Friday, 17 July 2009

Demonic Laughter Accessory

Well that's what I'd call it if I had a sense of humour left. My D (isabled) L(iving) A(llowance) form has been sitting on my worktop for over 3 months now. So I decided to fill it in, online because holding a pen is a no-no these days.

For anyone remotely interested, D L A is an allowance given to successful claimants who are disabled. But only those adept at skirting potholes, with infinite patience, and with the strength to pick up the 40-page claim form. It's not financial assistance to help you pay for someone to do those things you can't do for yourself; it's to help someone stay with you while you do the cooking, cleaning, ironing and whatever else takes your fancy for yourself. Extremely liberating to have independence as the underlying principle behind a state benefit. There aren't many; in today's culture of assuming that anyone claiming any kind of benefit must be doing so under false credentials, or as a basic form of fraud, a message constantly blasted into our homes by the media and government policy, it's actually taking a fair bit of guts to admit that actually, I'm entitled to this allowance, and claim legitimately for it.

Do I sound bitter and twisted? Many online friends of mine, some bed-bound, some with obvious and crippling disabilities reliant on wheelchairs, some mobile with invisible disabilities, but all with legitimate claims on the face of it, have had to jump through proverbial government hoops to get this allowance. They only succeed after being turned down, going through a long-winded, incredibly stressful, highly undignified process of appeal; being poked and prodded by a government-paid doctor with a quota of failing applicants to meet; before finally having to attend a tribunal of complete strangers who thank whatever providence does exist are blessed with that fragile and rare commodity, Common Sense. But how frustrating, degrading, insane, is it to have to go through such a circus. They aren't going to grow their limbs back; not have their M S cured; or have other lifelong disabilities vanish because the D W P says so.

Me, I've been lucky so far. I moan about the fact that my awards are annual, instead of every 3 years like most other folks, but at least I get some support and recognition of my mobility problems. I can't hold a pen; so only have to spend approx 70 hours or so on a final draft of the form. Then when, as it habitually does, the govt website fails, and the form arrives back on my desktop blank for the third time running, and won't accept cut-and-paste answers with any form of punctuation, well it's a relatively minor frustration. Provided, of course, that the powers that be decide that my arthritis and fibro haven't been miraculously cured too...

Don't worry. There won't be many posts like this. Life is just too short, funny, sad, revolting, and interesting for that.

Rites of passage

Ok, so I know someone's supposed to do it to you while you lie in a gentle pile of boozed-up bliss, but I had to do it to myself. Sad.

I shaved off my eyebrows.

Well I've got this trimmy gizmo and the girl on the telly did her eyebrows with it and they didn't fall off *sniff*. Mine did. Note to self; the tweezers that took off half an eyebrow with a fibro-jerk at New Year are as Nothing compared to a trimmy thing and the fibro-shakes.

After hours of practising drawing on Greta Garbo eyebrows (heaven; at least they didn't look like Groucho's any more) I itched and rubbed them off just before kissing Little Master good night. It doesn't take much to freak him out after dark; I remembered just in time and drew them back on before kissing him and tucking him in.

This morning, 3 or 4 days after the Eyebrow Event, I have just enough 5 o'clock shadow to look almost like I've almost got eyebrows back again. So I forgot and he begged me to put on my Angry Face (aka my glasses) because my eyes looked "sunk in and freaky". I didn't put him right; I just put my glasses on. And now I have flu (I can oink but it ain't compulsory) I don't have to see anyone until I have real ones again.

The good news is - at least I can see now what lines I want to grow them back into. So I can shave with impunity (but only on fibro-free days, if such a beast exists) and only grow back that facial hair which I want.

Another of Life's Lessons Learnt, albeit somewhat belatedly.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Some Romantic Evening...

Or perhaps that should be some part of a romantic evening...

Since girlhood one of my favourite parts of the day has been the dwimmer. As a child, that part of an early summer evening, when it was a bit too dark to read, but too light to sleep, used to tug at some part of my inner core. It still does. My mum used to despair because I wouldn't want even my light summer-weight curtains drawn - I wanted to lie in bed and stare out at the evening dwindle, first watching the clouds baa-ing across the sky as the hand of some great artist added water to the colour, changing it so subtly from a deep blue to the palest of aquamarine. Then the sky would become an opalescent white, and it was at that point that I would feel the earth spin on its axis. Traffic noises would become oh so romantic, as they heralded the movements of strangers to some exquisite homecoming, electric lights just starting to peep, as lovers waltzed their ways. Somewhere out there, something would pull at me, whispering to me of the joys of the night, the promise of different lives just waiting to touch my own. Not some silly girlish imaginings of romantic love just waiting to happen; but a real sense of my part in the Universe, no matter how miniscule. A sense of hope that dawn has never brought to me, I don't think.

