Saturday, December 31, 2005

Best Wishes for The Coming Year

Sinna Luvva and Bright Light send our best wishes for 2006 to all our readers.

Friday, December 30, 2005

A Reluctant Hero

In an age when heroes seem to be in short supply, or perhaps that’s a reference to any age, it really is good to be informed of one whom I had overlooked. This is the man to whom we should be grateful that we were not all annihilated in September 1983; his name is STANISLAV PETROV.

I am grateful to my friend Nigel for sending me this link, along with his New Year’s greetings.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Plus ca change

Having watched ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, last evening, in which it gave one a warm glow to see the greedy get their come-uppance, this evenings viewing for my beloved and myself was ‘Bound For Glory’ (The Story of Woody Guthrie). As Guthrie, temporarily ‘exiled’ in California in the late 1930's, recalls his Oklahoma home, he states that it’s “easier to put up with nature, dust storms and all, than it is to put up with greed”. As we observed the great gulf between rich and poor Stateside, we couldn't help feeling … plus ca change!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Simple Pleasures

The Christmas period has once more enabled us, (or should that read driven us), to ‘lapse’ once more into the routine of having our main meal at the dining table. The dining table is usually the preserve of Sunday lunches alone, our bean bag supported lap-tables being the more usual resting place for our dinner plates. Each meal, sat at table, becomes somehow a more significant event. Even the little ‘grace’ of thanksgiving, before we apply our snouts to the trough, seems more gracious.

As circumstances dictate that I spend most of my day lounging around, the move through to the dining room serves to add variety to my day. I admit there are times when even that exertion would seem too great but, in general, it is good to have an extra reason for using my ambulatory gift!

Monday, December 26, 2005

A Special Time

Christmas has once again restored a childlike magic in my life, this influence is magnified as once more I felt like a participant in the Nativity story. On Christmas Eve, after our preliminary preparations for the morrow had been completed, Helen and myself relaxed in the evening which culminated in watching, and participating in spirit, the Midnight Mass from Gloucester Cathedral. After a somewhat jaded day, I felt refreshed as we celebrated the birth of the Christ child … the best way to welcome Christmas Day.

On Christmas morning, as we lay abed, I enjoyed and felt uplifted by the Mass for Christmas morning from Clifton cathedral. Much emphasis was given to the outcast and the dispossessed during the address … the Christmas story should not be a comforting message to those who would preserve the status quo! A slow emergence from the duvet’s lair, however, did not preclude my fatigued collapses at intervals during the day, so it became something of a priority to take little naps, the better to enjoy the day.

We were joined, for Christmas Dinner, by Beth and Mahmood whom we welcomed with an appetizer of Waitrose Vintage Champagne, 1996 … a beautifully balanced elaboration of P&C Heidseck. To accompany our traditional Christmas Dinner, we partook of a glass of ‘Andrew Garrett Coonawarra Reserve Cabernet, 2002’, a wonderful mouthwatering bramble concoction with a cinnamon tingle derived from the oak ageing.


Our guests left us late afternoon and ma belle and myself slumped into a relaxed evening, with an early ascent of the wooden steps towards duvetdom. Although tired, despite my preceding periods of rest, sleep did not come too easily … bodily aches, pains and general discomforts tend to have a way of overwhelming the desire/ necessity for sleep.

Following a brief midnight ramble around the house, I lay on top of the bed watching my beloved sleep. This simple act gave such a warm glow, she is so precious and, I just lay stroking her hair and cheeks rapt in adoration and feelings of overwhelming protectiveness. Love is such an amazing thing!

This morning, we once more enjoyed a very relaxed start, au lit, to the day … as we became totally enraptured by ‘The Magician’s Nephew’ on BBC7. It’s so amazing just how much more vivid the pictures produced by a good radio production are, in comparison to televisual portrayals of the same or similar stories!


