Attempting to make it as a writer

One in a Million

I am nothing if not unconventional. 

My boys are at a difficult age, starting out from the cosseted world of education and trying to make it in the world of business and employment.   School has equipped them with knowledge about many things but not yet how to be The One; the one who stands out from the rest.   I am not sure where that will be learnt.  I suspect the same place as I learned; in the hard competitive university of life.

I have never really conformed to  being a normal person.  I struggle to follow the expected norm from childhood  and in my life since.  I have often felt alone working in a very male orientated world where I slowly erode the pre-conceptions of being a woman to becoming accepted and welcomed.   This is probably a hang up from not being able to study mechanical engineering at university when I was in a very antiquated convent school with my limited options of  nun, nurse, teacher or if I had to housewife.

Only this week I had to rely on my individuality to win a new contract.  Being self-employed and running my own businesses on and off over the years I have been on the receiving end of copious job applications and interviews.  Each time I look for that spark of individuality that says this person is different and I can work well with.   I hope my boys will realise they need to stand out from the norm and bring that extra something.

My first job interview was not what I expected at all.  We were only 16 when my best friend from school was persuaded by her mother to unwillingly apply for a Saturday job at a  well-known electrical retailers.   She was not happy about it and her mother asked me to accompany her to the interview.  If only to calm her down and make sure she got there ok.   I was happy to oblige grateful it was not me being pushed to get a job so young.

We sat in the waiting room, her quietly fuming at her mother and me trying to reassure her that it was just a meeting.   She got called in and I sat twiddling my fingers waiting, chatting to people who walked by, knowing we had enough money for a hot chocolate but with careful budgeting we could indulge in a cake before catching the bus home.   She came out and I stood to leave with her. The interviewer asked me to go in for chat.   Reluctant to be involved and really not wanting a job Saturday or otherwise I was adamant I did not want to.  My friend encouraged me and the lady suggested I came in and saw it as a learning experience in case I ever needed to attend an interview.

They were right of course it was all about learning and experiences.  I went in, chatted amiably telling them all about me and my plans for the future, left my phone number and off we went for the promised drink.   By the time I got home I was met by a very bemused mother who told me I had a job starting the following Saturday.   Why had I not told her that was I was going; simply because I had not planned to?

Needless to say I did take the job and worked for a couple of years till I went off to nursing college.  My friend and I remained close friends.  She found a Saturday job in a small textile shop which gave her much needed discounts to feed her dressmaking passion.   She left college to work full time in the shop and later moved into the management of the chain of shops developing the career she craved.   Her mother did not hold it against me, at least her daughter had gone for the interview and when the right job came along she had that experience to fall back on.

I had not known it then but that was going to be a template for my working life, none of my jobs have I got through formal methods.   A night in a London Wine bar meeting a complete stranger is probably not one I would advocate for the youth of today, but I had heard about it word of mouth and I loved the very unconventional secretarial job that followed that interview.

What was particularly unusual about this week was I wasn’t looking for the job but it all seemed to fall into place and I ended up with a new contract.   I asked him  why me.

“ there were so many applicants, but yours was different,  fast and efficient then you pushed me for a trial.  Your knowledge and understanding of the subject contractmeans that I don’t have to spend time explaining complicated terminology and you already have the equipment”.

To me it is obvious if I don’t understand the work, however lovely, however wonderful the job is, it will not work out.

When the next contract comes up for grabs will I use the same tactics.  Not exactly, I have no doubt I will approach it in the same unconventional way, however each contract is individual and the preliminary research could well lead me to a completely different point of commonality for us to work from. Some I might resort to basic knowledge, some I might have to resort to a touch of moral massaging and there will be some that I need to just be capable.   How do I impart my individuality and difference to my children?   How do I make them realise that being the same is sometimes not enough?  They will always be for me but how do I make them one in a million ready for the working world?

So to the business of writing, and again I am delighted to have a photo and caption in this week’s “that’s life” magazine helping me a little towards this years writing school experience.

Memories is out with a beta reader (someone going through looking for continuity, grammar and probably spelling) who I hope is going to use a gentle red pen as she reads and re-writes it.  It is such a complicated time line for the story that I need to be sure it works in real time and I am hoping that she will still enjoy the story.


Have a look at what I am up to with my food blog at Tea Time Treats.

Steaming Guilt

I am carrying the guilt around like so many women I know.  Am I a working mother or wicked mother?

