Wednesday, 21 April 2010


I have just seen my first contrail of the week. I guess that means the world is heading back for normality, but I will miss the pure skies and quiet.

I'm ensconced at Starbucks in Paternoster Square. No sign yet of the Harris Hawks and their handlers.

The coffee tastes of burnt caramel, which is poor even by Starbucks limited standards. Even the muffin is a disappointment; bland and dry. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Starbucks, Star-schmucks.

I spy a few pigeons tucked away here and there around the square.

Ahhh... Here come the hawks...

The pigeons scatter to new roosts, but the hawks aren't too interested in chasing them. They're fed tidbits each time they return to a handler so I guess they lack a hunter's instinct honed by hunger.

Watching the proceedings I gather that catching and killing pigeons isn't the name of the game. I suppose the tourists (though the Peacocks are absent at this hour) wouldn't be entertained by real blood and guts.

I notice a pair of pigeons swoop across the square directly over where the hawks are perching. A minute later the pigeons fly back the other way, lower. The hawks are watching, but stay put. With amazement I realize the pigeons are taunting the hawks, flying back and forth swooping closer to the hawks each time.

Tickled to see this reversal of roles I depart Star-schmucks and head to the office.

Wildly unrealistic

This morning's experiment is to discover if the 6.43am train is civilized. While we wait on the platform I once again marvel at the extreme lack of parking skills displayed by the commuters pulling to the station car park.

My hope of finding the platform and train to be pleasantly deserted turns out to be wildly unrealistic, yet I manage to nab the last seat in the carriage so I'm happy enough.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Bluesy side of mellow

I put in a full day today to make up for the super short day yesterday which was kyboshed by the mid-afternoon appointment on Harley Street.

It meant I was able to go to the department quiz night this evening. The team I was in won, though not due to my input. I enjoyed the evening but coming away I did feel the contrast between the social event and my own sparse social life. It's left me on the bluesy side of mellow.

I am slightly mollified by the quiet train back to my digs. I spy a window where water has been trapped between the panes. It rocks back and forth as the train jolts ahead. A parabolic water mark has formed delineating the furthest extremes the water achieves. Tsunamis flow from end to end, and I'm expecting an Open University professor to leap up and explain fluid dynamics with the use of this simple model.

In observing this my equilibrium is restored, and all is well in HarryWorld.

Hummed electric

I was sitting at my desk this afternoon when out of the blue I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was so unexpected I froze, confused. When I gathered my wits and turned I discovered it was a colleague asking if I wanted a tea.

He must have witnessed something in my body language or face for he asked 'why, do you need a shoulder massage?' Again I had a bewildered moment where several answers were bitten back, before I managed to stutter out 'no, I'm fine thanks'

As he went off to the tea point, the handprint on my shoulder hummed electric. It served to highlight just how unaccustomed to simple human contact I've become. I would have told him the physical contact made me uncomfortable but there was an irrational fear in me that I'd never be held again. Saying nothing was all I could manage against the backdrop of this cognitive dissonance.

An average cow

Well my experiment this morning to discover whether the 7:08am train was quieter than the 7:28am was a bust. If anything it was twice as bad. I was stood by the door watching as more people got on at each stop. Just as I was convinced we couldn't crush any closer we pulled into another station and six more people barrelled on. This amazing contravention of the laws of physics was repeated at the next stop.

If we were cattle en-route to market we'd be covered by EU regulations:

“No person shall transport animals or cause animals to be transported in a way that is likely to cause injury or undue suffering to them” (Source: Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations and amending Directives)

Provide as a minimum floor areas per animal below.
- Medium calves (110kg) – 0.40m² to 0.70m²

If I was an average cow (and many think I am) then the train company would have to ensure that I had a minimum floor area for standing of 63cm by 63cm. I didn't have half that on the nightmarish 7:08am train.

I'm at Paul's for my breakfast today, opting for the Pain au Chocolat to accompany my Latte. My French may have atrophied, but I didn't need to say "one of those" to order it.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Down the free-martin path

A gentle sensation of relief runs through me. All is well on the health front.

I've stopped at a place called Ekachai off Oxford Street to rest up and chow up, before I face the rest of the journey back to my digs.

I'm a bit buzzy on the adrenalin from my consultation. I think some Siu Mai might help...

