Thursday, 9 June 2011

Packing List for the Final Journey

I've been thinking about this concept recently and wondering what would make me RIP. To do this I've been working out what makes me anxious. Opening the post clearly wouldn't be an issue any more, or checking my emails and voicemail. Presumably that would dry up in time. Similarly the build up of basic chores. Some other poor sod would have to take over those. As for, is there sufficient booze in the house for this evening, again, no longer my concern. Anyway, I've decided. I'd like to be buried with my laptop, my iPhone, my keys, my diary, my handbag, sunglasses and a spare set of prescription spectacles. That way, if I woke up,buried, I'd be able to check in my diary that I hadn't missed anything important, check you lot hadn't been bitching about me, and phone for a lift home.

I'm not planning a sudden exit, but just thought I'd mention it.

Secondly, I was asked to use Mindfulness to Urge Surf this evening. I did, for ten minutes. My urge was to have a drink, at six o'clock, as I usually do. Using my new found Buddhist Mindfulness, I Urge Surfed and noted my feelings. I felt I wanted a bloody drink because I have a mild hangover and a drink (beer today I think, often wine, never spirits) would make me feel better. I thought about it for a whole ten minutes as agreed, and then I was outraged to find the ruddy decorator has removed the Coca-Cola bottle opening device from the end of the island unit. Thoughtless bastard. Luckily, my Swiss army penknife was in my handbag and the rapidly escalating situation was in hand within moments. In fact, good point. Can you chuck my penknife in the coffin too, and a beer or too, in case my lift is slow to arrive? It's good to think the beer will be cold, having been six foot under for a while.

And the sunglasses? Well, I assume I'll be looking a bit grungy after my lousy few days and I wouldn't want to be seen out like that, would I?

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

I am Old Father William

I have made the third of my unscheduled house moves today. Totally ill-prepared as ever, I eventually walked out and left Nina and Robert, the cleaner and her husband, who is now the decorator too, to get on with it. 15 years of scooter crashes and exploding baby cups of Ribena and dog fights has taken their toll on my kitchen and it being repainted at last. And I have moved into a hut in the garden. It has a bed and a desk and chair and two blankets. It also has a woodburner, and an amplifier, but no wifi and a mountain of used matches and sweetie wrappers. This is usually where Boy 17 hangs out, but tough love. He is away at school, Darling is cycling to Paris and I need a base camp.

I had intended to move into Pointless Central. PC is a house we rented back in February when I abandoned ship and jumped overboard last January. For the two weeks after I left I stayed with a friend in London (until her potty mouthed parrot attacked me viciously as I was trying to creep past it to the bathroom, wearing just a towel), and North Africa, courtesy of a friend of a friend. Anyway today was the day to move back into PC, but I just couldn't. Whilst PC is modern, comfortable, fully equipped and beautifully located, the memories of feeling utterly pointless and directionless are still too raw. And the overwhelming whiff of room scenting twig things is too evocative. I'm being wet I know, and after a month of living in a hut with no toilet or catering facilities, I may cave in, but for the moment it's a stand off.

More on the parrot and what it called me, it its bizarre Irish accent, before it flew at me physically, another day. That must be the reason she is named Bertha, after the first Mrs Rochester. The Irish accent is something Charlotte Bronte should have thought of, really.

Now. All this chaos has been neatly put down to my insanity, of which I make no secret. Had I been born in Victorian times, I would certainly be in Bedlam by now. Waking up in the night and running out into the garden stark naked and utterly terrified would, I suspect, have been generally frowned upon. It wasn't exactly given a standing ovation here either, but I didn't get banged up for it. However, a friend (actually it's the same one all along) has recently suggested that I am in fact presenting with all the symptoms of the menopause. I have been to my GP on several different occasions and, complained of anxiety (eff all), joint pains (x-ray), night sweats (fa), depression (would you like to go on a waiting list to see a counsellor?), menstrual irregularities (fa) sexual dysfunction (hard luck) etc etc etc. I tick all the boxes and am spot on the right ruddy age. 51 for non smokers, rather earlier for idiots like me. And I suppose I really am rather old now. Boy 17 used to try and pick me up, from almost the moment he could stand. He succeeded when he was about 12. He doesn't any more.

Clearly we are both older and less playful now.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

And now the world shall know....

When I decided it was time to stick my head above the parapet and Be Blogged Again, I had no idea that the first thing that would happen ghastly and horrible.

Michael Hewitt was a 'friend' on Facebook. Whilst we chatted and communicated and pissed each other both up and off, we never met. And then yesterday, while I was entertaining the wee three in London and teaching the youngest to use trains, tubes, buses and Boris bikes, I learned that he had died suddenly in his sleep, aged 52 apparently, of a heart attack.