I'll make one exception there - of the dawning of the day that saw my son arrive in the world.

For so many years I lost that precious time, the feeling of wonder and mystery that late evening brings through open curtains and open windows. A different home, a different family, so very different circumstances, but once again I find myself now lying in bed, listening to those same beats of promise, that same experience of the earth turning. The view from my window has changed, yet still the sky's dance continues unchanged. And my heartstrings, so firmly wrapped around those I love, feel as though they are waiting to be stretched just a little further, just a little wider.

Somewhere out there are the people I used to imagine, waltzing with hair glowing with silver rather than the autumn colours they used to have. The night's magic is not lost, it is tangible, and makes my heart yearn for things I cannot imagine. I am content and happy, and have not lost my trust in or love of the dwimmer. It is my time.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009


What? 2 in one day???

Yup socks.

I've been knitting these darn (as opposed to darned, a pune or play on words, d'you see*) socks for months now. I'm just about to turn the heel on the second one.

No you can't see them. They won't be photographed till they're finished, and that won't be for some time I suspect. But they're a nice, respectable shade of blue. Air force blue (Royal Air Force, of course).

*Sources, if I can remember them, include Blackadder, Dawn French, and possibly Terry Pratchett. Or maybe Douglas Adams? All very, very funny. If only my memory was as reliable.

What a slacker.

Same as all my diaries from the year dot, ever. Entries for birthdays and anniversaries carefully and studiously penned in on day 1; medical records, insurance details and inside leg measurements on day 2; day 3 would include a few descriptive sentences, day 4 two sentences and by day 5 one word entries: "rained"; "bored"; "tired". Day 6? Blank, just like all the other entries would be till the end of the year.

Then New Year, new stocking and hey - new diary!

You'd have thought that by 45 years of age I'd have outgrown that, wouldn't you. Blogging is different to diary entries, isn't it, it's life-affirming, interesting, a hobby, palliative even - yeah right.

*Heaves a big sigh* Actually I love blogging, when my head, hands or other body parts will allow. I'm just very forgetful.

Today's lesson in life was watching a moody - moody? Well I thought so - disengaged youngster running a race he had no chance of doing other than losing outright. Yet he ran. He was shouted and clapped as he cried his way over the line - but he didn't give up. A transparent shade ran with him, a little girl with uncoordinated legs which slammed out to the sides, who not only had to contend with losing every race, but with listening to the laughter and jeers from her peers at her distractingly poor gait. She ran alongside him, in his shadow and he in hers, and they cried together. Was it bad sportsmanship to cry, babyish behaviour or just a strop? Probably; but unlike the girl he ran to the bitter end, and left her falling behind with her shoulders bent; and then he ran again. Never a giver-upper. And when the stress of taking part was over, and the finalists were racing, he sat on the wet grass with his friends and cheered on his classmates and youngers and olders and added wings to their feet with his claps and cheers.

He'll never win sportsman of the year; but he won't need to, so long as he remembers that he holds his courage in his heart, and that he is beautiful. Maybe he'll listen to those that tell him so, in a way that that girl never did, and still doesn't.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Splendid Sunny Sunday

- and I've got a hangover! I allowed myself 2 whole glasses of rosy plonk at the family barbecue yesterday - dizzying stuff. How I would have laughed 20 years ago at the cheap date I would become .

So today we're having a slobby day in jimjams. Sadly the garden is too much of a jungle (waist high grass, or should that be dandelions and weeds?) to sit out and enjoy the forthcoming airshow. It should be a cracker this year, for the first time in donkeys' the skies are clear and bright - it truly is a beautiful day.

Situated where we are, about a mile and a half uphill from the estuary, we can see most of the displaying planes when the weather's like this, without leaving the house. We even catch most of the tricks of the Red Arrows - stunning. But Big Chief White Hair wants to go see the display on the cliffs tomorrow, and do the thing properly for a change.

