It’s All About Poo

It’s been a funny old year. Actually for us here at WOTE Towers, it’s been a funny couple of years. I didn’t ever really want to write a post about COVID. I’m done with Zoom, the ‘New Normal’, social distancing and self-isolation. I really can’t be doing with any more new phrases in my life than is absolutely necessary. All I will say on the subject is that I successfully grew some tomatoes, spectacularly failed to clear out the loft and ate far too many Curly Wurlies. Which have shrunk to a point now where I have to eat at least 12 to get anywhere near how they used to be! But that’s a whole new rant for another post. Last year was a different C word for us. In March 2019, without any warning, Mr WOTE was diagnosed with bowel cancer. So in the spirit of this blog, the following may seem overly light-hearted for such a serious subject but, despite my general pessimism about getting older, fatter and droopier, when the shit literally hits the pan, the positivity and warped sense of humour kicks in. I believe it’s commonly called survival.

Bowel cancer screening is available for everyone over 60 (50 if you’re lucky enough to live in Scotland). So when the kit came through, Mr WOTE (let’s just call him Mark for the purposes of this blog, for that is indeed what I call him most of the time) duly popped his poo in the post. Fast forward two weeks and we’re sitting in a small room with two lovely ladies who had the awful task of telling us the test results. It’s cancer. Scans to follow, appointments to be made. Suddenly plunged into a world called Colorectal and Oncology. It was surreal. Almost like they were telling someone else. And then they left us to digest the news. So in true WOTE style, we upped and went to the pub.

Shock is a shocker. One minute you’re meandering around Aldi, wondering whether you really need a horse blanket, 14 different types of spanners and a chicken. The next minute you’re not even sure if it’s worth putting the chicken on! But we were incredibly lucky. The scans showed it hadn’t spread so it was time to schedule some surgery to removed the wretched thing. We met the rather dishy surgeon and his team of equally lovely nurses and waited for a date.

Two weeks later and 5 hours on the table, Dr Handsome had managed to remove the offending creature all through keyhole surgery and reconnected his pipes without the need for a bag. What a hero. Mark spent the next day or so in a morphine haze while I sat on the chair next to him muttering nice wife things and playing Candy Crush. The next day I turned up on the ward to find his bed empty. Fearing the worst, I collapsed onto the floor in a gesture worthy of an Oscar nomination. “He’s gone, he’s gone”, I wailed. “Yes” said the nurse, “he’s gone for a wander. Here he comes”. And lo and behold, there he was, arse hanging out of the hospital gown, wheeling his drip down the corridor. No one needs to see that, so I took him home the next day.

Chemo sucks. For something that’s meant to make you better, it clearly makes you feel like shite. A 6 month course was recommended on the advice of the Oncologist, just to make sure the bastard didn’t return. So every 3rd Saturday, we sat in a chemo suite while he was pumped full of poison. Being a Saturday it was never very crowded. We had sandwiches and tea thanks to the WI ladies and the nurses were always friendly and positive. By December it was all done. A final CT and PET scan confirmed all was clear and he was discharged back to the arse team for monitoring.

Who says chemo sucks?

I wanted to write this piece for a number of reasons. First, you never know what’s round the corner. I know it’s a cliche about living every day as if it’s your last, but something like that certainly does make you think. And it certainly doesn’t involve wondering whether you really need a horse blanket. Secondly, and most important, you need to know that bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and the second biggest cancer killer. Over 42,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK. And around 268,000 people living in the UK today have been diagnosed with bowel cancer.

More than nine out of ten new cases (94%) are diagnosed in people over the age of 50, and nearly six out of ten cases (59%) are diagnosed in people aged 70 or over. But it’s not just that age group. Bowel cancer can affect anyone of any age. More than 2,500 new cases are diagnosed each year in people under the age of 50. 1 in 15 men and 1 in 18 women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime. That’s a pretty shocking statistic!

Baking a poo cake for charity!

Bowel cancer is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early. Nearly everyone survives bowel cancer if diagnosed at the earliest stage. However this drops significantly as the disease develops. Early diagnosis really does save lives. The above facts are from https://www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk – a wonderful charity who support people affected by this shitty disease. Like most charities, they’ve suffered terribly as a result of COVID-19. So if you can spare any coins, please donate. We took part in their Walk Together event last year, did a charity bake and raised over £1,300.00.

Hurrah for walking 5 miles with a hip replacement!

So, if you’re of a certain age and get invited for a screening, PLEASE DON’T BIN IT. Scrabbling around in the toilet bowl for piece of poo may well be the worst ten seconds of your life. It might also save it. And if you experience any of the common symptoms – bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo, persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit, unexplained weight loss, extreme tiredness for no obvious reason or pain or lump in your tummy, go to the docs and insist they refer you! The quicker you catch it, the better the outcome.

Right. Who wants chicken ….

Is There Life After Life?

