The River Island saga and other stories…
13 August 2023
Last week I bought an amazing duster jacket from River Island. I was hesitant at paying full price as you know I am a fan of Vinted, but when River Island offered me a discount of 15% that helped me make up my mind. I bought it online with two other items. They arrived on Wednesday and I tried them on Thursday night. I decided not to keep the other two items that were from the sale as they were not what I was looking for. However, I really loved this jacket and was really happy with it. So much so I sent my sister a link on What’s app to the item showing her what I bought. It was only then, late Thursday night that I noticed it had been reduced from its original £65 to £35. That is a significant drop.
I asked my friends on Facebook…I wrote: I need your help! I bought this last week at full price. It's now almost half price. My size is sold out so I can't rebuy it. Do I keep it or get a refund? Most were all for me keeping the jacket as it is indeed beautiful. But now I felt it would always be the one that I overpaid for.
Friday was a busy day. I had to take my mum to the hospital for an appointment. We went out for lunch after the appointment so it was mid-afternoon before I could get up the city to return the two items I did not want. I returned them and while I was there, I asked about the top. I knew it was a cheeky ask. Could I please return it and rebuy it back at the sale price? They did not have my size online or instore. The manager agreed that I could, although they would not normally allow this as everything bought online gets sent back to their warehouse. I had not brought it with me as I did not know they would say yes. I did not want to leave it to another day as another staff member may say no. So, I drove home like the Stig, picked up the top and then drove back up the city to River Island. It was a hot day and all this running around made me hotter. I put my hair up and went back into the store. Luckily the person I had spoken to was still there and instructed a trainee how to process the transaction. They decided to refund me the price I had paid and then re-sell it at the sale price rather than do it as an exchange. The trouble with River Island refunds is its all done by email. You don’t get a receipt. And their counter is at the back of the store so trying to show them my original purchase email was difficult even though I have a 5G phone. Oh, and just to complicate matters further, I had that original discount of 15%. So, £65 became £55.25. It was still worth doing as I was going to be £20.25 in pocket and best of all, when I wear it, I will not be begrudging that I paid too much. I will look fabulous, but I will also be pleased I grabbed a bargain.
You would think that is the end of the story, but you forget I am a woman in the middle of menopause. Saturday afternoon, I am wondering when I will get the refunded email. I go onto my emails and I have one saying I paid £35 which was the sale price and another saying £55.25. I looked and looked. I checked my bank. I now feel I have paid three times for the jacket and no matter how much I love it, its not worth that. Now I am stressed, in a bad mood and could hardly sleep all night worried how I explain this to the River Island manager. Sunday morning arrives. I have written down all the dates so I can hopefully find the emails to evidence my encounter to the manager. While checking my bank again it is showing a £55.25 refund and a sale of £35. I stare at the screen. Did I get it wrong? Did I stress myself out for nothing? It would be much more helpful if River Island could put the word ‘refund’ on their emails. I do not need to go into the shop and explain to the manager… gosh can you imagine how stupid I would have looked? This is not the first-time menopause has gotten the best of me. I wrote a while ago about my banking experience and I called the bank to say I felt there were fraudulent activity on my account but it turned out I forgot where I had been (and some transactions aren’t clear who they belong to – especially with another location from Milton Keynes on it).
I hate menopause. Every time this happens, I lose my credibility a little more. Hubbly felt I took it out on him last night as I was so grumpy about the situation. It’s no wonder I have high blood pressure.
So Today is Sunday morning and instead of going into River Island, I am going for a calm walk to help feel a little less stressed.
Have a good week.
I love Brum
4 June 2023
This was a fantastic weekend. It had been planned for a while. I was finally going back to Birmingham after over three years away. Well technically it was over three years away from the club and my friends. During 2021 I went to see The Human League but that was a disaster as people were still supposed to be wearing masks on public transport, but many weren’t and I had a meltdown on the train and another trying to negotiate the crowded Christmas markets of Birmingham in the pouring rain. No wonder it has taken me some time to pluck up the courage to go again.
I have already told you that OAD (only after dark) night club had closed down. Luckily friends of ours have taken on the mantle to set up a new club along a similar theme (of Rum Runner/Blitz style music). I knew this was the opportunity I had been waiting for. I booked up hotels, trains and club night tickets. But life isn’t as easy as that and 2023 has been a bit of a nightmare so of course, once the unions realised, I was going back to Birmingham, they decided to go on strike. Don’t let yourself think it was because of the rugby, football or cricket. Oh no, it was all me! We decided to stay an extra night but then the train staff decided to strike for two days. This was getting very expensive. Hubby decided our only option left was to drive to Birmingham. We had never driven before because the train is so easy and convenient, but I did not want to miss the launch of the new club night.
Friday morning was also a nightmare. It took us over an hour to go 10 miles. We felt rather frazzled by the time we got to Birmingham. We took it easy and strolled around the very familiar streets. I wore a mask because it was still ridiculously busy and even though it is out in the open, I felt uncomfortable. How will I manage in a club space? I did wonder if I would be able to cope with the environment I had avoided for so long.
Saturday morning, hubby had a plan. He suggested going to the jewellery quarter as my old wedding ring had gotten too small and he was going to replace it for me. I was so excited I was like a kid in a candy shop. I practically skipped the whole journey there. We stopped off for breakfast and then walked down past where après used to be and I had a photo with the huge green pawns that I used to pose with before attending OAD. I cannot believe this was 10 years ago now. Where does the time go?
Once in the jewellery quarter, I systematically looked in every shop, methodically working my way along each window dressing. I had a rough idea of what I wanted. A band of gold, well ideally platinum as my 18ct white gold ring has tarnished so was not keen to replace it with the same issue again. But I knew I wanted something simple but with diamonds. Not a lot to ask. It is hard work looking at lovely rings. I loved so many of them, but my head told me to stick to the plan. The first shop we went into had a lovely ring that looked perfect, and very reasonably priced, but it was 9ct gold and I didn’t want 9ct gold…so onwards and upwards. The second shop I went in had a row of rings almost identical in design. Just what I was looking for, but rather pricey so we decided to shop around. The next shop just bamboozled me with too many designs and I felt a bit overwhelmed. We went for a break and a drink. Found a lovely little Italian café off the beaten track with a fabulous garden. It could have been the med it was so hot there. A real little sun trap. Refreshed and determined I carried on looking and after several more shops saw a fabulous ring with three big diamonds. They dropped the price when hubby asked. I said I was feeling pressured and needed time to think so we left that shop and by that time I was really struggling as my heart still belonged to the ring in the second shop but it was pricey. And my heart also loves a bargain. I had taken photos in each shop so kept comparing them to see my preference. I even asked a woman on the street what she thinks. I didn’t want my ring to look too much like an engagement ring as it was a replacement wedding ring. I had had enough by then with all the shops and said rather than keep looking in new shops, I wanted to look again at the ring in the second shop we had gone in. We went back and I tried it on again. This was the one. Five diamonds in platinum. I asked what the best price is, making it clear I had looked in other shops and showed them the photos of the other rings. They took £75 off the price immediately. So, we bought the ring that my heart had chosen. I needed have it resized so we waited an hour in our lovely Italian café and finally I had my new wedding ring. I can’t stop looking at it. Its so good to have a ring back on my hand.
We got back to the hotel to get ready for the club. It started at 8pm. This is early as the last time I was here for a club night; the start time was 9pm. But much had changed in over three years. I had bought a small gold handbag to match my dress (also new, especially for this event) but the handbag wasn’t practical and only my phone or camera would fit in it – not both. I started out only taking my camera but then realised that I need my phone as the club tickets were electronic. A short trip back up to the hotel room to pick up phone and we were on our way.
I didn’t know how I would feel going back. We walked the short journey to the club and there was a small queue. I was surprised for 8pm in the evening as in other venues, people used to drift in much later. Suddenly it was like the last three years hadn’t happened. We saw so many familiar faces and had conversations with our lovely friends once more. We danced and danced to fabulous tunes. My top three were Gina X – No GDM, B52’s – Rock Lobster and Heaven 17’s Penthouse and Pavement. I didn’t feel stressed or anxious. I felt like I was home. Not only is Transmission a new club night, but there was another first for me. I had no alcohol. I have given up alcohol completely now. I’ve probably only had 10 drinks in the last three years so decided I didn’t need it and drank apple juice all night. So, all those dance moves cannot be blamed on alcohol – it was all me!
I feel emotional writing this. There were times over the last three years that I never thought I would get back in Brum. But Transmission is a special night and I know we will be returning. Terry and Linda made us feel very welcome and I am so grateful to them both that they have decided to run a club night in the same vein as OAD. It was lovely to see Sara and David there too. (founders of OAD). Thank you to all my friends at Transmission, but last night, especially to Debbie and Phil, Joolz and Tony, Debi and Martin and of course Alan for his set list and sense of humour.
I know our next trip to Birmingham will not be another three years. See you soon my lovely Transmission family.
Cheer up already!
23 May 2023
I have still been trying to recover from the bombs that 2023 has landed. Today in Cineworld during Guardians of the Galaxy 3, I proper cried. Seeing the star-lord with his grandad made me miss mine all the more.
I don’t seem to be coping well with small stresses. I have decided to go back to Birmingham to attend the launch of Transmission, a new club along the lines of OAD. I booked hotels, trains and tickets for the club, but then the train unions decide to use this date to go on strike, so no trains. I have not been on a train to Birmingham since 2021 when I had my meltdown on the train, and not been to my club since March 2020. This was a massive deal and I have worked so hard towards my goal of getting to Birmingham. I don’t suppose the unions care about this but it’s a huge deal to me. To counter act the impact, we booked an extra night in the hotel. Sadly, that wasn’t the end of it as now there are other staff striking on the Friday. We couldn’t do a third night in a hotel so now hubby will be driving. I honestly do think the train staff could be causing a problem as will the general public return if they are impacted this much? Will people just drive instead? Are the train staff actually doing themselves out of a job?
Nothing has been straight forward. Getting a refund from Avanti is still ongoing as their websites don’t let you request refunds on advance tickets (even if it is a strike day). I have had issues with Halifax bank too. Trying to open an ISA should be straight forward but I have now spoken to five people and put in a formal complaint as the helpline just had me wait an hour to tell me that I needed to go into the branch. What is happening to this country? Why is everything so difficult? Or is it just me struggling as there has been so much change in my life lately. I know there are more changes on their way at work too, but I long for some continuity. Some balance and calm in my life would be most welcome.
As a positive person I try to see the good. I had a lovely day last week in London. I travelled to London by train which was a big deal. The first time to London by train since before the pandemic. I was uncomfortable on the tube, but managed it and took my son and his girlfriend around the Natural History Museum and to Camden. It was a gem of a day in a horrible year. Last Saturday at a Bowie tribute, a lady in the interval told me she was enjoying it more seeing me enjoy it. Today in HMV, I had a lovely chat with the manager about Bowie and what albums would I suggest people start off with. I really do appreciate these interactions, and also the kind comments I get online. I loved hearing that so many of you loved my new hair. Thank you. It means more than you know.
I am still hoping things improve. I have Brighton to look forward to in July and I have agreed to volunteer for Togfest this year too. I am trying to get out and about and see friends and appreciate the good moments, for that is all we have. Life is a series of moments – make them good ones.
22 February 2023
I am writing this while numb. I heard less than an hour ago that my grandad has passed away. He and my gran were my rocks. They were my support network and gave me unconditional love. I was their first grandchild and I think it’s fair to say I was absolutely spoilt. My gran and grandad took me everywhere including the Royal Albert Hall, antique fairs, museums, cinemas; they brought love and culture to my life. I would not be the person I am today without them.
As a child, my grandad was the entertainer at my birthday parties. He did the paper bag trick (stolen from Morecombe and Wise but I didn’t know this) and he had a ventriloquist dummy called Fred. All the children wanted him to be their grandad. I was always proud he was mine. His talent was people. He knew how to speak to anyone and I believe I have his gift. We both love being with people and talking to anyone. It is true that he would strike up conversations with strangers in the park as recently as last summer.
Despite living over 50 miles away, I visited my grandad who was 100 last April, only three weeks ago. We had both made each other smoked salmon sandwiches. Mine looked identical to his and we both found this funny. He had taught me well. We chatted for hours and although he was beginning to struggle, he was still very independent. We looked through old photos of his holidays with my gran and what a wonderful life they had together.
I visited him again last Friday but sadly he was unable to make himself food anymore and had carers supporting him with tasks he found more difficult. I still brought down my smoked salmon sandwiches and despite him being off his food, he ate a whole sandwich and some fruit jelly sweets which he also enjoyed. Although he couldn’t move much, his mind was as sharp as it always had been. We chatted and joked about the time as a teenager when he took me to Wembley Market and my feet were so cold that they bought me socks. We talked about family and our lovely memories we shared together. I believe in karma and that you reap what you sow. Giving so much love, he was very much loved in return. I know he felt this, but I told him again. I always tell the people I love, that I love them, so I know he knew.
I planned to visit again next week, but from Friday when I saw him to Sunday he had deteriorated further. He was no longer answering the phone. My sister was also visiting and I asked her if she could hold the phone up so I could tell him I loved him. She went one better and face timed me. He asked about the boys (my sons although he always included my husband as one of ‘The Boys’). I told him I loved him and he blew me a kiss. I will treasure that call forever.
I am absolutely devastated he has gone. Most will say 100 is a great age to reach and I do agree but it doesn’t make the loss any easier to bear. I know he passed peacefully and I know he had a wonderful life. But he promised me he would live to 121 and I even joked last Friday that he wasn’t to shirk on his promise.
It’s the end of an era and I can’t quite believe it’s true. I am glad and grateful I saw him a few days ago so I have no regrets. I know how much he loved me and he knew how much I loved him. That’s what is important. Love.
I am simply writing this to tell the world how much I love him. How much I loved both of them. How they shaped my life. I like to think they are now reunited. Two wonderful people who had an abundance of love to share. That’s a great legacy. Share the love.
2023 is not my friend
19 February 2023
It’s been a while since I told you all what is going on in my life. The truth is 2023 has not been kind to me. January 2023 has been so awful that I would just rather forget it. If my life were a soap opera, you would assume that the writers were going to extremes as its almost unrealistic that so many awful things happen at once. 2023 has not been a good friend so far. Let’s hope the rest of 2023 improves. Until then, I am going to try and find the silver linings in this storm… the odd gem of kindness. The things that make me happy. After all, every day you make a choice. You can choose to be happy or unhappy. You can choose not to let the bad things win. So, I am absolutely trying to see the good.
Last week I was delighted to attend a photo shoot for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I was also invited to interview Gareth Snook who plays Wonka and got to see the show. You can find my interview and review on my review page. It was wonderful to chat with Gareth who is lovely to speak to and the show was absolutely magical. There was a VIP press reception and we were offered chocolate milkshakes with small chocolate doughnuts on them. Its always nice to be made to feel special and Milton Keynes Theatre really pulled out all the stops so a huge thank you to them for looking after me.
I did get annoyed with the police this week for disclosing information about missing person, Nicola Bulley. I do not see how sharing she was menopausal has anything to do with the investigation and its certainly not in the public interest. As Dame Vera Baird said, it was highly unlikely that such details would have been released had Ms Bulley been a man. ‘It is a dreadful error to put this in the public domain for absolutely nothing, and I’m afraid I think it’s as sexist as it comes.’ I know if I were missing, I would not want my peri-menopause state to be national news. Also, did the police do the right thing by only concentrating on the river so early in the investigation? Time will tell. All I know is if I ever go missing and the police have limited the investigation, I would encourage all my friends, family and readers of my blog to be shouting loudly about the injustice.
In other news, I am also terribly sad to hear about Bruce Willis. I have avidly followed his career and am saddened to hear that he has frontal temporal dementia. I hope Bruce and his family sharing this news raise awareness of dementia in general and I would encourage anyone worried about their memory to go to their GP. Do not leave it. It is better to know as some forms of dementia have treatments that can delay the symptoms and are more effective in the earlier stages. I would also encourage everyone, even if you do not have any form of life-limiting illness, to do some advance care planning. Lasting Power of Attorney, advance statements and advance decisions to refuse treatment as well as thinking about your end of life and where you would want to be. It’s not just about funeral planning. And don’t panic if you think you are signing your rights away; LPA’s only kick in when you are deemed not to have capacity, so please do think about getting this in place. Any of us could be hit by a bus tomorrow morning.
Moving back to the positives, hubby took me out for a valentine’s breakfast yesterday as he was working on Valentine’s Day. We also had a M&S dine in last night while watching Lockwood & Co on Netflix. I actually find that series rather frightening even though I am pretty sure its only a 12 rated show. But I do scare easily. Too many horror novels as a teenager, I think. And there was the time in the mid 80’s where I was at a Zombie screening and screamed and jumped in my seat in the cinema. Everyone there laughed at me. So, I am not keen on scary anymore. Give me a rom-com anytime.
I am currently trying to decide what to wear when I go to Abba Voyage next month. I am not doing fancy dress myself but I am keen to be dressed up. After all it is a special occasion. My friend I am going with says sequins, and I hope he does wear sequins, but my only sequinned jacket is silver and I associate Abba with gold. I have a fabulous pink dress that may be an option, but I’m still undecided. If you have been and you dressed up, show me your outfits!
Wishing you all a good week.
The truth about a colonoscopy
4 January 2023
I knew before Christmas that I needed a colonoscopy. I did a standard bowel cancer screening test and it came back positive. I had a telephone appointment with a nurse to explain what that means. They seemed very keen to speak to me which made me even more nervous. Due to Royal Mail strikes I had not had a letter so was not expecting the call and had two nurses calling me two days running to try to make an appointment. I kept the appointment they gave me on the letter for the following Monday. The nurse explained the procedure and said if I was happy to go ahead, she would book me in for the colonoscopy. The first date she offered was too soon, a few days before Christmas. I could not do this as I take iron tablets and you need to be iron free for seven days. The second appointment was during the Christmas/New Year holidays but again I could not do this as I didn’t want to ruin my Christmas (you have to be on a special diet but more of that later). This turned out to be a good plan as I was really poorly with a bad cold over Christmas. We agreed a date for 3 January. It should have been my first day back at work but at least I knew I could do the special diet over the New Year and bank holiday without too much impact on my normal routine.
Let’s talk about the diet. It’s a low fibre diet and actually the information I got was unclear. It says you can eat roast potatoes but not butter or fats. How do you cook them then? It was not clear if some of my Quorn products would be on the safe list or not. Could I drink herbal tea? Why could I eat carrots but not allowed to make them into a soup with lumps? It just wasn’t very logical and of course because it was over the bank holiday, I had no one to call to ask about this. Then from 2 January it was no solids after 9am. My last meal was some dry cream crackers (allowed yet not sure if I was allowed other types of crackers) and some ham. Then no food for over 24 hours. I had some clear soup for lunch but it was not filling. I tried to distract myself but TV advertises food more than I realised until you can’t eat it. Then you want everything they are advertising. And my house is full of Christmas goodies I can’t eat. At 5pm I was due to start the Moviprep. It’s not as glamorous as it sounds. I needed to drink 1 litre plus another 500 ml of water before 7pm. Okay I thought not so hard. But then at 8pm I had to repeat the whole process again. That was much much harder. It’s an awful lot of fluids, especially in such a short period of time to drink it. By 8pm the Moviprep was doing its job so not sure how we are supposed to drink more and make it to the toilet on time. The only way I can describe what it does is that it feels you are having a wee out of your bum. I am not joking. And my advice is this: don’t listen to others. I cannot tell you how many people want to share their stories but yours is yours and yours alone and everyone is different. Some friends said the Moviprep was the worst part. My advice is stay close to the toilet and use pads just in case you don’t make it in time. Yes, it sometimes comes out that quickly. Anyway, I didn’t get much sleep that night as I was still waking to go to the toilet at a moments notice. Don’t fart as it won’t be a fart – it will be something else entirely.
