Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Flats, cats and chapters

I managed to get to my friend's the following day and had a week in Camden, cuddling Mo, her sweet little ginger cat, and going out and about. Frustratingly there were no properties to view, but on my next to last day, the tenants next door to my friend's moved out and I met the landlord. He asked if I wanted to rent the house for six months. It's tempting, as I could get all my things out of storage at last, but, at £350 per week rent, it would be a big chunk out of my savings. Hmm... Maybe I'd be better off waiting until I manage to find somewhere to buy, even though every viewing means a whole day away from my writing.

Getting back to Uxbridge last Tuesday was a complete nightmare. Those of you who saw my post on Facebook can skip the next two paragraphs as I wrote about it there. After I had sat for an hour on the Tube (and was dying to go to the loo), there was a signal failure two stops from Uxbridge. The train sat... and sat... My legs crossed and uncrossed and crossed again. After half an hour, the driver announced that he was having to move the train back to the previous station, Ickenham. When we got there, I didn't have a clue where I was, or whether to turn left or right out of the station (which had no loo, of course). I followed some people to the left and found myself on a high street where there was a bus to Uxbridge. Every hour. What on earth use is that? But to my joy, I spotted one of those ghastly modern public loos where you put in a coin and pray that the door won't open while you've still got your knickers round your ankles. (That happened to me on a train once.) I put in 10p. Nothing happened. I pressed various buttons. Still nothing. I pressed the Coin Reject button. Nowt. I found another 10p (thank God I had one) and this time it worked and the semi-circular door slid silently open. Nobody came in while I was enthroned. I was lucky.

Much relieved, I dragged my ghastly suitcase further down the broken, bumpy pavement. It was cheap case which I bought in Hisaronu, Turkey, years ago and the wheels don't turn smoothly. It was like dragging a heavy box along a pebbly beach. I found another bus stop and this one had buses which ran every 15 minutes. It started to rain. A bus came. A crowd of school kids surged on and nobody else was allowed to enter. All the adults were left standing in the rain. There was a Wendells behind me so I bought a sausage roll and a coffee as it was 3 pm by now and I was hungry. More and more ghastly kids kept arriving. It was like a swarm of bluebottles, all of them in their navy-blue uniforms, buzzing with gossip and energy. Two more buses came and went and I didn't have a hope in hell of getting on. By now I was wet and cold and almost in tears after having stood there for forty-five minutes. Home was only four or five miles away, but getting there seemed impossible. And then along came a taxi! I leapt into the road and hailed it. Another woman tried to barge past me but I had got there first. Hard luck on her. I had suffered enough!

Soon, we were on our way. But we'd only gone a mile and a half before we hit a traffic jam. As we sat there unmoving, I watched the meter tick over: £4, £6, £8. An ambulance tore past, siren blaring. There had been an accident further up the road. I rapped on the partition and asked the driver if there was any way out of the jam. He drove up a side street, turned left and right a few times and suddenly I recognised the street we were in as the one I used as a cut-through when visiting a friend. But the cabbie was determined to drive to the far end and reconnect us with the main road. "Stop!" I screeched, banging on the door. He was wearing headphones and didn't hear me. "STOP!!!" I bellowed and banged even harder. He stepped smartly on the brakes, almost colliding with a green saloon car that was turning out of a side street. I got out. Paid him the princely sum of £14. Then I rang Mr Grumpy and started to drag my wonky wheels down the narrow path between two lots of school playing fields. I found him waiting at the far end of the lane and he wheeled my case the last few yards. It had taken me three and a half hours to do a journey that normally took an hour and a half.

Now you can see why it is so difficult for me to get to North London to see my friends, to go out for an evening and get back again, and to view properties. I hate it here! If only Mr G would consider moving further in, but he won't.

Yesterday, I had an email conversation with my agent about which of my projects to complete first. Perfect Lives Book 1 is all ready for Kindle, but Book 2 was still lingering in the form it had been in when the original publisher decided to pull the plug on their new imprint. She thought I should finish Book 2 and get both books out there. We had a discussion about whether it should be published as one massive book of almost 100,000 words, or two of 50,000, even though I felt it was cheating the reader if they only got half the story in Book 1. We decided that I should write a 'story so far' to be placed at the start of Book 2 and that if they were priced around £2.50 each, people might not mind having to fork out twice. I finished my tweaks this afternoon and have sent it off to my friend in Camden who has agreed to proofread it for me.