Well I'm feeling calmer now, but it wasn't much of a gastronomic experience. Should I be more optimistic about the Pad Thai? Still this is a little haven from the bustle, and the service is efficient and low key.

The option of risk reduction surgery arose during today's consult. I was 28 when I got my first Cancer diagnosis and I chose to go down the route of minimal surgery. It was a choice I repeated when a new cancer was discovered in 2008.

How would I feel if I went down the free-martin path and said goodbye to ovaries and breasts? Once done there is no turning back. Answers on a postcard to...

I wish it was just a quick cab ride home to Leeds. I'd like very much to get snuggled up on the sofa surrounded by all the detritus of my life. Hunker down. Get a handle on life.

I feel stranded here, in the no man's land of the commercial west end. At the other end of my commute is a spare room I'm renting, equally alien. There's no place like home.

It's the first time I've felt this way since returning to work.

Bonkers with the strimmer

Another week, another train from Leeds to London. Perhaps because of the ash, but the train is busier than usual. Several business types are conducting conference calls. I think I'd prefer screaming babies. Time for the iPod.

♪♫♪ "I can't seem to face up to the facts, I'm tense and nervous and I can't relax." ♫♪♫

Seems appropriate, but the iPod's offerings on shuffle are frequently disconcerting. The ole Barnum Effect perhaps.

I'm hoping I'll truly relax once this afternoon's appointment with the consultant is behind me.

The weekend was full of displacement activities. Swabbing the deck, cutting the grass and going bonkers with the strimmer. I even scrubbed the hob and surrounding areas clean, and that has lurked at the bottom of my To Do list for some time.

I'm quietly enjoying the no fly restrictions which have emptied the skies. The birdsong seems riotous with nothing to override it. When a helicopter flew over the house yesterday its racket caused me some consternation - it was so noisy I thought a plane was coming down.

♪♫♪ "Don't blame me it just isn't fair." ♫♪♫

Saturday, 17 April 2010

We're all doomed

What a morning, blue sky, nary a contrail to mar it, and so quiet. For this we give thanks to the people of Iceland who have graced us with a volcanic eruption which has cleared our skies of aircraft.

They say that after 911, when the planes were grounded, variations in high and low temperatures increased by 1°C as a result of the absent contrails. I wonder whether the effect will be repeated here in Europe as we head into our 3rd no-fly day. Some extra warm spring days wouldn’t go amiss, and for that I could live with colder nights.

Of course the doom-mongers will sound be out selling their fare of gloom and disaster:

"We will be plunged into a global ice age by this brief change in temperatures. Without planes flying our supermarkets will soon empty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Panic buying will ensue and thousands will be injured in food riots. Scurvy will scar a generation. We’re all doomed!"

Time to finish my little "swabbing the deck" project, and give the lawn another haircut.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Linger overly long

Change of venue for this morning's coffee stop. I'm at Paul's for a Latte and Escargots aux Raisins. Despite achieving an A in French GCSE many years ago, I point and say "one of those" rather than risk a sneering correction of my accent by one of their typically Parisian staff.

The Raisin Danish is delicious despite engendering feelings of inadequacy. It is a bit breezy to be sitting outside. Up in Yorkshire we'd call it brisk or bracing, but it is good to feel connected to the world. I have to be prompt into the office for a 9am team meeting. I was late to the last one two weeks ago, so the chill in the air will ensure I don't linger overly long with my coffee.

At this hour there are only Ravens and Kingfishers about. The Peacocks won't appear until later.

Hopping away from the bird metaphor to talk about actual birds - as I leave Paul’s and enter Paternoster Square I see the bird handlers with their Harris Hawks. They seem to fly the hawks every Wednesday morning, presumably to keep the pigeons away. I can’t say I’ve ever seen the hawks do more than lurk menacingly where they perch on the Paternoster Memorial like sulky teenagers. The seagulls flying high above are billy bothered.

Next week I must remember to have my Wednesday morning coffee at the Starbucks in Paternoster Square so I can watch proceedings.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

A sardine situation was achieved

The seats were all taken this morning when I boarded the train, so I chose my spot to stand. As the train chugged from station to station it became quite crowded until a sardine situation was achieved.

