Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Dare I?

This is Chi Mimi peering down the stairwell, considering whether to use a flying leap as an alternative to bounding down the stairs. To my great relief, she chose the more sensible option!

Saturday, 27 August 2011



Trollopuss in the garden gave something a hug.
When we went to investigate, we found it was a slug.
Lying close together, curled up nice and snug,
From the look she gave it, we could tell they were in love.

Trollopus and the slug, oh Trollopuss and the slug,
From the look she gave it we could tell they were in love.

A cat can look upon a queen, it can look upon a king.
For a cat to look upon a slug, ain't that the darnedest thing?
Fat and grey and greasy, lying face to face,
That slug gave her the slippiest kiss that lips could ever trace.


Feather and feather, fur and fur can dally, date and dance,
But gastropod and feline? God, they haven't got a chance!
If they got round to making love, what would they call their brat?
Would it be a furry cug or a little slimy slat?


The moral of this little tale is, know when you are beat.
Sometimes on life's bumpy trail you must admit defeat.
When her lover tried to slither off, the poor heartbroken cat
Gave that slug one last big hug and squashed the bugger flat!


(c) Lorna Read 2002

Friday, 26 August 2011


My gorgeous goddaughter in Canada is pregnant again. She vowed that after her first (who's now two and has been very difficult indeed with her eating and sleeping), following two or three miscarriages and a really tough birth, she would never have another baby and she and hubby were being very careful... but it appears that her daughter really needed a little brother or sister and here she or he is, on the way!

My congrats to the pair of them, and I hope from the bottom of my heart that things go well, with no problems. She's feeling better this time, for a start. Last time she suffered morning sickness throughout the pregnancy, which isn't too clever when you are a news broadcaster (as she was then), plus ghastly back pain. They say every pregnancy feels different. I hope this one continues to be pain-free and trouble-free. It's making me feel broody myself. I wish I were several decades younger!

As for Trollopuss and the Slug... I'm still searching for that piece of paper. I thought I might have typed the lyrics into the Songs file on my computer, but no such luck. My Virgo Ascendant is supposed to modify my wild, creative Pisces sunsign by giving me a nice, tidy, businessy-officey side, but alas, it hath fled and is probably in the dregs of the half bottle of rose I have just finished. Hic, hic, hooray!

Which reminds me, part of my reason for feeling slightly maudlin is that I have just watched most of Jools Holland's tribute to Amy Winehouse which I recorded the other week and am under strict instructions from Mr G to clear from his hard disc recorder, along with a few dozen other progs I haven't got round to watching yet. Seeing her in date order made her deterioration clear. When she was on his show in 2004, she was brilliant. Her singing, her musicianship were superb.

By 2007 when she sang Monkey Man with fixed, glazed eyes, tugging at her horrible, strapless fringed dress and moving legs that didn't seem to belong to her in a jerking, almost obscene dance, I was almost too embarrassed to watch. Her Heard It On The Grapevine was mostly sung by her male co-singer. I couldn't take any more and switched off as it was too painful. She reminded me so much of my friend Barbara, who died five years ago last month. Same petite stature, same drinking and wildness and brilliant, gutsy, bluesy voice. Same sense of a severed talent, a jagged life, a soul so sensitive that the world around chopped at it like broken glass. And I drink a toast - to absinthe friends!

Now, where is that bloody song lyric?


Not everybody's favourite creature, I know, and wow, doesn't this wet weather bring them out. The other evening a bright orange one was sliming its way up the patio doors. It looked about six inches long. (No ribald comments, please. Well, only if you must!)

Years ago, when I first met Mr Grumpy - 1997, it was - he had two black and white cats called Bastard and Trollop. Trollop was also known as Trollopuss. One day I looked out to see her lying unmoving on the soaking wet grass after a heavy shower. I called her and she didn't even twitch. Terrified, I found Mr G and said, "I think Trollop's dead." She was about 16 at the time.

