No Brainer

22 April, 2016

 

I sit bolt upright in bed at 2am.  My subconscious has processed what the Dr was saying, 5 hours ago in A&E.  Sami’s concussion from his bike accident is passing, he can leave in an hour or two, but there’s something else;

“The CT scan has shown cell growth in the left ventricle of his brain.” The Junior Dr. tells me earnestly.  Initially, I am relieved; I have been pushing my GP for over a year to get a neurological exam for Sami.  I recently got a referral appointment, but my GP has made it clear I don’t have enough evidence to get very far in the NHS.

“It’s great, we have something concrete to go on, physical evidence.” I reply

“Yes, yes, it’s definitely a good thing,” Dr. Young replies a bit too eagerly, a bit too reassuringly.

With hindsight, I realise we were having the classic it’s-nothing-to-worry-about conversation.  The slow moving cogs of my own brain have clicked through the night and finally worked it out for me, “cell growth in the left ventricle of the brain”, can also be called a brain tumour.  I had a bit of medical training, years ago and I remember random bits and pieces of it.  Cell growth can also be described in terms of degradation of DNA.  So, if you imagine a cell has a tiny spiral of DNA which is repeated in a continuous chain, billions of times.  Each time that cell reproduces (dies and replaces itself), it replicates the entire chain, except it loses one DNA spiral each time.  As the DNA chain shortens in length so we experience aging, our skin slackens, our bones dry out etc.    This is what aging actually is (and why skin creams called “Age Renewal” don’t work at all).  There are only two places you find perfectly replicating DNA chains in the body; the first is in the testes – because to produce a child, it has to be born with a perfectly long DNA chain, otherwise it would be born aged.  The second place is in cancer cells.  They perfectly replicate, they’re sometimes known as “eternal cells”, while all the so-called normal cells around them deteriorate.  They have other functions too, but this is how I understand “cell growth in the left ventricle”.  Cells are definitely not supposed to be spontaneously growing in there.  I sit up the rest of the night, classically terrorizing myself on google.  There is between 5%-15% survival rate at 5 years post treatment – a combination of surgery, chemo and radiation therapy (which leaves lasting detrimental effects on surrounding brain tissue).  Not good.  High fat, vegan diet (surely, a contradiction in terms?) has been shown to be helpful.  He is veggie, so I plan to move us into ultimate vegan health over the next few weeks.

I drive us 5 hours back home the next day, in pieces, hiding my bursts of grief from him behind my sunglasses.  He drivels on about the Tour-de-France for five hours, next to me, oblivious.  I email his teacher, she writes back “That’s not good, let me know if I can do anything to support you.”  I fall a 1000 feet through the floor reading her reply, couldn’t she have written, “We get his all the time at school, it’s perfectly normal in teenagers”.  I leave a message for our GP who’s not in the surgery for another 4 days.  She calls me within two hours and my heart drops another 1000 feet, she’s on it, chasing scans, being incredibly competent.  This is not routine.

I watch my son struggle with basic tasks like walking through doors and answering my questions.   I’d been so frustrated with him before, but now I see his neurological impairment, it explains a lot; his outbursts, his inability to be on time, to function at school or communicate.  When I drop him at school the next day, he says, “I hate being late for school”.  I stifle a laugh; he is late for school pretty much every day.  It’s the school’s and my biggest irritation with him, clearly, something is pressing on his brain, because this statement alone is utter madness.

By 9.30am, I am still in the car but I haven’t even finished school run.  I cancel my clients for the next two weeks and park at the side of road, in teary devastation.  There’s nothing else for it, I have to call Kiki.  I have tried not to call her, because over the years we have shared way more trauma than anyone should.  We are not friends who do coffee, or go shopping, or remember each other’s birthdays anymore.  We might send a text – which invariably sits without a reply. Or, “like” each other’s stuff on Facebook and keep up in vague way, meaning to see each other more than we ever manage.  But if one of us phones, like makes a proper old fashioned voice call, we know it’s serious and we pick up.  Two hours later she is sitting in my garden, fag in manicured fingers, tapping on her phone as I explain.

