This is a strange post. (What’s new? I hear you cry). Was going to talk about magazines and book but thought I would write about what I am thinking about. Today I am twenty years cancer clear. I am not sure whether I should be celebrating really. It’s not as if I achieved world peace or discovered the secret lair of the jiggy spider. I just stayed alive. I wasn’t expected to but I did. It is a good thing, I know. There are qualifications though. There are lots of people who, through no fault of their own, didn’t make it. I have been to a lot of funerals of friends and wondered why them and not me. Also, with cancer, you never say never again. Every day is a delicate balance of being shot through with faith and promises and a feeling of looking over your shoulder. Cancer is like that.

I am not a “God put gold dust in my Bible” kind of girl. (First question – why would God do that? He’s a serious deity with important things to do.) Yet I know there are miracles. I know because I saw one. It was bad and no-one with any kind of medical training is quite sure how it turned good. Still here’s a few thoughts about things and I’m sorry if the overall tone isn’t pogo-ing hysterically on one leg, pointing at the ceiling yelling about VICTORY. You have come to the wrong place.

  • I keep thinking about all the stuff I was going to achieve if I got to carry on and a lot of it appears to have been balderdash. (Although I haven’t given up on a lot of it and some of it is ongoing) However, just to be alive to pray, to read and to be with those you are inordinately fond of is often enough.
  • Life goes on for the most part. Unrealistic thoughts like; “I will never be ungrateful again” or “I will always love my job” turn out to be just that – unrealistic.
  • People are still ratbags sometimes and life isn’t fair. I thought I would be shot through with the wisdom of Solomon and the patience of all the saints knitted into a beautiful duvet. Because people would never upset me again and, having been through what I had been through, I would understand everyone and where they were coming from and we would all be at peace. Erm…lots of people are donks. Including me. But lots of people more donkish than me and I still have bad thoughts about them.
  • Even having experienced that God takes no notice of odds (mine weren’t very favourable) I still need to stir myself up to remind myself that this remains true.
  • I thought would never doubt God again and would always have faith in his ability to work miraculously in my life. That went about as well as you would expect.
  • I said I would never be scared again. This was the most rubbish of all the thoughts. I have remained human. I fight being a scaredy cat on a daily basis.

So we are waving a little flag here today but quietly. But I am grateful to God for his intervention and to those medical wonder-people he used to support that.  And I would encourage you to lift your eyes and your faith levels. To pray and keep on doing so. Strange things happen. God intervenes. I think it’s true.

 

Apologies for lateness. I have been helping offspring to fill out job applications and I forget how long that takes. (If you do it properly FOW1!) It looks like Spring is having a little think about possibly popping its head out but my advice to that daffodil is not to bother for a while because it is freezing here.

As I may have mentioned, we live by the sea. This is not your sweet little cove by a Cornish rock face but a city by the ocean. Still, if you stand on tippytoes in the bedroom window and if the flats weren’t in the way, you could see the sea, it is so close. This is not to say that I am a particularly seafaring kind of person. I am not at my best in a boat. I usually take some convincing. During the first boat trip I took when we moved here, the engine caught fire and they had to send another boat out to rescue us. According to the gnarled old fisherman, straight out of central casting, this was a once in a lifetime event. We then had to walk a plank – I’ll say that again, walk a plank to get to safety. My family still talk about it now; when they feel like howling with laughter. Anyway, I digress.

Our proximity to the sea means that we see very little snow. I’m not saying it doesn’t get cold – trust me – it can get very very cold and the gales can pin you against walls but the sea winds seem to keep the snow at bay. But…we have had a warning. Snow is possible! Snow is possible!

This has caused wall to wall excitement and the old people we serve in work have spoken of little else. It is not spoken of with unalloyed joy though because we are not used to it. So a low level British panic has set in – a bit – but we are ready. Heat has been set, salt has been bought, daughters have been locked up. Should the deed happen for more than fifteen minutes, people will run into the street shouting “It’s laying! It’s laying!” and the buses will stop running. (This is not an exaggeration) I am from the North of England and snigger behind my hand at a lot of this.

Aged Parent has been instructed NOT to turn her heaters off at the plug as she is prone to do. This is not for money saving but she has a morbid fear of anything being plugged in for any amount of time. Then she will inform me -“It’s very cold in here”.

“Did you switch your heaters off?”

“Yes! They were boiling hot!”

So we are watching the skies, like we are in a Spielberg movie and all normal life is just edged with that extra tinge of excitement. I will keep you informed. If we are spared. Roll on April.

