Monthly Archives: October 2009


Slowly but surely, inch by inch, I am losing a son. I look back and see feel again that head on my shoulder, that first real physical contact, when a six year old boy looked into my eyes and said “You’re my new mummy”. It was the first time we’d met, and the social worker and I took him for a walk on his new roller blades – predictably he’d fallen, and I had been there to catch him in my open arms.

I remember so many things. The first glimpse I had of him in his school before we were introduced. It was Ash Wednesday and there he was, sitting outside the school office as he’d fallen over on the playground and bumped his knee, the mark of a cross on his forehead because the school had just come back from the church. I remember teaching him to read, helping him overcome his fear of heights, introducing him to the swimming pool (It’s deep, mummy, it’s deep!) and gradually building his confidence until his swimming left me miles behind him. I remember curling up together on the sofa to watch TV. I remember the first day that I really realised he was growing up. I remember teaching him to play, to use his imagination. I remember taking him to see Michael Morpurgo, taking him to his first Shakespeare, taking him abroad for the first time. I remember my boy who brought such joy into my life.
I cling to those memories and treasure them.

Today he has been transferred. I cannot go into details, but he’s in more trouble again. I knew the transfer was coming and had arranged with the prison that I would visit before it took place, but it was all done far more quickly than anyone had anticipated and he was gone before they could even let me know. He’s now physically an impossible distance away, and in many ways emotionally just as far. And I find myself unable even to find the words to write to him.

You’re welcome

This morning I was officially welcomed as a new member (by transfer) of my new home church, and very welcome I felt too. I had to go to the front (how embarrassing!) and be introduced to my massive new church family.

The minister pointed out that the congregation would already have been well aware that I had brought my son with me as everyone had noticed and fallen in love with him already. Good job he wasn’t in the room – his head is swollen enough!

I was asked to renew my vows to serve and support the church family with my prayers, my skills and talents and my love. When I promised “with God’s help, I will” I meant it wholeheartedly, but I didn’t expect to have to put it into practice quite so soon…. nor expect the skills in question to be my first aid training…but helping to patch up a lady who’s had a nasty fall on her way out of church is a good way of getting to know a few more members of the congregation, I find.. especially when they now know you by name already! There again, it was a bit funny that the one person who went blithely off to fetch a bowl of hot water from the kitchen was the one person who didn’t even know where the kitchen was, let alone where the bowls were kept.

I do now.

Rowdy neighbourhood

That’s the trouble with moving from the countryside to the town.
I didn’t sleep too well last night, for obvious reasons, but finally managed to fall into a deep sleep in the early hours, only to be wakened by the Smudgelet, who had in turn been woken by the sounds of someone in distress in the street outside his bedroom window.

A woman screaming for help.

I don’t know what help I thought I could be, as I strode out into the street, blurry eyed, without even stopping to put on my slippers and dressing gown (good job I sleep in pyjamas usually). Not sure of the hour, I guessed it was some altercation spilling over from the nearby pub.

I ended up breaking up a fight.

A fight between two foxes.

I think I’ll go back to bed, now the Smudgelet has gone to school, and actually get some sleep before my morning of phone calls (unlike my friend who may also be experiencing an unwelcome wakening in the early hours – I accidentally left my handbag at her house with my mobile phone in the pocket…. with the alarm set for 6 a.m. !!)

Bad news

I am reaching the stage where I am getting so used to those steamrollers of stress that I hardly bat an eye when something else goes wrong. Maybe the tears will come later. At the moment I just feel numb.

Bad news from the prison.

Good job I’m out to a Local Preachers’ meeting this evening or I have a feeling that the bottle of out-of-date Baileys in the fridge might have ended up ready for the recycling bin tomorrow, regardless of how “off” the cream was. As it is it’s probably just as well I’m numb – tears at my first Local Preachers’ meeting might be a little too awkward an introduction.


I wonder if he reads my blog

I had a different gym instructor yet again today. This one was best of the lot. But I did nearly get the giggles when he was introducing me to a new (and rather strenuous for an unfit and shall we say “rotund” old woman) exercise.

