Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Helen's been abducted by aliens. ;-)

helen has been out of circulation for a week or two. i think she's having computer probs. so i went to my email inbox to find one i could post that was newsy and entertaining. i'm sure she'll be back soon, but thanks for keeping on reading and posting your comments. i know she loves it.
by way of explanation, helen is castigating me in the email for being weak-willed last year during lent when i folded quickly despite my resolve to give up TV, for my sins. she says that Mary probably did better. (she's probably right, Mary is much more devout than moi). Mary is also a f.o.t.h. and a much better woman than me, gunga din. and Katie, is a f.o.t.h. and had recently been cleaning up 'caca' according to this email. but why? i can't remember to be honest. but it's something that katie would do.
the f.o.t.h.s. (friends of the heart sisterhood) are
Helen--chief foth
yours truly --clippy mat aka pat,
Vee, who lives and works in Saudi Arabia
Katie who retired from living and working in S.Arabia and now lives with her hubby in a charming village in Lancashire.
Mary, who lives in the N.East not far from Helen
Syd aka Carolyn who also lives in the NE and is a deputy headmistress of a local hard knock school.
and to refresh your memory, we all went to college together way back in the day and have remained friends since.

Dearest f.o.t.h.s.

Clippy, I've just read your latest bit o blog - it answers many questions I was about to ask you- Atonement I haven't seen the film yet but I almost threw the book out of the bedroom window. I much prefer fast-paced quick-witted & lively writing (have you read any Wendy Holden's chiclit stuff Azur like it (Cannes anything be this Nice) Pastures Nouveax http://www.chicklit.co.uk/authors_wendyholden.asp very English style of writing of the moment!
Yep I'm with you, give me a Roddy Doyle, Frank McCourt or Bill Bryson any day although the Wendy Holdens do make me smile & oftimes chuckle at her clever phrases and use of Franglais.

Have to admit I'm shocked and appalled at your Lenten debacle!! Where's yer backbone woman! Its lovely to know that despite the thousands of miles atween us you're sat sitting there watching the same tv crap as me!! I loved Glen Close in Damages too. Best thing that's been on here in ages, I'm thoroughly sick of all these talentless 'Search for a Star' progs & the crappy 'celebrity' reality shows that are the mainstay of British TV just now 'Celebrity Strictly dancing / 'Celebrity' Big Brother 'Celebrity' Dancing on ice all with minor Z-list celebs & wannabees BRING BACK TENKO!!

Happy reading! Bet Mary's done better for Lent!!!

Katie Kaka cleaner upper: hope that situation has dried up now.

That's all I can do folks as am mucho tired:- had physio this a.m. then hair wash n blow dry (by sis) & at-home massage courtesy of Loraine the Alternative Therapy nurse. So busy- pamper day for me. thought of you all working so hard. tee hee

Love ewes,

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Here's Helen's round up of Christmas Day in her recent email to the f.o.t.h.s
:-) Clippy Mat

Hi Y'all

We have had the best of days and I hope you've had as good a time as we have.
We've enjoyed such a marvellous olde time Christmas at Mams, just lots of family, lots of food and loads of laughs. There were sackfuls of small & fairly inexpensive but well-thought out gifts (we'd all agreed to this in advance).
Claire called from the US and we all got the chance to chat to her and Odele, which made Mam's day.
Because Mam had a fall recently and has a cast on her left arm, my brother and Jonathon got together and worked out a plan of campaign - they did all the food shopping, preparation and cooking. The result was one of the most delicious Christmas lunches I have ever had - Beautifully cooked Turkey crown & loin of pork, sprouts, cabbage, spuds boiled & roast, swede & carrots, stuffing, apple sauce, yorkshire puds, gravy, the absolute works, bless them!
Mam said it was the best gift they could have given her, so big fat tums & smiles all round.
I'm glad that John and I left our gifts to each other at home unopened - something to look forward to when we got back home. Bertie went mad with the wrapping paper (John put it all in an empty box but he jumped in among it and snuffled about for ages and is sitting at my feet now with his new squeaky toy hammer between his paws looking very chuffed, (we aren't allowed to touch it yet).

I'm off to bed now still stuffed & completely whacked!!

Yuletide love n hugs to all, Helenxxxxx

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Christmas Wish from Helen

This is one of the latest emails from Helen. Her Christmas preparations take on a new meaning and value, particularly the Christmas card I received, when I see the efforts she puts into doing HER cards. (Clippy Mat aka Helen's 'umble servant)

Got all my cards done at last! Cant entrust this task to himself due to his dyslexia (Gawd knows what we'd den pu iwth)

I manage it if I break it up into smaller tasks i.e. a section each day: family/friends/neighbours. These are sub-divided into 'by post/by hand' etc. Putting into envelopes is the absolute worst job - I have a method but some end up with teeth marks round the edges; apologies if that was yours Clippy and I've cut down a lot on the by post category (it cost 52p to send a birthday card to Blyth!!)

