Friday, 2 December 2016

Lazarus Gave me a Dead Leg

“Tonight Will and I are going to see Lazarus, the David Bowie musical” announced Carenza. 
“I wish I could go.” I was feeling sorry for myself as my plans for the weekend (visiting elderly parents) had fallen through. 
“You can.  We’ve got a third ticket.”
Wow.  Am cool and trendy.
Thought long and hard about what one wears to a David Bowie musical.  Realised how cold it was and put on an OAP jumper instead.
When I got there, even the venue was edgy – a big marquee by Kings Cross.  Will bought us each a prosecco and spotted an actor from Game of Thrones at the bar.
“Was he very short?” I asked.
“Not that one,” said Will.
The seating was clever too – the chairs were raised high to allow leg room for the lanky.  Unfortunately I am not lanky and was able to swing my legs like a prematurely-aged six year old on an outing with her parents.  Except that, (meanly, I thought) Will and Carenza wouldn’t let me sit between them.
The music was great, and the performances stunning. However, to praise Lazarus further would be disingenuous.  The plot was so confusing that I wasn’t even sure whether I should feel sad or happy at the end.  There was the odd moment of lucidity when one character explained the plot to another, but apart from that….
I wasn’t even able to fidget restlessly in my seat as my feet weren’t on the ground.  Two hours without an interval seemed quite long.
Then bizarrely on the way home on a dark city street, I kicked something soft.  It landed with a thud. I made the mistake of looking to see what I’d kicked.  It was the most enormous frog I have ever seen.  What was it doing on these mean streets on a November night? 
In spite of my boot, it was still alive, although injured.  It stared at me with an unblinking beady eye.  What to do?  Should I finish it off?  But what with?  And what if it wasn’t fatally injured? 
A coward, I left it, probably prey to an urban fox.  But the look it had given me stayed with me.  Didn’t this remind me of some fairy tale?  What if I had just been cursed by a magic frog?
The next day I woke up with a pain in my outer left thigh.  A week later, I had developed deep vein thrombosis.  Not in reality, just in my mind.  It was when I reached down and felt that my skin was numb that I panicked.  (I think it had been numb all along, but I’d been feeling through corduroy trousers which is a similar sensation.)
I googled the symptoms of DVT. 
Never google symptoms. 
Reassuringly I didn’t have the common symptoms.  Then I read the caveat which said, “Only half of those who have DVT experience any symptoms.”
There was nobody home so I drove myself to minor injuries. 
“We can’t help you – DVT isn’t a minor injury.”
I looked miserable.  They suggested I ring 111 and tell them I was already at a hospital and the 111 people might then ring the hospital I was already at and arrange for me to see a doctor there.
I rang the 111 people.  They wanted me to examine my leg over the phone.  I explained that I was in a public waiting room and couldn’t take my trousers off.
“Go to the loo.”
I crouched in the overheated loo with my trousers round my ankles, attempting not to make contact with the much-used toilet seat while they asked me questions, often ones that conjured unwelcome images, such as,
“Are you bleeding a lot?”
At the end of all that, they were pretty sure it wasn’t a DVT but I ought to see my GP.  When I finally got out of the loo, I had that swimmy feeling which means you are about to faint.  I sat in the waiting room with my head between my knees for a while.
But nobody was home and nobody was going to come to rescue me.  I would just have to pull myself together and get home somehow. 
And that was when I remembered the curse of the frog.
In the end, I had to hope that the poor frog had limped to safety, because my own fate was not as dreadful as it could have been – I didn’t have DVT.  Instead, the uncomfortable seat at Lazarus had pinched/bruised a nerve and it should feel better after some weeks.

So although seeing the David Bowie musical made me feel young, cool and trendy, I am not sure it was worth it as I now have a limp and am possibly living under a frog curse.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Socially Inappropriate Sign Store

Jackie being importuned by an elf.
Last weekend, we went to a large craft fair with Nick and Jackie.
Support local makers – not the economy of China.
We saw everything from a crocheted toilet roll cover (washable) to exquisite silver jewellery.
But our favourite was the Socially Inappropriate Sign Stall (our choice of name, not theirs).
I’ve mentioned these  homely signs before in my blog – they say things like “Live, laugh, love”, or “My Kitchen, My Rules”, and are charming and humorous the FIRST time you see them.
At the craft show, there was a stall jam-packed with these sweet little sayings.  I was about to pass by, but a large sign caught me eye. 
“I love you even more than CHEESE.”
Who would ever hang that up on their wall?
And there were more. 
Gently I back-pedalled.
The stall was run by a couple. 
                He could cut wood into little rectangles and hearts.
                She could do cutesie handwriting.
Unfortunately, neither of them could produce a bon mot.
No wonder there was so much stock on display – nobody would ever buy these.
After perusal, my favourite was the stalkerish:
“I may not be the most important person in your life, but when you hear my name, I hope you smile and say ‘That’s my friend.’”
But Nick, who had also paid the stall close attention, had spotted an even better one:
“Sometimes I laugh so much that the tears run down my legs.”
Perhaps I should suggest to the stall-holders that they go crochet some toilet roll covers instead.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Proper Job

There was a point where Nigel and I very nearly relocated our family back to my homeland of Cornwall, but in the end fears for job prospects (both ours and our children’s) stopped us.

