Monthly Archives: May 2013

Kinky Boots.

I’d say it’s fairly well known that men make mistakes when they don’t think things through. Sometimes one mistake leads to another. Let me share with you a story about a man who did just that. Let’s call him oh, David just for fun.

The year was 1987 and it was during the summer months when the sun was out that David took a bus ride along the coast to the Queen of Resorts town of Llandudno, that’s ‘Clan did no’  for those who don’t speak the oldest living language of Europe. ( See, I try to be educational as well). Getting off the bus at what was then the delicately named place of Bog Island because the public loos were underground with the entrances on an Island which divided the road in two, David checked there was no egg on his chin ( no flies open), crossed the road and started looking in the shop windows. I have no recollection of why I mean David had gone to Llandudno that day  but he does remember that it was early and the shops were only just beginning to open.

David must have been at that end of town for some specific reason and there must have been an appointment or he wouldn’t have found himself looking in the window of a ladies shoe shop. But as (bad) luck would have it there was a sale starting and in the window was the most glorious pair of boots he just knew his wife would adore. What’s more they were down from £160.00 to £45.00 which is mmm, mmm  a lot. Without hesitation he dashed inside. They turned out to be half a size bigger than his wife took but she could just wear thicker socks couldn’t she? He paid and the boots were packed in a nice bag with all bits of confetti. David supposed they must have thought they were for a wedding.

Business concluded, David wandered wherever he needed to go before taking another bus home . He knew there would be a hero’s welcome and if I have to be brutally honest he was probably a little too full of self-congratulation. On arriving home David presented his wife with the parcel. ” What;s this ?” she asked. “Just a little gift I wanted you to have” I he replied. “What have you been up to David?” she asked, whereupon he realised the first mistake he’d made in not thinking things through, wives are always suspicious of spontaneous gifts. ” Nothing sweetie” he replied, “I just saw them and thought you’d love them.”

“Wouldn’t you like to put it to one side until my birthday next month?” she asked as he realised mistake number two in that he’s have to remember that ,and buy another gift. Kicking himself he answered ” No, I want you to have it now.” His wife unwrapped the parcel and covered the floor in the loose confetti earning him a glare for not warning her after she’d Hoovered up. At last she reached the gift and in place of the expected look of joy was one of puzzlement.

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“How lovely” she said, “but it’s the end of June David and the sun is shining. It’s not pantomime season yet where I need thigh high boots to slap.” So came the next lesson , he hadn’t bought appropriate to the season  and also that all women can be snarky when they want. He plunged into a blustering explanation that the boots were almost exclusive and no-one else would be seen wearing them, to which she agreed but in a very smug way. She was also not convinced about the wearing thick socks to help get over the size problem though he thought he presented a perfectly reasonable argument.

Julia gave David a kiss and took the boots away. He thought he’d seen the last of them. But, in the winter of 87 and a few winters thereafter the boots made an appearance. They looked fantastic below an maxi or a midi or even over jeans. Over the subsequent years there were many more pairs of boots with riding boots and a sheepskin pair being the most seen until they were thrown away eventually and replaced. Maybe he just stopped noticing in the end. But this year 2013 in sorting out clothes, shoes and boots to be given to charity shops , 26 whole years later the boots came to light again. They’ve undergone three property moves but never been thrown away and are still wearable.( In David’s opinion anyway). I really think she must have liked them after all.

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The Social Set and Friendships.

I was talking online to someone this week and the conversation got round to social sites. ” Of course” I was told ” you can’t make friends online. Not real ones. Plenty of acquaintances but not real friends”. As the conversation ended it set me thinking. I’ve often referred to some of the people I have on Social sites as friends. Could I be wrong?

