Saturday, February 21, 2009

Here Be Dragons

It is such a long time since I've written anything here, as life has been rather hectic and this has slipped down the list of priorities. Events of the last couple of weeks have, however, prompted me to want to start writing again.

So, how to start? How to explain, break the news? You would have thought that after a week or so of verbalising this, of having to tell friends and loved ones in a way that protects them from the shock, that I would have a practiced set of phrases that work equally well for imparting the news to complete strangers. I suppose I need the words to be right for me. Each time I say this thing, I have to face the reality of it. And it still really does feel fairly surreal.

Sometimes I've had to broach the subject deliberately, such as when I've told X or my children (and I'd have done anything to avoid them having to receive that hurt), and sometimes it's been totally unplanned when I've been asked that innocent and everyday question "how are you?"

My favourite (and I use that word very loosely: there's nothing pleasurable about doing this) tack is to start off by saying that I had a hospital appointment the other Monday. This provides a gentle lead-in. Lots of people have hospital appointments. Sometimes for trivial, sometimes for non-trivial reasons. Sometimes for wonderful reasons. However I'm at an age and relationship status where the likelihood of a pregnancy is fairly unlikely, so we're already into grounds of a health problem without blurting it out. Yet.

The next problem is how to say it. There was a time, when I was a child I suppose, that the C-word was never mentioned. It was far too scary. Everyone hid from it, hid it from everyone around them. We're more open about it now. I suppose we have better treatments, therefore more hope. So, I can say "I have been diagnosed with breast cancer" to my family and my friends and acquaintances. I prefer that to "I have a breast tumour". Somehow the word tumour is more severe. It's certainly an uglier word. It's hard and eats into you. Cancer sounds gentler, sounds like something the medical profession can soothe away. Let's hope they can.

I know that as I impart the information, I'm spreading my shock to others, and each time they take a little of it away from me. It's not fair and it wasn't in my life plan (such as that is), but there it is. And I think that here is a good place to say some of the things I'm going to need to say over the coming months. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

By the Light of the Silvery Moon

A few weeks ago Mr F-M made one of his occasional appearances. I'd been to choir practice, and hadn't been home long when I received a text from a friend telling me that F-M and his brother-in-law were in our usual post-rehearsal pub. I couldn't resist it, made sure the children were tucked up in bed and happy about me popping out for a bit, and made my way down there. Now, when I say I couldn't resist it I genuinely mean that I needed to see him just to confirm to myself that my head is straightened out. However, you can understand that the friend who tipped me off was feeling thoroughly responsible for what she saw as another impending disaster.

I expected to walk in and join my co-singers at their table and then see what happened, but I walked in to find the front bar of the pub empty apart from Mr F-M propping up the bar. The usual crew were sitting out in the back room. As soon as I saw him I knew that he'd gone in there looking for me, but I didn't experience the usual lurch. I somehow felt rather in control of things.

"Bit of a surprise, F-M. What the hell are you doing here?"

"Hi G. You ok?"

Before I could answer, the Brother-In-Law (seems appropriate to call him Bill) appeared giving me a kiss on the cheek and leaving his arm round my shoulders.

"Hi Ginny, how the devil are you?"

So went the start of his attempt to wind up Mr F-M. They were both fairly well lubricated, Bill especially so.
A friend came round from the other bar and started talking to me about his daughter's domestic problems. Not something I felt inclined to brush off, but both Mr F-M and Bill were visibly irritated that someone else was holding my attention. They dealt with it in different ways, Bill initially trying to embarrass me by asking F-M loudly how he'd met me.

Bill: "Didn't you two meet online, F-M?"

F-M:"Just leave it, ok"

Me: "It's fine, I'm not that easily embarrassed"

I carried on talking to the bemused friend.
F-M started hopping about behind said friend in order to attract my attention. I chat some more. More hopping about behind friend, with lots of wide-eyed peering over his shoulder. Friend looks more bemused. Bill drops some coins onto the floor and points at them. We all look, wondering what's going to happen next, at which point he grabs the nape of my neck and pushes my head towards the ground, presumably to make me pick them up. My immediate response, beyond realising what a sulky, attention-seeking child he is, is to yell and not in a particularly erudite way

"P**S off, Bill!!!"

