Frazzled – the battle with adrenaline

7 Mar

An amusing – and fraught! – read from a dear friend of mine. A terrifying insight into what awaits me…

Nicola Hulme Author

I’ve been so far out of my comfort zone for so long, I’m not sure I know my way back.

In the last 6 months, I’ve been drawn away from the pleasure of writing, to be called upon for public speaking events. Moving away from the private relationship between writer and page into a pubic life of presenting the published book to unknown audiences. It’s uncomfortable. It sounds ungrateful, and sulky, but for those of you, who long for the label of published, let me give you an insight into what is then expected of you.

The book launch itself was a huge party. Surrounded by friends and family I was supported throughout the whole event and I loved every minute. A lot of hard work studying the craft had paid off, and seeing my name of the front cover of a picture book was a dream come true.

Beyond…

View original post 815 more words

I Need A Dance Song

1 Mar

Three points:

  • I love writing but it is tedious at times, especially when you’re as anal as I am
  • I have no money
  • I like to reward myself when I finish something
  • I can’t count

When I completed my first two (unpublished) collections, at various stages I danced: a reward for sticking with the drafting/editing/proofing process. Dancing is better than money. That’s what I tell myself, anyway.

The habit began by accident.  I wrote my South African collection over twenty years. One day, it occurred to me that I had unwittingly written a themed collection but it needed crafting. I listened to Mango Groove, a South African band, as I worked on it, and I felt like dancing after weeks slaving over a hot computer, so I put on Dance Sum More:

When it came to my second collection, Wholly Man, the South African vibe was all wrong, so I found this:

My third collection, published this summer, is a lighthearted look at menopause and motherhood. I have just completed the first draft and sent it off to my publisher* – literally ten minutes ago – and I was appalled to realise I have no dance song to celebrate.

Any suggestions?

It has to be cheerful and danceable and related to menopause and/or motherhood.

Find me something – I know you love a challenge.

*Which is why I haven’t yet replied to your comments; but I will, I promise…as soon as I finish reading my next course text (once I begin reading it) and write a poem based on it, due in tomorrow lunchtime.

 

Thank You

22 Feb

Thank you, everyone, for your good wishes this week. It’s a thrill to know how many friends I have, in the real and virtual worlds. I intend to respond to you all but this has been a manic week for me – although, these days, when is it not?

Image result for the music man

I wanted to take a minute to share a video with you. As you know, Alex has sung with Sheffield University Broadway Orchestra many times, performing lost (though presumably found by the time they get to him) and forgotten (though presumably remembered etc., etc.) songs, some of which he was the first person ever to sing, or the first person in Britain ever to sing, for as many as eighty years.

On Sunday, he will sing in what will probably be his last Broadway concert, as he graduates this year.  

😦

                                                😦

                                                                                          😦

Sorry, I needed a moment there. I have LOVED these concerts. Apart from The Tree of War (obviously), they have been my favourite shows to watch. They are fabulous.

The show is composed of songs from The Music Man, in honour of its sixtieth birthday. I had thought that they are not lost or forgotten but the website says the show includes ten songs cut from the original. Either way, they are rarely performed these days so, if you are in the Sheffield area on Sunday night, why not pop along? Here’s a link: The Music Man

To whet your appetite, here’s a snippet from rehearsal. Alex is singing with his regular collaborator, Debra Finch.

Exciting News! (For Me, Anyway)

17 Feb

So guess what I did yesterday? You’ll never guess. I’ll just tell you, shall I?

I did this:

That’s me signing something.

Shall we have a poll? We haven’t had a poll in years. Let’s have a poll!

Heeheeheeheeheeheehee!

I may be a little giddy with excitement: I’ve always wanted my own Malteser factory. I mean, I’ve always wanted to put the Hub away. No, no, I mean, my first poetry collection is coming out in the summer. 

Here’s my publisher’s website. They are based in Marple and have been going for about twenty years.

Did you catch that? ‘Here’s my publisher’s website.’ Giddy doesn’t begin to cover it 🙂 

Heeheeheeheeheeheehee!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day?

