Sunday, December 30, 2007

No Contest

The greatest privilege of the Christmas period, apart from celebration of the Christ child, has been the opportunity to luxuriate in my beloveds presence 24 hours a day for the past ten days! Tomorrow, I’ll be back to my solitary existence, through the daylight hours, as Helen returns to the world of paid employment.

Of course, New Years day being a public holiday, I will once again be blessed with her presence on Tuesday and, that will provide another opportunity to demonstrate that it’s impossible to have too much of a good thing!

For the past few days, ma belle amoureuse has had the opportunity to catch up on some much needed rest, but one has to admit she can’t manage my (exhaustion imposed) twelve hours bed rest per diem!

There are some things in which there’s quite simply no competition.


P.S. A posting for 26 December, CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS, can be found on 'Mal's Murmurings'.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

On Christmas Day In The Morning

Well, Christmas Day certainly started with a bang, as Beth tumbled down the bottom half of the stairs. Our traditional champagne and smoked trout breakfast has been put on hold. Following the tumble, Beth took a few tentative steps, said she was OK and, as if to prove the point, immediately crumbled (well more like rigidified) into unconsciousness. A few minutes of unresponsiveness later, a groggy emergence made our beloved daughter into a legless wonder, so there she was resting against the hall wall, swaddled in blankets and, compared to her pallor Jacob Marley’s ghost is the figure of absolute health and vitality.

Helen had a swift bite to eat before running Beth down to casualty to get checked out. Unfortunately, ma belle was unable to wait with her as she had to get down to Wesley to lead off the Christmas Morning service. One and a half hours later, Beth has been safely returned to the fold – thank God for Christmas Taxi service, though God help us with the charges for same.

Meantime, we hear on the grapevine that Sina ( Beth’s ex-partners son) is enjoying his Christmas in Birmingham with a full-blown case of Food poisoning. The day can only improve, can’t it?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Change of Venue

What a topsy-turvy world I’m living in; yesterday the attention was focussed on an abscess in the lower part of my body, early this evening the focus shifts up to a point above the torso. All of a sudden a large blood blister erupts onto the scene; actually, I wish the eruption had climaxed rather than remain the swollen possibility of such action. That would certainly have eased the discomfort.

This intruder has made its home well back on the roof of my mouth. Applying ‘anbesol’ (anaesthetic & antiseptic solution) to this discomforting blob is, to say the least, a tricky business. Life is certainly never dull around these parts!

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Little More Consultation, A Little Less Action

Soundtrack: music from ‘Jaws’, it pounds through my brain. He rolls on the latex gloves, applies lubricating gel and slowly approaches. He’d already done the abdominal pressure test but now, it’s down to the real investigation. Almost before the investigation begins, a pre-existent painful area seems to be crying out for attention but, all I can do is lay on my side and think of England. Thankfully, the investigation is not too prolonged; this could never be my idea of a good afternoon out!

Anyway it seems like an abscess has been the cause of the problem and, the GP swiftly prescribes a 7 day course of antibiotics and a hydrocortisone laced ointment to apply to the affected area and arranges for a follow up consultation.

So, that was the late-afternoon highlight of my day; it certainly woke me up. This morning I’d really struggled to remove myself from the duvet lair; a struggle still reflected in my sense of jadedness through to mid-afternoon. Last evening I attended a Christmas Party, with my beloved and Beth, at the Acorn Centre where ma belle is a volunteer assistant; a bit of socializing that I managed to cope with far better than I’d have anticipated but, I still have a price to pay.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

A VIRGIN FAILS to provide a service

Sunday 16 December

ISP’s, who’d have ‘em; on the other hand, how would we manage without ‘em? Yesterday the connections were very slow, today zilch! So I phone the Virgin Media service status line, thankfully a Freephone number, only to discover that the “connections are slow” in all our adjacent postal areas, as well as here, but “our engineers are aware of the problem and are in the process of repairing it!” I’m rather suspicious; if they’re only aware that connections are slow, rather than non-existent, are they really on the ball at all?

It’s quite a while since we had a major problem with NTL / Virgin Media (remembering the company before it became a Virgin) but, it still makes for a very frustrating time. The web has been a major lifeline for me, via various forums, blogs and networking sites I’ve managed to retain a ‘virtual’ social life, much richer than the ‘real’ one which is rather limited owing to health restraints.

Trouble is, one hears of nightmare scenarios with many different ISPs so, is it really worth jumping out of the current frying pan?

Monday 17 December

Still no internet connection, good old reliable Virgin Media, so by 1.30pm decide to check once more with lack of service line; at least this time the recorded voice is rather more honest and states that this area is suffering from a “loss of service” and, their engineers are aware of the issue.

That’s little consolation, what I want is for them to do something about it! As Karl Marx said all those years ago, “Philosophers have interpreted the world, our task is to change it” but now, our ISP having failed to change failure into function, we’re back to a more metaphysical problem, namely ‘creatio ex nihilo’. Is it really possible that this company (the beloved Virgin Media) can get their fingers out and create a service out of a vacuum? Their apologies for the inconvenience are insufficient; we pay real money for their product and expect to receive that product in exchange for that cash. A service industry that fails to deliver deserves to go to the wall.

We will certainly be considering a change of ISP!

At this season, when all around us churches proclaim a Virgin birth, I feel that another miracle is required in which a Virgin starts to provide a decent service.

3.50pm – I offer up my prayer of thanksgiving. A Virgin conceived a way to restore our internet connection. The age of miracles has not yet passed.


A further posting for today, Of Leon ...and other problems, can be found on 'Mal's Murmurings'.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Patronizing Post

An eventful day, by the standards of yours truly; having roused myself into a state of semi-alertness, after a mere 10 ½ hours bed rest, I girded up my loins to venture into town. At least ma belle chauffeuse found a reasonably convenient parking spot before we ambled our way down to the Christmas Fayre at Wesley Chapel. It was really heart-warming to find that many of the stalls were making funds for worthwhile causes, Save The Children, Traidcraft, Palestinian handicrafts and, even a stall selling hand-made greetings cards for which the proceeds were going to support work in Nigeria. I’m not really one for buying at Christmas Fayres but, as I’m certainly in favour of supporting these causes, I set aside my usual reservations.

