Sunday, 8 November 2015

Hot (not so hot)

Hello from the new menopausal me! Oh, such fun....not. The era of hot flushes has well and truly begun.

My body has developed a faulty thermostat, and every day - and every night - I am now getting a series of sweaty heat-spikes. My body seems to generate its own surges of heat (to begin with, until I checked with B, I just thought I had the heating in the house turned up too high)

Then, in between each spike, it goes back to normal, and I feel chilly again. Jumper off....jumper on again.....jumper off.... and so on (and same pattern at night, but with the duvet.)  It's a sweaty business (need to remember to drink more water!!)

So far, fortunately, I haven't been woken up by heat-discomfort - so my night-time experience is limited to settling down to sleep, or lying in bed after I wake in the morning.

Too soon to have any idea whether this will be an interminable experience every day from here on in, or if it will have some kind of monthly pattern with normal days in between. And, in either case, impossible to guess how long the symptom might continue (that can vary a lot, so I'm reliably informed by a friend who is a medic, and whose symptoms were much worse than mine, and went on for a VERY long time - so much so, she had to seek HRT)

My symptoms are currently not bad enough to make me want to seek HRT. But we shall see (not that HRT is necessarily always an option for every woman - my friend had to wait for ages before starting - ie not allowed until she got her blood pressure down to a safe level - and it carries some cancer risks).

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Moving On

The last blogpost included a lot of pondering about forgiveness. Circumstances have moved on. The forgiveness idea has been left far behind. It is no longer relevant - there will be no rapprochment in this situation. Indeed, if anything I am now left wondering how to forgive L for what she has just done as part of wrecking her revenge! G has accepted it, but I (personally) feel I've been made a fool of, and indeed betrayed.

The thing was, L needed access to the flat to get all her stuff. I helped to arrange for G to leave a key for her and not to be there (and I wasn't there either). For some reason, it never occurred to me, that going back into the flat, she wouldn't be able to resist taking further revenge by doing more damage and wrecking G's stuff!

It was pretty bad. Could have been worse - some things she didn't destroy that could have been really difficult (like his passport, ALevel certificates etc), but some symbolic things were torn up (the cats pedigree/birth certificates - that was pretty mean), G's college work was tossed around (not sure if any was spoilt or just made a mess of) and she did actually do some actual (criminal) damage to some of G's property. I guess the worst (in terms of costliness), was wrecking the big TV screen.

There was also broken glass from smashed candleholders all over the kitchen floor, and the electricity had been switched off at the mains, with all the food in the fridge and freezer left to spoil.

We were all pretty shocked. Initially G reacted pretty strongly, and then he insisted B&I leave cos he wanted to deal with it all on his own. In fact he was pretty horrible to us just at that point. Oddly, B hadn't been able to cope with the pain on friday and yesterday, whereas I found I couldn't cope with the anger. So it was my turn to cry.

HOWEVER, later on G texted me - both to apologise, and to assure me that the damage wasn't as bad as it had at first appeared - and we ended up having a wonderful exchange of text messages. I was so heartened and amazed at the way G had moved through both the anguish and the anger to reach an amazing positivity, a commitment to building himself up and reaching into the future to become a whole person in his own right - the best version of himself. And a determination to make the most of his opportunities, including college.

He was also amazing in his understanding of what L had done - accepting that she had needed to vent by wrecking stuff (he takes it as legitimate punishment for what he'd done), and aiming to reassure me that the flat itself (which financially B&I are responsible for as guarantors) hadn't been damaged. He even down-played the loss of the TV - saying he never needed such a big one anyway.

I know it won't be plain sailing. There will be dips and backward steps, and he won't always be able to keep the pain from crashing over him again, or the self-loathing from swallowing him up. But even I now believe the glimmer of hope (of them eventually getting back together) has now gone.

