Eevee

Happily having a morning constitutional when the bathroom door exploded open.

Sorry Dad you have company. Need a photograph of the Shiny Eevee.

Another thing not in the glossy adverts about parenting. But the same applies to Dog owning. Our bungalow has a design issue.

For some reason the architect who designed the building thought it would be funny to put the toilet basically in full sight of the front door. The bathroom door takes on the same importance as the Wall in a Game of Thrones. It is the only defence against chaos. It doesn’t help that for some reason the bathroom door has decided to expand just enough that it doesn’t fully shut.

So when you are happily sat on the throne it’s not perfect timing for the postman to arrive at the very same time as the dog barges open the bathroom door. The postman’s horror would make a great Stephen King novel. At least a short novel. It could be the short version of IT.

S*IT. Which is probably the words the postman issued. Definitely the words I said.

It’s also the perfect description of my current mood. I won’t bore you with the long story yet again. But over the last 3 years the period from July 23 to early September is when we lost my mum, my partners mum and my partner. It should be a great time. The period exactly covers the long school break. Before the world changed it rivalled Christmas for the best part of the year. Now it’s an ordeal. But holiday periods are often like that. Even after 3 years it’s still an ordeal. Maybe it will get better over time. Maybe it never will.

Grief is such a difficult feeling to describe. I’m still trying to capture it on this blog. I’m still not that close I suspect but I will keep plugging away. Have a look at the blog Party of One, or Life after Death. Malia writes about losing her husband so beautifully. Look at The Grief Reality. Another beautifully written blog about coping with the loss of a beloved mum at a far too early age in life. These show what can be achieved.

In those three years since the world changed I often fall back on silliness to release the pressure. I strongly suspect that it’s really a ploy to just to stop the grieving process for a few moments. Maybe if I laugh the problems will just go away. Sadly they don’t.

Son often copes by trying to fill his head with information. Today it’s been Egyptian Football, Agrippina and Pokemon Go. Thankfully the distraction seems to be working for him.

Tonight we will both forget about life by watching Red Dwarf. So very funny. Hopefully we will have more luck than the previous night. We watched an episode which featured unusually for the show a sad segment where the shipmates talked about not having a mum. The Kryten line everyone should have a mum really did hit home. You are so right Kryten. It’s not easy at my age but at son’s age….

So hopefully after a lot of laughs tonight we go again tomorrow. Let’s see how many Pokemon I can traumatise in the bathroom. No wonder it went shiny.

The phone

A couple of miles from our village a large TV event has been taking place. Something like 20000 people have been attending. But we haven’t seen a soul. The dog walk felt like we had the land to ourselves. Isolation.

This summer is probably going to be my most isolated ever (so far). Outside our gang I would be amazed if I have spoken more than 30 words to the outside world. Probably had more conversations with the plants (weeds) in our garden. It really is starting to show. Even something as simple as buying a couple of entry tickets leaves me a gibbering wreck.

Not had a single conversation with anyone in the village in months, Suspect the village are celebrating that. Even the postman has gone into stealth mode. Absolutely no sign of the neighbours.

A few years back I remember a clinician telling us that we should probably get used to the idea of becoming isolated. Get used to your own company. She had seen a lot of parents in our position get cut off from friends and the outside world. That seemed fine as I had my soul partner with me. Didn’t realise how applicable own company would become.

This afternoon I checked if our phone was still working. It’s not rung once during the entire school holidays. In fact my mobile has only had two brief work calls. As the months go on my isolation from the world gathers pace. I’m not sure if that scares me or delights me. It’s got to the stage that I’m not sure if anyone would notice if I replaced the phone with a large bust of Boris Johnson. Probably not.

I would hope that the Boris bust would become a favourite cock a leg spot for the dog. Suppose I would need to move it outside. Wonder if Boris would tell the migrating birds to bugger off back to their own country. Sorry should really give Boris his full name

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

Ironically Boris wasn’t born in this country. Given his position on immigration maybe he should send himself back to America. Anyway I bet his phone rings more times than mine. A man who currently wants the UK to be isolated Internationally probably doesn’t understand what isolation really means.

