Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mal's Christmas Message

As Christmas Day approaches, I've been revelling (as listener rather than participant) in lots of Christmas carols and other Christmas music whilst preparing for the big day. As a Christian, my central focus is upon the Christ child who grew up to challenge the secular and spiritual authorities of his day, proclaiming a discipline of selflessness, compassion, peace and humility. Although his spirit is still alive, it is all too frequently portrayed in a way which is both nauseatingly pious and uncharitable!

At times. it seems quite difficult to reconcile the wining and dining, which is an integral part of our Christmas celebrations, with the commemoration of the birth of a child in quite humble circumstances in an occupied Middle Eastern country but, I still manage to enjoy the celebrations. As I write, the large (11lb) chicken is roasting in the oven, a mixture of butter, garlic, pepper and chilli having been inserted beneath the skin. I've also been busily preparing both standard and gluten-free sausagemeat (with a liberal administering of onion, mustard and parsley) stuffing. Portions of chicken will then be placed in the steamer, along with sundry vegetables on the day itself. Ma belle has prepared the vegetables and the potatoes ready for par-boiling by yours truly, in a special herb and spice infused liquid, prior to roasting in due course.

I've also been diligently filling the sundry feeders for our gardens avian visitors, having first having scraped away the feeder's snow overcoats and, enjoyed a little walk with my beloved around a few blocks of the neighbourhood.

Beth, my elder step-daughter, together with her partner Mahmood, and his son Sina, will be joining us for Christmas Day dinner whilst Cathy and Ken (her partner) will be spending a couple of days in Barcelona. Of course Cathy will be coming round for her Christmas Dinner on Monday, with Ken calling around later to imbibe a few glasses of fermented grape juice. It's rather nice to be able to stretch out the festivities in this way. We are so fortunate to be able to celebrate in this way, whilst being all too guiltily aware of all those millions throughout the globe who struggle for subsistence.

My Christmas wish, as always, is for PEACE, HOPE and JOY, and a far more equitable distribution of the earths resources!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Calling

Christmas approaches and, a few lights and decorations adorn the interior of our house. Small nativity cribs, in the hall and dining room, remind us of the Christ in Christmas and, more potently, the nativity scene in our living room displays potential visitors barred, by a tall wall, from gaining access to the stable, telling of the situation that exists in that part of the Middle East today. The transformative event is centered on a small child born of humble parentage, not in a palace or in the fortresses of the occupying imperial power but rather in second rate guest accomodation.

Even the wise men expected something different, after all the seats of real power are always quite prestigiously situated. They stumble on their way but, meanwhile, the good news had already been broadcast to the sheperds and, they were the first to come to the Christ child. The men from the seats of learning are beaten to the post by these herdsmen. Values are turned on their head.

Sadly, it wouldn't be long before the wise and learned, serving the purposes of their earthly rulers, would distort this message, placing the Christ at the service of secular power rather than serving Him. A message of love and hope to the poor and humble becomes a religion of fear and subservience to ones earthly masters.

The child, born in humble circumstance, grew up to challenge the politics of greed, hatred and idolatory. Where he put the will of his heavenly father first, after his death and resurrection, he became the tool of the powerful who saw themselves as being God's representatives on earth.

Those who seek to follow the way of Jesus, who take up their cross, are likely to find little favour with either religious or secular authority. They will be tempted, at every turn, to betray their calling in order to obtain advancement in their place of work, told to be realists and not idealists. The call of Jesus is not for what he can do for me, but rather a challenge to us to serve our fellow men in the cause of justice and dignity.

As long as we stand by, and aquiesce, in the violence and injustice of our world we are kicking and bruising that child born in a troubled Middle East two millenia ago. I, myself, am a weak and wayward follower but, in Him I have my hope.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Sense of Betrayal

Yesterday morning, when my beloved was returning from a coffee morning she met two acquaintances who used to attend the church where we met. This church, in Harrogate, is a thriving CofE evangelical outpost, well attended by its middle class constituency, many of whom travel from their own parish, and across others, to attend because of the bold proclamation of the "good news". Doubtless others attend to help ensure a place at the highly regarded CofE secondary school in the (not too distant) vicinity.

When I say thriving I refer to bums on seats, house groups, womens groups, children and youth groups, regular Alpha courses and all the usual trimmings. The couple, who met and spoke to my wife this morning, told of their loss of faith. This loss of faith was due in no small part to what I would consider a betrayal on the part of the church.

The lady of the couple had suffered some mental health problems and, during this time wasn't always able (or feeling like) attending worship. Prior to this health breakdown they'd not only been regular attenders for worship, members of a house group, they'd also been participants in the church's away weekends. Once the mental health affliction struck, there were no visits or enquiries as to her health or their absence from either cleric or lay members of the church, not even from members of the house group. My first thought was that maybe the people in that particular church are shamefully unable to cope with the stigma of mental illness but then, I began to wonder whether it would have been any different had the ailment been purely physical in nature. A sense of loneliness and isolation is frequently accompanies a mental health problem and, when your "friends", "brother and sisters in Christ", neglect you that can only add to a feeling of alienation.

It's one thing to preach the gospel and offer your symbolic and ritual support to sundry worthy causes but, when it comes to hands on practice what hope is there. If one cannot care for those within their own church family, what expectation is there that they will serve their fellow man in society at large.

As a Christian, I would be most relieved if I could think that this was a one off case of neglect but, sadly, from my own experience I know different. This is a church with which I was vitally affiliated throught the 1990's and into the noughties; at different times involved in house groups as both participant and leader / enabler, even assisting on the Alpha course. From summer of 2000 until my collapse with M.E. in late 2003 I was caretaker / steward for this church. Having kept going through sundry ailments, serving many unpaid hours beyond those for which I was salaried, a series of collapses led to my resignation. At this time only condemnation was experienced from the clergy, for "letting us down", with very little consideration for my well-being. I suspect that the hyperactive vicar was ill-equipped to cope with illness, outside of any glaringly physical manifestation.

My beloved continued to attend this very well attended church, on her own, when I was no longer able to make it, being housebound for considerable periods. Her experience was one of loneliness. No-one ever visited or even made any enquiries as to how I was coping!


This posting should be read in conjunction with Matthew 25 vv. 42 - 45

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ringing The Changes

It was really good to receive a 'phone call from my physio, this morning, having heard nothing since August. The call confirmed my suspicion that she'd had a relapse, being a fellow M.E. sufferer, and consequently been out of circulation since August. Fortunately, she has now returned to work for a few hours each week, even though those few hours are already proving quite exhausting but, with a bit of careful management, she hopes to return to her normal hours in the new year. I'm now looking forward to the next call when she'll be arranging a visit to apply the magic needles (I'm talking acupuncture here) to yours truly. The treatment I've received, by this means, has proved most efficacious both in terms of pain control and re-energizing.

My second 'phone call of the day was quite unwelcome. Having given a second chance (disregarding their somewhat inflated prices) to 'Pieroth', the wine merchant whose reps visit one at home for a wine tasting, and placed an order for a case which we received in the past week, they decided to give us a call today to try and sell us some more.

The reason we'd previously given up on them was the high number of unwelcome canvassing phone calls, a reason which we had explained to them on numerous occasions. This time there will be no further chances, they can keep their product and stuff it where the sun don't shine. When will they ever learn?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Double Talk?