Having just stopped work on a book full of sizzling sex, I now have to think up some ideas for sweet, innocent teenage romances for a Norwegian publisher. A chaste kiss is going to seem very dull after cling film and double cream!

Monday, 13 January 2014

No more happy pills!

As yesterday wore on, I felt sicker and sicker. By the evening, my head was reeling and I kept almost fainting, so I took to my bed, which is where I have stayed for nearly the whole of today. I was meant to set off to Camden to look after my friend's cat again today, lovely little ginger and white Mo, as her 95-year-old dad has just died so she has gone up North for the funeral, but I had to arrange for a neighbour to feed him instead, as I felt far too ill to drag a suitcase across London by tube and train, followed by a mile walk uphill from St Pancras to the housing estate where my friend lives and to which there is no public transport. Added to which, the rain is bucketing down and I haven't eaten since Saturday. Oh, why did I not learn to drive when I was young?

I have stopped taking the tablets. I read the list of possible side-effects and symptoms like mine - nausea, dizziness, ringing in the ears, aches all over - happen to one in ten people who take them. They even warn you about a potentially fatal heart condition! It also says that people who have had stomach ulcers shouldn't take them. The doctor should never have given them to me. Back to the homoeopath, I think. Far safer.

The drug was called Citalopram. Anyone else ever taken it? If so, were you ill, too? I'd love to know.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Screeched to a Halt

I suddenly found I couldn't write any more of the new book because it was getting too autobiographical. I need to take a step back and see how I can make it a bit less personal. I also found I had come to a full stop myself, in terms of low energy and high anxiety. I have seen my GP and she has prescribed some 'happy pills' but warned that they might take a fortnight to work. They certainly haven't started working yet! But if I started skipping round the room and singing, "Calloo, callay, oh frabjus day," I shall let you know!

Oops, visitor arrived. More later.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

2014: pretty awful so far.

I had high hopes for this new year but it hasn't brought me much luck so far. On Thursday, I went to see Cinderella at my local theatre and had a great time singing and yelling, "Oh no, it isn't!" etc. I had a glass of wine in the interval and was feeling on a high when I left, but when I switched on my phone I found a message telling me that Mr Grumpy had been taken to A&E.

My friends kindly drove me there and I found him with a tube in his arm and a nurse checking his blood pressure, which had gone through the roof. He suffered a small bleed on the brain three weeks ago, which affected his speech, but he was getting over that. They decided his BP meds weren't working as he hadn't had a review for five years. They gave him a pill and took his BP at half-hourly intervals, then when they saw it was coming down, they let him come home. Next day he visited his GP, who prescribed a new pill regime.

I didn't sleep all that night. I was shivering, even though I was wearing a dressing gown over my long nightie and had a hot water bottle. So on Friday I didn't go out at all. It was pouring, anyway. This morning, I had a half-hour trudge around the pavements, then came home and decided it was time to open my credit card statement, which had been sitting on my desk since before Christmas. It had been a deliberate decision not to open it as I knew the bill was going to be HUGE.

Unfortunately, it was a lot huger than my worst nightmares. Someone had managed to get hold of my details and go on a sizeable spending spree at John Lewis's. I just rang Barclaycard to tell them - and of course the Fraud Team don't work on Sundays! Anyway, they have the details and now I await a form to fill in.

"Aren't you going to block my card and send me another?" I asked the man in Mumbai, or wherever. "No," was the reply. Extraordinary. What happens if, having got away with it once, the bastards do it again?

It happened to Mr Grumpy once, after he had used an ATM at Sainsburys. Someone used his card to withdraw money in Rotterdam at 4 am! It was lucky he could prove it wasn't him because he'd just come out of hospital and couldn't walk or drive. How am I going to prove it wasn't me buying whatever it was in John Lewis's? I hope they'll believe me.

So that's two rotten things that have happened in the first week of 2014. I await the third with trepidation. Cross your fingers for me, won't you?