​The Lottery

 

My homework set for week 5 was to have my story following on from the first paragraph of a short story called.

The Lottery   by   Shirley Jackson.

       The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely, and the grass was richly green. The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank around ten o’clock; in some towns, there were so many people that the lottery took two days and had to be started on June 26th. But in this village, where there were only about three hundred people, the whole lottery took less than two hours, so it could begin at ten o’clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner.

 

Continuation by Gary Oldmeadow

      Mac was standing in his small shack.  Now Mac, or James McKenzie to give him his full name, turned 50 last week, He looked pretty good for his age, and these days 50 was a damn good age to reach. The average age for most citizens was about 35, it’s been this way ever since the great plague had wiped out 50% of every living creature on the planet, it happened the year before Mac was born.

‘I’m sick and tired of living off bloody scraps, I’m the oldest in the village now, it’s my turn to win the chance to go to the citadel, eat good food, drink fresh water’. He shouted to nobody as he set off for the square.

On the other side of the village, Magister Jayna Kovac, the youngest and first female Magister the village had appointed, was putting on her ceremonial robes for the drawing of the yearly village lottery. She knew the lottery was rigged; she knew that certain citizens would never be allowed to win and leave the village, and anger was growing amongst those people. She also knew she would not be one of the lucky ones that got to stay in the village.  Little did people realise that the blood tests they all had to have on the 1st of each month would make the ultimate choice of who would win the lottery, nothing to do with the luck of the draw.

Mac was one of the last to arrive in the square, he spotted one of the few people he trusted and walked over to him. His name was Steve Sutton, Steve was around 4 years younger than Mac and saw him like an older brother.

‘Hey Mac, how’s thing’s? What do you think the chance is of one of us winning the lottery this year are?’

‘There’s more chance of seeing a squadron of pigs doing a flypast Steve’, Mac joked,  ‘We still buy our tickets though, just in case it isn’t a fix, after all, you gotta be in it to win it’ Mac said cynically, ‘anyway we’ve literally paid for the chance with our blood each month’

‘Are you still having the blackouts Mac? I’ve had two this month alone, the Doc says he still can’t figure out what’s causing them’.

‘Same here’ Mac uttered back.

Suddenly the atmosphere changed, and a hush fell over the gathering, the town Cryer was announcing the Magister and the beginning of the 45th undertaking of the Citadel Lottery. As he finished his announcement, the large ornate black metal box came into view, carried at shoulder height by 6 Box Bearers.

Waiting in her office on the square, Jayna was feeling nervous about delivering her first lottery, she dashed to the bathroom whilst having a fit of coughing, she spat in the sink, more blood she thought, she washed her face and placed the ceremonial black cap on her head.

As the box was placed onto the stone table, the Magister stepped onto the square and made her way toward the podium to carry out her duties. Almost everybody clapped and cheered, even Steve, only Mac stood stony face hands in pockets. Then the speech was over, time for the Lottery to begin.

‘Citizens, as is our custom, I will draw the first ticket blindfolded, then as each of your names is called by our village Cryer, you will make your way to the box and draw your ticket, remember there will be no looking at your ticket until all have been drawn.

A little over 2 hours later and the lottery draw was complete, once again a hush falls over the crowd. The Magister speaks again.

‘As you, all know the one who has the ticket marked with a ‘C’ will have won the prize of going to live in the Citadel, so without further delay please look at your ticket, then hold it aloft for all to see’.

There was a loud gasp, then everyone began to cheer and clap, ‘it’s the magister, she’s won’. Jayna feigned shock and embarrassment then thanked the crowd for their good wishes. Steve turned to Mac to ask what they should do about it, but Mac wasn’t there. Where the hell’s he gone? Oh God, I hope he isn’t doing anything stupid.

As Mac came too, he wondered where he was, he didn’t recognise the room, he’d never seen anywhere this fancy, then he heard the Magisters voice. He turned, his face red with anger, Jayna asked him to listen to what she had to say. He nodded.

‘Mac, I’ve decided to name you as my successor. In 3 days, I will be leaving for the Citadel’, she started to cough, Mac saw the blood in her handkerchief. ‘I’ve got the plague’ she a tear in her eye, ‘the citadel is really a hospital, the monthly blood tests are to find those who are immune, we take blood from those of you who have the unsolved blackouts and use it to try and find a cure, this happens in every village, town and city around the world. This is why you and anybody over 40 has never been picked’ another coughing fit more blood.

‘As Magister you will need to keep the pretence going, if we don’t find a cure then you and those like you will be the last of the human race’ Mac slumped back, struggling to take it all in.

‘You will need to choose an advisor, someone you can trust, someone to share the heavy burden. I chose you to succeed me as I think you have what it takes to make a good, kind leader for our village, I think you have the strength to conduct the lottery in the way it needs to be. So tomorrow I will announce your appointment. This is how it must be; I am sorry Mac but now we must go and prepare for the future’.

 

Warnham Nature Reserve

For this story, we were asked to write a piece on our favourite place and describe it in a way that the reader can see it without being there.

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Warnham Nature Reserve

14 years ago, I started studying for my City & Guilds photography diploma, as I loved photographing nature and wildlife, I just wanted to learn more and get better.  Around this time, I was told about a local place called Warnham Nature Reserve by a friend.

On my first visit, I fell in love with the place and have been visiting the reserve whenever I get the chance. So, what I thought I would do is let you in on a typical visit to a place I love to spend time.

I am a creature of habit; I have a specific ritual for when I visit that hasn’t changed from my first day. It’s a Wednesday morning and I have just parked up in the car park. First thing I do is get my camera bag out, and head to the café, which is also the entrance, I get myself a black coffee and a packet of crisps, I sit outside at one of the tables. I’m there for about half an hour checking that I have the right lenses on the cameras, and check all the batteries are charged, so cameras work ok, coffee is drunk, and crisps are eaten, so off I go through the café.

