Sunday, December 31, 2006

Acrobatics of the Absurd

To shift oneself from laying on ones back, in order to attain a side lying position, the first imperative is to shuffle the bottom up towards the top of the bed, elevate the upper torso and, only then attempt the rolling ritual. Several painful attempts, to do so, may well be followed by a marginally less painful manoeuvre; once a relatively comfortable recumbent position has been attained, the possibility exists that it may be maintained for at least 5 minutes before the familiar dis-ease once more re-asserts its control of the situation.

Extending the offending limb, downwards, may alleviate the sharp shooting pain or, alternatively, intensify the same troubling symptom. Screams, in response to the agony are permitted but are by no means compulsory; tears may be stifled back or permitted free reign according to the situation. It is important to remember that removal of oneself from the bed will at first require the exertion of sitting oneself upright before gently manoeuvring the lower limbs over the edge of the sleeping apparatus.


A totally sleep deprived, routinely fatigued, body is forced to exist in a state of constant alert.

For the past three nights, although totally shattered in mind and body, sleep has been a) difficult to come by and b) when it arrives, disrupted after a few minutes. Agony is too passive a term to describe the degree of discomfort, even though it is definitely agonizing. Nerve shattering fatigue seems to be overwhelmed by the degree of acute pain that sleep is ruled out as an overcoming option.


This morning, after a further night of doubt, sorrow and affliction, my body finally yielded to the overwhelming necessity for sleep and, for several late morning hours the pain was forgotten as I lapsed into the arms of Morpheus. For this I give thanks.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Pillow Talk

After what has been my best Christmas for years, health-wise, the familiar tiredness and sundry aches, pains and sensitivities have returned with a vengeance. Although I failed to emerge from the duvet-realm, on Christmas Day, until well after (unbeknown to me) our guests had arrived, the day passed really well. Obviously, the ‘Journey To Bethlehem’, and subsequent viewing of Midnight Mass on TV, had taken a little toll on my stamina but, I still managed to remain in good spirits throughout the day without recourse to the seclusion of the bedroom.

By Boxing Day severe back pains had returned, alongside aching muscles in both arms and lower limbs. On Wednesday, after a late emergence into a day spent struggling with a frustratingly painful locking back, I had to call it quits before 8.30 in the evening. An additional pillow, under my legs proved indispensable, although its position underwent frequent changes, horizontally across my side of the bed behind my knees then, turned end on to proffer support from ankle to thigh. As the night ached along, the pillow was doubled up under my knees, whilst an additional support pillow was placed under my head.

Each laborious turn, from back to side, from full stretch to foetal curl, found me torn between a scream and tears. A tingling band, around the right calf, was swiftly transmuted into a full blown cramp before its further conversion into a pulsing sharp bruise-like pain, which seemed to percolate through every sinew of the offending limb. In the early hours, I struggled down the stairs to grab a cigarette and take some pain killers. On occasion the pain was more intense as I rested it on the floor but, at other times the discomfort was more intense as I raised it. A struggle back upstairs ensued and, I enjoyed an early morning cuppa with my beloved.

Ma belle assisted me in getting dressed, and saw me safely down the stairs once more, before she departed for work. The last couple of days have found me reluctantly resorting to a varied diet of Codeine Phosphate, Co-Codamol, Paracetamol and Ibuprofen tablets, despite my marked reluctance to take painkillers. In order to prevent any lapse into self-pity, I decided to venture down to Open Church, an intention swiftly thwarted by the lower limbs desire to collapse after each couple of steps.

My qualitative leap forward, in terms of my enjoyment of Christmas festivities, will prove a tremendous boost in my attempt to overcome the subsequent steps back!

I can still rejoice in this day the Lord has made.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

One More Step

Today's blog posting, 'One More Step', can be found on Mal's Murmurings. I suppose it could be described as a PROGRESS REPORT!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Malcolm's Christmas Message

This posting also appears on 'Hirsute Antiquity' and 'Mal's Murmurings'

I just sit and look across the room, my beloved lost in thought, a slightly perplexed smile on her face as she ponders the words she’s typing. I smile to myself, a token of admiration coupled with adoration. Sometimes, I lose track of time as I simply contemplate ma belle’s visage; I enter a wonderful world of devotion and love. It seems strange that no matter how much in love I am, it continues to grow.

We’ve gradually completed the Christmas decorations and enter into the magic of the season. Most importantly, for all the gewgaws with which we surround ourselves, we remember that our real celebration is of a helpless child born to a teenage mum in an occupied state in the Middle East. Research suggests that this child Jesus would most probably have been born around April but, I rather like the way Christianity has assimilated this pagan feast time to celebrate the birth of the Christ child. Those who choose to follow the way of the Christ child should not seek to separate themselves from the world but always be there alongside those they can assist in a far from perfect world. Christians are to be “in the world but not of the world”; it’s never enough to accept the world as it is but, rather, we have a duty to transform it.

Just as our Christmas lights and decorations transform the darkest time of the year; Jesus message was to turn the accepted values of the ruling elite on their head. Sadly, just like we put away the lights before twelfth night so, through the centuries, have some of the ruling elites served to restore the injustices which Jesus challenged, in the name of Christendom!

May the message of Peace On Earth and Goodwill To All Men be taken seriously in this twenty first century of the common era.

Just as my contemplation of my beloved gives me such a warm glow, so does the true meaning of Christmas.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Positivity and negativity vie for dominance in my outlook; the positive frequently requires a conscious effort, whilst the negative surreptitiously manoeuvres itself into my soul whenever emotional and physical stamina is at low ebb. The approach of Christmas is having an emotionally bad effect, as I go through my address book and see the number of “friends” who’ve never been in touch at all since health problems removed me from the socializing circuit. Those who I used to regularly meet up with at gigs, concerts, art previews etc. have never bothered to make any contact, whilst others I knew on a more casual basis, even as a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear, still do make the occasional contact. Of course, not being able to go out to work narrows enormously the number of people one is likely to meet! My primary local contacts now tend to be those I meet at ‘Open Church’ and, I quite often feel that those friends I’ve met only in cyberspace are truer friends than many of those with whom I had more frequent “real life” contact. The internet is truly a lifesaver.

Real world friends can almost be counted on the fingers of one hand, apart from some who simply maintain the annual Christmas round robin type of contact. At the worst moments, I feel like I must have betrayed people by not being able to socialize, albeit by force of circumstance rather than choice but, at this time of year the sense of isolation bites much harder. Isolation is frequently more difficult to cope with than the, at times excruciating, pain and fatigue which initially forced one into the limbo of seclusion. Unfortunately, the effort required for any degree of socializing demands such a heavy payback, and only a fool could look forward to payback time!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Missions Accomplished

This post also appears on 'Mal's Murmurings'

Finally, after previous futile attempts at both collection and delivery, the Futon has been delivered (by my beloved) to its new home in West Yorkshire. Its departure will be little lamented. I hardly anticipated the aggro that one could expect in trying to give away an item of furniture but, at least we now have a fraction more lebensraum.

If our younger daughter doesn’t require the other futon, when she moves into her new home, we have a prospective recipient who lives locally. As the previous one was advertised on the local ‘freecycle’ site, I had expected someone who lived more locally to want it (rather than someone living thirty to forty miles away); being let down on three occasions by the first person, who failed to collect at pre-arranged times, and then the difficulties experienced in getting the item to the eventual recipient, I will in future only advertise small items on the site.

I ventured into town once more, this morning; whether I would venture there without the assistance of ma belle chauffeuse is another matter but, it certainly feels wonderful to have a semblance of normality in my life. It really is amazing, the everyday activities that we take for granted and, my past few years of rather restricted activities have taught me to appreciate the potential pleasure of being able to embrace the most mundane of routine tasks.

