Archive for November, 2006


I went to London today with my work. I started the day in a rush and feeling stressed because I kept going the wrong way down roads, and having to double back. Map reading is not my forte. I am, after all, a woman.

It was a long day of speakers at a conference, and it wasn’t much fun. What made it worse was no-body seemed to know much about what they were talking about.

Anyway, on my way home by Tube and Rail I noticed, suddenly, that people coming towards me didn’t seem to know which side of me they were going to pass. Strange, I thought. What’s wrong with these idiots? Then I nearly collided with a pillar. A little while later, I leaned forward to read something small and I overbalanced -nearly landing flat on my face!

It wasn’t the others – it was me. The vertigo is back. I dare not stand on a Tube station platform and watch the train come in or depart, or I’d fall over sideways, so I carefully made my way to Liverpool Street and found a train home to Essex. I knew I wouldn’t manage standing up, and luckily found a seat on the last carriage.

Its such a strange feeling. At least when I’m like this I have some element of control over the sensation, because it only happens when I move. When I was really bad, I’d also get attacks that happened when I was standing perfectly still – and there’s nothing you can do to stop that! At least like I am today if I stand still the feeling goes.

I just ran down the stairs to pick up the phone that was ringing, and the complex movement of bending down and turning was too much for my battered gyroscope to cope with, and I lost my balance again. Life and its movements have to be simple when I’m in this condition.

I should be ok by tomorrow once I’ve had a good sleep – hopefully. Every time this happens I realise just how well-designed our bodies are. We can navigate ourselves quickly in space with the minimum of visual disturbance and its wonderful.  We take it for granted, unless it doesn’t work properly!!

Hmm. Time to give myself a rest now. xx 


Man I love the cake!!

I am making a concerted effort to eat better and exercise more. According to the evil BMI warlocks I exist smack in the centre of the ‘FAT’ category. It has not always been so. Last time I took a bit more care over what I ate, I lost three stone in one year, and got back to my so-called ideal weight which put me in the centre of the ‘OK’ category. The warlocks were happy, but I looked terrible.

Towards the end of that year I became very very ill  – my immune system had been eaten away silently by the stress of living with a mentally ill husband, and by the new year I was in hospital. I lost another half stone, but according to the warlocks I was my perfect weight.

A few weeks after being discharged from hospital I left my husband and went to live with my parents to recover. My mother is not a slim woman, and she likes to eat good food – especially food with extra calories and lashings of butter. I recovered, but my weight crept up over the next two years, through the ‘OVERWEIGHT’ category and now, where I reside, in the ‘FAT’ group.

Well, the BMI warlocks are, as I said, evil. And they are also wrong. It appears I need to be across the border just into ‘overweight’ to look ok and to feel ok – so that’s the country I’m heading for.  The way to lose the pounds is to eat healthily, but not to cut things out of your diet that you like. Otherwise you’ll be getting a bit thinner but you’ll be miserable, and you’ll never keep it up.

I’ll keep you posted with how I’m doing.

 I the meantime I’m going to make my christmas cake today. You can’t have christmas without some lovely fruitcake, so I’m going to have some. I’ll make it myself, and that way I’ll know exactly what’s in it, and how much of it I can eat for a treat and still lose weight.

Does anyone else still make their own christmas cake?

Does anyone else disagree with the BMI warlocks?

In the land of the blind…

Last night I went to see the staff of what would once have been known as a Working Men’s Club, but it now known as a Member’s Bar because they let women in now. Like most of these places, this one is run by ‘salt of the earth’ types, many of whom have retired, and most of them look battle-worn and tired with life. Everyone greets everyone else as ‘darlin” unless its man to man and then its ‘mate’. I had been asked to go along because a few weeks ago someone collapsed in the bar, and no-body knew what to do.

I say no-body. As is inevitable in such circumstances, members of the public suddenly all become experts – especially with a few jars down their necks….. So there was widespread panic. No-one wanted a repeat of that, and it was quite obvious that the group had been shocked by the event.

