At the beginning of the week and fed up to my back teeth with feeling so sick and giddy all the time, secretly wondering if a stroke might be imminent as my head felt both awful and wrong at the same time, I bit the bullet and rang my doctor.
I was probably wasting my time and wouldn’t get an appointment, or even the time of day if last time was anything to go by, but I was hoping for a conversation at the very least.
At our surgery, patients must first go through hoops with the receptionists. They are instructed to triage all calls, basically to judge whether you are sick enough to be blessed with a chance to speak to your doctor. They draw the line at dying though, as the recorded message tells you not to bother them; to ring 999.
I made it through the first hurdle and was told my doctor would call me that day. Oh boy, I must really be sick, I thought, but not dying though, which was good to know.
The verdict was an inner ear problem, and a prescription was sent to my local chemist. I was to take the pills for two days, but if the dizziness hadn’t gone to ring back, as she would have to see me (in person!)
During those two days, a very sad family disaster upset everyone’s apple cart, and we finally received notification of the start of Anita’s thyroid investigation at the hospital. We only waited for weeks this time, so that was an improvement.
I felt no better after the two waiting days, so I rang the surgery again. This time, they said my doctor was not available and that my name would be added to the duty rota list. Hopefully, someone will call me later.
Later turned out to be a synonym for never, apparently, as I am still waiting!
Despite such a terrible week, I have managed to continue writing in short bursts, I must admit, but worrying about my characters problems has kept me sane.
Hoping for a quiet weekend… and wishing the same for all of you!
My boss rang twice to remind me about Saturday. No surprise there, he knows how I feel. I worked until lunch. I took my bike out for a ride and stopped at a greasy spoon, had the most amazing lunch. Spent an hour talking with an elderly lady who sat herself at my table. I think the universe is trying to push my buttons.
I managed to put my laundry on the line before I left. Should be dry by now. Stupid thoughts keep entering my mind. I decide on faded jeans, blue and white striped shirt for Saturday’s lunch.
I bike home on a full stomach, slower than when I had arrived. Why am I thinking about Saturday?
By rights, I should ring and cancel. I was beginning to feel itchy all over. Something didn’t feel right. I hung my bike on the hook in the hall, deciding to iron the laundry, clean house. If I didn’t know better, you would think I’m pregnant. Don’t worry, I not. The pill is a great liberator.
My mother would never have approved. Sex before marriage is not on. She was wonderfully old fashioned, dad too. You could say they were cast from the same mould, made for each other. Mum died aged 63, dad went soon after, leaving me alone. There are distant cousins, aunts I never knew. Didn’t need them then, nor now.
There isn’t a spot left to clean. I showered, retired early and tried to read a few chapters. The book was on the floor when I woke.
I barely had time to shower, have breakfast. One last chance to think. Without realising it, I was pulling on my jeans, white sneakers, ready to go.
This time, he sent his driver to fetch me.
Before finishing lunch, he asked if I would mind coming to his home. I could feel the itch gathering strength, even so, I said yes. Lunch was great, he knew how to make me feel relaxed.
I had agreed. The drive took two and half hours to Hampshire and a small mansion. Derek, the driver opened the door. I tried not to let my mouth hang open. I couldn’t see any houses nearby. This put my itch into overdrive. Again, with the thoughts. The man could be a serial killer for all I knew. I could feel the virtual shaking of the head, don’t be daft.
We went through the large hall to his office, worked for three hours. So far so good.
‘Are you hungry?’ He said
I said yes, as I felt peckish. He sent Derek out for Kentucky chicken. This surprised me, as I thought he would have a cook hidden away below stairs. Over a large bucket of chicken, I asked if Derek lived there.
Two males, in such an isolated place was beginning to make me uncomfortable. I was told he lived over the garage, which was down the drive by the gatehouse.
Thanks, this didn’t help me much.
‘Would you like a tour of the house?’
I did. The tour ended in his bedroom. There was the biggest bed I had ever seen. Why would someone with no partner to speak of, need a queen-sized bed?
When Derek entered the room through an adjacent door, the panic struck. I ran and kept running until I reached the highway.
The first car to slow down, was Peter. ‘Get in, let me drive you home.’
Ignoring him, I climbed the embankment, intending to walk through the woods. Reaching the top, I turned to see the car drive away.
Climbing down, hoping to hitch a ride, I started walking.
I should have listened to my itch, my rule about weekends.
He turned out to be a good-looking fraud.
