changeling times

trials and tribulations of eclectic chicken

Cumberbatch and his offense offence January 27, 2015

Poor old Benny Cumberbatch…him and his big old posh, ex slave owning gob.

Actually I feel for the bloke. Trying to do his best for British actors of colour and he gets the metaphorical shit kicked out of him by the terminally offended.

For what?

He made the silly ‘mistake’ of saying he thought as that “far as coloured actors go, it gets really different in the UK, and a lot of my friends have had more opportunities here [in the US] than in the UK, and that’s something that needs to change,”

Boo fucking hoo…he used and (and I quote) an “outdated term” to describe people of a particular ethnicity.

His heart and intention were in the right place but in a society that has a victims commissioner  that is just not good enough.

He has to offer an apology.

Does he say “I am sorry for having referred to ‘coloured’ people”…no he does not.

He doesn’t actually apologise for using the outmoded term. yesterday he released this statement-

“I’m devastated to have caused offence by using this outmoded terminology. I offer my sincere apologies. I make no excuse for my being an idiot and know the damage is done.”

He apologised for the causing of offence not the use of a naughty word….good man! Even better would have been to not apologise – it just encourages those who enjoy the frisson of being offended to find more ways to find their fix.

I accept that language evolves…it has to to be a living language but the evolution of terminology is something specific; something based around being ‘in’ or ‘out’.

Growing up in the seventies ‘coloured’ was still the right word to use…it made one ‘better’ ‘morally superior’ to those who came before or who were lagging behind with negro…wog….nig nog…. yanno…I’m not sure what my parents called black people. I know my ex husbands grandfather who was something important in the colonial service somewhere in Africa likened Haile Selassie to a monkey just down from a tree having just met the geezer… but given the historical context I doubt he was far out of line at the time.

Then after coloured came black…sometimes Black…. and if you used that instead of coloured it sort of felt hip and right on and meant you’d probably watched ‘Roots’ as a kid, read ‘The Colour Purple’ at sixth form and had a black friend or two at Uni.
Black as terminology has lasted quite a long time…. most of us and the mainstream press are still using it; but look beyond that to where the need to feel hipper and more ‘in’ than the average bear lies…. in activism, in academia, in opinion pieces by young up and coming Guardianistas. Places where the push for change are sharpest and you will find a more encompassing ‘people of colour’ being used. It’s an umbrella term as far as I know for people of all minority ethnicities and has been used in the States for quite a while. Here in the UK it is on the creep – I’ve certainly been told  I should use it because it is less dehumanising.

Coloured people (like disabled people, or trans people or any other sort of people apart from white, middle class men) have to be people first and their defining feature second… so people of colour (people of black obviously didn’t work) people with disabilities, people of trans history…. you see the difference?

I can… and I know that the unspoken rules allow me to make pious judgements on the language (and therefore assumed underlying belief systems) those of you who are still saying “who…wha…the fuck?!?”

This isn’t evolution of language…well it is…. but it’s based on a nasty moral superiority of point scoring and it goes hand in hand with the insidious passive aggression of ‘finding offence’….most often found where no offence was intended and quite often when some poor bloke with his heart in the right place says something pertinent in regards to the plight of some group he has no ‘right’ to be speaking on behalf of and therefore needs taking down a peg or two.

He’s posh… his family used to own slaves…. he’s white…he’s male…. how very DARE he say something sensible… quick…find the offence….ooooooh…coloured…. nobody who’s had anything to do with political activism since Roots was on the telly uses THAT bad word….WAH…WAH…..WAH….WAH….WAH (thats the offence alarm going off).

He must apologise or we won’t watch his films… we’ll boycott him and his niggardly** use of terminology and very likely ‘no platform’ him in Universities across the land and he’ll ever more be known as THE RACIST ACTOR (Note…. not the man who is an actor who is racist).

So Mr Cumberbotch issues a non apology for a non event and we all settle back down until the next time…

….but we can either go with the flow or against it… we can either all change our language to stop offence being taken – but I’m not sure that’s going to work because victimhood is fairly entrenched as an ethos in society now and the victims commission like the witchfinder general has to keep finding witches or they are out of a job.

