First of all, if you have come expecting a cosy chat about Love Island, you have come to the wrong place, sorry. You must be new here. Later on, I am going to paste it. But first – anyone else hot or is it just me? I’ll be honest, I have very little of value to share because I have spent the week battling a chest infection. I am feeling quite smug because I have fought it off without resorting to antibiotics and have therefore saved the world from certain catastrophe caused by overuse of antibiotics. You are more than welcome. However, it does mean that life has been even more uneventful than usual. Well, I say uneventful – FOW2 moved out so it is just us and the dog now. HOH and FOW1 did most of the heavy lifting with that (literally). They helped her to move and get the flat sorted along with her flat-mate. FOW1’s main piece of life advice for you this week is to avoid building IKEA drawers at all costs.

He is working tonight so I am spending the evening watching both Marple and Revenge of the Sith at the same time (via the medium of an over-used remote control) which is apparently quite annoying for anyone else in the room. There is also a recap programme on about Love Island but I’m giving that a miss. I know this makes me sound like a deranged Queen Victoria but I found it shocking. Everyone just hanging around in their bikinis, calling each  other names, picking each other up and then dropping people like hot stones. This is before we get to what goes on in the bedroom department. I think it shows a lack of respect for people, it increases the pressure on those who are already body conscious and is basically very depressing. There I have said it. I mean not everyone needs to be leading food missions to far flung shores or solving all philosophical problems caused by cloning but I think you really need to raise your bar just a little bit?

I have done quite a bit of reading while I have been under the weather. Firstly this. It’s about England and how the geography of the country has affected the way we developed. Coal, rivers, a rainy climate, hills rather than mountain ranges etc. All these things made the country develop the way it did – through the Industrial Revolution, the farming enclosures – along with the emergence of inventors and innovators. I found it really interesting. My history A level was partly about the Industrial Revolution so I knew quite a bit about the background but I don’t think you would need too much background knowledge. (I have just read that back and it sounds a bit dry – it isn’t – sorry everyone)

I have also read this. Sometimes, I think that I may not be that bright. Apparently, this was supposed to be very controversial but I seemed to miss it. The bit that I picked up on was that God wants us to live in his Kingdom now and, though heaven is important, things are meant to start straight away. I think that when I was young, it would have been a radical thought. I have heard Christians explain that all things can be borne without complaint because our rewards are waiting for us. This is good to know sometimes because Christians are unlikely to ever be the most popular kids in school and by their very nature they will be swimming against the tide. (See the popularity of Love Island) However, it has also been used to make people put up with terrible things from husbands, wives or others because, at least the future was rosy. It has been used to excuse poverty and bigotry because – at least there is always heaven. A good life is possible now – although it may not be a good life as defined by the donks who invented Love Island. I don’t think we can necessarily expect God to support us if our quest is to develop a washboard stomach, blow dry our eyelashes and earn squillions by selling the minutiae of your soul to the highest bidder. I think it is probably more about love, relationship, peace, kindness – you know the drill.

Also, I have just started a new book. Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders. It’s by Giles Brandereth who is an aquired tatse but I think he’s really funny. I am one chapter in. Oscar Wilde has come accross a ritualistic murder of a young boy, he asks for the opinion of his new friend – Arthur Conan Doyle (yes, that one) who believes him – even when the body disappears. So Wilde and his other frind who also happens to be Wordsworth’s grandson (yes that Wordsworth) are now about to delve into this terrible murder. I am thinking that, if all goes well, this might be completely preposterous. Bring it on!

 

The week has been mainly taken up with sorting out FOW2’s move out, HOH’s Birthday (he doesn’t want to talk about it. He feels the numbers in his age are the wrong way round) and trying to qualify for the Olympic Coughing Team. The sore throat spoken of last week (do try and remember) has turned into a hacking cough. Entertainingly for HOH it is worse when I lie down to try and sleep. I would move to the back room but FOW1 took his bed when he left so am showing willing by propping myself up on pillows. Not helping much – I keep waking up bent double with my face on my knees and panicking that I may have gone blind.

The Top Vicar came round as promised. As usual with new visitors, he made very bold statements about liking dogs but, after a short while, he was very relieved by our offer to lock our bouncy Jack Russell in the kitchen. Morecambe is only trying to be friendly but he does overdo it I know. It doesn’t help that HOH keeps telling people about how Morecambe once became so happy when the gas man came, that he widdled up his leg – just from pure joy. TV was wearing shorts and therefore also a guarded look whenever Morecambe ran up to him. The meeting went fine. I am not sure Vicar knows what to do with us. Not that he has to do anything of course, it’s not his responsibility to make us happy. I would just like to find my niche, you know? I am a woman but I work full time and my kids have left home so I don’t get to go to Toddler Club or Ladies’ Bible Study etc. We shall see.

