Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Maudlin on New Years Eve.

New Year's Eve.........a time for looking back and also of looking forward.
Long gone are the days of just living for the moment on a New Year's Eve. Things were tamer but more fun and more loving in those days. People went dancing - groups of us as teenagers; later young couples with young children would arrange family get togethers. It's different now - we are all older and don't feel fully a part of this modern world. We remember the days when you didn't need money to celebrate and have a good time.....well, not as much as these days.
Two million they are spending on fireworks in London tonight - two million for hundreds of thousands of people to stand out in the rain just so they can boast that they were there; fearing that they might be missing out by not being there.
Yes - bet the fireworks are impressive and yes actually I would love to be a part of something this new year's eve.
But I am not - so nothing cheery and fun to write about.
Nothing cheery and fun in my heart either.
I can look back on a dramatic year in some ways - ways in which the family has changed.
The challenges that Clare have taken on warm my heart.
The challenges that I have here at home scare me.
How can I look forward to 2014?
Watching and experiencing Bill slipping into dementia has been bad enough. There have been good times - I damn well make sure that life continues to bring me good experiences, and hopefully Bill too. Though he does forget where he has been.
But as the year closes I am sad and anxious.
I am not coping well with this childlike Bill. I love children and have always managed to form strong bonds with them - but I love those with enquiring minds and some confidence.
The "child" I am living with has almost no interest in the world around him.
His brain seems almost dead sometimes.
He fills his days with noise - which amuses him.
And sends me into deep annoyance and sadness.
I end up relieved that he chooses to go to bed so early.
I am trying not to pin too many hopes on the appointment with the psychiatrist. I fear that I might be let down......and there are still 23 frustrating more days.
If this doctor can offer no improvement, the only alternative is that things will get worse.
I cannot yet imagine our situation this time next year.
Will I be visiting my husband in a nursing home out of duty? Will he still be here at home and gradually grinding down my spirit?
Illness and death I can understand......but this? No......it is beyond reason.
I thank all of the good people out there who offer me words of support and love. I need you people to make me feel alive.
So I look ahead into a black tunnel.......I pray for the strength to make it the best black tunnel that it possibly can be; it should be a tunnel with offshoots that will take me into little episodes of pleasure - maybe even some exciting times. But tonight I see only the blackness......black had better be my favourite colour.

Better perhaps to look back tonight.
It wasn't something celebrated in financially strapped English homes when I was a child.
As children we would love saying little things like "I haven't had a bath since last year!".
On the first New Years Eve I celebrated with Bill we were dancing with some of his cycling club friends at a Crawley factory dance. I felt very grown up. I was 18.
When I was 20 we went to a dinner and dance on our own in East Grinstead - it was to be the night we would get engaged. But we shied away from needing a formal setting and I had the ring a couple of days before the 31st.
I guess from that time on for many years we would be at Bill's parents house on New Years Eve with his uncles and aunts and all the brothers and sisters.....and gradually their spouses and all the children that came along. Everybody liked an excuse for a drink or two or three. It was noisy, chaotic and fun.
Another New Years Eve involved fireworks.......maybe the first time anybody had them on that night in these parts.
We had a group of young German family friends staying with us. I don't know how they managed through customs - but fireworks came through with them.
We had dinner and then did fortune telling with some metal charms which melted easily and set into shapes which would tell what would come your way in the new year. And then at midnight we were in the front garden with fireworks. We kept the tradition going until it became common place.
We have had a New Years Eve with our good friends, Pete and Jean in North Wales.
We saw in the New Millennium at Bill's sister Jane's house - a good family party.
Another I remember is 2007 - my bladder cancer was developing and giving me hell. I tried to sleep -  but after midnight, got up up to find Bill watching Jules Holland's Hootenanny on TV and being mesmerised by Amy Winehouse - Back to Black.
But I didn't feel as black on that night as I do tonight. I felt sure that all would be well - in the end. It took over a year - but all was well.

And now I take you back 60 years.....to a New Year's Eve I was not part of.
There must have been a bit of a celebration in the village hall. It was not for children.
Mum must have stayed home too.
But Dad went for he had a role to play.