I'm afraid I don't trust others to do as good a job as I, so tend not to ask for help although it is offered. As long as the coffee & nibbles keep coming I'm relatively happy but the whole thing plays havoc with my wrist R.S.I. (repetitive strain injury) so if I haven't replied to any of your emails spare a thought for the afflicted.

I ordered most of my gifts via the Internet and thank goodness all have arrived safely and my visa details appear to be safe so far. So I'm reasonably well organised & quite looking forward to Crimbo at Mam's (Lord help us!!) I think our night out really started the season off for me - I did enjoy it & am taking Jonathon & Fiona there for a Chrissie treat, think I'll book in advance though.

Here is a photo of us, F.O.T.H.S* taken at our recent get-together when we went for a nice Indian meal in Whitley Bay. Clippy and Vee were absent of course due to their being in different countries at the time, but we did toast to absent friends.
Left to Right, Helen, Mary, Katie, Syd aka Carolyn
I hope you all have a terrific Christmas wherever you may be (hopefully with loved ones)
Joyeaux Noel, Felice Navidad, A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS & A TRULY HAPPY & HEALTHY NEW YEAR to one & all with much love,


*F.O.T.H.S. friends of the heart sisterhood, which Helen has named our small group of long time college friends who gather to reminisce and reunite at least once or twice a year. This event pictured was in early December.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Treatments and Therapies

Yesterday was my tri-monthly Botox injection day!
As John pulled into the clinic car park we noticed with no little annoyance that two of the spaces set aside for the disabled had themselves been disabled by having a large shiny black Mercedes parked across them!!

The personalised number plate alerted me to the **at responsible for this transgression D**I (I was guessing it was my Doctor at the clinic Dr D**i) who should definitely know better!

After many loud expletives from John re: the lack of thought of some drivers we eventually found a spot.
He lugged my wheelchair out of the boot/trunk and in we trudged, almost taking the paint off the Merc as we squeezed past it; both now in considerably fouler frames of mind as, by this time, we were now late for my appointment.

I hate having this procedure done as it generally involves 8-10 injections deep into the various muscles of my left (stroke affected) arm and leg. Usually I can bear it by focusing all my attention on the large colourful diagram of the human muscular system on the wall behind the Doctor, on which by now I believe I could answer University Challenge questions. (similar to the one below which was nicked off Google by the admin. assistant who will be in trouble for doing this, one of these days.)
The diagram consists of two figures one showing the frontal system the other the rear, both figures have their left arms on their hips in a rather effeminate posture - in fact they look to me like a gay couple who have fallen out and because of this I have named them Roger Daily (front facing) and Claude Butt opposite facing. Pathetic I know but this and some deep yoga breathing helps me to cope with the coming trauma!

Usually the Doctor is assisted by a nurse who holds my arm in a grip that many a wrestler would envy, in order to prevent said limb from jumping spasmodically when the Doctor gets to work. Unfortunately on this occasion no nurse was available and I was called upon to hold my own arm, thereby ensuring that I had to watch the whole procedure of the entire 3-4 inch length of the needle disappearing into my flesh 8 times.
As anything which causes the stroke affected arm to go into spasm also affects the leg too, by the time Dr D**i got around to my left calf muscle it was bunched as hard as an Olympic downhill skier's but this did not deter him at all. As he lunged at it I did my breathing exercise as well as I could to try to relax the muscle in order to reduce the pain, and fixed my gaze on the docs gold Rolex rather than the poster behind him.
Sadly this did not work and he had a tremendous job to stick the now somewhat blunted needle into my gastrocnemius muscle (see chart, lower leg).
Just as the pain got bad I looked up at the human muscular system diagram which moved slightly in the breeze from the open window. The result of this was that the Roger Daily figure rolled over Claude Butt's and continued to move slightly back and forth, much to my amusement. Unable to control myself I let out a loud guffaw, which caused the Doc to jerk upright yanking the needle out of my leg as he did so.

I quickly stopped laughing when I spotted that the needle was now at a complete right angle to the attached syringe - the bugger had bent it when forcing it into my muscle!
And some do this for beauty?
Hope my wheelchair scrapes his bliddy car when we go back to the carpark! And that's enough of that!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

This and that or news from a broad... aka Helen

a combination of emails from helen this last week. in the first one she reprimands me for signing my email to her re blogs, as clippy mat/pat/admin assistant/dogsbody/secretary and teaboy.