Or we can just say enough is enough. Look at the intent behind the words as a whole…I know its tricky. It’s almost as tricky as understanding that bad sex that you didn’t want isn’t necessarily rape because the definition of the ‘offence’ is bigger than the belief of just one person. Both people have to have a particular mental position for rape to have legally  occurred – and so it should be for ‘offence’. You may have TAKEN offence but if there’s a jolly good chance the person really didn’t mean to offend you may as well crawl back under your cotton wool mound and make sure the world stays a good fluffy distance away from you.

PS. Is this blog meant to be offensive? Damn tooting it is…but please do try to find it offensive for the reasons I have chosen as opposed to the reasons you decide….and either way. You won’t get an apology because I too am offended.

** I’ve actually seen people take racial offence over the word niggardly… which as any fule knos has absolutely no links to the word nigger. In my book someone so desperate to find offence is no better than the mob of idiots who stormed the home of a paediatrician because they were incapable of reading further than the first syllable of a word.


book sex and well I never January 26, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — eclectic chicken @ 9:56 pm
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I spent a long time in my local book shop today, mostly on the second floor…a quick scan of the language books (we’re thinking of having a bash at Dutch) and then a long time in poetry, art and design. So many good things on one floor. It’s all wooden shelves and floorboards and the books go all the way up to the ceiling but that’s okay because we(e) browsers are trusted with short step ladders – it’s bliss. And the smell…. I kept taking books off the shelves, sniffing them long and deep and making happy sighs of contentment. I think I love the smell of brand spanky new books even more than the fusty musty smell of second hand well fondled tomes..and some of the new books in Toppings are wrapped in shiny cellophane that hides their smell. I’ve no idea if taking off the wrapper in the shop is allowed or not…I didn’t ask… I bought a copy of ‘On the Thirteenth Stroke of Midnight’ – sight unseen – based purely on the blurb on the back and the fact that it was plastic intact.

Back at home…sitting on my bed, in the middle of the afternoon I opened it.

The rustle of paper bag…followed swiftly by removal of the cellophane – it wasn’t shrink wrapped… but parcel wrapped with perfect folds, sharp corners, tiny pieces of tape and then the chemical whiff of a brand new unopened book. I will never EVER replace real paper and ink with electronic ‘handiness’. The unwrapping experience was either near sexual or near religious..and either way I then lay it down and paused for tea, jaffa cakes and anticipation before breathing in it’s inky aroma – nose to book edge and then diving in between the pages to see what it held.

It’s an anthology of British Surrealist poetry, with quite a lot of academic type stuff at the beginning and brief biogs at the rear and the poems themselves demand to be read out loud. I found I have a special ‘reading surrealist poetry out loud voice’ and on the whole they seem to mention sailors and the colour black too often. I suspect my special voice is Julie Walters based edging into “my eyes are pies”.

My favourite poem on first perusal is by a chap called Desmond Morris..that’s strange I thought – he’s got the same name as that populist Naked Ape chappy…how unfortunate.

I liked his poems so much I nipped onto the internet later in the afternoon to see if Mr. Morris had any books all of his own (whilst trying not to look how much cheaper I could have bought the anthology from the fucking online shysters at Amazon)…I found Desmond Morris, the zoologist, ethologist and expert on the reproductive behaviour of the ten-spined stickleback and that he is also known for his surrealist painting – (combining his dual loves in 1957 by organising an exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, of paintings and drawings composed by chimpanzees).

And would you credit it?…he’s the same Desmond Morris, who writes rather good surrealist poetry. How bonkers is that?
So I’ve also ended up buying a book of his poetry (illustrations by himself), and an illustrated copy of his childrens book Inrock (allegedly something Kubrick thought would make a good film)…oh and the entire works of e e cummings fell into my electronic basket too… a not very satisfying experience from an ethical and sensory perspective but all in all bally cheap and so quick was the ‘one click’ system that I barely had a chance taste my dis.


A picture tells a thousand words…. January 17, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — eclectic chicken @ 5:08 pm

…or in the case of the march of unity in Paris post Charlie Hebdo – a picture is photoshopped to say what people want it to say.