Him: I want you to do ten repetitions.
Me: (after the sixth)I’ve lost count. Was that six or seven?
Him: It was four. Only eight more to go 😀

Me: (exhausted at the end) I used to teach Maths – do you need some extra lessons in counting?
Him: Oh, I can count, but it got fourteen repetitions out of you when you baulked at the suggestion of ten 😀

This instructor has the measure of me. I think he’s been reading my blog.


I shouldn’t really be here, by the way. It’s only that I’m bored!

Eyes are not brilliant today. They were awful yesterday – all I wanted to do was lie down in a darkened room. The day before they were fantastic and I felt an absolute fraud. Though when I say fantastic, it’s qualified. When they’re good, it feels as though I can see perfectly well. But when I stop and think about my vision, I realise it’s not as sharp as it should be (even considering I’ve crossed the equator as regards my age) – a bit like watching a normal TV and the picture seeming fine until you go back to it after watching a flat-screen TV. It’s like looking at a child’s coloured drawing with no outlines. Even though life doesn’t have outlines, somehow pictures look clearer with them. At the moment, on my best day, there are no outlines.

I realise I’m a very visual person – all my hobbies involve my vision, all the jobs I would enjoy involve my vision, I always like to have something to look at, to focus my eyes on. When listening to a talking book or chatting on the telephone, I always like to be doing something too – I thought it was to keep my hands busy but I realise now that it was to occupy my eyes! My distance vision has always been good and people have been astounded in the past that I could read a roadsign before they’d even spotted the sign was there! I read by using the shape of the word rather than the phonetic buildup which makes me a good skim-reader too, or did until a month ago. When I was younger and had all the time in the world for reading, reading itself was as enjoyable as the content – I’d even read the back of detergent bottles (the print of which I can barely see at all at the moment) while sitting on the loo if I’d forgotten to take a book with me, and when people asked if there was a specific book I’d like for Christmas I’d say “Anything with words in it”. I think it’s the reason why, much as I ought to put the computer away until my eyes are sorted, I still find myself reaching for it for short spells, setting the zoom high and reading what I can keep my eyes focussed on.

The neurologist thinks the damage to my vision is permanent, although I am hoping that glasses can solve the problems it causes. The health implications could be major or could be minor, I will deal with that as it comes. But to lose my clarity and comfort of vision would necessitate quite a life change and that is a bit daunting.

New bike

I am the proud owner of a new bike.

No, I haven’t gone mad. It was a free gift when I took out membership at the gym. Amazingly generous, seeing as it was worth a full quarter of the cost of joining the gym (and that’s at its reduced price in Halfords, knocked down from a price that was around £400, which makes you start to wonder what’s wrong with it!)

It’s a lovely bike. Strange, under normal circumstances I’d have brought it home thinking “Oh blast it, now I’ll have no excuse for not going cycling with the Smudgelet”. I might have been inspired for a day or two, though I don’t really believe that would have lasted. But my old bike in the garden with rusted chain, flat tyres and cobwebby frame is a much better sign of a potential desire to cycle foiled by circumstance – along the lines of “if only my bike were in better condition we could go for a ride” while all the time secretly knowing that it would not take much to do it up and that I’d no intention of going for a ride at all. So a new bike would scupper that approach and I’d be feeling the need to hide it away from the Smudgelet and to wrestle with my conscience.

Slightly different today. It was a 45 minute walk home from Halfords, pushing the bike, and my feelings are not dread at having to ride it, but dread at the thought I may not be able to. I had to push it home because the doctor had made me promise I wouldn’t ride a bike (other than an exercise bike which, annoyingly, I got the go-ahead for!) and in my heart of hearts I know that I wouldn’t be safe on one anyway until my eyesight’s sorted. Will it be sorted? At this very moment I’d give anything to be able to hop on that bike and take it to Richmond Park for a couple of hours, regardless of how my thighs would ache.

As it is, I’m now trying to work out how to explain to the Smudgelet that yes, I have a new bike, but no, he’s not to get excited because I won’t be riding it yet awhile.