Brexit continues to vex my troubled mind. I have stated that, on balance, I was a remainer. (Although it was a fine balance and, even if we had stayed, I would have liked to see plenty of reform) However, I held my hands up to the will of the people, as I have said. However, in the course of my work, I come across a lot of old people and…well, I’m finding it troubling that they had a vote. One chap kept going on about Churchill and how he wouldn’t have stood for it – Europe that is. Well…This is Churchill in 1957

We genuinely wish to join a European free trade area – and if our continental friends wish to reach agreement, I am quite sure a way can be found and that reasonable adjustments can be made to meet the essential interests of all.

Another bloke spoke about Margaret Thatcher and that her dearest wish was for us to leave, except, this is her speechwriter

“She fought hard for specific British advantages, where necessary to opt out of some of the EU arrangements, but she never in her time as prime minister contemplated or spoke about leaving the European Union.”

By all means vote for something you believe in but don’t base it on some fantasy idea about what a past leader would vote for. While you are at it, let’s see if we can canvas the support of Captain Mainwaring, Elsie Tanner, Richard The Lionheart and Gracie Fields as well.

I have spent more time than usual in front of the Telly Telly Bunkum Box (Thank you Roald Dahl for the genius description) and have come across “Keeping Faith” For those who don’t know, this is a Welsh Drama about a lawyer whose lawyer husband disappears – without trace – poof! Faith – for she is the lawyer wife in question, now has to find her husband, while keeping the law firm going and looking after her small children, All this she does admirably. Indeed, she seemed to spend most of the episode that I watched slinking in and out of police cells on her beautifully long legs and kicking off her lovely high heels to speak to clients. She has also developed a disconcerting habit of wafting into rooms in her underwear and lying down on a convenient table or worktop and staring up at the ceiling while being filmed from above. Now, I’m not saying I blame her and if I was as beautiful as she is, I would do my fair share of slinking as well (see above). All I’m saying is that when my friend’s cat went missing for about five hours, the only lying down she did was face down on the carpet while she cried and snotted for England so I would have expected Faith to be a bit more upset. Also, there is a baddie policewoman who is trying to pin the whole thing on Faith by the looks of things. We know she is a baddie because she has a terrible kind of Human League haircut, the most unflattering dark brown hair dye and a permanently disappointed air. Having said all this, HOH has annoyingly pointed out that I happily watched the whole thing from beginning to end and will certainly go back for the next episode. Bah!

Aged Parent continues to recover. I had arranged Meals on Wheels for a few weeks. (It’s now called Community Meals Service – not as catchy if you ask me) She had the first one which she declared delicious, then promptly cancelled the whole thing after the second meal arrived.

“They sent me a baked potato! One baked potato! Me! I ask you!”

I have no idea. Have a good week.

In my defence, I sat down to post here on Sunday and something horrible was going on with red words that I couldn’t understand and I couldn’t get into the blog at all. I don’t know about you but if something technical goes wrong when I blog, I have no idea where to start. I texted someone I know who is very technical but he is always very busy and didn’t have time to get back to me but then I signed on tonight and it is working. Maybe my technical person has done something remotely, maybe it would have got better anyway or maybe it’s a miracle.  YOU decide.

To update you, because I know you are worried about me. Aged Parent has come home, having made good progress. Well, to be honest, I think the respite care home may have got a bit fed up of her bellowing “EVERYONE IN HERE IS DEMENTED!” at perfectly sane people so they turfed her out. Her friend with the tight socks had put a lovely, rather touching note under the door about how much she missed her. So I left them, discussing all the gossip in the sheltered housing unit that Aged Parent had missed. They were both very taken with the news that someone had sprayed a full bottle of tomato ketchup over the front door of their neighbour. Why would someone do that? Against my better judgement, I decided to spice things up a bit and joked that maybe it was some kind of Mafia warning. Disconcertingly, they both felt this was completely plausible. I left them working through how their neighbour had come to the attention of the Mafia. Aged Parent has to have her arm in plaster for five weeks and she is very keen that I look on the Internet for a way to sue the driver who ran her over. (I am not going to look on the Internet)

So, Head Vicar visited tonight and managed to be very normal and nice. We blathered on like idiots about how strangely settled we had felt in the C of E after so many years in the Pentecostal movement. I, by the way, have to give some credit for this to Pen Wilcock and her amazing Hawk and the Dove series which is about monks and therefore a very structured way of life. All her characters are so lovely and approachable that I kind of felt an affinity with them which made me more settled with the idea of worship with an altar in the room etc. This would go against all my Aged Parent (male version) taught me as he is from a brethren background and feels that, in the main, Ian Paisley’s white mac was just the wrong side of frivolous.

