Wednesday, November 30, 2005


This day has proved another one of average inactivity, although I did get around to preparing the Christmas round-robin. It really is strange how, for special occasions, we prepare a communiqué for those with whom we have had no, or at most minimal, communication for the preceding 364 days. I suppose a brief summation of ones life situation has a certain validity but, perhaps brevity is of the essence.

Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way yelling a Scrooge-like “humbug” at Christmas preparations, I leave that to my friend ‘The Oxcliffe Fox’ and, I don’t really see too much wrong with a tasteful round-robin for the Christmas period. In fact, the winter solstice is a fitting time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the year’s turning point being a suitable time to celebrate the one who by his life turned accepted values and expectations upside down. Little changes as the years pass by; the child of Bethlehem, for expressing views that challenge the status quo, is hounded to his death by the religious and the imperialist occupying forces. If only I could see the parallels …!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Todays Giant Leap

Step One: Pick up a telephonic communication device.
Step Two: Using normal digital dexterity, depress the relevant buttons.
Step Three: Confirm and dispatch the input digits.
Step Four: A voice acknowledges that contact has been achieved.
Step Five: [This is the big one].The preceding steps having been achieved; enter into dialogue with the voice on the receiving telephone. Respond to the voice in supplying the required information before being transferred to another disembodied voice. Receive instructions.
Step Six: Disconnect and attempt to follow received instructions in another area of my life.

So, that’s my major achievement of the day, carrying out a business transaction on the telephone without becoming unduly stressed. It’s too difficult to convey just what an achievement that is!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Tetchy & Guilty

Today, I seem to be a really tetchy sod but, I suppose, bearing in mind last night’s restlessness, it’s only to be expected. Things rather came to a head when, nearly three hours after my beloved went out, for an Indian Head Massage, she still hadn’t returned home and, all sort of worries started to dominate my thoughts. Decided to ‘phone her but, her mobile was switched off so, come 5.25pm I ventured out for some nicotine sticks. Having purchased the comforters, a lady from the church I used to attend (in those dim-distant days when I could cope with such social events) enquired as to how I was. My response, “not brilliant”, was snapped out in a rather off-hand manner and, I couldn’t be bothered to hang around to amplify or apologize for my curtness. Of course, the normal social understanding of such enquiries is that the enquirer doesn’t really want to know!

By the time I got back in the house I started to feel guilty for being so rude. Forgot to mention, I encountered my beloved whilst on my way to the shop and my ‘greeting’ was rather sharp … a result of concern and frustration … so; I suppose an enquiry as to my health was the proverbial final straw!

Now, I begin to feel guilty because I don’t feel at all well! Perhaps it’s no point waiting for the effects of my most recent acupuncture session to ‘kick-in’ and, I should accept that, on this occasion, the effect is purely negative.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Joy of Achievement

Oh the sheer delight of a nice hot shower, second only to my pleasure at having sufficient energy and inclination to partake of same!

Yesterday was of the out of sorts variety when, having been widely awake at an hour unsuitable for lethargic drones like me (i.e. before 7.00 am), I drifted off into regular bouts of unconsciousness, finally emerging from the duvet kingdom around 11.15am.

It was a day of sore burning moisture veiled eyes, sundry modest aches, pains and generalized dis-ease … in fact pretty well typical of at least 50% of my time … with it’s inevitable burden of fatigue.

But, today is a different day when, not exactly full of vim & vigour, I commenced reading a book whilst propped up in bed alongside my beloved, a feat well nigh unimaginable during most of the past 500+ days. The book in question “Letters From A Lost Generation: First World War Letters of Vera Brittain and Four Friends”, being epistolary in nature, suits well my spasmodic periods of concentration.

The achievement: 84 pages consumed, and digested, before I realized the motivation was present to get myself under the shower.