Photographs are altered in the media all the time but this one photograph was supposed to show unity… the like that’s rarely seen. Millions of people turned out onto the streets of Paris and the world leaders were there with them shoulder to shoulder… people just like you and me… people saying enough is enough!

Except if the photographs are to be believed they weren’t. The world leaders (and we’ll gloss over that Obama wasn’t there and the hypocrisy of Netanyahu gatecrashing to stand for unity and against terrorism) stood shoulder to shoulder with each other and were backed by their staff and security and photographed from an angle that made it look like they were stood with the people.
I can’t find a single image of those leaders on google that doesn’t look like part of that photo opportunity.

To add insult to injury The Announcer (HaMavaser),a conservative orthodox Jewish publication, decided that such unity was against their readers sensitivities and airbrushed out all the women and Netanyahu himself decided to crop the ‘iconic’ photograph when he tweeted it to imply he had managed to get into the party but Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas hadn’t.

To leave the plot even more Waterford Whispers twittered that a “Feminist Newspaper Photoshop’s Male World Leaders Out Of Paris March” and not everyone realised that WW are Ireland’s Number One Satire News Source although the post did win praise from the Washington post

And my favourite of all: anti-facist Facebook group SIR (Stupid Ignorant Racists) replaced top fascist in the picture (no guesses there) with a WIZARD! (Gandalf to be exact).

And it all got very silly and some would say disrespectful….

….but real disrespect is pretending to be standing with your citizens..pretending to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people on the streets, misrepresenting who was there…. turning up when you’re not wanted and making the event into a farce… or not turning up and stealing column inches that way (naughty naughty Barack). As top Irish satirists (see above) pointed out it made the event look like the First International Hypocrite Convention.

Propaganda and hypocrisy should not run so deep. In doing so they perpetuate the state of play that led to the 17 people being shot in Paris and condones the ‘us’ verses muslim spiral of destruction continuing to spiral.

Our leaders and the world media had a chance to get it right…

…and they fucked it up big time.


social media made him do it January 14, 2015

Filed under: politics,Uncategorized — eclectic chicken @ 10:01 pm
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There’s been a lot of stuff about free speech in the news and I’ve ignored it…to be honest it’s big and complex and I’ve not felt qualified to do so.

However… this is different.

A couple of days ago a post appeared on my news feed saying that a Tesco on Oak Street in London was refusing to serve soldiers in uniform just in case it offended their Muslim customers. It smacked of fakery and within a couple of minutes I’d checked and there is no Tesco on Oak Street in London.

People believe what they want to believe and that post was speeding round the right wing groups (and therefore anti-right wing groups too), so much so that EDL News (a collective of social justice activists who investigate the far right in the UK) wrote about it and if you want more detail you can read about it here.

Fair enough…some bloke thought it was funny to stir a hornets nest by playing on popular trigger points….muslims…soldiers. Yawn. We see it on the Britain First page every day and I defend their right to write such tosh.

Unfortunately tonight there is another Tesco (a real one) not in London but in Mold. Where a man wielding a big knife chased an asian guy up a supermarket aisle. By standers say he was shouting about ‘white power’. If you want to read the story its here in the Mirror.

Maybe these two tales of Tesco are not linked… maybe it’s total coincidence.

Being incensed by the idea that Tescos no longer serve soldiers becuase of muslim sensibilities couldn’t possibly send some right wing idiot into a spin in his local supermarket…could it?

Posting something on the net can reach wide and the person who made the original post cannot really bear the blame of some tenuous second event that somehow bears some similarity to the first posting – we can’t all watch our every word and behaviour just in case, like a butterfly causing a hurricane a continent away, a post reaches someone unstable enough to chase a fellow shopper down the freezer section with a machete.

But if I were the twisted firestarter I’d be feeling a bit shit and a bit guilty right now about this Tesco based freak coincidence. Thats bearing responsibilty…feeling guilt. Actions DO have consequences…sometimes very slight…sometimes very big and if you are willing to let a cat out of the bag you have to bear the responsibilty of it shitting in your grandmother’s slippers.

