Headlines can be misleading

Posted on 19:54 In:

Some headlines I have to discuss with the cherub. Like this one

As, I pointed out to Cherub, it wouldn't have made a blind bit of difference to W. His cancer was a rare angiosarcoma, and although it affected his lungs it was incurable.

Also, maybe because we are in Scotland where everything is better (sorry, sarcasm...), or maybe because W was diagnosed at a quiet time for oncologists??.... well whatever, there were no delays I could see in his initial diagnosis.
Scans had followed the X rays which in turn had followed his GP visits so quickly that at the time I kept thinking all this for a false alarm. Ha! Hindsight!
The only delay was in diagnosing the tumour cells they removed from his lung. Which is fair enough when you look at how rare this sarcoma is, and what the diagnosis would mean...

Nope. From a very very small field sample of one, which I know doesn't make me a subject matter expert by a long chalk, the problem in W's treatment wasn't any delay in diagnosis. It was, and this I don't discuss with the Cherub, an apparent inability to treat the pain. As I think I've mentioned already. Endlessly.
Whether we need new drugs, better drugs, drugs that allow the patient to think coherently or remain mobile whilst under treatment; or whether W's doctors needed to improve their game plan sooner, I don't know.

But then there are no punchy headlines to be had in "Cancer patients suffer pain..." DUR

And probably good reasons for not making the news too public if you're trying to encourage the public to come forward for earlier diagnosis...

A complicated bereavement

Posted on 17:35 In: ,

Apparently I am going through a complicated bereavement.

Ha! And I'm reminded of W being upbeat about having a rare and complicated cancer when first diagnosed. "Now they have to take notice of me...."

It's complicated, what with only being reconciled a few months before he died; complicated what with having just finished with the Dybbuk before W was diagnosed; complicated with being made redundant, and so having no Structure.

All I know is there are some days, when his dying just hits me like a steam train all over again - and I can't believe he's gone. That's so not possible.

Not W. He wouldn't leave the Cherub.
He just wouldn't. He was the World's Best Dad.

Don't get me wrong, I don't envy other people with uncomplicated bereavements. Wouldn't wish any kind of bereavement on anyone. All bereavement is equally crap.

Macy would like to apologise

Posted on 18:53 In:

Sorry...If you are the man in the kilt and dinner jacket, who was jumping back into the big silver '09 Mercedes parked outside Tesco yesterday evening. Or, if you are the woman who was with this man; the woman in full evening dress, red shawl and Big Earrings: sorry.

It was me who was GLARING at you.

I know, I know. It's not my problem is it? Just because you're parked in a disabled parking bay outside the shop despite quite obviously being fit and fighting....So what if I never used these bays, at least on those times when it was only me going to the shop whilst my own disabled badgeholder, W, was waiting in the car. More mug me, huh? Thinking other people would be more in need of them.

And you guys were obviously just popping in to buy cigarettes or something..

So what if driving W made me appreciate these places, without which he could not have made it into shops. That was my misfortune to have gone through it... and your good luck that you haven't.

You keep on being dead chuffed with yourselves that you've got the nerve to park there why don't you?

Sorry, sorry, oops ranting again, tsk .. what I meant to say was SORRY, how could I have been so selfish and thoughtless glaring at you like that? Don't know what got into me.




Posted on 16:20 In: ,

I clocked the photo on Sparkle's wall last night. It's a good one, Sparkle and her three kids plus dog, in the snow. Sparkle and kids sledging downhill; everyone looking and laughing at whoever is taking the photo. The dog in pursuit.
Lots of white snow, and coloured ski clothes.****

Love your photo was it... Yes - W took it. It's great isn't it? That was last February, up behind the hospice at Fairmilehead.

That was last February. Possibly three weeks after the failed surgery to remove his lung. After a diagnosis, but before everything else.

Last February he could walk uphill through the snow. There was no pain; it was pre-chemo. He was out taking photos. Not one of the people in the photo, nor the man taking the photo had any idea of what was coming.

The two of us looking at it last night knew with hindsight though.

***Obviously Sparkle's photo is still on her wall. This isn't the photo in question.

Jock - A Newsflash

Posted on 09:06 In: ,

Yes, in an uncanny follow on from Tuesday's dog-themed post, today we have an update on JOCK DOG, W's old dog. He who was last heard of going to live with Kirsti ,what with him being bounced from Cheesetown after falling out with Ned then bounced from Nurse Laura's after her cat objected Well (deep breath) ...