14 Feb

I’m not in the mood (or the position) to make retailers rich today, but I am in the mood to make you laugh, and laughter is the greatest gift, so it’s a win for you, a win for me, and a win for my pocket. Assuming, of course, that my story, originally posted in 2012, amuses you. Image result for twelve days of christmas funny

A story of true love, it begins at Christmas…

Dear Judge,

I know I killed my True Love in a fit of rage but I think, once you hear my tale, you will have to acknowledge that I was provoked beyond what any reasonable person could stand.

Things started off well. On the first day of Christmas, my True Love sent me a partridge in a pear tree. A little weird, I thought, but I let it pass. To be honest, as the first day of Christmas is Christmas Day, I’d have preferred a turkey.

On the second day he sent me two turtle doves. Romantic, because I believe they mate for life, so I could see the symbolism. But he also sent me another partridge in a pear tree. What was that about?

Next day it was three French hens – or should I say, trois French hens? My little joke, Judge. I still had a sense of humour at that point. Plus two more doves and another partridge in a pear tree.

On the fourth day I was afraid to open the door to the postman. I was right to be afraid: ten birds arrived that morning, four of which were colly birds. Is there anyone on the planet who knows what a colly bird is? I think my True Love made that one up, or he ordered calling birds, but the shop saw a chance to finally offload the 36 colly birds they had lying around in the storeroom which they had ordered by accident.Image result for true love funny

Probably guessing from my enraged texts and emails that by now I was a little miffed, he had the good sense to send me five gold rings on day five of Christmasgate. I was mollified enough to think it would be okay to accept day six’s gift. Boy, was I ever wrong! Six – count them: one-two-three-four-five-SIX – geese-a-laying. The eggs would have been acceptable but I couldn’t get near them. Do you know how protective geese are of their eggs? I still have the bill marks on my legs. And it’s not nice to be hissed at by 42 geese (yes, 42; because he sent me six more geese who wouldn’t share, every day for the next six days).  It’s like I’m living in a really bad pantomime in the comfort of my own home – though there’s not much comfort to be had with 184 birds running around, making a racket and pooping like there’s no tomorrow. Which there wasn’t for those I managed to store in my freezer… Not to mention the 42 goslings under my feet, imprinting on me. It made shopping impossible.

Image result for true love funny

And yes, you did read that right, Judge: 184 birds in total is what my True Love sent to me. 226, if you count the inevitable babies.

But he saved the best for last, which I’ll call Day Seven, because it was. I may have been a little unhinged by this point. I refused to open the door so the delivery truck left my idiot boyfriend’s ridiculous idea of a love token in my tiny back garden: seven swans-a-swimming. Seven swans-a-swimming! You know what that means, don’t you? An inflatable pool! In my pocket garden! And not just one inflatable pool, oh no! SIX inflatable pools, because he sent me the same gift for the next five days, along with eight maids-a-milking, nine ladies dancing (I don’t even watch Strictly), ten lords-a-leaping (I’m interested in politics, yes, but not to the point of inviting the second chamber into my home – and the ornaments those old codgers broke…), eleven pipers piping, and twelve drummers drumming, right through my skull.Image result for true love funny

By the time I got the injunction against my True Love, it was too late – the neighbours had complained about the smell, the illegal poultry farm I had set up, and the music played at full volume at all hours of the day and night.  I was evicted by the council for antisocial behaviour.  I was homeless, penniless (having spent all my money on bird seed and feeding guests) and furious – mostly because all swans are owned by the Crown, so my True Love had scuppered the chance of me ever appearing on any future Honours List.

I admit to seeking out my True Love who, while big on romantic gestures, was a slacker when it came to paying for the upkeep of all those birds or feeding 140 people – though I’ll accept, the poultry and the eighty buckets of milk did come in handy there.Image result for true love funny

I also admit to pelting him with rock hard pears (they were out of season; what was the silly beggar thinking?) and, when that didn’t work, belting him with as many pipes, drums and drumsticks as I could lay my hands on. But the death stroke was, I’m convinced, administered by the swans, who didn’t like it when, weighed down by 40 gold rings, I fell into one of their pools and almost drowned whilst trying to pry the human leech off me.  I did manage to escape though he, sadly, did not.  All was not lost however – the sale of the forty rings to Gold ‘R ‘ Us paid for his funeral, and the cortege, comprised of my personal aviary, attracted media attention and led to my new career in reality TV, specifically, Come Dine With Me (which I won, thanks to some exotic poultry dishes), How Clean Is Your House? (not very, as it happens), and Farmer Wants A Wife.

