Temperate Climate

We’re lucky to live in such a temperate climate here in the UK.

OK, so it means we never have really scorching hot summers or really freezing cold winters, and inevitably it means it rains a lot here, giving us every possible shade of grey clouds and a potential multitude of damp, dull, dismal days all year round.

But it also means we get to have beautiful lush greenery and gorgeous roses growing in our gardens, so all in all I have no complaints. 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Climate

Back Home, Back Online

I’m back home again, and back online – Mum is now home from hospital much improved, Dad is doing fine, and my brother and I are both thankfully back to work and looking after our own family households again – until the next parental health crisis of course! 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Online

Excuse My Absence

Excuse my absence for the next few days, family life has inevitably intervened again.

Mum (Dad’s main carer) is back in hospital just now (another asthma attack) so my brother and I are doing our best between us to juggle the necessity of someone always staying with Dad and us both having to work. Usually emergency respite care from Social Services would kick in for Dad while Mum is in hospital but with the Covid situation that’s not an option just now. So my brother’s been staying with Dad for the last couple of days and now it’s my turn – I’m going straight out there after work tonight and probably won’t be online again until after I get back.

Take care everyone, see you soon 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Excuse

Red and Green

Red and green always seems such a Christmassy combination, even at the beginning of September! And for the past couple of days as well as a trio of bluetits a little robin with its fluffy orange-red breast has been feeding at our bird feeder, so nature seems keen to remind me that winter will be coming soon. Thanks nature, I know the fast-cooling weather has been a little uncertain lately but personally I haven’t actually quite finished with summer yet, and surely autumn still needs to have her beautiful blaze of glory before chilly winter blows over us with her icy breath and frozen fingers… 🙂

Flower of the Day

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Uncertain

Hanging by a Thread

I’ve been feeling sadly out of sorts this week, both emotionally and physically. Ironically I’d actually been given this week off work (annual leave accrued over lockdown to be used up), and had so much planned to get done at home, as well as visiting family members socially.

But I’ve clearly picked up an annoying summer cold from somewhere – sneezing, headache, ear-ache, sore throat, tiredness – and as ever it’s gone into my chest so I’m currently waiting with tight wheezy breath to be coughing up gunk in my usual fashion once it all loosens off and starts to pass, probably in another day or two. As an added precaution (in the current circumstances) I’ve been checking my temperature religiously, but thankfully it remains decidedly normal.

Also no irritating dry cough in major long-lasting coughing fits, and no obvious loss of smell – everything tastes a little bit metallic just now but there’s nothing odd in that for me, having a crappy cold as I do. None of the notable specific symptoms of Covid, so as I’ve not recently been travelling anywhere that requires quarantine on my return, according to the NHS website there is no test required. But even so I’m not visiting anyone anytime soon – I’m staying home alone.

I hadn’t actually considered until this coronavirus pandemic hit this year just how unwell I’ve felt a lot of the time over my whole lifetime – not properly ill as such, just always under the weather, not quite firing on all cylinders. Niggly things, nothing huge, causing inefficiency rather than inertia. Just over five and a haf decades of ongoing health-related baggage I carry around with me all the time, weighing me down a bit more than normal when the life-going gets tough.

But right now I seem to be almost paranoid about it – every cough or hot flush or ache or pain freaks me out in a way it never has before. And I’m not sleeping well just now either, so that magnifies everything by about 100%, giving me even more time to lie there in the dark and fret about everything. I felt so isolated during the height of lockdown, but since going back to work I feel far more vulnerable and exposed than when I was stuck safely at home.

It still scares me so much to think of catching a virus I might not survive – or worse pass on to those I love and potentially kill them. How could I live with myself if that hapened? In my area there have been three new cases this week adding to the five from the week before – the latest a member of staff in a business not more than 100 yards from the building where I work. Yes, the numbers here might be small, but without caution they can easily grow out of control and before you know it a local lockdown is necessary.

Maintaining constant vigilance of face covering, social distancing and hand sanitising is stressful and so emotionally tiring, but is oh so necessary now more than ever – especially at work. Right now I just wish I could start to feel a bit better both in body and soul, so that everything stops feeling like life is hanging precariously by a single thread, just waiting to fall into oblivion with only the slightest infectious touch.

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Survive

Everything and Nothing

Nothing could have prepared me for the realities of 2020, for a pandemic and blanket lockdown, then for the onerous post-lockdown restrictions we have to contend with that will no doubt remain in place for the forseeable future. We may once more be open for business as a country but we are not yet open for the carefree life we knew before.

Things are not in any way back to normal – how can anything ever feel normal again? No easy human touch, no closeness, no community gatherings, no real socialising. Physical barriers to personal contact everywhere – screens and masks and gloves and sanitiser between us and others – and inevitably I fear emotional barriers will soon grow too.

Suspicion and fear and avoidance and caution are becoming built in to the fundamental fabric of our existence. We all have to learn to expect the worst but hope for the best, keep our distance, keep away, keep vigilant at all times while outside of our own little bubble of safety and security, and even be wary of those we invite in to join us at home.

We can’t automatically trust people any more, even our nearest and dearest, and that hurts us all. We can’t know who has touched something somewhere that someone else has touched who has the virus, who has not washed their hands enough or changed their potentially contaminated clothes or inadvertently touched their masks too often? We just can’t take risks.

