On Thursday, Bubble stopped eating.
She had been struggling with myco complications for a good few weeks now, and the antibiotics seemed to be having only a limited positive effect.
Rats often have respiratory problems, especially as they get older (my girls are about 2 now). Sometimes they get by on baytril long term, and Bubble put up a good fight, but ultimately, she needed a rest.
I can feel myself welling up now.
Ben phoned me up a few weeks ago, whilst I was up here in Suffolk and he and the rats were still in London, sounding worried – Bubble’s breathing was really bad, he said. Very wheezey, sneezey. She had bad porphyrin build up around her eyes too, a sign that she was seriously stressed out.
The vet gave her jabs, and gave us some baytril to administer at home (via oral syringe – she hated that). Then there was the corvental-D, and the powdered steroids, and I think it was all a bit much, and optimism got the better of us.
Bubble has always been a bit of a sickly rat. She had an abscess in January, and she’s been a bit sniffy since we first got her. But she’s also been very highly spirited, ok quite highly strung, but cheeky and loads of fun. Never a dull moment, even if the chewed wires were a pain (rare, but ultimately inconvenient).
Rats are tricky. They are incredibly affectionate, intelligent, inquisitive, and ultimately very easy to get attached to. But they are also small, and therefore quite short lived. Most rats manage 2-4 years. Short but sweet. I loved having Bubble in my life, which has made the last few days all the more difficult.
With the move to Suffolk and my new job starting, I’ve been up and down to London. Unfortunately, when things turned the bad corner on Thursday, I was up here, not down there. But I didn’t want her to wait, suffering unnecessarily, until I got home. A difficult decision, but we think the right one, Ben took her, alone, to the vet. I’m sorry that I couldn’t say goodbye. It hurts to think about that.
But she can get some rest now. I worry that her sister, Squeak (who moved up to Suffolk with me this morning) will be lonely. She seems mostly ok for now, but rats are sociable creatures, and I think she enjoyed being bullied by Bubble. We’ll have to keep each other company for now.
I’m still here! Promise.
Just a bit hectic here (as always). I still don’t have an oven or washing machine (anyone in Waveney with a spare, working washing machine that they want to donate?) but I now have a fridge and a DOUBLE inflatable mattress.
Lots still to bring up from London, but we’re getting there, slowly. Ben has, just today, sold his big red Capri for breaking, and was only offered £500 for it. I think he is very sad, but he’s not letting on much, and it’s hard to tell when I’m 3 hours away. I feel bad for him, because I know he loved that car and, given the time, space and money, he would have reconditioned it and made it beautiful.
However, we don’t have the time, space or money for it. In some ways, this is a good thing: our time, space and money is being developed towards our future, home and (eventually) family. It’s an exciting time, but also scary, lots of change and lots of sacrifice.
My major sacrifice at the moment is probably my sanity: trying to juggle training for three jobs is starting to do my head in, with one employer giving me a bunch of night shifts for a few week’s time. But never mind – I expected this. And hopefully, it means first paycheck soon…
My partner Ben has been going to Latchmere Motors since before he could drive – as a kid, he’d go along with his dad, to pick up all the bits he needed for his cab.
When Ben got his own car, he stayed loyal to the two brothers that run Latchmere Motor Spares. And why not? Reasonably priced, if they haven’t got it they’ll GET it, they’re a vast wealth of knowledge, very helpful and good fun to chat to. Oh, and they have a shop’s cat – an 18 year old mog called Ratbag. She is lovely, and playful like a kitten.
But no more – Latchmere Motors have been driven off the market by the big boys such as Halfords. There is no room in the modern world for the small independent specialist shop. They’ve had to close down, and we are devastated. I hope the lads from Latchmere have a nice retirement – they deserve it. They will be sorely missed.
Oh, I took them some cake to say bye. That’s how much they meant to us. You don’t get that with Halfords.
Yay, another awesome female artist. I’ve loved Amy MacDonald since she brought out Poison Prince, but with the recent Fiat advert (with This Is The Life in the background), Ben has realised that he loves her too. And so we’ve been playing her music a fair bit.