I like to visit on a weekday, as it’s a little bit quieter so I can get around easier in my chair or using my crutch.

As you enter the reserve you are assaulted by the smells of the heather and lavender, in the small rock garden Bee’s and Hover Flies lazily fly between the grey, purple, yellow and green of the plants, and the sound of the Seagulls above the pond. To the right of this area is a small viewing point called “Tern Hide’, it overlooks the right-hand end of the pond and weir. A great spot for viewing the swans.

After passing through the rock garden you have a choice of paths, left takes you along the boundary of the golf course, but straight ahead is the path I take, through the gate and across the wild meadow, were you are again bombarded by the sights sounds and smells, of the butterflies, Crickets, Bees and flowers. I always stop at the small bridge in the middle to drink it all in.

Once through the next gate I cross the long wooden bridge that spans the smaller pond whilst watching and listening to the colourful Butterflies, Demoiselle flies and the Dragonflies.

Now I follow the path into the musty old woodland, full of Oaks, Maple and Firs, I can hear a distant woodpecker, and then coming out of the thicket is a deer, a young female, she stops in the middle of the path about 20 feet away looks me in the eyes the slowly moves off, my day just keeps getting better.

A few more steps off to the right and I finally arrive at the ‘Heron Hide’, which is a good size and is wheelchair accessible. I sit on the bench at the far end of the hide put down my bag and get my camera ready, at this point I took the picture you see above. I can see three Herons on the other side of the pond and a swan chasing a Moorhen, at that moment I see the recognisable electric blue streak shooting across in front of the hide, one of the Kingfishers heading back to their nest, a little blurry but I manage to get a picture.

I turn my attention back to the Herons just in time to see two of them fly off, there is a bird calling to my left and as I slowly turn I see the Iridescent blue and orange of a female Kingfisher perched on the post in the pond. I’m too slow with my camera as it dives for a fish, it flies back up to the post but no fish. Then to my astonishment it just sits there and allows me to take my pictures, then it’s gone again, an electric blue streak racing across the pond.

I put my camera down and just sit watching and listening to nature doing its thing, I find these times to be so relaxing and it’s the main reason I go, the photography is just a bonus when I remember I’ve actually got my camera with me that is.

As I sit there relaxing in the moment, the door behind me opens and in come three teenagers with Cerebral Palsy, all in their electric wheelchairs followed by there three female carers, who unsuccessfully try to get there wards to quit down, which was funny to watch, then I helped with identifying the birds and where they are, it must of sounded like a party was going on with all the laughter, and for an hour we have a great time, one of the carers turns and thanks me for being so helpful, she says they will definitely come back as it is such a beautiful site and the kids had so much fun, we all say goodbye , and except for the odd cry from a gull quietness descends once again.

These are the days that are so important to me, not the photography but the experience and the enjoyment, and this is why I love the nature reserve so much. The best medicine I have found.

 

Cinderella

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This is the story I wrote last week for creative writing. We had to choose from a collection of pictures, then write a description of the character, and finally, write a story using both.

It’s a cool summer night at the Barcelona School for performing arts. Tonight 5 of us pupils will be auditioning for the lead role in the schools Christmas production which will be Disney’s version of Cinderella.

As I’m preparing myself for going on stage. The girl before me is just finishing, I know the girl has played the lead in other productions, so I’m convinced she’ll get the part.

On my resume that the judges have, it says, Anna Sanchez, 11 years old, long black hair, brown eyes and 4 ft tall. In the notes I wrote, I have never played a lead role before, I love to sing, and I have played a few minor roles, but I didn’t mention that I use a wheelchair as I didn’t want to be pre-judged.

I’m startled as the director calls out my name. I wheel myself out to centre stage and sit nervously looking at my hands. “What if I forget the words, what if I mess up my lines, what if, what if, what if… Finally, I lift my head and look to where I know the judges will be sitting, the spotlights are on my face yet mask the faces of the judges.

The auditions are being videoed tonight, which worries me, as the judges may be able to see the huge spot on my chin on replay,

‘why today’ I think to myself, the makeup really doesn’t hide it. After a long uncomfortable pause, I faintly hear the judges muttering amongst themselves.

Then the director says,

‘I understand this is your first time auditioning for a lead role, so, deep breath, compose yourself and when you are ready to begin, I would like you to state your name, and your reason to audition for the role of Cinderella, for the camera’.

I sit up straight, focus on what I have to say and smile.

‘Hi’, I say nervously, ‘my name is Anna Sanchez. I love to sing, but my passion is for acting. Cinderella is my all-time favourite Disney film, and Cinderella is my favourite character, it’s been my dream to play her’.

‘Ok’, I think to myself so far so Good.

‘For my audition, I will sing the song called. “A dream is a wish your heart makes”, from the movie.

Just a second my mind goes blank. So, I take a breath, cough then carries on.

“My monologue is where Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother, is helping Cinderella to prepare for the Prince’s ball.’

The music for the song starts up, and I begin to sing, I’m a little nervous at first, but by the end, I feel that it’s the best I have ever sung, I feel so happy I could burst.

It’s time for me to start my monologue, I make a mistake then hesitate, and by the end, It feels like I’ve been talking forever. So, I’m just relieved when it’s all over,

‘Thank you, Anna’ the director says, “can you wait with your parents and the others in the foyer’s café. We’ll be along in a while to let all of you know what our decision is’.