It began yesterday morning with a normal teenage argument “but it’s raining”.

“I have to go to work” I explained slowly and calmly for the umpteenth time.

It ended with the normal teenage explosion of “I hate you”, “you don’t care about me” and the slamming of the front door.

He was right about one thing; it was raining.  It has not stopped raining for weeks and weeks.

Middle Son has been doing work experience  every week for months although the experience was; less work, than turn up and not have anything to do so being let off and spending the day back at home in front of the x-box.   I have not had to take him to there before  so why was today any different?

Actually I knew why. His place of work experience had changed and this time he would have to learn different jobs, meet new people and be involved in something he may not yet understand.   Although teenagers don’t admit to it he was nervous and needed my presence to reassure him.

I of course had to be at work at 9am and he was not due till 10.  I had taken him up there the week before to meet the new people and I had gone in with him then and had a sneaky mummy nose around.

Work was busy, the phone did not stop ringing, the emails pinged as they flooded the system and I cannot actually remember where the morning went.  It was late morning when my mobile rang and I rushed to find out what emergency had befallen one of my children.

“Mum where are you?”

I was at work, where else would I be?  Where was he?

He was walking home.   Taking an early lunch I relented and rushed in the car to pick him up.  A sad forlorn figure so cold and wet he could not take another step towards the house and was sheltering as best he could under what was left of a tree.

He had waited and waited in the torrential rain for them to arrive.  Having arrived slightly early he stayed for two hours waiting.  There was no shelter and the rain continued to pelt down his hair, trickle under his light trendy jacket and fill his totally unsatisfactory canvas shoes.

Sensibly he had made it back to school which was on the way home.    School contacted the work place and discovered there had been a problem this morning and they had been delayed.  In fact they probably arrived minutes after Middle Son trudged dejectedly away from the place.   They were so full of apologies and promises of a better try next week.  He was sent home to dry out and get warm.  It was still raining.

Guiltily I collected him, made him a hot drink and sent him up for a warm steamy bath; then went back to work.  I wanted to stay and make sure he was ok.  I wanted to steamy mugassuage my guilt by sitting on the sofa with him like the old days and feeding him treats and watching some unbearable film just to show him I cared.  But there were more emails, and a report to type and I needed the money.

I had just spent the previous weekend researching the internet, balancing everyone’s different wants and needs from a family holiday and I think I had find one that suited us all but it was very expensive.   I work to help pay the bills but it also allows for the extra treats such as holidays; short breaks and current necessary cannot live without electronic gadgets.

If I stopped work to be with the children all the time would they suffer?  Maybe not but there would be things they would go without.  They would not be able to keep up with the Jones or the Smiths or any of their contemporaries with I-phones, I –pads and x-boxes.    We would not be able to go on holiday and they would have to temper their designer cravings.

This is not a new argument.  I have been battling my guilty conscience about being a working mother since No 1 Son was 3 months old.   Every time one of the children is ill or injured I am thrown into yet another vortex of mixed guilt at having to take time off and let work colleagues down or not being with my child at his time of need.  I am lucky to have had the opportunity to put my career on hold while I worked in a school; so at least I only worked term time and had the holidays with them.

Our lives are changing though with No 1 Son applying for university next year and Middle Son hoping to begin his apprenticeship in September; maybe they will not need me so much.  Maybe now is the time I can kick start my career for me?  I will check the sits vacant this weekend in the paper.

Today I got a call from the school “Middle Son is poorly can you come and get him please”

He is cold, shivery, and full of a head cold and he blames me.

If only I had taken him to work.



Have a look at what I am up to with my food blog at  Tea Time Treats



Appraising the Future

I am chasing my tail at the moment.  Work is so busy having taken on an extra job to help with the spiralling increase in costs involved with growing teenagers.  I still manage to rise early and work on my writing which seems to be prolific and productive but never gets further than my computer.  

I was asked recently how I saw myself in three years’ time.

Just think in three years’ time I may be about to have a book due to be published; but I really need to do something about sending it to an agent NOW.  I might have developed my magazine and people will be reading my monthly mini blog and following my journey.  I could be a grandmother  as one of my oldest friends has just become but I hope not yet when the children are just starting out on their adult lives.  I can always hope for that elusive win on the lottery although it may be prudent to not count on this.