He lets go, and my bemused friend sidles off to join the others.
F-M glares at Bill. I get another drink, then glare at Bill myself like a rather cross parent at an unruly child until he reluctantly proffers a muttered apology. F-M and I then catch up on life, children, work etc, not realising Bill is sulking more by the minute.
I the height of his sulk he takes a menu from the bar, screws it up and throws it on the floor. I've seen better-behaved three-year-olds, but also know that they escalate the levels of bad behaviour until they get the attention they seek. The barman is clearly of the same opinion, as suddenly, quietly and calmly he's standing alongside us. He's a little guy, with a soft southern african accent and an air of authority beyond his stature.

"I'm afraid you'll have to leave now, sir"


"Well, you've already assaulted this lady and now you're destroying pub property"

"Sit down, Bill. He'll behave himself now"

"I'm sorry, sir. It's illegal for me to let him stay now. He'll have to leave"

Bill now starts mimicking the barman with a poor imitation of his accent. This, of course, is going to help matters.

"Really, you have to go now"

F-M suggests we go to my house, something I suggest as being a rather questionable idea. I grab my coat and F-M offers to walk me home. Bill disappears in the opposite direction. F-M walks me home. He wants to stay. He loves me. He misses me. Can't we make love? I suggest he goes home to his wife.

"Do you want a lift home?"

"No, I'll walk I suppose. It will only take me four hours"

"Don't be daft. I'll drive you home. Has Bill got a phone on him?" I don't want Bill going back, telling Mrs F-M we've met and her turning up angry on my doorstep.

"I don't know"

"We'll drive through town and look for him"

"Can't we f**k first?"

"No, because I'm not f**king anyone who's currently f**king someone else. I'm looking after myself now"

"I do love you"

"Of course you do, F-M, and I love you too, but I'm not having you wake up in my bed in a blind panic, saying 'Oh, f**k! Oh, f**k!' and rushing off home not to be in touch for another two weeks, two months, whatever. I'm just not doing it any more."

"So, you're saying good bye then"

"You've made the choice yourself, F-M. Lots of times. And it's never going to be any different, is it?"

"I don't know. I love you"

"Well, I know and I'm going to drive you home"

"You don't have to"

"I know that"

We get in the car, drive into town and find Bill staggering around aimlessly, post-kebab. He slides into the back seat of the car and I head out of town.

"Go faster. You can drive faster than this", from the back seat.

"This is the speed I'm driving at, take it or leave it"

"Go on. This car goes much faster than this", a voice joins in from the front seat.

"Look, this is the speed I'm going at. Neither of you are in any position to complain. I can leave you here if you don't like it"

We approach the F-M residence and I pull over at a discrete distance to let them out. A wave from Bill as he staggers on the verge, a kiss and puppy-dog eyes from F-M. I drive home, text my friend to let her know I'm home and fine and she immediately rings to find out what has happened as I'm closing down the pc for the night.

As I'm in the process of reassuring her, an instant message arrives on the screen.

"Hi G. What would you like me to do with your little shampoo bottles? Should I throw them away or send them to you? Only they've been in my bathroom for 6 years"

It's from V-S. Funny, I hadn't noticed that full moon while I was out driving!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Maybe in the real world, but not here in the realms of the blog. If you don't keep your readership entertained, amused, and dying to hear the next installment, they drift off to more dedicated blog-writers. So, having neglected my select, but perfectly-formed readership for some considerable time, what has prompted me again to put, if not pen to paper, fingers to keyboard?
Well, this is difficult to admit and I'm not sure where to start. I have been thinking about writing here again, and there has been a lot to write about in one way or another, but I didn't want to start again unless I was sure I'd be able to commit the time on a regular basis. I'm still not sure I will always have that time, but maybe it's not so important. So, I've been tip-toeing nearer, reading other blogs again, occasionally commenting when moved, going to sleep with half-formed ideas of pieces I want to write, but waking up the next morning and knowing that the day just isn't going to pan out with enough space to work on it.
Then, about ten days ago I booked myself in for a psychic reading. There, I've said it. How flaky is that!?! I'm an atheist. Admitedly not your Richard Dawkins, militant type of atheist, but rather your scientific-minded, everything can eventually be explained, sort of atheist. Well, no, not everything can be explained, but forgive me, poor mathematician that I am, you can prove something's not provable. But I digress. Away from the embarrassing fact that I had a consultation with someone who talks to dead people, from the other side, I ask you!
She's very good. I've seen her in operation before. She's my local pub landlady, and apparently she's been on one of these Derek Accora (is that how you spell his name?) style tv programs, where they go to "haunted" houses and try to film evidence while various mediums talk to the dead folk while some poor, blonde presenter gets scared half-witless by creaking floorboards. So, my pub landlady (I was going to call her Madame Arcati, but that would be too rude, so let's call her Alison for all you "Medium" fans out there) occasionally holds psychic evenings which have become so popular you can hardly get in through the pub door. She puts on a sort of show where she talks to indiviuals, but publicly, and invariably has people in tears with what their dear, departed loved-ones have to tell them from the other side. I suppose I'm a curious sceptic. It's fascinating how accurate she seems to be without slowly honing in on the correct information. The pieces of information she imparts seem to be snatched from out of nowhere, which I guess is why people are so floored.
I've become so curious about it that I've felt I'll only know what she's doing if I get a reading myself. The opportunity arose one night when she announced that she was starting some evenings where she'd do pre-booked, private readings. Twenty minutes for £10. Irresistible. I booked in for the following Tuesday.
We sat down at opposite sides of a small, square table in a quiet corner of the pub. Alison had a deck of gold-edged cards, which she asked me to cut. As she started to lay out the cards, I felt slightly disappointed that we were obviously baout to have the equivalent of a tarot card reading, something I do myself at dinner parties when the spirit moves me. Or rather, when the wine moves me. It's certainly a lot of nonsense when I wield the cards, I assure you.