Where once I was aggressively frustrated, with the interminable list of (apparently) unrelated ailments and discomforts, consistently pushing myself to the point of collapse, I have, consequent upon obtaining a diagnosis, learned how to manage my condition. Physical and emotional stamina may only be at 30% of their pre-illness levels but, alongside this modest improvement, my powers of concentration are also showing some signs of restoration.

I rejoice in this day the Lord has made.


I have, this afternoon, posted a new poem, ‘TRANSFORMED (for Helen)’, on ‘MAL’s FACTORY’.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Friday, December 08, 2006

... and tired of journeying too!

Following on from my “tired of waiting” Freecycle experience, today’s late afternoon and early evening witnessed my tired of journeying mode. This morning, a delightful Kenyan-born lady arrived to collect the futon, which I’d advertised on ‘freecycle’. Unfortunately, it proved impossible to fit the component parts of the futon into her car so, when my beloved returned home around 3.30pm we decided to put the futon into the back of our car and, contacted the lady who had called this morning.

We obtained directions from the web before setting off on our journey to Keighley. There were stages of the journey where the travel instructions proved confusing and, the hold-up of the traffic through Otley had not been foreseen. We did eventually find Halifax Road in Keighley but, shortly before this, we realised that we had neither the address or telephone number of the potential recipient of our gift. We vaguely remembered the house number was something in the three hundreds but, found it impossible to keep tabs on the passing numbers. Even earlier in the journey, I’d struggled to overcome a panic attack and was suffering quite severe sensory overload from the lights of oncoming traffic.

Needless to say, I became increasingly stressed and, unwittingly, managed to transmit this sensation to ma belle chauffeuse. So, mission unaccomplished, we were homeward bound when the real fun began as we took a wrong turning which led us over Ilkley Moor, only I wasn’t “Baht ‘At” but, had rather rolled the brim of my thermal headpiece over eyes and ears to alleviate the aforementioned sensory overload. Eventually, as we approached Otley there was a diversion as no access to the town centre was permitted. Fortunately, the diversion led us onto a route with which my beloved was quite familiar and, we eventually arrived home some three and a quarter hours after our departure. I am a poor traveller at the best of times but …. I leave the rest to your imagination!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

New Blog Posts

A posting for today, "Mal's New Moves" , can be found on 'Hirsute Antiquity'.

On 'Mal's Murmurings', today's new posting is "So tired, tired of waiting ...".

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Quest Fulfilled

Despite my relative inactivity, I still find it difficult to make time for contacting friends and acquaintances online, no matter how strong the intention. If I relied solely on handwritten letters, despatched via snail mail, I'd be even more guilty of neglect.

For the past few weeks I’ve renewed my quest for a faster computer, with a decent graphics card and a couple of gigabytes of RAM. The original quest began back in the summer months but I kept putting it on hold, somehow, the recent ‘down’ phase of my existence added impetus to the quest. I realize that may sound quite absurd but, the truth is, as my already meagre powers of concentration seemed to be in under-drive I rediscovered my facility of absorbing technical specs of computer kit. Many short sharp visits to back issues of PC magazines, and PC related websites, proved a delightful distraction from my familiar catalogue of aches and pains.

Severe back pains sustained their attempt to divert me from my quest for the computer grail but I boldly fought against the odds! After Tuesday afternoon’s acupuncture session, I felt sufficiently energised to venture down, the following morning, to the local PC emporium and drooled over the machine that I’d more or less decided would meet my requirements. The fact that it was also equipped with both analog and digital TV cards seemed to sway my beloved, the idea of having digital TV upstairs as well as in the living room appealed to her. We decided on a 19” widescreen monitor to complement the base unit and a set of JBL 2.1 speakers added the final touch.

The setting up process started on Wednesday afternoon, not without its moments of frustration, continuing on into Thursday afternoon (not a sustained effort you understand). As I’m still hanging onto the laptop and my old PC, I’m not in too much of a rush to install some graphics and DTP programmes as, its maybe time to upgrade from my current programmes. Of course, the primary reason for the new machine is to facilitate my graphics work but, I’m not going to rush things.

It seems quite strange that it wasn’t many years ago that I reluctantly succumbed to using my beloved’s old PC, that she’d used for lesson preparation in her teaching days and, agreed to go ‘online’. My only previous experience of computers had been when the whole stock and accounts procedures, where I was employed as Office Manager/Accounts Manager, was transferred to a computerised system in days before PCs were an option. In this situation, working as a VDU operator, didn’t have half the appeal that the job had previously held. [It’s strange that I should have lamented the loss of my hand-written double entry book-keeping etc., especially as someone who always hated figure work but, that’s another story!]

Within a few weeks I’d put up my first website but, it took quite a while to discover the delights of the ‘blogosphere’. Helen’s old machine had a mere 1GB HDD and upgraded to the RAM to its maximum of 96MB. It wasn’t too long before Beth’s partner made me a new machine. As I succumbed to ME/CFS, and much of my real world socializing was drastically curtailed, the internet provided me with a whole new world to explore. I shall be forever grateful to ma belle for pushing me in this direction. Meantime, when Helen had to retire from teaching for health reasons, part of her recovery programme got her involved in learning computing skills and, I found myself being called upon for troubleshooting purposes.

Forgive the rambling – the keyboard just took on a life of its own but, a degree of weariness compels me to slump down in front of the telly. Stamina levels, you will be grateful to know, have temporarily curtailed today’s rambling.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Malcolm's Amazingly Bold Adventure

At the end of a week of weariness, in which an at times acute back pain has insisted on making its presence felt, this afternoon yours truly undertook a major expedition. Chauffeured by ma belle, I boldly dipped a toe into the realm of major grocery shopping; no such task had been undertaken by Malcolm in the past two or three years.

Already, as the car nosed its way Waitrose-ward there were hints of panic encroaching upon my already discomforted demeanour but, I refused to turn back (bravely resisting this tempting offer from my chauffeuse).

Pushing the trolley, around the store, actually proffered me a modicum of support, although any necessary backing up of the self same trolley made me wince on several occasions.

It really is good to have experienced this aberrant return to ‘normality’ but, I have no urgent desire to replay the exercise!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Friday, November 24, 2006

Nothing Ventured ...

Having been thwarted on my excursion to ‘Open Church’ yesterday, owing to a marked lack of stamina, this morning I ventured there through the pouring rain. My first change of venue this week, energy reserves having been very low since Monday’s “scrape hard, hammer light” defrosting session! It’s strange really how little exertion is required to knock my progress off track.

Yesterday, I managed to make it as far as the local Post Office / Newsagent before my body cried enough; there’s no doubt that I could have made it down to St Marks but, I feared that I wouldn’t have had sufficient resilience to exercise my usual scintillating conversational skills. Today, despite getting well and truly rain bedraggled en route, I still managed to sustain an hour of conversation with sundry semi-kindred spirits.

Our thoughts have been with Beth, moving house on such a rain tormented day but, not sufficiently so to offer an (un)helping hand. The spirit may be half-willing but the flesh is well and truly weak!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Slow and Grey

Today's blog posting, "Slow and Grey", can be found on 'Mal's Murmurings'.

How Boyish or Girlish are You?