What a pretty lady.
I’ve really gotten into “Run” recently (watch a good video here – embedding has been disabled by the user, so sorry about that). It’s a bit more melancholic than some of her more romping tunes (ok, a lot of her songs are a bit sad), but I think the refrain is sort of inspiring, in its way. I won’t patronise you too much by interpreting the fairly straight-forward lyrics, suffice to say, that in this unpredictable point in my life, I’m listening to it over. And over. And over.
Hope you love it as much as I do.
I started “liking” the Chilis after I became deeply enamoured with a boy in my class when I was about 12. He loved RHCPs, and I thought (stupidly, I realise now) that by pretending to like them, I would win his affections. Oh dear, dear, dear. It does not work like that.
However, by listening to a lot of the Chili’s music, I fell in love with THEM*. And I hunted around for lots of less-well-known songs from them. One that I did discover, and immediately formed a deep, painful relationship with, was the beautiful “My Friends”. If you need a remedy to the slightly depressing tone of this, try “Road Trippin’”, which is still less funk than their famous stuff, but more uplifting.
*It probably helps that frontman Anthony Kiedis is INTENSELY hot in that demi-Navajo sort of way. And he doesn’t seem to like wearing many clothes. Nom.
Nope, sorry, massive disappointment. Similar to Ben’s reaction to Gran Turismo 5 (where he was waiting ages for it, really looking forward to it, and cetera), Sonic Colours just did not meet my expectations.
That’s cruel – Sonic Colours is a pretty good game in its own right. The game is pretty (especially the starlight carnival planet) and the designers have obviously tried hard to remain true to the original charm of the original Sonic games.
But it just… doesn’t match up. It doesn’t have the same addictability as Sonic, Sonic 2, Sonic & Knuckles… There is even more annoying stuff to fall off of than in Lego Batman (beyond challenging, into the realms of pure frustration, to the point where I actually just turned off the console mid-level several times). The controls are a bit sticky (the double jump is a pain in the arse) and the “Colours” themselves are a bit gimmicky and frankly slightly embarrassing.
Oh, and the 2-player part of the game SUCKS. Jesus.
Fine, I’ll admit it – I didn’t finish this game. It just didn’t grab me like those from my childhood did. In fact, I traded it in today, and got Lego Star Wars for PS3 instead.
It seems SEGA still haven’t managed to recapture the wonderful Golden Combination that those original games had (up until the first 3D game *shudder*). I even liked Sonic Spinball. But not this.
Maybe I’ll just download the original games instead…. Sigh.
One of those stupidly-late-night-on-BBC-Radio-3 sort of discoveries. New to me, maybe not to you.
A bit cruel, but hilarious!
Since I still appreciate you,
Let’s find love while we may.
Because I know I’ll hate you
When you are old and grey.
So say you love me here and now,
I’ll make the most of that.
Say you love and trust me,
For I know you’ll disgust me
When you’re old and getting fat.
An awful debility,
A lessened utility,
A loss of mobility
Is a strong possibility.
In all probability
I’ll lose my virility
And you your fertility
And this liability
Of total sterility
Will lead to hostility
And a sense of futility,
So let’s act with agility
While we still have facility,
For we’ll soon reach senility
And lose the ability.
Your teeth will start to go, dear,
Your waist will start to spread.
In twenty years or so, dear,
I’ll wish that you were dead.
I’ll never love you then at all
The way I do today.
So please remember,
When I leave in December,
I told you so in May.
I’m definitely a boots-girl. They just make your feet feel cosier: especially important in this cold, wet British January limbo.
I have several pairs of boots – some made for walking, some really, really not. But despite my boot collection, I have a straying eye, and always lust after more boots. Like these gorgeous beauties from Very.co.uk:
But yes. I don’t need any more boots. So I won’t be getting them. Sigh!
OK, posts about TV will be few and far between – aside from documentaries, I don’t watch much.
