Tuesday, February 28, 2006

All bright-eyed and bushy tailed

Shortly before noon, remarkably early by my standards, I venture out with ma belle for a brief brisk walk. We hastily tread the tarmacced pavement, eyes streaming, as we’re buffeted by a chill north wind; within a few minutes we reach a more yielding footpath, a sense of freedom as the vista changes to wide open spaces and serried ranks of trees.

Strangely, the wind’s howl seems amplified once we’ve escaped the built environment; is it quite simply relishing the self-same freedom we have entered into or, is it complaining at the trees resistance?

On this bright crisp morning, it feels good to be alive. [Now, those are words you don’t expect to emanate from these quarters].

Monday, February 27, 2006

Cutting Implements and a Cutting Wind

I hardly dare to express the thought but, today, I do feel as if I’m on the mend! There, I’ve uttered it in the sure and present hope that this isn’t a health equivalent to pride before a fall. It’s a difficult task to constantly listen to ones body, whilst hoping that the high degree of rest, currently required, is not going to be a permanent template for their activity level.

I must admit that, until about 2.30pm, I felt equally as tired as I was when I retired to bed last evening. At least, compared to some recent days, I wasn’t feeling so achingly disoriented and, I actually felt like facing a little challenge.

So, it was up to the top garden shed to collect the tall step-ladders and a small handsaw, whilst my beloved retrieved the secateurs from the other shed and, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to work I go! Carefully place the steps at one corner of the largest apple tree, ma belle serving as stabiliser and, get on with the task postponed from last year’s end, a hopefully beneficial lopping of the topmost growth. Quite strangely, for all the stretching and lopping application of my upper limbs, it was my feet and calf muscles that all too swiftly felt the strain. By the time I’d activated four such ten-minute sessions, my body told me that was enough and, my less active partner was simultaneously suffering from the effects of a chilling north wind.

Whether it will prove to be brave or foolish, I don’t know but, immediately after this exercise, I embarked on a brief brisk walk to stretch the leg muscles. For the moment I feel no ill effect, hence the hope that I’m really on the mend.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Latent Masochism

I should’ve known better than to wallow in my achievement, exercise wise, of Wednesday. Thursday turned out to be a generally wrung-out day; a persistent dull aching weariness seemed to be the day’s keynote. By late afternoon, this lack of physical and emotional stamina turned into a brooding (depression-like) hollowness and emptiness, a kind of intensely frustrating boredom. Friday was constantly in danger of heading in the same direction but, I did manage to keep the self-pity at bay and, despite the miserable weather, I did manage a brief brisk walk once more.

It’s really strange how a day of improvement seems, so frequently, to be followed by a backward step; it’s almost as if I start to demand more of myself and, when that more is not forthcoming, I really become pretty tough on myself.

Today, although I started it in a totally non-refreshed state, has seen a slight advance insofar as the impending negativity has dissipated. Sundry non-specific muscular aches and pains have reared their ugly head more than a little, to be joined by an excruciating vice like grip on my spine, between the shoulder-blades, as I slaved over a hot stove to prepare tomorrows lunch. There must be a latent masochism in me as I still managed to enjoy the creativity and process of cooking.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A few small steps for man

After a somewhat sluggish start to the day (recorded by Heterocon: “A little de-concentration”) the day picked up somewhat, as my physical and emotional stamina resources provided a much needed energy boost. My beloved and I have just returned from a 30 minute brief brisk walk; the duration and the brisk pace were like a regained memory of former times. I congratulate myself for making the effort, my achievement of the day, whilst remembering that it takes more than one swallow to make a summer.

Immediately on return to the house, I slumped down onto the sofa; what had felt (unusually) like agile lower limbs, until a few moments before, suddenly metamorphosed into leaden appendages. That doesn’t detract one iota from my delight in being able to manage the exercise.

Accentuate the positive

I keep looking out of the window but, it all seems to no avail. The sky remains a dirty creamy grey, quite boringly static in fact; by this time I’m starting to doubt the message the broadcaster gave me an hour or so ago! Just where am I supposed to look for the laser beams and a sprinkling of powdered sunshine, I’d better just go and check it out again.

No wonderful light shows in evidence, perhaps I misunderstood the forecast but, I could have sworn that she foretold “scattered light-showers”. The sky seems as dull as ever. Perhaps a visit to the opticians would be in order, if I’m now incapable of seeing light; or did she really mean what she said. Now is the time to seek an alternative solution; I wonder if what she meant to say was “scattered light showers”; looking outside once more, a spattering of H2O seems a distinct possibility.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Me and Ma Belle

After recent knock backs on the health front, yesterday turned out to be one of my best days for many weeks. It was good to be able to face up to a visit to the local Brewer’s Fayre, for lunch with my beloved; admittedly it helped to be driven there, by my beloved chauffeuse, even though it’s within easy walking distance (for any ‘normal’ person). On our return home we even ventured out for a brief brisk walk, about seven minutes each way but, at least it breaks the spell of my recent total absence of exercise.

By late afternoon, my energy reserves proved up to the task of preparing a special Bolognese, which served as today’s lunch and left sufficient in reserve for a couple more meals.

