This is a picture of me behaving badly with a pint of Smirff in my hand. Smirff is a cocktail of Smirnoff Ice, WKD Blue with an extra shot of vodka. Quite lethal. The event was my colleague and friend Tanya's 40th birthday party last weekend. My fellow partygoer is another colleague and friend Cheryl. We had a great time.
Plans for my "Oz-Bus" trip in the Spring are progressing well. I've put a sponsorship link on the blog (all donations will be gratefully received by Marie Curie), made a list of all the countries that I will be passing through for my vaccination requirements (Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania,Latvia,Russia,Trans Siberian Express, Mongolia, China, South Korea, Japan, Alaska, Canada & USA), ordered my rucksack (a Berghaus Jalan 70 + 15 wheeled travel pack) and organised to borrow a sleeping bag, liner and blow up pillow from a friend. This has made a bit of a dent in my "to do" list.
A "pending event" is that I've given a mad interview to Eddie Bluelight for his regular "Sunday Roast" feature. You can catch this from next Sunday on his blog Clouds and Silvery Linings (http://eddybluelights.blogspot.com) This is a great honour. Thanks Eddie.
It occurred to me that when Davy was ill he knew everyone needed to be kept informed. He was too ill to speak to anyone and encouraged me to pass information on through this blog, which I did. The one thing that I found difficult was writing about was how I was coping. I don't find it easy to speak of my own emotional pain. In a situation like this Davy would say "If you don't speak, I can't see you". One of his many, many wise sayings. So here I go - I speak.
Concerned friends and colleagues ask how I am and, naturally, I say "fine". I actually am fine most of the time. I have built up "coping mechanisms" throughout difficult periods in life and this has helped me now.
But every so often pain gets under the radar. An example - "Last of the Summer Wine", one of our longest running TV sitcoms. It's a charming, gentle tale of friendship between aging men who behave like naughty young boys, getting into difficult situations as the result of their endless curiosity. It was one of Davy's favourite programmes.
I wasn't particularly interested in it, but used to love hearing Davy laugh out loud watching their mad behaviour. It seemed to release the little boy within. This helped me to "see Davy" who didn't normally "belly laugh".
Recently there has been much talk of the series coming to an end. The "coping me" thought "sad, but hey! it's inevitable. All things have to come to an end".
So...this morning the inevitable happened - after nearly 40 years the final episode is scheduled for this Sunday and it is now a news item. Without warning Breakfast TV played the signature tune. Under the radar! Hearing that music bought memories flooding back again and I had a massive physical pain in the pit of my stomoch. I "felt" the mellow Sunday evenings when we would sit in quiet companionship, side by side, him enjoying the programme, me enjoying him. We thought it would never end, but inevitabley it did.
I have been preparing myself for the fact that today is our wedding aniversary and I was OK, but hearing the signature tune of that programme made me come unglued. Now isn't that odd?
So, how am I? Fine, I get through most days with interest, hope and optimism, enjoying life in the way that Davy taught me, but every now and then something gets under the radar to stick that red hot poker into the pit of my stomoch.
This time it's the turn of my grandson Ali. Being his grandmother I predict that he is destined for great things. But hey, no need for me to brag, these were his results, you be the judge.
A* French and Chemistry A History, biology, physics, English literature, English language, ICT, and Spanish. B Maths and RE C Art
And, even better, he is a great guy. Well done Ali and enjoy the BBQ and party tonight.
Apart from this excitement what has happened? Well I guess the highlight of my week was meeting up with Nick, the guy who did the London to New York overland trip this year. Any trepidation that I might have had evaporated. Joy simply radiated from he when he recalled the journey.
In his opinion the most "challenging" problem was the lack of "personal hygiene" facilities on the Trans Siberian Express, or as Nick put it "take plenty of baby wipes with you"! The "best bits" were the amazing places they visited and sharing the experience with his travelling companions who became like family. The bit he enjoyed the least was the 14 days spent on the 5* Cruise Liner because it was difficult to cope with pure unadulterated luxury and inactivity after experiencing the highs of the road. Personally, I think that I would be OK with that one!
So... where am I going and when? On 25th March next year I'm leaving for a 95 day trip across 3 continents and through 15 countries - Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Mongolia, China, South Korea, Japan, Alaska, Canada, finally arriving in New York on 24th June (or thereabouts!).
Why? Long story, but the abreviated version is that I watched a guy being interviewed on Breakfast TV about 6 years ago. He was organising a trip to travel in a bus overland to Australia. His plan was to buy the bus in London and sell it in Australia. I really fancied doing that and, with Davy's encouragement, tried unsuccessfully to find out more about it.
Roll on a few years - I heard about this Ozbus Company trip and thought "wow, that sounds great". The rest, as they say, is history. I know that if Davy was alive he would have loved me to go and a friend of mine suggested that I organise sponsorship in his memory, so this is what I intend to do. I am in the early stages of setting up an on-line donation payable to Marie Curie.