On Tuesday night my head (complete with sore throat) hit the pillow and it was immediately filled with

  1. Aged Parent and multiple visits to check she isn’t living on chocolate oranges and trifle
  2. FOW2 and imminent move to Exeter
  3. FOW2’s imminent need for job to fund move to Exeter and Masters study
  4. Trips to shops for HOH’s birthday present
  5. Dog’s new hobby of waking at 4.30am and demanding to be taken into our bed
  6. Inability to lose half a stone and be able to zip up work dresses
  7. Remembering to clean bathroom just in case Head Vicar needs to go
  8. Returning linen jacket bought in sale because it gives me shoulders like Dave Batista
  9. Need to phone people in North of England to let them know about Aged Parent saga

All these things need to be done (except perhaps number 6) and lying there with eyes wide open on verge of minor panic attack, I was thinking about the quote above and then, rather ungraciously, I thought – “well it’s ok for you with your hours of reading and philosophising and nothing else”. However, when I thought about it, maybe he was saying that, ok these things have to be done and sometimes there is pressure but do things have to be done with worry and hand wringing? What if they were done with peace and calm and trust and then, while in the middle of doing all the things, I made sure that I slowed down before launching myself into the next exciting episode? Maybe it is possible to do many things slowly, eliminating hurry and replace it with deliberation and calm. I’m not saying I have ever found it to be so but if it were possible, I think it would be a very good thing.

 

Four things to talk about.

Can I talk about the football? I know that if you don’t like it, it will be a trial but bear with me. I will not bore you with the challenges of VAR or whether France really were all that. I wanted to just talk briefly about Gareth Southgate.  I don’t know about you but I have watched a man model a different kind of leadership. It has been born out of humility and empathy. His players were encouraged to be respectful – both of their opponents and each other. It seemed that this was part of his upbringing where hard work and respect went hand in hand. Even the fabled waistcoat was inherited from his grandfather who would always wear one to a formal occasion because that’s what decent people did. I was very proud of our reputation in the World Cup – we played ok – a bit too much reliance on dead ball moments for my personal taste but more than that, we were fun, diverse and forward looking. Oh and this photo of Gareth and his Mrs after it was all done is my favourite of the whole World Cup (including all the ones of Marcus Rashford and that is saying something)Brexit. I don’t do politics because I am trying to avoid stuff that makes me think that there is no hope – at all – ever. But, I have to say that is is all very worrying. I’m not really a fan of the European Union – there’s a democracy gap and the idea of ever closer union is not what you would call thrilling but it is the jobs I fear for. At this very moment, companies are making plans to withdraw from this country if it doesn’t go well. This is not a drill, investment has been frozen in car manufacturers and financial services are making plans etc. If we don’t do this properly, I think many, many jobs will be lost. And I can’t escape the sneaking suspicion that there are those in power, with huge personal wealth, immune to any financial crash, who feel that this risk is worth taking in order to regain “Sovereignty” My old mother always used to say that only God was sovereign, I think he’s the only one can be trusted with it. The rest of us should be concentrating on kindness and other assorted tasks.

Speaking of Aged Parent, she has managed to get run over. Well, I say “run over” no-one can work out exactly what happened. I had a phone call from paramedic who assured me that she was ok – just a nudge with a car – she has a broken wrist. There was then a sort of scuffling sound in the ambulance which, I assume, was Aged Parent wrestling the phone away and she informed me that “It wasn’t a nudge. I have been properly run over and am very, very injured.” Anyway, we spent a happy evening in A and E in which the broken wrist was established. She was fairly well behaved, except when she informed a startled nurse that she had “banged her cock pretty badly” (coccyx Mum!). She is now in a residential home for a few weeks. These people seem far better at dealing with her than I am. I rang to see if she had settled and the carer seemed puzzled. “Er yes. She seems fine. We haven’t heard she isn’t.  Believe me, we soon know if there is a problem.” I have to admit, I had a bit of a quiet teary moment in the hospital when it all got a bit too much. A very kind consultant noticed me and came up and reassured me that Aged Parent would be fine. Felt too ashamed to say that I was crying for me as I am sick of hospitals and have just started a much needed week off work which was now going to be packed with medical stuff etc. Am selfish but just couldn’t help it. Just a word here about my lovely Head of House. He has been my taxi, my asker at Reception, my glasses finder and all round good egg. Would just like to make my thankful heart public here.