Dad was the Old Year - Old Father Time.
On the stroke of midnight he carried in the New Year - in the shape of a school friend, Valerie Cooper.
Ooh miserable child that I was - I hated her for it!
She was so pretty and had this starring role at an adult event at midnight..

Right - sorry to be so maudlin' tonight.
It's the nature of the night I guess.
Tomorrow is another day - another rainy day, I fear. But I must get out somewhere.
I just heard my first firework of the night........there will be many more at midnight.
Happy new year to everybody. No doubt it will have the same sort of ups and downs as any other year.
I'll go on trying to see my life through the ups......that's my resolution. And like most resolutions there will be many a time when I fail.
But I can and will do the very best I can for both Bill and me.


Christmas Number 3 with family.

Christmas ended for me on Sunday with a final festive flourish with family.
We drove to Wiltshire for a day at my brother's. It was a beautiful morning, clear blue sky and frost on the ground to create  sparkling views.
Bill and I sang all the way - singing along to Hits of the 1950's.
We spent the morning sitting around drinking tea and nibbling and talking. Some of the younger members of the party were off out to allow old neighbours to see their new babies.
My sister in law specialises in Christmas........and when it comes to food, there is hardly a traditional foodstuff that can be left out!
My dinner plate was loaded - I remind myself that lots of it was made up of healthy vegetables!

I followed this with a small piece of Christmas pudding and some rum butter. This last was a speciality of my mother's - I was never sure why she made it, because she was very much against the effects of any alcohol.
But we did have it and loved it.

And now - apologies I have no picture  of the chef! I should have one - for she made sure the 11 of us gathered round the table were superbly supplied.
Other people came in the afternoon.

My brother sat and chatted cheerily with everybody.
His coffee mug reflects his blog sub title - Thoughts and Memories of a Happy Nerd. Do look up Locksands Life.

He shares a joke with our half brother.
We are so blessed that family is family whether their title should be prefixed with half or step or aren't really family at all!

So, are these two half or quarter nephew and niece?
It's not important - they are family.

Meanwhile with all the chatter, a baby should be sleeping.

The brothers pose for a "silly". My nerdy brother never looks glum really.
Take a look at half brother, on the right........what do you see?

That's right - you say the back of his throat!

And the baby still doesn't sleep.

Time for the half family to leave. Lovely to see you.

Jenny and Mike - part of our lovely extended family.

My brother and his wife play games - and others do too.
This one was very apt as a present for them because they have a love affair with the Isle of Wight.

Baby had her sleep, and was now ready to play.

She even managed a smile for her great aunt - the old woman with the camera!

And then it was tea time.......obviously hunger had set in!
Lots of savoury things and then more cakes than I could cope with.

I did have a sausage roll offered by my nephew.

Nephew and his wife - parents of the baby.

I'll finish with the Christmas cake.
I made sure I had enough room for a slice of that! Congratulations cook!

Monday, December 30, 2013


The January Sale has begun.

Wish I had pictures for you of our special day in Wiltshire yesterday with family.
I just haven't had time for more than a quick look at them.
Today has been a very busy day at the the antiques centre,
The weather was just awful this morning and, as I guessed, there were few people in to disturb my work.
I asked Bill to empty all the things on his shelves and in his cabinet.
As I waited, feeling very chilly, I decided to start sorting out my own section.
Then it was time to deal with the part of the shop that Bill is vacating.
My January sale is up and running.
I had 5 boxes of things with me to arrange and almost all those things are in place.

The prices range from £1 to £10. Very affordable.

Just as he has been for a while, Steve was in today. He has realised that Bill was not a great deal of help to me.
But Steve was battling one of the dreaded bugs that are going around. This morning was a struggle for him
When it was the time that he and Bill would have gone to the pub together for lunch, he suggested we close the shop and that I join them for lunch. I enjoyed a fine jacket potato with chilli con carne and salad.
I had to return to the shop to continue with my own section. I pulled out all the things that have been tucked away, almost hidden on bottom shelves or behind things. I now have 4 more boxes to prepare for the sale section.
The weather improved in the afternoon and people appeared - it was good selling for a couple of hours.
I sold 6 things in the sale and a teapot in the shape of a policeman.
By this time I had ordered Steve home.....he was feeling dreadful and I would rather protect myself as much as possible from the nasty bugs.
And I think patient Steve was getting as irritated as me with Bill's clapping and generally interfering with things. Bill played with Steve's keys constantly through lunch!