We were back at the pictures this week. Well, it’s cold, it’s dark and we are skint because payday seems to have been moved on about three weeks, so it was as good a place as any. We saw Darkest Hour (Not “The” Darkest Hour by the way. Some people can get quite upset if you get that wrong) It’s about Churchill and how he struggled to get  the government to realise that Hitler was going to have to be fought rather than reasoned with. Gary Oldman is as brilliant as everyone says he is and the prosthetics to age him are equally impressive. I’ve seen a few reviews that praise Oldman but also say that the film is quite cold and unengaging. I don’t know if it is my current frame of mind but I didn’t find it cold at all – I cried three times. I don’t think I understood how close we came to losing and early on as well – this was set in 1940 and Europe was disintegrating. To fight on was such a risk. What a time.

There is one scene that is getting a lot of attention. In the midst of the crisis, Churchill is advised by the King (who is very handsome but definitely has a teeny tiny Australian twang in there) to go to the people. So Churchill takes himself down to the Underground where he meets lots of salt of the earth Londoners – a tradesman, a mother and a baby, a black man and myriads of determined looking women. They all advise him to fight on – hurrah! This never happened and it is a set up to say that the people were 100% behind Churchill and it is quite naff. However, I think, sometimes naff is fine when it hits a spot. I have never seen Dirty Dancing but I know people who acknowledge that it will have taken a budgie ten minutes to write it but they still love the way the hero rescues the young girl from er… sitting in a corner. Because it’s about young love, and music and dancing and things people like. These kind of things are sometimes called guilty pleasures because they are not considered worthy or smart but they mean things to people and they are important.

I watched some late night review show once and some donk was on there saying how critics like him were important because they were the gateway to “important”culture for the masses and, without people like him, the great unwashed would just go off and watch Coronation Street and never read Freud. I think people should try stuff and sometimes they should push themselves a bit. I am reading a book by Tom Wright again at the moment and am finding it a bit/lot heavy. However, every now and then I get it and I’m learning stuff I think I needed to know. This does not mean that I will be replacing my 1940s Golden Age of Crime Fiction trashy paperbacks with every book in Tom Wright’s back catalogue. Because I like them. I’m not trying to impress anyone – I just like them.

In the Screwtape Letters CS Lewis talks about how Screwtape advises that people should be steered away from hobbies that they enjoy into things they think are impressive or worthy. Because (if I remember this properly) if people are doing something they genuinely like, they become less conscious of themselves, they lose themselves and don’t get caught up in trying to be something they are not. There’s a brilliant bit that says something like – You have no idea how many people have been steered away from useful debauchery by an in-depth love for County Cricket. (Don’t forget Screwtape is a bad ‘un and his recommendations are always the other way round) Please note the things that you like generally have to be fairly benign, I think you will struggle to justify going out on every full moon to do some killing just because you genuinely like it.

It starts by being loved as you are – because you are – loved as you are that is. On the rare occasions that I actually get that I am ok with God as I am – it is such a relief. Then, if I want to try a bit of Ibsen (can’t say I do –  but I might) I’m doing it because I am curious not because I want you to think better of me. I have no idea how I got to this ranting – oh yes Churchill on the Underground. Naff but good. I liked it.

 

We are still in January and it is still “interesting” at Martha Towers. I don’t usually take much notice of January Blues type talk. I’m not sure why it should be any different to February except that February is nearer to the end of winter I suppose. I thought about blogging about positivity through dark times but then I thought – nah! Why change the habits of a lifetime? So, in no particular order, please see below the things that have annoyed me (Obviously, all rants are shot through with Christian overcoming and advice for life – a bit – possibly)

