Just give. Please.

Dad-Cannon-Brighton-Fort1Haven’t posted on here for a bit. I’ve wanted. I’ve had loads of things I’ve wanted to record. Some lovely memories. Some weird feelings. But I’ve been very conscious of being too ‘woe is me’.

Throughout this whole thing I’ve been incredibly aware of What Others Think. Am I being too ‘normal’? Will people think me a cold fish? Do they know what’s happened? Etc etc.

Well, now I am utterly focused on other people in a different way. I’m asking them to give me money to shave my head next year.

Here are the details. If ever a post of mine over on BMTV has amused or entertained – or just wasted 5 mins before the lunch break – please chuck me a fiver. http://www.justgiving.com/projectegghead/

My family are Jewish, and during the morning period, the men grow a beard – a physical manifestation of their grief. As a non-religious Jew (and a woman!) I felt quite frustrated in the months that followed my Dad’s death that I didn’t do anything physical to mark what has happened. I also wanted to do something to raise awareness and money to fund research for Pancreatic cancer. So my boyfriend Dave and I have decided to raise £2,000 for the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund (http://www.pcrf.org.uk/index.html) – and during Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Week next year (probably mid November 2010) we’ll shave our heads.

I’m not a runner (I can’t do the marathon thing), but I wanted to do something that would test me. Anyone can sit in a bath of baked beans. Anyone who knows me knows that I am passionate about fashion – perhaps too passionate! My hair is a very important part of my ‘look’ – it’s basically my permanent accessory. Plus, as a woman, my hair is an important part of my femininity. So there’s absolutely no doubt that this will be difficult for me. But I’m determind to do it. After all, I’m lucky enough that it’ll grow back. Others aren’t so fortunate.

To put Pancreatic cancer into perspective:

Forty years ago few children survived childhood leukaemia. Now the survival rate is 80%
Forty years ago only
46% of women diagnosed with breast cancer survived five years or more. Now that figure is also 80%


Forty years ago 3% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer survived five years or more. That figure is still 3%

When I read that last statistic I was utterly appalled. I hope you are too.

The problem with Pancreatic cancer is that it’s so difficult to detect, so by the time it is diagnosed, there’s very little that can be done. But with research, hopefully the boffins can find some way around it. Already there is an operation that can be done if the cancer is detected early enough.

Pancreatic cancer seems to be the black sheep of the cancer family. Not many people know about it, and those who do know it to be severe and unrelenting. Hopefully with research and raising awareness this can change. Years ago, cancers like leukemia and lung cancer were feared almost as highly as pancreatic cancer. Now, thanks to funding research and raising awareness, the survival rate is growing daily. I hope in years to come, the same will be said for pancreatic cancer.

My boyfriend Dave is also shaving his head in support. This is a team effort, so please support him too!

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity and make sure Gift Aid is reclaimed on every eligible donation by a UK taxpayer. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – I raise more, whilst saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

So please dig deep and donate now.

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Boo… er… ???

Had my first proper wobble last night just as we put the light out. Was very odd.

You know when you feel the urge to sneeze and go “Aaaah!” and then nothing happens? That’s the best way to describe it. The first initial, uncontrollable bit of a sob happened, and then… nothing. It was like that for a good half hour – really very frustrating and worrying.

I sort of felt quite panicky every time a crying-wave hit me, and stopped myself (probably without thinking). I used to get mini-panicky moments when I was younger, and had one the night Dad died and I think that’s why I’ve been on ‘normal’ mode ever since, to keep it in check. I’m worried it’s going to come back again, so must have been subconsciously controlling my emotions ever since that night. What I thought was ‘being normal’ WAS actually putting on a brave face. Never believe a word I say; I clearly talk bollocks!

Of course, this made the whole crying thing even worse, so after a while I couldn’t bloody stop crying!

Really not looking forward to this process if it’s going to be like that every time!

Anger, frustration, guilt – oh dear!