For this small mercy, I give grateful thanks.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

It's X Factor Time

Tonight it’s going to be a tough call on The X Factor, even though some of the contenders didn’t perform at their best. I have little doubt that the Conways will be in the bottom two but, who’ll join them there? Brenda absolutely shone, such a soulful performance of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”, perhaps the performance of the series. Shayne enjoyed himself in The Darkness number, which I’ve never particularly liked and, Chico was entertaining as always. The second outstanding performance of the evening came from Journey South … incredible how the final two acts of the show [Brenda and Journey South] proved their star quality and, for me, alleviated some of my earlier boredom.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Belated Greetings

Today has been a much better day for me, although stress remains not far from the surface. It’s amazing how much emotional turbulence can be caused by the inability to find a particular book, solely for one specific reference; we seem to have tomes of all shapes and sizes scattered all around the house (which in itself is a virtue). Once I calmed down a bit, having spent 40minutes or so searching throughout the obvious shelves and corners, nooks and crannies, the cause of the offence to my sensibilities turned up in an unexpected area.

During this period of disruption, the craving for a nicotine stick proved too hard to resist [I have temporarily relieved myself from the psychologically strenuous process of applying, and subsequently removing, the NRT patches] and boy, did it taste good! The planning and preparation involved in quitting in an organized way has proved far too arduous.

For dinner this evening, I prepared a couple of char-grilled salmon fillets sprinkled with ginger, garlic, freshly ground back pepper and light soy sauce. This was served with jacket potatoes topped with char-grilled cherry tomatoes and mushrooms. An absolute delight; today I am certainly back into food. Acute earache extending into the neck muscles was swiftly alleviated by the application of a microwave heated lavender bag. Oh, that such a simple salve could be applied to the rest of my condition.

In this day the Lord has made, I find much more reason to rejoice than was imaginable yesterday. With yesterday’s distractedness, I forgot to extend my thanksgiving Day greetings to my North American friends together with a recommended read:
“Thanksgiving: A Native American View”.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Defeat 1 - SinnaLuvva 0

Tonight, the flag of defeat is draped around my shoulders and, ashamedly, I admit to returning to the dreaded weed. I have no longer quit smoking and, insult was added to injury when our local 7 - 11 store was closed early for refurbishment, just when I needed to purchase a packet of twenty comforters. Salvation was close at hand though, in the form of an off-license a couple of doors down and, fortunately they stocked what were (and I suppose may soon have to say "are") my regular brand.

It is a sad day when I have been unable to eat one of my culinary delights from a position of queasy discomfort. Delights are few and far between and, I must admit that although the flavour of the first three cigarettes was not as enticing as I imagined, the process of imbibing nicotine orally is far preferable to the cutaneous transfer method.

Below Par

I hope to God that tears are beneficial as, I’ve shed a few this evening. I’m also trusting that yesterday’s acupuncture session has yet to kick in, as I’m generally feeling like shit today. Knees suddenly giving way as I stand up, followed by what feels like a cramping electric shock through the base of the spine, are simply the current (not of the AC or DC kind) intermittent manifestation of my physical well-being! Even the necessary effort of clearing mucous from my throat has, today, become a cause for self-pity.

The lack of energy, coupled with an inability to concentrate on anything, for more than a few minutes, is taking its toll on my usually good self-esteem. The ugly beast of guilt rears its head for my shameful inactivity; there are just so many social pressures that make “the unproductive” feel like lepers.

Today, you may have gathered, has not been the best of days!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Getting the needle

After a much better night’s sleep, SinnaLuvva emerged bright and early into the waking world, almost leaping from his duvet cocoon at the crack of 9.00AM. As a precaution, I re-don shoulder and elbow supports. Sad to say, I haven’t a lot of activity to report from these additional hours, simply more of the same, so I won’t bother.

The earlier awakening (at least a couple of hours before emergence into moderately ambulatory mode) took its toll by early afternoon, a fatigued emptiness replacing my bright and cheery demeanour.

After a quick trip down to Comet, chauffeured by my beloved, had a little time to relax before the physio arrived to administer a little more acupuncture. By the time the treatment was done, a return to the world of the zonked-out posed little challenge. I try not to anticipate the benefits of the needle-match but, I do have the feeling that the proximity of my “better days” to the last acupuncture session couldn’t all be put down to co-incidence.

