Friday, 27 July 2012

It gets worse...

Mr Grumpy has had awful pain in his back and shoulder and thought it was to do with his strokes. But he had an x-ray and got the results today and he has ankylosing spondylitis (sure I've spelled that wrong), osteoporosis and osteoarthritis in his neck and spine. No wonder he's in pain. There's nothing the doc can do except dish out painkillers. He was offered meds for the osteoporosis and refused them. He's looked up AS on the web and is now convinced he's going to end up paralysed. Oh God. Will I have to push his wheelchair? Nope, I shall buy a Shetland pony and give him the reins!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Domestic disharmony

I'm sorry but I can't write nice, cheery blog posts at the moment. Everything is too grim. Mr G and I are rowing all the time, I am crying every day. I have book ideas to come up with - my last chance of reviving my writing career at the age of 67, not having had anything new published for eight years - and he won't leave me alone, in peace. Won't stop inviting people round which means I have to instantly drop everything. He won't even tell me when they are coming.

I have a manuscript appraisal of a long, serious book to do, which entails annotating the manuscript on the screen, plus writing a minimum of 2,500 pointing out faults and suggesting improvements, my horoscope column to write AND the book ideas to think of, before I go to my sister's for a week on August 8th. I haven't seen her for two years. I wanted to leave the weekends free to concentrate on the books. There are only two weekends before I go away. He knows this.. and now he says he's going to throw an early birthday party on one of them. It's not his birthday till September. And I've lost yet more precious time that I desperately need for writing. Oh, and now he says he's invited friends over this coming weekend, too, and again he didn't consult me. I just can't cope any more. I am trapped here. I can't find anywhere to move to and even if I did find a house or a flat to buy, so I could get my stuff out of storage at last, the process takes weeks, or even months. I don't know what to do, I am completely unhappy and I can't cope.

I am sitting typing this with fleas hopping up my legs and biting me. I wanted to get the whole house fumigated but he won't let me, because it's HIS house and the fleas don't bother him. (Yes, we do put stuff on Flad, but there's a stray that keeps coming in.) I've just found one in my bed! I have sprayed and sprayed, Hoovered and Hoovered. I can't relax because I am constantly on red alert, trying to catch the buggers before they bite me. And then there's my tooth. Can you imagine having three and a half years of only being able to eat on one side? The antibiotics have helped a bit. I have another appointment at 12.30. I shall probably infest the surgery with fleas.

Mr Grumpy is home all day and doesn't work, apart from doing the odd driving job for his mate the butcher. Of course he wants his friends in. I, on the other hand, am still working and need him to show some respect for my office hours. There is a lifestyle clash going on here. But I still think he could show me a little consideration. He's known me for 15 years. He knows I'm a writer and editor. I don't need to retire just because he has.

This morning's row was because I put the washing-up bowl, dish drainer and sink tidy in the dishwasher for a quick wash, as they were filthy and greasy. He came in just I was taking them out and told me off. I shouldn't waste energy putting just a few things in, and Quick Wash isn't hot enough (they came out perfectly clean, so sucks to him!). I then made the fatal mistake of reminding him it was my dishwasher and surely I could wash things in it if I wanted to. I kindly got it out of storage and let him use it when his died three years ago. Now he says he's going to buy a new one, disconnect mine, leave it standing in the middle of the kitchen and I can take it back to the storage unit.

How the hell am I supposed to do creative work in such a disruptive atmosphere? I really think this relationship is over. Yet... he has said two or three times, very accusingly, "I wouldn't abandon you if you'd had a stroke.! So what am I to do?

Monday, 23 July 2012

Foiled again

Yet again, I found a perfect property. Yet again I offered the full asking price and was the first to do so. Yet again, the agent has decided to hold a blind bidding session to see how much more money he can get for it. This is even though the downstairs neighbour, who I chatted to at length about his wonderful cat, recommended me to the seller and said he hopes I get it.

Bur I shan't as I can't afford to pay any more, and it's just not fair. I feel as if I am trapped in this noisy, flea-ridden house for ever.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Willy Cake!

