again! I know it came on again soon after four am because a friend was woken with her bed vibrating! She had been looking after the neighbours young kids and they had found something interesting to play with!

The world is grey dim and wet today but after nearly a month we can get out to the movies and it is cheap tuesday, even better so Avatar here we come at last.

Laptops are a bit quirky and this pages file did not want to open on the old imac not on snow leopard, any ideas why?



Monday, 11 January 2010

Haggis flavoured crisps

The weather forecasts have proved wrong and the icy blast from the east has abated for a while and water has taken liquid form for the first time in over three weeks. This is not always good news since the water has to go somewhere and that is usually into large pools of slush which can freeze into worse ice sheets than was there before. In years gone bye many of the neighbours would be out to clear the streets but I seem to be the last one prepared to carry on the tradition, it will die out with me I am sure. If the gutters are not cleared the slush is so viscous it hardly drains away, having solid ice in the gutters from all the cars which have slid to the curb gave me quite a workout for an hour and a half. Having a call to rid myself of the mug of morning coffee I decided to be lazy and traditional for someone with my body. Still having some of the original equipment albeit somewhat reduced I thought I should try to write something in the snow, you never know there is always an outside chance I may never get the chance again. Down went the zip and I went to aim the thing but where the heck was it! The cold can cause some shrinkage but the darn thing had disappeared! With cold numb fingers it was a real struggle to get the thing out to perform. Then I forgot that I was going to write something! Short term memory loss!

Before coming back in for lunch I decided to remove the pond ice which was now 3 to 4 cm thick after a little melting. The fish gave me a long look but I have no idea what it was trying to say, “fooled you” I expect. Seems happy enough now but in less than a minute I had lost all feeling in my hands so if I was a fish I would have given up years ago.

Friends had not had their traditional meal for friends this year because one of them was to have gone in for a cataract operation the first week of the new year so were trying to clear up their lives for the lost weeks to come. Naturally the whole thing was cancelled the their grown son arrived home feeling unwell, pig flu! This has messed another tradition which is to arrive just before christmas with a hand delivered card only to be invited in for a glass of wine which never gets empty for hours and hours. Since we now had some clearer paths we decided to go and claim a drink today, half the day vanished as we put the world to rights. We may yet get the meal if the operation does not happen in the next few weeks, things are looking up again.

Some days we have had some glimmers of sun which is now slightly higher in the sky, just skimming the roof and chimney scape around us. The only room which gets sun at this time of year is the bathroom so I have spent some time on personal grooming so as to expose skin and with luck generate some vitamin D. I am certainly feeling much better than last week so shall keep this up for a while longer if the sun shines.

More snow is forecast as the warm Atlantic air meets the Siberian blast so my trip to the west next week is still a concern but these days I hardly worry about much so shall wait and see. The forecasters have an easy job, say a disaster is on the way and if it comes we have been warned and if not we still feel happy not to have had it to deal with!

Our regular weather presenter “Heather the weather” has gone off to promote science to children “Gale” now seems to have taken over!



Friday, 8 January 2010


The sight of the poor old fish nestled on amongst the weeds, head down and tail bent at a poignant angle just below the ice was too much to bear even if this had been such a miserable bully to all his companions. I found an old iron poker and a sharp edged stone and set to work in the arctic conditions to release the body from it's macabre resting place and find it somewhere out of sight for it's eternal rest. The poker worked some small holes in the inch of ice then I set about joining them with the heavier stone which started to move the sheet of ice and then the fish's tail which spooked me a little but not as much as when the whole body slumped deeper into the weeds. As I rested, wondering how I was going to reach an arms length down into the icy depths to retrieve the body, this water numbs a hand in seconds in the summer, the body gave a great twitch and then a few seconds later righted itself and swam off as if nothing had ever happened and is now slowly cruising about again. Guess I can't spend that money on anything but fish food now!

Thursday, 7 January 2010


Yesterday I made a short video of my fish swimming happily in the pond. I have just done a small photographic job, first for months and was going to post that I have earned enough to feed the fish for another year. After more than twenty five years it decided that it had had enough and is at this moment a really frozen fish! Weather is coming from Siberia rather than the Caribbean so we have as low as -20C or -4F where some my friends live just north of here. Fish had it's 15 minutes of fame!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

party shoes walking on a cloud

outdoor christmas tree with snow

indoor christmas tree with angel

deep frozen fish

Hardly got the decorations up and it is time for them to come down again. Fake tree this year since snowed in and cannot not find one locally any more, all the best glass balls are just too heavy and still in the box till next year. Would have cut down the tree in garden but it was under deep snow before christmas. Julie had to take down the tree because I found myself with one of my rare online chats, she managed with a minute to spare so is not damned for ever. Party shoes (only shoes I own except gardening shoes!) can go back in their box. End of fun for a while.


The sun came out for a short while and I soaked up a few rays to generate some vitamin D. If I have been quiet for a while It is because I have been feeling a little down, perhaps a little SAD which used to affect me at this time of year and there has hardly been a glimmer of sun for weeks. More than that was negative introspection which I hardly ever do these days but sad to say the happiness of some whose blogs I have followed for a long while are taking the final step as have several in the recent past and no doubt some of them will soon vanish from our part of the net. This has highlighted the realisation that there is almost no chance that I shall ever be able to do what they are doing which has left me in a state of empty stagnation which is hard to shake off.

