Well Lit

Hello All. Welcome back. I am much better thanks for asking. I still occasionally find myself a little wanting on the breathing side but, there is a suspicion around here that less breathing means less talking and there are those who are not averse to that.

Anyway, the last few entries have been Martha Covid this and Martha Covid that so it’s probably time we started talking about something else. So how are you? All well I hope. Be careful out there. I was back at work today and there was a general discussion about whether we would trust the vaccine. Just to let you know that I would push over Aged Parent to get it. (Don’t worry – she would push me back – really hard) In fact, I am rolling my sleeve up as I write this. Apparently, there is a strong possibility that the vaccine has a microchip in it that will begin to control our minds when it has been injected in. I don’t know about that but I’ll tell you what, I wouldn’t have liked to be the person whose job it was to put individual little microchips into individual vials of vaccine. Fiddly or what?

Aged Parent is doing ok I think. She went for a mystery scan last week. No-one seemed to know that she was going or why but an ambulance turned up apparently, spirited her away, and returned her an hour later. She was quite happy though. “I was looked after by a lovely young man with long plaits in his hair. ” (We think it was probably braided) “He kept asking if I wanted a drink or a wee which was helpful.” We await the results – if she did actually go to Derriford and has not been inducted into some kind of vaccine death cult. You never know.

We are creeping slowly towards Christmas. The Decs are up. I keep forgetting to put my advent candles on the balcony. The idea was to put one up on the first Sunday, one up the second, etc, and the candles would be different heights if you get my meaning. It’s not going well. It is definitely not going to give out the desired effect if I keep forgetting to light them. Pah!

I had a quick look at Christmas telly to see if it will be worth splashing out on a Radio Times but it’s not looking good. There’s a little bit of a hoo-ha isn’t there because the Vicar Of Dibley will have a Black Lives Matter thing going on and that is too political or something. A couple of things. The first thing is that I LOVED the Vicar of Dibley and was beyond happy when they gave her the happy ending she deserved. I’m just not sure that they shouldn’t have left it there. I had to make my eyes go all blurry on the fundraising thing she did for Covid so I didn’t have to watch it. It looked like it had taken about twenty minutes to write. (Just to confirm that Dawn French is, obviously beyond reproach though). Also, I heard a story on the radio about a black, middle-class mother telling us about when she had to have “the talk” with her children. In some ways, the talk wasn’t too profound. It was – always keep your receipt and, if the self-service asks if you want a receipt, always say yes. That’s not a talk I’ve ever had to give my kids but this mum knows that her black children are much more likely than mine to be stopped and accused of shoplifting and they always need to be in a position to prove their innocence. And, I think, if that is the state we are in, I don’t think I can complain much about a political Vicar of Dibley.

I am waiting for my Advent book to arrive (I know, like I said, miles behind) and in the meantime, I am reading Ang at Tracing Rainbows who is hosting Advent at Home on her blog as usual. I have been known to join in but cannot, in all conscience, sign up when I can’t even remember to light a candle on the balcony but there is good stuff to read there. There is a theme developing around Advent I think, which is more than ever, a light shining in the darkness and the Light being Hope. I mean, that has always been the theme of Advent but lots of us are feeling it very keenly this year. In all this, it’s very easy to forget that Light did come (in the end) and nothing was ever the same. Sometimes that is difficult to imagine happening in the midst of darkness but lots about the Nativity and Christmas doesn’t fit how we would imagine it happening. That doesn’t make it any less real. More real if anything.

What came into existence was Life,
    and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
    the darkness couldn’t put it out. (John 1)

As Expected…

Well, I was planning to get back to everyone and their lovely comments, and then HOH began to cough – a lot. And whaddya know – he was Covid Positive. Not to be outdone, I was sleeping on the settee by this point and was woken up by bad pains in the muscles in my arms and legs. I put it down to sleeping on the couch. I was wrong. Off to the testing site for you Lady Jane. So that was all three of us.

For those that have not had tests, I have to (somewhat grudgingly) say that the set up was very efficient. I took my test on a Sunday I think it was and got my result within 24 hours. A nice little text on my mobile phone saying – “Try not to worry. Most people can deal with it at home.” Track and Trace then kicked in and, as we had been in isolation since my son’s test we only had the three of us to dob in which resulted in some full-on duplications and phone calls from people telling us not to leave the house – about three times a day – each. And oh yes, about that leaving the house thing, as a rule, I have found that you have to be able to get out of bed to do that.

