Thursday, 29 September 2005

small excitements

So, I've both done the VAT return and beaten the Aztecs. Triumph reigns all round.

A minor glitch this morning though - I'm supposed to be out on a gig with B and had a panic attack instead. Hey ho. So here I am, sat on the sofa, with my lovely laptop, in front of the fire. And he is climbing up ladders and lifting heavy boxes without me.

What makes it slightly more complicated is that its for a client we have decided that we don't want to work with again. And B felt morally obliged to tell them so yesterday, when we'd made the decision. A long story, too long, miserable and possibly libellous to recount. But strange how some people's personalities make them so difficult to work for.

You can do a job for one person and it's great fun - and no-one would work in the AV industry if they weren't having fun. But a similar job for a different person can be completely stressy and miserable, simply because of their attitude. We decided that however much we were earning from this client, it wasn't enough to make up for the stress and anxiety even minor interactions with them engendered.

In other news: The new lodger seems to be working out well. And the washing machine, which blew up on the previous lodgers about twenty minutes before they left, while they were responsibly washing their sheets, is still under guarantee. Yay! The man is coming to fix it this afternoon and I will be able to stop wearing my pants both ways round. Small excitements, but you really don't realise how much you miss clean socks until you haven't got them.

Tuesday, 27 September 2005

forgive us for those things we have left undone

I am doing the VAT return. Honestly.

I've been doing it for about ten days and Civilization III keeps getting in my way. It throws itself bodily in front of me and those dashed Aztecs keep attacking my cities and forcing me to turn my attention away from real-world financial reconciliation towards virtual-world diplomacy. And building big-ass tanks and cruise missiles of course.

I'll get them in the end.

But today my time has run out. I need to do the pay. If I don't get it all done pretty soon, not only will Her Majesty's Customs and Excise be sending the Boys Round, but R will starve.

This is what happens when you buy yourself a new laptop on Ebay whilst your husband is working away. It just kind of happened by accident - I didn't expect to win the auction and all of a sudden, oops, there it was and not only did I have to pay for it, I had to explain to B what I'd done.

It's a lovely laptop, but that's not really the point.

Hey ho. He was very nice about it, considering :).

Saturday, 24 September 2005

thank you

Just a quick update, in response the the comments and emails people have sent. Thank you all so much. I was really touched when I booted up this morning and a virtual torrent of support poured in to my inbox.

The funeral was indeed pretty crumby. B's Mum had actual hysterics as we were following the coffin in to the crematorium. She just couldn't help herself.

The funeral service itself was awful. It was a dry, dessicated spiel, spoken by the father-in-law of one of her grandaughters, an elder in the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Aunty Kate was not a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses and was very upset that her son and all of his family had joined. She was very distressed that she was not allowed to give any of her grandchildren or her great grandchildren presents or cards at birthdays or christmas.

There was no music at all at the service and the address was largely about her son and daughter in law and their family and how they had been left behind, but would be reunited again in the coming Paradise On Earth. There was also much pushing about how 'every single thing in the bible is true'.

The most passionate thing this man said about her was that she was 'an interesting person'. There was no celebration of her life, her uniqueness, the fact that she was loved by everyone who met her. Her beloved husband of fortyfive years was not mentioned at all. Kate and Vic were mentioned once, in passing, as part of a list of other family.

Kerry The Daughter In Law left the crematorium chapel immediately the service was over and went and sat in her car, waiting, thus probably avoiding a family row.

Not even a cup of tea and a biscuit was laid on by the immediate family for cousins who had driven three hours in each direction to come to the funeral.

B's family's response to any crisis seems to be to get pissed. So we went to the pub after the funeral yesterday and had a meal and a few pints and as nice a time as could be expected.

It then transpired that one of the reasons Kate was NOT in fact wearing all Aunty Kate's jewellery was that it is all at the local Police Station. Her son and daughter in law had called the police when they heard that Aunty Kate had died, and three policemen had turned up to question the nursing home and the doctor and had taken all her effects away.

