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The nice people next door came round yesterday afternoon and tried to get us to sell them the house cheap. I have to say I was expecting (and dreading) it. The little girl chased bunny round the room while daddy smiled and shook his head and said, "You'll never get £160,000..."

He's a very young man. He runs a corner shop and wants to play the property market. He's got the lines but he doesn't have the conviction- not yet. He chiselled, he haggled, but he was kinda bashful about it. If I hadn't been seething with fear and loathing I'd have found it all quite sweet.

His wife is lovely. I'd hate to upset her. So I played a straight bat, deflecting everything. And, yes, if we can't get the asking price, we'll bear their offer in mind. 

Piss off, but please don't take offence...

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The fear kicks in. I wake up  and think, ohmygod what are we doing?

Up until about a week ago I believed I was going to live in this house until I died. 

A good enough reason for getting out, really. 

But still;- we're cosy and comfy in Oldham and we know our way around and here we are setting our sights on moving to a part of the world we favour because the sea is splashing about somewhere in the vicinity and the horizons are so low.

And the skies are so big. 

What is this thing I've got- it almost amounts to a passion- about going to live in a marsh?

I love Great Expectations- but do I really love it this much?

And if my ancestors were marsh men and marsh women (as I like to fantasize) didn't they get the hell out of there as soon as they could?

But I'm working through the fear. I know (know?- am I really that sure?) that this is THE RIGHT THING TO DO. 
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They erected the new lamposts a year ago. Today they fitted the lamps.

It's the warmest day of the year thus far, so I dress for summer in my sandals and political shirt .

My political shirt was given me by Judy. It  features the  faces of Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheyney and the bold motto: Asses of Evil

The polling station is set up in the Methodist Sunday School. There are two tellers on the door. One is a smiley bearded Pakistani and the other is a resident at  the home for elderly male misfits on Honeywell Lane. I imagine the Beardy guy is Labour. Is the misfit a Tory, then?  Perhaps he is. The Home for elederly male misfits has a flagpole from which they fly the cross of St George and other such  rags (including sometimes the flag of the State of California (?!))  even when there's  no World Cup looming.

The Labour candiate, Asaf Ali,  is sitting in the Sunday School . On the sofa, next to him, is a very old white guy. Is this Mr Wright, the independent?

Mr Wright hasn't put out any literature so I don't know what he's idependently standing for. If I knew I might vote for him on the principle that all the major parties are rubbish.

My Asses of Evil shirt amuses the girls who tick my name  off  the register and hand me my voting paper. Asaf Ali turns to the very old white guy and asks "Why isn't your face on that?"

I retire to the booth and scan the  paper. The British National Party are fielding a record number of candidates this year, but they're not fielding one in Alexandra Ward. hooray!

I vote...no it's a secret, I'm not telling, but it isn't for Tony Blair and it isn't for the Tories (I had a chip inserted in my brain when I was 15 which prevents me from ever voting Tory.)

There's a policeman sitting across the room from Asaf Ali and the very old white guy. He's there to make sure neither of them cheats.

Last time we held local elections in Blair's Britain there was massive fraud. 

I've performed  my democratic duty. When I turn back onto Belgrave Rd (at 11 o'clock on a bright summer's morning) the nice new lamps are lit.


Mar. 16th, 2006 11:35 am
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Joe got his stuff back from the army yesterday morning- the personal stuff he left behind in Cyprus. There were three very large boxes and they contained (among other things) a small fridge, a TV, and a play station.

And yesterday afternoon his mother handed over all the video casettes he left with her. There are about 600 of them.

This house is too small. 

Did you spot the bunny?

Joe has set the play station up in his bedroom and is currently playing a game that sounds like there's a production line in there and he's building humvees.


Feb. 27th, 2006 09:49 pm
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We got Skype so we could talk free to Mike in Japan. Yesterday we tried it out for the first time.

And it was like opening a jar of jam in the vicinity of a wasps' nest. All the time we were connected we had calls and texts coming at us from all over. I've never known the like.

"Call me"

"Add me"

"Talk to me"

"Let me show you my penis."


But apart from that it was brilliant. It was strange to have Mike's voice coming out of the computer. He sounded so clear we could almost have been facing one another across the table.


Feb. 25th, 2006 09:38 am
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Last night's windstorm had me worrying about the roof.

Our plastic recycling boxes got blown all over the shop. I went and retrieved what I could, but one lid eluded me and proceeded to travel up and down the street all night. Every time it went past them, the neighbourhood dogs barked at it.

Brr, but it's cold this morning. I've had enough of this winter now. Please let it stop.
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I don't sleep well these days. I'm not complaining; I'm just stating it as a fact.

I took extra pain killers last night. They didn't send me to sleep. They just made my head buzzier.

I lie awake and plot my novel.

The man next door works unsocial hours and has a terrible cough. Huh-hurr, huh-hurr, huh-hurr.

Those people with the yard dogs- how can they stand that incessant racket up close? They must be old and deaf.

The less I sleep the more intensely I dream. Last night Laurence Olivier was directing me in Macbeth. He was explaining his own greatness to me. "Maybe it's not where I come from," he said. "It's from whence I came."
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Tesco is just down the road from the hospital and it seems I can't shop there now without remembering the butt end of last year and how I killed time between visting sessions traipsing up and down the aisles and drinking tea in the coffee shop.

