There… And Back Again!

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Sometimes I long for the closeted private sanctuary of my own car as I travel about. But, then again, I have no confidence in my own ability to focus sufficiently to drive a car – too away with the fairies most of the time.

My abortive attempts at driving were given up after about eight lessons and a near miss… I took a wrong turn down a country lane on a foggy autumn afternoon and my instructor innocently remarked:

It’s a good job no one saw us – they’d think we were up to no good!”

This served to send me into a fit of hysterical giggling as I drove across (literally across) an unexpected roundabout and my endeavour to become a capable driver ended…

On the other hand, I would miss the weirdly prophetic bus tickets we have here – just look at some of the code words used – as good as any deck of Tarot cards! “Write” is the one that appeared when I was feeling particularly low – I took this as Universe encouragement. “Elbow” – when I was troubled by a nagging pain in, yes, my elbow which spurred me on to visit my doctor for a steroid injection which cured it. “Mouse”… I’m still waiting…

Plus the fact you hear such extraordinary snippets of conversation. My favourites from the past week or so – on the same journey, actually – involved a girl, sitting behind me, talking loudly on her mobile to a friend:

“… and I said ‘Really? It counts as one of your five a day? I didn’t even know it was a vegetable!’ She said ‘Well of course potatoes are vegetables! What did you think they were?’”

To which this girl had replied: “Oh I just thought they were these like starchy things that grew in the ground…”

I was quite glad she was sitting behind me actually, so she couldn’t see the look on my face…

The next snippet – an older lady got on the bus with her wheeled walker and noticed a friend seated over the way. They obviously hadn’t seen each other and the friend listened attentively as she ran through her catalogue of ills. Her next statement made me snort with laughter that I quickly had to disguise as a not-terribly convincing cough…

I’m not going back to that care home though! I can’t be doing with it, all that fighting!”

Her friend leaned forward:

Whatever do you mean?”

You can’t get a minute’s peace – they’re always fighting over the darts on the telly and it’s not just the men!”

That sounds dreadful,” her friend replied, clearly shocked.

Oh I know, I can’t get along with it, not when I’m having chemo as well! Ruby knocked Doris down them little steps! I’m going to ask my grand daughter if she can get me moved…”

At this point, somewhat reluctantly, I must confess, I had to get off the bus as it was my stop; but for the rest of the day I was plagued with questions in my head … did the girl get over her surprise about the nature of potatoes, or was she further traumatised when she encountered something like rhubarb… grown like a vegetable but treated like a fruit…? Should I perhaps watch darts to see if I could understand how the game could induce such rage? Was Doris ever revenged upon Ruby for tipping her down the stairs?

Would the care home in question be a possible future residence for my mother…

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My Mother … And Me.

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I was waiting for a bus with my mother after we’d been shopping and it was at that time of day when the older generation are out and about. Now. My mother is obviously a pensioner and, as such, has some of the obligatory traits – spontaneous deafness, an unerring ability to stand right in the way and a bat-like sonar system that allows her to smash her shopping trolley into my shins – I’m sure you get the picture.

However, she has always had and manages to retain an ability to flirt charmingly with the opposite sex. By her side, I feel somewhat of a galumphing idiot, in my younger days notable only to men for my ability to drink most of them under the table and my astonishing breadth and knowledge of swear words…oh the benefits of a private education…

Needless to say I am not a flirt. I have never mastered the art of blushing delicately and peeping coyly upwards through my eyelashes, fingers fluttering at my throat… Nah. I’m far more likely to sneeze and fall over.

This particular day, as we were walking towards the bus stop, my mother and I both happened to notice a smartly dressed man, dark hair, beard (just my type) talking on his mobile. As we passed him, he lifted his head from the screen, breathed in ostentatiously and said: “Ladies – somebody smells nice!”

We both turned to look – oh yes, he was even nicer close up – and my mother blushed prettily. I highly doubted it was me since I was lightly scented with my usual blend of cat food and bleach, perhaps with overtones of patchouli essential oil from where I had knocked the diffuser over and tried to mop it up with a sock that I was wearing.

Looking up at this man, head fetchingly on one side, my mother said: “Oh it’ll be me! ‘White Diamonds’,” giving him one of her dazzling smiles.

Oh, I’ll remember that!” he replied and walked on, with a smile of his own.

My mother grinned to herself, serene in the knowledge that she still had “it” while I inelegantly hauled her shopping trolley onto the bus, managing to tread on my own foot in the process. The man (of course) got on the same bus as us and winked at Mum as he sauntered down the bus to a seat, while I was attempting to stuff a frozen pizza in a shopping bag and swearing as the cat treats emptied themselves with malice aforethought into my handbag…

The man settled himself into a seat just in my eyeline and the bus set off – the journey itself is worthy of a separate post – and when we reached her stop, Mum got off in a ladylike fashion as the man waved at her…

Oh well. Clutching my cat food, pizzas and a packet of lily of the valley bulbs that had burst and was shedding its powdery compost gently over me, I lurched out of my seat and stumbled off the bus, only to sneeze and fall over…

Apology:

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Right. Have you stopped messing about?

