Saturday, 31 December 2016

May The Universe Treat You Kindly

Once more The Two Faced God Janus is imposing his implacable will upon us, pointing his cosmic finger forward, propelling us through the doors of time whether we are ready or not.   there's no avoiding his imperative, his command is non elective, 2017 is upon us and he will prevail.   

After sixty five new year's eves the speed with which a year passes still leaves me breathless and unprepared, unsettled that another year of a finite life is slipping into history never to be retrieved.   what happened in 2016 stays in 2016, the salutory and the injurious.  not a single regretted instance or word can be revoked, it's all there preserved as if in amber, as are the more noble moments though if i were to be honest the former probably outweigh the latter.

2016 has been a year of losses and gains just like every year experienced by us mortals.   only the gods can declare a door opens onto joy without pain, only Janus controls beginnings without endings, and Janus is a concept not a representation of reality.   humanity has to accept that we have short lives into which sun will shine, rain must fall, and in between will be rainbows promising hope for a better tomorrow.

Would you indulge me as i wish all my family and  friends a Blessed New Year.   may those who believe feel God more closely through the next 365 days, during the good times and the bad.  for the secular i hope the universe treats you kindly and balances the fates.   for you all....   THANK YOU for your love and care, your support and kindness, above all for your friendship as these rare treasures are the only things we carry with us from one year to the next.

A thousand ages in thy sight 
are like an evening gone; 
short as the watch that ends the night 
before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream, 
bears all its sons away; 
they fly, forgotten, as a dream 
dies at the opening day.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Two Thousand Years Of Wrong

It came upon the midnight clear,

That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold;
“Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From Heav’n’s all-gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

  1. Yet with the woes of sin and strife
    The world has suffered long;
    Beneath the angel strain have rolled
    Two thousand years of wrong;
    And man, at war with man, hears not
    The love-song which they bring;
    Oh, hush the noise, ye men of strife
    And hear the angels sing.

Many misconceptions, endless assumptions, too many cultural misrepresentations, masses of historical ambiguities peppered with nebulous presumptions.... that's one definition of the origins of Christmas.   it's also a description of the reign of the dinosaurs.   when we are uncertain of the past we have a tendency to fill it with our own experiences and expectations (whoever knew dinosaurs had feathers not scales?  we were taught they were simply giant lizards.)  it's this tendency that makes us human not raptor..... and that we prefer our turkey cooked not raw.

Does it matter that this Christ-mas we celebrate is full of uncertainty and ambivalence?  that the few facts we do know have been as fancifully embellished as King Arthur and Camelot?   deconstruct a traditional Christmas card and you will find very little that doesn't owe it's genesis to a large dollop of imagination and early European art.

Does it matter that the rare historical certainties we do have are brushed aside because of their darkness?   a child born homeless in an enemy occupied territory, the mass killing of baby boys by a paranoid tyrant afraid of losing his power, a family fleeing for their lives to a strange country and culture doesn't make for a pretty scene on the mantelpiece does it?  a little too close to our world's current reality perhaps?   so yes.... it does matter because in prettifying the nativity we strip it of it's humanity and create a myth that challenges nothing and nobody.   but.... if in the boy Jesus we see the face of a displaced refugee, the desolate chill of a slum child, the stigma of illegitimacy, the precarity of homelessness then maybe we would be compelled to act and that's not comfortable when compared with a snowy scene of baby barnyard  animals and an infant who "no crying makes".

So no matter how, or if, you celebrate.  whether you are alone or surrounded by merriment, honour God Incarnate  or Santa, are blessed with plenty or struggling with deficit, perhaps it would be worthwhile taking time to remember that not much has changed in two thousand years and the only hope of transforming our world lies with each one of us embarking on revolution in our homes, work places, friendships, a revolution of forgiveness and love.   we can't undo two thousand years of wrong but we can commit to a year of doing better.   then perhaps we would find the true meaning of a Season Of Goodwill To All Men.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Lion or Lamb?