Number 1 Son this week chased his own dream by travelling by train half way across the country to attend an interview with his preferred university choice.  He took with him his portfolio of works to date and a sketch pad of ideas.   Suitably impressed they offered him a place conditional on getting his grades.   It is up to him now to get those grades.

Middle son also took a huge step towards his dream as he attended an interview for an apprenticeship in a kitchen working towards his goal of becoming a chef and running his own restaurant.    He too was offered the place conditionally.   If he realises the work will be long hours, hard work and in the beginning very monotonous where he will grow to hate peeling vegetables.  He will however learn the basics of the trade and on completing the apprenticeship have options available to him.  They have offered him a day each weekend from now until August when he and they can make the final commitment.   It is up to him to wow them with his culinary prowess.

Mini Son is too young to have the burden of future upon his young shoulders and is enjoying school, football and his friendships.

So where do I see myself in three years’ time?

Well if I was honest I see myself surrounded by my best sellers in my luxury office where I would go and work creatively all day producing a fabulous new best seller each month. Attending nationwide literary festivals and judging competitions in my own right.  My name however is not JK so I need to revise my expectations I think.

I am the driver in this dream and if I want the book published I need an agent.  To that end I have researched and found a list of agents who may take my novel.  I have read what they require and how to submit my manuscript.  I need to be working on my self-confidence which is a huge barrier to any self-improvement.  I know now that I need to finish that synopsis, tidy up the spelling and grammar and press the send button……

Too scary!

Or in three years’ time, I could have the same conversation and still be hoping to start the journey to publishing.

Where did I save that synopsis?


My brother may have given me a dose of unexpected self-confidence when for my recent birthday he presented me with a self-published (by him) copy of my first years’ worth of blogs.  It does not come under the genre of novel but Tiggy Hayes has a book out; albeit a single copy currently.  It is mine and my work and could be all the confidence I need to press that button.  Dawn Chorus Volume 1, 2011 by Tiggy Hayes.   Currently I do not know if there is a way to get a copy I think it would be print on demand but will update this blog if I can get any details.

In Print

In Print


Have a look at what I am up to with my food blog at

A Large Piece of History


As anyone with a year 7 child will know or anyone with older children who have been through year 7 at the local school, the history teachers like to challenge the parents of their new intake.

It was the turn of Mini Son and being the third we should have this off to perfection now.      Over the Christmas holidays as if we did not have other things to be getting on with Min Son was set the task of creating a castle.

Having created two previous versions which had been greeted with good marks and pleasant comments from the teachers, Sexy Sporty Dad wanted to change tack.    He and Mini Son plotted together to build the most wonderful gingerbread castle.   They spent time assessing, quantifying and evaluating the task ahead.  I found them looking through my recipe books, researching on the internet and discussing the project ahead.

Finally with a week to go and all the discussions, research and searches complete they came to the conclusion as neither knew how to cook gingerbread it might be better to go back to tried and tested papier-mâché method.

With older siblings to impress, measure up to and outdo, a glut of cardboard from Christmas and some serious parental patience it began.   Glue, scissors, paper and card strewn all over the kitchen floor as the creation manifested itself, rising from the ground a lot quicker than the original castle being copied.   The following day the papier-mâché was applied having been on a reconnaissance recovery route march to retrieve substitute newspapers. We had thoughtfully taken all ours to the tip as they built their own fortress round us.

For safety reasons we moved the construction site to the kitchen table where cats could not play with it so easily, it could not be kicked or stood on and we had somewhere to walk.  The base hung over the side of the table and the monument took up all my preparation space relegating me to the already overcrowded cupboard tops.    The castle took shape and developed as the papier-mâché dried out and it only needed painting and bringing to life.

I was duly informed that as I had not made it I would need to help paint it.    I had nothing to do this week, I who was still working had to realise my work was not as important as this, looking after the children during their holidays was irrelevant in comparison, it was my turn; hadn’t I got out of the other two.   Well actually no but we probably only remember the bits we did and not all the extra put in when no-one else was around.

DSC_0003Amazingly it was painted in short bursts by Mini Son who was by now thoroughly bored with the whole project and desperate to play with his new toys and see his friends.  I imagine our wonderful kitchen pixie did the rest unseen by the rest of the world; each day as I passed by a new coat was added to the newly dried structure giving it more resemblance to the finished concept.  I am sure I will get no acknowledgment of the wonderful support and help given to our son.