The thing is, for all that they had grown to be a better couple than they used to be, there was still a big weakness - G was always just half a person, clinging to L to complete him. He now needs to learn how to be a whole person in his own right - and then he'll be able to have a healthier relationship with someone down the line. And while he had L, he had focussed too much on just this one person, to the detriment of all his other relationships and networking (including college) - cos he thought he didn't need to bother. So now there's a chance to take something good out of this awful experience.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

The fierceness of mother-love

Tough to see your adult child in the depths of emotional anguish and despair. Tough to see your husband crumple from feeling that child's pain too keenly.

Once holding up this child-in-a-man's-body, flesh of my flesh, to keep him from slipping below the waters of self-annihilation, I am robust. I know how to do this - not a rescuer as such, more a survival aid while waiting and waiting and waiting. Perhaps the tide will slowly go out, and out-of-depth will gradually become supportable, breathing on tip-toe. There is no big rescue coming - I'm just waiting with him for the cycle to turn. It's the most important thing in my whole world. This is my meaning, my purpose. It defines me.

Earlier, the panic of no-contact - the horrible imaginings threatening to overwhelm me: "what if I stay - here, at work, all normal - and all the time he's in his flat dead or dying. What if he can't bear the pain, and can't bear his own self-loathing?" That's a dark recipe I've glimpsed before and so I cannot just sit by and risk inaction. Whatever happens, I must ACT. A mother must at least try to save her son.

And yes, the imaginings were overly lurid and exaggerated - needless (you might say). But at least they shocked me into action, rather than just waiting and wondering. It was indeed the right thing to do. He needed us, although at first reluctant to accept the help and support, hiding his face - so miserably ashamed.

I have always been a critical person, a person who blames, who judges. But somehow I have learnt to contain those negative, unhelpful words. There is no point - time cannot wind back.. We are where we are.

But it was strange to find my ground shifting as I learnt the true time-line. This cataclysm prompted by a long delayed attack of guilty truth. Poor L, having this dumped on her. Poor G - tricked by the myth of honesty, shifting his sense of toxic guilt (unable to bear to carry it any longer), to his poor partner's shattering of trust, destroying her happiness, their future - everything. No way back - no forgiveness. She cannot bear this cruel truth. He should have kept it inside, and carried that as his punishment, his thorn for ever. (ironic to suggest that deception can be a gift of love, but I honestly think it can be. If you truly know it was a one-off aberration, hold that shame and guilt as your punishment and DO NOT TELL - because the pain you will cause to the other person to relieve yourself of that discomfort is uncalled for and cruel) Ah, but 'should've',  'could've' - pointless words. And I know that many would claim that what I'm advocating is a dangerous policy - ie when I suggest it's better to keep such a secret for ever. But such is my sincerely held view, despite the risk of the toxicity and the risk of eventually losing everything at some later point if the truth somehow leaks out - perhaps from another source.

 (NB Point of info: I don't have a personal instance - there hasn't been some dark deed of betrayal or infidelity that I've chosen not to disclose to B.... but by the same token, I did have a couple of wobbles over the years - not acted upon as such, but still flutterings - and I definitely did NOT think that 'truth' was the be-all and end-all. I did not disclose, and I just dealt with it. And there is also stuff deep down in my past that - if I chose to let it define me. and if I chose to share it, would damage how my nearest and dearest thought of me and possibly how they felt about me. So that stuff stays well under wraps - believe me!

G still did a terrible thing - horrendous. It was 9 months ago and to me (but not to L) it somehow seems potentially forgiveable....and yet clearly it's not (not to her, not now, not yet.....probably not ever - that hankering for a glimmer of hope is a torture; but also perhaps the only thing - for now - that will persuade G to just cling on one day at a time. And in time, when that glimmer fades, perhaps he will have grown strong enough to bear it).