Maybe I should offer my services. I could be the Governments expert on isolation. I did think about being the Government expert on talking gibberish but they have already got that position well and truly covered.

Real

There is a scene at the end of the third Hobbit movie where Tauriel pleads after the death of her love

Why does it hurt so much?

With the telling response from Thranduil

Because it was real.

This is a bit of movie padding as it’s not from the book. Tauriel is not even in the book. So it’s not canon. But frankly I don’t care. It’s a rather fine movie and the sentiment can’t be faulted. It is hauntingly true.

Before 2016 I never noticed this movie exchange. Now it never fails to get to me. How often do you experience real love and yet it passes you by. You seem to miss living in the moment. Take things for granted. Assume you have time. Plenty of time to get round to the important stuff after you have ticked off the mundane tasks. The tasks expected of you. In reality you may have little time. Putting love off proves to be little more than a foolish role of the dice. A gamble where the debt can never be paid off. Suddenly when it’s ripped away from your grasp love becomes so vivid, so obvious ,so painful. Yes it’s real but now it’s not just a memory. Your moment has gone.

It’s a stabbing pain. A pain etched in memories. I have a few particular memories which are like the most vivid photographs ever. All real and all so painful. Yes painful but they are about love. Real love. One is from a Swiss trip before our son was born. We were on a boat on Lake Thun. I had gone outside to take a photo. The image is me looking through the window and seeing my partner smiling back at me. Every time I see that memory a bit more of my soul dies.

Why does it hurt so much.

Because it was real.

Zord

Zero sleep last night. Not even looking at old photos from a trip to the Peak District helped at 5am. And as all you biologists will know – zero sleep equates to zombieism. So I’ve been a full on zombie today. All zombies need a cool name, just ask Rob Zombie or Shaun of the Dead. A particularly awesome zombie was Skipper in a brilliant episode of The Penguins of Madagascar. If you want a laugh look up that one.

My first name might be fine in front of a famous Western Actors surname or in front of a great English Strikers surname or as the name of a pet in a certain underwater burger eating cartoon. But as a Zombie it is pretty lame. So we need a rebranding. Hopefully for just one day only I am Zord. Yes I watched PowerRangers.

Unfortunately Zord is a bit cranky. Zord has decided he doesn’t like August. Too many memories. Bad memories. Sad memories. The slightest thing can bring a tear. Yes zombies have an emotional dimension to them. Yet again movies like World War Z are so quick to stereotype.

Zord is a bit accident prone. Smashed a cup and broken the scissors. He’s burnt toast, crumpets and baked beans today. He even managed to set fire to a dish cloth. Zombies clearly don’t get to use an oven much. Must admit the microwave is beyond Zord as well. He initially just took the lid of the tin of beans then put the tin straight into the microwave. I think Zord fancied being the Lord of Lightening just once.

Zord has a tendency to fall asleep. That sleep where the eyes shut, the head then falls backwards and you are immediately woken by that awful head snapping sensation. So far Zord has tried that while watching TV, while trying to type up a report, while trying to sign a cheque and while on the toilet. Silly Zord.

Zord can also be a bit snappy. Unforgivably Zord has snapped a couple of times at our son. Bad Zord. But he does realise that being snappy is not a good trait so he is trying to control the snappiness. Zord finds coffee and chocolate helps. I’ve not had the heart to tell Zord that he is one of the few vegan zombies.

Let’s see what lasts longer with Zord – zombieism or veganism. Trying to be a vegan is bloody expensive. Sorry bloody and vegan shouldn’t be in the same sentence. Forgive me I am a tired parent zombie.

Brief

For just a few minutes the clouds parted and summer made a brief appearance. Back to rain now. It was nice while it lasted.

I woke up this morning and like most mornings – half asleep. Few minutes later I’m peddling away on the exercise bike. Starting to feel more awake now. 28kph – come on lazy pants bit quicker.

Dad your squeaking.

And with that his bedroom door shuts. (Most unusual) I most be squeaky. So my morning mini Tour De France is interrupted. Why is it that when you need something from the toolbox it somehow develops cloaking technology. The oil was in the box. Search abandoned and cooking oil is smeared over the noisy bike. I wonder if this is common practice in professional cycling circles.