By the time we left the shop, I was exhausted. My shoulders ached, my legs ached, my head ached and I generally felt fragile.
I got home and flaked out for a couple of hours on the sofa.
But I am pleased with what I achieved.

Tomorrow I can have the pleasure of looking back on our day in Wiltshire.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Everybody working

I haven't left the house today.
We both had a disturbed night and I was making cups of tea at 2 in the morning.
Don't know why.......a surfeit of chocolate and stress maybe on my part.
I was up moderately early for there was a lot I wanted to get done.
Having started yesterday I worked at having all my boxes ready to take to the shop on Monday for my January sale.
I had lots to do, so I asked Bill to do the ironing which needed doing - not very much, but the pile was beginning to worry me.
I must be busy more often and ask him to do more jobs - the ones that don't create too many problems in his head.
Later he went out and washed the car.
This afternoon whilst I created a poster to hang up to advertise my sale I found another job for Bill to do.
He wrapped some remaining presents - yes, Christmas is not done and dusted for us. There will be another one tomorrow!
When I was preparing vegetables, Bill took it upon himself to empty the washing machine and hang up the clothes.
It has done me good to have him busy and I feel it must have done Bill good too. Everybody needs to feel needed.
Tomorrow we will drive to Wiltshire for a full day of Christmas, with my brother and his wife, some family and some of their friends.
Looking forward to both the playing and eating tomorrow and the working on Monday.
Should even be nice weather tomorrow.

Friday, December 27, 2013


Friday after Christmas with family.

Back to work for many today,
I worked too - I needed to prepare myself for the January sales.
Next week I shall take over Bill's section in the antiques centre and hold a sale - nothing over £10.
I still like everything to be neatly labelled. I have sorted 3 boxes full and have another 2 to go - apart from things which are already in the shop and need a better chance of returning a small profit to me.
I shall vacate Bill's section at the end of January.
I enjoyed working.
I greeted the electricity meter reader quite early. He was working. He said I was the first house he had called at where somebody was nice to him.
Mostly they grumbled at him "Don't you know it's Christmas?"
Bill got up late.

This afternoon we went to Bill's sister, Pam who had all her family there.
Her son Antony (our nephew and Godson) has provided the most wonderful moments of Christmas week. I wasn't there and yet felt a tear welling up.
Antony has been with his partner, Amie for a while and they have a baby, 4 months old.
On Christmas Day, Antony took his Amie from house to house, and other special places I think, where clues were laid to lead her to the next location. Eventually they led to her mother's house and a Christmas cracker inside which was a proposal of marriage but not the real engagement ring.
Much joy!
Yesterday the whole family were at The Hawth theatre for the pantomime - Cinerella, which I gather has been very good this year.
Towards the end the star of the show was doing some magic and asked somebody from the audience to help - they had picked a particular seat at random, he said.
So Amie went up on stage. She was handed a pack of cards and there was typical magician/pantomime chatter. She was then told that she should be blind folded for a moment.
When the blind fold came off, there was Antony down on one knee with the engagement ring.
Cheers from the entire audience!
Well done to our Antony for being so creative and imaginative in getting it all organised.....he even had to text the producer of the show to say Amie had changed seats!

It was lovely to meet up with our niece and nephew and our great nephew and the 2 great nieces.

Fiona's family.
Young C is explaining his drawing.....a rocket is going to see the square moons and the planets.
He's 5 and good on planets. He wasn't floored when I told him that he lives on a planet - he knew which planet we all live on.

You can see more clearly now. If he was a planet he would want to be Pluto - like the Disney character. Even though Mum has explained that it used to be known as a planet, but now isn't.