Not to be negative but all of us think it is probably the illest we have ever felt. FOW1 and HOH had the classic breathing and coughing difficulties. I decided to go for a more exotic approach. My chest wasn’t that bad – although, for some reason, my breathing is quite laboured sometimes. I decided that I would manifest Covid via the medium of overwhelming nausea, pains in my arms, legs, head, and eyes, and diarrhoea. (Hurrah!)

The best description I heard was Hugh Grant saying that he felt like Harvey Weinstein was sitting on his chest. Correct. We were also quite religious about trying to isolate ourselves from each other. All quarantined in separate rooms. Everyone had to bleach the bathroom with a diluted spray between showers. All completely useless of course but my grouting has never been whiter so swings and roundabouts eh?

Anyway, we are all insanely grateful that things are improving now. FOW1 has declared himself back to normal and quite pleased at the amount of weight he has lost. HOH is looking to a phased return to work at the end of the week. I am about a week behind everyone else and have to keep sitting down but am on my way. I’m hoping to spend this week building my strength up via the medium of porridge, white toast, and blackcurrant cordial.

Aged Parent is having problems with her phone which means that we have not been able to speak to her very often. Sky have excelled themselves by being unable to effect a repair for her because she cannot remember her password. They would be able to help if I went in to support her but there is a little matter of a killer disease that I am carrying. Anyway, when I was full on ill, HOH managed to speak to her on a carer’s mobile as he felt she may need reassurance. As usual, it didn’t go as planned.

AP (In dramatic tears) How is everyone? I’ve been worried sick

HOH Well, we’re not too bad – getting there.

AP How’s Matt. I know he’ll be worried.

HOH (A bit put out) Well, he’s the youngest and strongest. Your daughter is struggling a bit

AP He’ll be so upset he’s brought that into the house. Don’t take it out on him will you?

HOH Pardon?

AP Don’t give him a bad time. Promise me! You know what you are like

HOH Excuse me! Seriously?

AP hands phone back to carer as her work here is done.

Anyway. It’s the first Sunday in Advent and I think even HOH is willing to pull the trigger on the Christmas Decs a bit early this year. He says he needs it. Have a great week

Safe and Cheerful

So, I’m just sliding on here to sort of wave at you uncertainly. If you look at this and think – “Oh it’s her. Where has she been? Well if she thinks I’ll be reading this again – she’s got another think coming” I completely understand. However, I am going to type it anyway. This morning, I had a call from a lady from….well actually I’m not 100% positive where she was from. Something to do with the NHS Track and Trace…possibly. She asked a lot of questions about mental health and said that I should try and do productive things to help while we are sitting out the next 12 days in quarantine so here goes.

Actually, before “Here goes” I am not going to give you very much in the way of positive thoughts at the moment. (Nothing terrible. No deaths or anything) When I began to write this blog however many years ago that was, I had ideas of being encouraging and chivvying us all along a bit. I’m not sure it has ever worked out like that so, if you have problems of your own at the moment (and who doesn’t) and feel you want to leg it and not read. I would not take it personally.

So. (I can’t stand it when people start sentences with “so”) So, what’s been occurring? Well, you probably noticed the mention of being in quarantine. That’s because our son – FOW1 – contracted Covid 19 and has been in our back bedroom for the last seven days. It is, as many of you will know, a nasty virus and I would be happy to have a “chat” with anyone who feels that it has been overblown. FOW1 is young and fit. It has made him really quite ill. Also, hello to the donks who tried to come into the hostelry he works in, on the last night before lockdown, and then tried to start something because they “hilariously” thought pulling your T-Shirt over your head was “good enough mate”. For the more observant amongst you, FOW1 is living with us because his relationship has broken down. Initially, he was devastated, although he is thinking a little differently about things now. You know when things happen and you look back and realise that you weren’t actually that happy? That’s where he is at the moment. Well actually, to be strictly accurate, where he is at the moment is having a good cough.

