Saturday, March 24, 2007


So....back to work.
Strange feeling.
Arrived by 8am at base1, managed to park and walked up to my office, with the sound of a vehicle reversing in Welsh powering down on me to finish me off. A tattered wanted poster, obviously placed there by a client angry with another client flapped on a lamp post as I strolled past, purposefully, hoping to get to my office without tears or bumping into anyone difficult.
Once there, I soon launched into the computer. By some freak of memory, I entered the correct password first time and was greeted by 375 emails, 75 of which informed me it was now time to empty my mail box. Started to work through them at top speed and to be horror, found that until I emptied it, I couldn't send anymore. Which limited what I could delete.


But undaunted, I soldiered on until 9am and the Friday morning meeting with the juniors, all distressed, as rightly they should be, by the chaos delivered by this wonderful government that has led several of them facing unemployment in August...

But they gave me a cheery welcome back and I picked up where I left off, offering advice, support and gentle encouragement to the gravely demoralised workforce.

I then had my first bit of terrible news of the day. Delivered by a colleague, in hushed tones, my heart sank into my boots and stayed there. Job share partner looked equally shell shocked. We parted company, me to the community base, she to supervise with no spring in our steps.

At the base2, warm greetings, hugs and pictures of firemen failed to hide the state of the place, the lack of staff and the air of forboding here too. Conflicts were abounding and all the muttered signs of relief at my return could not hide the difficulties we were facing. With the lack of admin staff a problem, I took up position in the front desk area and stormed my way through external then internal emails, post of the last four months and diaries. While answering the phone, letting clients in and out and chatting with E about life, the universe and everything. And I eventually discovered at the bottom of the pile my pay slip- which revealed I'd been underpaid by more than a third this month, for some strange reason. Phone calls to several people brought no joy. No one could help me until Monday....

Five hours later, and after a morale sapping meeting of the group, I headed back to base1 for another meeting, where difficulties were discussed and potential solutions postulated. We can see a way forward, but will management agree? Watch this space, is all I can say.
So at 5.15, with one coffee sipped while deleting emails and no lunch break, I walked back to my car, past the wanted poster on the lamp post, still flapping away.

Home to the boys and the post and M, nervously and tentatively asking how today went.
And 16 hours later, I finally managed to tell him, while watching Anthony Quinn play Zorba the Pope in the Shoes of the Fisherman, stupidly crying at the site of the white smoke as I remembered the feeling of watching it as a Catholic, with hope in my heart.
I soon stopped.
No point in dwelling on what is past.
The future may hold unlimited surprises....
Still, back to work.

I can't wait till I'm next in to see what disaster will strike next.
I think I might pretend it is a soap opera, and play suitable music in my head as I drive in and out. Complete with grand climaxes and funny endings...
May make it all even partially bearable.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hurting (2) (or possibly 3, I lost count)

I had to give myself a kick yesterday. I was sliding back into morose self pity mode, the influence of hormones falling due to the "time of the month" ("how long is your period then," asked son2 "because I think it's the longest one in history, judging by your moods") another minor hiccup at CF that to me seemed like a veritable explosion, and my imminent return to work. And other stuff that is running round inside my head.
Anyway, as I suddenly became an observer of my own inner world, I saw all the danger signs and stamped on it. So today, I'm merely tearful rather than figuring out an escape plan and due to go out soon to distract myself on my last day off sick.

It's the longest I've been off work, apart from the year I took off when we discovered about Son1's problems. It has helped in some ways, my joints are better in that I can actually walk places now without not sleeping due to pain afterwards and although I still need further tests on what the heck is going on in my hands (next week) my physical functioning is better.
Mentally?- well, I no longer dwell on escape plans all the time, I have an alternative in my head should the going get too rough and though it would mean a radical upheaval, it is one we could do.

So although I'm still hurting, especially over the CF stuff, I'm doing something about it, something active (which involves once again leaving CF...this time, hopefully, to stay away.) And as work beckons and draws me back in, I'll no doubt be too busy soon to do much more than come home in the evening and collapse in front of a warm television...

Watch this space!

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Drove today, alone, to Birmingham and back, my only company my CD with its repeated cycle of my twenty favourite songs (ranging from Carole King's Tapestry, through a little bit of soft folky music to Catatonia's Cerys belting out what she does every morning when she wakes up.) Thoughts ran through my head, images, little day dreams, worries about work, family, which every now and then I put on one side to focus on driving in the appalling weather. Arriving at Brum, I did what I went there to do in all of half an hour, had a quick drink and took myself back, through blustery dry weather. The black mountains gazed at me in all their glory as I came closer to home and I started to think about the morning and Mass at church.

Not my favourite Mass of the year, but one I have been playing at for the last 16 years or so, the Mother's Day Mass. Head teacher and I are friends, and when I lost my faith he said, somewhat nervously "You're not going to give up playing?" and so far, I haven't. It was a cute occasion, starting with the infants, 5 yr olds mainly, singing tunelessly two songs then yelling out a poem to their mothers, who had little chance of understanding a single word, but whose eyes filled with tears to see their little ones dressed in all their best clothes up on the altar, performing.

The Mass otherwise folowed its usual somewhat chaotic course, enhanced by an appeal for the Lourdes group I used to travel with in the middle.

One of the hymns the children sung (tunelessly and in this case, as it was the more self conscious juniors, quietly) was by the late great Sydney Carter, author, poet and musician, who died an atheist after many years of searching. The words, as ever, filled me with glee, he would find no welcome on a more orthodox platform, but his ideas of life that needed to be lived, and if necessary, lived without faith and lived gloriously, continue to grasp and inspire me when I revisit them.

