Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Returning Home from Being There


An endless numbness, a dull sullen hanging sense of nausea and, barely the energy to read a single word, listen to a note of music; if only I had the stamina to put a thought together it would probably turn into a single-syllabled question. The querulous word would, I suspect, be more on the lines of “What” rather than “Why”.

I’ve long since given up on the existential / metaphysical why; more an exercise in futility rather than to proffer any result. “What” keeps the world alive, “why” seems more like an evasion.

Well, that’s yesterday dealt with; today I have returned to me. The preceding days, and nights, had been dominated by intensely excruciating pain, ranging from the numbing tourniquet, to the slightly blunted arrow; the bone and muscle crumbling ache in combat with those swiftly-fleeting nerve-tingling darts that seem to take one’s breath away; a kind of Topsy-Turvy Terpsichore:

Dance rules over all – it prevails against reason, common-sense and substantial portions of ritual belief. Trouble is that, we are never in control; I am currently in thrall to a kind of voodoo dance –nature’s response to a crushing debilitating pain scenario.

When all else fails, randomly fling limbs in whatsoever direction they feel like; if it causes further discomfort then that adds a whole new terpsichorean overlay, disclosing hitherto undreamt of fraught sequences of space displacement.

On Monday my pain-killing medication was changed, to a 3 day slow release opiate patch. Having applied the patch, late afternoon, my familiar discomforted restless night was in attendance, so nothing different then but the following morn was quite a different proposition. A total inability to concentrate, a generalized dull ache underlining the spasmodically erupting specific sharp pains; all was eventually blanketed under a heavily nausea spiced  airless cloud of unbeing, crushing a body wracked in turn between hot and cold shivering sweats.

Needless to say, all the remaining patches have been returned to the pharmacy and, my routine has been switched back to Tramadol, this time of a non-modified release type, to enable me to remain in control, modifying the dosage as necessary. Meanwhile, I’ve once again been referred to the hospital for further investigative work.

The 18 hours respite, including some ‘real’ bed rest, between removing the patch and taking a further pain-killer, has served to enhance my appreciation of the home environment. For the first-time this season, I was aware of the seasonally decorated dining table, and the various Christmas ornaments and tinsel sundrily scattered around our abode. This awareness of one’s habitation, the taste of food, the sound of music and always one’s loving companion is a gift to be truly celebrated. The return from a pain-riddled drug addled stupor makes me feel like the fabled Prodigal Son; although at heart I am always aware of the love that surrounds me, it’s good to receive a whole-hearted reminder, for one’s abode to find it’s rightful status as Home.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Message

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

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

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

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

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


This post first appeared on 22 December 2006

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Slow Deliberate Dance

You put your right leg in,

Then you scream and shout,

hang the limb over the edge,

let it all hang out …

Once again my old-time bed dance routine has been resurrected; the agonizing back and lower limb pain has returned with a vengeance; a painfully laboured tossing and turning is the only response I’m capable of, in my attempt to overcome the two pronged attack of sundry sharp shooting pains and excruciating dull bruised aching numbness. It’s uncomfortable to sit, whether on an upright dining chair, a firm supporting comfortable chair, or even on the edge of the bed. After struggling to attain an upright position, hindered by locking of knee, ankle and back, (slyly preceding a crude collapse back onto the surface from which one was attempting to elevate oneself), the relief felt, albeit very temporary, must be tangible to anyone within a few miles radius. A few steps, assisted by a couple of walking sticks, managed to tease out a sigh of release from every screaming muscle, joint, or nerve-ending.

Then follows a real brain teaser; does one attempt to sit down again when body and spirit together urge one to have a lie down? The problem is that any recumbent posture soon becomes a source of discomfort.

Earlier in the day, I’d taken a slow deliberate walk around the block with my beloved in the misguided belief that this little stretching exercise would prove beneficial! It turned out that I was locking up even more after this little outing. Things got so bad that my beloved actually managed to persuade me to talk (telephonically) to an “out of hours” doctor, who then arranged that ma belle chauffeuse would take me down to the “out of hours” practice at the District Hospital.

After a tediously painful one and a half hours waiting time, the duty doctor was really good and, managed to sort out which of my sundry medications could be safely (and effectively) taken in combination, and wrote me a prescription for a further supply of Tramadol SR 100mg which she has doubled up to two to be taken twice a day. It’s also safe to continue with the Meloxicam (anti-inflammatory) although my daily dose of Lanzsoprazole (a ppi) has to be increased whenever I take anti-inflammatories. Other medication continues as normal.


Contrary to appearances, I don’t like resorting to pain-killers and, it is only with the greatest reluctance that I visit the GP. The sole reason that recent postings have centred on health is the intensity of my current dis-ease, precluding the possibility of resorting to my beloved distractions.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

collapse of the stoical front

Occasionally the stoical front collapses and tears catch one by surprise. That sudden inexplicable low, amidst the sundry serial and perpetual ailments that beset one, tips the balance. Is it the constant pain, the seemingly interminable incapacity, the sense of isolation resultant from that same invisible disability, or a more general existential angst? Perhaps it’s the combination, of all those things, that sets the tears flowing; for a while I teeter on the brink of self-pity and it proves a real struggle to regain my general positivity. [No sooner have the symptoms of a recent chronic bout of sleep disrupting sciatica receded than a case of TMJD (temporal mandibular joint dysfunction) takes pole position in the table of well-being assailants.]
I’ve always suspected that it’s much harder to witness and share the suffering of a loved one than it is to suffer oneself but, when one does suffer from any ailment, or dis-ease, the awareness that those who care for, and about you, somehow share your pain, intensifies the sense of spiritual suffering. The sufferer also feels guilty at imposing, on the one who loves and cares for them, some of the restrictions (on the socializing front) implicit in one’s own condition. I frequently find myself apologizing to my beloved for my, all too familiar, achingly fatigued condition, and the consequent wearyingly low stamina levels; it’s not that I blame myself for being ill but, to be honest, I’d prefer to be an enabler rather than a burden.