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Obama's Defense Secretary, Robert M.Gates, said that under the plan, 100,000 American troops would be in Afghanistan in July 2011, and “some handful, or some small number, or whatever the conditions permit, will begin to withdraw at that time.” The intention, it now appears, is that the transfer of security responsibilities to Afghan forces would only be starting from that date.

This sounds, to me, like a different message than Obama's West Point address last Tuesday, when he said that his administration would “begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011.”

Saturday, December 05, 2009

ME and my body

Yesterday morning, right on time, received a 'phone call from my GP. "It's good news and bad news", he said, "first, the blood tests showed no abnormalities". A mixed blessing that, at least nothing sinister has been spotted but, I'm no wiser as to the cause of my current downturn in the health and stamina stakes. "The chest X-ray was clear", once again a sense of relief as I start wondering what the bad news is. "It seems as if the symptoms you're experiencing are part of your ongoing condition. If things don't improve or, get any worse, don't hesitate to contact me but, there's nothing I can offer you at the moment".

The problem, and indeed danger, when suffering with a chronic neurological codition such as M.E., is that one tends to assume any extremely discomfortingly exhausting ailment they experience is simply part and parcel of the overall condition. One becomes so used to living with pain that their pain threshold is increased and, excruciating symptoms that would have previously been a cause for alarm are accepted as "normality". (This was very much the case around this time last year when, for far too long, I assumed that the extreme pain emanating from a herniated disc was yet another manifestation of my underlying condition).

Periods of remission are by no means unusual and, when these occur, the greatest danger then is to push oneself and, as a (sometimes belated) result find themselves once more painfully out of it. These are the times when I find concentration diminishing, tetchiness increasing and, that old (sadly familiar) enemy, sensory overload, recurring. The most frustrating thing of all is the impossibility of knowing if one is "ill", beyond the parameters of the resident disabling condition.

Monday, November 30, 2009

This Sporting Life

Whilst listening to the tragic story of a schoolboy who took his own life after years of bullying, in both physical and cyberspace manifestations, I couln't help notice a reference to the boy's dislike of / disinterest in sports. My thoughts initially turned to the bullies, loosely disguised as P.E. teachers, at one of the schools I attended. More generally, my mind wandered off in the direction of all the bullshit we hear in terms of sport being character building and teaching the value of co-operation and team building.

To me, the most noticeable characteristics of sportsmen are competitiveness, aggression and the bullying and taunting of those less able. For some of the smaller boys, at school, it seemed essential to develop a dual level of protection from bullying. Apart from cultivating a few tougher protective friends, it became necessary to learn the tricks of dirty fighting. A well aimed knee (or even foot) to the groin and an adept use of the head butt became an essential part of their armoury. Although dirty fighting was nothing to be proud of, it was in no way as disgusting as the behaviour of the bullish sporting dinosaurs.

Sporting activity may well build up confidence in those participants of appropriate physical stature but, simultaneously, it only serves to diminish this same attribute in those not physically equipped to handle the sports more rigorous aspects. The Loughborough school of bully-boy P.E. teachers, who forced one to do press-ups beyond their natural ability / strength, in the process deliberately showing them up in front of their peers, fully earned the contempt which I reserved for them. Unfortunately, many of the hearty sports lads seemed to inherit their pernicious perverted tendencies. Co-incidentally, I could never quite understand why these he-men felt an obligation to keep an eye on the boys in the showers!

Dis-ease and Pleasantries

Within an hour of my previous posting I was, once more, caught unawares in the health and wellness stakes. This time I was truly frightened. I was sat watching an entertaining DVD episode of Ally McBeal, with ma belle, when suddenly, my body seemed to be grasped in a vice, limbs and torso felt achingly crushed whilst my head felt like a bruise floating in a zero gravity chamber.

Eventually, having lifted myself from the chair, all I could manage was to stumble up the stairs and roll myself into bed. A triangular supporting pillow, on top of the other two pillows, was called for to find anything resembling a semi-comfortable posture. Even my familiar low energy reserve seemed to have drained away - an achingly nauseous void swapped places with my body. Had it not been for the frightening sense of dis-ease, I would have described the condition as numbness. Twelve hours later, I remove myself from the duvet lair and, to my surprise, I feel reasonably alert.

After a caffeine fix, chores to be done, I head off to the local post office and then to the bakery. As I walk along the road I meet up with a couple of acquaintances; to the first one, in response to the "how are you" question, I respond with the customary "fine", the expected pleasantry. The other enquirer receives a more honest response and, I then find myself wondering whether I'd correctly understood the nature and purpose of the enquiry!

Sunday, November 29, 2009


My ability to concentrate is currently somewhat erratic; this has been an intermittently recurring problem during the past six or seven years. Exhaustion affects one mentally as well as physically but, it also appears to be unrelated to any exertion, or lack of same, on my part. Having had considerable periods of remission, from the more disabling aspects of my illness, has resulted in an increased level of frustration when stamina levels take a dive; this sense of frustration, in it's turn, seems to militate further against my reserves of concentration.

Quite remarkably, alongside this frustration I'm feeling reasonably content with my situation, when I'm able to hold back on tetchiness! I feel blessed in having such a loving and caring family, a comfortable home, good food and drink; what more could I wish for? Although the question's rhetorical, it would be wonderful if I could reduce my bed-rest requirement without feeling shattered mid-way through the remaining hours of (what I would like to be) active life.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Normal Out Of Kilter Wellness

I'm woken with a start; on this occasion the doorbell seems to have gained some decibels. My head spins giddily. I try again to lift myself but my torso's having none of it. A heavy thump; it's obvious whatever was to be delivered has now been duly deposited. Amazing how wide the letter box jaws can extend; my head falls back those elevated few inches onto the pillow. Look at the clock, the digital display reads 10.30. It certainly doesn't seem like twelve hours since I retired to the bedchamber. I have scarcely a memory of my beloved departing for work, even though she never goes out without a kiss and a cuddle but, that will have been three hours ago.

Ma belle is blessed with the gift of sound sleep, as opposed to my fitful variety. It requires a definite effort of will power to remove myself from the duvet realm and, in response my lower limbs refuse to obey me, as if some alloy of lead and jelly holds back my attempt at free movement. The leaden jelly feels sharply bruised alongside their hollow emptiness. My ears ache and pop, my eyelids resist the attempt to keep open but the show must go on.

I manage to put on shirt, pants and slacks before the effort exhausts me; I almost feel sorry for myself as I lay back on the bed.Trouble is, with any chronic illness, it's hard to tell whether this is simply part of my normal out of kilter wellness or am I unwell. Generally, I'm enjoying a pretty good remission from some of the most disabling aspects of M.E. although far from regaining my former levels of comfortable healthiness.

I'm now a little puzzled about why I bothered getting dressed as I cross the landing to the bathroom, put on the wall heater and ready myself for a shower; that's when a fresh bout of nauseous giddiness kicks in as my lower limbs go into a kind of spasm. Steady myself against the sink, switch off the heater and cancel my plans to take a shower. Sans shower I feel grimily burdened but, I realize a general sense of disorientation wouldn't be a good shower companion.

