Thursday, April 30, 2009

Oh no!


I hate the Queens Day holiday for political reasons- (today I hate it 'cos we can't participate)- but it does bring a lot of pleasure to a lot of people so I bury my republicanism and when we could get around it we did and had a good time. It is a strange celebration and I enjoy feeling foreign- cos I am! It is nice to be so close to something that is not my own. It has given me insights into English culture that have helped me understand being English. What I notice most is how friendly drunken Dutch people are compared to my compatriots. Even if they are decked out like a Rangers supporters club I learned to smile and join in.
Today a crazy drove a car into a crowd of people cheering for the royal party as they went by on an open top bus. To date four people have died.
Nice happy smiling laughing Dutch people enjoying the spring sunshine.
The day is still sunny and people are still having a party in the streets here 96 kilometres from the mayhem. Life goes on.
An update: now it has all stopped. As word has got round the sound systems have been switched off and people are making their way home prematurely. Today is second only to New Year here for parties. It is now a strange silent end to the big day. One boat went by with mournful Amsterdam music playing loudly other than that only children's voices can be heard on the streets- not even much traffic.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Joy pain laughter and pot plants

Herrad woke with a howl this morning. She was in a lot of pain physically but from her eyes I could see she had been looking into that dark abyss that is future. We held our faces together and shared hundreds of gentle little kisses till she could stop crying. I got her some weed vapour and Spike and Marleen applied their regime of dog love. We managed to get back to enjoying the moment again and are now awaiting the visit of her physiotherapist. (Hey she arrived just on the completion of the word!)
Herrad is doing OK and so am I but we are both confronting new problems. Life becomes a process of managing worsening situations. She does not post all the pains and humiliations she suffers. It is not for me to tell: we are still strangely a very private couple. I will say that her courage is humbling to witness and I am privileged to share with her.
I am back to some type of mental normality after being up and down like a... very emotional over the last weeks.
With help from a lovely friend I got some pots and earth and plants on Saturday and now the balcony and Herrad's window box look as if they are part of a cottage garden (deep joy!). It is a pleasure to see see life and colour when you come out the lift. Other neighbours seem determined to drag our building into a slum and as I have no desire to make a confrontation with them I think my best course of action is to inflict beauty on them. They can scowl at me but I shall smile back. I regard everyone as potentially my equal and I hope that one day even my neighbours can love themselves enough to stop behaving like arseholes and join the rest of us in the pursuit of joy. I wont hold my breath.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I shall strive...

Mohawk cropped nicely, face shaved and body showered. New exploding skull t shirt on. Ready to take on the world, I will at least go get the groceries when I work up the courage. I hope the people are behind me!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My birthday present from Herrad



Thanks Herrad XXX

Happy birthday to all Shakespeare lovers.





A woman's face with Nature's own hand painted
Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion;
A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change, as is false women's fashion;
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;
A man in hue, all 'hues' in his controlling,
Much steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth.
And for a woman wert thou first created;
Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated,
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
But since she prick'd thee out for women's pleasure,
Mine be thy love and thy love's use their treasure.

Earl of Southampton- was he the boy!

My third dog.