The whole episode has been disgraceful.

I think that we are going to organise a memorial service for her at her own church, with her own vicar.

Anyway, it is all over now, the will is with a solicitor and no-one has to have anything else to do with Harry and Kerry unless they want to.

I am now going to have a large glass of wine and sit on the sofa in front of the fire with my husband, who seems to have got his brain back again.

This is good.

Thursday, 22 September 2005

passing the baton

Well, as days go, today is up there with the day I trapped Charlie The Pet Chicken's head under the door as I opened it, and broke his neck.

Luton Airport were great last night. They handled the whole situation very sensitively, got Kate and Vic to a phone, phoned me, passed the phone over to them, and off I went with my Message Of Doom.

They were upset, obviously - they asked me for the bare bones of details and then said that they would phone me this morning.

I've just come back from their house.

B has gone out to another job that he can't get out of, but will be back in a couple of hours. He got in at 2.30 last night and is dealing with the emotional situation by focusing entirely on work.

Kate is focusing her grief on material things, like getting the will to a solicitor and wearing all Aunty Kate's jewellery to the funeral tomorrow so that Kerry The Daughter-In-Law will see it and realise that Aunty Kate would have given it to her if she'd have accepted it. Apparently Aunty Kate tried to give it to her and Kerry put it back in her jewellery box.

Vic cried.

He tried really hard not to and it just came out in big explosions.

I felt awful witnessing it. He didn't really know how. I tried to give him a hug, but he didn't know how to respond to that, either. He was absolutely rigid with tension and just sobbing these great big blowing sobs.

I left about thirty minutes after that and parked the car down the road and cried myself out.

I want B to come home.

I want all this to go away.

I want the funeral to be over, and without any terrible family scenes.

This is not my family, but they have become my family.

We are all hurting, in our different ways.

Wednesday, 21 September 2005

limbo dancing

Funeral: Cremation, 10.30, Friday.
Flowers: Yes, apparently.
Funeral arranged by: Aunty Kate's son and daughter in law, who didn't want to hang around until Kate and Vic touched down to start funeral arrangements. Quite understandably.
Contacted Kate and Vic yet? No. Have just left a message with Duty Manager at Luton Airport. Expecting them to phone in about an hour. Efficient Terminal Manager Person is going to get them met off the plane.
B home yet? No, just leaving London, won't be home in time to take phone call from his parents.
The thing that's upset me the most is ordering the flowers. I feel that leaving flowers at a funeral is horrible anyway, a bit like flower-murder, especially at this time of year when it's getting colder and they don't last. And it's so terribly final. But on the other hand, I feel that a coffin without flowers is almost naked, without any softening of the harsh edges of reality.

I've sorted them out for all of B's family - us, Uncle Horace, Aunty Nance-in-Australia and B's parents.

I've phoned the people that we think would want to know when the funeral is, as I don't expect Kate and Vic will be wanting to do that tomorrow. It leaves them the choice whether or not they get in touch with them, they won't have to if they don't want to.

This evening Nina gave me a lift round to Kate and Vic's, to leave a final-shot written message for them to see when they come in, in case all the other messages asking them to phone us didn't get through.

On balance, I think it can be said that it has been a pretty shit day.

Not as bad as Kate and Vic's is going to be though :(.

Tuesday, 20 September 2005

conversations with my mother #97428

I rang my Ma last night for a bit of a chat about the Aunty Kate situation and she was really supportive - listened to everything I had to say, gave good advice ("It's not really your issue Ally, or come that, B's - all you can do is hold the fort until Kate and Vic get back and then hand over to them and try not to get involved").