So, dear Judge, I think you can see that I acted under extreme provocation while the balance of my mind was disturbed and my feet were in three tons of guano.

If you let me off, I will be free to marry one of the drummers, Bill, who has promised to give me only chocolates, toiletries and DVDs as Christmas presents.

I throw myself on the mercy of the court.

Signed, The Moulting Housewife

 

Rules Are Made To Be Broken

1 Feb

Taking an inadvertent blogging break due to all of the studying I’m doing, I came across a post I wrote (hey, poets need downtime, too, you know), about a deliberate blogging break I took in 2013:

When I have time on my hands like this, I start thinking about myself. Always a mistake.  Last time I had nothing to do, I set a few rules and general guidelines to make Tilly Bud Tilly Blooming Lovely, Inside And Out.  Tilly Blooming Lovely IAO is, I am sure, well-groomed, relaxed, affable, clean, and at peace with herself.  Everyone will love her. Tilly Bud: The Menopause Years, not so much.

Forgive the use of an old photo; I wanted to look my best for you.

The Rules:

Presentation:

  • Tilly Bud shall forthwith cease and desist speaking of herself in the third person.
  • I’ll stop the pompous balderdash as well.
  • I will address the next lot of rules to ‘you’ because the use of first person negates the funny.  Take it as read that ‘you’ is ‘me’.

Diet:

  • When you eat the last Malteser, don’t open another box for at least an hour.
  • Stop eating: you cannot starve to death in a morning.
  • Exercise is not the enemy.  Dance, be a flibbertigibbet, chase the Hub around the house.
  • Galaxy Bubbles are not an acceptable substitute for Maltesers.  Nor are Galaxy Bars, Galaxy Ripples or Galaxy Minstrels.
  • They can, however, be enjoyed as a side dish.

Home:

  • Never miss an opportunity to clean.
  • The synchronicity of a dust bunny behind the couch and a vacuum cleaner in your hand should never be overlooked.

Computer:

  • Nothing bad will happen if you stay offline for ten minutes.
  • If your hand resembles a claw, put down the mouse and step away from the laptop.

Family:

  • It’s okay to be nice to the Hub.
  • Really.
  • Just because your child didn’t call doesn’t mean A) you are a bad mother or B) he doesn’t love you.  It means he’s a bad son who doesn’t appreciate your stretch marks.
  • Dogs are not substitute children.

Blog:

  • It’s okay to be nice about the Hub.
  • Really.
  • Serendipity gave him to you; keep him sweet by throwing out the occasional compliment.

General:

  • Stupid is as stupid does: pick a side.
  • Life is like a box of chocolates: you can be a soft centre and a nut.
  • Really.
  • Forrest Gump is not the Oracle.  And that’s all I have to say about that.
  • Never miss an opportunity to laugh (the first point under ‘Home’ refers)

This post first appeared five years ago.  Tilly Bud has since learned that the rules only work if you adhere to them.

Here’s One I Wrote Earlier

10 Dec

Hello, dear reader!  (I’m assuming I only have one left now, so long have I been gone).  I’ve been busy since September and here’s an article I wrote, first published in October on the Write Out Loud website, to explain why:

                             My student ID pic

Since graduating with a BA in literature in 2008, it has been my dream to complete an MA in creative writing; specifically, poetry. I knew I needed to mature as a writer, and that happened to coincide with having no money. I was able to apply to Manchester Metropolitan University this summer, however, because a couple of years ago the government introduced student loans for a second degree.

Reader, I was accepted. I was overjoyed, particularly as the news came at the end of Freshers Week, when I was wondering why I hadn’t yet received my rejection email.

A welcome email arrived on the Thursday, from the writing school’s manager; followed by the offer email on Friday, around five pm. I was excited and panicked at the same time: I have to apply for student finance? (You certainly do!) When do I start? (Monday?!). Will I be allowed to attend class if my finance isn’t in place? (Yes). Where do I go? (The old Cornerhouse). What do I do? (Not panic…oops, too late).