The castle was finished; it stood proud and indefensible on my kitchen table.  The school expected it in as soon as they went back to school.   Suddenly a new challenge was upon us.  The weather has not been kind and these few mornings it has been lashing down.   Just the idea of the wet soggy mess that would be if he walked to school left me horror struck.  Not to mention the fact it actually took two people to carry the monster.  How were we ever going to get it to school?

I did relent and agree to take them into school with it, but it would not fit in my car.  It was left to Sexy Sporty Dad to drive them in, No 1 Son kindly helped to load it and DSC_0014to take it to the classroom for him after they had battled to negotiate passing through doors.  It had to be gently turned on its side and edged through as the tower was delicate and tall.

With delight Mini Son informed us that the teacher was pleased and he had received two credits for his and our efforts.  They were sure it was the biggest castle they had ever received in and stood out compared to all the gingerbread versions that had all arrived.

I am thankful that little task is complete but wonder how much marital strife it will have caused in other families where emotions are running high at this time of year anyway.   A plea to year 7 history teachers:  “How about a beautiful picture with a half page description taken from the internet in the future”!

Mini Son came home last night; the teachers need the castles removed as they take up so much room in the history department.


Have a look at what I am up to with my food blog at


It has been a frenzy; this last few weeks; the preparations, the fever pitch of heightened expectation and the exhaustion of getting through this long drawn out term.

We began with a birthday at the beginning of December not any old birthday.  No 1 son became an adult when he finally reached 18.  I say finally it was for him.  For Sexy Sporty Dad and me it seems only a moment ago that our tiny little baby arrived, crying, cuddly and the centre of attention.  Maybe not so much has changed.

The plans had taken months of discussion and careful scrutiny by us not him, to decide and in the end it was a last minute thing nearly marred by the school having their parents evening on that very day.   The “inbetweeners” lads holiday to Ibiza or Ayia Napa was discussed but the middle of December does not have the same sunny ring to it.  We looked into a party but the cost of hosting it was prohibitive as the venue of choice was No 1 Son’s work place.  I had a plan to work around if he was set on that.  However the amount of people needed to fill the venue was more than he knew and even with my combined suggestion all the friends joined, together still would not have enough family and friends to fill it.

Late on in the year he decided on a meal but the whereabouts changed by the week until he announced a month before his birthday that he would just like to go to the pub with a couple of friends.   The choice of bar was difficult to choose,  he wasn’t used to arranging for his friends to do things so the week of his birthday he told us he would leave it and just have a drink at home with a nice meal.

I arranged a meal out with family and his close friends where he and his friends could enjoy the freedom of ordering alcohol from the bar.  A simple gesture but it opened a world of independence for them.  They began sampling beers, a few differing varieties.  Trying names rather than tastes, in a few months with a few sore heads firmly tucked in their belts they will find their own tastes.

A wonderful meal came with bottles of wine as part of the deal.  By this stage the boys were relaxed enough to make sure they shared the bottles on their table, all sampling the delights of both red and white.

Only once did I venture the information that you should really only stick to one drink be it wine or beer but not mix grape and grain.  A lesson to be learnt in the future I feel. They were uninterested and past any sense of caring.

no1 birthday cakeAfter the meal and the ceremonial cutting of the cake No 1 Son made his first eloquent speech.   Put slightly on the spot he rose to the occasion well and preceded his friend Stuart who we were also celebrating with.

The boys returned to the bar to try the next concoction on their “to try list”.   They bought rounds between them with the level of hilarity rising.  Middle son sat brooding in the corner not so content to be bought diet coke or lemonade by us while the older boys drank becoming louder and more uninhibited.

I being designated driver began my first of many trips to drop off guests returning after the last trip to find the final hardened group of 18 year olds pints in hand and waiting for the jager bomb  experience  they had been promised by the bar staff.  They no longer drink the Bacardi or Malibu with coke, or a simple mix of cinzano & lemonade I remember from my late teens, kids these days seem to sample a much more scientific cocktail. Now they enjoy a lethal cocktail of high energy drink with a shot glass of Jagermeister dropped into the larger glass.  I do mean dropped.  There are the theatrics and whole drama as you drop the tiny shot glass into your half full pint glass.  Then you knock it back in one.

A rush of sensations crash into the body as the caffeine of the energy drink explodes over the eruption of the hot fiery jager liquid in a volcanic upsurge

a crash of conflicting sensations

Jager Bomb!

of contradictory waves of feel good and alcoholic depression.