I have a suspicion however that as the knife wielder was shouting about white power and the man with serious injuries has been described as ‘asian’ that the blame will never need to get close to a post that appeared on social media. Some racist hit out and did he really need an excuse?

Funny that… because if he’d been looking at violent porn and gone out and committed a violent attack the press would see it as a cut and dried ‘porn made him do it’.

Let’s see if anyone adds two and two and gets four.

If the man with his stick in the hornets nest of racial unrest gets some recognition.

And actually this isn’t so different..freedom of speech is always bigger and more complex than it seems.


top notch twat January 10, 2015

Filed under: politics,Uncategorized — eclectic chicken @ 4:43 pm
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I’ve been meaning to start blogging again for a while and what better to start with than Britain First (yup I’m easing back into my blog by knocking down some low hanging fruit).

Today the brave biffer patriots are out in Basildon Essex, all wearing their biffer fleeces except for Paul Golding. His is NOT a biffer fleece, it’s a biffer fleece with a piece of paper over the BF logo – on the paper it says ‘CENSORED’ – FACT. (sorry…I got a flash of cap lock fury there).

Some of you may know that last Monday Mr Golding was in court being done for wearing a political uniform under the 1936 Public Order Act…a little know and even less used bit of law.

Now here he is in Basildon whinging about having his rights taken away because every other political party is allowed to wear their party sweat shirts and merchandise and he’s not.

What Paulie doesn’t seem to grasp (amongst many other things) is that ‘other’ political parties don’t base their logo on military and royal regalia, which is why his is the only party being chased by the Home Office and his is the only face stuck to a dartboard in the Queens downstairs khazie. (okay, maybe not the ONLY one).

But it’s not just a bit of embroidery that makes the BF fleece into a political uniform… there must be something else.

What could it be that militarises peoples image of biffer merch and not say a bunch of young Liberals wearing orange sweatshirts?

Let me think….

Could it be that Britain First split the country up into regional divisions and each division has a battalion….hmmmm?

Could it be that each area has a RCO (Regional Commanding Officer)?

Maybe it’s their eagerness to give each other nice shiny medals at every opportunity.

Or the rousing (but copyright breaching) music they use on their videos.

Perhaps its the armoured land-drovers they have. complete with camo netting and (illegally used) windscreen meshes?

Oooooh…could it be that they go on patrol in their armoured vehicles and use them to intimidate the ‘civilians’.

If all they had was a slightly militaristic logo that hadn’t been ripped off and they all shambled just round shopping centres giving out leaflets wearing it I ‘think’ they could have got away with it.

But that’s Pauls problem (one of them anyway) that when he doesn’t get away with something. When he gets busted for harrassment or wearing a uniform or going off piste at a demo he doesn’t put his hands up and say fair cop… he whines that everyone is out to get him and that another boy over there is doing it and he doesn’t think thats what he’s actually doing anyway.

Meanwhile in Basildon today he says the rest of the activists are wearing their merch… but he’s not allowed to.

Strange that in their group photograph this afternoon there’s just one brave patriot in the middle showing off his biffer regalia, complete with Royal crest and crown. Good man… standing up for what he believes in…. or maybe he just doesn’t own another coat because he’s given all his money to Paulie to spend on erm…. whatever Paulie spends money on. (pies is my best guess)



it’s true…… February 25, 2014

Filed under: thinks,Uncategorized — eclectic chicken @ 8:13 pm
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…we’re getting cleverer!

Way back in the dim and distant I took my Maths ‘o’ level. June…1982 to be exact. I failed…quite impressively with an ‘e’. In fact I failed a lot of my nine ‘o’ levels. Something to do with discovering ‘sex and drugs and rock and roll’ at precisely the wrong time…or something.
But all was not lost…I re-sat the ‘o’ level in the November of 1982 and scraped in with a ‘c’ grade. Not bad…. from an e to a c in 5 months. I suspect I did some revision second time round.

Since then, I’ve claimed that mathematics isn’t within my mental comfort zone…I got a bit phobic about numbers….I’ve toyed with the idea of dyscalculia.

