Oh dear oh dear oh dear

It may be a while before I can speak to you again.  As I write we are waiting for the ambulance to take Daniel to hospital.  We experienced that unheard-of phenomenon, a home visit by the GP, after his blood tests showed that he still has an infection plus side-effects from the antibiotics.  The worst of both worlds, you might say.  He is quite severely jaundiced and has had nasty diarrhoea for the last twelve hours.  It has not been pleasant and I am now exhausted, having been woken twice in the night.  The poor lad is really quite unwell; though not so out of it that he couldn’t specify which games he wanted me to pack and ask whether the hospital has wi-fi.  I have packed a bag for him and one for me which includes fruit, dried fruit, water and of course doughnuts for blood sugar.

Think of us and if you are the praying types, please pray.

Kirk out

The Fingerprints of Life – Gaz’s Funeral

We’ve just returned from paying our respects to Gaz, the popular owner of Fingerprints cafe who died in a road accident a couple of weeks ago.  The whole area has been in shock: Gareth was only in his thirties; his parents were still alive; he had, as they say, his whole life in front of him.  And then one night an accident on a lonely highway took that all away.  In the midst of life we are in a road traffic accident – and suddenly the whole of Clarendon Park is in shock.

The cafe reopened after a few days; then a note appeared in the window saying that the funeral cortege would pass by at 11 am on the morning of Tuesday 29th.  Holly and I went down: as Fingerprints was closed we first had tea on the terrace of the delightful Salvador Deli and by the time we crossed the road a large crowd had gathered.  In the end there must have been over 200 people come to pay their respects.  They lined both sides of the road and many of the local shops had closed so that the staff could attend.  Then the cortege came, slowly, slowly, with a man in full fig walking in front.

I hadn’t expected to find it so moving.  Before the cortege even reached us, I was in tears, and by the time it drew level I was sobbing.  I turned to see that Holly, too, was weeping, as were most of the crowd.

Then the whole street went silent.  It was like Princess Diana’s funeral when the whole of London came to a standstill: I remember my parents were driving up on the M1 and they said all the cars slowed down and moved at the same speed as a mark of respect.  The cortege stopped to take on an arrangement of flowers – the cafe’s tribute – and then it slowly moved off; one entire hearse full of flowers, then another with the coffin, followed by four or five limousines with mourners.

And then it was over.  I came home feeling utterly drained; I don’t know if I even met Gaz, but the event struck a chord with me as it did with so many; not only because of his youth, but because of the kind of cafe Fingerprints is.  We felt like family.  I felt like a mourner.

Kirk out

We’re All Living In A Yellow Skin

It seems to be a week for parodying song titles: I promise I didn’t plan it that way.  Daniel is now quite noticeably yellow, both in the skin and the whites of his eyes.  He was due to return to the doctor’s today anyway, so he got up and hobbled over between us.  The doctor was good; he was very thorough and did a proper examination, asking lots of questions.  He decided that Daniel needs a blood test to find out why he is jaundiced, so back he will have to go tomorrow morning at 9.  The poor lad has been ill for about three weeks now.

The original infection in his ear seems to be clearing up now, though his other ear is blocked with wax and he is almost as deaf as I was a few weeks ago.  Today was the first time he got up and dressed in a couple of weeks, and the first time he had a shower in about a week.  I hope it’s nothing serious; the doc mentioned glandular fever, which would account for the weakness and sore neck I guess.

So send up a prayer if you are praying types or a positive thought if you are not.

Kirk out

I’m Just Payin’ My Rent Every Day in the Tower of Soup…

I’m all on fire with puns this morning; puns and rhymes and almost-rhymes and word-play and I don’t know what.  Sometimes I wake up and it’s just there: for egg*, this morning I woke up thinking ‘Robinson Crusoe, unpacking a trousseau.’  That set me wondering why Robinson Crusoe might be unpacking a trousseau, and who knows where I might have ended up had Mark not wandered in with the tea at that point.

Now, speaking of tea: I have a complaint to make.  Why is it that people who drink tea all day long and into the evening, have no trouble sleeping whereas I, with my healthy habits of only having caffeine in the mornings, only have to drink one cup of Earl Grey in the afternoon for it to disrupt my entire night.  It just isn’t fair!

And that brings me to my second word-play of the morning, which was:

‘living lives of diet desperation.’

I am fortunately not in the position of having to lose weight – or not much – but I remember how it feels when you do.

Then Mark happened to mention Manny’s tower of soup in ‘Black Books’, and I put it together with Leonard Cohen and what did I get?  The title for today’s blog post, that’s what!

Here’s Manny with his tower of soup:

Manny's soup tower

and here is Cohen’s Tower of Song:


Don’t say I never give you anything!