There she sat, a tiny lady snugged in a shawl with her silky, silver hair neatly permed, paper fine skin  creased at the corner of her eyes, a humbug sucking, Catherine Cookson reading, sweet as cherry pie great, great grandmother.   i had been visiting regularly for quite some time when i realised she never spoke of friends past or present.   assuming it was because  advanced age had stolen company away by attrition i was hesitant to say anything.... until Christmas came around. apart from immediate family there were no cards, no phone calls, no visits, no gifts, nothing from the families of old friends, her universe was empty.

Intrigued i began asking gentle questions about her life when younger and knowing she had lived in the same small village all her life dropped in the names of people i was meeting as a newcomer.   the mystery was solved in one enlightening conversation that went something like this;
"I met Wilhelmina for the first time today."

"Don't speak to me about that woman, don't ever mention her name in this house again.  she doesn't exist to me, if i pass her in the street i turn my face to the wall."

"I'm sorry i didn't know.  what happened ?".... looong pause

".......i don't remember."

"When did you fall out?"


This conversation was repeated when i mentioned Gladys, Gertrude, George, Henrietta, Henry and on and on and on......

The irony was that Wilhelmina and Henrietta et al weren't concerned in the slightest as they were too busy enjoying life with friends, going for coffees, days out, chatting on street corners, being involved, being sociable, being happy.   that's the thing with grudge keeping, eventually it doesn't hurt the grudgee who moves on,  it hurts the grudger who can end up alone and embittered.   forgiveness benefits both as it bestows freedom to form new friendships and sometimes even reconciliation.

Of course, forgiveness has it's limits.   if a lion bites off your right hand the animal doesn't deserve to be euthanised as it's simply doing what lions do, but you aren't obliged to offer it your left hand for dessert, if you are sensible you will make sure your appendages are safely tucked out of sight until the lion is tamed.   as my mother, who was the epitome of grace, used to say  "i can overlook one much, i can forgive two much, but three much is too much."

I'm not saying all who decline company at this time of year are malcontents,  those of us who are gregarious of nature need to be accepting of our more introverted brethren and not exert pressure to conform to our idea of fun.  if  Christmas by the fire with a book or movie for company rocks your boat then that's a perfectly acceptable way to celebrate. solitude needn't equal isolation, aloneness isn't the same as loneliness, privacy isn't necessarily privation, some simply prefer a simpler, quieter existence. it's absolutely fine to to batten down the hatches and seek the safety of a celebration free season if that's what a soul needs and wants, but it's sad to be alone as a result of alienating the universe and it's inhabitants by our attitudes and intolerance.   

Sometimes all it takes to mend a rift, especially where both parties aren't even sure what sundered the relationship in the first place,  is a reason to make the initial approach and this supposed Season of Goodwill is the perfect excuse.   if there's somebody out there who you would like to try again with, send a card, make a "friend" request on Facebook, contrive to bump into each other near a coffee shop, take the risk.   BUT if that person is a lion and you are still missing your right arm think twice before extending the left in friendship.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Daredevil Dreams

"I'm supposed to say 'i don't miss it'.   that's what they teach you in trauma recovery.   define yourself by what you have, value the differences, make no apologies for what you lack.   and it's all true.... for the most part,  but it doesn't change the fact.... that i'd give anything to see the sky one more time."

Thus spake the protagonist in Marvel's Daredevil series.   Blinded in a chemical spillage when aged 9, our handsome anti-hero gains superpowers in abundance to compensate for his loss of sight and grows up to become a vigilante, righting wrongs, beating baddies into submission, fighting like a ninja on steroids, standing up for the oppressed and rescuing damsels in distress.   yet despite all this gifting and adventure our superhero misses something as simple as the sky.