The sense of isolation many of us felt before the net has long vanished. All of us who grew up thinking that we must be the only ones like us in the world and terrified to mention it to another soul. Now we read daily of the huge numbers of us there are and the equally huge number of ways we find of dealing with it according to our individual circumstances of age, health, wealth and outstanding relationships. Some of these accounts fill us with joy in the knowledge that we are not alone , others rip out the heart when you hear of how your situation can now sometimes be dealt with and someone can live a life almost as if nothing had ever happened. While I have long been resigned to my personal fate and am not an envious or jealous person I will sometimes suddenly fall into a hole of wretchedness like now when those who were on a similar journey are suddenly at the last hurdle and probably about to slip quietly out of your life. When so many have gone in the recent past and another two are on the brink it does highlight your own position with a searchlight for a while. I have just had the best year of my life after half a century of fairly worthless years but at the moment I can’t help feeling gutted and hopeless and lacking in the energy to fight the next round of random bureaucracy in the health service and hold out little hope that they will be able to restore the voice which has been reduced to an embarrassing hoarse croak let along give me the sweets I crave because of my health.

A month from now with appointments attended and the iced roads melted away I may have bounced back to my new old self again. If any posts seem below par for the next while, at least you know why. There are an infinite number of ways we have of dealing with this transness and I realize that those who go for surgery are in reality the lucky small percentage who manage to find the support or finances. It is not even my highest priority since given the choice if I had the choice I am sure I would choose to improve my appearance before changing something which nobody may ever see. This makes me feel even more stupid to be feeling so low. My best wishes go out to those who are making this final step.

There has been a break in the weather and after a workout clearing the slope up to the road the car finally got us to the shops to stock up , now good for another two weeks if need be. Julie was getting stir crazy even though we have been getting visitors who could drive up to the front gate on the flatter road. Nearly twenty years ago I helped a friend dismantle an art installation of a driftwood shack marooned on an ice flow, table salt was used for ice and was going to be junked at the end of the show when it was no longer white. I hardly need to tell my regular readers that I rescued about three hundred pounds of salt for keeping my pathways clear of ice. I went to get some of this endless supply only to find that it is now down to the last couple of plastic milk containers which it has been stored in ready for sprinkling. There is no salt of any kind available for sale. After over two weeks the road in front of the house which leads to the local health centre has finally had a few grains of salty grit spread, just not enough to do anything.

While we were out we visited broken arm girl to stock her up on supplies and deliver her christmas presents and another friend who seems to have been left alone for a couple of days while wife and daughter go on a fun trip! They both live on the cleared main roads otherwise we would not have risked it.

Hope all misery passes before next post.



Sunday, 3 January 2010

winter wonderland?

Christmas has never been a favourite time of year for many reasons.

Born into times of austerity presents were few and you can guess why they were never anything that I could have possibly wanted, even the books were aimed at boys and were never opened!

Parents were quite self centred so there was little sense of christmas being a close family affair, very much children should be seen but not heard.

Now the attention is on over indulgence and wild present distribution which is problematic for someone with very limited means and still in the position of receiving inappropriate gifts! I hate the wast of gifts which are clearly of no use and have tried to instigate local rules to restrict gifts to consumables and am gaining a following now that more are reaching retirement. If you are the kind of friend whom I can meet for coffee then you were probably lucky enough to get classy hand made chocolate of one kind or another. Nothing of note came our way except two very nice New Zealand wines from my friends mother who got something Chanel in return. Why didn’t I get a mother like this?

The one thing I do like is decorating a tree but this year I never go a chance to buy one with the weather. I would have cut the one I have growing in the garden but it was laden with frozen snow so I put up a fake tree which could not even take the weight of the fancier glass decorations which I have collected. I splashed some pine essence about to try and fool people and some were fooled but what a let down.

It hardly ever snows where I live but it did some time before christmas then turned to inch thick ice on the roads and walkways. Since all politicians sing the mantra of global warming the one thing they have done is cancel the order for grit and salt to make the world safe, many have not ventured out for weeks now since each night any slight thaw becomes sheet ice over night. Having already had a practice sliding when the frosts first came to get my hand in I have been out twice. The first I wrote about in a previous post but just after christmas I once again launched the car from the garage with maximum acceleration to throw it up the ski slope to the icy road behind the house, then headed out into a short blizzard to a friends wedding. It was to have been a very quiet affair, just the couple their children and witnesses. Since I had said some time ago to my hair removal torturer that I had had a similarly quiet wedding the had a birthday party the same day where it was announced she thought we were on the same wavelength. Somehow since our last session it all went awry with the arrival of australian cousins who invited themselves to her party and suddenly it was cars and bridesmaids (not me Jo). I took a few photos then went on to the party later on where I got lost in the vastness of new build footballers mansions with little in the way of signage so there were a lot of snowy handbrake turns before I found the venue. Typically for a wedding a bit late was too early and I had the company of another guest, Jill, who had been given a lift out to the wasteland. When it all started up it was not my sort of party! It had been lent by one of said footballers and was a bit flashy, lets just say none of my friends have a dedicated play room for parties with a fully stocked bar, juke box, slot machines and a shiny chrome pole in the centre of the room! I am sure that ceiling did not need that support.

New Year used to be the big event when I first came here 40 years ago and christmas was hardly bothered with with many still working till the last minute and straight back to work immediately after but took a long break at New Year for days of visiting friends and lots of drinking. It was not uncommon to find yourself invited into strangers homes to welcome in the New Year especially if you had some drink with you. Ten years ago we had a party to which we invited an Australian woman who was exchanging for a year with a teacher friend, she came almost directly from the airport. In the early hours of the morning I walked her home since she hardly knew where it was, she was more than a little surprised when we found ourselves drinking and chatting for hours in homes along the way, she must have wondered what kind of country she had landed in. Now hardly any of this seems to happen and you can’t have a drink and drive home and this year you can’t even stand up in the icy streets.

The forecast is for another week of below zero so I am going to hibernate, we have some rooms so cold that we do not need a fridge. Our christmas present to ourselves is gas for the heating!