I’m still doing the ‘carrying on as normal’ thing. It’s not an act I’m putting on. I’m not ‘being brave’. This is just how I am. Normal. Tupper says I’m ever-so-slightly different. More fragile, less sparkly. But I’m still just being normal. I know the facts. But they still seem so surreal. It’s becoming frustrating for me because I know it’s going to hit me, I just don’t know when. I also feel uncomfortable because I’m paranoid people think I don’t care.

At night I’ll repeat a mantra over and over in my head to try and hurry it along. “He’s dead. You’ll never speak to him again. He’s dead. You’ll never hear his voice again. He’s dead. You’ll never see him again.” Cold and detatched sadness. But no wailing or gnashing of teeth. No incomprehensible sorrow. No melancholy.

Tupper reckon’s there’s a part of me that’s pretending (subconsciously) that everything’s fine. He said “your dad’s dead,” and asked how that felt for me to hear him say it. I didn’t like it. It sounded weird. And a bit wrong. Factually, I know he’s right. He said that until a certain amount of time has lapsed, for me it could be that Dad has gone on holiday. And that’s sort of how it feels at the moment. Everything else (all the facts) is abstract still. I got a bit angry with him last week.

The more I think about the events over the past few months, the more I’m sure he must have known he had cancer (or at least that whatever was wrong with him was Bad). Selfishly I’m angry that, had he not left it too late, we could have all had some months left – able to say goodbye properly. He could have had pain relief, someone to look after him and cook his meals, etc. Why didn’t he choose that? Why did he wallow instead at home, alone, in pain for all that time? I know he must have been terrified, but again, we could have all shared that and helped him through it.

One thing about Dad. He always – even through the bad times – did his best to try and protect me. Whether it was continually fretting over the fact I had no financial adviser or pension plan (!), giving me health advice, paying for my education; he was always there to help and protect me. Maybe that’s why he didn’t find out for sure. Maybe he was utterly petrified and knew it would scare us too. Maybe he didn’t want us all to go through that. Or maybe it was pride. Maybe he didn’t want us to see him like that.

But there’s always going to be a part of me that’s angry with him because neither of us got the chance to really cherish what we had. Our relationship had only just (relatively) got back on track after years of ups and very steep downs. He had always wanted a daughter and I learned this from a very early age. I felt I had the power to get him to lead a healthy life. It was up to me to get him to stop drinking and turn himself around.

For years we grappled together – for a time we hardly spoke and when we did there’d be arguments, blame, harsh words (from both sides). In the last two years we’d put all that aside and had started a fresh. There were times he’d upset me, but I had a way of dealing with it that meant there were minimal raised voices and slamming down of phones. Things were running very smoothly thank you very much, and we had come to be very good friends.

For the first time in 26 years I had put aside my embarrassment, my resentment, my anger and had become immensely fond of him and his quirks. I was actually proud of his eccentricity. Yes, I still warned my friends that he might say or do something offensive (And Tupper only met him back in May). But that wasn’t out of embarrassment; it was more because I wanted Dad to be understood – and not disliked for his inappropriate behaviour. Obviously life is one big ‘if only’. But had I known… I knew when he went I’d be left with immense guilt because of The Wilderness Years. But I never expected to have to deal with them now. Why did he choose his end to be the way it was? I don’t think I’ll ever be able to understand or forgive it.

What happened

Hyndwood---David-Sarah-DanielSorry for doing this. This is not a woe is me post. It’s because my memory is so terrible I want to keep a record of what’s happened and how I’ve been feeling. It will probably be cathartic. It might also be interesting to chart my feelings.

It was pancreatic cancer in the end – 28th July. Dad had been having really bad back pain for the last few months – all very mysterious and worrying – and yet he only ever seemed to be doing the bare minimum to find out what it was (pain killers, some acupuncture – the first MRI scan could be done because he couldn’t lie down for the pain. The second was due under anaesthetic the week after he died). Typical of him though as he never liked hospitals, injections etc. The consultant didn’t trust doctors!