Hopefully the painkillers will soon kick in against the spasmodic discomfort in torso and limbs, apart from that, it's just another normal day and there's a life to be lived. Good morning rainfall, I'm coming down to visit you!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mal's Madeleine Moment

It really is proving quite refreshing to listen to some dirtily muddy recordings, 1964 vintage, by The Downliners Sect, ex the live EP 'Nite in Gt. Newport Street', now included amongst the bonus tracks on a re-issue of their first album 'The Sect'.

The sound really was quite muddy, when listening to them in the low-ceilinged basement 'Studio 51' (aka Ken Colyer's Jazz Club). Back in those days I used to go and listen to the New Orleans style jazz at the same venue. Nostalgia just ain't what it used to be. In those days I had the stamina and enthusiasm to haunt various venues purveying R&B, modern jazz, trad et al. The handiest venue, five minutes walk from my then residence, was 'Klooks Kleek' at 'The Railway' in West Hampstead where the not infrequent highlight was The Graham Bond Organization - Bond (organ), Dick Heckstall-Smith (sax), Jack Bruce (bass), Ginger Baker (drums). I have special memories of an occasion when Phil Seaman - a modern jazz drummer, one of Ginger Baker's influences I suspect - turned up. At other times, Long John Baldry's Hoochie-Coochie Men were the guests, apart from Baldry a young Rod Stewart also provided vocals. Rod's version of 'Stormy Monday' was quite simply sensational.

At other times I'd venture down to the 'Flamingo' to hear, on different occasions, Georgie Fame's Blue Flames, Zoot Money's Big Roll Band and Chris Farlowe & the Thunderbirds. Whenever I wasn't engaged in my political and social-activism I just had to be out somewhere; I didn't like my own company much in those days and, despite having friends scattered around various parts of North London, I had never in my life experienced such loneliness as I did after my move from the sticks to The Smoke.

Suddenly, all this stuff comes pouring out just from listening to a few CD tracks. I wouldn't want to change anything in my life, highs or lows; life is just too precious to have time for regrets.

When I think back, it's quite amazing how puritanical the various left-wing political sects, with whom I was affiliated, were; in fact it's surprising that my disagreements were generally on points of dogma rather than my somewhat beat lifestyle!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Frustration Rules

A generalized sense of shatteredness has replaced much of the familiarly painful discomfort of the past few years yet, simultaneously, the tetchiness of my achingly disoriented days has returned with a vengeance. I suppose that, on one level, I feel rather guilty about not doing more with my time; after all, I have periods of a few hours on most days now when I feel totally alert but, even many of my e-mails remain either unread or superficially browsed through and my best intentions remain just that, intentions.

At least when pain was being experienced at excruciating levels I felt that was genuine reason for not getting off my backside and committing myself to some positive action or endeavour, manifest in either literary or painterly output. Currently, I find myself exhausted when I go to bed (at a time I once would have considered early), restless through a goodly portion of the night and, spasmodically sleeping through a goodly part of the morning, once I've discovered a suitably comfortable posture. It's rather strange being neither a night-owl nor an early riser; where once a few hours bed rest ensured an adequate energy resource, many hours of rest don't seem to leave me with much of an energy reserve at all.

Before anyone jumps in with a solution, I must emphasize that whenever I forego my lying-in period a totally mind-numbing, muscle bruising, fatigue overwhelms me before the day is out. Any self-enforced increase of exercise seems to have an intensely negative rebound effect on subsequent days.

Frustration rules!

Like a circle in a spiral

Once upon a time one picked up a telephone and rang through to the surgery to order a repeat prescription but, sadly those days are gone. Once upon another time, my local pharmacy did the job for me but, on almost every other occasion, something went wrong (at the pharmacies collection and delivery end I suspect – having had no such problem when I changed to the next system for placing repeat requests) and it took an increasing period of time before the prescription was fulfilled.

Next came a great boon; after faffing about on line for initial registration, it became conveniently possible to order a repeat prescription online. No problems with that system until, this morning, when I was greeted with a different signing on screen. The system has evidently been changed to improve efficiency. Unfortunately the new system requires a “user name” which has not yet been allocated. I duly rang the surgery who informed me that a) you will not be able to use the system this week and, b) you will be receiving a letter (via snail mail) in a few days informing you about the new system!

It would have been helpful if we had been informed that the system was going to be inaccessible, thus allowing us to place the repeat prescription request in advance! Do I take two bus journeys, each way, to drop in a repeat prescription request or, do I give the local pharmacy another try? Perhaps I’ll wait until ma belle chauffeuse is available and drop in the repeat prescription form that day; this latter approach could save a lot of additional frustration.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Chef's Hat and Gardening Cap

After last Sunday’s disappointing meal, which featured celery and elastic band fed pork (at least the toughness and lack of flavour suggested that was the diet on which the distantly deceased had been fed) today’s lunch was a total success and, once more I’m fittingly proud of my chefly accomplishments!

As yet, I’ve not given a name to this rather special casserole but, a little experimentation definitely paid off. First off I diced a few chicken breasts and treated them to a marinade of garlic, coriander, cumin and hot pepper sauce – being cautiously generous with the latter ingredient. Onions, green and yellow peppers, mushrooms, tinned tomatoes and pickled beetroot, together with a little chicken gravy made up the final dish and, although I say it myself, great was the rejoicing over it. Not only did it tantalize and tingle the taste buds but, simultaneously cleared the sinuses. My special spiced crispy roast potatoes (crunchy externals with fluffily melting interior), broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots and French beans proved a perfect accompaniment. Compliments to my beloved vegetable chef, for the purchase and preparation of those ingredients.

Thankfully, I’d prepared the casseroles last evening, utilizing my favourite lidded wok for the purpose; had I left it until this morning, things would have had to be rushed as I remained entangled in the duvet lair until long after my beloved had set off to church. I did, however, manage to find the time to pot up four varieties of fragrant hostas before lunch. Eventually they’ll be planted out in the moisture retaining area of the garden.

This afternoon, stamina permitting, I hope to clear an area of well-drained sunshine (subject to availability) fed garden in order to plant a few Echinaceas. Even if I don’t get around to it, at least the intention was there.

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

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mind Warps

Sometimes the mind just wanders. A time when one should, by rights, be fast asleep is the oddest of hours to embark on these travels.

Thoughts of how the media exploits the grief of others for political ends, ignoring the fact that helicopters had arived within the "golden hour"; political manipulation by the unfree press which, at our expense, promotes causes to which one may be diametrically opposed. There are more things under the Sun than are dreamt of in their philosophy! When was the last poll of consumers taken, to find out in which direction the advertising budget of the supply chain should be spent.

I've been suffering from a frequently recurring image of a capitalist ship, navigated by neo-Thatcherite helmsmen, crashing upon the rocks. A brain-washed populace screams out for the party that spawned the helmsmen's grasping idol to come to the rescue. It's no longer a case of better the devil you know but rather, bring back The Devil Incarnate!

This couldn't happen in reality; could it?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Re-privatisation Of High Street Banks

The Lib Dems Treasury spokesman Vince Cable welcomed more competition in the banking sector but said there should be no urgency to the sales.

"We need to be careful that when these split-ups occur, the prime cuts are not offered to private investors and the scraps left to taxpayers," he said.


If Cable's desire is to be met it will be totally different to any other privatisation ever witnessed in the U.K.!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Casual Listening

As my beloved chauffered me home, from making a bulk purchase of wild bird food, Radio 4 twittered away as an accompaniment to our journey. One item was about taboos surrounding organ donation, the following item concerned the ubiquity of flip-flops from some kind of anthropological / sociological perspective.