This posting is also on Mal's Murmurings.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Art of Affirmation


Sometimes I think that I’ve grasped it, at other times the whole technique seems to elude me. That sense of gratitude for the many blessings that have come my way is so easily submerged beneath current setbacks, whereas the fact of these setbacks should serve as sufficient reminder of those blessings, rather than a blanket which veils them from view.


To give thanks, show appreciation for, the simple fact of being, ensures that the simple ‘given’ takes pride of place. It’s always easy to celebrate a great step forward but, the more consciously we are able to affirm each action, each moment of our lives, those instances become more worthy of affirmation.


Sometimes it feels as if one should squeeze the last drop of pleasure out of each experience, wallow in the moment and, if possible ….  What am I talking about, we should try to squeeze the last drop of pleasure, out of each experience, all of the time!


Right, I’ve grasped the theory, now all that’s needed is the determination and stamina to practise this affirmative art.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Nudge and a Wink

Night-time trips between bed and bath rooms are fraught with a sense of adventure; my faith in the stability of bed end, stair rail and wall, has not been undermined so far. As long as the muscular and joint pains remain discomfortingly persistent, I remain on guard for the possibility of a random stumbling collapse; at least, in this one respect, the rest and sleep destroying acute discomfort seems to serve a useful purpose!


Somehow “collapsing” sounds far more dynamic than “creaking”, at least the results are far more spectacular when, knee, ankle, or hip joint, suddenly give way. The competition between “creaking” and “collapsing” into action becomes increasingly intense.  The sheer unpredictability of which joint takes priority ensures that my enforced sedentary lifestyle never becomes boring.



What I’m missing most of all is a decent night’s sleep; no matter how exhausted / positively shattered I may feel on retiring au lit, by the time I’ve struggled out of daytime attire, donned pyjamas and, performed the appropriate ablutions I’m far too fatigued to sleep.


I can usually guarantee that I’m going to be alerted into wakefulness at least once or twice in every hour by some chronic jarring discomfort emanating from anywhere between small of back and ankles. I still fail to understand the logistics that require the shifting (and adjustment) of the whole of my body, in order to achieve a minor adjustment in the alignment of the right lower limb; we’re talking microns here!


Somewhere between 3.00 and 4.00 am, I usually seem to achieve a state of full alertness although this effect has usually been squandered some time before my beloved stirs in anticipation of preparing herself for work.


All being well, I manage to remove myself from the duvets hypnotic allure by 11.00 am, only to fall asleep again mid-afternoon, my wife not uncommonly returning from work to find me in a dazed stupor.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An Aching Drift

Perhaps it’s quite simply a case of living in hope, although it could just as easily be misconstrued as a fatalism of self-pity. Each day, I’ve been putting off any attempt at blogging, not for lack of ideas or, my lack of stamina (a sufficiently persuasive excuse) but rather, in the belief that I’ll soon be feeling better and hence, the possibility of having some actual events/activities to report on.


Pain, discomfort, fatigue and bruising exhaustion, constantly struggle to be at the forefront of my attention; for the time being any pain control medication (the primary current one being ‘Tramadol’) seems to lack efficacy! In some ways, it’s as if I’ve not been able to recover from my little jaunt to the South coast at the beginning of September. Even the most modest journeying insists on extracting a disproportionate toll from yours truly.


If I can’t be positive, there seems little point in bringing others down but, a good humoured resilience in the face of ill-health gets a bit tedious at times. Must admit that I’m just as worried about my health as is my good lady but, I tend not to wear my anxieties on my sleeve!

Sunday, October 26, 2008



If one lives in a state of perpetual “not-wellness”, how is it possible to detect when they are ill? I refer to those kinds of chronic condition, which one learns to accept as normative, the regularly attendant symptoms of which would be construed as a real crisis condition in anyone blessed with more normal health.


In seeking equilibrium, I would never be so foolish as to anticipate more than 100% recovery from any aberrant additional infliction that comes my way, although the chance would be a fine thing; the real problem is being able to recognize when one’s health has been restored to its most recent pre-viral attack condition. Are the sore throat, earache, glandular tenderness, and muscular pains in the lower limbs and joints a further manifestation of the recent gastric knockout infection or, do they quite simply represent a return to my normative ME/CFS state?


Is there something wrong or, am I quite simply being restored to me?


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'll be back


How strange it is to feel almost human once again, frightening to have rediscovered how a few short days could hang like a leaden eternity around one’s spirit, almost blinding them to the possibility of light. Those of you who follow my beloved’s blog will be well aware that I have been quite literally “off colour” and, you may as well add to that, off food and fluids too.


 At least it made a change from my familiar resident aches and pains, providing me with a rather more centred point of focus. Come to think of it, the “point of focus” is a bit of a disgusting image; just imagine all the ways a tummy bug can effect one, multiply that effect by your chosen factor and, it still doesn’t quite manage to describe just how ghastly things seemed. Worst part about it was that I couldn’t even bear to be touched, in even the most caressingly gentle caring fashion, at one stage; such was my general sense of distraught fragility!


Anyway, I’m relieved to be back to a state of being rather than merely existing/vegetating and may even get around to blogging ere long.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Just laikin'

it's really rather strange how one Yorkshire dialect word laikin' can have two apparently similar but totally disparate meanings. In common parlance it's "playing" or "larking about" but ,it can also be used to mean "not working".

Superficially the two meanings seem to have much in common but, scratch the surface and a real difference is evident. If you're not working, that means you'll have no income and, in such circumstances one isn't likely to feel very playful!

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, the saying goes but, having no work can be totally soul destroying.

Mal's simple privillege

Malcolm is quite Simply Privileged! At least that's what he tells us on Mal's Murmurings


"....this huge market failure poses acute intellectual and political questions for the Tories, the instinctive champions of minimal regulation. They are palpably divided about whether to be the defenders of capitalism or to join in the cry to lynch the bankers. 'It is difficult for us. No question,' says one senior Conservative. There was an agonised discussion about Tory strategy when the shadow cabinet met last week. They concluded that they would have to remain supportive of the government for the moment for fear of being seen as opportunistic and unstatesmanlike at a time of national emergency.