I find standing quite a trial, after 10 minutes my feet are in agony. I don't exaggerate. It isn't as though I'm in silly shoes. Au contraire, I'm in black flat lace-up 6x wide comfy shoes. It's not easy finding such a thing believe me, (but deliver to us from ParcelForce, for thine is the Google, and the eBay, and the Amazon, for ever and ever.)

Walking I'm fine, but standing is torture. It's all because of my weight I know. If you're an ideal body weight then you'd have to find a large rucksack and fill it until it massed the same as yourself and wear that all day to get a feel for what it is like. Even then it wouldn't be quite the same - unless you have size 5 feet. Pressure is force over area, so the small feet thing is pertinent. It's the same equation that explains why a person in stilettos exerts as much pressure on the floor as an elephant.

Losing weight would be a good idea, but I just can't bring my will to bear. Medically my prognosis is pretty poor. In 5 years it could be game over. So self-denial doesn't tend to win any battles. Can't imagine lying in a hospice bed wishing I'd gone hungry and put in more time at the gym to become a perfect size 10. Might as well enjoy the cream buns while I can eh?

Joyous thoughts. Today will be a difficult day. An appointment with the company doctor where I hope to persuade him to let me return to full hours, which (personal antipathy aside) should be ok. Then off to the hospital for a raft of tests to see if the cancer has reappeared. I won't get the results until next week when I see the consultant. Having said that - bad news travels fast - I'd probably hear sooner if there were a problem.

Ho hum.

Recently I've been relishing life, enjoying the encroaching spring, and revelling in all the minutiae of day to day activities. Today I'm flat and emotionally shutdown. The wacky world hasn't got my heart singing but neither can despair, fear or worry touch me.

I endure.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Peacocks to our Ravens

Just in the 15min walk from my office to tonight's eatery (The Real Greek) and so many impressions to sort.

So easy to tell the foreign tourists from the Brits. the Brits are quite grey and dully clothed. Foreigners are the Peacocks to our Ravens - unafraid to wear bright red jackets and emerald green trousers. The exception is when the Brits are actively participating in sport, then we become Kingfishers zooming by with a flash of yellow & lime.

Crossing the Millennium Bridge I notice it is low tide and the muddy banks of the Thames are fully exposed. Then I spot a dozen people mooching around down on the shore. In all my years in London I've never noticed that before. It must be tourists. The locals wouldn't be so foolhardy. We remember the polluted past of the river, though they say it's quite clean now.

Reaching the Bankside end of the Millennium Bridge several things hit me:

I. The grating at the V where the bridge starts to part into two legs really shouldn't bounce so alarmingly under foot

II. There is that lovely smell of frying onions which usually accompanies those really revolting hot dog stands. Didn't think there was a hotdog concession here

III. The sound of bird whistle fills the air. You know that sound, totally unlike any bird song, but sounds exactly like someone playing a 'bird whistle'

IV. The dogs that beggars trade amongst one another and use to increase their sympathy take - they really work. I see a Raven lean down to fuss the dog, and hear coins hitting the owner’s tin. Astounded to discover such an obvious ploy work on a cynical Londoner

V. The onion smell is coming from an ice-cream van driving slowly along the Bankside road touting for business amongst the Peacocks. An ice-cream van converted to salmonella sausage-inna-bun factory. That is just so wrong

It's too windy at The Real Greek to sit outside, so I opt for a window seat and watch the Ravens and Peacocks go by, interwoven by the Kingfishers darting past.

Exploded on impact

It is 10am and the train should be at Wakefield by now, but we haven't left Leeds. Over the train's tannoy we've heard that we're held here indefinitely due to a bridge bash or strike. Engineers are working furiously to repair the bridge so we can be on our way, or so we're told.

A bunch of people have left the train, seeking more information or alternative transport arrangements. Others have called friends & work to say they're being delayed. Two people seem to be calling everyone in their phonebook. One lady in particular is quite creative in relating our situation - apparently a lorry has demolished a bridge - I'm pondering whether this tale will get more dramatic - perhaps the lorry will become a petrol tanker which exploded on impact destroying the bridge and village.

My reverie is interrupted. The driver announces our train has been cancelled. We should all board the 10.10am train. Must dash.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Sun drenched

A weekend of domesticity; visiting the folks, cutting the grass, and swabbing the deck. Perhaps I've gotten obsessed by this particular phrase, but to be fair I did spend a couple of hours today cleaning the decking with a pressure washer - if that doesn't count as swabbing the deck - what does?