And then she clearly set out to make me laugh:

Ma: So, I'm fifty quid a month down now because I've been giving Eadie Winters a massage twice a month and she's had to go in to hospital.
Me: Oh yes?
Ma: Yes. First she drove her scooter in to the church door and gashed her leg pretty badly.
Me: Nasty.
Ma: Yes. And then she tripped over and broke her leg.
Me: Ah.
Ma: I don't think she and Winnie Smith are really safe to be living on their own any more.
Me: No?
Ma: No. Last time I went down there I was having a cup of tea with Eadie before her massage and Winnie came in and said that she'd left the cooker on again. Last time she'd left some papers on the top of it and luckily someone came in and smelt the smoke just before they caught fire.
Me: Ah. Not good.
Ma: No. And Lucy Masters [a neighbour] says that I should be careful when I turn in to their road as Eadie has started driving again.
Me: Right.
Ma: She gave it up when her cataracts got too bad and Winnie was driving everywhere. But now she's had her cataracts done and Winnie has had a heart attack and can't drive, so Eadie's taken it up again.
Me: Goodness.
Ma: Apparently when people see her driving up through the village everyone dives for cover.
R reckons he can see a Phoenix Nights-type series set in the village coming up ... .

Monday, 19 September 2005

light relief

In other news:

One set of Polish Lodgers leaves tomorrow.

On Saturday another set arrive. This time a young woman who is the cousin of the current Polish Lodger's Girlfriend. I am going to refer to her as Polish Lodger's Girlfriend's Cousin, or PLGC, for short.

She has her own laptop and we have said we will run a network cable in to her room so she can use the broadband connection in privacy.

This is good.

The rest of the week contains bed-moving shennanigins, painting-the-bathroom shennanigins and a WI with Dani and Nina where we plan on eating lots of pizza and gossiping about irrelevant things.

Life goes on.

continuing saga

I don't feel I'm on very good blog form at the moment. The options are:

  1. Keep blogging about stuff that's happening so I don't get out of the habit, and risk depressing everyone so much they stop reading, OR
  2. Stop for a bit, which I don't really want to do, as I'm finding it relatively therapeutic. Sorry. Bear with me.

Aunty Kate's daughter-in-law, Kerry, has been on the phone a couple of times this morning. She wants Aunty Kate's birth certificate details so that they can register the death - no problem, neither B nor I have an issue with going through Aunty Kate's things. There is now NOT going to be a post-mortem and her body is waiting at the hospital until it can be released to the undertaker.

The problem is that there are no instructions about Aunty Kate's wishes for her burial or cremation or funeral service in any of the papers that I can find. They are either in her will, which I feel it is not my place to look for, or they are in Kate's head, which is still in Greece and not accessible either.

Kerry is hassling me about finding out the details of the solicitor who wrote her will, as she knows that Aunty Kate had met with one. She virtually asked me if I would look through Kate and Vic's papers to see if was there.

I don't want to. Partly because I don't think Kate and Vic would want me to go through their papers - it has to be me, as B has gone away working for a few days. And partly because I know that there were issues with Aunty Kate making a will - she wanted her house to be split between the grandchildren and not go to her son Harry. I am not sure whether a will was written by the solicitor in the end or whether Aunty Kate did one by herself. But anyway, neither B nor I want to get any more involved that we are already.

I think that Kerry is also looking for someone to blame about the death. I know people often do as a way of dealing with their grief. But much as I might disapprove of Kate and Vic not leaving any contact details, I am not prepared to say that to Kerry and get in the middle of (or trigger) another family feud.

The other issue that has transpired is that on the day Kate and Vic left for holiday, a friend of the family took Aunty Kate for her specialist appointment at the hospital and she was diagnosed as having lukemia. The friend told the care home this but it looks as if they did not inform the doctor who was called out to Aunty Kate three days before she died. B and I didn't know and neither did her son and daughter-in-law. The letter confirming the diagnosis has only just arrived in the post.

Kerry wants to speak to the family friend. The family friend doesn't want to speak to her. I am stuck in the middle, telling fibs about not being able to find address books.

It's a mess.

I am pretty distressed and confused about all these things that are known or unknown, so goodness knows what Aunty Kate's actual family must be feeling.

Everything is on hold until Thursday.