Disability and chronic illness involve so many compromises, accommodations, huge inconveniences, whether financial or social, that sometimes the small losses are overlooked or forgotten altogether in the daily battle to live as normally as possible.   who would have thought that whilst staving off villains and saving victims our Marvel Man would yearn to look up and watch clouds drifting against a sea of blue.

Unfortunately us mere mortals don't have the luxury of miraculous talents or super-senses to help compensate for loss,  we have to counteract the deficit by exerting extra energy or focus, utilising the skills that remain at our disposal, harnessing gizmos or technology, and when all else fails finding the humility to hire a helper to achieve tasks that once were managed in moments.  these are our super powers, mundane but necessary, unexceptional but essential.

Of course the disabled don't hold a monopoly on loss and in many ways we are better supported than our able bodied cousins, but perhaps what makes it harder for us is the  powerlessness.  Our dashing Daredevil doesn't NEED the white stick and shades he hides his identity behind, he is more "abled" than the sighted city around him.   sensing through walls, hearing conversations in distant streets , smelling to the atomic level, visualising through finger tips.... yet, he is powerless to do anything to bring about his one heartfelt wish, there is absolutely nothing he can do to see again.    
The trauma recovery and pain clinic lessons are right to focus on what we have retained rather than lost, maximising strengths and minimising weakness, being more interested in those around us than dwelling on health or pain.  but the converse of that equation is also true, there ARE good things we have had to relinquish and at times there's no harm in acknowledging that lack.  acknowledge - accept - advance.  it's hard not to resent losing faculties and being reliant on others to have a "life". it's human to want freedom of movement and independence, even our super-human Daredevil wasn't ashamed to admit he missed the sky. but.... we are free to dream, and in  my dreams i not only run again....

                                                  I   FLY  !!!!

Thursday, 13 October 2016

A Universe In a Room

Living in a supported housing complex surrounded by a number of very elderly can be very educational.   it's like being on probation in Limbo, a preparation time before launching into my own twilight years. perhaps gaining a little insight into what's ahead might help avoid a few of the potential pitfalls.  understandably some personality types are happiest approaching the snares and dangers of the future in blinkered ignorance, perhaps not thinking about the scary stuff until there's no avoiding it prevents unnecessary sleepless nights. others have a deep need to set out with compass, flashlight and flask, orienteering style, in order to map the path ahead and signpost the soggy boggy bits that could trip up the unwary. neither is right or wrong, simply different ways of walking into the unknown and emerging reasonably unscathed on the other side.  i am firmly of the boy scout variety and can cope with almost anything when following the adage "be prepared", it's surprises that snag my feet and pull me down into the quagmire.

A vital lesson has been to discover that the happiest people are those who have maintained a hobby or activity well towards the end of life, something that engages the mind and hands when the rest of the body fails. a focus through the long days that maintains the interest and feeds the creative soul.   it matters little that as memory and energy flag the work or book sits in the lap untended for the most part, that it exists seems to be enough to raise the head and draw attention away from inner turmoil, also a topic to chat about with the odd visitor when the walls crowd in and the only excitement of the day is dinner.

So what, i wonder, will be my redeeming pastimes?   perhaps having lost freedom to disability reasonably young will give a head start in establishing healthy habits. hopefully there will still be a furry creature for entertainment as it's increasingly recognised that the housebound have better wellbeing if they have an animal to look after.   few can fail to find amusement in the antics of a playful cat or companionship in the eyes of a loving mutt?   both my cats would visit elderly neighbours and suffer their ears being rubbed by callused, arthritic hands, curling up by the side of a chair and purring to raise a smile, filling the emptiness for a time.   

On rare occasions, i succumb to a "duvet day", ignore the door bell, put the universe on standby and fester in my pit.   if for any reason this became a default position i could command a Fortune 100 business from my pillows, no chance of boredom setting in when within reach of the bed are the tools for world domination, books, computer, movies, radio, music, journals, letter writing implements, phone, internet, Facebook and of course a four footed friend.  all that's needed is a coffee machine.... hmmmm now that's an idea !!!   perhaps this is an unconscious, embryonic plan for the future, establishing a functioning, interesting existence within the confines of four walls.  the ability to touch the world, communicate with family and friends, be educated and entertained, express opinion and hear others, buy, sell, barter, read, watch, listen.   