“So, what are you going to do?”  She asks, pressing “dial” on her phone, as I reply.

“Dunno.  Er, wait till Friday then call the GP back?” I say, making it up on the spot.

“Hi, Can I see a paediatric neurologist this week?” She asks whoever she’s talking to, “Ok, if you don‘t have one, where can I get one?”  She speaks to them as if she’s booking her Waitrose delivery slot.  Within fifteen minutes we have a next day appointment at The Portland Hospital.  I’d say we were booked into see a top Neurologist, but there was a bit of confusion with the phone signal and she accidently booked him in with an Urologist, first time round.  (The amount of laughter we got imagining a Doctor sticking his finger up Sami’s arse, looking for his brain, made it well worth the mistake though).  We agree to meet at the Co-op in Woodstock at 5pm.  She is taking over, she is scooping me up, driving to her boat in London, making appointments, buying food.  She is my knight in shining armour because she knows how to be good in crisis.  She’s had more than a few.

Sami disappears after school for an hour instead of coming home.  “Neurological impairment”, I think as I wait, unable to contact him.  When he finally appears, he explains he’s been at his weekly, Tuesday after-school club.  School call it “Detention”.   I understand better what’s going on with him, all this time he’s not being an annoying little git, he can’t help it, he has “Neurological Impairment”.

At 6.15pm I text Kiki to say we’re in the Co-op, he’s hungry.

“What just standing still, staring into space?”  She texts back immediately; neurological impairment is clearly on her mind too.

“No, not staring.  We’re in the Coop, he’s STARVING.” I reply, checking the autocorrect this time.  I look at the basket he’s been filling; four cheese sandwiches, a stuff crust pizza, a loaf of bread, a jar of Nutella, two bags of Wotsits & a Mars Milkshake, veganism will be more challenging than I thought.  I grab a bottle of red and a big bag of chocolate buttons, (I don’t feel like cooking) and jump in her massive BMW.

Kiki is a godsend.  Years ago we were a vacuous pair, who sat in bikinis by an expensive pool in Thailand, complaining about our fat (they were actually flat) stomachs, wishing our idiot boyfriends would marry us.  We imagined our futures with happy little children, who would do well in school and oh, drive us mad!  Our Bridget Jones years.  Then we grew up.  We lost the boyfriends, traumatically.  We survived emergency births, ectopic pregnancies, seizures, operations, traumatised toddlers and a few bouts of Post-Traumatic Stress each.  Incredibly, we’ve both ended up as single parents with three young children.  Mine, a grief inducing, mid-pregnancy divorce – well, that’s what we thought until her husband dropped dead during her third pregnancy.  Yes, she’s trumped me at every turn over the years.  I am in safe hands because she gets it, she knows exactly what I’m going through and what to do.

We sit in detached luxury, neither of us give a shit about our surroundings.  I have a bottle of red, she has a new packet of Marlborough Lights.  I feel helpless, like both my arms have been amputated.  Sami is behind us, headphones on, watching the Tour-de-France on the iPad.   I take a sleeping pill that someone left behind in my house, a long time ago;   I give her one too.  For the first time I sleep through the night.

I decide to wake her around 11.30am.  I notice my bag of chocolate buttons are lying open, next to her bed, thieving cow.  Sometime after, she stumbles upstairs to the living room, blonde hair looking like a straw mat, and joins Sami and me.  She is covered in brown stains, so I don’t say anything.

“Sleeping pills”, she says, casually lighting up.  “Effing strong aren’t they?  I woke up in the night with my hand stuck in a bag of melted chocolate buttons, but I couldn’t quite get up and wash.  Looks like I’ve shat myself in there and smeared it around the master bedroom.  I’d better text the cleaner and forewarn her, eh?”

“Yeah, better had.” we reply casually, as if this is an everyday problem.  Then she urges Sami to photograph it for Instagram.

Couple of hours later we arrive at Great Portland St and she dumps her beast of a car in a private car park, somone will park it for her.  At The Portland I offer my credit card to the receptionist and Kiki pushes my hand away, blinding the receptionist with the glint of her triple platinum Amex.