From the latter item, I gathered that flip-flops go back to the beginning of time. A wonderful image of Dinosaurs wearing flip-flops immediately sprang to mind, even though (judging by context) the speaker obviously considered that time only began when the pyramids were constructed!

From the chatter about organ donation I gathered that almost all of our prejudices and taboos can be traced back to a certain Anne Sesstry. At least that should remove a lot of the burden from Eve!

28 October 2009


a freshly minted poem, GARDENING IN AUTUMN, can be found on 'Mal's Factory'.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Shudder Of Shyness

I don't know quite how to explain this, or even try to understand but, is it some kind of weird prejudice or simply my innate shyness ( of which many of my acquaintances are completely unaware)?

There's a local cafe which I love to visit, both on my own and with my beloved. Beverages and food served are of an excellent standard and, the environment is spaciously friendly so, what's the problem? The cafe has started advertising, via handbills, to the effect, "Over 60 but young at heart, join us for a chat etc;". For an extremely reasonable inclusive price, you're supplied with tea or coffee, home made scones, jam and cream, on a Monday from 2.30p.m. I love the idea and so, I decided to amble along there this afternoon. Looking through the window I spotted a cosy gathering of this particular client group but, something inside me said, "they're all oldies, no connection with you". Next, I took a little walk around the block and, on my return, glanced through the window again, paused for a few moments before heading off home.

I don't think it's ageism, after all I'm one of the golden oldies myself and, I certainly have friends that are most probably older than any of those in attendance and, a number of others considerably younger. Had any one of these people been on their own, I'd quite happily have sat down and had a chat with them but, this looked like an organized group and I'm not instictively a joiner. That may sound strange for someone who has been a member of all kinds of campaigning groups,left-wing political parties and sectlets, jazz clubs, literary groups and church house groups, in some cases to the extent of running them myself!

Perhaps it's some kind of timidity; my body quite simply resisted the urge to enter. I don't like barging in to what superficially looked like a closed circle; this could just be a case where my camoflauged shyness overcame a more gregarious veneer.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Time Change


Turning back the clock
I think of Canute -

in spite of expectations.
One hour gained
at the beginning of the day

come evening
taken away.

Malcolm Evison
25 October 2009

Secular Prejudice or Spiritual Enlightenment

After reading an excellent post touching on the matter of disaffected Anglicans, 'Anglicans and Orthodoxy', on Steve Hayes Khanya blog, I couldn't help being saddened by the thought that the primary reason for so many sub-denominations and sects, within the church, is more to do with secular prejudice than spiritual enlightenment!


on a totally different topic: my latest blog posting, 'Decline Of A Pub Bistro', appeared yesterday on 'Mal's Murmurings'.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thinking Aloud

How I ever found time to go out to work is a mystery to me.

Time simply races by and, my best laid plans frequently fail to come to fruition owing to an insufficiency of waking hours in the day. No doubt some of this is due to my lack of stamina, not so drastically reduced as it was a few years ago but, stamina levels are nowhere near those I took for granted before succumbing to M.E. in 2003. Mind you, the M.E. put paid to my ability to work and, even prevented me from venturing more than a few yards from my own front door for a considerable period of time.

Reaching retirement age, and eligibility for the State Pension, seemed to produce an energy surge for me, elated by the experience of being free from the guilt that all incapacitated people are forced to feel when they have to resort to “benefits”. Politicians and media all paint a picture of tens of thousands of people in receipt of benefits being lazy scroungers but, the reality I experienced was one of enforced degradation in the way one was treated by the DWP and its medical agents; hard work at a time when ones physical and emotional stamina reserves are at an all time low, to say nothing of the excruciating pain and general dis-orientation.

Sorry I’m getting sidetracked, in any case that stamina surge, referred to at the beginning of the previous paragraph, didn’t last for long. Perhaps the initial mystery (opening sentence refers) only refers to people in less than prime health. I am extremely fortunate in that, shortly before becoming incapacitated, I’d had my arm twisted to go on t’internet. Being on-line proved a lifeline; unable to participate in the socializing, which had up that point been a mainstay of my being, I discovered the value of cyber friends who proved more loyal than some of the real world ones once my illness struck. Eventually, I found myself totally absorbed in this alternative world, barely a day could go by, physical and emotional stamina permitting, without at least a couple of hours “surfing”. Another advantage of surfing was the availability of bite size gobbets of information, on sundry topics, which fell within my concentration span; formerly an avid reader, the illness had taken away my ability to concentrate for any sustained period – measured in minutes rather than the previous hours.

Having once been an enthusiastic amateur photographer, the advent of affordable digital photography was another lifeline; no more worries about the cost of films and processing, I could now snap away to my hearts content both in the house and the garden and, swiftly edit the results. Hard copy prints were no longer of any great importance, the creativity was all.

Throughout this period, as stamina reserves fluctuatingly improved, I was able to allow the artistic muse back into my life and, on occasion was able to wrestle a new poem or painting into life. In more recent times, an increasing amount of time has been spent in the garden, generally pottering about and developing the wildlife garden end.

Painting, writing, photography, gardening, and even a bit of cooking, each makes its own demands on one’s time. I really don’t know how I ever found time to fit in any formal employment.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

lack of progress report

Frightening how the shatteredness persists, it's rather like I've reverted to a stage I thought I'd overcome. Room-spinning, legs collapsing, griping sense of nausea and feeling as if my bones are bruised from the inside. Hope it's just a passing trend!

All I can say is, thank God for the garden; just spent a pleasant hour alternatingly sitting on bench at back of house, seats beside the pond and the arbour seat, shuffles between them ably supported by a stout walking stick!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Of gardens, vaccinations and shatteredness

The big question is, do I have the stamina to complete this blog? It's not as if there's any necessity or urgency about it but, the effort may just manage to keep me awake. All in all, it's been rather a busy week in the garden and, for much of the effort the results aren't going to be visible until next spring; actually, I'm just hoping that the results will be visible when that season arrives! The hope is that there'll be wonderful displays of scilla siberica, English bluebells, double daffodils and even, a little later on, three varieties of honeysuckle.

Of the bulbs and plants that arrived this week, 20 bluebells, 38 scilla, 24 double daffodils, and three honeysuckle plants are now in situ, some in the wildlife garden area, others in the borders. A large container, which I'd thought would take some of the remainder, collapsed in the process of clearing out it's old vegetative inhabitants, so an alternative will have to be found. On top of that lot, I'm still awaiting delivery of some fragrant hostas and a few echinaceas, so I'll have to restore stamina levels somehow. Mind you, I should acknowledge the endeavours of my beloved who did an excellent job of clearing out a wildly invasive patch of mint, before I got around to transferring some of the compost bins compost to that area of the garden.

This morning, Helen's invaluable chauffering service was called for to ferry me to the doctors for my flu and pneumonia jabs; whilst at the surgery, I declined the opportunity to be allocated a swine-flu jab as I have reservations regarding both ethics and its efficacy. Come to that, I have more than a few misgivings about the whole pharmaceutical industry despite having benefitted from some of their products.

I'm afraid that cooking is out of the question this evening so, it will be one of those rare occasions when Sunday lunch is actually prepared on the day. I'm a little too shattered to trust myself with a kitchen knife at the moment!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Video : Preening Time

sparrows in shrubbery immediately behind the arbour seat - which serves as an improvised hide.