Not an April Shower to be seen this weekend, just blue skies and summer temperatures. Down under they're heading for winter, and I have just posted a wee parcel to some Aussie friends to keep them warm in the coming months. I'm really happy at how this lapghan turned out, considering it is my first major crochet project:

I created this DAZY pattern in honour of DAve & suZY, my sun drenched Aussie friends.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Anything but sated

Only 4 weeks in on my "return to work" program and already I'm becoming a creature of habit. I'm at the Café Nero gearing up for my final 1/2 day of the week, before heading home to Leeds.

The sky is an achingly pure ice blue. Hard to feel anything but sated by the warm morning light. I noticed this morning that the trees are greening, their leaf buds just opening. By the time I get back to London on Monday I expect a lot of trees will be displaying their new leaves in all their vivid spring green intensity.

A man has appeared on the Golden Hinde, swabbing the decks. Ok, I admit it, I've always wanted to say that. In truth he's sweeping the deck, but swabbing sounded better didn't it?

There are fewer Doozers on the building opposite this morning. Will the Fraggles be along later to snack on their scaffolding?

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Dumbed down and juiced up

So I'm back where this blog began, at the Café Nero by the Golden Hinde. The coffee is good here, and the cafe has windows on 3 sides looking out over a street scene which has that special 'charm factor' you don't often see.

Would Sir Francis Drake have been pleased that a reproduction of his ship be used for children's pirate themed parties? I'd be interested in visiting the Golden Hinde if I thought I would learn something of what life was really like aboard an Elizabethan ship. I suspect however that what history there is on board has been dumbed down and juiced up to 'get kids excited by history.'

The building on the opposite side of the river is in the final stages of construction. Builders with their Hi-Vis jackets and hard hats are working on the 9th floor balcony. At this distance they remind me of the Doozers from Fraggle Rock.

Patent pending

I bought a hairdryer for my digs in London, and used it for the first time this morning. Along with hot air the smell of a full English breakfast wafted out of it. How bizarre, but what a unique selling point:

Don't have time for breakfast? With our patent pending 'BrekkySmell' technology you can dry your hair and enjoy the aroma of a full cooked breakfast!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Strangest feeling

I'm back at Wagamama on Bankend. Lovely window seat. Watching the smokers stood a foot away on the other side of the glass I have the strangest feeling that I'm breathing in their smoke. Is this passive smoking by proxy? Will I go on to develop emphysema courtesy of the placebo effect?

It's been a difficult day. I slept well last night with normal dreams, but 'The Dream' from Sunday night is still present in my thoughts. I've realised that it was probably triggered because I'm due to see my consultant, so I called his secretary and made the necessary appointments. Next Tuesday I'll have a mammogram, ultrasound and blood tests. The following Monday I'll see the consultant. I suppose I won't feel properly settled until it's all done. How tedious.

erk, erk, erk

I'm early boarding the train to London. A woman & baby are the next aboard, settling at the table across the aisle.

My heart always sinks a little in these circumstances. There are a wide range of possibilities - the baby sleeping for the whole trip is the most desired, but equally the wee mite may howl and scream for 2 hours.

The mum is wibbling away in sweet baby nothings while she gets them settled. The nipper makes like a baby coot, waving arms and going "erk, erk, erk" as they do while they decide if they're unhappy enough to go for a full blown cry.

Mum's baby talk is distracting enough to get me reaching for the iPod. It's going to be a journey accompanied my own personal soundtrack. Squeeze, Blockheads, Stranglers and Madness feature on this playlist.

♪♫♪ "Why should you try to be much taller than you are?" ♫♪♫

Meanwhile two ladies in the third age of life sit opposite mum & baby. Much cooing ensues.

The train shuffles into movement and within moments I'm passing close by the house I left an hour ago.

A mother and 2 boys pass by on their way to the buffet car. Looking around I see there are a lot of children in the carriage. Ahhh. Easter Holidays. Of course.

We pause at Wakefield to take on passengers. As people stream past me to find their seats a familiar smell wafts past making me sit up and sniff like a Bisto Kid. Someone enjoyed a little bac-de-wack this morning. My sense of smell is usually quite lame, but when I'm plugged in to my iPod all odours seem heightened. Am I alone in this peculiarity?