“Hey, you’d do it exactly the same for me,” she says.  This is not entirely true, I imagine what me doing it for her would look like.  They’d be a lot more buses & trains, and a Travelodge (in Hackney).  She’d probably have a panic attack discovering there were thousands of people travelling on the Underground, right under her Gucci pumps in Sloane Square.

We sit with the Consultant Neurologist and both stifle school-girl giggles when he says he wants to examine Sami. (At this point Kiki makes a swift exit under the pretext of Sami’s privacy, but I know she’s going for a fag and a Costa).   It’s ok, the physical is all above board, he is a Neurologist, not a Urologist – I checked his badge when we arrived.  Later, I send Sami out, so I can discuss the CT scan, without him knowing about the tumour.

“Have you seen the Radiologist’s report, on the CT scan?” Dr Neuro asks me.

“No, I haven’t been shown a thing.” I reply.

He turns the screen towards me; there is a message from the Radiologist, it lacks any tone of urgency.  It mentions a “density” in the left ventricle, it suggests it’s a shadow of the Medulla Cortex accidently picked up in the scan.  There is no mention of “cell growth” or “possible tumours”, only a recommendation, again without any urgency, that it’s checked with an MRI.

Between us, Dr Neuro and I deduce that Dr Junior, in A&E, saw the scan and interpreted it himself without reading the radiologist’s report.  I no longer feel my son is at risk of cancer, or is dying of a brain tumour.  I am angry at what this has cost us, not even financially, but in human emotion.  How I would have remained in that traumatised state for three, maybe four weeks, if I hadn’t gone privately.  But overall, I am entirely relieved Sami is ok.  The sun is shining, my son is not dying and my life is fine again.  The lift is full, so we watch fondly, as he almost falls down the stairs on our way out.   “Neurological impairment” is no longer an option.

His CT scan (above) clearly shows no internal cell growth.

Sami’s CT scan (above).  The Consultant Neurologist was able to confirm, there is absolutely no internal cell growth.

 

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Look!  I’m on an advert for something awesome.  I didn’t even photoshop it and make it up at all.  I know, I know hard to believe.  Find out all about this incredible type trauma therapy at Havening.org (or just read the bit I’ve written below the picture).

I'm the one in the green cardi on the right.

(Top row; I’m in the green cardi on the right.)

The first thing you should probably know is that I had to give up my job as a playground supervisor for this.  I didn’t want to leave because I loved being a playground assistant.  The problem was just that the deputy head didn’t understand that I subsidised my two hours working in school with a second income (known as my real job) as a hypnotherapist.  So, when she refused to give me those 2 hours off to go to New York for a week and get certified in Dr. Ruden’s ground breaking Havening technique, I faced a difficult decision.  Should I stick with my job working for £14 a week in a rainy playground?  Or should I fly to New York in a heat wave, spend a few days at an inspiring conference on trauma, certify in the latest techniques, meet the inventors, their families, have a few days off browsing and boozing in the big apple with old friends?  It was a tough choice, worsened by the fact that the deputy head had just offered me a third lunchtime hour each week, yes, she explained if I played my cards right, £21 a week was waiting right there for me.

Let’s talk about Havening.  Ok, it’s really simple (no surprises there if I’m teaching it right?).  So what you do is basically rub someone’s arms and their trauma goes away and doesn’t come back.  I know, sounds dumb doesn’t it?  There is actually a bit of science behind it, wanna know?

So, if you think of trauma being a red line memory at the back of the brain.  It sits there sometimes quietly dormant, but doesn’t go away.  Sometimes, it sits there noisily interrupting everything in your life, popping up in your thoughts all day despite your best efforts to subdue it.  The idea is that this trauma is rooted in the amygdala area of the brain.  To undo it, you flood the amygdala with your body’s own natural serotonin – by rubbing your face, arms or hands.  It’s very simple.  Sometimes,  people also need to do other things such as hum tunes and count.  This is done to distract the more conscious, working memory and to prevent people from getting too overwhelmed if their remembering the bad ole times.