You Are 60% Boyish and 40% Girlish

You are pretty evenly split down the middle - a total eunuch.
Okay, kidding about the eunuch part. But you do get along with both sexes.
You reject traditional gender roles. However, you don't actively fight them.
You're just you. You don't try to be what people expect you to be.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Routine Services

Scrape hard, hammer light; an endless repetition to perform. Fill up another bowl of boiling water and place it on the middle shelf, enable rapid thaw. And then the scrape and tap once more; remove and empty the floor based tray, then shut the door once more. My prophecy, of the time the task would take, is swiftly falsified. The predicted hour multiplies.

I suppose its part of the price to pay for a legacy of neglect. Defrosting of the freezer should be performed bi-annually and not biennially as turns out to be the case. Anyway, this ritual (more honoured in the breach than its observance) was carried out by yours truly last evening. And this small task has taken its toll; thirteen hours after retiring to the duvet realm I re-emerged, unrefreshed, from the spasmodic grip of Morpheus. Vivid dreams had found me active in the awakened world; the transformation into reality was far more sluggish and, activity was the last thing my body desired.

Reluctantly, I ventured up to the garden pond for a ritual rinsing of the filters, after which I refrained from restarting the pump but, perhaps I should have simply reduced the flow rate. Anyway, it’s good to be settled back in the house now, in familiar restful mode, intermittently considering whether the pump switch off time is appropriate. Amazing, just how many decisions life requires us to make, even from a sedentary pose!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Hot Off The Press

A freshly minted poem, by yours truly, can be found on 'Mal's Factory'. The poem is entitled "A QUESTION OF BALANCE".

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

What Number Are You?

You Are 4: The Individualist

You are sensitive and intuitive, with others and yourself.

You are creative and dreamy... plus dramatic and unpredictable.

You're emotionally honest, real, and easily hurt.

Totally expressive, others always know exactly how you feel.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Why? That’s the question of the moment and, probably, of all time.

Words are not forthcoming and yet, here I am trying to write some down.

Each failed effort, to find a purpose for this word doodling, means that the question returns.

You may have gathered that I’m not the familiar happy little soul. Why? Because I can’t understand what I feel at all!

I am not unhappy but, I feel down. My perennial aches and pains don’t provide me with any reason; after all, a stiff neck, discomforted small of the back, sinusitis, a spasmodic burning sensation in the left elbow and a tenderness under the chin are little more than my daily expectation. The question returns and resonates through my skull. Why?

Concentration runs at approximately a third of the level that it did a few years back but, it has been worse. I manage to get out for a walk and a minimal socializing session at least a couple of times a week; that’s a massive improvement on my state of being at the beginning of this year.

The question is why, with all these things going favourably, do I feel down? Down but not unhappy, it’s an uncomfortable state to be in.

I’ve just felt unable to do a blog posting for a few days. Why?

This is a posting and, it’s in a blog. Sorry, I can’t think of anything to say!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

From rude alert to joined-up dots

The new day dawned brusquely, disturbing my beauty sleep, at the shockingly early hour of 9.00AM. Way past the real dawn, I suspect, but that's the hour when a strident telephone bell broke through the bonds of Morpheus. Yes, you've guessed it, the 'phone call wasn't even for me. My beloved had departed for work some time earlier I guess, the cup of coffee left by the side of the bed was stone cold - that was the clue and, wouldn't you know the call was for ma belle. To make matters worse, I had a message to scribble down and, both pen and paper were elsewhere in the house. With half-open eyes, I stumbled my way to the location of the writing utensils and, almost forgot why I needed them in the process!

An hour or so later, after a little rest, I finally struggled down the stairs, popped the stony beverage into the microwave, switched on the PC to check my e-mails, consumed the re-heated beverage, then made my way down to Open Church for a chat with the poor unsuspecting souls. Quite surprisingly, my lower limbs were in good fettle and, I really enjoyed the stroll both there and back on a beautifully crisp sunshiny morning.

The afternoon was treatment time, although in some ways it felt like pampering, as I underwent another acupuncture session. As I relaxed, it felt as if I was reclaiming my body - joining up the dots. By the time the treatment was over, I felt both relaxed and sufficiently refreshed to prepare a tuna pasta as soon as Helen returned from work. As usual, the meal was excellent; seems like I'm (happily) stuck with this creative chore!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Changes of Pace

Today's blog postings range from the leisurely, "The time it is a-racing", on Mal's Murmurings, to the frenetic "Fings ain't what they used to be", on Words From an Hirsute Antiquity.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

We Are Such Aches As Dreams Emerge From

Having posted this on Hirsute Antiquity, I recognized that it tied in reasonably with the header to this blog - at least that's my excuse for doubling up on a posting.


Wrists, elbows, shoulders and hips; it seems the baton of discomfort is passed randomly between these runners in the restless stakes. A pattern slowly emerges, snuggling down, followed by a few restful moments before the mantle of dis-ease drapes itself over the appointed point of articulation. This process, requiring numerous postural reshufflings, continues for at least the first couple of hours in my duvet lair; eventually I drift into the realm of dreams. When I say dreams I mean full technicoloured, surround sound visions; a strange yet sufficiently natural urbanscape in which– I participate in numerous conversations, and arguments, in the process earning myself both respect and hostility. At some point, there’s always a last bus or train that I manage to miss and, frequently offers of help come from the most unexpected quarters; I teeter on the brink between optimism and cynicism.

With each discomforted awakening, I find it possible to recall multitudinous events from these dreams then, quite frequently, drift back into those selfsame situations. The fifth or sixth awakening, accompanied by all too real muscular and joint aches and pains, finds me in that realm of chest aching, rib-burning, coughing fits. With the coughing, the whole of my rib cage feels as if its been trampled by a herd of marauding bull elephants; regrettably, this is not part of a dream but rather a brutal reality.

Come the morning, I’m far more shattered than I was when I exhaustedly tumbled my way onto the mattress last evening. Finally, in the curtain filtered subdued morning light, I find a comfortable posture and drift back into the arms of Morpheus. Shortly after mid-day, I emerge half-awake into the world of the clothed day people.

Presumably, the various aches and pains my flesh is heir to correlate in some way to a marginal increase in exertion over the previous couple of days. There always seems to be a price to pay but, life is far too short and valuable to permanently err on the side of caution.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Re-housing - Another Fish Tale

A rather busier day chez Sinna Luvva today and, once more, it’s a rather fishy business! Fifteen days after the arrival of ‘Jimmy’, Beth’s sole surviving fish, in a rather basic aquarium which severely limited his opportunity to demonstrate speed-swimming, a larger aquarium has been acquired. This new acquisition has been equipped with an efficient power filter and, I’ve managed to assemble an effective lighting unit under the hood – the starter for which rests firmly on a work surface in the kitchen.

To speed up the maturation of the water, in the amply planted tank, I transferred ten litres of water from the cloud minnow’s aquarium to top up the freshly treated water. With Beth’s old aquarium, of very limited capacity, and lacking space to install a power filter, far too frequent water changes were necessary thus preventing a real maturation of the tank.

After all of today’s endeavours, I trust that ‘Jimmy’, and his recently acquired companion ‘Fran’, will approve of their new luxury accommodation.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

What's Going On?

Yesterday's posting
"A Tricky Business"
can be found on 'Words from an Hirsute Antiquity'. Today's posting "Out From The Shadows" can be found on 'Mal's Murmurings'.

Friday, October 27, 2006

One Step at a Time

Since the unique bright and early demonstration of full alertness, on Monday morning, normal service has been all too swiftly resumed. Perhaps, I should really have said “subnormal service”. My bed rest requirement has temporarily escalated to between 10 ½ and 11 ½ hours, frequently followed by an out of bed requirement of a couple of hours, before my state of being complies with any reasonable definition of ‘awake’. There seems to be a vast hinterland between emergence from the duvet realm and entrance into the world of the alert!

