Tuesday 27 September 2011


Actually it is Plus one and a bit.

Saturday was a bad day. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I had managed to delay my first  ciggie until after lunch, the idea being that if I delayed it a little every day I would end up living in a smokeless zone by week two.
But Saturday was a bad day and I fell right off the wagon. By the end of what was a stressful day  I felt thoroughly ashamed and not a little nauseous.

Sunday: Today I became a non-smoker. It wasn't too hard because I had chest pains, nausea and a mouth like an ashtray.  Sunday was Day One.

Monday: Today was a strange day; I thought about having a cigarette constantly, but now have the mind-set of a non-smoker [I shall be berating smokers next]  and quickly found something else to do. This afternoon I fell asleep on the couch for 1:1/2 hours...so tired...bed at 9;30pm.

Tuesday: I can't imagine that I will give in now...and return to Day one: minus.  I can only think that the reason I feel so sleepy is because I have not slept properly for a long time.  My lungs no longer ache and coughing stopped. Fingers crossed. Actually feeling very proud of myself.   Was it too easy? Will I not receive the kudos I deserve.?

Thanks to you all who wrote to encourage me...I would have felt a right Wally had I let you and myself down.

Monday 19 September 2011

DAY ONE: Minus four.


I have been feeling odd; bit of a cough as expected after 64 years of the weed, light-headed yet achy behind the eyes nose and cheek-bones...classic allergy symptoms I've been telling myself when my thought process turns to the most obvious and, some would say, most deserved diagnosis.

But it is the sharp pain under my ribs [ diagnosed by me as intercostal cartilage strain or inflammation of:-] which  is the one symptom, the final symptom which leads me to the decision that I Must Quit.

 To that end I dug in the rubbish drawer for the Niquitin lozenges from my last attempt, only remembering the foulness of them on sucking the first one. I sauntered next door but two to the Chemist - our usual glorious Pharmacist - she of the ebony skin, silken dreadlocks and the whitest truest smile was on holiday and her Locum, a tall elderly taciturn man with a full head of white hair and moustache to rival that of  Dick van Dyke's Dr. Sloan, suggested, when I asked if there had been a breakthrough and had someone thought to flavour the wretched things so that they were palatable, wandered around the aisles and suggested that 'perhaps if I bought some strong mints and sucked along with a lozenge...'

That was Day one: minus one. I lasted until 1pm. I tried keeping busy, but one has to sit down sometime and Milou didn't feel like giving up his afternoon cuddle on the sofa with mum, Doctors, Flog it and Countdown.
My count was six that day...which I felt was a credible effort.
Day One:  minus  two and three followed pretty much the same pattern except that I think I must be holding my breath or somehow controlling the strength of the breaths I do take because though I slept well enough the intercostal pain was worse this morning.

Took another stroll to the Chemist...tablets are mint flavoured but at  £15. Hell's Bells. Forget it. I will quit, but slowly using will power. [famous last words?]

Just Googled Intercostal Cartilage and I think I have been 'Bracing'. Yup!

Life in the old girl yet.

Will no doubt be flagging Day one when it arrives.

I looked for a suitable illustration on Google Images but they are all too preachy, too worthy , patronising or just bonkers; as if we are not aware of the dangers involved in sucking up the tarry smoke.  Then I thought of the very old song by Phil Harris:

 Smoke smoke smoke that cigarette 
                        Puff, puff puff and if you smoke yourself to death
                              Tell St. Peter at the Golden Gate, that you hate to make him wait
              But you just gotta have another cigarette.

This song came out in  1939/40 and it was one of the songs in Mother's meagre collection [the B side wassomething about a card game: I remember: Now sitting right there in that there clan, there chanced to be a one-eyed man and he kep' starin' at me out the corner of his eye...an' ol' one eye would deal and then, it cost Bill another five or ten....]

So even then they knew. 1]that nicotine is addictive and 2] It was/is harmful.

Friday 9 September 2011


The other day I took a bus into the Bay. It was the first bus I'd been on since we bought the car so, maybe it has been at least ten years since we were without transport.  Even then we would eschew public transport, preferring to walk to the end of the road and then down the Downs along the seafront and into town that way. Of course we were both ten years younger then and the short mile was nothing to us [although laden with shopping we would always taxi back up the hill]

Now the car is gone; not too lamented when we count the money saved and bask in eco. glory of a little less pollution,but  there are times when we have to go to town and this was one of them. I couldn't ask NOAOson, who takes us to our weekly big shop out of town as his plate was overflowing at the time and I needed to browse the Charity shops-not a necessary journey but I needed my fix.

So there I was, waiting for the  10-10 bus. It was late and I was reassured to see there was another elderly woman waiting with me.
A small single decker arrived and I followed the woman inside, flashing my bus pass at the driver. He tutted, took the card and shoved it upside down over the thingummy plate and I moved inside and wedged myself in the only free seat on the sideways bench next to a very fat, beautifully made up lady of an age between 18 and 80.