Dear Clippy;
Stop giving yourself airs with all these new job titles. Who promoted you to teaboy I'd like to know? You're still only getting sixpence three farthings a quarter and every third Christmas afternoon off and 1 shovel of coal in October to take you through to February. Scratchett, eeh I'm good to my staff I am, Good to my staff I am I am tra la la

Treadmill Trauma (happenings at the gym)

I wasn't there when this happened but one of the trainers told me at t'gym today that an old woman stopped at the rear of the treadmill to speak to her pal who was treading thereupon. The first old woman was holding a cardigan that was trailing on the floor, this got caught up in treadmill workings which ceased to work, thereby immediately throwing her pal into turmoil and the rest of the gym into panic/confusion, wish I'd seen it!! But glad ..it happens to others too!

A week full of anniversaries (some welcome some not!)
19/November, the first anniversary of Granddaughter Emma's tragically fatal accident especially awful as we have to pass the spot 3 mornings a week when I go for my psoriasis treatment - (Emma was Helen's step granddaughter who was tragically killed in a car accident. She had got out of a car to go to the aid of a dog which had been hit by a passing vehicle and she was killed as she crouched down in the road to help the poor animal.)
23/November my son Jonathon's 34th birthday -
26/November our 9th Wedding Anniversary (some bad planning here by moi)
28/November John's 70th birthday - We all enjoyed a multi-celebratory lunch together on 27/November at local hostelry's carvery and basically that was the week that was!
On Jonathon's birthday we all congregated at my mothers as she had made it known that she had been baking for a special birthday tea for him. Unfortunately as we all arrived around lunchtime she had a senior moment and promptly forgot all about her baked goods and disappeared into the kitchen for a time then proceeded to dish up a delicious roast beef n Yorkshire pud Sunday lunch!!
Not that any of us complained; there wasn't a morsel left after we descended on the grub like a flock of starving gannets (I am in constant awe of her unflappable ability to regularly achieve the miracle of the loaves and fishes).

And Clippy, tomorrow night is the Christmas get together for the rest of the f.o.t.h.s. as in, me, Katie, Mary and Syd. You and Vee will be missed. I shall send an update of what we did, what we said, what we ate and what we drank, very very soon.

More tellins from Helen very soon.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

It's just a THRILLER!!

Helen's blog today includes this lovely photo of her grand-
daughter Odele who lives in Ohio. This email is from earlier this year, hence the reference to January.
clippy mat :-)

Hi All:
Just a bit of stuff to bring you up to date as to what's happening with moi.

I recently saw a stroke counsellor cos I was very depressed & having a bad time getting my act together after Christmas, January is a very depressing month I feel. She felt that John and I were cooped up together too much and needed to get out more so she told me about this group which gets together on Fridays from six to eight at the East End pool, Byker. It's called Different Strokes but anyone with a disability is made welcome.

I was initially very apprehensive about going to this stroke club cos I'm not very good at communal stuff (too free thinking, bolshie & individual!!!) but they seemed a very pleasant, if disorganised, bunch and made John & I very welcome when we sat down, although this was a little weird too.

We sat down together and a number of the group got up to come over to talk.

As they were all stroke survivors they all had various levels of disability and approaching us en masse as it were, they closely resembled the limping Zombies in Michael Jackson's Thriller video, which was a little unnerving to say the least!!!

Each one had the same opening gambit too i.e. "When was your stroke? Was it bleed or clot? I had mine x years ago." Then went on to describe their various ailments/disabilities.

Good to see how others have coped and adapted to surviving stroke & disability in general. We were introduced to a lovely blind woman, a nurse who gives alternative therapy treatments, so I'm booked in for an aromatherapy massage, hot stones treatment & a reflexology session and its all free!! Its also available free to all carers too!

We were shown around the wonderfully equipped gym area, which we have anytime free access to. Tuesdays 11.00-12.00 Different Strokes have sole use of the pool, where the water is all one level with a flat bottom, no slope, so no deep end if they want to deepen or alter the water depth. It's done by either raising/lowering the whole floor of the pool!! I don't have to attempt getting into a cozzie either cos most people wear shorts/t-shirts. That's always a bonus.
It's good to have an outlet, somewhere different to go and to meet others in the same situation I suppose.

Much love,Helen

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Listen with Mother

Time to introduce Helen's readers to 'Mother.' Helen's mother is a real character. In her 80's but going very strong. Widow of a farmer and staunch pillar of the Catholic church, attender of weddings, funerals, and othersuch events which require her appearance in her best hat.
Every Sunday they spend the day together and Helen always updates the f.o.t.h.s with an email of events. We love to hear of their goings on. I am sure you will too. This email is from this summer during the Olympic Games.
She calls these epsiodes, 'Listen with Mother' named after a radio show for children which was popular in the UK in the 50's and 60's.
Clippy Mat :-)
Original Message -----
To: Carolyn, Katie, Vee, Pat, Mary
Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2008 1:57 PM
Subject: Listen with Mother

As these things so often do, my Sundays down at Mam's have fallen into a regular & companionable pattern. I get there about 09.45 with the Sunday papers.