I got up early and had a bath on the day of the procedure. I wanted to feel clean and wanted the doctors and nurses to see I was clean. (It’s not a job I would wish to do so I have so much respect for them). I am already nervous about going into a hospital that is swarmed with covid and flu. Luckily the endoscopy unit is separate so I went around the back to find it and it wasn’t very crowded. I filled in a form so they knew that hubby was picking me up and I had my blood pressure taken. Of course, it was high but when he tried the other arm it came down a bit. I chose a seat away from everyone at the back of the room. The TV was on with Lorraine on the TV, and some other patients were talking about their previous experiences. I did not join in the conversation. I was masked and gloved and stayed that way for the whole time I was there. I was called and taken into a cubicle where they asked me to change into some disposable shorts with a flap and a gown. Then I spoke to a nurse who went through a check list of questions including if I wanted sedation. Hell yeah, I did. I wanted everything I could to make this easy on me. I was then taken into another room where a medical practitioner could put in a canula. He struggled to find a vein and did not fill me with confidence when he said he thinks he has done it and its only the tip that is in. I was not convinced about it. He said he had tested it and it will be okay. I went back to the cubicle with all my belongings in a carrier bag. Another nurse came in with a consent form to sign. It would have been more practical to have done this before the canula as it was hard to move my hand to sign the form. There seemed to be a lot of waiting around which again made me anxious. Finally, I was called into the room and told to lie on my side with my knees up. The doctor didn’t even say hello or introduce himself. This was the top man apparently, but it doesn’t take long to say hello. They supposedly gave me some pain killers and sedation but honestly, I couldn’t tell you if this was the case as I was in agony as soon as they started. I was screaming to them that it hurt. They gave me some gas and air and that helped a little but I wondered if the cannula really worked at all. I won’t lie to you – it was extremely painful and I have no idea how people do this without any medication. Once the procedure weas over I was wheeled out on the bed to a recovery room and rested while they removed the cannula, gave me water and asked if I was okay to get myself dressed. I got myself dressed – I didn’t need any help. I have had sedation before at the dentist and cannot remember anything about that but for this, I remembered everything so again, I wondered if the sedation worked. I was taken by a nurse to another recovery room with seats and offered a drink and some biscuits. I had a hot chocolate which I had not been allowed to have for several days as it was on the restricted food list. Another nurse came in to talk to me about the results. It was the best news. I did not have cancer. They will keep me on the bowel screening programme to monitor me but for now, it’s the best news I could ask for. Worth all the anxiety and worry and everything I had gone through. I had another sheet of paper telling me I couldn’t drive for 24 hours, or use a kettle or cooker (that meant hubby was cooking dinner tonight) and I mustn’t lock myself in the toilet or have a bath with the door locked – just in case. I came home and hubby made me toast and tea. It tasted delicious. Just what I needed. They say to eat light for the next few days but I couldn’t resist a chocolate biscuit. I slept all afternoon, as I hadn’t had much sleep the night before. It’s now 24 hours since the procedure. I still haven’t had any bowel movements but my stomach is making strange noises when I eat. It’s just good it’s over with and I am so relieved at the result.
Hello 2023…nice to meet you.
31 December 2022
When someone says Happy New Year, what does it mean to you? Are you looking forward to the New Year and all the opportunities it brings? Are you reminiscing of the year passed and what you did and who you did it with? Are you thinking of new year resolutions and how to improve yourself to be the best ‘you’ you can be for 2023?
I don’t go out for a big party on New Year’s Eve anymore. I spend it with my family and we all watch the fireworks on TV hoping for a better year. 2022 was a mixed bag. The worst thing was I lost my stepdad back in February but there were some good moments too, such as a few days away in Brighton which was the first time I had been away anywhere since 2019. I visited my grandad who turned 100 this year and my youngest son’s girlfriend came to visit a couple of times from Finland. So there were a few lovely things happen in 2022.
I am looking forward to the New Year with optimism, because I am an optimist. I always try to think the best of people, of opportunities and of any situation we find ourselves in. I don’t make New Year resolutions. I make life goals. I turn my dreams and wishes into a step nearer to what I want to achieve. I am a trained life coach so have made life goals for over 20 years now. I have some practical ones about doing up the house and losing weight/getting fitter and others that are more about wishes – where do I want to visit, what do I want to do in 2023? Then I ask myself what steps am I going to take to get to my goal? For example, getting fitter is about exercise so how many times a week will I do this? When? Yes, I put in a day and time to make a routine. And then keep at it until it becomes a habit. My Fitbit is a godsend and tells me if I am having a good day or not with my steps and movement. You are much more likely to achieve goals if you have a plan on how to achieve them.
If you want to make a difference, take a leap of faith and make the changes in your life you want to see. It's a brand New Year; a blank page for you to write. A fresh start no matter what your past held. 2023 holds opportunities and possibilities for you to live the life you want. You are never too old to start. Its never too late. I wish you all a Happy New Year and that 2023 is kind to you.
18 December 2022
If you are a regular reader to my blog, you will know that last year, I had a severe reaction to the Covid Vaccine booster. I had been unwell for a few days with the Astra Zeneca both times but that was quite a common reaction. However, with the Pfizer booster vaccine, I was very ill for two weeks with chest pains, headaches, agonising stomach pains and sickness. I ended up in A&E with these symptoms and reported them to the yellow card scheme. When the booster was offered for autumn 2022, I knew I would have issues but was unprepared for the lack of information available to people like me. I called my GP whose receptionist told me to call 119. I called 119 who said all they do is book appointments they are not medical experts. There was no information on my local ICS website that helped with this and just no information online at all about what to do if you had a severe reaction to the vaccine. It was just book, book, book your appointment.
I knew that the Open University centre in Milton Keynes had medical staff on hand so I decided to go along and find out more information. The day I went it was pouring with rain. I ran from the car park to the centre which was at least 400 metres and got absolutely soaked just to find out the drop in was closed. I do not know why it was closed but I was not amused. I took a photo of the sign on the door that said it would be open on Friday. So once again on Friday morning I went along to try to find out information about if there was a vaccine I could take. The man there told me the medical expert was not there but he took my name and number and would get them to call me. He implied that it would be the following day. Fast forward two weeks and still no phone call. I was really struggling to know what to do next when I remembered the photo, I took that first visit. There was a phone number on the bottom of it so I called it. I left a message and I rang the pharmacy attached to the Open University and asked them to put me in touch with the correct person.
I got a phone call while attending my first panto of the year. It was a private number so I didn’t know who it was until I listened to the message. They didn’t leave any number to call them on so I had to play the waiting game. I hate waiting for calls – it’s a throw back to the days of landlines when you would wait for boyfriends to call. At last, they called again but it wasn’t that easy. I needed to reach their criteria for the special vaccine that is given to people with anaphylactic shock. I explained all my symptoms and my worries and made it clear I would not be taking Pfizer again if that was my only option. A few days went by and then about a week ago, he called to say it was a yes. I was allowed to get the vaccine. It would be the first time they would be doing it outside the hospital so it was a big deal to get an appointment. I had a booked time and was warned it was an hour-long appointment as a paramedic will check me over before and after the vaccine. My eldest son took me along just in case I had a reaction and was unable to drive myself home again. It was freezing cold weather with snow and ice this week but we got to the Open University in plenty of time for my appointment. But they were running late and I had to wait over half an hour (actually as we had got there early it was at least 40 minutes) and I was getting very nervous. I kept walking up and down the floor – but it seems that wasn’t a good idea as by the time I got seen my blood pressure was really high. Well of course it was. I was nervous about the vaccine. I don’t like needles. I was worried what reactions I may get and I was in a place where people were not wearing masks and does not put me at ease. I asked the paramedic to put on a mask (I was already wearing mine) and she looked surprised but politely put it on. Am I the only person still worried about catching Covid? Probably. As she hadn’t wiped over the equipment, she was using, my blood pressure didn’t go down. I explained how nervous I was. Finally, I got to see the man I had spoken to on the phone who gave me the vaccine. They kept me there again checking my blood pressure and oxygen levels. All in all, we were there about two hours. I had another panto booked for the following night, but was worried I wouldn’t get there if I got a reaction from the vaccine. However, I am delighted to report I had no reactions. Well, a slight headache and feeling a bit achy but otherwise nothing. Certainly nothing like last year. I am so grateful for the staff at the OU for looking after me and allowing me to have this vaccine. I feel I am now protected against Covid and without all the adverse reactions. It feels like a small win for me. But hold on, I have another win to tell you about.
I have talked about my peri-menopausal state previously on my blog. Back in the summer I had gone to see a GP in my practice who didn’t give me the medication I requested, and then told me I had high blood pressure. Since then, I have lost 9lbs and have become more active in my daily routines. I am even eating almonds as I read, they lower blood pressure. I am trying all I can to get it down. It fluctuates so its sometimes high and sometimes normal.
The Peri-menopausal symptoms were impacting me badly. I was having night sweats which was waking me three or more times a night. I had hot flushes and my foggy brain was good for nothing. I have also suffered anxiety the last couple of years. Initially, I though all these symptoms were related to my covid vaccine as they all started when I had the first vaccine. But looking back I think its more likely that the covid vaccine brought on my peri-menopausal state and the symptoms were from the menopause rather than the vaccine.
I bought lots of books and read up on this taboo subject. I knew I needed HRT. Not just to help with the symptoms that I was suffering with, but because both my gran and mum had osteoporosis and I wanted to do all I can to protect my bones from this. I booked an appointment with my own GP. I had not seen him since 2019. He is past retirement age and only works three days a week. It’s not easy to get an appointment with him. I cried on the phone when the receptionist gave me an appointment. That’s how much it meant. My appointment was for seven weeks’ time but I kept busy researching about HRT and high blood pressure. I even read that certain HRT medication can lower blood pressure. Armed with a range of science and medical factsheets I saw my GP. He said he didn’t have time to read it all and I can appreciate that in a 10-minute appointment, but he kindly agreed to give me the medication I asked for. He did warn me that they are hard to get as there is a national shortage but luckily my pharmacist managed to get them in. I can happily report I have been on the medications for just over a week and already I am not waking up as much in the night. I wouldn’t say the symptoms have gone completely but the meds have definitely taken the edge off.
So that’s two small wins so far. Just when you think you are doing well, something comes along to slap you in the face. This week I had a call out of the blue to say the bowel cancer test I did and posted off needs more investigation. Of course, I know this means I don’t automatically have bowel cancer but it does mean I am not out of the woods just yet. So many of my friends have had various forms of cancer in the last few years that I already feel surrounded by cancer. However, I am keeping a positive mindset. I have a telephone appointment tomorrow and then will be asked to go in for a colonoscopy. We will take it a step at a time and see where we end up.
But for now, two small wins are what I am focusing on.
Wishing you a wonderful week and a very merry Christmas.
Are Teachers inspirational?
13 November 2022
Since I last wrote a blog, I am another year older. It was a quiet affair this year, with a family meal on the day at my favourite restaurant. I felt a bit grumpy to be honest. Hubby originally didn’t get me a cake. He thought it was the right thing to do as I am trying to lose weight. But I wanted a cake. I have had the same cake for the last three years and hoped for that cake again. The naked red velvet cake from Marks and Spencer’s. I did not get that. I got two chocolate cakes from Tesco. I rarely eat chocolate cake. He only bought two as he thought one was funny as it was called Sammy the Sloth. I wasn’t amused. Anyway, most of the cake has gone now, and I have not put on weight (yay) but not lost any either (boo).
Birthdays make you look back, and I can see how much I have grown as a person in the last twenty years. I deliver wellbeing sessions at work for my staff and I pay a lot of attention to my own wellbeing too. Self-care is so important. You need to love yourself and respect yourself. And stand up to bullies. I reflected on my years in school. Our formative years and supposedly the best years of our lives. Not for me. I never liked school. I just didn’t feel I fitted in. I found school sexist and bullying hives. It felt more like a survival camp than a place to learn and grow. Was there a teacher I loved and respected? I honestly don’t think so. I remember being bullied not only by other children, but by teachers too. I was told by my chemistry teacher that ‘Girls shouldn’t study physics’. I was humiliated by the PE teacher who walked around all day in a tiny skirt and drove a TR7 (you know the type). She picked on me in front of my whole year group. No wonder I have been reluctant to enjoy sports since. It was an awful time. Aren’t teachers supposed to be inspirational? I don’t think it was much better when my own children were at school. Son no 2 loved art and music and was good at both. But his art teacher was so critical about a cloud he drew on his GCSE piece, that it impacted my son for years. He draws rarely now. I told my son not to worry what his teacher thought, that art is subjective and if that teacher was so talented, why isn’t he exhibiting his own art? It didn’t help. Son no 1 had it worst in his middle school. He was threatened with a hunting knife in the playground and the headmaster not even informing me about this until I rang the school the next day. The headmaster also hit a child on a school trip and put too many children in a minibus so some were sitting on the floor of the vehicle. Even all these years later I am still horrified by this. Not being inspirational is one thing, but not protecting the children is another altogether. Truly outrageous.
Why do people go into teaching if they don’t want to inspire others? I remember at a parents evening for son no 2 in his middle school that his teacher was glad that my son was frightened of her. Really? Is that what you want in the generation of the future?
Anyway, I do think our time at schools shape us, and sadly all those awful experiences are going to stay with us too. So I do stand up for injustice. Maybe it’s my inner child needing a protector. Maybe I just don’t want others to be treated like me. I do hope there are inspirational teachers out there and I am just unfortunate with my experiences. If you have an inspirational story, I’d love to hear it.
We can’t change the past, but we can look forward and make a new start each new day. Its never too late.
Have a fabulous week.
Is being beautiful a curse?
2 October 2022
I have just watched Blonde, the new Netflix film about Marilyn Monroe. I am unsure about how accurate the story is, but if its true that poor woman had a lot to put up with. An absent father, a mother who resented her and tried to kill her, and then rejected by her neighbours to be taken to an orphanage.
Marilyn is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful women in the world. Thousands of women, myself included, wish they had just a fraction of her beauty. Many studies have been done to show that men and women who are naturally good looking do get an easier pass in life. But this film made me wonder, is being beautiful also a curse?
Marilyn was treated like a piece of meat. Men ogled her and only wished to bed her. How many cared for her personality? How many didn’t see her as a sex object? She is iconic and lives on in her images and films but she was not a happy soul and I do think a lot of her sadness was due to how she was treated as a beautiful woman.
I have never considered myself beautiful. It took until I was in my mid-thirties to consider myself attractive. I did a life coach course and realised that ‘If you can’t love yourself, how can you love anybody else’… Ru Paul uses it as a catch phrase now but its as true now as it always was. It took time to appreciate what I like about myself. I am not arrogant or confident in my looks but always try to look my best. That is all we can all do. I choose to dye my hair and wear make up. But I also choose not to use Botox or fillers. I am aging naturally looking the best I can for the age I am. In fact I think I don’t look bad at all. I do not compare myself with women who are 30 years younger than me – its not a fair comparison. We will get old and that is a privilege – not everyone is assured that luxury.
So next time you are moaning about your looks – tell yourself something you like about yourself. Be kind to yourself. You’re worth it!
Vinted is not paved with gold…
23 September 2022
I was excited to discover Vinted. I had been very disappointed with eBay when I sold a top for £1.50 and eBay took £1 of it as they very cheekily took a percentage of the postage as well as item cost. I was done with Ebay. Vinted felt like an exciting opportunity to sell my old clothes that don’t fit me anymore and buy some new ones at a cheaper price that do fit me. However, this week I have fallen out of love with Vinted and here is the reason why.
A few days ago, they removed several of my posts and said they do not allow ‘commercial’ posts. I did not understand. I didn’t know anything about commercial posts – and I didn’t think it affected me as I was simply selling items out of my own wardrobe…but be warned – Vinted are judge and jury and you can be judged as commercial even if you aren’t!
I messaged them and waited two days – they had threatened me with suspension of my account and if I didn’t remove any further commercial items, they would block my account completely. This is very harsh judgement for someone who is simply selling her own wardrobe and until they removed the items, I had no idea I had done anything wrong. I certainly wasn’t commercial and was unclear what commercial meant. I was stressed with this and unsure what to do, so I messaged them to ask about what commercial meant and why they felt I fell into that category. If you question this or have any query, and by the way, they have the worst customer service ever…you wait two days for a reply. They never clearly answer your questions they just cut and paste their rules. And on top of this they then do not allow you to respond to their message so then starts the two day wait again for any answers. I also feel they stole my money as I had paid for 4 ‘bumps’ to promote some items and these were items they had removed within less than an hour of bumping them. Bumps should promote your items for three days. They refuse to give back my money as I ‘broke their rules’, but I had no idea of any of their commercial rules until they had removed my items. I am sure if I argued this, they would say you agree to terms and conditions when you sign up. You know they ones that no one reads.
So, what was my crime? I am guessing from some of the rules of what applies to me. Vinted do not clarify what percentage/ratio of new to second hand item there should be to be clear you are not breaking their commercial rules; they just state ‘a large number of new items’. I wanted a definition of what a large number meant so I wouldn’t be breaking the rules, but sadly after three times of trying to get some clarification, I am still in the dark. At least half of the items I was selling were new – but this doesn’t make me a commercial enterprise…simply a shopaholic who doesn’t wear everything in her wardrobe. I have put on a lot of weight in recent years so just wanted to make some money back on things sitting in my wardrobe that I can’t fit into. After all, Vinted claim ‘if you don’t wear it – sell it’. That’s all I was doing. Vinted don’t advertise to say ‘If you have worn it and no longer wear it – sell it’. Hmmm not quite so catchy is it?!
Perhaps my crime was re-selling. I bought two items that didn’t fit me… actually one was not advertised correctly for size but rather than me having to pay postage to return it, I just resold it on for the exact amount I had paid. Apparently, it’s a crime on Vinted to re-sell items you buy on Vinted. I had no idea but if something doesn’t fit – doesn’t it make sense to re-sell it? This was only applicable to three items and I was selling over 50 things. That’s a tiny percentage but if its against the rules – fair enough. I genuinely didn’t know. Another crime is to put some items up cheaply and some up for a higher price. I of course, wanted to sell my new items at a higher price (although very discounted from the original price paid). I think it was my gold boots that were the tipping point. Original price was £200 but I put them up for £100. Vinted didn’t seem to like this when I also had items selling for £4. But my boots are brand new in a box – I am not going to sell them for £4!
What is also a crime is buying a lot on Vinted. They seem to think you are buying to re-sell, but the truth is clearly not that. I bought items that were my new size and felt as I now had items I could fit into; I could easily let go of my old items instead of hoping to lose more weight. So being a shopaholic is a crime. Vinted really need to re-evaluate this or they will lose customers.
Although I never knew this rule and I am not guilty of it – apparently selling items for family members is also a crime. They should all have their own accounts if over 18. I have never done this but as I have jumped several dress sizes, I could see why they may wonder why I am selling various sizes. But the clear evidence of me not being commercial was never taken into account. I was only selling about two items a month and most of those items were averaging about £10. Surely any commercial enterprise would be making a lot more money. And I was clearly buying more than I was earning. That in my book at least, makes it clear I was not commercial.
This experience over the last week has tainted my love of Vinted. Moving forward, as long as they do not block my account, I will not be using Vinted as much as I had previously. I had promoted Vinted to all my friends – but dear friends – if you do decide to sell on Vinted – be warned and heed my advice. Be careful of rules you have no knowledge of. Vinted do not care for your explanations. They do not care about customer service. Don’t pay for bumps as you never know when Vinted may just remove your items and keep the money. Many wonder how Vinted make their money – I think we now know why.
And as for my gold boots – they are still available to buy – I have them advertised on Facebook Marketplace if you are interested.
When Vinted clashes with menopause
4 September 2022
So let me tell you about my morning. I had sold an item on Vinted. I am quite excited every time I sell something as it not only helps clear out my wardrobe of items I can no longer fit into, it is also helping to fund all the items I have bought on vinted. Oh yes – I am a vinted addict for sure. I have bought so many lovely things on Vinted. Vinted is the new Ebay!
Anyway, this morning I sold an item. I packaged it up and as I needed a walk, I went to one of the shops that do a ‘print in store’ Evri. When I got there the assistant said he couldn’t take it as the printing wasn’t working as I didn’t have a QR code. I felt rather frustrated. So, I walked home, printed the label off myself and walked in the other direction to another store to send it. Tesco express took my parcel and gave me a small blue receipt. I waited for my husband to come out of the other shop and looked on my phone to tell the person who had bought it that I had sent it. I felt pleased I had done it so quickly. Then the panic set in. I had sent the wrong item. I had sent a bright red top when the lady had bought the bright pink one. I ran back into the shop but they would not let me have my parcel back. I didn’t know what to do. I felt so hot and bothered and stressed. They told me to bring the other top down and I could swap it. So, I walked back to my house. By this time, I had done 9,000 steps so felt good about that. When I got home, I looked again and realised I was right and I was wrong. The lady had bought the red top – yay. And she had bought the pink top - Double yay. I packaged up the second top and took it back to Tesco’s express. I drove this time! I did feel a bit of an idiot but they were okay and just processed it as standard.
Was I just rushing it or was it another example of my peri-menopausal brain? It felt stressful. And I should be avoiding that. If you read my blogs, you know I have recently had high blood pressure so stress like this should be avoided. I will not be taking my blood pressure today for fear of it being hypertensive.
