We progress – Inch by Inch

Well that week didn’t start so well but bucked up a bit so, to stop you going away and finding something more cheery to devote your time to like oh I don’t know, a nice documentary on the fall of Moscow, I promise there will be more balance this week. Eventually.

Morecambe is now the proud owner of a pheromone plug-in and collar and also the unwitting consumer of calming drugs (recommended by the vet – don’t write in) and, although we have seen a little bit of an improvement we still feel a visit to a behaviourist may be in order so we are trekking across Cornwall in a couple of weeks to see someone who can hopefully help us. I have filled in a 642 page questionnaire which has already made us feel that all Morecambe’s problems are our fault but we are going anyway. We are only slightly disconcerted by the map to behaviourist’s lair which Google seems to show has any number of “unnamed roads” – but we are going anyway. Also, the last time we did anything like this a woman did a sort of semi splits move in her conservatory, made Morcs walk under her leg – proving he was “teachable” – asked us to send a daily email of his behaviour and then charged us £200 – but we are going anyway. Finally, although money isn’t everything, I would just like to point out that the dog only cost us £150 to buy and his treatment will cost considerably more – BUT WE ARE GOING ANYWAY. We shall see.

Not everything went according to plan with Aged Parent last week. I rang up on the morning of her brain scan results appointment to finalise the details. (Do not wait outside! Do not call a taxi if I am seventeen seconds late! Try to look for your purse slightly before we are actually getting in the car – that sort of thing). At this point, AP informs me that the appointment has been cancelled. Obviously, I don’t take this statement on face value but, on further investigation, it seems that the appointment has indeed been cancelled as the consultant is unwell. At this point, as I am having an attack of the vapours, HOH phones the hospital to enquire if it may have been prudent to let us know before I have taken the day off work. They reply that they have let AP know. We check with her and she agrees that she did know but is also insistent that she told us when we visited the day before. We didn’t visit the day before – I have an alibi. Now, I bow to no-one in my admiration of the NHS, as I think you know HOH is a proud member of their workforce. However, when you are cancelling a visit of a patient with severe confusion for an appointment to see if she has dementia, wouldn’t it make sense to contact a next of kin with a cancellation? I’m asking for a friend. Pah!

Anyhoo, reasons to be cheerful. The kindness of people. The lady from the Crisis Team who assured me that they were not going to leave us alone in this, the people I work with who don’t bat an eyelid when I take my umpteenth call of the day from AP about just how upset she is and also my kids – FOW2 who has come over to babysit Morecambe when we couldn’t change our shifts and FOW1 and his fiance who took us for a calming walk around what is going to be their wedding venue next year (see above), including a stop at your actual country pub. Had to take Morecambe but he only picked one fight and I would say that wasn’t entirely his fault. If people bring big black dogs into an enclosed space with him, they need to be braced for the consequences. By the way, they’re not getting married on a boat or a beach or anything. This is not Don’t Tell The Bride. It’s just the estate where the meal will be.

Finlly, I was listening to a sermon podcast this week walking to work. It was by Tim Keller who is a big noise in New York I believe. He quoted this from Hebrews 12

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God

Then he asked – so what is the Joy set before him”? Is it being with God? No – he already had that. Is it being recognised as God? No he already was. So what is the “Joy”? And Tim Keller said “It’s you! You are the Joy set before him, it’s for relationship with you.”

And there, just by Aldi, I felt a little dig in my ribs from the Divine and I couldn’t quite believe it but I tried to anyway. Then I pretended that I had something in my eye and carried on to work. And please feel free to think this about yourself as well. I don’t suppose for a moment it’s just about me. I don’t really feel like anyone’s Joy at the moment but am thinking that if he says so – that would be very nice indeed.

Don’t Get Cocky Kid

In the words of the great Han Solo, I got too cocky. I am back I said. I was not back at all for I had not factored in the revenge of the Aged Parent and the Jack Russell – neither of whom are dealing with life well at the moment.

Aged Parent is telling anyone with a pulse that her only daughter has moved away and left her. Chance would be a fine thing. (This is something that I may be thinking but am hardly ever saying out loud). As I think I mentioned last time, AP seen some deterioration in her mental and physical state. At the moment, the Social Services crisis team are working with her and us to see what is the best way forward. One of the main problems is still that if she feels a little unsure about things, she responds by pulling the emergency cord. This almost automatically calls an ambulance which eventually results in an overstretched ambulance service coming to tell her that there is nothing much wrong with her. We are getting a reputation here and at this rate she will be the subject of a Christopher Eccleston narrated documentary about NHS time-wasters. So far she has seen a Social Worker, an Occupational Health Therapist and a Physiotherapist. She is doing that thing that old people do where they are really charming to people’s face “Yes dear. Of course dear. I completely agree.” Then, as soon as they leave the room – “Well I didn’t like her at all. Who DOES she think she is?”

I also have fallen victim to this. AP and I had a calm and productive conversation around the idea that her current living situation may not be ideal and the time may be coming when we need to think about a different way forward. She listened calmly and asked good questions. I naively thought that we had progress until I heard her telling her friend – “They’re having me put away you know.” Arrrgh.

