Saturday, November 30, 2013

Rejoice! Rejoice!

For tomorrow is 1st December, Advent Sunday, bringing with it Christingle, Advent Carols, Advent Wreaths, Candles, Christmas Hope, Mince Pies, Mulled Wine, Parties, and above all the end of NaBloPoMo

Friday, November 29, 2013

A sense of self

I created "Marcella" as a semi-anonymous way of communicating. I still use her as such to comment on newspaper articles or NHS websites, although since her email was hacked she's less useful in those ways than she used to be.

I think I'm pretty good at separating her fiction from my reality, even if I did get an email addressed to her gently criticising me and asking her to get me to pull my finger out.

Whether I'll always be able to tell fact from fiction, keep my petty lies from spilling out, hold my head up high when walking through a little shower let alone a storm, who knows. If not, I hope my carers are as dedicated and knowledgeable as the staff shown in "Bedlam" and that at least someone on the ward likes the me I will have become.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Clear Sense of Direction

On leaving the Maudsley Hospital on Friday I asked one of the staff for directions to Kent. "Kent as in the Bethlem?" she inquired. "And a bit further" was my vague reply.

It's a wonder that I got out of London, let alone into the Weald and my desired destination, but despite falling off the South Circular a couple of times, I did in the end.

It was hardly the fault of the member of staff. I should have given a clearer idea of where I was aiming for and asked someone who was prepared for the question.

When it comes to treatment and recovery in mental health issues that member of staff is one of the best people in the world to talk to, but still I wonder whether we're asking her the right questions and really have much of a clue where we are going.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mealtime Conversation

At the conference on Friday one of the clips shown was of mealtime support - a how not to, and how to support someone with a meal. It was interesting, but I would have used more distraction. OK, I'd probably JUST have used distraction.

I reflected on this some time ago when we spent some time with my mother-in-law. She makes a lot of small talk, spends a lot of time discussing the food, judging it, even occasionally talking TO it. It took some getting used to after our "don't mention the war" meals at home. But, unlike my own dear mother whose mealtime conversations can veer towards diets and how much weight so and so has gained/lost, there wasn't anything wrong with any of her talk.

Maybe I'm too avoidant, but we've used quite a bit of distraction and I'm particularly grateful to Charles Collingwood whose portrayal of Brian in The Archers has provided distraction to our family in difficult times for decades (my paranoid elderly aunt Marcella was much easier to deal with when obsessed about his affair with Caroline than with the imaginary affairs of real people).

I'm resolved to broaden the mealtime conversation but will still avoid weight and shape comments, and anything to do with Helen Archer.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Klara the car does strange things that Fleur never thought of. One of these is to beep when she's running out of petrol. Fleur used just to stop. It's probably an advantage but it is rather worrying. What if that beep means she's about to run out NOW?

So when she beeped on the motorway I decided it wouldn't be safe to wait 23 miles until the next service station and came off at the next junction and ventured into Slough to find a garage. I did eventually find one and it may have taken less petrol to do so than continuing on the 23 miles, but John Betjeman had a point about Slough.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Writers I have known

I first met (to my knowledge anyway) a writer when I was nearly 4 and moved next door but one to "a friendly witch", a children's author some of whose books, I'm pleased to note, are still available  
maybe even from places where they pay their taxes. 

Not all of her books were published. She REALLY wanted to publish a book on evolution with a biblical slant. No one would publish it. The religious publishers didn't like the evolution bit. Scientific publishers didn't want God. No one wanted her lovely whimsical coloured drawings because they were too expensive to reproduce.

Nowadays friends who write books have better access to self-publishing, wizzy graphics, on line media. I think Fy the friendly witch, despite decorating her 1960s house with furnishing from the Victorian era would have embraced the new technologies. Whether she could have got AppleiBooks to work from a Windows machine is another matter.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


50 years ago my parents put a deposit down on this house and my future as a Maid of Kent was mapped out. It wasn't some romantic dream on their parts - they had a young family and a limited budget and this was the kind of house that thousands of young families in the 1960s moved into.

We moved out of the village a few years later into the countryside leaving me, a shy girl, even more isolated and unsure as to whether I was from the village or not. I was never local enough to drink in either the White or the Black Horse, or posh enough to drink at the Three Chimneys. I went to school in the nearby town and my friendship group was largely based there, but I retained a small but very close group of friends (some of whom travelled in to town with me for school) at the Church.

I moved away from the village over 30 years ago but despite an occasional spell of boredom or fury haven't moved away from the Church as a whole. 

I went to the village church with my parents today. Most of the congregation were new to me, some were the same people who had been there when I first went to Sunday School. I was made to feel welcome but as a guest rather than one of the regulars, which was fine. However when the stand-in-vicar asked me at the end "and where are you from?" there was only one answer. HERE

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Family Based Recuperation

I am enjoying some Family Based Recuperation with my parents and their still rather leisurely internet connection after a fantastic but tiring conference at The Maudsley yesterday. I'm shattered, and unlike the marvellous Miranda I didn't have to give blood.