As we made our way back through town it was good to see a Ladies Morris Team dancing outside of the shopping centre, a really festive touch, as well as one or two talented buskers. So frequently the combination of the words talent and busker can seem paradoxical.

After lunch, my beloved suggest we patronize one of the local clothes shops so, I duly intended to say, “What brave souls you are, struggling on in the local community, boldly standing your ground against e-commerce and out of town retail parks!”, but then I thought that this would be too patronizing. Deep down, I had suspected that my beloved meant to make a purchase at this local shop; oh the ambiguities of the word patronize. Ma belle’s attention was swiftly drawn to an outfit that had caught her eye when it formed part of the window display a few weeks ago. The problem of finding a present for the lady who is privileged to be my spouse was resolved in one fell swoop.

After each of these forays, it was really good to slump back into a comfortable supporting armchair! Not for some time, has so much been accomplished, by this stoical wimp, within such a relatively short time span.

Come late afternoon, it was time to metaphorically don my chef’s hat and make preparations for tomorrow’s dinner. Firstly I sliced some chicken breast fillets, onions and peppers, and prepared an olive oil based paste of coriander, paprika, cumin, turmeric, and garlic in the bottom of the wok. Once this was sizzling threw in the onion rings, to be followed by the sliced peppers and chicken. A few sliced mushrooms were thrown into the mix for good measure. After a bit of vigorous stirring, decided to mix a miso solution (my beloved having just excavated a jar of miso in the course of a very belated spring clean); this, with a generous sprinkling of dried basil added, was duly poured into the wok and left to simmer.

The contents of the wok have now been dispersed into two casserole dishes, ready to be popped into the oven on Sunday and Monday respectively. And now, I’m lost in wonder, love and praise as I watch Helen prepare a posting for her Bright Light blog.

Monday, December 03, 2007

A Gold Medal Award

Grey days with wind-lashed rain beating its presence on the windowpane; the outlook is grim. Pick up a book to browse, turn on the radio and, all too soon I become restless. For these past dew days, the assemblage of familiar numbing pains and nagging aches are all that have prevented me from sleeping the time away.

Thoughts of an impending journey, a mere two and a bit hours of chauffeuse driven motoring, fill me with a sense of doom; even at the best of times I’m not too fond of travelling but, in my current state of dis-ease, the prospect is even more worrying.

The arrival at any destination always seems long overdue but, the sense of relief is overshadowed by the prospect of the return journey. The arrival back home is always the best part of the experience when, once more, my breathing permits itself to return to a more normal pattern.

By writing this down I hoped to disclose the irrationality of my dread but, instead, it only serves to reaffirm that nature never intended me to be a nomad. These days, the prospect of any journey of more than a few miles duration requires several pre-emptive visits to the loo; a somewhat spastic colon and a non-retentive bladder are never ideal travelling companions.

This doesn’t just sound like self-pity, it is the genuine article. Any minor deviation from my normal home-centric regime seems like the most perverse obstacle course has been placed in my path. I award myself the gold-medal for wimpishness, no-one is more entitled to such a prize.


Mal's Murmurings talks about PRIVILEGE

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Nation's Supreme Athlete

I’ve just got down to wondering, just how much I have been kidding myself that I’m so much better. I am indeed grateful that I’m not so tetchy, that I get down to Open Church for coffee and a chat at least once or twice a week, being able to enjoy taking a shower .... indeed, the list is endless of all the things I’m grateful for!

The down side is the amount of bed-rest I seem to require these days, intermittently persistent numb throbbing aches from armpit, through elbow to wrist and, after a modest walk, in hips, thighs and calves. Some days, today being a case in point, even combing my hair, putting on spectacles and wrist watch seemed like an effort too far! Washed-out isn’t quite the word, it’s more a case of being in a permanent state of pre-wash – one knows that something’s to follow but, just has to close one’s eyes in the hope that it will just go away.

I like to look on the positive side of things and, find myself so frustrated that this condition isn’t all in the mind, as certain idiots inevitably declare ME/CFS etc. to be; if it was, and all that was required was a bit of correct thinking, I would now be the nation’s supreme athlete (in spite of the fact that I hate sports)!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Yet another murky grey day imposes its presence and, I can only be grateful that I feel so much brighter than the day looks. I’m even starting to feel quite alert today, a pleasant surprise indeed when compared to many recent days. Managing to summon up the courage to take a shower seems, in itself, to be a great morale booster; just a few years ago I could accept showering as part of the normal daily routine but, never did it seem such a luxuriant experience as it does these days. Ever since we installed a seat in the shower unit, an antidote to the not infrequent episodes of disequilibrium I’d been experiencing, the experience has been so much more enjoyable.

Today, I even managed to towel myself dry and get dressed without requiring a period of rest between the two activities. Know what, it feels really good! The preceding ten or eleven hours of bed-rest, on this occasion, had proved unusually refreshing. I just have so much to be thankful for; the tenderness of the glands under the chin has subsided, that in the armpits has eased considerably and, the muscular pains in the lower limbs are desisting from their usual attention seeking behaviour. All-in-all, a really positive start to the day; I rejoice, and am glad, in this day the Lord has made.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Microcosmic Capitalism shares Macrosmic Lies

Notices plastered on the windows of WEETONS Grocery Store, in Harrogate, proudly proclaim free delivery, anywhere in the UK, on our Hampers this weekend only. Small print was there none so, we happily trundled through their portals to purchase two of the cardboard packed ‘Weetons Harrogate Hamper’.

Although I felt the £30 each was rather extortionate, free delivery down South would make it seem more reasonable. When we get to the counter we’re asked, “Do you want to take them with you?” Of course we didn’t, we wanted to take advantage of their free delivery offer. “But we don’t deliver the cardboard boxed ones!”

The offer really meant that if you bought at least their £60 hampers this weekend, free delivery would be included. So, we’d ventured out in inclement weather, to shop at this overpriced grocery store, all as a result of deceptive advertising. I checked the notices again, on our way out, nothing to suggest that their overpriced cheapest hampers were excluded from the free delivery offer.