Monday, October 05, 2009

just messin' abaht! : owd John Bradleum

The devil finds work ... etc. ... etc. .. so, I was just messin' abaht and out popped this song from Breathless Mal ... it's a traditional song that I performed, in a school concert at Topcliffe CofE school, back in 1954. This time, I couldn't remember all the right words but, I spontaneously overcame that little difficulty!

blackbird at ground feeder

captured this brief footage, whilst stood at the kitchen door, this morning.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

suburban garden archaeology + note on IE8 abberation

Seeds sprouting, seeds rotting, seeds stagnating: mould growing, mould receding, even mould mouldering; rotting seeds fermenting: tufts; of sundry grasses, sucking the life out of deeper embedded seeds, weeds devouring weeds, layer upon layer of short-span history. There's something seedy about all of these lawn borders, wherever the bird feeding stations have been placed and / or removed..

Left untended, it's as if we have the layers within years (or even months) that human archaeology requres centuries for.


I'd already posted this on 'Mal's Murmurings' but thought I'd just add it here, in the hope that a new posting may resolve the problem with this particular blog's display in IE8 (whereby the Header 'False Dawn',on 27 September 2009, was followed by the text of my posting from 22August 2009 - originally headed 'Theme & Variations'. All other postings between 21 August 2009 and the present day failed to appear. When viewed in Firefox all the postings appear).

P.S. 7.36pm: Strangely this post appears in IE8 but, the aforementioned aberration persists. TO VIEW THIS PARTICULAR BLOG I RECOMMEND ANY BROWSER OTHER THAN INTERNET EXPLORER!

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Yesterday morning, bright sunshine greeted my emergence into day and, most unusually I was feeling wide awake long before 9.00AM; the general rule is that a state akin to wide awake is rarely [even half-heartedly] achieved by yours truly before 10.45AM! I even felt that my nights sleep had been of a refreshing variety, despite my having run two marathons in one day before getting lost in the centre of an unknown town, unable to find the loos. Dreams are certainly peculiar things!

How could I account for a good nights sleep, dream sequences notwithstanding ; the only aid I could think of was having partaken of an extra shot of macchiato at the Café Culture the preceding afternoon. Now there's a paradox!

Anyway, whatever the reason, this unusually early alertness continued throughout the morning, relatively pain and ache free [a most unusual ante meridian experience]. By late morning I was ready for a walk down to Waitrose with my beloved; the walk entails a 15 minute stretch along the Leeds Road before taking the tree-lined footpath across the stray, approx 7 minutes, and a further 5 minutes in the direction of the town centre. That's one helluva long exercise for me but, I managed it and, even enjoyed the walk back home.

All went well with the day until early evening, when an excruciating sense of despairing helplessness overwhelmed me, the sheer pointlessness of everything. The cause for that dramatic change; I'd started wondering how the hell I could get the tax people to sort out one of my pension providers who tax me on every penny even though, all other incomes having been taken into account, I have a further £3 ½ grand tax free allowance. I've never been averse to paying tax but, having completed endless forms, both prior and subsequent to attaining state pension age, no progress has been made on this front! [The pettiness of the issue is that the monthly payment is a mere £62 gross and I'm having £13 take away in tax each month – but when one feels shattered the whole issue takes on gargantuan proportions].

Even my preparation of the main course for Sunday lunch – always pre-prepared on Saturday evening – held no pleasure for me and, subsequent telly-gawping proved absolutely disastrous. The Vile Twins [that's not their stage name by the way] getting through the first stage of boot camp [we're talking X Factor here] made me quite apoplectic; if ever there was a case to be made for abortion, or even euthanasia, these twin contestants are it. Before their miraculous advance, I'd already declared that their advancement would sufficient to prove that there is no god, no evolution either for that matter!

A further cause of my general sense of irritating helplessness is the constant petty bitching experienced on all of the ME sites run by fellow ME sufferers; no wonder that no progress is being made. Doubtless the condition is a physical neurological one, of possibly viral origin, even though the vested interests of medical insurers and pharmacological industries are more than happy to support the psychologizers arguments.

Where my fellow sufferers find the stamina to continue with their virulent nit-picking squabbles is a mystery to me! I suspect that part of the problem is, by its extremely debilitating nature, this neurological ailment tends to breed a kind of re-active depression. Certainly, in my case, the onset of ME also found (or produced) a far more deep-rooted tetchiness than had been apparent as part my nature for the preceding decades.

Basically, I'm just a little pissed off and you, my dear readers, are the outflows recipients. This morning, my naggingly aching body, had to be forcibly removed from the duvet realm by a sheer effort of will. It seems like I'm almost back to normal.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Meanwhile on Mal's Factory

My most recent posting on my poetry weblog features a video - Twittering Garden, the occasion of which was a prompt for the poem Garden Paradox

MAL's FACTORY - Poetry & Prose Poems: Garden Paradox - Twittering Garden

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hypocrisy Runs Riot - a little rant

Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve not been feeling particularly well for the past few days or, it could quite simply be that I’ve rediscovered my sceptical roots; whatever is the case, the news has left me with little to rejoice about.

Superficially, the nuclear weapons non-proliferation agreement at the UN should be a cause for rejoicing but, as one who has constantly campaigned for unilateral disarmament, I find little to celebrate in the agreement. Hypocrisy runs riot.

We offer a meaningless reduction in our arsenal and, simultaneously, threaten further sanctions against Iran (though not by name) should it continue to develop these “weapons of mass destruction”. It seems so strange that our politicians, in defending our nuclear weapons, have always referred to them as a “deterrent” but, should anyone else want them they become weapons of mass destruction.

If they are a deterrent, we should urge every nation to stockpile them; if every nation has a deterrent then, surely, there’s even less chance of a war. But, of course, the argument goes on to wonder what would happen if tactical nuclear devices should fall into the hands of “terrorists”; mind you there’s rarely a mention of the terrorist state of Israel having these same weapons. However we look at it, the admission has been made that they offer no deterrence to terrorism, indeed – they pose perhaps an even greater terrorist threat.

We are constantly being told that “terrorism” is the biggest threat we face yet, we insist on maintaining and enhancing our useless nuclear defence systems at a cost of untold billions of pounds. The more nuclear devices that are in existence, the greater the chance of a terrorist getting hold of them.
It may be Obama’s greatest dream to have a nuclear free-world, why not make a start by destroying the existing stockpiles; I have no time for dreamers when they could be doing something practical!

Another news item is the American military’s development of a vaccine against AIDS. It comes as no real surprise that the military are working on this; in fact I’ve always suspected that the disease began as a germ warfare experiment that somehow got out of control!

There’s currently a fuss about sexist ageism at the BBC and a call being made for some female newsreaders over the age of 50 to be employed. I’ve yet to see a newsreader that is severely facially disfigured, or who has a speech impediment; come to that, do we have any newsreaders who suffer visibly from a major physical handicap? Where are the calls for these people to be represented? It would be good to have a newsreader who doesn’t sound like a representative of (that mythical) middle-England for that matter!

All the male newsreaders appear to be compulsive tie-wearers; where is the outcry? Surely there should be demands for a member of the non tie-wearing culture to be permitted to perform this hallowed duty!