I take my time going to the café, replaying the audition in my head, but all I can think about is that huge spot on my face. By the time I arrive I’d convinced myself I wouldn’t be getting the role, then when I see my mama and papa sitting at the table I almost burst into tears, we hug for what seems like forever, between the sobs I tell them why I think I won’t get the role.

Three of the other girls who also auditioned are friends, they’re also in my class at school, their names are Rosa, Sienna and Lauren, they’re also sitting with their parents and they have exactly the same look on their faces as I do.

The fourth girl, the girl who auditioned right before I did, I think her name’s Jess. She’s explaining quite loudly to her parents that she is the favourite to get the role because the rest of us were boring and looked very plain, then she turns to look at me and says with a smile.

“Anyway, everyone knows that Cinderella isn’t a cripple’.

I just sit there feeling even more sorry for myself, (if that’s even possible), just wishing the judges would hurry up and put us all out of our misery, they seem to be taking forever.

Just then a staff member walked over to our table,

‘Miguel and Rosa Sanchez?” He asked.

‘That’s us’ replied my parents.

‘Would you come with me please, the director would like a word with you both, in the foyer’.

I was about to follow when another staff member cleared his throat and asked for all of the performers to come to the front of the cafe, and await the judges, my friends and I looked at each other nervously, whilst Jess stood there sneering at us.

Then in walked my mama and papa, they had tears in their eyes, I didn’t notice as the judges walked in through the other door at the same time, what happened I wanted to ask them, Then everybody started applauding and cheering, who got the part. I looked at my friends and their parents who were all smiling and clapping furiously. Mama and Papa were also madly clapping and crying.

Suddenly I realise it was for me, the cheering was for me, I’d got the role, I burst into tears as my friends rushed to congratulate me, I felt the hugs of my mama and papa.

The director came over to congratulate me, that’s when I saw his white cane and realised he was blind, he didn’t see my spot after all.

‘Well done Anna, you sang and spoke beautifully, although you may want to oil your squeaky wheel’ he said with a smile.

The picture you see is of me celebrating at the waterpark the day after my audition.

 

 

​My first short story

so I started my creative writing course last week. This is my first short story.

the brief we had was a man tells his wife he is leaving because he has a terminal illness, and it’s there 35th wedding anniversary.

My daughter thinks I’ve watched to much Mindhunter.

if you like it, give me some feedback, if you hate it give me some feedback, all feedback is appreciated

Goodnight Sweetheart by Gary Oldmeadow

        In a week’s time, John and his childhood sweetheart Stella, should be celebrating 35 happy years of marriage.

Now John was a guy who’d do anything for anybody, he was seen as a fair, honest guy who loved his wife, and his job. He worked as a scene of crime officer for the Metropolitan Police, and was considered to be one of the best in his field

Stella, John’s wife was a beautiful woman and well liked. She loved working as a volunteer at the local ‘Cancer Research Charity Shop’, at weekends she would help out by volunteering as a befriender at the local Hospital in the mornings. She was definitely what you would call a people person.

Tonight, John had finished work late at the crime lab, which in itself wasn’t that unusual, as there was a big case on at the moment. The person they were after was a serial killer who removed the liver from each of the victims, the police think the killer is eating the livers none were found. He took the tube home as usual, as his house was only a short walk from the station. With all that was going on at work, his health issues, and his anniversary just around the corner, it meant he had a lot on his mind, and, he knew he would be delivering some devastating news to Stella, which would destroy her world.

Two weeks previous to tonight, John had gone to get the results for his yearly police medical. He knew the doctor he was seeing, a Dr Jim Steven’s, Jim was a good guy, always had a smile on his face, but told it to you straight.

So today as John walked into the examination room, he knew something was up. Jim, was sitting behind his desk, and he nurse standing beside Jim was desperately trying to avoid making eye contact with John

‘Hi John, take a seat’.

John sat down; a feeling of dread washed over him.

Jim was silent for what seemed like an eternity.

‘I’m sorry John, it’s not the news you were hoping for, the MRI you had last week, has shown you have a large mass in your brain, a tumour’.

‘Cancer, you mean I have cancer don’t you Jim. Can anything be done? How long do I have?’

John sat in silence, he seemed to be looking right through Jim.

Jim turned to the nurse and told her to go and get John a glass of water from the kitchen, she left feeling relieved at being able to get away, she hated these moments.

‘Yes, it’s cancer’ was Jim’s reply ‘and due to where it’s positioned, it’s inoperable’, Jim paused for a moment. ‘It’s terminal John, the scans show you have week’s rather than months left, go home and talk to Stella, you have a lot to discuss, I’ll wait for you to get your affairs in place before I contact your inspector’.

Without another word John got up and left . He didn’t go straight home though, instead he walked around the streets for hours. The following day John went into work, to but told nobody about the tumour…

The noises and smell’s of the city that night brought John back from his thoughts of the last two weeks, he was sitting in the bus shelter opposite his house.

After sitting for a while, he crossed the street to his house. He was about to put the key in the door, when it opened and there holding the rubbish bag was his beautiful Stella.

‘Hello love’. He said, ‘let me take that for you’.

Stella kissed him and gave him the bag.

‘I’ll make you a cuppa and warm your dinner in the microwave’. She turned and went back into the kitchen.

John put the rubbish in the bin, paused for a moment, then he pulled himself together then went indoors, in the kitchen Stella stood with her back to him, she was humming a tune whilst finishing making his cuppa.

‘So how was your day? It was so good at the charity shop this afternoon, I do so love volunteering there, you get to meet so many interesting people, there I go again chattering on, anyway as I was asking, how was your day?’.

Listening to Stella talking made him feel more relaxed, it always did. He loved the sound of her voice

‘Work was ok’. He said ‘I’ll really miss it though; you see I’m leaving’

‘What do you mean you’re leaving John? why?’