You’d think, by the time I was into my seventh decade, that the wisdom acquired in the years of my youth to never trust a capitalist would have been too well ingrained for me to feel cheated on this occasion; it isn’t, I do!


P.S. We didn't make a purchase!!!!!!!!!!!!!

An Act of Exorcism

For Mal's view of 'The X-Factor goes Disco' visit Mal's Murmurings.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Intelligence Gathering

Between 2005 and 2006 the FBI sifted through San Francisco area grocery stores customer data, trusting that a spike in sales of Middle Eastern foods would disclose a network of Iranian terrorists.
See 'Falafel! ' (NYT Opinion). The comments on this particular item prove enlightening.

Makes you think!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Balancing Expectations

Whilst it’s always good to live in hope, there always comes a time of need when one has to lower these expectations. I’m currently fumbling at the keyboard, fighting the resistance of the aluminium cored wrist supports, which theoretically permit unrestricted digital freedom. Oh, if only!

As I’ve said before, on several occasions, this year has seen great improvements in my sense of well-being, taking my first holiday break away from home in several years, managing a bit of socializing and even some pottering around in the garden. The past couple of weeks have found a more marked re-asserting of the sundry aches and pains the flesh is heir too. A sharp bruised sensation, emanating from the armpit, spreading down the left inner arm and, leading to a nagging perpetual ache in the elbow, is just one of the symptoms.

Ever since some earlier bouts of tendonitis and sciatica in the lower limbs, hardly a day has gone by when I haven’t experienced a degree of discomfort and, my power of concentration is fluctuating wildly. Yesterday, for the first time in a while, a sense of disequilibrium occurred, requiring the attendance of my long-suffering beloved whilst I showered and, manifesting itself in stumbling about when reaching (without overstretching) for various utensils.

On the positive side, I still managed to do an hours pottering about in the garden and, in the afternoon managed to devise and prepare a garlic chicken casserole for Sunday lunch.

My bed-rest requirement still fluctuates somewhat and, all too frequent vivid dreams do little to contribute to any sense of refreshment from the sleep time. Although progress, on the health front, can be painfully slow, it is impossible not to feel a sense of gratitude for what I am able to achieve. That’s where the balance of expectation comes into play; I have learned, over the years, that having too high an expectation has lead to an intensified sense of frustration (especially when the target is unattainable). Pushing ones-self leads to some rather agonizing setbacks yet, it’s almost as if I am now able to appreciate the good days more, as the setbacks served to remind me of how low a base I started the journey from.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Accounting For My Time

Until yesterdays brief posting, I’d been feeling rather guilty about the paucity of recent blog posts. It’s not been a case of having nothing to say but rather not having the time to say it; other activities decided to prioritize themselves.

So, what has been happening? Not a lot but, far too much. My pacing has at times managed to go awry; it still catches me unawares when a couple of hours pottering around in the garden results in the following couple of days being plagued with an achingly painful fatigue, a kind of hollow bruised feeling encapsulating my whole being.

A recent visit to the doctor found my GP, half jokingly, asking my other half why she doesn’t stop me! It’s rather as if the hare asked the tortoise to slow down. Problem is, there’s no telling when an adrenaline high is going to push one beyond the parameters of their proper pacing and, frequently it will be at such a time that my beloved’s out at work. When one attains or achieves a certain goal, they feel so chuffed about it that they begin to feel indefatigable.

Following that particular visit to the surgery I was sent up to the hospital for a full battery of blood tests from which only one reading (an adjunct to the ‘normal’ thyroid function test) showed anything abnormal but, not alarmingly so. The locum doctor (with whom I’d discussed the results) said, “just as you’ve seen a little progress this year, in managing the ME/CFS, perhaps you’ll see an equivalent improvement over the next three and a half years”!

It’s a slow journey but, I continue to live in hope.


Apart from the aforementioned work in the garden, the primary consumer of my time has been of the computing variety; re-vamping websites, setting up an online print store and attempting (eventually successful) to troubleshoot sundry laptop problems. As an older laptop is now totally defunct, I decided to install its XP Pro OS onto another machine, hitherto running XP Home, which led to me having to re-install devices and drivers prior to replacing various software programmes. This exercise even had me starting my day earlier than has been the norm; the excitement and uncertainties encountered during the overall operation fought off the brains desire to rest, the mind buzzing overtime when I should have been sleeping.

Subsequent days saw my customary 10 ½ hours of bed rest extended to at least 12 hours, choice didn’t enter the equation!


Model helicopter flying, and repairing, has only occupied a small amount of my time; my reserves of concentration are not sufficient to permit more than the occasional brief practise episode.

A surprise ‘phone call, shortly before I was due to emerge from my duvet lair last Friday, led to a rather thorough investigation of matters, religious, theological and philosophical, as well as personal, in what for me was a prolonged telephonic dialogue (approximately 1 hour duration). The excitement, of this somewhat exploratory conversation, somehow pushed my tiredness onto the backburner only to return with a vengeance later in the day.

By the evening, my mind was once more buzzing, theological ideas spewing forth like there was no tomorrow. Ideas for a little theological exposition abound, it’s quite simply (!) a question of organizing my time and stamina reserves; don’t hold your breath though, a little preliminary work involves clarifying the confusion between/about ‘values’ and ‘truth’ and the anachronistic approach of biblical literalists.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

If Only ... nature (sca)red in tooth and claw

The proud feline hunter scampers away like a real scaredy-cat; obviously the tables have been turned.

A few minutes earlier, I had been watching a perky grey squirrel foraging for food, in a tussock of grass, in close proximity to one of our pole mounted bird feeders. I'm always quite amused how charmingly these rodents pick up their food, scrupulously examining their paw held feast in some kind of quality control exercise, before the consuming moment. As the squirrel became aware of my presence, he firstly sidled away before darting off between the end of the shed and the greenhouse. At this stage, its exact location couldn't be determined from my vantage point but, a sudden yelp disclosed our neighbourhood ginger marmalade Persian, running for her life.

It's really strange that all the endeavours of our PIR sonic cat scarers, (supposedly) cat repellent plants, and strategically placed briars had failed to deter this particular member of the feline race, as we sought to protect the nesting birds, a little rodent so swiftly carried out the act of expulsion from the garden. A real David and Goliath parable this, as the rodent puts our feline neighbourhood predator to flight.