Saturday, 17 September 2005

hide and seek

We spend yesterday phoning people. Family in Australia and random guest houses on small Greek islands.

To answer both of Cheryl's questions in the comments of the last post - Kate and Vic are uncontactable. They have been travelling independently and we have no idea where they are. B and I went round to their house yesterday and rifled through Kate's email to see if we could find any information. We found one hotel and a bed and breakfast that they had booked for the first four nights of their stay, nearly three weeks ago. And a flight number.

I've phoned both the hotel and the B & B. They didn't leave any clues about where they were going on to. So all I have been able to do is leave messages at each place, in case they directly reverse their journey, and a message with Easyjet (who I have to say were very helpful) that will pop up when they book in for their flight home on Wednesday evening, to ask that they phone us urgently. This means that at least we won't need to spend Wednesday night kipping on their sofa to be there when they get home at 3am.

We haven't done anything else - I suppose we could contact consulates and raise the wind - but because it was a 'sudden death' there is going to be an inquest. So there is no rush for them to come home and sort through Aunt Kate's papers and find wills and funeral instructions - all of that kind of thing is at their house, as she was living with them.

Also, it is a mute point whether they would WANT to be contacted. I have to admit I am having some difficulty with this. When Kate's mother died three years ago, two days before she and Vic were due to go on holiday for three weeks, she posponed the funeral for a month until she'd come back. It was horrible, we were all in limbo while they were away. But it has made me a bit less frantic to get hold of them, as there is a precedent.

In the meantime, the family split Cheryl also referred to looks like it is done and dusted. It was pretty much between Aunt Kate and her daughter-in-law and in it's process, her son and grandchildren and great grandchildren all got dragged in. However, Aunt Kate's son, Harry, has stepped up to the plate and is organising funeral directors and things - as is his privelige and, really, his responsibility.

So, perhaps, on one hand, Aunt Kate going like this, while Vic and Kate are away, has meant that he has HAD to do this for her and given him the chance to both do the right thing and to make amends, if only in a 'better late than never' kind of way. If Vic and Kate were here, I suspect it would have been left to them.

My final conversation with her:

Aunt Kate: "Well, at least there's a nice veranda I can sit on outside the home and watch the world go by."
Me: "Yes? That'll be nice."
Aunt Kate: "Yes. Except it's on the main road and people might think that I'm for sale."
"I won't make much. I've got no chest."

She will be missed.

Thursday, 15 September 2005

go gentle in to that good night

The Respite Care Home rang at ten to eight to tell us that Aunty Kate passed on in the night.

She had decided that while Kate and Vic were on holiday for three weeks it would be best if she had a holiday too, as she didn't feel she wanted to stay at home by herself.

B spoke to her on Friday and she seemed quite chipper, although mentioned that she had a pain in her stomach. The care home lady said that the GP had been out to her on Monday and that she'd phoned him again yesterday. But clearly there was nothing serious enough to let us know about.

I am quite shocked.

B was in a show when I phoned him to tell him, has had two hours sleep and is also pretty shocked.

We are now in a really wierd 'loco parentis' place until Kate and Vic get back from holiday on Tuesday. How does one look after the best interests of someone who is no longer alive? Do they even still have best interests?

Her son is organising an undertaker and will presumably organise the funeral. Presumably for after Kate and Vic's return, but I guess that's up to him and his wife and therefore anything could happen. I have phoned and left them a message saying how sorry I am and please do contact us if there is anything that they need us to do. I guess I can't do anything else.

R is coming round a bit later and we will try and persuade B to come home and let him take over the show.

I am experiencing oddness :/.

Wednesday, 14 September 2005

two things

Thing one - 'Fuel Protesters'

What's going on there, then
? It seems like a small number of chaps who are convinced the world revolves around them, throwing their toys out of the pram because they are at the tough end of world economic policy and society's environmental needs. What are these people, or their descendents, going to do when fossil fuels run out in a few decades? Park their enormous fuel-guzzling vehicles on the motorways and drum their heels on the tarmac until time reverses for them?

