Monday, December 24, 2007

You Better Watch Out

Yup. Santa Claus. or at least his nominated substitute, is indeed visiting North London shortly.

I wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas,and a wonderful healthy and trouble-free 2008.

Thanks to all of who supported me through my long, and relatively ineffectual sojourn in hospital, and to all who've visited this occasional blog, and in particular the regular commentators.

And the contents of the envelope in my handbag that I won't let Katy see is...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

And Here It Is ...

Merry Christmas, of course, but what is here today is my new car.

It's sitting outside my house! Katy says it's so high-tec she doesn't know why she had to take a driving test in the first place, and Dmitri, who usually despises everything that doesn't have a BMW or VW badge on it called it 'sophisticated'.

So, over the weekend, hopefully, I will take it for a little drive round the back streets of North London, and start to regain a little of my lost independence.

Tomorrow, major present wrapping will take place, and that will include what's in the envelope in my handbag that I will neither discuss with, nor show to Katy.

Friday, December 07, 2007

No Money Down`

I know. And I'm sorry.

I did promise to tell the story of my long incarceration in Stalag NHS, but there is an Official Complaint in the offing, and, therefore, the whole thing is currently sub judice. And as I am still in the chair, and waiting to go into another NHS establishment for a prolonged stay in the new year, I am somewhat pissed off.

But I am getting (all digits crossed) a NEW CAR, courtesy of Motability, because I am 'in receipt of the Higher Rate Mobility Component' part of my Disabled Living Allowance. This is incredibly exciting. It is a brand new Citroen Grand C4 Picasso. I am having this model because it will take my huge knees as the controls are on the steering wheel and there is no central console, and because it is automatic, and I will only have to use one foot, I will be able to drive myself again.

I had no idea that I was entitled to this, until the Motability people contacted me, and have gee'd me up, until I made the phone call, and literally put the wheels in motion.

Anyway, a nice man from Citroen brought one for me to look at yesterday, inspected my driving licence, Katy's driving licence, my papers from the DWP and my telephone bill, gave me a couple of brochures and after trying unsuccessfully to coax La Fluffita from the sofa, left. I perused the brochures, telephoned his boss, and, hopefully, early next week will hear when the Chairmobile will arrive.

Now, I know I have called this post 'No Money Down', but because of the model I have chosen (every available extra except Satnav - come on, I can (a) read a map and (b) built in Satnav is about £1,400 extra. Yes, you did read it correctly), I do actually have to make a modest financial contribution, and by the way, lose the Mobility Component of my DLA, but it will give me some independence back, even if, for the moment I will still need someone with me, it will still be me behind the wheel!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Spidey News from Newtonia

Well the arachnid welcoming committee called this morning.

My eight legged nemesis crawled over the arm of my magic chair at approximately 7.30 this morning. My feeble screams eventually brought Katy, spider catcher in hand to my rescue. Will post about hospital experiences when shaking has stopped.

To paraphrase Travis, why do they always walk on me?...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

And I'm Home....

Starting shortly, my NHS adventures, a series to be entitled "The Chair at Poo Corner".

Watch this space.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Oh Fare Thee Well, I Must Be Gone

And leave you for a while.

Actually, it appears that I've already left you for a while, but that was sheer apathy, lethargy, and misery.

Well, today I am off to the hospital for a 5 to 8 weeks sojourn, it's such a long time that it's almost Biblical.

When I come back, if all has gone according to plan, I hope to be not so much of a Chair woman, and not so bored.

I'm not anticipating surgery, just a long drawn out medical procedure.

If I can connect to the net, then I will get Katy to bring my laptop in, and hopefully post occasionally, but that is in the lap of gods.

Toodle pip!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Voices From the Past

The other day, I followed a chain of comments from a post on another blog, the way one does, and I thought, from the comment, that I'd found a like minded person. As it happens, I was incorrect, but I was interested to find that this blogger (who's name I can't remember, nor how and where I found him) named 'Stimmung' by Karlheinz Stockhausen as one of his favourite pieces of music.

Now, Herr Stockhausen, for the odd one amongst you unfamiliar with his work, has perpetrated one of the 20th Century's greatest frauds upon the the cognisanti of classical music. He has convinced a whole group of people that random chords played discordantly, or voices intoning sounds ('mwh mwh mww mwh mwh, kommittt') for a very long period of time is great music. Or that is what I was given to understand when I was first introduced to it.