As a concerned participant in the ritual, I also serve by lying down to wait!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Looking forward

Eventually climbed back under the duvet at 3.20AM but, had difficulty settling. Thermal support strapping around my shoulders and an elbow support, on my left arm, eased the situation a little. After struggling to find a comfortable position, for my intermittent sleep, eventually returned to the world of the (almost) fully awake around 11.20AM.

Despite my familiar lack of energy, and low level concentration, I still managed to enjoy the day, grateful that so many of my body parts are still in reasonably good working condition.

As I surfed the net and played around with RoboForm-Portable (Pass2Go) and portable Firefox, my rheumy eyes required regular rest periods, easily achieved as my mind insisted on meandering away from the task in hand.

As the day progressed, my knees became a bit unsteady requiring a conscious effort to maintain my balance as I moved around the house. My good fortune is to have a wonderful friend, lover and companion, my lady Helen, to keep me on the right track.

I’m quite looking forward to my acupuncture treatment tomorrow, as I’ve enjoyed more “good” days since the last treatment than I had experienced for some considerable time.

Restless ...

What is it wrong with me that, my first thought is in terms of punishment when some of the old familiar aches and pains return? It’s almost as if being unable to ask the question “why me”, I feel like some total wretch who deserves whatever discomfort befalls him … a punishment for my lack of caritas.

It’s only after a few “better” days that, one begins to realize just what assorted aches and pains they’d grown to almost take for granted in unalleviated days of all too recent yore. Today (meaning Monday) has been a day of gradual decline, certain jadedness as the day progressed, an increased awareness of miniscule irritations.

Accidentally decapitated a little wart on the inner thigh as I showered this morning, the bleeding disproportionate to the size of the wound but now, each little warty growth, especially those on the inner upper arm have started up their chorus of protest. Within twenty minutes, or probably less, of my head hitting the pillow tonight, an excruciating painful stiffness stemming from just behind the right ear and, extending down through the shoulder took possession of me. A nagging irritation in the ear, one of those that are always with us, has become an arterial throbbing, nausea invoking, pain in the posterior.

Anyway, the outcome is, that there’s no alternative to stumbling my way downstairs to take some painkillers and make myself a warm drink. Somehow the discomfort doesn’t seem so great, sat here by the PC as it was when attempting to sleep. Perhaps the warm drink, and the tablets, has so caressed my inner being that it sent up an unspoken prayer for healing. Perhaps I was over-reacting, or then again it could be that present keyboard activity is sufficient distraction.

I feel extremely tired whilst simultaneously wide-awake; perhaps sharing a woe carries with it a degree of healing! The question is, do I enter the overbearing duvet’s lair whilst still reasonably alert or, wait on the intervention of total exhaustion before allowing sleep it’s normal course?

The question is of course rhetorical, the decision to be made is real.

Monday, November 21, 2005


Another of those bright and crisp Autumn days but, unfortunately, I’ve not felt sufficiently energized to venture far from the fireside. Around sunset we experienced a beautifully haunting red sky once more so, I had to venture out of the backdoor just to grab a snapshot. It’s quite strange how much the lower layer of yellowish brightness counteracts the psychological warmth one would anticipate from a red presence!

Things aren’t always what they seem and, I’m afraid that words don’t always mean what one expects. I’m thinking especially of the word “immediate” which has presumably changed to mean “dilatory” (See “Tesco Jersey – “immediate” means when they can be bothered”, posted by Heterocon). I have contacted the offending institution twice today, requesting that they “come clean”!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

A reflection without depth

A beautifully crisp day once more and, this afternoon, after two exercise free days, managed a slightly longer (if still brief) brisk walk. The residual fall leaves, as we crossed the stray, hung so still they may just have been frozen. It was one of those days when I felt extremely grateful for my thermal hat and heavyweight, charity shop special, flying jacket!

The unfortunate aftermath of such exercise is that I wasn’t sufficiently energized to enter into discussion with a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses who’d called around especially for a chat. Much of the witnesses teaching fails to convince me but, I’ve always been impressed by their (courageous) anti-militarism. Their difficulties with Trinitarian doctrine are also something I appreciate, even though my personal theology veers towards an adoptionist (though omitting the dual nature of the monarchians) Trinitarian viewpoint.