Still, at least it will come in handy when he has a friend round and they want to go cycling. The Smudgelet’s tall enough to ride my bike.

That’ll l’arn yer!

My sister’s been nagging me.

I said I’d ring the MRI unit on Monday to ask about my appointment. But I chickened out. Then I said I’d ring them on Tuesday, but somehow the day was just too busy. I just hate making phone calls like that.

Now, do I tell her that it’s a really good job I rang today or do I just tell her only half the truth and say that my appointment’s on Saturday? She doesn’t really need to know that a mistake had been made, that they’d booked me an urgent appointment last Thursday and forgotten to share that information with me and so had sent my referral back as a “no show”, does she? At least they’re doing the decent thing – they’re fully booked for scans so they’re going to stay after hours on Saturday to do my scan in the evening. I think I might just tell her that. Chicken? Me? You bet!

But somehow I just need to learn my lesson. Next time I ring and don’t put it off.

How energetic is that?

What a day.
What. A. Day.

OK, so I’ll admit it started with a lie-in, followed by a luxurious soak in the bath. I can’t really deny that. But it was essential, I say, otherwise I’d never have made myself set out on the walk as it was SUCH a COLD morning!

I walked. And walked. And walked. It was apparently 3/4 hour walk – not a great distance but far enough on a chilly day. It was an essential walk as I was going to Halfords to claim my free bike (Don’t tell the Smudgelet!) which was the sweetener they were offering to anyone joining the gym during September. Typical, I get a new bike just at the same time as the doctor forbids me to ride one! Still, I like in hope – once my eyes are sorted I’ll be able to accompany the Smudgelet on a bike ride or two. Anyway, I was measured up to make sure the bike frame was the right size, and they’re making the bike up for me and I have to collect it on Wednesday and wheel it home.

Thence I walked to the gym and virtuously did my hour’s exercise. I say virtuously. I think it was more “guiltily” as I am supposed to go 2-3 times between each training session and I hadn’t been at all since the last one. I postponed tomorrow’s session and will have to make myself go again tomorrow and Wednesday before my new appointment on Thursday!

Next on the agenda, a walk around New Malden, a bit of shopping, coffee in the church, a bit of thinking about what I might buy for my WISE recipient, a trip to the library, and then the thirty-five minute walk home to fetch the letters I’d forgotten to take with me and then to walk again to the the local post box in the hope that I might beat the strike.

Then the housework. A mountain of washing up, followed by a quick shuffle round the lounge which was looking a tip.

And now I’m wondering. Can I be bothered to travel with the Smudgelet on the bus to his band practice and to spend the waiting time in the gym there (the only place available to wait) or should I simply give in and give him the night off? I don’t want him to miss band, especially as he’s a bit negative about his ability to play and march for the Lord Mayor’s Show next month, but the two people who normally offer him lifts aren’t going tonight and it’s a bit dark for him to go on his own.

We seem to have gained a cat

It wouldn’t be so bad if it were one of those poor, endearing waifs who clearly need someone to love them.

Tango is one of THOSE cats. He’s a big, beefy, bosscat of a cat – looks sweet and adorable but is about as sweet and adorable as a steamroller. I haven’t yet sussed whether he and Charlie are friends or mortal enemies, and if the latter it’s clearly Tango who has the upper paw.

Two mornings running now I’ve fed Charlie in the kitchen first thing and then made my way into the lounge, only to find a huge black and white Tango curled up in a corner of the sofa, making himself perfectly well at home. One good thing – he doesn’t get any of Charlie’s food, Charlie’s far too quick off the mark for that! And there doesn’t seem to be any animosity when Tango arrives as there’s no hissing or mewling or violent scrapping disturbing my slumber in the night (and the flat is small enough for it to be impossible for claws to be drawn without either me or the Smudgelet hearing it).

Each time Tango’s been evicted with a clear message of displeasure on my part (The Smudgelet can’t quite summon up the same degree of enthusiasm in evicting the squatter – he’s won over by the “sweet and adorable” act). But it doesn’t seem to deter him. Not one bit.