My confidence is like a shining star which my physical (and at times emotional) stamina struggles to follow. There is always a hint of dispiritedness as the realization strikes home that, I have to be content to make do with my walking skills before I am able to run once more. At least I manage to take a shower, when I can be bothered, without feeling totally knocked out; I remind myself of such blessings.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The time is out of joint

The thermometer nods and bobs its way around this plant contained area; the curiosity of the pond’s piscine inhabitants is much in evidence. I can imagine the conversation, “I told you it was milder than last year, just look”.

“Wow”, says Junior, “12 centigrade. You mean it’s going to get cooler?”

The elders nod knowingly, “By gum, the bairns got a lot to learn yet! Remember that sheet of stiff water last winter?”

They remembered it all too well! They seem to be taking it in turns, to give a nudge to their new found object of contemplation.

Perhaps they remember that last year, by this time, the human delivered component of their diet had switched to wheatgerm. For the present, they continue to devour the remnants of their summer feed, before they switch to the pure vegetarian option.

So, once more it’s time for me to rinse the filters, as the pump still has a little more work to do this season. Today, the rinsing procedure seems a little more arduous a task; after
yesterdays bright and alert start to the day, the flesh refused to conform with my spirits desire this morning, as I sluggishly emerged (in more traditional fashion) from the duvet realm.

As I sat beside the pond, a robin eyed me inquisitively whilst a thrush foraged through the nearby undergrowth. Even a couple of our summer visitor butterflies were in evidence today; somehow the times are out of joint but, I embrace it as a joy rather than (the Prince of Denmark’s) “wretched spite”.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Taking Stock

Although I would never consider us a particularly prosperous household, economically speaking, it proved quite an eye-opener when Helen did a rapid checklist of items present in our abode. In a world in which a subsistence living is all that vast numbers of people experience, her church had encouraged its members to take stock of all the things we have to give thanks for (“Counting Your Blessings”).

A real surprise came when Helen found that we had 33 Bibles (various versions, translations and reference editions) and even then, I’m not sure whether my beloved had included the Greek New Testaments and the German and French editions. By way of an excuse, for this over-indulgence, I need to point out that my discipline at University was Theology and, Helen had done Biblical Studies, as a supplementary to her German studies; my beloved also uses various versions as she prepares her sermons. On top of that, Helen’s father was an Anglican cleric and I’m a son of the Manse so, I feel sure that some of these volumes were inherited!

Other vital items to be counted included the number of water taps in the house, the number of clocks (ours came to 6, excluding radio alarms), number of pets, number of TV sets, and even plants in the house. On the stock list there were also questions about whether you had eaten eggs, meat etc today, as well as questions about whether you had attended a local hospital for treatment and, how many items of mail were delivered in your most recent postal delivery. As you can see, the stock list was far ranging, not simply taking account of material possessions but, also those services which we take for granted. For each item listed there is a suggested donation we should make, via our collecting box, for a Craft Workshop in Tanzania, established by our friend Susie who is out there with her vet husband, Andy, and their young daughters.

Donations were also suggested for how many drinks one has had in the day, how many times the washing machine has been used in the past week etc. I found it a tremendous reminder of all the things we, in the developed world, so nonchalantly accept as part of our birthright.

Of course, the greatest blessings of all are love, friendship, and compassion; items which cannot be quantified nor, I suspect would we really be able to raise an appropriate donation (albeit only a token) to give thanks for such amazing grace.

I rejoice and give thanks in this day the Lord has made!


Yesterday's blog posting "Familiarity is the Spice of Life" can be found on 'Mal's Murmurings'. A brand new poem "Embrace" has been posted on 'Mal's Factory'.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Adapting To Change

Wednesday bore witness to a new arrival Chez Malcolm, an event recorded on Mal’s Murmurings. Beth, my elder step-daughter sought a new home for her aquarium, and its current sole occupant, a goldfish who I christened Jimmy. It seemed rather late in the year to introduce him to the pond, where he would have found immediate companionship whilst, at the same time he seemed to have far too much energy, and corresponding appetite, to allow him to share accommodation with our White Cloud minnows. I had a strong suspicion that Jimmy would have found the smaller of the minnows an adequate fresh snack for his elevenses.

Having cleaned out and replanted Beth’s aquarium, the only available space for it was in the kitchen. I can assure you that I have no intention of letting him witness my char-grilling of larger species of fish, a not infrequent event on this chef’s agenda. Hopefully his sensibilities are not too delicate!

Having noticed how lonely Jimmy seemed, I forced myself to arise from duvet-dom at an exceptionally early hour this morning, for a quick visit with my beloved to the pet shop where I acquired Fran, a gold and black fantail, to be his companion. Unlike our main aquarium, equipped with mechanical-chemical, biological and additional filtration and aeration provision, the new (second-hand) one has only an aeration unit so additional water changes will be required.

I have improvised a bio-foam filter, topped up with some live bacteria, and will be regularly monitoring the water quality until I’ve worked out an appropriate water-change regime. I feel sure that the pleasure received, from observing our new inhabitants, will far outweigh the toll of this additional chore.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Repairing The Connection

Around 5.00PM the telephone rings once more; I like to think that the earlier caller heard my angry tirade (which was the intention) whilst my better half spoke to them and, lo and behold, it is Hotpoint calling once more. “The engineer will be back at work tomorrow, Thursday. Would you like him to call in the morning?” Unfortunately, as that could be any time from 8.00AM, I would hate to have my necessary bed-rest interrupted so, we settled for the previously arranged time of Friday afternoon! The call ended with an apology for “messing us about”. For the apology I am grateful.

I cannot take back what I said in the previous posting as, the sceptical side of me sees that they were just b…erring us about; it seems strange that the sole (formerly pronounced ‘sick’) duty engineer could fit us in as soon as tomorrow morning; what about those customers who’ve been missed out during his spell of sickness?

Yes, I do think that my angry background tirade was probably taken onboard!

Hotpoint Despair Connection Plan

It seems to me that one of the most foolish things these persons, ma belle et moi, have ever done was to take out insurance (Hotpoint Repair Protection Plan) on a HOTPOINT washing machine. Our machine needed a new thermostat within the first year, which should have been warning enough, whilst still under guarantee. A few weeks ago, having paid a few annual insurance premiums, currently in excess of £85 per annum, the tumble dryer stopped working. When we were eventually able to arrange an engineer's visit, he discovered that the cause was a broken control knob; he transferred the knob from the spin cycle control to the tumble dryer and, meanwhile placed an order for new knobs.

Next wash day, the wash cycle failed to work properly and, all the clothes came out wringing wet. We informed the company of this new development, so that the engineer, due to visit us this Friday to replace the control knobs, would be aware that he would also have to sort out the wash cycle.

This afternoon we had a ‘phone call from the company to postpone the engineer’s visit until Monday. The reason given was that the engineer was "off sick". When we asked if they only had the one engineer, they stated that the other two were on holiday.

So, we have a company, that charges extortionately to provide a repair service, permitting two-thirds of its workforce to take their holidays at the same time; it seems obvious, to me, that two-fingers to the customer is their modus-operandi. In the meantime, as a result of the engineer’s temporary repair, we are without a usable washing machine, worse off than before the repair.

The sooner a company like this goes under, I will be happy to waste my scarce energy/stamina reserves in a celebratory dance.

Thank-you HOTPOINT for your utterly crap customer service!

Monday, October 16, 2006

It's all go the merry go-round

As I read of the imminent trials and tribulations confronting my friends, The Oxcliffe Foxes (The Oxcliffe Fox and The Oxcliffe Vixen), in terms of decorators, carpet fitters and sundry other such ills, my heart goes out to them.

