Friday, February 29, 2008

Depth of vision

Come here.

Put your arms around me.

Now look deep into my eyes and see that I'm not lying to you.

OK, go and get your glasses then...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Guest blogging elsewhere

Michele over at Special Needs Parent asked if I would contribute to her blog in the form of an interview. Every Tuesday she asks another parent of a child with special needs for an insight into their lives and how the needs of the child have affected the parent(s) and the family.

If you're interested, do pop along:


Monday, February 25, 2008

The Pillow Inspectors

Premise for a new Channel 4 TV series - The Pillow Inspectors*

Each week a stern, firm-but-fair, schoolmarm-ish, middle-aged female osteopath and microzoologist visits normal, everyday people who suffer from sleep problems.

The victims/suffers will have their pillows examined, which will be found to be unsuitable in aiding a decent night’s sleep. These pillows will be stained, squashed, the wrong thickness, too many, too few, made of the wrong material and have a large percentage of their volume comprising of dust mites and other unsavoury creatures, which will be blown up to horrific proportions by the microscope-come-pillowcam designed especially for the series.

The voice-over will be snooty, gossipy and condescending.

In the first half of the programme, the victims/suffers will be made to feel useless, inferior, unclean and a blemish on human society. Those with children and/or partners will be labelled as unfit parents and wives (with the exception of the obligatory stay-at-home-husband and at least one gay couple each series).

During the second part of the programme they will be scanned by a state of the art 3D imaging machine and, using computer software designed by the slumber industry, will have pillows designed that precisely fit their body, head and neck shapes while being composed of dust mite resistant, hypoallergenic material created by NASA.

Along with a lecture about how often to change their pillowcases, the appropriate ambient temperature of the room and general hygienic behaviour, the lives of the victims/suffers will be transformed before the final credits. They will be excitedly talking of restful sleeps, more energy throughout the day, potential promotions at work and a huge improvement in their sex lives.

The stern, firm-but-fair, schoolmarm-ish, middle-aged female osteopath and microzoologist who was initially so harsh, can now be seen as a warm and friendly saviour who had only been dishing out tough love in order to help the unfortunate souls.

Coming up after the break, Celebrity Deity Swap will be seeing how Mrs Yahweh and Mrs Lucifer coped when they exchanged realms for a month. (Cut to scene showing Mrs Yahweh standing in Hell looking around despairingly as she says, "You mean to say there’s no toilet paper to be found anywhere?")

*copyright Kim Ayres 2008 - if anyone would like to buy this idea from me to turn into a TV programme, write me a cheque for a 5 figure number (pounds sterling, not including pence) and it's yours.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Another Appointment

"Do you want to make another appointment Mr Ayres?"

"No, The Specialist doesn’t think it’s worth it."

Three months ago The Specialist in Edinburgh was convinced my problems were down to Depression and that if I just gave the anti-depressants long enough to kick in my tiredness would resolve itself (see When the wizard turns out to be just a bloke wearing ordinary shoes).

Well on the plus side, the anti-depressants have kicked in, especially since they were upped to 60mg about a month ago. I no longer get the sudden, out of the blue, overwhelming feelings of intense grief and sadness that were crippling me for most of the 2nd half of last year.

However, the tiredness remains.

This time The Specialist had no more suggestions. None of the blood tests indicate anything worth following up: my iron levels are fine; my thyroid is fine; my immune system is pretty laid back and not reacting like it's under any threat, and so forth.

There’s little point in traipsing up to Edinburgh to see him any more.

So, in summary:

I officially have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
No one knows how long it will last
No one knows if it will improve or get worse
The doctors are happy to give me whatever pills I ask for to make my life easier
I need to balance my energy levels and avoid boom-and-bust activities

Other than that, I’m on my own.


I need a new Narrative.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

If you're not into sentimental slush, move on

When we express our ultimate words of love for our ultimate loved one, are we expressing the words they need to hear, or the ones we need to hear?

For years I have been letting Maggie know how much I love her and want us to be together for all time. This, I always believed, was the ultimate reassurance and expression of love for her. Surely she should realise that if I only ever wanted to be with her, it would help to soothe away her fears and anxieties.

But while she was clearly pleased to hear this, it didn’t do the job I felt it should. In her times of worry and stress, I would let her know more frequently, or with more intensity, that I was here for her, that she was not alone. Somehow, though, it was never quite enough and I would despair at being unable to give her the emotional security she so desperately needed.

Over the 17 years we have been together our souls have grown more and more entwined. I cannot think of a worse thing than to be separated from her. Together we can cope with anything; apart I feel I could not survive.

Yet it wasn’t until the other day that I had a blinding flash of the obvious: all this time I have been trying to support and reassure Maggie against my biggest fear rather than hers, which is subtly different.

Maggie doesn’t fear being alone in the same way I do; her biggest fear is that if people knew who she really was, were able to look deep into her soul, they would not like her, would not want to be with her, would be incapable of loving her. And then she would be truly alone.

But I do know Maggie. I know her desires, her insecurities, her dreams, her pleasures, her fears, her loves and her guilts. I know Maggie better than anyone else in the world; sometimes I know her better that she knows herself. I have looked deep into her soul, many, many times. I know exactly who she is, and I am deeply, powerfully and eternally in love with her.

So finally I realise it is not enough for me to proclaim my love and let her know I will always be there for her; I also need to remind her that I do know exactly who she is inside. And that she is worthy of that love.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Rocket Fuel



“Turn it upside down”


“The other way up”

Oh. Now what?

“Press the bottom”

The lid?


The lid is at the bottom because it’s upside down

“No, the base of the cup, not the lid.”

This bulgy bit?

“That would be it, yes. Press it in.”

Now what?

“Shake it for 40 seconds.”