However, the good news is I have lost weight for the last four weeks, since I started my health kick. I am so pleased that the efforts I am making do make a difference. I do a little disco in my lunch break or sometimes I ‘do a Leslie’. Leslie is a power walker on You Tube and she can talk you through a one mile walk in 15 minutes which is just right for a lunch break. I do feel healthier but I know I still have a long way to go to reach my target weight. I will probably want my clothes back if I lose that much…I certainly would like to drop at least three dress sizes and ideally lose three stone. Okay maybe I have to recognise I am not 30 anymore and two stone is more realistic. But I am heading in the right direction for the first time in a long time. Quite proud of myself.
Get in touch and let me know if you have any top tips for losing weight or getting fitter. I would love to hear from you.
Have a great week.
Feeling hot hot hot
30 July 2022
It started in January 2020. I was one of the first to take the covid 19 vaccine; grateful for its protection. I felt unwell for a few days but that quickly passed. What I was not expecting was it to mess up my menstrual cycle and I certainly didn’t sign up for night sweats. I appreciate that the drug makers at the time may not have known the side effects, but I am very disappointed that two years on, they have not admitted that the vaccine can bring on menopause. I am not sure how a vaccine could do this; however, I was watching a TV programme called unvaccinated last week. On this programme, they admitted to it messing with women’s menstrual cycles. When did they know this and why hasn’t more been done to look into this?
I know I am probably focussing on the wrong thing. After all, I am passed the average age for a woman to become peri-menopausal. But it would have been good to know the night sweats were not a long-term side effect of the vaccine. And so now I am playing catch up with my friends who all seem to have gone through or are going through peri-menopause. I feel ill-equipped to deal with this. No one ever talks about it. Both my mum and gran had hysterectomies…and almost everyone doesn’t speak about it.
To mention Menopause is to admit you are a woman of a certain age. I am not ashamed of my age, but I am anxious about the 36 symptoms that are all rather depressing. Of course, I recognise that not everyone will suffer every symptom but it is still alarming.
I joined a few face book groups hoping for support, but they are full of desperate women all suffering themselves. Is this me? I tried looking for herbal remedies but they are not touching the night sweats and hot flushes. Last week with 40-degree heat in the UK, everyone moaned how hot it was – but do spare a thought for those of us in Peri-Menopause or Menopause who were already suffering before the heat got turned up.
It’s been so bad this week that I booked an appointment with a GP at my surgery to discuss options. I tried to read up a bit before but there is so much information out there, I felt a bit overwhelmed. I had asked to be booked in with a menopause specialist but at the appointment, the GP said this was not her. I asked about HRT and told her I heard the gel was good and requested that. She (the non-expert) said no it would not help with my symptoms and prescribed a dual tablet instead. However, she said I could not take it until my blood pressure has gone down.
Now regular readers of my blog will know that I have suffered anxiety over my concerns about covid for the last couple of years. I barely recognise myself from my pre-covid days. Its so bad a few weeks ago I cried at work over an email that got sent out to all managers. I recognise this is not normal behaviour. However, I do not know anymore if my anxiety is about covid or a symptom of menopause. Going to a GP surgery where there is no longer any social distancing or mask wearing raises my anxiety and most probably my blood pressure. On top of this the GP did not wear a mask and got quite close to me when testing my blood pressure. She said it was so high I couldn’t take the tablets for HRT until it was normal. She booked me in to see a nurse on Monday to retake it. I got a text yesterday saying the nurse has made this appointment a telephone appointment. I called twice yesterday and the receptionists promised to get back to me but didn’t. so now I don’t know if I have an appointment on Monday or not and I am stressing that on top of all my symptoms, do I now have to worry about high blood pressure?
I am going to look into getting a second opinion. I am going to read more about it. Shouldn’t the GP look at my weight before just prescribing? I watched the programme with Mariella Frostrup about Menopause and they said the gel and patches are less likely to cause blood clots than tablets so why was I given tablets when I asked for a gel? I do not feel I have been listened to. I feel disempowered. I feel angry, upset, overwhelmed and a bit lost.
Anyone reading this who has any positive advice, please get in touch.
I am feeling hot, hot, hot.
Have a good week.
PS: Just called up the bank as I was convinced I had fraudulent payments on my account - but when it was looked into it was just me forgetting where I had been. Crying now as I feel so stupid.
I’ve been poorly
3 July 2022
I’ve been poorly. I caught flu. Of course, I panicked and thought it could be Covid but it was only flu. All my many Covid tests came back negative. It made me really poorly and I had to take time out of work. Even three weeks later, I am still coughing from the remnants. Sadly, son no 2 did catch Covid and was restricted to his room for a week. Despite having all the vaccines, he was quite poorly for a few days. Then son no 1 caught my flu. We were indeed the lurgy household. However, I can say we are all better now.
I was on annual leave last week and we had booked a few days in Brighton. I had been so poorly the week before we considered cancelling but eventually, we did go even if I wasn’t 100%. I had not seen the sea since 2019. I had not been away anywhere abroad or this country. This was a big step. We didn’t have any plans so we wandered in the north laines and walked along the beach. I was a bit antsy when it came to eating out as most cafes and restaurants have tables very close together. Of course, I am the only one still wearing a mask – to the general public it’s like Covid didn’t exist.
I think the break away did me good. I do feel much better to have breathed in the sea air. I could wear some of the clothes I hadn’t yet had a chance to and I even broke in my Irregular Choice boots.
It’s been Pride month and there have been many celebrations all over the country. I am not ready for crowds and when I saw how many were in London yesterday, I know I could not cope with that amount of people. But I want to say happy Pride to everyone. Even if you are not part of the LGBTQIA+ family, you can be an ally. Use your pronouns and speak up for others. Everyone should be able to love who they want to love. Love is love.
A love letter to the USA
25 June 2022
I have always loved you. You are one of my favourite countries; I love how you are explicit about your patriotism and love for your country. You have almost been a big brother to us here in the UK, we have absorbed so much of your TV and films that I feel Friends and Sex & The City have had a significant influence on my life. When I first visited New York, I had never been so excited – so many films use New York as a background, and of course my idol, David Bowie considered New York his adopted home.
So, it is with much love and respect to you, America, that I feel the need to say ‘What the fuck?’ Making abortions illegal? Seriously? We are not living in the 1970’s. I thought that once you got rid of Trump things may have improved, but sadly it looks like you are moving back in time. I am not normally one for protests but I stand tall with my sisters on this misogynistic idea. Please tell me what happens if a woman is raped? It has been mentioned that if a woman’s life is at risk, they will then terminate but who decides this and will their political beliefs influence the decision? This will push women into illegal backstreet abortions and risk their lives in the process.
Is this how you now define yourself America? Is this really who you are? And where does it stop? Is this the first step in removing LGBT marriage? And you don’t seem to care that children get massacred in your schools as long as you are allowed to carry a gun.
I love you America but I don’t think I like you much anymore. You are changing and, in my opinion, not for the better. Is it your President? Should President’s be of working age? Is 79 too old with old fashioned views to be allowed to govern? Or is it your religious sectors that are causing the issues? I have no issues with anyone believing anything they want to as long it doesn’t impact others adversely but your most recent changes are beyond the pale.
You are breaking my heart and I cannot and will not support your decision on abortion or on anything that risks harm to another human being. In fact, I feel you should be ashamed of this latest law. Shame on you.
I used to be your greatest supporter but for now, I am debating if I should even stay friends with you.
Congratulations Your Majesty
Happy Platinum Jubilee to her majesty, The Queen. I am a huge supporter of the royals and delighted she has been able to service us for 70 years. I am an Elizabethan as Mr Steven Fry described us and proud to be so. Congratulations, Ma’am, 70 years is a wonderful achievement. I would have travelled to London to join in the fun (and be part of the pageant) but with my Covid anxiety issues, that wasn’t an option for me right now.
This lovely long bank holiday weekend has been busy. I have visited my dad and step-mum for the first time since 2019. They were so pleased to see me and I won’t leave it so long again. I was pleased to make some progress with my driving as I have been nervous of driving anywhere not very local.
I went to see Top Gun – Maverick. I say that it’s a great movie and I enjoyed a lot of the flight scenes. It was quite emotional in places but those old enough to remember the first film will feel inspired. Don't let younger generations assume your life is over. At almost 60, Tom Cruise is flying planes like he was still 20 and he has aged well. Maverick realises that love is the key to happiness. No matter what your age, life is what you make it. Go out there and live your best life. That’s what I got from Top Gun.
The weekend weather hasn’t been as good, so yesterday was a Pimm’s and Netflix day. Hey, maybe that will become a new catchphrase. We still watch Suits as we love that and I even bought hubby a Louis Litt mug for his birthday. However, we have now started on Lucifer and think this might be a new show for us to watch. I still do Downton when I am on my own but hubby says he doesn’t mind that. Always happy to hear your Netflix suggestions.
Today we went for a walk before the thunderstorms come along and hubby is making a nice roast dinner while I type this. Life is good. I do count my blessings. At work I am on a course and last week was about Wellbeing. It really impacted me and I need to do more for my mental health. That includes theatre, walking and seeing friends for lunch. I did see my sister last week for an afternoon tea so there may be more of those to follow…I might have to do more walking!
Wishing you all a lovely week.
6 March 2022
My heart is going out to the people in the Ukraine. No one wanted war and now many are squeezing themselves onto trains and getting as far away from the trouble as they can. I cannot imagine how it must be for them. How do you decide what to take with you? How do you manage the emotions of leaving your home and all you have worked for, to save your life? If I was in their shoes, my husband and both my sons would be instructed to stay and fight. Would I still leave, knowing that my whole family could be killed at any moment or would I stay and value all the moments we have together?
I do not understand why anyone goes to war. It only brings misery for those involved. Why can’t people live and let live? I suppose this is bothering me, as not only is the UK government saying they will not let refugees into our country, but they are happy to light up their buildings in Ukraine colours. How does lighting up a building help? Although many people in the UK are gathering supplies for those that need them, I feel so much more should be done to stop this before it escalates. Many more people will die because of the slow actions of NATO. Do we really think that Putin will stop after he dominates Ukraine? I very much doubt it.
With what is going on in Ukraine, it makes me feel that my problems are first world problems. However, I have had another difficult week. I had the cremation on Wednesday and have felt weary with exhaustion from being emotionally drained. I took some time off work to look after myself. It was not what I did, but just giving myself time for me. I did sort out my medicine cupboard – which I found rather cathartic. I was surprised at how many out-of-date meds I had! I also baked some banana bread (still popular in my house). I know next week will be busy as I moved all my work appointments to squeeze them in so I could take time off. I also have two shows to review next week. Its going to be another busy one.
Look after yourselves and see you on the other side.
1 March 2022
I believe in Karma. I believe that if you are kind and nice to others, it comes back to you. The opposite is the same. I believe if you are cruel and nasty to others that too, will come back to you in the end. I can’t really explain it any clearer than that. I have always done my best to be the best version of me that I can be. I am struggling right now as I am so stressed with pressures that I am running on empty. I might be snappier at people or make bad decisions right now. That isn’t intentional but just because I have a lot going on.
I have deleted a few blogs on this page as they were very personal and have upset those close to me. It was not my intention to upset anyone. I started this diary as a way to talk about the covid situation but it has developed into a therapeutic outlet for me and I pour out my feelings here, sometimes forgetting many of you read this.
Last night showed me that I am not coping with the levels of stress. I drove to Derngate theatre in Northampton for a show, in the rain and through M1 roadworks, just to find out once I got there that I had the date wrong. Not only did I waste petrol and incur parking charges, but I also had to break it to my friend that I had got the date wrong too. I am so sorry for that. It was not intentional. I am sure it was just stress and a genuine mistake was made.
Work is a welcome distraction right now. It feels like normal when the rest of my life is spiralling out of control. I am tired and weary. I am stressed about many different things that are happening around me.
I do want to thank all my friends who have been exceptional. They support me, call me and message me even when they have their own issues. I really appreciate their support and kindness.
And that is why I am talking about Karma. Those who are kind to me right now, this will come back to you in abundance.
Thank you all for your support. I love you all.
A Busy Week
Last Sunday I went to The Stables to see Ben Hart; A magician. I have to admit, I struggled with the fact that throughout his performance, he acted like there was no pandemic. He took items from audience members with no mask or sanitising and allowed people on stage sitting next to him with no masks on. And he is touring this show. I feel its irresponsible that he has so much interaction with the audience in this way. You can change the act to reduce those interactions and still present a good show. I have been on stage with Derren Brown and seen Penn and Teller up close in Las Vegas as I love a bit of magic. Sadly Ben needed a better cameraman and lighting for us to see the tricks clearly so much of his show was lost. I did like the close up magic with the cards and coins but then I am a simple magic girl at heart.
Monday night I was at Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury for Groan Ups. I panicked as my son who was supposed to come with me was very poorly(tested negative but still too ill to attend). I rang around but it was very short notice so hubby said he would come with me. I was delighted with this as he is not a theatre person. Before Covid, every visit to Aylesbury meant a visit to the Bowie statue. On this occasion, I skipped it as we were running short of time. The show was great. Groan Ups is not a goes wrong show but a play about growing up. It was funny in places and sad in others. Just like real life.
Wednesday I was in MK Theatre for Dreamgirls. I took a friend and we had a great time. This show really lifted my spirits. I needed that. Dreamgirls has glamour and sparkle. I want to live my life with glamour and sparkle in it. This was the last day that masks were compulsory in theatres. I was grateful it was still in place for my attendance. In the queue to prove your vaccine status, I could hear the twenty-something girl behind me saying she is an anti-vaxxer and didn’t want to wear a mask. It took all my willpower not to say anything as this made me really angry. The way she said it, as if she was boasting. I asked them to step back a bit as they were standing a bit close to me for comfort. Does she not realise she is putting others at risk as well as her own life?
You hear about all the fun things I am up to, but in between all of this, I make daily calls to my almost 100-year-old grandad, who lives alone independently. I also call my mum every day to see how my stepdad is. On Wednesday he started his treatment. My mum does not want him to have it as she knows the side effects will be bad and she wanted a quality of life for the time they have left together. However, he wants to try and if it gives him another six months then he is going for it. MK Hospital cannot provide the treatment so they travel all the way to Banbury in Oxfordshire to get this immune therapy. I do hope it gives him some more time and not too many side effects. You see this is another reason I cannot risk catching covid or having to self-isolate. My mum needs me. I have been picking up prescriptions for her and last week my husband did some food shopping for them. I don’t need anti-vaxxers putting my situation at risk with their blaze attitude.
I know I sound angry. It surprised me how angry I feel about it. I felt violent and that is rare as it takes a lot to push me to my breaking point. But I have had a lot to deal with lately and maybe my threshold is close to boiling.
So please be kind. I have a lot going on right now. Send me all your love. I need it.
Have a good week and still stay safe and if you are wise, keep wearing your masks.
It’s not been a good start to 2022
22 January 2022
Christmas and New Year were not celebrations as my husband had covid. He must have contracted it the week before Christmas as we hadn’t been out the house or mixed with anyone since. However, the day after boxing day I suggested he test himself as he had a slight cough. He had not been 100% over Christmas but we did not suspect covid as you all know how careful I am, plus he did not have any of the symptoms that are stated on the government website. He had a migraine which is not unusual. With hindsight we suspect this could have been covid.
We all tested and hubby was the only one who came back positive. I immediately banished him to the bedroom where he spent the next seven days. Don’t feel sorry for him. He has films and his computer plus he brought covid home into our house so I was pretty angry with him. We all sat around the table for Christmas day dinner together. I slept in the same bed. We all interacted. I just don’t know how I got away with not contracting it myself. But as soon as I knew, I was sleeping on the sofa and ordered PCR tests to be sure of the LFT.
It meant I was his slave. Every cup of tea, meal etc was from me, carefully placed outside of the bedroom door. There were no celebrations over New Year. I couldn’t help my mum who was all alone as my stepdad was still in hospital, and I had to cancel my hairdressing appointment. Just because the government says it’s okay for me not to isolate, I felt I should as its not nice to go out and say someone I live with tested positive.
Hubby is now testing negative, is back at work and as far as I am concerned, he owes me. He drove me to my rescheduled hair appointment last Saturday, and I have said he has to cook every day he is not working for the month of January to pay me back.
As you heard from above, my stepdad is still poorly in hospital. He had Christmas and New Year there. The last week he was moved to the cancer centre, but there is still no visiting. By 12th January, he had had enough. It was his birthday. He had already lost his last Christmas, but he wanted to spend his last birthday with his wife and said he was going home. The hospital was reluctant to do this but allowed it. They have not treated him with care or respect. They treated him with neglect and if he was only well enough, he would write a letter of complaint. However, he just wants the time he has left to be spent with my mum.
He has been unwell at home too. He became so unwell last Saturday that an ambulance was called. They wanted him to go back into hospital but he refused. He was very confused. He didn’t know who my mum was. My mum asked me to pick up some antibiotics and I took them to her. She invited me in, normally I would have refused during a covid pandemic, but I thought this might be the last time I could see him. I still kept over two metres away and was masked. My stepdad did not know who I was. He did not know my two children that he had known all their lives, yet he remembered my husband. He was very confused and in obvious pain. I hoped it was just a UTI and the antibiotics could help. I prayed it wasn’t the cancer that had gone to his brain.
Tuesday, he has his lungs drained in hospital. It was just a day procedure so he could come home again. Mum did not want me to call. I have called her at least once a day every day since he was admitted. She text me to say he is dying in front of her. It was heart-breaking to read. She knows the situation. I think he probably does too. Thursday, they went to Oxford to see a specialist for his type of cancer. I did not expect any miracle cure and he did not get offered one. There are treatments but the specialist says he cannot turn back the clock, so it would only give my stepdad an extra six months. They have not yet made a decision. My stepdad may well take the treatment as he is desperate to stay alive, but my mum thinks it may be better to just enjoy the quality of the time he has left.
So, the next thing I am going to talk about seems trivial in comparison, but with all the stress I am under right now, this made me really angry. Its about Facebook. Yes, I am in Facebook jail again. Do you remember last time I was ‘restricted’ from Facebook because I was talking about the TV programme Line Of Duty? Well, this time it’s even worse. I was in a Bowie group and the thread was talking about cut up lines. Bowie used this technique often to see how things could be changed. I gave my cut-up line example ‘You’re squawking like a pink monkey bird’ and was immediately blocked for ‘bullying and harassment’. The Facebook bot doesn’t understand the context of the thread or Bowie lyrics. I am so angry. Facebook initially gave me a restriction of two days of no posting. Then extended it to three days with no reason. Then added a week of not posting in groups. And now its also 28 days of my posts not been seen by others. Where are the clear rules? Where can we complain to explain that I never bully or harass people. When I see what Facebook does allow, I’m fuming about this. And I really need my support network around me with everything I am going through. If anyone has suggestions on how to avoid this, or report this injustice, please let me know. Should I have put the Bowie lyric in inverted commas? Should I have put a musical emoji next to it? Would that have made any difference? Facebook, this is ridiculous. Please explain your rules around restrictions clearly and how an appeal doesn’t just mean clicking a button, but giving the user a chance to explain the context and reason for the comment.
Finally, I have a bit of good news. Yesterday I went into my local HMV and the lovely manager, gave me the Bowie75 life size cut out. I can’t thank him enough or say how much this has lifted me up. I put a picture of me with Bowie on twitter (because I am clearly not using Facebook right now) and OMG… so far in less than 24 hours, I have had 300 likes, 20 retweets and 24 comments and at least another 20 followers. I never realised it would get so much attention. I really need to use twitter more than I do!
Just a word about Meatloaf, who passed away yesterday. He will always be Eddie to me. If you know, you know!
That’s all for now. Stay safe and tell your loved ones that you love them.
Happy New Year?
31 December 2021
So here we are at the end of another year living in a pandemic. I admit that because of the vaccines we are not as at risk or restricted as we were last year but let’s be honest, we are not back to old normal, or at least I am not.
I know that 2022 is not going to be kind already as my stepdad is in hospital and every day the news gets worse. Not only does he have cancer of the liver, but its also in his lungs and he struggles to breathe. He went back in on Christmas eve and they still haven’t showered him. Milton Keynes hospital – you are a disgrace. Its not just about personal care, its also about lack of information. My mum had to speak to PALS just to find out what is going on with my stepdad’s diagnosis and prognosis and despite him having cancer and a heart attack, my mum is still not allowed to visit. Still, no one from oncology has been to see him. He is on a ward for diabetes and they are clearly not trained for this type of condition. My mum is scared that the limited time he has left is narrowing and she wants to spend it with him, but he is too poorly to come home.