And after last night, I will be watching even LESS – Ugly Betty is OVER, people. Maybe I should just give you an advanced warning (and I don’t do this often): SPOILER ALERT.
Ugly Betty was one of the few serieseses that I actually watched. Ben got me into it, would you believe. I originally wouldn’t have given Ugly Betty a second glance (it’s about a fashion magazine) but it is BRILLIANT. Hilarious, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that identifies with Betty just a little bit.
Poor, tragic Betty. She tries so very hard, but really? The fashion industry is not really her forte. She is incredibly talented as a writer, eager, friendly and insightful. But she is not, shall we say “on trend”.
But that’s what makes Betty so lovable. And she’s come a long way in four seasons of the show.
The finale tied up a lot of loose ends in a very short space of time: Justin comes out (finally! As if no one knew), Hilda and Bobby get married and plan to move to Manhattan and a place of their own, Wilhelmina gives up “scheming” and as a result gains the (begrudging) trust of the Meads, Amanda is reunited with her birth father and Marc gets back together with Troy (hopefully for a meaningful relationship). And our favourite pair? Well, Betty is offered another job in London, and, seeing how well everyone else is getting along, decides to go for it, and make a fresh start. Daniel is distraught – he can’t live without Betty. And fangirls everywhere are weeing themselves when Mummy Mead suggests it’s because Daniel has feelings for Betty.
He tries to get her to stay, but Betty has to follow her dream. Daniel, realising how hard Betty works to get what she wants, has a serious look at himself, and then decides to start afresh too. He makes Wilhelmina sole editor-in-chief of Mode, and then disappears.
Cue London montage, and Betty living it up in the city (and unlike two episodes ago, she is ACTUALLY in London this time, not in an almost-London-like-but-horribly-clichéd set+CGI). And who does she bump into? Daniel.
And that’s it. Hints to the future, but without spelling it out for you.
I’m going to miss Betty. Great ending (if a bit hastily wrapped up) to a brilliantly clever show.
Image credits: connect.in.com, buddytv.com, TVfanatic.com
This book took me a long time to read. I had to put a lot of effort in to reading it. Usually, that is a sign that I am finding the book boring, or a chore. That is not true in this case: the sheer effort involved here was to overcome the deep sense of sadness held within the pages.
Andrew Solomon’s comprehensive masterpiece on depression is an incredibly painful read, especially if the experiences described are familiar to you. I’m fairly certain that everyone knows someone who has at some time suffered from clinical depression (whether mild or major), and it is still even now treated with some awkwardness, to say the least. As Solomon points out, “our society has little room in it for moping” – a common phrase thrown at depressives is “pull yourself together”. Solomon relates an incredibly provocative life event (which lead to his third breakdown) in which he dislocated his shoulder pretty badly: knowing his own body and how he reacts to prolonged physical pain (they are a large cause of his depressive episodes) he calmly asked the doctors at A&E to look up his psychiatric history in order to hurry along pain relief. He knew that without pain control, he was likely to plunge into a deep depression. Rather than listen to their patient, and be sympathetic to his suffering by offering a psychiatric consult, doctors told him: “Pull yourself together and stop feeling sorry for yourself”. He was also accused of being “uncooperative” and “childish”. Solomon later lapsed into suicidal ideation and later ended up having a minor breakdown.
Solomon bases this book around his own experiences of major depression (including three breakdowns, thousands of dollars worth of therapy and a rainbow of medications) but this is by no means a self-indulgent, autobiographical look-in. He relates stories from many cultures and classes, from people of all walks of life, all sharing a terrible common ground. Solomon shows us the world of self-help groups, animistic rituals to cure depression in Senegal (the ndeup ritual, in case you want to pursue further reading), the quiet world of Greenlandic depression and the ignored population suffering below the poverty line. All are fascinating. All are equally distressing. Much of it made me angry. All of it moved me deeply.