A universe in a room !!!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Only A Month Ago

Just four weeks ago i was grieving the loss of both my feline friend of fifteen years and the jungle that was charitably called a garden by neighbours.  the absence of both is still rather raw and i miss the easy dance that Mr Cat and i had evolved over the years. he dictating the clauses of our coexistence and i avoiding the clawses when momentarily forgetting his supremacy.

As is the way with all losses the immediacy is dimming and adjustments are unconsciously being made daily.  the new garden is growing, though it looks sparse and spindly, and a furry called Fred is soaking up the sun on the chair so recently vacated by his predecessor.   life moves on and if we don't move with it we become like a needle stuck in a groove, repeating the same bars over and over again until all within earshot are rendered tone deaf by the refrain.  Or we sink so deep into the emptiness that the tendrils of The Dark wrap themselves around our ankles and drag us into the abyss.  when younger i wasted too many years, and damaged too many relationships, wandering steeped in sadness and refuse to take the road that leads that way again.
To fill the Mr Cat shaped hole in my home a Cats Protection vagrant called Fred who needed fostering has moved in for a couple of months. he was found starving, homeless, with a small, independent favela nation of fleas living in his fur.   my task is to feed him up, build him up, then talk him up so he finds a forever home.   he and Mr are as yin and yang, day and night, sun and stars, Laurel and Hardy.   where Mr was a white, fluffy, volatile, antisocial whirlwind of teeth and talon, Fred is a slinky black panther who seems to have a bottomless well of affection to share and a purr that would drown out the space shuttle Challenger's booster rockets.... i can even GROOM HIS TUMMY !!!

If the universe had a re-set switch i wouldn't hesitate to turn back the clock four weeks to the time when a Mr Cat and a mature green space were mine to enjoy, but the universe doesn't give us that option we can only go in one direction, always forwards, forever onward.  losses are unavoidable unless we abdicate from humanity but how we deal with them.... now, that is within our command.  as the wonderful writer Barbara Johnson, who experienced more tragedy in her life than you and i can conceive, said :   "suffering is inevitable, misery is optional so stick a geranium in your hat and be happy".

Monday, 12 September 2016

Kindness In Sadness

It was my fault.... i caused The Great Hexham Blackout, all twelve hours of it.  well, my garden did.... or if you want to be pedantic, the mains cable that runs through the garden of my flat, via the road leading to my cul-de-sac did.  and the evidence is captured above for all to see.... behold my ex-garden, in which is buried my ex-cat.

The universe decided a Bank Holiday Monday was a good day to wake jeni to a world without power, a trench where once grass, shrubs and all things green grew in abundance and a moggie meeting it's Maker.   losses that could be classed as minimal in a world where nation is at war with nation, natural disaster flattens entire towns and multitudes are sick and dying of preventable diseases.   minimal to many, but not to the individual at  the centre of the maelstrom.  it was a day when my commitment to positivity was tested and almost found to be inadequate.... almost.   
There is a misconception commonly held about optimistic people that they are emotionless or out of touch with their deeper selves, that they simply don't "feel" as much as other people.   of course, i can only speak for myself but.... NOT TRUE !!!   ask those who saw the tears dripping off my chin if this  putative positive person showed cold eyed, sociopathy  when Mr Cat joined the Mouse Master In The Sky, was reincarnated as a sabre tooth or simply added nutrients to the soil depending on your philosophy.   it's not that we have lives without heartache, it's  that we work hard to find some glimmer of hope in the midst of darkness to help offset the pain.

