Monday, September 29, 2008

Hole in my shoe

I have a hole in my shoe.

Not a big one that lets in the water and makes my socks wet, just a small one in the heel where it has worn through to an air pocket.

If it’s a dry day no one knows.

However, if the ground is damp, each step makes a noise like a queef.

Which might be more embarrassing if more people knew what that was.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

If the face fits, wear it...

In my last post, when I put up a wedding day picture, quite apart from the not unexpected remarks about my hairstyle, both Pat and Mary made comments to the effect that I'd "grown into" my face, or that my face now fits me better.

I must admit I wasn't entirely sure what they meant.

When I mentioned this to Maggie, she said she knew exactly, but upon further enquiry she became kind of vague and changed the subject.

Putting issues of weight aside, does my face "fit" me better now than it did in the past? In many ways it's a strange concept; surely my face is my face whatever age I am?

And yet, maybe there's something in it.

There are plenty of people who crave youth, despair as they move further away from it and spend large amounts of time desperately trying to recapture it. But for me, I've always preferred being a grown up; I never liked people calling me "son", although I still feel a bit too young for "Grandad."

But despite the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, in many ways I am more self-assured, more comfortable in who I am than I have ever been.

Finally I've reached an age where other people take me more seriously than I do.

It is said the older we get, the more we end up with the face we deserve - grumpy, happy, angry, peaceful - the frequency with which we express these emotions, causes them to contort the skin into permanent wrinkles. Will our lives culminate with a scowl etched into our appearance, or laughter lines?

Perhaps it's why I find aging faces so much more interesting to look at than youthful ones. Forget airbrushed 20 somethings, I love photos of faces that have been lived in.

However, the way mine is shaping up, I wish I'd smiled a bit more often.

Ages: a few months, 5 & 16

Ages: 18 (yes that is an attempt at a moustache), 21 & 24

Aged 26, 28 & 31 (with baby Meg)

Aged 34, 38 & 41

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lace Wedding Anniversary

Today Maggie and I celebrate being married for 13 years.

I've written before about how Maggie and I met, and why we decided to wed nearly 5 years later. If you like that kind of romantic gooey stuff, then visit my post Tin Wedding Anniversary.

This year I've dug out our wedding album (basically a few photos taken by my dad and a couple of friends) and put up a picture of a surprisingly young, fresh faced looking couple on their wedding day.

So much seems to have happened since then it feels like several lifetimes ago.

Not to mention hairstyles...

A considerably younger looking couple 21st September 1995

Friday, September 19, 2008

Blood Disposal

That’s the 4th pint of blood removed from my veins in the past few weeks, and unlike previous times, this time I gushed – the entire bag was full in less than 10 minutes. Still, I wish they had a system that required a smaller needle and less initial pain.

It doesn’t particularly help that the local GPs & nurses at the local health centre aren’t generally used to taking pints of blood in a single go. Sure they’re always taking small amounts for samples and tests, but that requires only small needles, and it’s the suction of the syringe that draws out the blood. When taking as much as half a litre the blood needs to fill the bag under it’s own pressure. Thus the needle needs to be longer and wider to allow the blood to flow more easily.

The ones who are best trained to take blood simply and with minimum discomfort are of course the National Blood Service or the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service. This would have the double benefit of being treated by someone who has fewer problems finding the right place to shove the needle in, while simultaneously contributing to the massive shortfall of blood required by the National Health Service.

Unfortunately, the blood donation services are not allowed to accept blood from people with the genetic form of Haemochromatosis, despite the fact it is neither harmful nor transferable to the recipient. There are moves afoot to try and change this, but even when it comes, they still will not be allowing more than 4 donations a year.

What a waste.

So what to do with all this extra, non-usable blood being taken from me every fortnight? Well, I had an idea while the last drops were dripping out of my arm and my head was floating in a light and fuzzy way.

Black Pudding*.

Pig’s blood is traditionally used, but I don’t see why my blood wouldn’t be just as tasty or nutritious. Either I could do a deal with one of the local butchers, or perhaps set up my own specialist business using a suitable name, such as “Sweeney Todd’s Home Made Black Puddings” or “Sawney Bean’s Black Pudding Emporium” with the tag line “The owner puts more of himself into his product than any other maker”.

However, upon further enquiry from my GP it transpires they are not allowed to give me the blood to take away with me, even though it was mine to begin with. Apparently once it has left my body it is categorised as bio-hazardous waste and has to be disposed of accordingly. I’m not even allowed to put it in the compost bin.

