Saturday, February 28, 2009

Amsterdams finest hour!

Today I went to the market and history jumped out on me. On a wall I walk by every Saturday was this.

Feb 1941 The workers of Amsterdam stood up for the city's Jewish community and organised a strike to stop the deportations. Many workers were shot down. Many of the organisers were murdered and the brutes got their way.
The head of the Amsterdam police was a keen collaborator with the occupation and holocaust. He was the lover of the head of the Gestapo. They had met in Paris before the war at the meeting that helped set up Interpol.
With the state giving in to the invader it was real courage for the working class Amsterdamers to support their neighbours. This was the site of the home of one of the organisers of the strike and resistance fighter.
May we never forget them.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Very nice people around.

I have just looked at Herrad's blog and seen all the nice comments people have left for her. I know they mean a lot to her and I am so grateful people take the time. It is a very diverse group. Some friends who have known us before MS. Some friends we have made since MS and some friends from MS blogs. Now she gets serendipitous bloggers who find her via - via. What is really nice is the little group of triathlon and Iron man enthusiasts who have left such lovely comments. Herrad has a particular appreciation of what they are doing. We have looked at some of their blogs, Smashing people! The joy they get from making their bodies as efficient as possible has a great resonance for Herrad. Every morning I wake to hear her call out in pain as she struggles through a routine of arm exercises. For half an hour she battles spasms and pain to repeat each exercise twelve times. Often calling out in pain and using some industrial strength language but always finishing her routine. Today her physio was here and I could hear Herrad calling out as she battled to work her half kilo dumb-bells. She is my inspiration and the reason I go the last mile. She will battle to get as much out of her body as she can and enjoy every moment of life she has.
My Iron Woman

Twenty Years gone: Dom Behan

I left beloved Glasgow in April 89- after I left that year an old acquaintance of mine died and I feel some how that closed a period of my life. He was an obnoxious drunk to some people but he was always kind to me and gave me encouragement. His Marxist (Stalinist) beliefs probably mean he would not have liked to live long enough to see the Berlin wall come down. In his dreams it came down from the other side and the tanks of the Red Army came rumbling across to liberate the people of Europe.
Never the less he was a great song writer and a hell of a pool hustler. Last time I saw him I was with his old mate and fellow Dubliner Freddy Winters (poet and playwright) getting hammered. If I remember Fred was talking about the shared aspect of our career (hammer men on a rail track laying gang)when Dom could be heard raising his voice. "Sorry Richie man- the Behan fella has started on about dialectic materialism- time to get him home!"

Glasgow is a truly great city and worth getting to know. It has many problems, many faults but remains a great place with great people.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My loved ones.

The lunatics who I live with- Herrad on the road a fine site.

A visit from Super Nurse

Our fortnightly visit from the specialist pressure sore nurse Ton Peeks went very well.
The wound has shrunk by a centimetre. It is a slow process but we are back on course. When we started the wound was nine centimetres deep, finishing just short of the bone.
I saw Ton's photo's of the first visit. Shocking. Today we all couldn't stop smiling and congratulating each other. Ton has been a great support and his advice and encouragement have helped me through this last six months.
We are both feeling good- talk of wheel chairs in the next month! Here comes the summer! Herrad and Marlene shared a moment on the bed after!

Such a lovely city!

This was my day trip on Saturday. The funny building in the middle was once bought by speculators with a view to knock it down and put an office in it's place. Squatters occupied it for years and did what they could to preserve it until the City of Amsterdam was forced to recognise it and it was declared a monument and money found to save it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Port of Spain Live

I found a link to a live feed from the Carnival in Trinidad. Herrad is watching the masqueraders dancing through the streets of Port Of Spain. She has even got a slight Trini lilt in her voice. The sun has come out here and we are in party mood.
Jump up!Jump up!- Put your hands in the air!

Spring Watch!

The black headed gulls have their breeding seasons plumage. Their heads are black again! Spring is on the way!

Is he going to leave you?