Kirk out

* that, as of course you twigged, is my way of saying ‘for example’.  Yesterday’s post was going to be about eggs, but is still languishing in the drafts folder

Fog On M25: Country Cut Off

I was thinking this morning about that famous Victorian news headline: ‘Fog in Channel: Continent Cut off’, and it occurred to me that whereas as a race we are not nearly so solipsistic or Anglo-centred as they were; Londoners still seem to remain utterly London-centric.  If you ask any Londoner about places they know, they will tell you about the city almost as accurately as a cockney cabbie; they will also be quite clued up about the Home Counties as they may know people who’ve moved out there; and they will probably have more than a passing acquaintance with the South Coast as it’s less than half a day’s drive away.  Most Londoners have also been to the West Country at some point: but there the charted territory ends.  Like a Medieval map of the world, so is the North to a Londoner: full of white spaces with ‘Here Be Dragons’ written on it.  Where is Northampton? they wonder, should you happen to mention the place.  Is it near Yorkshire?  And what about Wigan Pier – is that next to Blackpool?  They just haven’t got a clue.  Londoners are more familiar with France than they are with the North of England; they are utterly ignorant; and what’s more, they don’t care.

I can say all this with impunity because I am a Londoner.  I know whereof I speak; I, too, was as ignorant as they, until I headed North in 1980 and mapped this uncharted territory for myself.  I liked it.  I found the people friendly – quite unimaginably so, for someone who never knew their neighbours and where speaking at bus stops brands you as a lunatic – and I found the communities self-contained.  This has its disadvantages, of course: people can be parochial and gossippy and small-minded, but you get to know everyone.  You can have a chat in the newsagents; you can go in the pub and find someone to talk to, and although the buses may not be great, at least you can have a chat while you’re waiting without somebody calling the police.

You couldn’t possibly pay me enough to live in London again, ever.  I’m staying North of Watford.

Kirk out

Thursday’s Child has Far to Go

Every now and then I get a terrifying glimpse into the mind of Mark.  This morning he said, ‘you know how people always say you don’t use algebra once you’ve left school?’

I grunted.

‘Well,’ he went on, sounding increasingly like Professor Branestawm, ‘this morning Daniel wanted to know how much erythromycin suspension he had left, so I measured the bottle diameter and the height of the liquid and using πr^2h I worked out he had one dose left. This seems perfectly normal to me, and an example of everyday use of algebra.’

I was speechless.  He really did think this is everyday, normal speech and that anyone could understand what he was on about.  Terrifying!

It’s his birthday next week and Holly is going to take us all to Mirch Marsala for a meal, always supposing that Daniel is actually better by then.

I am reading lots of Nicci French at the moment.  ‘She’ is a crime writer – or rather a pair of them, Nicci Gerard and somebody French, her husband.  They are a very successful writing duo and I really like their stuff.  Right now I have just finished ‘Thursday’s Children’, which is part of a series featuring psychologist Frieda Stark, each one named after a day of the week.  I’m not sure if they will finish with Friday or go on through the weekend, but I can’t wait for the next one.


I’m still wrestling with the memoir, and haven’t written any poetry today.

Kirk out

Phew! That Was Hard But I Did It!

OK Steve, you’ve asked for it!  he who suggests that I couldn’t actually have written yesterday’s post in Spanish – here it is!  Jo, jo, jo!…*

Estaba pensando en hacer el edicion de hoy en espanol.  Que os pensais?  No?  Bueno, vale.  En ingles entonces…

Bueno, es tiempo de confesar: como cuidadera seria fatal.  No tengo paciencia.  Todo el dia esta ocupada en dar medicinas, aspirinas, comida, bebidas y visitas al servicios, y ademas las demandas sin fin de mi hijo por agua, mas agua, hielo, fruta, agua con gas y ibuprofen.  He montado la escalera cincuenta veces hoy, y ahora estoy hecha polvo.  El hijito se pone mejor, pero no es muy bien enfermo: cuanto mas exigente, cuanto mas nos damos cuenta que mejora.  Hoy, por ejemplo, queria un sanwich de manzana y manteca de cacahuete con pan blanco sin margarina y una tostada con mantequilla (pero no demasiado) y un vaso de agua, pero no cualquier agua, sino agua mineral del frigorifico, no agua mineral con gas aunque Mark ha comprado agua con gas… ya os dais cuenta!

Me siento mal quejarme, pero no es la enfermedad, sino las obsessiones.  Pero eso es buen senal, porque cuando estaba reelmente enfermo se acostaba y gemia.  Era horible, sobre todo la noche a las tres.

No he hecho mucho trabajo; sin embargo he escrito un poema sobre una arana.  Me sentia algo orgollosa porque lo termine (en boceto) en un dia, empezando a las seis de la manana.  Me acosto anoche a la hora ridiculo de las ocho y media a pesar de ver una pelicula interesante sobre el ferrocarril indio, y me desperte a las cinco esta manana: por unos minutos no recordaba nada de mi vida, cosa que no occurre desde hace un tiempo.

He tambien redacto los capitulos iniciales de mi memorio, que tiene que ser preparado (al menos los primeros 10,000 palabras) en septiembre.

No malo, dada las circunstancios!

Hasta luego!

Kirk out

*’jo! jo! jo!’ is what Father Christmas says in Spain

Ouf! Que Estoy Cansada!