I’ve just realized that I’ve made no mention of presents received, in fact we still have some of our main presents to open …. But it is a wonderful Christmas, here with my beloved.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Impromptu on Faith, Dogma and Belief

When I consider FAITH I definitely don’t mean DOGMA nor, come to think of it, do I mean BELIEF. Faith is an overwhelming necessity, which in the final resort overrides all our actions and beliefs. At times it even seems as if Faith is simply another name for God, it is that in which we live, move and have our being. A rudimentary faith precedes any action, without it we could never make the first step, that first tentative move.

Before we ‘knew’ we could take our first step, we had already embarked on that exercise and so, we start to walk. It’s almost as if we question the reasons for our being confined to sitting, rolling over and crawling. There must be more! Without that step of faith, our lives are restricted in terms of both action and thought. We breathe because we can, it is not an act of reason … a rational decision … it simply is! For most of us, not being able to understand how this amazing organism, the human body, functions doesn’t lead us to give up on breathing. We don’t have to ‘believe’ in breathing in order to partake of the activity but, I must admit, our lives would be much poorer without our participation in this particular activity.

Our faith may later have a set of doctrines/ beliefs as its foundation but, the faith is much more than the beliefs that we affirm. Coming from a Christian background, I tend to use a broadly Christian terminology; at its core my life (in thought and action) is shaped by various Christian myths. Dogma is an easy way of handing over responsibility for our faith, to the traditions of learned (and not so learned) others, whereas faith itself isn’t averse to questioning and doubt. [Of course, I have to acknowledge that without some of these dogmatists we wouldn’t have the canon of scripture from which I draw my inspiration.]

Christ said that He came that we may have LIFE and have it ABUNDANTLY. Dogma, on the other hand, is that which restricts this fullness … to question a dogma is frequently confused with denying the faith. To question is to have faith; to blindly follow is to renounce the muscle of faith.

Our Christmas faith tells of a helpless child, whose birth causes the political and religious establishment to tremble. This helpless child, the “word made flesh”, still holds out a challenge both to the pious and to the politically powerful. Though frequently stumbling, I try to follow His call.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I Am Not Alone!

After a few discomforted weeks, in terms of collapses and general disorientation alongside my traditional muscular spasms and erratic body thermostat, I finally got around to seeing my GP again. This visit, ostensibly a follow up on the effectiveness of the nasal spray which I’ve been using for the past eight weeks, as a result of which I’ve only experienced miniscule improvement in the mucous stakes, provided the doctor with an opportunity to update on my general state of (un)wellbeing.

A positive note, regarding my general health, is that my thyroid function has improved, although I must admit the practical correlation to this improvement has been imperceptible. Although the phrases “post viral” and “chronic fatigue” had been thrown out en passant, during my GP visits, over the past twenty months or so, it wasn’t until the physiotherapist started visiting me, a few months back, that she diagnosed my condition as ME/CFIDS. Today, I discovered that the endocrinologist, who I had consulted with about eighteen months ago, had suggested ‘chronic fatigue’.

So now, apart from the acupuncture sessions, I have an appointment with my link worker for CBT in January and have today been referred to the Chronic Fatigue Unit in Leeds. Although I’m not expecting any miracles, it is good to feel that I am not alone! For this small mercy, I give thanks.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Aberrant Conditions

The apparently speedy recovery, from Saturday’s little collapse, may have been a mirage. ‘Temporary’ remission may be a better way to describe it as, fatigue, minimal concentration and, more than a modicum of tetchiness provided the inharmonious keynote of Sunday and, even today, fatigue and the lack of ability to concentrate are my constant companion. There are times when I begin to wonder whether to treat ‘collapse’ or ‘recovery’ as the aberrant condition.

The occasional ‘loss of balance’ I have been experiencing recently, whilst performing such energetic tasks as wiping my hands on a hand towel, opening the room door, or standing up to stretch my legs, have set me wondering whether it’s time to visit the GP again. One side of me, that which gets stressed at the thought of moving away from the familiar terrain of home, views such visits as a waste of time (in spite of the respect I have for the doctors in the practice I attend). The more rational side says, “well, doctors are busy people … you shouldn’t really bother them with trivial ailments”.