I managed to load my car one final time with those boys coming home with us and some being dropped on the way.

For No 1 Son the day had been a very long one.   A few of us also had spent many hours rushing to get the whole day perfect.   As his birthday finished and the new one began I was awakened by the hilarity still continuing downstairs.   I came down and found them in a resurrection of heightened emotion enjoying yet another bottle of wine, a present from someone.   I firmly suggested water and sent them to bed.

The following morning it was Middle Son rising early full of beans while a dribble of sore heads appeared not so sure the freedom of buying alcohol was such a great idea.    The lack of funds left in their wallets was also a stark reminder that although they may be old enough to drink they need to be able to afford it and learn to control it and not mix.

I am glad that No 1 Son allowed Sexy Sporty Dad and I to be at his adult initiation ceremony, where we could give him the freedom but still watch over  his exploration into being a grown up.   I hope this is not a template for the future but a celebratory step along the way to being a responsible adult.   Maybe he is not so independent yet as he may think and I will still have a part to play in his world for a while longer.


Have a look at what I am up to with my food blog at Tea Time Treats 

Stranger Danger

We are so politically correct these days that sometimes I wonder if things have gone too far.  I know historically there have been abuses in all walks of life but as youngsters we lived full and enriched lives. We were blissfully unencumbered by pre-formed prejudices just because we were young.  I am not so sure my children with all their modernities will have the enrichment of that innocent excitement.

I did not have the benefit of black ops 2 Zombies but I would not say this deprived me of my childhood.  Instead I managed to get out into the garden and climb trees, learn to ride, learnt to milk a cow.   I played tennis and swam daily from as early as we could bear the cold in March/April often going on till November if we could manage it.  I paid for my riding lessons by mucking out, tacking up and later breaking in ponies before being allowed to take children out on hacks or teaching them how to jump, round the world and dressage.

Sad to say, unlike my children who will have to protect me, I feel I am unable to kill or seriously deter a marauding Zombie who cannot be shot and continues bits hanging off as the blood spurts and sprays, to approach me.  I do feel though that I could if marooned on a desert island for any length of time, in desperation catch and cook a chicken or rabbit to survive.  I could turn my skills to building a safe waterproof shelter and administer an acceptable degree of make do first aid.

Our lives were very carefree and we didn’t think about the dangers.  If a man approached me asking for directions as I played out on the road my thoughts did not immediately shout danger, danger run.  I would answer his query and point him in the right direction.   I may even lead him if I was going his way.   I remember how my freedom was curtailed dramatically when Genette Tate disappeared very close to where we were living at the time.  My father needed to know my whereabouts all the time, I suddenly had tight time curfews which I could not understand and often forgot leading my poor father to traipse around country lanes looking for me.

The sad thing is that the Genette Tates of this world were the highlighted cases and recent history proves that abuses and evil intent came from all sorts of places even the most respected icons of the time.   However I am sure that not every person is inherently evil or covering a demonic past.  Some things may be totally innocent.

It was over tea we were discussing our day when Mini Son mentioned “I was hugged by a man today”

The hairs on my neck prickled, my muscles contracted and I drew a deep breath as I reached for the phone to call 999.

His two brothers began chanting “stranger danger”.

Sexy Sporty Dad quietly asked him “What happened?”

“I was in the shop today when a really old man was trying to work the self-serve machine.  He could not get it to work so I went over and showed him.  I put all his shopping through and showed him where to put the money.  When we had finished he put his arm around me and said thank you.”

I am so proud of mini Son, I did not know he knew how to work the self-serve machines but he showed thoughtful compassion for this old man and helped someone in need.   The man was probably far too old to realize he should not hug or touch a young boy but was trying to say thank you in the only way he knew how.

I told Mini Son he had done the right thing although added that he still must not go in anyone’s car or take sweets from a stranger.

I also added that if he is going to help someone then to do it as he did in full view because there is the other side that depressingly I have to consider.   The man was obviously old and possibly a little confused, what if he suddenly forgot why a young hooded against the weather pre-teen is touching his food or his money.    Would the supermarket believe my boy against an old man that he was helping not stealing?