Some of the problems I have  treated with a couple of sessions of Havening in my clinic include; rape, assault, shock of discovering a dead body, bullying, a variety of phobias – (dental, height, spiders, jealousy).  Blushing, IBS, child abuse – sexual and emotional, drinking, sex addiction, coping with suicide, bereavement, trauma from giving birth, facial tics, physical pain, upsetting childhood memories, abandonment.  The list could actually go on and on, I’ve worked with so many different problems with this on adults and children.

The idea is that if someone comes with a range of behaviour that they’re unhappy with – be it feeling low, eating too much, remembering very sad times etc, Instead of treating those things as the presenting problem, you see those things are symptoms of a more fundamental problem (underlying trauma).  The skill is in finding the root cause of the problem, which can sometimes be something quite innocuous to us as adults, but may have felt traumatic in our childhoods.  If that root cause is treated, with Havening, then the symptoms cease and the person returns to a “normal” sense of well being.

You can do it on yourself too.  I don’t recommend you do big traumas without a trained person to help guide and protect you.  Sometimes the memories can feel incredibly powerful and overwhelming.  But if you feel a bit stressed, then try this.  Just rub your arms from your shoulders to your elbows  saying “calm, calm, calm” in a gentle voice, but out loud, as you do it.

Ok, gotta go, my kids, I mean My Public, await.

H x

Empowerment Parenting

6 July, 2013

I’ve been thinking a lot about differing parenting styles, apparent in children in the playground and at parties.  Sometimes it feels like we’re inundated with the selfy-helpy world of how-to-bring-up-your-kids. Having spent thousands of hours on facebook, er, researching child rearing, one day it struck me, I finally realised where I had been going wrong.  It was one of those “aha” moments, that changes your life forever.   Having tried my new approach out on more than two children, I can honestly say it’s totally amazing and it will change your life too.  I call it the GeddityerselfTM method.

There are only two rules in GeddityerselfTM parenting.  But they must be followed at all times.  They are:

  1. Say no to “no”.  Yes, that’s right we say no to saying no and we say yes to saying yes.  We never ever say yes to saying no.  No, we’d never do that.  So if your child asks for something, you always say “Yes”.  You can choose to that with an endearing term such as  “darling”, “sweet child of mine,” or for a teenager, “mummy’s lickle lamb” (always goes down a treat).
  1. The second rule is that you always follow that “yes” with our second foundation mantra; Geddityerself TM.

This works with children of all ages.  Here are a few examples;

Child:  “Mum, can I have a drink?”
Mum:  “Yes darling.  Geddityerself TM

Teenager:  “Mum, can I have a car?”
Mum:  “Yes, Geddityerself TM.”

Child:  Can I have lunch?
Mum:  “Yes, my love.  Geddityerself TM.”

Child:   “Can I have an allowance?”
Mum:  “Yes, my lickle lamb. Gedditoffyourdad.”

The sceptics amongst you might be thinking, but does this really work in real life?  Here are just a few of the many thousands of letters I receive everyday, from ordinary people, just like you.  The one thing they have in common is they have changed their lives, and the lives of their children, for the better using the Geddityerself TM  method.

“We were on our way to leave our seven children with social services one weekend, when we heard about your Geddityerself TM parenting method. Your blog was a turning point in our lives. These days, we all live as one big happy family.  Honestly, we can’t thank you enough.”
John & Olivia Walton, West Virginia, USA

“GeddityerselfTM parenting is a work of great emotional depth.  It challenges the holes in the fabric of redundant ideals of the western parental system.  I am in no doubt that I have been a better parent to little Sergey, Tatyana, Ilya, Leo, Marya, Petya, Nicholas, Varvara, Andrey, Michael, Sascha and Alexis since studying it.  Oh, and my wife, Sacha is getting on much better Timmy, my illegitimate child now.  (Although, she’s still a bit frosty with his mother).
Leo Tolstoy, Russia

“Fantastic!  You deserve a prize.”
A. Nobel, Stockholm

“Your gas bill is now overdue and requires immediate payment.”
British Gas, FTSE 100 Company, UK

Buy the Geddityerself TM Approach today for £199.99

While stocks last!