Grim-faced, he splashed out to take a look... and came back grinning all over his face. "Go and look," he said.

I went, getting soggy slippers in the process, and found Trollop with her paws wrapped round something and her face nuzzling against it. It was a big, fat slug which she had 'caught'.

It amused me so much that I wrote a song about it. Wish I could write notes of music in my blog but there's nothing I can do about that and I haven't recorded any of my songs. However, once I have found the scrap of paper the song is scribbled on, I shall type the words out for you. The title is Trollopuss and the Slug.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Blog followers

Oh dear, I had 12 followers and now I only have 10 and this has happened since yesterday. I'd better try and make this blog more interesting. But how? Or is it time to finish it altogether? Perhaps every blog runs its course.

Today I managed to get from Hayes to North London on public transport in an hour and 20 minutes. I think this is a record. I had the unfair advantage of getting a lift (from Mr G) to Hayes and Harlington station, 3 miles from where I live. There are 3 stations I can use and all of them are 3 miles away. It's like a school algebra exam question. If A lives x miles from station U, y miles from station H and z miles from station HH, how long will it take her to reach station E?

Here is my journey. I was lucky to find a train already at the platform. I sprinted down the stairs, almost breaking an ankle or three, and - oh joy - it was a fast train that only stopped once at Ealing Broadway. I was at Paddington in 15 mins. I had to be at station E by 2.30. I reached station P at 1.20, where I had to change to the tube line to Kings Cross. There was a 6 min wait. I got to Kings Cross, walked down corridors, down stairs, took a wrong turning onto the Piccadilly Line, retraced my steps, went down an escalator, found there was a 7 min wait for a High Barnet Northern Line tube, sat down and took a breather... and finally reached station E at 2. 20, congratulating myself on being early... only to find the person I was due to meet had gone for lunch!

So I high-tailed it to Costa Coffee and had a BLT and a cappuccino. Well, needs must. Viewed a flat, dropped in on an old friend for tea and cake, then made the four-stage journey back. And it didn't rain! I call this a good day.

Springing a leak

I was sitting here enjoying a game of Wordscraper online when I heard some ominous dripping sounds. It's raining heavily so I thought the noises were outside... but I was wrong. A crack has appeared to the right of the roof window and water is trickling down the wall and splatting onto the electric sockets where my laptop is plugged in. In addition, all my paperwork is soaked.

Mr G is out, having taken one of his friend's lads to his swimming class. Standing here with towels and a bucket, I feel as if I have been swept back to the my flat-share days of the 1960s, where roofs always leaked and landlords never fixed them, and inches of soggy newspaper had glued themselves to the lino, signs of previous tenants' attempts to stem the tide.

I was due to view some more flats today but have had to cancel just in case the soggy plaster decides to fall off the ceiling before Mr Grumpy gets back. I gingerly scrambled onto the desk and stuck my head through the window into the rain and can see a split tile, probably the culprit.

Oh, here he comes. Good. He can take over the mopping up now.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Romance is not dead!

No, I'm not talking about myself (for once!). It's the title of a competition being run by Mills & Boon to find new romantic writers. The comp launches on September 13th and here's a link to the website.

Let's all have a go!

Monday, 22 August 2011

One day I'll write the first line

I had a lousy night's sleep so at around 2.30 am I started wondering if I could perhaps turn some of the more dramatic and horrible things that have happened to me into a book. I couldn't quite decide whether it would be better to novelise it or to tell it straight, and in the end I plumped for the memoir style. Not my whole life but just a slice.

I decided to devote the entire day to writing. I finished breakfast and had the first sentence written in my mind and was heading for the computer when Mr G informed me that his friend with the five
small boys was on her way round with their soaking wet tent, to peg it out and dry it in the garden. I had a loud grumble of 'it's not fair, I was about to start some creative writing for the first time in months,' and was told off and reminded harshly that it's his house, his friends and they'll come round whenever he wants and if I want to work, I can go and rent an office somewhere.

