I’m going to forget about being deaf now cos I’m bored with it.  There’s nothing else I can do apart from carrying on with the drops.  I have to take pain killers too, or I don’t sleep. On the plus side, Mark and I are having some interesting written conversations, including this one:






Oh, right!




For a translation, see the Two Ronnie’s sketch:


So: up to now I’ve tried olive oil, olive oil and bicarb, bicarb and glycerine, Otex, ear candles, hot water bottles and lots of swearing and hopping about.  At the moment I’m trying to ward off the moment when I take the last lot of paracetamol for today by groaning into a hot water bottle: I never thought I’d get one of those out before next winter.  I am not happy that it takes so long to get your ears syringed, or that the walk-in centre at the Royal told me they didn’t do it when apparently they did someone else’s ears a few weeks ago: I am also not happy that the walk-in centre in town is not longer a walk-in centre but a GP’s surgery with receptionists who don’t appear to give a toss.  I am not happy.

However, in spite of all this I have managed 2,500 words of the memoir, so that’s on course; also the novel which needs to be sent off at the end of July.  And my son has helpfully lent me his headphones; so that’s all good.

Kirk out

I’m Still Bloody Deaf!

I thought going to the walk in centre would fix things but it didn’t. They ‘don’t do ears’ there apparently, so I’m still stuck with it. I’m putting drops in several times a day, but like the proverbial drop in the ocean they seem to make no difference at all.  I don’t know which is worse, the inability to hear or the pain of being bunged up; I have to take painkillers before I can get to sleep.

But today I have decided to keep silence. This not only relieves me of the effort of trying to make conversation, it is also a yoga practice designed to take the attention within and away from external distractions.  I am finding that quite peaceful.

Kirk out

Every Cloud Has a Wax Lining…

If I wanted to be really corny here, I would point out that an anagram of ‘cloud’ is ‘could’.  Oh!  That reminds me, this morning Mark showed me a site with anagrams of MP’s names on.  Some of them are hilarious and a few are pure genius: everyone knows that ‘Tony Blair’ comes out as ‘I’m Tory Plan B’ and Virginia Bottomley translates as ‘I’m an evil Tory bigot’.  Alas, I can’t find the list and Mark isn’t here but when he comes back I’ll try to get the site from him.

Today I have been mostly catching up with the work I didn’t do yesterday (because I wasn’t feeling well) and Monday (because it was a Bank Holiday).  I know, I could work weekends and Bank Holidays but at the moment it’s going fairly well for me if I stick to office hours and hence, office days.  So I’ve done 2,400 words of my memoir and if I do the same again tomorrow that will more than make up for the two lost days.  I’m also trying to get my novel into some sort of shape so I can send off 10,ooo words at the end of July.

Holly has just rung in a state of excitement to tell me they have booked a week in Benidorm.  It wouldn’t be my choice – half-board at a hotel with its own beach – but I’m sure she’ll have a great time and I’m equally sure she’ll avoid the traditional British pitfalls of too much sun and too much alcohol.

So that’s all good.  Oh! that also reminds me that last night I watched a special edition of ‘Goodness Gracious Me’.  I used to love this programme and if anything it’s got better with age: the sketch with the two Asian blokes trying to join UKIP is pure genius:


There has been a rash of programmes commemorating 50 years of BBC 2 and most of them have been very good.  I enjoyed the recent one about comedy, though I could have done without every comedian telling us what a genius every other comedian was – it got a bit like the Oscars at one point.  The thing I didn’t like was Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse’s piss-take of the previous programme: taking the rise out of programmes most of which are themselves taking the piss seems like a step too far.



But to come to the point of this post: I have often observed that when you have a problem which does not resolve itself no matter what you do, there is usually a point to it.  There is something to be observed, or learned, or a goal to be reached: and until you get there, the problem does not go away.  Hence my blocked ears, which have resisted every kind of oil known to humankind and which I have not managed to get syringed.  So you ask yourself, what is the point here?  And then you realise…

More on this in a day or two…

Kirk out


What Did You Say?

