Thursday, May 28, 2015

Guess we're staying

I got to thinking this past weekend how less stressed we all are as a family, since we came to live in Blightey.  Yes, it's not all roses and creamcheese but we are adjusting to life in the UK much faster than I ever thought we would.

I love the countryside, the light, the immense variety of green, the pretty hedgerow plants growing along the sides of the fields and roadside at any time of year.  Seeing bunnies in the fields instead of squatter camps.  Walking out in a local woodland, completely safe, getting back to your car and it's still there!   And the wheels are still on it!  The country air is gorgeous and when you don't have bright hot blistering sunshine every day (a la Southern Africa) it makes a person really appreciate powder blue skies and clear days - everything sparkles here when the sun is out. 

The day-to-day stress of life in South Africa is immense and I realised this past long weekend just how long it takes a person to get that out of your system - we're coming up to our third Christmas here and the urban living stress is still faintly echoing.  I don't think it will ever go away.  Urban stress is so much a part of your everyday life in South Africa that you just accept it and it becomes second nature to always be on high alert.  Pulling out of our driveway can easily be a life and death situation.  Walking to the shops ... well we couldn't walk to the shops where we were living in Edenvale, could we?  At least not without getting accosted, mugged or intimated along the way.  When you live in Gauteng, you get so used to the absurdity and abnormality of living behind 8 foot high security walls with at least 3 foot of razor wire and electric fencing on top that you think it's normal.  I wish I could convince my boys who are still living over there to understand that there's another way of living.  There's more to life than planning your day around  'load-shedding' - which is a polite South African euphemism for mis-management of the national grid.  

We stayed in a brand new house in SA but it probably won't stand intact for another five years, due to the crap building regulations, graft and corruption.  The concrete between our bricks was mainly composed of sand, a really good storm and one or two of those walls are going to come down! And forget the doors and windows, none of them seal properly (something they have the angle on here in the UK).  Every summer it was comical how much our house flooded - and this, a brand new home in an upmarket residential suburb!  We lived in a gated-community, with electronic key card to enter the complex.  You got used to the 24 hour armed guards patrolling the streets - and even then there were robberies and murders. Sometimes it felt like we had gone back to the medieval ages and were living in a moated enclosure.

We were the lucky ones, I was only car mugged twice. My kids were only stabbed once.  My son missed being shot in the stomach at close range just once.  We only had one or three or five (I lost count) break ins.   So no I don't miss SA one bit. Not at all.  Not the weather, not the culture (if you can call violence and disregard for the law a culture).

But I DO miss the people we have left behind and its unbearable sometimes not being able to give them a hug or speak to them face-to-face.  Skype is great but it cannot take the place of physical contact.  I miss my sons. Sometimes it's unbearable and I think that I'm losing contact with them.  But then we'll have a long skype chat and things are a little better, it's hard pressing the hang up button.    I am always hopeful that they will be able to visit us next year (I am being realistic with this wish, I know they won't make it during 2015) - the day that happens will be one of the happiest in my life.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Diving in ...

I am so impatient and that's the problem, anyway I've gone and done it. I've submitted my book proposal, with a sample chapter.  I did a lot of editing on it and I know it's still not right (will it ever be?) ... anyway, now it's out there getting rejected.    Oh well, gotta try somewhere.

One thing it's done though is free me up to start concentrating on other ideas that I have for, erm, real story stuff.  I have a lot of ideas, so hope I can come up with a bit of 'creative' writing in coming weeks.   I've moved my bedroom around and devoted a corner of it to my new 'office' ... slash .... 'book writing node' ... which was the advice of one Stephen King (can't argue with him now, can you?)  I'm pleased, I see something happening, the energies are buzzing about, summats afoot.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

I’m still cool, right?


When you reach a ‘certain age’ – let’s say 60 for argument’s sake  - you start to wonder about a lot of things – and not in a sense of the breathless ‘ooh my, golly gosh’ kind of wonder;  more like the dark suicidal kind of wonderings in the middle of the night, when everyone else is asleep.   Who am I?  How long will I live?  Is this all there is to my life?  Why don’t I have lots of money? Why can’t I retire, like so many other people my age? Why do I still want to listen to alternative music, wear black and refuse to put a blue rinse on my hair?  Should I have a headstone or get cremated? Will I take years to die? 
You know, happy kind of uplifting thoughts like that.

When you start to get into the ‘latter half’ of your allotted years on this planet, you start to see that you are actually mortal.  Whodathunkit?  You have an expiry date!   Some people in your immediate surroundings (won’t mention names) view you as an ‘old’ person – and I’m not talking about the under ten year olds here.    