The morning passed in a whirl of scooping up babies as they were about to eat Flad's food, plucking the poker from a toddler's hands, telling off the three-year-old for hitting the baby on the head... while Mr G and the boys' mum put the smelly tent up in the garden. They'd returned from a holiday in the New Forest on Thursday and been caught in a thunderstorm as they were packing up and the soggy tent had been mouldering in the boot ever since.

They left at about midday. I had some lunch, went to buy some salad and when I came back, there was another visitor, followed soon after by yet another. The whole day went, the first sentence has vanished, the entire urge to write has gone. It is SO frustrating! Oh, for an office at the bottom of the garden... but I'm sure babies, foxes, Flad, Uncle Tom Cobbley and all would still come and find me.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Green tomatoes

I have just written this poetic plea to these, my recalcitrant tomato plants.


I've watered them and watched them grow, they've all been trussed and fed,
my salad bowl is waiting but the bastards won't turn red.
I've scolded and cajoled them, but they're not in any rush.
I've even told them dirty jokes but they won't even blush.

I've praised and cursed and blessed them. I've begged them, "Don't be mean!"
But they just dangle there and sneer and stay that stubborn green.
"Hey toms, you've got till Monday to go pink or gold or red.
If not, I'll rip your roots out and you will all be dead!"

The leaves begin to shiver as in a sudden breeze
and I stand there all a-quiver as a voice comes from the leaves.
"Hey human, hold your horses, there's no need for that threat.
The reason why we're staying green is, we're scared of being ate!"

Copping out?

My blog friend Jacula has poured scorn on my worries and says I should stop looking for excuses to cop out. I don't understand her attitude. Why should I want to cop out of doing enjoyable things with people I love? I had been looking forward to going there for weeks, but I couldn't enjoy myself when I was feeling ill, and I didn't want to be a pain in the a*** by merely nibbling at the gorgeous food she cooks and having to retire to bed with a hot water bottle on my tum.

For the last three or four years, I have spent at least three out of every seven days feeling ill. This has no bearing on whether or not I am supposed to be going anywhere. I can have four days of feeling normal, then suddenly the pain is back. As well as a general all-over, burning, gassy type of ache, I have a pain in my right side that makes me feel as if I've been kicked by a horse. At one time, it swelled up into a tennis ball sized lump, but I was abroad and couldn't do much about it and the lump had subsided by the next day. I can rarely sleep on my right hand side and if I do, I need a cushion tucked under me.

There is something wrong, but nobody quite knows what and as I manage to stagger on, helped by the occasional pill, the doctor isn't doing anything. I suppose I should make more of a fuss, but I don't like going to the doc's except if something is really bad, because I don't like taking up their time when there are much sicker people than me who need their help. I suppose I go two or three times a year.

As for copping out, I am a gregarious person who loves to have fun - but I can't have fun when I am in so much discomfort all the time. Like everyone when they feel off-colour, I just want to hibernate.

I started this blog as a form of diary for myself. I wasn't concerned about whether it was read or not. I intended it to chronicle my search for natural cures for my ills, but I haven't found anything that has really worked. If you think I am just a hypochondriac, fair enough, you are entitled to your opinion. And you don't have to read my ramblings, anyway!

It took a lot of guts for me to write about the rape. I hate remembering it. And in fact it was the second time I have been raped. I was raped by a stranger, in my house on a Sunday morning, when I was 21 and my parents were on holiday. I took an overdose but woke up after 18 hours, staggered into work and told my boss, who said I shouldn't go to the police as they weren't at all sympathetic in those days and always accused a woman of leading a man on. So I didn't, and the rapist got away with it.

Since then, I have been at knifepoint twice, gunpoint once and have managed somehow to escape with my life. If I were to write a book about it, I don't think anybody would believe it. Only the friends who were close to me at the time know it is all true.