That reminds me of a twinge I had on Friday. Or was it Wednesday? Not nostalgia, exactly, but the feeling that I'm missing something. It can't be nostalgia, as it's not something I recall doing particularly often; but here we live in a hugely populated part of the country that is almost a suburb of London, 45 miles to the east; but we have parks (5 within about 2 - 3 miles of home), gardens, sea, woods - acres and acres and miles of woods - country parks, to say nothing of sports facilities (council and private), cinemas, masses of kids' entertainments. We are so lucky to live here - all we have to do is live down the white-stilettos-and-shell-suits image held by so many of this actually beautifully green and surprisingly low-crime part of the country. And of course, blessed with so much on my doorstep, how often do I go to those same parks / woods / beaches / entertainments?

On whichever day it was, just as I left the local shopping emporium to trundle home on Freya, I caught a sight of the sea, peering at me through the shops in the High Street, and calling to me at a very instinctive level. Come, it said; your battery's got enough charge for a little detour to see me. But I turned my back, too much to do, too little time. Never mind, I heard it say, you'll be back soon...

And so tomorrow, with engines roaring above, crowds milling (do they mill? Why do they mill and not grind?) I'll go see the sea, and say sorry.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

A day like no other.

It's been an extraordinary couple of days really. Young Master needs reading glasses, we find, so they're on order; I wish I could get 2 pairs for £20! So now MiniMe is even more of a MiniMe - even their glasses match.

But it's yesterday that really sticks in my mind. From the minute I got up and made my way into town to have coffee with Arrabella people seemed to be falling over themselves to help me. Or maybe they were diving out from under my scooter wheels.

Freya is a little thing, with a turning circle of 2.76 centimetres. She breaks up into little pieces when needed. She was red once; but now owned by an anarchist, she has a three-way colour scheme with no 2 pieces in a pair of strips the same colour. She is blue and red and grey, and so will go with any colour scheme I choose to wear. Apart of course from lilac, pink, beige, brown - I never wear yellow - and green among others. But at least I'd never lose her on a shopping spree.

So whether it was survival instinct and an effort to escape being mown over at a very slow 4mph, or whether through sheer niceness of being humans sharing a sunny day in a pretty nice town to live in, I received help, excellent service, understanding, humour, and even an offer to split a bogoff on hair colour, that alas came to nothing. A 5-minute friendship is what Young Master called it in the car later; and it was just that, a temporary link of like-mindedness in someone of a similar age, well she was probably somewhat older than me, but not by much I'd say.

I now have two wardrobes. One in one size for when I'm not on medication, am or have been exercising, or else so ill I haven't eaten for a fortnight. The other is for reality days when nothing I want to wear fits any more. I have elastic bingo wings that seem to spread and contract on an almost daily basis, so just never know whether I'll get my arms into sleeves or not on any given day. My new day-old wardrobe is an eclectic collection of whites, reds and blacks, with a touch of navy and khaki thrown in for good measure. At least I'm going to feel comfortable and hopefully look nice this summer. But even the push-up bras I bought last summer, that give a lovely smooth profile under teeshirts with none of the wobble factor associated in F-G cups look saggy now.

I'm cross about my hair too. It's been cut into layers, after years of being a gorgeous bob in one length. I don't quite know how this mistake happened; but now it pokes out all over the place, has absolutely no shape and I can literally do nothing with it but stick it all behind my ears. Ho hum. It'll grow, but until then I'll feel messy no matter what I'm wearing. Hang ups are so funny.

Anyway on my way home last night, trundling along several hours after Freya's battery should have given out by rights, I passed a woman in white of a certain age. She didn't know she was of a certain age, that's for sure. She was tall, curvy in all the right places without being overblown in any of them, a bottle straw blonde, but beautiful with it. As I approached her, she held her face up to the rays of the 5 o'clock sun, and seemed to revel in its feel on her face, in a movement that was sensuous and unconscious. It was one of those moments that I think women can and do share comfortably with each other without sexual overtones, and I shared in her rejoice of the sun. It was uplifting. And I realised how little it would take to make me that woman - if only I had a decent bloomin haircut that is!

Bloke Said.

According to one of our cab drivers today, all the thousands of pink sacks that go out each week for recycling end up in landfill anyway. "There's no money in it" said our Sage of the Steering. "Bin Man told me".