When it was diagnosed that Herrad had MS and as it became obvious it was going to be really shitty people started asking Herrad about me. “Is he going to leave you?”
Funny till that point it had not occurred to me that I could. I could not see why I should want to. Herrad and I are a partnership. MS was happening to us. At first I was a bit shocked. How dare people even think I would shit on the love of my life just because things get rough? I would expect Herrad to care for me in similar circumstances. My Dad didn’t get on his bike when my Mum got cancer. He nursed her through the painful last days of her life. He and I may not have always got on but that is something I love him for- he loved my Mum.
I started to read blogs and chat rooms about MS and then found the reason for the questions: lots of men run when it starts getting nasty.
I was a failed comedian with no job, house or visible means of support when we got together. I guess I didn’t fall into the “most eligible” category. Many of Herrad’s friends are middle class. Not every one thought Herrad was very wise to get involved with me. They have known men from their background who bottle it. Cut and run in the cruelest most selfish manner. “Good men”- lawyers, business men and the like. So OK it would not be too strange for a scruffy geezer like me to sneak off- I screwed most things up- why should this be different?
So I decided it was amusing when Herrad’s aunty Sigrid called from Canada every month and asked if I was leaving. She wanted to be re-assured because she had talked to people with experience of this disease and many of them were dumped by their partners.
I am going nowhere without my Herrad. Sigrid now thinks I am quite a guy. She sends me her love now and asks what I am cooking for dinner. If anyone else thinks I am not good enough for Herrad they can stick their opinion where the sun don’t shine. The rank is but the Guineas stamp, the mans the gold for all that.
It is not easy dealing with the hard stuff but I would not to hide. I chose right and I salute all you men and women who have made the same choice as me. Let love rule.

Monday, February 23, 2009


If you are wondering why the new template- I need to get new specs and could not read the other format- changing the blog is cheaper than buying glasses


"Life is long and full of stuff, I don't know what for, I haven't lived enough."
Thus spoke Lux Interior and who could doubt his wisdom!
I think I need a new kind of kick.
I am doing OK. Not as mad as I sound. Only I forgot today. I was in the kitchen and I nearly called "Come here a minute love."

I want "normal" back!

MS is......................... (fill in your own favourite expletive)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Three minute therapy

A session with Dr Davies- dream along- its still the sixties- love is all around- the oil will last forever- optimism optimism

Take care on re-entry to reality- you may bump your head!

New Zealand Haka

Northern hemisphere Rugby has never found an answer for the psychological advantage the Southern Island nations gain from including their folk culture into their Rugby. After many years of research I think I may have hit on something. Please watch the first video

Now imagine if England came back with a traditional English war dance!

It may not worry them on the field but it might get them nervous about the showers after!
For your local Morris side visit

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Weird England

This I why I love England- it is full of nutters!

Day out in the Liddle

I just did my day trip to Amsterdam- it is spring break in the academic world- the city was chock full of tourists- nightmare.
I decided to leave visiting the Van Gogh museum and went to Liddle instead. Bargains for the meat eaters and an interesting line in bottle brushes. Next time I think I will do the Aldi.
Does any one know if "Rough Guide" has a section on Halfords? I can maybe can become a correspondent.

Herrad and Spike in the morning.

Herrad woke up crying this morning. I had just roused and went to the bog and stuck the heating on. I sneaked back into bed to find Spike had got there first for his morning cuddle. We settled down under the duvet for ten minutes till the radiators warmed up. Herrad started crying. At first I did not know if it was her just calling out from the pain she goes through first thing but today it had a rhythm and sobs began to punctuate the moans. I went and knelt next to her bed and stroked her hair. She could not tell me what it was that was making her cry- one thing, everything, what ever. I know why she is crying. I ask in case-just in case- it is something I can help with. But I know it is not. All I can do is hold her hand and stroke her hair and hope she feels less sad soon. Spike came over and joined us. For a crazy Jack Russell he can be incredibly sweet and gentle at times like these but even when he is being sweet he can not help but be comical. Soon his presence broke the gloom and then Marlene came to join us and the sadness was lost in a favourite game. Spike loves his ball, Marlene will sit ignoring the ball but only centimetres from it, Spike tries to get the ball, Marlene snaps at him and she picks it up. It can go on for hours. Herrad broke it up this morning by alerting Marlene to pigeons invading our balcony. There were none but Marlene could not resist the call to action,whilst she charged the window barking Spike got his ball back. After all that I forgot to ask why Herrad had been so upset.

