Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bring Me Sunshine

The sun shines, and all seems much better with the world; a bright day has such an amazing effect on one’s sense of well (or even not-so-well) being, it’s only a pity that it has little effect on the multitude of socio-political ills that afflict the majority of humankind.

Just looking out onto the garden gains new vibrancy; each year I’m amazed and encouraged as the first shoots thrust their way into daylight, preparing for spring. (see my poem First Rite on this theme)

Shuffle my way up to the garden pond, look in disgust at the floating debris, think about netting it off but, I’m all too aware that once I make that effort I’ll be too tempted to start on a more widespread cleaning. The piscine inhabitants wouldn’t be too happy about that, this early in the year, so it’s just as well my energy reserves are not exactly fighting for release.

For the moment, I make do with topping up the bird-feeders, pace about a little to give my leg muscles a little stretch, before returning to the house for a nice cuppa (or three) of Earl Grey.

It’s remarkable how much easier it is, on a bright day, to count ones blessings. At a time when I’d lost contact with many of my friends, as my ability to socialize declined, I was able to make contact with others in cyber space, and most importantly able to offer help and encouragement to some of these people.

As my love for my wife grows daily, and that’s starting from a remarkably high plateau, I am so fortunate to have that love reciprocated. Being able to pop down to Open Church, for a cup of Fairtrade coffee and a natter, still seems like a bit of a luxury and, I can only be grateful that I can comfortably manage the walk down there and not be overwhelmed by any background noise. It’s simple things like that, which I would have taken for granted a few years ago, that I have now learnt to appreciate; even the fact that I have a roof over my head, food in the larder and, water on tap provides cause for rejoicing.

Even on a dull, wet day, I am aware of the many blessings (though sometimes it takes a bit of coaxing to bring them to the fore) but, as the sun continues to shine my gratitude is somehow amplified.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


It’s only when I sit a certain way. Correction; it’s sometimes when I’m sitting still, at other times when I shuffle my bum to the back of the chair. Truth be told, it’s worse when I lean forward, to put something down, from a seated position except, when I stand up and reach for something it’s sometimes even more of a pain. Come to think of it, it could be when I take a sudden step forward; at least that’s when it causes my leg to fold on me and I lose my balance.

Who am I trying to kid; all I really need is plenty of fresh distractions, that way my awareness of it would simply dissipate.

A few minutes ago, whilst standing by the kitchen door, it suddenly attacked again! A searing pain shoots through my thigh but, unlike sciatica, there’s no apparent reference back or forwards from the hips or spine, nor is there any downwards extension through to the calf muscles. All is (apparently) encapsulated within the rear of the thigh. The physio suspects that it’s a nerve problem.

Pain-killers hardly touch it, but then, how would I know if they were being effective? It’s the brutally spasmodic, crippling, lightning flash that’s the real pain; there have actually been periods today, of almost 20 minutes duration, when I’ve not been startled by it. Meantime, a manageable dull bruising throb is much easier to ignore than the staccato stabbing.

My diagnosis is that “it’s a real pain!”

If only it wasn’t such a discomforting thought, I could add that “at least it keeps me on my toes!”

New on Mal's Factory

I've just posted a freshly woven poem, WINDBLOWN, on 'Mal's Factory'

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Random Ramblings on Time and Perspective

Strange, the tricks of light and perspective; the history of art has a lot to answer for. I’m stood by the backdoor and, a good three hundred or more metres away, there are giants working on the roof trusses of a house under construction. I see these figures, each around 5’10” to 6’0” in height, at much the same height as they would appear if they were standing next to me. Were I to paint, or draw, the scene I’m witnessing, it would be expected that these figures would appear quite miniscule, positioned well on the way towards the vanishing point. Why, for the sake of convention am I expected to diminish their stature; our observation is always subjective, we always interpret the scene laid out before us so, why did anyone ever to take the trouble to lay down rules as to the way we are to portray it? Is it supposed to bring some sort of objectivity to the interpreted world?

I suppose there is a degree of importance to quantifying time and space, to enable us to more easily modify our environment for the sake of efficiency in our daily routines but, it has got me wondering about whether art comes under the category of work or play.

Mind you, I’m not wondering all that seriously, it’s more a case of letting ideas fly off the top of my head (and being bald, I suppose it makes for a smooth take-off as these random thoughts take flight).

Suddenly, I find time has become a greater issue than space, as I await the arrival of the workmen who are going to be renovating our downstairs loo; as I wait each minute seems like a quarter of an hour and, once the appointed time for their arrival has passed the moments seem to stretch out even further. It’s strange how the waiting process plays havoc with temporal values! Where once patience was a virtue I could uphold to a considerable degree, the past few years have swung the pendulum the other way; patience is now a quality which seems to belong to a dim and distant past life. Somehow, whilst anticipating an impending event, I find it impossible to apply my mind to any other task; it only seems possible to concentrate on one thing at a time and, even then, the quality of concentration ain’t what it used to be.