On top of all this Morecambe (that’s him above – not giving a monkeys) has decided that no-one can leave the house without him. This means that he howls and barks when he is left alone. You wonder how long he can keep it up and the answer seems to be – “Longer then you can possibly imagine Sweetheart.” Obviously, this is a worry living in an apartment where you can hear the people next door put a cup down. (This is an exaggeration. It just feels like it). So we entered into the exciting world of technology and bought one of those cameras that you can switch on in your living room and keep track of what your pet is doing. I am a bit suspicious of this kind of thing. You never know who is watching as far as I am concerned. Why shadowy forces would need to watch me painting my toenails and hoovering up chocolate cookies I don’t know but you can’t be too careful. They’d probably rather come across someone dancing in a bikini in front of members of the Cabinet or something but that’s their problem not mine.

Anyway, this camera took a life-time to set up and it kept talking to me, which I wasn’t keen on. But I sorted it and went to Lidl with my phone in my pocket to keep an eye on how the dog was doing. Unfortunately, almost at the exact moment I was leaving the house, he was trapping himself in the bedroom which meant that he felt that he was completely justified in barking for the twenty minutes that I was out of the house. At this point I realised that I wasn’t sure how to turn the camera connection off on my phone so I raced round Lidl with my pocket barking hysterically. I am too old for all this carry on. We are probably going to try and get some professional help. A behavourist or something. Do they do them for old people?

Have a great week


Blimey – I’ve missed this. The writing that is. Don’t worry – you don’t have to say the same to make me feel better. It feels better just typing stuff – drivel included.

For those of you taking part in a fasting 24-hour group session to advocate for my safe return – thank-you. What? I am sort of back – later than expected – not because of the Internet issues but because life has been overwhelmingly hectic. In fact, Virgin came through admirably well in the end. We did ring them up and ask to cancel our contract because they couldn’t connect us and also because it was all getting a bit expensive when compared to other new deals we had been offered. They then offered to come out and set it up the day after we moved in and also knock £35 a month off our contract. Funny that.

The actual moving day couldn’t have gone any smoother. The company, who I had found on Facebook in a fit of last-minute hysteria turned out to be fantastic. (Well I say “Company” it was two lads who looked like they had escaped from “The Detectorists” but they were models of efficiency). And really nice. The keys were available right on time – which was a shock considering how many horrifying stories I had heard in the run-up to the move.

The night before we moved, we cleaned the house from top to bottom – cleaning until just after midnight. I don’t think I have ever been so exhausted in my life. We dropped onto a mattress (we had got rid of the bed by then), convinced we faced a day of one catastrophe after another. At the end of the next day, HOH was pointing out to me – ever so gently – as I was a fragile little flower by the end of the day – how good God had been. So, if you prayed, (1) thank you and (2) God worked.

HOH and I are not exactly urbane people about town and we have found a lot of this overwhelming but we are here, in a sea of Ikea boxes, on the other side, ready to get going. There are several challenges on the horizon. Morecambe is completely floored by everything and is spending every waking hour with his paws wrapped around HOH’s left leg being dragged around the apartment.

Also, Aged Parent has chosen this time to deteriorate significantly and may need moving to a facility with more care. We are working on it – the old Social Services and me. I spent seven and a half hours on Friday night in Casualty with a parent who was not up to it. In the end, we were told that there was nothing particularly wrong physically and she was sent home. At least she got to build up a significant friendship with an old soldier in the next cot. He was a bit drunk but they seemed to get on fine.

So, what I want to do now is get back to reading blogs as well, so hopefully will catch up with that as well. Right, off to watch Avengers now and give serious consideration to ironing work clothes on a mini ironing board that I never thought was a good idea (and I would like that minuted HOH) In case you are interested – the photo above is the view from our balcony. Ooooh get you!

Have a great week.

One Two. One Two. Can you hear me?

Hello all. Hope you are well. I am officially exhausted. We are slowly but surely thinning out the detritus of our lives (see above) and packing everything that we can’t get rid of into cardboard boxes. We went to a car boot to try and get rid of things as well. People who go to car boot sales are funny, aren’t they? There was one bloke trying to knock us down 20p on a quite expensive pair of shoes that were going for 50p (Answer – no – just on principle really) Then a lovely family with European accents came and bought the majority of my blue and white crockery, which we won’t have room or indeed the need for any more. She paid more than we asked and then said: “If it is important for you, please know that this is going to a loving family who will appreciate and love your beautiful collection.” It was important and she made me happy.

We were supposed to exchange contracts on Friday but, for reasons I don’t quite understand, the buyers couldn’t get something to transfer. Apparently, there is nothing to be concerned about and we should still move, as arranged, on Friday. We’ll see.

I hope those of you who have a Bank Holiday have had a good time. It has been boiling hot here. I heard someone on the radio saying that summer this year had been a washout and I felt a bit guilty because it has been lovely in Devon for most of the summer. I don’t know why I feel guilty. There’s not a lot I can do about it.