Don’t worry. I’m not intending on going anywhere. I’m not expecting a visit from the grim reaper anytime this week. Nor have I found God. In fact, I generally try not to think about what’s to come once I’ve departed this mortal coil, although I’d like to think I’ll be spending eternity sat on a cloud playing the harp with in an ill-fitting white tunic without having to worry about skincare and dieting. But I have got to that age now. That age where you become just a + in the drop down menu or it takes an eternity to scroll down to your birth year. That age when you realise it’s time to start thinking about Plan B. No, not the hip hop bloke from the noughties. He’s way too young and besides, he has no legitimate surname. I’m thinking about that time when you suddenly find you’re ‘no longer required’ in your current guise, but not quite ready for that ‘home by the sea’. You might have ‘one foot in the grave’ but you still have a big fat, freakin’ mortage! From October 2020 the State Pension age in the UK for men and women will be 66 as the government has now realised we’re all hanging around a lot longer than we used to, and many of us will need to work some way beyond. So no chance of feet up, light gardening and coffee mornings for me. As we hurtle like an out of control bullet train into our fifties, you can easily be facing another decade or two at work. Oh what joy!

I work in a pretty ageist industry. Experience counts for very little in the media. Anyone over 35 is a dinosaur from a land before time. And anyone over 45 is pretty much unemployable. So I’m on borrowed time here. I admit, I try and stay cool. I’ve got trendy glasses. I wear Converse. But the harsh reality is that I’m old enough to be most of my colleagues’ mother. I’ve got t-shirts older than most of them. And I don’t know how much longer I can get away with it before someone sounds the over 50’s klaxon and I get carted off by the nice men in white coats.

Anyway, this isn’t a piece about getting old again, even though it occupies most of my waking hours!  It’s the dilemma we face when we’re clearly too old carry on with the job we’ve most likely been doing all our working lives, therefore we need to consider a viable alternative. Over the years, I’ve thought of many professions that will take me beyond my current working life and still earn me a crust into my later years that don’t involve me a) getting on the Central Line, or b) getting off the Central Line.  I’ve done quite a few courses, read books and done lots of research in search of an after-life which I thought I’d share.  It’s been mad, fun, pointless and typically ended up with me on the familiar road to nowhere.

So if you’re thinking of a new career path, here’s a few non-starters for ten:

Becoming an Aromatherapist.  This seemed like a good idea.  I liked the idea of working at home in a lavender-scented fug.  So I signed up for a 6 month course in Aromatherapy and Massage at my local college.  It was run by a nice chap called Bob who, despite clearly knowing his Frankincense from his Myrrh, was mostly dull and uninspiring.  As is often found on these type of courses, a fascinating cross-section of the weird and wonderful general public, all searching for something new and exciting and clearly hoping to find it in Patchouli.  But despite Bob being as boring as a box set of Friends, I signed up enthusiastically.  I dutifully bought every essential oil there was on the market along with a shit-tonne of now dust-gathering books.  It was all going quite well until we got to the massage bit.  The theory was fine but the harsh reality of rubbing a sandalwood into someone else’s blubber really didn’t appeal.  Some practical sessions followed with Bob demonstrating his Effleurage on a rather excitable older lady called Barbara, where we got treated to her clear lack of grooming.   The novelty was starting to wane now.  You clearly don’t know who’s going to walk through the door, do you.  But the final straw came when we had to practise some reflexology.  I have an irrational fear of other people’s feet at the best of times, so obviously I got the lady who was riddled with the bunions, cracked heels and fungal nail infections.  Suffice to say I ran screaming from the room, leaving an exceptionally heady trail of benzoin and bergamot.

 

 

Journalist / Writer:  From quite an early age, I wanted to be a journalist or novelist.  There I’d be, writing pithy, political ramblings for The Times or a best selling thriller which got made into an Oscar winning film and starring Tom Hardy, mostly in a state of undress, directed by me. Or travelling the world, staying in luxury hotels, thanks to my editorial skills at Conde Nast Traveller.   I did a couple of courses at The University of London, all of which were actually wonderful.  One of my tutors was a lovely lady called Jan,  a Canadian dance critique who was not just a great journo but also an amazing teacher.  I once went to her flat in Central London for a tutorial.  I’ve never seen so many books, folders, magazine and newspaper cuttings.  There wasn’t a spare surface anywhere!  I guess that shows a real writer.  But suffice to say,  nothing ever happened – or I suppose I never really pursued it.  And there endeth the dream.  Although I’m dead proud of my Squeeze concert review in the alternative fanzine c. 1984, circulation – 9.

Screenshot 2020-06-16 at 10.54.13

 

Sub-editor. An 8 week course in spelling, grammar, editing and how to make a magazine page look nice sounded lots of fun.  A career in publishing was definitely the way to go.  Glamorous photo shoots, interviewing film stars and getting lots of freebies seemed right up my street. So there I was in a basement in a college in Notting Hill with another bunch of random folk all with the same pipe dream.  It was fun, actually.  But I soon realised that my colons really did need some attention and parentheses weren’t those 2 nice people that brought me into this world.  And so there it also ended.  My dreams of becoming editor of Vogue and yelling at flunkies to bring me skinny lattes while I flounced around Paris Fashion Week with Naomi and Kate was also dampened by the fact that, not only am I prone to inappropriate slashes, I know absolutely nothing about fashion and look terrible in oversized sunglasses.  

 

Italian:  I always wanted to learn another language.  So I signed up at our local community centre to improve my Italian.  I thought I could be a translator.  Or a teacher.  I’d scraped an O Level many years ago so I thought this might be an easy win.  I actually managed a whole year and can now order a lasagne, a beer and comment vaguely on the weather.  But teaching a bunch of mostly retired, hard of hearing locals didn’t really inspire me to pursue any sort of career.  But I’m happy to report that, some years on, my gesticulating continues to improve tremendously and my pizza consumption is off the scale!  So not a total waste of time I suppose.