Actually, my mind isn’t really sufficiently in gear to wrap around theological concepts at the moment so, I’ll just love you and leave you for the time being.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The X Factor - no disagreements here

No disagreements with the outcome of tonight’s X Factor. Andy was absolutely sensational, Brenda was … well ... Brenda ... and that’s more than good enough for me. Thought it was one of the weaker Journey South performances, especially as it began, although it developed well. Pleased to see Shayne on form once more and, still feel that his career will go a long way … not the market us oldies buy into but he’s good at what he does.

The Conways performed really well, considering the pressure they were under after last week’s controversy but, sadly, Nicholas once again failed to live up to any potential he may have. Three duff performances in a row are the reason he’s out.

And Chico ... it's the feelgood factor, great entertainment!

Friday, November 18, 2005

One Day At A Time

Today my concentration was slightly improved, albeit limited to the reading of short articles on the web. Although unable to manage one of my brief brisk walks, a few ascents and descents of the staircase were managed without resorting to a crab-like gait. I’m really starting to get the feeling that my most recent acupuncture treatment has proved beneficial.

It remains to be seen how next weeks (more intensive) treatment will affect me. My outlook is becoming more positive but, having spent such a prolonged wilderness period before the physiotherapist’s visits, I am all too aware that there may yet be setbacks.

I have been warned of the risk of overdoing any exercise, which has not normally been too much of a problem, as even thirty to forty minutes exertion (e.g. lawn-mowing) has on several occasions led to being ‘knocked-out’ for at least the next couple of days. A task to be gradually tackled is venturing out for little social outings, which requires a boost of confidence and, longer term (perhaps) to regain the courage to have a little holiday with my beloved. It’s now over three years since we were able to take a holiday, largely to do with my phobias regarding travelling and alien environments.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A Modest Improvement

Once more, a night of spasmodically interrupted sleep was followed by a rather belated immersion into the world of the awake. I emerged, albeit sluggishly, with a lightness of spirit which was definitely not present before these twelve hours of “rest”.

One of life’s great imponderables is, why should bed rest prove so much more efficacious than days of imposed housebound inactivity? Heterocon has already commented on my enjoyment of today’s bout of exercise and, for that I give thanks.

Today my powers of concentration showed a modest improvement and, I’ve managed to read (and digest) a couple of short chapters of “Consuming Passion”, an easily assimilated collection of essays challenging the theology of penal substitution.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A shaky progress

My ability to concentrate, during the past couple of years, has markedly declined. In recent days, it has veered dangerously close to zero point.

How much of this further decline is due to the absence of the cigarette smoking ritual, which served as an essential distraction, to break up prolonged periods of minimal activity. A passive nicotine patch is no substitute for the active inhalation of hot toxins. I’m not really sure that I enjoyed cigarettes; I know that I occasionally enjoyed the smoking process.

The struggle continues!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Where's it heading

Got to admit it, I’ve been feeling much more alert today but, even so, I’ve been unable to concentrate on anything. Strangely, I’ve not even browsed my favourite online newspapers; in spite of having a much better day, it’s almost as if I can’t be bothered!

So, this is the point where the guilt kicks in; it’s one thing to lack the energy for any given physical activity but, to have an alert mind and not apply it, that’s a whole different ball-game.

But can guilt alone provide an incentive? Obviously not!

Sorry folks but, this is all you’re going to get! Just trying to get my head ‘round my mind.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Questioning Received Wisdom

An excruciating headache, starting at eyebrow level, coupled with painful sinuses, aching jaw and a dry sore throat, took total possession of me (following several hours of incubation) about three hours ago. A burning eyes component is so much my resident companion, it hardly seems worthy of inclusion in the list. Whilst feeding my cigarette habit, I had assumed that these kinds of dis-ease were, in all probability, smoking related; as I’ve not had a cigarette since 3 November, this hardly seems to be the case.

In many ways, apart from ethical considerations (cash crops vs food crops etc.), I question the wisdom of stopping smoking. At least the habit provided me with intervals of distraction during my prolonged health-imposed periods of inactivity.