My first degree was with the Open University so I was excited to go to a “real” i.e. brick university but, oh, how at first I wish I hadn’t bothered. Two weeks in and it was all YOU OWE US MONEY GIVE US MONEY YOU WILL BE SANCTIONED IF YOU DON’T PAY THE MONEY SHOW US THE MONEY.

I understand that education is big business these days, but please, MMU, don’t invite me at the last minute so that I miss out on the helpful information; leave me to flounder; and then nag me to the death of joy. Truthfully, at this stage I’d be happier with my notebook and pen and just the one degree, thank you very much.

From the ridiculous to the sublime: three weeks in, the course is fabulous. It is challenging and difficult and I am surrounded by so much talent I can’t help feeling they made a mistake when they sent out the offer letter. But you’d have to pry it from my cold, dead Gmail account first.

You know you’ve never had it so good when one of your professors is Michael Symmons Roberts and the other is Carol Ann Duffy. And when the poet laureate hands out free books, takes you across the road to the pub and buys you a drink and, when you ask for some advice says, “That’s what I’m here for,” you know you’ll say: “Here’s the money! I had to sell my children to get it, but it is totally worth it!”

Excited? Yes. Terrified? Yes. Fed up with officialdom? Always. Would I want to be anywhere else? What do you think?

Hash Brown Rehash

9 Oct

A full English breakfast with scrambled eggs, ...

A full English breakfast with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, hash browns, and half a tomato (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

I’ve been absent for a month because things changed fast around here.  When I get a spare five minutes, I’ll tell you about it (and reply to your comments).  In the meantime, here’s a post that first appeared in 2012.

 

Saturday.  The scene: dinner time in the Bud House.

Spud:  What’s for dinner?

Tilly:  Bacon eggs pork sausages beans tomatoes leftover potato croquettes I found in the bottom of the freezer from when the kids were here in August because I’ve run out of hash browns and bread to soak it all up.

Spud:  Bacon?  But we had gammon yesterday.  Why are we having what is effectively the same meat again?

Tilly [Not bothering to put up a fight she knows she’ll lose]:  Fine.  What do you want instead?

Spud:  Sandwiches.  Got any ham?

*

*

Sunday.  The scene: dinner time in the Bud House.

Spud:  What’s for dinner?

Tilly:  Bacon eggs sausage beans tomatoes leftover potato croquettes I found in the bottom of the freezer from when the kids were here in August because I’ve run out of hash browns and bread to soak it all up.

Spud:  Do I have to have bacon?  I had ham yesterday and gammon the day before.

Tilly: [Previous bracketed comment refers]:  Fine.  No bacon.  Just the pork sausages?

Spud:  Great!

The Value Of A Good Blog Title

12 Sep

This is a slightly edited repost from 2013, but I’m out of ideas so I thought I’d share it again.  It contains some good advice for new bloggers.

Let’s start with a poem I wrote some years ago:

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The Thing About Poetry IsEnglish: Groucho Marx & anonymous blogging

Titles
are
vital

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The same is true of blog posts.  Titles are vital to lure unsuspecting readers to your blog, where you will dazzle them with your wit and wisdom and encourage them to waste time they could have used for eating, watching TV, and sitting on the couch.

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How Not To Write A Post Title

From my blog:

  • Joke 648

Unless you are looking for 648 jokes, it’s rather dull.  However, it does tell you exactly what you will find: a joke; the 648th joke in a long line of jokes.

*

Be Specific

  • The Value Of A Good Blog Title 

is not particularly interesting but it will attract people looking to improve their blogging.  I know this because

  • Seven Tips For New Bloggers 

still attracts readers, years after being posted.  List titles like this are also popular, for reasons I’m sure psychologists could tell you, though I can’t.  

A word of caution, however: don’t be tempted to make it 147 Tips For New Bloggers, because nobody’s attention span is that long.  I know this from experience.

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Be Topical

  • It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Posted in December, it’s seasonal and likely to attract Christmas fanatics like me. In November, it makes me the blogger who’s ahead of the game; in June, it makes me quirky and will, hopefully, make the reader curious.  But beware: posted in January, it’s the blogging equivalent of the guest who won’t leave when the party’s over.