Foolish boy - he must have known (surely) what the truth was going to cost him? But there's that part of him that thinks she is better off without him, yet is still desperate at the thought of losing her. Then mixed with that, the naive hope that he could confess and be forgiven - mistaking a partner's love for the (mythical) divine, or just with the parental unconditional kind

 (Aside: what would it take for me to stop loving either of my sons? Is there anything they could do that would stop that? We know that the relationship - the love - between children and parents (and vice versa) DOES break down. It is not immune. But as for me and mine, I cannot imagine anything - and I hope that is never put to the test)

We all talk blithely about unconditional love as a lofty thing: "no matter what you do, I will always love you". Separation of the person and the unacceptable deed comes with this idea. To love the person but hate the sin (that's the old style theology) But surely the problem is that an action is part of what defines who a person is - and (in this case) the one BIG and TERRIBLE action blanks out all and every good bit.

So, what of unforgiveable actions? End-of-all sins, with no way back? If forgiveness is ever even a prospect in such cases, that doesn't end the matter - in the sense of winding back the clock as if it never happened; but how then to cope with the scars without the bitterness and anger of being wronged continuing to poison and eat you up? Forgiveness, but still justice, still sensible self-protection by  the person who has been wronged (not 'yeah, why not slap me on the other cheek too': but NB - that bible story had more subtlety buried in its often misunderstood imagery - not as wimpy as it sounds; more a cunning lure by the victim of the evil-doer to condemn themselves by taking the step that will expose them, or to realise what they've already done and repent).

Forgiveness cannot be a cheap free pass. The wrong-doer must work through and for the atonement (at-one- ment).  By very definition, that is conditional, not unconditional. The more human psychology of the roman catholic habit of the confessional, and the making palpable of contrition by (for example) saying 3 Hail Marys. It seems so trite though - so easy to become a slot-machine approach. Sin, say 'sorry', get told what the price is going to be, pay the 3 'Hail Mary' coins and get your (easy) absolution. And repeat. Yuck!  (and yes, I know it's not quite like that - the Priest gives the absolution but then attaches the strings - 'go and show you meant it when you said sorry by doing x y z' - otherwise (presumably - since the sincerity of the repentance is all important) the absolution becomes null and void.

And - back to the human, secular realm of wrongs and forgiveness -  on the other side, the victim of any terrible act  - where forgiveness is more a letting go in one's own self-interest - to avoid the ongoing pain of holding on to the anger, bitterness etc.

I suspect that mixed with the sense of betrayal, the rage, the heartbroken smashing up of everything, is pride. There would be such a sense of exposing oneself to future disrespect if this infidelity were 'got over'. I am torn here. Like women who allow themselves to be persuaded by serial domestic abusers, when they promise to reform, it can be foolish to allow someone a second chance. At some point, the line in the sand has to be absolute - otherwise another line and then another will be crossed - and then where will you be?

But. on the other hand, putting someone on 'probation' - ahort or long-term - as a conditional chance to show that this was truly a one-off aberration?... For goodness sake, these youngsters have grown and changed SO much over the last few years! Even the G of back 9 months ago isn't the same G as now. And there is so much good that could be salvaged - if only, if only, if only.....

Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the King's horses
and all the King's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.

Monday, 10 August 2015


It was my friend's funeral today. Very large turn-out - so many people wanting to honour her memory. And virtually everyone fulfilled her husband's request to wear her favourite colours - purple and pink - instead of black. It was a very touching tribute, seeing that array, all variations on that colour theme.

Emotionally draining - many, many tears shed. Memories shared, affirming the love in which she was held by so many - and her loss so deeply mourned by those closest to her.

I felt awkward at times, perhaps sensing a perception that I was over-claiming some specialness(although that's probably just my paranoia). But if all I can say is that she was MY best friend (even if I wasn't hers), that's still true, and still sufficient to be special in some subjective sense, even if not objectively - and I feel her loss SO keenly, I cannot begin to get my head and heart around it.

