Thursday, January 28, 2021

In Case You Were Wondering


Bert's Aunt is holding her own. The news comes third hand as no-one is allowed to visit. What happens next is out of our hands. 

I panicked and ordered Covid testing kits for Bert and me. We both tested negative.

Booking for the vaccination opened today for people in my age group. I secured an appointment for Sunday. The second jab is to be in April. After which I might be able to visit my darlings in Norfolk. Maybe. Fingers crossed.

The snowdrops are out and I am hopeful for longer days and milder weather.

Lizzie and me at Craig's Moss. I'm probably half the age I am today and Lizzie would be in her early sixties. We're all ready for a day of bagging turf. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Counting Sheep in 2016

 I found this scrap of a post today on an old external hard drive. Written 22nd November 2016.

On nights when I find myself tired but not quite ready to fall into sleep I have a number of little mind games to help lull me over. These vary from a winning the lottery fantasy (I never play the lottery) and how I would dispose of my fortune. I’d need at least £7,000,000 as I have a very big family. Sometimes, if I don't wish to excite myself too much I just try to remember all the 32 counties of Ireland.

Back when I was a teenager, I’d be deciding in which order I’d date the Monkees and which of them I’d eventually marry and raise children with. It was always either Davy Jones or Mickey Dolenz and I only went out with Peter Tork once and then we just held hands. You know, thinking back, I never once planned my wedding or thought about a wedding dress. It was always about what Davy and I (or Mickey and I) were going to call our huge family of mostly female children. Lord! I was so young.

Last night I found a new method of helping myself nod off. A fantasy of having Donald Trump killed.

I must have been feeling slightly better the following week when I wrote and posted this,

And what of my inner life? Well... I'm still trying to come to terms with what appears to be the new world order and the rise of the right. At least I'm not dreaming about killing that man any more. Negative energy Nelly, negative energy.

It's been a long four years.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Bert Steps Up


This week was eventful in a lockdown sort of way.

Monday. Quiet for Nellybert but Chez Liz heavy things went down. Bert’s Aunt was in extremely angry mode and made a lot of people cry. With hindsight, one wonders if rage is a symptom of corona virus.

Tuesday. Still Nellybert’s Day Off. Aunt pressed the panic button that summoned Favourite Cousin because she wanted to get up two hours earlier than usual and her fire needed sparked.

Wednesday. The early morning carer couldn’t access Aunt’s abode and Bert had to rush up there to see what gave. He expected the worst but it turned out the door was simply stuck and the carer, new to the case, couldn’t figure out how to deal with the rustic half-door. He hung out until Favourite Cousin and Favourite Niece arrived to pack Lizzie’s case for her two-week all-expenses-paid respite to a very nice little place in Antrim.

Wednesday Evening. Favourite Niece returned Chez Liz as she was feeling poorly and was scared. FN settled her, made her as comfortable as possible and went home.

Thursday. The news came through that the Covid-19 test that Aunt had been given as a condition of her admission to the very nice place in Antrim had come back positive and respite was cancelled. Favourite Niece and Cousin had to take a big step back as both are vulnerable. Bert steps up. He is now her sole family support and spends most of the day with her in two sessions. She is very unwell and continues to deteriorate.

Friday. Bert spends entire day with his Aunt with short return home for lunch. Community Nursing Team, GP and Social Worker pull out all stops to get Lizzie admitted to hospital care. The Social Worker clears her desk and sits vigil with Bert until paramedics arrive. By this stage Lizzie is so unwell that the paramedics are not sure she will survive the trip to hospital. Administering oxygen revives her a little and the decision to remove her is taken.

Friday Evening. Bert returns home, very shaken by what has taken place and in absolute awe of the dedication of the nurses, GP, paramedics, social worker and the care team. He is also really spooked that he was in such close contact with a live coronavirus case. He’s still worried.

Saturday. Little news about Bert’s Aunt. She is ‘settled’. The truth is, hospital staff have barely time to communicate with relatives. And we cannot visit. These are strange and awful times. Favorite Niece and Cousin and Bert were all contacted by Track and Trace. All advised to self-isolate for ten days. When Bert explained that he was the only person who could help Lizzie he was told he could do so but he was to go nowhere else. I am allowed to go to shops as it was nearly a week since I’d been with Lizzie. That’s what Track and Trace said but daughter Hannah said I’m not allowed to go to shops at all.

An amusing aside. Bert was very particular about PPE, His consisted of disposable gloves, a mask, a heavy cotton boiler suit, woolly hat and fleece. After each return from Aunt’s house the boiler suit, fleece and hat were divested for laundering. I’ve never washed so many boiler suits in my life. And was glad to.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Birthday Girl

My youngest grandchild turned three yesterday. Her party was a small affair, just Mummy and Daddy and her big brother. But going by the video I saw they all seemed to have had a jolly good time.