People have become inherently dangerous just by being out there in the world, living and working and making the best of a bad situation as best they can. I don’t like stepping back when someone gets too close, turning away when someone breathes on me, flinching when even the slightest contact is made accidentally. But I know I must keep myself safe.

Nothing could have prepared me for any of this, and yet here I still am, bewildered and beleaguered, through spring and summer and soon heading into autumn with no end in sight. Simple self-preservation should not require such levels of separation, so all I can do is make sure to smile at people with my eyes and say rather than show them how I feel.

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Nothing

The Never-Ending Not-Good-Enoughs

I struggle a bit with believing in myself, I have life-long issues with never feeling good enough at just about everything and at nearly 57 I’m getting really fed up with constantly questioning my own credibility.

I don’t want to get to the end of my life and regret not doing things at all because I was always too afraid of not being good enough at them. And yet that’s what I do to myself all the time – in order to avoid feeling ‘not good enough’ by failing at something creative, instead I simply don’t try to do the thing in the first place. In my warped brain I have an age-old message telling me that in order for me to feel good enough it has to be total success or nothing, so invariably nothing it is. But ironically that turns out to be a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy – a default not good enough failure by the back door.

Take my latest creative inner battle ‘thing’ – drawing and painting. I really like drawing and painting, always have done since childhood but I haven’t actually done it in years because I know I won’t meet the exacting standard of perfection lodged in my brain, and I’m so afraid of being proved not good enough I avoid even trying to pick it up again. Basically I’m too scared of sucking at it to try. But yesterday I’d had enough of the never-ending not-good-enoughs, so I got out my old art stuff and just started painting. Not to try to be good at it, but to try to have fun with it – and I learned a few things about myself.

I’m generally my own worst critic, but when I finally got that inner voice to shut the fuck up and stop being a nit-picking spoil-sport I found overall I actually quite liked what I painted, imperfections and all.

My drawing and painting skills are understandably a bit rusty after pretty much a full adult lifetime of not using them but to be honest it seems I’m nowhere near as bad as I think I am.

I still have a reasonably good eye for colour and composition, and ok so my perspective needs some fine-tuning but underneath all my fretting and fear the fundamental basics are still there.

I understand that the world appears a certain way as captured in reality by the camera, but in my mind’s eye I may see it or choose to represent it slightly differently and that’s ok – I can change colours or proportions as I want and that’s absolutely fine by me. Everyone else can just take a running jump if they don’t like it.

My artwork, my choice… Oh, and while I’m at it I suppose it’s also my life, my choice, and always has been… Duh! 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Credibility

Naggy Bitches R Us

‘You’re all a pack of naggy bitches today – I’m leaving, I’m not buying anything and I’m not coming back!’

Yesterday was just one of those days at work. Customers – only a small proportion of customers mind you, not all – have recently been becoming quite complacent about following some of the necessary procedures in our store that have been put in place to protect all of us from coronavirus. And oh, suffice to say these unhappy few seriously do not like being reminded to behave differently, or being corrected when they so deliberately err from what is being asked of them!

Customers cannot try on clothing in store – in most stores actually, not just in ours. Notices are up everywhere. The fitting rooms are not only closed due to the difficulties of social distancing within such a confined space but because clothing cannot be tried on anywhere, by anyone, until it has been bought and paid for. Just before I finished my shift yesterday I was walking past an older woman who was clearly trying on a jacket from a rack in the middle of the store, so I reminded her very politely that she could not try on any items of clothing in the current coronavirus climate.

She took off the jacket angrily and glared at me, picked up her own jacket and bag with a flourish, then turned on me as she walked away saying very loudly to anyone who was listening ‘You’re all a pack of naggy bitches today – I’m leaving, I’m not buying anything and I’m not coming back!’. Apparently, as I discovered afterwards, this particular customer had also just objected to being asked to stand in a particular place at the cash desk to complete the return of an item she had bought previously. Oh dear!

I just stood there momentarily with what must have been a surprised look on my face had anyone been able to see under my mask, put the offending tried-on jacket in quarantine then carried on to the end of my shift. But her comment stayed with me, and rather than upsetting me it makes me smile at the sheer childishness of it all. We’ve all had some passive-aggressive barbed comments sent our way from people who project their own personal frustrations with the global situation onto us, whose rude ignorance hears individual insult in the politest of requests for collective compliance.

There used to be a large toy retailer here in the UK called ‘Toys R Us’, and all I can think of now when I remember this customer’s comment is adapting the catchy name for our own use as a kind of badge of honour – ‘Naggy Bitches R Us’ – because if supposedly grown adults are incapable of parenting their own behaviour themselves in an appropriate manner for any given situation, then they leave all us apparently ‘naggy bitches’ of sales assistants no real option in stores but to step in to that missing spot and help do it for them… 🙂

One Liner Wednesday

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Missing

Wanderlust? Not me…

I honestly don’t seem to have a wanderlust bone in my body: I have no real desire to travel far from home. I truly like being at home. Over the course of my fifty-six years on this planet I’ve only visited a handful of countries – France, Belgium, Canada, USA – and am someone who takes the term ‘staycation’ literally, even preferring to stay at home for any holidays from work rather than visiting somewhere else within the UK 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Wanderlust