When the Chairman and I were first married, we were unable to get a flat that we could both like and afford in North London, and were forced to move south of the river for a couple of years. At that time, I was working in advertising, and the Chairman was auditioning for various rock 'n' roll bands. At one audition, hearing where he lived, another audionee said to him, 'Do you know Dudley Road?'. The Chairman was astonished, it was the road we lived in. 'Well, you must know my friend Sergei then. He's a ballet dancer, and he lives with his girlfriend and toddler at number 56'. More astonishment took place. Although we didn't know Sergei and/or his family, we lived virtually opposite him at number 53.

That evening, there was a knock on the door, and a tall, slim young man with dark, wavy, almost waist length hair, wearing bright orange 'loons' (extremely bell-bottomed trousers) and white pumps, stood on the step.

It was the mysterious Sergei. He was thrilled to find another artiste living in this very 'straight' suburban road in South West London, and invited us to cross the road and meet his family. Of course, we went. All our friends were in Hampstead and Kensington, and it would be great to meet some like minded people out in the boon-docks.

His girlfriend, Siobhan, was also wearing bright orange loons, and their 2 year old daughter, Yasmin, was precociously cute. The house was lit by candles, there was incense burning, and strange sounds were eminating from the stereo.

'What's that music, Man?' asked the Chairman. 'It's 'Stimmung' by Stockhausen.' piped Yasmin, 'It's my favourite music'. Well, it may have been her favourite music, but to me, pleb that I am, it was just boring. But I knew the rule. At no time must one appear uncool. So I assumed the position. Eyes closed, lips slightly parted, head nodding slowly. And I 'enjoyed' the piece.

The Chairman, however, was riveted, and I had to endure Stockhausen, not to mention the Chairman's own 'modern' compositions for some time.

About 18 months later, I came home from work to find an almost overwrought Chairman waiting for me. He had wonderful news. Not only was there going to be a live performance of 'Stimmung' at the Roundhouse at Chalk Farm, but he had bought tickets for us to go and see it. 'Are we all going?' I asked. I had discovered that Siobhan was a kindred spirit. She too hated Stockhausen and was cravenly pretending she loved it so as not to appear uncool. So if we all went, it would be OK, because we'd be able to giggle about it later. But no, it was just us. That meant that I would have to look rapt for 1 1/2 hours (and no laughing or yawning).

Anyway, we went. And I must confess that live, it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Six people sitting on the floor with microphones and torches making weird, but strangely harmonic noises.

On the drive home, we made stimmung-like noises in the car. Then the Chairman had an idea. We'd go straight to Sergei and Siobhan's, and start doing our own version on their doorstep, to surprise them when they opened the door.

We got out the car, walked up the path, and stood on the doorstep. 'Mwh mwh mwh mwh mwh' I sung 'Ycon ycon ycon ycon' went the Chairman. We knocked on the door. Footsteps in the hall, the door started to open, we increased the decibels. ''Mwh mwh mwh mwh mwh'. 'Ycon ycon ycon ycon'. The door opened, and standing in the doorway was their 75 year old stern Russian landlord, Mickail Alexandervich.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Electric Unkoolaid Acid Test

It has to be admitted, that in my youth, I have been known to indulge in what the press used to euphemistically call 'certain substances'. It also has to be admitted that I had no great revelations, and that once I'd stopped indulging, I didn't miss them.

The much missed Chairman, however, indulged almost until the minute of his departure from this mortal coil, and his life genuinely appeared enhanced by them. Admittedly for the last 20 years of his life, this had been restriced to what are known as Class C drugs, but earlier he had been quite enthusiastic about the use of hallucenogenics.

Sometime in 1969, before we'd met, and when he had only been in London a very short time, he met up with other friends from the North West, and was very excited to learn that one of them had 'scored some acid'.

Now, this was a first for all of them, and I suppose there must have been some trepidation mixed with the curiosity as they swallowed their LSD impregnated squares of blotting paper, but swallow them they did, and then they wandered around Central London, waiting for something to happen.