You still believe that you have a handle on all the cool stuff, you know what’s potting.  But that’s it.  When you KNOW that you’re in with the cool shit, you aren’t.  

I hate getting old.  I almost had a heart attack when I turned 40 and wanted to kill myself.  I was depressed for months – I couldn’t see any good in getting old, I didn’t want to end up like all the old people I knew (who were in their Fifties at that point).  I didn’t have any forty-odd year old role models to live up to.  All the forty year olds I knew where old people already and trying to act like their parents.  I never wanted anything to do with being like my mum - for God's sake I discovered Jimi Hendrix and wanted to have his babies!   Now I realise with horror (and sometimes pride) that yeah, I’m actually turning into a somewhat out of focus, blurry copy of my mother.  Without all her annoying habits of course because we all know that I’m perfect. 

In the past few months I’ve had to come to terms with the following facts and they are all things that OLD people have to deal with on a daily basis:

  1.  My teeth will probably fall out in the next five years or so and I don’t have the money to get screw in ones, so will probably end up wearing falsies … oh god, kill me now. 
  2. My shoulder has developed a nasty condition called ‘rotator cuff with impingement’ and I believe the tendon/s is/are torn beyond any hope of fixing with draconian physiotherapy. I will have to get this surgically fixed and right now my doctor ain’t coming to the party. 
  3. I really think that I might be going deaf – either that, or the grandkids are getting pretty good at talking under their breath.  I can’t hear what people are saying in a crowded environment and hate going to school halls for kids concerts or things like that because I can’t hear a freaking word anyone says to me in the chair next to mine. 
  4. I worry all the time about getting breast cancer (like my mother did) but then I look on the bright side and think how awesome it would to get these two mothers chopped off – I’d be free of the 40E chest!   But knowing my luck, the surgeon would butcher just one boob and I’d be left with a mangled left breast and a full size right boob … how wonderful, that would be enough to make me jump in front of a train. 
  5. Driving is becoming irritating and sometimes downright painful because of point number 2. 
  6. I have hypertension, so am on blood pressure tablets which according to my sadistic doctor I will be on for the rest of my life. Why? My BP is back to normal.  I’ve repeatedly told the stupid quack that the only reason my BP is high is because of the continuous pain in my shoulder but he doesn’t listen, cos he’s a twat. There I said it.  (one of the perks of being old-er is you can insult people and get away with it because everyone assumes you have dementia or early onset alzheimers). 
  7. Because of the meds I take for the BP, I sometimes get swollen ankles and lower legs – so again I told the quack that I wasn’t going to be taking them thar tablets anymore, because of the swelling.  He just says, oh well the tablets are agreeing with you, your BP is down, so you will just have to get used to them.  That’s when I got up and attacked him with a pair of scissors (well, I day-dreamed that I had).  Anyway, I won this last battle and got him to give me BP meds that lower the BP but don’t make me swell up, duh. 
  8. I am as blind as a bat, actually I think fruit bats can see better than me.  The spanking new very expensive multi-focal glasses that I got from SpecSavers about six months ago are rubbish, the protective coating is coming off the lenses and the prescription is useless. 

I could go on but no, I won’t because OLD people go on about their ailments;  young, cool, hip people don’t ruminate for years about their osteo-arthritis.  

Hey, but I’m still listening to cool music.  If Rory McCann walked into our Post Office this week and started chatting to me, I'd probably ask him out on a date - I'm that bold (something I wasn't when I was 30!) .   I am learning new skills – just got my foot pedal and serious sound mixer from the company I’m going to be doing media transcription work for soon ... that is when I can figure out how to get through the 44 page transcription software manual that they sent me.

Holy Drafts ...

I wouldn’t have wished it on my worst enemy but I went and sent my draft manuscript to my bestest friend in the whole wide world of wonder and now I’m in a state of petrified terror.  I know it was crap. I hadn’t finished it, dammit.  I had no right sending out a draft … and to HIM.  Shit, it has major mistakes and so many holes in it – some of which I fixed AFTER I’d emailed it to him.  Oh geez, I can’t sleep now.   Why do I do this to myself?  Never mind that, why did I do it to my pal?  He must hate me so much. I bet he wishes he never heard of me. Sorry, dude.  Oh god I’m on tenterhooks so bad, can’t sleep (did I say that already).  Crap, hell and bugger it.

Ah Norway ...

First, we visited Amsterdam

All just a sweet memory now ... wonderful time away, wish I could have stayed in this area another month.  Norwegian men are gorgeous!