It’s been difficult to support her as I am also having to live in a Covid household. My poor hubby is a prisoner in our bedroom. I bring him all his food and drinks and currently do all the cooking myself. He only leaves the bedroom to go to the bathroom, and then anti-bacs everything he touches. I wash his plates and cups separately and only touch them with an anti-bac wipe. We both did a PCR yesterday and are currently awaiting the results. I feel fine and my lateral flow was negative so I am hopeful I am in the clear.
There have been a lot of ‘getting back to normal’ moments during 2021. In 2020 I barely went out for a walk; I certainly didn’t eat out to help out and I couldn’t shop because it was too stressful to be around other people. This year I knew I had to push myself to get back to being me a bit more as I was worried I would lose the old me forever.
I started to eat out. We celebrated our wedding anniversary with a meal and I had a meal for my birthday. I still wipe down the table and all the cutlery (yes even the salt and pepper mills) and I always try to sit as far away from people as I can. I have missed eating out. I had also missed theatre. I felt like I was in mourning when the theatres were dark. I had never known anything like it in my life. So, when my press requests started to come back in my inbox, I knew it would have to be a fabulous show to get me back. My first show was The Rocky Horror Show at Milton Keynes Theatre. I even dressed up as Magenta and crimped my hair. I still kept away from others as much as I could and wore my mask the whole time but I was back. I joked that if I died from going to the theatre, at least it would be doing something I love rather than a food shop. I am glad to say I am still here and breathing.
I missed shopping. I am a bit of a shopaholic and hate online shopping. You cannot feel the fabrics or know how the item does up (quite often this information is missing from online websites). Debenhams closed down and so we drove all the way to Stevenage to get ‘up to 80% off’. I spent hundreds. I had a mask on and they limited the amount of people who came in the store at one time. We had always shopped at Debenhams so this felt so sad; a goodbye almost as sad as Woolworths. At work there were also changes as I applied and was successful in a promotion to a service manager position. After going to theatre, I tried a few gigs. Both New Order and The Human League were fantastic. 2020 had changed me and instead of taking photos as I used to, I just sang and danced and cried a little to be grateful to get back to a bit of what our old life had looked like.
Today I pushed myself again. I went to Asda to go shopping. I have not been food shopping since March 2020 and have felt very stressed at the idea of having to shop. However, with my hubby isolating, I had no choice. I went early this morning so there wouldn’t be many people. I had gloves and a mask on and took my anti-bac wipes to wipe the trolly – not just the handle but the whole trolly. It wasn’t’ too crowded and I got the basic essentials as I didn’t want to be there longer than I have to. Prices have gone up a lot since I last did a shop. I have never used the self service before for a trolly shop, but today was a first. I had to ask how it works but now I know, I may do this again rather than having someone touch my food items. I got rather stressed when the machine refused my card. My shop was under £50 but it doesn’t accept a tap. I had to insert my card to pay, which it accepted. Glad to say I am safely back home, and have cooked up a lot of nibbles for tonight as on New Year’s Eve we always have a buffet table instead of a meal.
So many changes throughout 2021. As Bowie would say, turn and face the strange. I have faced not only the changes but tried to not let them change me for the worse.
I know I am not my usual happy self and that the stresses of Covid in my home and my stepdad’s illness are bearing down heavily on me. But even in this bleak mid-winter, I want to wish you all a hopeful and happy start to the New Year. May 2022 be a good one for us all.
Happy New Year.
How bad can one Christmas get?
28 December 2021
If you read my last blog, you know that my stepdad has been given a terminal diagnosis of cancer. He was sent home to spend Christmas with my mum on 23rd December. We all knew it may well be his last Christmas so we wanted him to enjoy it. I even turned up on their doorstep with a home-made pasta bake so mum didn’t need to cook. But by 24th December, he was so poorly that they took him back into hospital. He has spent all Christmas Day and Boxing Day there, alone. My mum cannot cope on her own and I have been ringing her two or three times a day to check she is okay.
On bank holiday Monday he had a heart attack in the night. He is still with us but it sounds like his body is failing. Yet the hospital will not let my mum visit. There were new rules put in place on 23rd December to stop visits unless its end of life. I don’t know how much my step dad has to go through before they let my mum visit, but surely a terminal cancer diagnosis and a heart attack should qualify? My mum struggles through each day, missing him and wanting to help him.
Yesterday, hubby and I went out for a walk to the shops. We went early so it wasn’t too busy and once it got busier, we came home. Hubby cooked dinner and after dinner I noticed he was coughing. I told him to test himself. I had said this 24 hours earlier but he hadn’t and it wasn’t a constant cough and no obvious symptoms of Covid. He tested positive. I did not expect that and became very stressed. We all took lateral flow tests and luckily, so far, both my boys and myself are negative. I have ordered a PCR test for hubby and myself as I feel a bit ‘fluey’ and just want to check.
This means he put us at risk by cooking for us. He put us at risk by sitting in the same room. He put us at risk by not testing sooner. I feel waves of anger and waves of empathy. He is now isolating in the bedroom. He has his computer there and can also go into the loft (known as retro-land as that’s where his Atari lives) but otherwise the rest of the house is off limits. Of course, he has to use our shared bathroom, but with strict instructions to wipe down every surface he touches. He wears a mask if he comes out of the bedroom. He has gloves, wipes, sanitiser, masks, everything. I will do all the cooking cleaning and everything else. I feel I am treating him like a leper and feel rather guilty for that as he is clearly unwell. However, I have a weakened lung and I know if I catch this, I could be ill for a long time or even die from it. Hubby has been double vaccinated and has had his booster but his booster was only a week before he began to feel ill and they say it needs two weeks to boost up your immune system. Also son no 1 hasn’t yet had his booster (its booked for next week) so hubby could also put him at risk.
Let me backtrack. His last day at work was 22nd December. He came home with a bad ankle that he hurt at work. I thought nothing of it. The next day (Christmas eve) he spent most of the day in bed. He said he has a migraine. He often suffers with migraines so again I thought nothing of this. Christmas day morning he said he was still fragile and was recovering from his migraine. This is normal but now we are wondering if these were signs of Covid. We had our Christmas day dinner all at the table together, laughing and joking and he seemed fine. I had no reason to think he had Covid. It was on BBC Breakfast this morning that the new omicron variant doesn’t have the same symptoms that the delta did. They say it is more like cold or flu like symptoms. We talked about where he made have caught it but the only places are work or shopping.
Since he tested positive, he is in the bedroom and I am sleeping on the sofa. I love him and want to look after him, but also want to look after myself so I am avoiding him as much as I can. Today he has slept a lot so I am feeling guilty that perhaps he is more unwell than we realised. I want to let him sleep but also check he is still alive. I even made some home-made soup for him when he fancies it to help him recover.
I sat and binged watched It’s a sin again this afternoon. Perhaps not the best choice right now, but it’s also about friends and warmth and what you bring to other people’s lives. I should have been at my hairdressers today. I have cancelled. I should be at Waterside theatre next week but it’s still within the 10-day self-isolation period. Yes, I know the government website says I don’t need to self-isolate, but what a ridiculous rule. If someone in your household has covid, you too could be infectious and spreading it without realising. I would not intentionally do that so I will stay home as long as I can. New Year’s Eve is looking rather bleak too. Still, we are all still here and breathing. Thank goodness for each silver lining.
I do hope your Christmas is going better than mine.
Its a sad sad situation....
23 December 2021
I know I have been rather quiet the last six weeks. My stepdad fell poorly over a month ago. He had suffered a week at home but was getting worse so eventually my mum called an ambulance. They didn’t want to take him to hospital but they did. A&E were absolutely dreadful and sent him home in a taxi on his own, when really, he was too poorly to be alone.
Another week went by and he got increasingly worse. He was bedridden, unable to eat or even walk around the flat. He could barely breathe and was in constant pain. I had picked up some antibiotics for him after he had been sent home but they hadn’t worked. Once again mum called the ambulance. They were reluctant to take him to hospital. They paramedics said it was a nightmare at the hospital and that they will just send him home again. My mum was quite forceful. Mum had packed him an overnight bag but the paramedics refused to take it – but mum went on to them so much that they gave in and took it and my step dad to the hospital. The hospital did admit him and he has been there ever since. So firstly, it makes me angry that they sent him home the week before when he clearly needed medical help. Secondly, I don’t think paramedics should be so reluctant to take people to hospital who clearly need it.
He did not have covid if that is what you are thinking. They tested him for this daily as someone in one of the wards tested positive. They kept moving him ward to ward and were deep cleaning the wards. It was hard to keep in touch. My mum called him 3 times a day but there was not always a signal, he wasn’t always well enough to talk, and the wards don’t like you to call. My mum had to book an appointment to visit, but wasn’t allowed to visit for 10 days after the covid case so my poor stepdad was left to fend for himself when he wasn’t well enough to stand up for himself.
They kept running tests but couldn’t find what was wrong. There were issues with his liver, and besides his chest infection, not much else. He was still in constant pain. He was put on nil by mouth so they could do a test, but the tests were cancelled and yet he was still nil by mouth. He was so poorly he could barely complain. After a week of starving him, my mum made such a fuss that the doctor looked at his records and realised this was a mistake and the nil by mouth should have been removed. He had lost over a stone in a week! This is neglect and nurses were not caring. He couldn’t reach his food but no one checked this or helped him eat. He was not being bathed. For weeks. They did not help him do his teeth and he couldn’t do them himself. My mum once again made a fuss and they gave him a wash down. It was only two days ago that he got a shower when my mum actually helped him to do this. But everything changed on Tuesday. My mum was allowed to visit. The doctor met my mum with my stepdad and apologised but said ‘He has terminal cancer’. They are both devastated. He is only 68. They have said it is all over his body. Apparently, he has had a birth mark change shape about six months ago, but never got it checked as since covid it has been almost impossible to get a GP appointment. My mum wonders if they had got it checked earlier would it have saved him. We will never know now. I saw him socially only a couple of months ago and he seemed fine. This has all been very sudden.
Today he came home celebrate his last Christmas and make some memories.
I have been giving mum lifts to hospital when I could and my husband did some shopping for her. I took over some food so mum didn’t need to cook. I bought him the recent bond film as he is a huge fan but not seen it yet. The title is No time to die. Its awful but true.
My mum has really struggled with this news. Although my stepdad is her third husband, they have been happy together for over 30 years. He is her life. She has already said to me three times this week that she doesn’t want to live without him. This is not said idlily. She has previous form for attempted suicide. I told her this is not what her daughter wants to hear but I am worried about them both and what the future looks like.
So, as we try to come to terms with this news, we will also try to enjoy this Christmas. My mum said ‘hold those you love. You don’t know how long you have together’.
I wish you all a merry Christmas, but do spare a thought for those who are celebrating their last.
A blog in two halves...because of the covid booster - Corona Virus Diary
13 October 2021
I meant to write this in September. I have no excuse. I was off work for a week. I didn’t feel I could call it holiday as we did not go away. Instead, we had a new boiler fitted. For the cost of the boiler, I could have easily made it to Vegas! I was nervous because there is nothing wrong with the old one rather than it just being old. We decided to go from a classic to a combi and this also worried me – what if I lose water pressure? The fitter has assured me it will all be fine but they also needed to make a hole in my roof for the new flue. I know nothing about all this and was concerned about how big the job was. I was very stressed. This is the first time anyone outside of those who live in my house have been in my house since covid hit the UK. I originally asked the fitter for Monday or Tuesday and with that in mind I booked my son’s MOT for his car on the Wednesday. But when he finally got the quote to me, he told me he only had Wednesday left. So, Wednesday was a stressful day. However, I am now glad its all done and my son’s car passed its MOT so it’s all good. I even agreed to a take away on that Wednesday – the first since March 2020! Wagamama’s got the winning vote. We always try to get that week off work as it’s our wedding anniversary. Usually, we would go away somewhere lovely. In 2018 it was Vegas. In 2019 it was Prague. 2020 didn’t count and sadly 2021 means we are not going away. But we did go for a nice meal in a local restaurant.
I know after my last diary entry you are all wondering about the job situation. Well, the big news is… (drum roll)…I got the job. I am delighted and officially start on Monday. Thank you all who have already congratulated me on this.
I had planned to be at Willen Lake today as its Alzheimer’s Society memory walk. I wanted to capture why it is so important for those who have been touched by dementia to remember their loved ones and also raise awareness. Sadly, I have had to bow out of this. I was up at 5am today with flu like symptoms. I am sneezing and blocked up and feeling rather rubbish. This is because I had my booster vaccine yesterday. My first two vaccines were Astra Zeneca and I had been very poorly with them. This time I had the Pfizer vaccine and have experienced different symptoms. I feel horrid. I get panicky when I can’t breathe as I have had many chest infections in the past. So even a cold can make me panic. I am struggling right now…
… The second half of this blog is written two weeks later. I had developed symptoms from the booster vaccine that no one else had had and are considered very rare. I was violently sick, had insomnia and had such dreadful stomach aches. Paracetamol did not work. By the Tuesday after the vaccine, I called 111. Twice. They eventually told me to go to the walk-in centre. This was 4.30am in the morning. My husband took me and I saw a very nice doctor who was worried about pains in my chest. She said I needed to go to A&E. I did not want to go but I recognised I needed to. They were talking about blood clots and said not only did I need bloods doing – but also an ECG. I kept being violently sick so the codeine that the doctor had given me was not working as I had not been able to keep it down. The issue with being violently sick in hospital is you cannot abide to the mask rule. I had my mask off most of the time because of the sickness. Now you all know how careful I am – I wipe every chair before sitting on it, I always wear my mask and I keep myself socially distanced. But in severe pain, all that went out the window. I was groaning in pain for about five hours. They gave me some anti-sickness meds into the canula and thankfully that worked but the pain in my chest and stomach was still there. Eventually I had the director of A&E come to speak to me. He wore red scrubs. He said my heart was fine and I could go home. He said just rest and watch tv. I was glad to get out of there but was still in dreadful pain. I called my GP that afternoon. By now it was about 4pm. The receptionist spoke to my GP and got some codeine and anti-sickness on prescription. The problem was it was 5pm by the time the prescription was ready and my local chemist closes at 6pm. I asked son no 1 to drive to the GP to pick up the prescription as they offered a paper copy so we could choose where to pick it up from. Sadly, there was a misunderstanding and they automatically sent it to my local chemist instead of offering the paper copy that was promised. Son no 1 would not get back from the GP to the chemist in time, so I asked son no 2 if he could get to the chemist. He went but had to argue with them to say that I needed this prescription today as they were offering him to pick it up tomorrow. Thankfully both my sons were home to help me with this. Imagine how difficult this would be if I lived alone? Son no 1 was understandably annoyed at the wasted petrol to the GP surgery as petrol is scarce right now. The codeine did help but the pain in my stomach lasted until the weekend. By the weekend I started to try foods again. A little bit of mashed potato. A slice of toast. Even now as I write this I am still struggling to eat properly. I still have hot and cold attacks and weird symptoms such as itchy feet and swollen eyes but the symptoms from last week are now just a memory. I have had a lot of sleep and feel a little better every day.
My grandad who is 99 had his booster this week with no side effects. I don’t know why I am so unlucky to have struggled with such extreme symptoms but at least I am now on the road to recovery. Oh, and trying to report your symptoms on that yellow card system is way too complicated so there are probably more people like me who just have not reported the symptoms.
Would I have the booster again? Not if I knew I would get these symptoms. I am still not sure if this means my body cannot fight the virus or if it means I will now be stronger. Surely the fact that the booster was my third vaccine should mean I wouldn’t have such extreme symptoms? It really doesn’t make sense.
I have missed a booked theatre trip, had to rearrange my car airbag recall and delayed my first day in my new job. I have also been advised to delay my flu vaccine until my body is recovered from this.
I don’t mean to frighten anyone about the vaccine. I have always been a strong advocate to take the vaccines…I don’t expect many of you will go through this. As I said, I think I am just unlucky.
Ch-ch-ch- changes…Corona Virus Diary
12 September 2021
It’s all change in my household. It’s made me realise I am not very good with change. I push myself to go further but being in a comfort zone is…well it’s a comfort. I knew things were going to change at work and I had a decision to make. The area was being re-drawn and my current manager would no longer be my manager. I had a choice. Do I carry on in my current role and accept a new manager, or do I apply for the manager position myself? I applied. I figured that way; I have done what ever I could to impact the outcome rather than passively let things happen around me. For the last few weeks, I have been studying the job spec and finding examples of my experiences. I got shortlisted. It made me feel good that I had written a solid application. Friday, I had the interview. I came away feeling I did the best I could. Isn’t that all anyone can do? I have not told anyone outside my family about this as I was unsure of what the outcome would be and there is nothing worse than going for a job and everyone wishing you good luck to tell them you haven’t got the job. I am currently awaiting to hear the outcome so you will have to wait a little longer along with me.
I am not the only one with changes at work in my household. My youngest son has decided to move to a different location at work. His current manager was very unhappy with this, as my son is good at his job, and made it difficult for him to transfer. He has told him to give six weeks’ notice even though HR has said there is no set time restrictions and it should just be reasonable. His manager was refusing to speak to him at work and purposely chose to ignore annual leave requests. It looks rather childish from someone who is in a management position. However, my son didn’t feel appreciated and it was only when he told his manager of the transfer request, his manager started offering him more money/responsibility. This is the same manager who told him last year that minimum wage was too much money for him! Even now, he did not listen to why my son decided to make a change. Listening really is a skill.
Yesterday was 9/11. It has been 20 years since that dreadful day. It did change so many people’s lives. I remember where I was so clearly. I was in the gym. I know. Me in a gym! I was in the changing rooms when I saw the first plane hit. Everyone stopped and a silence fell over the changing room. One woman said she was there just last week. We got dressed quietly and I picked up son no2 from the creche (he wasn’t even school age) and got in my little Nova to pick up son no1 from school. I told son no1 what had happened and went home to watch the tv and the horror unfold. I prayed for all those people. Even now I find it so emotional and have shed a few tears over the documentaries that have been shown this week. The one that impacted me the most was 9/11: life under attack on ITV. It was simply footage from those that were there. No one talking on the top or trying to make sense but those raw and instant reactions to the shock and horror. When I went to New York in 2018, on the first day I visited the 911 museum. I hate calling it a museum as it feels like a memorial that I was paying my respects to. I sobbed so much that day. You can feel the loss and its overwhelming. Yesterday, I asked son no1 yesterday if he remembered the event. He does remember bits. I said it was the worst atrocity in our lifetime...and he said ‘but what about the pandemic?’ Good point. It’s not a competition and both events have been horrific and life changing for so many people.
Finally, this is most probably the last week of summer. Boris is making announcements on Tuesday about possible fire breaks and mask wearing may make a comeback (although I never stopped) so we know autumn is on its way.
Have a good week.
Is it old normal yet? - Corona Virus Diary
4 September 2021
I’ve not written a diary entry for a while. I have thought about it a lot but just not got around to it. For those that have read this blog over the last 20 months, thank you. What I am about to say; I hope you think I am brave. I yearn for old normal but have been terrified of catching the virus because of my vulnerability with my chest/lung, but I do recognise it has not been good on my mental health to become a hermit either. So very slowly I am trying to take small steps to get back out there.
Delighted to say son no 1 has a new job. He is out of hospitality and for that I am grateful. It means he works office hours and works from home. Hubby passed his course (which contained maths that looked like it was from another planet) and so we went out to a restaurant to celebrate. I still wiped down the table with my own wipes and requested we were sat away from other people. I know practically all restrictions are lifted but I am still nervous about being too near to people. It was a lovely meal and we will probably go back to that restaurant for our anniversary at the end of the month.
I have also tentatively started to go back out to review theatre. I have seen four shows to date (all under my reviews section if you want to see what I saw) and so far, it’s been okay. I wear a mask. I request an end of row seat where possible and during the interval I stand in a space away from others. I always knew theatre would be a powerful magnet to get me back in the real world. I have missed it so much.
I feel I am where everyone else was a year ago but at least these small steps are steps forward. I do recognise that I am not ready for some things. This weekend Heaven 17 are doing two gigs (Sheffield and London) to play the first two Human League albums in full. I have had tickets for two years for the London gig. It was originally supposed to be in March 2020 but you know why that didn’t go ahead. It’s going ahead on Sunday but I am not yet ready to get on a train (and definitely not a tube) with people crowding in on me and with no masks. I think I would react like an animal in a cage and lash out. I also am not ready for hotels. The idea of sleeping in a bed that someone else has slept in…no I am not ready for that yet. However, I am truly gutted to miss such a historic gig and Martyn has told me that due to copyright purposes, it will not be filmed.