My blog entry yesterday was my way of trying to explore what is going on, looking for reasons and possible causes. I don't think I was being over-imaginative. My sister is urging me to get tested, to put her mind at rest as well as my own. So I shan't apologise for sharing this with you. As I said before, if you think I am just a sad hypochondriacal whinger, then, to paraphrase the Rolling Stones, "Hey, you, get offa my blog!"

Friday, 19 August 2011

At the doc's

I discussed my symptoms and the doctor (not my usual one but a rather dour 40-ish Asian lady) asked me why I hadn't just taken Immodium. I told her that a) I didn't have real diarrhoea, just nasty, painful, explosive loo sessions, and b) the consequences of Immodium would make my piles worse! She said she quite understood.

She asked if I had been abroad recently and said she would normally only give antibiotics to people who had. I told her I hadn't, but I had been handling bird feeders a lot and though I always wash my hands afterwards, there's a chance of picking up an infection off those. So she wrote me a script for five days' worth of Ciprofloxacin, which I have never had before. The instructions tell you to drink no milk and take no indigestion remedies or products containing zinc for two hours either side of a pill (twice a day). I merrily popped one having just drunk a mug of milky tea! I shall be more careful in future.

The good news is, after just three pills, I am feeling quite a bit better. I was still awake from 3.30 to 5 am with stomach ache but it wasn't so bad and I didn't have to rush to the loo at dawn.

The bad news is, the results of my blood tests were in and showed a slight thyroid dysfunction (not bad enough for them to do anything about, she said, but that might explain my heart palpitations and dry, itchy skin) plus my white blood cell and platelet counts were too low and I have to have another test in two months' time.

Not knowing the significance of the latter two, I rushed to Google. Big mistake. I'm now convinced I have AIDS, Hepatitis C or both together! Fifteen years ago, I was raped while on holiday in Turkey and got a whole raft of STI's as a result. I didn't go to the police because the man was somebody I had had consensual sex with on a previous holiday. The condom had torn and I picked up STI's then and had antibiotics for them.

The rape occurred on another holiday a year later, when I couldn't get back to my hotel because there was a raging storm and trees had come down over the mountain road. He saw me sitting forlornly in a bar at 1.30 am and offered me his spare room, saying he wouldn't lay a finger on me. No sooner was I fast asleep when he came in and jumped on me. I tried to fight him off but he was stronger. I ran out into the raging night - it was probably about 4 am, still a violent gale and pouring rain - carrying my shoes and a plastic bag containing stuff I'd bought the previous day, and a dog attacked me, tearing at my clothes and ripping the bag to shreds. I screamed and a man appeared on a balcony and threw things at the dog, scaring it off. Then I walked the three miles back to town, with a handful of loose belongings as the bag was wrecked, in floods of tears.

Later that day, when they'd cleared the road, I made it back to my hotel. I didn't go to the police because I knew they wouldn't believe me. Once they found out I'd dated him a year previously, they would never believe a rape charge and anyway, I was a fifty-year-old woman, not a young girl.

So I let it go and as soon as I got back, I got my infections treated again and also had an HIV test. But they said it was a bit soon and that I should come back in two months. I never went back. One test had been enough of an ordeal, and as it had been clear, I assumed I was OK.

However, I now know that both HIV and Hep C can lurk in your system for years, the only symptoms being recurrent fungal infections (which I have), an alcohol intolerance (yes) and liver symptoms like a constant pain under the right rib (yes) and unexplained weight loss (yes) and attacks of letheragy (yes).

I feel quite scared. There must be some reason for what the blood test showed and if there was something lurking, that might explain why I've felt so under the weather for so long. I think I had better go and get re-tested.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

A wish

I used to ask a lot from life - excitement, gorgeous boyfriends, holidays, a great job - and I got them all. I was so lucky. Now, all I ask is this: a quiet, warm, calm home that's near my friends and is peaceful enough to write in. Then perhaps my stomach problems would settle down once I could think my own thoughts without interruption, and eat my own kind of diet.