I’m feeling like cotton wool here: it’s extraordinary how much being deaf affects your outlook on life.  I can only feel truly sorry for people who are stuck with it all the time.  It’s a huge effort to part lip-read, part strain my ears to hear what people are saying, but it’s not only that.  It affects the way you feel in other ways too.  I have a ‘bunged-up’ sensation which is quite unpleasant, and a sense of unreality as though I’m walking through fog.  It’s also very tiring, partly because I’m not sleeping very well and partly, I think, because the condition itself saps your energy.

I’ve put my problem on facebook, which is a bit of a mixed blessing.  You get all sorts of useful advice, but then it’s like asking economists about a financial problem.  You know the saying: ‘ask three different economists a question and you get four different answers.’ Ironically, since the problem is having what is basically a candleful of wax in each ear, one of the solutions is to use hopi ear candles.  I tried it this morning and it did seem to help a bit but I’m still basically deaf.  There’s a fairly critical article on wikipedia below: Mark (the fount of all wisdom) reckons they’re useful for moxibustion but not for earwax.


Anyway, I shall try it once more and will let you know.  Incidentally, there is no connection with the Hopi tribe.

I shall give Pinggk a go this evening and shout out my poems, but I may leave early.

See you there if you’re going.

Kirk out

Ear, Ear

That’s it – I’m officially fed up now.  My ears have decided to seal themselves off and have produced enough wax to candle an entire church.  Previously they were alternating, so that I could hear with one ear at a time, but now both ears have completely walled themselves up like anchorites so that I need subtitles when people are speaking.  I tried to get an appointment at the doctor’s but couldn’t so now I’m stuck with it.  I wonder if I can learn to lip-read before Drink and Think tonight?  Hmm – I suspect not.

It makes you appreciate what it must be like to be deaf though; and I have been reflecting, as I’ve been gardening (practically the only activity besides reading which doesn’t require a properly cleansed auditory canal) on what it must be like to be deaf.  And as I cleared a patch of nettles and wondered whether someone was creeping up on me or calling me from the house, I was thinking about how difficult and isolating it must be to have a hearing problem.  There is an idea that your other senses heighten to compensate, but to me it seems that the other senses are, if anything, dulled.  I feel as if I’m living in cotton wool; it’s hard to focus or even to think.  It’s weird – it’s not exactly painful, but almost.  I feel like a balloon being slowly inflated to bursting-point, or a chamber being compressed bit by bit.  It is most unpleasant.  But it does help me to understand how isolating deafness is; and to be thankful that I don’t normally have to suffer this.

Think clear, everyone!

Kirk out

Is it Raining? It must be… Bank Holiday!

Take our simple test: look out of the window.  Is it raining?  I mean really raining?  Then it must be a Bank Holiday weekend.  I expect you had some gardening planned, or a picnic; or maybe a walk in the park or a trip out to the Peaks.  I’m sure you were going to make the most of the time and get out; not sit around and watch DVD’s.  I’ll bet you had a list of jobs to do that needed a modicum of dryness – like cleaning the windows or clearing out the guttering or decorating the fascia of some inaccessible part of your house.  Didn’t you?

My plans were quite modest.  They involved little bits of gardening: there’s a planter that needs planting with – er, plants; and there are some weeds demanding to be pulled up or sprayed with the stuff I bought the other day under the impression it was totally organic but it isn’t.  (Greenwash, they call it; you google ‘organic weedkillers’ and assume that what comes up is going to be organic.  Hm.  Caveat emptor, I guess.)  Apart from that I expect I was going to sit in the garden for a bit and admire the plants I’d put in the planter; or get out and pick some elderflowers for my next batch of wine.  Of course I could still be bloody-minded and go ahead and do these things – but it won’t be much fun getting soaked while I do it.  The other day I went out to vote and on the way back I got so wet that I stopped off at a friend’s house to steam in her kitchen and drink something hot and wet.

