Sunday, May 18, 2014

Loud and clear

With my Dad, some years ago....
I've come to St Albans to give my sainted mother a couple of days respite looking after my father.  She's been loking after him since he was released from hospital, despite having divorced him forty years ago.  He's much better physically, but his short-term memory is completely shot and he is forgetting how to do some things he was previously handling himself like emptying his catheter.

My sister Amanda took the first couple of days.  Yesterday she left him his lunch and wenty off back home, and I arrived a couple of hours later.  My father seemed happy but surprised to see me at 2pm, and continued to be happy but surprised every time I came into the room.  If I asked him if he wanted anything he invariably demanded a cup of coffee, which meant that he'd had about six by 7pm.

He has a supra-pubic catheter, and therefore has to have a night bag attached before he goes to bed.  I've never done this before, as he was previously handling that sort of detail himself, and so I was a little anxious about it, but I managed OK and got him to bed without incident about 11pm.

Fortunately, knowing that he's an early riser I went to bed about an hour after him, and managed to sleep pretty well.  I fell asleep to the sound of his snoring and woke to the sound of a medley of musical favourites.  I shot out of bed, and hastened to his side with bowls for the changeover to day mode, and successfully detached night bag without incident.  (My mother found him dragging his night bag around a couple of mornings, with messy consequences.)

I was still celebrating this achievement when I saw the time.  5.06am!  He's refused to dress or wash and is now watching News24 at 90 decibels in the living room.  When he saw me, he was happy but surprised.  And demanded a cup of coffee.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tyger Drew-Honey on Porn

Having heard Tyger Drew-Honey (the oldest Outnumbered kid) interviewed on Radio 4 a few days ago about his new venture into documentary making, I had high expecttions for his take on Porn.  I'd learned that his father had been one of the major actors in British porn, before the internet put them all out of business.  Ben Dover, with his enormous genitals, featured heavily in the documentary and I think it was the reliance on people Tyger knew and the focus on himself, which made the documentary so disappointing.  A bit less Tyger and a bit more curiosity would have enhanced the result.

It was interesting, however, to see someone so comfortable with the idea of porn, masturbation and sex and also British, doing a bit of navel gazing in the face of the faint possibility that porn may not be entirely beneficial.  With slapstick moments, most of which didn't work, and initially gave a false impression of the documentary... although one or two raised a laugh in the Berry household.

Starting from the premise that the participants in porn were people exercising an informed choice, and in the form of one surgically enhanced actress, positively enjoying the filming of actual sex for the cameras, there was very little examination or even mention of the fact that among the porn on offer might be women exploited or coerced into participating.  It only arose during one dramatic interview with a woman who found the use of porn by an ex very disturbing as he used more and more extreme rape porn, some of which she suspected did not involve acting.

Although there was much discussion about the contrast between real sex and porn sex, there was very little examination of the difference that context may make to a real relationship.  Those who talk about love and commitment in any discussion about porn are assumed to be religious killjoys who disapprove of anyone enjoying sex outside marriage.  However, anyone who has had meaningless sex outside a relationship and sex within a committed relationship can tell you that context makes one hell of a difference to the quality and impact of a sexual encounter, and it is this which is missing in porn.

Some years ago when I read Nancy Friday's books on male and female fantasies, I realised that there was a general pattern to what she was being told:  while women had actual fantasies which were based upon their imagination, men often based their favourite fantasy on their first sexual experience.  In the course of my life I have also found it to be true that men have fixated upon their first sexual experience for both their ideal sexual encounter and their fetishes and fantasies.  This makes the rise of the young teenage porn user a worry for the future.  Not only is there a danger that they will make assumptions about the acceptability of the things they see on screen to a real life woman, but also the danger that they will be trained to prefer solitary sex in front of a laptop to actual sex with a woman.

There was some jokey research into the idea that people who are addicted to porn may be desensitized to it, and need more and more to be able to be excited - again in the absence of any thrill from real live people being involved... and some vox pop into the possibility that men have become more demanding about the range and type of sexual encounter they regard as normal, having been brought up with porn for information and suggested activities.