How sad that we even have to be aware of strangers assuming them to be potential abusers or unable to help in case we are branded wicked.   Where did trust and community values lose their way?


nanowrimo 2013 cert

I am a winner, I cannot believe that I actually managed to complete the challenge and write over 50,000 words in 30 days.   Mini son typed the last word on the laptop as we both watched the word count click up.  I then inserted the whole story into the verification page on the website and he pressed the button.  Enjoying a moment of incredible self-satisfaction, pride and emotion I showed Sexy Sporty Dad who was very complimentary.   He cannot understand the desire to write, but I cannot understand his need to go and cycle 60 odd miles on a cold wet muddy Saturday morning.

It had not been easy.  I had been disciplined about my rising at 5.30 each day and writing till 7pm.  I did not tell anyone locally I was taking part lest I did not rise to the challenge and had to tell them of my failure.   I did join in the forums and had a lot of support from my writing friends who kept me going with encouragement, support and belonging.

The story has a long way to go and the humour is minimal but all that is for the editing.   The original remit to tell the children and grandchildren who I am is beginning to form and hopefully I will complete the rest of the novel as time allows and my story develops.


Have a look at what I am up to with my food blog at Tea Time Treats.

Painful Story-telling

It was about September when I stopped feeling well.  By October I was in a lot of pain and by the 10th of the month I was admitted to hospital; to the surgical assessment ward.   Starved and prepped for theatre I needed to wait firstly for a space so they could take me down but more importantly for an agreement from the doctors as to where on my body they were going to operate.

It was this  lack of diagnosis causing their confusion.  No-body knew what or where the pain was but I was most definitely in pain. I could not care about anything, if they wanted to cut me about so be it as long as the pain eased.

Initially I had been to see my doctor with symptons of general ill health and changes that didn’t quite fit with my medical knowledge.   They were very sympathetic and instantly put it down to my age and the changes that will begin occurring soon.   However as things were a little unusual they would arrange an emergency scan.  In the meantime she diagnosed me with a slipped disc or possibly a pulled muscle.

I had so much movement, I could bend, I could stretch and yes I was in pain but the movements did not aggravate the pain or cause any change.  I knew it was not muscular and I knew if I had slipped my disc I would not be able to bend as I could.

Two weeks later I attended the scan.  They sent me home and said there would be further tests as I was not right, she would contact my doctor and they would refer me to another clinic for further tests.

That night my doctor rang “there is nothing to be alarmed about and this is just precautionary but we are referring you as a matter of urgency.  This is just routine.”

What wasn’t routine was the Doctor ringing me that night.  Alarm bells rang. The pain in the back was getting worse.  I was on stronger painkillers by now and a strong anti-inflammatory painkillers with meals.

It took a week for the matter of urgency to arrive.  I duly went in and spent the day at the oncology unit having all kinds of test and scans.   Being totally nosy, well it is my body, I insisted on being in an even more awkward position so I too could see the monitors and find out what was going on.   I can confirm my insides are like alabaster porcelain.  Pale and smooth with not a ridge in sight.  The doctors were so impressed they said I could go home and there would be no further investigations, but while there they would scan my kidneys.

My kidneys looked wonderful, in the right place and the flow was good and healthy.  I could return home reassured there was nothing wrong.

I should have gone shopping, the very least a celebratory coffee. Instead drained and still on painkillers and anti-inflammatories I drove carefully home and fell asleep.  The pain continued to escalate.

I rang the doctor the next day I was still in so much pain and didn’t know what to do.  She had already referred me to an osteopath and I was waiting on an appointment to come through.  There was nothing else she could do, keep taking the highest dose possible.

Naturally the drugs had their side-effects one of which was sleepiness and confusion.  The sleep was short-lived and only lasted in batches of about 1-2 hours while the pain was subdued slightly.   I was tired, I was emotional, I was in pain.

I rang the doctor the next day, my doctor was on one of her days off and a colleague stepped in.   She spoke to me on the phone and asked me to come and see her.  I had to fit it around the drug induced sleepiness and the spasms of agonising pain. I would get to her as soon as I could.

I already had a bag packed from my previous visit to hospital where they had suggested in their invite letter I might need to stay over.  in my agony I had not got round to unpacking or putting anything away.  Struggling with the pain I pulled the tiny overnight wheelie case down the stairs and managed to lift it  agonizingly into the boot of the car and then bent slowly to put my brief case in with my laptop.  I have been in too many hospital waiting rooms to know how much time is wasted.