Next to the late lamented Sapphire, this particular moggy is one of the most endearing in our general vicinity; trouble is it's impossible to train them to know their boundaries! If only it were possible to teach them that our ponds piscine inhabitants, and the birds nest boxes were off limits, our pleasure would be complete.

P.S. I had also posted this on my Hirsute Antiquity blog where someone left the comment:

.. I don't know why but i hate squirrels.. :(

to this my hasty impromptu response reads as follows:

They can be darned destructive little critters, their scavenging exploits can certainly reek havoc. Although they're rodents, somehow with their long bushy tails they have a more cosy image than their thin tailed relatives. The grey squirrel, originally imported from North America, is now predominant and they swiftly decimated the indigenous red squirrel population.

In some ways I find them more welcome than other North American invasions such as our near neighbour, Menwith Hill spy and star wars station, ironically called RAF Menwith Hill although it's run in the utmost secrecy by the US of A. I'm always surprised to find that some American acquaintances who work there appear almost normally human. Just like the grey squirrels seem cute!

Friday, October 12, 2007

What's Going On?

By early to mid-evening I’m feeling decidedly battered and shattered, an aching hollow void seems to have hit the very core of my being. Somewhere along the line my ‘pacing’ seems to have gone awry, it doesn’t seem to require any marked over exertion on my part; these days, I’m constantly amazed by how much I used to cram into my day.

Just thinking about former activity levels makes me feel rather giddy so, where do I place the blame for my current functional disarray? Of course my normal routine was somewhat disturbed by dining at a slightly later hour, as my beloved and I were invited over to Janet’s (Helens sister) house for Dinner, or should that read Supper (I’m not too good on these social niceties), last evening. Much as I enjoyed the meal, and the company, it was succeeded by a rather disrupted nights sleep, in spite of which I managed to retrieve myself from the duvets enticements at a reasonably early hour.

I even managed to venture down to Open Church for a little natter over a cup of Fair Trade coffee and, on my return home got down to a bit more work modifying one of my web sites. In fact, the creation of some new web pages, and modifying the meta-tags etc. seems to have been a major preoccupation during the past few days. I’ve also set up a little showcase for some of my paintings on – you’re welcome to browse and see the options for different size prints, mounts and frames, though it’s not compulsory!

Actually, the process of tapping out these few lines has made me realize that I’ve not been totally idle these past few days and, I’ve now yielded to the temptation to fill the inner void with a nice bottle of Chilean oak-aged Chardonnay. So my beloved and I are about to settle down in front of a hot cathode ray tube for an episode of Rebus (ITV1).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Question of Moral Authority


So, David Cameron (Conservative – leader of the opposition) accuses Gordon Brown (Labour – Prime Minister) of lacking any political or moral authority.

The main points for arriving at this conclusion seem to be that

i) GB failed to call an election, which DC thought he may have a chance of winning (political authority)
ii) GB stole, and put into practise, Tory (Conservatives) policies.(moral authority)

As far as I can see, this means he lacks political and moral authority because

a) He wouldn’t give the Tories an early chance to ruin the country

b) He lacks moral authority because he practises Tory policies.

This would seem to be a very strange accusation. Presumably, DC believes he occupies the moral high ground because politics is simply a means to further his career; obviously he doesn’t believe his own policies would be good for the country, otherwise he would applaud the PM for implementing them, feeling flattered that the PM should consider them worthy of theft! He fails to recognize that GB saved the country the expense of an unnecessary election which would have simply been about which "window-dresser" gains the prize.

Since the advent of Blairite Thatcherism we’ve been stuck with two Tory parties to choose from. I can only assume that all aspiring candidates should choose their party on the basis of whom they believe will best advance their political career. (Stuff the country – what about my job!)


A further blog posting for today, K...K...K...K...Katie, can be found on 'Mal's Murmurings'

Monday, October 08, 2007

Mechanical Breaks

Saturday morning was a time to break the relative silence of the garden with a bit of mechanical intrusion. Both strimmer and hedge trimmer, which share a common electrical lead, fortunately making it impossible to wield both simultaneously, were brought out of hibernation, the more efficiently to perform the decapitation of meadow grass, trees and hedgerows. Actually decapitation is not quite the right word, rather a productive mutilation.

Only later were the loppers brought into action, as I started to prune back some of the topmost prolific growth on the largest of our fruit trees. To my own surprise, and that of my beloved, I had actually started this travail at a time, 10.00am, when I would normally still be ensconced in the duvet lair.

It’s always something of a mystery that, the cutting back of vegetative growth should in fact enable stronger and fuller growth the following season. A couple of hours of exertion and perspiration later, I decided (to my wife’s relief) that it wouldn’t be very wise to attempt more. Even that couple of hours, I was later to discover, was sufficient to cause a (relievedly) minor setback; this “pacing” game is never as easy to manage as one would suppose. I so frequently make the mistake of comparing my current stamina output with that of a few short years ago. I’ve got to admit that the exertion initially makes me feel good, and I do so enjoy looking after the garden, but I never like the repercussions.

When one has spent a considerable amount of time in a numbingly aching fatigued state, it makes a pleasant change to be able to blame a particular bout of activity for some of the more extremely painful exhaustion. Fortunately my bounce-back time seems more efficient these days; the pacing is working after all!


This budding remote control helicopter pilot continues to make progress, replacement propeller blades being less frequently required. Training is temporarily on hold as I await the delivery of a couple of tail-frame assemblies, the current one being fractured in four places. It’s amazing how many obstacles one has to try and avoid within the confines of ones garden.

Mal murmurs on avian matters

Todays blog posting, STAKING A CLAIM, can be found on 'Mal's Murmurings'.

For further recent postings (poetry), don't forget to visit 'ARCHIVE MINED and FRESHLY SPUN' and 'MAL's FACTORY'

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Congratulations Sir Terry

So, Sir Terence of Wogan has been voted the BBC Radio2 Ultimate Icon of the past forty years

And some people have the gall to accuse the media of dumbing down?

Makes you think.