In the end, Tyger seemed to be reflecting on the idea that porn had informed his sex life in ways he hadn't considered, and he seemed genuinely moved by the woman with the abusive partner.  However, I was disassatisfied with the amount of time spent on jokes and interviewing his own parents as filler for a documentary which could have been so much more interesting with a bit more depth.  I think he is a likeable presenter who needs far more direction and help with structured writing to get the best out of a documentary format, and make the result more than superficial entertainment


Friday, April 11, 2014

Glass safety

When we had the survey done on this house, the surveyor noted that he could not confirm that the glass installed in the back door and the inner back door was safety glass.  I noted the comment and thought I should really do something about it, but I didn't give it any attention really.

John fitted a draught excluder around the back door, which has helped a lot with the draughts but has led to the door becoming rather more difficult to shut.  Consequently the occupants of the house began to slam it to get it to shut, and thus it was that Ali put his hand through the glass in the door a few weeks ago.

We were very lucky.  He cut and shredded his little finger, but wasn't badly hurt - although he bled like a stuck pig and I had to rush home from the air ambulance to see to him.  He needed hospital attention and steristrips but it was a warning I took seriously and so I have ordered toughened safety glass for all the doors, including the garage doors.  I'm not taking more risks, having seen how viciously sharp non-safety glass can be.

My mother once advised me before I had children never to put off anything which was related to safety, never to think oooh that's dangerous and do nothing, or I'll pick that up in a minute or someone will trip and fall - do it now!  And it's been advice that I am sure has saved accidents on numerous occasions.  I wish I had kept it in mind with the glass.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Back again

I've been away for a while, visiting my father in hospital, then having flu.  I'm back and picking up the threads again in Lincolnshire.

It's one long round of DIY and housework at the moment, and I have guests coming over Easter and want to make the house a good place to be and not full of boxes of miscellaneous stuff I have failed to find a home for.

The birds in the garden were very glad to see me - I filled the feeder in the garden and then watched as a flurry of sparrows and a couple of fat wood pigeons squabbled over the feeder and the seed that falls on the ground when several sparrows try to feed at once. 

The garden is full of bulbs - grape hyacinths, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and the first primroses are out too.  There are daisies on the lawn, and the wild geranium is taking over in the vegetable plot.  There's lots to do, if we have a few fairweather days.

Ali put up my curtain rail in my bedroom and it then fell down immediately.  I'm going to Lincoln to buy a sturdier one, and to get a lampshade, and then I will hopefully be able to use my room for the first time since we moved.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


We've been beginning to see what needs changing in the house as we get used to living here.  The kitchen needs more space for preparing food, and John suggested it needs an island for the middle of the room.  It is short on countertop space, and I have already thought it needed more space for catering for five people.

We've been past Rumpelstiltskin on the high street in Market Rasen a number of times while I drooled over the furniture in there.  It's lovely, and I linger every time I pass the shop.  John was thinking about one of the consoles in the window for the kitchen, but as soon as we entered the shop I realised that the ones in the window are rather lower than they appear, as they are on a little platform.

I immediately saw something that would be absolutely perfect.  It's a butcher's block table, which can be ordered in any Farrow and Ball colour.

The shop always looks empty of customers and a bit lonely, but the proprietor told us that there has been an explosion of interest in the things they make since they took the shop, and delivery times had extended accordingly. 

If I can afford it, once everything is sorted out, I'd like to have bookshelves from the shop - I had discounted them because they have mouldings at the top and a plinth at the bottom and so I didn't think they would be suitable for a grouping of bookshelves, but it was explained that you can butt a number of the shelving units up against each other and then have a moulding and plinth which fit around them all... so I shall start to calculate how to configure them, if I can afford them. 

The house is starting to feel more like mine.  Initially I felt as though I were squatting in someone else's holiday home, but having started to buy things I have chosen, like the blinds for the kitchen, and the lamp for my room, it's starting to be more mine... and our stored possessions arriving will make it even better.

Settling in

Sunnyside farm shop
It's been ten days since we moved to Market Rasen, and we've been so busy, busy, busy I have hardly had any time for blogging.  I bought the house with all the contents, although I hadn't quite realised how extensive those contents would be.  We've had a lot of things to clear, boxes and boxes of cardboard, old string, cables, crates and old paint pots.  The back garden still looks like someone has been fly-tipping the contents of an old factory, but John is making trips to the tip every day and it is gradually going down.  The tip people are rather suspicious that he is dumping old commercial waste on them, but he really, honestly, is not!