Her family included my contribution in the service which moved me greatly (as a named part on the service sheet - which I really hadn't been expecting) and the officiant read out a much fuller version of the piece I'd written than I'd expected (I had thought they'd just lift a few short extracts). My feelings were a strange mixture - I was anxious that others close to her would resent that contribution - I even tried to sort of apologise at the reception afterwards to the person who was, I know, her closest true best friend, and had been so from early twenties to-date (she herself gave a very lovely personal tribute earlier in the service, speaking on her own behalf, which is incredibly hard to do). My relationship was so separate from hers, and indeed all the other close friends. The other OLD friend (from NI) - who also attended the funeral - perhaps wasn't given as much emphasis in what I'd written as would have been fair. But she chose not to send anything to Tim, and said several times that she didn't think any of her memories from back in our teenage years would have been appropriate or of interest to share. I was very selective myself, but I DID want to give a voice in some small way to the intense closeness we shared back then, albeit leaving out the 'boys, boys, boys' aspect.

While talking about this with my other friend earlier - and specifically that our deceased friend had not seemed to like reminiscing about those days - I realised that she perhaps had only been able to call to mind the more embarassing aspects of her younger self (indeed all our younger selves, and harshly mine in particular),and so had not been able to glimpse the sweeter side of those precious formative 10 years (from age 13 to 23 or so). The anecdote that pained me pains me still, but I think I've gained an acceptance now - I can let it go. That's been part of the emotional journey of today - saying farewell and letting go.

Still feel very sorry for myself though. Lots of work still to do. Might need to think about accessing some proper counselling I think. Not for the bereavement per se, but it has brought other stuff that was already troubling me more into focus.

Monday, 27 July 2015

She died today.

Today my oldest friend died. We'd been friends since the age of 14 - that's 38 years of being friends! I got the phonecall from her husband this morning - she died shortly after midnight on Monday 27th July. Wasn't expecting it, even though I should have known that this time, there wasn't going to be another beating of the odds. But she bamboozled me again, when I saw her a week ago - perhaps I was too willing to let her hopefulness convince me. The final (belated birthday) Kindle gift token I sent her will be unclaimed, unless her husband or son can (in due course, when not too crass to mention) find it possible to take it up. The last (funtional) text message I sent her - about that kindle token- did she even see that?

There was no sense of final goodbye - either in person or by text - and I don't mind that; can't imagine how hard it would be if you were doing that. Perhaps that was one of her gifts - sparing her friends and herself that emotional pain. She was usually very kind to me, very nurturing (slightly maternal - that was the dynamic between us, with her in the more dominant role.) She only hurt me deeply that one (double) time, in recent years, and I didn't ever tell her (and my not telling her was definitely linked to knowing her life-span wasn't going to be a full one - otherwise perhaps I would have tackled it) It did, however, also block off the pleasure of shared reminiscing, cos I couldn't risk something similar happening again. So our friendship was stranded in the continuous present, the roots giving it a particular (mature) shape, but hidden from view.

Not sure if I ever told her I loved her - there really wasn't any need. She knew how I felt about her, and I know how she felt about me. We just had that depth.

She was no saint ofcourse, and I always said that we were an odd combination - we probably wouldn't have become friends if we'd met in adult-hood; and even as teenagers we got irritated with each other at times (but there's lots of evidence of how deep our friendship was too). I was an oddly infantilised version of myself any time we met up. The deep roots of our friendship gave us a certain non-judgemental acceptance of each other, but the closeness wasn't as close as back in our Belfast and university days - we were oldest friends, not best friends in the more recent passing years perhaps. And while striving for normality, the cancer did lead us to some self-censorship, some shaping to suit the shortened and oh so finite time-frame.

She was my chief bridesmaid and (a few years later) I was her matron of honour, so the closeness was significant and recognised back then - but in the 20 or so years since then it was something else, albeit still important and special (not sure I have a best friend at all actually, except for hubby - and that's not quite the same.) But still - she was unique, and she held (and will always hold) a special place in my life and heart. I will miss her hugely - she is irreplaceable. I know I won't stay in touch with her husband or son very much (I may try to keep sending Christmas and birthday cards and gifts until her son is grown up, but that's about it probably) - Her more immediate, real CLOSEST friends from her current life will be more significant; I had to accept that my status and role was quite different from that.