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Internet Entrepreneur:  Yes I admit, I was seduced by a lot of the ‘I make £90k a week by selling videos of how to make £90k a week’ that appeared around 15 years ago once the internet really took off.   You know, endless pages of smiling humans not really telling you anything but showing endless photos of them standing next to someone else’s Lamborghini or a massive country pile.  You buy an ebook for a special price of £9.99 with tips on how to con other people out of buying an ebook for the special price of £9.99 and you too can own this Sunseeker yacht.  I didn’t buy a book in the end but I did buy a job-lot of last season’s Top Shop bikinis, which I sold for a profit of, yes you’ve guessed it, £9.99.  

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Psychotherapist.  OK, so a long time coming and a long way to go, but that’s what I’m doing now. I’m 18 months in and I haven’t given up.  That’s some sort of record so fingers crossed I don’t.   It’s wonderful and scary and probably a whole blog post which I’ll save for another day.

So if I don’t go mad myself trying to get through another 2 years of studying, essay writing and personal therapy, you may well find yourself lying on my couch in the not too distant future.

And my advice?  If at first you don’t succeed, drink a bottle of wine.  You’ll be amazed how little you care.

x

Things I hate about getting old

Getting old sucks.  It really does.  People who say ‘Age is just a number’ are talking bollocks.  It’s a great big number.  And there’s a reason for it.  Physical and mental things that happen as your body slowly deteriorates before your very failing eyes. I try to search for the positives: experience and wisdom, kids flown the nest, retirement on the horizon, financial freedom?  Well OK so none of those actually apply but you get the drift.

I think this has hit home this week more than ever as my youngest has graduated and just landed her first job.  Another chapter closes in the book of life.  Which means I might well be approaching the epilogue!

9aa97c7f367473c62b734afc03fa2cbc--aging-gracefully-i-wish

So on that cheery note, here’s a list of things that are really shite about getting old.

  • You make ‘old people’ noises when you sit down, stand up, bend over, roll over, walk.  It’s mainly because something that you didn’t know you had now seems to ache or hurt. Which means another trip to the doctors.  Whatever it is, it’s probably fatal.
  • Your tolerance for alcohol is greatly diminished.  Sniff a cork and I’m anyone’s.  Not that anyone wants me.  Apart from the tax man.
  • Your toenails seem to get thicker while your fingernails and hair gets thinner!  I know this because the beauty therapist now reaches for the angle grinder when I go in for a pedicure.
  • You forget that you’re now not remotely attractive to the opposite sex.  Well not the ones in your 18 year old mind.  I’ve often looked a young lad in the street and thought ‘Oh he’s cute’!  Then I realise he’s only about 16 and actually it’s the balding, portly granddad he’s helping across the road who is more likely in my permitted age range.  I now berate myself for such thoughts and thank the Lord I’ve yet again avoided a prison sentence.
  • No one wants to have sex with you except drunk people.  Or someone that’s in to necrophilia.
  • Your pubic hair turns grey.  Although my husband will argue they’re just cobwebs.
  • Your bladder has a mind of it’s own. Muscles that were once toned are now like some worn knicker elastic.  The pelvic floor retired shortly after the birth of child 2 over 20 years ago. I dare not cough, sneeze or laugh for fear of leakage. Which subsequently rules out any social interaction of any kind.
  • You really do think you’re pretty cool for your age but your kids just think you’re an embarrassing idiot.  Personally I see nothing wrong with saying ‘lolz’ but apparently it’s wrong on many many levels.
  • You realise that planning ahead is pretty pointless as there isn’t much ‘ahead’ left!  It’s all ‘behind’.  30 more summers if I’m lucky. God that’s depressing.  Thank God for sherry!
  • You watch The Antiques Road Show.  Or record it if you’re busy darning some socks.  Obviously when I say ‘record’ I mean ‘download’.  Hashtag oldbag
  • The clothes you think will look great on you just don’t.  So often I see something in a magazine and think that would really suit me.  The person I imagine in the outfit is normally slim with long legs.  I haven’t been slim or had long legs since I was a gangly 11 year old which is about when I stopped growing upwards and started growing sideways.
  • You turn into your parents.  I find myself telling my kids to make sure they eat before they leave for work/wear weather-appropriate clothing etc. I also find myself saying things like – ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ or ‘In my day…..’  My children are adults!  They’re starting to think I’m from another era, not even covered in their history lessons!
  • You become obsessed with the weather.  Worrying endlessly that if you go out, you might be too hot, too cold or get wet.  You end up covering all eventualities by packing a small case with an umbrella, rain mac (one that folds to a handy pocket size), cardigan, sun hat and sun cream just to go to Tesco.  It’s suddenly become your main topic of conversation. You’re a weather bore.   Did I tell you about the great storm of 1987?  Or the heatwave of 1976?  Who cares!
  • It takes a lot longer to fill in a form.  Mainly scrolling down the drop down age menu to find that you don’t even come into a bracket.  It’s just 50+ which means ‘actually we don’t really give a shit’.
  • You look forward to a dull evening.  Although last night we went a bit mad and watched all six episodes of Doc Martin.  In one sitting.  Practically Netflix and chill!

But,  on the plus side, pretending to be deaf does have it’s advantages.  And somewhere buried deep in this apathy is a young spirit that, given half a glass of Lambrusco and a pair of leg warmers, might just make those next 30 summers the best ever.