OK it's not that bad. No need to panic (yet). I was only told yesterday (no point in upsetting me...yadda yadda yadda). He is still alive, and recovering back at Kirsti's. Apparently he escaped from Kirsti's,on Sunday night. A full-scale search was started around Q'Ferry. Was he trying to get back to W's old flat? Was he headed for that social hub of Q'Ferry - SCOTMID ...?

No. As Nurse Linda suggested, he was headed back two miles down the road to CHEESETOWN. Back to where he left W...

He went under a car a mile from Kirsti's. He's small, and black, and hard to see on a winter evening... he is apparently shaken, but still as with us as he ever was.....

Some days it does not get easier.

What do you DO with a dog?

Posted on 19:58 In:

That was the question a workmate asked me just after W and I got Jock Dog. At the time I thought it was an incredibly stupid question**...even from someone working in financial services where empathy and imagination are downright discouraged.

Thinking about it, though, DJ who was asking, came from the West Coast, so all the dogs he knew were probably working animals, getting sheep and tourists down off Ben Lomond or some such.

Anyway at the time I gave him a completely wet answer such as... "well you walk it and play with it don't you..."

Let me now, with 15 years to dwell on the question, come back with a fuller answer.

You walk it. At least twice a day, you go out in all weathers and you walk the thing. And obviously whilst doing this you get exercise yourself; for free - which is even better if you are currently without a job and unable to justify gym membership.

Whilst walking it you meet other people. Obviously getting a dog to meet people would be beyond sad - but having got the critter meeting the people is a great bonus. There are great people I would never have met if I didn't have a dog.

You give it routine - because, bless, dogs love routine. And in return they make sure that your day has a structure. Even when the bottom's fallen out of your world, it's the dog who's going to make sure you don't crawl under the duvet for a week. Because, guess what, it's the morning and he needs fed, walked, talked, attention..Every Day.

You play with it. You play great games that have no rules, and no bad losers. And you do stuff together, and all the outdoor stuff like camping and beach combing is much better with a dog - because they are always so dammed happy about doing stuff. All stuff, any stuff, just as long as it's stuff with you....

And you can hug it and pet it. If things get really bad, you can bury your head just behind their ears, and breathe deeply and smell that lovely warm comforting doggy smell. Dog as Prozac.

No I don't know why they don't come on the NHS either.

**Yeah I know, it looks like W's asking the same question in the first picture...

Missing sharing the news

Posted on 17:20 In: ,

There's one massively obvious fact, which for some reason I've never heard anyone mention. It is that there's no better person for chatting about your kid with, than THE OTHER PARENT.

Teachers are professionals, they're doing their job, and looking after a hundred other kids too; friends with kids, well there's always a shade of distance, and comparison with their own kids; friends without kids haven't personally been there, and step parents - well shoot me because there will be some exceptions to the rule, but step parents, well they're still one step removed. I know. I've been there.

No, for sharing stories about the kid, the other parent is the best bet. One of the best bits about being reconciled with W before he died, was being able to chat about the cherub. Stuff that drove us both mad (XBox addiction), stories we both found funny(cherub getting both wellies stuck in the mud and falling flat on his face), stuff we both liked about the kid (the jokes, the gentleness).

Well the cherub's just got a 1 in his foundation course English. His essay was the best in his year - despite everything.

And saying W would have been proud is not the same as telling him at all.

Sleepovers are a GOOD THING

Posted on 20:20 In: ,

The Cherub has always been Mr Sociable. (That would be one thing he's inherited from his father rather than his mother). In the cherub's book if anything's worth doing it's worth doing in company. Even his homework is done with constant phone calls to double check and confer with his mates.

Nothing's changed.

Except we have a problem in that he's not at his dad's at weekends anymore. He's here in CHEESETOWN, when all his pals are in Q'Ferry.

The cherub has, therefore, found his own solution. He imports his pals for sleepovers. We're on his fourth sleep over since his dad died last month. For a decent sleepover you need your pals over by lunchtime on Saturday. You need industrial quantities of pizza, popcorn and FANTA.
Pals will contribute sufficient supplies of chocolate to keep everyone buzzing all through the night.
Activities focus around X Box games. We have such sound politically-incorrect and age-inappropriate games as WWE SMACKDOWN, FIFA 2010, Call of Duty... I know, I know, but we do also have board games and Top Trumps.

Hey it's great therapy.