I am currently writing this in the kitchen and am not talking to HOH. Not that he has noticed or is that bothered really. He insisted on watching Beneath the Surface and reassured me that there was nothing terrible in it. Within 15 seconds (LITERALLY) an old lady had a hood on her head and a Russian psycho was holding a gun to her and now I can’t get the picture out of my mind. Really.

I think I told you last time about the Libby App which lets you listen to library books on your iPhone. It worked very well, except that I miscounted how long I had until the end of the book and the library snatched it back when it was 95% read. There is no option to extend and I will have to wait through the six loans behind me to borrow it again. I probably won’t care how it ends by then.

Aged Parent went for a brain scan on Monday. (Lots of jokes about – just checking if you’ve got one!) All went well, she’s certainly not too ill to flirt furiously with the HCA who took her into the scan. I am on the lookout for a new phone for her. She thinks her friend on the Isle of Man has broken her phone because she has bought a new iPhone. We think AP’s phone has died because it is older than the Pharaohs but she won’t have it.

“Joyce has done something to my phone because it won’t work now she has a new one. Her’s is a mobile and, to make matters worse, she said something about putting Apples in it, so that won’t be helping will it?” (I seriously do not make this up – ask HOH. I can’t because I’m not speaking to him.)

Anyhoo, this will be my last blog before the move. Partly because we won’t have T’Internet for a couple of weeks. (My fault – forgot to sort) But also because I am boring myself with the house-move talk now so I wanted to give you a break. If you were quite mad and wanted to keep in touch, I can be followed on Instagram. I am @ephe406 or on my Facebook author page which you just need to like. (You don’t actually have to like it – just press the button that says that you do). I am Lesley Hargreaves Author. That would be lovely. My plan is to put more up than I am doing now because I will be able to do it on the phone and all that.

Otherwise, it will be like Apollo 13 where I go quiet and you all hold your breath to see if I return to earth safely until you hear me shouting “Houston! I have made it back!” Or something. I may be overestimating my importance to you all. Either way – see you on the other side. DV! (As Thora Hird always used to say)

Rumours of a Carry-On

Hello all and welcome from the Bubble Wrap Queen of Plymouth. Please don’t write in and tell me how unsustainable bubble wrap is as I am borderline unsustainable myself at the moment and that might tip me over the edge. We have more glasses than the Rovers Return apparently, despite giving at least 50% of our stash away.

It can be quite soothing actually, wrapping things up. Last night, I managed nearly every candlestick we had in the house while watching “Captain America – Winter Soldier” which is one of my favourite Marvels and Robert Redford is a very convincing psychopath I think. (Sorry – must learn to put the word “Spoiler” BEFORE I give the plot away.

I’ve also been using the Libby App which lets you download books from your library to your phone – for free. I mentioned it before I think. I’ve been listening to “The Silence of the Girls” by Pat Barker which is a re-telling of the Illiad with women’s thoughts and voices rather than just Achilles, Agamemnon, Odysseus and all. I am slightly obsessed with the story and I think I only have a week left before they take the book back so I am more or less living day to day with my earphones in, which people seem to find irritating for some reason.

Why you would be here reading about a woman who, at the moment, is leaving the house with about the same frequency as Miss Haversham, I don’t know but I am glad you are here. I go to work, obviously and to Aged Parent’s to make sure she isn’t running amok but that’s about it at the moment. By the way, if anyone facies looking after a little Jack Russell as pictured above – just feel free to give me a call. It’s only for a day while we move and he very rarely bites these days.

We are struggling to get AP to eat sensibly as well. Left to her own devices, she would live on porridge, custard creams and M and S Pineapple Tarts. I took some frozen haddock to her flat last week. I thought – cook from frozen, in some foil in a bit of butter. It will be really nice with a couple of slices of brown bread (and possibly a Guinness). When I went back this week, the fish was in the freezer – untouched.

“I thought you were going to have that fish.”

“Well, I was but it said “Keep Frozen” so I left it.”

“You are only supposed to keep it frozen until you eat it!”

HOH says that she knew exactly what that meant but didn’t fancy the fish. He’s probably right. We have stuffed her freezer with ready meals. Hopefully, she will find something in there that will tickle her fancy. She is also quite exercised by the fact that their communal coffee room has been vandalised. Apparently, there was coffee scattered all over the floor and the kettle lead had been damaged. AP said that the warden is liaising with the police about the damage. HOH and I feel this is unlikely as there is not enough of them to liaise with people who have been stabbed at the moment.

On top of this, AP is convinced that there has been an orgy in the Communal Coffee Room. We have no idea why she should think that. Something to do with one of the men being spotted in the evening going downstairs towards the Coffee Room in his dressing gown with a bottle of gin. This was a double sighting as AP was not the only witness and Pop Sock Lady also saw him. We sat, stunned into silence, at this supposedly erotic turn of events, unlikely as it was. HOH broke the silence by asking no-one in particular

“I wonder if that’s how the kettle got damaged?”

Have a great week.