You know what you’re getting in to from the first page of the first chapter: Solomon tells us, truthfully, that “no matter what we do, we will in the end die”. It does not get any cheerier, even when Solomon devotes a chapter to statistics. But it is illuminating: within the first ten pages, I was already thinking that this should be essential reading for anyone working with depressives, be they psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, helpline volunteers… It explains an awful lot, and does so without fear and without apology.
Solomon mentions in the foreword that he is not a doctor or a psychologist, and this is a purely personal book, with interpretations only, and is not a substitute for appropriate treatment. However, early on, he throws away common misconceptions about depression: for example, that it is “just chemical”. Well, if you want to be accurate, EVERYTHING is “just chemical”, but that doesn’t make it any less personal or painful.
Depression isn’t intrinsically linked to suicide, but a lot of depressives do think suicidal thoughts (even if they do not enact suicidal acts). It’s incredibly sad to consider the logic behind suicide: the pain so great that you wish everything could just go away, forever. Solomon includes a beautifully poignant quote from one of my old favourites, G. K. Chesterton:
The man who kills a man kills a man.
The man who kills himself kills all men.
As far as he is concerned, he wipes out the world.
But it is not all doom and gloom (hah!). Solomon also shares with us his journey towards managing his depression, as well as the stories of others, and how their lives were turned around by patience and treatment. The final chapter of the book is lovingly titled “Hope”, and Solomon ends his work beautifully, asking us to “Hold on to time; don’t wish your life away. Even the minutes when you feel you are going to explode are minutes of your life, and you will never get those minutes again”.
In his foreword, Solomon warns us that he is “not a doctor or a psychologist or even a philosopher”. I disagree with the last part, and I urge you to read this book.
WARNING: Philosophy in progress
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
I have been thinking a lot about death lately. It is hardly surprising: I have suffered a great deal of loss this year, with Ben’s aunt Flossy dying last Boxing day, then his beloved dog Laura in April. Soon after my birthday, in May, I lost the last of my grandparents: my dad flew over from Dubai to bury his mother. I was too upset to even write a coherent tribute post for that particular loss.
Then last week, I heard the sudden, unexpected and painful news that Janet McCleery, the singing teacher that set me on the road of beautiful musicianship, had passed away in her sleep.
I heard from someone at Ardingly (one of the several places in Sussex that she taught organ and singing) that Janet was discovered when she did not turn up for an engagement, and the person involved called the police. Quite a testament to her reliability. Apparently, they broke into the house and found her in bed, seemingly having died in her sleep – a lovely peaceful way for her to go, but shocking for everyone else; especially as she was not that old either (67).
I went to her Requiem Mass held at Worth Church in Sussex just yesterday morning. I found the majority of the service to be sadly unmoving: the priest talked at length about Janet’s religious faith (which I never once discussed with Janet in the many years I knew her) but only mentioned her incredible musicality once (which was, in my eyes, the driving force of her life).
Please, don’t get me wrong: I may be an atheist, but I am a non-aggressive atheist. I don’t mind religion. People can believe what they want to believe. However, I think it is frankly quite insulting that priest was given so much space to say so much about so little. A large percentage of the congregation (myself included) chose not to step up for Communion or even a blessing, illustrating that they were not their for the religion, but there to celebrate the life of a wonderful, humble, caring, devoted, talented and inspiring woman.
It was only when the choir sang Fauré’s “In Paradisum” and Michael Oakley (head of music at Worth school) made an impassioned, moving, and personal speech in memory of Janet, that I truly felt moved. I admire Michael greatly for pushing on with his words of tribute for this wonderful woman, despite the fact that he was obviously struggling with emotion.
I am sorry that I didn’t see her all that often in recent years. I can’t remember the last time I spoke to her, but it will have been many months, if not a year or two. That fact pains me greatly: she was a huge, positive influence in my life.
Rest in peace, Janet. You live on in the many lives you touched, the many people you shared your music with, the many eager young musicians you trained.