Yes. I think so.

Are you going to write again, properly, and just get over yourself?

Well… I’ll try.

Good. Apologise to your friends and readers for messing them about and get on.

Sorry. Sorry everybody. It’s been – difficult. But I think I’m back now.

Only in Nottingham

I have a love/hate relationship with the city where I live. It holds some particularly unpleasant memories for me, but also some reasonable ones. I am always pleased to go somewhere else, but if I’m away too long, I start to get anxious.

Home” for me is definitely the North, where I’m from, where I lived when I was younger, where my ancestors are from, where my great (x4) grandfather, Michael Pallister was born in 1664 and married Isabel in 1712.

But Nottingham is where I live. It’s a funny place, and the people are… unique. I witnessed some examples personally a few weeks ago as it was Alex’s father’s birthday and he wanted to go out for dinner and then have a “few beers” afterwards.

I didn’t much fancy going out to be honest, I had my usual spring chest infection and was on antibiotics, so I couldn’t really “drink”, but Alex and his boyfriend came over and I really felt I ought to make the effort.

Dinner was pleasant, “Son Of Steak”, does a nice meal at a reasonable price, although I find the name oddly disquieting, as I do the large, blue painted cow outside. I managed to drop a chip, obligingly covered in tomato sauce, all the way down myself and onto my clean linen trousers, where it mashed itself against my thigh so it looked as if I had been stabbed there…

Then we moved on to pubs. Usually I drink vodka, but obviously being on antibiotics it’s not advisable to consume alcohol – you can vomit and I am extremely emetophobic – and arachnophobic – worst nightmare, being trapped in a room full of vomiting spiders… but I thought I would have a white wine spritzer just to be companionable and make things bearable.

The first pub (not my choice) was, bizarrely, playing Motown music and inhabited by blonde women dressed in Seventies style, complete with Farrah Fawcett hairdos. Alex and his boyfriend were soon bopping away on the dancefloor to Stevie Wonder, his father was haranguing me about Brexit (and drinking my spritzer as well as his beer) while I gazed morosely at the crowd of revellers and coughed.

Next pub (also not my choice) was packed full of hipsters. I didn’t realise they were quite so much ‘a thing’ till I had this opportunity to observe them in their natural environment… pushing past the beards, egos and eco-friendly outfits I crawled onto an absurdly high barstool at an uninhabited table and coughed a bit…

Alex’s father harangued me about Brexit… Alex and his boyfriend discussed the merits of the tonic water flavour they had chosen, cucumber versus elderflower (really? Bleuchh -) and I gazed absently out of the window. Several groups of people passed, dressed variously in neon lycra camouflage, tutus and deely boppers, and comic animal costumes…

I watched as one girl dropped something out of her handbag, then deliberately turned it upside down and emptied the entire contents of it out onto the floor. Then she lay down on top of them.

Right outside the window where I was sitting, an elderly man wearing a child’s stetson, took a cucumber from his pocket and shot a lad who was walking past him. The lad obligingly staggered backwards, clutching his chest, before carrying on with his mates.

After a couple more pubs (none of which were my choice) we caught the last bus home (my choice) and I was finally able to retire to my bed, surrounded by cats, crystals and butterflies, reflecting on the oddity of where I live.

Downstairs, I could hear Theresa May’s voice pleading, while Alex’s father ate toast.

 

Buddleia And Butterflies

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When I was a little girl, my grandparents had the most wonderful buddleia bush in their garden – a truly magical place for me to visit and explore , and populate with my imagination, aided of course by a feline friend.

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I can remember sitting beneath the buddleia’s silvery arching branches and looking up into the natural architecture of the tree, an intricate fretwork and interlacing of branches reaching upwards, an arboreal cathedral.

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The flowers! Sumptuous, heavy-headed spikes of tiny purple flowers, overflowing with intoxicating fragrance; the scent irresistibly drawing crowds of various butterflies and bees to feast like gluttonous courtiers at Henry VIII’s table.

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I remember my grandmother carefully deadheading and pruning this wonderful shrub, and my father – perhaps in a fit of envy, or perhaps to please me – visited every garden centre in the region to procure our very own buddleia.

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He even managed to get an orange buddleia (“Golden Knight”) which was quite rare in those days… even though the man down the road has one in his garden. Nowadays, everywhere you go you can see buddleia growing prolifically – apparently it’s quite invasive, it self-seeds on waste ground, hence its nickname of the “bombsite plant.”

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Not bad going really, for a bush whose origins lie in China. Of course, it’s a great source of nectar for all sorts of creatures – some have even evolved flowers designed specifically for a hummingbird.

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Buddleia is also known as the “butterfly bush” and it was originally named after an English botanist called the Reverend Adam Buddle.

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This year, I’ve tried my hand at a little gardening, and to be honest, I have both enjoyed it and found it therapeutic. I’ve even joined a Facebook group for gardeners… Throughout the post I have included some pictures of the visitors we’ve had – I hope I’ve managed to recreate a little of the magic in my own garden that I was lucky enough to experience at my grandparents.