So anyway…. a few months ago I got me a boyfriend… he’s a smart cookie…he can do maths, works with numbers…did a physics degree. A couple of times in the early days we touched on maths and I told him I couldn’t do ‘it’. I think it puzzled him…the thought that someone couldn’t cope with numbers…. but then… he claims to be bad at art and I can’t understand that…people are different.

We visited the Tate Modern…becuase I like art and he’d like to understand it more and I started asking questions about maths. I have a curious mind and like to know about stuff…. especially if that stuff is important to someone close to me. The first time we attempted maths together was in the car….slowly…tentatively…. I was understanding small things and but being a visual learner needed to see it on paper.
So when we got home we continued over a mug of tea and the back of an envelope….until I burst into tears in the sheer frustration of not being able to understand something.

I just couldn’t get it.
The real turning point came when he told me he’d described me to his colleagues as virtually innumerate…and that’s not a ‘bad’ thing. I’m arty and creative and smart in so many ways – we can’t all be good at everything.

But it niggled me.

So… I asked him to tell me about numbers. We touched briefly on lots of things…a lot of it clever, interesting things like Fibonacci and Pi and then becuase I remember enjoying it at school we had a couple of back of the envelope sessions looking at algebra. We’re looking at a few ten minute sessions over maybe a month…a month in which we only see each other at weekends.

Then I had the idea of seeing how much I actually ‘could’ remember from school, 31 years ago. So I sat down with the computer and did a Foundation level gcse in maths…. I can’t remember how I did…but it was quite well….
I then realised that there was more to the exam system than I thought (and bear in mind I’ve had a daughter and a step daughter go through these exams less than five years ago).

In the olden days there was O levels and cse’s. If you were clever you did the former…otherwise you did the latter and if you were lucky you could get an A grade at cse which was worth an O level. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to double up with cse’s in my weak subjects as I’d skipped a year at school (I was THAT bright) and you had to be older than 15years and 6months old to do them…whereas any child prodigy could have a bash at O levels.

Nowadays…I ‘thought’ there was a GCSe and if you got ABC it was like getting an O level and maybe DE was a cse…an F surely still stands for fail. I ‘thought’ it was that simple… but no. There’s a Foundation level paper in which you can get CD or E and a Higher paper in which you gain an AB or C. I guess on your exam certificate it states Higher or Foundation….so it is a lot more like the old system than I thought… we’re just led to believe that all children are clever enough to sit the same exam nowadays. Admittedly there is a cross over of questions in the two papers…the harder Foundation questions being the easier Higher ones. I believe theres much deliberation amongst teachers over which paper to put their students in for to attain the magical percentage of grade A* to Cs.

So anyway… I thought I’d have a bash at the Higher paper seeing as I’d gained some confidence on the Foundation one.

I gave myself exam conditions and the right amount of time and sat the first of two Higher Edexel GCSE papers from June 2013. As an aside its interesting to note that each paper I sat was worth 100 marks…. so markers don’t even have to be able to work out a percentage from 96 out of 116.

With some dim memories, some working day to day experience of simple mathematics, some guesswork and a few kitchen table back of envelope sessions I scored 60 out of 100. I was pretty pleased with that and thought it was probably a decent C grade.

No… presuming I’d get the same on paper 2 I doubled my score from paper 1 to make 120 (see…I can do it). That gave me a B grade..not just a B grade but a fairly decent B grade.

Riding high on a wave of mathematical success and with a quick flip through Paper 2 from my other half who’s only last minute tutoring consisted of ‘what on earth is a leaf and stem diagram – lets look it up’…I settled down a couple of days later and completed the second paper.

It was harder…. mostly becuase it was the ‘calculator allowed’ paper and the only calculator I had to hand was the simple one on my phone, so I wasted time trying to work out square roots by trial and error and had no chance of pressing a sine(?) button…good job really as I suspect I’d have needed a calculator refresher session. There was some stuff that totally stumped me..some algebra (expanding and simplifying but no quadratic equations that i could see) and a lot more simple mathematics.

I scored 40 out of 100.

It felt like a paper I should have failed….

Over both papers I scored 100 out of 200 marks. That is still a B grade.

So at O level…after many years of maths lessons and a two year intensive run up to my exams….I got a C on my second attempt.