I’ve been using social sites for quite a long time. From private members sites to Facebook, twitter and Gather.com.  I think the first person I met that I named friend was on a private members site. He’s a lawyer from the U.S. called James. He  thinks I’m friends so that I always have a lawyer to call on should I need one but in fact he’s been there as a dependable friend and confidante through some major crises in both our lives health wise and has often helped me in a fraud sideline. We reached a point of gifts at birthdays and Christmases that require real thought and indicate a real friendship.

Not all friendships can last of course as sometimes people go in different directions. I had another long lasting friendship that led to a really nice lady editing my books for me before they went on the Indie publishing sites. The fact that we did go separate ways in the end doesn’t diminish the friendship we had in my eyes. Of course because these are social sites we meet people on the ether from all over the known world. The internet makes it easy to laugh at distance. I was very fortunate that one young lady was due to come to the UK as an Envoy for her school and a youth group. Julia, Yvonne and I had the opportunity to meet her for a short time as she ventured close to Wales. We had been writing for a long time as she’s also an author, and yes, many of my friends are authors since it’s a common interest. In the case of this young lady I’d also been writing to her mother so she felt secure in letting her daughter meet us. What happened? Well we arrived at where she was waiting for us and she immediately ran to Julia and hugged her. To Julia!!!!!! It was me had done all the writing. But yes, I got my hugs as did Yvonne. I still write to Patti and I still consider her a friend and not an acquaintance.

I have friendships all over America. One in particular with a talented lady who trusted me enough to share her problems with me and who took a real interest in mine. That’s a big part of it for me, the fact that a friendship is based on sharing the problems or the fun with someone who doesn’t just want to talk about themselves or their latest book.  One of my greatest treasures is an Hungarian Aussie who sends about eight one line messages a day which are responded to in one line responses. We make them as funny as possible and delight in scoring points off each other. And yet, when Julia died, this friend was there for me with messages of comfort and help.Thank you Andrea.

If I added the name of all those I’ve come to call friend and the reasons we’d be here all day but there are some exceptional people I must remember. So I’m going to say thank you to those who’ve proved themselves cast in the correct role and please don’t think that this is a complete listing. I will forget some here and kick myself later when I realise it. Pauline ,Metan,  Normandie, Earl ( Gather), Wendy (Gather) Renata, Mary J., Jolyse,  Lorene, Lori, Chris (ASMSG) Grey (ASMSG), Niamh, Angelika, and more recently Martine. I’m more grateful than most of you will ever know. If I’ve forgotten to name someone it’s not that I don’t count you as friend it’s purely the sign of an ageing memory. Please forgive me and know I still value you greatly.

I’m adding an edit to the post at this point as I need to add a friend I greatly value whom I was not sure would appreciate inclusion when I first wrote this. She was not amongst the friends I was remiss in not adding by accident but rather on purpose. She is yet another writer and her name is Sherie. An author of good books she has  become a friend in a relatively short space of time and after the death of my beloved Julia was hugely supportive. I owe you thanks Sherie. xx Hugs xx

Take it from me, you certainly can make a good and lasting friendship on Social Sites even though you may never meet the person. If you’re open to friendship it can come from the most surprising directions.

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Fate, Kismet or just plain old luck.

Fate, Kismet or just plain old luck..

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Fate, Kismet or just plain old luck.

“I have a writer friend in the US who has INSISTED, under penalty of coming to visit me if I don’t, that I include here a mention of a free promotion I have going on one of my books.  She’s further insisted that I give the link to said book and promised to check back to make sure I’ve done it, threatening to post a promo and link in the comments if I don’t.  Seeing as how she’s vicious and not to be trifled with … here is the link to my promo, which is running this weekend only …

U.S. http://www.amazon.com/Barsetshire-Diary-The-Diaries-ebook/dp/B0054JI824/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1368312680&sr=1-1&keywords=my+barsetshire+diary

U.K. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Barsetshire-Diary-The-Diaries-ebook/dp/B0054JI824/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368312789&sr=8-1&keywords=My+Barsetshire+Diary

On with the tale…….Many of you will know that I used to work in Local Government. When I returned to Wales I took up a post which necessitated me roaming the County and checking the street lamps. I had to plot them on a map, verify the type of lamp they were and ensure it was only the ones run by my Local Authority which were plotted and not those run by the Highways Authority which were totally different altogether. Bored yet?