Stella looked worried; how can this be happening? She thought.

John looked deep into the eyes of the woman he loved, he had just sent her world crashing around her, he pulled her into his arms and kissed her forehead. He could feel her hot tears on his chest, as he held her tight and whispered that everything would be alright.

‘It’s over Stella, everything is over. you see two weeks ago I was told I had a brain tumour that’s killing me, I know I should have told you then, but I couldn’t, there were too many loose ends at work that needed fixing, and they’ll know what’s happened by morning, just believe me when I say that none of what’s happened is your fault’.

‘It all started because of feelings I had for other women, though I only ever loved you, I couldn’t bring myself to cheat on you, so I had to remove temptation, I killed them, and ate there livers, they’re what caused the cancer. Stella I’m the serial killer the police are looking for, my job has made it easy for me to cover my tracks, but now it’s all over and it’s time to say goodbye my darling’

John lowered Stella’s limp body to the floor her blood pooling from the knife he had pushed into her heart.

‘I’m sorry sweetheart, forgive me, I couldn’t face leaving this world without you, we’ll be together soon’.

 

take care

Gary x

Moving forward

So last week was extremely busy, and extremely lucky. I got to meet up with lots of my favourite people, and drank lots of my favourite beverage, Coffee!

This week looks like it maybe heading the same way,  Monday started off with a visit to the doctor’s for my mo thly blood tests. Then the rest of the day was spent preparing,  then checking, double checking and triple checking that everything was ready for me to attend my first creative writing course, it was great fun. The tutor gave us a plot for writing our first short story, and gave us 20 minutes to write it, homework was to expand on what we had already written and she added an extra twist that we would have to weave into our stories.

I’ve decided I will publish the piece on here next week on e it has been critiqued by the tutor and class.

Tuesday was spent helping  my brother-in-law to get the wi-fi working correctly in my writing den(shed).  I helped, by sitting in the shed with my laptop on, shouting out whether or not the signal was stable, whilst he did all the work in the house. Then the evening was spent finishing my story, and tomorrow  I will do a final edit before submitting it.

Today I will be mainly firing arrows at targets.

Tomorrow will be spent resting whilst my car is repaired and resprayed.

Friday I  will be collecting my monthly sack of meds for the month from the chemist’s.

Busy, busy, busy,

Take care

Gary x

 

 

Struggling

In the last couple of months I have written a lot of stuff down, unfortunately I haven’t been able to finish more than a few of the different pieces.

It all starts off fine:

  • Theme – ok
  • Title – ok
  • Lots of ideas – ok
  • Start writing – ok

Then:

  • Not happy with what I’m writing
  • Questioning the subject
  • Questioning  why I’m even writing

I know there are a lot of things going on in my life right now, and there are many changes happening some are really big ones to me and  some are extremely stressful.

My moods are also up and down at the moment, not extreme swings but enough for me to notice. Being able to concentration for any length of time has gone out the window, and my depression my physical health, are also not playing fair.

One big issue I’m  having, is that my coping and distraction techniques are not working too well at the moment, such as reading, writing, photography and music. My archery does help whilst I am shooting but once I’ve finished shooting, the worries and stresses return.

I’m sure that once things settle down and I get some structure and normality back into my life things will start returning to normal.

Take care

Gary x

Finding my MoJo

So, for a while now I have been having a bit out of sorts and having a weird feeling that something was missing, that something was not quite right, it also meant I couldn’t ask anyone for help as I didn’t know what sort of help to ask for.

 

So today I decided I needed to get out of the house and blow the cobwebs away.

I went to my nearest town centre and visited one of my favourite coffee shops The Panino Café, the sun was shining, and a cool breeze was blowing, and the flowers smelled amazing.

So, sitting in my wheelchair outside at one of the tables, I started one of my favourite pastimes, people watching. After a short while, I started getting the urge to write, and so I did.

 

As it is Sunday today, the town was not too busy which was good because I was in my wheelchair, which makes it a little easier to manoeuvre. The main problem is Horsham Town centre has a very uneven paved surface and many areas of cobblestones, which means it’s pretty tough going. Looking on the bright side of things, it hopefully means ill end up with biceps like Thor (I can dream).

Next visit though I should probably go with someone, as I’m finding that I’m not really fit enough to be allowed out on my own yet. A bonus in going or meeting someone would be to just have someone to chat with, and also to push me for short periods, when my poor old arms get tired (lol), and also it would mean that I don’t overdo things like I did today, but you live and learn I guess, and as far as wheelchairs are concerned I’ve still got a lot to learn.

 

But now I’m using the chair a lot more and with me starting archery soon, I’m hoping that ill develop his pecs as well and lose the “Moobs” or man boobs, I can live in Naïve hope.

Well, its good to know that I’m still feeling pretty positive and that my slightly weird sense of humour seems to be hanging on in there, just. And that is probably a good thing as I have just bought a “F*ck Boris” t-shirt. which I will wear with pride.

 

Whilst sitting here, watching, writing and drinking delicious coffee, I’ve had a Eureka moment, I’ve figured out what it was that’s missing, me enjoying my writing was missing.

So, what that tells me is that sitting in the sun, writing in my journal which has the words “My F**king plans to take over the world” with my pen that has “f*ck this sh*t” written on the side, two brilliant Christmas presents I got last year, and watching the world go by and not feeling guilty about it, is some of the best medicine you can get.

 

I’m sure if there are any people sitting here watching me writing with a bloody great stupid looking smile on my face, frantically writing away, probably imagine I’ve lost the plot.

 

Remember, Live, love, laugh.

                 

                                            Take care,

                                                       

                                                           Gary x

Always Forward, Forward Always.