At the age of 46, after years of being a stay at home mum who is adverse to numbers and still has a head that feels like its still part filled with post chemo porridge I got a B.

We are ALL ‘definitely’ getting cleverer.

Or not.

NB. For a comparison here’s some old papers …I looked at the 1988 paper and the very sight of it scared the crap out of me.


I’m giving you my favourite things September 7, 2013

Filed under: poem,thinks,Uncategorized — eclectic chicken @ 9:47 am
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Many moons ago I wrote about ‘The Landing in Summer’ by Mary D Elwell.

It never occurred to me then to share the picture with you… to photograph the one I have and put it here…

But then this morning I found that since I wrote, the BBC are uncovering the nations art collections.

The Landing in Summer

And now you can look at Mary Dawson Elwell’s ‘Landing in Summer’ whenever you like to.
Feeling doubly generous today, and becuase last time I wrote about this painting I doubled it up with some Mersey poetage (not sure they are comfortable bedfellows other than they are two of my favourite things) and so today too I’m going to lie them side by side.

This time Brian Patten’s ‘Party Piece’ ….for you.

He said:

‘Let’s stay here
Now this place has emptied
And make gentle pornography with one another,
While the partygoers go out
And the dawn creeps in,
Like a stranger.

Let us not hesitate
Over what we know
Or over how cold this place has become,
But let’s unclip our minds
And let tumble free
The mad, mangled crocodile of love.’

So they did,
There among the woodbines and guinness stains,
And later he caught a bus and she a train
And all there was between them then
was rain.


Musings with too many water based references. September 6, 2013

The gaps get longer and longer between blog entries but I can’t quite walk away from here. Its knocking on for four years since I started writing… thats a lot of words and thoughts and emotion to let adrift into the ether to find its own way without me.

I think I can safely say there have been interesting times… the best of times and the worst of times. But maybe without the ‘best of’ bit.

And now?

Still recovering from the dose of cancer…still picking myself up physically and mentally from the feat of endurance that is getting through cancer and its treatment.

Still recovering from having a partner transition.

Still not over the emotional deluge…. I find myself now with ‘baggage’. I used to think it just meant being encumbered with children and the general detritus of past relationships…. now I know its more than that. Deeper than that. Far harder than that.

There are scars in my ability to trust that still itch deep.

There are dints in my sense of self that don’t just pop back to normal on the bounce.

In fact I don’t quite bounce emotionally like I used to once upon a time a long time ago.

I can still leap into being with someone like a kid into a paddling pool..sheer joy and sparkly water… but then I panic about the sharks.

What sharks?


No sharks.

But there might be.

Like the monsters under the bed…one can never be sure. Even when the water is crystal clear.

So here we are… me and my baggage…

Its been a wonderful summer. There have been friends and relatives and sunshine and good food.

There have been bottles of wine drunk, games of scrabble played and the fumblings and writhings of a new relationship.

Trying not to remember that after happiness comes the pain.

Sharks at four o clock.

Just in time for tea.

If I cancel out the transition…forget it..blank it totally: I used to go out with a bloke called John, we split up about three and a half years ago. Since then there have been a couple of people…. see.. all normal… no real baggage there.

Trouble is since I split up with John there has been this huge emotional earthquake, followed by a tsunami that I’ve forced myself through and its affected every single part of my life.

I SO want to let it go.

Just let it go….

My baggage is like the Old Man of the Sea and it doesn’t feel like the separation is my decision.

But I can’t hope for the past to let go of me instead of me letting go of the past.

 I just have to say that I am the sum total of my past days and stick to that like I stuck to ‘not minding’ that my partner was transitioning or that there was a chance of my dying.

I can be very stubborn like that.

So this is the person I am.

Amidst the moments of crushing insecurity I walk accross the heads of sharks.




Remiss of me not to mention remission July 26, 2013

Filed under: cancer,Uncategorized — eclectic chicken @ 4:00 pm

It’s been a long time my little web monkeys. A month or more since I told you I was to have some surgery.

Surgery has been and gone.

Even the laprascopic version of the hemi right colectomy had me in hospital a week… a week involving five days without food… oh go on then we’ll start at the beginning – its a very good place to start.