Thing two - 'Bullys'

John Band at Shot By Both Sides has stopped posting, because of quote "those of you who lied, twisted, cheated and bullied until the least worst choice available to me was to close the site" unquote.

It would be nice to think that the web is a community of tech-literate, altruistic, friendly people who are proponents of free speech and generally getting on with life in a "do what you will but hurt no-one" kind of way.

Unfortunately, there seem to be a proportional number of people who get their ya-yas by intimidation, bullying, power-games and trying to control other people.

The internet and real world are actually just reflections of each other, and this makes me sadder than it should.

Tuesday, 13 September 2005

the days stand like angels, in blue and gold

You may have noticed that I have become very quiet about the Polish Lodger Situation recently. This is because there have been Issues.

One of the issues has been that I think that due to Lodger Nosiness, there has been some reading of my blog going on, which I have found a bit inhibiting. However, I guess it partly serves me right for not clearing the cache.

Anyway, my perception of a good reciprocal Landlord/Lodger relationship is one of mutual respect for each other's space.

Lodgers should not:

  • expect to use the landlord's office and computer as a recreational facility during working hours and then be slightly stroppy when asked to move so that landlords can do business things
  • when the landlord wants to use their own computer as a recreational facility after business hours, lodgers should not sit in the room looking over their shoulder at the screen and exuding 'clear out of my space' vibes
  • shower so splashily that water flows through the kitchen ceiling on a regular basis, despite being asked a couple of times to use the other shower
  • load their own software on to the landlords' computers
  • use all the loo-roll in the house while landlords are away on holiday and not replace it (twice)
  • expect landlords to empty bathroom bin full of unwrapped used sanitary towels
  • use the landlords quite expensive organic sugar at a rate of knots and not replace it
  • put on music in a shared space without checking with the other people in the house that it's okay with them

I tried to make this post a 'funny', but I can't, I'm a bit too disgruntled with it all. A lot of these things are quite small - but there are a lot of them. And I don't like the feeling that I am being squeezed out of my own space. I think that they got used to having the whole house to themselves while we were away, and it has been difficult for them (particularly PLG) to re-adjust back to the house not being their own personal love-nest.

Some of this is my oversensitivity, I know. Some of it is two couples in the same house. Some of it is because one of the women is nineteen - I didn't like living with teenagers when I was one and it sure as hell hasn't got any better as I've got older - particularly as there does seem to be an element of Kevin-And-Perry-ism going on.

Consequently, we have decided that in the future we will definitely NOT be renting to couples and will probably have reservations about about renting to people younger than mid-twenties who haven't lived anywhere but with their parents.

We also need to be a bit more definite about boundaries as they has certainly been some 'give an inch, take a mile' going on - in the case of the sugar, "can I borrow some of your sugar" does not equate to "can I use more of your sugar than you are yourself".

Grumble grumble grumble.

Hey ho. Only another week to go.

Monday, 12 September 2005

bed in a ditch

We have given in to our base impulses and bought a bed.

In this case, the base impulse was largely not to wake up every morning with a vague back-ache each and not to feel as if one is on a trampoline when the other inhabitants of the bed turn over in the night. There can be up to four of us at any one time - me and B, plus the two cats.

It's a five feet wide wooden sleigh-bed affair that was on special offer in Homebase on Friday when we popped in for a pot of bathroom paint and a loo-roll holder.

You know how it is.

However - it doesn't have a mattress ... and we probably need to save up for a good one. Because the current bed is only four foot six wide, we can't use that mattress as a temporary measure. So we have storage issues.

It's going to have to live in the hall for a bit, with the two bicycles.

I am periodically tempted to chuck everything away and copy this chap. But then I remind myself that he is going to be LIVING IN A DITCH, during the ENGLISH WINTER. And suddenly I feel much better about all our clutter. Read his blog, here and donate here, in aid of the Woodland Trust, if you are so inclined.