For those of you beyond our islands shoreline, I should point out that without the presence of Sir Terry the world would be a place in which we encountered wars, terrorist threats, inequalities, floods …. indeed the list is endless.

Had Wogan not been grasped from the very jaws of Radio Telef√≠s √Čireann then we would all probably have no idea that such greatness could exist this side of heaven.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Ein kleines nachtdenken

How does one explain an awareness of being unaware, a drifting within a static void, a painless ache; why, indeed, should one want to capture and explain such an undeserved and undesirable experience? Perhaps it’s the desire to simply interpret a non-experience in such a way that life makes sense. It’s not so much a dark night of the soul as a plenum void!

The moment is everything and yet feels like the very antithesis of anything, a sense of detachment from daily (or any) reality. Why do I use words? Because they’re there; maybe that’s the reason why!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Follow up

A follow up posting, to the one immediately below, can be found on 'Mal's Murmuring' - If you can't stand the aches ... get into the kitchen.

Return of the hammer wielding fiends

Once more the wielders of the lead cored, matted felt, lump hammers are on the rampage. Yesterdays aches, and nagging bruised feeling in the armpits, are now accompanied by a bruised sensation in limbs and torso; even my head has not escaped the fiends’ nocturnal havoc! To be honest, my head feels as if it has been swathed in blankets with the occasional tourniquet applied around temples, eyes, ears and jaw-line.

A sharp spasmodic cramping pain in the right lower limb plays counterpoint to the dull aching shoulders and upper limbs. For a few days the discomforting throbbing armpit has been doing its darnedest to make me forget the progress I’ve been making during 2007. For the first time in many months, the helping presence of my beloved was essential as I showered this morning and, a little rest period following this dowsing imposed itself upon me.

I trust that this minor setback will be swiftly overcome; perhaps it’s simply a belated reaction to the drained resources of physical and emotional stamina consequent upon my recent holiday excursion. Falling falteringly asleep mid-afternoon, in recent days, was quite probably the hammer wielders warning signal.

At least these dully throbbing visitations are not recurring with the same frequency nor, hopefully, of such sustained duration, as was my lot in earlier times.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007

If at first .....

When I grow up I want to be a helicopter pilot; I’m just wondering if, when I’m able to come off incapacity, either Yes2Work or the local Job Centre will be able to arrange for me to obtain the necessary training. It’s quite strange really, as a wee small boy I always wanted to be a test pilot until someone disillusioned me by saying I’d need to work at my maths and, perhaps, being good at PE would help. You can barely imagine just how shattered this young lad’s dreams were, to be obstructed at one fell stroke, on two counts, from the possibility of pursuing my dreams.

Anyway, from the age of 14 onwards, I absolutely knew I wanted to do nursing and even made a stab at it when I came of age. When that fell through, there was no possibility of my considering a flying career (even had I been qualified) as the best route would have been through HMs forces which didn’t sit well with my commitment to CND and Committee of 100. Perhaps my (very) leftward political inclination would also have militated against any attempt to join such an augustly representative body of the establishment!

Ignore that slight wander down the allotment path as we return to the matter in hand. Since my first encounter with flying models at that fateful barbecue it seems as if the die has been cast. It’s definitely helicopters for me; I’ve already learnt to crash models and not let it deter me. My determination astonishes me.

My first model, a featherweight Picoo Z proved a natural to crash and bounce, it really is incredible that such a lightweight machine can plummet so rapidly with only the slightest release of the throttle. Within a month, of that first purchase, I decided to upgrade to an ESky Lama V3 and, in less than 24 hours, simply practising ‘bunny hops’ it was necessary to replace three of the four rotor blades. Even the hops proved difficult as the aircraft insisted on a degree of reverse motion as I throttled up. Our friend Mahmood sorted this problem for me yesterday by adjusting the swashplate and off to the practise flight we went. The only thing I managed to break this time was part of the tail trim (if you don’t count a further chipped rotor blade)!

I’ve now installed the FMS flight simulator on my PC and despite careful calibration am still managing to crash any model I set my hand to. If I fly at altitude it’s all too easy to keep aloft but, that swiftly becomes boring! The only solution seems to be to try the real aircraft and, being so well primed in the difficulties, I would ensure that I exercise all due caution and observe all safety precautions when my life’s at stake. It must be difficult for anyone who has not had a major crash to appreciate just how safety conscious one has to be!

When I grow up I’m going to be a born-again dreamer. It’s better to have tried and failed than never to have risked at all!

Sunday, September 09, 2007


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(my) Big Brother was watching us for this customary promenade picture

In spite of my customary post-journeying fatigue, the little holiday jaunt now seems far away. Valiantly struggling against my post-exertional malaise, I seem to have accomplished much since returning to my cherished hearth and home on Thursday afternoon.

Cathy had carefully nurtured the fish, in both pond and aquarium, as well as the tomato plants, in our absence and, only one of the chilli plants was gasping for water. ‘Tis incredible the restorative power of H2O, although I must admit to a preference for rather more vinous liquids.

Friday found me rinsing the pond filters, dismantling and cleaning the pump from the same piscine habitat, and nervously manning the skillet (the first time for over a week) to produce a spicy salmon pasta dish. I’m sure the sight of my halo must dazzle any beholder. What else have I achieved, you may well wonder; I shamefacedly admit to destroying and having to replace three of the four rotor blades on my new and more sophisticated / powerful model helicopter (acquired whilst visiting my brother).

Meantime, I’ve managed to restore my oldest PC, following a major system collapse and, have also struggled since last evening to overcome a major problem with Helen’s new laptop. For this latter instance I had to resort to backing up all the documents, and Outlook Express files, to an external disk. In fact, the problems were such that I could only back up the documents over the network as the laptop refused to co-operate with the external drive! Having backed up these files, I set to wiping the C drive and re-install the machine to its factory settings. Much re-installing of programmes and configuring of the network was subsequently required.

Come to think of it, a minute amount of my holiday time was also spent fixing a computer for my brother, primarily sorting out its sluggishness by cleaning and defragging the registry before adding some more RAM. The machine certainly seemed to hurtle through its tasks with three times the memory installed.

