Gym Day 1

I am so cool. I got off the night shift and drove to the local  bakery (Hoxton Bakehouse – sourdough only) before heading home, eating  avocado on toast and collapsing in my bed. After a few hours kip my other-half and I actually went to the gym! I feel validated! My life is worthwhile and nothing will ever puncture this optimism. I will never fall off the gym wagon and be filled with self-loathing again!

In my late 20s I decided to get fit (perhaps a theme is emerging?). Although I had not ridden a bike since my teens, I borrowed a couple of sit-up-and-beg bikes and roped my little brother in for company.  My gran’s house backed onto the Coventry Canal aka The Cut and it was from here we departed. As the canal towpath is flat, I surmised that riding along it would essentially be effortless and therefore a reasonable first ride would be to Rugby  – a round trip of 74 miles. It turns out that flat does not mean frictionless, and, in addition, a bum that has not been on the saddle for a while is not a happy bum after far fewer than 74 miles.  We turned around after 20-odd miles as the chafing had become unbearable and called our mum to come and collect us from a pub where we had to stop for a pain relieving beer or three. The borrowed bikes were returned and I didn’t mount a cycle again for 15 years.

Tomorrow I’m playing tennis, using the treadmill and having a swim. I have booked so many classes over the next week that I will be unable to walk by the weekend but this time it will be different…

Can a gym quiet my demons?

Today I signed up for a gym. Not just any old gym, a David Lloyd way out of my price range gym. I have decided that joining this very expensive gym will change my life. If I think about it for a second I know that this won’t happen but I’m willing to let my optimistic side take over for a bit, the nihilist will, as always, be there to pick up the pieces when I’m trying to cancel the direct debit.

I was shown around the facilities by a very fit, very young man who asked me why I wanted to join. The outdoor pool I said.

I work shifts and on my days off I don’t know what to do with myself, I don’t glory in the free time or use it productively, I wander round looking like Munch’s scream trying to entertain myself and not think too much.

I work on an acute hospital ward and my work can be emotionally draining. Mostly its mundane but it can be also be very hard. As carers we form attachments to patients and unfortunately patients don’t always get better. Modern life doesn’t equip us well for death, we don’t get to interact with the dead and death is hidden away and whispered about. Open coffins are less common than they used to be, we no longer wash our own dead they are spirited away and prepared by strangers.  It’s  not a healthy way to be. It comes to us all and turning out backs on it won’t change a thing.   I want to wash my dead, I want to be washed. I think that this closeness helps with acceptance that they are gone, helps with the healing process. My job brings me closer to mortality and I  this closeness to death has coloured the way I look at life – in a good way.

The mum of dear friend of mine died recently. As she lived in Ireland her death was treated in the Irish way. She was taken away and bought back the next day to reside in the dining room for 3 days before being buried. All her loved ones gathered around, drank and told stories about her life. People who loved her during various times of her life and their lives met. Old friends reconnected. Lots of hugs were given and received, tears were shed and breasts were beaten.  During this emotionally tumultuous time you could slip off into the dining room and sit with her, tell her you loved her, ask her forgiveness and say your goodbyes. It was a great few days. She was carried out on the shoulders of the men in her life, husband, sons and friends. She was buried in a graveyard on a craggy shore which is whipped by the wind.

Currently I am looking after a patient who has been in a couple of times before. Last time he was full of stories,  telling me about his plans to open a restaurant.  All the nurses would get a discount in his new place, he’d bring us all takeaway. The time before he told me the extremely sad story of how he ended up in the UK and I sat in the car after my shift and cried.

This time things round things are not looking so positive, he is a shadow of his former self. His speech deteriorated so he finds it difficult  to communicate. He is losing his ability to swallow so the next step is a feeding tube. Looks like we’ll never get that discount pizza.

Yesterday I was told that a nonagenarian patient had died unexpectedly. He’d just returned from a holiday abroad and was so healthy that I had been trying to extract the secret of his eternal youth. Beer we decided was the answer and as he said there were no longer decent pubs I promised to show him the delights of our local microbrewery when he got out of hospital. Hospital acquired pneumonia carried him off a couple of days ago.