Sometimes, being topical leads to dumb luck:

  • Some Snow Facts

A fun factual post a year earlier led to my best-ever day – 4,720 hits – when Google Doodle celebrated the 125th anniversary of the discovery of the World’s Largest Snowflake.  I’d have been happier if just one of those people looking for the Google Doodle had left a comment but, hey, I’m not one to look a gift spike in the mouth.

*

Reference Popular Culture

Here are some posts of mine which still receive hits:

  • Twilight: I Hope Bella Remembered To Shave
  • Seven Of Nine, And Not In A Good Way
  • Robert Pattinson With Small Hairs

Being up to date with the news helps:

  • What Really Happened To Gaddafi

brought in hundreds of people who thought a housewife in Stockport could tell them what 24-hour news channels and thousands of dedicated reporters could not.

Adding the word ‘Review’ to a title is another good way to attract readers. However:

  1. It irritates them if you use the word ‘Review’ and then don’t review whatever it is you claim to be reviewing.  I know this from experience.
  2. Reviewing books and movies four years after they’ve been released is unlikely to make your post a bestseller (I was surprised to discover).

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Use Keywords And Phrases

Here are some posts that still receive hits.  One was written six years ago:

  • You’re Only As Old As The Woman You Feel – old jokes and clichéd phrases are popular searches as ageing people begin to lose their memories (I know this from experience).
  • Smile And The World Smiles With You – the word ‘smile’ is the top search that finds this blog, with over 10,000 visits.
  • A Is For ‘Arguments’ – the key word here is ‘A’.  Bizarrely, the letter ‘a’ comes in at Number 7 on my search list, with 1,044 hits.

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Sweaty Armpits

Sweaty Armpits (Photo credit: mricon)

Have Fun!

After all, if you’re not trying to change the world, it doesn’t matter who reads your blog so long as you are enjoying yourself.  

Here are some of my favourite titles from posts that I have written:

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  • Famous With Sweaty Armpits  
  • Okay, Tesco: I Forgive You
  • So Many Jokes, So Little Class   I like this one for its searing honesty.
  • If I Break Wind, I’ll Write About It  The previous title refers.
  • I Have To Kill My Kindle
  • Love Many, Trust Few And A Canoe
  • I’m Three Mugs Of Tea Away From Becoming A Feminist
  • It’s Time To Give Up Food   I like this one for its absurd premise.
  • Ten Don’ts For When I’m Dead  Another list post.
  • Bring In Arms Fat Mummy
  • Hula Hoops. Very Proud Of The Queen.   I can’t claim credit for this one as it was from a comment by another blogger.
  • Vasectomy Dog And A Frog Disease Called Awesome
  • Camping: The Art Of Staying Wet Indoors
  • Flying To Spain In A Manky Cardi
  • A Labled Easy To Follow Leg
  • Sandra Bullock Has A Sex Change And Retires To Norfolk

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A Final Tip

Related to blogging but not to titles in particular: ask an open-ended question. A question as title will pull in the curious and the opinionated (I know this from experience).  You don’t have to use it as a title, however; you can use it as a closing sentence.  It never fails (I know this from experience).

What are your blogging tips?

Narrow Escapes

22 Aug

When we were kids, my brother owned a copy of The Book of Narrow Escapes. Aimed at children, it was full of stories about people who survived experiences like falling out of planes (as you do), or getting lost in the Amazon: always follow a river downstream to civilization was the advice, though how a child – or this adult – knows the difference between upstream and downstream escapes me, and not narrowly, either.  Come to think of it, I’m not sure that book, full of horror stories along the lines of Alive! was suitable reading for kids.  Unless I’m thinking like a be-fair-everyone-has-to-come-first-and-be-safe millennial.  Or a mum.

This morning, I was humming the tune to the seventies’ show Black Beauty because of a Facebook meme I’d seen, and that got me thinking that I read Black Beauty as a child and found it tedious, but loved The Book of Narrow Escapes – me, who never took a risk in her life unless it involved eating my weight in chocolate and thus the possibility of an obese, diabetic future.