But what of the holiday; if you really must know a very enjoyable time was had by all. Just for the pleasure of visiting my brother and sister-in law, I incidentally put myself through a kind of hell that only fellow sufferers from panic attacks and a dislike of travel could understand.

It made a really great change to visit the seafront each day in such affable company. The journey there was the furthest I’d travelled in a single day for longer than I can remember, in itself that makes it a major milestone. It was also a bonus that the Sussex Model Centre was in such close proximity but, my first two attempts to cross the threshold of this emporium were thwarted by an absence of sufficient physical or emotional stamina!

Having travelled down on the Friday, we were treated to a wonderful Indian meal in Worthing, courtesy of Linda (Jan’s sister) and her better half Russell. (That’s not to say that our hosts Dave and Jan had not previously pandered to our need for victuals; these were in plentiful supply!) Yet another first for me, to dine out in a busy restaurant for a couple of hours, a feat I had been unable to contemplate during most of the past four years.

The morning that we were due to set off on our excursion South, a severe panic attack almost led to me calling the whole thing off and, as history always has a knack of repeating itself, I spent an horrendous half-hour in the stygian gloom of panic, nausea and stomach cramps on the first leg of our journey home but, I (almost) willingly admit that the effort was worth it!

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

Friday, September 07, 2007

twilight - groynes and boulders

Click image to see larger version

WORTH the jouneyING

Having just returned from a weeks visit to my brother and sister-in-law on the South coast, my blog postings have been temporarily on hold. Unfortunately my stamina doesn't quite run to expressing all I have to say. Meantime, I've just posted a brand new poem, FLOCKS AND CONGREGATIONS, on both 'Mal's Factory' and 'Archive Mined and Freshly Spun'.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Monday, August 20, 2007


Just pop your can in here (picture of a recycle bin) and, in six weeks it could be part of an aeroplane or a car! So goes the TV advert.

Up to this time I was all in favour of recycling but now, I’m really concerned about it. The advert makes it seem as if the whole point of recycling is to more swiftly produce pollution producing machines.

We already have far too many automobiles and aircraft destroying the environment and, I see no reason that I should help the manufacturers of such machines utilize what I’ve given away to create further health hazards!


Tonight I seriously considered going paper-free, in terms of bank statements, only to find repeated warnings that you should print off your own copies. As far as I can see, the banks simply want to optimize their obscenely gargantuan profits by saving on the printing and postage costs of sending out statements to their customers. It may seem like a good idea to let the customer use their own electricity, paper and printing ink to save a hard copy of their transaction record – definitely not for the benefit of the consumer.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday, August 12, 2007

It Ain't What You Do, It's The Way That You Do It

Having recovered from my recent venture into the North Yorkshire Heartland, (reprinted below in case you can’t be bothered to follow the link), I felt sufficiently inspired to obtain a micro R/C helicopter of my very own. Flying the little machine is quite an art and, so far I’ve managed a few crash landings as a result of too rapid throttling down. As all our rooms are rather cluttered it proves a tremendous testing ground for my beginner’s skills. My limited powers of concentration are certainly tested to their full extent. A walk around the corner to my younger (step) daughter’s home enabled me to demonstrate my newly acquired skills in their open-plan residence. Providence must have led to this wonderful airspace being available just a few steps from our own front door.

Who’d have thought that going to a barbecue could lead to the purchase of a helicopter? The god of commerce certainly moves in mysterious ways. If the saying is true that “little things please little minds”, I am proud to be the owner of a mind of microscopic proportion! Still, size isn’t everything; it’s what you do with it that counts!


A venture into North Yorkshire’s Heartland (posted 05 August 2007 on Mal’s Murmurings)

Sweltering hot and humid weather, just what I needed today! A night of aches and pains, tender glands and recurrent cramps, was further heightened by the general mugginess. The big question is how much do I blame atmospheric conditions and, how much yesterday’s exertions (no matter how enjoyable they were) for being the real culprit?

Today has been a day of spasmodically intense discomfort in neck, hips, knees, thighs and calves. Stand up to move across the room and, next minute writhing in agony on the floor; sit down on a dining chair before suddenly having to jump to painful attention. It’s with the most intense gratitude that I recognize such circumstance as having been an almost daily occurrence a couple of years back; these days, the experience proves more startling because it’s not such a regular companion.

Yesterday began in the usual low key manner, apart from my beauty sleep being disturbed at an early hour by the telephone’s shrill, with a quick visit into town (chauffeured by ma belle amoureuse) around lunchtime. On returning home, I marinaded a couple of chicken breast fillets in one of my special spice concoctions before giving them a light char-grilling. A couple more fillets served as the basis for a casserole prepared for Sunday lunch.

By 4.15pm we headed off to our barbecue, in deepest North Yorkshire, far off the beaten track. The setting proved quite idyllic as we observed a multitude of House Martins, feeding on the wing before heading back to their nests in the eaves of the farmhouse. A couple of gazebos had been erected in the grounds, next to a gigantic weeping willow, just in case the elements turned against us.

Apart from wining and dining I took advantage of the opportunity to fly a model helicopter and, carefully monitored the rev counter on a real jet-engined model aircraft. We later ventured into the guitar, keyboard and PA lined music room and communally sang along to some 60’s classics. Adequately, though not excessively, alcohol fuelled (my tolerance ain’t what it used to be), I was quite happy to launch into my party-piece rendition of Phil Ochs ‘Draft Dodger Rag’, the lyrics of which seemed quite pertinent to a gathering of medics. Having enjoyed the festivities for over four hours, a record breaking bout of socializing for the past four years, we had a leisurely drive home.

I guessed there may be repercussions for attempting to enjoy a normal life but, I hope and trust that recovery will not be long delayed!

This post also appears on Hirsute Antiquity.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Mal's Venturing

A blog posting embracing categories of health and wellness, food and drink, A Venture into North Yorkshire's Heartland, can be found on 'Mal's Murmurings'.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

New Poem on Mal's Factory

One often wonders about the benefits of telecommunications! My new poem, RUDE AWAKENING, can be found on 'Mal's Factory'

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Gatekeeper visits the Garden

The Rose and the Fuschia just happened to be in the garden at the same time!

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The Rose and the Fuschia just happened to be in the garden at the same time!