We put 3 or 4 pink sacks out per week. Not just trees, but plastic bottles, cartons, tin foil, tins, aluminium cans, glass - you name it. All in one sack. The only stuff that needs to be sorted differently are textiles, which used to go into the pink sacks until they started collecting glass that way. Now clothing and shoes go in white sacks. Garden stuff goes out in green or grey sacks, I forget which, and food waste for composting in blue bins. Landfill or recylcing - at least bin days are colourful now. Hopefully Bin Man enjoys the diversity.

I'd prefer to continue believing that I'm helping the environment with my one black sack for every 6 or 7 pink ones.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Hourses for Corses

Today I am obsessed with Virago Meridian. Well no, not really; but I do tend to go to enormous lengths to justify spending money - sometimes. My phone (Sago) is hopelessly slow, has an appallingly small memory and sends quite small texts as multiples. I do miss my wuvely Samsung! but sadly can no longer text with it - and what is a phone for if not for texting and taking pics? Talking? Me? On a phone? I think not.

It's a kind of phobia apart from anything else. Based on my Revenue days, when a phone ringing might mean a little old lady in need of someone to talk to, who maybe hasn't spoken to another human being this past fortnight - well it was my job to be that human being, and to my management's great and everlasting credit, they would actively encourage such use of business time and money. Or it could bring death threats, you pays your money... So apart from the few who were out to fiddle, there were so so many lives I touched, and can I say it was in a good way? I hope for some it was. So I have huge emotional issues with phones.

And then there's my hands. Swollen and knobbly and painful because I haven't done enough knitting lately. Too much D S! Actually not enough energy to knit, poor me. So it's tricky trying to press buttons, and speak to someone in a normal tone of voice when my hands are hurting and shaking with the effort of holding the phone up. Ah well such is life!

So I accosted some poor youth in one of the mobile shops this evening. Big Chief Whitehair had come home with his own version of poorly hands (which puts my pathetic examples to shame) and I helped him collect Young Master from The Academy, and he ran me into town to accost same poor youth. I walked into the store, to see a - gaggle? google? nah, slouch of some dozen or so teens - or so they seem to my bitterly ageing eyes - who fell silent and watched me with a degree of horror in their eyes as I sticked my way across the store. It was quite funny really. I was very aware of greasy hair, unmake-up and slouchy clothes - for once I wasn't wearing my slippers hehe - and I just looked back at them, shrugged my shoulders, and said "Anyone?"

This poor youth came and helped me as I examined some new mobiles for arthriti-textability. I found some lovely phones, and he did his best to help, and was extremely patient with me. If only twere not for the internet discounts, I would have given him the sale - but I guess I'm as greedy as the next consumer. I came away empty-handed - not having even taken a handbag or purse with me. I could have offered a tissue in payment, clean of course, but decided not to. After all I might have to go back in there one day.

But that's only half the sad sorry tale. I need a new internet provider, and cable is looking attractive. Butternut charges me an arm and a leg for phonecalls, Supersupreme just about doubled my broadband charges in one month, so why not go to someone who can do both, and throw in Discover Channel on top? Hmmmm...

So I went to enormous lengths to cost up the benefits. Such lengths in fact, that I've still only done half the job; and now all I can think of is Virago Meridian, and whether B C W-H's hard earned cash will be safe in their hands. He thinks I'm obsessing; it's true I am. And this is where I came in.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Ummm Ahhh indeed...

When have I ever been short of words online? When presented with a blank page on which to blurt I suppose...

I've been thinking about doing this for years'n'years, in fact do a kind of blog in the Pink Palace (cheers and whistles in the background); but this is a different-feeling beast. This might be read by someone other than very dear friends. Well it might be read by someone else - if they're really unlucky.

So what did I do today? I jumped out of bed with unnatural haste, and am sat here in jimjams creating a blog. It's only half nine for goodness sake, what else could possibly be achieved at this time of the morning? I have a Day of Delight ahead - piles of washing and laundry to do - so long as I don't have to go back in The Bedroom (dum dum dahhhhh) to put it away before Big Chief Whitehair comes home to hold my hand and tell me I'm daft. Ooo I forgot - I did a bit of research between the jumping and the blogging, and finally read what can best be described as a work of art before taking the plunge. M I B - thank you.

I'm going now because if I write it all down today I won't have anything "interesting" (yeah right) to bang on about tomorrow. Or ever again. The morning sunlight that poured gold over the keyboard has gone, the rain is scrawling shorthand all over my window, so if I don't go now I'll be mesmerised, and what a lost housework opportunity that would be.