The problem for David Cameron and George Osborne is that this casts them as Little Sir Echoes, reduced to supporting the government from the sidelines. Where Gordon Brown has struggled with many of the other demands of being a modern leader, this crisis plays to his strengths."

Andrew Rawnsley: Why the crisis puts a spring in the Prime Minister's step | Comment is free | The Observer

Baying For Blood

The antics and attitudes of some McCain / Palin supporters makes for some pretty chilling reading. Nothing that I wouldn't expect!

Op-Ed Columnist - The Terrorist Barack Hussein Obama -

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A prophet not without honour save in his own country

Whilst greed and unenlightened self-interest have always been a mainstay of capitalist economics, these qualities were brought more to the fore in the era of Thatcherite and Reaganomics. Increasing calls from the capitalistic squawk leaders for deregulation were acted upon and have now been found sadly wanting. It has frequently been said that capitalism contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction and, there have been many times that I yearned for its demise.


The present crisis, inevitably, calls for some major restructuring of the system on a global scale. Those who have opposed government intervention, whilst at the same time not objecting to state funding of their illegal oil wars, now cry out to the state to rescue them from their own greed and recklessness!


The free marketers have been granted more and more rope but, all they’ve managed to achieve is a noose around all our necks. In the UK we find the media attacking the Prime Minister for incompetency, although that cry is now mingled with outrage at the reckless / unethical speculators whose activity they have thus far passively condoned. I actually find myself feeling sorry for Gordon Brown, who finds himself pilloried for all the mistakes of global capitalist economy. It was therefore refreshing to come across these comments from the American press:


“But on Wednesday the British government, showing the kind of clear thinking that has been all too scarce on this side of the pond, announced a plan to provide banks with £50 billion in new capital — the equivalent, relative to the size of the economy, of a $500 billion program here — together with extensive guarantees for financial transactions between banks. And U.S. Treasury officials now say that they plan to do something similar, using the authority they didn’t want but Congress gave them anyway."



What should be done? The United States and Europe should just say “Yes, prime minister.” The British plan isn’t perfect, but there’s widespread agreement among economists that it offers by far the best available template for a broader rescue effort.” - Paul Krugman –  Moment of Truth



“In this financial catastrophe, last week's unthinkable idea quickly becomes this week's imperative. The Bush administration is wisely contemplating following the lead of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in having government take ownership shares in many banks to get them more cash and allow them to lend again.

If Obama had suggested such a thing, he would have been condemned as a socialist and the administration might well have had to shelve a necessary idea. Better that the candidates acknowledge that they are powerless until after Nov. 4.” – E J Dionne Jr – Hoover vs Roosevelt

Sunday, October 05, 2008

That which was lost is found ....


My old favourite, age, usage, and weather gnarled, walking stick has suddenly re-emerged on the scene after a couple of days absence. Great was the rejoicing in the land at this recovery, the stick and I go back a long way and, it’s always good to have a familiar and trusted friend readily to hand. After Friday’s recovery of access to a blocked website, it seems as if the age of miracles is not yet passed.


Altogether, it has been a much better day; sunshine replacing last night’s deluge, and a remission from the more severe pains that I had been experiencing. After lunch we took our freshly brewed coffee out into the garden, where we sat beside the pond. It wasn’t long before the urge to do a little pottering about arose, so my beloved went to change out of her Sunday best, whilst I (being perpetually scruffily dressed) was immediately ready to spring into semi-sluggish action.


I was able to retrieve some very rich compost from the bottom of our composter, to revitalize part of one of the borders, and sprinkled the remnants of some pre-packaged compost onto other border areas freshly relieved from the ravages of ground elder by my beloved. We really do make a great team, I’m frequently ready to watch whilst Helen does the grafting! Having thoroughly raked over these areas I was able to sprinkle a few teasel seeds into the prepared area. Other batches of wildflower seeds had previously been scattered into seed trays and, hopefully (by next Spring) we’ll have ample seedlings to transplant into our wildflower meadow area.


Being the day of rest, it seemed far easier to take my leave from the gardening endeavours whilst I still had stamina in reserve. Pacing doesn’t always come that easy!


I rejoice and am glad in this day the Lord has made.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Update on Blankness

Whenever I enter, or click on any link with, my Luv4Sinners website address, I'm still greeted with a blank screen. At least when I go to my UK Geocities page, it has reverted to showing the website address and, the File Manager takes me to the files but clicking on 'View', against any of the html files, still results in a blank screen.

I have used both Firefox and IE7 as browser, utilizing four different PC's. As yet I've not had any reply from Yahoo to the enquiry, regarding this problem, that I made online yesterday morning.


P.S. 03 October '08 - 3.40pm

According to an entry in the PC Advisor Forum

it seems as if the problem could be with my ISP (Virgin/NTL); that's all I need after recent wranglings with them!


PPS: 03 October '08 - 8.35pm

Having contacted Virgin Media with a link to the PC Advisor Forum, I am now able to view Geocities web sites once again. It may just be co-incidence but, I'm certainly a happier chappy!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Like A Blank Out Of The Blue


Suddenly, I discover this morning that my Luv4Sinners website is not available. This site:  is apparently non-existent. When I go into the UK Geocities page, for managing my site, it states that my web address is but, when I try to access my files I’m quite simply transferred to a USA Geocities page where I’m asked if I would like to start a website.


My Ace FTP programme is still able to access all my files on the uk.geocities server so, I’ve duly copied them over to a folder on my PC as backup. I have contacted Geocities, via an online form this morning, in an attempt to find out what’s going on.


Had I been informed of any impending change I could have removed all the links to my website from my blogs and other websites but, at the moment I don’t know whether it’s just a temporary aberration, on Yahoo’s part, or whether I’ve been purposefully removed.