Saturday, July 28, 2007


The sun shone once again today; so infrequent have been its visits of late that I thought it worth a mention. A reasonably leisurely start to the day was only slightly marred by a parcel delivery, before 9.00am, which necessitated a swift donning of dressing gown to cover my birthday suit (I have no desire to make callers envious of my wonderful physique)! Of course my beloved had already been scooting around and, at that time, was out doing the weeks major grocery shop, hence the delivery’s intrusion on my much needed bed rest.

Having received the parcel, I re-immersed myself in the duvet lair; it didn’t take too long for me to find further respite in the arms of Morpheus. When I re-awakened, my beloved provided a little sustenance (in the form of a bacon sandwich) to break my nocturnal fast then, after checking e-mails on my PC, I performed a little low key pottering about in the garden. Meantime, my beloved was finalising her preparations for the service she’ll be taking tomorrow at Harlow Hill chapel.

As the afternoon progressed, and after a couple of years hesitant consideration, I thought it may be time to go and have a look at some micro hi-fis. Unlike several previous such excursions, this visit ended up in making a purchase; for some considerable time I’d considered my Hi-Fi system was occupying too much space in the living-room so, it has now been transferred (after disconnecting sundry leads from its six components and the speakers) to a less used room upstairs. The re-assembly will take place in due course, once sufficient resources of stamina can be drawn upon.

Once the new system had been set up, and a further meal consumed, it was time for me to begin preparations for tomorrow’s lunch. I always enjoy the aromas of the various spices and herbs I chuck into the griddle pan as I give them a pre-heat. The main dish having been prepared (or perhaps pre-prepared), I put on a Lucinda Williams CD as accompaniment to the mid-evening relaxation and, an opportunity to play with my new toy.

Aches and perspiration pale into insignificance besides my rejoicing in this day the Lord has made.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

An Expensive Tomato Plant

I have, today, submitted the following e-mail, headed ‘A Miraculous Gift – not quite what it seemed’, to the

In early May this year, my wife received a ‘Happy Birthday’ Pocket Garden Gerbera. We carefully followed the instructions and, within the first three weeks, one seed germinated.

As the seedling started to mature, I was quite surprised at how familiar the foliage appeared as I hadn’t realized that I would be familiar with the leaves of the Gerbera. As the weeks passed, the resemblance of the foliage to that of the tomato plants (subsequently established in our greenhouse) seemed quite remarkable. This week, as the flowers began to appear, they seemed identical to those on our tomato plant.

So, the sequence goes like this:

In May, we planted 5 ‘Gerbera’ seeds.

Three weeks later one seed germinates.

The seed that germinated is now in its rightful place, alongside the other tomato plants, in our greenhouse.

The days of miracles have not yet passed but, I do hope this is not a constant trait with ‘Pocket Gardens’. I don’t know the pricing of these miraculous gifts, sent to my wife by my brother along with other presents but, I feel it’s safe to assume it was considerably more than that of one tomato seed. “Never look a gift horse in the mouth”, the saying goes, but we are now hopeful that the fruit of this ‘Gerbera’ will soon be in our mouths. As for any floral display, we can now forget it!


Having subsequently checked the prices on their website, I discover that this tomato seed cost £4.95!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Personally Political

Another day of bright sunshine; after all the recent weeks of downpour, each bright day feels like a privileged bonus. Problem is, I can’t really tolerate very warm conditions but, at least it deters me from risking overdoing things. Even my time sat beside the pond is reduced to a maximum of half-an-hour but, that’s time enough to notice all the little areas of the garden that need a bit of tidying up. It’s a hard discipline to prevent oneself from jumping up and getting to work with fork, spade and secateurs although, I have gradually learnt to deal with the guilt of sitting idly by.

When I was able to both work and play hard there didn’t seem to be a problem with ‘chilling out’ but, when one’s health prevents one from having a ‘regular’ job (or indeed doing too much socializing), it’s truly amazing how much guilt is promoted from ‘necessary’ inactivity. Quite strangely, if the lack of activity was from choice guilt wouldn’t even enter into the equation; it would simply be a lifestyle choice. Unfortunately, being raised so deeply entrenched in the protestant work ethic, idleness seems almost to be a violation of societal values.

I don’t want this to sound self-pitying, my life is predominantly a joyful one (a myriad of discomforting ailments notwithstanding) revelling in a catholicity of interests artistically, theologically and philosophically. I also have the privilege of being able to enjoy such simple pleasures as observing the piscine activity in both our garden pond and aquarium, watching the birds and butterflies in the garden and, most importantly, being loved by (and loving) ma belle Helen.

What prompted this self-examination was a comment submitted to the Jeremy Vine programme (BBC Radio 2) saying that “all the ‘poor’ needed to do was get off their backsides and get a job”. The appalling ignorance of such statements made me cringe; my immediate thought was of the Auschwitz motto “ARBEIT MACH FREI”; what a joyous freedom those victims of forced labour enjoyed! Some of the hardest working people I have ever met (or known of) are still, thanks to the appalling inequities of the labour market, caught in the poverty trap.

At a time when I worked for a local authority, in response to a question concerning better salaries or promotion as a result of people attaining their goals in the National Vocational Qualification scheme, the well paid spokesperson (for Investors In People, I believe) had the gall to respond to the effect that, it was to enable them to get more satisfaction whilst retaining their same status. So much for social mobility!

For myself, I was fortunate in having job satisfaction in an underpaid position; I did in fact move on to a lower paid position elsewhere, on the straightforward grounds that it was a necessary and rewarding position. Money has never been a major motivating force for me but, I cannot escape the feeling that the venture capitalists are the most voracious parasites in the developed world, making their fortune at the expense of the poorest members of society.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sitting on the sofa, watching all the birds go by ...

The collar dove gives me a disparaging look as I lean out of the stable door to enjoy a cigarette. He seems almost oblivious as he sits atop the twin feeder hooks and, I sense the frustration that he’s unable to hang onto these feeders like the smaller avians do. Maybe he’s a little more disgruntled as I forgot to replenish the bird-table with feed at just the time the collar doves have found a way to squeeze under the tables roof. (Wood pigeons fail in this task, even after multitudinous attempts).

