Welcome one, welcome all to a continuation of my meander through Advent. I am playing catch up but better late than never (or “better never late” as the old lady that HOH used to give a lift to church would say. The whole arrangement was a challenge to his grace levels I seem to remember). Anyway, digressing.

First of all, a couple of Christmassy books. (Or Advent if you are a hardline religious maniac and prefer things to have their correct title). As I am a woman on the edge and struggling to catch up at the moment, HOH is actually reading the Nick Page – Christmas, Tradition, Truth, and Total Baubles. If you have read any Nick Page, you probably know exactly what to expect. HOH says it’s really funny. He is a terrific writer. But, HOH would like it pointed out that there is lots of studious thought and research here, resulting in lots of interesting facts and things that make you say – “well I never knew that”. This I know because HOH keeps reading bits out – usually when I am trying to read something else. Among the ideas he tackles are: Christmas was a pagan festival that Christians pinched (not so fast, Buster), Joseph was an old man and Santa Claus was invented by Coca-Cola. He also looks into the background of various Christmas Carols. I am warning you though, I will have no truck with any criticism of Hark The Herald Angels Sing. HOH recommends the book wholeheartedly. It’s especially good apparently when your brain is still a bit Covid foggy and you can dip in and out of it.

The book I am reading is “Into the Heart of Advent” by Penelope Wilcock. Full disclosure. I am a big fan of Penelope’s writing and would call her a chum. This is a format she has used before, where Jesus appears to the writer and, over a series of conversations, they address the problems and the pluses of Christmas. Jesus appears as a normal-ish man and it may be significant that not everyone else can see him. The conversations are short, affectionate, and usually accompanied by a cup of tea and a log fire. Again there is a lot of research and thought here and again it is lightly presented, managing to make it both accessible and challenging. It has made me feel good about who Jesus is and who he thinks I am.

Last full week at work this week. (A bit of a cheek really – can’t remember my last full week at work) so quite a lot to get done. I still have a couple of presents to buy although we have deliberately drawn our horns in this year. It doesn’t seem appropriate to run up and down aisles like Supermarket Sweep this year does it? Aged Parent would like it to be known that she did not sign up to a reduced Christmas List, except when it comes to buying for other people. Yesterday, she tried to fob us off with the tinniest Selection Box you have ever seen which she had won at the Bingo. “That’ll do for the kids for Christmas.” I was patient. I was kind. I begged to disagree. We came to an arrangement.

I am persevering with my Advent candles. Tonight is week three. Is it supposed to be pink on week three? I’m rubbish at this sort of thing. Let’s pretend I am a Puritan or something. I certainly am not in touch enough with the proper Christian calendar to know why today’s candle should be pink (or not) I have to say, the weather isn’t helping much. It keeps blowing them out. Anyone would think that God wasn’t that bothered about Advent Candles one way or the other. (Digressing again. Do you remember when Advent Calendars just had tiny pictures of robins and holly behind the windows? Then, on Christmas Day, there was a bigger photo of the Nativity scene. That was before all advent calendars had to have a full-size jar of Creme De Mer, a bottle of gin, or a tiger cub behind the windows. At the risk of sounding like someone in Dad’s Army – I think we were happier with it before).

Anyway, talking about light and Christmas (yes we were). Yesterday, on our restorative walk we turned a corner to be greeted by a low slung sun which was so bright and overpowering, that we couldn’t look at it. (My photo doesn’t really do it justice). I was thinking that Jesus had said that he was the world’s light but often – to our eyes, it isn’t always an overpowering, “everything is going to be fine”, kind of light. Sometimes it feels like it is a candle – struggling on a windy balcony because life is crowding in so much that you really have to screw your eyes up to see it. But keep your eyes on it. The Light is still there and the more we pay attention to it, the more we find we can see it.

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….”