And here's the news. It is not possible to brood and get maudlin whilst there is an ongoing soundtrack from teenage boys in the next room:
Waark! No! GAYBO's after me
Toss -eh-eh-er
Ah, no man that's SHAN
Come on Toxic! Get him!
Toss -eh-eh-er
No! Nowee!
HAR I Will Prevail! HAR!
Sleepovers also have the great effect of stopping anywhere in the house becoming too, well too shrine like...Straws, bought for W to use when he couldn't raise his head are commandeered for blow football sessions and DRINKS. The iPod docking station W had use of to listen to CDs and radio 4 is taken back and re-tuned.

Even catering is great. I haven't made chocolate croissants since W's last weekend. With a houseful of boys, I've got the energy to do this again.

W would have loved it. He might have been able to get them to settle down before 4am though.

A short conversation with Sensible Self

Posted on 17:30

Sensible Self: OK so you had a cold, wet and windy couple of days in Amsterdam. Which was EXPENSIVE.
Macy: Hell it was worth it - the cherub and I needed a break
Sensible Self: Not as much as you need a job....
Macy: Yerm mumble, should have checked the euro the £ exchange rate I suppose...
Sensible Self: Should be updating your CV more like
Macy: Sigh....
Sensible Self: And if you can't manage that much, you're at least going to have to notify W's pension fund of Cherub's existence.
Macy:Well I have managed to get a copy of the birth certificate looked out....
Sensible Self: AND there's the small matter of child tax credits, which needs a TAX RETURN done before you can even start sorting the alleged overpayments 2008-2009.
Macy: Sigh.... tomorrow....Monday..will do...

Sensible Self: And buying a lottery ticket is going to solve nothing is it?

Macy: Remind me again why we never got on?

The cure for fear of flying

Posted on 08:22 In:
The cherub and I made it to Amsterdam, finally. After a 5am start from Cheesetown, through turbulence over the North Sea and a slightly bumpy landing at Schiphol. By 7pm we were at an Indonesian restaurant.

You'll need to make allowances for some of my conversations with Cherub. I have no idea how you take a kid through a bereavement, so I'm just making it up as I go along.

Me: You know, sometimes I still can't believe that your dad's dead. It just seems so final. Like he just went on ahead there, big world traveller that he was and Did This Thing.
Cherub: Yeah. Now and again I think that too.

Me: But you know, it's funny; today on the plane when it was really bumpy, I wasn't scared at all.
Cherub:No me neither

Me: It's as if, well if the worst happened...whatever... you know...he'd be there anyway.
Cherub:Yeah. We'd see him again.

Me: Yeah. Well it looks like I've got over my fear of flying then....

A (non) conversation with my mother

Posted on 11:14 In:

RATIONAL SELF: Macy. No. Let's not go there. It's not a good plan!
Macy: She'll never find out.
RS: But others will. And she's old and arguably doesn't deserve it.
Macy: Well she's allegedly still rational and arguably does..
RS: You Will Be Sorry. Mark My Words. Transcribing conversations with your mother onto blogs IS NOT NICE
RS: Go on then. I dare you...
Pregnant Pause....
Macy: Right OK. The bits in pink italics are the bits I didn't say OK?
RS: Sighs, crosses arms and looks pointedly at the ceiling.
Macy: Hi Maw! {Hi, thought I'd phone you, since you never phone me these days}
Maw: Oh hello. How are you then?
Macy: Oh fine, fine {Actually some days I could go running down the street screaming, or just HOWL. But I don't think you want to know that}
Maw: Oh that's good. And how's the cherub?
Macy: Oh fine, you know....looking forward to Amsterdam. {Look his dad died two weeks back. How do you think he's doing?? Actually if you really wanted to know, you could come and visit him. Although you have pointedly not done that since I moved W back in}
Maw: Oh that's good. Did I tell you I met {insert name of other old lady here} the other day? She was asking after you.
Macy: No {Who??? dim memories of casual acquaintance} How's she doing?
Maw: Oh fine. Her leg's not been too good though. And we were just saying we need to meet up for a cup of tea sometime.
Macy: Oh that'd be nice. {Yeah right. The reason you didn't come to W's funeral was because you had arranged to meet a pal for lunch that day}. Listen, are you going to be OK babysitting Ned while we're away next week? Petal and Bob are OK for walking him and everything..
Maw: Oh aye, me and Ned get along fine.
Macy:{That's more than you ever managed with W} OK, I'm just worrying that you'll get a bit lonely over here. Do you want to invite someone else? What about Myra? {Oops Macy, you might have done it now...}
Maw: MYRA?? Why would I want That One?
Macy: Well she was offering to come over sometime too {Yes my aunt Myra did want to come to W's funeral. And she caused A Major Diplomatic Incident for even suggesting it}. Or what about Jean?
Maw: Oh Jean will be too busy.
Macy: Oh well if you're sure {Because personally I think you never told your pal Jean. She liked W, and would have been at his funeral in a minute}
Maw: Oh I'll be fine me. I'll come over on the Monday though.