On that Monday morning the catharsis came in the shape of The Great British Workman.   when their mini digger came trundling round the bend the solution to the conundrum of where to put little Mister Cat was solved.  they dug a cat sized hole, gently took him from my arms, tucked his favourite blanket round him and lay him down to rest.   these big, tough, burly men all downed tools and stood silently at the barrier as the soil was, oh so gently, nudged back into place.   a child pulled from the rubble of an earthquake shattered village couldn't have been afforded more dignity.   they then found a large, round, leaf embossed slab and placed it on top of him to mark the spot.  

It will take a couple of years for my garden to return to it's lush, jungle like previous incarnation and i will miss the private little oasis it had become.  it will take much longer for the Mister Cat shaped hole in my heart to fill despite fostering homeless furries.  but when i look back on that cheerless Monday i have a choice of what to focus on and speak about.   i can allow the losses to take precedence and drag me down by the roots, into the depths or i can remember the kindness of those big men shown to a stranger, smile and be thankful.     

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Nine And A Half Lives

Fourteen years ago, this little cutie looked more like the bruiser below......

Don't believe me....? leave a comment at the bottom of the page, there are plenty of people reading this blog who will enlighten you, and if their vision has faded with the years their olfactory memory wont fail them.  when he entered my flat via the fire escape the stink announced him !!!   green slime hung like kudzu from his tail and the ears had edges reminiscent of a Scandinavian coastline.

He wasn't a cutie by character either, more a collection of violent neuroses with fangs.  a bemused veterinary student asked why i kept caring in the face of repeated attacks.  the response bubbled up unsought.... "i can see the cat he could become if given the chance."   throughout my life i had used up a host of chances so how to refuse this scrap of rejected fluff.   my scratched legs would heal.
And they did..... though the scars remain. his many wounds, both physical and emotional, took much longer.  it was easy to forgive his random onslaughts by remembering the abuse he experienced as a street kitten, as  the root of aggression is often fuelled by fear.   as the years passed he mellowed..... mostly, though it's still wise to treat the teeth and talons with a measure of respect and NEVER TOUCH THE BODY.
Vets warned me "he wont make old bones after such a poor start." malnutrition had caused blackouts that could potentially lead to brain damage.  calcium depletion would weaken bone.  mineral and vitamin insufficiency would leave vital organs prone to early failure.   he might be a beast but not for very long.

Fourteen years later !!!   .....   his nine and a half lives have been used up and he's dying..

The old kidneys are packing in.  he's tired and at times depressed.   the medication is helping keep symptoms under control but it's only buying some time so pesky emotions can catch up with rational thought before it's time to let him go.

Friends ask if i'll have another furry.... oh yes, life would feel rather empty without one.   the plan is to foster.   look after the companions of those who are unable to fulfil  that responsibility for whatever reason.   perhaps older cats who need a quiet place to end their days or short term care when a fur-baby's human is in hospital or on holiday.

The furry creature has given me so much pleasure and entertainment over two decades it seems churlish not to share the love.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Tomato Or Not Tomato


There's going to be a heat wave, they said....

Super hot summer, they said....

Let's grow tomatoes, we said....

Played our part we did, loved them, fed them, watered them, tended them, nurtured them....


did the sun didn't play fair?   oh no it didn't.... not yet anyway.


Our little corner of Northumberland has had that infuriating weather cycle that sees  blue skies and sunshine at dawn and dusk, then for the rest of the day thick dark cloud rolls in and we descend into a mini ice age with high winds and rain.   having to put central heating on in August as i did last night is positively apocalyptic, enough to send a girl apoplectic.

So there they sits more like goose-gogs than tomatoes, green, hairy, SMALL !!!   but growing, oh yes definitely growing.   If August did what August should do they would be turning orange and getting fat by now, definitely tomato-ish in fact.   but we don't give up, there are four more growing weeks to go.... if the sun would shine.


We console ourselves with the knowledge that it's our first experiment, we started a few weeks later than optimal, our corner of the yard is in shade part of the day, we live in the north east and it was 10* last night.   Ten degrees.   TEN  DEGREES  IN AUGUST.