As I was on the loo while all of this thinking was happening, that naturally reminded me of my own narrow escape, about twenty years ago: I went to the loo one day, finished, stood, turned around, and there were two wasps, flying around the neck of the bowl!  Talk about a squeaky bum moment.  To this day, I can’t sit on the loo without first inspecting it.  Thoroughly.  So if I visit your house and you catch me at it 1) I’m looking for stinging insects, not dirt and 2) why are you in the bathroom with me?

Do you have your own squeaky bum moment to share?

Men Are From Mars; Women Are From Who Cares?

14 Aug

Picture the scene: a new box of cereal, too tall for the cereal shelf.

Solution: reduce the size of the box.

Here is the Hub’s handiwork:

           Crunchy Neat

Here is mine:

            Rice Tearmies

Where do you stand on the Seriously?  It’s just cereal! debate?

Fringe Benefits

8 Aug

Alex is at the Edinburgh Fringe this month in two shows, both of which have been shortlisted for the National Student Drama Festival’s Emerging Artists Award 2017 .  That’s twenty shows of over three thousand appearing this year.

I’ve seen both shows and they’re fantastic (there’s a reason they were nominated).  One is hilarious with music and the other is a musical with hilarity.

The music is great in both.  You can check out some of The Iconoclast songs on SoundCloud.  Sadly, there’s no link to Buried‘s music (yet), but I’ll share three of six from The Iconoclasts.

For me, this is the best song in the show: Estelle’s Song.

 BURIED

An exhilarating and witty look at love and the places it can take you. He’s a shy, seemingly-average young professional. She’s a sarcastic thrill-seeker. After matching on an online dating service, this young and fun-loving couple form a unique relationship when they discover something special that they have in common: they’re both serial killers. Tom Williams and Cordelia O’Driscoll’s dark, new piece of comedic musical theatre puts a sinister spin on relationships in the twenty-first century. Colla Voce Theatre make their Edinburgh debut with a bold new musical.

You can buy tickets for Buried here.  

britishtheatre.com describes the show as:

perversely charming and entertaining, full of dark humour and some killer songs..the music is richly melodic and soulful…book and lyrics are sharp and often funny.

THE ICONOCLASTS

The Iconoclasts tells the story of an exuberant family façade that is just about ready to crack. Music, magic, poetry, drag and comedy meet in an explosive night of would-be redemption for the former celebs, but the cabaret-style comeback night just goes further and further off course. Half-farce, half-tragedy, the Northern Irish family’s plight leads the audience through their chequered history with poignancy, humility and irreverence – all backed by a live funk band. If they’re going down, they’re going down swinging! ‘Beautifully played’ (Sunday Times).

Tickets for The Iconoclasts available here.

Listen to Alex’s solo: Razzmatazz

The Iconoclasts has been forecast by Fringebiscuit as one to watch:

They had me after four words. Part tragic theatre, part comedy cabaret night, emerging company Dear Hunter Theatre have basically put everything I love into one show. This could be a huge hit.

Their first review from Broadway Baby gave them four stars; here’s the opening paragraph:

The Iconoclasts is a perfect example of why one should never go into a show with any expectations. Based on the poster and description which I had only briefly skimmed, I was expecting a run-of-the-mill artsy cabaret show, with a bit of overdone backstory thrown in. What I got was a unique, political and thought-provoking piece of theatre, which worked on so many levels it is still making my head spin to think about.

The show’s closing number: Finale.

If you’re in Edinburgh this month, do yourself a favour and go and see both of these shows.  You won’t regret it.  

 

Train Pain

24 Jul

It’s hard to believe that Viv has been gone just over a year.  I went to her funeral and I wanted to tell you about it at the time, but I couldn’t bring myself to write that post.  A year on, however, I have some emotional distance, so here goes. I am writing from memory because, when I checked back to my notebook, there is nothing at all.  Not one word; just the funeral programme, taped in.  I couldn’t even write about it for myself.  That’s grief for you.

Viv’s daughter Sally invited me to read Viv’s self-penned epitaph poem at the funeral.  I was honoured.  I wouldn’t have missed her funeral for anything, but it was lovely to be invited to be a part of it.