Hillary meets the murderers!

Hillary Clinton met the worlds most ruthless criminal gang leaders in Beijing- and all she could talk about was getting America's share of the blood stained money.
I guess it would be bad taste for the lovely Mrs Clinton to discuss murder, theft, and environmental terrorism. Her party has just come to power with the support of organised labour but she talks to the people who jail workers for meeting and talking about their conditions. Evidently it is only etiquette to talk about genocide in Tibet if you are speaking to the Dali Lama. When you talk to the commie thugs who rule China you only talk about money- that's what they have in common with the ruling class of the "Free World"- a love of money and a blind eye for injustice!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Another cracking bit of sense

Some more good stuff from Johann Hari

Unnecessary Journey.

Tomorrow I will bicycle into the centre of Amsterdam. I only need to go to the local shops and street market but I intend to visit the historic Binnenstaat. Just to remember I live in Amsterdam and not Canvey Island (home town).
When I was working- in the olden days before Herrad got MS- I was walking home from my crappy job (Cleaning up in a sports club) after a pig of a day in a horrible working atmosphere (we had new management every four months on average) the maintenance I had meant to do on my bike had become critical so I was pushing the thing. I paused on a bridge. Suddenly I was aware of what a good deal I had. The sun on the Kaisersgracht. The golden age architecture. Beautiful city, nice home, dogs waiting for a walk,round the Vondel Park home and get the dinner ready. Take the dogs up to the tram stop to meet Herrad. Home, eat dinner, talk, laugh, friends, a walk round the neighbourhood. Home to bed with my darling. Ignore eight hours of work- pretend I am on vacation in Amsterdam!
So I shall reinstate bridge gazing: tomorrow I will go on a day trip to Amsterdam.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Spitting nails again

I went on some sites that oppose euthanasia this afternoon. I think I oppose euthanasia but I support assisted suicide. These people do not make the distinction. I was looking for a chance to contact the Purdys and was hoping they had a website. They are not natural campaigners and I think the attention is unwelcome for them- oh how I would hate to have deal with the press and the law! All I found were people celebrating the result I abhorred. That is OK. I would hate there not to be debate on this issue and I do agree that there is a eugenicist element in some areas of medical science but... these aint nice people!
Some jumped up- no less angry language- a man from a Canadian anti euthanasia organisation suggested that Mr Purdy was pushing his wife to suicide. Well I am so sick that any one would dare to...
these people claim to moved by compassion. I think some of them have abandoned compassion in favour of dogma. The fanaticism of the Canadian pro-lifer was a shock to me. These issues are too painful and personal to be shouted about. We owe each other care.

This a mail I sent to BBC Radio 5 Live

This a mail I sent to BBC Radio 5 Live on the news that British legal system has failed in its duty of compassion for Mr and Mrs Purdy.
Mrs Purdy has a similar form of MS to Herrad. When the time comes she wants to travel to Switzerland for euthanasia. She wants to know if her man will get jailed for helping her- if he even buys the ticket for the plane he may be liable to prosecution and a period of imprisonment for assisting her suicide. It looks as if Mrs Purdy will choose to die a lot sooner than if she was allowed to organise the end of her life in a compassionate environment. The law does not protect the vulnerable but persecutes dying.

Dear Victoria
I am in a similar position to Mr Purdy but I am a resident of the Netherlands. I am doing every thing in my power to make my wife's life worth living but I know when it comes to the bitter end there is a point of pain and frustration she can not bare.
I know that with help of our trusted GP and a specialist anaesthetist she will be allowed to slip gently from this world in her own bed and my arms. Her pain will end.
I dread that day because she is the love of my life and losing her will destroy me. I have thought long and hard about her life ending but can not see beyond that point. Gordon Brown's argument that I may pressure my darling to end her life for my convenience is insulting to me and other care givers. For years now I have fought to keep her as alive as she can be.
I can see from Mrs Purdy's position the current situation in the UK is forcing her to take that trip sooner than she may have done so as to protect her husband. My darling is now much worse than Mrs Purdy (she could not travel) and I guess if we had to go to Switzerland she would have left me by now. This would be tragic because she is a wonderful woman and still makes a positive contribution to the world. Mrs Purdy should have the time and space to enjoy her life and not spend so much time organizing her death. Her man needs the security of being able to plan. Change the law and be kind to the dying!
Richie Maguire Amsterdam

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The down side of being open.