On one of my rural trips I was plotting a series of lamps when I got into conversation with a couple living in a large converted Church. I fussed their dogs, was invited to have a cuppa ( which I had to decline) and was invited back at some stage. Some few years later I decorated the flat in which my father’s mother lived only to have her die a few months later- not as a result of my decorating I hasten to add. Life moved on and I began a new period of work within the Authority which involved me working beside a river ensuring the bank was safe and the grass was cut short. One young man I worked with had a similar taste in music and as we were all quite friendly I allowed him to borrow some LP’s ( youngsters will need their parents to explain what LP’s are). Soon afterwards the Authority decided I was needed elsewhere and was asked to take on the job of  Deputy Manager of a new scheme they wanted to try. This was going to involve a lot of interviewing. I didn’t get my records back.

The first day of interviews went well. We’d decided where possible to take people who were not currently working and give them  chance ( the idea of a very forward thinking individual). They were mainly women but a few men a well. We took on 8 people that first day. The next morning I was prepared for another fresh start and the sun was out. It was early May and man had left the cave, invented the wheel and was now living in houses. It wasn’t a good start. The first three people weren’t employed but had no interest in becoming employed either.  Some kind body brought a cup of tea through just before person number four came in. My heart sank. Jeans, leather jacket and motor cycle helmet. The helmet came off to reveal a woman with quite long, straight brown hair who like the others didn’t look interested. And to be honest, because of the way she dressed for interview, I wasn’t interested either. But, custom said to plough on. It transpired here was someone suffering hardship and ho was actually a nice lady. She got a job, as did seven more that day.

I’m normally quite a quiet and reserved person but I don’t believe in separating myself from my staff as I need to know of any problems. We had two teams of 8 people some of whom were willing to work late shifts if necessary. I became quite friendly with the teams as I’d go out with them sometimes, especially if it was an evening shift. The lady from day two was around a lot of course and I confess I liked her a lot but had no idea how to approach her. I got into conversation with another girl who seemed quite friendly with her and found out that she didn’t have a boyfriend or husband ( in fact she’d sworn off men) and managed to find out quite a bit about her. The following day the girl came in and asked for a word with me. Taking her to one side she told me HER SISTER would be happy to go for a drink with me. I had no idea they were sisters because of the difference in names. So, plucking up my courage I asked her out and Julia said yes.

We’d been going out for 3 months and I was pretty sure how I felt about Julia. Still showing my usual cowardice I chose a night when we were sitting alone in her lounge to ask where she saw our relationship going. She prevaricated a bit and I asked what she wanted to happen to which I got the response I’d hoped and I asked her to marry me. She said YES. Since we were alone we decided to have a romantic evening and play some music. I started looking through her records and found something I liked. And something else, and something else, and one marked on the cover where mine had been. Asking her about them she said a previous boyfriend had left them. Every one I’d loaned him was there. Julia said I only proposed to get my hands on them again.

I didn’t want to wait and so we booked the ceremony for November 1st of that year. One of the first things to do, despite being adults, was for me to ask her father for her hand ( I told Julia he was desperate for me to take the rest of her too) so the following Saturday morning we set off to where they lived. I’d never been there before. You could have knocked me down with a feather when we arrived and I immediately recognised the decorating.

Next job was to visit her big sister to give her the news. This would be hard I was told as she was very sceptical with the speed of things. Her parents drove us there and when we came within sight I almost cried out “It can’t be” but it was. They occupied the converted church. At least I got the long promised cuppa. Julia and I had many a laugh about that period over the years. I know coincidences happen but was that what had happened or had fate taken a hand in things to bring us together like bookends? You’ll have to decide.