Catching Up

Prepared and posted a blog last evening, only to delete it a couple of minutes later. Suddenly overwhelmed by a fatiguing emptiness, within ten minutes, I collapsed onto the sofa for an hours sleep. Having emerged into the day around 11.30AM, I was ‘out of it’ once more between 8.00 and 9.00PM.

Woke up in time to watch “Child of Mine”(ITV1) which certainly kept me awake for the next couple of hours. It was one of these strange productions whose premise had more holes in it than a colander yet, still managed to succeed as a kind of psychological thriller. Earlier in the day, I had transferred Woody Allen’s “Broadway Danny Rose”to DVD and, both my beloved and myself thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Once the adverts (it was originally recorded onto VHS from ‘The Studio’) were edited out, it just nicely filled the remaining time (LP) on the DVD to which I’d recorded “The Music Man”(BBC2), yet to be viewed, in the morning. A varied visual diet for a quiet Sunday.

Aroused myself from slumber-dom shortly before noon this morning and, following lunch, went to see the Practice Nurse who needed to check my progress on the quitting smoking regime. She has now issued reduced strength patches for me to try and, realizes my struggle with the weed is more mental than physical. She also recommends that I avoid looking at the more traditional quitting smoking literature, which is for me more a hindrance than an aid (see In Everything Give Thanks)!

Just have to see how we progress from here.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The X Factor

The positive note continued into today so, no complaints there! It really is good to feel a little more energized but, it’s very much a case of one day at a time. After my day's mini projects, recorded by Heterocon, decided to slump down in front of the TV.

The ‘X-Factor’ (ITV1) proved a difficult one to call tonight but, no matter what the talent of a particular performer … if it’s the wrong song … I’m really sorry to see Maria go and, didn’t envy Louis having the casting vote. It really was great to see Shayne back on form, with an appropriate song and, Journey South consistently make the most out of whatever material they tackle. Andy and Brenda, they’re both superb performers but, I was intrigued by Simon’s remarks as to whether Brenda has a recording voice! Last week, I commented (to ma belle amoureuse) how much I’d like a recording by Brenda then, qualified it by saying, “think it would have to be a DVD”. Andy’s rendition of a Boyz2Men song, a somewhat unusual choice, was for me the evening’s most soulful performance.

A glass of ‘Vina Tarapaca’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2003, a Chilean delight, provided a soothing accompaniment to our evening’s viewing.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Hello Again

Today, a slow start was absolutely necessary after last evening’s entry into ‘the void’. By the void, I refer to that all too frequent lack of physical & emotional stamina, in this instance accompanied by a total absence of any ability to concentrate. According to my beloved, it also led to the loss of my smile … I couldn’t even proffer a cynical token.

Having undergone a session of acupuncture in the late afternoon, I didn’t initially have any of the “zonked out” experience of last week’s session but, as the evening progressed it became more of a collapse. I suppose this is really a long-winded apology/excuse for yesterday’s lack of a posting.

Today has been much more positive as Heterocon (my alter-ego) explains in his posting ‘Born Again’.

My dear friend The Fox has planned a couple of days in the Lake District; unless the weather further West differs, to a most remarkable extent, from that which we’re experiencing, methinks the Lakes could well come to him!

Freedom and Diversity

Two items in todays Washington Post caught my attention: the first by Eugene Robinson ['Accepting Diversity is Hard but Necessary' ], takes the riots in France as a starting point to argue the case for "multiculturalism"; the other article, by Michael Kinsley [ 'Who Loves Freedom More?'], contrasts a country with a Constitution and a Bill of Rights (USA) against one with a much more nebulous constitution (UK).

Despite my present rather feeble powers of concentration, I found much stimulation in these articles.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Wrapped In The Coils

I don’t think it’s simply the absence of smoke pollution, in my lungs and bloodstream, that’s making me so tetchy but, how I long for a cigarette. It doesn’t really seem like craving, more like good and pure lust and, I realize that cigarettes alone are not a recipe for salvation. The words that proceed from my mouth are not always that pleasant as I struggle against an extremely potent stress factor. It is hard to determine whether physical frailty or emotional instability is the root of this stress.