Friday, 9 September 2005

five questions

Cheryl asked me some questions. I quite like these 'interview other bloggers' things, as if you get the questions right, they give readers quite a bit of insight in to both questioner and answerer ... here are her questions and my answers:

1. Please list at least the three most embarrassing times you got caught, during your school years; one to involve a boy:

1. At the age of about seven, by my mother, while I was making my little sister stand against the door in the sitting room so that I could shoot arrows around her, like they did on the TV. They had rubber suckers on the end, I don't know what all the fuss was about.

2. In the Sixth Form Studies, at 9.30 pm, necking, sans blouse, with Peter The Transvestite*, by the Headmaster. He didn't believe that I was waiting for my sister to finish Orchestra Practice. Incidentally she'd got locked in one of the boarding houses. One of the boy's ones. It was an odd evening.

3. In my bedroom, with Peter the Transvestite. I am nineteen (I was a late starter). My parents are downstairs, watching the Six-O'Clock news. My bedstead squeaks, really, really loudly. So we are on the floor. I am getting quite bad carpet burns. The wardrobe door is creaking and banging, really rhythmically.

I hear my quite elderly father say to my mother:

"What are they doing up there? Moving the furniture?".
I hear my mother say:
"Well, Ally did say that she was thinking of re-arranging things. Perhaps Peter is helping her, he's a nice boy".
I love my mother.

2. What is the single most mindboggling liberty your ex-pigfriend took. You know, the memory that creeps up on you every once in a blue moon and leaves you stiff with outrage or disbelief, at him, or at yourself for falling for it? We've all got one (or two, or three.....):

Too many to even begin to articulate without foaming. But probably the most coherent was the Sandwich Feud.

I said:

"Of course I'll support you if you decide you want to lose weight. What about making sandwiches to take to work instead of stopping at Asda on the way to work and buying three rounds of sandwiches and two bars of chocolate? What about having a sensible breakfast at home and making a nice, healthy sandwich for lunch? I'll help you!".
And then I'd come home from my split shift at 10.30pm (on the bus, because he didn't want to come out again in the car (my car) to pick me up from the dodgy end of the docks in Newport after he got home from work) and he'd tell me I was being unsupportive because I said I was a bit too tired to start making his sandwiches immediately and perhaps he could have a go at doing it himself?

Or how about the time that he told me that he thought that I wasn't making enough effort to get on with his mother and perhaps I could phone her once a week for a chat? Although he didn't call her regularly himself and she used to write me letters telling me how I was ruining his life and asking me to post back any birthday presents she'd given me. In between phoning him repeatedly at work and telling him that he should leave me.

Or what about one May, when he sat me down and told me that around the Easter, he'd decided to give our relationship until the end of June and then decide whether or not he still loved me. And he hadn't decided yet. But he just wanted me to know.

I could go on. But I won't, I don't want to waste the material :).

3. Imagine your life going really well - everything gradually falling in to place from here on in. Now imagine yourself at 80 having lived the 'it all worked out' life. What one piece of advice would the 80 year old you give to you right now? If you have no idea, then who would she be?

"Don't sweat it babe, it'll all be okay. And remember to make hay while the sun shines."
(Have you read "The Time Traveller's Wife"? I recommend it.)

4. Describe one recurring dream you have ever had, now or in childhood.

In childhood.

I am running along a railway track on a grassy plain. The grass itself is short but it has seed-heads on longer stalks, as big as bumble-bees. The wind ripples across it and moves it like water. There is nothing but the grass and the tracks as far as I can see. I need to follow the tracks to get to safety, as the T-Rex is chasing me. As I run along the tracks, I can see silvery dots high up in the blue sky far away and I know that the aliens are around and that something really, really bad is going to happen.