After interpreting about three cards, Alison suddenly asked if the name Ed, Ted or Edward meant anything to me. Someone from the other side. My maternal grandfather was Eddie. She talked about him for a little, but things that weren't particularly unusual. She then said he was saying something about Lucy. Did this mean anything? My sister's name is Lucy. My family don't live locally and I can't say that I've ever found reason to mention them within her earshot ever. She talked about my sister needing me later in the year, there may be marital problems, and that someone is having blood tests, but not to worry, that person will be spiritually fine. My sister isn't a happy person, I'm not really sure why. And my mother is currently going through a round of tests for Alzheimers. I hope she's talking a load of rot. One amusing thing she did say, though, was that she was sure my marital break-up had been initially very difficult (when is it not?), that now it was much easier (true, but isn't that often the case?), but that Eddie said I wasn't to expect the X to ever apologise. Well done Poppa, I never realised how much you actually noticed!
So back to the blog. Alison asked me if I kept a diary, to which I replied that I had been writing a blog, but that I had let it slip. She said I really should get back to it. And who am I to argue with someone who gave my grandfather a chance to get a word in over my grandmother.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Changing of Parts

Following on from my previous post, and Neil's comment

"I was hoping that you were going to write a poem comparing the ease of switching a hard drive with the complexity of love."

Of course he was right and it would tie up all the loose ends on that posting very nicely, but I had serious trouble finding anything out there. So, with profound apologies to Henry Reed, I give you...

To-day we have changing of parts. Yesterday,
We had de-fragging. And to-morrow morning,
We shall have what to do after upgrading. But to-day,
To-day we have changing of parts. Red roses

Glisten with dew in all of the valentine posies,
And to-day we have changing of parts.

These are the outer case screws. And this
Is the phillips screw-driver, whose use you will see,
When you are given your new drive. And this is the
dvd re-writer
Which in your case you have not got. The lovers
Hold their bouquets with silent, eloquent gestures,
Which in our case we have not got.

This is the IDE connector, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone cutting through wires. You can do it quite easy
If you have any strength in your thumb. The lovers
Are whispering through phonelines, never letting anyone see
Any of them cutting through wires.

And this you can see is the hard-drive. The purpose of this
Is to keep all the data, as you see. We can slide it
Easily out of the casing: we call this
Removing the drive. And rapidly replace with the new.
Our early loves are receiving and giving the flowers:
They call it falling in love.

They call it falling in love: it is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your heart: like the power supply,
And the mother-board, and the cd-rom, and the peripherals,
Which in our case we have not got; and the lovers
Silent in all of the chatrooms and the e-mails going backwards and forwards,
For to-day we have changing of parts.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

O Tell Me the Truth About Love

I've been having a very busy week. My eldest, S, has been off school since Monday with a gastric bug; work goes on apace; the house is a tip; there are nowhere enough hours in the day. This evening I escaped to the local acoustic club for some friendly faces, some familiar and surprising music. Even some singing from me.

And still no reply from Mr F-M. I don't expect a reply. And yet I do expect to hear from him. Sometime, maybe not for days, weeks, maybe even longer. A strange mix of hope, dread and resignation combines in the feeling that he will always be in touch. The hope really has to go.

And in the meantime, my pc is on its last legs. It has been showing odd signs of wear & tear by insiting on diskchk occasionally when it's switched on. Then yesterday it started telling me that the hard disk is about to fail (I guessed as much). So, any day now it will pack up and refuse to co-operate with any more of my life's essentials - Listen On Demand (courtesy of Radio 3), online banking, my diary and my blogging will have an enforced sabbatical. How will I cope?!?!