My travel anxieties have been well-documented on this blog so you won’t be surprised to learn that as the funeral was held in Newcastle and I live in Stockport, I made sure to leave with time to spare when I arrived.  To be fair, I’d have done the same if I was going one town up: that’s how I roll.  Or clickety-clack.  I don’t trust public transport; or myself on public transport (remind me to tell you why I once missed the first twenty minutes of The Lion King at The Palace Theatre, Manchester, seven minutes away by train).  

To be more fair, the Hub booked my ticket and made sure to leave me with some time to spare when I arrived – but not for my change at Sheffield.  I was miffed to have only 25 minutes because I had to find the platform for the next train and Sheffield is a big station and I am a big panicker.  The Hub assured me I’d be fine.  What could possibly go wrong?

He reserved seats on all four trains for me, over my objections: I always run onto a train and grab the first free seat I can, because that’s how I clickety-clack.  The train from Stockport to Sheffield was packed, however, and I was glad the Hub is bossy because I was able to turf someone out of my reserved seat.

The seat-with-my-name-on-it went a long way towards earning the Hub forgiveness, because it was standing room only all the way from Stockport to Sheffield.  There was no refreshment cart, ergo, no tea, ergo, anxious, panicky, uncaffeinated me.  There was a delay, a slow train, only ten minutes – NOT twenty-five as I had been assured by my perfidious man – to find the platform with my next train.  I fairly erupted onto Platform 1, hitting the ground running, eyes peeled for information screens, clichés exploding from every orifice.

DSCN0956 Sheffield was obviously still feeling the effect of Austerity because there wasn’t one uniformed human in sight.  I ran up the steps to the concourse – no screens!  I ran left – no screens!  I ran right – a screen!  Heaving, bent over my shaky legs, I slowed down enough to glare at the screen which informed me my train left from…Platform 1.  That’s right: the platform I had just run away from.  I had four minutes to get there and had to use the lift because Sheffield Station is just stupid in its weird layout with no stairs down to Platform 1 and absentee staff who probably don’t carry wheelbarrows on their person for exhausted travellers anyway.

I hit the lift button and…waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Finally – finally! – the doors opened and I ran forward; and then backed up as a thousand people who obviously had at least an hour to find their platform were disgorged.  At last they got out of my way and I jumped onto the lift, slammed the button, and was transported on the slowest elevator known to man to the platform below. Sucking in such oxygen as I could muster the energy for, I ran along the platform just as my train to Newcastle pulled in.

I collapsed into my thankfully reserved space and waited for the sweat to puddle on the seat, the breath to return to my aged lungs, and the spots to disappear from before my eyes.  Then I heard the bad news: no refreshment cart again.  I muttered to myself long and hard.  No one would have heard me if I’d muttered aloud, anyway, because I had no spit to help me articulate my uncaffeinated state.

I settled in, anxious and fidgety – you know, the normal addict state, except that my fix is Earl Grey, black, hot – for the longish journey, and became more anxious and more fidgety as the journey became ever-longer.  I discovered later that there had been a lightning strike on a signal box the day before, causing extended delays.  I watched the time and stressed.  I watched the time and fidgeted.  I watched the time and became tearful. I watched and watched and watched my watch and guess what?  I arrived in Newcastle about the time the funeral started.

I made sure to be first off the train – get out of my way, mother with a baby and elderly wheelchair user!  I’ve got a deceased friend to honour – and ran and ran and ran some more, finally finding the taxi rank when I wiped the sweat from my eyes and could read signs again.  I ran to the first taxi, but I was hailed by a uniformed human – better late than never, eh? – and we had the following conversation:

UH: Oi!  There’s a queue!

TB: OhpleaseI’mlateformyfriend’sfuneralandI’mreadingthepoemandit’salreadystart
edandthetrainwaslateIdon’tknowwhybutI’vegottogetthereassoonaspossibleplease
pleasecanIhavethistaxiplease?Sob

UH: Uh, sure, go ahead.

The taxi driver was wonderful and sympathetic and got me to the cemetery as soon as possible – perhaps wanting to get the hysterical woman out of his cab, but I prefer to think he had the milk of human kindness in abundance – where I encountered a problem: two chapels.