Into Peterborough City Hospital on the 3rd… this was a fiasco of a day. I arrived for a ten o clock admission appointment and was admitted on paper by a nurse at about half past ten. I told her I hadn’t breakfasted as I’d been confused about the eating and non-eating times, so was rather hoping to be on a ward by lunchtime. I answered a few questions, put some wee in a container and had my wrist ID put on.

Then back out to the waiting area.

Come lunchtime… the lovely nurse took pity on me and came and gave me an egg sandwich and a jelly.

At about 2pm I saw the consultant for about 5 minutes.

At 3.20pm I was taken out of the waiting area and onto the ward. Nearly 5 hours – with about 20 minutes staff contact time and I was told by the nursing staff that this wasn’t unusual.

Now they KNOW beds don’t tend to come available until the late afternoon so why why why ask admissions to come in at 10 in the morning.

But all that aside… I had a room on my own, my own en-suite…ah I though that’ll be for privacy for the bowel prep… they must have me in the day before my op for bowel prep…. but no.

My consultant doesn’t do any bowel prep beyond you have to stop eating and drinking at midnight.

So again…why why why have me in so early the day before. Having done a sterling job of talking me through the whole procedure and done everything humanly possible to allay any fears and concerns they then cock up with a totally stressful and pointless early admissions process.

You know… its that long ago that I can’t remember when I went into theatre the next day… but it was in the morning… the scary bowel surgery leaflet had been wrong about bowel prep…. and also wrong about having a long needle in a vein to monitor my heart. New technology just in is that they sandpaper your skin (its quite pleasant) place sticky receptors on and then you have to lie VERY still for a couple of minutes whilst a computer guages blood resistance around your circulatory system.

And then the lovely theatre staff gave me drugs and…..

wake up in recovery….

I believe when I was sent back up to the ward I was in a great deal of pain as the post operative pain relief (administered via an inflated ball tubed into me close to the exit hole) still had its clamps on. Luckily I was still off my face and have no actual memory of the pain… just of my insistance at some later point that I was still in pain. Not being able to remember pain possibly says how much pain there was.

The pain relief ball was a source of continued grief as the next morning as part of their ‘get you out of hospital quick scheme’ I was hauled out of bed, sat in a chair and told by that evening I’d be walking round the ward.

Fat chance… I discovered instead that my pain ball was leaking from one of its tubes. In fact once back in bed my pain relief formed a nice little pool for me to lie in.

Unfortunately by this point the consultant had gone home for the weekend and nobody tampers with his balls without express permission.

Later that night (being in too much pain to walk round the ward) a nurse came on duty who thought patient care (ie not lying in a wet bed til the consultant comes back on Monday) was more important than his sensibilities about his balls and she deftly unplugged the leaky tube from my stomach and clamped it… lo and behold the second tube appeared to start working and pain became less.

The next morning I farted. I can’t express how important this is post bowel surgery or how long and melodic that fart was which erupted mid sit down on the bed leaving me one leg in the air facing an open door rolling forth like an endless herd of buffalo on an open plain.

Thus Saturday late morning I though I was back on track to go home.


Instead, just to thwart the ‘going home stats’ my digestive system went on strike and intead of going home my abdomen blew up to 40 week gestation proportions before lots of doctors arrived to poke me. The poking resulted in a spectacular projectile vomit (or six) – I think I hit the foot of the bed.

So they stuck a tube up my nose and down my throat…. not pleasant… but very interesting. I continued being sick but now the green sludge shot down the tube and being of a narrower gauge than my throat I could hurl much further…. all the way into a bag by the bed. This all supposedly takes the pressure off your intestines and lets them kickstart themselves in peace.

With hindsight this is whats been happening to me over the last few months and seeing me reporting to A&E…but then it was becuase I had a lazy section of colon that just couldn’t take the strain… whereas this time it was a naughty naughty colon.

Anyway…. next morning… tube out.

Later that morning…unable to drink again even without feeling sick as system began to shut down again…. so I just stopped drinking and asked to stay on the saline drip.

After that it was a long slow uphill process…. I couldn’t drink other than sips and couldn’t bear to put any food in my mouth except teeny tiny morsels that I then chewed a while before spitting them out.