A lorry pulled over. I had to take a chance. I had no money. I needed to go home, take a shower, wash the bad feeling away. Soothe my thoughts with the idea that I had a near miss.
I didn’t read it wrong, did I?
I hoped he wouldn’t pull his work from us. The boss had threatened to sack me if I messed up. Fingers crossed; he would send the rest of his work in by courier as many of our clients do.
Sunday was all mine, time to shake it all off. Monday was a new day, hoping I still had a job.
Sorry that we missed a day yesterday! I wonder what you think of Linda…
I found the Rose and Crown too smoky.
Pushing open the door, I remembered Brian had thick, blond hair, a crew cut back then, dark blue eyes. Making my way to the bar, trying to look without swivelling my head too much. Wouldn’t want anyone to think I was about to spew pea soup across the bar or speak in tongues.
It was the eyes I noticed at the corner table. I sat opposite Brian, holding out my hand. He stood, shaking my proffered hand.
‘I’m glad you came.’
The blond hair had vanished, a shiny dome in its place. That makes it sound as if he was doing an impression of St Paul’s. I remembered the whispering gallery when mum took me. I wondered what thoughts were running around inside that dome that will never get said that evening.
He ordered drinks, reminiscing about the old times. The past doesn’t interest me. I could feel boredom creeping over me like unwanted ivy.
About an hour in, I made my excuses. ‘I have a big lunch meeting tomorrow; I need my shut eye. Been nice catching up.’
I stopped myself from saying we should do it again. He stood; I could feel him watching as I left.
It wasn’t exactly a lie. I do have a meeting my boss wouldn’t want messed up.
On my way home, I scolded myself a little. I could have given Brian more time.
I didn’t have to be in work that morning, the boss wanted me fresh for the meeting with Peter Westwood. I chose to wear my pencil skirt, long sleeved pale blue blouse, three buttons undone, showing just enough cleavage. If his eyes drop below my face, I will know something about him. A gentleman never lets you notice his eyes wandering. He is practised, he can do it without staring. This one knew the rules. Not once did I see his eyes wander. Deep brown, like chocolate buttons. Thick black hair with a slight kink trying to be a wave.
He is polite, stood shaking my hand, letting me sit before he did. His voice is deep. Not down in your boots deep, just enough to be sexy. Which I very much found him to be. ‘Would you like to order? I have to admit I am ravenous.’
He spoke naturally, which put me at ease.
We spoke while eating, which surprised me. I had to admit his book idea didn’t go down well with me. A teenage story of murder come whodunnit with a prize, if you entered of a replica of a jewelled dagger.
Knives and guns are all wrong, I told him. I couldn’t in all consciousness work with his ideas. I wondered what my boss would say if he was standing right behind me. I could almost hear him screaming between clenched teeth.
‘Maybe it could be a magical mystery tour around London where the reader could track the perpetrator, and the winner could have lunch with you.’
He must have liked the idea, for he stopped chewing, took a swig of his white wine. ‘That a much better idea. I could run them all over London, then back to Mayfair to the Silver Spoon.’
Before leaving, he gave me his card and his ideas for the sketches he wanted in the book. A young man with a book and pencil in his hand, roaming through London, hoping to win a lunch date with his favourite author.
He offered me a lift back to work.
I told him I was working from home today.
‘Home it is then.’
He sat in the back with me, my skirt riding up more than I would normally like. This time I didn’t tug it down. I couldn’t tell if he noticed the amount of leg on show. ‘Ask your driver to turn left here. I’m the one with the monkey puzzle tree out front.’
Turning to face me, he asked if he could come in for coffee. ‘I think there is more we can do.’
Life simply isn’t getting any better, and in some respects, it’s getting worse.
Tensions are running very high in our house, very much due, I’m afraid, to the slow-moving mechanism that drives the NHS these days. And before anyone jumps all over me, I will add that I think they have done an outstanding job coping with Covid. The rest of the system may never recover, however.
It has been a year since Anita’s devastating heart attack. A year of delays, lost results and what can only be described as apathy. So busy saving the world, some patients are falling by the wayside.
Not to mention the song and dance every time we attend the hospital on those rare occasions. At the moment, we are waiting for an appointment for a possible stent to be fitted, as although Anita is coping brilliantly with her reduced mobility and general fitness, she could be a lot better.
I wasn’t expecting to throw my own hat into the ring too, and tried very hard to wait until a shred of normality looked like returning.
It was probably due to the extra workload, and definitely caused by all the stress, but my arthritis has been severely showing off, crippling my knees, and reducing me to a shambling wreck.