Monday, 5 April 2010

Harmless dreams of mayhem

I was ambushed by my dreams last night. I dreamt that I was getting bad news - that I was terminally ill. It was upsetting enough to wake me up, and 15 hours later I can't get the dream out of my head.

It prompted me to check out Wikipedia (hallowed be thy url, thy webpages rock.) There are many theories about dreams. Freud suggested that bad dreams let the brain learn to gain control over emotions resulting from distressing experiences.

Something I've noticed over the past year or two is that often as I get into bed and my head hits the pillow I have a flashback to the previous night's dream - usually just an emotional echo, perhaps with a fleeting image. I thought I was just strange but apparently not as I learnt from my Wikipedia reading (lead us not into error, but deliver us from ignorance.) "For some people, vague images or sensations from the previous night's dreams are sometimes spontaneously experienced in falling asleep."

Last year I dreamt that I was entering a hospice, knowing I wouldn't be leaving. In the dream I was calm, but when I woke I was really distressed. I avoided sleep for about a week after that, going to bed only when utterly exhausted at 3am and getting up at 6am. My feeling was if that's what sleep has in store, then frankly stuff it, I'd rather do without.

I have to go to bed at a reasonable hour tonight - I've got to be up early in order to catch the train to London in the morning. Choosing not to sleep is not an option.

Receiving a terminal illness diagnosis, entering a hospice - these are things I dream about because they are very likely to happen at some point in my future. I inherited a dicky gene, so my body doesn't make a particular protein whose purpose is to repair damaged DNA. Sucks to be me huh?

In my waking hours I have a handle on things. I cope. I have mental tricks that keep me sane. I'm on guard. When I'm asleep - then I'm defenceless and vulnerable - I can be ambushed.

I have plenty of wacky dreams: murder, mayhem, aliens, and just plain weirdness. I enjoy all that. Usually that "head hitting pillow flashback" is warm & happy, and I close my eyes looking forward to more of the same.

That's what I need tonight - some harmless dreams of mayhem and destruction.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Big squishy tyres

Leeds City Council seem determined to shoehorn some sort of super-guided-trolley-tram-bus solution into our city. It seems an attractive proposition doesn't it - provide a modern, efficient, clean & quiet public transport system. Obviously if it is sexy enough then a miracle will occur - Leeds will abandon motorcars to exclusively use the swanky super-guided-trolley-tram-bus.

I'm not anti-public transport, I use public transport pretty much exclusively in London. In order to get people out of their cars you must have an extensive public transport network which enables a person to get from any place in the city to any other location in 45 minutes with no more than 2 changes, 10 minutes waiting, and 10 minutes walk at either end. The system must be cheap, cashless, with clear signage and backed with an excellent website where you can easily work out your route. I give you :

Transport for London

The hugely expensive proposal for the 3 legged super-guided-trolley-tram-bus route to link Stourton, Lawnswood and St James with the University and City Centre will not get people to abandon their cars.

Millions can be found to construct the super-guided-trolley-tram-bus, but only a measly £500,000 has been earmarked for repairing roads after this chilly winter. Navigating through Leeds one could be forgiven for thinking the city had been shelled in some kind of Shock&Awe directed solely at the roads. We have so many potholes that in many places they've joined together. I'm tempted to sell my Fiesta and buy a Mars Rover with big squishy tyres.

True Costs of Road Neglect

Leeds City Council to repair damaged pot hole roads

Pothole Reports - Leeds

Leeds doesn't have a good record with respect to super-guided-trolley-tram-bus schemes.

Leeds Supertram
Work on Leeds Supertram started in 2003 where preparation was done at Leeds City Square, and the junction of South Accommodation Road and Hunslet Road. £40 million was spent on the project before spiralling costs caused the government to withdraw support and funding, forcing Leeds City Council to completely abandon the scheme.

Leeds Trolleybus
In order to be quite fair, I have pulled the following info together on the current proposal:

Trolleybuses run on rubber tyres like a regular bus but they are powered by electricity from overhead wires. They have fast, smooth acceleration and are quiet.

Each tBus has capacity to carry two hundred people. A tBus is a 24-metre vehicle composed of three articulated sections.

It is expected that the service will run between 6am and midnight, 7 days a week. In peak times it is forecast that there will be 10 trolleybuses per hour in each direction on each route i.e. a service every six minutes.