The title is a line from one of my favourite television series “Luke Cage”. Now I’m definitely not Luke Cage, but the line has stuck in my head since the first time I  heard it, and is meaning is something I  want to live by.

I  have decided to stop letting the past have control over me, my boots of crippling worrying about things I am no longer able to do, my fear of using my wheelchair in public, because of some of the abuse and discrimination I have received in public, when using my crutch or parking in a disabled space, or even out with my camera has brought sneers and stares.

I have decided to get past these negative things and get over my self doubt. My first step has been to start writing, just getting everything I think and feel down on paper. Seeing everything written down in front of me, helps me get some perspective on the changes going on in my life, it also helps me with decisions I  need to make.

Another thing I have started doing again, has been to get out with my camera again it’s something I love, and even though my first solo trip to the nature reserve in a long time ment having the first hide door shut in my face, with 3 people shushing me and telling me to be quiet, amazingly I managed not to be rude to them(a minor miracle), so I  moved onto the second hide, it was empty so I picked a good spot to sit, and withing 10 minutes I was visited by a Kingfisher and it remained for around 5 minutes.

The best bit of the day came next when 3 young people living with cerebral palsy came into the small hide with their carers, it was a tight squeeze but we all fitted in, lots of talking, lots of laughter, and I think I was even able to help them by telling them what I  knew about what the could see on the pond and what the  names of the birds were, this is what nature is all about and it put a big smile on my face. This experience then lead me into my third positive act.

That encounter with those six people in the second hide, had really given my self esteem a massive boost and made me feel a lot more positive about meeting a bunch of strangers about joining an archery club, which turned out to be an amazing experience, and now I can’t wait to become a member.

So, I now have good supportive family and friends around me to help and encourage me, plus  activities and a social that will have a positive effect on my mental and physical health, I know I’m not where I  want to be yet, but at least I am steadily moving forward.

Oh, and one last thing, with some help from my brother my writing shed is finally finished and fully solar powered, so now I’m really looking forward to using it. Cheers bruv.

Take care everyone, and keep an eye out for those positive moments,

Always forward, forward always,

Gary x

 

Peaceful morning

What a great morning, the sun was shining, a cool breeze was blowing, and the birds were singing in the bushes and trees.

Im now enjoying my coffee, Dora is sleeping at my feet on the patio, after I spent about 20 minutes brushing her, the resulting pile of fur is now being carried off by the little sparrow’s to line there newly built nests.

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Perfect start to the day.

Take care,

Gary x

 

Break

Taking a little break from blogging for the next couple of days. I’m in the middle of writing a real life short story, so any feedback would be help. What I would live to do is turn this into a novel, using different names, maybe set in a different location and time, still working on those ideas at the moment, also filling the story out with a lot more detail and story.  I hope to pretty much have it ready for when I  start my night school writing course in September.

Take care

Gary x

Thursday 13th June​ 2019

A date I will always remember, and It was probably the nicest way for anybody to lose their job, and for me nice is good.

I’d known the day was coming since the middle of May. Since the day of the last visit to the hospital pain clinic, when the treatment they tried failed in helping to reduce my pain. It was nobody’s fault, the treatment just didn’t work for me.

At that point, I knew the wheels would be put in motion the have me released from my contract on medical grounds. this would be the second time that this has happened to me, the last time was 7 years ago.

What was different this time, well firstly I knew what was going to happen, and secondly, I have been supported all the way through the process by the people I work for and those I work with. At no point during the last year was I made to feel like a burden which, to be honest, didn’t surprise me in the slightest, I was only ever told that my welfare comes first.

I am saddened that I will no longer be going into work, and not working with my friends and colleagues, which is what I will miss the most. This time though I have not been cut adrift and left to find things out for myself because they are still looking out for me and helping me.

That’s why today I’m feeling so lucky and positive, I have so many people in my life now that I am grateful for.

Goodnight have a great weekend and take care,

Gary x

Oh, and I’ve started to write a true love story, one I hope to finish writing in the next couple of weeks, fingers crossed.

To infinity and beyond

The day is almost here, tomorrow will be a turning point for me. In the afternoon I will be attending a meeting with the HR department for the organisation I work for, the NHS,. The meeting is about releasing me from my contract on medical grounds, it’s all very amicable and I’m prepared, but, still it will be a difficult and sad time for me for  a while.

I  can say that without the NHS and it’s amazingly talented, hard working staff, I wouldn’t be around  today.  They have looked after me and my various longterm health conditions for 57 years now, I’ve been a volunteer for them for 7 years, they have employed me as an administrator for the last 2 years, and I have loved every minute of it.

I will miss the work, tutors, participants, the friends I have made in fact I  already do, as I  have been off work  for a year now. The coffees  and the chats will continue with my colleagues, if they’re not sick of me yet, and at some point I hope to be able to return to being a volunteer in some capacity.

I have already made plans and set goals on what I want to do, and how I will achieve them, I am feeling really positive. Exciting times ahead.

As the saying goes “one door closes and another on opens”.

Take care

Gary x

Music Vs Pain

Over the last 3 years, listening to music has become one of the main tools I use to help with my pain, I can use it to help me relax,  or to carry out certain tasks by distracting me from the pain, tasks such as driving short distances, reading, writing or tending my Chilli plants.

I have built up a wide and varied selection of styles and band’s that I like to listen too, so selecting the correct band/music is very important, as my mood, pain level and task are all factors in selecting what I will choose.

For example, travelling by Bus, Car or Train I have a specific selection of bands that I would choose from, such as – Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Queen, Nickleback, Counting Crows, Garth Brooks, First Aid Kit, The Beach Boys, The Mavericks or The Beautiful South.