A redeeming feature of recent days has been the relative absence of muscular and joint pains. For this I give thanks!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Chilli-ing Out

After just over one and a half good days, the seemingly inevitable collapse took a swift, although on this occasion mercifully brief, swipe at me. Yesterday, I managed to make reasonable progress with the Christmas decorations, as well as performing my usual chef’s duties. Today, after a reasonably lengthy lie-in, I managed to prepare my own variant ‘Chilli con Carne’ and par-boiled the herb and spice infused potatoes ready for roasting this evening.

Suddenly, early evening, the living-room lights seemed far too bright … pure sensory overload, whilst my hands, feet and torso became excessively cold. A general sense of discomfort and tetchiness soon overwhelmed my earlier affability. The good news, this time, is that forty minutes rest (blanket covered on the sofa) brought me back to a near human state of being. By the time our guest, Helen’s sister Janet, arrived for the evening meal, we were all able to share and enjoy each other’s company, a few good laughs, as well as the chef’s special concoction. A bottle of ‘Vina Tarapaca’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, proved a more than adequate companion for the Chilli.

Alongside the 'premature' narrative line of our Advent Calendar, the Christ child arrived on the 12th December rather than the ‘prolonged labour’ I anticipated earlier, [ tonight “The Shepherds didn’t know what was happening”, they are not alone], the contents of the Xmas Crackers provided a fresh source of mirth; tawdriness is all!

Despite the roller-coaster ride my physical (and consequently emotional) health takes me on, I am always wonderfully amazed by the consistency and intensity of the love my beloved and I share.

In this day the Lord has made, I am glad to rejoice!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Still Hanging After All These Years

A dream brought into my conscious/waking life; having leapt from one side of a vast chasm, I remain hanging in mid-air. The air is rather turbulent, occasionally it pushes me toward a more secure foundation, across from the leaping off point, at other times it forms a gravitational pull towards a distant barren and rocky valley. Seems like the story of my life; I’m sure that it represents my faith journey.

No amount of reasoning can lead me to any theistic position and yet, I feel there is much more than a series of chemical re-actions, and it’s implied fatalism, to this universe of ours. My frequent struggle with “the problem of suffering” was only overcome when I could find no solution to “the problem of love … of full blown self giving, self-sacrificing love”. Just how does such love fit into the survival of the fittest?

I realize the line of thought here is over simplified but, the nooks and crannies of my ‘questing’ would require an encyclopaedic volume rather than a simple posting. Anyway, suffice it to say that for me it was necessary to take “a leap of faith”. It’s not that I needed to be presented with all the answers, just think how dull that would be. Sometimes it seems that I have actually landed in the rocky valley mentioned above. When the going gets really tough, I feel that it’s better to have my feet firmly planted on terra firma, albeit a barren and rocky location, than moving forward in what seems like a vain hope.

I suppose the Advent season has brought these matters of faith to mind and, as I’ve scoured the blogosphere I’ve found much food for thought. This morning as I read the posting Strength from God concerning “the servant’s mission”, on ‘Just As I Am’ I felt both moved and challenged; that’s when I recognized that my current position on the spiritual path is one of ‘hanging in mid-air’!

Earlier this evening, I read the text of Rowan Williams Christmas Message and was particularly struck by the following lines:
“We must give an answer to suffering and tragedy in what we do - because the one thing we know is that this is what God does. Faith is restored and strengthened not by talking but by witness in action.”
“There is something about Christianity that always pulls us back from imagining that everything will be all right if we can find the right things to say - because for God, the right thing to say at Christmas was the crying of a small child, beginning a life of risk and suffering. God shows us how, by his grace and in his Spirit, we can respond to the tormenting riddles of the world.”