I was a little envious of how many friendships she sustained - how many group outings and shared joint or multi-family holidays etc. Even though I realise some of it was heightened once she knew the cancer had come back, with a bit of bucket list seizing of the day, going to big conerts etc. I sometimes struggled with knowing I wasn't as important as these other people to her (perhaps that's putting it unfairly - I know I was important to her, but in a separate niche, and we both found the frequency of our visits to see each other about right).

I don't seem to be able to make or sustain or keep friendships going - I'm not good at 'friends'. Have had some low points at work about this very thing - knowing I'm not really liked generally, and not liking myself either -  but not knowing how to modify myself to improve things. So I guess this loss feels even worse, cos that was someone who just accepted me completely (well, almost - all but a bit of my past that she felt the need to judge very harshly for some reason).

Yep, isn't that terrible - a blog post that's supposed to be about my friend is soon over-run with 'me me me'! But grief is like that - you can't help focussing on how you yourself are feeling about the loss. And I'm feeling it much worse than I had thought I would, particularly as it wasn't totally out of the blue, so in theory I'd been emotionally rehearsing for this moment

Today when I accessed one of my savings accounts, I had to enter the name of my best friend at school, and it made me flinch slightly - but I will honour her every time as I continue to use that.

I spent a long time looking for my first diary which mentions me first admiring her beautiful hair at school when we were 14. Still haven't been able to find it - where on earth have I put it??? I had it not that long ago, so it can't be buried too deep. However, I did find lots of letters in her handwriting - we were prolific correspondents when she was away during her first year at University (my 'gap' year) and I have some from years after that as well) .

I also found a bizarre little quotation in her handwriting - the one and only thing written by her in any of those particular diaries and signed with the nickname she stopped using many years ago. It's dated 13/1/79, so we were 15 years old -  nearly 16 - then. It says:

You are a free person.
I am glad that in your freedom
you have chosen me to be your friend.
                                                      C- - - - -

Now that really was pretty special to find today of all days!

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Two years - a quick gallop!

I am flabbergasted! I had no idea it was nearly two years since I last posted a blog here! Where did the time go?  I suppose this blog had stopped having much of a purpose to be honest. And I'm not sure whether to keep it going or dump it or what. I'm caught between wanting an anonymous outlet and finding it restrictive to keep from mentioning identifying information. And if it's just a diary for me, why bother posting online at all?! I have Evernote and GoogleDrive, and such like, to keep online journals.

It's 7th February 2015. My birthday week (not a special one - that was 2 years ago!)

Not sure whether to even attempt to sum up the last two years -  it all merges into a bit of a blur. Some things haven't changed at all - I still work in a school as a teaching assistant, and I still volunteer as a Beaver Scout Leader. Still live in the same house.

One of the biggest changes is that my husband took early retirement (aged just 55) in January 2013 - so the whole of the last 2 years has been the first part of that new phase.

It has been a very positive change - he is much MUCH happier, and we've made it work financially, despite my initially concerns. We enjoy having more time together - in fact most days, when I get home from work at lunch time, we can sit and have a chat. Not that my husband is idle - far from it! He's such a self-starter that he has no trouble staying productive in many different ways!

In February 2013 it was my 50th birthday, so that Easter (early April) we had a fabulously special holiday in Florence!! It had always been a dream of mine to go to Florence some day, and it really did live up to my expectations. We had a wonderful time! And a special coach trip (full day) was a good way to get to see Siena and Piza and more besides!

Birthday photos for actual day in Feb - locks on the wobbly bridge and a meal at the British Museum with B. A few days later (and I'd forgotten this!) W treated me to a cinema trip to the posh Vue Scene at Westfields to see Les Miserables. I cried 4 times, apparently (Facebook status).

February half-term - trip to Dublin AND Belfast, experimenting with cheapest tickets (brief stay with N&J solo, then a few hours looking around Dublin, then bus to Belfast - and flew home from there)

Early March 2013 - I dressed up as Mr Wrong for Book Day at school!