A slow saunter around the house reminds me, or at least freshens up a nagging irritation, that we still have decorating that needs to be done consequent upon the new damp course (2 ½ years ago) and the new bathroom (almost 1 year ago). All this time on, I’m still not ready to cope with the disruption involved. The very thought of it sends a crushing shudder through my bodily and mental framework.

“One of these days”, I tell myself, “this will be done”. As long as the prospect is remote, I can cope reasonably well; any serious consideration of the matter gives rise to a serious setback.


In terms of physical and emotional well-being, I’m still unable to remove myself from the roller-coaster ride. Having approached the weekend in good spirits, last evening brought a sudden emotional and physical collapse in its wake; a sense of utter helplessness, as aches and discomforts disported themselves from acutely pained elbows and knees, via wrists and ankles to the extremities of all limbs.

After twelve hours ensnared in the duvet realm and, a gently laborious transition into my day clothes, I once more smilingly greet this day the Lord has made.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Spin Cycle

It’s absolutely amazing; a band of thermal fabric, strapped across the shoulders, has taken away about 80% of the aches and pains I’d been experiencing in the upper limbs. Presumably, the cause of these sundry shooting pains stemmed from the neck and, this little bit of support is assisting my general deportment.

I finally seem to be emerging from what seemed like a permanent state of fatigue, that has haunted me ever since enjoying a couple of days out in early September, and even the tenderness around the glands, in my neck and armpits, is temporarily in abeyance. During this time, ‘pacing’ has proved a darn site easier as, I was totally lacking the stamina to even contemplate anything remotely resembling over-exertion. It’s quite strange really that the body never gives an immediate warning, that one is overstretching their resources; the results of the exertion frequently manifest themselves in the ensuing 48 hours plus.

For the time being, I’m reasonably content to appear to the world as a lazy b****r because, I know better! For much of my life it seemed as if the world would stop revolving if I slowed down; this generally underpaid wage-slave continued to overwork, (that old protestant work ethic), for far too long and, simultaneously, managed to play reasonably hard (at times too fast and furiously for my own good) as well.

Come to think of it, at times my play was far more serious than any work but, I still managed to ride both in tandem with only a few crashes along the way. So far, the world hasn’t stopped spinning, even though I’ve stopped pedalling!


A further posting for today, Counting Blessings, can be be found on 'Mal's Murmurings'

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Those Old Grey and Green Blues

On this grey mizzle-laden day, an historic event occurred. For all my concerns about global warming, this morning I had to hunt down a box of matches to ignite the gas fire in our sitting room. It could be that my early lurching from the duvet lair has played havoc with my body thermostat, or possibly it really is getting seasonably cooler. I’ve forgotten when it last was that I needed to light the fire.

Having just ventured up to the garden pond, to feed the goldfish, the outside temperature seemed to exceed that within our dwelling place. As yet, I’ve not even had to contemplate switching the fishes food down to the lower temperature one but, I feel like I could manage some good old-fashioned stodgy winter warming food. Unfortunately, that type of food isn’t on this master chef’s menu but, oh the temptation!

Earlier in the year, the leaves seemed to be turning brown, and dying off, at the height of summer. Now that we are seriously into autumn, the pace of leaves changing colour, and dispersing with the wind, seems to have slowed down. Perhaps, with August never attaining the giddy temperatures reached in July, alongside a plentiful supply of rain, the prospect of an early leaf-fall has been transformed into its obverse.

The lawn now looks the most lush it has been all year, sadly requiring yet further cuts before the season’s end. Meanwhile, the longer meadow grasses, at the far end of the garden, are looking rather bedraggled and forlorn.

Monday, October 09, 2006

For the sake of fairness

Just an update on the previous posting. First thing this morning I received a response from and, the Media Centre edition of the notebook is now advertised on their website at the price stated in the e-mail flyer. I'm not going to let the fact that, under 'specifications', the description is still quite airy and states XP Home edition affect any decision I may come to as to its desirability!

Thanks to Dabs for a reasonably swift response.


PS 10.40pm Today's main blog posting, "There and back ..." appears on Hirsute Antiquity

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Give and Take

Not so long ago, I was privileged to be able to report positively on a large commercial concern; today, I return to the normal tetchy relation between Sinna Luvva and commerce. I post here an e-mail, submitted to the customer support team this afternoon via website. The automated response has allocated it the subject title of 'Catalogue price difference' which, bearing in mind the final paragraph (not highlighted in original e-mail) of my e-mail, serves only to irritate me further!

"HP Pavilion Media Center dv9088ea notebook
On your promotional e-mail, (rec'd. 6/10/2006 at 11.21PM), with free delivery on items over a certain value (£149) for this weekend, you advertised the HP Pavilion Media Center dv9088ea notebook at a price of £1149.99.

On following the links to your website, all the details refer to the XP Home edition for the higher price of £1217.99. Apart from assuming that this edition wouldn't have a digital TV tuner, I have no idea of discovering whether it even has the same graphic card as the advertised one, an overall package which was tempting to me - (in fact I was on the verge of making an impulse buy prior to noticing this discrepancy - I have previously been considering buying a replacement desktop PC of similar specifications).

Would it be possible to ensure the existence of items, at the prices advertised on your e-mail flyer, before mailing them out? I have noticed your disclaimer about discrepancy between 'Catalogue' prices and website but I would have thought that your most recent e-mail flyer wouldn't be subject to such discrepancies!"

e-mail to customer support team at

I look forward to the company's response and, may even feel motivated to supply a follow-up blog posting.

Having had my little moan, it's only fair to report that my previous transactions with have been most satisfactory experiences; so here I am giving back with one hand what the other has just taken away!


PS A further posting for today, "Of Discourse and Distraction", can be found on Hirsute Antiquity.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Ghastly Shade of Pale

After a lazy start to the day, the only tasks I had to perform before lunch were to pop the curry into the oven to simmer before preparing the accompanying rice with lavishings of turmeric, garlic, garam masala and the odd dried herb. As Helen had a meeting following on from the morning service at Wesley, it meant that the meal was almost ready, to put out on the table, by the time she arrived home.

The Madras variant curry proved a great success, an ideal combination of heat and flavour with a subtle underlying sweetness. The combination of spices, intuitively selected and proportioned, that I heated up on the griddle pan at the start of preparations yesterday afternoon, certainly worked their magic. The culinary gods certainly had smiled on me once more – and through it all I remained my usual modest self.

During the afternoon, we decided to catch up on a couple of TV programmes we’d recently recorded but, midway through our little viewing session, I was overwhelmed by the most discomforting fatiguing sensation. From feeling OK to a state of utter debilitation, in the course of a few minutes, is an extremely scary experience. Unusually for me, with my failing body thermostat generally leading to chronic overheating, I had to wrap myself in a warm blanket whilst lying down. The worst of the sensation had passed within forty minutes but, as this was the most rapid onset state of exhaustion experienced recently, it still proved a most disconcerting event. I felt as if every last bit of colour had been bleached out of my complexion, a feeling later confirmed to have been correct from my wife’s eyewitness perspective.

For some strange reason, I found myself apologizing to Helen for my turning such a ghastly shade of pale; I really should exercise a little more self-control! All I can do for the present is take it easy but, I’d assumed that was my total lifestyle!

Setbacks apart, I am still able to rejoice in this day the Lord has made and, especially the pleasure of my beloved’s presence. I really must be one of the most fortunate people in the world, to be loved and able to love in return; I have little need for more.