I chose this charity because the Marie Curie nurses were so kind to Davy when they came to the house to help nurse him in his final days. It was very cold and we had heavy snow, but they turned out any time of the day or night to do, what I call, practical "hands on" nursing. We had plenty flocking around offering "verbal" help, but Marie Curie was the only organisation that "put their money where their mouth was" provided what we really needed, lifting, changing, washing, etc. Without them I wouldn't have been able to keep Davy at home where he desperately wanted to be.
More news about the way to donate once I have figured it out for myself!
I don't delude myself that ruling the world would be easy and I do appreciate that there would be many set backs in trying to get things sorted. After all, as the great man said, you can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time but you can't please all of the people all of the time. Having said that there are some things that I would like to see tackled.
A "for instance" is that I would propose a radical re-think about how to handle addicts. I know that I bang on about this constantly, but why don't we go back to the way they treated addicts 50 years ago. Register them and give them the drugs. Take it out of the hands of criminal suppliers.
One of the objections to this is, it is claimed, addiction would spiral out of control. But surely it's out of control anyway. Young children are being targetted by criminal suppliers, addicts trawl our street looking for the means to fund their addiction filling honest citizens with the fear of being robbed, mugged or worse. They take up police and court time and fill our jails at a huge cost to the economy. How much worse can it get? Logic tells me that money saved by taking the problem out of the Criminal Justice System could be better spent in providing a solution.
Wana know another solution? Here's is a great one I heard today. Frederick Forsyth has just written a new book on the subject, The Cobra. He was being interviewed about it on TV today and he said that one of the the answers is to re-catagorise the importation of drugs from being a crime to being the act of terrorism that it is. Now that is an interesting one because it opens up a whole new method of dealing with the dirty scum at the top.
And finally -
Today is National 'HOLY CRAP, YOU'RE HOT' Day! Send this to someone gorgeous, but don't send it back to me – I've been getting this message all day!!!
I'm doing a traditional Sunday Roast today, something that I haven't done for a while. It was put into abeyance when Davy was so ill because he couldn't tolerate having anyone near him. He was in too much pain and, I believe, was trying to concentrate on staying alive. When he died I thought we would resume it again but it didn't seem to happen which is a great pity because all the house renovations were to accommodate our ever growing family when they descended on us.
Luckily my granddaughter bought her family to live with me when Davy died but now they are moving to a new house nearby and the time is right for me to make the big adjustment of belonging to a family of one! I will miss them badly, but life goes on and I will probably see them most days plus I have many grandchildren who keep in touch and visit whenever they can.
Widowhood is a strange place to be. It doesn't seem that long ago that Davy and I were at the heart of the family and now I live somewhere on the edge, not really belonging anywhere and trying to understand many problems that have occurred since he died. The family dynamics have changed and I guess it will take me a while to adjust.
But I have so much to be thankful for. Last week I had a visit from my friend who first introduced me to Davy all those years ago. She lives in Spain now and we had a great time catching up. We are planning for me to visit her and her husband in the autumn, so that is something to look forward to.
And then I have my BIG TRIP to look forward to next March. Next week I am meeting up with Nick who went on this overland London to New York trip this year. I read his blog, wanted to go, paid my deposit and immediately went into a blind panic. Nick is a friend of a friend and we have been in touch by email, but I need to look into his eyes and for him to tell me that it is OK for a 70 year old lady who is not particularly athletic or fit to do such a mad thing.
Help, I have to go my great granddaughters are laying the table for lunch and want me to move!
Firstly, congratulations to my son-in-law Jamie. Not only did he complete the Iron Man Challenge last weekend, he is also the only son-in-law who, on the surface of it, still likes me. Whew. Two feats of extreme endurance and I'm not sure which one should earn him the most "brownie" points!
For those who are unfamiliar with the challenge it's a 2.4 mile swim followed by a 112 mile bike ride and than a 26.2 mile run. You can read all about it at http://ironman.com/events/ironman/uk/?show=about#axzz0vopw6INh. Is he super fit, or what!? And he is also a throughly nice guy. Love you, love your wife, and love your two great boys. Well done Jamie.
As for the rest of the week? Mixed in the extreme! My grandaughter, her husband, one of the girls and one of the babies have been extremely poorly. Dan started it off with sickness, followed a day later with flu like symptoms and then a few days later sore throat, mouth ulcers and agonising gum pain, drenching night sweats and delirium. Then George, Noah and Orianne went down with it.
The medics have diagnosed - stomach upset, flu, tonsilitis, thrust, mouth ulcers and cold sores, ! It lasts about 10 days and is vicious in the extreme. Dan lost over 20lbs in that short time. Dan's gym instructor had the same symptoms and she was told it was because she was too old to be doing the job and this was her body protesting!
I have two worries. If they are the only ones in the area to have these symptoms why are they not being investigated or if not why didn't they tell them and give some idea of what to expect? One Doctor even told George off for bringing the baby to see him!
Another trauma this week was that my computer also became chronically sick. Fortunately my family and computer are now well on the way to recovery. So now we are on the up again!