Thursday, 26 May 2022

Tidy Up

I’m working the next four out of five long days ( the hospice is getting the most of me before I go part time in four weeks) so I may not be blogging every day. We are so short staffed, a symptom of post covid too, me thinks ….so many nurses have left nursing after the last two years 

In health care masks are still to be worn and it’s playing havoc with my beard which has morphed from being a trimmed goatee to something like Father Christmas would be proud of,

Perhaps I will leave it and wear purple, and shout in the street…..I’m 60 on Wednesday


Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Herbivore & Benediction


The cafe in Chester’s Storyhouse doubles as a library and a study area. Consequently it is always busy with tables filled with students on their laptops and diners eating Trendy bites.
I found a table only frequented by one academic type at his computer and asked if I could share. He readily agreed and made room for me when I returned with my Americano. 
As I sat down the man pointed to my T-shirt and asked if I was being ironic
I told him that I was but added that most herbivores were big boned.
He laughed and said he wasn’t inferring anything.
The man was slim and smart and was in his forties. He looked Middle Eastern or perhaps Egyptian but had a crisp radio 4 accent.
I looked at my phone and I could feel him looking at me. 
We fell into an easy conversation .
He asked me what I did for a living and mentioned he had done some work in Chester’s Hospice collecting recorded thoughts and reflections from patients. I shared that I had done the same from older residents in Trelawnyd .
We discussed the use of memory boxes in hospice care ( they are boxes of memories some patients like to prepare for their loved ones to reflect upon after their death) and my companion shared that he’d often thought about videoing messages for his children to see after his death .
As I sipped my coffee, he looked at his watch and said he had to go.
“ You have a happy face” he said as he gathered his bag and I laughed in genuine surprise 
See you again in here” he said before leaving.
And he left me pleased and intrigued

The conversation was as refreshing to me as a very cold beer is to a tired man on a very hot day.

Jack Lowdon

I went to see the rather sad drama Benediction which is the story of the wartime poet Siegfried Sassoon from his invalided exit from the army, his subsequent unhappy relationships with Stephen Tennent and Ivor Novello, through an unhappy  marriage ending with his conversion to Catholicism as an older man .

The narrative, especially the ones of the wartime years, is told in a series of cinematic tableaux where music and poetry, photographs and live action build a picture of a man haunted and angered by the horrors of war but as the story moves towards Sassoon’s search for love the plot becomes a little more traditional.

Jack Lowdon is impressive as the angry and eventual rather lost Sassoon. Mathew Tennyson is heartbreaking in his short but pivotal role as the gentle Wilfred Owen who Sassoon meets in the Scottish “neurological/ psychiatric” hospital and Ben Daniels gives the bleak first half some warmth as his role of Dr Rivers, a gay psychiatrist who sees the world with some welcomed benign pragmatism 

Terence Davies has produced an impressive but overwhelmingly sad film about failure, survivor guilt and sexual shame.

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Tender Heart

I didn’t finish choir tonight. 
I was stood next to the village hall’s burning hot radiator and it set me coughing my post covid cough and made me feel quite faint.
We had finished the tricky Tender Heart so I sat outside listening to the singing before coming home. 
I only missed 20 minutes.
Heulwen from the tenors, called in this evening to check if I was ok. 
I had told fellow bass Brian I was taking some air but I’d forgotten he’s deaf in his right ear.

I bought a hydrangea and some bedding plants for Trendy Carol today as a thank you for dog sitting.
Tomorrow I’ve booked a ticket to see Benediction 
CBM measured the patio dimensions and will give me a quote for the new roof.
He liked how I’ve titivated the bathroom


The Ladies


Lady Eleanor Butler (1739-1829) & Sarah Ponsonby( 1755-1831) are well known in North Wales as the famous Ladies Of Llangollen. Famous just as much today as they were in the 1800s, these two recluse eccentrics moved to Wales from Ireland to set up a home together at Plas Newydd in what was always presumed ( but never really proved) in a lesbian relationship.

Last night I went to see the premier of Celebrated Virgins, a new play by Kati Elgin Salt . From the get go the play informed the audience that it was going to redress history by telling the true story of Eleanor and Sarah from their privileged Irish start to their goldfish bowl existence in the picturesque Welsh town of Llangollen .
I will try not to give much away but the play has two very differently paced halves. The first is set in Ireland and effectively sets up the meeting of these two amazing women where as the second , and lighter half looks at their lives in Wales. 
There is much marching around the stage by the cast , which is a bit distracting , but the love affair between Eleanor ( Victoria John) and Sarah( Heather Agyepong is rather movingly told to be honest but I must admit Emma Pallant steals the show with her duel handed role as Sarah’s adopted mother and as the Ladies’ foul mouthed personal Irish maid who kept the two women afloat financially when she died in service .Her asides to the audience provided the much needed humour of the play. 

It’s such a privilege seeing the opening night of a new play. 

I’ve already twitted my thanks to the actors involved and I hope it does well.

Two old broads with tiny feet

Monday, 23 May 2022

Borders Of White

 Almost overnight the lane outside the cottage has been bordered with wild flowers.
Predominately white at the moment but the red valerian is making a comeback in between the cow parsley and the aubretia which has survived some over zealous grass cutting by the council workmen.

The lane is softened by the white drifts of flowers and May into June is the best time for the garden too with eight types of aquilegia lifting the borders into pastels once again.
I got up early today walked the dogs then naughtily went back to bed at 10 am 
I’m now up and around and feel better for the catch up after working the weekend.
Tonight I’m meeting a friend for some historical lesbian drama at Theatre Clwyd
It’s about the famous Ladies Of Llangollen so I suspect there will be no bodice ripping in sight.