Seriously, folks, how I didn’t have a complete meltdown at this point, I don’t know.

Like a Wimbledon viewer trapped between two players serving high-speed aces, I gazed back and forth, back and forth between the chapels, paralysed by uncertainty.  What if I burst into the wrong funeral?  The odds were good that it would happen, because I never met a blunder I didn’t make. My favourite photo of Viv

Just then, a limousine rolled up and I was inspired to ask the sad-faced woman emerging, ‘Excuse me, I’m looking for a funeral and I know it’s not yours because you’ve just arrived; can you please tell me which chapel you’re going to because I’m so late and my funeral must be in the other.’ Bless her, she did.

I burst into Viv’s funeral as quietly as possible and only eighty percent of the people looked at me, including the eulogising vicar.  Small mercies, eh?  I was ushered to a seat, given a programme, offered a glass of water – because I clearly looked like Mr Rochester’s first wife at this point – and sat my trembling bum on the seat so I could frantically scan the programme to see if I’d missed my spot.

I hadn’t missed my spot!

If I had never believed in God up to that point, I believed in Him that day.  The vicar finished talking and it was my turn to get up and read Viv’s poem.  I’m proud to say I read it as if I’d travelled to Newcastle the week before and spent three days in a spa, being massaged from head to foot and back again.  I would never have let Viv down.

Several people came up to me afterwards and greeted me as if they knew me. Turns out they did: Viv’s friends I’d met and fellow bloggers amongst them.  I was still in Yellow Wallpaper mode, however, and couldn’t register anyone until at least two teas later.  I apologise if you felt slighted, but I assure you it was not on purpose.  Travel in general and lateness in particular send me a little crazy; throw in grief for a beloved friend and it’s a wonder I didn’t end up in Newcastle-Under-Lyme instead of Newcastle Upon Tyne.  Viv’s family were wonderful and understanding, and I was so grateful to them.

My only consolation is that Viv would have loved this post.  As far as I’m concerned, that makes any craziness on my part entirely worth it.  Just as well, eh?

 

What Are You Up To, Dad?

7 Jul

Here’s a gratuitous pic of my gorgeous grandson.  We call it ‘Suspicious Baby’.

Cough, Cough

16 Jun

 

It’s my choir’s concert tonight.  We’re doing stuff from musicals, including a fantastic arrangement – by Ollie Mills, our choir director – of Cats.  His alto line for Memory is the most fun I’ve had singing anything, ever, not least because that’s the only bit in the whole show I can sing without mistake.

Don’t tell that to the audience.  I’m pretty sure Ollie and everyone around me already knows, but we still have some tickets available.

We had a rehearsal last night and I coughed all the way through it.  I have had a persistent cough for months, for which I’m now being treated because I finally dragged myself to the doctor after hearing a horror story from a friend about a friend of her friend’s who ignored a persistent cough, and things ended badly.  

Mine is nothing so dramatic; it’s probably a post-nasal drip.

I misspoke when I told my singing chauffeur (the lovely woman who gives me a lift to choir) about it, accidentally calling it a post-natal drip, and we giggled for an hour about me developing a twenty-one-year baby-related condition that wasn’t excess weight.

The cough is always worse after exercise: for example, from the walk to church on Sundays.  I hack through the first half of the service but I’ve noticed that it improves after communion, just from one sip of wine.  That thought brought on a brain wave – I’ll take alcohol with me tonight!  

Alex tells me alcohol is bad for the vocal chords, but we’re not talking great singing on my part; and I’m thinking, better no voice than Coughy McCoughy in the chorus, ruining the best bits.  You might suggest that I could, of course, nobly stand down and not be in the concert tonight; but I’ll thump you if you do.  I didn’t spend six months learning these songs (some of them, anyway; my first paragraph refers) only to sit sulking in the audience on my big night: yodelayee-yodelayee-yodelayeeNO!

I tested my theory when I got in from choir by supping a tot of rum and, yup, no cough after it.  I’m taking a small bottle with me, to sip throughout the concert. I’ll just have to be careful not to get drunk: no one wants to see a sozzled alto tottering around the stage, defending McCavity against the slurs on his character.

Although…if you do, tickets are a fiver.

 

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