“The pressures of parenting and money meant my husband and I were both working second jobs, to make ends meet. We couldn’t cope. With the help of Gettidyerself parenting, I gave up my evening job as a prostitute and my husband stopped dealing crack on weekends. Instead, we spend our free time running happily through flower meadows, like other families. Thank you so much.”

Disclaimer:  Due to unprecedented demand, the Gettidyerself TM method has, er, completely sold out in all leading bookstores and on Amazon.

Copies are still available at the Wednesday market in Witney.  (Cash only)

Stranger Danger

28 June, 2013

The kids got “Stranger Danger” education at school this week.  Making sure no one gets into a car with a stranger, or worse still, accepts any sweets.   We discuss this type of thing quite frequently at home.  This is in part, probably due to my job.  I encounter, on a far too frequent basis, the results of childhood sexual abuse.  And also the fact that they spend a lot of time away from me at weekends, often in situations which I’m not terribly happy about – at pubs and parties with people I don’t even know.

There are only estimates for the number of children sexually abused in the UK.  It’s largely unreported, in fact, I can’t even remember ever having a client who has reported it to any authorities – other than maybe telling a parent, who ignored them.   Estimates put the figure for girls at 1 in 4, and for boys 1 in 6.  Sad-to-say, but it sounds about right to me.  The incidence of abuse rise with added risks of alcohol, drugs and multiple partners.

I have a friend who worked with a group of pedophiles.  (I should probably point out she was a social worker).  They told her an  interesting thing.  That when they’re hanging-out around the schools, it’s not the kids they’re looking at.  They’re looking for the vulnerable parent who is going to give them access to a child.  Feel vulnerable?  To be honest I used to, especially as a single parent, but this made me feel a whole lot better about it.  Not being the vulnerable parent, with the vulnerable kids – yeah, that one I could manage.  So my children’s education began at a fairly early age.  We have frank discussions about all sorts of things.  We talk about situations, strangers, so-called “friends”; we discuss tactics and have a good laugh about it too.  But, I always teach them how to deal with each situation.  So they’ve been armed with responses, rather than trapped in the headlights of blind panic.

But, I also put perspective in there.  I don’t let them listen to the news, with it’s terrifying stories about children being abducted or killed.  I’ve always thought it’s scaremongering.  There were 72 child abductions by strangers, in the UK last year (er, that’s about 64 more than I thought, actually).  But, more frighteningly, there were 375 attempted abductions by strangers.  A lot more than I thought.     However, let’s compare this total number, 447, to the overall rate of abuse of our young people.  Let’s say, (purely) for numerical sake, abuse happens between the ages of 6 and 15.  That would be an estimated 750,000 girls and 500,000 boys being sexually abused right now, in the UK.  The  447 child abductions are clearly the extreme, visible end of the problem; but not the predominating perpetrators.

A client once said, “When are we going to face up to the fact that our children are at most risk from someone we know and trust, not strangers.”  Her words stayed with me, because she was right.  Collectively, we’re still in denial about who abuses our children.  And in that respect, we continue to fail them.  When are we going to really educate our children how to speak up if a grandfather, step dad or brother enter their room at night, when mum is asleep?  Are we going to teach them how to cope with threats of everyone knowing “the dirty things you’ve done”?  Will our children get an assembly on that?  There is very little on the internet when it comes to talking about family abuse, but massive resources to protect from them from strangers.  Are we teaching practical measures for children with this problem, other than, “tell someone”.   Surely,  we can find more ways to help rid these children of their nightmares?

Back to “Stranger Danger”;
Me:  “So what did they say?  Don’t take sweets from strangers?”
Sami: “Yeah.  Showed us a video.  But, of course we’d all take the sweets, we just wouldn’t get in the car.”
Amba: “Yeah, grab ’em and run, really fast.”
Me: “Er, I think when you put your arm out for the sweets, that’s when they grab you.”
Sami: “Really!  They didn’t tell us that.  Everyone in my class is gonna take the sweets.”
Amba; “Yep, my class too.”

