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.