Tomorrow I’m going to try that outside pool…

Newest of the new starts…

You’ve got to give me 10/ 10 for optimism. Here we are again, 7 years after the first new start and a fair few in the bag since then. I obviously don’t have a great deal of stick-to-it-ness but Im going to give it yet another go.

Things I would like to achieve this time round:

  • document my life by writing everyday, or (see, I’m already back peddling) no, no or, just bloody write something every day
  • try and wrest some of the interesting stories from my brain that happened in the past before they are gone forever
  • exercise daily for at least 30 mins
  • do stretches, im struggling to tie my showlaces, it doesn’t have to all be downhill from here on in
  • cut down on booze, i am increasingly aware that a lot of my decisions are based on the when and where of drinking, if I dont get a handle on it I’ll have to stop altogether.

 

A lot has happened since I wrote the last time.

Two years ago we left our sunny, friend-filled life in gorgeous Mallorca and moved back to the grey UK. I was fed up with sitting at a computer all day and wanted to do something with my life that felt a bit more worthwhile. My other half got a great job as a programmer and I started work as a live-in carer. This meant that I uprooted him and immediately fucked off for months at a time leaving him alone in a strange town in a strange country surrounded by strangers. As it is the south of England this lack of friends persists, it’s definitely true that it’s friendlier up north. We went to our local pub twice a week for a year and were treated as strangers every time, writing that down makes me realise that I kind of hate it here… but there is scope to move up here, chances to develop and stretch that aren’t available in Mallorca, so, for now, we’ll put up with that lack of human kindness, the grey skies and the work days that start and end in the dark.

 

My Most Embarrassing Moment

I’m struggling to think of a recent example of being embarrassed, there are a few “oh dear moments” like when I left a blood stain on a chair during a particularly heavy period, but embarrassment seems to be a thing of the past. There are two possible reasons for this, either I’m toughening up and embarrassment is actually a thing of the past or, and I think this is more likely,  I’m half way to senility and can’t even remember what I had for breakfast any more.

When I was an awkward pre-teen I liked to try out all sorts of different activities. I’d read about something interesting in the Coventry Evening Telegraph, pick up the phone and organise a meeting. In this way I became a tenor horn player for the Jaguar Youth Brass Band (and could be found enthusiastically blowing away at Tractor Fairs Warwickshire-wide until I discovered Cinzano) but amazingly that wasn’t embarrassing.

I also became a member of the Coventry Canoe Society which was based in the Coventry Canal basin. I learnt the ropes  by falling out regularly in the stinking canal water, which I’d been told by my mother would cause typhus, TB and all sorts of other third world diseases if swallowed. My ability to be mortified at the age of 12 was sky high, starting with the fact that the instructor (who I had a little crush on) was called Robin Belcher.

The kayaks that we used with extremely fast and extremely unstable, it took weeks to even be able to stay upright, let alone let alone pick up any speed or turn around.

I’d just about mastered the ability to move forward sluggishly without falling in when the opportunity came about for our whole group to go away camping for the weekend for Hurst Pierrpoint kayak races.

I’d never been away from home before, let alone with a group of almost strangers, but I was eager for adventure.  Mum packed me three days worth of spam sandwiches in an enormous tupperware container and away I went.

The whole thing was overwhelming, we boarded a Variety Club coach (I think Mr Belcher must have worked for them in the week) and headed off singing along to the radio and licking the windows of the coach whenever we passed a car. Listening to Come on Eileen still makes me flinch.

We arrived and I was entered into the beginners race, to the end of the reservoir and back, it might only have been 400 m but having only ever kayaked around the canal basin it seemed like miles. Also there were waves, quite big waves, we didnt even get wavelets on the canal. So I bellied up to the quay,  got in the kayak and promptly fell in. I was hauled out and helped, dripping wet, back into the kayak, this time I managed to stay upright.

The starting pistol fired, I was immediately lengths behind the field, my arms felt like lead, my face was burning, I wanted my mum. Everyone had finished by the time I was half way round, so it was just me and the support RIB making our way back at snail’s pace, watched by the world, his mother and all of my team mates.

I took to my bed for the rest of the weekend, hiding out in my tent and eating spam sandwiches, too embarrassed to show my face.

Still I lived to tell the tale, and now I’m older I’m proud of young me. Its true what they say, its not the winning its the taking place that’s important.