Said friend returned the visit yesterday when I rashly put on Facebook that I had made some brownies; within moments my entire on-line acquaintance within a five-mile radius was threatening to come round and help me eat them.  (I may be exaggerating slightly.)  Actually it was good fun to have a spontaneous meeting of a couple of friends; we discussed people we knew and what was going on at the Sunday Assembly.


So whatever you’re doing this weekend, you have a choice of doing it and getting wet, or not doing it.

But you knew that.  Have fun…

Kirk out

Ugh! Knackered In Paris? UKIP if you want to…

Ugh!  Horrid awakening this morning to find out that our worst fears have been realised and UKIP have won substantial slices of yummy electoral cake.  I’m sure 90% of it is a protest vote which won’t translate into winning at a general election but it’s not good all the same.

On the other hand, considering that Left Unity have only been going officially since November, they did pretty well where they stood.  They got nearly 9% in Wigan and 3-4% of the vote in other places.  That’s not bad for a party barely six months old.


But what really drives me crazy is apathy: the people who declare, often proudly, that they ‘can’t be bothered to vote’ or that they ‘aren’t going to vote because they’re all the same.’  The point is, whether or not politicians are all the same, or all out for themselves (and I don’t believe they all are) they are going to make decisions which will affect your life.  Like Sartre said, whether or not you concern yourself with politics, ‘la politique, elle, s’occupe de vous’ – politics concerns itself with you. *

He’s right.  Politicians will make decisions in your name whether or not you vote for them.  And the one hold we have over them is the fact that if we don’t like them, they’re history.  Thatcher made the mistake of thinking she could do whatever she liked: she pushed through the poll tax, and she paid the price.

It’s all we have – and it’s not negligible.  Consider countries where people can’t elect their leaders – or, more importantly, get rid of them.  Think about what kind of society we’d have then.**  And then consider what others went through so that we could vote.  This is particularly significant for me as a woman, and I often think about what the suffragettes suffered, just so that I could put that cross on a piece of paper.

And as for saying ‘my vote doesn’t count’ – what if everyone said that?  What if everyone said, for example, ‘my money doesn’t count’ when they’re thinking of giving to charity or, say, buying fair trade goods?  History has been changed by such actions.  Journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, as they say – and frankly, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

Bit of a rant today, I’m afraid – but if there’s one thing I would like to stamp out, it’s apathy and cynicism.

Hang on.  If there are two things I would like to stamp out, they are apathy and cynicism.  And greed.

The three things….

We could do this all day.

Kirk out

*I’m sure he said that – I quoted it in a number of essays, but I can’t find a reference to it.

**Although what concerns me more now is the selling off of public concerns and the amount of power global corporations have.

Three Hundred Million Years!

I’m writing a novel at the moment; a novel which I started about thirty years ago.  No, wait – it must be nearer 40 years ago that I began it.  The first draft amounted to little more than 12,000 words which is basically a long short story; barely even a novella.  (I have always had trouble writing at length, whereas most people have the opposite problem.)  I set it aside and returned to it; but at some point during the writing I decided to do a peculiar and – as it turned out – doomed exercise.  The novel was, and is, called ‘Seven Days’ and among other things it tells the story of life on earth from the first green appearing on rock through the giant lizards to the primates and then us.  It’s also the story of one woman’s journey into self-discovery and these narratives run in tandem.  Plus, each chapter has a colour working through the rainbow (or the chakras).  But I digress.  According to a book I was reading at the time, reputable estimates put the start of life on earth at about 300 million years ago.

Three hundred million years!  The more I thought about it, the more I realised the impossibility of understanding such a time-frame.  So I decided I would make some sort of chart beginning with the shortest period that I could mentally and (perhaps) physically encompass: a hundred years.  I got some strips of paper and marked each one off in sections representing a century, and I stuck them round the walls of my room.  It soon became apparent that this was going to take a long time – and eventually I worked out that if I did this for eight hours a day, five days a week it would take me three years (and presumably more than one room).  I gave it up.

Still, it did give me at least an idea of an idea of what three hundred million years is like.