So we start the cycling again.

Dad can you hear the strange noises outside.

The resulting investigation seems to indicate the side gate banging in the wind. Quickly fixed with a brick. It’s tough for our son. So easily unsettled.

Can you move the bike into my room.

Tell you what why don’t you bring your blanket and try to sleep on the sofa next to the bike. The dog will happily join you. Few minutes later he is settled in with his four legged hot water bottle. So I try to start cycling again.

For a few brief moments I get into the zone. Good speed. Then the mind starts to wander. The biggest problem with indoor cycling. It was an August Sunday three years ago at about this time when the phone rang. It was the Doctor saying sorry but the last treatment option had failed and it was now time to move partner into end of life care. Shiver down the spine. Feel completely sick. Tears starting. Then anger. Why. Tell me why.

Anger fuelled peddling. Speed is now becoming breakneck.

Dad your squeaking again.

And with that it’s time to get off the bike. Squeaking wins the day. Come on son let’s have an unhealthy breakfast.

Can I have waffles.

You can have anything you want son. So like the sunshine. Today’s exercise was brief and my healthy eating regime is broken. Too brief to make a difference.

Ok

Ok is just one of those words. As a kid our headteacher would give you an automatic detention for saying it. It was a banned word along with Punk, Booze, Ciggy, Damm, T**t, F*** ………. I think it was not seen as proper English. Strange as it was a school in Yorkshire and we could say words like Wazak, Jiggered and Chuffin Heck.

Now I have a problem with ok. It’s a twofold issue

  • It’s too easy when someone asks how you are to just say “OK”. It almost becomes automatic. What does it mean really.
  • When I ask after somebody’s wellbeing I often say “Are you Ok” or “Hope your Ok”.

Hope your ok…..

The more I think about it the worse that sounds. First of all are you ok. It sounds like I’m hoping someone is basically average, somewhere between wonderful and sh**e. It’s hardly the same as saying are you great, spectacular or wonderful. Basically setting a pretty low expectations bar. Don’t get me wrong we all feel just average somedays. It’s not as good as being happy but way better than being like sh*t. It would be nice if we were all happy some of the time.

Are you ok…..

You are often talking with people who have suffered or are suffering so much pain. Depression, Grief, Loneliness, Despair, Hardship, Physical Pain. Are you ok sounds such a trite way of asking after someone’s wellbeing. Well of course they are not OK.

It’s just a personal thing but I am going to try and find more suitable alternatives to Ok. Maybe they don’t always exist but it’s worth a try. Recently when people have asked how I am I’ve started trying to say Distinctly Average rather than ok. It’s actually feels like a good summary of my usual mood. It certainly feels a more meaningful response than OK. But I will definitely promise that when someone does take the time to ask how I feel I will be honest. Hopefully no more bland OKs.

Asking after someone’s wellbeing is proving more difficult. It’s definitely still a work in progress. Maybe How are you doing is the way to go. What about How are you feeling. Actually it’s probably the follow up question which is the key. We shall see. I’m going to have a good ponder about this. I hope that’s ok with you.

Alviiiiiin!

I wonder if the cow is even aware of that strange thing in the sky. Should I warn the cow. Probably not – would just think I’m full of hot air.

I think saying stupid or silly things is a release for me. It’s a way of relieving pressure. Diffusing the dark thoughts that can crowd my mind. However that Monty Python in me is often misinterpreted.

He’s a happy soul.

Not a care in the world.

OR

He’s got over things now.

He’s moved on.

That is so far from the truth. Everyday is a struggle. You just have to learn to coexist with Depression and Grief.

I would love to release my inner demons through beautiful paintings or dark soulful poetry. Unfortunately that’s just not me. It doesn’t work for me and the end result is a pile of pants. All it does is bring out my inner Alvin and The Chipmunks. Not sure that would be a box office winner – Alvin and The Grief Trip.

Sorry there I go again.