Life in a small town is very different from life on the outskirts of London.  For a start, nearly all the shops in town close at 3.30pm.  Not on an early closing day - every day.  Many specialist shops only open a few days a week... I'm assuming their opening hours expand during the summer.  I may be wrong about that!

People know each other, and trust each other far more than you find in a big town in Greater London.  We ordered a bed from Rasen bed supplies, and needed to wait a few days for the base to come from the stockist.  Tom was fed up with sleeping on the floor and not feeling very well, and so I went to ask if I could buy the mattress in advance of the base.  Not only did the company deliver it in about ten minutes flat, they refused to let me pay for it until the base had come.

When the base DID arrive, they not only delivered but also assembled the bed!  Ali decided he wanted some weird shaped bed from an online retailer... but that arrived in pieces and was just delivered to the threshold.  The service from Rasen Bed Supplies couldn't have been better.  And the mattresses and beds we bought from them are very comfortable.

Yesterday John and I went to the Sunnyside Up farm, for breakfast, which is just between Market Rasen and Tealby.  I can certainly recommend their bacon or sausage rolls, and the restaurant is light and airy, with comfortable sofas for lounging on if you wish.  After breakfast we wondered around the shop, exclaiming at all the lovely foodie items on offer.  There is a meat counter and cheese counter, vegetable shop, and shop full of local delicacies and chutneys and jams, as well as high-quality items from other areas. 

We bought one of the shop's steak pies, which are home-made on the farm, and some leeks and potatoes from the vegetable shop - as well as a clutch of chutneys and marmalade for the store cupboard.

In the car park, it being Friday, there was a fish van from Grimsby - but it's recommended that you get there early in order to get the best range of fish and shellfish.

The farm restaurant is lovely and I have no hesitation in recommending it.  The brick built barn buildings look as though they may be dark, from the outside, but it is actually light and airy and the staff are welcoming and friendly.

The Sunnyside Up farm shop is open for longer than shops in Market Rasen, 9-5pm Tuesday to Saturday and 10-4 on Sundays.  It's closed on Mondays. 

The restaurant does a wider range of breakfasts during the summer season, but is open for pots of tea and bacon and sausage rolls and a wide range of other food during the day.  My son heartily recommends their soup!

You can find more on their website here, including how to get there.  Head out of Market Rasen on the Tealby road is the basic instruction!

I liked the sign on the way out, which warns about free-range children and chickens... both of those *should* be free-range!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My own front door

I haven't blogged at all for weeks, unless long posts on Facebook count. Our goods and chattels were packed and put into storage on November 21, we sold our house on November 22, and we spent two weeks in a wonderful holiday cottage in Tealby. The only drawback of the cottage was that we had poor mobile reception and no real internet, although I can see that might have been an advantage for some people. Then on December 5, we had to pack up and leave the cottage and wait to hear when we had completed on the purchase of Sycamore house.

We went for breakfast at the really wonderful Sunnyside Farm shop, in the highest winds I have experienced for some while. The trees were whipping around us as we drove there, and there was a lot of tree debris, including whole branches, scattered about. After bacon and sausage rolls at Sunnyside, we went to Jim's Barn, where I bought some Annie Sloan paints and talked to Sarah Lamballe, who is active in the Mr Big organisation in Market Rasen. She encouraged us to go along to the Christmas fair on Friday and Saturday.

Unfortunately, Tom and I had begun to suffer a bit from the horrible coldy bug that Ali had had earlier in the week. Neither of us was feeling very much like doing anything other than snuggling up in bed. As we drove into Market Rasen at 12.20, I asked John how long he thought it would take to complete... and a few minutes later my solicitor rang and told me we had completed. We rather expected to drive up to the house and take possession, but I was anxious not to infect the sellers with our bugs as they were about to make very long air journeys, and so we agreed to go away again for a while, and come back at 2pm.

And so... that was five days ago. We have been clearing, sorting, reorganizing and getting used to the house. The front door wasn't usually used by the prvious owners, and we soon discovered why: the front door lock wasn't working properly. John has fixed a new lock, which works much better. I have some photographs but I am too tired to put them up tonight.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Just Dance!

Amazing video of a young man dancing, in his bedroom it seems, but the arrangement of the furniture and the positioning of the camera make it seem pretty slick.  The music and the dancing together just make me want to dance... and I'm not alone it seems, reading the comments.