For more leisurely pursuits such as reading or writing, I have a different selection that I choose from that consists of – AC/DC, Kiss, The Carpenters, The Clash, Elvis Presley, Fleetwood Mac, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Vaccines, The Stranglers and 30 Seconds to Mars.

As you can tell a nice easy listening selection for an ageing heavy metal rocker like Myself. Here’s the proof with my passport picture from 39 years ago, 18 yrs old.

thumbnail

I know what your thinking, did his parents really let him go out dressed like that? Sadly I haven’t aged so well.

Rock Star or what?

There has been a lot of trial and error in putting together my playlists which has been so much fun, as well as being important to me so I get the results I need.

One last thing though, is I have to remember to set an alarm on my phone to make sure I get up and move around, otherwise, I could end up in a lot more pain than I started with,

Good luck if this is something you decide to try.

Take care

Gary x

Travelling

So in a previous life(1989 – 2007), I was lucky to have a few jobs in that allowed me to travel the world, meet some amazing people and see some amazing sights, and I got to do it all before I got too sick.

USA:- California, Colorado, New York, Vermont, West Virginia, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Florida, Missouri, Massachusettes, Idaho, Maine, Texas, Pennsylvania.

Japan:- Tokyo, Nagoya. Fukuyama, Mito, Hitachi.

Hongkong

Taiwan;- Taipei, Tainan, Hsinchu, Kaohsiung.

Singapore:- Sentosa, Clarke Quay, Orchard Towers, Newton Circus, Tampines

France:- Grenoble, Corbeil-Essonnes, Paris, Lyon, Callais.

Germany:- Berlin, Dresden, Erfurt, Munich, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Freiberg, Chemnitz, Cologne.

Holland:- Nijmegen, Hengelo, Eindhoven.

Ireland:- Cork, Limerick, Shannon, Galway, Claregalway, Clifden, Dublin, Leixlip, Maynooth.

Israel:- JerusalemAshkelon, Ashdod, Kiryat Gat, Tel-Aviv

Italy:- Rome.

Switzerland:- Geneva

Canada:- Montreal.

I was very lucky I had the best job in the world, I got to do so many things, see so many sights, try so many different foods and cultures, so many good memories, so many photographs so many pamphlets, tickets, old passports and memorabilia saved. The best about being away was catching the flight home to my wife and kids.

This is why it is taking me a while to complete my memory book.

Take care

Gary x

I Can’t Unsee That.

Have you ever had one of those moments when  you’ve thought “Now I’ve seen that, I can never unsee it”. Well I had 2 instances like that today.

I was in town buying an Anniversary card and I started to head off home across the town square to get back to my car. Now, when I walk, I walk slowly with my head bent down slightly due to neck pain, then every now and again, I’ll look up to make sure I’m I not going to walk into something.

Anyway back to the story, so I was walking across the square when I looked up and the sight I beheld made me cringe inside. On the bench about 10 feet in front of me, was a lady. I’d say she was about 80 years old and she was reading the paper, I know your thinking that’s not so terrible.

The trouble is she was wearing a knee length skirt with her knees were very far apart and wearing no tights or stockings just bare white flesh. That sight is now burned into my brain and I’ll never be able to unsee it. I just hope she didn’t see the look of horror on my face.

I carried on across the square and made my way to the alley that leads to the car park, I could hear footsteps behind me which, sounded like high heels and whoever was wearing them made it sound like they were in a bit of a hurry. I’m not surprised as I’ve said before my walking is pretty slow these days. Then as we emerged from the alley this woman shot past me,.

she was a tall blond lady wearing a fur jacket and pale leather trousers. Now, it was a hot day and even at my slow speed I was perspiring. I don’t know if any of you have ever heard the noise that slightly sweaty skin makes when you sit down into a leather chair, move in it or get up out of it, well it sounds like a wet fart and that’s the only way I can describe it. So if you put together a hot day, leather trouser’s and perspiration you get the sound of a loud wet fart, it means every time her thighs brushed together you got a loud wet fart on rapid fire, it’s a sound I will never forget, I know I should have felt sorry for her, but I was too busy wetting myself laughing and I so needed a good laugh.

take care

Gary x

 

Writing – Changing

The purpose of this piece is for me to get used to writing, so hopefully the more writing I do the better I get. I’m sure there are many spelling mistakes and grammatical errors as you read through this but this is about learning and finding what kind of writer I’m going to be, so all of your comments will be of great value. In September I start a 10 week creative writing workshop, hopefully, I will have figured out how to use the spelling & grammar checker by then. So please be kind, be brutal, but above all please be honest about what you think.

Title:- Changed

Last weekend I started reading the biography about an Idol of mine, comedian & Film star Robin Williams. Reading it brought up emotions of sadness because he’d died & happiness because he made me & the world laugh. The very first time I saw Robin Williams was on the tv show Mork & Mindy, it made me laugh so hard I would have tears rolling down my face.

In the book many people were saying he was a comic genius, a legend, a star, I think he was just bloody awesome. He was one of those actors whose films would always cheer me up, they would always make me smile and laugh especially when I was feeling down. In the book people he performed with said he was an amazing guy to work with, he was always trying to make people laugh on set, always willing to help fellow cast & crew out & always helping those in need & those less fortunate. One example of his compassion reported that he would always insist that any of the films he worked in must always hire a number of the local homeless population to work on the set.

After reading the introduction and all the comments from his friends, colleagues, and family,. It moved on to tell his story. It started with at the end of his story with talking about his death at the age 63 & by the end of that first page I could feel a lump in my throat & could feel tears welling up also. I remember feeling the same way when his death was announced back in 2014. It made me think about a film I had recently seen; it was a documentary called RobinWilliams – Inside My Mind. It had its funny moments but was filled with heartbreak & sadness, he was an amazing human being, full of energy and laughter, but it showed he was also just a man who had his own demons & flaws such as drinking, drugs, anxiety & depression.