I have literally, albeit intermittently, been going weak at the knees these past few days; it’s almost as if a fractionally harder sneeze, these involuntary expirations have been quite prominent of late, would knock me totally off balance. My sleep pattern has become increasingly erratic (since I interrupted my tobacco input); perhaps the nicotine patches are really bad for me and, it’s the other ingested toxins that cigarettes supply that my body needs!

Another thought, that occurred today, is that on this attempt to ‘quit’ I was encouraged to plan ahead. Anyone who knows me well can vouch for the fact that, planning and Malcolm do not make for the best of bedfellows! For me, spontaneity is of the essence; problem is, and has been for the past couple of years, my lack of the necessary stamina to be spontaneous! Waiting to see how one feels at a given time paradoxically (or is it) precludes spontaneity … one can only be spontaneous when energy reserves permit it; the waiting game, to see whether emotional and physical resources are up to the task, is far too organized.

Life at the moment is very much a matter of pacing myself, in the hope that I can ‘save’ sufficient energy to become productive once more. The Protestant Work Ethic, once again, wraps it’s reptilian ‘coils’ around me and, I gasp for air.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

working drafts

Two of my, not dissimilar, working drafts of a poem (The Candle) dating back to January 1991 (the time of the Gulf War), were recently unearthed by our friend Graham. As I don't feel sufficiently energised to do any further work on them at present, they have been posted on Mals Factory. Perhaps one of them is the finished work, but I'm not sure which!

Two Steps Back ... but where is the forward one?

Heterocon has already commented (See Selling One’s Soul) on last evening’s diminishing of my emotional stamina, indirectly linking it to my quitting smoking; a negative “progress report” you could call it. Although watching ‘Have I Got News For You’ (BBC2) and, to my surprise, ‘They Think It’s All Over’ (BBC1), served to bring a little light through the gloom, ensuing sleep proved a rather episodic affair. The worst feature of the night’s “rest” was the painful stiffness in my neck, closely allied with chronic earache, which required me to elevate my torso (on feeble upper limbs) in order to seek a more comfortable position in which to lay my head. It's quite surprising, the effort required for a quarter turn of the head!

You may have gathered that sleep, of this spasmodic kind, provided very little refreshment but, I still managed to disentangle myself from the duvet’s lair at a reasonable time (10.10AM). The neck discomfort, and a vice like headache, prevailed through the rest of the morning and, a rather fatigued Malcolm (eyelids propped on matchsticks) struggled to knock up a little pasta dish for his beloved and himself.

My chauffeuse (the self-same beloved I had catered for) then drove me into town, to visit the Job Opportunities Fair. I would have been ready to leave immediately had my beloved not dealt with the registration desk, allowing me to shuffle my feet to the far end of the room where the ‘Yes2Work’ stall was situated. Fortunately we seemed to be the only visitors there and, I immediately seated myself at the stall whilst my beloved supplied them with a few of her details. I had very little to contribute, apart from having made the effort to visit at all!

The grey wetness of the day seemed to complement the way I felt. At least it provided a ‘social’ outing to alleviate the pressures of my usual home-based regime. The experience was not quite as exhausting as I anticipated; the positive element, for me, was a fresh environment to do nothing in!


Helen contacted In-Home Legal Services, following the advice from Halifax Bank, to try and arrange a refund for the aberrant multiple payments the Halifax had made to them from our account. The first suggestion by IHLS was that we should contact the bank! The saga continues.

Monday, November 07, 2005

A Better Day - Interruptions Notwithstanding

Pleased to report a better day, with little joint discomfort, since emerging from duvet-dom at 10.30AM. Even a shower failed to exhaust me and, wonder of wonders, I was able to wear my dentures after a few days absence. My beloved, having attended her German conversation class this morning, drove me into town at lunchtime to carry out a minor transaction at the bank. Unfortunately, she had to return to the banking emporium, this afternoon, to sort out the Standing Order problem [see When Will They Ever Learn on Heterocon’s blog].