Drugs wearing off slightly, but not quite bad enough to make me unable to sit in the car I slowly drove the car using every ounce of strength to concentrate on the gears, the steering wheel, remembering that there were three pedals and one goes faster, one stops suddenly and the car turns off.   Then there was the road, cars came towards me, cars came up behind me tooting rude gestures as they overtook me doing a careful 30 mph in a 60 zone.  The roundabout at the top of the hill brought me to complete perplexity as I drove round and round desperately trying to remember not only where I was going but also which exit I needed.  Pain was increasing and any further I would not have made it.   Arriving at  the surgery  I found the waiting room and sobbed quietly in the corner.  Every movement jarred my body with a searing unbearable agony.   I could not sit, I could not stand, I could not lie, I prowled the waiting room perching myself on any passable resting place until that too became unbearable and I would crawl to the next position.

Finally I was the last one in the room and my name was called.

One look told her I was unwell.   She tried to examine my back and nearly got a thick ear for her troubles.  Even the movement of the air as she came near sent me into spasms of screeching pain causing me to  lash out uncontrollably to protect my tender torso.

I was not in a fit state to drive.  At least we were in agreement about that. She was sending me straight to hospital it was not a 999 ambulance scenario but I needed to get someone to take me in.  I was to stay there at the surgery till my lift arrived. She would write a letter and discuss with the hospital where to send me.  She was admitting me with a possible kidney stone even though after six weeks it should have passed;  they would probably operate to remove it.

Sexy Sporty Dad was hauled out of a meeting and told to come all the way back to pick me up.  He would spend the day driving backwards and forwards for me then cope with the children, feeding them, homework and bedtime.  We were supposed to be going out for a meal.  It was his birthday.  He even missed all his cards and birthday cakes at work.

My short sojourn in hospital was hectic.  They started with the usual tests and connected me to a drip for a strong morphine based painkiller.   They gave me extra painkillers and kept me on most of the ones I already was on.  I had x-rays top and bottom to determine where the pain was coming from and why.   They came back negative, no signs of anything.

They could not decide where to operate.  At 9pm they decided to let me sleep on it and they would give me a ct scan the following day and then operate.   I ate the most delicious, desired and delectable ham sandwich on white bread that I have ever eaten.

Next morning a harem of doctors arrived at my bed all fascinated by the mystery they had locating a diagnosis.   I again explained from the beginning what had been going on and how bad the pain was.   I showed them briefly the area.   One beady eyed doctor asked me to turn back over and lifted my pyjama top.

Eight voices rang out as they agreed “Shingles”.

Things moved faster then, on top of my cocktail of drugs they gave me shingles drugs.  They would still do the ct scan to rule out a kidney stone but they would not need to operate.  A dermatology doctor was paged to come and look.  I ate the biggest breakfast you have ever seen, just in case they changed their minds later.

The dermatologist was unavailable till Monday but eight surgical, medical doctors should be pretty good with the diagnoses.  They reduced my morphine based drug so I could go home with it.  Once the ct scan results proved there was no kidney stone I was released back into the loving care of my year older husband.  Glad to have me back although I was unable to do very much.

22 different tablets.   Some once a day, some three times a day with meals, the morphine ones 4 times a day with paracetemol, and the shingles drug 5 times a day.   Some made me feel sick, some made me sleepy, some made me see the world in a distorted way leaving me confused and very tearful.   I had a spreadsheet to follow which I would DSCN3008tick when I took something and my alarm would go off every 2 hours to take the next dose.  I could not leave the house.

Bed was my faithful companion. Never far from me, ready to catch me if I dropped off for a moment, big enough to stretch out if I could bear to stretch, warm enough to snuggle down when needed but with the ability to cast off the covers when the heat got too hot.

I had to actually take time off work. I couldn’t concentrate.  I couldn’t drive.

The next check-up a week after leaving the hospital revealed that the rash on my back wasn’t shingles.  The doctor admitted she had seen the rash and then told me

“I see thousands of shingles patients every week, and this was very different to a shingles rash and although there was a rash it did not fit with the other symptoms.”

I finished the course of shingles drugs the following day. The pain was still there being controlling  rather than improving.   The visit to the osteopath confirmed again it wasn’t shingles but was more likely viral coming from my spine.  He referred me for an MRI.  Was there anything left on the diagnostic spectrum I have not tested out.

This was an urgent MRI and came on a Sunday three weeks later.