Still it’s probably just as well, as with my condition I should be avoiding such iron-rich foods anyway.

*Sam, if you’re reading this, here’s a nostalgic link just for you

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


It seems the older we get, the more upset we become when things aren’t quite the same. The smallest of things can cause the greatest outpourings of bile, rants and scorn.

Forget the protests in Burma against the hideous human rights abuses; ignore the wholesale destruction of rainforests and numerous species of plants and animals; and don’t even begin to think about poverty and starvation in the third world brought about by certain Western governments and multi-national companies supporting corrupt regimes.

For all these pale into insignificance compared to the layout changes they have made in Facebook.

There seem to be more protests and people prepared to sign petitions about this than over whether we were lied to by our governments about Iraq’s possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction and the need to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands, and misery of millions because of it.

What does it say about us?

Quite simply it says we’re more concerned about what’s right in front of our eyes than some abstract idea effecting people elsewhere or elsewhen.

Cast James Bond with a blonde haired actor? Reorganise the layout of our favourite TV magazine? Change the name of BBC Radio 4 News to BBC News Radio 4? Bump off our favourite soap opera star? Kids listening to some new kind of thumpa thumpa music? Have Dr Who regenerate into someone else? Subtle alterations in the pattern on the toilet paper? HOW WILL WE SURVIVE? GIVE ME BACK WHAT I’M FAMILIAR WITH!!!

Clearly it’s an evolutionary survival tactic. Those who were concerned about distant things rather than the immediate tended to get eaten by roaming predators and so failed to pass on their genetic code. We are descendents of the paranoid, the obsessive-compulsive and the randy.

This is why long-term goals are so difficult to stick to. Faced with a choice between an ideal thinner, fitter, healthier self at some vague point in the future, and a bramble crumble right in front of us, it’s unsurprising which one will win out.

It seems the only real way to make people act on a large scale is to change something right in front of their eyes – something tangible, something immediate.

If each cigarette caused a coughing fit, or if each car journey caused a tornado, or if each chocolate bar caused an instant gain of 10lbs, we would modify our behaviour with much greater speed and intensity.

So with Facebook rapidly approaching 100,000,000 members, perhaps the solution to the worlds problems would be to create annoying little changes in the layout or colouring of Facebook every time another species becomes extinct, another person is arrested, imprisoned and tortured without trial or representation, the global temperature rises another 0.1 of a degree, the government lies to us, or another child dies in poverty.

Perhaps then our gripes could make a difference.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bramble Crumble: Before and After



You seriously thought I could think of getting my camera out to take a photo while a Bramble Crumble was right in front of me, waiting to be eaten?

If you really want to know what it looks like "Before", you'll have to make your own.

Here's the recipe for Bramble Crumble.

I once ate so much bramble crumble I was physically sick.
Didn't stop me wanting more though...


Thursday, September 11, 2008

5MFSN - is Sarah Palin One of Us?

5 Minutes For Special Needs

I've been guest blogging over on 5 Minutes for Special Needs again, this time dabbling in American Politics and whether parents of children with Down Syndrome, or any form of special need, are pro-life or pro-choice, evolutionists or creationists, pro-gun lobby or anti-gun lobby, enjoy apple pie or despise apple pie, need glasses or have 20-20 vision, shave their legs and armpits or go au naturale.

If you have a couple of minutes to spare, do pop across to read
Is Sarah Palin One of Us?

What Happened To The Greatest Blog Post Ever Written?

I lied.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Coming soon...

I have the greatest blog post ever written lined up.

It will answer the most fundamental questions about existence, and help to truly make the world a better place.

Everything in your life will suddenly and completely make sense.

But as we still don't know yet whether we will be here by the end of tomorrow (see previous post), I've decided to post in on Thursday as it would be too cruel to receive enlightenment only to have it snatched away.

Tune in 8am UK time on Thursday 11th.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The End of the World is Nigh

On September 10th, CERN will being an experiment to recreate some of the conditions created at the point of the Big Bang using The Large Hadron Collider.

Scientists assure us it is perfectly safe

I wonder if there are many of us who will be a touch disappointed if the world doesn't actually get sucked into non-existence...


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Finally relented

As I sit here in not one, but two fleeces, the smell of dusty heating is beginning to pervade the house. It is the distinct aroma that occurs when the radiators are turned on for the first time in a long while.

Forget Autumn, Winter has arrived.

Behold: September in Castle Douglas

Yes I did get a wee bit damp taking the photo