Monthly Archives: November 2012

Books for Charity

Recently ( and most unlike me) I won a book. It’s a most interesting book by Jinx Schwartz called Just add water and is about a woman with a boat who solves crime. Hetta Coffey is the Miss Marple of the Waterways. She has a boat and she’s not afraid to use it !

The problem was I won the book in an American draw and I know how much the postage is. When they messaged me to say I’d won it my conscience was pricked ( who says I don’t have one) and I suggested they have the author sign it and put it in a blind bid competition to raise money for charity. I met an amazing woman called Lita who suggested they do it to raise funds for the people left devastated by Hurricane Sandy in New York where the publication I won the book in is based. It seems a brilliant idea and so I posted a notice on ASMSG which is a site for Authors asking other Authors in the US to consider donating a signed book too. There were a couple of responses but as yet I don’t know how many will actually do so.

Borrowing from Lita’s brilliant idea I thought maybe we in the UK could do something similar in view of the floods we’re currently suffering which so far has left a trail of devastation and the death of an elderly lady, in St.Asaph and Ruthin. I need someone who has contacts with a newspaper or magazine to arrange for them to agree to host the sale and send out the books. Each donated book can either be sold under the authors name or simply given a number that people will bid on for pot luck. I will then start asking my Author friends in the UK to donate.

Signed books make an excellent gift and can even be a great investment if the Author takes off. Everyone wins since the Newspaper gets a good name for charitable works, the donating Authors benefit from a mention and the people who suffered in the floods get much needed help.

If you know of anyone who will donate a signed book for the US side her is the address to send it to before the 8th December

Lita Smith-Mines
Editor- in-Chief
Boating Times Long Island
1 Village Plaza
Kings Park, NY  11754
Tel: 631-269-3119
Fax: 631 544-1016

If you know of anyone who could help co-ordinate help for a UK appeal please let me know and I’ll be glad to make the first donation and will ask others to follow suit. Maybe we can improve someone’s Christmas.


Many thanks



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The Case of the Vanishing Months

I’ve recently become convinced that someone steals hours from the day, days from the week, weeks from the month and months from the year. It must be so since yesterday it was Halloween 2011 and now it’s almost Christmas 2012. But I have a little secret you thieving wretches, you won’t beat me as I shop all year round so my Christmas list is ready. Yes, OK, don’t smirk, I haven’t got the food yet but that’s mainly because I can’t find a crowbar to get into the freezer which seems to have frozen over while I was asleep. Further proof that I’m right about time thieves.

Maybe I have it all wrong though. Maybe it isn’t thieves but a case of time-slip. Is that possible I wonder. That would perhaps fit better with my thoughts that I’m only about 40 really and not the ‘Hrumph’ the 2012 calendar says I must be.

It is actually a funny thing that when we’re younger the anticipation of Christmas makes everything seem a long time.The same goes for Easter, birthdays and special holidays in the caravan where time drags even more. As we get older these things seem to propel themselves into our lives like a manic merry-go-round one after the other till we all say “Hang on, I saw that horse just a moment ago.” Another strange thing is how Christmas has started earlier in the year than it used to. Only this time it’s not related to my increased age, it’s reality. My American friends will have to forgive me for a moment while I reminisce.

When I was a child of perhaps 9 or 10 my friends , OK OK no need to be pedantic, my friend and I used to look forward to November. On the first we would create a figure from old clothes ( or otherwise if no-one was looking) and in the evenings take it out on the streets in an old wheelbarrow or similar contraption. During the day we’d be collecting wood and things to make a bonfire. On 5th November we’d make special efforts with the ‘Guy’ as our figures were known and we’d be calling “Penny for the Guy” as we either rolled it along or settled in a convenient spot. In all honesty the best spots were just outside pubs. The money we collected would be spent on fireworks to be set off when the bonfire was lit, but not before the Guy was added to the top of the bonfire in place of honour. All of us knew Guy was in fact Guy Fawkes who had tried to blow up Parliament. These days of course we’d all be offering him a hand and giving him a medal. As the fire burned we ate potatoes baked at the edge, parkin ( a kind of ginger cake) and treacle toffee.

Once the bonfire was done and sparklers all spent it was time for a break. Nothing happened until at least the 1st of December. Oh do stop niggling me, of course life went on as usual, school, play etc. As the 1st arrived you’d see shops start to dress their windows in Christmas colours- predominantly white. My memory may be faulty here but I seem to recall we had snow on the ground sometimes too and quite often at Christmas. I certainly remember snow deep enough to make getting to school difficult. No,I don’t mean anything over half an inch, I mean at least a foot. The shop window displays grew along with out excitement. And I can’t recall what my parents did but I remember emptying my piggy bank to go out and buy gifts. My mother would take me but in the main would not interfere. To be honest, it was so long ago I only recall one gift I bought. It was a small glass dish with what looked like moss in it from which rose some flowers with glass petals. It was for my Nana whom I loved dearly. She may have hated it instantly but she would never have said so, and years later when I was in the RAF it was still standing on the shelf of a little unit beside her.