Anyway, the novel has moved on a fair bit and now totals 50,000 words which is almost long enough for a short novel, and the length of a NaNoWriMo tome:


I’m working on the beginning to send off in July for a Cinnamon ‘start of novel’ competition:


And apart from that I’m setting myself to do a thousand words a day for a memoir, also for a competition.  I’m up to 9,000 now.

Kirk out

The Woman Who Was Used Up

I don’t know if you’ve ever read Edgar Allen Poe’s story ‘The Man Who was Used Up’.  It’s a great surreal tale of a man who was all body parts and when he took off his false leg and false arm and took out his false eye and everything else, there was nothing left but a voice.  It’s well-told and very spooky, and you can read it here via the excellent Project Gutenberg:


I’m guessing Sue Townsend’s ‘The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year’ is a sort of modern version of that.  Eva Beaver (that name is only the start of her troubles) wants to sit down one day when she’s tired, and she notices that on her embroidered chair, the chair that took months to complete, there is a soup stain.  Eva is the mother of high-functioning, autistic twins and the wife of the most self-centred man in the Western Hemisphere who apparently can’t even use a ladle.  Unable to take any more, she hurls soup at her chair (henceforward known as the soup chair) and heaves herself up to bed, where she stays for a year.

This is an utterly hilarious book; a tour de force of humorous characterisation in which the twins go to university where they cannot function socially and eventually get arrested for hacking into government computers, and Eva becomes known as a saint who can solve people’s problems without getting out of bed.  I really enjoyed it – except that it has the same problem all Sue Townsend’s books have, for me – which is a lack of resolution.  At the end of the year when Eva is forced to get out of bed and get on with life once more, nothing has changed from the beginning of the year.  No-one seems to learn anything or make any progress or change in any way.  I know, I know – it’s a comedy and I’m taking it too seriously; but I so wanted her to have some kind of epiphany through all her experience.  Instead she just gets out of bed and, we assume, life carries on as before – except that her children are both in prison and now she knows her husband is having an affair with his co-worker Titania (‘Tit’).

Still, I recommend this for the sheer genius of its comedy.


Kirk out

Hoards of Wildebeest

‘Hoards of wildebeest were sweeping majestically through the jungle.’  That’s what Basil Fawlty said, or something like it – but I want you to look closely at that sentence.  Is it right?  If you read it and thought there was nothing wrong with the spelling you are one of a seemingly growing army (a horde, no less) of people who confuse these two words hoard and horde.  The number of references I have recently seen to ‘hoards’ of people makes me both grimace and laugh.  Who is hoarding these people?  And why are they keeping them in a railway station? I want to ask.  But, fearful of being called a pedantic numpty, I keep quiet.  And now I can be silent no longer: I insist that you learn this!  Are you a hoarder?  You’re a hoarder if you store things far in excess of your need of them.  People hoarded things during the war and were punished for it.  Hoard.  The other kind is what happens to wildebeest or people in a railway station and it’s probably (I’m speaking off the top of my head here) related to herd.  

This thankfully puts me in mind of a scene from Yes Prime Minister:

(page 300)

It’s just as well I had a laugh at that – because this very morning I came across this sentence in a short story:

‘The only sound is electricity coarsing steadily through concrete block walls’.

‘Coarsing’?  Of course that could be a typo but I know from experience that stories on Everyday Fiction are double-and triple-checked so that would suggest both editors and writer think ‘coarsing’ is correct.  Yet as far as I know there is no such word as ‘coarsing’ unless in the context of coarse fishing.

(Incidentally, what is coarse fishing and how does it differ from the smooth variety?)

This is what happens when you rely on your spell-checker, because spell checkers don’t know what you mean, they only see what you say.  Relying too much on your spell-checker is like relying on your sat-nav: it’s a useful tool but don’t forget to use your loaf as well.

In other news, the elderflower is nearly out, so I shall be starting another batch of wine soon.  That makes four: nettle, blackberry, elderberry and elderflower (the berries were frozen last autumn).  I like the way elder bookends summer; the flowers coming out at the beginning and the berries at the end.

Kirk out