I give Mam the large magazine with the TV listings etc. from Saturday's paper, which she eagerly grabs, turning immediately to the soaps' update page to discover what is going to happen this week in The Archers.* (a radio soap opera which has been running on BBC since the 1950's).

Unfortunately she then proceeds to read this aloud to me, despite my weekly informing her that I don't watch any of the TV soaps and haven't listened to the Archers since I lived at home and it was compulsory listening for her & Dad.

She chooses to ignore this and the fact that by now I am usually struggling helplessly & hopelessly with the tightly sealed protective plastic wrapper with which the colour supplements are bound (it should be noted that this particular newspaper ran a campaign to rid the UK of plastic carrier bags!!)

As I have to use my teeth to get this bliddy thing off I am also often choking at this juncture on a piece of torn-off plastic bag. Eventually, noticing me choking/turning blue she goes off to make me a drink, which she always serves in a huge cup resembling a French style breakfast coffee cup, wide across the top, so it cools quickly, which is great because I don't take any milk (i.e. a helpful coolant). My coffee is always accompanied by a sweet little jug of cold water (just in case I might burn my gob) and whatever little delicacy she has discovered this week (today it was mini gingerbread men - sadly not homemade this time).
Now she gets down to the serious stuff; i.e. what shopping/bus/weather disasters have befallen her this week, plus a lengthy, in-depth update on her sister's health situation. I feign interest while perusing my magazine, with murmurs and head nods at relevant and regular intervals. Then I begin the crossword and make the fatal error of asking for her assistance on a clue I'm stuck on; "Abraham's son - Jacobs father?? "

She's usually good on religious/bible matters but this one stumps her, so off she trundles to her bedroom and after 15-30 mins of rummaging, returns breathless, red-faced and somewhat dishevelled. She now needs to use her inhaler, which is unfortunate cos it makes her gabble like buggery and revs her up a notch from 45 to 78rpm. Then mother proceeds to give me a good half hour's bible lesson/reading as she is shocked that I don't know my Old Testament.

I mollify her by telling her that the young Irish priest who used to give us Religious Instruction at school told us not to bother with the Old Testament cos it was only for *proddies, (non catholics/protestants) and not meant for the minds of good Catholic children!

We did eventually discover the answer to my crossword clue, thankfully. I mention the above because it is a family joke: when stuck for anything, recite Mother's mantra on the subject "Look it up in the dictionary/encyclopaedia/ atlas" or other such tome of reference.

She's right of course, but as cheeky young kids stuck on their homework we found this constantly-used phrase hilarious - such a simple life down on the farm eh!

Then Jonathon arrived and I got the best laugh I've had in ages. It was Fiona's birthday midweek and Mam rang me for her address so she could post off a card. Mam had left this message on my phone and when I rang to give her the info I got her answerphone and taking great care with my pronunciation and diction (or so I thought) I gave the address as # Shape Mews (which I carefully spelled out) Blyth, Northumberland, followed by the postal code.
What Mam heard and put on her envelope was #Shape Views, Five, Knockabout + postcode.
Knockabout?, Knockabout?, I ask you - this from a woman whose eldest daughter & family i.e. yours truly, lived in Blyth, Northumberland for over twenty bliddy years, and whose youngest daughter & family still live in Blyth, Northumberland, and who knows that her grandson & his girlfriend also live in Blyth, Northumberland!!!

Jonathon was laughing so hard he could barely stand as he showed me the envelope, he played back my message on the answerphone to her and there it was, the whole address as clear as anything.

Now I know my voice has been badly altered by the effects of the stroke but I didn't think it was all that bad!! that my own mother doesn't understand me!

While she went off to knock up a batch of Yorkshire puds, we put the Olympics on and started to watch the men's badminton final. Mam stuck her head around the door and asked Jonathon who was in the final? "China and Malaysia." he told her. "Who flung dung against one san shoe who beat wun hung low in the semis."

Quite happy with this info, off she went with a knowledgeable nod of the head while I kicked him under the table for being so cheeky to her & taking the mick. Later she asked me if I didn't fancy taking up badminton again. "What from me *pram?" (*wheelchair) I queried "Well you could go in for the panalgesic games." she told me.

You might think we are a cruel lot having a pop at her little idiosyncrasies like this, but I can assure you that she always joins in, gets the joke and laughs at herself just as loudly as we do!

When Fiona called to collect Jonathon she said that Mam's envelope faux pas had actually cheered up a rather gloomy wet day and that she'd had such a good laugh with her own mother about it and later with Jonathon when he got in from work that it had quite made her birthday a really happy, laughter-filled one.
Now who could ask for more?