Eventually I get to the porta-cabin that is my infant-school classroom and I know I have to hide. I huddle behind the five-foot high red calor-gas canisters (they seem enormous) that are in a wire cage on the side of the building. I make myself as small as possible, scrunching up and up and up, tucking my head down as far as I can, screwing my eyes shut - because there is danger, danger, danger. I am frozen with terror - I can feel it in my limbs, in my breathing, in the weight in my chest.

And then the aliens come down in their flying saucer and start taking people away.

I have no idea what this means, but I had it regularly between the ages of five and ten and I used to wake up absolutely petrified every time, too frightened to move or to scream.

5. Which fairy story character did you most want to be?

Difficult. I don't think I did - there always seemed to be a catch. And 'happily ever after' seemed so tame. I always wanted to know what happened after the end of the story.

Passing it on:

Quoting Cheryl, who thought she'd set me up, but who I forgive anyway: "If anyone wants me to think up five questions about them then all you have to do is leave a comment here, saying either 'set me up' or 'be gentle', and I will do my best to comply with whichever version you choose."

* I didn't know he was, then. Largely because neither did he.

Thursday, 8 September 2005

onward and upward

I want to say 'thank you' to everyone who commented on or emailed me about my previous post. I am feeling very vulnerable indeed at the moment and it has been really comforting to read all the support and suggestions from you all.

I also wanted to add a note about other stuff that I'm doing or have found helpful, so you don't think I am just sat around popping pills and waiting for a 'magic cure':

  • Meditation and exercise both really, really help
  • Talking therapy - Cognitive Behaviour Therapy helped me learn to manage myself a bit better
  • I have reiki regularly - a couple of times a month, more if I need it, which balances me up
  • Dealing with ongoing (and past) issues that cause reactive stress, like work, wierd-ass family stuff, crazy ex-boyfriends etc.

When I first went on the tablets last year, I very much did see them both as a last resort and as a short-term thing, which is partly why I feel so devastated at the realisation that I still need them. Bedshaped made a point from his own experience about feeling bad because he felt chemically dependent. I completely identify with that - I feel the same way.

But, having said that, I am working hard at telling myself that depression is simply caused by a serotonin imbalance in the brain. It is not a personal failure or a weak inability to cope with things other people find easy. It is just a chemical imbalance, no different from having a thyroid or an insulin imbalance. Taking SSRIs helps to correct the balance, and I am lucky enough to have been prescribed a kind that works well for me - apparently it can sometimes take three or four goes before people get the right one for them, which is partly why they have a bad reputation in some quarters, as there is no way of predicting how one will react to them.

As Cheryl said, these days, anti-depressants are supposed to have a permanent effect on the brain and actually cure the problem over time. Hopefully this will be helped by all the other things I'm doing, which a lot of people actually find are enough to sort the imbalance out without resorting to medication.

I spent most of yesterday sitting on the sofa in my pajamas, feeling sorry for myself, reading Thrones, Dominations by Dorothy L Sayers and eating my way through an enormous chocolate cake. Today, I am going to be more productive. And I am going to screw my courage to the sticking point and give the adoption agency a ring to let them know the situation.

I've found a very helpful book called When You Can't Have a Child. The clue is in the title - it is basically interviews with people who can't have children and positive stories about how they have dealt with their situation. I wouldn't say it's inspiring exactly, but it's certainly made me feel more positive about the idea of putting the adoption process on hold and begin to address the possibility that it might not happen at all.

I also want to say that I completely understand why agencies have this policy. It isn't fair to the potential adopters who's issues are resolved by being on medication. But being fair to the adopters is not the agencies' primary remit - they need to do their best for the children in their care and I guess that having a blanket policy ensures that they do this. So hard though it is on us personally, I am okay with it.

We have some fab new tea. I am going to go and have a cup.

Monday, 5 September 2005

my lute be still

So, being back home is nice. But it has it's downside.

Before we went away we had a discussion about how I was coping without the anti-depressants. Our conclusion was that although I was a lot better than I had been before I went on them, depression has gradually been creeping up on me again since I stopped taking them. We thought this might have been due to stress - work, Polish Lodgers, bathroom renovations etc. etc.. So we decided that we would see how I felt while we were away and when we got back; and if I wasn't significantly better, we'd go back to the doctor.