Two things have worried me in the last week. First worked out OK.
Herrad got a comment on her blog that had a strong critical implication. Suggesting that her illness and in particular it's severity was down to a lack of positive thinking. My interpretation of the comment was that poster was arguing his case too hard and would not have intended such an implication. Herrad decided to allow the comment to be published and the response from her other readers was an outpouring of comments expressing outraged love for her. The grit irritated Herrad and she has been writing since- pearls are forming as we watch. One bad comment was worth dealing with.
More worrying was what happened to Steve and BoRobert. Some idiot took information from their blog "Wheel of Fortuna" and telephoned their doctor and made comments about BoRobert's treatment. The Doc went up the wall and now they are struggling to rebuild the trusting relationship they had built up with BR's medics.
Have you ever heard of such a thing?
Steve has been a great support for me. It is not an easy position we find ourselves in and I think each in his own way is doing a decent job. If he was forced to put the shutters up I would feel even more alone and hopeless.
As for the busy body: I believe in pacifism. Sometimes it is challenging!
Steve's blog:

Sunday, February 15, 2009

And Scotland lost as well...

What a stinking weekend. Herrad has been in a lot of pain and getting depressed. She has talked to me about it so I know what is going on. I still find it difficult to be of so little help. I do not blame my self for Herrad being ill but I do blame my self when she is depressed. I know that this is not logical. It is not the level of care I give that is making her sad: it is physical pain and the frustration of disablement. Guilt is a waist of energy but it is an old hang up of mine- I used to joke that being raised by a lapsed Catholic was worse than being raised by a practising Catholic because I got all the guilt but no access to redemption. Any way it is not my fault- Herrad will inevitably get down. One day she will not want to go on living. That is what MS does to people. This weekend reminded us both of that fact.

Buddhist Mass Murderers?

I woke up with this on my mind. I am so angry at what is going on in Sri Lanka. We use words like genocide without thinking about what it really means. The smashed bodies of children in mass graves with their parents and grandparents. Burnt villages and the smashed remains of every day life the only reminders of a dead community.
I believe that the Sri Lanka n government are wiping out the island's Tamil minority. I can not prove that: neither can any one else because the government has banned outside observers and has arrested journalists who have tried to enter the Tamil region.
Tony Blair and George Bush abandoned law to make a "War on terror" . Now the murderous thugs in Sudan the ultra right in Israel and the Buddhists who rule Sri Lanka label an inconvenient population "Terrorists" and attempt to eliminate them from the face of the Earth.
This is the victory for the Islamic fundamentalist scum who attacked the twin towers- the world has moved away from civilization and back into the dark ages. Now the UK and US will torture and use lies to excuse wars: a new age of intolerance.
The way the World settles it's disputes is set- Serbia's methodology in the Balkan disputes (which put so many of its leaders on trial for war crimes) has been the way disputes have been conducted around the world. Blair and Bush- both reeking of superstitious self righteousness have moved the US and UK into a new era of global terror that a bearded numptie in a cave could never have done.
In the Boer War in South Africa the British used a method of controlling the "terrorist" Boers by controlling the civilian population that supported them. They created secure villages to concentrate the scattered population and thus invented a new term: concentration camp. Thousands of Boer women and children died of starvation and disease in the camps along with thousands of black families who were also rounded up in to even worse camps. Today Tamil survivors of the Sri Lankan army are being herded into prison like camps. As yet we do not know their fate. No one is allowed to report the situation.
Human cruelty hiding behind the twin falsehoods of Nation and Religion. Neither lie justifies inflicting suffering on our fellow humanity. I wish I knew what to do.