In the meantime, we have also been dealing with Aged Parent whose meds had gone spectacularly wrong. Well, when I say “wrong” the doctors just didn’t get round to sending them. I mean I know they have a lot on but not sending the meds meant she phoned 999 – twice – was admitted to hospital for a barrage of tests – they can’t find anything much physically wrong with her – she was gutted. However, Aged Parent definitely does have mental health issues so we were dealing with phone calls with a distressed old lady crying “Can you help me please?” That was a bit tough. You will be pleased to hear that she is back on a much more even keel now. She is now well enough to pick a fight with her sister about who is the closest relative to my son.

So, that plus sorting out a new lockdown for the charity I work for. (We are not closing completely this time so people can get to doctors’ appointments etc) has meant that I just couldn’t make it happen. AND THEN…good grief, I am boring myself now…Bloglovin has stopped showing my blogs. Now, I know that this means that some people who are interested in me can no longer see if I have posted but, I’m not sure if I should do anything about it. Not because I don’t care about people who read the blog but more because a good proportion of my followers on Bloglovin’ seem to be ladies of a Russian bent who are offering me jig-a-jig. Now – far be it for me to pass judgment on people’s private lives but, I could do without all that carry on, to be frank. So I may see if there is another way forward. Any suggestions gratefully received.

So, if you have read this far. Thank you very much. The lady from Track and Trace was very concerned that we find something useful to do while we are isolated. (I think she was a bit suspicious actually because I took the call while I was standing on the balcony. With all the cars passing, I don’t think it sounded very isolationy.) This has felt quite useful for me if not for you. I hope you are all safe and cheerful.

Don’t have nightmares…

Does anyone remember Crimewatch? I used to watch it in the eighties. Apparently, it was canceled in 2017. Who knew? Mind you, I don’t think anyone was watching by then. For me, it all went wrong when they replaced good, solid you know where you are up to journalists with “sexy” police people who were just as likely to pop up on reality programmes like “When Sharks Eat Celebrities” or on the Daily Mail’s sidebar of shame falling out of a nightclub in the early hours.

Anyway, for those who let this phenomenon pass them by, Crimewatch would recreate horrible crimes using lookalike actors. They would then ask you to phone in and speak to the bank of police who were sitting behind the presenters if you had any clues. Then, after an hour of watching women getting followed down back alleys or men in balaclavas with sawn-off shotguns bursting through the French Windows of a semi-detached in Kidderminster, the presenter Nick Ross would remind you how rare violent crime is and implore you not to have nightmares. (I used to thank that, considering violent crime is so rare, they didn’t seem to have many problems finding at least two to reenact every Thursday night).

This is a roundabout way of telling you that I am having a lot of nightmares at the moment. Well, I say “a lot”, I’m having more than I usually have which is zero. It wouldn’t be so bad but I am shouting as well so HOH is suffering. Is anyone else having nightmares? Is not as if I can remember anything so if big hands were appearing and writing in the woodchip about how much I am falling short, I wouldn’t know.

Anyway, I have looked into it (I’ve Googled it) and apparently it’s the pandemic. Possibly. Is anything not “The Pandemic”? It seems that we are all suffering a kind of PTSD (which seems a bit insulting to people who have belly rolled under helicopters while under fire from international terrorists). It’s a kind of slow PTSD and our minds are struggling because of the removal of our normal things and the loss of outside stimuli. So there you are then. Either way, HOH would just rather I got my stimuli sorted and stopped screaming at the curtains in the early hours.

I was always told (by Aged Parent to be honest so don’t write a thesis on it and try and get it peer-reviewed) that nightmares were the body’s way of washing out your brain of horrible thoughts and worries and that people who didn’t dream had bad thoughts bedding down permanently in their brain. Which makes sense when you think about it. Mind you, she also told me that if you die in a dream you die in real life and she is also a firm believer that eating cucumber before bed once gave her a hallucination in which the devil came into our living room and kept trying to put the big lights back on. You pays your money and you takes your choice when it comes to dream deciphering.

For me, I intend to only read nice books before bed. HOH is reading the new Robert Galbraith Strike book which is definitely NOT a nice book. And, I suppose I should cut down on the digestive biscuits before bed (and no cucumber sandwiches obviously). And let’s see if that helps.