This posting is a sequel to Spacious Time, which was posted yesterday on 'Mal's Murmurings'.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Catching Up

After a familiarly sluggish entry into the world of the awake, yesterday was all go. Of course, the phrase “all go” has to be taken as a comparative expression, weighed carefully against my normal idling days. My first venture of the day was a moderately brisk walk, down the road to Open Church, for a time to chat over a cup of coffee. Having been sat for the best part of an hour, the elevation of oneself from chair to purposefully standing pose required a major effort. The return journey was more of a gentle waddle!

I wandered up to the garden pond, immediately on my return home, to feed the goldfish and apply a necessary anti-blanket weed treatment. A nagging little voice, inside my head, repeatedly made note of the fact that it was a suitable day to mow the lawn. I duly obeyed.

Unlock the shed at the house end of the garden, retrieve the extension power cable from the general detritus, stepped cautiously over sundry obstacles to reach the power point and began a steady unreeling process. Next step, hunt down the key for the shed at the far end of the garden and, retrieve mower and grass collecting box. Track down the garden refuse recycle bin and then, set to work on the mowing, remembering of course to alter the blades height as I approached the wilder end of the garden. There always seems to be a little more needs doing but, I restrained from over exertion on this occasion. I lost track of the number of glasses of chilled water consumed, during the process, but one needs to counter the effusive perspiration such effort gives rise to.

After a short respite from my labours, the aquarium was the next item calling for my attention. I prepared adequate water, appropriately treated for a partial water change, replaced the carbon filter, rinsed out one of the foam filters in suitably tepid water, and duly carried out the deporting and importing of fluid from the mountain minnows home.

After all my endeavours, no marked ill effect; please note the emphasized word, we’ve got to keep it real! This morning, however, I was back to that totally shagged out sensation, you must know the one, that sense that it’s too much effort to turn over in bed to find a more comfortable position. Still, I struggled through and found a better position, face suffocated in the pillow, arms crossed and stretched over the head to grasp the mattress, legs forming a figure 4 … and, in that apparently uncomfortable position, I managed to doze off once more.

It required a considerable effort of will to remove myself from the duvet realm but, by the time my beloved arrived back from an early morning trip into town, an arisen and dressed Malcolm was a wonderful spectacle for her to behold. The prospect of taking a shower had proved far too daunting so, a quick visit to the washbasin had to suffice.

By lunchtime we were ready for the off, to keep my appointment at the Chronic Fatigue Unit. It didn’t take long for Julie, the occupational therapist, to realize that I’d let my “pacing” slip a little, but then, as she was quick to point out, “if that’s going to happen to anyone, you’re the obvious candidate!” There are occasions though, when the reward/pleasure of taking
a special day out, followed swiftly by a trip out closer to home, can outweigh the rather dispiriting aftermath. I promise to be a good boy.


a little bit more on my day can be found on Bright Light, my beloved's blog.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Sunday, September 24, 2006

'Back To Church Sunday' Backfires

Last Thursday evening, an unusual event occurred in the Evison household; the doorbell rang and, lo and behold, a vision from the past came to visit. A friend, from the church that I used to attend, called with an invitation for us to attend that church this evening as part of the Back to Church Sunday initiative.

It is almost three years since I was forced, for health reasons (frequently having to lie down during my morning’s work, recurrent flu-like symptoms and, regularly collapsing immediately on return home), to leave my employment as Caretaker/ Steward at that church. Much as they had been very satisfied with my labour; after my total collapse, I was reminded (on more than one occasion) by members of the clergy team that I had let them down! Was I supposed to fall down on my knees and cry, “Lord I repent of my inadequacy in letting you smite me down with ill-health; forgive me Father!”, or some such fanfared display of penitence?

The job that I did for 16 hours per week, plus many unpaid hours, became 32 hours per week regular employment for my immediate successor (who lasted just a few weeks) and, it now provides full-time employment for the present incumbent ( along with assistance from his partner on Mondays when “there’s just so much work to do”)!

For a couple of months, after my health enforced spontaneous resignation, I managed to struggle along to morning worship, invariably having to leave less than halfway through the service due to lack of stamina. Within a year of leaving my employment there, as well as the various functions I had fulfilled in a voluntary capacity (housegroup leader etc.), we had the misfortune of employing a warden from the church, together with his colleague, to do some decorating work for us. The work was tackled in, what we felt to be a very sluggish yet slipshod fashion, by these two retired gentlemen, and their presence in the house became too difficult for me to cope with. They billed us at an extortionate skilled professional rate, which I settled at half the asking price (we were still being robbed - but I yielded to my more benevolent nature). Around this time, alongside a growing realization of the cosily middle-class nature of this particular institution, my wife decided to move back to the Methodist church, as she had been feeling lost and alone in this ‘thriving’ church, once I was no longer able to attend. The Vicar called round to aggressively defend his Warden (against our wounding remarks) and … the rest is history.

Neither of us had darkened/enlightened their doorway since that time until I started going down to Open Church for coffee in recent months. In this whole period no-one from the church bothered to call around, or even make enquiries as to how I was doing, other than through a chance encounter with my wife near the local shops; so you can see why Thursday evening’s visit was such an unusual event!

Back to Church Sunday proved a terrifyingly daunting prospect, after all, I’m the person who on more than one occasion resumed smoking on National No Smoking Day; the very name of the day militated against any positive move on my part. Is attention going to be focussed on the Prodigal’s return? That’s the last thing that I’d want, a sure signal to lift up my backside and walk. I didn’t for one moment expect to receive the prodigal outpouring of love shown by the father in the tale but, I dreaded the focus being on us miserable returnees.

These misgivings apart, one of the greatest problems I have, at present, is with pre-planning. When I feel that I have sufficient emotional stamina, to attend a full church service, my first visit will have to be on impulse; for the present that little step is a step too far.

On reflection, it strikes me as an odd kind of pastoral care when, the only time one receives a visit is when a national returning bums on seat initiative is taking place!

I still have a lot of time for the Church as the body of Christ, a servant community; it is composed of people who, just like me, are all too human and frequently negligent of the service to which their Lord calls them.

Friday, September 22, 2006

New Postings Alert

Yesterday’s posting was recorded on ‘Mal’s Murmurings’ as A New Sensation (or an old one revisited!). A sequel posting, ‘Pacing’ vs ‘Boom and Bust’, has been posted on ‘Words From An Hirsute Antiquity’.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Adventures in the world of Customer Service

Today has been something of an adventure, for both my beloved and myself; an adventure we could have done without but, I suppose it’s all part of life’s rich tapestry. The fact that I was already quite exhausted and, full of miscellaneous aches and pains, as I reluctantly dragged myself out from the duvet lair, didn’t really help.

Last evening, my beloved belatedly informed me that she’d lost her mobile phone and, we realized we would have to go and sort out a replacement one this morning. I vainly tried phoning the old mobile number, several times, but only managed to get the network providers answering service in response as, “the person you are calling is not available” (or at least words to that effect).

This morning, my beloved drove us into town to visit the Orange shop and, much as I like to berate capitalist enterprises, the staff there proved most helpful. Our only requirement was a rather basic pay- as-you-go telephone, we’re not the last of the big spenders by any means, but the young gentleman who served us (despite having a rather irate customer to calm down) couldn’t have been more obliging.

As Helen had her top-up card with her, he told us that he could transfer the old number to the new phone and Sim card so no credit would be lost, nor would my beloved need to contact everyone to inform them of a number change! I was somewhat surprised when the company, on the telephone asked to speak to me, as well as Helen, to approve the change and, I struggled to try and remember whether the original phone (to which the old Sim card belonged) had perhaps been a present from me!