Don’t think everyone in my family thinks like me, because they don’t. I have constant arguments about leaving the post for three days, washing their hands and with hubby, his upcoming gig for New Order. Its in London in a few months’ time. He says if there isn’t a lockdown he is going. I wish he would just get his money back (which he could as it’s been rescheduled), but he wants to go. I explained I feel he is putting my health at risk, but he feels as we are all double vaccinated, we are safe. Life isn’t easy.
I didn’t mention my ankle either did I? Two weeks ago, I hurt my ankle. It just gave way under me. I didn’t trip or fall. It hurt so much I yelped in the street. I didn’t think I had done anything severe until I got into the shower that night. I was shocked at how swollen it was. I really didn’t want to go to the hospital but I have a friend who did something similar and then didn’t realise she had broken it. The next morning it was still really bad and I knew I had to get it x-rayed. It was not broken but I waited hours in A&E to find this out. By the time I saw the doctor I burst into tears. It was not the ankle but having to sit in A&E with other sick people (most wearing masks and socially distanced) but I was very uncomfortable with it. I wiped every chair I sat in and when a receptionist told me to take my gloves off and wash my hands, I refused. No way was I going to do that! I sanitised the gloves again in front of her to appease her but I don’t think she understood what she said to me. That was the equivalent of telling me to get naked in front of all those present. I do not want hospital germs on me thank you very much. I was very aware that my stepdad had caught covid in this very hospital. I was not going to put myself at risk. Anyway, when I got home, I had another shower and changed my clothes. My ankle still hurts now, its going to take months to get right but at least its not broken. Silver linings and all that.
Finally, I want to talk about Abba. Thursday night they released two new singles, announced a virtual tour and a specially built stadium in London (They do love us in England). This will be their first album in 42 years. I love Abba. I have loved Abba since I was in single figures and before I discovered Bowie. I was at Wembley in 1979 and saw them live. My mum and I were members of the fan club so we had good seats but we sill ran down the front and I was right in front of Benny. I kept shouting his name and he looked down and waved at me. This was such a significant moment for a 12-year-old at her first ever gig. So even before I saw the interview with Benny and Bjorn, just seeing fans around the world took me back. There was one group of fans with scarves on just like the logo I had on my tee shirt all those years ago and they started chanting ‘We want Abba’ just like I did in Wembley all those years ago. I burst into tears. I remember that girl with all that potential and all those possibilities. My whole life was in front of me then. Now I am half way through it. Not that it has been bad – I love life and try to get the most out of it – but being nostalgic and as abba say in slipping through my fingers ‘What happened to the wonderful adventures, The places I had planned for us to go. Well, some of that we did but most we didn't, and why, I just don't know. Life goes by so quickly and seeing Abba after 42 years in the shadows, well, it was emotional and made me realise that you should appreciate every moment in life.
Gosh that was rather profound, wasn’t it? Anyway, it’s been an eventful few weeks. I hope you are all well and still keeping safe.
Q:When is staying at home a holiday?
A: When it’s a walk through memory lane - Corona Virus Diary
17 July 2021
It’s been a while since I last sat and wrote a blog. I took some time off work and wanted to take time away from the computer. Should I call it a holiday? We didn’t go away. Firstly, I am not comfortable at getting on planes with no social distancing and even in this country, I am not yet ready to get on trains or sleep in hotel beds that have had other people in them. This obviously impacts on what we can do, so we had shopping days out. I am so glad that the covid social distancing measures are still in place during my ‘holiday’ as I don’t think I could do anything if they weren’t.
We went to the city centre shops in Milton Keynes. This was a nightmare even on a quiet mid-week morning. It seemed very busy in my opinion. We ate in Patisserie Valerie for the first time in 18 months. I know people may have thought me obsessive, but I took my wipes out and wiped down the table before eating. This is for my own piece of mind rather than to suggest it was dirty. I needed to know it was clean. We went to St Albans, which I like for shopping and the shops were quite empty. It was a relaxing and enjoyable experience. We ate out again in our favourite Italian restaurant but once again I did wipe the table before eating. (I had always wiped down the cutlery so that was a given). It was so lovely to eat out once again. I haven’t even had a take away in 18 months so I have been good. Probably better than most people you know when it comes to mixing and socialising. I was starting to feel more confident in getting out. The joy of shopping in real shops, as I hate online shopping, is where I can look at size of items, see items I wasn’t intending on buying but on a spur of the moment put it in my basket and I can see the clothes and how they do up - is it a zip, a button and a zip, a pull on or an elasticated waist? This is hardly ever written on a website! And I can try things on if I need to… this is the real joy of shopping and I have missed it. I was feeling good about going out, so we took another shopping day and went to Galleria in Hatfield. Now the problem with this is that it is all undercover so the only time we took off our masks was to eat. That’s a long time to wear a mask but I was delighted that Palmers was still there and I got myself a couple of pairs of sandals. Once again something I feel I need to try on as shoes can vary enormously in comfort, fit and size.
My ‘holiday’ wasn’t just shopping. We had to get the cars done. I had an MOT and hubby had a service. He booked his the same day as me so instead of him being able to pick me up and take me home we had to kill a few hours. I walked into Wolverton where I grew up. I took some photos of my old secondary school. I have so many memories of Radcliffe. Some good, such as sitting on a bench during my break, reading Smash Hits and discovering I had won a signed copy of Soft Cell’s Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret. So many songs remind me of my time in school but especially Madness’ Baggy Trousers and Dexy’s Geno. However, school wasn’t great. In fact, I was really miserable. Seeing the old school brings up so many memories. Bullying by both staff and pupils. Living in fear from such a strict school. I was once humiliated in PE as I couldn’t climb up a rope. The teacher made a point of telling everyone in the whole year group and they all laughed. I am sure she never gave it a second thought when she wore her very short skirt and climbed into her TR7, but it stayed with me my whole life. Maybe that’s why I don’t love sports. You can blame her. Another teacher told me that ‘girls shouldn’t study science’ He may have said Physics but I cannot be sure – however I remember being outraged even though I was still classed as a child. How sexist is that? Children can be cruel and I remember people calling me names. Some of them stuck and I cannot even tell you know what they called me as it still makes me cry today. I am a grown woman and this still impacts me. Why would anyone think school is the best time of their lives?
I walked through the rest of Wolverton, told hubby about the chippy where I had my first ever date and had shared a bag of chips. That boy lent me his Adam and the Ant’s album ‘Kings Of The Wild Frontier’. When he finished with me, he wouldn’t come to the house to get it back. I told the girl who was knocking that if he wants it, he has to come face me himself. She knocked three times before he embarrassingly turned up and asked for it back. I was bloody amazing at 13! No idea where that all came from.
Carrying on walking through Wolverton, and I told hubby about my memories of the Agora and roller skating every weekend. I remember once there were some Americans from the oxford army base and a girl skated next to me and asked me ‘Do you think he’s cute’ referring to her friend. It always brings a smile to my face thinking about that. I also got beat up there by a gang of about 15 people including the guy who was my first date. Turned out he was a bit of a shit! But the girl attacking me couldn’t understand why I didn’t cry. My mum called the police on them when I got back but I had not wanted her to do that. Now as a mum myself, I would probably do exactly the same thing. It is not okay to bully people and beat them up. It is completely unacceptable.
I walked past the Craufurd Arms which has many a tale to tell. The time my camera got stolen from my handbag is never forgotten…and also the time I was waiting for the last bus home which I had missed (actually it was early – not my fault) so I got a lift with a guy I knew. Sadly, he wasn’t driving and got dropped off first so I was left in a car with a stranger who threatened to put my head on the railway line. Luckily, I am still here to tell the tale but I never got into a stranger’s car again. I walked past the North-Western pub where I used to go to discos. I met the guy I lost my virginity to in that pub. I lied about my age so he didn’t know how old I was. I always looked older than I was back then. Now I want to look younger!
It was strange seeing the shops as most of the ones I remember are no longer there. I wish I had taken more photos of them back when I was younger. But you cannot go back. I started to look at some old photos of when I was a teenager. So much hope but also so much pain suffered already at such a young age. I wish I could go back in time and tell her it will be alright. You know how they do it on Ru Paul’s Drag Race where they pull out an old photo and ask what you would say to your younger self? I would say this:
‘You are beautiful and kind. Don’t let the haters get you down. You are loved. You will get past all the difficult times because you are a survivor. A compassionate, beautiful survivor.’
What would you tell your younger self? Get in touch and let me know.
Take care everyone.
Me as a teenager and some of my old memories of Wolverton, Milton Keynes.
So Hot And Tired - Corona Virus Diary
13 June 2021
I have been so tired this week. I think the heat doesn’t help as its hard to sleep in a country that doesn’t do air conditioning. But I mean I have had a LOT of sleep. In bed before 9pm and sleeping until 7am. I have had weird dreams too. Dreams about Bowie. Dreams about chocolate eclairs and dreams about gigging. I don’t really know what they mean. I don’t look into it too much but they stay with me during my waking hours. But if I was at a Bowie gig eating a chocolate éclair, I would think that is a slice of what heaven looks like.
I am so glad that this week both sons got a vaccine. Son no1 got his first dose and son no2 got his second. Both had the horrible side effects that go with it. I previously mentioned that I was having a nightmare to try to get son no 2 to have a second dose booked within 12 weeks but luckily our GP came to the rescue as the deadline was next week. 119 were very unhelpful and just didn’t seem to care that their system wasn’t working properly. It’s very annoying to arrange a vaccine around work commitments to receive a text to say its cancelled with no reason given or understanding of your circumstances. I know today is D Day. The day the government make a decision about opening up with no masks or social distancing. I think if they push ahead, it will be yet another mistake in the coffin full of late decisions that have cost people their lives. It’s quite clear the delta variant is spreading fast. The vaccine isn’t as effective against it so even if they vaccinate everyone, that doesn’t mean its safe. My preference is to wear a mask and stay socially distanced as much as I can, and more than two metres if possible. I would never touch elbows with people as its too close. But then in crowded places I was wearing a mask in 2019, before any covid restrictions came into place.
However, I am trying to get out. Yesterday I went out to the shops alone. It was the first time since Covid impacted our lives. I went ridiculously early and was back before 9.40am. I needed to get some hayfever medicine and it couldn’t wait. I only went to two shops and then home again. I was masked and anti bac gelled, more than anyone else seems to be these days. I know I need to push myself to get out more, but its still very scary. I get anxious and have panic attacks if there are too many people so I rarely go out alone these days. This is because of the virus and people's lack of understanding about social distancing and mask wearing. There are still too many idiots, too many people who ‘don’t believe in the virus’ and those who just don’t care for me to be comfortable yet. So, all those gigs I have that are rescheduled for later this year – I am working on it but it may be too much for me to go, especially those with standing venues. I don’t recognise the person I have become over the last 18 months.
I have two weeks before my hair appointment. I have not been to a hairdresser since January 2020. I have had at least three appointments cancelled, the last one was cancelled, not because of covid, but because of my hairdresser injuring her arm. I am desperate for some colour and a good cut. I look like the bag lady in Labyrinth. (Picture below for those not knowing what that looks like).
I know I need to be finishing off painting my hallway – but its too hot. Its too hot to do almost anything. I like the heat on holiday, but not when we have to function for work and have jobs to do. I am sitting here writing this in my beige linen trousers and a lovely white Broderie anglaise top from Phase Eight. Some of the coolest clothes I own (cool as in keeping me cool). I call them my Vegas clothes as it’s hot there too.
I bought some Clarins sun lotion and I have to say, I do love it. But it would be helpful if they used the star system to tell me how good it is against UVA and UVB. Why don’t they use that? I have also bought some new trainers. Not just any trainers. Oh no. Irregular Choice trainers with rainbows on them. Well, it is Pride month.
Anyway, enjoy the beautiful weather while we have it.
The things you do for your family - Corona Virus Diary
6 June 2021
It has been rather stressful this week. For the last couple of weeks, I have tried every moment of every day to book a vaccine appointment for son no 1. He is 33 and now qualifies. The problem I have encountered are the fact that there was nothing local. You go on the app and it was expecting us to drive at least 20 miles away, which I would have done if it wasn’t that Bedfordshire is a hotspot for the delta variant. Not risking that. Oh, and don’t pay any attention to the milage on the app – it’s a straight line when we all know roads are not like that so actually most of the milage quotes are further away than you think. Waiting for a slot in our local area is stressful. Each time it showed up it then wasn’t available because everyone is waiting for these slots, so they disappeared as quickly as they appeared. The other issue is that they seemed to have opened it up to all ages now, so son no 1 doesn’t have a priority over anyone younger than him. This is obviously affecting demand and seems rather unfair to those over 30. A few days ago, we managed to book him in - so hopefully he will get his first vaccine in a couple of weeks’ time.
Son no 2 has already had his first dose as he has underlying health conditions. He is only 23 but booking a second appointment has been a nightmare. I called the surgery who gave him his first dose to ask about it and she put him on a waiting list, but when I saw the local appointments available for son no 1, I also booked son no 2 into the app. I breathed a sigh of relief as that meant everyone was booked up. Sadly, I breathed too soon. At 3.22am in the morning (I kid you not) I got a text to say son no 2’s second appointment has been cancelled. No explanation why. I called 119 and asked. They were less than helpful. ‘Oh, it was the centre who cancelled and not us.’. (Is this bad customer service? It felt like they were passing the buck). When I tried to book it again it was taking him to over 14 weeks past his first dose. The lady on 119 was not helpful. ‘Oh, there is no harm for having a 14-week gap between vaccines’ she said. Now I know she is not a virologist or scientist so she knows this does she? I was not happy as son no 2 is now back at work mixing with others in the restaurant trade. Last week his kitchen manager tested positive and is now isolating. With his underlying health issues, he is more at risk than others of his age. I called the GP surgery again. They were empathetic and said he is still on the waiting list. Yesterday he got a text from the surgery saying he has an appointment for Thursday. I have not yet breathed a sigh of relief – I will wait til Thursday. Hopefully by the end of June, three of us will have had both vaccines and son no 1 will have had at least one.
On Friday I went to see my 99-year-old grandad. Last time I saw him in person was March 2020. It has been beautiful weather all week and we decided to have a socially distanced picnic in the park. But Friday had other plans. It poured with rain all day which means driving 100 miles with no park and no picnic. He invited us into his home – we are the first to go in his house in over a year (with the exception of workmen to fix things). We wore masks and stayed at least two metres away at all times. No elbows. No hugs. My grandad and I are of the same mentality on this. Just because the government says you can do it, doesn’t mean its safe. I have noticed he seems more frail on his feet than he was last time I saw him, but he still has an amazing mind and we chatted for hours about all subjects including world news, religion, covid and family stuff. It was just so lovely to see him. I had taken son no 1 with me who hadn’t seen him in years due to work commitments. They both appreciated seeing each other. I am going to say it clearly for you all – always take time to see you family. You never know when the next time will be. I had booked a day off work especially for this visit and it was well worth it.
Yesterday I went to see my mum and stepdad. They live in a retirement village and luckily it was a lovely sunny day so we could sit outside in the sunshine. I had made some fresh banana bread with chocolate chips and took them some over. My mum isn’t supposed to eat bananas because of her potassium levels but I had forgotten. But she rang me later that night to say she ate some and loved it. I told her not to blame me if her potassium levels go up again but glad she enjoyed it.
Today I am going to see my sister as its my niece’s birthday this week. It will be a socially distanced visit in the garden. My sister has a similar mindset to me on Covid and told me that she hopes we can cross our legs if we need the toilet rather than use hers. My sister and I have had a turbulent relationship in the last two years but it finally seems back on track. I am actually looking forward to it – as long as it doesn’t rain. No guarantees for that.
So, I am wishing you all a lovely week and hope you all get to see your loved ones soon.
I owe Martyn Ware a hug.... and other stories
8 May 2021
It is Saturday morning and I am relaxing in the bath watching the rain drip down the window, while listening to Martyn Ware’s latest podcast. He is chatting with Peter Hook. It’s a gem of a podcast and I find myself laughing and also feeling sorry for Hooky. He lost so much money from the Hacienda and Factory records, as did all of New Order, but looking back he is saying he couldn’t pay his tax bill despite Blue Monday being the best-selling single. You know that is not right. It’s gutting but Hooky tells all his stories with laughter. I want to hug him. I want to hug Martyn too, who gives so much of himself into these podcasts. In this episode he tells Hooky that he lost his brother just before Christmas and is now in therapy. The rain dripping down the window fits the podcast well.
I get out the bath and dry my hair (which if you know me, takes some time as I do have a lot of hair). I think about all the gigs we have missed. I’m due to see New Order later this year. My Heaven 17 gigs have been rescheduled twice now. I’ve not seen Martyn for over a year. Hell, I have not seen so many people for over a year. My friends, my H17 family, My Bowie family and my OAD darklings. I miss them all and yet still, after this year, I am not in any hurry to go back out there. This year has changed me. I am not the outgoing, gregarious person I was. Or maybe I am but she is in hiding.
I go down to the kitchen and make some breakfast. I decide on a cooked full English. However, I don’t have any bacon in the fridge so its more of a make do breakfast. And before you all go ‘Rate my plate’ on me, I don’t eat tomatoes or black pudding. I am pleased at how well I can now do poached eggs. I like them so the yolk is runny but not snotty. Today they are perfect. I miss all the restaurants we used to eat breakfast in. We often used to go out for a breakfast, rather than a lunch or dinner. I got this habit from my grandparents who did the same in their latter years. When I was in Birmingham, I always had breakfast in Browns. The staff knew us personally. Over a year later and I wonder if the staff are still there. I hope they haven’t lost their jobs. I feel for so many people it is hard not to feel a bit melancholy now and again. I try to redirect my mind to something more positive. This week I posted my likeness to Kate Bush in a group about recreating art at home. It was a photo from a few years ago and it was not intentional that I was trying to look like her. I have never tried to look like Kate, but since I was 12, I have heard people tell me that I do and then there was that time at the Groucho where the more I denied it the more they believed it. Still, some of the comments made me smile.
Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! Unbelievable!
Twins, I tell you!
The difference, one person is doing it for marketing their brand, the other is doing it for the sheer fun of it all!!
Wonderful Kate hair!
I think the only difference is the lighting
I am pretty sure that Martyn will not be interviewing Kate or myself any time soon, but for very different reasons. Kate is probably not available, where as I am available but not musical talented so unlikely to pull in the listeners. Martyn once asked me if I could sing. If I had ever prayed that I could, it was in that moment. But alas, I am not some fantastic vocalist despite singing Gilbert and Sullivan Opera when I was younger (yes there are photos somewhere of this!). I told Martyn I couldn’t but boy did I wish I could. Anyway Martyn, I owe you a big hug when I next see you (and when its safe to do so).
You can hear Martyn’s Electronically Yours podcast here.
Have a great week,
Facebook – we need to talk - Corona Virus Diary
Monday 26 April 2021
So last Sunday I was doing what most of you were also doing – I was watching the gripping show, Line Of Duty. I was so shocked at the end of that episode and how they left it, that when a friend on my Facebook said ‘Id have shot him in the knee or shoulder at least #lineofduty’, I made a comment on her post to say ‘Too much talking. Should have stopped warning him and just shot him’. Immediately my message was deleted by Facebook and I received a ban for 24 hours. I appealed and was ignored. Still a ban in place for 24 hours. I assume it is run by a bot, but there needs to be an option to put in free text to explain your situation. This is a TV show for goodness’ sake and everyone was talking about it. My friend had said something very similar and wasn’t banned so why did they pick on me? I was very angry with Facebook and this blog is my way (uncensored) of putting it right. Facebook – it is not acceptable for you to offer an instant ban. Look at the context. Look at the fact I was talking about a show on TV. Look at what happened on that show. Don’t ban people off of Facebook for talking about a TV show.
This was my first ever ban. I have been with Facebook for decades so pretty annoyed at this. Something has changed. About a month ago, I was on Facebook watching a live broadcast about the vaccine and blood clots. I was very keen for the two doctors to pick up on my question. My youngest son has underlying health issues and has had his first dose of the vaccine. Of course, I was worried and wondered if they are saying no one under 30 should have Astra Zeneca then what should he have (his first vaccine was Astra Zenica). I got trolled by someone on there who started to say I had poisoned my son and by allowing him to have the vaccine and I had caused him to become infertile. Now that did upset me and of course I responded. Facebook didn’t ban me but warned me on that occasion and would not let me comment back. How is it acceptable for someone to say those things to me Facebook? Just because they didn’t swear doesn’t mean it wasn’t hurtful or nasty. Really, they targeted the wrong person. I was the victim of hate speech, not the perpetrator. Facebook needs to up their game or they will lose a lot of money if I leave it. I do buy from ads on Facebook. I am exactly the type of person they want to continue to use it. They just need to use real people to understand the issues rather than bots. The bots are not working Facebook!!