I never imagined myself being grateful to an Archbishop of Canterbury for moving me, albeit tentatively, towards a renewing of my FAITH!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Seasonal Greetings

I finally seem to have finished my addressing and posting off of Christmas Cards but, I daren’t open my address book to check up on whom I’ve overlooked. No doubt there’ll be the odd greetings card received from the ranks of ‘the forgotten’ … cue violins and traditional seasonal guilt! Truth be told, I feel the most important seasonal greetings transmissions have been those to friends in prison, one of whom so rarely hears from anyone!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

How To Lose Friends and Disinterest People

This evening found me all on my ownsome as my beloved has been out at her second Christmas ‘do’. As far as I’m aware there’s only one more of these events this season but, it does her good to get away from her old moaner. Half an hour after her departure the phone rings and, guess what, the call is for Helen. Ten minutes later it buzzes again but, this time it is for yours truly.

The call is from an artist friend, who I’ve not heard from for some considerable time. This is when the first mistake occurs, “How’s things with you?” he asks. The second mistake follows swiftly upon the first; I start to tell him, not in a ‘down in the dumps' manner I hasten to add. How does one describe a filing cabinet full, of miscellaneous physical and emotional ailments, in a telegram.

As it’s a friend, one realizes it’s not the formal courtesy of enquiring after your health … “How are you?” … which one knows requires a response of, “Fine, and how are you”. On the other hand, they don’t expect a whole diatribe of ailments but, how else does one explain why they’ve been out of circulation for so long.

What he found difficult to understand was why I’ve not got myself up to the loft to do some painting! That’s when the explanation follows, about requiring at least half-an-hour’s rest when I’ve been sufficiently energised to take a shower. Oh, what a joy the conversation must have been.

Monday, December 12, 2005

More Food for Thought

"Globalisation seems to me like a system where the man with power uses a big stick to put the man without power in his place," he says. "If you squeeze every last drop of blood from a Jamaican labourer and at the end of the day he hasn't got enough money to send his children to school or put food on his table, then who benefits?"

Extract from 'We will pay for cheap bananas with prisons, fear and fragmentation' - Guardian, 12 December 2005

Walk Like An Egyptian

After some 13 hours bedrest and, freshly emerged from my warm duvet lair, the doorbell rings. Forgetting that I’m me, make a swift dash to the staircase and, foot on the top step my knee-joint goes into painful spasm. Undaunted, I revert to a crablike gait, hands firmly grasping the rail and, just manage to catch the parcel delivery man as he prepares to retreat.

An uncomfortable re-ascent of the staircase follows, to grab and apply my knee support. Thinking of the various strappings that I apply to shoulders, elbows etc. on a multiplicity of occasions, my thoughts then turned to the Ancient Egyptians.

Perhaps we’ve got it all wrong about these bandaged figures, recovered from the various sarcophagi! Maybe the bandages weren’t applied post-mortem but, rather, had been applied at various life stages to deal with the most excruciating muscular and joint pains.

Makes you think, dunnit?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

And Sometimes There Are False Alarms

Methinks that Mary is in for a prolonged labour. On opening the Advent Calendar for today I was somewhat unprepared for the message, "So Mary and Joseph spent the nght sheltering in a stable with the animals". Let's hope there aren't too many complications!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Tales of the UneXpected

Tonight, my beloved and I are still in a state of shock. Brenda, after two amazing performances, is out of 'The X Factor'. With the exception of Andy, all the performers excelled themselves this evening but, with the voting being so tight we just knew it had to be Andy or Journey South who'd be going home. Perhaps the problem was that so many potential voters assumed that Brenda was 'safe'.

Brenda has gone from strength to strength throughout the series, whereas Andy peaked early and over the past couple of weeks his performance declined. Of the finalists, Journey South are our favourites but, I still feel (despite the odd dodgy performance mid-series) as I did before the proper contest began, that Shayne will be the winner .

In the end, it's just entertainment ... but, nonetheless involving!