Trip cancelled

After yet another night of not enough sleep, plus awful cystitits symptoms (I went to bed with a hot water bottle on my tum), and waking up at quarter to five and having to to go the loo several times, I have cancelled my trip. My bag is all packed, I am in tears, feeling wretched and dreading the mocking words I shall hear from Mr G's lips.

Thanks for all your support. I will make a doctor's appointment (which will be in a week's time as it always is) and will let you know how I get on.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Travel panic

For the last five mornings, no matter what time I've gone to bed, I've woken up between 4.30 and 5 am with the most horrible stomach ache. I've cut out wine, I've eaten lightly, poached egg on toast for dinner, yet still it keeps happening. Waking after five hours' sleep, bad tum, trips to the loo... It's cleared up by lunchtime but I've felt aching and exhausted for the rest of the day. Last night I went to bed at 9.30 pm and took half a sleeping pill - but I still woke before 5 and still had the painful guts.

I have been thinking that perhaps my IBS has returned in a new form. But this morning, after I'd taken a mug of tea back to bed at 5.30, I suddenly started thinking about tomorrow, when I am heading up to the Lake District to see my sister. My neck and shoulders are really stiff and sore at the moment - I keep getting tension headaches - and as I imagined myself dragging my wheely case on and off the tube, up the flight of steps in Euston Square tube station, along the road to Euston Mainline, I could feel myself tensing up even more, and my stomach roiling.

Now I'm thinking perhaps it's not IBS at all, but my travel phobia striking again.

But why? My sister is always off to different parts of the globe. Once, as soon as I got back from a holiday, while still the the airport I was looking at Departure boards and wondering how soon I could be off again. Now, at the thought of booking a holiday, my guts writhe and I feel sick. Why? What has happened to me over the last ten years or so that has made me feel such a panic about going anywhere?

I wonder if it all stems from the bomb attacks on the London tube? I was on one of the tubes two weeks after the main attack, that had one of the bombs on it that didn't go off. I was sitting right opposite the bomber, a young Muslim man with a rucksack. I kept wondering why he had such a strange expression on his face, his eyes rolled up as if he were praying. I got off the station before the bomb was supposed to go off, but the idea I was on that train was utterly terrifying. I was so close... Too close. God, I'm feeling ill again as I write this.

But this only one factor. A couple of months after Mr Grumpy had his brain haemorrhage in 2000, I was booked to go away with a friend to stay with another friend who lived in Turkey. I had also just moved house and was already realising I'd made a big mistake and the house was wrong for me (horrid neighbours, a big dark tree outside where drug-taking youths congregated, a steep hill to climb in order to get to shops and transport). I had a throat infection, I was tired and stressed and told my friend I couldn't go.

I was hardly letting her down. She had somewhere to stay, she had friends out there and yet another friend was going to the same resort three days later. But she turned on me, spat vitriol and refused to refund me for her air fare (£200, if I recall) which I'd put on my card. In fact she said to a mutual acquaintance, "Hydra must be doing really badly if she needs that money." About ten months later, I received a cheque in an envelope with no note, and that was only after friends had put pressure on her to pay up. Needless to say, we are no longer in touch.

Since then, I have only been abroad once, a most unpleasant week spent mainly in the Spanish equivalent of Ikea as the person I went with was just moving into a flat on the Costa Del Sol. The sun was shining, the beach looked lovely, but there was no time to relax.

In the last two or three years, I have missed two trips to see out of town friends, two funerals and a wedding. I made it to two other funerals, of my last remaining aunt and uncle, but only because I had a lift rather than having to go on my own.

Ah, maybe I have hit something now. It's those words, 'on my own'. Perhaps if I had someone to travel with, to jolly me along and soothe my nerves, to drive to the station or airport with so I didn't have to strain my bad back lifting luggage, it would all feel a lot better.

