A Non-scare

“Fluff, what does ‘gullible’ mean?” Chip asks her big sister.

“It’s a swear word!” Fluff sounds shocked. “You mustn’t say it!”

Chip looks at her sister. “It isn’t.”

“It is!” Fluff is insistent, although she is smiling. Chip is unconvinced.

“Muuuum?”

“Hmm?” I look up.

“What does ‘gullible’ mean? Fluff says it’s a swear word.”

“It’s not swearing.” I pause. “There’s no such word, Chip.”

“Really? Fluff said it was a swear word!”

“No, it’s not a swear word.”

********

Two weeks later we are waiting in the hospital for me to see the breast specialist about a lump in my *breast. It is the same hospital in which we visited my dear mother-in-law before she died three weeks prior. Emotions hang raw in the air.

I am sitting with my new crochet project and Chip is quietly reading. She is, like her mother, addicted to stories.Suddenly she jumps up and runs over to me, her index finger against a word on the page.

“See, Mummy!” She cries, “It is a word!”

I look at the page to see what she is pointing at. I smile up at her and all of a sudden she gets it and looks at me with dismay, then disapproval and then amusement. There is a gleam in her eyes that I know means she is thinking of a way to get me back (the girls and I love jokes, but Daddy and Prince not so much, so we don’t play jokes on them). Prince wants to know what was funny and so I explain to him, several times, until he understands and grins. A difficult day becomes a little lighter.

*******

*It was just a large cyst, which was drained with an enormous needle. I am prone to them, apparently.

My word I was grateful that it was only a cyst! Not because we wouldn’t have somehow dealt with/struggled through any eventuality (because who has a choice in these things?), but because the last few months have been really hard. This non-cancer-scare actually felt like a bit of a turning point for me. It’s not just the grief of losing someone you love that can cause distress after the event, but the weeks leading up to death during which a loved one is suffering. I had become consumed by my mother-in-law’s suffering. I couldn’t bear to see her like that. I researched strokes and vascular dementia and end of life care, etc., etc., just to try to find some answers that would limit her intense distress. I came up with very little, to be honest. I just wanted to make her feel better. She was clearly distraught and in pain. I eventually realised that ‘the Lord gives and the Lord takes away’ and there was not one thing I could do about it either way, except be there for my husband, and pray. I don’t think I did a very good job of either.

Sometimes a non-scare can give you a bit of perspective.

Who?

Who said this: “[My uncle was] a shameless old man who taught us obscene folk songs in Genovese dialect. That’s why none of the words of the little Genovese I know is repeatable”?

Was it –

a) Donald Trump

b) Pope Francis

c) Prince Philip

d) Silvio Berlusconi

 

Scroll down for the answer 👇👇👇

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answer: Pope Francis (yes, really!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Way We Were

I came across the video below while looking for a definition of ‘information superhighway’ which was mentioned in a novel called Fear the Sky by Stephen Moss (I remain a dyed-in-the-wool ‘hard’ SF fan). Way back in the 90s I used to curl up on the settee next to my dad to watch Tomorrow’s World. I remember being utterly captivated by the idea of cyberspace, to the point that I wrote a science fiction novel (sadly incomplete) set in a time where hoverboards were the norm (thank you, Michael J. Fox), using magnetic strips in the roads with the rider’s hoverboard containing an opposing magnetic force, people communicated via wristwatches which doubled as fully interconnected computers, inter-planetary travel was possible and Mars had been made partially inhabitable. My central character was a teenager who was one of the second wave of Martian settlers. Strangely, many of these things are not too far from the truth! Anyway, I’ll leave Maggie Philbin (remember her?) to it:

https://m.youtube.com/?#/watch?v=V8cnP-RtRHU

Oh, the joys of 20:20 hindsight!

 

 

The Bull’s Horns

We’re having a lovely holiday in the Peak District at the moment. Home very soon. No camping for us this year because I’m really not well enough, so we found a cottage that was not too expensive and here we are. I have had the use of a mobility scooter, which at first left me feeling really down. Also, my Dad said something that made me feel quite bitter, for a good few hours. It would have soured the whole holiday, if I had let it. Dad’s a professor and a highly regarded one at that. He has just spent a fortnight teaching an exclusive Masters course to some very high-paying students at a lavish English hotel.

“My love,” Dad said, “You’re more intelligent than 90% of the students I teach. It would be such a shame for you to not finish your degree.” He said this because I told him I had signed up to continue my degree from October, but that if it didn’t work out this time I was going to throw in the towel and admit defeat. I’ve spent five years studying so far and have only earned ¹⁄3 of an honours degree. Illness and circumstances have repeatedly got the better of me, though I love learning.

To get back to the point, I don’t want to start using a wheelchair or mobility scooter as a regular occurrence – just as I don’t want to give up my degree – because that seems like an admittance of illness as my life state, rather than keeping my focus on getting better, ‘pressing on to win the prize’, as it were. But it occurred to me, as I was negotiating painfully narrow paths and inattentive pedestrians, that instead of feeling humiliated I should grab the bull by the horns, so to speak. So ever since I’ve been wheeling my way along humming this:

As you listen, imagine not a boldly handsome machismo who only has to blink and a scantily clad lady falls at his polished black feet – and into his bed two minutes later. No, dear friends, I ask you to imagine instead an overweight, not-quite-middle-aged woman in a mobility scooter careening along the pavement of a sedate English town. She has about her a vacant, yet determined, air somewhat akin to a female Mr. Bean. A Mrs Bean, if you will. Got the image? There you go. That’s me.

Haitch as in ‘Orse

“Now,  what’s the matter?”

“Oh, it’s silly I know but, well, I just don’t know how to make a soufflé.”

“Is that all? I’ll help you, Miss – er..?”

“Dubois. Martine Dubois.”

“Percival. Percival ‘iggins. Haitch, high, egg, egg, high, enn, ess.”

“Higgins.”

“No, no, no: ‘iggins. The haitch is silent, as in ‘orse.”

~ ‘The Chef that Died of Shame’

Hancock’s Half Hour (radio), 1955

Despite the fact that Tony Hancock died before I was born, I have long been an ardent fan and was thrilled to find the complete (surviving) episodes of series one and two on audible.com. Some of the humour may be dated, but much of it is as funny as ever, like the extract above, delivered in the usual deadpan style.

Humour seems to live in symbiosis with sadness. I wonder why. I recall going through a very dark phase a few years ago where the only thing I could tolerate was humour, most notably Christian author Adrian Plass and his Sacred Diary series. It was an essential part of my recovery. Nowadays, after I’ve listened to my daily dose of Old Testament, New Testament and Christian book, I love a bit of humour. It’s like the perfect dessert. Keeps me going till the next meal.

A heart full of joy and goodness makes a cheerful face, but when a heart is full of sadness the spirit is crushed.

 Proverbs 15:13 (AMP)

Redeeming Grace and Wellington Boots

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From the archives:

multicolouredsmartypants

My little girls are going to Theatre School for three hours every Saturday. They love it. They’re rehearsing for a Christmas show. Chip was singing Silent Night in the car this morning and when her off-key, cute little-girl voice sang these words, my eyes filled up:

‘…with the dawn of redeeming grace’

And later I read these powerful wordsfrom Pastor Boudreaux over on A Pastor’s Thoughts.

That made me think: I could so easily have succumbed to anger, to hatred, of those who abused me, as a child and then as an adult. But somewhere I realised that anger and hatred hurt me more than them. I realised I had to let go. That’s not to say the anger has gone completely – if I think about either of them I am so angry and incredulous that they did what they did and that (seemingly) neither of…

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