Further to the unsolicited ‘phone call referred to by Heterocon, a further ‘phone call interrupted the already waning attention I was giving to an OTT play on Radio 4. This call was from my key-worker at Yes2Work (quite strangely, since first contacting them, last year, my health deteriorated further) telling me about a New Opportunities Jobs Fair in our locality. It may prove of interest to my beloved if I’m up to it and, she drives me down there. This call was swiftly followed by a further buzzing of the ‘phone; this time a ‘courtesy’ call from Serif to update me on the latest software. I already do use, and have used Page Plus and Photo Plus, in various versions and, would recommend them as good value programmes; unfortunately, having to watch my pennies at the moment, it maybe wasn’t the most appropriate time for the call.

As I write, my beloved has returned from her bank visit and, now has to contact In-Home Legal Services for a refund of the overpayments on the standing order. According to the woman my wife spoke to at the bank today, the lady at the Halifax who "sorted out" the problem (in January) had not done it right ! Isn't that a remarkable insight, a sign of an incisive mind ... if the job had been done correctly at that time, we wouldn't have to waste our efforts! Furthermore, I wouldn't be tempted to quit quitting (that's a reference to smoking, my contribution to the fat cats running the pernicious tobacco industry and the exchequer) without this unnecessary stress ... it seems that the capitalists are out to get us whichever way we turn!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

In Everything Give Thanks

Third Non-Smoking Day : I swear that it ain’t easy, especially when some yob last night smashed off half of the number plate on my beloved’s car, parked on the forecourt. Later we read in the local paper that, in this area, number plates have been getting stolen.

Loving one’s enemies is bloody difficult; especially the sort of thoughts that whiz through my mind.

Progress Report: No queasiness or nausea today and, the nicotine patch remains in place. I still find that the craving for a cigarette or, at the very least, the lighting up and first drag ritual, is much stronger than it ever was during my abortive cold-turkey attempt to quit the habit. I’m even having a suck on the dreaded Crafe Away’!

In general the advice in various quit-smoking booklets and leaflets is totally irrelevant to my situation. The “just think what you can spend the money you save on” argument means nothing. I’ve only ever spent what I know I can afford and, retail therapy has never held any appeal. Craving possessions is part of the human malaise … the Buddha had quite a bit to say about that! I don’t see any point in replacing one craving with another. And surely, if economics are part of the reason for quitting, an alternative outlet for a scarce (money) resource is purely negative thinking.

All the literature encourages one to take more exercise, for me that’s simply not a viable option; if I could do more exercise on a whim I wouldn’t have any ailment to overcome … the fatiguing result of exercise is part of the very reason I have time to think about smoking. [I could even say something about the PE Gestapo that for many years made exercise seem like a trip solely designed for masochists and, administered by sadists].“Eat more fruit and vegetables” … if I did I’d never escape the loo! Same goes for “drink more water” … simply a change of outlet valve!

In this day the Lord has made, I will try to rejoice and be glad. I’m not sure how long it will be before I’m thanking him for the tobacco harvest.

Recently Unearthed

Our young friend Graham, who for five and a half years lived in the flat previously occupied by yours truly, has been back to sort out the residue this weekend. During this final clearance, he unearthed some old working drafts of my poems. These were the only extant copies and, this afternoon I have commenced the finalizing process on a couple of these drafts. One of them, most unusual in my oeuvre, entitled MISSION BETRAYED, can be viewed on Mals Factory.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Who Are They Trying To Kid?

Day Two of the Quit Smoking Regime: Things are not too good. An overwhelming queasiness struck me early afternoon, accompanied by a fluctuation between feeling hot and cold. My beloved noted a certain greyness of pallor.

Went for lunch to the local Brewer’s Fayre, as we have a guest with us today; began to feel even queasier whilst waiting for the food to be served. Sudden thought; see what happens if I remove the nicotine patch. Within a few minutes started to feel more settled. Don’t think NRT patches are designed for me; it has to be cold-turkey or nothing! Do I really want to quit smoking?

Since I applied the first patch, yesterday, I have craved a cigarette much more than I ever did when quitting non-assisted!