I can remember being in hospital when I was about 5 yrs old. It was Christmas time and I’d been in a few weeks. My mother came to collect me to bring me home. I remember I was given a cowboy outfit that year with a rifle. I don’t remember exactly what happened but my sister tried to scare me back into hospital and the rifle  ended up getting broken over her head. I was a big reader because I was often unwell. Sometimes I was rushed out by ambulance, so blue people must have thought I was a Mekon.( Sorry, Dan Dare and the Mekons was on the front of the Eagle comic). Maybe that’s who’s responsible for these damn time slips. Come on now, play fair. Give me my missing time back, I promise not to squander it.


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Changes to sleeping works.

Yesterday Tuesday 6th November was our latest visit to see Dr.G whom the girls refer to as Dr.McSexy or variations on the theme. The appt was changed to a Tuesday and was later in the day than usual which had it’s good points and it’s bad. The good points- Ju was uncomfortable and in pain and was able to describe the feelings to him directly. The Bad Points- Ju was uncomfortable and in pain.

Attending yesterday were my daughter and her new husband who took us for lunch on the way after which we stopped and had coffee at garden centre where Yvonne and Julia were able to drool over the beautiful ( and very expensive ) Christmas decorations. When we arrived one of my nieces was waiting for us. I have to say that the whole family has been marvelous about Julia’s illness, either wanting to be kept informed or actually attending the appointments. My niece Karen rarely misses any though whether it’s for Ju or not or to ogle the oncologist remains to be seen. At least my daughter wasn’t going to be saying “Phwar” with her husband in such close proximity.

While we waited to be called in I found myself remembering last month’s argument because I wanted to get a more up to date picture. I can understand the point of view of those in opposition but as I spend all my time with Julia, knowing how things stand would give my brain facts to work on and I’d know how far to push and /or encourage Ju in various things. Eating, sleeping and going out. Anyway Ju’s name was called and I suddenly found myself not wanting to go in with them. Ju had promised me she’d be honest in telling him how she felt rather than the automatic “Fine Thanks” when asked how she is. Everyone went in while I the coward dashed to the loo to settle my now churning stomach.

I came out and decided a cigarette might be a good idea to calm me while they were all inside. I just finished it in time to see them all trooping out. Dr.G had asked Ju if the MacMillan nurse had been in touch to which we were able to answer no. We know he’d requested it a month ago. He left the room. Reports say that after a short absence Karen was heard to say, ” Boring without Dr McHottie isn’t it”. He’s also checked why the pain management clinic hadn’t yet responded with an appointment and chase it up. We are to give it to the end of this week before reporting back if there has been no action.

I sleep for roughly four hours a night. In recent months Ju has been going to bed for comfort at about 6pm then watching TV till about 1 am before sleeping. Then I have to rouse her at 8am to deal with the pets ( a playtime they all look forward to with her). On a Friday it’s usually 6 am for shopping. He asked about the pain and about her sleeping before prescribing a new medication which helps with sleep and pain. Last night I went in at 10.30 and she was spark out until I woke her at 8 am today. She was also much more comfortable and we were able to go out for coffee this morning. I think the medication also plays tricks on memory since when time to pay came she remembered she’s left her bag in the car. It’s funny, but this particular medication has been working for months before it was prescribed.

Her weight was the last subject for discussion. Ju is happy that she hasn’t lost any weight in the last month whereas I’m unhappy that she hasn’t gained any despite my hard work. She’s shrunk from a size 14 to a size 8 which is ridiculous. Anyway Dr McBrownEyes has doubled the dose of appetite increasers and suggested  ( with some force) that Ju tries grazing continuously throughout the day. This mornings expedition that led to coffee was to a supermarket to find lots of things which she likes the taste of so she’ll be encouraged to eat. The fridge is now full of yoghurts and rice puddings with a large packet of milk chocolate digestives- for the sake of balance I made sure we got a large packet of dark chocolate digestives too.

So now it’s back to the drawing board. No scan means we ( I ) don’t know how things stand but things are going to be great if the sleeping pills/pain relief continue to work and give her pain free nights. They will be great if we can have a lot of much more comfortable days too. Things will be magnificent if when we see Dr McDon’t it make your Brown EyesBlue, I can report that Ju’s memory has improved and she remembers her purse when it’s her turn to pay. I need her help to choose Christmas presents so she has to buck up. I’m almost done but my brother in law is proving difficult and Yvonne is giving me no idea this year apart from a coat for her birthday. I wanted her to take it now since she was shivering in our arctic blasts of yesterday , but no, she said blue suits her.

Thanks every one for letting me blow off steam like this and indulging me. I love my wife dearly ( and I mean expensively)and there are times I don’t know which way to turn. Am I doing the right thing?  Who do I talk to? What can I do next? Talking to you all helps me considerably and I do appreciate those who follow the blog and comment.


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