Friday, November 22, 2013

We're Off To See

not the Wizard of Oz but one of the wizards of the genome, in his fantastical Biomedical Research Centre - really looking forward to learning more about what is going to happen to the samples collected for Charlotte's Helix

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Art for Art's Sake?

There has been a lot of music in our household over the last couple of days, much of it coming from my husband's "office" and much of it being very moving but somewhat over my head.

We've also seen a lot of Shakespeare all in one go, and in a more light-hearted moment, enjoyed some folk-rock

The rockers are ageing now, but still doing new work along with the old favourites. Much of the new work is based around the fiction of another family favourite, and nothing wrong with that. Fan-tribute music can be as serious as John Tavener's last work, or a bit of fun, but art inspiring art is as old as art itself.

Here is one of my favourites. I understand it better than the Tavener and know the stories better than the Discworld ones, and I am somewhat biassed when it comes to the lead singer.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Any Dream Will Do?

I had the enormous pleasure last week of attending Messy Church with my god-children (a cue for a forest of posts about family and attitudes of the Church and the World to the same, but Charlotte has done a much better one) last week.

The theme was Joseph, and the activities included making a bubble picture and sticking on a drawing of your dreams.

I didn't do one myself, partly because I was there to "supervise" 7 year old A and 9 year old E (A needs very little supervision and E could run the place, but that's the rules) and partly because I was ashamed of my dreams. Most of the children were a bit embarrassed about their dreams too. "It's too weird" said one, and "it's silly" another. But they were persuaded that their dreams were no weirder than Joseph's and his friends' so they drew giant apples or snails eating their feet and stuck them on to the pink and blue clouds that they had made by blowing into a mixture of paint and washing up liquid, and then left my eldest god-daughter to clear up when they went on to the next activity. I went on to the next activity too, but this did inspire me to think of my dreams.

Lately they have ALL been about NHS computer systems. I've dreamed of filing documents, and furniture, and god-children. I've dreamed of coding illnesses and meals and paintings and cats. I've woken up relieved that I didn't have to find the best way to connect a computer to a hairdryer, and disappointed that I hadn't found the solution to reporting on the flu campaign. None of this is surprising. We've had a new computer system installed at work and it has been a huge learning curve for us all. No need to call Sigmund Freud for an analysis. On the other hand I'm not the only person who's ever dreamed about NHS computer systems and despite what the natural critics of the project would have us believe, the dreams were dreamed for idealistic AND evidence based reasons and have brought good as well as frustration

Friday, November 15, 2013

They're watching you....

According to the scary links on Facebook (hmmm, Facebook, is that a site dedicated to my security and privacy?) Google are reading every one of my emails in order to try to sell me things. If so I hope they do better than Amazon who suggested, AGAIN, that this is what I might like for Christmas, and that both companies pay their due taxes.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thou shalt not covet

But some things are too irresistible.

There's one of these, in lilac, near work. I can't decide whether the lilac or the purple is best but I can find a picture of the purple so here it is. Isn't it lovely?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

More details

Still Antarctic ones, so cold. I'll find the pictures of British wildlife next, a lot less likely to make you feel cold just looking at them.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Not only devils in the details

Angels too.

I don't know why I worried about what to post during November's blog-fest. There are enough Martyn Joseph songs to do one a day for 6 months.

Cardiff Bay is an obvious one, but with more than one meaning. A dear friend sees it entirely as about Cardiff Bay. And in that it IS, the one line; "Saw Captain Scott on the Terra Nova Setting sail for open sea" has always stuck in my mind.

I didn't realise until I saw it on that You Tube clip it that it was THIS version of Scott that they saw.  It fits with this tribute to Edward Wilson which tries to be modern and edgy. Some of it works well  although I'm not sure about naming the cafe after a local hero who died of starvation and cold. Some of it is just the old museum in a new case. And none the worse for that really, as long as you have the time to explore and really look at the exhibits that are crowded into the older part of the galleries.

Somewhere in the middle is the section devoted to Wilson himself. It's small but it's a lovely little detail in a rather overwhelming whole. In that it's a very fitting tribute to someone who was recruited for his attention to detail as a medic, scientist and artist.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


What I see isn't what you'll see isn't what our neighbour will see.

As long as we accept this we'll probably all get along but it can be difficult when perspectives really clash. The BBC Radio 4 Programme Saturday Live yesterday illustrated this very well. Well worth listening, particularly the interviews with Baroness Susan Greenfield arguing against the internet, and Julie Bailey whose campaign for reform of the NHS has led to hate mail and worse. I have some problems with both of their arguments, but it's useful to be able to see things from their perspective.

Even my phone has its own perspective. I went out into the garden one evening humming "Starry Starry Night" because it was, and decided to take a picture. This is what I got. Not a star in sight but interesting.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Slow Burner

At All Saints Tide I often link Bonfire Night and Fireworks to the light that shines through the Saints. It's an easy link to make and a good excuse for setting fire to things which is always fun.I do get a little squeamish about being too explicit about burning effigies or exactly why we call them Catherine Wheels but this year decided that I would have a bonfire and a guy for the god-children.