 

Image

The elderly man in red was suspected of giving children expensive gifts  to gain access to their bedrooms.
(This blog does not support vigilantism)

I read a report on Women’s emotional responses to retail therapy today (K. Pine, University of Hertfordshire). They sent the survey forms out in a trendy women’s magazine and then branded the results as “Sheconomics™” (gettit?). I found the report pretty fascinating, but probably not in the same way as K. Pine did. According to the results, here are the top reasons that women go shopping.

I want to cheer myself up 79%
I want to treat others         75%
I feel I’m looking good      61%
I’m feeling a bit low            61%
I’m feeling happy                53%

Brilliant. So, 61% of women go shopping because they’re feeling a bit down, and 53% of women say they go shopping because they’re feeling a bit up. Now, maybe I’m wrong about this, but this looks to me like pretty inconclusive proof that anything much is a happening when women go shopping. Other than they’ve got:

a) got nothing better to do.
b) er, that’s it.

Interestingly, none of the respondents cited “getting something I genuinely need”, as a reason to go shopping. If I spent long enough on t’internet I could probably find a research project where some student got a £130,000 grant to study her own serotonin levels when she went in and out of Top Shop and we might have some more conclusive evidence, but obviously, I’ve got better things to do.

The “Sheconomics™” survey then probes more deeply into the underlying causes getting respondents to ask themselves, “Why-oh-why do I do it?” (Let’s have a look shall we?)

Sheconomics asked over 700 women to finish the following question:
“I would spend less than I currently do if:…

I had more self-control                                                      70%
I understood how my moods affect my spending  55%
I had other ways of cheering myself up                      55%
I had more hobbies and interests                                  45%
I could break the shopping habit                                   41%
I felt happier with my life                                                 38%
I felt happier about the way I look                               38%
I didn’t worry or get anxious                                          34%
I had a more fulfilling job/role                                      32%
I didn’t experience cravings                                           28%
I was thinner                                                                          22%

Love this. There are a couple of things about this that really stand out for me. The first is the tone of the questions, so freakin’ dependent. Just go back up to the list and insert “Oh, if only..”, said in a resigned tone, in front of every question.

“Oh, if only ……I had other ways of cheering myself up.” Look lady, where do you live? Are you chained up in a department store? Do they give free frontal lobotomies with your facial now, or what? Haven’t you heard of a “t’internet search?” Yep, you just type in the place where you live, or work and then write next to it, “what’s on?” Then, (if it’s after 5.30pm and the shops are shut), you can just go along. Honest, it’s true, I’ve read in glossy magazines about people who’ve done it.

“Oh, if I only…..I had more hobbies and interests.” Yep, shame that avenue is completely closed off to you, isn’t it? Don’t forget, the amount of clothing and equipment you’d need to buy if you take up a new hobby though, especially if it involves exercise. Feeling a little more motivated now?

The last one that I’m going to draw your attention to is this little beauty.
“Oh, if only………..I was thinner”. Sorry, Katie Price, did you write this survey in English, this century?  Or is this a study from another era, like when Reuben was alive and chubby water nymphs were all the rage? So, women answered this survey saying if they get thinner they’d shop less? Right, they’ll get all slim and then decide to wear all their fat clothes, the ones they felt so awful in.  Really? Ladies, have you answered this survey completely honestly?

There are a few questions I would like to add to the end of the survey, just for purposes of clarification.

Has a partner (gay/straight/bi/hermaphrodite) ever described you as;

1.  Dependent?
2.  Boring?

If your partner (gay/straight/bi/hermaphrodite) “agrees strongly” with either of the above, you’ll need to immediately buy yourself a “life”. (Prices can vary; from £29.99 in Hull, to £9.7 million in the Bahamas).

Y’know, it’s crossed my mind on more than one occasion; if the suffragettes could have seen womankind 100 years on, would they really have bothered?
What if instead, they’d just said, “Fuck it, we’re going to the haberdashers.”