He turned up at a family lunch in London on Saturday 25th (to mark a year since my gran, his mum, died) and it was clear that he was in dire health. He was jaundiced and couldn’t walk. My dad was a very talkative man. You could sit for two hours easily and not say a word he dominated conversations so much. He barely said a word all lunchtime. We decided he needed to go to A&E. They admitted him with suspected liver failure and he spent the weekend in the Acute Admissions Ward, followed by ITU Sunday night. He then finally had an MRI scan on the Monday and they found he had pancreatic cancer, with secondaries in his lungs and liver.

Then he fell into a coma Monday night and he died on Tuesday just after lunchtime (2.30pm). It was very quick in the end and thankfully he never knew about the cancer – they never got a chance to tell him. He was surrounded by most of his family, and the room was full of love and opera (we played some shrilling woman he liked!). I’m so glad that it was very quick in the end as he always said he didn’t want to linger. I do have so many regrets though. We had some turbulent times and although in the last two years we had got close again and were good friends, I’ll always be sorry for hurting him so much. He only ever wanted a good bond between us (he always wanted a little girl) and I feel bad I was unable to give him that.

I’m up and down. I’m mostly doing what I usually do and closing the shutters emotionally. So while I’m obviously not fine, I’m kind of just going through the motions – it all feels very odd and detatched still. I went back to work this week which has helped distract me. When I’m ‘in public’ I’m ore or less normal. I talk, I laugh, I take the piss. But alone I’ve gradually been noticing the loss, especially as I return to my ‘normal’ life (not the weeks of funeral arranging or calling and explaining to his friends etc). The times I’d usually call him (Wednesdays on the way home from Weight Watchers, on the way to Morrisons some evenings, and Sunday mornings). Or when I see some sumptuous antique he’d like, a glittering set of jewels in a shop or a dress he’d want me to try on. I see old people and manically wonder, “Why are YOU still here? You’re so old, and he was only 62!” Or I keep wondering why they STILL haven’t reported it on the news yet.

My memory is terrible. My recall anyway. Usually you walk into a room and forget what you went in for. Usually you can retrace yourself and recall it. I can’t. I’ll be half way through a sentence and forget what I was saying and not be able to get back there. Maybe it’s age, but I think it’s more likely shock. I have a constant ‘seeing the headmaster’ feeling – something bad has happened, or I’VE done something naughty.

Tupper is being wonderful. He’s most adept at keeping my spirits up and giving me cuddles when I need them. But also great at giving me the space I need. We’re really looking forward to the America trip. It’ll be a chance to properly get away from it all, but also to see the American family my father adored.

Like I said, I’m sorry for being so personal. I hate those ‘woe is me’ journalists, they leave no personal (gal)stone unturned. But I need to keep a record, and typing is easiest. I’d also like to get feedback from anyone who’s gone through the same thing. Would be interesting to compare neurosis!

More distractions over the weekend so hopefully these little verbal vomits will be few and far between.

BM

Pretty shitty city

london_underground_logoI went to London on friday for the HP preview (read about it here). Invited my bro along as he’s a fan too and thought it’d be nice to hang out with him just us – we’ve not done that sinnce we were at least nine and eleven. And it was lovely. The film sucked, but afterwards we went back to Ealing on the sweltering tube (which wasn’t too bad, as it wasn’t busy) and grabbed some sushi – at 10.45 at night! Went back to his and watched the tennis on the BBC’s Red Button – Dan had to explain me the technology behind this at least three times. I understand Freeview, I understand Sky+, I get 4OD. I just don’t get the Red Button for some reason!

So, a lovely evening and part of me was thinking, “I could probably do this you know. Live in London…”

The next day, Tupper and I headed off to Camden to find some awesomeo boots for him. The tube was rammed, full of shuffling feet, sweating tunnels and clammy air. At one point, our tube train broke down so we had to find another way. Hundred of people all shuffling along so slowly, all crammed into the tunnels – Tupper and I wanted to get out. Now. Except we couldn’t. Thankfully we kept calm, but it did get a bit panicky at times; and we’re not the types to suffer that kind of hysteria for nothing.