Having spent over an hour in the shop, my fatigue was beginning to get the better of me and, the only seating was of the bar stool variety; at least that was a slight improvement on my rapidly faltering attempt to remain upright on my feet.

Transaction completed, we returned home for lunch when, almost by accident, I recognized that the mobile number ma belle had given to the shop was that of my phone! Crisis … panic … chest tightening … nausea inducing …; after last weeks extra exertions, I’m still somewhat struggling in the emotional stamina stakes.

Helen boldly sallied forth to the Orange shop once more and, they supplied her with the appropriate number to call so that the mix-up could be sorted out. Once again, as soon an advisor was available telephonically, Orange came up trumps and the whole matter was resolved in a much quicker time-frame than had been envisaged. Within an hour of our call, my mobile had been disconnected and re-connected and, Helen’s mobile was functioning correctly on her old number!!!

In an age when the words CUSTOMER and SERVICE seem to dwell in an uneasy relationship, these CUSTOMERS are well and truly pleased with the SERVICE they received! Thank you ORANGE.

But as I whisper sweet nothings in my beloved’s shell-like, I feel that I should add the words, “but no more adventures please!”

Monday, September 18, 2006

Further blog posting on 'Hirsute Antiquity'

At least I've found sufficient energy to do a further blog posting today, apart from 'A long night's exudation into day' which appears below.

'The Perils of Irony' can be read on my blog on MySpace.

A long night's exudation into day

Last night was one of those occasions when I quite simply wished that I could peel off my skin, dermis and epidermis, in order to allow my body to breathe and free itself from all the perspiration oozing from my pores. Night sweats are nothing unusual to me, at least for the past several years they haven’t been, but overnight they took on epic proportions. For much of the preceding day, I’d been feeling rather hot and achy; the tenderness of glands in my neck and under the chin being a particular irritant but, this hadn’t prepared me for the torrential ooze of moisture from head, chest, legs and arms, in the wee small hours.

Working on the supposition that all this exudation should allow the body to cool down, the routine was, on this occasion, apparently performed in vain. When I removed all the bedclothes from my side of the bed, the initial sense of refreshment was short-lived and, Malcolm remained in a state of rampant overheating!

Still, casting issues of perspiration aside; the degree of fatigue, giddiness, and discomfort, that I’ve experienced, consequent upon drawing on more of my reserves of physical and emotional stamina during the past week, is nowhere near as severe as might have been anticipated.

Progress is the Goal : Pacing is All!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


This afternoon, as my beloved and I walked towards the Castle grounds in Knaresborough, only a surprising fleetness of foot prevented a 2 metre length of plastic down-pipe landing on our heads. This fell from either second floor (‘third floor’ stateside) or roof level of the Castle Vaults public house. The contractors, who allowed this unguided missile to head in our direction, were from 'Skylight Scaffolding' which, judging from their telephone number (0113 203 8344), is a Leeds based firm.

I’m afraid that, in a moment of panic-tinged anger, some rather colourful language flew up to these dangerous incompetents who didn’t even utter a retort. If anybody in the Yorkshire region has to pass by a site where 'Skylight Scaffolding' are working, I recommend that they give it a very wide berth indeed; even then, the least Skylight Scaffolding could do is to provide complimentary hard hats to all passers by.

It’s good to get that off my chest!

a slightly more positive take on the afternoon can be found on Hirsute Antiquities blog.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Breaking Barriers

Today, after a long night’s bed-rest, disrupted by occasional bouts of night-sweats and general discomfort, the spirit of adventure was upon me! Almost unwittingly, on a short drive out with my beloved, I broke through an important psychological barrier. Our initial goal was to pay a brief visit to Bolton Abbey, which entails a journey past the notorious American spy base at Menwith Hill, which always serves to remind me of our status as an occupied country (or at least an American puppet)!

Despite a minor degree of nervous discomfort, the journey went well but, having arrived at our goal, a flat rate car parking charge of £5.00 ensured that we would not be stopping. As in all probability our stay wouldn’t extend beyond 30 – 40 minutes, I resent such a tariff being imposed; for that fee I could purchase a good budget quality pre-recorded DVD. A decision was called for and, we decided to travel on up t’dale, through Burnsall and onwards to Grassington. Viewing conditions were ideal as we journeyed onwards, the mottled hillsides and dry-stone walls being animated by the patchwork of sun drenched vales midst motley cloud shadowed hillsides. We residents of God’s own county, Yorkshire, are indeed blessed with the most magnificent scenery as well as a reasonable county cricket team and, I understand, some fairly good soccer and rugby clubs.

On arrival in Grassington, we were able to park at the main car park for a fee of £2.00 for two hours. We ambled up into the small town and, decided to take advantage of the Devonshire Hotel’s bargain lunch offering. Two courses for £5.50, home made food as well, in a bar blessed with a selection of hand-pumped ales. For starters, I enjoyed a generous portion of garlic mushrooms whilst Helen indulged in the Cajun salmon terrine. For main course, Helen devoured a turkey madras whilst I settled for a delicious linguini bolognaise, topped with parmesan shavings. Once more, we felt as if we were on holiday, just as we had
at the local nature reserve yesterday.

For our return journey we travelled over Greenhow Hill and onwards through Pateley Bridge, enjoying wonderful scenery most of the way. Our round trip, I’m sure, exceeded the distance it would have been to get to the Hotel we’d planned on staying at on Sunday and Monday, had I not chickened out. The journey today was a reward in itself and, it feels so good to have taken this further step forward.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Back to the Drawing Board

Sensory overload, and the accompanying breakdown of my already limited emotional stamina, brought my web-surfing (to find a couple of night’s holiday accommodation) to a grinding halt last evening. One of the hotels sounded promising and well within the price limit we’d set ourselves but, suddenly a mind-numbing fog crushed any pro-active section of my brain into total shutdown.

After 11 hours bed-rest, pillow-propped and laptop at the ready, I’m prepared for action. A further search disclosed that the “promising” hotel is, according to customer reviews, rich in cramped accommodation, no lifts, a breakfast window of precisely 30 minutes etc. Definitely unpromising now! Eventually found another hotel, where the price of accommodation was 60% higher; I baulked at that price, especially as this was a supposedly last minute bargain price.

A further search found this same hotel, but the room rate was £40 per night cheaper than that on the ‘bargain’ site! So, I duly registered with the new site and, sure enough the same type of accommodation was available at this lower price for the same two nights (tonight and tomorrow). By the time this discovery was made, my head felt as if it was giddily burning up and my limbs were aching. Still, nothing daunted, I moved on to confirm the booking, credit card details at the ready! Start to enter the number when, out of nowhere, the tears started flowing as stress mounted; quickly backtrack and cancel this venue from the basket!

Suddenly, it had all become too much; a new venue and, a car trip more than five times further than any travel experience over the past couple of years, was a prospect too far. Waves of guilt swept over me as I felt that I was letting both ma belle and myself down. Of course Helen pooh-poohs that idea, well she would – wouldn’t she; my own sense of dismal failure is a different matter. Although I recognize that even the contemplation of the venture was a sign of progress, it somehow still leaves a kind of nagging and gnawing void at the core of my being.

As Helen has the week off work, we’ll perhaps have the odd day out (closer to home) with a bag packed in the boot in case the impulse to stop at wherever we reach takes over. No pre-planning/pre-booking, just see how the physical and emotional resources are in the event.