Does anyone out there know if the UK Geocities free websites have been discontinued, I’d really like to know?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thought For The Moment


“I wish the church knew that having questions, experiencing doubts and being uncertain about things that the church is teaching does not necessarily equal spiritual immaturity.”


On stumbling across this post my first thought was that those who have no doubts or questions may well be the spiritually immature. Perhaps they mistake their own spiritual ego with the divine spark itself! 


Monday, September 29, 2008

Reluctantly Staying Put

After considerable soul destroying hassle with our ISP, Virgin Media, we have now agreed to a new 12 month contract giving us the same broadband & phone package as we’ve had for a few years at £7.00 less per month. Of course, had we not been existing customers, it would have been a further £4.50 less for these 12 months.

Although we had threatened to move to another ISP, I doubt whether I could have coped with the upheaval that would cause. As it is, I’m in a physical and emotionally lower state than I was before these “negotiations” began. Oh, how I longed for the stamina and resilience I knew several years ago.

Although we’re staying put for the time being, I could not honestly recommend our service(!) supplier to anyone that I respected! And that’s despite the profuse apology, passed onto me by my beloved, proffered by the helpful lady who finally sorted things out.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Yet again, on this Sunday, we once more are blessed with glorious sunshine, accompanied on this occasion by a gently refreshing breeze, a day for true thanksgiving.


Needless to say, although I still persist in saying it, the love seat beside the garden pond became my abode for most of the afternoon. As we sat there, the cheerful chattering of the house sparrows in a nearby shrub proved a real uplifting balm to the spirit; I seemed to be transported away from the sharp shooting pains emanating from the sciatic nerve, my constant companion over recent days (and nights).


My beloved (that’s Helen, not the sciatica) soon felt the urge to do a bit of gardening, with me in the role of passive observer. Obviously her stamina levels had been refreshed by the Harvest Service at her chapel this morning.




I suppose that this posting is a natural sequel to yesterday’s posting, Flutterby Visions, on ‘Mal’s Murmurings’.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A lesson in objectivity!


Are they really reporting on the same debate?


“From the economy to foreign affairs to the way they carried themselves on stage, Senators John McCain and Barack Obama offered a dramatic contrast to the nation in their first presidential debate on Friday night, mixing disdain and often caustic remarks as they set out sharply different views of how they would manage the country and confront America’s adversaries abroad.”


JOHN McCAIN and Barack Obama entered last night's debate with fewer differences on foreign policy than their rhetoric usually suggests. Some nuances excepted, the two candidates basically have the same ideas for containing the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs, responding to Russia's aggressiveness toward its neighbors, fighting the war in Afghanistan and advancing the Middle East peace process. On many of those issues they wouldn't stray far from the policies they would inherit from President Bush.”


Friday, September 26, 2008

Getting Down To Business

The 6.00pm news on BBC Radio 4 is a regular accompaniment to meal preparation chez nous. Not exactly a barrel of laughs but, tonight they excelled themselves.

The news headlines, which top and tail the bulletin, were a cause for mirth and merriment:

(initially referring to Gordon Brown’s speech at the UN) "Gordon Brown said it’s time to end the age of irresponsibility. He will be meeting George Bush this evening”

This evening's encounter should be quite something : An awesome vision of the British PM toting an AK47 flashed across my mind, as if to show that he meant business.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

London priest is jailed after anti-war protest | Ekklesia

Stories like this help to restore my faith in the ordained ministry. Must admit that even in my more politically radical, and anti-clerical, days I maintained a healthy respect for the Catholic Worker movement!

London priest is jailed after anti-war protest | Ekklesia

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

still grinding on


My friend, M (see posting ‘Playing by the Rules’ – ‘Mal’s Murmurings’ 6 January 2008), after many delays involving appeals, renewal of passports and identity cards, returned to Iran towards the end of August. The understanding was that he could then apply to return to this country. His son, meantime, is allowed to remain in the UK to continue his education.


Earlier this month M had an appointment at the British Embassy in Tehran and, was requested to return to the embassy yesterday. The embassy duly informed him that they were unable to make a decision (regarding his application) and, the matter is now being referred back to the Home Office. The Home Office is of course the very department that demanded he return home to apply for permission to return and work in the UK.


It seems like the monkey has no option but to remain in servitude to the organ grinder!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

'Tis better to arrive ... than having journeyed

After all the apprehension regarding a forthcoming journey, the whole experience is now behind me but, not without having once more vowed that I’ll never embark on such a venture again. Truth be told, the outward journey went reasonably smoothly as we journeyed via A1, M1, M42, M40, M25 & A24 from our abode to that of my brother on the South coast. The only little panic attack I suffered was during a break at Oxford Services; it was just so bustling with other travellers that it caused a bit of sensory overload on my part. Breathing exercises duly performed, I was soon ready to move on.

Shortly after we arrived, at our hosts, a delicious lasagne was appreciatively devoured by hosts and visitors alike. Food and wine throughout the visit was much appreciated. Both Helen and I were ready to retire au lit, during our stay, at an earlier hour than is our norm; the sea air seemed to be laced with knockout drops.

Of necessity, for me, life and the events / activities therein has always to be taken at a leisurely pace; I am far too well aware of the deleterious effects of overdoing it. Although I managed to do more during our weeks stay than would normally be my monthly quota, I found it impossible not to feel guilty when I couldn’t readily jump at the opportunity for further outings or activities. At times like that a sense of helplessness / hopelessness becomes overwhelming, until my beloved reminds me that a couple of years ago I wouldn’t have even been able to contemplate taking a trip anywhere; even routine visits to the hospital proved daunting at that time!

Visits to Littlehampton, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Arundel, and the Istanbul restaurant in Worthing were all experiences to be savoured but, the real highlight of our stay was a visit, on the Saturday, from my (nearly) four year old great-niece, with her Mum and Dad in tow. Apart from the delightful antics of Ruby herself, it was a real pleasure to see Dave and Jan in action as the doting grandparents.