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Post Marital One-Sided Discussions.

Today I was transported back in time to the days when the first bloom of marriage has just worn off and the protagonists  partners, are just trying to assert themselves a bit to show they haven’t lost themselves totally. I remember going through it with Julia so well and in fairness I would have warned my son-in-law if I’d remembered that it’s a waste of time because men never win, but I forgot. Or at least I forgot for a while and then thought I might as well just shut up and enjoy the match.

Yvonne and Ugo have just moved to a new house. It’s larger than the last one and in need of a lot of decoration. Knowing how Yvonne decorated the last one before she and Ugo became a couple reminded me that she’s very good, except maybe when it”s not her property. I add that only to remind her that when she moved in with Julia and myself ‘for a few weeks’ some years ago, the visit ended up being for two years and meant the bedroom needed redecoration. OK, I admit she was a lot younger, but even so, you needed sunglasses to walk in there and she’s only done the parts she could reach. When she vacated we were left with a room that had day-glo crimson walls coupled with dark brown skirting boards and an off white border at the top which she hadn’t reached. It was a case of fait accomplis one day when I returned from work and my gaping mouth was quickly covered by Ju.

Notwithstanding that, her last house was elegant and very tasteful. I expect the same of this one though the signs were worrying. Not for me obviously as I don’t have to live with it. Bear in mind also that this new place has lounge, dining room, kitchen and 3 bedrooms, one of which ( the smallest) is to become Ugo’s study. It seems there were discussions last week about wallpaper for the lounge , Ugo listed the choices he liked and Yvonne bought the one she wanted which was not on his list. The soft furnishing will now be bought to match.  Today was the turn of their bedroom. A new bed arrived last week, I’m afraid that choice may have been somewhat limited by budget as I was buying it as a housewarming gift.  Yvonne made the final decision as to style and colour though. Today was shopping for a new quilt since Ugo is allergic to duck and down and needed a hypoallergenic one. Easy-peasy since no colour is involved. But with a new quilt comes pillows and bedding.

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Walking round the shop looking at bedding was a treat. Ugo’s eyes and hands alighted on some which he raised with great hope asking ” How about this one”. Yvonne without actually shaking her head and tutting managed to convey that feeling nonetheless. Each one was put back until she found the ideal one is a shade of turquoise though she named it Teal. Ugo was ready to appeal to me and to L’il Mike who was at my side grinning. We both shrugged our shoulders in a ‘Don’t involve us’ kind of way and we watched him physically deflate. A momentary attempt at ” I’m not too sure about it” got him nowhere as she explained that it would match the proposed colour scheme exactly. He considered his next words carefully before swallowing them again. Sensible lad. We left the shop with the bedding and with a throw in a lime green shade also.

There’s work to be done on the room Ugo wanted as a study which it turned out wasn’t going to happen since that is the nursery. Since the baby to come is a boy Ugo was I’m sure contemplating a blue room with football wallpaper.  It’s amazing how good he’s getting at hiding his disappointment. We also paid a visit to an old factory that houses a furniture warehouse. I knew what would happen there and tried to distract Ugo with talk of the man who used to play professional football for Poland who works there. ( Zbigniew you’re a gentleman and I appreciate your help in the past with putting things together). It didn’t last for long as he watched Yvonne check out the wardrobes and chests of drawers for the bedrooms, along with tables and chairs for the dining-room and a display cabinet for the lounge. For all the help we actually were, Mike and I might have well gone for coffee. Ugo could have joined us. Yvonne had perfectly valid reasons for rejecting his choices and for wanting wood rather than a laminate but he was starting to look despondent.  Having been through a similar day or two with Ju I could have advised him, Mike also could have put in a word to the wise but we were both having too much fun to do so. We both saw the moment when he lost his tether and ask in a desperate voice if he was to have any say in how the house was done. We had to bite our tongues when she answered ” But of course dear, you can do your study.” The dear was said with such resignation that it spoke volumes, As if I’d trust a man to do this, and/or why don’t you go and look at a football magazine or something.”