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I had a great dream that was all psychedelic colours and beautiful people and horses made of mist and then I woke up and cooked dinner and we ate it and Joe sat us down and we watched Bad Santa which has to be the best Christmas movie ever and now it's mid-afternoon and Ailz has gone to bed and Joe is watching Shrek and I'm waiting for David Tennant to put in his first appearance as Dr Who.

A very merry Christmas/Yule/Winterval to all our friends!

Xmas Blues

Dec. 23rd, 2005 12:01 pm
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OK. I've had enough. The Solstice was two days ago. Let's not do this any more.

I hate it how corporate it is- how we're all expected to be doing the same things at the same times, feeling the same emotions.

But there's no getting off the ride. We know exactly what to expect; those chugging climbs, those swooping falls. The little train has started off. The safety bar is locked in place.


Dec. 20th, 2005 10:17 am
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This is Ailz's first outing since she came home from hospital. We went up to Sainsbury's and bought mince pies. She's riding in the electric wheelchair.

I hasten to point out that the coat, which has a lovely furry lining, is wholly synthetic.

At Last

Dec. 7th, 2005 12:00 pm
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Thank you all for your kind messages-

Look, she's home!

Wrong Mood

Nov. 30th, 2005 10:22 am
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The doc has told Ailz that she has license to wander- so we've made a date to take tea at the hospital cafe this afternoon.

And Joe has heard from the army about final arrangements for his discharge. If I've understood things right they'll pay for him to take a retraining course of his choice.

I watched Almodovar's Bad Education last night- a heartless movie about heartless people- a candy-coloured noir. I didn't like it much, but perhaps I just wasn't in the mood.


Nov. 29th, 2005 10:00 am
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I got a knock on the door at nine last night. Odd. It's rare for me to get callers that late. So I opened up- looked round- no-one there- and then Joe chucked a snowball at me from across the road.

I like having the snow. It's a diversion.

Ailz is doing OK. I saw her scar yesterday. It stretches most of the way across the top of her stomach and it's held together with funny little staples. We were hoping she might be discharged Wednesday, but she's been told this morning that it'll be a few days longer. Having seen the extent of the surgery I'm not surprised. She was trying to persuade the surgeon to let her go by telling him that lying in bed all day was making the pain from her fibro-myalgia worse. And he replied "I don't think that's the fibro; that's your liver growing back."
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They kept Ailz on the HDU most of yesterday. That wasn't so much because of her condition, but because the staff were run off their feet. The guy in the next bed was confused and restless and they had to have someone at his side every minute of the day to stop him climbing out and hurting himself.

I want to put it on record that the staff on the HDU at the Royal Oldham Hospital are fabulous.

When I visited in the evening, they'd finally moved Ailz downstairs onto a general ward- and into a more relaxed atmosphere.

She's tired and beat up, but she feels like she's been given a new start. She's keen to get out and discover what the rest of her life is going to be about.

This morning it's snowing.
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I watched a drama-doc about the battle of The Somme last night- highly appropriate.

The first day Ailz was in hospital I kept busy and just about held myself together. Yesterday morning I ran out of little jobs and fell apart.

But she was so much better yesterday afternoon- sitting up out of bed and no longer woozy- and so now I've uncurled myself and emerged from my shell hole.

The gall bladder was gangrenous. The surgeon described it as "the gall bladder of the year". I knew Ailz was ill. I think now, from all we've been told, that she came close to dying. If we'd have resisted going into hospital that first night (and we might have done) the infection would probably have killed her.

Thank you all for your support. Thank you so much. Ailz thanks you too.

Sometime today they'll be moving her off the High Dependency Unit onto a general ward.
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That was a long day. Ailz had the operation in the morning and was transferred to the High Dependency Unit in the early afternoon. The infection was so bad that they couldn't do keyhole sugery, but had to make a big incision so they could look around properly. I assume they took out the gall bladder entire, but no-one has actually explained it to me yet. The main thing is that she's out of pain (out of serious pain, I mean) and is at last able to get some proper sleep (she was so short of sleep before the operation she was hallucinating (a giant rabbit, a Russian woman playing the violin.)

Thank you all so much for your thoughts and prayers.


Nov. 25th, 2005 08:45 am
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They're operating this morning. It's out of our hands. Nothing I can do...


Nov. 24th, 2005 10:03 am
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Things weren't getting any better so we went to A & E and- after various tests- they admitted her. She's now on a surgical assessment ward. Later this morning she's going for ultrasound. As she understands it, they're planning to give the antibiotics time to do their work and, they don't they'll take her into surgery and whip the gall bladder out.

We're normally together 24/7. It's odd not to have her here. I'm finding lots of little jobs to do to keep me busy until this afternoon- when I get to visit.
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Ailz is bad again. Same trouble. Probably gall bladder. We went to our own doctor and he's prescribed her anti-biotics. Now we're waiting to see what effect they have.

We watched a rare early Kurosawa yesterday afternoon. Scandal. About a libel case and a venal lawyer who sees the light. It's a Christmas movie- part Dickens, part Capra- with snow and a dying child and the singing of Auld Lang Syne (in Japanese.) Also it's something of a practice run for Kurosawa's masterpiece, Ikuru.

First ice, now fog. The forecasters are saying we're going to have our harshest winter for a decade.


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