Despite knowing the science, surely there is something akin to trusting in miracles when burying a seed in cold darkness and confidently expecting a lush, green transmogrification to ensue with the warming of the world.   Of course all gardeners are optimists.... particularly if they live north of Watford Gap.  


To remain sane us humans convince ourselves that we live in an ordered world over which we have a modicum of control.  A + B + C = D.... or does it?   "hardworking families" will enjoy the benefits of their toil.... or do they when earning minimum wage?   stick to the speed limit and you will be safe.... but what about that idiot coming towards you on the wrong side of the road?   eat healthily, exercise and you will be hale and hearty into old age.... don't genetics play a role?  water and tend your tomatoes and you will reap a harvest.... unless the sun plays hookey.

If you want a short, sharp epiphany about the insecurities of life do some gardening. and if, as looks likely, the summer in little Hexham is a total washout we can always make green tomato chutney. 

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Superlative Superhuman Olympians

Have you seen the  Channel 4 Meet The Superhumans trailer for the Paralympic Games?   if not have a look at the link below and prepare to have your mind blown, your flabb gasted and your dumb founded by mere mortals performing awesome feats - occasionally without feets and other body parts.   (click link on left for trailer)

The only sport i excelled at was cheque bouncing. games of any sort, Olympic or otherwise, tend to roll over me without a great deal of interest. though i admit to becoming caught up in the the emotion and drama of the opening and closing ceremonies in 2012 and appreciating the subtle, or not so in the case of Danny Boyle's paean to the NHS,  politicising that goes on, but when it comes to  the sport itself.....nah, not bothered. perhaps a childhood sense of shame rumbles away in the depths of my schoolgirl soul for "letting the side down" as i always hobbled  last, by several laps, over finishing lines.  i suffered education in an age when disability wasn't accepted as a reason for not participating in sports, no matter that the emotional fallout of constant failure, the imposition of pain on a child with surgery scars the length of her legs, the harassing and tongue lashing of a recently hospitalised pupil would be considered abusive today.
Dan Brooke who oversaw the ad is quoted as saying "We wanted to say any disabled person can be a superhuman."   agreed !!    for many of us with chronic illness getting out of bed every morning and facing the world with a smile requires a cape and a hefty dose of arachnid venom, though i don't think that's quite what he had in mind. Sam Ruddock the track and field athlete echoed the sentiment when he said "if we can do this, there is no reason anyone else can''s about a positive attitude."   

Now, i'm all for positivity, and have plenty of attitude after particularly bad nights, but i'm also a pragmatist and with all the will power, bloody mindedness and dedication in the world there are some who can and some who can't.  otherwise it's akin to expecting an able bodied, fubsy, five footer to run like Usain Bolt without being endowed with those legs of his that reach from the bottom to the bottom. when did you last hear an able bodied Olympian suggest that the rest of the population could attain Gold on the podium if they only tried a little harder.   if everybody could do it there would be no need to sponsor athletes or build Olympic Villages. football stadia would be obsolete as we would all be budding Beckhams, transport companies would be bankrupt and bank accounts would blossom as hordes of proles marathoned their way to work leaving the grind of the commute behind.

That we elevate these amazing athletes to superherodom isn't surprising as what they achieve is truly mind boggling, but i'd like to speak for the 99.9% who never had a hope of reaching those rarefied heights since not all damage can be surmounted by a positive attitude, not all maladies have an outward manifestation, not all disabilities are equal.   

When you see somebody in a wheelchair please don't see a failed Paralympian lacking the moral and physical fibre necessary to overcome gravity.   when a friend or colleague with an invisible illness drops out of a social event AGAIN don't assume they are being weak, lazy or lacking enterprise.   when a family member with chronic pain quietly leaves Sunday lunch early to rest don't see it as a rejection..... 