What really upset me this week was the loss of Les McKeown from the Bay City Rollers. Before Bowie there was BCR and while I was still in single figures too. I had tartan trousers and a scarf and loved them. I still own three albums. When I met Les a few years ago he was so charming and full of charisma; he made me feel special and that is a rare talent that he could do that to every girl in the audience. They all felt special. You can read my review here. RIP Les, I will never forget you and my thoughts are with your family at this time.
Finally, this week I went to the shops. On Friday afternoon I tried Central Milton Keynes shopping centre. What a mistake. Its not that it was crowded, its just full of idiots who cannot follow simple directions. They were walking the wrong way, I kept telling them they should be on the other side but honestly, I could have been saying it to everyone. A few were less than happy with me and told me to F* off, but I am in the right on this. I will not be going up the city again anytime soon.
On Saturday we had to go to Stevenage. This, surprisingly was a much better experience. I got there very early (around 9am) to try to avoid the crowds. I did what I needed to (return items bought online and visits to the bank), and then we visited Debenhams. I am going to miss Debenhams. It is closing in two weeks. It was full of bargains and because its such a big store with space in-between units, I was not panicked. I did have my gloves and mask on and if someone got too close, I moved away. I spent a lot of money in there and could have spent more. I miss touching (with my gloves on) clothes. Looking at how they do up (that isn’t normally written on an online site) and generally shopping in shops. I really enjoyed shopping in Debenhams. It felt like old normal – even with masks and gloves on. It finding that item you weren’t looking for. You can’t do that online – you can only search what you are looking for unless you choose to scroll through thousands of items.
It was Hubby’s birthday yesterday which is why this blog is a day late. Did we do anything special? Well, I made him banana bread and a roast dinner and we went for a short walk. To be honest, nothing like in previous years (in 2018 we spent his birthday up the Empire State Building in New York), but I was tired from the shopping trips. Old normal still feels a long way off.
Have a good week.
A positive week - Corona Virus Diary
Sunday 11 April 2021
Another week and for me it’s mainly been a very creative and positive week. Last Wednesday, I joined a group called connect and create. It was complete strangers and I wasn’t sure how I would feel but boy did I laugh and enjoy my time. For the first time in 25 years, I acted and did a bit of improv. The main group was put into break out rooms and we had to think of a fairy tale character and why they were in trouble. I was Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk and I was in court for planting my beanstalk in my neighbour’s garden. We delivered it to the main group. It was a little scary but I really enjoyed it and feel perhaps I haven’t lost my acting talent (which had crossed my mind over the years). Yesterday I had my last singing lesson. I have improved over the last four weeks so much with such a very difficult song. Abba is so very hard to sing. I have done my best and that is what matters. I don’t think people will be flocking to buy my records anytime soon but at least I hit the notes in the right order. Eric Morecambe would be proud.
I also had a very positive Friday at work. I sent my manager a report I had written and she was so impressed she sent it to her manager who in turn sent it to her manager who both emailed me to say well done. I also believe it was sent to the head of operations. I feel very proud and pleased with myself as I love what I do so its wonderful when it is recognised by others.
Finally, I want to mention the passing of HRH Prince Philip. I wrote my condolences and my thoughts on the royal family here, but boy has it got the nation talking. I really don’t agree that things are as polarised as people make out. I am not saying he is or isn’t racist. I am saying people of his age grew up in a different world. I do find it sad that racist comments he made decades ago and his eye for the ladies in the 40’s and 50’s have all been raised in his death. I am sure we have all said and done things we have lived to regret. You know I love Bowie. When he passed, I didn’t want to hear criticism of him, even though I accept he wasn’t everyone’s taste in music. It’s the same here. The Queen has lost her life partner and I cannot imagine and will never experience how it feels to spend more than 70 years of your life with someone. There is a time and place for denigration of the royals and I do not believe right now is it. If you can’t find something nice to say, don’t say anything.
I feel so sad that there is so much hate about. As Hazel Dean often says #TurnHateIntoLove.
Have a good week.
A great start to the weekend Corona Virus diary
Sunday 28 March 2021
On Friday night I attended the second of La Voix’s zoom performances -Diva in lockdown. I had already spoken to her last Wednesday on the phone talking about the difficulty of dying our hair red… and now I was with around eighty other people enjoying a personal performance. Not a stream where you just passively sit and watch but a zoom where you can unmute and chat. Where La Voix can see if you made an effort to dress up and put on make-up for her (yes and yes) and she can say hello to you personally. It has truly brightened my weekend. I think shows like this are needed while theatres remain shut. Interactive is everything. She needs her audience (and the clapping and cheering) and we need a great entertainer to sing along with.
I am off work until Thursday to use up some of last year’s annual leave. I intend to do some more of my hallway – remember the walls I stripped a few weeks ago? I am now filling and hopefully painting. However, later today (Saturday) I am having my vaccine – second dose. I didn’t want to book it for today but I got a bit worried when the news kept saying there would be a shortage so I am having it nine weeks after my first rather than 12 weeks. I am really hoping I do not have a reaction this time. Last time I was poorly for three days and I do not want to lose my weekend and holiday to being ill. I have not cancelled my singing lesson so I am being optimistic.
Oh, I forget to tell you about my singing lessons. I started last Saturday. I am helping out a student by volunteering. I feel for her as I know my voice isn’t one people will pay to listen to. I initially suggested Joss Stone - but she felt that was too easy for me and we moved on to Abba – My love My Life. However, I have been practising all week and this is a very very hard song. No one can sing Abba like Abba and I am thinking I have bitten off more than I can chew. Anyway – it’s a great chance to improve whatever my singing ability so I am up for it. Watch this space – who knows where I am going next!
Ouch.. well, that hurt! I booked with a doctor for the jab so that I could check about the very severe symptoms I had last time. He asked if I wanted the second dose. I said it’s better than having Covid and he agreed. Don’t feel very reassured that I won’t get symptoms and my arm hurts from the moment he gave it to me. I am sure he bruised me. I do bruise easily. I was pleased he was wearing gloves and although people were socially distanced… I felt there were far too many in the waiting room (maybe 15 or so). My version of socially distanced and two metres is very different to everyone else’s.
While I was there, I asked about my youngest son getting the vaccine. He has underlying health conditions and I personally felt he should be on the category 6 list. We had already spoken to his GP about this so I asked the receptionist if she could chase it up. What I was not expecting was a call at 5.15pm to say he could come along today as they had a spare dose. We got in the car and was there in about 15 mins. My son went in and got it. He came out telling me there was 70 spare vaccines. I cannot understand why there are spares. Are people not booking them? Sadly, I believe you have to call people in the age group order. It would be much easier if there was a list of those who wanted it and would go at the drop of a hat to get it if there were spares. When I called the surgery about this last month, they told me there are never spares of Astra Zeneca as they can store them again. I am not sure how true this is. 70 spare vaccines! Anyway, my poor son has been suffering all the really bad symptoms that I suffered during my first vaccine. He spent all of Sunday in bed, only getting up to dose up on more paracetamol. The good news is that the second vaccine has not really affected me much. I have a very sore arm and felt a bit lethargic but nothing like I felt from the first dose. Just because I have had two doses of vaccine does not mean I feel ready to join the world. My mental health with have to be eased in gently to a world with people in it. My world has become very small in this last year.
Wishing you all a great week.
I've Been Blitzed - Corona Virus Diary
Sunday 14 March 2020
It’s no secret that I love late 70’s and early 80’s music. Its no secret that I love David Bowie. So, my ideal Saturday night (whilst in lockdown) was perfect yesterday. BBC2 started the night with The 80’s with Dominic Sandbrook, followed by Top of the pops: The story of 1980. But it didn’t stop there. The much-anticipated programme, Blitzed was on Sky Arts at 9pm followed by David Bowie’s glass spider tour. I know I have found my tribe when almost everyone on my Facebook is talking about it.
What a fantastic programme. Rusty (the one and only) told his story of how he and Steve Strange started Blitz. It was a club for the strange, the weird, those who had style and knew how to turn an old charity shop item into something unique. Those who used make up as an art form. It was great to hear Rusty tell it and hear details many would not know. It also featured Boy George and Robert Elms who both told their stories. Sadly, Steve Strange is no longer with us, but there was lots of footage of him speaking and a dedication at the end of the programme. It did paint the 70’s as very bland and dull, and yes I do remember the piles of rubbish left in the street as I walked to school, but didn’t really understand why. However, from 1979, for me the true start of the 80’s, were a time of vivid technicolour. It felt like in The Wizard of Oz from when Dorothy goes from black and white into a new exciting and vibrant world of colour. That’s exactly how it was for me. I loved dressing up, looking different. Have people in the street stare at you. The worst insult you can call me is normal. I knew I was different. Finding Blitz and the local clubs that started up around the country such as Rum Runner in Birmingham and The Starting Gate in Milton Keynes, meant I was with my kind of people. It’s the reason that for the last eight years I have travelled to Birmingham to attend Only After Dark, a club based on The Blitz.
However, and yes, I am going to say it, none of this would exist without Bowie. Bowie was a huge influence. For those who saw the Starman performance on Top Of The Pops, it changed lives. Can you imagine going to a club with a group of people who love and listen to Bowie, and then one night, he just turns up at the door and not only is he uber cool, but he is looking for a couple of people for his next video? Boy George said he was the only one not running after Bowie, quickly followed up by Robert Elms who said he had never seen Boy George move so quickly to get near Bowie. I am sure Steve Strange loved being in the video and what an iconic video it is. Ashes to Ashes was cutting edge when it came out. And it was good to see Kraftwerk acknowledged too. Kraftwerk’s sound is so distinctive and even Bowie himself was impressed. Just listen to Station to Station.
But let’s get back to Blitzed. It wasn’t just about a look, although Steve wanted and encouraged people to dress up. Steve even turned away Mick Jagger from the Rolling Stones. It wasn’t about who you were – but what you embodied and the music. Definitely about the music. Gary Kemp told how they became the ‘house band’ at the Blitz. I am of course, talking about Spandau Ballet. The show also featured Marilyn who was beautiful and is still the envy of many men today (just look at that head of hair!). Why they had La Roux on was puzzling. She wasn’t born at the time and said her mum wasn’t into Bowie and they weren’t a Bowie family. HOLD THE PHONE! WHAT?!! Her contribution could easily have been edited out – it added nothing to the show. Now don’t get me wrong, I think her voice is angelic and she has a fabulous style, but she didn’t add anything relevant. This is a show about Blitzed. If they were trying to show how its influence is still present today – then they missed the mark with La Roux.
Midge Ure said how great a drummer Rusty was. But I know him as a DJ and I can say without any bias, that he is an outstanding DJ. I get up and dance when he is playing. Rusty has compiled a blitzed soundtrack which you can hear on Spotify or download it on Amazon.
Midge, Rusty and Steve formed Visage. And you should know the rest. My love of Blitz and its fashion and music have not faded to grey.
Don’t mention the M word - Corona Virus diary
Sunday 14 February 2021
As you all know, I had the vaccine a few weeks ago. Since then, my reactions have almost disappeared. I say almost as I still seem to have hot sweats especially at night. It is having an impact on my quality of sleep and driving everyone else in the house mad, as I turn the heating up and down according to my body thermostat.
I mentioned this to my sister yesterday. She too, had the side effects and is also experiencing the night sweats since the vaccine was given. She said to me that she knows a lot of people who have had the vaccine and had side effects and mentioned they are all women. Both my sister and I have also not had a period since we took the vaccine. So, although our data is not scientific, we started to come to a thesis that perhaps there is something in the vaccine that gives women side effects and could it also be that it brings on symptoms of menopause? I have fought the attitude for years that just because of my age I was menopausal. Its not acceptable to make assumptions. I have had two close friends who are both younger than me go through it and I haven’t experienced any of the symptoms that they have. My periods are like clockwork and I felt as energetic as I always did.
The M word is a difficult subject. People assume you are old once you mention it. I don’t feel old at all. I still feel about 38 years old. I am genuinely surprised that people treat you differently the minute you reach 50. I don’t suddenly feel I should be watching midsummer murders, go on river cruises and go to bed at 9pm. Age is a protected characteristic so legally you should not be discriminating people about their age but worse, gender is also a protected characteristic so women of a certain age are doubly discriminated against.
I have noticed that since I turned 50, I have a new superpower. I have become almost invisible to the opposite sex. It has been building up throughout my 40’s but now its slapping me in the face. I know I am not the only one. A lot of women of my age are experiencing exactly this. If you get a compliment it might have an addition such as ‘You look good…for your age’. For your age? Sod that. Have you seen what I look like and what I wear at OAD? Do you know I am from the post punk generation? I am not ready to retire, I am not ready to sit in front of the TV in my slippers (although 2020 felt like a practice run for this). I still have a lot of life left in me so do not write me off. I am sassy and have attitude. Do not get on my wrong side or you may get a response in my best Siouxsie Sioux or Debbie Harry attitude. Remember who are you speaking to. So please, pay me a compliment, I like to hear them, but don’t mention my age. Tell me you think my mood is off but don’t blame the menopause. And most of all, be kind. Women get a raw deal with periods, pregnancy and menopause – that’s a lot of stress on their bodies. A kind word could really make someone’s day.
Talking of what day it is, today Is Valentine’s day. I cannot believe that a year ago my husband took me out for a lovely meal at a nice restaurant. This year he is cooking and I am making him a home-made cake. Its not really the same but we are both together, and both love each other. It might be a paired down celebration but that’s okay. Its who you are with that matters. And for those of you that are single, remember love starts at home. The most important person you can love is yourself. So, give yourself some love. Eat a favourite meal, watch a favourite film and drink your favourite drink. Just celebrate life.
Happy Valentine’s day.
I'm back in Jasmine Storm mode! - Corona Virus diary
Sunday 7 February 2021
I want to thank you all for your kind wishes when I was unwell from the vaccine. It was a horrible few days but I am now back to being in full ‘Jasmine Storm’ mode. I have been asked by many people about how I feel about taking the second dose. I am going to take it. I think being as safe as possible from the virus is the best thing and even if I have another reaction, this time I will be ready for it and it only lasts a few days. Hopefully I now already have antibodies so perhaps I won’t have a reaction at all. I am concerned that so many people from BAME (Black and minority ethnic) communities are deciding not to have it. There is evidence that they are more at risk (although I am not sure what studies there have been to see why this is the case). Surely if you are more at risk you would want to have the vaccine to protect yourself? I just don’t understand the resistance to it.
Yesterday I actually went out for a walk. It was cold but a bright spring day and the sun was trying to shine. I honestly cannot remember the last time I went out for a walk. It could be last September. My Fitbit must have been confused with all the activity and it certainly liked it. I walked to my local park and took some photos. There was almost a sense of normality. Very few people about (it was about 10am on a Saturday morning). I saw the sheep on the hill. They seemed to be enjoying themselves. On the way back I detoured to pass by Milton Keynes Theatre. Oh, how I miss seeing shows. It still has a Christmas tree up in the foyer and the sign on the door is apologising for closing the pantomime. It truly breaks my heart. I walked behind the theatre to the stage door, remembering the good times of meeting all the amazing actors and singers who have trod the boards of the stage here.
My friend, Rusty Egan is very concerned about the permanent closure of venues for clubs and gigs. I completely understand his feelings. There has also been a lot in the news this week about Brexit and how it impacts bands that tour Europe. My thoughts are that clubs have been closing down for years at quite a steady pace. This is partly because many young people choose to play and interact online. It’s a completely different world to our 80’s club scene. Covid is a nail in the coffin of many small venues that may have been struggling before the virus impacted. However, its not the end but a rebirth. It’s a new beginning, just like post punk was after punk had died. Youth will rise and make their mark again. If clubs are on their agenda, it will happen, but I don’t believe this is the end of the road for clubs, gig venues or theatres, its just a bump in the journey of life.
Tonight, I am talking to a group of Bowie fans on Zoom. It is not too late if you want to come along. Hope to see some of you later.
Our special guest speaker is Jasmine Storm, award nominated blogger with her intriguing talk ' Bowie - At the centre of it all'. Jasmine has been featured in three books on Bowie and has received recognition from Tony Visconti, Woody Woodmansey and Glenn Gregory for her reviews on Holy Holy and continues to be an active member of the Bowie universe. Our second special guest speaker is Steve Marsden an avid vinyl collector, who has built up a wealth of knowledge. Steve's talk 'It’s Not The Side Effects Of The Cocaine….Or How David Bowie Became A Superstar And Was Nearly Swamped By It All' should not be missed. Also in this bumper Zoom we have Tracy from Northern Ireland showing her Bowie Treasure and Linda our resident artist has more of her unique Bowie art to show exclusively to us. Tickets £8 to get yours e-mail Kat at firstname.lastname@example.org and are on sale up until 6.30pm on 7.2.21. We are a fun and welcoming group of Bowie fans, any questions then let Kat know.
Vaccine day - Corona Virus Diary
Sunday 24 January 2021
When I woke up on Friday morning – I had no idea how it would end.
I logged onto my work email to find an email from my manager saying we are key workers and because of that I can book the vaccine. I looked at the email and felt stressed immediately. I had not really done any research on the vaccines as I didn’t expect to get one until the spring.
However, I clicked the link and read up on the Pfizer vaccine. They only give it at the hospital. Straight away I knew I didn’t want to do that. My stepdad caught COVID-19 in the hospital. I could feel my anxiety growing. I continued to read and it said you need to know if you are allergic to any of the list of components. It was all very medical and I honestly didn’t have a clue. I am not a medical professional. So, I called my GP to ask if he would know if I was allergic to any of the components in the vaccine. I do suffer some mild allergies and I am very allergic to cats. The receptionist said they were doing the Oxford one today and would I like to find out if I qualify. She spoke to her manager and called me back. ‘Yes, an appointment has been made for you at 16.58 today’. I had an appointment. I didn’t need to make a decision anymore. I would be less stressed as its at my surgery and I know the procedure as I had the flu jab there last year.
Well, all day my anxiety grew. I am scared of needles but I am more scared of COVID-19. I felt nervous and couldn’t really concentrate. I asked my husband who was off work if he minded driving me to the surgery. We left at 4.30pm. I had a mask, gloves, and a bag to throw them in once I had finished. I got out the car at 16.54. I cannot believe the amount of people there. The car park was full. The people were getting there early and just hanging about outside. I started to get really annoyed and stressed. No one really understands social distancing but me, I thought to myself. There were two people at the doors one to take your temperature and ask questions and one to try to manage the people and the queue. It was very disorganised as you can enter the surgery by two paths and no signs or clear way of where to queue. I was then speaking to a third person to be ticked of a sheet before going to the receptionist to book in. That is four people I have spoken to already. I chose a chair as far away from every9one else that I could and stood – I didn’t want to sit (yes because of COVID-19). And I waited for my name to be called.
They called me about five past five. I went into a room and they took my details. There was a lady on the computer and a doctor. Not a volunteer. Not a nurse. But a very patient, kind, and rather handsome doctor. I could have been in an episode of Holby City. I was so pleased a medical professional was going to give it. He asked me a few questions about allergies. I told him. He asked if I had any questions. I didn’t. I just said ‘please forgive me for asking but can you clean your hands in front of me before you give it to me’, and he did with no questions asked. I was close to tears at this point. So much anxiety about what vaccine to have, getting to see more people today than I had seen in a year and having a doctor taking his time with me. It was too much. I am so grateful he was nice. I left feeling I had done the right thing. I do not have a date for the second dose. They will get in touch with me about that.
Woke up at 2.41am. I was shivering all over. No idea if it's the weather or a side effect. I was shivering and shaking so much I couldn’t even write on Facebook. It was like I was Tina Turner in the rock opera, Tommy. I had never shaked like this before. I took paracetamol and hot tea to try to warm me up. Stayed up for three hours, watching nothing on tv. Then I was burning up. I felt my body was on fire and I was sweating so much. I finally got to bed about 5am just to be woken at 9am with a dreadful headache and still feel like my body is on fire.
I have watched media about the vaccine and read up on the vaccines but nowhere did it say it would be this bad. The leaflet they gave me does list these symptoms and I suppose that is reassuring. I have never had a reaction to the flu jab so didn’t expect any reaction to this. My sister and cousin have had the side effects so not sure if it means its something to do with our blood or we are just unlucky. I chose the Oxford vaccine because I was hoping to avoid the side effects with the Pfizer. But my mum also had terrible side effects and she had Pfizer. So perhaps its something to do with blood types or genetics? I don’t know. I do know that I am writing this now on Sunday morning and I am still very poorly. I have a temperature and a headache and general malaise. I hope it passes soon.