Anyway, I managed to knock up a spicy ham pasta for lunch for the two of us; much appreciated by the grateful recipients and, already, the world looks brighter despite the plans going awry!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Vaguely Willing - definitely Weak

How does one explain the, mind-numbing, anxiety that grips one at the thought of doing something unusual? The unusual, is the prospect of having a couple of nights away, the first time for a few years that I’ll be leaving the homestead, apart from a day and a night in hospital after an exploratory op on my throat. My extraordinary sensitivity to unexpected noises is hitting me with a vengeance once more, heightened no doubt by the extraordinary shattered experience induced whilst entertaining a very easy guest.

Having recovered (?) from that downturn in a much quicker time, than any kind of recovery had been taking in the past few years, I was feeling suitably confident to contemplate this little adventure until I started surfing the net for accommodation. This net search, somehow, brought home the reality of how major a step it was going to be, to leave the safety blanket of my familiar domicile for an hotel a mere sixty-plus miles away.

At present, I’m rather tense and panic-ridden; my self-confidence, which usually rides reasonably high, has temporarily sunk to a new low. Are the muscular aches, and bruised (feeling) chest and stomach muscles, simply an emotional response to the prospect or, are the excruciating onslaughts on every tendon and nerve ending, that were for quite a while my regular bedfellow, about to make a re-appearance?

How does one explain the mind-numbing anxiety? For the present I cannot; now is the time to steel myself for action, the spirit is vaguely willing but, the flesh is extraordinarily weak!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Foxy Goings On

The Oxcliffe Vixen, soul-mate of The Oxcliffe Fox, has now gone public in the blogosphere. The Fox will have to look to his laurels!

A further New Poem Alert

I've just posted a further poem on Mal's Factory, entitled A PISCINE PLOY. The garden is currently providing a rich seam of delight!

New Poem Alert!

I've just posted a brand new poem (entirely this morning's vintage) entitled 'A Spun Illusion' on 'Mal's Factory'.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The High Cost of Security

The whims and fancies of one’s health play hard to follow. After a couple of days of reasonable progress, including a surprise advance in terms of stamina and muscle elasticity, today began in reverse gear. Perhaps, in the first place, a slightly later bed-time, last night, as I was catching up on the missing thirty years, with a friend from distant university days who is currently visiting us, contributed to a more exhausted entry into the new day. Add to that, the fact that any major sustained conversational practise has been, for the past couple of years, beyond the scope of my physical and emotional reserves and, a slight decline in my improving resilience levels was perhaps inevitable!

As if a conspiracy was afoot, at about ten minutes to ten the telephone rang. My beloved had taken the car in for its service and MOT, before setting off for an appointment in town and, you’ve guessed it, the call was for her; it sounded to non-automobilised Malcolm, like some alien gobbledegook. I’d already dropped the phone onto the floor, as I fumbled my way from the Land of Nod, in the attempt to answer it and, they wanted to know where the key was for the locking wheelnuts. Now, where does one start looking for something unknown which should have been in the car in any case?

Tried Helen’s mobile but, it wasn’t switched on ….. P-A-N-I-C …. More P-A-N-I-C, my chest is crushing the breath out of me, I start aching in each untoned muscle of my body, I want to scream! Did the dealer from whom the brand new vehicle was purchased ever supply such an item, which seems a quite essential piece of equipment? When my beloved returned, from town, she had no memory of ever stumbling upon such an item and, that was even after the garage had shown her what it and its container should look like!

Current state of play is that the garage are going to obtain a new set of wheel hubs(?) complete with key and, will break the old ones off on Friday morning, perform the necessary tests befor replacing them. [Perhaps it’s all part of a less than subtle capitalist ploy, whereby one has to pay for unnecessary replacement items because the dealer had omitted to supply a necessary bit of equipment!]

For my beloved, all this sounded warning bells; what would have happened if the car had a flat tyre, there would be no way to remove the wheel, nor was there any way to test / inspect the brakes (the cause of all this kerfuffle in the first place).

The result of this experience; a physically and emotionally S-H-A-T-T-E-R-E-D Malcolm!

These locking nuts may be a security measure but, I can’t help feeling that they bring with them their own dangers. It’s rather like the threat to civil liberties imposed by governments, upon their own citizens, (when their countries are fighting an illegal war against a country that didn’t pose a threat in the first place), in response to a heightened terrorist threat largely of their own devising.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Parting is such dry sorrow

Over the last couple of evenings, my beloved and I bade a lingering farewell to an old friend. It is with a degree of sorrow that this old friend has departed from these premises, never to brighten our glasses again. This companion, who has helped through many a shared imbibing, was Ferdinand Pieroth’s ‘Nussdorfer Herrenberg’, Pfalz, 2001. The grape variety, Muller-Thurgau, is frequently belittled as a mere ‘workhorse’ but, who wants a pedigree racehorse that all too swiftly passes its prime? Although fully earning its description as trocken, memory tells me that the 1998 vintage outshone it in the dryness stakes but, not in all round satisfaction. It’s always a pleasure to find a wine that is both easy drinking and, desirous and deserving of more sustained attention.

With a year or twos aging, the wine attained a remarkable smoothness, by no means monotone on the palate and, a flavour which defied all the clich├ęd categories into which I am able to sort sundry styles and varieties of grape. It seems strange to extol the virtues of a friend who I am incapable of describing but, fond memories will linger on. One of these days, we’ll be cracking open the first bottle from our 2005 case, an event which I look forward to with a degree of nervous anticipation.

Admittedly, I’ve tasted many a finer, more complex wine from France,
New Zealand, Chile, Australia … but, to date, the Nussdorfer has always lived up to, and frequently exceeded, our expectation.

This is not posted in the hope of receiving any complimentary bottles but, should there be anyone desirous of making such an offer, it would be difficult to decline.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Politics and Selfishness

Yes, we'll take the skilled workers from a country where their skills may be desperately needed! Yes, we have taken the unskilled when it helps us to keep down wages of our lowest paid!

Guardian Unlimited Politics Special Reports Permit scheme to cut flow of east Europeans

We Are Such Stuff .. as irreconcilable differences are made of

Cuba, Iraq, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, the ‘Big Bang’, evolution, faith and, intra-religious squabbles. What could all these items have in common?

Each of these topics was touched on in my chats over coffee, at ‘Open Church’ this morning, alongside the usual formal niceties and small talk. Oh, how easy it is to find a simple solution to most of the world’s problems but, how lacking is any kind of political will to practise them!

On the one side we have self-centred, greed fuelled ideologies, which provide freedom for those who have the wherewithal and, a graduated scale of misery for numerous others; on the other hand we have those ideological positions upheld only by a degree of repression, partially the result of having to resist external malevolent forces, and yet, against the odds, manage to produce a better quality of universal health-care and education than that proffered by some more affluent neighbouring ‘free’ societies. To be honest, if you’re at the bottom of the heap, it doesn’t help to ‘know’ that one is free, if all that freedom entails is the right to be trampled on, and snubbed, by an uncaring greed-motivated minority (and their many sheep-like minions – the men who like to “rattle their chains to show that they are free”).


Yet again, a rambling posting spews forth from what was supposed to be a simple comment on my morning. The intended report would simply have said: “Once again, I managed to kill two birds with one stone. A visit to ‘Open Church’ entailed exercise (in terms of the walk to and from) and socializing (conversation over a cup of coffee). The walk back, after having been sat for fifty plus minutes, seemed to pace itself at about 60% of the speed assumed on my outward journey. Apart from my usual drowsiness after such exercise and, the return (since yesterday evening) of a discomforting numb tingle, from little finger to wrist on my left hand, my general decrepitude casts few shadows on my enjoyment of the day.”


A further posting today, 'A human voodoo doll once more', can be found on Hirsute Antiquity (Malcolm's blog on My Space). On Mal's Murmurings a new posting 'The Avian Feline Connection' can be found.