My third dog. When my old dog Daisy got older we got Spike to keep her company and perk her interest levels up. At first she was not convinced that another dog was what she needed and a mad Jack Russell from the rescue did not fit into her well run life. Once she had literally licked him into shape he realised that resistance was futile. She would pin him down and hold is entire head in her mouth and growl gently. I was terrified but he just went all soft and puppy like. They would then sit together and she would look lovingly at him and he looked very proud. As Daisy was getting older we decided on dog three- not to replace Daisy but to be there for the wee lad when she died. We thought we would have four or five years when we got Marleen. She was a loved but neglected dog. Her previous owner could not cope with the her and her new baby. The dog had been chronically over fed and under exercised. She was so overweight she could not get in and out of her dog bed. She could not groom herself without rolling around on her belly but could never get to her hind quarters. She weighed 12 kilos when she arrived; she is now 6 kilos. She has become the most sweet lovely active dog and Daisy loved her from minute one.
After two years Daisy got cancer. It was very swift. She had one tumour removed then a year later she got an unrelated cancer and her lungs were full of pea sized tumours which could be suppressed with chemo but would kill her eventually. I saw the fear in the old girls face when it hit her- we had had a great day in the park and she got a little weary on the way home. She ate her dinner then just slept till bedtime. When I took them for the last walk around she was very tired. I had to carry her outside. She was panting and was in such pain. I gave her painkillers left over from the surgery. As soon as they kicked in she wanted to cuddle and even played a little. We took her to the vet and we got the worst news. No hope. I came home with her on the bicycle with her in the trailer. The pain killers were working and when I looked behind I saw her happy smiley Staffie face looking back at me with her ears flapping joyously in the wind. The next day Herrad and I took her to be euthanasied. Howl!
Marleen stepped up to be the top bitch and after a few days Spike stopped looking for Daisy when Herrad got off the tram at night. We will always miss a character like Daisy but life goes on. Spike and Marleen have become an inseparable and devoted partnership and are a daily joy. We planned to get another dog about now. We wanted to get another dog from the rescue and give it a good life- it worked with my Spike, he was in three homes before he found someone mad enough to keep him and he is now such a lovely little companion.
I have been watching more television than I consider healthy. I have not abandoned it entirely like some of my friends but at one time watched about two hours a week (soccer mostly). Since Herrad and I have been stuck at home more we have got the habit again. Most times choosing a channel is more pain limitation than searching out gems. Animal rescue programs (Philedelphia, Houston and Phoenix) appeal to a couple of old dog lovers like us so we watch Animal Planet re-runs of five year old reality tv. It has convinced me of one thing: I do not want to take another dog in this situation. So much of the neglect on the tv is from well meaning over committing. When I got sick (pneumonia) last year Spike and Marleen were going bonkers for lack of walking and general attention. I guess I would not have the two dogs we have now if I knew we would be living with MS as well. It would not be fair to bring another dog into this uncertainty. Yet another bit of MS shit. I am so glad other people have the companionship of their pets to help them get through a day with MS. I see how a bit of dog love can get Herrad smiling again on a bad morning and I hate to think how fat I would become if they did not walk me!
I would encourage anyone thinking about a new pet to try the local shelter first.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Working through it.

I am still a bit too upset to say things are going well. I am a bit less stressed out but still on the edge of my nerves all the time.
Some days have been worse than others and each day a mixture of good and bad but I have felt slightly better every day. I have extended the exercise regime (still pathetic but at least it now exists) and have started writing some fiction again. I do not think that I am creating anything worthwhile but I enjoy controlling a small part of the universe-even if it exists only in my imagination. I have strong plot and character elements but I doubt if I have the discipline to take it to more than a few chapters. Never the less it works for me now. Maybe if I keep going eventually I can have enough to edit together. A strong theme of the redemptive nature of love runs through most of my writing. I guess I can never quite kill my optimism despite my negative frame of mind.
Strange things happen when you are feeling strange. Pigeons are trying to nest in our gutters- not wanting bird crap all over our landing and balcony I chase them off before they can get a nest built. I waved my hands violently towards them shouting wildly- my house keys flew out of my hand over the yard and into the neighbouring yard. This was being used as a depot for the building company renovating the neighbourhood. Their work is finished and the house locked up.
I did my ninja bit! Climbed onto the outbuildings down the other side retrieved the keys and climbed back. I was amazed I could not only still do this kind of thing but I did quite easily. It was an unexpected highlight of the week- just call me Spiderman!

Morisseys inspiration- the king of Norhtern Angst



He is still wowing audiences but never gets the credit for founding a genre.



Monday, April 13, 2009

Minor achievments- major triumphs.

Yesterday I got it right! I sneaked Herrad's Easter egg into her without her noticing. She was convinced that the state I have been in for the last couple of weeks there would be no egg.
The squeal of delight when she saw it was the biggest rush I have experienced!
She is my best drug.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

For all the geezers what aint fick like wot we is


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A memory

I have been anxious and manic today. Buzzing around with unnatural and unfocusable energy. It hit me that there was something that helped with this feeling, then I remembered: I used to get hammered!
Seventeen years on the wagon and I still miss the uisce beatha!

Personal Indulgence

Be Happy!

Max Wall was the funniest act I ever saw. His mixture of the endearing and the grotesque was the inspiration for my attempts at comedy. Alas I am not the clown Max was (he was a student of the great Zog in Paris if ye know your clowning) so I managed the grotesque but lacked the endearing.
There are not many clowns at the top of comedy- I can only think of Lee Evans and of course Robin Williams (not that I have heard of him doing comedy for a long time now). It is bloody hard to make clowning work in a 'Stand Up' orientated business.

Stanley Unwin was a wonder- I am five years old every time I hear his nonsense.






My heritage of folk music



The great outdoors


A friend just sent us some pictures of the snow melting and spring getting into the buds. Just trees and a wild river and some undulating hills. I howled like a baby.
I miss getting out into the hills more than sex. I could get on my bike when I lived in Glasgow and get to Ben Lomond in an hour and a half. I often did it at five in the morning and be back for the afternoon. In recalling I am still amazed that at the time I was doing this I had a huge beer gut- I must have drunk one hell of a lot.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A near miss.