Certain friends of mine have suggested that if I didn't allow my body to waste its energy on allowing my residual hair to grow freely, I'd maybe feel a bit less drained. Unfortunately, I remember the story of Samson and what happened to him when his hair was cut. Starting from my current low reserves of physical and emotional stamina, I dread to think where such an exercise might lead. I'd even have to give up being a seriously balding plain clothes Santa Claus.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Theology Lite: Massaging The Message

An interesting article in today's New York Times:
When Christmas Falls on Sunday, Megachurches Take the Day Off

Some of the nation's most prominent megachurches have decided not to hold worship services on the Sunday that coincides with Christmas Day, a move that is generating controversy among evangelical Christians at a time when many conservative groups are battling to "put the Christ back in Christmas."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

John Lennon Day

The letterbox goes “clunk” around lunchtime and, among the post is the 2CD set “Working Class Hero – The Definitive Lennon”, part of my Christmas Present from my beloved. That’s a present I’m really looking forward to receiving and, currently I’m listening to the “Afternoon Play: Unimaginable” (BBC Radio4) written by a journalist friend of John Lennon.

I’ve just done a quick scramble through my drafts of poems and, came across this one, a bit raw but then, it was an impromptu response to the shooting of JL … so here it is!


They say imagine
no more humane songs
and this at Christmas –

the fir trees baubles
weighted many-fold
like lead. He finds

his final peace
through this destruction –
no longer shall he ache

for universal love.
Crushed like a beetle
closer to Colorado

than his scouser’s home.

Perhaps gun-toting Reagan
will sleep in peace, relieved
at another “pinko’s” demise.

Malcolm Evison – 9 December 1980

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A Few Tired Words

As unsolicited fatigue once more preoccupies my day, on both a physical and emotional plane, I find myself wondering whether I have anything to say. The cynic in me says, “who cares?”, as he recalls the fruitless political activism, spiritual questing, striving to put the world to rights, of my earlier years. Although I still hold dear the same social, political and spiritual aspirations, I no longer have the stamina to don my sackcloth and ashes and get out there where it’s all not happening!

One begins to wonder how long they must cope with interminable dis-ease filled days. At least I have the sense to realize just how fortunate I am, to have a roof over my head, food on the table and, warm clothing on my back. Even the pains, I frequently feel in joints and muscles, are usually tolerable; the real dispiriting factor is the lack of stamina and, inability to concentrate for any sustained period.

My good fortune extends even further when I acknowledge all the love I receive from friends and family and, especially from ma belle Helene. Perhaps the hardest part of not being ‘well’, is recognition of the stress it causes those who are concerned and care about you. Secondary to that, is the sense of guilt one has, on occasion veering towards the tearful, at not having any results to show for the passing of yet another day.

Tomorrow, I’m due for another session of acupuncture and, insofar as it means that someone is attempting to do something about my condition, I look forward to it!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Victor recognizes the Truth

“People in this country are crying out for a Conservative party that is decent, reasonable, sensible, commonsense, and in it for the long term of this country. And that is the party we are going to build, and I want everyone to join in.” – David Cameron, 6 December 2005

It really does me good to find that the new Tory leader admits that his party is neither decent, reasonable, nor sensible or commonsense … I’ve known that for a long time!

Permanent Opposition

“I want and I will lead a Conservative party that when the government does the right thing, we will work with them, and when they do the wrong thing we will call them to account and criticise them.”David Cameron – 6 December 2005.

Obviously the man thinks that the Tories role is to be the Opposition party; there’s no suggestion here that he expects them to be the Government.

Monday, December 05, 2005

A Time of Testing

Yesterday, Heterocon commented on how I needed to “call upon all my reserves of stamina and courage” in order to keep an appointment in town. These words proved so prophetic and, the visit turned out to be quite a test of nerve. Firstly, I arrived in town early for the appointment and, what with my erratic bladder and spastic colon, thought I should visit the loo before heading across to the dental surgery. Surprise, surprise, (or should that be NO surprise, NO surprise?), the only public toilets in town were CLOSED / OUT OF ORDER! So, it’s off to BHS we go … thank you BHS.