So long as it’s not too hot.

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Love Pussies!

It’s been a worrying week.  Stella, the tiny cat, escaped from her catio.  Lord knows how. She was missing for a few hours before she was found.  It was a tense time.  And when she was found, she had managed to lose her thundershirt – which she was wearing to keep her calm because of the storm.  Obviously!!  But there was some good news. Ms Oreo, she’s a 4 year old Tuxedo, has settled well in Austria having moved from Stockholm with her meowmy and the droolbeast.  And Ricky the housecat – he’s somewhere in Canada – is finally getting along with his new cat sister. Which is such a relief!  For a while I thought it was all going to end in furballs!

And just when I thought all was well, Sweet Joey finally crossed the rainbow!  His paw purrents were devastated.  Bless the little ginger kitty.  So as a mark of respect, the Friday Night Box-pawty was cancelled.  I think it was the right thing to do.

OK I know, I’ve been at stuck at home for a few months and you’re probably thinking I’ve finally gone bonkers.  But when life gives you lemons (without the optimistic bit) and it’s pissing down with rain, what can be more comforting and distracting from the citrus fruits of doom, than pictures of cats!!

Kitty Cute Cat Pets

DOESN’T THAT MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD?

I bloody love it.  I’m a catsofinstagram addict.  It’s not just a bunch of cat pictures.  It’s a whole community of lunatics, like myself, who post pictures of their adorable furry friends and talk to each other – as their cats, obviously.  My cat, Oliver – or Ollie_Purrs to his fellow feline Insta buddies, has almost 1000 followers.  He puts me to shame with my laughable 290.  He’s got friends all over the place.  Australia, USA & Canada, Dublin, Hackney.  We ‘like’ each others photos, we share funny stories and we grieve together when one of these treasured pets passes.

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OLLIE PURRS.  INSTAGRAM SENSATION.

But it’s not just instagram.  If you search YouTube for cat videos, you’ll find over 90 million results!  That’s more that Justin Beiber and Taylor Swift put together (these are young famous people, apparently). Cats rule the world wide web!  We’re obsessed with them!  Sharing over 4 million images and videos a day. But why?  Are we looking for escapism from the realities of life?  The misery of work.  The worry of money.  The same reasons that similarly huge numbers of, most surprisingly, middle aged folk, stab their weary fingers at cascade of animated sweets?

Worrying that I’m some sort of raving fruitcake, I like to research these things. The Huffington Post reports that Jessica Gall Myrick, an assistant professor at Indiana University’s Media School, recruited 6,827 people from the Facebook page of an animal advocacy group and surveyed them about pet ownership, Internet use, video consumption and their personality. During this study, she asked her users to recall the last time they watched a cat video and record their mood before and after the viewing. Overwhelmingly, respondents said they felt significantly happier after watching the videos and experienced fewer negative emotions of anxiety, sadness and guilt.

Look!  There’s even a graph to prove it!

cat-video-emotions-study

So go on. Give it go. Love some pussies. Trust me. You’ll feel fabulous.

As the saying goes, don’t knock it til you try it!

x

They Might Be Giants!

I often get asked if I have children.  Must be the grey hairs, the twitch and the permanent look of despair.  But it’s a reasonable question to ask someone of my age.  Trouble is, I’m never quite sure of how to answer.  The truth is, yes!  I do.  I have 2 children.  But I tend to associate the word ‘children’ as generally being those under the age of 10.  That lovely age where they’re unaffected by life, not a care in the world other than when they can next have an ice-cream or a trip to the park.  They’re cuddly and cute and you can tuck them up in bed at night and kiss their chubby little innocent pink cheeks. Children are sweet, small little things – well in my head anyway!

My ‘children’ are 27 and 22.  They’re adults.  But to say I have ‘adults’ just sounds, well, somewhat creepy.  And the word ‘adult’ is often coupled with the word ‘responsible’. Which I just can’t quite see them as!  They’re ‘Grown Up Children’. Larger versions of their younger selves. He shaves, he has a car, a girlfriend and a job.  She has just finished Uni, has a boyfriend and a penchant for cocktails.  And they’re both still at home.  But despite being ‘adults’ according to their birth certificates, actually they’re not. What they are is ‘Giant Children’.  Because despite their size and their age, the behaviour has barely changed at all.

150516STEBoomer01-xlarge_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqVRYMpRRh5U8tfaESeId9UvqZZNFHDV94SvZdX1WqoFI

IMAGE FOR REFERENCE ONLY.  ACTUALLY I DON’T HAVE GREY HAIR AND MY KIDS ARE DEFINITELY NOT GINGER!

I think it’s something about being a) still in the house you grew up in and b) still being with your sibling that makes these ‘Young Adults’ behave like – well ‘Giant Children’. Although I manage to painfully eke some rent out of Giant Child 1, it is handed over begrudgingly and with an almighty huff.  I don’t blame him.  He’d really rather be somewhere else! His size 11 trainers are scattered here there and everywhere and despite being responsible for a mountain of crockery and utensils, the thought of actually putting them in the dishwasher is incomprehensible.  And he takes up so much room!  A whole sofa!  Coupled with the discarded footwear, sports bags and inability to master how a bin works, it’s all getting rather crowded in here.  The little bundle of energy that used to tear around the house now looms large in doorways, towering above us all, dispelling wind from any given orifice at any given time (apparently this is really really funny). Giant Child 2 is less imposing, a bit more helpful and smells a little sweeter.  But being fresh out of studying, with a huge debt (thanks to ‘Just Call Me Dave’), the chance of her being able to afford to move out anytime soon is just as far off as the other one – who despite having a decent job, has no hope of getting a mortgage any time soon.