I was right to be worried for my friend on the oil rig. He knew two of the men who died and had planned to have a beer with them over the weekend when he got home. He had to fly back to Aberdeen a few days after the crash and before the bodies had been recovered. He is not sure what to do next. There is no money anywhere else but this was close to home.
I was glad he called even though I knew he was safe. He is a special friend- he told Herrad she would love me a year before we met. Herrad being the woman she is tried not to like me when he introduced us. She eventually had to agree with him.

Maggie Smith and Kenneth Wlliams

Two of my favourite actors perform for the author- Betjeman is not a favourite poet but he was such a nice one.


When I first posted I left an N out of Kenneth- I can still hear him squawking in outrage. I have never got to see either in a theatre- still a chance with Maggie and I will take it if ever it comes. I am quite star struck with the lovely Ms. Smith.

I must keep going!

Today I aim to keep myself as positive as I can manage. We started the day with Herrad crying from pain physical and mental. It is part of my responsibility to her to create the atmosphere she needs to sustain her emotionally. In the last few days I have not been able to do this. Depression is a disease I suffer from just as MS is a disease Herrad suffers from. Sometimes her MS affects my depression and sometimes my depression affects her MS. Today Jack Russell therapy combined with massage and thc soon had us enjoying the April sunshine streaming through the windows. The radio offered us the twin delights of ranting against the new Bishop of Westminster (RC top dog in England) and a lovely programme about Laurence Olivier and the founding of the National Theatre. BBC Radio 4 can be fun!
Thanks for the encouraging comments. They help. I use this space to let go when it is going bad for me. It is part of making it better. As I write out my woes I find them less daunting. I am right to feel fear and sadness in a scary sad time. It is not stylistic that I usually end with a lighter remark. When I read back my grim tale I find it a little funny and I can not take things quite as seriously. Even in the worst days Herrad and I spend more time laughing than crying. Thanks for the support but do not worry: Herrad and I are still a strong team.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Carry on screaming

Well I am getting a bit less down. I have tried to exercise and do some nice things and look at the good and everything but it does not really help. I managed to do some maintenance on my bike and it is working a bit better and that gives me an up.
I am always depressed, only sometimes I can not control the emotional impact it has on me. I have to get my shit together and I will. Not because I want to but because I have to. By choice I would sit by the side of the road and cry till I died. In fact I will work very hard to make this home a happy place to be. To some extent I will succeed.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Miserable git.

I have not had anything to blog for a few days 'cos I am feeling too low to share. Maybe turning fifty next week is getting to me. I do not want to celebrate but that is not an option with a Trinidadian in the house.
I was thinking about people congratulating me for being born and managing not to die yet and it all seemed such an obscenity. I am not happy to be alive and I was not wanted when I was born... and I got a puncture and it rained and... (distant whining voice fading to infinity)
I know there is some one worse off than me: she has to live with me! I'll go and be nice to her for a bit now- she will make it all seem worth while again.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A relief for me but not for others.

The list of the victims of the helicopter crash in the North Sea yesterday has been published. I scanned the list and to my relief my old friend's name was not on it.
Sixteen other workers died. Some one else's mate.
I knew a man who died in the Piper Alpha disaster. He was the patriarch of a huge family and the biggest tough guy in the pub. A horrible blond perm and a sovereign ring on every finger. His family were shattered when they lost him. His sons did not carry themselves with the confidence they had when the big man was around. His wife never left the house for months.
Sixteen families will be so sad this weekend. I am glad that it is not the Brycelands. My heart goes out to those who did loose a loved one in Wednesday's crash.

Spring is on the way!

Good news yesterday from the doctor. The wound is healing and we will be starting the long process of getting Herrad sitting up and going out in sunshine.
I find my self humming this as I go round the house.

Silver in the Stubble
(Sydney Carter)


Early in the Morning,
Hear the razor roar,
There's silver in the stubble
And it wasn't there before.

For the leaves are getting greener,
And spring is on the way;
Girls are getting prettier
And younger every day.

Silver in the stubble;
Winter in the wood.
Fare you well, you wicked world,
I'm going to be good.

Time to think of Heaven;
Time to think of Hell.
Time to go to church on Sunday,
Hark, I hear the bell.

But if any girl is willing,
She only has to say;
I'll hang my halo on a shelf
Until another day.

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Written by Sydney Carter in 1964
Copyright Sydney Carter