May 2011

Today I persuaded my 89 year old mother to buy her first ever pair of jeans (she needed more pockets than women are usually given). I also had my dad risking heart attack by speeding up the stairs shouting about being the ‘resident’ and not wanting to lose the bath tub, as me, ma and Sue from Facelift Home Improvements talked about the possibility of having a washing machine in the bathroom.

I probably will not be able to come back down for months, and getting the first proper washing machine in this house is vital, and needs me here to sort out the details, so there is stress here.

The last two days should have been four days, and it has been hard work, but it is my flesh and blood, and there is drama, comedy and reward. After all you should know where you are with family, even if you cannot stop from getting annoyed with them.

My dad has just had a massive diabetic hypo. I have seen one before but thought it was general illness. This time I tested his blood. My hope is that next time he knows what is happening, because he would rather fall and break bones than admit to an illness he does not understand.

When this kind of thing happens it makes wonder if I should move back, it is not as if my art or ‘career’ prospects will suffer for not being in Bradford. My unstressed reasoning is that I will do what I have to when I have to. My stressed thinking, like I have been having for the last few days, is that being with my parents would be a film noirnightmare, or an escape route.

I will await developments, as I have been doing for all my life. If one of them falls seriously ill, or worse, I will step up to the mark. Anything more morally complicated will have to wait.

I also made a crying baby and a bus driver laugh, and both waved as I got off, at least the Crawley bus driver did, the baby on the Gatwick – Three Bridges train thought about trying a wave, but did not yet have the synapses to be able to do it.

I had planned to go to my parents today, and was at Bradford Interchange station sat on the Grand Central direct service to London, when the guard announced that no trains were running on the East Coast main line south of Doncaster. He gave a personal guarantee that he and the driver would get us on a train at Doncaster to Sheffield, where we could get a train to London. I got off, and trains are still not running as I write, and may not run tomorrow.

The worst thing though was that I know someone who is driving from Bradford tomorrow, and within a few miles of my parents; but there was zero charity or kindness there, let alone a lift.

The radio show was ok, but it was held together by the guests. The guy hosting it had come prepared with copies of news stories he wanted to discus and he talked us through them. I nearly left then. As I pointed out there was nothing funny and little local. Who cares what I think about international news items none of us knew much about? As I told him, if the audience are not interested in local news why are they listening to Bradford Community Broadcasting.

Instead of introducing everyone at the start the host asked questions of each guest, and unless you are introduced you should not talk on this kind of show. Also he wanted all discussion to go through him, so not a round table. So 13 minutes before I got a word or mention, and he held up his red pen at me latter to stop me trying to rescue Corrine from Horworth Cat Rescue from a long question about Bradford City; of which she knew little. He also demanded that I do a poem without notice; which is bad manners and management.

On the other hand the guests were good and interacted, and the host was steady, but frankly boring, and that is likely to be what the show is if none of the guests talk to each other.

Afterward I finally found The Sparrow Bier Cafe. It is good and much needed at the top end of Bradford.

I am due to be live on BCB’s lunchtime roundtable radio show tomorrow, 27th May.

I must have had the same cold as Bev, we were ill for the same length of time and both had one full day in bed, and nearly all the symptoms were the same; apart from phlegm, which I alone had.

Me saying this is not just about me and my family’s need to disgust. It is actually a bit of a challenge to the way I have measured my own illnesses. If I did not have phlegm it was a cold, if I did, it was something worse. It is obvious to me now that that is too simplistic, and probably wrong. This time I must have got an an infection on top of the cold. Lazy doctor’s would explain it by diabetes, and most women probably by the fact that I am a man.

I spent the illness at Bev’s house, so I had warmth, cats and a telly.

I spent the last couple of days helping to move Bev’s ma from a bad but big granny flat to a smaller and much better one a few hundred yards away. The closeness was worst part of the move. A removal firm were hired, and the assumption was it would be easy to do in a day. That was very wrong, especially as it was also decided to clear the old flat, rather than pay the council to clear it.

I spent the big moving day at Bev’s so the stuff Bev was taking (including a bed to pass on) could be brought, and to let a woodworm checker in. I doubt I could have added anything but frustration anyway, and certainly could not have made the job do-able in a day.

I was called in on the second day to rescue a display cabinet, that had had a glass shelf jammed solidly askew, which I did with my Swiss Army knife and furniture polish. That allowed a couple of the dozen boxes of ornaments to be unpacked. I also put shelves up, smashed things with a mallet so they could be taken to the tip, and carried stuff to the new flat because there was only one car.

I then walked from Charlestown to Baildon carrying Bev’s tools and stuff I was taking away. The result was me downing a pint in one for the first time in ages. It was in the Malt Shovel and only the non-talking barmaid noticed.