But I did start pooing.

A lot.

And I had to save it all to be weighed.

In order to stop me pooing so much (although they claimed it was a space issue) I was moved onto a ward.

One of my co-wardees was an old lady who wandered the wards at night…. this one expects in a hospital… there’s traditionally always one. What one doesn’t expect is for her to have two sons who come on the ward shouting about their mother being abused (she wasn’t – she had one to one nursing) and proceeding to film her rolling on the bed in pain (she was fine until they arrived – but like most old people wanted to go home so played up for the rellies)… they also filmed the rest of the ward and did lots more shouting… my blood pressure was higher at this point than any other point in the whole hospital experience.

I did complain.

That night when she started wandering again she was put in her own single room.

I think it was in the wee small hours of Tuesday morning I woke up and knew I could eat…. I rummaged for my emergency cookie and lo and behold took a bite sized bite and ate it… and another…and another.

So I was farting, pooing and eating (of a fashion)… the only other box I had to tick was the ‘able to walk upstairs’ and I could go home. I went into serious ward circumambulation training.

I wanted to go home.


On Thursday the consultant said if I could eat lunch and keep it down I could go home.

He didn’t specify how much lunch – so I ate a bit (even after five days of no food hospital food is still pretty awful) and when I asked how long I had to keep it down for the nurse answered ‘until you go home’.

Last minute hitch as Megan turned up to pick me up…. my drugs hadn’t come through from pharmacy…. but I crossed my fingers and said I was pretty sure I had some tramadol at home and went home.

A few days taking it very easy.

Then the fun of a wound infection, trip back to A&E and some antibiotics.

But perhaps most importantly at some point my surgical consultant…and specialist oncology nurse both range to say the section of bowel removed had no cancer in it at all. The last dregs must have died off between PET scan and surgery.

Had the PET scan been later or had I taken the waiting option and a second scan there would have been no need for surgery…. but we weren’t to know that. And given I was already decided that the cancer was growing again I’d have been a neurotic mess if I’d waited… and I think I’m better off without a load of scarred necrotic material in my system.

I’m eating normally for the first time in over a year…. I’ve never been so pleased to see a bowl of muesli and some seeded brown bread.

So thats the upside…. the downside is the last month seems to have set me back energywise. My fatigue is back to ridiculous levels… but hey ho…. back to slowly slowly and build up my walking from scratch again. post chemo fatigue can last as long as 6 months… a year… or beyond. I just have to be patient and keep accepting help where its offered.

And special thanks be to my daughter Meg at this point who moved house in Sheffield, dumped all her stuff in her new room and came straight down to take me into hospital and has been taking care of the dog, the boy, the house and me ever since.

She’s a star. A shiny shiny star.




The day has come March 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — eclectic chicken @ 11:30 am
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When I was pregnant with the boy our two girls (one each from our marriages) were 11, moving on to secondary school, in fact learning about reproduction and foetal development and Meg handed in my scan pics as part of her Biology homework.

It’s not been the same as having siblings close together and there is a theory that if there is more than a six year age gap between siblings they each count as ‘only children’. But I think they’ve all got ‘something’ out of that age gap, even if it was, for the girls the determination not to get pregnant and have kids at a silly young age as the sleepless nights and hard work of having a baby in the house was fresh in their minds when they hit their mid teen years.

On the boys part he’s grown up around much older siblings, he’s learnt to hold his own and most usefully perhaps being, he has no fear of teenage girls, he’s happy in older company, comfortable chatting to the girls friends and if the raging hormones of puberty don’t knock him too much for six I can see him being ‘quite’ the ladies man.

But what struck me this morning was remembering back to when I was pregnant and thinking ‘wow – by the time he’s 7 or 8 the girls will be away at Uni and he’ll have really cool big sisters to go and stay with’. It all seemed so far in the furture…. both for the girls Uni and the boy being 7 or 8.

And now that day has come, off Meg and the boy drove yesterday in her little red car to Sheffield for three nights, to a house full of gaming equipment and a city to explore.

I’d be enjoying the peace and quiet if I didn’t have workmen in.



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