J is about 18 months.

She also like drawing.

N is 4 months old.

Great Uncle Bill had a cuddle. Well done Amie for plonking her on his lap; he would never have asked.

Wonderful bike for a toddler.

Young C and his Nannie - and his snowman picture. I like his impressionistic interpretation of a snowman.
He told some lovely snowman stories too and then we all went to the North Pole for stories there, too.

Pam supplied us with cups of tea and home made Christmas cake. Great!

And.....just because he is beautiful!

Thursday, December 26, 2013


Rusper. Sussex Broadwood Morris Men Boxing Day 2013

Boxing Day - the day after Christmas and I was lucky - got what I wanted.
I had wanted blue skies and sunshine.
It is a tradition that The Broadwood Morris Men perform a Mummers' Play in Rusper High Street on Boxing Day.
The play had been written down by Lucy Broadwood (1858 - 1922) , a folk song collector and performer. The Broadwood family (of Broadwood pianos) settled near Rusper - actually in Capel.

She's lovely, isn't she?

Before the play we enjoyed some Morris Dancing, outside the village stores.

I love his tankard, decorated with The Green man.

Beer and morris dancers.
And sunshine. What could be better on a Boxing Day?

A sword fight in the village High Street.

The traffic hardly stopped.
I was amused to see that some in the cars couldn't even raise a smile as they passed by.

He's dead!
Until the doctor arrives and demands  a large fee for curing him.

As The Broadwood Men packed up their costumes and instruments, the horses and carriages arrived.
I know nothing about them, but have seen them call in at The Gate Inn, not far away.
Sadly The Gate is no longer open.

We finished our drinks inside The Star.

I called this one "Game Over".

Thank you to Lucy and the Broadwood Morris Men for creating a highlight in my Boxing Day.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Tis the season to be............

Tis the season to be morbid!
Sadly, that is so for some.......happily family and friends have been reporting good times.
Most of them!
And I have been happy too - in my own sweet way. Bill has been encouraged to be a part of it, but he is almost lost.
We got up late - both of us. I enjoyed listening to the radio in bed - Ed Stewart's Old Children's Favourites.
I got up and cooked eggs.
Would we go for a walk? Not in the torrential rain and hail showers.

There has been no talk of presents - but that's OK. Bill wouldn't know how to sort out a present for me these days. I have a small something for him - but I'll leave it for another day. And I decided to leave our gift from my cousin until next Sunday when we will be with people.
I thank you Alison.

I prepared some vegetables.

I then spent a happy hour with my son - in Thailand.
His family had spent the day in PhnagNga, the mountainous rocky area on the mainland north of the island.

Jamie tries to persuade his children to be just like him and love the world.

Jamie's favourite book from a very early age was an atlas.
And as he grew up he was ready to go and see much of the world for himself.
And Jamie also continues other habits - the atlas was second hand and cheap!

I snapped this one as we chatted.

Then I saw that the skies were looking blue, so I told Bill to get his shoes and his coat and we would go for a walk.

You can see how wet the grass is. Oh we have had so much rain.
Bill was funny because he grumbled really that even the paths were covered with fallen twigs and leaves.

The waters of the lake have crept up the banks.

As we walked I tried to engage Bill in conversation - beyond "the paths look a mess".
It is so hard. Today I was floored by a lack of a memory.
I talked of my Christmas days in hospital.
"Well that was a long time ago then - before we got married for sure"
"No - I am remembering 1992, when I was in the Royal Marsden."
"Look, you gave me this eternity ring on Christmas Day"
He looked baffled and had no memory.
I felt so sad......hence me feeling morbid this evening.

When we got home I made a cup of tea and cut a piece of Christmas cake.

Later on we had dinner....a 4 bird roast. It could have been anything really. Bill thought there were too many vegetables.

We watched Dr Who.....and I must admit I dozed a bit.
I don't think Bill really understands it now.
He went to bed soon after it finished - about quarter to nine.

So, that was Christmas.
My most morbid scenario is that Bill and I don't get another one really together.
I don't want to think of the next one.

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