Mr G's step-daughter is chief bridesmaid for a friend of hers. She had to organise the hen-do tomorrow and didn't know what to do for a special cake. So I had a bright idea. A willy cake! Our friend A, mother of the five boys, makes cakes so I rang her and she said she would be only too delighted to have a go. Here it is.

I think it's almost too realistic! Step drew the line at my suggestion of filling it with cream that would squirt out at the touch of a knife, simply because there will be some relatives of the bride-to-be there who might be a bit straight and lacking a dirty sense of humour. I said in that case she could turn it the other way up and say it was meant to represent a bouquet of pink flowers, or a cupid in pink angel wings. No? I didn't think so, either!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Writers' blog and summer washout

The writers amongst you might be interested in the following blog which a friend told me about today. She follows it on Twitter. It contains a load of good advice about various aspects of writing.

Sorry I haven't written a new blog entry for a while. The last one wore me out! I spent about two hours on it,  including finding and scanning old photos. It's great fun to do that once in a while though, isn't it? Especially when it's part of your own personal history.

I'm wondering whether to splash out to my local carnival today, or whether it will be rained off. I've got some wellies. It's two bus rides away. My other choice is to accompany Mr Grumpy to a kids' party which he is going to as official photographer. There could be 30-plus nine-year-olds screaming about in a giant marquee.   On second thoughts, I'll take the carnival!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Why you'll never see me on a bike!

I was looking through some old photos the other day and realised that there wasn't one of me on, or even with, a bicycle. My parents were keen cyclists. They met through being members of the CTC (Cyclists' Touring Club) and their honeymoon was spent cycling round the Isle of Skye on a tandem, Dad with boils on his bottom and Mum with a heavy period. Not the most romantic of times! Here are some old photos of Mum and Dad with their bikes.

Definitely lost!

No cars around in those days

Wet, wet, wet!

Soggy bum from Scottish rain?

When I was small, I had a tricycle, which my sister inherited. (There's a photo of her on it somewhere, but darned if I can find it!). Once I had outgrown my trike, Dad gave me a blue two-wheeler which was cheap because it had been cobbled together from parts of dead bikes. I didn't care. Once I had learned to balance and ride it - I can still remember the heart-stopping moment when Dad gave it a push and let go, and off I wobbled under my own steam - I could cycle round to visit my friends, who of course had bikes of their own. 

Everything was fine until the day when I hit the patch of gravel in Brodie Avenue, skidded and came off just as the bus was bearing down on me. I shall never know how it stopped in time. I remember people bending over me - maybe the driver or conductor was one of them - and asking if I was all right. I was only two minutes from home, so I hobbled off, bleeding from the gravel grazes, pushing my bike. Arriving home, I pushed it into the garage, which was a store for everything including Dad's collection of newspapers going back to the war years, and vowed never to ride it again. I think my sister inherited it. I must ask her.

Scroll forward seventeen years. On holiday in Paris, I met a sporty American called Joel, who was working in Paris. He was the complete opposite to me. Where I sat up till all hours quaffing wine, strumming the guitar and smoking illicit substances, he was up at 6.30am every day, working out in the gym before work. This was the 1970s, for heaven's sake! It was the post-Hippie loon pants era, yet this guy was ahead of his time, with a work and fitness ethic worthy of the 1990s.

We spent a night together in a brothel, which we thought was a hotel, but that's another story. The purpose of this one is to continue the story of me and bikes. A year after our Parisian bonk, Joel rang me and asked if I would like to come on a sailing holiday in Loosdrecht, Holland, with him. Loosdrecht is a beautiful part of Northern Holland featuring several wonderful lakes (see below).

The idea sounded great. I was looking forward to a repeat bonk in beautiful surroundings, so I booked myself on a flight and Joel met me at the airport. It was raining. It rained the next day, too. Not just rain, either, but howling gales that whipped the lake up into a veritable Camargue full of white horses. I would have been happy to stay in bed, emerging only for food and drink, especially alcoholic, but superfit Joel had other ideas. 