I got a bit distracted again at this point & started thinking about my own demons, my own long-term battle with my crappy health, depression & anxiety. So I decided I wanted to get my own story down on paper to bare my soul so to speak then share it on here.

Here we go.

I’ve pretty much had poor health since birth, though my battle with depression & anxiety didn’t start until much later(obviously). In fact, it started around the same time as the bullying I was experiencing did. I was about 11 when the bullying started firstly because I was rubbish at sport & didn’t feel like I fit anywhere, then it got worse when I got my girlfriend who was of Sri Lankan parentage even though she was born here. the verbal abuse from both British Asian kids & White British kids was equally as bad & it even got physical a few times. Going through school was the worst for verbal.

I was 13 when my family moved from South London to West Sussex, not long after the move, my episodes of depression began to get more frequent, I hated the countryside back then, I hated moving away from my Grandparents, I didn’t like my stepfather and I missed London, I became a right little shit (so I’ve been told). Around the age of 16, I started drinking and smoking, not a lot but I started, then after I’d had a teenage meltdown, I was sent to live My Father & Stepmother for 2 years by the age of 18 my drinking & smoking had become very heavy in fact I had turned into a drunk but not an alcoholic. It was also at this I met a girl who would eventually become wife even though over the next 5 years I was an absolute shit towards her, yet she has never gave up on me (madness, even I’d given up on me), but this year will be our silver wedding anniversary,  25 years ago was also when I also cut down on the drinking.

Then 13 years ago I quit smoking & drinking altogether which ended up being a stroke of luck because 6 months later, I was made redundant from a job I loved, the company was closing down and moving back to the good old U.S of A, one good thing to come out of this time was the bullying was finally over.(I was bullied for many different reasons over the years, in fact, I think I must have had the words bully me written on my forehead).

About 18 months after the redundancy a tragedy occurred that affected me badly. There was a serious road traffic accident. On my way into work at  new job one morning I came upon a serious road traffic accident, there were 3 of us that stopped to help the people in the 2 cars that had collided, we had to try to get the man trapped in the first car out,  one of the guy’s broke a rear window so I could crawl halfway into the car to hold the trapped man’s head steady, talk to  him and stop him from hurting himself even more, at the same time the guy who had broken the window went around to the other side to try to gain access through the other door but with no luck, the third bloke stayed with the other driver trying to keep him calm.

The Police, Fire Rescue, and Paramedics were pretty quick, I explained to the paramedic what was going on with the injured driver whilst I had been with him. The police asked the 3 of us that had tried to help to wait by our cars to be interviewed individually. About 20 minutes after our statements a police officer came across to us and told that there was nothing that could have done to save him, that he had died from his injuries. He advised us that we should all go home due to the shock of what had happened. We drove off & the next thing I remember was sitting in my van outside the house. As I opened the front door I saw all the dried blood on my arms and hands, I looked up saw my wife then I just broke. I can’t remember how long she held me for, but I am so glad she hadn’t left for work. For the next 6 months, I couldn’t leave the house, I couldn’t even open the door, I’d also lost my job & it took me a long time to get over it.

For the next 18 months, I spent my time doing a lot of volunteering on conservation projects. I worked outside with a group of people with similar health problems, it was exactly what I needed to get better, getting back to nature and working with my hands again was the medicine I needed & it helped me find myself again, it helped me recover enough to look for another job, things were finally getting better.

8 years ago my physical health started to nosedive again, I began falling over at work, I was in constant pain, I was becoming forgetful & at times confused. Now, those of you that knew me back in my drinking days are probably thinking, hmmm sounds like you’re still a pisshead Gary, the problem was I had been off the sauce for 12 years(not fair). I saw the GP who sent me to a Rheumatologist who in turn diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia. None of the pain killers they tried me on came even close to helping with the pain. The GP then sent me off to see a pain specialist. I was told it was unlikely I’d never work again, that my life as I knew it was over & I would have learned new ways to do things I was then released on medical grounds from the company I worked for.

After all this I started to feel that I was losing control of my life, that nothing was under my control anymore, my anxiety & depression were rising again, my physical health was getting worse, there seemed to be very little out there to help me cope with what was happening, I started attending CBT courses, 3 in fact one after the other to try and help me cope, but it just wasn’t for me. My mental and physical health were spiralling downwards & I was having some very dark thoughts. I was getting really scared.

Then on a visit to a medical drop in centre I overheard 2 old dears talking about a free NHS service called the Expert Patient Programme which helped people living with long term health conditions to live better. I had never heard of it before but thought I might as well give it a go, if it had worked for them maybe it could help me. So when I got home I contacted the service and got myself booked onto the next available course near to where I lived. I wasn’t very confident before I went as nothing else had worked for me, Then I thought what did I have to loose? I turned up for the first session of the 6 week course, it would be 2.5 hours 1 day a week for 6 weeks. As I walked through the door I remember thinking, what the hell am I doing here? But as the course got going I remember thinking it felt very different from anything else I had done & asked myself again, is this really going to work for me?

After all the introductions we learned that the tutors were also living with their own long-term health conditions, they had all been participants & completed the course themselves. They said they’d gotten so much out of the course they decided to become volunteer Tutors, I mean volunteers, wow that really struck me. Another thing was they talked to us, not at us, they were engaging with us, not judging us but asking us to give it a go, after all, they were living proof that the service worked. So after I left that day I decided I would go back for week 2.