That’s more like it! After having a rather disappointing time with Daniel Levitin last week, Oliver Sacks delivered. Like his famous The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat (and most of his other books), Musicophilia follows various case studies – this time, evidently, all related to music. Sacks offers us a potted history of each of his patients, with touching personal insight into their plight. It feels to me that Sacks is getting more sensitive with age – he used to be accused of being too detached from the humanity of his patients, treating them as oddities rather than people, but Musicophilia defies this accusation. Sacks connects with his patients, and some of the passages are not only very poignant, but show Sacks’ deep admiration for their ability to overcome adversity, sometimes in ingenious ways.
To give an example, Sacks talks of the famous amnesic, Clive Wearing who, despite not being able to remember anything that has happened more than a minute or so ago, is still able to play the piano and organ with the same fluency and skill as he could before he suffered the brain damage he bears today (as a result of severe encephalitis). This musicality is Clive’s link to his “former self”, as attested to by his wife.
Sacks also relates strange tales of musical hallucinations, of amusia and musical dystonia. He lets us in to the musical world of people with Williams syndrome and of the musical savants. But for me, the most incredible and moving thing of all is the obvious relief that music brings: helping people with Tourettes to channel their energy, giving people with dementia a pathway to their past, giving rhythm and the gateway to movement to people with Parkinsons, and expression to aphasics, who are unable to connect with language in any other way.
I have a couple of very minor issues: firstly, with the fact that Sacks revisits a lot of previously covered cases (ones mentioned already in his other books, which he could then ask you to read as well), and secondly Sacks really over uses footnotes. There was a footnote ever few pages, and some were incredibly long. In fact, some pages were more footnote than main body text. However, as I said: minor issues. These did not detract from the book’s wonderfulness.
It is a beautiful book, tempering science with humanity, and giving us an insight into worlds far detached from our own – some cases may be familiar (the stories touching upon depression were quite uncomfortable for me) but others are other-worldly. It gives a true appreciation of the breadth of human experience, and the wonder of music that connects us all.
…and change is Nature’s delight.
Thanks to Marcus Aurelius for putting it so succinctly.
Why so reflective? Well, today was my last official day as a staff member at the Horniman Museum (voluntary or otherwise – my duties have been varied!)
I first started at the museum back in June 2009, totalling my time there at a year and three months. I started out as a frightened volunteer, answering questions and guiding people around the museum. I learnt a lot about bees, and defended the fox in the Nature Base from over-enthusiastic children.
The Horniman’s distinctive clocktower
I quickly made myself known to various staff members – mainly the Learning teams and the Visitor Assistants. I soon found my duties expanding, as I volunteered my services around to different departments. I was at a Cafe Scientifique balloon debate, a family Play Day, I received Disabilities & Diversity training…
The Natural History Gallery, with the famous walrus
My eagerness to help “behind the scenes” got me a short stint (2-3 weeks) helping to kick start the audit of the Hands On Base, and the Learning team made further use of my organisational skills by letting me help with school bookings administration.
Frederick Horniman’s beautiful conservatory
After chumming-up with a fellow volunteer (who was involved with the marketing team), I was paid to help steward the museum’s annual “Fusion Fest”, a cultural event in the Horniman’s 16 acre gardens. After this, I got to know everyone in the marketing team better, leading to my temporary and ad hoc paid employment doing market research (they have asked me back on more than one occasion to help with projects). Last week, they even asked me to help out at a high profile fund-raising event, which was wonderful.
Just to prove that I was there…
But, nothing is forever. I should really be excited, as my reasons for leaving are concerned with personal growth: I start my Psychology MSc next week (I may have mentioned this before, as I am starting to stress out, rather…) and that will take up the lion’s share of my time. But in addition to my studies, I am an enthusiastic volunteer at SANE (a London based mental health charity, who do wonderful work) and a committed member of the English Arts Chorale (who make my life difficult by being based in Reigate, Surrey). And obviously, there are the day to day runnings of things, and the one-off events that come up from time to time (like playing the double bass – it’s been a while!). I’m also considering taking up another volunteer position to further my CV, possibly at The Stroke Association or the Royal Hospital For Neurodisability.