Young adults are more likely to be living with their parents than at any other time in the past 20 years as record numbers struggle to fly the nest. There are nearly 3 million 20-34 year olds still living with parents, a 618,000 leap since 1996, according to findings from the Office for National Statistics.  The “failure to launch” phenomenon means there are now millions of young adults are still in their childhood bedrooms, which seems to somehow keep them in a sort of semi-childlike, limbo state.   House prices, university debts and sympathetic parents are making this generation somewhat potbound.

Family-Building-Society

Credit: https://www.brayleinoyucca.co.uk/blog/our-ad-that-really-is-the-dogs/

By 27, I’d been working for nearly 10 years.  University just wasn’t an option for me as, quite honestly, I wasn’t clever enough.  See 5 years of school reports!  But then jobs were in abundance so I left college, went to work in a large advertising agency at the age of 18 and slowly worked my way up the ladder.  Ok I only got about 3 rungs up but the parties were epic.  By 22 I had bought a flat and by 26, I had a small child.  It wasn’t really fashionable to go back-packing round Cambodia – well not if you valued your life.  The done thing was to get on the property ladder as quickly as possible – and it was easy. House prices were reasonable and mortgages were manageable.  Sadly, my kids will probably have to wait til I shuffle off this mortal coil before they can afford a deposit for a house.  Come to think of it,  I am starting to wonder why they keep offering me cups of tea – which, now I come to think of it, do taste rather odd.

So my advice if you’ve got giant children.

  • Make sure you have a stable wifi connection.
  • Make sure you’ve got ink in the printer.
  • Make sure you’ve got wine in the fridge – ideally a small hidden fridge in a part of the house that they can’t be bothered to go to.

But also make sure you make the most of them.  Because despite all of the above, I’ll bloody miss them when they’re gone and wouldn’t swap them for anything.

Unless anyone’s got Lego Cards 043, 095 and 107.

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hip Hip Hooray!

Well it’s finally done!  After years of wincing, moaning and not being able to wear stupidly high heels, I’ve had a hip replacement.  Right now, if I could turn back the clock, I probably wouldn’t have.  I feel sore, swollen, uncomfortable and miserable.  But I also know, that in a few weeks, I’ll be thankful that I did.  I know it’s going to take time to heal. And I know without pain, there’s no gain!  However, I was rather grateful for one thing.  The NHS kindly paid for me to have the operation in a nice private hospital not far from where I live.  Not uncommon these days apparently.  The NHS have been outsourcing joint replacement surgery to the private sector for some years now.  In fact, a recent analysis shows that NHS patients who choose to have planned knee or hip operations in private units spend less time on wards, are less likely to be readmitted and have fewer procedures that need to be re-done.  And therefore, they don’t block beds needed for acute admissions. Win win!

Another recent study showed that four of the best six places for hip operations were privately run.  By contrast, the three worst-performing hospitals for knee operations were all NHS ones. And therefore, the results have been seized on by some as evidence that the independent sector does have a key role to play in improving patient care as well as relieving the strain on our overcrowded hospitals. But they are likely to prove controversial elsewhere because of concerns that the contracts set up by Labour, under which private hospitals took in NHS patients to help reduce waiting lists, paid them far too much for simple procedures and wasted millions of pounds.  So the funding row continues to rumble and probably always will. Thanks goodness we’ve got a general election coming, eh folks??

 

'I really hate going to hospital.' 'I know. It's unfortunate you're a neurosurgeon.'

 

So back to the story.  I arrived at 8am at the rather endearingly named Holly Hospital, and was promptly shown to my ‘guest room’ by the ‘concierge’ who gave me a guided tour of the facilities.  To be honest, it was alot better than some 4 star hotels I’d paid good Euros to stay in. I got changed as requested and it wasn’t long before someone came and took me down to theatre. She was very nice.  Like a smiling assassin.  Because, despite my outwardly calm exterior, inside I was utterly hysterical despite her reassuring words that no, the consultant definitely hadn’t been drinking and yes, he’d done a fair few of these types of operations before. And in no time, I’d seen the anaesthetist and was being led, mentally kicking and screaming into theatre.

I’ll spare the details.  But it went very quickly and in no time I was back in my guest room, with a constant stream of smiling healthcare professionals, checking blood pressure, giving me drugs and generally enquiring after my well-being.  An hour later, a light lunch consisting of a freshly made cheese sandwich and fruit was served and I was given a menu to choose my evening meal.  Melon to start, salmon fillet and veg and a fresh fruit salad.  Sadly no wine list.  “For obvious reasons”, she told me.  I took that to mean that it was more to do the cocktail of medication I was on rather than a nod to a penchant for Rosé.  I had Sky TV to keep me company and at the press of a buzzer,  my assigned nurse would come scurrying in, attending to my every need.  This is all rather nice, I thought.