I don't know how, but then probably neither did they, but they found themselves on the Victoria Line bound for Walthamstow, a place that not only had none of them visited previously, but they had never heard of either. Anyway, sometime around midnight they found themselves wandering down a street with early Edwardian terraced houses on one side, and a park on the other. In those days, Swinging London had not yet reached the outer suburbs, and a crowd of noisy, long haired northerners wearing brightly coloured kaftans and beads were bound to attract attention.

It wasn't long before the attention they attracted was of the uniformed and helmeted variety. A dark van drew up next to them, and several burly officers tumbled out, searched them and began to ask them questions. When they'd established that nobody was in possession of 'certain substances' - mainly because they'd already consumed them - they tried to establish what they were doing wandering in E17 in the middle of the night. One of the quickest witted of them said they'd been visiting someone in a house in the road. 'Which road?' asked PC number 1. 'This one' another bright spark added 'What's it called?' asked PC number 2. Nobody knew. 'OK' said number 1, 'What number is it?' 'We came back with our mate who lives there' said bright spark. 'OK then', said Number 2 'Which house is it then?'. At which point they all helpfully pointed at different houses in different directions.

I think the Police must have realised that though they were under the influence of a substance of an hallucinogenic nature, they weren't actually committing any offences, but they went through the motions of asking for their names and addresses, and asking for proof of identity. Most of them did in fact have driving licences or other proofs of identity on them except for one chap. 'So how can you prove who you are?' asked they by now bored young policeman. There was what seemed like a long pause, but it was probably only a couple of seconds.

'Look at me, Man' said the Chairman's friend 'That's who I am'.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Secrets and Lies

I don't think I'd realised how bad it had actually become. I knew that somewhere in N W London The Tezter had been a little over exuberant recently, but I hadn't realised exactly how over exuberant that had been.

But there he was, at 9 in the morning, standing on the threshold of my sitting room, screaming excitedly at Dani, my Romanian cleaner 'Tell me about him! Tell me about Prince Vlad Dracul! Tell me about the saviour of Europe!'. And he was wearing the dog lead.

The whole trademark manic-depressive-chic look was in evidence; the religious medals, the black t-shirt worn inside out, the waistcoat, the dog lead worn in the fashion of a Mexican bandelero, and I noticed a new addition to the ensemble - a large black and silver rosary draped around his neck. I also noticed how large and sparkley his eyes appeared behind his spectacles. Almost maniacal one could say.

Dani grinned appeasingly at him, and said that she wasn't very good at history, but she could ask her serious-Romanian-man husband. 'BUT YOU MUST KNOW!!' he shouted as he bounced up and down on the spot 'HE'S YOUR NATIONAL HERO!! THE SAVIOUR OF EUROPE!!'.

I mouthed 'You may as well go now' at poor Dani, while I tried to encourage The Tezter to leave, or sit down, or anything. She managed to sidle out unnoticed, while The Tezter decided to continue the conversation in cod German. This consisted of him speaking in one of those 'Ve haf vays of making you tork' accents so beloved of British and American film actors after WW2. I let him ramble on a bit.

'Where's Dmitri?' he suddenly roared. He rushed to the bottom of the stairs. 'Dimitri where are you, you idle ----er?'. Silence. The sensible Dmitri had probably hidden under the duvet. I heard The Tezter clumping up the stairs. 'Dmitri! Get out of bed you blank!'. 'You're the blank' came a muffled voice from the small bedroom. The Tezter then stood outside Dmitri's room shouting at him in cod French. Imagine a poor imitation of Gerard Depardieu in 'Green Card' and you'll be on the right path. There was no further response. Dmitri had wisely gone to ground.

Clump, clump, clump, clump. And he was back. There was some desultory chat about the esteemed Prince Vlad, ravening hordes etc., and I was able to persuade him to leave.

I heard the front door open. I didn't hear it close. I heard breathing. The Tezter was standing beside me again. 'There's something I must tell you' he said 'Something nobody else knows'. I waited with baited breath. 'The people who brought me up. They weren't my real parents.' he paused, time passed. He took a deep breath, 'My real parents' another pause 'Were' and yet another 'Adolph Hitler and his secretary Traudle Junge'.

And then he was gone.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A Gift for my Mother

Today is my mother's birthday.

