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.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

You're so sharp you could cut yourself!

My ex-husband never liked to be thought of as accident-prone, but the catalogue of horror said otherwise. In particular his record with sharp implements is such that if he'd ever suggested running away to the circus as a knife throwing act I'd have been wise to book a permanent cubicle at A&E.

There was the time when I was about 3 months pregnant, and was recovering from an operation so unable to do much around the house. Before we'd known I'd have to go into hospital, we'd stripped out the kitchen to install a new one. Not just the units out, but down to bare brick & earth walls. So, we were cooking in the front room using slow cooker & microwave and washing up in the bathroom hand basin.

One Friday evening X was washing up while I was sitting on the steps in the doorway talking to him. He started wiping my very sharp little Sabatier knife, holding the cloth in his left hand and very vigorously running the knife blade back & forth between thumb and index finger. It was one of those split-second moments where you think "Do I say something and risk a row or do I keep quiet and..." he put the knife point clean through his thumb. In one side & out the other. Ouch big time. I couldn't drive for another four weeks, so I rang a friend who took him off to the hospital for a 2 hour wait, cleaning and stitching up.

Clearly a one-off accident. He's not accident prone.

There was also the cat. Poor cat, who was a little neglected after the baby was born. He was long-haired and needed regular grooming. Much more regularly than I was finding time for with the demands of a new baby, and so he was developing some felt-like matts in his fur. I'd been gently teasing them out with a comb and snipping away tentatively with some nail scissors. Says X, "I'll do that, you've got other things to do and it's going to take ages." So, off he goes into the garden with cat under arm.

Several minutes later I decide to investigate, and what do I find? Cat, very co-operatively (he was such a sweety) lying on his back with his legs in the air as X hacks away (and there is no other phrase to adequately describe the motion involved) at lumps of fur with (wait for it) a Stanley knife! I pause thinking the same "Do I say anything and risk the ire, or..." when he stopped hacking with an "Oh, f***!" having sliced the cat. And the cat's still lying there as good as gold with his attacker & knife still poised above him.

It was a fairly shallow cut but clearly in need of veterinary attention. "I tell you what," I say. "You can take him to the vets because I'm sure as hell not explaining that one!" Thankfully the vet insisted, not only in stitching up the cat, but also finishing off the fur-trimming excercise.

And more notably, going back a few more years, before children and in the midst of major DIY projects there was the Black & Decker Jigsaw Massacre.

One Saturday morning I went off into town in search of nails & wood glue, leaving X behind cutting up bits of wood. When I got back his left thumb was sporting a bandage of cartoon proportions.
"What the hell has happened?"
It transpired he'd been cutting a piece of architrave with the electric jigsaw, not using the workbench but holding the wood in his hand. He'd washed the cut, put a plaster on and it bled through. So he put on some cotton wool and another plaster and it had bled through. so He'd added a further layer of tissue and more plaster and more cotton wool & tissue and finally, masking tape.
"Shall I take you to casualty? It sounds as if it might need stitches."
"No, it's fine now, just a cut. Don't worry about it."

Well, on Monday I did worry and so did he. When he unwrapped the "pass-the-parcel" dressing it looked awful & didn't smell great either, so we went off to our GP who immediately said it had needed stitches (what did I say?! thinks I) but that it was too late for that so we'd better head to hospital to see a plactic surgeon. So, off we go, referral letter in hand. My hand, that is.

We made our way to the relevant ward where we'd been told to wait for the consultant to do his rounds. He took a quick look and said "Oh dear, should have had stitches in that, but it's too late now. I'll get a nurse to clean it and dress it properly" (What did I say?!)
Eventually the nurse arrived, took a look at thumb and notes and said "Ooh, nasty cut. It should have had stitches in that. Didn't you realise?" X, by now was not even looking at me, as she started to clean it up.
"How did you do it?" she said.
"With a jigsaw", said X
She continued cleaning, then carefully added a non-cartoon, neat as a pin dressing, but clearly the cogs were whirring round.
"What sort of jigsaw?", with a look of puzzlement etched on her face.
"An electric jigsaw", said he.
"Oh," she breathed, metaphoric light bulb glowing above her head. "I thought you meant a jigsaw puzzle!"