However, I think after a couple of days, someone twigged that neither myself, nor a wealthy healthcare provider, was paying for this treatment.  I was here courtesy of the beleaguered NHS and I’d probably hit my budget allowance.  The offer of endless cups of tea disappeared, lunch was downgraded to soup (definitely Heinz) or a sandwich, and the evening meal was whatever the chef said I could have.  And as Friday was curry night, and I don’t eat the stuff, the only other option was a jacket potato with cheese. And hopefully they could “rustle up some beans too if chef didn’t mind”! First world problems, eh?  But I mustn’t grumble.  It was still better than being on a mixed ward, and not having to listen to other patients peeing/snoring/farting/howling was a blessing.  And I’m sure those patients would have felt the same.

Which brings me on to bed pans. How bloody awful are those contraptions??!!  For a start, it seems to be a one size fits all, which is fine if you don’t have a humungous backside. Mine was pretty huge to begin with but the added addition of swelling and a pressure dressing practically doubled it’s girth.  Plus it’s made of cardboard! CARDBOARD!!  I mean it’s not know for it’s absorption qualities is it!  Nor it’s comfort. Well the first day wasn’t so bad.  I was numb and fairly dehydrated.  Day two was a different story altogether.  I’d been put on a drip as my blood pressure was rather low so when I asked for the pan again – well let’s just say I wasn’t dehydrated or quite so numb. In fact, let’s just say I was totally off target.  The nurse was very sweet and said it was perfectly normal for accidents to happen.  Well not for me it isn’t, love!  The shame of sitting in your own piddle – three times in one day – will live with me for a while!  It took an age to strip me and the bed, clean it up and put me and the bed back together again.  She smiled throughout the whole half hour debacle, chatting away, whilst I – a grown woman of advancing years – sat there wrapped in a towel of shame, smelling like a tramp!  I’ve since googled bed pans.  There are far more ergonomic ones out there which look a lot more sturdy, comfortable and able to hold a few more pints.  Maybe I had the cheaper NHS version.

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I THINK THE NURSE ON THE FAR RIGHT WAS THE ONE LUMBERED WITH CLEARING UP MY LITTLE ACCIDENT

Fortunately they had me up walking pretty quickly so I could get to use the toilet.  And by day three, I was on crutches walking up and down the corridor in my attractive hospital gown, all open at the back for the world to see.  But I didn’t care. What could be more shameful than pissing yourself.  Three times!  My dignity went years ago.  Along with non-disposable, ergonomically-shaped bed pans it seems.

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I DIDN’T HAVE THE HORN!

And on day four, they sent me home, complete with crutches and complimentary raised toilet seat, saying if my leg falls off, just go straight to A&E and they’ll pop it back on.  So long as I don’t mind waiting a few days.  So here I am, selfishly wishing the days away, knowing that time is a great healer and codeine is the best invention in the whole world. Meanwhile, Mr H is embracing nursing/cooking/cleaning duties which involves a fair amount of arse-wiping, stocking-applying, pillow-adjusting and crutch-holding.  Sadly not the type he’d prefer. But he’s doing a sterling job.

For a bloke.  Who snores.

x

 

 

Hair Today …

Hairdressers are rather like husbands.  For the first few years they do exactly what they want and you always feel good afterwards.  Then they get a bit lazy and complacent and suddenly you don’t feel so special any more.  So when that happens, it’s time to start the nightmare search for a new one.  So where do you start?  Is there a Tinder for hairdressers?  Hinder, maybe?  And how do you tell the incumbent that you’re moving on to a younger, trendier salon?  It’s not you, it’s me? And if you don’t tell them, you end up trying to avoid the area for fear of bumping into them sporting a new ‘do’.   It’s a huge dilemma – one I’ve encountered on many occasions over the years.  I knew the false beard would come in handy one day.

There isn’t a high street in the UK now that doesn’t have at least 2 or 3 salons peddling their hairs. It’s an industry that has grown steadily over the years and currently sees no sign of declining.  It was sometime around the end of the 1800s when we slowly started to see the transition from men only barbershops to salons across the civilised world.  In those early days, wealthy women were having their hair styled by their servants.  All a bit Downton Abbey.  The rest of the classes probably just used some carbolic soap and some rusty shears.

The roaring 20s saw almost 25,000 hair salons open in the US. From the 1900s to 20s, bobby pins, hair dryers, perms and hair colour became more and more popular. It was the age of Hollywood movie stars, Jazz and Coco Chanel.  Everyone wanted to look like their idols!  By the 40’s and 50’s, beauty salons became the go-to-place for the housewife to escape from their mundane lives, get pampered and indulge in gossip. Gradually, the hairdressing salon became affordable to the masses and not just the upper classes, eventually combining other beauty services to pamper and preen it’s clientele.

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“SO WHERE ARE YOU GOING FOR YOUR HOLIDAYS THIS YEAR?  BUTLINS?  OOH POSH!”