But that doesn't help me tomorrow. I still have to drag my case to Euston and get on a train, no matter how awful I'm feeling. I'm going for a massage this morning, then off to North London and back, two hours each way. And I've still got to pack, as I've put all the wrong things in my case.

It's my biggest fear that I'm getting like my mum, who, the older she got, the less she went out, until she flatly refused to go anywhere unfamiliar, which ruled out holidays, of course. Could I be suffering from a form of genetic agoraphobia? Or is it all just stress? Or a combination? Mr G makes it worse by saying, "There's no chance of you going. You know that. You'll ring your sister in the morning and tell her you're not coming." Which just makes me feel even worse, of course.

Wish I could just stay under the duvet.

Chi Mimi's den

'The lodger' as we now call her, kept trying to sleep in all Flad's favourite places which, being master of the house and ruler of the sofa, he didn't like at all. So Mr Grumpy cut a hole in a cardboard box and shoved a small cat bed in it. She loves it, as you can see.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Wet Washing Day

I've been waiting all week for a dry day, or at least one where it didn't look as if it was about to tipple down. This morning I arose at 7-ish to find Mr G had shoved some of the contents of the overflowing laundy basket into the machine. It's raining. What's the point? I thought of the rarely used tumble dryer in the garage, then remembered it had blown up last year and scorched my god-daughter's knickers!

Suddenly, I could hear my mother's exasperated voice in my mind, fuming, "Another wet washing day!" I had almost forgotten that, back in the 1950s and '60s, washing was only ever done once a week on a Monday. Monday was washing day. Everybody knew that. Whether it was raining or not, that's the day it got done, even if it hung around all week suspended from the kitchen ceiling from one of those Molly Maid drying racks, long johns flapping wetly in everyone's face.

Such was the rigid routine of those days. It was a class thing. Put your washing out on any other day and the neighbours would frown and label you as eccentric, at best: at worst, they would think you appallingly 'Non-U', persona non grata, a peasant, with an out of control, sloppy household at a time when households had to be 'run', as if they were military establishments.

Neither my mother nor her mother before her had such modern aids as tumble dryers. My mother did her washing in an old gas boiler and squashed it through a mangle, rather than having a washing machine with a spin cycle. She would then hang it on the line if it was not actually raining (oh, those frantic dashes home from park or shops at the first sign of a Monday raindrop!) or drape it on the Molly Maid if it was wet. Where we lived in Liverpool, in the North West, it rained a lot.

I can't remember when the rule of the Monday washing day began gradually eroding; it was probably when Women's Lib began in the '60s and women, rather than staying home keeping house and child-rearing, decided they'd rather go out to work instead. Launderettes sprang up. Suddenly, you could do your washing any day, morning or evening. What liberation from the wet washing day that was!

Yet, when I peg out my washing on a Friday or even (gasp, shock, horror!) a Sunday, I can still see a vision of those narrow-eyed neighbours, headscarves tied tightly over their pink hair rollers, shaking their heads and tutting. Bet you anything it will be sunny next Monday!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Waiting for a sign.

My young friend S is, like me, searching for a flat to buy. Like me, she hasn't had much luck. The other day, she was waxing philosophical and said she was sure that when she found a place, she would receive a sign that it was either right or wrong for her.

Well, I think I'm getting signs, too. I had already withdrawn my offer on that bungalow to do up, but was wondering if I should go for it after all in lieu of anything else, when my eye lit upon a letter I had just received and a paragraph leapt out at me. It concerned a man who had bought a bungalow to do up and a year later, was still trying to sell it. That's the sign, I thought, and promptly binned the property details.

Last Saturday, I went to see another bungalow. (Not that I particularly like bungalows - my knees haven't given way yet - but there just seem to be an awful lot of them round here.) It was down a gravel lane, round a corner, and totally tucked away, a real writer's retreat. I felt my heartstrings being tugged... then I felt my ankle itch. I was being attacked by cat fleas! I rang S and told her. "That's the sign you shouldn't buy it," she said, and indeed, when I remembered I couldn't drive and would have to lug my shopping all the way up the lane, as well as stumbling down it in the dark at night, I realised she was right.