Of course it isn't really, as she died more than eight years ago, it's actually the anniversary of my mother's birthday. I wonder if the French would call it the 'anniversaire de la anniversaire'.

Still, this is the day when I tried to please her more than other days. Generally I had mixed success.

My mother was a notoriously difficult receivee. The fact that she had expressed a liking for, or a desire to have certain items in the recent past did not mean that she actually wanted them, so my father and I spent weeks trying to work out what she would actually like to own.

She was a small, immaculately groomed lady. She had weighed 7 stone 4 lbs (102 lbs) when she got married, and pretty much the same when she died, although most of her later years saw her at 8 stone 2 lbs (114 lbs), she said she was 5ft 3ins, but became smaller. Nobody was EVER allowed to see her without lipstick. This was such a fetish, that when my cousins went to visit her during her final hours in hospital, when she was unconcious, one of them said that she had to leave the room immediately as 'Auntie would never forgive me for seeing her without lipstick'.

As a young woman in the '30s, she had been a showroom model (or mannequin as they then said), modelling costumes (suits) and mantels (coats) for shop buyers, and she 'modelled' every item she wore for the rest of her life. Her clothes weren't necessarily expensive, but they always looked as thought they were. In her latter years she took to wearing her silver hair in an immaculte and sophisticated French pleat, and, because of an eye condition, dark glasses indoors and out. She turned what would have been a trial to most people into a 'look'. She had chic.

Anyway, back to the gift giving. A gift for my mother should combine the following ingredients. It should be, useful, durable, fashionable, and, unexpected. No problem there. In the past I had bought her bijoux crystal ware from Libertys, gloves from Fenwicks, and new and exciting kitchen equipment from John Lewis. None of these had been a resounding success.

So eventually I hit upon what I suppose was my own holy trinity. Perfume, chocolates, and a plant (she considered flowers to be a disappointment as they faded too soon). I will digress for a minute to tell you a little more about her. She didn't like alcohol and she had a small appetite. Her idea of a large meal was a smoked salmon sandwich on wholemeal bread (crusts removed), 6 black olives, and 2 or 3 dark chocolates. So, her birthday gift would consist of a bottle of perfume, something 30s and powdery like Coty L'aimant, or more sophisticated like Madame Rochas, a box of dark, dark chocolates, and a shiny, leafy, pot plant.

Anyway, today her present consists of the mixed memories we all have of those who have gone ahead.

So, happy birthday, mum, with love from me and Katy.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Tumbling Tumbleweed

I'm afraid that the tumbleweed is still blowing across my brain.

There really isn't a lot to talk about just now.

I suppose I could go on at length about my trials with the NHS, but that just tends to be tedious. Suffice to say I have (what appears to be) a non-life threatening condition that could be managed but without management is literally crippling. There is one (count it, one) treatment centre in London, if not the UK. There are centres in Europe. To send me for treatment at one of these European centres for about one month would cost in the region of £10,000. My local health authority is highly unlikely to fund this. Meanwhile I get around £5,000 a year in disability benefits. My father lived to 76, my mother to 86, and my grandfather to 98. My other grandparents, aunts and uncles all died within these parameters. I am 61. Do the maths.

So, apart from that, life continues apace. I wake, I watch television, I surf the net, I post on other peoples blogs, I do Sudoku, I read.

So, this time, I just popped in to say 'Hello'. and I will try to be less morose next time.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Tagged 2 - The Sequel

As I haven't actually got a clue who reads me, apart from my kind commenters, I am inviting anyone who cares to to tell us five things that we didn't know about them.

To make this even more exciting, you have a choice of telling us here, in my comments box, or on your own blog, just, please, direct us to it.

I now sit back in eager anticipation!

Monday, January 15, 2007


Oh dear, my daughter has tagged me.

Five things you don't know about me.

My much missed Scottie dog was a gift from the late Stevie Marriott of the iconic 60s band The Small Faces.

I am addicted to Extreme Makeover, the plastic surgery television show.

I adore elephants.

If Escargots are on the menu, I find them hard to resist.

When I was 5, Annette Roberts locked me in the toilet at school and nobody noticed I was missing till hometime, when my mother heard me screaming, and released me.

I will be back to tag 5 people later!