Not Feeling Well

poorly-bearI’m not feeling very well today. My nose is running, the glands in my throat are up and I have an annoying, intermittent cough which lies dormant for most of the day, peaking at about 3am so that I don’t get a proper night’s sleep. I am, in fact, suffering from a virus. Alternatively I’ve got a rotten cold, but it was the use of the word suffering that prompted this blog.

The words we use define us. Suffering suggests something really serious. It means that whatever you are have cannot be ignored. People have to take notice of you. You become a patient, which incidentally is another interesting word as its Latin root suggests passivity and suffering.

For the past three of four days I have been so exhausted that I couldn’t do any of my usual activities. Since writing group on Wednesday, where by the end of the evening I had lost my voice, I’ve done very little. I’ve been sensible, had lots of hot drinks, kept warm, looked after myself, because I am ill.

I have the luxury of being able to do nothing. It was quite different when I went out to work, when I would have felt that I had to stagger in, regardless of how bad I felt. Not a clever thing to do, but as a working woman this is the picture I had of myself. Nothing as trivial as a cold was going to keep me away.

No longer having that impetus, I define myself differently. I am not well. I am taking things easy. I give myself permission to convalesce and to be looked after.

Tomorrow I am going to be better. The story of this particular virus is over. I’m getting bored with it. I want to be up and doing again and I am lucky that I will be able to do so.

Because I know that there are those among my friends and acquaintances, let alone the wider world, who know that they will not feel better in a few days’ time. People who have long term, chronic conditions won’t be able to say that they’ve had enough and tomorrow they will be back to normal.

My few days of exhaustion has filled me with admiration for these people who keep going however terrible they feel.

And they don’t go on about it either, because that too is telling ourselves our story and once we begin the narrative, it is just possible that we feel we have to live up to it.

I have no knowledge or insight as to whether fighting a disease helps you recover or not. I have friends who have found the concept helpful and those that haven’t.  I wouldn’t presume to comment, as I believe everyone deals with what life flings at them in their own unique way.

For me, getting out of bed, having shower and putting my makeup on helps the recovery process. In my mind, sick people don’t wear eye-liner so if I’ve applied mine I must be better.

And of course there is the writing. Lost in the word of my latest protagonist, I forget to dwell on the narrative of my own ill-health.

So back to WIP. (Life Laundry has been put on hold.)



The World of Bunch: part one

Jan Edwards

rat_bookWhilst writing Winter Downs and the world of my heroine, Rose ‘Bunch’ Courtney, there were many things that required some careful research. The first that came to mind was the knotty problem of rationing. Conducting a small straw poll it would seem that the general perception of  many people  is that rationing came in with a bang and remained there until the end of the war, when it was lifted immediately. This was not the case.

Mindful of the privations suffered in the Great War, the Ministry of Food was set up to oversee supplies and there was an original plan to implement full rationing from September 1939. The MoF did announce rationing several times in those early months – only to postpone them due to some vociferous newspaper campaigns, spearheaded, by all accounts by a series of editorials in the Daily Express; which for example, urged the public to…

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How Many Red T-shirts Does a Woman Need?

Or the latest bulletin from the Bulging Wardrobe. Strictly speaking I have momentarily moved on to my bulging chest of drawers, where I am sorting through several decades’ worth of T-shirts.

So far, and there may be others lurking, I have discovered that I own at least five red T-shirts. Is this a reasonable number? They are more or less the same colour red and to be honest there isn’t a huge difference in style between them. Added to which, one or two I scarcely recognised as it is so long since I last wore them that I had forgotten they were there.

red-short-sleevedtshirtGetting rid of the short sleeved one, will be easy. I don’t do short sleeves and the neckline is not flattering. The others will be harder.

The Laura Ashley with the bow on the neckline is a case in point. Unlike my flowered skirt, there’s not much of a story to this one, but something equally potent has kept me from passing it

The fantasy element: that hope, or is it a dream, that wearing a a certain garment will transform the wearer into someone they would like to be. It’s what sells clothes and magazines ruthlessly compare high street versions to those worn by celebrities to get us to buy the latest trend.