In case you're wondering about that nice bungalow that I was going to go for... S is so miserable having to camp out in her dad's living room that I've said she can move in with me till she finds somewhere. And as I need an office to work from, that means I am now looking for a 3-bedroomed place.

Wonder what the next sign will be? A £-shaped cloud telling me I'm about to win the lottery?

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Mindless violence

Just went to the Post Office. The son of the Asian postmaster was standing outside the shop, gazing down the street, and all the goods normally displayed outside had been brought in. "We've had a tip-off from our relatives in Southall that there's a mob on its way," he told me. "They're planning to do these shops, then do Uxbridge."

Just now, I looked out of the window to see a young yob, not more than 13, pick up a bottle from the gutter and smash the top off it against the kerb. I feel too unsettled to get down to any work. I'm nervous, I'm angry, my guts are churning. I was supposed to be seeing my homeopath in central London but she has cancelled as she's too scared to travel, being a mum with young children.

In previous eras of history, young, bored, testosterone-fuelled youths would pick a fight with a neighbouring tribe and limp home bearing their scars, or go out dinosaur-bashing. They would run away to sea, or join the army, who would accept just about anyone then, without the need to pass stringent tests. But why turn on their own environment? This is an easy country to survive in, which is why so many people from other nations want to come here. You can get paid for doing nothing. But if you do want to get up off your arse and start a business, or get a job, there are schemes to help you.

These mindless yobs are missing the point. They haven't got a genuine grievance. These riots are not race-related. It's just bored youths looking for trouble. So I would bring back press-ganging, round them up and shift them off to a genuine trouble-spot where they can use their violent energies to fight a real enemy, rather than destroying the homes and livelihoods of people just like them - not big businesses, but the Turkish kebab-shop owner, the Asian grocer, the Nigerian bar-owner and those poor, poor families who live above the shops and have seen their homes and all their belongings go up in flames.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Another nightmare!

My mum always used to say she had nightmares if she slept on her back. Wish I'd made a note of which position I woke in at 4.35 this morning. I'd dreamt about an ex-boyfriend. An extremely weird ex who is now living in America as a ladyboy housemaid, wearing PVC maid's outfits and sporting breast implants. Yes, really. I have known some strange people in my time!

In the dream, he had me trapped in a room and was trying to get me to swallow a cyanide suicide pill to 'prove my love for him'. He, who lives as a sub in a BDSM household, was definitely the dom in this dream. He had me in his power. He was going to murder me whether or not I took the pill. I ran for the window, but couldn't get out. I screamed and screamed, and eventually a woman who looked like Joan Collins managed to open it from the outside and I escaped.

Then he yelled that he would prove his love for me, and swallowed the pill. I borrowed a phone from a passer-by and dialled the emergency services but couldn't tell them the address, as I didn't know it. The nearest entrance to the street was down an alleyway that led to... Highgate Village, the very place I'm trying to get back to. How one got in via the other end, I didn't know.

I dashed back to the house and looked through the window. He was lying under the bedclothes, completely still. I persuaded a burly man to climb in and see if he was dead, whereupon the 'body' came to life and began thrashing around in a confused state, hitting out at the poor man. I asked someone else the name of the street and directions of how to get there and they spoke to the emergency services for me, while I screamed, "Tell them to come quick, he's swallowed poison and he's dying!"

Then I awoke, heart pounding, and lay awake for a good hour, before thankfully drifting off again till way past 8 am.

I don't know what to make of the dream. The fact that the murder attempt took place in a dead-end street in Highgate must mean something. Does it mean that it's time to murder my hopes of ever getting back there?