Nowadays, our high streets are awash with them.  Some part of a chain, others with quirky fascias such as ‘Hairport’, ‘A Cut Above’ and my personal East London favourite, ‘Jack the Clipper’.  But how on earth do you choose a good one?  Today it’s easier with social media, reviews and online recommendations but what’s good for the goose isn’t necessarily good for the hairy old gander.  My own personal start point is that, if the hairdresser has bad hair, quite frankly I don’t want them anywhere near mine.  They are basically a walking advert for their profession.  Like I don’t want a dentist with bad teeth or a doctor with weeping sores.  I’m also rather seduced by a cool interior.  1970’s pictures on the wall, office furniture or rubbish towels are also a bit of a sign of apathy. Not always indicative but first impressions etc.  I also like hairdressers to be honest.  If it won’t suit, then please have the decency to tell me.  A stark reminder never to show them a picture of a poodle ever again!

witch hairdresser cartoon

So on a whim, I booked into a trendy Shoreditch salon for a cut and blow. I’d read the reviews, scoured the website and gallery and wandered past on more than one occasion. I could even book online which shows both innovation on their part and total laziness on my part. Tick!  Nothing worse than booking over the phone to a fairly dopey receptionist who gets just about every part of the booking wrong.  Most annoying to find out you’re booked in next Tuesday with Cilla for a perm when you’d asked for a Saturday appointment with Donna for highlights!  That’s happened!  Anyway, I was politely greeted,  ‘gowned up’ by a nice young man and promptly offered a cocktail.  It was after 6pm so why not!  Who doesn’t love a Espresso Martini full of hair!  Anyway, a chat with the Senior Stylist and a rather nice (and faintly disturbing for various reasons) wash and head massage from that nice young man, I was set about with sprays and scissors.  Oh and another Espresso Martini or 3.  Rude not to!  They were friendly, they’ve got dogs, alcohol and nice towels.  By the end I was hair cut, half cut and £65 out of pocket!  But you get what you pay for and I’d definitely go back.

 

Probably when I’ve won the lottery!

x

Back with a vest on!

Well hello there.  It’s been a while, I know.  A lot has happened since I last dragged my arthritic hip to this site.  Some of it hilarious and interesting (none of which I can remember) and some of it pretty tough.  Dad had a massive stroke which has left him with a severe loss of mobility and has pretty much changed all our lives.  And when something like that happens, everything else kind of takes a back seat.  He had a bumpy ride too – a victim of a failing hospital and obvious cuts in the NHS resulted in less than satisfactory care.  But with a lot of love and support from us lot, and all credit to the amazing doctors and nurses battling against the odds, he’s made great progress.  He gets a little confused with time and process but on the whole, he’s doing well.  So while quite a lot has changed for him, I’m sorry to have to tell you that, despite a huge bump on the head, he is still a Spurs supporter.

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CELEBRATING DAD’S 80TH BIRTHDAY AT DUXFORD AIRFIELD

But let’s keep this light-hearted.  I’ve missed writing.  I’ve missed ranting and moaning. And I’ve missed you lot.  All 3 of you!  So it’s time to relaunch this little indulgence of mine with a few more bells and whistles.  I’ve migrated to WordPress!  Get me!  I don’t even know what that means! Plus there’ll be Instagram and most probably Facebook and Twitter too in the future.  And new for 2017, mixed in with my musings, will be some reviews of wherever my fight against ageing, my quest for retirement and my pursuit of happiness takes me. Basically it’s an excuse to go and have facials and massages and eat in poncy restaurants.  I’ve even joined Slimming World.  That’s a whole new post in itself which I’ll save for another day.

But Spring is in the air.  I’ve joined the gym (again) ahead of the hip operation (end of April) in the hope of getting into some sort of decent shape before my leg is severed!  On the plus side, I suppose the crutches will do wonders for my bingo wings.  The plan being that by the time summer is in full swing, I’ll be fit, healthy and looking fab-u-lous in those daisy dukes and skimpy vests.  The reality is, is that I probably won’t be chucking my Primark cover-ups out any time soon.

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CAN I JUST POINT OUT THAT THESE ARE CATEGORICALLY NOT MY FEET!

So with renewed vigour and a spring in my limp, I shall be back again soon with my first review of having my haircut at an extortionately expensive Shoreditch hair salon followed by a luxurious facial that promises a fusion of plants and diamonds to stimulates cell renewal and prolong the youth of the skin with a new lease of life.  And after that  I shall probably just about be able to afford a Tesco meal deal!

x

Losing it!

According to The Wall Street Journal, the average person misplaces up to nine items a day.  And one-third of respondents in a poll said they spend an average of 15 minutes each day searching for items such as mobiles, keys and paperwork.  I beg to differ.  I think it’s more like 60 minutes, maybe 120.  Well, it certainly is in our house.  For want of rolling out a familiar cliche, if I had a pound for every minute one of us has spent searching for something, I’d have around £2100.  And that’s just September!

Apparently, our genes are at least partially to blame, experts say. Stress, fatigue and multitasking can exacerbate our propensity to make such errors. Such lapses can also be linked to more serious conditions like depression and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders.  More often than not, at No 1,  it has something to do with alcohol and the resulting fuggy, blurry, morning after which has the ability to wipe one’s memory.  I’m not referring to me, of course.  It never gets that bad, mainly because my capacity for alcohol now doesn’t extend beyond a small Tia Maria and coke!  Mr H, though, has kindly taken over my capacity.  In fact he’s embraced it with great gusto and enthusiasm.

So last weekend was a perfect example of this genetic phenomenon.  I had tickets to the festival for the over 50’s, (or Radio 2 in the Park as it’s more commonly known).  We got there eventually but only after a monumental hunt for Mr H’s wallet.   Clearly it wasn’t in it’s usual place – his pocket or bedside table.  Neither was it in it’s unusual places – down the side of sofa, in the kitchen or in the car.  So then mild panic set in and the task of trying to remember where the friggin hell it was when you’re horribly hungover began.  Normally, the act of physically and mentally retracing your steps when looking for lost objects can work. “The more you can make your brain act like the way it was when you lay down that original memory trace,” the more successful you will be”, says Kenneth Norman, a psychology professor at Princeton University.  But trying to do that when you can’t remember your own name is bloody impossible.