March 2013 - visit to NH Cambridge (was this on the way back from the Spa week-end? I know I was on my own, but not sure of the circumstances)

March 2013 - Spa Week-end with 2 oldest friends, C & D

April 2013 - B and I did a Treasure Trail up in London

Early May - Bank Holiday trip to St Albans

In Spring 2013, (3rd June in fact) we bought a small flat in Bermondsey with my husband's lump sum(s). It was an really good investment (although we have still to sort out the purchase of the lease extension, as that went slightly wrong at the time - but no biggy; we will be able to do it this coming spring, albeit it will probably cost more!)

Our eldest son - and during her brief spells in the UK, his fiancee - started living there as soon as we got the keys, in spring 2013. They cover all the various bills (council tax, utilities, service charges) but don't pay us any rent.

So for the rest of 2013, and the first half of 2014, our son was living there mostly on his own, working long hours every week to earn enough to meet the financial requirements of the visa his fiancee would later need to gain access to the country for their wedding in August 2014. Meanwhile his fiancee was mainly in Germany (on a scholarship work experience posting).

June 2013 - the Garden barges - a lovely outing with W& J

Late July 2013 - went to see Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night (with W&J) Right up in the Gods... the cheap seats (subsequently closed when part of the ceiling fell down in that theatre!)

Early August - trip to Northern Ireland (need to check further details)

Summer holiday 2013 was a cottage next to a Windmill in Norfolk. Lovely place - and we had a very enjoyable week, including a boat trip to see the seals. Another highlight was Norwich cathedral, and the wonderful medieval streets near it; and a boat trip on the Norfolk Broads (well I enjoyed it - B less so). Kept a journal - held on Evernote.

Summer 2013 - also met Js' mother, sister & 1 brother on their trip to London (had meal with us here but didn't stay with us) Also trip to Winnie the Pooh bridge with W&J plus A (sis).

(Late?) August - Went to see Midnight performance of Tempest at Globe (on my own cos J was poorly.) It was wonderful!

Late Aug - visit to neice & great-nephew with J (Mary Arden's farm)

Visit to Harry Potter studios was for Wedding Anniversary 2013! Wonderful!!

Visit to Bletchley Park was in Autumn 2013 (but when did we go to the Churchill WarRooms??)

Christmas 2013 - the Christmas of the Dressing Gowns (my parents with us for that Christmas) Also loved my present from W & G of recreated poses for 'then and now' photos. Very funny, and very cute!

Feb 2014 - birthday  Brunch with the youngsters at Pizza Organic. Then later matinee at candlelit Sam Wannemaker theatre with husband
(Given trip to top of Shard as gift by L (and G?) = AMAZING!!!
(The night before Shard trip was Panto I was in, with post-show booze really, really REALLY wasted!! And walked home on my own at stupid-o'clock!)

Feb half-term 2014  Trip to Bury St Edmunds, and Ely: (22nd Feb - from Facebook) 'Just back from an excellent mini-trip with B - and dog (set off yesterday morning, back this evening)! We visited Ely for the first time - and also managed a quick look at Bury St Edmunds before we headed home this afternoon. Beautiful weather, lots of fascinating history and architecture, long walks with the dog, good food and a very nice overnight stay at the Red Lion in Stretham. The highlight (while Cadi had a snooze in the car) was getting to climb up Ely Cathedral's medieval Octagon Tower - this even included clambering around its supporting timbers, up among the angels. The central octagonal lantern (clad in lead and weighing something like 400 tons) hangs in the centre - as if floating in space, all its weight thrust out and down, taken by the massive diagonal 'spokes' of oak, set into the surrounding stone pillars. Out on the roof - above the supports - we could see as far as Cambridge, right on the horizon, particularly the distinctive shape of the University Library. Over the course of the whole trip we (mainly Bob) took over 250 photos!!'

March 2014 - did Beaver Sleepover at Chalfont (again!)

March Went for lunch (unsuccessfully) and show with EW and lots of others.

Easter 2014 - April 2014 trip to Selsey (including East Head at West Whittering) Also Roman villa at Fishbourne.