  • Do you know anyone who hasn’t had that cold/flu/Black Death thing that has been going around. I haven’t really had it – just that feeling of being on the edge of it, hot and cold and all that. It just leaves you feeling a bit pooped all the time. It’s a busy time and I could do with being a bit more bouncy. I am eating broccoli and everything. It’s disappointing isn’t it? I am thinking of replacing  green leafy veg with lemon drizzle cake. Spinach is not making any difference so I might as well go down eating cake..
  • The story about The President’s Club has been very disturbing. For those who haven’t seen (lucky you) it seems that There are such things as Male-only dinners where large sums of money are raised for charity. As part of the evening young, female hostesses move amongst these tables of charitable love and philanthropy, with instructions to dress provocatively and to never complain, even if you are the target of unwanted “attention”. I have checked the date and it is 2018. I had no idea that this was a thing. Certainly since we started saying that women were – you know – human beings with rights to exist, vote, things like that. Although, for what it’s worth, I don’t think it is so much about sexism as privilege. I am pretty convinced that a room full of rich women would behave more or less the same way with male waiters etc. I think it’s more about the rich and powerful thinking it’s ok to roll all over the poor and the desperate – especially if you cough up a bit of money for an impeccable cause. If you listen carefully, you can hear the sound of money-changers tables being overturned by an angry Son of God
  • It was interesting to note that the government has a Minister for Loneliness (I am assuming that it is to fight loneliness rather than promote it as a positive life choice ) I have long thought that church would be brilliantly placed to be on the front line in this fight. We just don’t seem to be very good at it sometimes. My “newish” church is having a Ladies’ Breakfast on Saturday. It might be nice to go. (It might not be either – you know how miserable I am) But, we don’t know many people yet and it takes a lot to go to something like that new and nervous. I always think, at things like that, it might be a good idea to get a couple of “old hands” in the church and get them to offer their services as a sort of support on the day. If you knew that someone would be there to support you, at least while you were a brand newbie, it would make things a lot easier, don’t you think? Shouldn’t we be making it as easy as we possibly can? Just a thought.

I absolutely PROMISE that I will try not to be a miserable crow if you ever come back again. In the meantime, this is a wren, in our garden. How awesome is that?

In the words of the group Pilot in their 1975 song “January” – can I say – “January, sick and tired you’ve been hanging on me.” (Or something similar. I’m not sure, I never liked it.) Still you get the idea. Will this month never end?

Before I get into full rant/catch up mode, can I just say thank you to those who shared similar experiences about the care of elderly parents. It has been truly life changing – no really – for once I am not exaggerating. To hear that others have guilt and exhaustion and also that, it ain’t necessarily so, all this “well it certainly is your total burden!” vibe. It has really helped. Thanks again.

I have done very little this month apart from get though it. I am afraid I have not been able to “claim the victory” hardly at all. Unless by “claiming the victory” you mean not going insane. It’s long isn’t it January? We got paid early in December so payday is not with us yet. I managed to be quite frugal for a couple of weeks but now would like some new mascara. I seem to be regaining the weight that I lost during the unfortunate sickness events over Christmas, as I believe I predicted. (Probably quite a lot to do with Walnut Whips)

We have had a few visits to hospital with Aged Parent so we have been in the eye of the storm NHS wise. For what its worth, I think these nurse and doctor and admin type heroes deserve lots more money for themselves and lots more money invested in the work that they do. The NHS is certainly chronically underfunded as any fule kno. Couple of leeetle things to point out though. Firstly, I do think the admin/management probably does need a shake up. The appointment system in a couple of departments we have been to is the most bobbins thing I have ever seen and, to be frank, would not be tolerated anywhere else. Also, I know that NHS staff are really under pressure and I love them like they are my own. In fact one of them is my own dear HOH and know how hard he works. It’s just that sometimes, some NHS staff act as if they are the only busy people in the world. Know what I mean?  I know it’s difficult but is it really necessary for you to bite my head off in three different languages because I have called to check Aged Parent’s appointment time? Ask yourself, did it make you feel good? And, in return, I then felt I needed to put you right on a couple of things because, as I say, you are not the only person under pressure and so neither of us felt good by the end of the call did we? Hmm.

I managed to drag my miserable personage to the pictures though and I would just like to highly recommend “The Post” It’s a sort of prequel to “All the President’s Men” and it is about what happened when the US government tried to stop the newspapers printing details of reports that proved that successive US governments had been lying about the Vietnam War. It’s very tense (even though I knew the end) and beautifully played. Meryl Streep is excellent as the newspaper owner – initially cowed by the sexism she encounters but gradually finding her voice. Spielberg produced a brilliant scene where she walks into a room full of men in dark suits and is completely intimidated. Streep plays it perfectly and you see her grow in front of your eyes. I think sometimes, because it’s the Meryl Streep, we take her for granted. She has had an Oscar nomination but the smart money is possibly on Sally Hawkins who plays a woman who sleeps with a sea monster. (Look, don’t ask me. I don’t write ’em. It might be good)

So keep going. My plan is early nights, books, the occasional candle, The Crown, Darkest Hour, Alternating Double Deckers and Twirls and the odd medicinal whisky. T’will all be fine and don’t forget your brolly.