At least these random jottings have helped the time pass more quickly and, I’m relieved to hear the doorbell ring. Meantime, I’ll get on with a little bit more net surfing, before my physio arrives to administer the magic needles once more.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Reclaiming KING

People usually focus on the historic "I Have a Dream" speech, but it's the work King was doing at the end of his life that deserves more attention.

Read the article:

Reclaiming King : Beyond "I Have A Dream"

transformations elsewhere

Mal's murmuring persona bears witness to some TRANSFORMATIONS

Sunday, January 20, 2008


A generalized sluggishness pervades my being, marginally more so than is my norm. Yesterday, the day being somewhat brighter than of late, decided to take a modestly longer walk than I usually manage, in the (misguided) belief that it may alleviate the droningly throbbing pain in the left thigh. I almost overdid the exercise and, found myself struggling as we tackled the homeward bound section. At least it proffered no more than the usual degree of tiredness and discomfort by way of reward; I suppose that’s progress of some kind.

Although you may find it difficult to believe, I don’t really like moaning on about my assorted aches and pains, it’s quite simply that they are my most constant companions; I feel the same obligation to report upon them as I would were I to boast about or describe the achievements of best friends. [Yes, I admit it; best friends can at times be a pain too!]

Trouble with the aches and pains is, they never seem to know when one needs time to be on their own. There are times when I would appreciate the absence of their company!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mal's Cold Feet

Mal has been Murmuring again, this time about The Chef's Cold Feet. Why not visit 'Mal's Murmurings' to see what's cooking!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Quite Simply Breathtaking

Just as well I received the CUPPA THERAPY boost to my morale yesterday; otherwise, I would be feeling quite morose this morning. Last night’s bed rest was intermittently disrupted by intense discomfort in the lower limbs; a dully throbbing sense of bruised hollowness affected both limbs but, more emphatically on the left hand side. I felt less comfortable than I had in the previous position, no matter which way I turned, nor how slowly, within minutes of each move. This, combined with a vengeful return of the night sweats, ensured that any bout of sleep would prove less than refreshing.

At 9.40am, my light slumber was disturbed by a thunderous hammering at the door accompanied by a seemingly panic stricken sustained ringing of the bell. By the time I’d groggily disbanded the duvet, and donned my dressing gown, two large boxes were resting at the side of the door and the delivery man, from Argos, was carrying another couple of parcels. He asked me to sign for them but, I questioned whether he’d come to the right address; the outcome was that he was on the right road but at the wrong number. Our house number is clearly displayed adjacent to the door! I dread to think what I’d have said were the benefits of yesterday’s therapy still not apparent on the emotional front.

Having dragged myself back upstairs, decided it was perhaps time to get dressed and confront the day head on. Seated on the edge of the bed, I carefully placed one leg into the top of my trousers when the spine, or quite probably the muscles attached thereto, decided to deliver a short sharp shock. Now that’s what I call a breathtaking experience! A few painkillers, and a generous Ibuprofen rub later, I have returned to my more comfortably familiar sense of dis-ease.

Fortunately, I have no immediate need to venture far from my comfortably supportive armchair.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Therapeutic Cuppa

This morning Malcolm submitted himself to some CUPPA THERAPY. Why not read of the results on 'Mal's Murmurings'.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Normal Service will be resumed

It really feels good to see ma belle back more to her normal self; the fact that she was able to taste the chicken paprika I’d prepared for Sunday dinner is just an added bonus. Sadly, she had to miss her surgery’s belated Christmas dinner on Friday night but, she should be well enough to return to work tomorrow, although she will forgo her Bible Study group in the evening.

This morning she took the service at Killinghall chapel and, perhaps three short talks (as it was a family service) took less toll on the congested vocal cords than the usual sermon. What she missed most was not being able to sing along with the hymns as she realized that would only start off a bout of coughing. I don’t mean to say her singing’s that bad, that the congregation would try to drown it out, but rather that laughing and singing are two activities destined to activate her own coughs and splutters.

The rest of the day has been spent in relative idleness as I’ve struggled to keep my eyes open, and my head in non-giddy mode. Just sitting beside, or opposite, my beloved makes me feel so content, as well as relieved that her recovery is well under way. It’s difficult to understand how I ever managed a life without her

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Self Pity?

I currently seem to be sinking into the kind of morose, self-pitying frames of reference that used to be the result of excessive alcohol consumption. Perhaps the cause is the teetotalism that I’ve been practising these past few days; there’s just no winning in these situations.

