Monday, 23 June 2008

Reasons to be cheerful (part 3)

Showing my age with a dollop of Ian Dury here, I just wanted to say that while the previous entry is necessarily bleak I am not wading through the Slough of Despond.
I have many, many causes to be thankful from the Boys and the Panther through my fabulous friends and family to health and wealth via sunshine and birdsong.
So, ponder life's rich tapestry with a dose of good-reason-for-things-in-the-end optimism and some vintage Blockheads...

Why don't you get back into bed

Reasons to be cheerful part 3

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Summer, Buddy Holly, the working folly
Good golly Miss Molly and boats
Hammersmith Palais, the Bolshoi Ballet
Jump back in the alley and nanny goats

18-wheeler Scammels, Domenecker camels
All other mammals plus equal votes
Seeing Piccadilly, Fanny Smith and Willy
Being rather silly, and porridge oats

A bit of grin and bear it, a bit of come and share it
You're welcome, we can spare it - yellow socks
Too short to be haughty, too nutty to be naughty
Going on 40 - no electric shocks

The juice of the carrot, the smile of the parrot
A little drop of claret - anything that rocks
Elvis and Scotty, days when I ain't spotty,
Sitting on the potty - curing smallpox

Reasons to be cheerful part 3
Reasons to be cheerful part 3
Reasons to be cheerful part 3
Reasons to be cheerful part 3

1 2 3

Reasons to be cheerful part 3

Health service glasses
Gigolos and brasses
round or skinny bottoms

Take your mum to paris
lighting up the chalice
wee willy harris

Bantu Stephen Biko, listening to Rico
Harpo, Groucho, Chico

Cheddar cheese and pickle, the Vincent motorsickle
Slap and tickle
Woody Allen, Dali, Dimitri and Pasquale
balabalabala and Volare

Something nice to study, phoning up a buddy
Being in my nuddy
Saying hokey-dokey, singalonga Smokey
Coming out of chokey

John Coltrane's soprano, Adi Celentano
Bonar Colleano

Reasons to be cheerful part 3
Reasons to be cheerful part 3
Reasons to be cheerful part 3
Reasons to be cheerful part 3

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Yes yes
dear dear
perhaps next year
or maybe even never

in which case

Reasons to be cheerful part 3

Friday, 20 June 2008

A dark week

There weren’t really any clues. Nothing hinting at the heartache to come.
On Sunday morning I woke to find a couple of splats of dark blood. My learned friends on the internet and the midwives at the RAH didn’t seem to think that at 18 weeks there was anything to worry about, so I didn’t.
I shopped and cleaned and generally pottered through a blissfully boring Sunday.
On Monday we turned up at the appointed hour at the Early Pregnancy Unit. I was all dressed up and ready to rush off to interview someone for a commission. We were relaxed and certain that we’d be checked and reassured.
Then it changed. The midwife couldn’t find a heartbeat with her listening device so we were bustled, naively hopeful, to the ultrasound room.
“I’m so sorry. This isn’t what we’d hoped to see.”
Silence as we gazed at the foetus, still in the womb.
She tried again. “This isn’t what we’d hope to see.”
“It’s dead, isn’t it?” a whisper.
It stopped growing a couple of weeks ago, apparently. A missed miscarriage.
They take us somewhere where we weep. Kind people come and talk to us, tell us what’s next. They talk of medical management, of progesterone and post mortem examinations. The voice in my head says it’s crazy – it’s a sunny Monday lunchtime and I should be interviewing a woman about what’s so good about her bars and restaurants.
Then what?
“Come back on Wednesday morning. We’ll give you more drugs and get it over with. It’ll hurt but we can help with that.”
We comfort the boys as they absorb the news. Boy Two’s sturdy little body sobs.
But nature – cruel but usually with purpose – is impatient. By the time the boys have their swimming lesson on Tuesday, I’m properly uncomfortable and things are definitely happening. I’m pleased – the end of limbo in sight.
“Come on up to the labour ward then, just when you’re ready,” another kind midwife.
I hand over to my mother garbling instructions about school bags and night routines as we go.
It’s visiting time and the lift is full of people carrying cards and blue and pink balloons, so we take the stairs.
Later I’m in a horrid hospital nightie and the Panther is sliding around in the “only Parker Knoll in the labour ward” and we’re waiting for the drugs to work and things to kick off.
The night passes in a blur of pain and misery. I feel like I’m licked in a battle, but I’m not sure what I’m fighting or why. The kind people keep coming and going – sticking needles in and taking temperature and pressure readings. Sometimes they bring tea and toast. We talk about the changes to the Maternity Unit in the six years since the last time I was there. Though instead then when I left I took a little life home with me.
Finally as dawn broke through the trees that shelter the smokers, the morphine takes hold and I sleep.
I wake to find a kind midwife telling me the moment I’d dreaded the most has arrived. But instead of the effort of a fight to the death, the little bundle leaves me easily. It slips away as freely as the tears that roll down my face to drip from my chin. It’s a huge relief.
Panther holds me tight, this is his moment of loss.
More kind people come and go. More tea and toast, but not for me because I need an operation now. There are forms to fill in and decisions to make.
Later, sorry, sore and with a head light through loss of blood we go home. The world seems cruelly unchanged as were flayed alive. Panther asks if this is normal, if this is so common, how can it possibly hurt so much. I have no answer. We can only keep counting our many blessings and surely it will fade.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Better or verse?

Rather virtuously I was repairing little boys' school trousers on Sunday afternoon when I heard this on Radio 4's Poetry Please. For a moment, it stopped me from wondering what had become of my rollercoaster rock'n'roll life.

The Birthright

We who were born
In country places,
Far from cities
And shifting faces,
We have a birthright
No man can sell,
And a secret joy
No man can tell.

For we are kindred
To lordly things,
The wild duck's flight
And the white owl's wings;
To pike and salmon,
To bull and horse,
The curlew's cry
And the smell of gorse.

Pride of trees,
Swiftness of streams,
Magic of frost
Have shaped our dreams:
No baser vision
Their spirit fills
Who walk by right
On the naked hills.

-- Eiluned Lewis

Who da van? Why do VWs have silly names?

VW campervans were once the preserve of antipodeans and surfers, or perhaps both. You could sort of see the attraction: the iconic shape, the open road, the let's-start-the-party-right-here lifestyle.
But then being stuck behind one on the road as it grumbles and farts its way along a busy lochside can kill the romance fairly quickly. At least more quickly than the VW will go at full backfire. And if that's not bad enough, all that subtle shark's-tooth-on-leather-thong necklace and 'yo dude' bullying would usually do the job. You know the sort. It's the 'I'll make you feel stuffy, uptight and boooooring just because you've got a career and a mortgage' school of insults.
Anyhow, a fascinating piece of work recently led me to discover a thriving rent-a-VW industry in Scotland.
So it's now possible to have it all: the 9-to-5 and privet hedge during the week, then off catching a wave, hanging with the bros or whatever it is these chaps do at the weekend.
But, without exception, every single one of the many vehicles for hire appears to have some sickly moniker. Drive off into the sunset behind the wheel of Hamish, Agnes, Tinky Winky or Paddington.
People, pets and possibly a child's favourite toy need a name, German-engineered vehicles - however practical - do not.
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