Tuesday, 26 January 2016


My daughter Kate and son-in-law Darren have just become parents!

SO excited... . Congratulations you two!



Tuesday, 19 January 2016

News Round-Up

There's a bit of a controversy over here about right-wing bias in the BBC. It does look a bit skewed to be honest. But these things usually even themselves out. Besides, I am no longer in a position to complain about BBC news, because I no longer watch it. It's a price Auntie appears willing to pay.

So I get my news from my Twitter feed, which is unashamedly biased, but in a GOOD way. I only get the news I want to hear.

I am very disappointed that Peter Phillips is being paid to ask other people to pay to go to his granny's birthday bash in the Mall. Of course I am glad the Queen has made it to ninety as the alternative would be inconceivable, but this 'pay as you party' wheeze says everything about the Upper Class attitude to the rest of us that is going to lead to us into becoming a Republic one day.

A PR firm has the job of persuading me to clean the streets for the big event: it's wasting somebody's money.

I was at a newsy event myself last week, I hauled my lazy arse off to London to attend a Fabian's conference that featured Jeremy Corbyn. Nothing flashy about Jez. He has the quiet, unassuming authoritative air of a man at home in his skin. I like it. He has a mountain to climb though, because people are stupid. Sorry, I have to say it. Look at the facts: Corbyn says something unconventional like let's not waste billions of money we're CONSTANTLY being told we don't have, on an obscene and obsolete weapons system, we can't even use. He is excoriated in the Tory press. Stupid people just can't work out that democracy only works if all sides are heard. I have to listen to enough of that over-privileged, over-stuffed imbecile David Cameron. Come on! Let's have some balance.

That's better!

Sometimes you just have to let rip.

Sorry if I've offended anyone:it was probably intentional.



Thursday, 7 January 2016

Poetic License

I recently petitioned Parliament. This is easy to do these days, and a spiffing idea, I think. I obtained the necessary number of signatures to get it off the ground (5: hardly a major hurdle) and am waiting for the Parliamentary Petitions Department to decide whether to permit it's publication, or not. To be fair, I have no idea what the confirmation process is, or whether a 'Parliamentary Petitions Department' really exists, but I feel it ought.


I am a tenant with a good and responsible landlord. My petition is for the 700,000 tenants living in unsafe and/or insanitary conditions being ripped off by unscrupulous landlords (or landladies for that matter).


I wrote a stirring introduction, and a heart-rending appeal designed to animate the Compassion Community and spur them to action. I was immensely pleased with myself. I hit send, and there it was : "That All Private Landlords Should Be Licenced." Lord, am I embarrassed?

I shall say it's the 'Greengrocer's Apostrohe' trick ... A deliberate error designed to draw in the pedant and trap her into buying 'Potato's'... .


Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Choosing a Wig

First of all, the tests for mylenoma came back negative. I can't remember ever feeling quite so relieved. So what IS causing my back pain is still an unknown, possibly to be resolved by an MRI scan next Friday week.


It's interesting to look back on how I dealt with this little bit of a crisis, bearing in mind that I have an unbudgeable faith, and three years of really good Buddhist teaching under my belt.


"Oh my God! I'm going to die!" This was my, not totally together, response to my husband's casual request to 'phone the doctor about my test results. The routine is, you get tested, and you call back in a week for the results. That, I discovered, is for when the results require no further action.


"There's a very slight elevation of protein in your blood ... Further tests ... Mylenoma ... Yes it IS treatable ... Prognosis - good ..." By the time I was having this conversation with my doctor, I was supremely calm. I posed all the right questions, I said thank you. I put the 'phone down and remained calm and quite reassured. "Oh well." I told myself, cancer looks unlikely, doctor just being cautious." I started to make light of it.


"Now that I'm dying," I would say, lifting the back of my hand to my forehead in the manner of a nymph on a Greek urn, " I think another cup of tea wouldn't go amiss." For days. Ray was perfect. He'd roll his eyes and make the tea.


Next off, comes the appointment from the hospital for four days hence. On Christmas Eve. Straight back to,"Oh my God, I'm dying! NOBODY has an appointment on Christmas Eve!" The letter advises bring a close friend or relative with you. I went with my brother when he got his diagnosis. I know what THIS means. The 'now that I'm dying' act ceased immediately.


I have to know. So, after vowing not to, I go onto the Internet and check my disease out. Don't do it, no, really, don't. I read the survival stats. (So generalised to be meaningless, as they will always be.) I watched the video on 'Caring for a patient with ... ' Not a good idea. I then set about checking out wigs. And reminding myself that I haven't yet picked the readings and music for my Requiem Mass.


My friend Catherine, a breast cancer survivor, says this, the time between suspicion and diagnosis, is the worst time of all. So, having abandoned the Internet, made the best of it. I asked friends to pray with me, and for me. This was great, I was so surrounded by love and concern: it warmed and comforted me, it helped me to bear it. I don't ask my Creator for special favours, though, this is my prayer:


"What comes to me, comes, it is neither reward nor punishment, it just is. This is what faith is for. Walk with me. "


I chose not to tell my daughters until there was definite news. And if there was bad news, not to tell them until after Christmas. My youngest spotted me leaving the hospital: a coincidence so unlikely, it's staggering, but there you are, random things randomly happen. So I didn't entirely get away with this piece of subterfuge!


I held, "Walk with me." close, and this became the open invitation to be awake and aware of both the wonder and the cruelty that is everyone's life. I walked my garden, dwelling on every seed head, every mossy stone, every sign of emergent life ... I visited friends at the project for recovering addicts and listened with heightened intensity, I played with my grandchildren as if I was as young as they are. Sometimes, however, I remembered, and panic arose. I let it be, I let it pass.


The hospital visit couldn't have gone better. Seen before my appointment, bloods done, specialist gave the good news, booked an MRI to find out what's causing the pain... And I took up the threads of my life again.


I am inclined to be a little ashamed about making a big deal about something I didn't actually have wrong with me. It was a bit like a test for when I REALLY have to make friends with illness and death. If I had to rate myself, I'd give me a B- .


I might skip the 'Greek urn' phase next time, but I'm sticking with the wig I chose.