I think I helped a bit. It actually went a lot better than I would have imagined, and serves as a benchmark if I have to do the same for my parents.

Bev carried a cold through most of last week, and I seem to be coming down with flu.

Made a chocolate box treat to aid recovery. Cut ginger cake into squares. Melted plain chocolate, poured onto greaseproof paper, cooled and cut into squares. Glued chocolate squares to cake with ginger jam. Whipped fresh cream and dolloped on, and added a fresh cherry split in half. It was very good.

I thought I was going to watch my Bev dance morris today, but Thursday night she finally managed to get it through to me that it was learn to dance workshops, and I would have to pay!

So I ended up going to Leeds’ Carriage Works Theatre for a workshop called The Storytelling Body. It was only £3 (so obviously with a massive subsidy) but it did use off-putting phrases like ‘..strech you to your physical limits’. Still, I reasoned that it might not be wank, and I could do other things in Leeds.

The story of what happened got a big laugh in the Grove later, and audience participoation in the form of Did Care in the Community pay for you to do it it!?

The room had been incorrectly booked, not a big deal to go to another room, but the 2 blokes doing it and the bloke from the festival it was part of, did not seem bothered to go and put a sign up on the door, or check for the mis-directed.

First job was to take our shoes and socks off (so we were …all on the same level (apart from being different sizes).

One of the leaders (I forget his name) then talked about the thing being based on fuck up’s, that you learn by making mistakes, and some other guff.

The group were mostly young, good looking, eager, and happy to pretend worth.

The first exercise was a name learning one. I learnt I need to find a better way to pronounce Glyn (and that was worth the fee). However I did not need to learn that I cannot remember names. I ended up calling everyone Dave, and staring at the ceiling.

Fortunately, after half an hour of this we had to transfer to the room we were supposed to start in. I took my time putting my shoes and socks on, followed the rest slowly, and made my escape.

I was not angry. The Leeds Emerge Festival seems to be a normal modern arts turd polishing process, of the kind which I probably should be trying to get into, but my sprit was broken when they promised improv (Oh let’s create through fear and bullying.) and I felt certain that story telling through dance would follow.

The best thing, apart from it being cheap enough to walk out of, and the basis of a good story, is that the rest of the day in Leeds was great.

Went round bits of the Leeds City Museum, which is one of my favourites, and I got on the microscope with bugs and plants, without having to wait for a divorced dad showing his child stuff, although I did not use the time gained to try to look at one of my own nostril hairs, which is the obvious thing to use a microscope for.

Met up with Anzir to talk about computers, and we went to the Mac shop so he could point to things as he explained them again.

Good walk down to Shipley station in the mornig (watched a jay in a small copse by the River Aire) and a sunny day as well.

In the last week or so I have:

Had two new fillings, including the tooth that has been causing infections for years. If this one does not work it will have to come out. It feels better than it did, but still not right.

Had another run in with my doctor’s practice, about their habit of denying my repeat prescription for diabetic related stuff because they think I do not need any; this without ever discussing the needs with me. I have written a formal complaint.

Went to Sheffield on Saturday to support Bev and Wayzgoose morris take part in the Joint Morris Organization national day of dance. There are pictures of them on the web, but only on facebook, and I cannot find them, let alone link to them.

I went by train. To Huddersfield via the unloved line from Halifax via Brighouse, then the loved Penniston line, which was save and is supported by an active group. It is a good, though long, trip with views on both lines, although the train gets full from Penniston, and very full from Barnsley, to Meadowhall.

Met Bev &c at the Museum pub where lunch and beer were taken. Saw her dance a few dances. She has been with them a year and she is growing in self belief after some struggles to learn the dances and fit in the group.

Nipped off to the Fat Cat for old time’s sake. I first drank there in 79 or 80 and it does not seemed to have changed, apart from now doing food. Talked to a nice group of young folk who seemed eager to hear stories of beer.

It was a sunny day and a good time was had by all, although I had got a bit tired and emotional by the time we got home.

I have finally given up on the iMac after a second replacement PRAM battery (of the right size this time) failed to get it going.

Went to two residents meetings, including one in the ‘pocket park; at my suggestion. We keep talking about it but only two of us visit it regularly, so being there help me explain myself, and what we can, should and can’t do with it. So I have added horticultural advisor to my skill set.

My auntie Veronica Brownlow (nee Watkins) apparently passed away a little over a week ago. I have not seen her since circa 1973, and she and my father had not been in contact for decades, and while my mother did make some effort to keep in touch even that ended years ago. I only found from out from Mary Beth.

Never-the-less a sad day for our family and I do hope she had a peaceful end and I wish her nearest and dearest my sympathy.

My auntie Klaudia in Finland is very ill, though we do not know any details, so she may not be near the end of her days. She is my mother’s younger sister and the only sibling left alive.

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