It’s remarkable the pleasure one receives from simply watching the house sparrows make a beeline for the pole mounted polycarbonate seed feeder, where they then hover themselves onto the perches. The seed flows from this particular feeder at a much greater speed than from the dove topped twin feeders so, they only deign to visit those when their feeder is in need of replenishment or, they wish to avoid a squabble with its current occupants. The dunnocks have really wised up to this free-flow of seed and eagerly hoover up the fallen grains.

It’s really quite remarkable that dunnocks, with their reputation for skulking solitary behaviour, are evident in such abundance in this area of the garden.


Yesterdays posting, ‘Dreams or Passion?’, can be found on Mal’s Murmurings

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Consuming Passion

Although I enjoy a (health-imposed) rather sedentary lifestyle, I am still quite frequently unable to find the time to blog about the many exciting and mundane events that I feel I should (or could) comment about. In the pursuit of sedentarism, I am required to imbibe the odd glass or two of fermented grape, many of which prove worthy of favourable comment but, the enjoyment of the tasting and swallowing distracts me from this eulogising; no comment or description can ever live up to the experience.

This vinous pursuit throws up some remarkable variations, even from the same grape variety grown and produced in the same region. I am currently involved in the consumption of a Hunter’s Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, 2005) which proves quite unlike any other Marlborough Sauvignon I have had the pleasure of sampling. Both nose and palate prove most pungently ‘gooseberry’ and, a sensational dryness tingles the inner lip as well as the palate. What both myself and my beloved are unable to sense is any of the ‘tropical fruit’ declared on the back label but, I certainly detect an underlying hint of black pepper, a quality more commonly detected in a red wine. A certain liveliness determines that I should hold-off the next bottle for at least another year, it still seems remarkably young for an antipodean 2005 vintage.

By now, I trust my loyal readers will understand how such time consuming pursuits correlate to the paucity of postings.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A Tale of Aquatics, Compost and Comestibles

After a not so unusual sluggish start to the day, incorporating bacon and eggs delivered to the bedside by ma belle Helen, I eventually entered the active world. Early afternoon, we ventured down to the local Brewer’s Fayre for dinner before heading off to the garden and water-garden centre.

Having purchased a container, described as a terrace pond, which we’ve located amongst the planted containers in the gravelled area of the garden, I set about transferring a couple of lilies from the garden pond which was becoming somewhat overcrowded. I appreciate that it’s not really the appropriate time for such a transplant, two flowers having just passed their best but, both plants have new shoots under way.

Aquatic tasks completed and adrenalin still surging, I sought out further garden tasks (admittedly there’s never really a shortage of gardening chores) whilst flesh as well as spirit both seemed willing. I’d thought for a while about re-siting the compost bin and, after a brief struggle (ably assisted by my beloved) managed to remove it from its entire contents, the ripest compost to be dispersed around various areas of the garden. Having re-sited the bin, the residue of its content was duly returned along with an adequacy of worms.

Once I’d demolished a nourishing supply of sandwiches, for my tea, a little rest time was called for but, by 9.00pm I felt inspired to set about preparations for Sunday dinner. The resultant dish is a rather special chicken curry, utilizing my own individual selection of spices; of course I’m trusting that the finger lickings from the griddle pan, in which the bulk of the meal was prepared, are a true and honest reflection of this impending delight!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

A Right Load of Bankers!

Firstly, I must concur with my beloved’s latest posting, to be found on ‘Bright Light’, about the pleasure we have in welcoming our friend Graham as a visitor and, how well he seems compared to the last time he visited. When he lived in Harrogate, he was our regular guest for Sunday Lunch and, we would always see him at least once more during the week. He accepts us as we accept him, warts and all. That is the nature of true friendship.

Helen’s blog then goes on to describe the unwanted services and benefits her bank attempted to sell her yesterday. It really is fortunate that they permit a cooling off period as I became most irate when I read the small print and the (unwittingly) hilarious* description of the review that had taken place. My anger as I devoured the finer details reached way beyond simmering point. My immediate reaction was of the order that, with corrupt capitalistic ventures pretending to offer a service whilst the shears with which they intend to fleece you remain behind their back make this a world unfit to live in. I am quite sad to report that I am a shareholder of this bank, dating back to the time after I voted against the de-mutualization of the building society.

It required a considerable amount of time for me to recover my usual life-affirming posture.

It seems about time that we acquired a more honest English vocabulary, one where the term “service provider” is replaced by “excessive profit maker” and the phrase “we’d like to offer you the benefits of ….,” could be replaced with “we’d like to get our hands on more of your money and, offer fools gold in return”!

It’s good to know that I can still be blessed with a degree of cynicism, as I boldly observe the amazing expansion of Thatcherite ideas under New Labour.

Follow this link, How Banks make money, to read Helens blog posting.

*hilarious only in its inaccuracy.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Lazy Bones and other body parts!

It can be really great when the weather perfectly reflects your mood, at least when the sun shines at the same time as a light breeze refreshes you. Unfortunately, recent days have seen a plenitude of rain and grey skies and, I find myself even more washed out than any prospective garden party.
Perhaps my physio will be able to work some wonders, with the acupuncture needles, when she visits me on Tuesday; I certainly feel in need of a wonder-worker at the moment, what with a return to lower concentration levels, a persistent prodding headache behind my right ear and, the as yet unfulfilled promise of a streaming cold hanging over me for the past few days, it feels like a major achievement to get out to the pond to feed the fish.
Still I struggle manfully on, with the aquarium inhabitants providing a constant source of entertainment when I’m not watching the sparrows, blue tits, starlings and blackbirds around the various feeders. A few collared doves manage to acrobat themselves onto the bird table but, the frequent thwarted attempts to follow suit by the unwieldy wood pigeons provide a rather pathetic source of mirth as they go slip sliding away.
Come to think of it, I’ve no cause to moan – I really do enjoy this laidback lifestyle as long as I can lay the ghostly conscience mutterings of the protestant work ethic to rest. Admittedly, it would be even better if it was a totally free choice, rather than force of circumstance, that led me to adopt this lifestyle.
For food and drink, a roof over my head, friends and family, and the love of my very special lady Helen, I give thanks!