Well, Mikey, thanks for that. If ever any news was going to wipe the shine off a jolly outing that was it. The last time I stayed in the hotel I stayed in last night with the kids (Umi Leinster Sq, cheap and cheerful) I got bored, mid afternoon and a fb'd Mikey and asked him if he'd like to join me for dinner. He replied immediately. No. He was taking the dogs (his three beloved mutts) to the vet. Surely that is the male equivalent of 'I'm washing my hair', if ever such a male equivalent existed.

Mikey was an enigma. Talentled journo, grumpy old man, bon viveur, wit, chef, journalist, savant, linguist. An eloquent, elegant, pseudo-sophisticate. And sometimes he was hilariously shocking, posting pictures of his dinner guests for the evening subtitled 'Boring cunts'. How do you grieve for someone you never really knew? Is this the new grief? I don't understand it and it feels a bit phoney. I'd like to go to his funeral because, put simply, I really liked him and will miss him. But how well did I know him? Did I know him at all? The real Mikey. Or rather, the real Michael.

My sincere and heartfelt condolences go out to his family and loved ones, lucky things. To have been loved by such a man would have been an honour. To have been friend request accepted was also a privilege.

And as Debbie Clarke so rightly said, 'And now the world will know how much we loved him'. RIP Michael Hewitt. Fuck you, Jewitt, you cunt.

Monday, 30 May 2011

The sea, the whisper and the promise. Bedlam and stigma

That long silence, think of it like the noise a body might make when it fell off the edge. That's all it was. A gentle whoosh, mouth in a silent 0, mind racing knowing that the landing wouldn't be soft. And no, it wasn't. It was horrible. An abyss so deep it took nearly two years to fall to the bottom and crawl out again.

That's the strange thing about mental health. Bedlam and stigma. I feel sure that if that had been a physical illness visually represented by say, bleeding from every orifice (eyes, ears and nose particularly) and total paralysis, the NHS might well have invested a little time and energy in me. As it was, those around me who know me as someone else, were bewildered and frightened. My family watched me both physically shrink and mentally shrink away from them. I lost the ability to have proper conversations. I lost things I had never even owned and spent days anxiously searching for them, wringing my sweaty hands together and muttering. I suspected innocent people of having the worst possible motives. All bodily processes disgusted me, including eating. I would find myself driving down the motorway with my fists clenched around the steering wheel, certain that something appalling was about to happen. And as for car park tickets and lost telephone hunts, they were a real problem. My pulse would race and I would sweat, knowing that they were both lost, lost forever, and that the consequences would be dire and unbearably complicated at best. At night I would sweat buckets and wake at 3am with a thudding heart and a million and one reasons why I had failed to be as good as I should be. And then by day I would do my very best to keep it all together. And fail. And yearn to run away, or sleep forever. And the only place I felt safe was on Facebook, where no one could touch me, and I could exaggerate the funny side of it. And then I'd get carried away and say too much and leap out of bed in the mornings to do some hurried housekeeping and editing and deleting. I still do, when the Wine and Cheese Appreciation Society meetings (Membs. 1) I hold in the kitchen late at night get a bit rowdy.

So, there. That was what it was like down at the bottom of the cliff, being dragged out to sea, swept in and pummelled on the sharp rocks for two years. Finally when I felt utterly smashed up, torn to shreds and broken, the sun came out, the sea calmed, I pulled myself up onto the rocks, caught my breath, looked up and started the climb.

I can't tell you how I survived. I'd love to, but a super injunction of sorts means I can't. I was blessed with a whisper in my ear, daily, and made to promise something that was very hard for me. Thanks alone to the whisper and the promise, I am still here.

I didn't opt for drug therapy. I was offered that, and counselling by my GP, but I was too ill for either of those options to be viable. I couldn't be bothered. I wouldn't take either. What should have happened was that I should have been hospitalized. I would have agreed to it, and one day I very nearly drove to my nearest A&E and surrendered myself as a broken doll. I don't know why I didn't really. Fear of the drugs making me fat, lumpen, compliant I suspect. And the truth is that even at my maddest I could see the funny side, the absurdity of it all.

And now I am better. The sun came out. I don't know if the Psychotherapy has made that happen or if this is just an illness that comes and goes, as it pleases, like an annoying and smelly cat. And no, knowing that bloody Winston sodding Churchill and Stephen effing Fry are both members of the club doesn't help one bit. Nothing does. And strangely, while it is lovely to be 'back in the room', I rather miss the madness, the hurly burly and the adrenalin, but not the terrible fear. The motorbike riding classes seem to be filling that gap neatly. And I can see the funny side of that too. An old Biddy in leathers humming 'Born to be Wild'. Special, in all the wrong ways.