The total cost of the scheme is approximately £280 million.

The scheme has secured £235 million of Central Government funding through the Regional Funding Allocation process. Metro and Leeds City Council (LCC) will be required to make a local contribution.

It is proposed that the scheme will include two park and ride sites. One will be situated on the North Route, at the Bodington Hall site in Lawnswood and the other will be situated on the South Route at Junction 7 of the M621 at Stourton.

It is currently proposed that 550 spaces will be built at the Bodington Park and Ride site (North Route) and 1,700 spaces will be built at the Stourton Park and Ride site (South Route).

If there is sufficient demand, there is the potential to increase the number of spaces at the park and ride sites to 800 spaces at the Bodington Park and Ride Site and 2,200 at Stourton Park and Ride.

A key method to reduce congestion in Leeds is to provide a new system which offers car drivers with an attractive alternative to car travel. Obviously fast, safe and reliable journeys will be essential when passengers use NGT, but the appearance of the trolleybus will also play an important role in capturing car drivers' attention and demonstrating that NGT is something different. By demonstrating a clear step change in the transport offer, car drivers would be encouraged out of their cars and onto NGT.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Adapt or go bust

In this developing digital age content creatives (authors, musicians, film makers, etc) need to really question what value their publisher/label/studio really adds.

In the book & music world I would argue that they add precious little other than access to the publicity machine. Yet their involvement adds significantly to the cost of the product.

Take the world of books. I have no problem paying £15 for a physical hardback, or £8 for a paperback (as my bookcases will attest.) I'm paying the author for his work. I’m also paying for the paper, the printing process, storage & transport.

Why should an ebook cost the same as the physical book? Surely 99% of the cost should be the royalties for the author. The actual technology costs must be minimal.

Ditch the publisher. Publish straight to ebook. Make the first chapter free, then charge for the rest of the ebook - charge the same as the royalty you currently get per physical book.

The price of the ebook will be modest. With the option to try before they buy more people will give your work a go (and get hooked.) Pirating won't be worth it, and DRM goes away.

Sure the publisher/label/studio are never going to like this model, but we live in a capitalistic society, where the mantra is adapt or go bust.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Cacophony of voices

I live in Leeds, and for a few nights a week I lodge in London with a lady who works for the same firm as myself.

Seems crazy to live 200 miles away from work, but on occasion my body betrays me and I need quite ghastly medical treatment - the sort that means you can't manage on your own. Living in Leeds I have my dad & brother close by.

I'm up north now for the Bank Holiday weekend. It feels so good to be home in my big old dilapidated house. This place is way too large for just me, but gradually I'm renovating it, and perhaps once it's in a reasonable state I'll take in a lodger.

Today is one of those rare occasions when the house is tidy and reasonably clean, as I had visitors earlier today. Claire & John came over with their three boys. I was distracted by the cacophony of voices, while Claire & John looked fraught that the lads might break something. I brought out the marbles I'd played with as a kid, and boys had lots of fun with those. The house seems very quiet now they've gone.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Normality is shredded

Another day, another hang-up.

There I was walking along on my way to work, nice as you like, when the thought of bumping into my ex-husband pops right into my head. As per usual, this is followed by an imagined conversation.

I like to believe that I'm over him, so my conversation starts that way. In my head he’s wanting to talk to me, so I say “Look, go away, I'm not interested. It was a long time ago.” But he's still there in my head, and the conversation soon degenerates with me saying the type of thing that I'd like to think I'm above.

We were a couple for 10 years, and then married for 3. Towards the end he became a friend of Bill W and decided he wanted out of the marriage. Asking me to divorce him as I had grounds, I said “No!” whereupon he said “In that case I’ll divorce you.” To which I said “I don’t think so, you don’t have grounds.” Then he told me that his divorce lawyer reckoned that my occasional partaking of the peace pipe constituted grounds. What choice did I have? I divorced him.

5 years have passed. I still have dreams featuring his chaotic behaviour, where Bill’s other chums invade our home, normality is shredded, and the penny drops for his family in slow motion. Then there are the waking moments where my thoughts get tangled up in what I would say if I just bumped into him.

“I don’t want this.” I hear the words spoken, then realise they fell from my lips. I whimper quietly in my own head. It’s true – I don’t want this.

Let that be a lesson to you children: Life seriously messes you up. Just say no.