 I haven't seen Emily and her family since August 2019. I expected to visit them in Norfolk in Spring last year but of course, that wasn't possible. Then they were supposed to come to Ireland in late Summer but that wasn't possible either. I miss seeing them so much. WhatsApp calls are a delight but they don't come with hugs. 

I didn't feel up to writing this last night although I did have a lovely phonecall with Emily and her mum even though Emily should have been in bed. Norfolk will be my first port of call as soon as it is safe and restrictions are lifted but goodness knows when that will be. BBC News reports tonight that half of the patients in our local area hospital have tested positive for coronavirus. 

In other news, I cut my own hair this evening. Gathered it all into a high ponytail, ran my fingers to its end and cut off around an inch of split ends. I missed a few locks so might have to do it again in the morning. 

And I'm in a state of nervous anticipation about Wednesday's inauguration. There will be wine.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Man Above

 First of all, I have to report that I didn't get very far with the novel. Just a few changes in the notes about how many illegitimate children the father had before he met the mother and some new thoughts on infant mortality.

For I was too busy paying heed to the Georgia run-offs. Got up early on Wednesday morning and positively whooped at the news that the Democrats had succeeded. That was a good feeling about US politics that didn't last the day. For, as everyone now knows, there was a bit of an insurrection on Capitol Hill. 

The day after Bert had to see the man up the road who is quite the Trump fan, and who believes the orange one to have been sent by God to turn around the evils of this world. No matter, that God's chosen one has a dubious grip on morals and decency, for He works in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform... as isn’t written in scripture.

The man up the road informed Bert that the rioters were most emphatically not supporters of Trump. They were in fact actors and Antifa. He maintains that in a months time the truth will out, Trump will be back in the White House and Biden will be in jail!

My thoughts? I have come to believe that those who take the bible literally are capable of believing anything.

Meanwhile, closer to home, Bert’s Aunt Lizzie was admitted to hospital on Monday. There was a day-long wait for the GP’s visit and then a five hour wait for an ambulance which, when it finally arrived, was staffed by volunteers all the way from County Fermanagh.

Anyway, the hospital did some tests and she has a serious problem. She refused a biopsy and they said she could go home, but not until the social workers had arranged some extra help at home – which is good. Then the hospital phoned to inform her next-of-kin that the hospital bay she’d been nursed in had a coronavirus case so now all those patients are in isolation for ten days. These are crazy times and not a good time to get sick.

But for now, I am looking forward to the Spring, the vaccine and a hair cut. And Bert is looking forward to receiving the £30 bet we put on the results of the American election. I said I wouldn’t pay up until inauguration day. For anything could happen. Anything.

Saturday, January 02, 2021

Saturday Morning Conversation

 Y'know Bert, last night just before snuggling down to sleep I realised that I can let my thoughts wander where they will, I can go anywhere, do anything, be whatever I wish...


And, y'know, next thing I'd worked out an idea for a book!

Oh. That's good. Will it be a humorous book?

Oh no. I don't think so. The themes I'm considering are family, rural Ireland, betrayal and insanity.

So it's going to be an autobiography then? 

No! Definitely fiction.

Any sex in it?

Hinted at. Although nothing passionate, it will be dutiful congress only. We're talking about Catholics here.

I'm not sure about Jack Russells but Eriophorum angustifolium (bog cotton) will definitely feature.


Friday, January 01, 2021

New Year's Day

Martha asked me recently how long I might live. I answered, 

I'm planning to live until I'm 88 years old. I might live longer or I might die before that, but - that's the plan anyway. You'll be in your early thirties by then, you'll be a proper grown-up, on your way.

I think she liked that answer, Being thirty-three must seem like a lifetime away to her. When I was her age I thought my life would be hardly worth living at thirty. I expected to be married to some elderly boring professor who I wouldn't even particularly like and that I'd have about four not very interesting children, likely all boys. Obvious that I believed Jo March's fate to be a big disappointment.

Bert's Aunt Lizzie has gone two years over my ideal lifespan. I spent most of yesterday with her and she is not in good form. She won't eat, hardly drinks, cannot sleep and is in constant pain. She waited three months for a hospital appointment and has finally been given one for this day week. In ordinary times she would already be in the hospital if only to be rehydrated. This pandemic is dreadful for the ordinary sick and elderly whose care needs are not being met. One of Lizzie's carers told me that on a recent house visit she came upon an elderly man who had fallen and could not get up. Normally carers would be expected to call an ambulance and wait until it arrived. Two hours later, no ambulance had arrived so she sought the help of a neighbour who helped her get the old chap on his feet. He then declared that he would not go to hospital and the ambulance was cancelled. Incidentally, this carer waited on her own time and will never be paid for it. And didn't even resent it. A true Hero.

Lizzie in better days