Anyway, have a good weekend. If you get a second, prayers and fasting would be appreciated on Saturday morning. We have bought AP a new table to go over her chair since we found she was eating her meals standing up because she didn’t want to spill any gravy. We intend to build that table in her flat on Saturday. Usually, this kind of thing doesn’t go well but in the words of Sally Bowles in Cabaret. “Maybe this time….”

How to break up with your phone

by Catherine Price

Hello all. I hope you are all ok. I am typing this while watching Battlestar Galactica which is very VERY dark. I remember the one with Dirk Benedict which was a lot more cheery but this one has a very strong end of the world/ children dying/undefeatable enemy vibe which is not how I remember it. Also, Starbuck has changed sex. Not in a modern – no-one has a sex way – he’s just a woman now. I’m sorry – I can’t tell you why. She seems very nice. I’m not sure if I will carry on with it. Each episode is 90 minutes long and there appear to be hundreds of episodes containing dystopian, end of the world bleakness. A bit like Aged Parent when she’s run out of Laxido. I will probably move over to All Creatures Great and Small which is very good, I think. All the actors seem to be note perfect to me.

Also, it’s still very warm in Plymouth. Is anyone else warm? I have spent the best part of the weekend changing my clothes in my wardrobe from summer to winter and I probably won’t have anything to wear for the next two weeks now. I mean Tomaz Schafernaker’s word is law in this house but I don’t remember him predicting this.

I just wanted to pop on and review a book. I think it is important. This week, work has continued for the inquest into Molly Russell’s death. The 14-year-old (mark that – 14) killed herself in 2017 after viewing graphic images of self-harm and suicide on Social Media. Instagram has released details of the things she saw and the police have not been able to view it for an extended period of time because it is so graphic. She was 14.

This book addresses the issues around mobile phones, Social Media apps, and the Internet. It is split into two parts. The first part looks at the problems and the second part is an action plan.

The first half uses science to confirm everything I suspected about my mobile phone use. I had noticed that my attention span seemed to be shorter. I put it down to old age/dementia/lack of sleep worrying about Aged Parent. However, it seems that social media shortens our attention spans. It can also be responsible for lack of sleep, it encourages addictive behaviour and is actually changing our brains. And this is all deliberate. These apps are designed to do this to us. They are designed to make us chase “likes” etc. because that is where the money is for them. The killer fact for me was that silicon valley whizz kid designers do not allow their children to have phones – basically until they are so old that there is very little that the parents can do about it. Given a choice, they would probably ban their loved ones from the Internet forever.

Cards on the table, I didn’t follow the second half which is the action plan, point by point. When someone gives me a twelve-point plan, I never just take them one a day like you are supposed to. I get bored and curious and read them all (which as my old mother would say probably explains why I never stick with anything). But I did read all the suggestions and took quite a lot of them on board. I have never kept my phone in the bedroom (except when HOH works nights so that I can quickly dial 999 when murderers break-in). So that was never a big deal for me. However, Looking at my phone when I first got up was beginning to be a habit. Although, as usual, I am not sure that I am entirely to blame. It really only started when I got up and wanted to check the COVID stories. Drat you! International Pandemic. I haven’t deleted all the Social Media Apps either, which she definitely recommends. I mean, she’s right. I’m not doing it. Partly because how else can you keep up with what your kids are up to and er…I’m not doing it.

I did get a time tracker on the phone. (I’ll be honest – I’m not sure where I got it from. It seemed to just appear when I was looking into it which is a bit worrying). That makes a big difference, seeing the amount of time you spend on the phone has helped me to cut back. (On average, we pick up our phones over 50 times a day. I think I was well below average but I still cut back.

Also, emails. At any one time I usually have around 100 emails in my inbox and that’s not my work inbox. Listen, I have a very small circle of friends, eking out, as I do this lonely friendless existence. I am certain there is no way that people who love and care for me are sending me 100 emails. Could it be that they want to make money from me? What do you think?

I am aware, looking at the comments, etc that I get on here that rabid phone usage may not be a terrible problem for you and I am certainly not at the pointy end of this stick. But, if you love someone young or, if you are just concerned about what we are doing to the young people with their palpitations and their stress attacks and, oat the most horrible, horrible end of the spectrum, their suicide attempts, then you might like to poke around in this cesspool a bit further and make sure you have the old sword and shield and don’t get caught unawares.