The first panic attack of the return journey home occurred before I’d even got into the car and then, three loo stops were required before we’d even arrived at the M25. To my surprise, the journey went smoothly as soon as the major motorway part of our route was underway. No matter how much one may have enjoyed their stay away, there’s nothing quite matches that feeling of exhilaration at arriving home. I appreciate home at any time but, each return there (from whatever locale) is just the greatest feeling imaginable. For me, familiarity breeds content!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


The heron takes ponderous flight, drudges its way over the garden, a sideways glance at the pond discloses a surfeit of vegetation; I imagine the birds disappointment that it has no easy access to the piscine residents. It’s quite some time since our fish suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder, following a heron’s intrusion on our pond in its earlier manifestation.


The glorious realization that heavily overgrown pond margins serve as a deterrent, to this type of predator, brings a huge smile to my face. That thought alone serves to brighten yet another sodden grey day!


Friday, August 29, 2008


Years ago I really enjoyed roller-coaster rides, the slow groaning ascent, and the short plateau trail, all a part of the anticipated thrill of descent. These days, when it’s my health that boards the roller-coaster, all I long for is a prolonged period of time to be spent on a somewhat lower plateau. Any descent is an unwelcome event!

Although undergoing a rather shattered tetchy phase at present, as my body screams out for rest, my sleep pattern has returned to a much more erratic state. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg conundrum really; am I unable to sleep properly because I’m so shattered or, am I shattered because I’m not getting the right kind of sleep?

Even the shutting of the washing machine door creates sufficient sound energy to send shock waves through my chest, and sets my body trembling. At least these days it’s just a passing phase whereas, a few short years ago, I underwent extended periods of time when any unexpected sound or strong light source was sufficient to send my nervous system into overdrive, my mind and body requiring periods of isolation to recover, so I’ve nothing to grumble about with the current situation!

The prospect of a long journey (5 ½ hours, arduously long by my standards), to be made in the not too distant future, does little to ease my discomfort; in fact it starts the vicious tension circle rolling. Any journey these days requires a steeling of the nerves on my part and, I only wish I had more courage to cope with the period of anticipation.

Meantime, weather permitting, the best therapy is sitting or pottering about in the garden, observing the avian and piscine activity at close range. Recent watercolour painting activity has ground to a (hopefully temporary) halt, resources of mental / emotional stamina being in rather short supply.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Of Disparity and Separation

If the overall level of discomfort was greater, the whole situation would be easier to understand. It’s a rather strange sensation, even if not at all unfamiliar, to feel totally drained and tetchy, yet not at all tired. It has been one of those fidgety days for me, eager to get on with something yet not having the stamina to perform whatever task it may be.

Perhaps I’m suffering from shell-shock, having been separated from my beloved for more than 14 hours yesterday, whilst she attended a wedding in Northumberland!

We’re a couple of softies really, with a mutual dependence on each other’s presence; in the 8 ½ years since we were married, we’ve only spent three nights apart, two occasions when I was hospitalized overnight and once when Helen’s recently bereaved sister needed her company. It’s almost as if life goes into a tortuous state of suspended animation, when such separations occur!

For someone who had remained free from marital entanglement, until I had spent nearly five and a half decades on planet earth, it’s rather unnerving to have entered such a mutually dependent relationship but, neither of us feels complete without the other.

I’ve just realized, it sounds like I’m blaming marriage for my plight. That’s far from the reality; in fact, what I was hoping to express was the deleterious effect of separation! Similarly, the disparity between my desire to be active and the available resource of physical and emotional stamina could well be responsible for today’s sense of dis-ease.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Alex(andra) Davies

I really enjoyed this audition on last nights X-Factor

Murmuring Mal paces his space

Since my posting earlier in the day, I've posted a further blog, "pacing my space", on Mal's Murmurings. It probably contains what I thought I was going to write about when starting to doodle on the keyboard this morning but,my mind quite naturally went off at a tangent.

Who Knows ... ?

Who knows where the time goes? Is it a song, is it a bird or, is it quite simply a statement of my reality? Truth be told, I love the song but, even more, I find myself wondering exactly where it does go! Strange how it sounds like either a metaphysical or a pure physics question.


Where once I regularly managed, or indeed needed to, post a blog entry every day, in these days of idleness it’s often difficult to find the space in my non-routine to fit it in. Sometimes, I’m quite amazed that I manage to get anything done; day-dreaming proves such a time consuming occupation!


My thoughts often turn to serious issues like how a military force that moves in defence of a brutally repressed separatist movement in Eastern Europe (think South Ossetia) can be considered wrong, as it thwarts the goal of an American educated and supported President with an army partly American trained, whilst the people who offer such condemnation think nothing of slaughtering innocent Iraqis in the course of perpetrating an illegal war! Issues of sovereignty suddenly loom large. Sadly, when the big boys play their self-interested games, it’s always the innocents that suffer most.


When it comes to politics, there seems to be little room for morality. There was a time when I was a truly political animal, it served to take the place of the evangelical religious faith I had recently rejected owing to its reactionary asocial outlook. Even then though, I was a creature of contradictions, a would-be pacifist longing to man the barricades in the cause of social justice, a pothead serving a puritanical Trotskyite sect, a Buddhist clinging to the material world.


This isn’t the post I sat down to write but, who knows where the words flow?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Long-tailed Delight

Just as the needle swings towards, and hovers around, the compass point of self-pity, I shift myself towards the kitchen door, take out a cigarette and inhale deeply. Not that the nicotine alleviates the symptoms but, it does serve as a temporary distraction from my calves apparently laden with heavy toxic waste and the hollow sensation in my upper limbs.


No sooner have I drawn deeply from the chemical laden coffin nail than my attention is drawn to the congregation of birds around our various feeding stations. It’s truly delightful to see more than half-a-dozen long-tailed tits amongst the other visitors. We’ve always had plenty of coal tits around and, regular if somewhat spasmodic visits from blue tits and great tits but, previous sightings of this particular variety have tended to be of one bird at a time. It’s quite strange that many of these common birds seem to give the garden a miss, no matter how well we try to cater for their needs.