"It may be too rough to sail, but we can still cycle," he said, opening the boot of his car and producing two collapsible bikes.

My heart sank. Cycle? Me? My lack of enthusiasm must have been obvious, but I was desperate to look good in his eyes, so onto the bike I got, and we cycled... And we cycled... And we cycled some more. We went to Hilversum. We came out the other side. We rode through woods, down roads where barges sailed above our heads on raised canals. And all the time, as I lifted each knee up with my hand and thrust it down onto the pedal, as it was incapable of independent movement, I kept thinking, 'We've got to do the same distance home.' I raised my eyes to the skies, praying for an alien abduction, but none came. All I could see was Joel's bum on his saddle, a mere speck in the distance, and his bronzed hairy legs pounding up and down, leaving this unfit English weakling far, far behind.

I'll never know how I got back. The furthest I had ever ridden before was a mile and a half to the riding stable and the same distance back. That day, Joel told me we'd ridden a mere 50 kilometres. When we finally arrived at our hotel, I got off the bike and crumpled to the floor. He had to help me indoors, whereupon I crawled up the stairs on my hands and knees and collapsed celibately into bed. I have never, ever, ridden a bike since. Talk about aversion therapy!

There is a P.S. to this story. Next day dawned bright and clear. Stiff and aching though I was, Joel hired a sailing dinghy like the one you can see in the photograph. I had never been in one before. Of course, Joel was an expert. While he manned the sails, I steered. What a joke that was! Within half an hour, helped by the wind that was blowing everything sideways, I brought us too close in to shore, where a tree branch speared the sail and left us dangling at a 45 degree angle. We had to be rescued and he probably had to pay for the damage to the sail.

I have never been on a sailing boat since, either! Nor did I see Joel again. Indeed, he packed me off on the plane next day and I have never been so glad to get back to London and a nice, safe, unhealthy bottle of wine.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The tooth saga goes on...

Three weeks ago my nice new dentist prepared my top right back molar (not the wisdom tooth, that's been missing for years) and the tooth on the other side of the gap for having the bridge fitted. She put temporary crowns on and warned that I meet feel some sensitivity to hot and cold. Did I just! I had a week of being unable to touch it and having to drink through a straw. If anything even vaguely cold touched it, even water that had been standing around and had reached room temperature, it was a major "Ouch!"

A week ago she glued the bridge on and assured me that the tooth was now covered up and there would be no more sensitivity. Wrong! It's just as bad, if not worse, so I had to go back and she was mystified. No decay is showing on the x-rays, so she wrecked my gold crown on the tooth below by filing it down to ease any pressure on the back tooth that might be irritating the nerve. That didn't work, either. She says the tooth isn't covered just below the gum at the back, as they always leave a margin to help with cleaning. And that's just where the sensitive area is.

Now she wants to drill right through my nice, new bridge that cost me £1000, and do root canal treatment. I am in despair. For three weeks, I have been drinking through a bloody straw on one side only, and cutting all my food up small and poking it in the left-hand side. I have a total phobia about root canal, having suffered so terribly in the part. Over the last three years I have had five RT's and each time the dentist has jabbed the nerve and I've been in agony and shaking all over. I can't go through it again unless I am sedated - and this dentist doesn't do sedation.

So I'm back to square one, £1000 poorer and with my bridge about to be ruined, and my gold crown ruined as well, and unable to eat or drink normally. I feel like taking to my bed and crying. However, a close friend's partner has been in intensive care for the last 48 hours and she has been told to expect the worst, so what are my problems compared to theirs? That is a real reality check.

Monday, 2 July 2012


I took the parcel I'd found in the street down to the solicitor's office this morning. I walked into Reception, a gormless youth came out carrying a coffee mug, took a look at the address, didn't listen to my tale of how I had rescued it and gone to great lengths to reunite it with its owner, mumbled, "Yes, she works here," and shambled off with it. Not even a thank-you. Huh! And he wasn't even the tall, dark, handsome man of my dreams. Just dark - and about 22.

I suppose my reward is knowing the person finally got it, but after all that effort... well, I did expect a tiny pat on the back!