It’s wonderful just to spend time with ma belle on this sixth anniversary of our wedding; there’s something so special about just being together, cherishing each other’s company. Perhaps one day I’ll feel energized enough to go out and do a little socializing as well but, for the present, I can only express my gratitude that I am so loved and cared for on the home front.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Market Forces - at any cost?

Two articles from Times Online caught my attention this afternoon.

Blunder left trail of lethal radiation

GPs told to abandon private suppliers of oxygen


After a couple of really groggy days, recorded by Heterocon, I’d returned to a state veering remarkably close to normality by last evening. Prepared a rather delicious salmon pasta dish for my beloved and myself, a short while before settling down to watch “Judge John Deed”(BBC1) and “Mock The Week”(BBC2), and then I ventured to the stable-type door at the back of the house to inhale a little hot nicotine and sundry toxins.

From my perch, in the aforementioned venue, I was suddenly struck by the clarity of the stars; quite unusually, I was able to see the appropriate outlines of certain constellations, even though I’d be unable to give them their right names. Called my beloved through to share my sense of wonderment, a new found childlike joy; the fact that this sharp imaging may portend (as proved to be the case) a cold and frosty night seemed immaterial.

Having immersed ourselves in a couple of hours of televisual entertainment, I later returned to the stable-door; this visit was accompanied by a sense of impending doom. Guess what, somebody had nicked a few of the stars; could it be my eyes playing up or, was it some cunning invisible clouds that cloaked something of the former majestic display.

My sense of alarm and disappointment is hard to describe but, as I eventually turned my gaze towards the far end of the garden there, overhead, was the lost constellation. So, no-one was culpable of depriving the odd solitary star of its companions; of a sudden, the giddy realization of the earth’s rotation struck home.

Wonderment restored!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Just switched on the TV and, it’s Davina McCall’s new chat show on BBC1; I know that I’ve only seen the first few minutes but, rarely have I felt so embarrassed for a presenter, it feels almost as if her body doesn’t belong to her and she absolutely doesn’t know what to do with her arms. I’ve just realized, she doesn’t know what to do with her legs either. Perhaps this reaction goes some way to explaining why I’ve always preferred spoof chat shows, at least the embarassment is intended. Anyway, I’m no TV critic so enough said!

The big question is, should I just switch the machine off or endure it (as background distraction) until K T Tunstall appears?

Monday, February 13, 2006

A la recherche ...

The ‘Afternoon Play’ on Radio 4 proved quite intriguing, with a man pursuing the reasons that his uncle, some 60 years earlier, was buried amongst the fascists in a Spanish village when he had gone out there as an idealistic communist. Eventually, it transpired that he had resisted the brutal bludgeoning to death of villagers by a group of republicans, hence his being considered an agent for the fascists, for which he was summarily executed and buried in the wrong camp. His nephew pleaded that the local priest should avoid any Christian ritual over the re-interment of his remains, in keeping with his uncle’s ideological atheism.

In my younger days, I was privileged to meet with former International Brigaders, many of whom felt that they had been betrayed by their Stalinist comrades and yet, still maintained a strong belief in the ideals that had taken them out there.

Although I was at this time much drawn to a pacifist creed and, something of a utopian socialist, I found it impossible to dismiss these peoples humanitarian idealism. Perhaps it was these people’s faith that freed me to take up a class war stance and, enter into an engagement with Marxist (specifically Trotskyist) politics. Over the years, however, I seemed to spend far too much time bitching over ‘theological’ differences with other left wingers, attempting to find a ‘true’ fundamentalist understanding of the beloved Karl; it almost seemed as if the real enemy was to be found in the ‘socialist’ camp and, the real struggle was forgotten, apart from a ‘token’ presence on picket lines and demos.

My socialist ideals remain pretty well intact but, I’m afraid I underestimated capitalisms ability to re-invent itself and pander to the baser instincts of an apparently wider grouping of people.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

A Question of Taste

One of the great mysteries of life is how our taste buds can be cultivated to appreciate distinctive flavours, sharpness, sweet, sour etcetera. When I think of all the years of bold experimentation I underwent, in the quest to further my appreciation of the finer qualities of wine, real ale and, single malts, little considering the cost or benefits to my health, I feel quite proud of my powers of persistence for a noble cause.

Recently, I’ve even managed to cultivate a taste (from necessity) for water, not the pretentious bottled variety but that liquid, so easily taken for granted, that flows from our taps. Whilst taking anti-viral tablets, I have deliberately and advisedly increased my consumption but, I have to admit that its attraction is now on the wane. The taste of my first couple of glasses of the day seems far more appalling than the worst mass-produced keg bitter; in the beer stakes a little effort soon enabled one to swallow copious quantities of the stuff, good, bad or indifferent just to be sociable but, water is an altogether different beast. The more I consume, the more it seems to take on what must be the foul taste of my own mouth. Perhaps, persistence will wash away that self-same taste and, I will gradually rediscover the joys of H2O’s refreshment.