Today, this sighting proved a real godsend. It’s so wonderful to revel in observing nature on ones own doorstep. The traces of self-pity swiftly dissipate, as I immerse myself in a joyous creation! For the moment, the debilitating aches and discomfort can be left to take care of themselves; at least I’ll try my darnedest to ignore them!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Elements Of Surprise

Perhaps I’m still not sufficiently in tune with the warning signals my body emits. My confidence in the ability to recognize acceptable levels of exertion is perhaps misplaced. This evening, totally unexpectedly, an onslaught of old familiar symptoms pounced upon me. A nagging, nausea provoking, bruising discomfort simultaneously attacked shoulders and upper arms, forearms and wrists, as well as a distinct sense of dis-ease in hips, thighs and right calf. These symptoms were swiftly followed by a tender discomfort in the glands of left armpit and my neck.


Such a congregation of ailments, gathered in one place at one time, have been almost unknown for the past couple of years, in spite of occasional irregular visitations in a variety of different combinations. As it proved impossible to find a comfortable position in which to relax, an attempt at exorcising these harsh discomforts by writing them down seemed a reasonable idea. To my surprise, as I force my fingers to strike the appropriate keys the symptoms themselves have abated to a less excruciating level.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

A Matter Of Time

Well, once again I’m rather shattered but, I didn’t get here without a fight. In the course of the past week I’ve managed to get a bit more work done in the garden. Yet another water feature is now part of our garden-scape, this time a small pre-formed pond close to the greenhouse, as home to one or two marginal plants, a water lily and hopefully, in the course of time, a multiplicity of fauna. The digging out proved remarkably easy, until I hit the clay layer, but thinking back a couple of years I wouldn’t have even been able to contemplate this kind of endeavour. I have to admit that, what would have been a couple of hours effort (before returning to other tasks) in pre-illness days, had to be spread over days rather than hours!

Our main, and deepest pond, framed with reeds, water spearmint and flag iris, is also home to a few water lilies and a selection of variegated goldfish. There’s certainly no paucity of frogs in the garden, despite the havoc wreaked on the tadpole population by the fish. To one side of the garden we have a heavily planted circular patio pond as well as other sunken water containers scattered around.

Today was heavy weeding day, closely supervised by small flotillas of tortoiseshell butterflies on adjacent buddleias but, just over one hour of effort presented my body with all the warning signals that I needed to rest.

After a little rest, I was able to get on with preparations for Sunday lunch; what I’d do without the heavy duty wok is a bit of a mystery to me now; I always prepare my casserole dishes, curries, saffron rice, stir fries etc in this utensil.

My casseroles frequently start with the same ingredients but it’s amazing the difference a random sprinkling of a few different spices and herbs make to the end result. Today’s effort began with a generous sprinkling of ground black pepper and Tabasco sauce onto the freshly diced chicken breasts, left to stand whilst I prepared a couple of onions, yellow, red and green peppers, and sliced a couple of handfuls of closed cup mushrooms.

The olive oil in the wok was generously infused with paprika, coriander, cumin, turmeric and a sprinkling of mixed herbs. Firstly I browned the onions before throwing in the diced chicken then, after a few minutes stirring added the sliced peppers a short while before I added the mushrooms. A tin of plum tomatoes was next to go in, more freshly ground black pepper added at this stage. Having ensured that I’d sufficiently pulped the tomatoes, I left the lidded wok to simmer for few more minutes before adding a jar of creamy mushroom sauce.

The resulting concoction has now been decanted into a couple of casserole dishes and, par-boiling of my special herbed and spiced potatoes, which I’ll roast tomorrow, is all that remains for me to do. My beloved always sees to the accompanying greens!

I hadn’t intended to write about my cooking, just as I didn’t know I was going to write about the garden; it quite simply felt that a blog posting was overdue and, the keyboard took over!

I rejoice and give thanks for this day the Lord has made.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mixed Blessings

All week I’ve been awaiting the arrival of the forecast mini heat wave and, each day offered up my grateful thanks that it hasn’t arrived. Friday proves much warmer, with radiant sunshine from an early hour; I actually ventured out and sat beside the garden pond at an hour when I would normally still be in the duvet realm. By 11.00am it was getting rather too warm so I moved into the new shed to dabble in a little watercolour painting; that’s two days running I’ve attempted to refresh my skills in this particular pursuit, the shed proving much more convenient than the loft space studio. If only my energy resources could be boosted a little more, I may be able to get as much painting done as I managed to fit in on top of my full-time employment.

Late afternoon our friends, from t’other side of Pennines, arrived in Harrogate after a somewhat more arduous journey than had been anticipated; it surely is amazing how traffic hold-ups can almost double the duration of such a journey, my total nightmare scenario. Having taken a little time to unwind at their hotel, my beloved transported them chez nous to share our evening meal and a few glasses of vino. Come evening, the temperature was more conducive to sitting out beside the pond.

This morning, Saturday, I was somewhat shattered with muscle and joint pains struggling to convince me I was awake whilst the soul sought a further bout of sleep (preferably of that all too rare refreshing kind).. Come late morning, a friend from Helen’s schooldays (visiting the area for a few days) called around to visit us and, we ventured out to the pond-side seats once again. The heat proved all too much for me within 30 minutes and, by the time Helen returned a la maison she found me flaked out on the bed. The combination, of heat and socializing, sure takes its toll on this ailing frame of mine. Great as it is to meet up with old friends, my body doesn’t quite appreciate the spirit’s enthusiasm for such endeavours.

Despite my best intentions, the good weather seemed to militate against a further meeting with our Lancastrian friends this afternoon, about which I feel somewhat guilty. Although these little setbacks are far from unknown to me, I still have an intense sense of frustration when even the most modest of socializing plans come to nought! At least, having learned to listen to it, my body forewarns me, at times, when I’m nearing my exertion limit; for that I’m extremely grateful.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Why not flutter by Mals Factory?