The point I’m trying to make if Alvin would just let me is that how you appear on the surface is often very different to how you actually feel inside. It doesn’t help that often people don’t want to hear how you really are feeling. They will ask – how are you? They desperately want you to say – fine. And guess what – when you get asked that question your almost preprogrammed to say – I’m ok.

Maybe we should have a deal. From now on let’s all REALLY ask how someone is. When they say fine or ok how about we follow up with – are you really sure. Or I’m here for you I know how tough it can be.

The other part of the deal is when someone takes the time to really ask how you are then be honest. Instead of saying just dandy it is ok to say like shit or not good or I’m struggling. Or if your feeling really brave just say I could really do with a hug.

We all struggle sometimes. Wouldn’t it be a better world if we could all just be a bit more open about that. What do you say Alvin.

Prom

It was a bit wet in Yorkshire last night. Landslides, floods, bridges swept away. That’s more like proper summer weather. So this photo was taken a few days ago – now the path down to here is flooded.

The local stately home has a Classical Proms on this weekend. Given the amount of rain coming down at present I suspect they could dispense with the services of the Orchestra – unless they can play underwater. A more appropriate option would be Spongebob and Patrick.

It’s strange how the mention of the Proms brings back memories.

  • Sat at that venue watching a summer concert featuring Tom Jones. It was cold, it was wet it was grim. My partner had 3 jumpers on. Scarily I knew every single song Tom sung. The couple behind us where a bit disappointed as they thought they had bought tickets for Tom Waits
    When we first moved here we decided to have a Proms party. Sit in our garden with wine and listen to the music. This being Yorkshire the summer Prom featured a gale force wind. We couldn’t hear a damm thing.
    The year after we tried again but still couldn’t hear a thing. So I stayed sober and we sneaked into the car park and listened from their.
    The year after that we actually bought tickets but completely forgot. We didn’t realise until we heard the fireworks going off.

So this weekend I will go outside with a cup of coffee and see if I can hear the music. If I can then I will sit next to my Partners Yorkshire Rose and reflect on life. Maybe I will just go outside and play some Elgar and Samuel Barber on the iPad. Reflecting while holding a brolly.

A hill

It may look picturesque and relaxing but….

Looks can be deceiving. The lane bends to the left and then suddenly drops. And wow does it drop. One hundred yards of hell. Having had the pleasure of running up this slope I can officially call it a ‘ball breaker’.

Life is like that. Contentedly tottering along the paths that take you through life then suddenly you face an unexpected uphill struggle. Suddenly life becomes tough, it saps your energy, it tests you. The argument goes that when you get to the top of the hill you are a better person. Or your hot, sweaty and distinctly limping.

Three years ago mum went into hospital on my brothers birthday and left us a few days later on my birthday. Days after the funeral I found out the my partner was dying and had no more than a couple of weeks to live. Happily walking down the country lane and suddenly dealing with this and trying to get our young son through the shitstorm (sorry for the language but it’s the most apt word I can think of). It feels like the mother of all hills to climb and we are still climbing. Maybe the slope has eased a bit but the brow of the hill is still not in sight. Maybe it never will.

The meaning of my birthday has now changed forever. It’s not a day to be enjoyed anymore. I suspect if it was just me climbing this pesky hill then I would have sat down by now. But it’s not. That’s why everyday we start charging up that hill again. Son deserves that.

Sunday night Kissing

Kissing is something which died when the world changed. Well anyway for me. But Sunday Night Kissing is still just about possible.

Last night we went to see Kiss perform their last ever English concert.

It was loud. It was cartoon like. It was larger than life. It was ridiculously full of explosions. It was Rock and Entertainment at its best.

Unbelievably I noticed a young chap stand up without prompting, start dancing, shouting, singing and clapping. That’s a first. Thankfully he has more rhythm than his Dad.

I have to say music has been a lifesaver. It’s always been the one constant. It wasn’t embarrassed when I struggled with depression. It didn’t turn its back on me when death came calling in 2016. And it didn’t batter an eyelid when Autism came a calling.

Yes Kissing is a memory. No more Kiss concerts for us. But we have precious memories.

Music is an unwavering friend who has embraced our son. Thank you Kiss. Thank you Rock. Thank you Music.