Rational Self: Happy now?
Macy: Yeah. Feels better getting that off my chest.
RS: Sighs....
Macy: AND I'm going to leave the sympathy cards up for her when she comes....
RS groans.
Macy: She never liked him you know, never. But I don't get what her problem is now. I really don't. He's dead. Why can't she even say she's sorry? Why was she pretending he wasn't even here the last months?
RS: People do the best they can do Macy. Maybe she's just jealous of the care and attention he got. Maybe she's embarrassed at all the fuss she caused around the funeral.

Next week is SORTED

Posted on 12:24 In:

Next week is SORTED. The cherub and I are off to Amsterdam.
Yup, we like it there, and the kid needs a break. I'll worry about the cost later. Right now we're headed off on a BMI flight which cost £1.04 out and a whole £3.64 back. HA!

We're going to stay at the Hotel Filosoof, where we always go, and we're going to cycle around the place all the time, stopping off at the places the cherub loves like the Aquarium (which is the best aquarium in the WORLD. The fish are HUGE), and the resistance museum, and the science museum. If he's lucky we'll go to the theme park at Efteling. If he's unlucky and it pours with rain, or Efteling's closed, we're going to CoBrA and the Van Gogh museum.

Either way we're definitely going to the Worst Chinese Restaurant in the World, which is hilarious (we found it last time we were there), and having a rijsttaffel at our favourite Indonesian...separate nights obviously.

The cherub hasn't been this stoked since, well since last Christmas basically.

And we're taking the guide book W gave me back in August. Back then he'd started the Great Giveaway. Everything he had, had to be found a home with someone. DVDs were getting bundled up and handed over, and books sorted. The aquarium had to be moved to its new home, not after.. now... E was to get the music centre, Cherub would get the camera...I had to take the moroccan blanket and big mirror, and he was constantly deciding where his furniture would look best at mine.

By September it was getting embarrassing.

The guide book was the first of his giveaways. He was still offhand at that stage. "Here, you and the cherub enjoy Amsterdam don't you? I got this through a Guardian offer, I'm not going to need it."

As if we wouldn't be remembering him while we there anyway.

The photos are GREAT

Posted on 17:57 In: , ,
He was into photography. Everywhere we went he carried this great heavy rucksack with his camera, filters, zoom lenses, and equipment stuff. He worked mainly on slide film; a lot of abstracts, friends in pubs, friends at parties, family in NZ, scenery, holidays, and of course endless ones of the cherub once he arrived on the scene.

And when we split up he took all the albums, and files and loose snaps with him. And I was sure that in the first months after we split he would have been happily destroying any of the ones I was in...

Well I've inherited the albums. And the photos are all there. And it's great. It's not sad at all. It's really great looking at them all again.
I'd forgotten so much, and now I have the slides and photos to remind me.

The photo above is us in NZ Feb 1993.
Me " the camera's going to leave a shadow....my hair's a mess...is it in focus?...I'll do it"
Him "It'll be fine: SMILE"

Sums up a lot of what went wrong between the control freak and the laid back kiwi, non? Hey, whatever, turns out we were BOTH right. Which could be the moral of this blog.

Now all I need to do is get a gadget to convert those thousands of slides to digital...


Posted on 12:42 In:

John Lewis is selling very trendy trees for minimalist scrooges for £50. Although since Scrooges aren't going to pay £50 for a paper tree there may be a flaw in the JL marketing plan were they to think that one through.

Anyhoots, I saw it, I love it, it fits my mood and I WANT ONE!! This afternoon Ned and I are off on a reconnaissance trip to see if we can find any freebie substitutes lying around Cheesetown.

That'll be step one.

Step two will involve a can of spray snow, and my best Kirstie Allsop impersonation.
Hi Kirstie!

Step three will be training Ned NOT to pee on or chew it.