Gosh; I feel much better now.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mal's Turnaround

Today's blog posting, Food, Drink and Gardening - a little more upbeat than yesterday's post - can be found on 'Mal's Murmurings'.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

the impossible is slightly difficult

Some things are just so difficult to explain that one just goes on with life, as best one can, unable to share their "different" experience of "normal" everyday activities. Some chronic conditions, even in their relatively moderate forms, can have the most devastating impact in terms of isolation; the combination of pain, sensory-overload - both auditory and visual (and the accompanying agitation and frustration) as well as an excruciating fatigue (caused by unrefreshing sleep patterns) are quite simply impossible to explain to anyone who has not been there and, together, they conspire to prevent much normal socializing!

Even when the worst symptoms are in some kind of remission, my coping mechanism has hardly returned to it's pre-illness state. There are times when, on a social outing, one feels they are going to explode in response to the immediate environmental activity - be it talking, music, lighting, or quite simply the presence of too many other bodies - then comes the difficult task of making one's "excuse" to depart early from the event.

Frequently I notice concerts, gigs, exhibitions etc that I'd like to attend but, I feel unable to pre-book ( even in my current reasonably well phase) as I'm never sure whether I will have the necessary physical and/or emotional stamina to cope come the day! Even when there's no requirement to pre-book, if an admission fee is involved it always seems an incredibly extravagant outlay bearing in mind that, in all likelihood, I will be ready to leave (unable to stay the course) whilst the event is still in progress. At the recent farewell party for the local vicar, it was amazing to be able to sustain concentration for that part of the entertainment I managed to cope with. My recent visit to Liverpool was a different experience altogether when I wasn't "up to" attending any of the exhibitions I hoped to see, or even dining out at a restaurant in close proximity to the inn where we were staying.

I am blessed in obtaining so much satisfaction from spending time in the garden, watching the avian activity, taking photos and videos etc., playing about on the PC, painting and writing as and when urge and stamina are in sync. I've become, in the process a contented homebird! On many occasions I'm able to manage a short walk but, even that activity has its own little idiosyncracies. This afternoon I took a little walk, at a somewhat slower pace than my recent norm; as I tried to speed up it seemed as if the lower limbs hydraulics were in serious need of an oil change; each movement required a conscious effort, as if I was required to lift my feet from some kind of cloying quicksand. And that was on, what had earlier seemed, a "better" day.

I have no desire to be a Moaning Minnie, it's just that I wanted to try and share something of that which I deemed, at the outset, to be impossible.

The Young Visitor

juvenile goldfinch on Nyjer seed feeder
(click on image to view larger version)

This young visitor, to our garden, kindly allowed me to observe his/her feeding activity from a distance of two feet.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Mal's Mysteries

The Unfathomable Fantail Mystery ... can be found on 'Mal's Murmurings'

a joyous experience

Today is another wonderful unique day. The question is, do I feel better because of my attitude or, is my attitude different because I'm feeling better? I suspect that without the latter it would be virtually impossible to activate the former; mind over matter can only go a small way. For more than 90% of the time my outlook is positive, it's only reality that gets in the way and causes me to stumble.

This morning I sat in the shower and positively wallowed in the experience. A short while later I decided to venture down to 'Open Church', for coffee and a chat and, guess what; as I walked down the road one leg moved in front of the other in a seemingly effortless manner. It's an amazing thing this walking business, enabling one to get from point A to point B whilst, simultaneously, breathing in the air!

Breathing, that's another little miracle, inhale a complex of elements and exhale those not required; it seems like you get rid of all the crap with the minimum of conscious input. The whole process of walking and breathing feels like something worthy of celebration rather than being taken for granted. Having experienced some days when the necessary effort of taking a deep breath becomes a rather irksome task and, the movement of lower limbs causes considerable discomfort, makes it much easier to appreciate how wonderful a state of (relatively) healthy normality really is.

Walking down the road, reciprocating smiles with unknown passers-by, can be such a joyous experience.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Best Laid Plans

Monday 31 August

Although it's the thought that counts, that very thought can militate against one; I suppose it's something to do with "the best laid plans ..." And did those thoughts and plans backfire, on my poor long-suffering beloved; not everyone can turn an 80-90 mile trip into a distance more akin to 200 miles, partly attributable to road maps being scattered over a few separate pages of an atlas - spatial sense is shown for the feminine virtue it truly is - and her desire to save me the stress of going via the M62, far from my favourite stretch of road.

Having travelled for best part of two hours, I suddenly became aware that we weren't passing through any of the urban villages (of Lancashire) that I'd anticipated; rural idylls (of both Yorkshire and Cumbria) were the order of the day but, having taken this pleasant alternative route we reached the M6 at a point from which our destination goal wasn't much less of a distance away than it had been at the outset of our journey. (As aforementioned, all of this was the result of Helen's best intention to avoid the much loathed M62 route). For the first several miles on the motorway it was difficult to exceed 25mph, the slowest part of the journey so far.

The one thing of which we were certain was that we now had to head down as far as junction 26 and the M58; so far so good. Just for confirmation we switched on the satnav - destination address already programmed in and, this is where the real fun began. We missed a turn at which our destination was a mere 5.5 miles away and, as the amazing technological device re-planned our route, within a matter of minutes it was a mere 12 miles away. Further down the route we passed a familiar landmark which we knew to be within a few minutes drive of our destination but, the satnav would have none of it! A further twenty-five minutes down the line the satnav continued its wild goose chase eventually telling us that we'd reached our suburban destination when reality demonstratively disclosed the fact that we were actually in the city centre, Liverpool 1 and not Liverpool 19. We'd already been forced to make a few U-turns, and other probably illicit moves, having been directed wrong way into one way streets etc. ... etc ...

Eventually, we arrived at the Innkeepers Lodge, moved in our cases, before venturing around to visit Kathleen, Helen's step-mum, which was a simple ten minutes walk. No navigational problems there but, exhaustion had set in for this bad traveller. The walk back to the hotel proved a little more perilous; through heavy lidded eyes each road, strreet, avenue appeared much the same and my intuitive compass had gone on strike. That's when the dreaded panic set in; chest tightening, breath taking, muscle-spasming painfulness kicked in and all I wanted was to be back home! To be honest, home is the only place and sensation that I really care for; the idea of a break away being relaxing is anathema.

Tuesday 01 September

Taking advantage of a generous breakfast, included in the room price, necessitated me getting up from my bed to walk at a rather earlier hour than has been my norm over recent days. Cereal, probiotic yoghurt, fruit juice, toast, pain au chocolat ... who could ask for anything more; well perhaps a doggy bag was in order to sustain us in that large interval between breakfast and evening meal. Having allowed twenty minutes for breakfast to settle, off we went to Kathleens once again for a little chat and the opportunity to take a few snapshots and a little bit of video-ing. We were back to the inn shortly after 11.30AM, in my case for a much needed rest and, for my beloved, a chance to catch up on some reading. There are definitely some exhibitions at Liverpool's Tate Gallery but, at this stage my reserves of both physical and emotional stamina are still a little battle scarred from yesterday's adventures.

Who knows what the rest of the day will bring but, I am looking forward to a meal at Mad Harrys this evening (technically it's the 'Madhari Tandoori Restaurant' but it's a name that becomes affectionate in my accidental(?) pronunciation)! Mad Harrys is directly opposite to the main door of our temporary habitation. Last night we ate at the Toby Carvery, adjacent to the lodge where we are staying, where I enjoyed a baked sea bass along with a generosity of self service potatoes and vegetables. I even decided a Yorkshire pudding would make an interesting additional accompaniment. Meantime, my beloved settled for the carvery turkey.