The things the tutors were saying to us made sense, the coping techniques they demonstrated actually worked. The tutors came across as positive, compassionate, and understanding people who got us, they really understood what we were going through, it showed us we were not alone, and it showed me it was ok to smile and laugh without feeling guilty. The change in me was massive and quick, by week 3 my wife was telling me she couldn’t believe the difference the course was making, I was more confident, positive & happier, that I was talking and laughing more. So on week 4, I plucked up the courage and asked if I could become a volunteer tutor. Now public speaking was some really scary shit for me, I knew I would be well outside my comfort zone.  But 4 months later I finished my training and 6 weeks after that I started delivering my first course. I loved it. Since then my health has had many ups and downs.

But the main thing was I had my various families to support me, there was my wife and 3 daughters, my brother and his family, my work family & my fellow tutor’s & participant family. Then 2 years ago a dream came true for me, not only was I a volunteer tutor but I was also working as the Expert Patient Programme Administrator, it was a job I loved & life was good. Then 11 months ago my health decided to nosedive again & I was placed on long term sick leave. I’m still off sick now but in 3 weeks time, I will be going through the process of being released on medical grounds. This time though things will be different as I am far more prepared this time. I have been looked after supported & helped by my friends at work & my family at home, which includes my lovely Dog Dora.

I’ve started making a long term plan, which is to become a writer, what type of writer I will be I don’t know yet, but I’m enjoying the journey now that it has started, with all the reading writing and blogging I am doing these day’s I know one day it will happen.

There really is no way to thank all the people in my life who have helped and supported me over the last 8 years, but I love you all because you have all helped me arrive where I am today.

So now it’s on to the next chapter fo me although I will still be looking forward to coffee with the boss and volunteering in the office with my colleagues when I can. There’s no chance of work getting rid of me completely I’m afraid. The Service is known as EPP for short but is also known as the Living Well Course. If you like the sound of it & fancy giving it a go, make the call you have nothing to lose & everything to gain, it worked for me after all. I’ve written this in the hope that my story may help some of you.

Take care

Gary

Ok, so I am going to go a little bit Hollywood now &  thank some of the people who have helped me get to this point in my life.

So First to my Mum who never gave up on me even though I could be a right little shit(apparently), Thank you to my long-suffering wife Tracey, to my 3 yes 3 beautiful grown-up daughters Sian, Keri & Erin who’ve put up with my bad sense of humour on a daily basis. I’d like to thank my workmates Karen the Boss & Natalie (aka Danny Dyer) & Sue the co-ordinator’s who’ve had to put up with me being such an awesome administrator in my opinion. To all the amazing tutors & participants I have met along the way & last but not least some good friends, to Marion who was also my mum’s best friend We should meet up for a coffee soon, to Shelly & Ian who helped me get through the first couple of years and introduced me to the lovely Jenner & Ken who allowed me into there lives, I know I’m crap at keeping in touch & I need to rectify that.

Finally, to all those, I have not mentioned but are just as important.

Thank you all so much.

And finally again, a big thank you to Robin Williams for making me laugh, for making me cry, for being a hero to me & whose story has inspired me to write this piece.

Day 6, My First Attempt

The next post will be my first attempt at writing, if you have the time please read through it and let me know what you think about it, honesty please.

I want writing to become a big part of my life’s reading has. So I need to start sharing, I need to start getting pieces written and out there for all to see.

The first piece I have written how my life has changed over the last 7 years and how I have I have become the person I am today. A pretty positive one.

A little heads up on what I am living with health wise these days. I have allergies to eggs, fowl and peanuts. I live with anxiety, depression, Asthma, Type 2 Diabetes, Osteoporosis (spinal damage), undiagnosed MS (Spinal cord liaison), Neuropathy, Tested positive for Sarcoidosis (in remisson) and to top it all off Fibromyalgia.

What Do You See?

 

What do you see, when you look at me?

Do you see a man with a different way of thinking for getting form A to B,

Or a different way of physically getting from here to there,

Do you see the labels, disabled, crippled, broken, second class, scrounger,

I don’t want to be like this, I don’t want you to think like that,

Being different like I am is not a way of living we choose,

Being different is about choosing how we live because we are this way,

If I need help, I have learned to ask, if I don’t I have learned to say No,

And we must be polite when we do so,

We need acceptance for who we are, to be respected, to be equals,

We need love when we feel down, understanding when frustrated,

Friendship when lonely, and need help when we can’t manage,

We have the same likes such as, sport or reading or going to the beach,

And the same dislikes, taxes, racism or not being in charge of the TV remote.

We also have likes

The occasional beer and a pizza, a Larger and a nice hot ruby,

(a Ruby = Ruby Murray = Curry)

the chance to go to a concert or see a  film at the cinema,

everyone needs there relationships,

Someone to love, to laugh with, to cry with,

And those that get us and see past the differences,

For some our differences are visible, whilst for others, they are not so much,

But it’s okay to ask us about our differences, we don’t bite unless you want us to,

So don’t be a stranger, come and say hi, just try not to stare it’s not very nice,

Don’t pity us, understand us, don’t blame us, get to know us,

Were as human as you, with a little bit extra, or a little bit less,

We laugh, we cry, we live, we die, we also have a wicked, even dark sense of humour,

Please don’t dismiss us, or ignore us, do not pity us, or feel sorry for us,

Listen when we talk, understand what we need and help if we ask, please,

But we must also do our part,

We must listen when you talk, understand when you need, be a friend when you need,

But communication cut’s both ways and both way’s must get better,

We’re really not that different if we only take the chance and let each other in,.

We’re all only human after all.

 

Practicing my scribblings I hope you like, not sure it could be classed as poetry, I just needed to get it out. (The words that are, not anything else), see Humour.

Take care

Gary x