Truth be told, self-pity is barely part of my vocabulary these days; I tend to cope reasonably well with the slings and arrows that ME/CFS ensures my flesh is heir to, I don’t really have much choice in the matter. Ever since Julie, at the Chronic Fatigue Unit, grounded me in the principles of pacing, I’ve managed to avoid the worst excesses of my former ‘boom and bust’ circle of activity/inactivity and, for that I’m extremely grateful.

What I’m finding difficult to cope with is the viral attack that my beloved currently has to cope with. I was already at a fairly low ebb, stamina-wise, before I started to apply myself to my nursemaid duties and, what really startles me, despite my youthful training as a student nurse, is that I’m finding it really difficult to cope with Helen being poorly. She is my life, my raison d’etre and, I just want to do more for her but feel quite helpless into the bargain. The self-pity is more rooted in this sense of helplessness, rather than the everyday reality of coping with me.

Q and E mirrored on Mal's Murmurings

A sequel, titled Mirror, Mirror ..., to the preceding two or three posts can be found on Mal's Murmurings.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Quasimodo and Esmeralda

The past few days have witnessed a hobbling Quasimodo climbing up into the tower to look after an ailing Esmeralda. Crookbacked and crablike I’ve ventured up the stairs, trying to tempt my beloved with a few hot drinks and the occasional poached meal. My Esmeralda’s complexion seems to keep ringing the changes between flushed and drained, as she shivers whilst simultaneously burning up. I actually find it quite disturbing when ma belle is reluctant to take on board either fluids or solids, yet at times she’s even finding it difficult to quaff sufficient water to aid the swallowing and absorbing of the paracetamol. In more normal times I suspect that the reservoirs must have difficulty in providing the copious volumes of liquid consumed by my good lady.

On the positive side, although I’ve not ventured outside of these four walls, I’m getting plenty of exercise – against my backs resistance and legs reluctance – as I tread the stairs. My beloved keeps saying that she shouldn’t feel so rotten because it’s only a virus; meantime, I keep thinking a virus is only a bug that the medicos fail to understand and are unable to deal with!

Spasmodic doses of co-codamol, together with rubs of ibuprofen gel, seem to keep the worst of my back pain in check, though neither supplies an adequate counter to the occasional locking of the spine.

Monday, January 07, 2008

La Rue des Invalides

Have you ever tried walking down the High Street whilst attempting to clasp a tennis ball between your upper thighs? That’s exactly what it felt like as I ventured out to the local bakery this morning and, I could have done with a pair of reversible knee joints to hasten my errand. Any attempt to modestly stride out seemed to return the back muscles to the state of spasm which started yesterday afternoon. A combination of Co-codamol and externally applied Ibuprofen gel helped me to get a reasonable night’s sleep but, getting dressed this morning seemed a terribly arduous process.

Our homestead feels like a regular maison des invalides, as my beloved has had to return home from work with sundry flu-like ailments, a general feeling of nausea now accompanying the chest infection which has been honking its presence for the past few days. The nurse, at the practise where Helen works, thought it a bit odd that ma belle should need to wear an overcoat in the office, a classic case of burning up and feeling cold. When ma belle is off her food there’s definitely something wrong and, this morning she’s even finding it difficult to drink – that pervasive sense of nausea has much to answer for.

Meantime, my younger (step-) daughter, who lives just around the corner from us, has been and still is struggling against a host of virulent bugs. Perhaps a quarantine order needs to be applied in these parts. Ironically enough, the town which we are privileged to inhabit was once a celebrated Health Spa! Still, I suppose that means it’s used to having a lot of old crocks in residence.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


There’s something simultaneously amusing and disconcerting about an erratic body thermostat. Recent days have seen a return of both excessive night sweats and diurnal frozen extremities – oh that the power of reason could overcome these apparently irrational somatic dispositions!
Elsewhere on the health front, the antibiotics prescribed for an intimate abscess (on the dark side of the moon) has also served to clear up a painful tenderness in glands in the neck and under the chin; that’s what I call getting to the top and bottom of the problem. I’m so familiar with tenderly swollen glands, a traditional component of my ailments, that one so easily overlooks the probability of infection.
Thursday afternoon saw a welcome visit from Helen A, physiotherapist and acupuncture practitioner, and after quite a break from this treatment, I once more welcomed the wonderful drowsy zonked-out aftermath of being a pin-cushion.
This afternoon, shortly after lunch, it was the turn of my lower back muscles to go into painful spasm, moderately alleviated by a dose of Co-codamol but, at least it has turned my attention away from the omnipresent hollow ache in the left armpit (frequently accompanied by a gnawing numbness in the arm and wrist) and the self-locking right knee joint.
The rest of the day is set to pass with me seated on a comfortably supportive upright armchair beside a warmly glowing fire; a necessary luxury.
PS 7.15pm A further posting,on a somewhat different topic, PLAYING BY THE RULES, can be found on' Mal's Murmurings'