I finished a second course of morphine, no longer on shingles tablet I ditched using the spreadsheet and began sporadically to take the ibuprofen when I remembered with my meals.   Pain stretching longer and longer enabled me to lessen the dependency on paracetemol.

Finally I am drug free.  It took halucinations, walking into doors or the wall when my brain could not balance, high and low emotions, nausea and confusion to negotiate the moving path to my goal of drug free oblivion.  That was just the coming off the drugs.

The pain was manageable and I returned to the physio to continue treating a whiplash injury from a car accident last November.  This time though I went privately and she treated me not my neck.  One look at me and she diagnosed stiffness in the thoracic ribs.  She asked me if I had had problems from my back, my rib area.  Did I sit down for a job?  Did I know my eyes were not in line with my neck.

I cannot say she was gentle. I cannot say it didn’t hurt, she re-aligned my neck click, click click argh…..   she massaged my back, my whole back not just my neck, rubbing deep into the unsuspecting muscles.  She stretched my legs and I probably gained at least 4 inches.  Unsure I could make it home; the tiredness, the bruising, and the memory of the torture I had to stop and drink supermarket coffee.  I had not been able to face coffee for weeks.

I made it home and went straight to old faithful; my bed!

Next morning I woke battered and bruised, terrified to move lest the pain overwhelmed me.  I could turn my back, I could turn my neck not quite the whole 360 degrees owl like  but behind me. It was a long time since I had done that.  The debilitating headache I had had for ten weeks was lifting.  I had put it down to the cocktail of drugs causing it otherwise it should have gone. My whole body moved as one rather than in stilted robotic moves trying to connect.

The pain in my sides and back gone apart from the bruising and tenderness she had inflicted on my broken body. I stood gingerly expecting the tsunami of pain to overwhelm me. It didn’t. I walked around able to stretch, bend and move.  Could all of this agony have been just stiffness catching up with my whiplash not having been sorted out.

My new best friend (physio) and I have been seeing each other for a few weeks now.  Each time she finds a little extra sadistic torture to put me through, and each time I suffer maybe not quite in silence.  Battered and bruised from her torment I am gaining more and more movement, straightening my overbent protective shoulders to walk tall again.  I have been able to walk to places and Sexy Sporty Dad has even got my bike out for me to peddle around the neighbourhood again.   Small steps leading to such huge improvements.

I am still waiting for the results of the MRI but I feel too good to go and learn those.


Whilst I was so poorly  I was  unable to write.  I could not string a sentence together let alone write a blog, or a novel.   An argument with one of my children because I had not been able to do something triggered a need in me that would only be satisfied in one way.

“Having been a nurse I know how this all works”  I happened to say.

“You were never a nurse, don’t lie”  a rebellious teenager retorted not wanting me to get out of doing something for him.

“I was for a while and a lot of other things”

“You have never done anything with your life but be a mother and you don’t do that very well!” my chauvinistic offspring retorted in the belief such loving words would change my mind.

After the conversation had long finished, the words rankled, gnawed at my subconscious.  Of course I had a life BC (before children) and I had forged a way for women that my poor convent school teachers would turn in their graves if they were watching me now.  I had achieved so much that these boys had no idea about.  I was still achieving a lot and they could not see it under their noses.

We were approaching November, written in my calendar as NANOWRIMO.   There was no point even thinking about it.  I was too busy.   I not only had three jobs to do, I was preparing for an 18th birthday, Christmas  and I now having been so ill I had to catch up.

I was still waiting for a diagnosis, I might have a serious illness and the way everything seemed to be urgent I did not know if I would make it to Christmas let alone the end of NANOWRIMO.  What if the boys never knew anything about my life.

NANOWRIMO rules state you cannot just write an autobiography, but then I think that would sound very boring and dull.  But a parody, a bit of caricature of how my life developed.  Lets face it most of it is just too unbelievable to make up.

Nov 1st arrived, resistance was futile.   I had missed last year and read all the posts feeling left out and miserable.  It did not matter if I didn’t win it was the taking part that really mattered.  How often have I said that to a losing team.  This time it really was what mattered.

I am now on day 17 and have just hit the 20,000 mark so am slightly under par.   The subject matter is easy its all in my head.  I am using my template plan from two years ago of  writing a chapter every two days and then moving on.  It seems to be working.

Will update you soon.


Have a look at what I am up to with my food blog at Tea Time Treats 


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