So, I spent an hour and a half talking to them about unconsciousness, opening airways, and the recovery position. I explained in terms they would understand about conditions that might cause unconsciousness, and what they could do to help before the ambulance came. I got them to practice opening the airway and putting people into the recovery position. They felt very self-conscious to begin with, it was obvious. By the end, the group had opened up to eachother, and were sharing experiences of various medical conditions together, which we talked through. 

Finally we talked about the event that had occurred at the bar, and what they would do differently now that they had learned a few things tonight. Everyone said that they now felt confident enough to be able to take charge – something they hadn’t done on the night in question.  A little knowledge and some confidence. That’s all it takes.

My work was done. I left there feeling good, because over the course of an hour those people had changed. And another 10 people are armed with the knowledge to save a life….

Community Service

I thought I would share with you a short conversation that happened between me and an 11 year old girl (we’ll call her Alice) who attends the youth group I run every week. The actual conversation happened well over a year ago, but has stuck in my memory ever since.

Alice: “Where does our subs money go, Spaniel”.

Spaniel: “It helps to pay for the cost of renting the hall for the year, Alice.”

*thoughtful pause*

Alice: “Do the Council make you come and run the youth group every week?”

Spaniel: *completely stunned by the question, but rallying fast* “No, Alice – I run it because I want to. “

Alice: “What? For free?”

Spaniel: “Yes, for free. I give up my time voluntarily to do this!”

Alice: *furrows brow* “You’re weird.”

At the end of the conversation, Alice skipped over to join her friends, and left me standing there, replaying the conversation. Did Alice think I was here serving out some Community Service Sentence? What on earth had made her think of such a thing?

And then I realised – if I wasn’t being paid to be here, and I wasn’t here under some kind of duress, if I hadn’t been made to do this by some authority or other; what other possible reason on earth would there be for me to turn up every week? 

I think it tells me rather a lot about Alice and how she sees the world.

I think it tells you rather a lot about me, too…..

From the Mouths of Babes

My day was bouyed up by the story of one of our members of staff who booked himself off sick, but didn’t say why. When his managers tried to get in touch to find out why he’s been off for over a week, they couldn’t get hold of him directly. He was always out at the Doctor’s or out with the kids, or out somewhere…..

Until today.

His manager phoned about 3.30pm and a little voice answered – the sick man’s son, aged 7.

“Is Daddy there, son?” asks the manager

“No, daddy’s on holiday” says son.

“Oh?” Says manager “Where has he gone on holiday” (thinking, perhaps he was in hospital or something).

“He’s on holiday in Australia” says the son.

“Ahh” says the manager “That would explain a few things….” 

Remember Remember

I went out to a Fireworks Display at the local park last night in case someone hurt themselves and needed my first aid kit. I know I shouldn’t have, what with the chest infection – but it was only an hour or two and I didn’t get cold.

I wondered, as I stood with maybe 2000 people watching the firework display that lasted all of 15 minutes, and watched to see whether the bonfire with 35 feet of flames on top would set fire to the nearby tree – what percentage of the punters actually knew what they were celebrating tonight.

I ruminated on this point for a while, was distracted for a moment to consider exactly how much accellerant the organisers had poured on the bonfire to get it started (10 litres of unleaded??), and then decided that the figure was likely to be well under half of all those in the audience. How sad.

On another note, I do love kids at firework displays. One child in his father’s arms, ignored most of the display and kept pointing at the moon!! His dad was quite frustrated, and constantly moved him round to face the fireworks again. When he spotted a firework exploding into green stars he said “green!” and his dad was happy. But then, every subsequent firework was met with the same enthusiastic word – no matter what the colour was. He he he. You have to laugh!!

At least no-one injured themselves on my watch. 

Right, That’s it

I can’t be arsed with this being ill, lark. (She says, with only half her hearing, a hedgehog wedged in her throat and not being able to wheeze through her nose at the moment).

I’m going out.

You can’t stop me!!