And did I mention that I (would like to) have a social life?
So, something had to give, and I made the difficult decision of pulling away from the beautiful Horniman. Whilst I have vowed that I will return as a visitor, and I have told various departments that, free time permitting, I would be happy to help out at events, I can no longer commit to regular volunteering.
It has been a really wonderful experience (with its ups and downs, and a lot to be learned!), and I will miss it, a lot.
Is this thing even on?
Yes, I’m still alive
Having just finished writing a guest post for my new friend Angharad’s fashion and lifestyle blog Edible Glitter (the post has now gone live!), I realised how awful I am at blogging regularly. Or keeping any sort of schedule. I mean, my last post was nearly a month ago, and that was just to announce the death of my nan (I say “just” – it was a very big thing. I am not over it at all).
So here I am again, like an unfaithful partner to the blogosphere, apologising again, hoping you’ll take me back, promising I’ll stay faithful this time, but we both know that I’ll stray again, soon enough. But we love each other so much, you can’t stay mad at me, right…?
Well, I finished my exams, hurrah me This was followed shortly after by my nan passing away, which, whilst not a shock (she had a stroke 6 years ago and had been dwindling since) was still a shock. I am now entirely grandparentless, which is a bizarre feeling. Going to the funeral (in Cheltenham, where she lived) drilled home how very small my family is – I have one aunt who never married, and one uncle whose wife sadly cannot have children. So that is us. Mum, dad, aunt, uncle, me, two brothers… No cousins. Now no grandparents. Once again I was left contemplating the frailty of human existence.
She was an authoritarian and fiercely independent woman. Now she is dust. Today, my brain is buzzing with a thousand questions, which sometimes is overwhelming – maybe I should be grateful, rather than wishing my mind could be silent. One day, there will be no brain to buzz.
I should be spending my “holiday” taking it easy, pursuing enjoyable activities. Instead, I am melting in the heat and life has just become incredibly stressful and unpredictable. I am not in a particularly good place at the moment.
And just on a night when I thought I might stay up until the wee hours drawing to get it out of my system, I can hear Mr Fox’s sister parking up outside, as she is staying here for the next couple of nights.
Oh well; to bed, perchance to fitfully sleep.
Laura used to live with Mr Fox, and his other lady greyhound Margot, in London. It was just the three of them, when he was in and out of self-employment and so forth. I don’t know the specifics, as this was well before I met him.
However, when he was in full time employment, they could no longer fairly live with him, so they moved up to lovely Suffolk to live with Mr Fox’s parents. Margot sadly passed away several years ago, following an accident (I’m not interested in divulging details here), leaving Laura the lady of the manor in her Suffolk home.
Recently, Laura developed a growth on the bone of one of her front shoulders, which caused a very painful limp. After several exams and biopsies at the vet, Mr Fox and his parents were told that nothing could be done to lessen the growth, save amputate the leg. As Laura already had arthritis in her back legs, this wasn’t an option: losing a leg would leave her almost entirely crippled. The vet instead prescribed strong painkillers, and advised a check on her progress in May.
Nothing got better. Laura couldn’t limp more than ten yards before getting tired. She was on the highest dosage of pain killers, and often yelped when she moved. And yet she was never “down” – she was always perky, happy to see you. She had spent a lot of time lazing on the sofa before, it’s just now she didn’t really have the OPTION to do anything else
Mr Fox’s parents came to the difficult decision of having her put down this afternoon, 13/04/10. Although she was still eating properly and so forth, she simply did not have the quality of life she deserved. All we can really do to console ourselves is know that she had a wonderful, enjoyable and loving home. She could never want for anything (although being the madam she was, she often did want for more!)
She enjoyed a multitude of sausages in her time. She chased squirrels in Battersea park. She harassed local wildlife (and cats). She took no notice if you wanted to sit on HER sofa.
Laura, you were never mine, but thank you for gracing me with your company. You will be painfully missed.