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The Consultant And The “C” Word…

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Now. As regular readers know, I had an appointment at the Ear, Nose & Throat Department at our local hospital to see a consultant and determine whether there is any underlying reason for my persistent hoarse voice and sore throat.

I was already feeling a little… twitched… shall we say about it as when I checked the envelope for the letter with the appointment time I found a leaflet that I had previously missed, explaining how the NHS aims to see all suspected cancer patients within two weeks. I know this is standard procedure – and a good thing too – but still… it played on my mind.

Luckily, Alex was arriving back in town on the same day so he could accompany me. We met up and went to the reception to check in. Then we waited. And waited. And waited some more… Anxious enough already – I had a nasty suspicion that the examination would involve an endoscope up my nose – I could feel a panic attack approaching – a distant thundering, like a herd of bison on their way, as my fingertips began to tingle, my heart began to race and the flight reaction kicked in.

Right! That’s it! I can’t possibly wait any longer!” I declared, and shot to my feet, racing off down the corridor.

Alex caught up with me by the receptionist’s desk and managed to calm me down a little while the lovely receptionist went to find out what was taking so long. It just so happened I was next in line to be called… so with Alex talking to me soothingly and the receptionist guiding they shepherded me to a different waiting area.

I went back to breathing exercises while I waited a further fifteen minutes, the chant in my head going: “You have to find out… you have to find out…” Then finally it was my turn. Unclenching my hands from the seat, swallowing my nausea and wiping the sweat from my brow, closely followed by Alex, I entered the consultation room.

I was met by a duty consultant – not the one I’d been expecting, which threw me a little – a cadavernously thin, sunken eyed and very tall man, with large meaty hands. He looked at me. I looked back. He introduced himself as Dr. G ~ Somethingunprounceable – in an extremely heavy accent which in my already heightened state of panic I could barely understand.

He was a very rude man. He would not let me explain my symptoms before cutting me off – “Yes, yes, I see you are nervous person – I examine you now.”

Then without so much as a by-your-leave he lurched forwards and seized me by the throat. Eyes bulging, I managed to restrain myself from punching him on the nose. He released me and I fell back breathless in the chair, clutching at my neck.

Yes, yes, nervous person – nothing there. Now we look up your nose.”

Oh Christ,” I thought – then: “Not bloody likely – I’m off!”

Aloud I said: “No thank you very much not today, I’ll be leaving RIGHT NOW let me out let me out.” I leaped to my feet and tried to exit the room. A nurse stood firmly in my way. I (very bravely) burst into tears…

What matter with you? Is perfectly normal exam – I have it done myself!” The consultant said.

I just do not want a camera up my nose – surely there’s some other way!” I squeaked desperately.

No, no, I numb nose we do it now. Only danger is breaking off inside you if you struggle.”

With that he leant forwards and snapped his rather large teeth in my face. A small part of my mind was saying: “No, pull ourself together, this is your chance to find out that your vocal chords are normal and there’s nothing sinister going on.”

All the time in the background I was aware of Alex talking soothingly to me, but what brought me to my senses was the other nurse who said:

Here. You can hold my hand.”

Alex said: “You can do this.”

And so it happened… I’ll spare you the gory details… a set of incomprehensible instructions delivered to me by the satanic consultant, all the while I focussed on Alex’s voice, clutching the nurse’s hand and trying not to break it while my other hand jerked upwards wanting to smack the consultant where it would hurt him the most and me the least.

Finally it was over and the camera was withdrawn from my poor violated nostril.

Oh I forgot, we need still picture, I just put it back in.”

Oh no. No. No. That’s enough,” I said, wiping tears, snot and local anaesthetic from my face.

I looked at the consultant. He concluded that my loss of voice was all in my head and due to my nervous disposition and gave me an appointment for Speech Therapy (really?!) although to be fair I did find my voice as I left the room. I thanked the nurses most sincerely for their kindness and called him a c*&t. Oops.

But really, his whole “bedside” manner left a lot to be desired, he was patronising, condescending and thoroughly unpleasant. On the other hand, I firmly believe that nurses are God’s representatives on Earth – bless them each and every one.

By the way, there are no abnormalities with my throat, nothing suspicious at all, thank you to everyone for your love and concern. Just as well, really, as I don’t think I would be welcomed back in the ENT department in a hurry!

(Just a note, friends – I was unlucky, the procedure itself is usually pretty straightforward, so if needed, do NOT put off having the same procedure yourself.)

The Seagull

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Thank you Alex for the use of your beautiful photo x

I saw a dead seagull today and it upset me more than it should have done, or perhaps more than I thought it would.

A big herring gull, crisp white feathers and smooth grey wings. Strong, curved yellow beak, but greyish filmy lids closed over fierce proud eyes.

Still and silent in the middle of the road, carelessly crumpled and neck bent awkwardly back on itself and legs outstretched.

You should be flying free and wild, soaring over the sea, screeching your savage call to carry on the wind. Not here.

You should look down upon seas churned with foam, waves crashing towards the land. Not here.

Not dusty tarmac. You should blink fiercely out of existence into magnificent nothingness.

A dirty city street is no place to die.