.....unless, of course, you too are prepared to expend the Herculean energies necessary to live the life of a superhero.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Go Pokemon Go

I feel sorry for The Young don't you?   not today's young primarily but The Young .... there are brownie points for the best collective noun you can come up with, suggestions can be logged in the comments at the bottom of this page, management retains the right to censor all entries and steal any royalties hereby endowed.... I have seen "a grunt of youth" suggested but that seems less than charitable when i consider how voluble my sons were, and the young'ns who worked for me, when i had my bizniz, could debate for England about every issue you could conceive of more knowledgeably, and with far greater passion, than most of my customers .

Why my solicitations for the young?    Well, it appears that us crumblies believe everything ill under the sun is their fault, when all they are doing is living up to the job description.   They are SUPPOSED to rattle cages, annoy their elders, be inconsiderate, driven by sex hormones, wear outrageous clothes, have an opinion on everything. just ask a 1920's parent's opinion of flapper dresses and the Charleston or the following contingent who ranted and railed when rock'n'roll rolled into town !!!

Every generation has used adolescence as a launch pad for change probably since the stone age, and every generation's parents have struggled to adapt.  prehistoric daddy comes home to find his offspring has painted a bison on her bedroom wall.... "A BISON FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE!!! no respectable cave has paintings inside, what will the neighbours say.... bison are for hunting, eating not daubing.... and while you are at it go scrub off that woad, no daughter of mine is being seen in public with body art.... antediluvian? go wash your mouth out with soap.... what do you mean 'it hasn't been invented yet'  go invent it why don't you?"    like i said, it's the job description.

I was a 1950s baby and no surprise that the Age of Aquarius called to my cohort.   the wounds of conflict were still raw and we wanted to move on from war mongering and xenophobia, the world had seen enough bigotry and intolerance it was time for liberality and the acceptance of difference.   the time was ripe for a Summer Of Love and the freer the love the better, to the horror of our parents. how ironic that those who still remember post war austerity and a divided, desolate Europe are the same ones who have voted us back to those dark and difficult times.   it's the young, the same ones who are accused of wasting their votes during an election year by not turning out,  who are now being berated for choosing unity and diversity over isolation and division in the referendum.    look at the stats:  75% under 25 voted to remain 61% over 65 voted to leave.   the generation gap made manifest.

Don't get me started on fashion, the only consistency is it's inconsistency and every time a hem rises or falls out come the predictable cries of moral degradation, youthful lack of self respect and the downfall of humanity encapsulated in a strip of fabric.  it was easy pre 20's as floor length was the only show in town.  then came the above knee flapper dress and from that point all was lost as every decade saw a rise and fall as predictable as the tide on the causeway of my old home of Holy Island.    i caused scandal at a family wedding one hot summer in the 60's by removing the lower half of a trouser suit and consorting with a cousin in a tunic that barely covered the fundamentals. 
So what are the poor children being accused of now?   Pokemon Go is what !!! the media is full of warnings of rampaging youth chasing computerised beasties on private property, bringing traffic to a full stop, risking life, limb and liberty in pursuit of Pikachu.   these supposedly pasty, spotty, overweight, sun deprived, gruntlings have found the temerity to leave their couch potato status behind and step onto our streets to pursue their fun in the real, via virtual, world.   and after all our complaints about their lying in bed till noon, watching movies till dawn, texting and surfing till the sun burns cold are we happy about it.... are we.... ARE WE ???  no we are not.   In stereotypical geriatric grouch it's all doom, gloom and downfall of mankind at the hands of angsty teens.....AGAIN !!!!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Introducing Spoonies

Spoon Theory - or Spoonies as it's advocates call themselves.... have you heard of it? 