On Wednesday, we went back to the doctor.

I am back on anti-depressants.

Because the adoption agency we have been in discussions with has a policy of not considering as an adopter anyone who is on, or who has recently stopped taking anti-depressants, I need to telephone them to let them know.

I am feeling pretty reluctant to do this, but I guess I'll get round to it in a day or two.

Apparently one gets the best results from these anti-depressants if one stays on them for eighteen months to two years.

It is ironic that whilst I am taking the tablets I am fine. No sadness, no feelings of not coping, no irrational thoughts. I am a perfectly functional human being.

It appears that when I stop taking the tablets, I can perm up to three of the above at any one time.

  • To adopt I need to be funtioning properly.
  • To function properly, I need to take the tablets.
  • To adopt I need to be not taking the tablets.
  • One of the reasons I become sad and stressed is that we do not have a family of our own.
  • To help manage these feelings I need to take the tablets.
  • To adopt a family of our own, I need to be not taking the tablets.

And so it goes round.

Friday, 2 September 2005

not a drop to drink

Have you ever travelled from Birmingham to the Netherlands, via Canterbury and Harwich, in a seven and a half ton truck being driven by someone who needs to stop every forty minutes to have a pee?

B's antibiotics for his tick-bite must have upset his flora and fauna to such an extent, that on our one pants-washing day at home between France and the Netherlands, he started to exhibit all the uncomfortable symptoms of a water infection.

Before we found somewhere where he could go and see a doctor, we tried home doctoring:

Me: "Drink plenty of water."
B: [bloated voice] "I am. Ally, I can't possibly drink any more water, OR I WILL BURST AND DIE."
Me: "You're not drinking enough. Honestly! Men! Women have this all the time. Here! Drink this! And put some yoghurt on your, you know, your MAN BITS."
B: [strained AND bloated voice] "I beg your pardon?"
Me: "Dip it in yoghurt. It works for water infections as well as for thrush."
B: [very quietly and very emphatically] "I am not, under any circumstances, dipping my nob in yoghurt."
Me: "Ah, go on!"
B: "No!"
Me: "It's soothing, honestly! Hang on, I'll get some." [scampers off and returns to bedroom, brandishing triumphal yoghurt]
B: [sitting on side of bed, resigned AND strained AND bloated voice] "What do I do?"
Me: "Well, I suppose, just dip it in ... "
B: [his back to me, silent few moment]
Me: "Is that better?"
B: [slight pause] "Yes, thank you."
[longer pause]
B: "You're so going to blog about this, aren't you?"
Me: [coughs] "It honestly hadn't even crossed my mind."

Thursday, 1 September 2005


The hotel we stayed in for a few nights at Noyers-Sur-Serein was truly beautiful. It was in the centre of the little mediaeval town, in a seventeenth century building. Some of the rooms were in the towers of the old town walls and when you went out of the back gate, you could walk along by the lazy old river meander that surrounded the town.

We ate in the garden, or at a long table in the dining room. No choice - a three course meal of whatever was cooking. It was wonderful.

Our room was fabulously eccentric - note the brown-and-cream fabric wallpaper and the brown fabric ceiling. You entered through the en-suite bathroom and then went on in to the room. Despite it's magnificence I have failed to take a picture of the bathroom, as it was painted entirely in black. Black walls, black ceiling. But along with some interesting mood lighting it had oodles of hot water, which after the insanitary horrors of the campsite was very welcome indeed.

The windows looked out on to the town square and we had a siesta each afternoon on the old-fashioned sleigh bed, with the shutters drawn to keep out the heat.

On our final afternoon, down the road someone was playing a scratchy recording of Edith Piaf and in the room next door someone was typing on a clunky old typewriter. It was a real Ernest Hemingway moment - I felt as if we were listening to sounds drifting in from seventy years ago.

We will be going back.