Once more the best laid plans were destined not to be; the rest of the day turned out to be a devastatingly tortuous non-event. Severe muscular and abdominal discomfort led to an all pervasive sense of nausea though, come late afternoon / early evening went out for a little fresh air in the hope of reviving or creating some semblance of an appetite. The effort was to little avail. No sooner had we seated ourselves in the Indian Restaurant than the sense of nausea returned with a vengeance; at least we were able to leave before we'd had a chance to place an order. My only desire was to be back home in Harrogate whilst simulataneously the thought of making the journey was far too much to cope with.

Most of the day and evening was spent in totally restless attempts to rest. Somehow my biological clock can't cope with dramatic changes such as arising from my bed before mid-to-late morning but, it had seemed necessary to partake of breakfast (at an unearthly early hour) as I felt the need to obtain something in return for the nightly room fee. I did manage a pint of Thwaites 'Bomber' in the afternoon, sweet upfront with a sustained dry bitterness lingering on the palate, a much more satisfying drink than the Long Shadow Chardonnay, of the previous evening, which turned out to be flavoursomely oak laden at the beginning but, became an unremittingly tedious monotony before the glass was half-finished.

Wednesday 2 September

After a night of intermittent sleep, I managed to pluck up the courage to take a shower. Whilst in no way considering myself disabled, it suddenly occurred to me that I had quite a high degree of dependence on the shower seat at home whereas here, no such luxury was afforded. So, short and sweet showerlette was in order and, I emerged marginally refreshed to venture across to the carvery for breakfast.

This evening we'll be ambling around to Kathleens for dinner; the trip to scouseland proves worthwhile if only for the opportunity to visit Helen's stepmum but I doubt that I could cope with a visit to the Tate or even a more local gallery. Even when one is feeling relatively better than had been the case for a few years, ventures away from the familiar homestead prove a testing ground too far.


As I shuffled from chair to door, my wearily aching lower limbs decided that an occasional knee tendon spasm, and buckling from the knee, was an ideal way to restore my confidence. That's the point when we remembered that I'd not brought any of my walking sticks with me. My beloved popped down to the bar to see if, by any chance, there was a spare walking stick available and, managed to obtain an umbrella of appropriate length to proffer some support (an item of unclaimed lost property). This enabled me to get out for a little stroll in reasonably close proximity to the inn.

Late afternoon found us once more at Kathleens, to enjoy an evening meal.

Thursday 3 September

With the desire to get home by the quickest route possible, decided it was worth risking a trip along the M62, succesfully relying on the satnav to discern the best exit strategy for a comfortable journey home. My only panic attack occurred within one mile of our departure point, when abdominal and chest muscles once more militated against common-sense. Helen suggested we head back to the inn but, common-sense prevailed and, the desire to get home, in spite of immediate terrifying discomfort, was much greater than the need for instant relief! Once we hit the dreaded motorway, the symptoms were soon ameliorated.

The delight of reaching home, in a mere couple of hours, bore witness to the greatest transfiguration since Jesus met the two old geezers on the mount! How wonderful to smile freely once again.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Time Consumption

It's just so amazing how time-consuming doing nothing can be! Actually, when one takes account, it's remarkable how much one actually gets done whilst they think they're doing nothing; cooking a few meals, pottering around the garden, creating a new website and modifying the old, writing a couple of poems, feeding the fish. Quite frankly, I'm surprised that I found the time to do all that in the midst of doing nowt!

Geocities having given up their free hosting service, Webring very kindly transferred my original Geocities site to their free hosting space. Bravenet have now decided to go the same way - in their case limiting the amount of webspace to 5MB. As I have several free sites on Bravenet, (Mal's Paintings, HelMals Garden, HelMals Bravehost, Mals Poetry etc.), it seemed easier to pay up and keep them all online, as well as setting up a revamped version of our Luv4Sinners site on my very own domain (that's something I've never bothered with before). New Luv4Sinners.

Due to my usual impatience, I can't promise that everything's done right and, having prepared the new site on my laptop I (at last moment) discovered that the display was hopeless on Internet Explorer even though it displayed correctly on Firefox so, adjustments were called for and, I suddenly found the situation had reversed. Minor irregularities apart, I decided it was time to upload the site, utilizing my very own domain, as it was. I'm quite fond of its home-made appeal anyway, I'm too busy to await perfection. You can tell that it was done on the hoof as one or two individual pages would have been better placed in the relevant section but, I had to hurry back to my busy doing nothing phase; just as well it's not a commercial venture!

As I've been so busy doing nothing this posting may appear on another blog as well (different readerships you know, but this site is the most select!).

Friday, August 28, 2009

WoT anomalies?

No doubt the WoT (Web of Trust) is a useful(?) browser plug-in, giving ratings and warnings for various websites but, it certainly proves perplexing at times. I receive a daily e-mail from The Guardian and, I'm always surprised to find that all the links are accompanied by a red circle (of danger). When I click the link to read an article of interest, I'm invariably greeted by a WoT warning page, "This is a bad site .... are you sure you want to continue" (or words to that effect). On reaching the page the browser is always marked with a green circle (safe, trustworthy etc.) I've tried to give my rating to the Guardian pages, via their warning page, to be greeted with a message "oops, something seems to have gone wrong". I'm puzzled; how does a 'dangerous' site suddenly become a 'safe' one by the simple expedient of visiting it?

This example makes me wonder about the safety of the sites that they declare to be safe; is it worth using this application at all?

Another little anomaly I've found, this time with IE8, my surfing being done using either / both Firefox and IE, is that when I close IE8 it's not unusual to be greeted with the message that IE has stopped working and they'll try to find a solution to the problem. Surely, in these instances, the real problem would be if it didn't shut down!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Creepy Apologists

Don't you just hate it when, each time violence erupts at or after a football match, the apologists creep out of the woodwork to state that "these (hooligans) are not football fans!"

I'm definitely not a football fan and, I deplore the accusation that it's people like me that cause the violence.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I'm greatly surprised; "the system's actually working" (he says touching wood, and holding a lucky rabbit's foot - well maybe the rabbit wasn't so lucky!).

Over the past couple of days I've been experiencing as much downtime, so far as internet connectivity is concerned, as full connectivity yet, my ISPs (Virgin Media) status report suggests there are no problems. I've run checks on both laptops and PCs using both wireless and ethernet connections, even bypassing the router with the latter but, the problems keep recurring. [Strangely the ISP does report intermittent e-mail outages but, not any broadband downtime!]

Perhaps the problem is extremely localized; whatever is the case, the high proportion of downtime tends to bring me down with it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Hummingbirds Foundation for M.E. (HFME)

Just wanted to share this exciting news:

*Please repost widely* *Please repost widely* *Please repost widely* *Please
repost widely* *Please repost widely*

This month A Hummingbirds' Guide to M.E. makes way for a new organisation:
The Hummingbirds' Foundation for M.E.

See below for details!


A new international, uncompromising Myalgic Encephalomyelitis charity has
been created!

The Hummingbirds' Foundation for M.E. (HFME) is a new international M.E.
charity (founded by Jodi Bassett).