However, last Sunday night, I had a revelation.  The perfect job had been there waiting for me all along, but I had been too blind to see.

We were watching Poldark when an angry mob burst onto the scene and threatened to lynch Warleggan.  As they shook their fists and roared defiantly in a West Country manner, I rose slightly in my chair.

“I want to do that.  At last, my vocation!”
I should have been an extra - ‘Angry mob, number 14'.

It should have been me! With a kerchief wrapped round my head, brandishing a pitchfork in one hand and a pasty in the other, shouting “Aaaaarh.”

It looked like an occupation which would not only be rewarding from the first day, but would also offer career progression.  Eventually I could hope to become “Angry Mob, number 1” – the one that gets to shout “That’s right, Cap’n Poldark – You tell un!”

And then possibilities for international travel.  I could one day graduate to be one of the mob of angry villagers that besieges the Vampire’s Castle in Transylvania.

Perhaps it’s not too late for me after all.  Where do I find the application form?

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Can you hack a hike?

I should have been thrilled at the thought of a bracing Autumn weekend in the Peak District with the Thompsons.  However, my foot has been hurting – a symptom of advanced Middle-Age.
It’s meant we haven’t done any proper walking for a long time.  Such a long time that I had forgotten the importance of sturdy boots and not wearing denim jeans.   
When we set off on Saturday, the air was as full of moisture as it could be without actually committing to raining.  Our route was through fields of deep, saturated grass studded with sheep poo and garnished with country pancakes. 
My old boots not only leaked, but didn’t have much grip left. 
In my mind’s eye was a vivid picture of me skidding and landing on my bum in animal dung. 
I whinged quite a lot.  Nigel and David and Carolyn lured me onwards with a flask of tea and encouraging words.  They pretended that it could be any of us who slipped over in the poo.  I knew for a certainty that it would be me. 
But we were soon mounting a ridge.  We didn’t know which ridge, but some hikers coming the other way told us confidently where we were.  They had louder, posher voices than ours so we believed them.  Until we met them 15 minutes later shamefacedly retracing their steps.
By now, my jeans had wicked wetness up to my knees. 
Then there was a choice to make – I could continue with my low-level whining as we made our way round the base of splendid, craggy Comb hill, or we could choose to ascend it  and I could ramp up to high-level complaining.  We chose the latter course.   
Thanks to Nigel, David and Carolyn, I made it to the top, even with my dodgy equipment and poorly foot.  And I didn’t even slip over in the poo.
I’m surprised they managed to put up with all my beefing.  Perhaps they too have a middle-aged affliction – deafness.  And what looks like a warm and supportive friendship is, in fact, an inability to hear my protests.

Yep.  That must be it.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Phooey to Halloween – Celebrate Autumn

The US-dictated Halloween colours are limited to black and orange.  But this Autumn season is so much richer than that - if you look at the trees, your eyes will be ravished by yellow, maroon, green, tan and ochre.
Halloween is about spooks, but Autumn celebrates not only the closing in of night, but also the satisfaction of a wild harvest, the lighting of fires and candles, kicking through golden leaves, watching blackbirds eating berries. 
Our kitchen has been steamy with apples being peeled and cooked for wine and crumbles.  Soon there will be the sloes for gin.   Hanging in the outhouse are bayleaves, hydrangeas and larch cones ready to make the Christmas pot pourri.

But it's late October which offers my favourite Autumn experience.  We go to a local wood and plan our walk so that the last place we come to is the grove where the chestnuts grow.  If it’s a good year, we know we’ll pick so many that we don’t want to carry them far.  If you touch the prickly cases, you get spines in your fingers, so we have developed a technique for opening the little green urchins between our boots.  There is such pleasure in picking out the plump, gleaming chestnuts. 
Focused on the ground, one becomes dazed and disoriented and we have been known to head off in entirely the wrong direction, losing the path.

And this year, we have a great harvest of chestnuts to roast bake and boil.

A welcome change from Halloween pumpkins.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Earning a Crust

Pascoe is at home this Autumn
All my life I have had friends a few years older than me.  It’s been great – they already knew how to get a job, plan a wedding, and that one must on no account turn down pain relief during the birth process.
Up until now, having older friends has been nothing but an advantage: the only chasm between us was that it was a different set of Top-of-the-Pops hits which made them dewy eyed with nostalgia.
However, the difference has now become significant – their children are through university, their family inheritances have been passed on. They are passing gracefully into semi-retirement.
And as the clocks change and bleak November draws in, they will be winging their way to exotic destinations such as the Philippines or Myanmar while I soldier on at school, trying to dodge the winter flu epidemics, getting home in the dark.
But wait, I am thoroughly enjoying my portfolio of jobs, teaching some of the nicest people you could hope to meet.  I wouldn’t change it for the world.

And I shall go on saying that until I see all those beautiful holiday snaps……….