If I take it into the office I can filch a hard drive (it's ok, it's my company) and the emergency will be averted, but S is ill so I'm working from home, holding my breath and hoping the pc fairy will wave her wand for a few days more.

And I'm thinking about love, how it appears, how it slips away, how it's a a conundrum, a cocktail of the selfish and the nurturing. If only it was as easy to fix as the hard drive on my pc.
So, in want of some time to write something more meaningful I'll cheat and fall back on some poetry...

Some say that love's a little boy,
And some say it's a bird,
Some say it makes the world go round,
And some say that's absurd,
And when I asked the man next-door,
Who looked as if he knew,
His wife got very cross indeed,
And said it wouldn't do.

Does it look like a pair of pajamas,
Or the ham in a temperance hotel?
Does it's odour remind one of llamas,
Or has it a comforting smell?
Is it prickly to touch as a hedge is,
Or soft as eiderdown fluff?
Is it sharp or quite smooth at the edges?
O tell me the truth about love.

Our history books refer to it
In cryptic little notes,
It's quite a common topic on
The Transatlantic boats;
I've found the subject mentioned in
Accounts of suicides,
And even seen it scribbled on
The backs of railway-guides.

Does it howl like a hungry Alsatian,
Or boom like a military band?
Could one give a first-rate imitation
On a saw or a Steinway Grand?
Is its singing at parties a riot?
Does it only like Classical stuff?
Will it stop when one wants to be quiet?
O tell me the truth about love.

I looked inside the summer-house;
it wasn't ever there:
I tried the Thames at Maidenhead,
And Brighton's bracing air.
I don't know what the blackbird sang,
Or what the tulip said;
But it wasn't in the chicken-run,
Or underneath the bed.

Can it pull extraordinary faces?
Is it usually sick on a swing?
Does it spend all it's time at the races,
Or fiddling with pieces of string?
Has it views of it's own about money?
Does it think Patriotism enough?
Are its stories vulgar but funny?
O tell me the truth about love.

When it comes, will it come without warning
Just as I'm picking my nose?
Will it knock on my door in the morning,
Or tread in the bus on my shoes?
Will it come like a change in the weather?
Will its greeting be courteous or rough?
Will it alter my life altogether?
O tell me the truth about love.

W.H. Auden

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The search for the perfect man (Part Three)

Mr F-M

When you phoned me just before Christmas, wanting me to come down to Heathrow, I said that I needed something more from you before I could do anything crazy like that again. So you drove up to me. Although it was good to see you, that wasn't really what I meant. I meant I needed to see a change to the pattern of things to help me feel it would be worthwhile opening myself up all over again. If you'd have kept to your word about getting a laptop & communicating more regularly to see "how things go", it would have been a step forward. But it's all just the same thing routine, isn't it? I mean, last week you sent that email suggesting you ring to arrange to come round and I've still heard nothing again.

So we're now in March and we've passed my deadline of seeing how things go. I know you mean everything you say at the time (well I think you do, anyway), but what is the point in saying it if nothing transpires? As the man says " What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do." You're clearly comfortable enough in your life not to want to rock the boat any more, and time is going by too quickly for me. I'm getting on with my life.

I guess I'm saying that I don't want to hear any more about how much you think about me and how much you love me, unless you can show me the evidence of it. And I'm not feeling in the slightest angry, just rather sad that I'm fast approaching the point of becoming bored with the same old routine.
There was a point when I really believed you loved me, but I don't think you do any more. Probably not for some time. Anyway, I miss the times we used to spend together, both in real life and online, but those times are so rare now. Maybe the time has just passed.

Take care
love Ginny xxxx

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Were I a cloud...

This morning on my lazy trawl around the web I came across this site which will generate a word cloud from your blog, and even print it on a t-shirt for you. I love it. It somehow fits in with my feelings about today.
I like Sundays. I get up late, wander downstairs for the paper and head back to my coccoon to forget about everything that needs dealing with. Today, whatever it is can wait.
I have a lazy, self-indulgent day then cook a big roast dinner in the evening. The children (sometimes reluctantly, sometimes with enthusiasm) are roped in to help prepare the vegetables and set the table. Sunday dinner is an important ritual, part of the cement that holds together the simple structure of my family. Then we make ready for the onslaught of another hectic week.
I wish you all a peaceful Sunday and a good week ahead.