Have a look at this page if you are interested.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Johan Hari

This is an interesting blog

Skin and Blister

When things went wrong with Herrad she was fighting to keep her life going. Herrad has a master’s degree in criminology and wanted to use the training for something- unpaid help on someone else’s project would have done- just to get her back in the world.
My sister was working in a related field and Herrad asked if she could help her. My sister did something she had never done to me before- she bullshitted. I was gutted. Not because she didn’t want to help but because she could not say why.
I have symptoms of bi-polar disease (I withdrew from treatment before diagnosis was confirmed) which I can live with. I have suffered from severe depression but the manic phases are not massively destructive- but I do have weird periods. In such a manic burst I decided to help my sister out the situation. It was clear that now our lives did not mesh. She was no longer speaking in the accent of our native Essex. Her new accent was not even class less- she was using the speech patterns of the upper middle classes. My dropped haich and effin n’ blindin’ would be bad enough but mostly I should be kept from humiliating her in front of her good lady friends with tales of police courts and drinking dens from our youth. I realized a specific in her private life that had not been shared. It was only supposition but I think I guessed what the big problem was- (sorry for not sharing what I thought but it was only supposed)- I realized she did not trust me. I was angry but have no use for confrontation so I just mailed and suggested we should cease being in contact as it was obvious we had no relationship left. In a normal frame of mind I would not have done this but sometimes I am crazy as hell. She mailed back full of backed up anger and obviously delighted to have rid of me- though she made a dig at Herrad as well.
I am sorry it happened this way but I think it was best to kill it before it died. It is better for us both not to draw our fingers across the wound every time we meet or speak. The sister I loved is dead and I was never the brother she wanted. It’s a loss I feel but it is easier to live with no sister than half a sister.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

How we got here musing 1

Herrad has been posting about the past few years. How we found out something was wrong, how it was diagnosed and how the disease has progressed. My experience of the same period is parallel but different. To start I had fears about MS or some other disease for a few years. I remember before this disease was dominant we were planning to move to Swansea. We have a great friend there who we wanted to be supportive to. The city is on the coast and close to some of the most beautiful countryside in Wales. Other great friends live in easy travel distance of Swansea so this was the place. Only when we last visited Herrad’s leg would not do up hill. Swansea is built on hills so this was a problem. We love to walk and explore a city on foot but after a short while of up hill she would be in trouble. One night of the visit I sat looking out the window watching the lights of the ships moving in the bay and the sweeping beam of the Mumbles lighthouse. I then thought about MS. Her eye problems in Liverpool, the fragile hamstring, the sudden tiredness: it all looked like something more than bad luck.
I decided then that what ever it was we were together. I did not quite understand what a commitment I was making but I knew it was the only choice. I know I was right to make it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dirty thieving toe rags!

Some one has picked the daffs in the park. That is a theft from the people and I feel a strong Stalinistic urge for workers justice- any one want to join my middle aged left wing vigalantes upholding the values of the young pioneers?
I hope not.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

In the depth of gloom...

I cant prove it 'cos I had no camera but I saw dafodils and primroses in the park today! Soon it will be time to deck our brows with floral garlands and dance through the meadow. With a hey nonny no

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The end of the first weekend

So the mighty Wales were held to a narrow victory by a valiant Scotland. My reaction is things are not too bad. We got beaten by a very good side but we did manage to regroup and make a battle of it. Shame they have better players!
Steve commented he played rugby- I loved the game but was never either quick enough for a back or big enough for a forward- I ended up as an uncomfortable hooker (a position in the forward pack if you are worried)but got knocked over more than I won the ball. I never was much good but enjoyed rolling around in the mud. Bruised ribs can be fun...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I got a cracker!

I just saw the second half of Ireland-France. Great game of rugby. I guess I am feeling all testosteroned up and one of the lads again.
My life is focussed on this apartment and my mind is full of big worries. It is nice to pretend that the most important thing in the world is a silly game- for eightie minutes I was in another reality.I may start singing bawdy songs as I wash up..."Four and twenty virgins came down from Inverness..."
Shame England beat a very generous Italy but you cant have everything.