Hospitals give you Covid - Corona Virus Diary
Saturday 16 January 2021
It has been a difficult few weeks. Last time we spoke, my stepdad was in hospital with a stroke. So, let me update you on what happened next…
He was released from hospital on Christmas eve. But he wasn’t well and was taken back into hospital on boxing day. During that 48 hours he was home, he gave covid to my mum. He had caught it in hospital. He was negative on his admission test yet they sent him home with covid. He was asymptomatic so had no symptoms. Sadly, this is not true for my mum. She started coughing on Christmas day and it steadily got worse. She had a very high temperature and a persistent cough. When she collapsed off the sofa onto the floor at 2am in the morning, my stepdad called an ambulance. She was admitted to the hospital and tested positive for covid.
The ward wasn’t a ward but an old endoscopy unit that had had four beds added as the hospital was full to breaking point. It had almost no windows except a tiny one very high up and that meant that my mum and her Doro couldn’t even send a text or call as there was no signal through the thick walls. The staff were under pressure and didn’t thank you if you call to see how your mum is so, I sat and waited. I felt so worried about her. My mum has been ill with other underlying conditions for over 40 years. I sent her a text daily, but heard nothing until I got a call from her after about five days. I was so delighted to hear from her – but she sounded dreadful and although I tried to stay upbeat and positive for her – the truth was this call worried me more. My poor mum was very, very poorly. Another four days with no contact although I always called my stepdad for an update. He had the same issues with getting any information and getting in touch with my mum. Finally, last Sunday she came home from hospital. I found out on Monday and she was still really poorly. She sounded so bad I was surprised she was home. But I was glad she was home as she also suffers poor mental health and I know she would recover better in her own home with her husband there.
I spoke to her again on Tuesday and Friday. I didn’t want to call each day in case it felt like more pressure. There is nothing worse than trying to rest and recover but the phone keeps ringing – even if people have good intentions. So, I only spoke to her twice this week. The first call she still sounded terrible, coughing and with such a rough tone to her voice. However, by the second call on Friday, she sounded so much better. Only coughing a little and her voice much better than it was. She said it is such an effort to do anything. She said just getting out of bed is a huge effort. She has no energy. But I told her to take her time and slowly this will come back. I have allowed myself to be more hopeful and feel for the first time she might be getting better.
The figures this week in the UK are the worst ever. Over a thousand people a day are dying. And they say that worse is to come. If you queued for your Christmas presents; if you mixed houses over Christmas; if you stand too close to people (and in a mask most people do – its supposed to be two metres not one!). then you may well be in trouble. Remember the virus takes two weeks to show up. Then you may have a week of being unwell. Then you either feel better or worse. If you get worse it may take a week before you feel so bad you need hospital care, and they will care for you but they are stretched. More and more younger people are being admitted to hospital. It’s at least a month from your first cough before you might die. Too late for regrets at that stage – you should be more careful.
And the 28 days count is pointless if you die on day 29 – you won’t be counted at all. I think it’s more accurate to see how many people die in a ‘normal’ year and how many excess deaths we have had this year and in 2020.
This disease is killing people. If you don’t believe that you are the problem. It’s a shame the virus doesn’t just target the non-believers.
Anyway, in other news, it has also been an expensive start to 2021. My vacuum cleaner broke just before Christmas. Hubby bought a temporary cheap one so I didn’t have to panic about tinsel but I love my kirby and wanted it fixed. Luckily, I got it fixed. Yes, it cost me £132 but it is worth it. Kirby is a quality product and I have had mine for 23 years. The cheap one was designated to be the car hoover and now lives in the garage.
Also, my car is poorly. Last Sunday the battery died. It is true I haven’t been driving as much since I started to work from home but still, I always turn the engine over every week. It was a surprise to hear that it died. I called RAC and they came out and offered a new battery at the cost of £110. He even said to me it would be cheaper to buy elsewhere but I couldn’t get my car anywhere else without it, so I paid it. On Friday my car went into the garage as there is a problem with my fan so I cannot put on my heating or air-con. The garage still has my car and I know its gonna cost a lot.
Thanks 2021…you look a lot like 2020 to me.
Hope you all have a good week. Stay safe.
Happy New Year 2021 - Corona Virus Diary
Friday 1 January 2021
What can I say about 2020? Not a lot if I want to stay positive. It's a year we won't easily forget. New language such as 'covidiots' and 'new-normal' and the overuse of ‘exceptional times’. New ways of living, working from home instead of an office, wearing masks to go shopping, clapping on a Thursday, and for me, leaving my post three days before I open it. I found a new appreciation for my neglected garden. I am not a gardener and it shows. I would love someone to come and landscape it all for me – but instead I appreciated my old patio and grass and my lovely apple tree.
It was year of change, son no1 moved back home and left the hospitality industry. He told me the other day his illness in April he believes was Covid, and was so severe he was ready to go to hospital as he couldn’t breathe. He only just told me this as he knew if he told me at the time, how much I would worry. I worried anyway… and remember back in April, tests were extremely scarce so we cannot say for sure he had Covid, but he believes he did. So, I am grateful to all the powers that be that he is alive, well and back home for now.
Son no 2 passed his driving test in February this year. I told him we would start looking for a car, but of course then Covid hit and that took a back seat. In July, he was back at work in hospitality, but car-less so I had to pick him up and drop him off as a taxi felt too risky. This meant some very late nights, especially during August and the eat out to help out scheme which caused no end of stress and hard work for those in hospitality. We didn’t want to look at cars from individual sellers – not knowing their Covid status. By the end of September, the taxiing was killing me on top of a full-time job. We searched car dealers and he found a lovely Corsa. Son no 2 got his independence and I got a good night’s sleep.
My annual holiday was a shopping trip to St Albans. Not as glamourous as Vegas and New York in 2018 or Prague and Brighton in 2019. I could not understand how anyone could get on a plane. There was no social distancing, the air is recycled and if someone eats or drinks next to you – they will be removing their masks. No holiday is worth your life – and I didn’t want to risk catching the virus. Deep clean became a buzz word but I am not sure how extra clean that meant to your hotel. So staycation was the name of the game.
2020 was a year where I hardly wore make up after a lifetime of never leaving the house without it. Of course I wasn’t leaving the house. I resorted back to dying my own hair. I miss hairdressers and I think we all found a respect for the industry that wasn’t there before. 2020 made me realise what I value the most. It made me realise how much I miss my family and friends. How I miss theatre and gigs. How I miss eating out. It was the small things that matter. Not shopping but friendship. Connecting with people. And yes, thank goodness for Zoom. I could still see my friends and chat. I could Skype my 98-year-old grandad who I haven’t seen since March. And I picked up the phone to many of you to see how you were doing.
I know many friends who have lost loved ones in 2020 and my heart goes out to them. 2020 has been rougher on some than on others. If you are still breathing – be grateful for what you have, even if you have lost your job or are struggling to pay your bills right now. Those that didn’t make it would swap lives in a heartbeat.
I am generally an optimistic person and really hope that 2021 is better for us all. But listen up 2021, I need you to know I feel like I have just come out of a damaging relationship with 2020. I am wary. I am wanting to trust you, 2021, but I am holding back from embracing you too much – just in case you are too much like 2020. 2021 – I ask you – please be kind and gentle. 2020 put us through a lot and I need to go slow and build up my confidence. I still hope by summer 2021, the old normal will be back in some way – so, like any new relationship, I am hoping for the best.
I want to wish you all a Happy New Year. I truly mean it and hope it is a happy and healthy one for you.
When Covid hits home - Corona Virus Diary
Tuesday 29 December 2020
So, my last blog was being grateful for Christmas and having my family home. And I am grateful for that. So much. But I thought I would share how difficult the last couple of weeks have been. One of the big tragedies affecting my family has been that my stepdad has had a stroke.
He was feeling unwell and thought it might be a TIA, which he has had before. But just a week before Christmas he asked my mum to call an ambulance. He has to be very unwell to do that. He couldn’t walk properly. In hospital he had to wait for results of a Covid test before they would move him to a ward. He was negative. He was put on an assessment ward and then a stroke ward where he was told he had had a stroke. He was monitored and given medication and then let home on Christmas eve. My mum was so pleased he was coming home. My mum has been very poorly herself for over 40 years and suffers both physical disabilities and mental health issues. She doesn’t know how to top-up her pay as you go Doro mobile or even log into her email. My stepdad did it all and my mum finds it hard to function without him. She doesn’t even want to eat when he is not there. My mum is now on her own in their flat in a retirement village run by Extra Care. I call her daily now. However sadly, my stepdad should not have been sent home and by Boxing day was back in hospital. On the 27th he was moved to the stroke ward but then found out he had tested positive for Covid. He is asymptomatic so has no obvious symptoms.
Since he came home on Christmas eve my mum has had a persistent cough and a temperature. My sister ordered her a home testing kit but my mum cannot work out how to fold the box. There is no one who can help her. What can she do? I cannot get her to do skype or zoom as she really is a technophobe. I suggested the extra care staff in the village try to help her but she says she doesn’t think they will help. All she cares about is her husband and has already made suicide comments to my sister. (this is not unusual for my mum who has attempted to take her life several times in the past). She is anxious and very clearly struggling.
My sister and I think she does have Covid and that our stepdad brought the virus home from hospital the first time he was in hospital. Why are hospitals sending people home when they still have Covid? There are at least 10 people at the retirement village with Covid now…yet on Christmas day they allowed the restaurant to open for residents. In tier 4. They are not a care home so this was a reckless move. But in the meantime, my mum is on her own and struggling with her mental health and possibly Covid. We cannot visit or help her. How many others are in this situation? My stepdad is still in hospital and no idea when he will next be home.
Today my mum rang me. Someone came to pick up the Covid test. Can you believe that Extra Care asked if she could come down and drop it off?! My mum should be isolating – not walking through the retirement village with possible Covid. She told the staff this and the person came to pick up the test from her doorstep. She sounds much worse today. She said she had another temperature in the night and is still coughing so much her whole-body aches. I am angry. I am angry at the hospital for sending home people with Covid home to their vulnerable partners. I am angry with Extra Care, who seem reckless in their decision making and not in control of the situation at all. And I am extremely worried about my mum. My Stepdad seems to be making good progress and is in the right place for his care – but who is caring for my mum?
Christmas 2020 - Corona Virus Diary
Boxing Day - 26 December 2020
A Christmas under tier 4 restrictions in the UK is practically the same rules as the last lockdown. I am in the minority to say that I am delighted with this information. I am sad for all the families who are not getting together on Christmas to see each other after a very difficult year for everyone – and especially those families who have lost family members and are trying to get through their Christmas without family memories haunting them. But for me, personally, tier 4 is welcome news. Both my boys have worked in hospitality for years. This has meant that on Christmas day they have to feed all those who can’t be bothered to cook for themselves. I don’t think people realise how much this impacts the families who work in hospitality…and for that I would add retail on Boxing day. I remember a time when nowhere opened on either Christmas or Boxing day. It was a proper break for everyone unless you worked in emergency services. Hospitality and retail are not emergency services. I believe people will survive if we don’t have to shop on Boxing day or have a meal cooked for you on Christmas day. And you know the CEO’s of all those restaurants and retail chains are not working on Christmas day – no. Its just those who are on minimum wage who suffer the most.
For many years now I have made my Christmas day dinner about 7.30pm in the evening after waiting all day for my boys to come home from work. Last year my eldest didn’t even make it home for Christmas and Boxing day, as he managed a restaurant that was a 45 min drive away, and said he would be too tired to come after the hectic day’s work. So, forgive me if, just for once, I am absolutely delighted about tier 4. Had it been tier 3 I think things would be different as restaurants are open in that tier. But for me, tier 4 is the best Christmas present of all. I made dinner for 2.30pm. I forgot the pigs in blankets and we all laughed that I always forget to do something. We ate and laughed and pulled crackers together as a family. We opened our presents (which wasn’t much this year as I gave money. I hate giving money but have not had the opportunity to get out and shop due to the virus so although they had a token present under the tree – money was the main gift). We watched a film together, Disney’s live action Aladdin. We even watched Blankety Blank and laughed hard at the stupid answers to the questions. We ate too much. We sang 80’s songs together and watched a countdown of 80’s songs questioning who voted for these in the order they came in (top 80 and no Madonna was a bit shocking). We had a wonderful time as a family. I took some photos and treasured these moments. I hugged my family and cried a lot – so totally grateful for this Christmas.
So, I have had a wonderful Christmas and hope it doesn't sound like I am gloating. I feel its deserved because of the limits hospitality puts on families of those working in the industry. So, to you all, but especially, to all those in hospitality and retail, enjoy your Christmas. Next year it will be back to the usual hectic rush.
Level up – Tier 4 - Corona Virus Diary
Sunday 20 December 2020
Well, here is a first. Within a few hours of my blog going up the government changed their plans. It is almost like they read my blog and realised I was right. I am very pleased to hear about Tier 4 and glad they changed it even if it was at the 11th hour. Although I use common sense, it's been evident to me from this year that others don't. This means no mixing with any family over Christmas indoors and only one person outdoors.
It was never a good idea that the government was allowing five days to mix families. Both Germany and Italy had shut it down. The rates are terrible and over 500 a day are dying. So even though tier 4 was announced only yesterday, I hope this action will be life-saving. If you live alone and are in a bubble, it is my understanding you can still meet your bubble... just not the old Christmas bubbles that was 3 families.
I had a good night last night. It was the final of strictly. I wanted Bill Bailey to win so used all my online votes on him – not because he was technically the best dancer, but because he is a 55-year-old man and in 2020, we needed this. I actually screamed when I heard he won, then promptly burst into tears. I am so delighted for him. Its like a real life ‘Love Actually’. Remember the scene when Billy Mack is being interviewed?
After the joy of strictly I watched Kinky Boots which is streaming for free this weekend. I saw it last year in Milton Keynes theatre and fell in love with it. The stage performance is so much better than the film. And please, if you can, give a donation to the theatre charities. You know I have. I sat there and cried. I cried at the audience who can stand, clap, cheer and interact with the cast. I cried for the cast. I cried for a performance with no social distancing. If we want our old normal back – and I do – we need to abide by the rules.
So, I ask you to have a safe Christmas. A Christmas where you will still be here in the New Year and not a statistic on a daily death count. These restrictions are temporary and hopefully by next summer we will all be hugging each other again…but until then, be safe.
Tier three - Corona Virus diary
Saturday 19 December 2020
I’ve not done a diary entry for a while. I was excited that Milton Keynes was going to host a panto. I had written an article just last week at how covid safe they had made it. Sadly, we are going into Tier three from tomorrow so that means no hospitality and no theatre will be open. I have been very vocal about how much I love theatre and worry about its sustainability. I am really gutted for all those who worked so hard to pull this panto together at such short notice and also sad for the audience who badly need some joy in their lives.
However, tier three in Milton Keynes, along with the rest of Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Berkshire, is the right decision. I have just read a statement from Milton Keynes hospital who say they have just taken in a ward full of covid patients and are ‘very very busy’. Milton Keynes rates are almost 400 per 100,000 and still rising which is huge for such a small geographic area. We probably need more than tier three but with schools and shops that aren’t essential still open – I wonder how we will get the rates down again. Of course, next week the government relax the rules for Christmas. Just because they can’t police it and because they don’t want to be a grinch who cancelled Christmas. Italy and Germany are much more sensible and have cancelled Christmas. People keep breaking the rules – some not realising and some intentionally. But the fact is over 500 people a day are dying from this virus in the UK and with relaxed rules and the normal flu issues in January – I think we will be watching those death rates rise to double what they are now. Please can I ask you to think twice before you see your parents and grandparents or anyone with underlying health conditions this Christmas. They won’t thank you when they cannot breathe.
Moving onto more positive news, last night I did my ‘70’s challenge in one of the Abba groups I belong to. I picked 45 songs from the 70’s that I love and because its an Abba group – five Abba tracks. I may post my choices in a separate blog later, but people loved my choices and I educated a few with songs they hadn’t heard before. Its always nice to share my love of music especially if they are songs that sum up who I am. If you know me you will know that there is a right mix of quirky stuff in there and of course the odd Bowie track. I was only allowed one but I was naughty and put in two! I’m such a rebel rebel.
Talking of Bowie, I have had some wonderfully exciting news this week. I have won a competition. I never win anything (I can count on one hand the amount of stuff I have won) so this was a fantastic surprise. I have won a Bowie print from Omaha Perez who is a talented artist from California. I am delighted and have the perfect space in my newly decorated hallway for it. I might even do a vlog about it once I receive it. I am truly delighted to win, especially as personally I have had a few awful weeks of health issues for members of my family. I won’t go into details here but it’s been a tough couple of weeks.
Everyone in my household is now off work for various reasons (tier three or annual leave) except for me. I am still working right up to 23 December but this year have 24th off so I can clean and cook. Hmmm... how comes I am the one to clean and cook still?
Anyway, wishing you all a fabulous Christmas if that is something you celebrate, and if not, wishing you a peaceful break. Stay safe.
Painting my troubles away - Corona Virus diary
Sunday 29 November 2020
I have discovered Bob Ross. Thank you BBC four. I seem to be the only person who had never heard of him but I love him. For those who don’t know – Bob is a painter who was famous in the 1980s. He has a programme called The Joy Of Painting. He paints happy little clouds. He uses brushes I would use to paint walls and he makes amazing trees with them. He just dabs bits here and there and suddenly there is a scene. I love how he will think about the people who live in the barn or a robin in a tree and the pleasure he gets from just cleaning his brushes. He really seems comfortable with what he is doing and that confidence is compelling to watch. He has a lovely accent from Florida, USA, and it’s so relaxing. It called The Joy Of Painting and it is a joy to watch him paint. He is a calming influence in today’s world. He signs off each show with the same phrase: happy painting and god bless. This is therapy. This is meditation. In 2020 this is needed.
He makes it look so easy but I am not a painter. I have tried and tried but I am unable to replicate anything good. Trust me on this. I once drew my husband and he loved it even though it was dreadful. My husband painted me when he first met me. It’s a lovely painting and has hung in my hallway for 15 years until earlier this year when I took it down to redecorate. My youngest son also paints and draws. They are both very talented which makes me feel even more inadequate when I try. My Grandad, who is now 98, still paints and has been painting for 30 years. He often copies the masters including Monet and Van Gogh. I have a copy of his waterlilies in my house. When I speak to him, he often says to me ‘I am just finishing another masterpiece’. I love his positivity. I am beginning to think that painting isn’t about the finished article but the joy of the process.
Other things that have made me happy this week include watching Strictly. I love Strictly as you all know, but in 2020, it seems more important than ever. And I am loving Bill Bailey. I have a story about when we met him that I may share at another time, but for now, let me say I think he is amazing. Not only funny and genuine, but committed to putting all his efforts into learning the dances. Oti is already a champion so I hope she breaks the rule and wins two years running. This is not to say that the other contestants are not good. The standard this year is exceptionally high. I was very sad to see Katya and Nicola leave the competition because Katya tested positive for Covid. I was looking forward to seeing more of them. This week was the final of British Bake Off. I felt so sorry for Laura. Her custard slices didn’t set so she knew she wasn’t in the running for the winner. Peter was practically perfect in every way – he is a male Mary Poppins, albeit a Scottish version! A very deserved winner. I don’t know about you, but I find that I tend to eat more cake when this show is on so its probably a good thing that its finished. But it’s another ‘feel good’ show that has been needed in 2020.
I have purposely avoided watching anything negative. I am watching happy shows. This week I watched High Society which is the film I was named after Grace Kelly’s character. It made me cry. I watched a film on channel five called Christmas at the Plaza. Again, it made me cry. I feel very emotional right now. I need my family and friends. I need their love and hugs around me. I cannot wait for 2021 and a new fresh start with a most positive outcome.
Have a positive week and make sure you do something that makes you feel good.
How is your mental health? - Corona Virus Diary
Sunday 15 November 2020
How is your wellbeing? It’s a fairly new word and I am not sure people understand the difference between wellbeing and mental health. My understanding of wellbeing is about being pro-active. It’s about looking after yourself and giving yourself a little bit of love. It can be meditation, going for walks, a long soak in a bath, chatting with friends. Anything that lifts your mood and feels good is about your wellbeing. It can be physical and mental. I am a very positive person and besides a heap of self-help books. I am also a qualified life coach. I think my well-being is as good as I can get it.
Mental health is a more tricky beast. You can do all of the above to improve wellbeing and still struggle with mental health. I have been lucky in my life. I have not had many episodes of bad mental health but that isn’t to say I don’t understand mental health. With a mum who is bi-polar and a sister with manic depression, I have seen how poor mental health has impacted on their lives and indirectly on mine as someone who loves them.