Finally, we came to the conclusion that it had probably been left on the counter of the Happy Cockroach, the Thai takeaway where, due to a lack of inspiration, we ended up getting our evening meal.  And as they didn’t open til 5pm, it looks like our elderly rock fest would be somewhat hampered by lack of funds.  Pity I didn’t tell him to look in his shoe.  Because that’s where the bloody thing was!  I mean, who on earth puts their wallet in their shoes!  Mr H does.  Of course.  He remembers.  He put it there for safekeeping.  Who on earth thinks, “I know,  I won’t leave it in my jeans or put it on the bedside cabinet as I usually do.  I’ll put it in my shoe for safekeeping!  Where I’ll never look.  Until I need to put them on.  And then I won’t be able to get them on because they’ll be something in it.  Oh. My wallet”!

This, to be fair, isn’t unusual.  It’s just another in a long list, which has yet to be topped by finding a lost mobile phone in a bag with the bread rolls in the freezer compartment of the fridge.  However, the older we get, the more things we need and therefore there’s more things to remember not to lose.  Glasses – 2 pairs each plus spares, tablets – which has resulted in a whole new shelf creation housing a plethora of medication required to keep us functioning, various limb supports, spare keys, spare spare keys.  I’m seriously thinking of never planning to book up to go anywhere ever again.  There’s so many things to remember, that by the time we’ve applied/found everything, it’s hardly worth leaving the house.  At least then I can have a couple of large Amarettos and not worry about losing the kids, the car or forgotten to take something to stop something else dropping off.  And Mr H can down a few bottles of Marston’s Grumpy Old Fucker, safe in the knowledge that it doesn’t matter if we’ve lost something because we’re not going anywhere anyway.

I just hope that the we don’t acquire any thing else to remember not to lose.  I’m running out of places to look.  And I’m running out of shelves to put things.  At a push, I suppose I could always put whatever it is on the shoe rack.

Not that there’s any shoes on it.

They’re in the dishwasher.

Of course.

Getting On.

“I SAID HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED VARIFOCALS, MRS H??” The nice lady in Specsavers said to me for the third time, clearly becoming irritated.  She glanced up at the poster behind her. “AND DID YOU KNOW WE ALSO DO HEARING TESTS??”  I didn’t know, actually.  I’d been staring blankly at her for several minutes as she was blathering on and I could have sworn she said “My goodness, you look just like Angelina Jolie”, or “I can’t believe you’re over 40”.  But obviously she didn’t.  And varifocals?  Aren’t they for the over 80’s?  That’s just one of those words I tend to associate with the elderly, along with dentures, boiled sweets and surgical stockings.  Actually my dad swears by them (the varifocals, not the stockings).  But then again, my Dad is 78. And I’m nowhere near that.  No.  Most defnitely nowhere near it at all.

She finally convinced me to give them a go.  In fact, she also offered me a free pair and a contact lens trial.  I was totally and optically overwhelmed.  I’m sure she was starting to feel sorry for me. I went in there thinking I was getting a new pair of reading glasses, then suddenly I’m classed as elderly, practically blind and hard of hearing. Ah what the hell.  I can move with the times.  I’m up for the challenge of radical eyewear.  I’ve never fancied poking myself in the eyes on a daily basis and if I had a pound for every time I’d lost my reading/distance/spare/sunglasses, I’d have approximately £59.  They’ve taken getting used to I can tell you.  I was like a nodding dog for weeks.  People thought I was constantly agreeing with them. Which invariably I wasn’t.  I had a stiff neck too.  But I’m getting used to them.  In fact they look quite stylish.  And now I only have one pair to lose instead of 4.  Which is one less thing to worry about when you can’t hear the juggernaut!

Not Angelina Jolie!
They also came in handy when I recently had to go and see the specialist about my hip.  It had been niggling ever since I’d danced like a large orange twat at my 80’s themed birthday party dressed as a shit Madonna (the over-rated ageing singer, not Jesus’ mother – that would have been a totally different night altogether!).  I was also wearing inappropriate footwear for my age but gargantuan amounts of Jagermeisters seemed to numb the pain. The next day I couldn’t walk. I’d partied like it was 1983 and now I was walking like I was 83! Sparing you the long boring bit of copious visits to the GP, I eventually got a referral to a big knob, got x-rayed and there I am, suddenly staring at my misshapen pelvis, from a distance, clear as anything.  I could have sworn he said “You’ve got fantastic legs”.  What he actually said was “You’ve got osteoarthritis.  You need a hip replacement. I reckon you’ve got about two years”.  Crikey.  I really need that hearing test.
Large orange twat
I was too speechless to ask whether 2 years was how long I had left til the replacement or whether he’d noticed that I was wearing varifocals, decided I must be at least 80 and thought I might as well just be put down. I hope not.  I’ve just spent a small fortune on new fricking glasses!  But maybe it’s not such a bad thing.  Maybe I can choose my new hip.  Maybe I can ask for a thinner one. Like Angelina Jolie’s?  
Barley sugar, anyone?