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

House news

Well, I did it. I put in an offer on the pretty, detached bungalow - detached being an advantage as I can play the piano without disturbing the neighbours. I like it because it's light and airy, it's a ten minute walk to Mr G's and there's a bus stop just round the corner - and my doctor's surgery is only a few doors away. There's a grapevine in the garden, and a big shed that I could convert to a garden office.

There was a wobble at first, when the sellers - young, married police officers with two young kiddies - got gazumped on the house they were buying, but the gazumpers withdrew so it's all going to go ahead so long as I don't keep getting wobbly about the fact that I still won't be near any of my friends.

But I have loads of work, and will perhaps have an opportunity to write some books in peace and get some of my songs up on YouTube. I'd be so happy if people liked them and started singing them. I'd have to adopt several different disguises - a spooky one for my spooky, science-fictiony songs, a Joni Mitchell style for my folky ones... All I need is to learn how to use some basic recording equipment plugged into my computer. I think I'd better soundproof that shed...

Here's a link to the bungalow.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Stomach stops play again

My stomach is losing me friends. Time and time again, I have pulled out of arrangements on the day, because I don't feel well enough even to face the first stage of the journey, the getting to wherever it is on public transport. (Oh, how I wish I'd learned to drive!)

Yesterday, I ate some leftover spaghetti sauce (3 day old pesto that had been in the fridge) with pasta for lunch. I was brought up never to throw food away and to eat whatever was on my plate, so I couldn't bear the idea of just chucking it out. I had almost finished it when Mr G's friend with the battalion of small boys arrived out of the blue, so I bolted the last mouthfuls and got on with screaming at toddlers to put down the fire irons this instant and on no account to throw my camera onto the floor, while Mr G raced to throw a tarpaulin over the pond so they couldn't murder any more fish. There are only three left of the new lot of 29 because the kids threw pebbles into the pond that had been in contact with weedkiller. Because we weren't expecting them, we hadn't had a chance to child-proof the house.

Within half an hour I had started feeling nauseous. Several trips to the loo followed, then I developed cystitis symptoms. I have suffered this chain of events for decades. My GP has explained that when your gut is upset, your intenstines can bloat out and press on the bladder. It's bad enough having a stomach ache, but to get cystitis too is just not fair!

I had a front row ticket to see Pentangle last night at the Festival Hall, one of the rare concerts in their original line-up with guitarist Bert Jansch, who I worship. Mr G drove me to the station but once on the platform I started feeling so ill and wobbly that I rang my friend who I was going with and asked if her husband would like my ticket. At least that would save him having to drive from Bayswater to Waterloo and back twice, dropping her off and collecting her as she is even more phobic about Tube travel than I am.

Last night, I moped about, didn't eat anything else and went to bed at ten. I had a miserable night, tossing and turning in the heat, rubbing my stomach, getting up and down to the loo, and finally I got up at 6 am to make a cup of tea and found Mr G already up. I'd been awake since 5 but he'd woken up at 4!

Today, I was due to go across London to see the homeopath, then go on to a friend's in Barnet, spend the rest of the day with her, then spend the night and come back tomorrow. I feel so tired, drained, headachy and stomach-achy that I have texted both and cancelled. My friend will probably never speak to me again. She had a right go at me a few months ago. If you cancel her, she takes it personally as a sign that you don't care enough to make the journey to see her. I think this is unfair. If someone cancels me, I am understanding and never, ever hold it against them. (I can hear my phone bleeping downstairs... it's probably some cold, angry words from her. Oh dear...)

I can perfectly understand my friends getting frustrated with me. But we're all getting older and at 66, I just don't have the get up and go I had when I was 36, or even 46. Putting people under emotional pressure just makes them feel physically worse. Don't I know it! I think the older we get, the more sympathy, love and understanding we need to extend towards our friends. We should cherish them, make the most of the time we have left on this planet. We need to be able to discuss things, clear the air, laugh, be happy. There is no place for corrosive bitterness, envy or blame.

And now I shall steel myself to look at that text message...