The HFME's mission statement:

"The HFME is dedicated to fighting for the recognition of Myalgic
Encephalomyelitis based on the available scientific evidence, and for
patients worldwide to be treated appropriately and accorded the same basic
human rights as those with similar disabling and potentially fatal
neurological diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis."

As many of you know all too well, the situation facing M.E. patients
continues to worsen.

It is so rare to read information purely about M.E. any more, that doesn't
mix in a large amount of 'CFS' misinformation. Flawed concepts such as
'ME/CFS' and 'subgroups of CFS or ME/CFS' are also unfortunately gaining

No matter how you look at it, it seems that it will be impossible for us to
make any progress with M.E. advocacy without some more uncompromising
advocacy groups.

The HFME is not only a genuine and uncompromising voice for M.E. patients
but also speaks up on behalf of all those patients misdiagnosed with 'CFS'
who have other diseases, and who also deserve a chance at correct diagnosis
and appropriate treatment finally.

M.E. patients and patients misdiagnosed with 'CFS' who have non-M.E.
diseases need to, and can, work together to achieve common goals. Fighting
for the bogus disease category of 'CFS' to be abandoned benefits all patient

The HFME acts in response to facts, logic and ethics. There is no other
agenda than helping all the patient groups involved to finally be treated
justly and in a scientific and ethical manner, and accorded the same basic
human rights those with many other diseases take for granted.

I hope you will want to be a part of this new initiative. Most involved are
very ill and disabled, and so we need a large amount of people to become
involved and to each contribute the small amount of time and effort that
they can spare, for this to work.

Even though many of us are very ill, we can move mountains if we each
contribute what little we can and work together with integrity and
intelligence. (Friends and family members of patients etc. are also of
course welcome to participate too.)

Please email me (Jodi Bassett) for details.

Paid membership in HFME is not yet available, but will be available soon.
The organisation of the foundation is still in the early stages, although
the HFME website is now complete.

To view the new Hummingbirds' Foundation for M.E. website, or to learn more
about the HFME, please go to:


What are the aims of the HFME?

*To disseminate scientifically accurate information on Myalgic
Encephalomyelitis (M.E.) to M.E. patients; to their carers, family and
friends; to the medical profession and other professions which deal with
M.E. patients; to policy makers; to M.E. advocates and activists and to the
general public as per the paper What is Myalgic Encephalomyelitis? and as
further discussed in HFME.

*To oppose false and meaningless disease categories such as 'CFS,' 'CFIDS,'
'ME/CFS,' 'CFS/ME,' 'ME-CFS' and Myalgic 'Encephalopathy' as per the papers
What is Myalgic Encephalomyelitis? and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is not
fatigue, or 'CFS' and as further discussed in HFME.

*To defend the M.E. community (and those with non-M.E. diseases misdiagnosed
with 'CFS') from counter-productive 'activism' strategies such as renaming
'CFS' with some variation of the term M.E.

*To promote appropriate research based on proper understanding of M.E., and
to oppose flawed concepts such as the 'subgroups' of 'CFS' or 'ME/CFS'

*To be a voice for those suffering from M.E. who are facing mistreatment and
abuse due to the false notion that M.E. is the same thing as 'CFS' and is a
trivial illness or a mental illness characterised by 'fatigue.'

*To be a voice for all those patients misdiagnosed with 'CFS' who do not
have M.E., but other illnesses including: cancer, fibromyalgia, various
post-viral fatigue syndromes, athlete's over-training syndrome, Lyme
disease, Behcet's disease, PTSD, depression and other mental illnesses,
burnout, thyroid or adrenal diseases, various vitamin-deficiency diseases,
and so on. To encourage each of these patients to reject their 'CFS'
misdiagnosis and seek a correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment,

*To enlist the help of human rights groups, medical professionals and the
quality media to help to achieve the above stated goals as is their
obligation and duty. (A duty that has unfortunately been almost completely
ignored for the last 20 years, with a few notable exceptions).

This is a summary of the full text. To see the full list of aims, and a
discussion of the reason for each aim, please see:


HFME shirts and badges etc. are now available at Cafepress

Lots of different items are available featuring the HFME logo, to help
spread the word.

Check out:


What will happen to the old HGME website?


website will be maintained for some years to

It is no longer appropriate that the main website (the HFME site) also serve
as my personal site and feature and sell my artwork and so on, so this site
will become my personal website. A small number of minor pages of the HFME
website will continue to be hosted on this site however due to the huge
amount of work required to transfer over every single page (this applies
almost wholly to research and article pages by featured authors). The site
will also host redirection notices for one year. The site will also feature
a small amount of information about M.E. taken directly from the HFME site,
in order to educate anyone who comes to the site about M.E. and the HFME,
and to direct them to the HFME website and the work of the HFME.

Please update all links and bookmarks accordingly. Webmasters please note
that redirection notices will only be left up on the HGME website for one
year (until July 2010). Apologies for the inconvenience.


I hope you are as excited about this new venture as I am and I hope you will
want to play a part in the HFME and the setting up of the HFME.

I hope you will help to spread the word about the HFME as much as you can.

Best wishes everyone,
Jodi Bassett
The Hummingbirds' Foundation
for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Theme & Variations

Yesterday the Café, today the Bistro, hope you enjoy reading about how the other half lives! The day, for me, started rather agonizingly slowly; customary pains and spasms in the lower limbs had found themselves some co-operative companions in the form of aching upper limbs and congested head and torso. Sleep had been so badly needed that it proved hard to come by; relaxation was required but stress was all that was available, stress not of a psychological-emotional variety but rather an uncooperative body.

Exhaustion proved such that I forgot to take the pain-killers yet, without these mind and body were unwilling to function in any manner that one would like to consider normal. Eventually, after 13 hours of bed restlessness, it required a great deal of effort to greet the early post-meridian sun. Only when pain cancelling medication had been taken was any degree of wakefulness apparent. An early afternoon bowl of cereal set me up for a little venture out into the garden, a place where I really feel at home and fully alive.

Contrary to the popular saying about the devil finding work for idle hands, in my experience it’s a garden that performs this task. (Of course, some would see that as the abode of the serpent hence proving the folk sayings credentials). There’s always a little task to perform in terms of pruning, re-arranging or general tidying up and, today was no exception. Strangely, the requisite effort seemed to re-vitalize me, even to the extent of venturing, loppers in hand, into next doors garden where several branches of our wayward shrubs and trees had seen fit to trespass. A few mugs of Earl Grey proved an invaluable aid to the performance of these duties.

By late afternoon, appetite aroused, I led my beloved by the hand to our local Crepes & Crocs Bistro at ‘The Milepost’, in time to take advantage of their Early Bird Menu. We both enjoyed a fishcake starter, served on a bed of green salad with a sweet lightly spiced sauce. For the main course I settled for the Toulouse Sausage and Mash, whilst my OH had the Fish Pie, sharing a side dish of garlic beans between us. To add to the sense of occasion we enjoyed a bottle of Loire Sauvignon to whet the palate.

On our return home, culinary chores beckoned as I prepared my own variant Country French chicken casserole dish in readiness for our Sunday lunch. Currently we’ve settled down to watch the 1944 film, “Farewell My Lovely” the overture to BBC4’s weekend of film noir. Adorable company and a decent movie, what more can anyone wish for? Perhaps a glass of Chardonnay!