Arrived in good time at the surgery and, dazzling sunshine was streaming through the waiting room window, total sensory overload! It was such a relief to be called up to the treatment room! Now, it’s waiting time until treatment commences in the New Year.

After the appointment, went to collect my beloved chauffeuse but, her appointment with Working Link was running over time. That’s when the panic attack kicked in! However, as you’ll see, by the fact that I’m writing this blog, I did eventually get home safely.

So that’s today’s big adventure out of the way … (Sinna Luvva sighs and mops his brow in relief) … nicotine sticks have been much in demand!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

A belated entry (for yesterday)

Last evening, I realized that I hadn’t done a blog entry and, I didn’t (really) feel guilty about it! In fact, for most of the day I never felt too alert even though, in Heterocon mode, I did manage an early day(well, early afternoon) posting on what could have been a profound issue. The sensation that I’m either just starting, or in the midst of, a cold was once again quite to the fore; for the past couple of weeks this teetering on the brink presence has been a constant companion.

It was a lazy dining day, for me; remove Pizza from freezer … pop into preheated oven for 18 minutes … et voila. Come late afternoon, I felt sufficiently inspired to commence preparations for Sunday’s dinner, whilst listening to ‘Jazz Record Requests’ (BBC Radio 3). The result of my endeavours, which I’m looking forward to sampling in the next couple of hours, a Chicken (Tikka Masala variant) casserole, which will be served with my special recipe roast potatoes and broccoli. Early evening, listened to and enjoyed Jann Wenner’s interview with John Lennon from 1970 (BBC Radio 4). I love John Lennon warts and all; perhaps this is a subtle form of self-love as, my beloved kept commenting, “He’s so much like you, how he expresses himself … it could be you!” Just how flattering (or insulting, dependent on where you’re coming from) is that?

‘The X-Factor’ (ITV1) held few surprises but, Brenda is definitely the best vocalist / performer on the show, at least in the opinion of my beloved and I but, I still think that Shayne will win (confirming my opinion from the audition phase of the show). Journey South are consummate professionals and Andy’s a great balladeer! For sheer entertainment value, we’re going to miss Chico but, perhaps he’ll inspire some maverick TV producer to bring back an old fashioned Variety Show!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Singing The Greys

Having enjoyed a 20 minute fairly brisk walk, out into the dull grey mizzling day, came back to prepare dinner for my beloved and myself but, failed to enjoy it. There seems to be something about my taste buds/ digestion on a Friday; at least it means that my beloved can enjoy even more!

After the exercise / exertion, a degree of fatigue cum disinterestedness in what I was doing, or attempting to do, became a prominent feature of the evening. A degree of release from this detachment came, when the gods of technology conspired against us, after dinner; the Sumvision Wireless Card on Helen’s laptop gave up the ghost … totally kaput. I tried re-installing and repairing the software etc., but, all to no avail. Methinks the product is crap, this being the second such card since August but, this time we’ll require a refund and not a replacement! Meanwhile, I’ve installed the Netgear USB wireless adaptor, which I’d been using on my PC, on my partner’s laptop and, the PC has reverted to its Ethernet link.

I’ve just been wondering, this evening, whether I can be bothered with blogging as it only produces a guilt reaction when I realize, as the evening draws to a close, that I’ve not done any scribing. If it becomes too much of a chore it’ll be better to ditch it. Energy & concentration reserves are at a premium in any case; it takes a lot of effort simply to appreciate a life of inactivity, let alone record the relative inaction’s ebb and flow.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

All agoggle

Tonight we chose to settle down in front of a hot cathode ray tube. First ‘Bleak House’ (BBC1), followed by ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’ (More4), then ‘Doc Martin’ (ITV1) and currently, I’m half-intently watching ‘Sensitive Skin’ (BBC2). All but the first of these has reasonable comedic content.

In sum, this varied and enjoyable diet, provided a recipe for relaxation! Only now does it dawn how close to saturation we have come.