The air was redolent of talcum powder, Ralgex, Lavender water, Christmas gifts of Givenchy Gentleman, my own [thankfully liberally applied ] Mitsouko, and a faint but definite whiff of Eau de Urine.

From my sideways bench I could see down the bus and every seat was occupied by a Senior Citizen with heads bearing every shade of hair from snow white to iron grey, with some bluish and pinky horrors to season the pot. But the most surprising thing-used as I was to the silence of a London bus, where the journey is a trial to be undertaken with as much speed and anonymity as possible lest one is made visible to the drunk, noisy and potentially violent-here there was a raucous cacophony of sound composed of conversations carried across the aisle, much laughter, and in one instance, singing by two couples along the back seat.

Snatches of speech:

'She didn't!'
'She bloody did.'

'I said to 'im, if you want it you can lug it upstairs.'
'My, Jim had one of them.'
'Was it worth it?'
'Nah! Could have done it meself.'  The mind boggles.

'My boy's coming down this weekend.'
'That's nice.'
'He's got a Bentley.'
'If I 'ad a Bentley I'd sell it.'
'Well he's got two.'

'Donald wanted a chop but at those prices I said it's mince or nothing.'

I  alighted  at the top of the High Street, thanking the surly driver who grunted and swished the door shut before I'd hit the pavement.

Now I'm trying to decide on a collective noun for a clutch of OAP's-and as it includes myself it has to be a good one, flatteringly descriptive of our Joi de vivre.

How about: A Survival of Seniors:

Tuesday 6 September 2011


One and two halves a reprint from 2009

by Moannie

We were three, though for a long time, it was just Mick, my older half-brother and me. 

I was Pollyanna  [well, Mollyanne a] always smiling, not a great thinker, a follower, his shadow. He could make the sounds of instruments with his mouth; drums of all types, a flute a  Saxophone.  I sang  'Money is the root of all evil'  and he played along, all jazzy, like the music we'd only recently discovered. He was wound tight, St. Edith's had done that to him. He kept secrets the way he kept his sweets in their paper bag, all screwed up in his pocket so that he had to suck the paper off. Never shared. I would eat my weekly twopenny worth of Bulls-eyes, or Humbugs or toffees in one go, stuffing my cheeks and sussing up the streaming saliva, then beg 'G'us one,' but he never would. 

After St. Edith's it was just him and me...playing Dick Barton:Special Agent in the hidey hole under the eaves, or we'd play shops with the meagre contents of mum's kitchen, or Jazz bands. We'd sprawl on mum's divan bed with the tapestry cover of a jungle scene with lions and tigers and he'd be Tarzan to my Jane, or we'd play mum's few records over and over and he would copy the instruments until I could not tell if it was the record or him playing the snare drum or the trumpet. When Harry was there, before mum married him, we would leave the house and run, always run - to the park, or to the bridge over the railway where we would gaze in fascination as the snorting black and shiny monsters chuntered along the tracks.

He grew up to be tight-lipped, quick to quip, holding nothing dear. If St. Edith's was the cause, he never told me...he grew a moustache and a goatee beard, and he grew away from me. He wanted no ties of love, or emotion, not even for his mother who died with just me there, holding her hand. He came to her funeral, then left. We have not met since then, thirty years ago.

When Tony was born I was ten and Mick twelve. I fell in love instantly. At first I was forbidden to go near him, then gradually I became useful. He was the Prince-the chosen one, the wartime baby who needed the butter and the orange juice, eggs and milk and sweets [candy], all rationed, but he blossomed and thrived even though his baby teeth grew out in blackened and decayed stumps he was still beautiful and I adored him, which was just as well as he became my shadow as soon as he could walk. Mick dropped me like a hot potato and it was then Tony and me.
 But there was something in him that curdled, like milk left out in the sun, and the loving brother grew up and became someone else, self-absorbed, a braggart, an opinionated - the French have the perfect word which translates as near as dammit to- a...hole.

When mum was dying I called him-he turned over and went back to sleep.

We tried, many times to get back to something resembling family, but it was false and finally failed and it has been many years now since there was any contact.

There are many and valid reasons why they became what they are-and why I am who I am. Mick never knew his father, adored his mother and watched her abandon us then make a disastrous marriage and cling to it, even though we, the reasons why she married were anathema to the man and we hated him. He escaped through National Service in Suez and never went back home to live. Tony was wanted and loved and spoiled, but was born of Harry's gene pool. He loved his father, had no reason not to, but he was left alone with mum when I left home at eighteen and she began her long fight with Multiple Sclerosis and he despised her as weak.

I had no spine, no backbone, I wanted the fairy story, the loving father and mother, the laughing playing siblings, the gingerbread house, the happy ending.
I do not miss my half-brothers-they only ever made me unhappy, bringing JP to anger and me to agonise over each visit.

And in the end I made my own fairy tale.