 

 

 

The smell of an orange

An orange smell has a high note and a low note. The low note smells like a perfectly ripe orange tastes, sweet and juicy. Then there’s the high note, the tart tang of oily zest. It’s the taste of childhood, when the skin was too tough and you were too impatient to wait for your mum to peel it, biting into the skin and tasting that bitter peel that made your lip curl.

Blue

Pondering on the colour blue. Is it cheating to pick a colour you know will be all around you for the whole walk? I have lived in Mallorca for 15 years, its hard for me to believe its been so long, and blue is the colour that defines the island and blue is one of the main reasons that I haven’t returned to the UK.  Life here can be tough, it’s not all cheap red wine and paella. The threat of the Greek exit and the subsequent weak euro means that the cost of living in Spain has increased. It’s difficult under the new austerity laws, and the government are not above inventing and collecting taxes to bail them out of the hole they have created for themselves. There is an extremely high rate of unemployment – over 50% amongst the under 30′s but you would never know.

The people who live here and the people that have adopted Mallorca are, I’m convinced, buoyed up by the colour blue. Its hard to stay down when the sun is shining and the sky is that mesmerising cobalt blue, its easier to forget that overdraft when you know that the Mediterranean Sea is just a stroll away and you can sit for free trying to differentiate between the sea and the sky.

The buildings here may not be as striking as those in Santorini but the shutter’s are often painted the same deep blue as the sky. In the last village I lived there was an old photograph of the high street in the local pub, it had been taken two generations ago, but could easily have been taken yesterday, it’s just a couple of cars that give it away, the church, the  shuttered buildings, the old people sitting chatting on the wall, they all look as they did 100 years ago. On that very same high street there are a couple of beautiful white buildings, with blue tile frontages and blue shutters that used to lift my heart every time I passed them. Where I live now they tend to opt for a dark green shutter, its not quite the same.

So blue sky, blue sea, blue shutters, and now I come to think of it, blue mussels in that cheap paella and are those blue tints in that cheap red wine? The blues kept firmly at bay by the colour blue.

Clichés

You can’t judge a book by it’s cover

You used to be able to literally judge a book by its cover. Pre-Kindle if I was feeling a bit under the weather and fancied a day lounging on the sofa I could send my lovely boyfriend down to the local bookshop and ask him to get something with a black cover and big silver writing, something where the author’s name was much bigger than the title, safe in the knowledge that I’d get something to keep interested and on the edge of my seat for a few hours. Conversely an orange penguin, we all know, means you’ll be educating yourself by may nod off half way through. ( Aside: I picked one up the other day in a second hand bookshop and was astounded by the number of words they used to cram on the page in the old days). Post-Kindle, or I suppose that should be during-Kindle, its becoming a bit more difficult. The digital world is awash with self published nonsense and the reviews are more often than not by teens or tweens. So in the Brave New World (Orange Penguin) I am finding myself half reading more and more dross, as it seems that you can no longer judge a e-book by its cover…

Rounders on the beach

Rounders is exhausting

We were supposed to meet Tracey & Sarah on the beach in Magalluf for rounders at 11 but our car developed a weird popping sound the day before so we ended up leaving it in Santa Ponsa car park and going home on the scooter. We decided to check the oil pre-rounders and discovered the dipstick was broken off and so we couldn’t tell if it was empty of not, as we stood around scratching our heads another Citroen Picasso pulled into the car park, so we asked if we could borrow his dipstick, a phrase I don’t imagine has been said that many times in the history of the world. Imagine our surprise and the great hilarity that ensued when his dipstick was also broken! You could work that up into some kind of anecdote if the had the brains and the wherewithal! I however don’t so I regaled people all afternoon with it and then decided it was only me that found it remotely amusing, however I bet Gordon Kaye would have laughed with me not at me…

Post rounders had lunch and a pint at Tom Browns (he’s from Manchester you know)…

In the evening we headed back to Santa P for St Patricks, sat drinking expensive guinness till we were drunk enough to enjoy the music. The band did an AMAZING spanish accented cover of Bohemian Rhapsody, which was amazeballs. Went and had a kebab and ended up with a beef filled carpet roll without an iota of salad, almost sulked but think I just about managed to stay adult..