A freshly minted poem, FLUTTER BY MOMENT, sparked by the shirtsleeve incident, can be found on Mal's Factory

Shirtsleeve Plays Host

Yesterday was one of those days when, although the threat of another rain shower seemed omnipresent, the sun did manage on several occasions to break through the cloud cover. In many ways it was the kind of day I prefer, sufficient breeze to prevent the atmosphere from becoming too hot and cloying. Like most people, I love to see and feel the sun shining brightly but, at the same time, my body has a quite low tolerance level for heat. My body thermostat being somewhat erratic, I can sweat profusely with the least prompting and, feel even more drained than my familiar norm once the thermometer rises beyond the upper teens (centigrade).

This was not always the case but is rather something that emerged with the onset of my illness. [Admittedly, I'm one of those rare people who managed to suffer from sunstroke in the British Summer, whilst doing a vacation job as a gardener in my student days.]

As I was saying, before I so rudely interrupted myself, yesterday was one of those kind of days that I enjoy tolerating. I even managed to spend some time sat on the garden bench, beside the pond, whilst my beloved carried out some serious weeding duties in one of the garden borders. Whilst sat there, I was privileged to receive an immigrant visitor, A Red Admiral butterfly, to whom my shirt sleeve played host as he basked for a few minutes during one of the intermittent sun showers. This was my first sighting this year, in our garden, and it was a real pleasure to share those few intimate moments. Although many of the flowers have played host to both large and small whites, tortoiseshells and meadow browns, the presence of the Red Admiral suggests that summer is really here, no matter what the weather may seem to say!

In this part of the country the Buddleia blossom has just started to open, so I look forward to many more Lepidopteron visitors.

But You Don't Look Sick

"Yesterday, I heard yet another person complaining about people being on the sick unnecessarily & get free cars etc. I do wish some people would realise that some people are disabled even though they look perfectly normal. To get any sickness benefits you have to go through rigorous medicals."

The above is an extract from an excellent, heartfelt, blog post on our judgemental attitude towards those people unfortunate enough to have an invisible disability.

To read the full post click here or copy and paste the following link :

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

In Everything Give Thanks

Although the day started rather muggy, despite a moderately forceful breeze, the atmosphere became fresher as the day progressed; a welcome opportunity to sit beside the pond surveying our modest estate. It’s one of those times when I’m rather overwhelmed by gratitude for these simple delights right on my own doorstep. The sudden sighting of a few baby frogs, emerging from the gardens southern border and, other more mature specimens whose camouflage prevented me from spotting them amongst the ponds vegetation.


First thing this morning, bearing in mind that my “first thing” is usually a couple of hours after my other half has gone off to work, I notice a manila envelope on the doormat from the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) and, it’s with relief that I discover that the next medical assessment review, regarding my Incapacity Benefit, will be due on 8 July 2013. The actual date becomes something of an irrelevance as I will be in receipt of a State Pension from June next year! One side of me thinks it would be really great if I was able to present myself as fit for employment before that date even; at least that would mean I was well enough to pursue some of my former social pursuits. Fortunately, our financial needs are relatively modest; we don’t go in for an extravagant lifestyle even though the wine-cellar suggests otherwise!


This morning I ventured down to ‘Open Church’, for coffee and a chat, where the narthex was a real hive of activity as differing groups of toddlers and infants spontaneously and positively interacted. It’s always a treat to catch up with some of the regular, and not so regular, visitors to these weekday coffee mornings. On my return to the homestead, it was great to enjoy the aforementioned outdoor inactivity. I did manage to exert myself sufficiently to transplant a few of the overcrowded tomato plants from the greenhouse to a sheltered spot in the garden border.  [Actually, they were rather sickly specimens which I’d already put out freestanding in their pots, where the wind far too regularly took advantage of their precarious stance!]

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Reelin' and Rockin'

I’m reeling somewhat from the verbal abuse delivered by the big boss; all that I’d done was use my lunch hour to visit a friend. What he’d seemed puzzled about was my expectation, that it was possible to visit an antipodean friend, at home, during my lunch hour. Yes, I know that it took a little longer break than usual, to travel halfway around the world and back but, I also know that he’s extended his coffee breaks on numerous occasions.

I wake up feeling battered and bruised; it’s hard to believe that a barrage of words can cause such physical damage. Thank God, it was just a dream; don’t think I could have taken much more of this stress. The dream was so ludicrous anyway, a couple of hundred yards is the furthest I’d ever travel during a lunch break and, my aversion to travel, makes the dreamt adventure seems suspiciously representative of some subconscious masochistic yearning.

My beloved suggests a plausible connection between my dream and very recent reality. Yesterday afternoon, after many hours of restful inactivity in preparation (on my part), ma belle chauffeuse drove me to a barbecue*, some twenty five minutes away from home; most of the journey was on the A1 before manoeuvring our way through a couple of potholed, spasmodically flooded, country lanes. Even that little journey provides me with sufficient stress induced exhaustion.

Once we get there, I recover sufficiently to become, temporarily, my old sociable self, contentedly sharing conversation and anecdotes with the assembled company. The company and the pastoral location prove most rewarding but, that doesn’t prevent a state of mind and bone numbing fatigue overwhelming me by 9.00pm. Everything around us is still in full swing but, I can’t risk overdoing it!

So, here in the real world, I recognize that this small excursion is my equivalent of that travel so casually undertaken by my dream-self!


* for more details of the barbecue see my beloved's posting on her Bright Light blog.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Freshly Minted

GREY DAY, a freshly minted poem, can be found on 'Mal's Factory'

Of Rain, Needlepoint and Relief

Just one of those familiar night alerts; I wake suddenly to obey a call of nature. Look at the clock but, owing to the darkness, fail to believe the time it tells. The display tells me that it’s three forty-five (am) but the enveloping darkness suggests somewhere between midnight and one (am); an ominous start to the day. Elements of the dawn chorus drift through the open window, striving to affirm clock time.