Lethal weapons, those 4000 piece puzzles. I wonder what the ex could do with one.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Nearly eighteen months ago a good friend died very unexpectedly. His partner walked into their kitchen first thing in the morning and found him collapsed on the floor. He had suffered a sudden and massive heart attack at the age of 49, so fast that he probably didn't even know it had happened. It was difficult for everyone, but most profoundly for his partner. The tragedy for her was indescribable, having suddenly lost her previous partner to an accidental head injury only five years before.
We all rallied round, in various stages of shock and loss. Friendships were strengthened, rifts healed, tears shed, lessons learnt. Lots of Jamesons consumed. But for various reasons I felt unable to grieve properly for him. One reason was that my eldest daughter was struggling to deal with her first time grief. At the age of eleven she was still a child, but also able to experience the "adult" grieving emotions when losing someone who has a real and seemingly ongoing part in your life. It was painful to see her floundering like that without being able to give her any answers.
And then there was the closeness that I'd experienced with P earlier in the year when we were both dealing with our individual crises. He had been involved with C, a good friend of mine, for some time, but for some mysterious reason had been unable to commit. She had reached the end of her patience with the whole situation and had ended the relationship, joined a dating agency and met someone else. At which point, P realised how much he loved her and what he was losing. With as much Catholic angst as he could muster, he suffered serious anguish, knowing he loved her beyond belief, but believing that he just wasn't good enough for her. He regularly stood opposite her house in the shadows watching her light go out at night just to have a connection with her. And to me he poured out all his grief over losing her, and his guilt over the terrible infidelities he commited before he'd been able to see how much he loved her.
At the same time I'd had a major crisis with Mr F-M (of which I will write another time), and so we became like two shipwrecks, clinging to each other for survival. We shared our troubles, confided out deepest and darkest secrets and talked into the early hours. All without any of our circle of friends knowing.
Finally he turned the corner and saw that his happiness and C's happiness were dependent on each other, something I'd tried so hard to persuade him of. They had maybe six months of happiness together and then he died.
I grieved for him losing everything he'd wanted, though how enviable to unknowingly die at such a blissful point! I grieved for C, having again to go through such a trauma. And I grieved for myself in losing someone I cared for and who had shown care for me and my children.
The difficulty was that I couldn't outwardly acknowledge my personal grief beyond that of a casual friend, for fear of it being misintepreted, so I concentrated on looking after my daughter and tried to help her experience a good grieving process.
A couple of months later I felt as if I was falling apart. I couldn't sleep properly although I was constantly tired, I couldn't concentrate at all (and my job demands a deal of concentration) , I was suffering from dreadful mood swings, and I just felt like curling up in a ball and ignoring everyone. So I went to my doctor hoping to be referred for some counselling. Instead my GP wanted to do a load of blood tests (including liver function, which concerned me a little!).
Then the surprising denouement. My blood tests were all fine except for my hormone levels. At the ripe old age of 44 I was heading into my menopause, and all my symptoms could be explained away by mere chemistry. I now found myself in the midst of my grief for a friend having to rationalise my grief for my womanhood. Of course the latter allows a rather longer timescale for coming to terms with and I'm still not sure at which point I emerge from this particular corridor of change.
I feel as if time is running out for me. I'm on my own and I'm peeking out at my old age unable to do anything about it. I feel as if I've suddenly switched from the invincible teenager who never had to consider her decrepitude, to someone who's sitting on the edge of the slope with no other choice but to slide down.
Somehow the only thing that makes it feel right is the emergence of my elder daughter from childhood. There is something appropriate about her emerging like some butterfly as I drift off into middle age, and I absoultely treasure the joy of witnessing her changing into a beautiful young woman.
For me, I hope I will be able to grasp any happiness that life offers me, because we only have one chance. And given the opportunity I will rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

State of Confusion

I don't seem to have a lot of spare time at the moment and yet there are so many things going around in my head that I'd like to write about. Maybe even need to write about. Not least is the matter of further contact from Mr F-M.
He appeared a fews days before Christmas. Firstly online, with a new screen name & hotmail address, and the promise of getting a lap-top in the New Year to enable some more communication. We chatted for a bit and he said he'd like to speak later that evening.
I went to bed with no particular expectation, but he rang at around midnight and we talked for nearly an hour. He was staying overnight in a hotel about an hour and a half's drive from here and wanted me to drive over to him. I declined, saying that if I was ever going to do anything as daft as that I needed a little more from him. So, clearly a little put-out, he said goodbye & I went back to sleep. Only to be woken by him having driven here! He left early in the morning, asking me to be patient (!!!) as things are very difficult, but that when he gets his laptop we'll be able to communicate and see how things go from there.
So of course nothing until about two weeks ago when I received this e-mail:

Hi Ginny
Sorry it's been so long. Hope all is well, think about you daily. Wish that
i could be with you tonight, take care xxxxxxxxxxx

And again I'm in a complete muddle. Of course he's messing me about, but I know it's not deliberate. He believes what he says and what he feels at the time, and he acts on it without concern for the implications and the effect on anyone else. He's an emotional coward, but then who isn't faced with the prospect of hurting your children? My head tells me I should do what my good friend P once told me to do, and stick a note above my front door saying "F O J" (his initial is J - you'll get the rest!) to remind me to never let him over the threshold again. And yet, apart from maybe the vanishing R, he's the only man to have really got to me since my marriage break-up.

He's my imperfect man and until I deal with the whole situation
my search for the perfect man is probably doomed.

Monday, February 13, 2006


Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding ring,
if you like.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

Carol Ann Duffy

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Perils of Ginny

I've been neglecting my blog of late. Like the beautiful, though silent, Pearl White I've been tied up for the last few weeks. Well, metaphorically anyway.
A series of 11+ appeal process, work, and illness culminated last week with me being laid up with a bad back. For several days I was unable to sit for more than a few minutes at a time, leaving me with the options of pacing around endlessly or taking strong pills & sleeping. The latter seemed eminently more sensible.
Thankfully I'm now on the mend, sitting even as I type!
And, as I know you're dying to know, I didn't end up with a knackered back as a result of some dastardly, but handsome, man tying me to the railtracks (or the bed). No. Sadly it's very mundane. I foolishly insisted the children tidy up their bedroom & I picked up a couple of paperbacks from the floor.
How the mighty are fallen. Or felled.