When I damaged my knee once before, pre covid, I went to my local A & E, had an Xray and an amazing injection that enabled me to walk without pain.
Yesterday I had reached the end of my rope, and thinking we were as close to normal as we were ever likely to get, I turned up at A&E again, only to be sent packing. Well, advised to attend a Minor Injuries Unit which was miles away!
Apparently, our Accident & Emergency Department are only accepting Life threatening emergencies.
Time to have a word with our GP. Not that you can actually have a face-to-face appointment anymore. You must wait weeks for a telephone conversation and so on. I think I will write a letter and see what happens.
In the meantime, the housework and gardening can go take a running jump!
It is 7.30 in the morning. The air is still, and cool compared to yesterday, and the only sound I can hear is the repeated and annoying call of a wood pigeon. I counted twelve that time. It is 20 degrees already and we have been promised another hot day. Parts of the UK have seen 32 degrees in the past few days, something I have not enjoyed at all.
My swollen feet and ankles look like hobbit feet, and the arthritis is running riot. I live in a cotton nightdress and cannot bear to get dressed. Cool showers only work for a few minutes and drinking water makes me feel like a ripe peach, about to burst.
Torrential rain and thunderstorms were forecast for parts of the country, and you guessed it, nowhere near where we live.
Anita cannot stand the heat either, and is really suffering. Every day the angina attacks get worse, yet we have not heard from the hospital about the plans for a new treatment. Lockdown might be over, but it seems to make matters worse, not better.
On the work front, I am trying to keep busy in between moments of desperation and complete despair. What’s the point has taken up residence at the back of my mind, and ignoring it is becoming a full-time occupation.
To give my brain something else to bite on, I am trying to switch our subscriber list from Mailchimp to Mailerlite, as I have heard good things about them. For some reason, they just don’t like my email address so not getting very far with logging in. Stubborn is as stubborn does, so they say, so today I will try again. If your hear a loud explosion coming from the south of England, you will know I failed spectacularly!
I am also reading David Gaughran’s free course ‘Starting from Zero, to try and improve our marketing. You never know, we might even get around to doing some, once the dust settles…
This Book Funnel promotion ends at the end of the month, so thought I would mention it again. My book CrossFire is taking part and so far has been picked up well, so thank you to everyone who now has a FREE copy!
Another week of waiting for news, and the lines of communication were strangely silent, right up until yesterday afternoon. I had tried to convince myself that this could be a good sign, and in a way, it was. The letter that arrived, was a copy of the formal (and very technical) notification that was sent to our GP. After googling all the jargon, I figured out that one of Anita’s main arteries is almost completely blocked and would require either a stent or a surgical bypass. A phone call regarding the consultants intentions will follow, apparently.
The trouble with waiting, is that it sets the tone of the week somehow. Despite this, I was determined to do something constructive. Gardening or bonsai was out of the question, for every time I walked out the back door, the heavens opened. I don’t mind getting wet, but not if I don’t have to!
The next job was cleaning the carpets. Out came my trusty shampooer, only to find all the water that I poured in, ran straight out of the bottom in a hurry. I joggled everything but it was obviously broken, so I threw it in the bin.
Well, there are the windows to clean and a pile of sewing that seems to get bigger every time I leave the room. I could switch off the computer and write, or I could try to clear some outstanding annoyances. Seems to be the week for annoyances, so I decided to try to get rid of some. The biggest irk on my list, is trying to find out why some of my book reviews have been deleted. I mean, I didn’t have that many to start with! I had tried emailing Amazon with varying results and this morning I was informed that according to them, I had no such account with them. (turned out they were talking about a seller account)
When I double checked that I most certainly do have a working account on .com and uk.com, I noticed that my author central was missing from uk.com. It was large as life on Amazon.com though.
I think this is all because Anita and I share a computer. It seems to confuse the hell out of most of the companies we deal with. We have our own email address, but that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, as almost everything we do is questioned and needs verification all the bloody time!
Of course, if anyone has any clues about any of this, they would be very welcome as I am a short step from binning anything that refuses to work!
Yesterday afternoon I had planned on writing and working on a trailer for one of Anita’s books, but the sun was shining, and I couldn’t be asked.
We sat outside, drinking coffee, surrounded by all the jobs I have been neglecting so far this year. Not really my fault, for the weather hasn’t exactly been conducive for gardening lately. It’s either been freezing cold, raining, or both. So, I wasn’t feeling too guilty.