With the increased difficulty of taking Adam’s Ale neat, or “on the rocks”, the only option seems to be an increase in the infusions of green tea, jasmine tea and Earl Grey, to be consumed.

By way of variety, in the flavour stakes, the odd glass or two of wine will be more than welcome, slowly re-introduced to the system, within the limits of my reduced tolerance of course! It seems such a shame to have a reasonably stocked cellar if it’s never to be disturbed.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Thankyou BBC

I’ve just been listening to “Afternoon Play: Pips” (BBC Radio 4), a wonderfully perceptive gentle comedy set in a dentist’s waiting room. The action was carried through a series of internal monologues, occasionally interspersed with dialogue; Glyn Houston as the Professor really captured the vulnerability of a recently widowed burnt-out academic and, his sense of frailty and mortality was beautifully balanced by the revelling in her own fecundity of Dr Powell, a former colleague. Although the play was set at a dental surgery, the only thing that set my teeth on edge was the top and tailing song, as James Blunt nasally whined “ … yow-er bew-ooo-ti-ful”!

This play, along with Monday’s “The Fortunestown Kid” and Wednesday’s “The Discourse of Two Once-Young Women” have once more served to remind me just what an excellent service the BBC provides.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Whither Normality?

This afternoon bore witness to my first “collapse” for a few days but, it leaves a big question. Am I wrung out by the ache and discomfort of the facial shingles or, is it simply a reflection of the norm?

I really am starting to question what it means to be ‘normal’ (perish the thought); for all the painful irritations associated with shingles I cannot honestly say that I’m feeling much different to what has become my ‘normality’, except perhaps the headache is slightly more persistent.

What has really been brought home to me is the fact that I have been ‘unwell’ for so long; the abnormal becomes the norm!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Keeping an eye on things

Well, I decided to take the plunge and see my GP this morning. The bruise-like spots around the bridge of my nose and my eyebrow seemed to be causing a constant headache and slightly blurring my vision. Diagnosis shingles so, now, on top of my other medications I have to take antiviral tablets five times per day and, a corresponding application of anti-viral eye ointment. Tomorrow morning I have an appointment with the ophthalmologist at the District Hospital.

All of a sudden my life becomes a hectic social whirl, pure sensory overload! As Heterocon commented yesterday, “Life may get tedious at times but, never boring”.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Bloggers Block

Having spent the last forty minutes or so sat on my hands, to ease an ache in my wrists and elbows, I’ve now permitted their release to knock out a little blog posting.

Unfortunately, a fog in my mind has taken over from the discomfort in the wrist; although the flesh may be willing the mind’s too numb to supply the appropriate words.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Saving for a rainy day

Just like bananas, they come in bunches. Tonight, this seems to be the case with terrestrial TV here in the UK; the programmes we’d like to watch this evening are on at 9.10pm ‘Sea of Souls’[BBC1], 9.10pm ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’[BBC2], 9.30pm ‘Rosemary & Thyme’[ITV1] and, 9.10pm ‘CSI:NY’[Five]. Also showing at 9.10pm on Channel 4 is ‘Sleepy Hollow’ but, fortunately we already have that on DVD. So, choices must be made so, I think we’ll watch the first, record the second to DVD, record the third to VCR and give the fourth a miss. It really is quite exhausting working out such action plans.

We’ll also be recording ‘The Pianist’ [10.45pm ITV1]; it’s a bit like saving up for a rainy day.

It’s certainly not that often we feel so spoilt for choice. Just because we don’t follow any of the “soaps”, I often get the feeling that we don’t watch much TV but, I must admit that it’s an enjoyable pastime when my emotional stamina is up to it.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Keeping the Faith

Today, my alter-ego Heterocon decided to rejoice and be glad. So, I rejoice in my stiff neck, clogged sinuses and rheumy eyes, in order to keep the faith. I give thanks that I felt incapable of emerging from the duvet lair until long after my beloved had ventured out, for her first appointment of the morning but, the thanks are even more heartfelt that she is now back home.

Concentration is rather low-level today and, although I switched on the Afternoon Play felt incapable of following plot, characters, or anything else. Still, I did manage to do a posting on Heterocon as well as this one and, for that I am grateful.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Felt Moments

A period of sound sleep followed an initially restless night; I only wish I could report that it was refreshing as well. Somehow, the rather grey day outside seemed to empathize with my generalized state of fuzziness. It was almost as if my head and torso had been bruised by a felt hammer but, brave soul that I am, I rescued myself from the duvet’s clutches by 11.00am and, come lunchtime prepared a dish of griddled Salmon, peppers, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, served with jacket potatoes (pre-emptively prepared by my beloved).

Even as I prepared the meal, numbness down the little finger side of my left hand insisted on distracting me from my noble endeavour; I suspect the felt hammer had an ice pack at its core.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Weighty Matters

It’s almost too tempting to describe my lower limbs as feeling “leaden” today but, that wouldn’t be quite accurate. The reality is more akin to them being stuffed with sodden kapok and, getting up from a chair to walk across the room, my control of them doesn’t feel much better than if that actually were the case. Although it’s not an altogether unfamiliar sensation, I’m just hoping it’s a transient one.

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