Monday, 28 June 2010

I blame The Foot!

I quite like the idea that in life there’s this foot that come along and trips you up. It kind of gives bad luck a shape, a form. Unlike Sod’s Law, or Murphy’s Law, both of which seem to imply that bad luck is a rule and as such something we must abide by, you know where you are with a foot. There’s even a chance you might be able to avoid it. If you’re lucky.
Sounds like a character in one of Terry Pratchett’s Diskworld novels, The Foot that wanders aimlessly amongst the community until it finds someone who’s doing alright, and then… BAM, suddenly they’re on their arse.
The thing is, you know it’s coming. You can almost smell it—you know what I mean. Life bubbles along, the kids are doing okay at school and that little bout of bullying seems to have come to an end; the bills are paid – most of them; intimacy in the bedroom is nice, if brief; and everyone seems to be communicating with everyone else, which makes a change.
So what do you do? You think, oh, something’s bound to go wrong.
The foot knows. Honestly, it does! You become prime suspect numero uno for a really good trip.
I’m not sure what’s worse, the threat of life suddenly plunging into bad luck or the event itself. Does this make me a pessimist? I hope not. A touch superstitious maybe, but not a pessimist. Pessimists believe everything will turn out bad, and I’m not in that camp, so I guess I’m more your clumsy optimist, steady and happy most of the time but there’s always that sense that I could go arse over tit at any moment.
Right now I’m walking very gingerly, groping my way forward in life before take each step. I’m on the pinnacle of doing alright, and I know The Foot of bad luck is out for me. The scary thing is, I think it might be out for Debbie too.
Debbie’s had this bad shoulder for a few weeks. It hurts her to lift it, and there’s no way she can lift the elbow as high as her shoulder. She’s been on the maximum dose of Ibuprofen for more than two weeks and it’s getting worse. She went to the doctor last Friday.
It seems she’s torn the muscle that holds the arm to the socket (very technical, I know). He has given her a week’s course of massively high anti inflammatory and pain killers. This coming Friday, she will have to have a steroid injection directly into the joint. But that’s not the worst. The worst is that she could end up with a frozen shoulder – and that can last 2 years.
I’m so worried. She’s really active and fiercely independent, and although she’ll be okay and will just get on with things, there’ll be so much she won’t be able to do simply because you need to arms. Things like riding the quad bike, feeding the animals, even walking Darcy the dog (he’s a great dane and can be quite rude when out on a walk, especially when he sees sheep or catches the scent of a deer, and then you defiantly need two hands!).
The doctor told her to rest it, and she does as much as she can, but it’s difficult and I know she’s frustrated.
Two years.
You know when you have a dream and as soon as you wake you feel you want to tell someone so that it breaks the dream, and then it won’t come true? Well this is the bloggers equivalent. I want to tell you about my worry over bad luck, and Debbie’s frozen shoulder, so that it won’t come true.
There is no such thing as The Foot. There is no such thing as bad luck.
Debbie’s shoulder will be fine.
I hope.

Monday, 21 June 2010

That’s how we do Monday!

Every now and then I get hit with the full force of just how different my life is - not from other people’s, but from my own. From how it used to be.
So I thought it might be fun to write a diary for one day. Yesterday. Monday 21 June 2010.

5.20am Got up, still very tired. Three days of teaching courses in the last three days has really waked me out!

Made a strong black coffee and switched on the computer. My column for this week should have been in on Friday, and although it is written, I’m struggling with the ending. Beginnings are no problem, but endings, phew!

It takes a while, but eventually I’m happy-ish with it and send it in to Pat the newspaper editor.

It’s a nice feeling when the column goes in, so I celebrate with a whiz around facebook, checking out what everyone’s doing. It’s very quiet.

I write a funky, spiky email to GMTV and Good Morning – I figure it’s got to be funky and spiky to stand out from the crowd – with a Beat the Budget idea for a slot on their program with me giving simple self sufficient ideas to put a few quid back in the nation’s pocket. I tell them I’ve written a book about it. I don’t hear back. Maybe I wasn’t spiky enough?

Toast and more coffee. More facebook, this time on my author page. This side of things do not come naturally and I have to force myself to do it. I feel very self conscious on the author page. I guess I’ll get used to it.

9.00am Debbie gets up and we have coffee together. I walk the dog, put the goosters out on the lawn (two baby geese we hatched ourselves in the incubator), collected my dog and Quadbike from the barn and drove down the hill to the animals.

The sheep are in the chicken field to eat down the grass. They prefer chicken feed. As soon as I open the door to the shed, there’s this huge head-on collision between the chickens trying to get out and the sheep trying to get in. I can’t make anything out, just a mass of bodies and dust like a cartoon.

I let the two older geese out, known collectively as Honey-Bunny – yes, that is ironic. I have to fend him off as I walk away. I check on the pregnant sow, water where necessary, make sure my dog will be okay for the day looking after the animals (he’s in charge), and drive back up to the house.