The bulgy bit? How do I shake that?

“Shake the whole cup, Kim. For 40 seconds.”


Is that 40 seconds yet?

“I don’t know, I wasn’t timing you.”

It’s hot. I’m starting to burn my fingers

“It’s probably ready then. Take the lid off… Turn it up the right way first!!!”

Well it looks like coffee…

“Just drink the damn stuff”


Oh bloody hell, that’s vile.

“It doesn’t matter, just finish it.”

Do I have to?

“We’re still an hour from home so the alternative is we stay in this lay-by for the night and try and sleep in the car, or you drive us, fall asleep at the wheel and we crash and die horribly.”


“Are you ready to drive yet?”

OfcourseIam, passmeamintfromtheglovebox totakethisfoultasteoutofmymouth. Didyouknowthatiftheworldwasthesizeofabeachball, PlutowouldstillbefurtherawaythanInverness?

Rocket Fuel Self Heating Coffee – the emergency drink when you’re still an hour’s drive from home and the only alternative is to fall asleep at the wheel and crash and die horribly.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hair today...

9 years and 363 days after she was born, Meg has had her first hair cut.

Quite why it has taken so long to get round to doing it comes down to the fact that when it’s loose, Meg’s hair is astonishingly beautiful and we’ve never had the heart to cut it.

Unfortunately her very long hair has also been a nightmare to look after. Every day it needed to be thoroughly brushed out, de-knotted and plaited. In fact it spent 99% of the time in a plaited ponytail just because it was completely unmanageable otherwise.

With Meg’s 10th birthday approaching we realised we had to reach a stage where she would be able to look after her hair herself, so this morning Maggie and our friend Liz took Meg to the hairdresser in what felt like some kind of female rite of passage.

The camera was duly thrust into my hands for the obligatory Before and After photos

Before After

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Things to do


Fall in love

Have beautiful children

Become a famous author

Become a millionaire

Rule the world

Put the bin out


Friday, February 08, 2008

5 years

It's the 5th anniversary today.

Surprisingly I didn't remember until later in the day, which is a good thing I guess. It means I have probably moved on another step.

When I did remember though, the grief came flooding back.

I don't think the feelings are ever less intense, only that they occur less frequently.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008



I felt it was time for a slight revamp. Hope you like the new header


Saturday, February 02, 2008

The innocent have nothing to fear

"The innocent have nothing to fear"

This is the much-abused phrase used every time a new erosion of our civil liberties occurs or another draconian law is passed, supposedly to save us from the hundreds of thousands of paedophiles and terrorists lurking on every street corner.

Of course it’s a complete lie. What actually happens is the innocent live in perpetual fear of being wrongly accused, while the not-so-innocent are no more deterred by a stronger punishment than they were by a lesser one.

I was reflecting on this while trying to complete our Self-Assessment Tax Forms which had to be in by the end of January... or else!

There are millions of people up and down the country who fill in their tax returns every year, and not all of them are accountants. So in a bid to save a few more pennies we dispensed with allowing a professional to charge us several hundred quid for filling in a form on our behalf for the 2006/7 accounts.

For someone who is reasonably literate and numerate, it should have been fairly straightforward, and yet it turned into one of the most stressful, anxiety-attack filled processes of the past twelve months.

I have put it off, procrastinated, started, suddenly remembered hundreds of other things I needed to be doing, debated finding an accountant after all, wondered if it was worth skipping the country and contemplated whether it would be less painful to slit my own throat.

Having now completed my tax return, I have to admit it is not such a complicated document – no worse than, say, learning how to play monopoly. Mind you, like monopoly or other family games, if there’s someone in the room who already knows what they’re doing you can be up and running within minutes, but if no one knows and you have to learn solely by reading the instructions, you’ll still be scratching your head and arguing over the rules 3 weeks later. But where this analogy falls down is the consequences of getting it wrong are very different.

And that’s the crux of the matter.

Imagine there was a plank 3 feet wide and 12 feet long lying on the ground; I’m sure you could walk across without falling off with barely a second thought. However, if the plank was traversing a crevasse with a 300-foot drop, you might wonder whether you could do it at all. What would normally be a simple task now becomes one of the most frightening of your life.

Now we know that the government has all sorts of powers of detention and obscure laws to do whatever they want to us. Perhaps we have vague memories of someone once saying that tax evasion is still a hangable offence. Don’t the Inland Revenue have the authority to lock you away in a darkened cell and wire your genitals up to 40,000 volts?

Remember, they didn’t get Al Capone for being a vicious and brutal murdering mobster: they imprisoned him for tax fraud.

The fact that on the forms themselves the only potential punishment mentioned is a £100 fine if you fail to submit your Self-Assessment Tax by January 31st, seems irrelevant. The fear of getting it wrong is overwhelming.

Even without the threat of 40,000 volts to my nether regions, the idea that I might be investigated, have my computer confiscated and end up in court, just because I put a zero in the wrong place gives me the jitters. It doesn’t matter that I wouldn’t knowingly break the law; all it takes is someone’s suspicions for my life to be turned upside down.

Of course the real crooks and fraudsters know the systems and employ the right people to make sure they never get caught; it is your average person in the street who lives in fear.

What about Samina Malik who ended up in prison for writing dodgy poetry and visiting a few unsavoury websites? What about all those prisoners in Guantanamo Bay who after 4 years of detention were released without charge, trial or apology? What about Jean Charles de Menezes who was shot by police on the London Underground because he looked a bit foreign?

It’s always the innocent who live in fear when our civil liberties are eroded.

So if you start reading reports in the newspaper of "The Castle Douglas Two", or worse, we vanish off the face of the earth with all evidence of our existene mysteriously erased, then you’ll know Maggie and I must have slipped up on our disallowable expenses.