Christmas. It's out there, and it's LURKING and it's not going to go away.

There were warning signs awhile back....the supermarkets were featuring Christmas specials even before W died. Now, though, Cheesetown has its Christmas lights up, we've got Christmas trees on sale, and the school has announced the dates of its Christmas show. Christmas is becoming Very Likely To Happen For Real - Soon.

Early last month, when we met with W's care team at the hospice, they said that "Christmas might be problematic"... Plan A was, therefore, to have an early yule.
I'd even started stockpiling W's beloved chocolate oranges.

So, yeah, we didn't even make it to Halloween. Now we're on Plan B. Plan B is in its draft stages. So far all I know is that it will ideally be Very Cheap, and feature too many chocolate oranges....


I can do this thing. Can so too.

Sometimes he just couldn't be bothered. Endless, endless patience with kids, a real interest in and concern for the adults with learning difficulties he worked with all his life, but no time at all for time-wasters and the small minded. None.

Unfortunately he put his social worker in that bracket.

There was never going to be a meeting of minds between W and his social worker.

Wee Mary, I could see as being great with the elderly palliative care cases. The cases that needed lots and lots of slow talking from a very respectable looking middle-aged woman. But W? Nope, nope, noppety no. There would have been a personality clash if W could have been bothered clashing, and if Wee Mary, well if Wee Mary had a personality. Sorry but true.

Today Wee Mary phoned to check how the cherub and myself were doing - and I remembered the last time we met. Wee Mary, the cherub, W and I were at the hospice having a "family" session, when W suddenly just manoeuvred himself out of his chair, got his walking stick, and started hobbling slowly towards the door. No further ado. No comment. He was off.

"Oh...oh... well em if you're tired W, we can just carry on" said Wee Mary, who had been in mid-flow as to the notice periods needed for personal care services.
W couldn't turn round anyway, but half raised his stick and left.

I got out that meeting as quickly as I could. I was worried about W taking another turn for the worse; though if I was honest, I was more worried about the cherub falling into a coma with boredom while we discussed W's ongoing care support, or me having to stick pins in my eyes to stay awake.

The cherub and I got back to W's ward, to find the patient, NOT in any deep sleep, NOT in any more pain but sitting up in bed listening to his MP3 player and reading the Guardian.

Are you OK? What's up?? Is it your back hurting again?

Naw naw, just couldn't listen to her anymore.


{Big grin}. Had a good meeting then?

Today Wee Mary was phoning to let me know she was available if the cherub or I needed someone to talk to... urm....well some of my memories she might not appreciate.

Something worth knowing

Posted on 17:45 In:

Sometimes you learn something, some fact that stays with you.
I learned this a couple of weeks ago:

Nurse Linda was talking about undertakers (as you do), and she said she'd been surprised that some of them didn't talk to the corpse. She always accompanied her (ex) patients out to the hearse, she always talked to them. Just saying things like "That's us going through the doors now... you'll be all at peace soon...." Lots of nurses do.

I like that thought. I'm not sure how that level of patient care is being measured on performance appraisals within the NHS these days though.

Because It's Rememberance Sunday

Posted on 16:31 In:

Apologies to those looking for updates from Cheesetown. Today I've gone all POLITICAL....

To me, Remembrance Sunday is about remembering those servicemen and women who have died for their country. It's not a political event, or even necessarily a pro war event, it's a simple acknowledgement of lives laid down.

This year, for one reason and another, I'm thinking especially about the kids who have lost their father.

I don't want to be too pathetic here, but Dads are important. They're there to teach you to swim and ride a bike, to cheer you on through all the primary league football games, to encourage you to climb hills, sail a boat, scale Alien Rock.

At least that's what the cherub's dad did.

And as a teenager you still need them to sub you if mum's being tight with pocket money, to work through the various levels of Call of Duty with you, to cheer when you pass another science test, to take you to rugby internationals - especially if you are entitled to cheer the All Blacks.

So the cherub is far from alone in losing his dad this year. 403 British servicemen have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. I was thinking that a lot of them would have had kids. Being young men, they would have had young kids....For some reason there's no readily available figures on how many kids have been affected. I bet there's A LOT

You'll notice I'm not even going on to consider the orphans and carnage in Iraq or Afghanistan. Or American kids.

I'll tell you what though, if I was a politician I'd make sure I was really certain the cause was clear, achievable, and RIGHT.
How else could you justify even one kid losing someone as important as his dad?