I think putting aside all the official categories of mental health, most people have struggled a bit this year with their mental health. I can say for me, I am struggling. I have not been so low since 2013, which was the worst year of my life. I miss going out to eat. I miss going to live music gigs and the people, atmosphere and how much it lifts me. I miss theatre. A chance to escape to another world. I miss my friends who live all over the country and beyond. Yes, we use zoom and call each other, but its not the same as laughing and hugging with no social distancing.
I have been thinking about my mental health recently and realised I categorise things and put them into boxes. The 2013 box has been locked for a long time. I am not going to expand on why it was the worst year of my life here, but suffice to say that in 2013 I had counselling for the first time ever. 2016 was also a difficult year and those of you who know me, know that with Bowie passing away and my youngest son seriously ill and hospitalised, it was not a good year. However, it was still no 2013. But 2020, Oh boy! - I feel 2020 is giving 2013 a run for its money. Back in February I had opened the 2013 box to deal with it. I was having more counselling but then Covid hit us and I went into survival mode. The 2013 box got locked up again as I looked at ways to get through 2020. I was saying to someone this week, I remember when I was risk assessed to work from home in early March (before the lockdown), I thought it would only be for a couple of weeks. How wrong was I? I never returned to the office other than to collect my personal belongings. The office is closed permanently now. As with many companies, it has been realised how much money organisations can save if staff work from home. It has its pro and cons but I do miss the chat over a morning coffee with my colleagues before I start work.
I feel I have lost my liberty. I felt so restricted. Yes, it’s mainly my decision to rarely go out the house because I have a health issue with my lung which makes me feel more vulnerable to this killer plague. I feel angry at those who don’t believe there is a virus and it’s just a conspiracy by the government; I feel angry at those not following the rules; and those who do not seem to understand social distancing and even more frustrated that some of those people are friends of mine. I don’t understand if you meet friends for lunch how you can socially distance if you are sitting on the same table in the same restaurant. That is not social distancing. This is exactly why the virus is spreading. We are ten days into the second lockdown and the R rate is still rising. Even people who are following the rules are still not safe as the rules do not completely protect you. It feels like the emperor’s new clothes and I am the only one who can see this for what it is.
These are all very negative feelings. I want to be more positive but its honestly not that easy. So, if you too, are struggling, you are not alone. I still strive to be the most positive person I can be. But 2020 is a challenge. I do plan to survive it. To be alive for 2021 but what state my mental health is in, I am not sure. It is recognised nationally there will be more mental health issues as we emerge from this nightmare year – but for now, stay safe and use your common sense to do so. Keep looking after your well-being too – who knows - it might help with your mental health.
In remembrance of… Corona Virus Diary
Sunday 8 November 2020
It’s been a week since my birthday. It already feels like months ago. So much has happened in just one week. The UK I now officially in its second lockdown, supposedly for a month but we will find out at the beginning of December.
I decided to try really hard to be more positive this time. Nothing changed for me work wise as I have been working from home since early March. I recognise I am lucky to have a job and be able to do it from home but its been a strain. I have been slightly jealous of those who get furloughed. They get paid to stay home, to take up hobbies and spend time with their family while others like me and my husband who are both key workers, are feeling drained. However, I just said I am trying to be more positive and that is what I am doing. I joined a friends Facebook group which is exactly that. Positivity during lockdown. I can share that already I have baked some banana bread with chocolate chips and cherries. It’s my best batch ever. I have been approached by Italian TV for them to use one of my videos for a documentary. I share as these are positive things that are happening to me. And it looks like Biden has won the USA elections. I, along with millions of others hope this brings a more positive future for the USA.
Today is Remembrance Day. I normally buy a poppy and this year is no different. However, I bought one online yet I am still waiting for it to arrive – but I can show you the ones I have from previous years. I think of the fallen and how terrifying it must be to lose your life in such a traumatic way. Those brave people, both men and women, who gave their lives for our country. It is a time for reflection. A time to think about appreciating the gifts already in your life. Appreciate life. And I know it’s been bandied about a lot this year – but BE KIND is still and always will be relevant. We need kindness more than ever.
I have quietly been supporting several charities this year. I loved the #pinyourthanks idea which supports three charities. I bought several pins to help the charity. It’s a lovely idea and really fits the be kind idea to show your support to those who have made a difference in your life. As regular readers of my blog will know, I love theatre and miss it so much. I watched Caroline Quentin on strictly last night dedicate her dance to those in the theatre industry. Just watching her talk in an empty theatre before she danced had me in floods of tears. I love theatre and want everyone who works in this industry to know we love you and we will gladly be back as soon as it is safe to do so once more. You are talented and wonderful and make people feel such joy with your performances. You are wanted. You are needed. Do not forget this. I have supported the theatre industry by buying merchandise from ‘The Show must go on’ which supports four charities helping artists who need it during these uncertain times.
While writing this piece, I stepped away from my keyboard and sat quietly for the 2 minutes silence. I cried. Not only for all the fallen. I cried for those who are unable to attend a service to show their respect for their fallen family member or colleague. I cried for those who died from Covid this year. I cried for all those who have died indirectly from the impact of Covid. I cried for all the sad things that have happened this year. Let’s hope that this time next year we can really pay our respects to everyone passed.
I am trying to be positive – but frankly I am a bit of a mess. Forgive me and this ramble blog. Wishing you all a good week.
It’s my birthday and I'll shield if I want to - Corona Virus Diary
Sunday 1 November 2020
So, when we first had the lockdown announced in March, I never really expected to still be in the same situation for my birthday. Yes, today is my birthday. I would normally be doing something fantastic. Going to see a theatre show, going to a live music gig, travelling abroad. However, there is nothing like that this year. Yes, I could go out for a meal but I don’t want to risk it with the rate so high. I cannot trust if social distance is being maintained in the kitchens and what the staff do when they are not working. Its not like they are tested daily. So, I do not want to ingest any food that they have touched. This includes takeaways. My poor husband will cook me a lovely meal at home instead. I have both my son’s home so it will be a family celebration this year. And that is good enough for me.
My 98-year-old grandad just called me to wish me a happy 46th birthday. We agreed that after my significant birthday we would start to count backwards. He has never forgotten this and always makes me smile. He often says ‘when I get to your age’ which is funny as he is almost double my age. My mum has been in hospital for the last two days. She is at high risk of a heart attack or stroke so they are keeping her in to monitor her. She still text me to wish me a happy birthday. My dad rang me and told me a dreadful joke that was the sort that you see hay bales passing by. He is normally the king of jokes – well corny ones.
I am sitting here, on my birthday, writing a blog and waiting for my family to wake up. Not exactly what I have done before for a birthday. Facebook is filled with hundreds of lovely wishes from all my friends. I feel blessed to know so many lovely people. I had thought how to celebrate my birthday for a while and took the idea from my good friend Leena, who had some photos of her taken for her birthday. I liked this idea. You all know how much I love photos. So, I had planned to have photos taken in my two new coats that my boys bought me. However, the weather this weekend has not leant itself to this – its raining on and off and is extremely windy. So that idea is on hold until there is a drier day.
To be honest, I feel a little melancholy. I am an extrovert. I love going out. Seeing people. Having a good time. However positive I try to paint it – this isn’t the best birthday I have ever had. So, let me tell you about the significant birthday I had a few years ago. It was held in an exclusive club in Birmingham and friends from all over the country came to celebrate with me. I had two of the best DJ’s in the world there – hubby DJ Symix and the founder of OAD club, David Wright. I had hand picked every track to be played which was wonderful as I knew I could dance to them all. I had a 70’s disco hour and a hi-nrg hour, with the rest being music from The Blitz and songs that were the sound track to my life. I even had Hot Gossip’s I lost my heart to a starship trouper and did the dance I had choreographed when I was young to it. Just for a laugh. I had my wedding song played and danced with my husband. I wore a dress featuring photos of me. My two boys were there too. It really was the best time. I long for a time when I can hug people again. My friends, I truly miss you all.
But chin up as they say. I will do my best to eat cake (I have a red velvet cake. Not just any red velvet cake. An M&S red velvet cake) and I will enjoy being with my family – which is normally a rare occasion.
Love to you all.
An autumn photo taken on Friday - before the rain came
Gigging In My Living Room - Corona Virus diary
Sunday 25 October 2020
Last night I watched OMD in concert. It was their live on the sofa 2 with the first half featuring a full orchestra and the second half giving us all the hits from a gig filmed last year. We were supposed to see them at the Royal Albert Hall this year but that gig has been put back until 2022. I don’t know what happened to me last night but I was up dancing in my living room like a wild woman. My husband (who liked OMD even more than I do), sat there laughing at me but I have decided this is what we all should be doing. Reasons are as follows:
It got my step count up – working from home does mean I don’t seem to exercise as much
It got my adrenalin going and made me laugh
I felt good from dancing
They played Messages and Electricity which two of my favourite OMD tracks
Last night in a normal world, I would have been in Birmingham seeing my friends and going to the Only After Dark (OAD) night club. Oh, how I miss my friends and dancing to those wonderful tunes. I often dance to Messages and Electricity at the club. Knowing that because of the virus I haven’t been to Birmingham since early March when we could feel it encroaching on us. I miss dressing up. I have a special OAD wardrobe of unique and quirky clothes that I love to wear. Sitting in my living room doesn’t really motivate me to dress up and put make up on. However, I did enjoy the OMD gig and may start to make my Saturdays a regular ‘gig’ night in.
I spent most of yesterday learning to code. I figure if they can teach it to kids in schools then why not me? I learnt Python and most of it I understood quite easily. No – I am not looking to change career but I do like learning new stuff and don’t want to start to fall behind with technology. My dad confirmed that I would be good at it because he recognises, I am good with technology and very logical, but he also said my sister wouldn’t be good at it. I daren’t tell her he said that!
This morning I skyped with my grandad. He is 98 years old and lives alone independently. He has not been out the house since March except for the odd walk and cooks and cleans the house himself. We normally talk on the phone every day but seeing him was wonderful. We picked a good time so that he got to see both my children too so he says that has made his day today. Sometimes it’s just the little things that count.
My Facebook memories are showing what I was doing this time last year. I was shopping in Bicester Village for an amazing silver sequinned coat that I wore for Steve Norman at OAD last year. The message with the photo was ‘I've realised I don’t buy 'normal' clothes. I buy clothes that should be on a catwalk or stage. Well they say dress for the job you want! ’.. Facebook memories also tells me that I was meeting my ‘Holby Sis’ Leena who flew all the way from Finland to see me (well me and some of her other friends). We had cocktails in Ziggy’s, Café Royal. What a difference this year is. Leena and I plan to Zoom next week so we can still have a catch up. Thank goodness for Zoom and Skype – life would be so much more limited without them.
Stay safe, tell your loved ones that you love them and make time for yourself and your friends and family. That’s what counts at the end of the day.
Until next week..
Save the arts - Corona Virus diary
Sunday 11 October 2020
What a week. I don’t even know where to begin. Trump, allegedly had Covid but was out of hospital in days and meeting people again which questions the fact that he had Covid at all, or if he did, was he still contagious and spreading it to his voters and staff? Well I am not going dwell on that this week, as there are issues closer to home and close to my heart that I would like to discuss instead.
This week, Rishi Sunak has suggested that struggling musicians and others in the arts industry may need to retrain and find new jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The chancellor’s stark comments came after recent research revealed that a third of musicians could leave the industry due to financial losses. When asked if out-of-work musicians and creatives should seek alternative employment, Sunak said, ‘I can’t pretend that everyone can do exactly the same job that they were doing at the beginning of this crisis’. This prompted an outcry from the arts sector including myself and my friends who work in the arts. How dare he? Does he realise how hard people in the arts work? Is he jealous that he can’t sing? Perhaps he is not a music or theatre fan but the statement was uncalled for and has angered many people. My friend Andy is the Bard of Stony Stratford and he wrote a poem summing up perfectly how we are feeling.
On top of this, Cineworld closed its doors on every cinema here in the UK and in the USA until 2021, with hundreds of redundancies. I don’t know about you but the enjoyable things in life are theatre, music gigs, films and the joy of doing those experiences with your friends and family. Memorable times shared together. We should be fighting to save the arts. Talented people whose performances we enjoy watching should be able to be paid to perform for us. I feel so blessed that as press, I have seen some phenomenal productions and exciting energetic live music performances. I have frequented the cinema so much; it was the inspiration for starting my blog 11 years ago. It’s all gone for now – but I truly believe it will return and we need it to return. I cannot imagine a life lived without another live show or without another live music gig. Even watching the final of Britain’s Got Talent to see the Les Mis performance, which is in my top five of all-time favourite musicals, made me cry. Just like in Back To The Future, where they were trying to #SaveTheClocktower or the Heroes TV show where they said #SaveTheCheerleader #SaveTheWorld, we need to #SaveTheArts.
Saturday was world Mental Health Day and boy does this need recognising this year. In the year of 2020, I imagine there are more people struggling with their mental health than in previous years. Of course, life events can impact your mental health at any time, but this year, everything seems so much bigger. I am struggling with so much change in just six months. This week alone I have felt very stressed as son no 1 handed in his notice at work after almost 10 years working in hospitality for a well-known pub and restaurant chain. He was loyal and committed and I believe they were lucky to have him. He managed a fantastic little restaurant in a lovely village and worked tirelessly for them, so committed that family and friends took a back seat. However, lockdown gave him time to think about his life and the fact he is still single, as hospitality is not an easy trade to form relationships in. He was not well supported by his manager so he decided to come home to where his heart is – with his family and friends. It is the start of a new chapter for him. At work another colleague also handed in her notice. Both my son and my colleague do not have another job to go but needed to make the change. Let’s hope for both it is a positive change. A new hope.
My weekend started early as work gave us half a day off to do something for yourself in mental health week. I had planned to do a Yoga video, but that is still sitting here in its shrink-wrap so needless to say, that didn’t happen. Instead I watched a film, sorted out a return on Amazon and cooked a pasta bake. Its nice to have time to do the little things. Yesterday I watched Labyrinth on TV just because it was on. Yes, I have it on DVD and Netflix but as it was on, I couldn’t help myself. I know it word for word. It really did make an enjoyable Saturday afternoon and I finished off the evening with Pulp Fiction. You can’t beat a bit of Tarrantino on a Saturday night.
Before I sign off from this week’s diary blog, I want to reach out to all those who may be struggling with their mental health. Speak to someone. Anyone. I am here if you need me. Love to you all.
Staycation - Corona Virus diary
Saturday 3 October 2020
Well sorry I have been quiet. I have actually been busy with a lot of firsts. I have been off work on annual leave but we didn’t go away as we usually would. Firstly, I am not even going to entertain the idea of getting on a plane. That’s one reason why the R rate is going up. So that leaves staying home. Is staying home a staycation or do you have to go away in your own country to make it a staycation? I am not sure. However, we didn’t go to any hotel either. I don’t like the idea of sleeping in a bed and on a pillow that someone who may have had the virus was sleeping on it the day before. Even changing the sheets wouldn’t save you from the virus so it’s a no from me so, we decided on days out and visiting family. On Sunday I visited my mum. She lives in a retirement village and until recently we have not been allowed in because of the virus but on this occasion, we were allowed into the community area if we wore masks. We were the only ones wearing masks. And there didn’t seem to be much social distancing from the other residents. I can imagine the virus would easily spread in such a place and I do worry for my mum who still has an open wound from her operation last month. We had a hot drink and then walked around the building outside which was much quieter. This was the first time I had seen her since her operation. She looked better than I expected.
Monday, I took son no 2 to have his haircut. It was well overdue. I had cut it twice during lockdown but he needed a proper barber and George and the Scissors always do an excellent job. They were only letting in people with appointments in masks and sanitised your hands on the way in. there was no waiting area and you pay in your seat. The hairdressers were wearing visors and all the rules were displayed clearing in the window. Monday also gave me time to talk to friends, it was lovely to Zoom with my friend Leena from Finland. We can talk for hours – no idea where the time goes. Tuesday, we went up to visit son no 1 and another first – we ate in his restaurant. This was the first time since March I had eaten out. I haven’t even had a takeaway. It was lovely to have all four of us together again. Son no 1 had been home the week before but as the rest of us had all been working, our time together was short. When my family are all together, I feel complete. I get a warm feeling inside. I don’t get days like this very often as both my sons work in hospitality and even work on Christmas day so our days together are treasured.
On Wednesday, hubby had to go to Stevenage to take his computer to his computer guy – and another first – I came with and went shopping. We went on to St Albans as one of my favourite clothes shops is there. He knew how to tempt me back to the shops. I haven’t been in a shop since March either so this was a big deal. Small steps for most of you and many of you may wonder why it took me so long but I cannot risk it. We only went in a few shops – maybe three in Stevenage and two in St Albans but it was good to be out and feeling a bit normal even in our masks. I can categorically say that unless it was compulsory for masks to be worn in shops – I still would not have gone in them.
Annual leave week went very fast. Thursday was our wedding anniversary. In a parallel life we may have retaken our wedding vows this year – it was a special number of years together – but of course that didn’t happen. Instead I made a nice meal for us. During my week off I also painted another wall… the hallway is almost complete. One more big wall up the stairs and two more walls as you walk in the door and it will be complete. These are most difficult walls so I have left them til last. However, during my week off I did manage to buy some fabulous crushed velvet lampshades and a statement mirror for the hallway – at last it is starting to come together. I have been looking online for months but sometimes you just need to see it to visualise it.
I had more than a week off work as Monday and Tuesday this week I should have been gigging but of course all gigs have sensibly been postponed until 2021. I decided not to buy tickets for Holy Holy as April 2021 seems to soon and I am not convinced the virus will be gone by then.
During my time off I was also trying to source a car for son no 2 who passed his test 10 months ago but we stopped looking due to the virus. Twice we had been let down when we thought we had a car and they decided not to sell, but finally we managed to put a deposit down on a nice little Corsa which we picked up today. Finally, he has a car.
I hope you all had a good week and keep your spirits up. It is mental illness awareness week next week so do something good for your own wellbeing. Meditate. Dance. Eat cake. Spend time with family. Just care for you.
Am I dreaming? - Corona Virus diary
Saturday 19 September 2020
For months now I have been having weird dreams. I normally dream a lot and often about Bowie. Recently they have got really strange. I normally blame hubby for my dreams as he will often wake me up in the night on the days that we share a bed. But a few nights ago night he was working so I have no one to blame for this one.
I think dreams are our way of relieving tension and stress. And I am stressed. I am so stressed about the covid situation and how many people don’t seem to take it seriously anymore. I am stressed that work are discussing going back to face to face work when all I hear on the news is the R rate is above one and those with the virus and those dying are going up. I don’t feel safe. Could this be the reasons for my dreams?
I have dreamt twice that I am having an affair. The first dream I woke up feeling very guilty and told hubby. It wasn’t like my Bowie dreams where you know it’s a dream. This was someone I know in real life. I feel guilty about something I haven’t done. In the first dream he kissed me. I wrote about it on Facebook and refused to name him. The dream a few days ago was the sequel. In this dream I told him that he was the person in my first dream not knowing if he had seen my Facebook post. Yes, he had and he was interested in making it happen. Lucky, I woke up before anything did happen. So why do I feel guilty when I have never been unfaithful? Why do I feel bad? How can I stop the dream going any further?
Some dreams make some sense. I dreamt that I was at a Heaven 17 soundcheck. I chatted to Martyn and he offered to sell me some rare photos which I bought but then after the gig forgot to pick up. I think my brain is too full. I had been talking about Holy Holy the night before this dream so it could be Glenn (who is the connection between the two bands) was the reason I dreamt about Heaven 17. I also noticed there is never any social distancing in my dreams. Its old normal. I miss old normal so much. I miss gigging. I miss theatre. I miss my friends and hugging people. I yearn for the old normal.
Last night’s dream is one of pure madness. It as more like a nightmare. I woke up at 2am in a sweat and it took me ages to go back to sleep. It was a gangster dream. It was called cat on a hot tin roof although I have never seen that film. If you fell of the roof you die and the roof is slanted and burning hot. The gangsters wanted to kill you with death of a 1000 Stanley knife cuts. The house had huge Stanley knife blades the size of batons coming out of the walls and retracting again. My friend and neighbour did a runner in the night as she was hiding from the gangsters but she text me and they found her. Her house was all boarded up and empty. I really don’t understand anything about this dream. Its not like I watched Sopranos before going to bed last night. I mean this is seriously f%$ked up. I am beginning to worry about my mental health. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tarantino contacted me for film rights to this dream. It was that violent and scary.