18th May - Beaver Bonanza (Pirate theme)

Went to see both Wolf Hall play  - with B. First one was in late May 2014

24th May - Murder in the Cathedral
 25 May - Calvary at Electric Cinema

End of May 2014 - Portsmouth Historic Docks & the Mary Rose (day trip)
(Late May - hunting for outfit for Wedding, and arranging for wedding dress cleaning)

6th June - gas emergency, with big holes & engineers around all night!

June 2014 - 5:2 diet (again!)
11th June - Bring Up the Bodies (2nd play, Wolf Hall was 1st)

Summer 2014 - A V SHORT PRE-WEDDING HOLIDAY (as soon as term broke up) - Dorset: stayed in Hotel inland for a couple of nights first, then room at an Inn nearer the coast. VERY HOT SUNNY WEATHER! Lots of swims in the sea!! Found lots of beaches never found before!

8th Aug - went to Guardians of the Galaxy with just Wynn

12th Aug - Richard III (but with understudy rather than Martin Freeman, unfortunately - but still v g)

15th Aug - the desperate measures (inc driving up to Sheffield) - to get the visa processed in time

August - G&L moved into their rented flat (not long before W&J's wedding)

THE WEDDING ITSELF!! (with a bit of drama immediately beforehand!)
Day itself was magical and wonderful - but just a tiny sting in the tail at the very end, for B (which had lasting after-effects)

Trip to Langrish House (after guests left - a week after wedding)

Early Sept 2014 - our 25th Wedding Anniversary. On actual day, nice meal out at favourite restaurant.

14th (ish) really really horrible cold - a lurgy that just went on and on and on and on!

(bought a new washing machine....had a bit of bother but eventually got it installed so we could use it!)

20th Sept - George Inn meal then Julius Caesar at Globe with EW

23rd - Ani Di Franco at Union Chapel with V & chums

27th Sept - Beaver Hike at Ruislip Lido

Also the King Charles III (4th Oct)  - with B

11th Oct - big get-together for my mother's 80th. ALL the young ones from both families! (B got a bit stressed)

October 2014 - Day Trip to Blenheim Palace - Ai Weiwei exhibition included with B

Oct 2014 - Quiz Supper with A&I (& we won!!)

Gone Girl film with B

Teh Internet with EW (was vg)

Oct Half Term 2014 - Bruges trip!!!!

8th Nov - Mr Turner film with B
9th Nov - remembrance day parade. Then Tower of London poppies (shadow photo my v best shot!) and then to the Burg for meal with W&J

11th Nov - New Boiler!! Hot water on demand.... (Works well, but hard to get upstairs rooms warm enough - ever!)

15th Nov - Went to see Imitation Game film with B

24th Nov SIGNING EVENT WITH CARY ELWES at Picadilly Waterstones - WONDERFUL!!! (cryptic posting on FB to keep the secret)

Beaver & Cub Xmas Show - 12th Dec
14th - Panto outing to Hammersmith Lyric with Beavers & Cubs (Dick Whittington)
19th - Carol Concert at Bloomsbury Baptist Church (to see J)

Christmas - W&J (from Xmas Eve, & J&I went to midnight mass), plus G (fetched along with kittens Xmas morning; gave L lift to her mother's place; she then got taxi to ours that evening) B did traditional meal, albeit with no full bird.

28th - visit to Burg, with walk to Burgess Park & beautiful sunset!

My parents came for New Year. Visit to G&L's flat - with meal cooked & taken with us by B. Then everyone together for big meal on 31st.  Big Jigsaw of London - given by G - completed in time for NYE - but with one missing piece (never turned up sadly!)

B's birthday - all met for lunch up in London (unfortunate theft - poor G!)
Trip to Cardiff for P's birthday
End of Jan - Trip to Hunston for W/e (immediately before my birthday)

Birthday - out with B: Museum of London (lunch then Sherlock exhib) Evening - round to G&L for take-away

Sunday, 17 March 2013

The dangers of reminiscing!