The best thing. We all went to Exeter University to see FOW2 graduate with a First in Film Studies. (See Happy Family above) For those who think that Film Studies is just watching a lot of movies – I have to tell you I can’t make any sense of her essays. To give you an idea of what they are aiming for, a chap was awarded a PHD in Film when we were there. The title was “Trauma, Modernity and Hauntings: The Legacy of Japanese Colonialism in Contemporary South Korean Cinema.” So there you are then. It was a lovely day. Even though we had to clap at least 785 people before our girl got her turn. At least this year I remembered not to eat the canapes after the unfortunate incident at FOW1’s graduation where, trying to be witty and urbane with academics, I continued to eat several of the things, even while noting that they were quite warm and smelt a bit off. You can guess the rest.

It’s been quite the fortnight. Am sharing now because this sea is a bit more becalmed but it has been a bit bumpy here. You may recall that I spoke of someone I am awfully fond of who had found a horrible lump and had to go and get it identified. While we were waiting for all that to be sorted, I had to go for my three yearly mammogram. Now those who know me know that I have been quite unsuccessful at mammograms in the past but that was a long time ago, and, although I am not exactly blase about them, I didn’t give it much thought, what with everything else that was occurring.  I was more than a little taken aback then, to receive a recall notice to the breast care clinic. Well, when I say taken aback – let us say er… devastated and er…terrified.

Rather than keep you in suspense, I should tell you that all is well. I have some calcium deposits which they wouldn’t normally do much about but with my history, it meant a biopsy just to make sure nothing nasty was lying underneath, which it was not. Hurrah!

I was just quite surprised at myself really. It was like stepping back in time. Everything was vivid and real and all memories were bang up to date. Things that had drifted away with the passage of time (like how much a biopsy hurts!!!) came galloping back into focus. In case you think that this is just me being a bit odd, HOH was exactly the same. So it has been a bit of a tough June, however, I would like to think that things are getting back on track a little now and I think you for your forbearance as the blogs have been – well a bit rubbish really.  Can I tell you that I was an ocean of peace and trust and calm during the past few weeks? Well I could tell you that but it would be a lie. However, I can tell you that faith and promises were re-visited and re-examined and that I learnt a lot about myself. I was very taken by a Tweet by Beth Moore

Either worry yourself sick

Or trust your God well.

That’s what it’s going to come down to.

It’s about the truest thing I have read in the past weeks and I was thinking of having it tattooed on my arm but it’s a bit long and therefore probably quite painful. If I could cross-stitch I would probably give that more consideration.

In other news, we continue to be Church of England folks. This week was Sea Sunday. A couple of weeks ago, Head Vicar asked us how people with such a Pentecostal background were faring in his church. (Very well actually, as HOH pointed out, we were often called the least Pentecostal of Pentecostals in what our friends said was a loving observation) This was a Sunday that was outside my previous Christian existence in so may ways. There was a parade with the Mayor and uniformed types and flags. I mean Navy type flags – not ladies of a certain age running to the front waving silk scarves and frightening the living daylights out of me. We sang “For Those in Peril on the Sea” which is, quite frankly, awesome. And, wait for it, we sang THE NATIONAL ANTHEM! I felt like Harry Kane in a sundress. The shine was only slightly taken off what was a very moving morning (including a really good sermon on the conversion of John Newton (see entirely accurate painting above) – writer of Amazing Grace but  life-long slaver until his early sixties) by what sounded like a salty sea dog type sharing his problems with constipation with his friend and all of us within a ten pew radius. “BETWEEN YOU, ME AND THE GATEPOST, THE MEDICATION IS PLAYING HAVOC WITH MY BOWELS” Yep mate, just how far away is that gatepost? The younger me may have been a bit sniffy about this kind of meeting. The current me thought the meeting was quite lovely and God was all over it like a rash.

And finally…

Me (To Aged Parent)       Have found DVD of Jesus of Nazareth in Charity shop. Do you want it?

Aged Parent                       Oooh, yes please. They are difficult to find.

Me                                        Right, will bring it on Saturday.

Aged Parent                       Where is it?

Me                                        On my desk at work

Aged Parent                       What if someone, beaks into your work and takes it?

Me                                        What are the chances Mum, of someone breaking in, leaving the till and the computer and                                                      taking a second hand copy of Jesus of Nazareth?

AP (Unconvinced)             Well, if you are sure. It’s Robert Powell you know.

Me                                         Of course, I’m sure.

(Puts phone down. Considers. Slips DVD into lockable draw, until Saturday – just in case.)