No, neither had i till a week or so ago.  it was after one of "those" nights when the combined efforts of toast, cocoa, music, book, relaxation, even the example of this somnolent, fur baby cutie had failed to nudge me into the  universe of Slumberland, where most sensible mortals spend the hours of darkness.  indulging in a rare moment of dejectedness over breakfast the next morning, and with my spoon deficit hovering around the level of the National Debt, the link below popped up on Facebook.   what a high fiving, air punching, fist bumping epiphany.    a contemporary allegory existed for a conundrum faced by the many who endure invisible, chronic illness, ergo.... how to describe something that is one hundred percent subjective and lacking a common vocabulary.  

The term spoons was coined by Christine Miserandino in 2003 in her essay The Spoon Theory, which is posted on her website But You Don't Look Sick. In it she recalls a conversation in which her close friend and roommate asked her a vague question about what having lupus feels like. The two were in a diner and Miserandino took spoons from nearby tables to use as a visual aid. She handed her friend twelve spoons and asked her to describe the events of a typical day, taking a spoon away for each activity. In this way, she demonstrated that her spoons, or units of energy, must be rationed to avoid running out before the end of the day. Miserandino also asserted that it is possible to exceed one's daily limit, but that doing so means borrowing from the future and may result in not having enough spoons the next day.

Special considerations

For some people spoons may be replaced after rest or a night of sleep. However people with autoimmune diseases, other chronic diseases, and various disabilities may have concurrent sleep disorders which result in a particularly low supply of energy. Some disabled people may not be fatigued by the disabilities themselves, but by the constant effort required to pass as non-disabled.
Chronic illness often has no obvious signs, no plaster cast, no bandage, no sutures, just an inconsistent, sometimes non-specific, set of symptoms with little or no chance of improvement.  one of the hardest things for a Spoonie to hear is a cheerful "oh.... hope you feel better soon".  that's the problem with chronic, it's    C H R O N I C   IT  AIN'T  GOING  ANYWHERE ! ! !

The Spoon Theory offers no false promises of miracle cure no transformational technique, no master plan for overcoming debilitating disease, it's simply a life style management system made manifest.    a spoon equals a unit of energy, and those with chronic illnesses tend to have a seriously curtailed number of units/spoons to use in a day, also our spoon doesn't hold as much as yours and that's before you add in the pain and fatigue quotient common with most invisible illnesses.   

When we were well if we used all our spoons it wasn't a disaster, a good night's sleep replenished our cutlery drawer and off we launched into the feast of life again full of bounce and with energy to spare for dessert.... once the coffee kicked in.   but for Spoonies sleep, if it can be found at all, doesn't revitalise in the same way and leads to physical and mental exhaustion accompanied by a menu of nasty, toxic symptoms that  can flatten faster and more comprehensively than a bout of e-coli in a fast-food deli.   sadly spoons don't come with a refund option.

The Spoon Theory suggests we have twelve spoons to use each day and certain tasks/actions use up a spoon.   so.... i use up one spoon simply by the Herculean task of easing my hurting body out of bed in the morning, putting on a kimono and feeding the cat.   a spoon is used making breakfast, another eating it and clearing away.   showering and getting dressed consume a spoon and lunch can use two or three depending on what i have.   so that's over fifty percent of my spoons used up and the day isn't half done yet.   when i was well i could tackle an entire day's employment using less.  the secret lies in using your spoon allocation wisely.   for me that means ready meals so i can have coffee with a friend.   paying a cleaner so i can potter a little in my garden.   breakfast in bed in order to do the laundry.   there are no winners in this game only trade offs.

It's abundantly clear that when the Great Cutler In The Sky was dishing out tableware some were bestowed with ladles, others teaspoons and even the ladlers can become Spoonies at any point in life as we are all just a mis-step away from life  changing infirmity.   i didn't say it was "fair".... it's simply the way it is.

Me ??.... i'll continue to count my utensils every day in an effort to avoid feeling like an Eton Mess and be grateful that there's enough in the rack to have an acceptable, if severely limited, life.   i can still shovel coffee into a cup and sit with my toes touching the grass in the garden whilst day-dreaming of world domination.   it's still a pretty good life, far from a dog's dinner.