Not being too optimistic!

Today one of my anual feasts of sport starts the Six Nations Rugby. England, Ireland, Scotland, France,Wales and Italy. A battle of strength, speed, and courage. My greatest desire is for a Scotland win- after that Wales and Ireland then Italy then France and never England. England play rugby like a machine. No art no creativity- just brute force. When they had some unnaturaly overdeveloped monsters in the team they were unstoppable- now other teams can have their forwards, England's backs have never got the ball before and they have no idea what to do with it!
So I am hopeful that the worst wont happen- England stand no chance. Unfourtunately I do not think my beloved Scotland will do much better. Ireland are a bit unsettled, the French could be either the best or the worst depending on mood, Italy are improving and may sneek an odd win. So I reckon Wales are the nation to beat.
Only I have got to try to fit working for Herrad around the matches and she always needs me just after kick off untill just before final whistle- so I at least hear the anthems and know the result.
I miss my sport so much- I even watched Leyton Orient (London's best but bijou soccer club) when I was in living near the ground. Saturday afternoon is made for watching football. English working class males crave and go into a decline if we do not get it.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lux Interior Rocks No More!

I heard today that one of the true greats of live rock'n'roll has died. His band "The Cramps" were a in a genre of their own. Rockabilly, punk, with a surealist sexual energy- Sleazabilly!
Ivy blasted out unforgiving guitar whilst Lux writhed and groaned his way through a mixture of standards and odments from the fifties mixed in with some jems of their own. George Melly said that good popular music hits you in the area between the belly button and the knees- the Cramps put a mask and tit clamps on the music first.
I have always wanted to visit New York - and now Lux aint there I aint got no reason. I send my sympathy to those to whom the loss is personal. I will always love Lux. He had gooooood taste!

Fit for the knacker man!

I have just woken- that is I have been over an hour busy with Herrad (it does not seem to be much work but it takes so much time) and now I can sit down with my coffee. I am getting tired. I do not like looking at mirrors whilst wearing glasses. My eyes are are getting so baggy they would get searched at airports. I don't mind looking older but it is all happening so quick now! Last six months and I have just got to look my age. I need more sleep. A really lazy day in bed with gallons of tea, a good book, BBC Radio 3 in the background and may be a pipe of grass. Just doze and read and day dream- every now and then Radio 3 plays a must listen piece (any Beethoven gets turned up)so I listen and dream.
No use hanging about scratching me bum. Time to get showered and get the dog out, clean up, do the shopping, fetch and carry, tote that barge lift that bale etc.
If I get down I just remember Partick Thistle beat the Airdrie last Saturday- you can stuff your "Section B" up your ....

Monday, February 2, 2009

My dog.

Last night, or more correctly this morning it found me out. I woke bathed in sweat and shaking. I was terrified. I had no idea what I was frightened of only that I was panicked. As I lay there it was obvious why I was scared. Herrad is sick. I will lose her one day and I do not know how to live a day with out her. I started crying- when I say started it was instant. In one moment tears filled my eyes and flooded down into my ears.
My dog, Spike, is very sweet on me. He pushed the door open jumped up on the bed and cuddled up to my chest. He got me through the moment. I never really slept again but felt a bit safer with my ferocious Jack Russell to guard me.

Horses for courses

The Superbowl is just starting- I am off to bed. Football (American rules) is a great game spoilt by mediocre showbiz. Man I love a boring game (cricket is almost a religion to me and a good test match can last five days and have no result) but I do not see why such an exciting game is made to last so long with so many breaks- oh I get it TV commercials. I wander off between plays.I start to take personal dislikes to the talking jockstraps employed by the networks to tell me one is left handed and that another celebrated his twenty fifth last Tuesday. I hate the time they to take to tell me what is going to happen, then what it is happening then what has just happened. I got eyes!
Next week the six nations rugby starts- all the drama, all the excitement , all over in eighty minutes. I hope you grid iron lovers have a great game whilst I have a great nights sleep.
For those who care Thistle shoved it up the Airdrie on their own midden and my weekend has been joyful as a result.