In the case of the red T-shirt with a bow, I nurtured the illusion that  with my cut off trousers I would have that  vintage look, like Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday.” It won’t, of course, not only because I’m not as slim, or as young, or as beautiful, but also because in our miserably cold climate, I hardly ever wear cut off trousers and if I did, I’d need a pair of socks and a big jumper to stop my blood from freezing. Hardly the outfit to go with a glamorous convertible. I don’t have one of those either, my preference being for a car with heated seats.

One final point. If my T-shirts look in need of an iron, it’s because there is no room in the drawer.


The Bulging Wardrobe: part two

So why is it so hard to discard clothes that a) no longer fit, b) no longer suit, c) are worn out?

After much debate with myself, I have decided that it is not that I am lazy, or even over dependent on my possessions. I can’t bring myself to get rid of clothes I no longer wear, because the clothes are part of my history. Each garment tells its own story and to get rid of it will be to lose that memory. The further back things go, the more precious the memory.

That green flowered skirt, I bought in the street market in the small town where we used to live. The stall holder made her living selling clothes, most probably seconds but I could never be sure, from shops like Monsoon and Phool. It was the time when full flowing, Indian cotton shirts and tops were very fashionable and hers were cheap and different.

I bought my skirt because I loved the colours and because my ex-mother-in-law had given me some money to spend on myself.

The skirt then, is inextricably linked with Kitty. My children’s nana and the best of all mothers-in-law. A lady who was always there to help out with the kids, who never criticised my child-rearing, or housekeeping and when my marriage broke down was there to support me, ringing me every week to see if I was all right.

A keen gymnast in her day, she would entertain us with photographs of her in the most amazing positions, bent over backwards, her foot touching her forehead, balanced on a triangle of other girls, all in twenties gymnastic outfits.

Her chips were brilliant, her oatcakes, a local Potteries delicacy and nothing to do with a cracker, were the best.

And her tea! Put on to brew the moment she knew you were coming, it would simmer gently in its metal teapot, on top of the cooker, until it was ready to be poured, thick and brown like water from a peatbog.

Not everyone’s favourite brew, opinions about Nana’s tea varied throughout the family, but a powerful memory nevertheless.



The Bulging Wardrobe: part one


…and what to do about it, or, alternatively, how to declutter your life. That last statement might sound a little ambitious, in fact I’m not sure it’s entirely relevant, but if I start with my clothes, who knows where my new found resolution will end.

As you can see from the picture above, my wardrobe is bulging at the seams. Although everything has been ironed, because it has to be squeezed in between all the other hangers, it gets creased almost as soon as it is put away. Not only that, but once thrust into the darkest recesses clothes have a mysterious way of sliding off their hangers and hiding at the back of the cupboard and the only way to find what I’ve decided I’d like to wear, is to take everything out, bit by bit, lay it on the bed, until either the room resembles a jumble sale, or I find what I was looking for.

I’ve never believed in the adage that you buy one throw one out. I always think, and I’ve been proved right on numerous occasions, if you wait long enough the item will come back into fashion. Sometimes, admittedly, it’s not quite the same, but how many times have we seen bo-ho chic, or pencil skirts, or Capri pants as the must have piece for this year?

So, I have kept clothes dating at least a couple of decades back, and boots for longer than that. Which is fine, but most of the time, I either don’t know where they are, or I’ve forgotten I possess them.

A year or so back, I did a whole six months when I wore a different outfit every day. (I have the pictures to prove it.) The whole exercise took some thought and imagination, but, to be honest, I have so much stuff that I could have kept going for the rest of the year. What stopped me was the time and effort it took.

It’s so much easier to reach in take something off the rail, add a top, or trousers that complement it and get on with the rest of the day.

There’s also the question of whether something I wore in my thirties still looks good. It was this that finally tipped the balance. Trying on a shirt I used to wear, which still fitted, but no longer suited me, I knew it had to go.

This was the obvious solution, so too getting rid of faded T-shirts and worn jumpers. Why then is it so hard to do?

The answer comes in my next post.