DSCN1329During a much-needed icy drink overlooking the lock, I noticed an old man who was heavily tattoed and pierced who was charging people who wanted their photos taken with him. It struck me as rather sad that this was the only way this man felt he could earn a living. Convention dictates that he clearly can’t work in an office, at schools or in hospiltality. It made me feel rather… displaced and cold. Like this city has created a freak and then made it impossible for him to earn a wage other than turning himself into a one-man circus show. Still,  he must rake it in though – in ten minutes he had more than five people take photos. If each of them gave him a couple of quid for a photo, he must earn over £60 an hour. That’s more than I get in my normal job and quadruple what I’d get if I do a bit of freelance! But is it worth mutilating yourself for?

DSCN1350We left Camden for Soho – I’d seen a nice dress in one of the (non sex) shops a few weeks back on a press trip and wanted to get it now I had money. On the way, we passed the Nat Mags building where, about 15 years before, I had run up to the window and begged for a job through the glass. Tupper asked what my 13-year-old-self would think now I’m in the industry. I replied that they’d totally think it was cool and they’d be hugely excited. I then wondered if I’d tell them the truth about it all?!

Soho was crammed. More so than usual. It was Gay Pride. Dammit. More claustrophobia! “OK, Leicester Square!” I said – it was nearby, had somewhere we could sit down and chill with some drink. But as we rounded the corner, we saw some kind of Pride Pop concert happening.

Dammit! “Right. Covent Garden!” I shouted above the noise. By now my feet were killing me and I was hungry and frustrated that I didn’t know London better. If I did I could pull us into a side road and find the quickest route. But instead, it was down into the dreaded Underground again for more shuffling, more heat, more sweat and an elbow to the nose this time – ow!

Why do people love this city? Yes, you can get sushi at 10.45 at night. Yes it has great shops and leads the fashion world. But in my city, if someone bumps into you or elbows you in the nose, they say sorry and ask if you’re OK. They might even give you a tissue if your nose starts bleeding. In London, whenever I bumped into someone (which happened a lot as it was so damned crowded and people were arrogant enough to assume I’d get out of their way) I turned and said sorry – and I was met with either a funny look or was ignored. If I smiled at someone on the tube, I was met with hostility. That would never happen in the West or anywhere else for that matter.

tube cartoonAt the end of the day Tupper and I spent longer than normal trying to GIVE our day passes away. Tupper tried three people before I grabbed it off him and gave it to an older lady. Every time he tried he was spoken over with, “No, no, no, no!” as if he was trying to sell them something, or rape their child. What’s wrong with the people in this city?! I hate the way I feel like a bumpkin whenever I go to London. I hate the way most Londoners feel so smug that London is somehow better. Well, I’d rather be a bumpkin than someone who has clearly had their soul elbowed out of them on the tube.

It was lovely to see the bro and Tupper got the boots he’s always wanted – I also saw some ace Pimp shoes, and it was lovely to see Camden again after more than 10 years. It’s weird. The place has changed a lot (more trendy Skins types, fewer hippies) and yet, you can still find pockets where the Camden of old still exists. At one point, we found a stall that was selling joss sticks and tie-dye t-shirts. They were playing The Farm’s Altogether Now. It really felt like it was the 90s again!

I’ve known I’ve not wanted to live in London for a long time now, but this has confirmed it. I’m sure the Londoners or London lovers among you will tell me it’s not that bad and give me reasons why London is better than X city or Y place. It’s not. You’re mistaken. No amount of being able to get things 24/7 can contend with the nasty tube, the rudeness of the people or the emptiness of it all.

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In a nutshell…

Leaving a blog for so long is rather like towards the end of a long-term relationship. You care very much for the blog. You want to keep going just for the sake of it, knowing that if you simply go thru the motions maybe the magic will return. But the more you look at the blank pages, the less likely you want to address the issue in case you come to the conclusion that actually it’s the end.