I was thinking about doing today’s post in Spanish.  What do you think?  No?  Oh all right then.  English it is…

OK it’s time to admit it: I would make a terrible carer.  I just don’t have the patience.  My whole day is being sucked up by schedules for taking medicine, painkillers, food, drink and toilet visits, not to mention the endless small requirements my son has for water, more water, ice, fruit, water, fizzy water and ibuprofen.  I have been up and down the stairs about fifty times today and I am now exhausted.  The son is getting better, bless him, but he is not the best of patients.  We know he’s getting better, ironically, the worse he is at being a patient: the more demanding and exacting he becomes, the more we realise he’s recovering.  So: today, for example, he wanted a peanut butter and apple sandwich on white bread without margarine and a slice of toast with butter (but not too much butter) and a glass of water, but not just any old water; still mineral water from the fridge, not fizzy mineral water even though we have plenty of fizzy mineral water because Mark went out to buy fizzy mineral water… oh, you get the picture!  I feel bad moaning about him because he can’t help being ill but it’s not so much the illness as the obsessions.  But being obsessed is a good sign because when he was really ill he just lay there and moaned.  It was horrid, especially at three a m.

I haven’t been getting much work done; I have, however, written a poem about a spider.  I was quite proud of this as I completed it (insofar as it is complete, that is to say it is a first draft) in one day, having started it at six a m.  I went to bed at the ridiculously early time of half-past eight last night; in spite of watching an interesting film about the Indian Hill-station railway, I couldn’t keep my eyes open; with the result that I woke up at five this morning: for a while I couldn’t remember anything about my life, something which used to happen a lot but hasn’t for a while.

I have also revised the first few chapters of my memoir, which needs to be ready (or at least the first 10,000 words do) in September.

Not bad going really, considering the circs!

Hasta luego!

Kirk out

What Day is it Again?

I’m all out of kilter.  I was up at five with Daniel who was going ‘Ow!  Ow!  Ow!’ at regular intervals because his neck was hurting.  I was quite chuffed because I managed to do some relaxation and visualisation with him as well as getting him to ‘breathe out the pain’ – he has always steadfastly refused to do yoga before.  He was able to relax for about an hour and I hoped he would go back to sleep but he was still awake when it was time for him to take his pain-killers, and after that I thought I might as well declare daytime and have a cup of tea.  With the result that I fell asleep over the Archers omnibus at around ten-thirty.

Our days are a hectic round of carefully timed feeding and giving of medicine: Daniel has to eat before taking antibiotics and also before having ibuprofen, so these have to be co-ordinated.  We therefore have to ask him what he would like to eat at least half an hour before the allotted time, so that it can go down a bit: strictly speaking he is supposed to eat two hours before taking the antibiotics, but when you consider that he needs four doses per day and that at some point he needs to sleep, it becomes impossible.  This is not to mention the number of times I’ve been up and down stairs fetching water, fruit, more water, ice, hot water bottles, ice, fruit and water: I fully expect to have lost half a stone by the time he gets better.

So once he went off to sleep fully medicated and pain-killed I consoled myself by watching ‘Withnail and I’.  Some films – most films, no matter how good they might be – can only be watched a certain number of times before you get tired of them: W & I, on the other hand, gets better the more you watch it.  It’s the sort of film you have to get into; though the acting is excellent (Richard E Grant and Paul McGann as out of work actors and Richard Griffiths, hilarious as an effete homosexual uncle) it’s not immediately a film that grabs you.  The plot is loose and not much happens, but it has a charm and the kind of humour that gets funnier with time.


Lines like ‘we’ve come on holiday by mistake’ have become legendary, as has the huge joint known as the Camberwell Carrot.  So if you haven’t seen it, do so immediately.

Oh, and check out this lovely photo of Mark and me, exhausted after caring for our son:

Kirk out




Is This a Piece of Your Brain?

It’s been like Fawlty Towers here today, what with sick sons, dramatic partners and various storms in teacups.  It’s too hot to be rushing around but I’ve been up and downstairs a million times seeing to Daniel’s needs, and then there was a total bloody panic mid-afternoon when his stiff neck got much worse and everyone (but me) thought it was the aspartame.  I blamed Mark for being a drama queen, he blamed me for not asking for medicine sans aspartame and everyone blamed the medicine manufacturers for putting such a noxious ingredient in their medicine.  So back to the doc’s we all went, looking like some kind of slow-motion dance as we held a hand apiece and manoeuvred Daniel across the road (thank god the doctor’s isn’t further away, we’d have had to get a taxi).  The doctor was quite baffled by Mark’s assertion that he thought the aspartame to blame and she then got an earful from him (and a subsequent apology) about the dangers of that bloody sweetener.  So Mark (bless him) is now en route to the chemist to try to get another antibiotic that doesn’t have you-know-what in it.

I’m being a bit harsh on people here; it’s just that I think a little common sense goes a long way…

Guess who doesn’t believe in common sense?

Anyway, now I’ve got that off my chest it’s time to go and make the dinner since Mark isn’t here to make it.

A toute a l’heure!

Kirk out