Sunday, 22 May 2022

Chairs and Carpets


I was late home tonight.
I witnessed a road accident in Colwyn Bay and stopped to help.
The girl was ok in the bashed mini but I had quite a lot of blood on my hands from a laceration on her knuckles 
She told me I looked like her dad as we waited for the police 
She was in shock 

I needed the last of my Christmas gin when I got home.
The bats were out in force in the lane as the dogs returned 
My friend Nigel sent an email about his birthday gift to me 
We have the same birthday 
Under his message was one from a furniture company 
I bought a chair from them  a few months ago and they cheerfully told me that it should be delivered tomorrow
A friend had a similar one and I loved the way it felt when I sat in it 
I’m a sucker for nice chairs 

Just the living room carpet to change,
I’ve toyed with a hardwood floor
But you bloody well  can’t have slippy floors with bulldogs around……

They just can’t fucking corner

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Andra Day - Rise Up

I love this song, obviously inspired by Maya Angelou.
An anthem for keeping

It’s Saturday night and I’ve just had a delightfully hot long shower after work. 
Covered in dogs I’m now watching the 1971 The French Connection and I’ve forgotten just how good it is .but I need to go to bed soon as I’m up in the morning 
I can’t wait to go part time. Only a month or so to go.
It’s almost dusk and a man is shooting rabbits in the field with a powerful air rifle 
I can’t find Albert in the cottage so I’ve just called over for him to be careful as Albert too is hunting rabbits.
The man didn’t look pleased
I didn’t care.
For Albert limped up out of the grass when he heard my voice .
Mrs Trellis left a phone message worried about the war memorial inside the Church 
My elder sister messaged asking what I wanted for my birthday
I asked for a super king sized lightweight duvet 

Another two friends have messaged me but I’m tired so I promised myself to answer them tomorrow night ….I ate some cold sushi rice with chicken then  drank a gin and tonic on the patio before returning to Gene Hackman 
It’s almost dark 
And the pipistrelle bats are roaring up and down the lane like a Top Gun video with Mary watching them as though she’s sat at Wimbledon 

'Still I Rise' by Maya Angelou

The poem is new to me 
It slaps you hard when heard for the first time does it not ?
The words AND the performance 

It’s Nu’s birthday today, she’s in Turkey 
Off to work

Friday, 20 May 2022

First Kiss

Kitchen table
The bantam cockerel is noisy next door which is strange as it’s 10.30.
I’m planning my cooking for the weekend as I’m working both days
Katsu curry, sushi and mushroom noodles.
Tonight I’m out to dinner for a colleagues leaving do .
The 1970s Italian in Conwy, Alfredo’s 

More coffee, me thinks, then I need to post some birthday cards.
Amongst others it’s Nu’s birthday tomorrow.

My nephew texted me yesterday
The message was simple and to the point.
Julie and I had our first kiss today” 
I was touched he had shared the milestone with me and managed a exuberant reply of “ OMG !”
“ Yep “ came the economical and proud response.
I told him to keep on practicing if he liked it 
And he sent me lots of laughing emojis 

Now my first kiss with a girl was a somewhat overblown and unpleasant affair, Her name was Eirian  and the kiss was wet and sloppy and passionless. She had a bosom that acted as though it had a brain of its own and I felt somewhat hemmed in by it and Eirian’s lips as I lay prostrate on her parents couch.
I was sixteen and disappointed 

I was 18 when I was kissed by a man. 
It felt like a one off as it was by the brother of my then girlfriend and although it felt right in so many ways, it totally felt wrong in others. 

It was six years later when I was more grown up when I had my second , proper snog with a man.

Now this too was a strange affair which happened after midnight in the back entrance doorway of Bootham Park Hospital’s psychiatric wing.
He was a policeman with a thick black beard who had stopped for a cuppa at our mother and baby unit
I was showing him out when he unexpectedly pushed me against the door and kissed me.
If there was more to the moment, like the build up of flirting or any furtive blushing , I can’t recall it. 
I always remember him as being tall and cheerful, and full of manly smiles.
I wonder now if he was just a security guard. 

But his kiss was a million miles away from the ones I had experienced before.
And one or two since.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Downton ( Spoilers)


 I felt like a Sunday afternoon film today.
Nothing too taxing.
Just something to wash over me .
It had to be Downton Abbey a new Era .
Now watching Downton is a bit like attending a works reunion or a night out with old school mates. 
You are visiting with people that you like but you haven’t really got enough time to talk to.
24 main characters within a two hour storyline? 
Therefore everything plot line is hurried and save for a couple of scenes, most of the pathos and drama is lost.
It must be slightly annoying for some to watch their favourite characters, for instance  Anna, Mr Bates and Danka who just stand around muttering the odd word and I had to smile at Imelda Staunton who popped up in three scenes only to say something like I need a cup of coffee and I’m off to a sleep before exiting stage left.

But it’s very silly and lovely to look at , what with Downton being used as the  backdrop for a cinema shoot as most of the toffs relocate to the south of France to take possession of a villa left to Dowager some seventy years previously.
And in good fairy tale style all the romantic loose ends are tied up with Baxter, Mosely, Mrs Padmore and 
Barrow finding happier endings.

Of course it is Maggie Smith’s swan song as the wisecracking Lady Dowager and rather movingly her final scene with the glorious Penelope Wilton ( her nemesis for all of the tv series ) is sweet and unhurried and incredibly poignant 
Take your tissues

It was sunny in Chester when I left the cinema and it was nice to sit in the sun on Northgate street and listen to a busker playing a Spanish guitar

I fell asleep