"Oh, Agamemnon, I've got nothing to wear!"

“Oh, Agamemnon, I’ve got nothing to wear!”

Bye x

I’m being kicked out of my home. We’ve done nothing wrong, no rent arrears or anything, but my landlady has given my home to her darling daughter, (Princess) Fiona.  Although they own a massive farm, an industrial park, a waste dump and a laundry and at least 15 rental farm cottages, some of which are even empty; (Princess) Fiona decided that she wanted mine.  Possibly, it’s in part due to the fact that I’ve repainted it, re-carpeted it and turned a run-down old cottage into a home; one she liked, a lot.

When I got the letter I cried.  Then I rang Dolly Fish who is always there for me, as a single parent she can’t afford to go out.  She calmed me down.  Ok, maybe she didn’t actually make me laugh, not that I’m complaining or anything, but she’s studying comedy at University now and they haven’t got to the “being funny” module yet, so it’s not allowed.  They grade them at Comedy Uni like this;

Absolutely Hilarious – (First).  Careers include senior management in either the NHS or Local Government and designing high-end fashion.

GSOH – (roughly equates to a 2:1).  Career options include; Big Brother contestant, WWE wrestler or Dentist.

Lol –  (2:2) Careers include receptionist at a doctor’s surgery, car parking attendant and Jehovah Witness.

Fun! – (Third). Career: Page 3 girl or Christian rock band.

Jim Davidson – (Fail).  Graveyard attendant.

The next nightmare on the moving scene was breaking it to the kids.  I approached it positively.  I explained about (Princess) Fiona and told them that it was nice for her (to steal our home) and we should feel happy when good things happen (even to bad people), cos then it means good things might also happen in our lives.  Then I asked them where they wanted to live.  We have three choices Witney to the West of us, Eynsham to the East or stay in this village and move three doors down, to one of the houses that wasn’t good enough for (Princess) Fiona.  Their answers were as follows:

Sami: “Eynsham”

Amba: “Witney”

Asha: “This village”

Dumb question or what?

(Princess) Fiona

Coffee

17 January, 2013

 

An average trendy coffee shop makes about £3,000 a day.  Amazing isn’t it?  I mean there used to be one coffee shop in Witney a few years ago.  I remember taking a friend there and her laughing at its hard wooden dining chairs, it was a café not a “coffee shop”.  In the past two years the market for designer coffee has grown exponentially here and across the UK.  We now have Costa and Café Nero, both bursting with relaxed chatty caffeine-fuelled customers. Plus four independent ones, that’s not counting the likes of M&S opening them instore  and various pubs also selling posh overpriced coffee.  This is big business and it is an entirely created need.

They used to run a coffee shop in the Church on the corner. I went in there once with the kids, I couldn’t face dragging them back across town to Costa.  I remember watching a disabled woman on sticks walk up to the door, when we got there behind her, she held it open for us.  Sweet eh?  The coffee shop was in the church hall,  square formica tables with table cloths, laid out with little flower arrangements on each one.  There were even some toys out for the children to play with.  The other customers were older, some disabled, some disenfranchised and those ever-so-kind churchy ladies bustling about.  I remember I ordered 1 coffee, 3 juices and 3 large slices of sponge cake.  I handed my tenner over and there was a flurry of anxiety behind the tea hatch, as two grey haired ladies looked in the pale green saucer they called the “till”.

“We really sorry, but we don’t have nine pounds in change”, they said.

Ten seconds later, when my mind had processed  I was being charged £1 for all that,  I offered to leave and get change to pay them.  By this time though, the kids were halfway through their cakes and starting to bicker over who was going on the ride-on tractor first.  It wasn’t going to be easy to get out.

“Don’t worry, bring it next time.”  They said.

As I turned to sit down, still incredulous that I could get all the free cake I wanted, so long as I never came back.  I realized that the disabled woman on sticks was still waiting patiently behind me.   And when she paid for her cup of tea, she handed over an extra pound and paid for our coffee and cakes too.

You know, that never happened to me in Costa.

Getting dressed can be difficult when you’re on crutches.