I soon drift back into the realm of sleep and on re-awaking, some six hours later, the light (or relative absence of such) suggests a much earlier time than that the chronometer tells. Torrential rain seems to have set in; my beloved remembers that it’s supposed to be the local play school’s Gala Day on the playing fields, just around the corner from our home; I can’t help having a sneaking premonition that it may be called off. I like to make the effort, stamina permitting, to support these events but it seems that I may be able to preserve my energy.


Yesterday proved to be one of those woozy zonked-out days, not too surprising as the previous day had been one of my human pincushion sessions (acupuncture); it’s quite normal to feel a little washed out the day after!  At lunchtime I received a most welcome ’phone call from my physiotherapist / acupuncturist to say that my medical appointment in York has been cancelled. The department will now be contacting her directly to determine whether an assessment is necessary and, if necessary, it will be a ‘home assessment’. That news was subsequently confirmed by e-mail, just in case I thought I was dreaming!!!


In spite of an all too familiar fatigue, and the somewhat oppressive nature of the day, some of my daily compliment of aches and pains seem to have gone into a temporary hibernation, their presence a mere shadow compared to that of recent days. The acupuncture seems to be kicking in!


As I write this, the day seems to have brightened a little but, I fear it may be a little late to redeem the Gala.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A Loss Of Affirmation

Although I generally manage to maintain a reasonably upbeat outlook, in the face of the various slings and arrows my physical and emotional being undergoes, there are times when the clouds just fall around you and the sun refuses to break through. Today, possibly the hottest day of the year so far, is one such occasion. Not that any major disaster has occurred, hot weather always drains me. The day started with a delivery, of a shed and tool store, twenty minutes before the allocated delivery window and without the promised thirty minutes prior ‘phone call; seemed like a bad omen. I immediately called our friend who was going to help with its assembly and, to my relief he came over within a few minutes.


The plans for preparing a level base went rather awry and, although I wasn’t involved in the process, it made me start to feel uneasy. I’ve mentioned before how difficult I find it to cope with any change of routine and, that even seems to be the case when I’m not directly involved in the new situation. Even I find it hard to believe that there was a time, some years ago, when I thrived on new situations and new challenges.


Next delightful event of the day was the recurring appearance of the blue screen on my old PC and then, later in the day a letter from my beloved ATOS (see previous post) when once more it became apparent that the form I submitted had neither been thoroughly read, nor had aspects of the brief telephone conversation been taken on board.


So the oppressive heat, the ATOS lackeys, and plans going awry, each contributed to a reduction in my inner resilience and the loss of any sparkle in the eyes. Three times during the day I fell asleep, a welcome relief from a sense of intensely aching frustration. A griping sensation around the knees, similar to cramp, caused them to lock up as I ambled up the garden, an unwelcome distraction from the pain in calves, thigh, and back.


I seek the strength to affirm the day!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

ATOS Calling

11.30 am, Sunday morning, and the telephone rings. The caller asks if I’m me, a disembodied voice from ATOS, the private medical arm employed by the DWP, proffering me a date to attend a medical in York. It has got to be York (not Leeds, my preferred option next to a home visit), in the most dismally oppressive claustrophobic building, where one is locked in the waiting room, outer door locked behind you and the door to reception locked in front of you. If you need the toilet, one has to get the attention of the receptionist and traverse the corridors beyond the receptionists room; an ideal setting for people who have problems with their physical and/or mental health.

The date suggested by the disembodied one is a Tuesday, to which I have to point out that I’d already explained on my form that Wednesdays are the only day when my beloved chauffeuse is available to transport me there. Of course, they had an available time on the Wednesday so they’ll be sending a confirmation letter regarding the date and time of the appointment.

In less than one year’s time, I shall be in receipt of a State Pension, as well as a couple of other policies maturing; the big question is, will I be in receipt of incapacity benefit until that time? The unpredictable nature of my condition, how I will be from one day to the next, (the only certainty being that if I overdo it I’ll be wrecked for several succeeding days), has prevented me from taking on any voluntary work or having what I used to consider a normal social life. To be honest, if I was to declare myself as being available for paid employment, I would be lying to myself as well as any potential employer. I’m sure they’d all rush for the opportunity to give employment on the basis that I would only attend when I was fit or alert enough to attend, at the whim of my erratic achingly exhausted body.

The only viable option, should they (under their remit to attack the most vulnerable members of society) deny my eligibility for IB, is to live off my savings, and make the necessary national insurance contributions, for the next eleven months.

Just something I had to get off my chest, at the same time acknowledging that there are far too many people in a worse predicament and condition than myself. I just wonder why I should be made to feel guilty about having a health condition which is not immediately obvious, except to those like my beloved who have to live with its effects.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mal Takes Stock

Today's general blog post, TAKING STOCK, can be found on 'Mal's Murmurings'. I have also posted some poems from the archives on both 'Mal's Factory' and 'Archive Mined and Freshly Spun'.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Archbishops fail to condemn violence against lesbians and gays | Ekklesia

When given the example of a lesbian women from Uganda who had applied for asylum in the UK after being jailed, raped in the police station, and marched for two miles naked through the streets of Uganda, Archbishop Akinola said: "That's one example. The laws in your countries say that homosexual acts, actions are punishable by various rules. I don't need to argue."

"If the practice (homosexuality) is now found to be in our society" he continued, "it is of service to be against it. Alright, and to that extent what my understanding is, is that those that are responsible for law and order will want to prevent wholesale importation of foreign practices and traditions, that are not consistent with native standards, native way of life."

Archbishops fail to condemn violence against lesbians and gays | Ekklesia

Presumably Akinola and his ilk would also remain silent in the case of violence being practiced against supporters of the foreign practice and tradition of Christianity, inconsistent with the native way of life.

There are times when I think that Jesus, with his stance against bigotry and injustice, died in vain.