A who is nearly a teenager had much more exciting things to do at the Baptist youth group, so it was left to 9 year old E and 7 year old A to remind me at the end of a tiring day, of my promise and to troop out in the gloom to find the ragged bonfire that I had assembled a couple of weeks ago, and Freda the scarecrow who was to be our ritual sacrifice.

Freda was made out of old clothes, a Primark paper bag, and leaves; lots and lots of leaves. In her prime she was fine and stout. By the end of the summer her head had imploded and her figure had definitely headed south. After two weeks of near constant rain she was also damp, very, very damp, as was the bonfire. With the aid of some shredded paper we did manage to set light to it, and to Freda, but despite all attempts, particularly by A, to poke the fire into some kind of life with cries of "Burn Freda Burn", it never did a lot. Freda's was not a spectacular martyrdom engulfed in flame. She smouldered and gave off a lot of smoke which eventually drove us all back inside.

So that was the end of Freda, or so I thought. We went indoors, had a chat and a cup of tea and eventually all went to bed.

The next day as I made breakfast, I happened to look out of the window. From the bottom of the garden wisps of smoke were rising into the morning air. Freda was STILL burning. Rather a good illustration of many real life Saints I think. Saints like A who has worshipped at St M's for 80 odd years, and joins both the Book of Common Prayer Communion service and the toddler service which precedes it faithfully each week, or B and B and D and D who all play the piano so well for the children and their parents or J who shared her joy of art with all generations until nearly 90.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Thursday, November 07, 2013

It's being so angry as keeps me going

Sometimes I like to drive as fast as I can with the music on so loud that it hurts. While this risk taking and self-harm is probably a sign of terrible flaws in my personality, it's a great release.

This isn't the best version of the song for driving or dancing out anger, but it was the first one that I found and features Stewart Henderson just for Sandra.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Late Harvest

I spent Saturday morning trying to tidy up the garden and pick the last of the fruit before threatened storms. As I worked I hummed a harvest hymn to myself.

Harvest Festivals can be very twee. While the concept isn't as fraught with controversy as Thanksgiving, it's very easy to get it wrong and make it neither a genuine celebration of and for the local farmers who still do exist in this green and pleasant land, or a true call to look at the politics of food. I remember very well the time when the congregation were happily if rather tunelessly singing "All is Safely Gathered In" and C, whose farmer husband had had a stroke in the spring and who had been left trying to care for him and run the farm on her own hissed "no it f*cking isn't"

She was right about her own grain harvest which had been delayed by rain, she was right in a wider sense. All is NEVER safely gathered in. Many many things are left undone, or partly done, or just can't be completed. I've done what I can in the garden. I'll leave the rest for the birds. The same will have to apply to many things in life. I can only do my best and those threads that I leave dangling may just be the seeds that grow into something interesting next year.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Building A People of Power?

That's what we sang in church yesterday afternoon.

God is choosing strange building blocks to do it with. I'm sure a recruitment consultant wouldn't choose seven infant school children and a toddler with their various adults, a shy guitarist, a few members of the Mothers Union and PCC who were possibly there rather reluctantly, and a weird woman in a multi-coloured coat purchased at Greenbelt (well it was more dignified than those T shirts) to build anything, let alone a people of power. Then again a recruitment consultant probably wouldn't have chosen St Peter or St Francis either. 

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Suitable Attire

I help out at our local Church with the children's services. I have no formal role or title, and haven't done any training for a long while (which I probably should, note to self and to PCC and/or anyone who offers such things) so, unlike the clergy who have a uniform and only have to decide how many holy layers to add, I have to decide on something suitable to wear.

It's a formal Church, but this is a "family" service (for which read we are attempting to attract school age children even if what we usually get is toddlers and older members of the congregation who come along to support). It's the weekend so I don't want to have to dress in work clothes but as I got my jeans filthy in the garden yesterday I will be wearing a smarter pair of trousers so it's only the top half I've got to worry about. What I'd like to wear is this T-Shirt

but I think it might not go down well - and anyway it's not mine. I'll probably even chicken out of the Martyn Joseph "You can only trample people down for so long" one, if only because it's obviously meant for a flat male chest rather than a bumpy female one and rather difficult to read on me. Decisions....

Saturday, November 02, 2013

For All The Saints, particularly the angry ones

Kathryn wrote about some saints yesterday. I'm sure hers weren't meek and mild plaster ones and I'm not going to post the works of a namby pamby saint either but a strong, angry, stern, loving, ranty one.


Every single word is worth reading, either to make you smile, think,  decide to travel, cry or rage.

Friday, November 01, 2013

O no NaBloPoMo

November - autumn leaves, fireworks, cold and dark nights, and National Blog Post Month or some such nonsense.

OK - I'll give it a go, but really should be spending more time talking to my family, and working, and doing the washing up. And then there are all the wonderful other blogs out there that are so much better than mine...

which has given me the ideal idea for a lazy blogger's BloPoMo

Unless I can REALLY think of anything original I MUST say on any given day, I'll steal someone else's post. So today I give you the wonderful Kathryn, and her blog on All Saints Day.  I have managed to upload a different picture for originality.