So as I drove onto the M50, the hills in the distance, the greenery lit up in the sunlight, I hummed away tunelessly Sydney Carter's carol (as he called all his songs...) and laughed at the memory of small children in big hats and huge aprons showing how much they loved their mums.

Round the corners of the world I turn
More and more about the world I learn
From the old things to the new
Keep me travelling along with you

And it's from the old
I travel to the new
Keep me travelling along with you

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Journey....

By Mary Oliver (Dream Work, Grove Atlantis.)
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy was terrible.

It was already late enough,
and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
Determined to do the only thing you could do --
Determined to save the only life you could save.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


I couldn't have a son1 post and not follow it with a son2 post.
Everyone should also have a son2. I discussed this earlier with son2, who was in full agreement.
I had just told him of our plans for son1 to go to residential college for a year, which may not come off, in Sept 2008.
He face fell.
He'll come back at half terms and holidays, I quickly added and he smiled.
He likes having his brother round mostly, though he can be a tremendous burden on him. Son1 sees son2 as being his own personal entertainer, guide, bodyguard, counsellor, playmate, punchbag, expert in games and best friend. He is desolate when son2 takes off with his friends for the day and will ask every 5 minutes when he will be back.
Son2 carries this heavy burden with the impish charm and laconic manner that makes everyone, teachers, fellow students, family, friends, fall in love with him and want to spend time with him. He has a little adolescent side, that answers in grunts and monosyllables, especially if homework or bed is mentioned, but he knows this and he sees it as his right and duty, indeed, to be rebellious.
He thinks freely and independently, still believing in God but not seeing a God of punishment and hell as one that he could particularly relate to. His God seems more like a companion to walk through life with, who sits and watches and laughs just as uproariously at the rest of us at Son2's mad ideas, sarcastic monologues and witty humour.
"Everyone should have the Son1 and Son2 option" he said to me; "Gives a good balance." It matures Son2, entertains him, gives him responsibility and insight early and gives the rest of us refreshment, lightness in the heart and something wonderful to greet us on our return home from work at night.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Every family should have at least one Son1- T - to keep them sane and on the right path.
Now yes, I agree, Son1's do bring with them all sorts of difficulties...and son1's do suffer a lot, but they bring with them all sorts of benefits. They help keep things in perspective for a start...
And they speak their mind.
Totally above dissembling, tact, able to see straight to the heart of the matter.
Not afraid either, if it needs saying, bring along son1, and he will say it.
"Mum, you know your hair? It looks ridiculous."
"Why do you say that Grandma? No one would help you? You didn't even ask anyone."
Everyone else standing round, wondering how to put it so no one gets hurt.
He sees the truth and says it.
And no one gets hurt.
I knew my hair was ridiculous.
Just couldn't be bothered to do anything about it.
Grandma knew she was playing games.
Her forte
Just didn't want to admit it.

He sits like our collective conscience on our shoulders, our eyes to see the world as it is, not as we want to see, to see us as we are, not as we wish to be perceived, our ears to hear the truth we need to hear.

So, here is to son1s wherever they are.
Let us hope the world will always recognise their valuable contribution to keeping us human and sane....

Saturday, March 10, 2007


“Beautiful Lady, we pray
Reveal to us, the love that you portray.
Your words so gentle, O sinless queen
Your heart so pure,Star of the Sea.
Ave Maria…”

Lying in bed, words flow through my head.
Images of the day.
Some good- A for science and hugs accepted
Some wonderful- the love of two people for 50 years celebrated in a warm friendly Mass, where tears flowed as I sang the words above
Some deeply sad- as I learnt she had died, the Angel that lived with little thought for herself.

Some desperate.
Tears more than once.

Flowing as I faced a column marked "work" to fill in....
As I faced to never seeing the Angel again
As I faced up to the emptiness of the depths, the needs and desires and wants that lay and lie unfulfilled now and forever
As I faced up to that which I had become, that which I always had been, that which I always would be....

Stark past bringing into focus an even starker future
Sometimes you can't make it on your own
and as I recognised the depths of the other
I realise that to the other I am the someone
The one who stops him falling into his deep despair.

One more thing to face up to.....

Friday, March 09, 2007

Frightened Rabbit

"You look like a frightened rabbit again"
I knew I did
Frightened rabbit mode
Frozen in headlights, still as can be, hoping all will pass by leaving me safe and secure.
When first?
As a child, with the stranger whose face and name will remain ever unknown but whose action is burnt deep into my being.
But more often, as a teenager, with Her.
The anger, the shouting, bringing on rabbit, who froze then when told, the bolting, the leaving.
Out of her sight.
Lying behind the couch, safe and secure
Crying, sobbing, wanting the storm to pass.
Deep down, wanting her to search, to come, to say all is well, are you OK? I love you...
That miracle never happened.
Those words were never said.
Others were...
You quitter
You'd look pretty if you weren't so fat.
Just be thankful you are not like her....

The storm would only pass when I got up and found her again and said "Sorry, all my fault, I'm to blame, I won't do it again, forgive me, please."

Easier to be a frightened rabbit.
To stand and freeze, physically, mentally, emotionally.
Not to feel or think, let it all pass over you.
The anger, the shouting, the words of disgust.
Words inwardly taken, now part of my view.

But now, time for change.
Time to unfreeze, stop running and hiding.
Stop being a rabbit and face the storms...