10.35am My biggest worry at the moment is a 1,500 word article for The Exmoor Magazine. It’s the first time I’ve written for this editor and I want it to be right, but typically things keep happening that either mean I have to rewrite or I’m delayed by waiting around for people I need to interview. Very frustrating and stressy. But it’s got to be in today, so I lock myself away and get on with it.

12.15pm Done! I give it to Debbie for a final read through and, with a couple of tiny alterations, she approves. I send it with photographs. Man, column done, article done, this is a great day! Time for a nap…

I read until I fall asleep on the sofa.

1.20pm Debbie’s board, Darcy the dog’s board, and I make out they’ve woken me up even though I’ve been listening to them for ages.

We decide to take a trip up onto the moor. I tie Darcy to the back of the quad bike, Debbie climbs on behind me and I drive slowly onto open Exmoor. This is lazyman’s dog walking in the extreme!

2.00pm I’m still glowing with all my writing deadlines out the way, so I suggest we nip down the pub for a sensible lunchtime one. We have a local delivery to do (black pudding and hoggs pudding to a guest house in Lynton) and go on from there. There’s a lovely pub right on the top of Exmoor with a garden we can sit in. It’s nice.

4.00pm Ice cold beer and a sandwich for lunch in the sunshine, and there’s only one thing to do when we get back. Nap number two!

5.00pm I quickly get ready and jump on the quad for the evening rounds.

I feed, water and fuss all the animals in this order; chickens, ducks, geese, sheep, first set of pigs, pregnant sow, largest group of pigs down the end (spending a little time with The General, our boar, because we’re quite close and he’s just such a dude!).

6.30pm I kill and pluck a chicken in the barn for tomorrow night’s dinner (please don’t go squeamish. When I see two for one chickens in Tesco’s, I could honestly cry my eyes out for the horrible life they’ve led – I’d far rather produce my own and know they’ve been happy, fulfilled and lead a free range life the way they should.)

7.30pm I snog the horses in the field and fix their water – Georgie is so fat on all this grass! Put the quad away. Put my (superstar) dog away and feed him.

8.10pm Bath, dinner, glass of wine, there’s something on TV and I can’t remember what it was, read until bedtime.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Two beers and an embarrassing moment

I’ve got to start with an embarrassing moment as it’s a classic. I was at the Lynton and Lynmouth music festival last night and I’d had a couple of beers and needed to find a loo. I knew there was a public one by the town hall, so I wandered off in that direction. Typically the loo was locked, but as I turned away I spotted an alley with a guy at the end standing against a wall. Not ideal, but things were becoming urgent so I walked down to share a apace next to him.
Now as any man will know that when you’re confronted with a quiet, dark alley with another man waiting at the end of it, and you’re tugging at your flies as you approach, you’re keen to make your intensions clear. I doubt anybody in the history of the world has ever misinterpreted a similar situation, but in your mind you feel the need to state the obvious. So as I got closer, I said out loud, ‘two beers and I’m desperate.’
That’s it. That’s all that’s needed. Just, two beers and I’m desperate. Says exactly what it does on the tin.
He didn’t say anything back, just shuffled a bit uncomfortably.
It wasn’t until I was nearly next to him that I realised he wasn’t doing what I thought he was doing. In fact, he wasn’t even alone. Between him and the wall was a woman, and they were way beyond the point of being able to cover what they were doing. They probably didn’t need me strolling towards them pulling down my flies and stating I’d had two beers and was desperate.
As embarrassing moments go, this is up there with the time (and I swear both of these are true), that I was early for a horse riding lesson and decided to go for a quick beer with Debbie in a local pub. We walked in. I was dressed in skin tight britches with knee length leather boots and a t-shirt, ordered a pint and found a seat.
I had that feeling that people were staring at me, and just tried to ignore it. When Debbie started laughing I felt a sudden cold shiver of something horribly wrong.
‘You haven’t noticed, have you?’ she said.
The shiver got colder. I looked around. It all seemed okay to me, lunchtime in a pub, a lot of women, mainly in short skirts and quite a few fishnets and stockings and crop tops. Lots of high hair. Lots of make-up. They looked a bit cheap, but you know, not that bad.
‘Look again,’ Debbie said.
I did. And this time I saw the extras, such as the odd moustache, or maybe a hairy chest peeping over the top of a spangly boob-tube. Yep, we wandered into a transvestite convention, and I had to be dressed the way I was!
Anyway, ahem (very male macho voice), back to farming and food…
My neighbour asked if I could help milk a cow that had a small calf and needed to be stripped to avoid mastitis. Payment – not needed until I heard what it was – would be a gallon of fresh milk. I’ve never had milk that unprocessed before!
The milk is currently in the fridge developing a creamy crust that reminds me of the old gold-top milk you used to be able to buy when I was a kid. Tomorrow I’ll take it out and make cheese and yoghurt with it.
Today I need to recover from last night’s beer, music, and wander down the alley. Honestly, it could only happen to me.