Sorry. Normal apolitical service continues tomorrow.


Posted on 11:03 In: ,

Despite being on my to do list for the past week, Collecting The Ashes wasn't happening.
I didn't want the ashes in my house. Which is odd, because W's body yes, but the ashes...too grim and too final maybe.
So the excuses piled up
  • No box to put them in
  • No time to collect what with the cherub's orthodontist and other stuff...
  • Didn't want to upset the cherub
  • Not sure I'd be able to without all the paperwork, whatever that might be
  • I didn't want to go back to the crematorium

It took Nurse Linda to suggest that she accompany me. Friends of W were meeting that evening to commemorate him, and it would be better if his ashes had been collected and saved from a possible ignominious loss at the crematorium by then.

We drove back up to the crematorium yesterday. Because we were late, we had to knock on the door and get the cleaner to collect the ashes (there's something wrong about that sentence, I'll worry about later). Anyway we had the standard discussion about who we were, and why we hadn't collected the ashes on the scheduled date, and forms to sign, and then I got given the box.

That's it. It's a box of ashes. They grind them finely after cremation to disguise remaining bones, teeth, oh don't think about it.
It's quite heavy.
And I had such a sense of W when I held it.

And I said, as much to him as to Linda, "Oh Jesus. Who'd have thought ... when I went into the Prince of Wales that night in Aberdeen..."

National Insurance

Posted on 17:36 In:
If it's Friday then it must be time for a quick discussion about National Insurance.

I know, I'll keep it short....

Working for an enlightened employer in the public sector, W was entitled to six months sick pay on full salary, and six months on half salary.

Since he died less than a year after first signing off with a bad cold / chest infection, his final payslip arrived last week. It's dated 31st October - or 11 days after he died.
It shows:-
  • 15 days holiday paid in lieu - check. Well he was hardly going to book a holiday was he?
  • 5 Weeks severance pay - check. Standard. Would have been dismissed on grounds of ill health if he had lived.
  • Less tax - check. Everyone pays taxes. Two things in life being certain, etc etc
  • Less national insurance and pension contributions????
Memo to self. Phone tax office and check if dead people need to make provision for their pension.

Magical Thinking

Posted on 17:38 In:

Being a (mainly) rationalistic and slightly cynical type of person normally, I am AWARE that there is the danger of falling into the trap of Magical Thinking; especially now, when I am in a wee bit of an emotional state.

Magical thinking is endowing objects with more power or meaning than they actually have. It's a belief in spirits manipulating the physical world. Alternatively it can be read as a projection of mental states onto the external world.

Joan Didion had a whole year of it after her husband died- apparently.

Not me. Sentimental, yes; irrational no.

So just because I keep finding coins in the strangest places - on the ground at the garage forecourt, inside one of my welly boots, and at the bottom of a waste paper bin; means only that I and others like me are careless with small change and £ coins ...

The rose flowering in the garden in November, means only that we've been having a mild autumn, and I planted that rose bush late in the year. It is not relevant that it is directly under the window of the room W died in.

And the beautiful sunsets we've been having over Cheesetown lately would, obviously have happened regardless of when W died.

So in a supremely rational thought mode, I can recognise that I am attributing meaning against inanimate objects, recognise that this is irrational, but enjoy it; because I like the thought of W sending down the Karma.

It's my new rational magical thinking therapy.

Conde Nast Have Been in Touch

Posted on 19:42 In:

Conde Nast have been in touch. Unfortunately not to take me up on my earlier suggestions for a new magazine...

No, but the next best thing - they want to know my opinions!


Nothing I love more than giving my opinions. I am a market researcher's dream.
This evening they want to know my opinion on watches and jewellery... why? how has my name come up on their survey database???

Whatever, since completing their survey means I might win a holiday..... I have answered very honestly, that I am female, I am professional ( well the ICAEW wants its subscription fees again...) and that yes I own four watches, and yes I buy myself jewellery.

So far so good.

From the jewellers which they list (Asprey, Bulgari, Cartier, Channel, De Beers, Gucci, Tiffany, Van Arpel et al), I select those I think of as good quality, and those I would like to own (Tiffany and Boodles if anyone's wondering....).

I indicate that my last jewellery purchase was for myself, in the past three months, and that yes, I do have an engagement ring.

No my purchase was not influenced by celebrity endorsement nor an item which I saw in a magazine.