Tried a ‘Crafe Away’ dummy cigarette last night, “The Safe Cigarette with the Tobacco Taste similar to a Real Cigarette” is their claim. A Mr R from Scotland states on the back of the packaging, “I find the Crafe Away cigarette has a tobacco taste very similar to my regular brand”. If I’d smoked a brand that tasted like this, as if one is inhaling the fuggy smoke generated by burning waxed paper, I’d never have got into the habit in the first place! Even Mrs B must have smoked the same crap brand as Mr R; “Sometimes when I am using my CrafeAway cigarette I forget to light a real one, the tobacco taste is so enjoyable”

Perhaps if I decide to stick to ‘Crafe Away’, I will eventually become delusional enough to think that this is really what cigarettes taste like and hence, see quitting as a pleasurable option!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Beginning Quitting

Day one of my (stalled) attempt to quit smoking. My beloved collected my NRT patches whilst I was still in the process of gradual emergence from the land of dreams. Although it’s the 16 hour patches I’ll be using, it will only be on very rare occasions that I will sustain it for the full time, unless someone can suggest a way that they can self-apply whilst I’m still sleeping in the morning and, self remove whilst I slumber at night!

At least, with my current sleep requirement, there are less hours available for temptation. Already, I have noticed that the biggest requirement is for something to do with hands and mouth in moments of intermittent boredom. When concentration is at low ebb, which is not infrequently the case, one’s thoughts turn to the stable-door (my habitual point of indulgence in the cigarette habit).

Last time I quit it was cold-turkey but, when various stresses got too much – several months later – I returned to the habit like the proverbial “duck to water”! There is something about the whole ritual of lighting-up that is almost as addictive as is the nicotine fix.

There is, hopefully, a degree of wisdom to my recognition of the difficulties involved in escaping the habit … I know my halo will shine that bit brighter if I actually succeed!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

An Overdose of Sleep Dust

Spent nearly thirteen hours in bed last night/ this morning and, although occasional bouts of restlessness broke in, most of that time was spent sleeping. It was my first weekday lie-in for a while, permissible now that the work on the bathroom has been completed (last evening).

A major difference, from the past few nights, was that none of the discomfort experienced, the cause of the spasmodic bouts of restlessness, was in the neck region. Perhaps yesterday’s Needle Match (recorded by Heterocon) was having a swiftly beneficial result!

As I came down the stairs this morning, felt quite at ease with my knees, no need to employ a sideways gait. Co-incidence or a result of the acupuncture, that’s the big question. For a couple of hours I even felt wide-awake and, what a rare sensation that has been.

Mid-afternoon, I was suddenly overwhelmed by exhaustion and, drifted into a further one and a half hours of sleep. Was this ‘afternoon fatigue’ the aftermath of yesterday’s acupuncture session or, a return to perverse normality?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Perverse Pleasures

Which is the most pleasurable sound; the splash of a flushing WC or a burst of spontaneous (also at the push of a button) applause? Methinks the former auditory experience provides the greater pleasure, especially as it is the sound of progress emanating from our bathroom!

Yes, the work on the bathroom will soon be complete! And what of the applause; that emanates from my beloved’s laptop computer, as she works on an ECDL exercise in PowerPoint presentation. The juxtaposition of applause and the sound of flushing loos make me think about Prime Minister’s Question Time. The appropriate response is dependent upon where one sits in the House!

I am just struggling to keep myself awake prior to my impending acupuncture session ... the Protestant Work Ethic rears it’s ugly head once more; one strives to avoid two bouts of total relaxation in the course of a single afternoon, that could be construed as positively dissolute behaviour.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Tripping the light (not so) fantastic

Late afternoon our lighting circuit ‘tripped’, no apparent cause, no bulbs blown etc. Ten minutes ago, the same circuit tripped again; once more we were unable to find a reason. Just at a time when our bathroomless travail is coming to an end, seems like we may have a different problem to contend with.

When the plumber lifted some of the bathroom floorboards, he was surprised to find a deep layer of old mortar and plaster packing much of the space. This residence seems to have had more than it’s fair share of ‘cowboys’ working on it’s structure over the years so, we have to be even more grateful that our current tradesmen are so conscientious!

Tomorrow afternoon the physio will be calling to administer a little acupuncture, to me not the house and, I’m quite looking forward to the experience. Any miraculous recovery would prove a bonus!

As I write, the lighting circuit has tripped yet again … twice in fifteen minutes … what did I say about problems?


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