29 April 2017

Happy Birthday

It would have been Greg's 68th birthday today. Happy Birthday up there on the clouds, doing whatever they do up there. Are you allowed any alcohol to celebrate, I wonder?

I cannot picture Greg as 68. He is still the 60-year-old who died just over seven years ago. I suppose that's one thing about dying relatively young. You never age beyond that point. Whereas for the rest of us, you cannot stem the slowly oncoming tide of ailments, poor eyesight, tottering gait, failing this and failing that.   He has escaped the drawbacks of ageing, but has been cut off in his relative prime by the demons of drink. Which is worse?

Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

19 April 2017

The thin end of the wedge

"Have you heard the news?" said Mum animatedly yesterday. "Theresa May is calling for a general election."

"I know", I said. "It's quite unexpected, isn't it?" 

"Hmm." she replies. "I can't understand why she's doing it, though.  Errr.  Forgive me for being ignorant, but what does Brexit stand for and what is it all about?"

I feel a sledgehammer hitting me sideways.  How on earth do I answer that? I'm not very good at masking. Lying. Pretending.  So I go for the full-on honest approach. "You are kidding me, mum. There's been little else discussed over the last 12 months. You even voted on it last year in the Referendum. It's a shortened form for British Exit."

There's a pause. "Oh I see." But clearly she doesn't, so I venture "It's the British exit from the European Union. You know, the Common Market."


This is not the first instance that I have felt something is not quite right. There have been a few others. On Easter Sunday, I brought her over to my house to share with Kay and me  in an old-fashioned English meal of roast lamb and Easter Simnel cake. There is just the three of us now. Mum's husband, my father, died in 2001. My husband died in 2010. Kay is an only child, as am I.  So on important occasions it has been just the three of us for the last seven years. The three musketeers. 

Kay helps mum from the lounge to her seat at the dining table. I dish up the meal and put it in front of mum, before I return with the plates for Kay and me.

"Where are the others?" asks Mum. "Are they not coming down for lunch?"

"What others?" I ask, not daring to imagine whom she means.

She looks confused. "Er. Er. I don't know. Er. "

Kay and I exchange glances. "Do you mean Kay's boyfriend?" I suggest as a possible way out, although he is 40 miles away with his parents, as my mother well knows. 

"Yes", she replies, although not with conviction.

I worry if these instances are just a slight wobble or a symptom of something much worse. She is in a lot of pain with her arthritis and the painkillers don't even touch the sides. Even then, she only takes paracetamol and the occasional codeine, as she has done for years, so there is nothing really heavy to cause her mind to behave strangely as it seems to be doing lately. Stronger painkillers make her woozy, so we have experimented with them way back in the past but dismissed them as too dangerous as she lives on her own and could have a fall.

Are these the first signs of dementia? She is approaching 94 after all, but then again her next-door neighbour is going to be 100 next week and is as bright as button. My mother is very interested in the television news and would read more if her poor eyesight did not let her down, so she is not completely gaga and at least knows what year she is in and who the Prime Minister is. 

But I can't help feeling these little instances are worrying and I don't know what the next few months will bring. I am not sure I am prepared for it, whatever "it" is.
Kay made a Simnel Cake for Easter

Isn't she clever?

04 April 2017

Stratford upon Avon

Sorry for my rather long silence, but I've been away.  Last week Kay and I had a mini-break in Stratford-upon Avon. I've been there before but it was over 35 years ago and in the dark. I got an evening coach trip from Leicester (where I was at uni) to see a play, so all I saw of Stratford was in the dark apart from the inside of the theatre! I felt it was high time and long overdue that I visit the town properly.

Kay had a few days off before she changed rotations and wanted to utilise the time wisely, so we hit on the idea of Stratford upon Avon. I've heard of Shakespeare (who hasn't?) and all his plays, but I did not really know anything about the man. In the space of a few days, I got to know him and his family really well. 

Kay had booked us into a lovely self-contained airbnb which was a short walk to the town centre, so we were able to sight-see during the day, walk back to the flat and refresh ourselves, before walking back to the town centre again to choose a restaurant for dinner.

We  saw most of the Shakespeare homes. 

First his birthplace
Front of birth house on Henley Street
Rear of birth house
Young Will had to share this bed with two of his brothers!  

Then on to Anne Hathaway's Cottage  - the home of his wife before they married. I think this place was my favourite of them all.

We also visited Hall Croft, the home of his daughter Susanna. She married a physician and Kay found it very interesting to learn about Tudor medicine. (Thank goodness we did not live in those days, is all I can say.)
Hall Croft

We also popped into Holy Trinity Church  where Shakespeare is buried. I stupidly thought he was buried in Westminster Abbey, but maybe the caption on his grave put people off moving him.

Wandering around the town there were so many beautiful old buildings - I cannot possibly put them all here, but here are a few....

We did not see a play while we were there. My hearing is not what it used to be and I did not fancy sitting through several hours of Julius Caesar, which was on during our stay, without being able to hear what was going on.

Shakespeare was 18 when he married Anne Hathaway. She was 26 and apparently "3-months with child", so they married hastily in November 1582. She probably conceived in August or September - the height of harvest-making on her farm. Say no more.  Their first-born was Susanna (who married Dr Hall,  the physician I mentioned above). Shakespeare and Anne later had twins Judith and Hamnet, but Hamnet died at the age of 11, so the Shakespeare line died out with the two girls. Shakespeare was quite a wealthy man and owned several properties in Stratford as well as in London.  It was amazing to think he left school at 15, died at the age of 52 and yet wrote so prolifically in that short time.

You can tell,  I thoroughly enjoyed my short-break and came back thoroughly refreshed.