I’ve been clicking to The Diary and BMTV for the last few months and each time, I’ve had the simultaneous feeling of shame that it’s been so long since I tweaked its posts, frustration that I was unable to physically upload anything and the sadness of my mild disinterest or lack of major concern.

But no longer. The diary will always be something that’s as and when. But BMTV is back proper and while I might struggle at first to find a rhythm both in syntax and actual logical postings (I’ll have access to the net at home in the evenings, but this is when Tupper usually does his music, plus I’m more likely to want to write in the day time) but hopefully I’ll find my groove and we can endure many years of happiness together again.

This was my three-year blip. Three years. So much has happened in that time. Hey, so much has happened in the five months since I last wrote!

mwc> Tupper has moved in. Yes, I know I said I’d never co-habit again; that I didn’t believe in love and that I was going to stay single, like, forever. But a lady is entitled to change her mind. At the moment the flat resembles one of those awful plastic tile games where you have to move the tiles around a grid to make a picture. To get from the sofa to the kitchen involves moving at least three boxes and jumping into a gap, replacing your last gap with said box. It’s… interesting.

> I still haven’t lost the half stone I put on at xmas. So I’m officially half a stone overweight. That’s OK. I’m still a ten on top and a 12 on the bottom. My arse will always be big. I know what to do to get back to my glory days. I just have to do it. And ignore the pizza and the cheesecake and all the goodies that come with being happy and living with a lovely man who likes lovely food and doesn’t mind my wobbly bits. But I must be strict! I don’t like my wobbly bits!

newyork> I won the raffle at the work xmas do. The prize was enough money to be able to afford to take Tupper and me to America this ‘fall’. We’re doing Boston, New York and then up to Toronto and Montreal. I can’t wait. I’ve never been out of Europe before. Not too thrilled of the prospect of flying though. And not just flying. The seven-hour flight. Anyone who has ever been on a plane with me will either not know me anymore (that would be the ex who broke my heart by dumping me after a flight to Tenerife on Sept 13th 2001) or be family members who can’t avoid me. I’m not a good flier. I usually whimper a bit, moan a lot and cry throughout the whole thing (cue sex joke here). That’s if I’m not gripping my neighbour’s arm until I’ve made enough of an indent with my fingers to use them as little holders for things. Tupper has very thoughtfully bought me a hypnotherapy CD, although I’m not so sure how it would work now after having had hypnotherapy for flying (and it not working that well). But we’ll see.

I’ve tried Valium, alcohol, cards, films, books… Nothing has worked. Any tips? Oh, and if anyone can recommend an UBER CHEAP hotel in NYC, that’d be appreciated.

> I had the best birthday ever! I ended up having about three or four celebrations in total (ranging from piss ups to quiet suppers) owing to all my mates being dispersed throughout the country. That was quite good. It made me feel a) very popular and b) like a diva (and not in a bad way if I’m totally honest). At the main event I looked down the table at about 15 of my mates and thought “That’s a good number of people to have at a party.” Then I turned the other way and saw another ten or so. It was honestly the most I’ve had at a birthday shindig ever. Like really. Ever. When your birthday is so close to Xmas you get used to having four around a table. Including you. And your boyfriend. It was just lovely to see so many of my friends together all celebrating the Wonder of Me and I was extremely touched. So deffo going to have a January birthday again next year. Hell, maybe I’ll even have one in July too.

> I got involved with Age Concern. Selfishly though – I’m not a do-gooder hippy. After the death of my beloved Grandma in July last year, I missed having that influence in my life and thought I’d get involved and nab some surrogate grannies in the process. It’s just one Sunday a month at the moment – I go and hang out with them, and serve them a roast. It’s so much fun and they give me a lot of pleasure. I’ve asked AC if I can run a lighter lunch group one Sunday a month (taking their Sunday lunches to two a month, then) and they’re hopefully going to set it up. So fingers crossed; watch this space, etc.

So I think we’re all caught up now. See you in another five months, no doubt!

BMx