But my last jewellery purchase cost £4.99 from Acessorize.

Before that I spent £3 on bangles from Poundstretcher...

Survey people, you haven't allowed me to indicate anywhere that I am currently on carers allowance! All I can do is hint this, through indicating that I will be spending less £100 per month on jewellery ...

I gave them some more hints. On marital status I ticked "widowed"; my annual household income is shown as being under £35,000 this year..... and I showed myself as reading the Guardian more than four times per week.

All of which will still let some Conde Nast Executive go off to Tiffany to enthuse about how they are reaching professional female Guardian readers who are active purchasers of jewellery.

Unless the Gruaniad suddenly starts carrying ads for expensive jewellers

I may have graduated from St Maggies

Posted on 08:33 In:

Today is my Friends and Family group at Edinburgh's Maggies Centre. Every Tuesday morning friends and family of those affected by cancer meet to talk.

I've been through a lot with this group.

As a newbie, I felt that I was intruding. Back in April, there I was, the ex partner. W and I were still hardly speaking. We'd finished the arguments about child access and money, but there was still a chill in the air. Officially he'd only told me because I was the cherub's mum.

Officially I only joined the group because I was looking to help the cherub.
Looking back though, anyone could see that I was disproportionately upset by the news. But there I was in a circle of people who really were affected, sons and daughters in remission or diagnosed, brothers and husbands diagnosed. I felt like a fraud.

By July I was a fully fledged member of the group. The speed of W's cancer, and our reconciliation, meant that I was now up to speed on the technical language of diamorphine, drivers, community equipment services yadda yadda yadda. By the end of July there were signs of tears.

By August I was a senior member of the group. I was on out ahead there. Other members' sufferers were still at early stages; but there was W losing the power of his legs, needing ever increasing amounts of drugs around the clock, writing his last letter to the Cherub, making plans to sell of his car to pay for his funeral. And I was losing patience with the junior members of that group, who could moan about the term "remission" being meaningless, it's not meaningless - it means you'll see Christmas!

And now it's Tuesday again, and I'm not sure that I haven't graduated completely from this group. I may at least be unfit for their company.
I'm past the wheelchair-access discussions, and chemo side effects debates. I've gone on to what the body bag looks like as it's wheeled out of your front door. I've done the holding hands through the last days, talking, and talking and talking in the sheer blind faith that some of what I'm saying can be heard.

I've hugged the body.

I'm not sure it's a good idea I go to this group. They really don't need to know what could be ahead.


Posted on 13:56 In:

Thanks to the postal strike, we are still getting cards; in batches. Today it was the turn of people I've never met.
  • Service users - W worked as a manager at the Scottish Society for Autism. Service users have sent cards individually via the SSA
  • Staff members W managed, cards sent by groups and individuals
  • Parents of service users who loved W's support and interaction with their kids
  • Day service groups W ran
  • And cards from work colleagues.

Flowers and a card arrived from SSA management the day after he died. but I'm thrown again by how much he was loved and respected.

Why this man? What is the point of this man dying? I give up I have no punchline for this one.

Let's not talk about Winter

Posted on 10:48 In: ,

It was only four weeks ago that W and I were driving along the road from Cheesetown to Q'ferry. It's a stretch of road that sweeps past Dundas Castle with views out across fields towards the bridge.

I was driving so I didn't stop for a picture. You'll just have to imagine the autumn colours across the fields all the way through to one of those big empty blue East of Scotland skies for yourself.

Anyway we were on our way to pick up stuff from his flat; x-box games the cherub needed, more clothes and book tapes. I think the music was Asher Roth, and we'd been discussing series two of the Wire, when W suddenly came out with:

"I'm dreading winter"

And I thought I knew what he meant, and I thought I didn't want to go there. I had a feeling he didn't want to talk too much about it either. So I fluffed it with something along the lines of, "maybe it won't be so bad....we're having a good autumn..."

And this morning Ned and I were out marching through the rain around the reservoir behind Cheesetown, and I remembered this non-conversation. And even though we're in November now, the birch trees still have their flame coloured leaves, and it's still a warm drizzle we're having, and it's probably not as bad as he thought it would be.

Welcome to the car crash...

I have a complicated bereavement. I was only reconciled with my ex, W, months before he died of cancer. Luckily (for him) I was made redundant and able to care for him while he died here at home - October 20th.
Currently getting through it with our son, aka the Cherub, dog Ned, and friends here in CHEESETOWN.

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