Maybe a little guilty about some of my bonsai perhaps, as there are a couple that desperately need repotting as they have used up all the goodness in their soil. There was also an orange blossom that I bought earlier in the year that has outgrown its pot.
Before I knew it, I was hard at work, and enjoying every minute.
I was also promising to spend a lot more time in the garden in future.
They say you are closer to God’s heart in a garden, and all I know is I am always happier when up to my elbows in rich garden soil, surrounded by all the wonders of nature.
I thought I would close with some of my favourite bonsai, the acres. Especially the ones with different colour variations in the leaves. I love the Lacy ones too and have included the one that refused to be a bonsai. It outgrew every pot I put it in, and eventually I planted it in the garden.
I hate to say this, but in a way, I hoped it would rain tomorrow so I could catch up on my writing! (or maybe not!)
I don’t know if its old age, pushing inspiration so far back, but my mind has this large empty space. It keeps telling me I will never write a new novel. That those 400 white pages scare the bejesus out of me.
So, I tell myself, try a novella, as it seems weeks ago when I last held the pencil. It would seem I am only good for short pieces and poetry. These, I still love to do.
Words press against my mind, asking to be written. Late at night, there are different kinds of thoughts. Words that do not want to be read by anyone.
Thoughts I must keep to myself. The kind of things you wouldn’t speak in daylight. They pop up like some kind of evil demon, a black shadow most of us would rather deny. Keeping the beast well caged, we try to get on with the day.
The rains stops, there is a rainbow. Sunlight through your window reminding you of the magic this world has to offer.
Old age disappears for a while. I grab at this new enthusiasm with both hands, wondering what I will make of it.
Watch this space! They are right, old age is just a number.
When we first started blogging nearly ten years ago, we had no clue as to the right or best way to go about it.
Looking around didn’t help like I thought it would, as there seemed to be a million ways to become a blogger.
What didn’t help either, was that I’m not computer literate, at least I wasn’t back then, so needed to find something simple that wouldn’t tax my poor old brain.
Many bloggers were using something called Blogger, so that is where we began our journey.
I found it relatively easy to use, but as time went on, I noticed a lack of traffic. This wouldn’t help with telling the world about our books, so I looked around to see what else I could manage and found WordPress.
The learning curve was a bit steep for me, but I liked the atmosphere and the possible connections. It was positively lively!
It cost a bit, too, but a small price to pay to finally get noticed.
Then there was a difference of opinion over what to call ourselves. We were not fans of the gimmicky labels, and as writers we were advised to use our names, basically so people can get to know us.
We noticed that most bloggers don’t do this. Their sites have proper names, like Myths of the Mirror, Daily Echo, Sun in Gemini, and Pensivity, to name but a few.
Eventually, after much thought and mucking about, we settled on a name that suits both of us. Books & Bonsai.
Books, because we both write, and Bonsai because I love my miniature trees almost as much as writing. Of course, other subjects find their way onto our website, as our interests are not limited to books and trees!
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our friends and followers. You really make it a joy to get up in the morning!
Which is better? To be mentally busy or actually getting your hands dirty?
Figuratively speaking. Of course, there are a few jobs to do that will involve a fair amount of grime.
Suddenly it seems, the catch-up list has grown out of all proportion. At least, it seems that way to me at the moment. Especially when this is the first time I am on my own in the help department. Of course, there have always been those jobs that have my name written all over them, usually because I am taller, stronger, and/or probably far more determined than is good for me at 77 years.
Yesterday afternoon, I attacked the garden. I thought I would get in first for a change, but even with a long-sleeved jacket, the lethal brambles managed to draw blood. Most of these are now in a pile awaiting removal. Revenge is sweet, even though my back is killing me!
Yesterday morning we had one of our brainstorming sessions. Anita isn’t strong enough to help with the catch-up list, but her mind is as sharp as ever, and she is keen to change our way of thinking when it comes to our writing. Some of our enthusiasm seems to have faded a little, which is not surprising, considering the past year. So, we have both agreed to work on novella-length fiction to introduce some excitement AND increase our output. I can see the merit in this. I am still struggling to improve our blurbs, and one or two covers need replacing, but Books & Bonsai are all set for a lot more productivity!
I prefer to work in my office rather than anywhere else, which is probably why my gardening and housework enthusiasm is sadly lacking. There isn’t the time to get around to everything or the strength and energy to rattle through them. This year should be all about doing what makes us happy, and in our house, that means writing.