I have a couple of very old friends. We've been friends since we were all 14 years old.  That's 35 years of friendship. We've just had a week-end of pampering in a Spa Hotel together - a joint 50th birthday celebration for us all (one of us is 51, I've just turned 50 and one is due to be 50 in a few months time)

We don't see each other that often, but enough to keep the friendship going. As is often the case, there is a fulcrum person - the one who is friends with each of the other two, more than the other two are directly friends with each other. That's certainly the case with us (and it's not me). The fulcurm person is fighting cancer - deeply worrying, but so far so good. We don't talk about it - other medical friends have been pessimistic, but so far so good. Who knows how long she's got? I keep expecting to lose her in a matter of months, and then she seems fine again so I think 'oh, maybe she WILL beat the odds - she will be the one who does get to have more years than those medical friends suggested was likely'.

But that doesn't stop the normal grittiness and difficulties of a friendship - although it does stop me wanting to tackle the issues with her.

Basically she really hurt my feelings today - and opened a wound she'd only opened quite recently, by retelling the exact same anecdote (if you can call it an anecdote) which I'd forgotten all about. I got upset but didn't want to explain why - and I had the feeling that both my friends wrongly assumed I was upset about C's cancer - which would obviously have reflected much better on me than the truth!

I am still really REALLY cross with her, mixed with the feelings of mortification and self-loathing that she stirred up. And I can't help thinking - 'If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all, DEAR.'  The spiteful, judgemental subtext of what she said seemed to me to be 'Here's how awful you were back then, when you were fourteen - you embarassed me in front of my dad and I still haven't forgiven you.'

I just wish I hadn't opened the door to the anecdote in question - all I did was follow our other friend's jokey comment about her own teenage daughter's friend being boy-mad by making a passing comment about how boy-mad I myself had been back then (in a rueful jokey way). And then BAM! Again with the 'treating my dad like a taxi-driver' recollection. Snearing, lip-curlingly distainful, angry, mortified - the emotions still seemingly accusatory and fresh. Her father's dead - does that make it worse for her? But it's HER I offended really - SHE was embarassed by me, and she really wants to rub my nose in it.

I can't change the person I was at fourteen, but I hate that you've spoilt my sense of who I was back then. I can accept I was silly, but I didn't know that my best friend was carrying this, and could take such glee in puncturing my self-image, and my image of what our friendship had been back then. If that's who I was back then, I don't want to know about it - and I don't want to be reminded that THAT is who you are remembering - and not with fondness, it seems. I am no longer sure of the value of old friendships if they carry such a sting. Who I was, who I became. It's not helpful to hate your younger self. There is much that baffles me about my young self, much I regret (much more from university days too!) And I don't care to be reminded like that. NO. Just NO.

Here's the email I drafted but won't send:
Dear C_,
I'm not sure if you want me to apologise for embarassing you in front of your dad back when we were 14, but you've told that disdainful anecdote twice now (to my face) and it seems to carry quite a heavy emotional load for you - the way you spit it out with such harshness. If it means anything after all these years, I am sorry for the way I acted back then.

But you need to know how hurt I have been by your decision to reiterate such a mean-spirited anecdote. I was very hurt both times, particularly this morning. I can't change the past, but it upset me to discover that you were carrying such deep negativity about the teenager I was back then. I don't want to get embroiled any further in the incidents that mortified you so much back then, nor do I know whether you spoke to me about it at the time, to try to get me to modify my behaviour. I hope you did, but have no memory. 

You made me ashamed of the me I was back then when there's nothing I can do about it now. I can't change what I did or who I was. And to be honest I'd rather dwell on nice memories. It would be like me trying to trawl my mind for anecdotes that reflect badly on you from back then, although to be honest I don't think I have any - at least not ones I've elected to retain. 

I know you'll probably wave this away as me over-reacting or reading more into it than intended. The dynamic in our friendship seems to involve quite a lot of you feeling and acting superior to me and judging me. I am not sure I can....

and that's where I broke off.