Catching up with reading

“He smiled understandingly – much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in a life. It faced – or seemd to face- the whole eterenal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistable prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to be believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”

So says Nick Carraway when meeting The Great Gatsby for the first time.

In my current role I keep meeting such people. Does wonders for making you examine yourself and where you’d like to be that you can do it so well that you become one.

In other news, as I found in Waterstones today (not used Amazon for many months because of what happened at Christmas), Penguin are celebrating their 80th anniversary by doing a whole series of ‘£1 reads’ style books for 80p each. Don’t know if they’re selling abroad. Bad timing as I’m attempting a clear-out, but I’ll see how many I want to read I can sneak into the place.

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A moment’s calm

There ought to be a word, not yet in the meaning of liff, for the momentary void, the emptiness, after a deadline for which everything else has been put aside, when you can’t remember any of the things you were going to do… the feeling of both serenity that the great task is done but the nagging that there’s something you’ve forgotten… just before the lengthy list that should have been done ages ago comes crashing back into your head.

That’s what’s going on round here.

I have taken a shovel to the mounds of papers, scrubbed the lino floors and done many ‘maintenance’ and ‘progressive’ tasks that fall between the two. Luckily though the deadline fell on a sunny day so I was first of all able to sit and read in the park.

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Drawing a line

There is a line to be drawn when doing home repairs and that’s the line that appears in the downstairs ceiling due to all the water from the bathroom now pouring through it.

It was caused by a leaking joint in a tap, silently running across the floor then dropping through a gap. But closer inspection of the whole bathroom showed that apparently someone hadn’t understood that if you want a sealed bath, that means sealing all the edge gaps with sealant, not just the top and bottom ones. An afternoon of white gunk and the problem has been averted.

And we know how strong the white gunk is now. Turns out it was the only thing holding the sink on to the wall. Yet another example of the surprises that await courtesy of the last owner and whoever did the conversion to a bathroom in the first place. I’m glad I spent so long as a student – much experience spotting and correcting dodgy bathroom fittings.

Round here we don’t like the idea of newbuilds and not just because they’re £100k more expensive than anything else. But recently, the idea of buying something fitted with a guarantee does appear to have its advantages.

A friend who also thought she’d never have a newbuild managed to get such a good deal as a first time buyer on just her income that she was persuaded, then found that standing in the showroom loudly commenting that the plumbing has broken again gets a speedy, professional, free resolution that the rest of us can only wonder at.

In the meantime, this is a website that causes amusement while we look for the next place:

http://terriblerealestateagentphotos.com/

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Pratchett

I missed the news the day Sir Terry Pratchett died. Probably just as well as I wouldn’t have reacted well to it. Question is why not.

He’s a brilliant author, one of the few I could just pick and and read, revisiting over years and still finding new things. His later works were a bit hit-and-miss in places, but people move on and that’s all part of it. The announcement was just right.
I like that there’s a petition to Death to bring him back as we’re not done with him yet!

I think though that part of the sadness is that Dementia has lost its champion. I’m just old enough to remember the dormitory wards of lost souls, with up to twenty beds lined up against each side, whose patients spent the day contained and wandering one room, each identical in their white nighties with their white permed hair. When visiting in the heavily restricted two hour slot, the greatest challenge was to find your own relative, usually missing their own clothing or dressed in someone else’s taken from the cupboard by their beds. Dementia was the silent ‘inevitable’ that no one discussed, with stigma attached, the untouchable, with people locked away “for safety” but once out of sight out of mind. Famous people had it and silently disappeared.

Things were moving on anyway, but then “Pratchett’s got Dementia?!” happened. “To vanquish the demon you must first say it’s name!” and suddenly there was the knight to lead the battle and figurehead the vanquishing. Pratchett’s words are in modern health textbooks and the media was full of his views on the current political and research situation. He didn’t hold back. Instead of disappearing into the darkness impossible thoughts were finally possible

A modern dementia ward, NHS so free of charge at the point of delivery, is still enclosed on the outside, but contains patient-lockable single en suite bedrooms, activity rooms that can include such things as a cinema (want to spend the afternoon reminiscing and telling us about it? You do that!), gardens, lounges, ‘quiet areas’, space and sunlight, with a host of Occupational Therapy including Tai Chi and visits any time for as long as you want, so long as the visitor isn’t depriving anyone of sleep or dinner. The hospitals now are about diagnosis, assessment and stabilisation in a comfortable homely atmosphere (best way to assess how you’ll get on at home after discharge), as with early diagnosis, stablisation, medication, keeping active, lifestyle tweaks and a bit of support, 55% of people have only a mild form and 2/3 of people with Dementia live in their own home and can hope to remain there for as long as they want.

A very different picture from only twenty years ago.

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Domestic bliss

Been a tad busy what with juggling several roles at once.

In other news..

The wine has been maturing and the pear cider has been bottled. If presented as a ‘sample’ it would immediately be awarded antibiotics, so we’re waiting to see what it does.

Working our way through a bunch (what’s the collective noun?) of bespoke cheeses that will scamper away if not eaten fast enough.

The hoarded chocolate of last year has done strange things. I put it in the kitchen to make sure it wasn’t forgotten and came back to find a missing melted patch in the side of each, surrounded by a white ring. At some point it must have been in direct sunlight.

Have gained a new neighbour. He’s not fallen foul to the carbon monoxide poisoning or leaking heating yet, but if he’s getting any sleep I’d be surprised as someone elsewhere now thinks that 11pm-2am is a great time for using a washing machine. Thankfully he’d already been warned to ask to see all the certificates before moving in, but no one knew about the washing machine.

I’m trying to decide between having a repaired tooth filling for £50, which would be stuck to the old filling that just broke, or a new crown. The crown would be £211 for metal or £400 for made-to-measure porcelain. If I stood in front of you talking you’d spend the entire conversation staring at it as it would be obvious and shiny. Thoughts welcome.

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Cutting back on dieting

At present I’ve got a schedule and lifestyle that bounces all over the place. The research shows that this is the worse possible way to stay well or slim. So, I’ve asked for and just been given a copy of the Hairy Bikers dieting book.

The Radio Times interview that sadly hasn’t been repeated in the book had about why they did it. Both had become overweight, one ran out of tablets (statins or betablockers) and went to borrow one from the other. At which point the wife of the other went… loud.

As she pointed out, there are now too many people, including those she loves, whose lives depend on taking tablets every day, when the damage has been done by themselves and can still be undone, but instead they go on taking the tablets. Do they think there will be an inexhaustable supply? Do they think a tablet will always be able to stablise everything? Cos with the damage already sat there, one day they’ll have something new that can’t be…

So they wrote a dieting book. And being the Hairy Bikers who take food seriously, this is a book that doesn’t use sweeteners. Or skimmed milk. Or blandness.

Instead they use sugar and cream, with chapters each on pies, puddings and ‘fakeaways’.

Now that is a diet I can get behind!

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New things

We should always try new things.

And in this spirit, I have just finished reading my first Jeffrey Archer novel. Actually, it’s his memoir of time spent in Belmarsh high security prison. I flicked through a copy and decided to buy and read it when I saw that it had proper statistics in about how much is spent on food a day etc. Don’t think I’ll read the next one – would spoil the positive feelings about this one. Especially after the named researcher has apparently been hauled up since for plagarism.

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