I dare say Ugo will learn eventually that a man’s opinion as to decor is only sought as a sop to their pride since women know our limitations. Julia knew mine and I was a quick study in those days. A fair division of labour, she chose, I applied.

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Inside my head

Inside my head I’m hearing a debate. Normally I’m quite a private individual ( some might say unfeeling) but because of a blog I read I felt maybe I should share for once. The blog I read is by the wonderful Paula Acton http://paulaacton.com/2013/05/02/r-i-p-laverne/#comment-4578   @Paula-Acton who posted about her friend Laverne (who was previously Robert) who took her own life this week after awful comments from others and as a result of being shunned by some. People can be very cruel.

I felt it time to admit that I have battled much of my life against this feeling. Maybe it’s why I am prepared to jump on any bandwagon against bullying knowing what the end result can be, especially with the young but also with people as vulnerable as Laverne who needed so much support and was refused it in some quarters by those who felt she was wrong and weren’t afraid to express it. People who have obviously learned to love their own voices more than the old adage , If you can’t say something nice, say nothing.

I saw a psychiatrist on Tuesday because I’m not handling the death of my beloved Julia very well. I don’t seem to have been able to mourn her properly yet. Maybe it’s because I’ve had so many people around me showing great support and being private I’ve had to hold myself together for their sake or maybe it’s because I’m somehow refusing to come to terms with the reality of it. I have to say it’s less likely to be the latter since I’ve had some very dark thoughts since Julia’s death. There may be many reasons I haven’t acted upon those thoughts so far. Amongst them may be the fact my daughter is pregnant or maybe it’s the residual effects of a promise Julia extracted from me some time ago to fight these thoughts as much as possible, reiterated before she left me for the sake of the baby to come.

I’ve never been the best sleeper in the World. I’m blaming my brother for this as he can go to bed at midnight and happily stay there till noon next day. He’s pinching my share so I’m left to sleep four maybe 5 hours a night. Recently even that has been cut and last night was just over two and a half hours. When you’re up at four in the morning the dark thoughts are less easy to fight and if there’s no-one to share them with you’re less inclined to fight. Poor Laverne had so much negativity thrown at her she didn’t stand much of a chance in such a major fight. Knowing that will not give her detractors much pause I don’t suppose and probably no feeling of guilt. Some will have been from the Christian community who felt she had defied some biblical law or other, the same people who write such terrible things about gay people being abominations. Some will just have been from those who attack others for the feeling of power it gives them. Some from the other religions who feel Allah or some other deity is offended by the presence of someone different and who can’t face a challenge that asks for understanding. I’m prepared for the fact that maybe I’ll have suggestions from all those same people which won’t be designed to bolster my self image in the early hours.

I’m very fortunate to have a wonderfully supportive family who understand that the chemicals in my brain are not making personal statements about them when I think about death and when I feel I want to join Julia rather than remain behind. I can even rationalise some of these feelings sometimes and that helps me fight them but sometimes they overwhelm me. I have the knowledge of my support that has recently stopped me doing what Laverne did. I’m not sure I would have managed so well had I faced what she did, and it may have tipped the balance. For now I’m going to try some sleeping tablets to give me some rest and keep me away from  the dark hours in the night. It’s too late for Laverne.

If you know someone or hear of someone who has suffered a crisis of identity like Laverne did or who suffers from an illness that leads them to have low self esteem or other issues that lead to suicidal thoughts, I’d beg you to remember. Either say something nice, something supportive and positive, or say nothing. For those of you who believe in a God, consider that you’ll suffer if your comments have been the negative or nasty ones that tipped the balance and cost someone their life for I’m guessing your conscience won’t bother you. For those who don’t believe in God, believe this, somewhere, somehow, karma will get you and pay you back. It’s too short a life to be nasty, try being nice.

 

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