Week 52

13 December, 2009 

This is the final week of the Blog’s first year. Let’s hope for thirty more! I suffer from Atrial Fibrillation. It is no big deal but it does increase my risk of strike and heart attack. For that reason, I have to take the blood thinning agent – Warfarin. I also have to be regularly monitored by the hospital Anti-Coagulant Department. There are risks with taking warfarin: a serious cut may not stop and lead to bleeding to death. A fall could cause internal bleeding. I had a heavy fall while gardening in Greece and found the whole of my left side with massive and angry bruising which took three months to disappear. Pauline wants to get me off warfarin and today she found an article in The Sunday Times. It describes a new, implant technique that is being performed by a consultant at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington which obviates the need for warfarin. I attach the newspaper cutting: atrial_fibrilation.pdf

14 December, 2009

Just like buses, you wait for ages then two come along together. This morning another treatment avoiding the use of warfarin was announced. I attach the journal cutting: atrial_fibrilation3.pdf

15 December, 2009

Pauline has complained for the past 40 years that she didn’t have time to indulge her passion for cooking. Well now she does. It’s only half way through December and I’m already mince-pied out. We are on our third batch and we haven’t even started on Christmas Cake or Pudding. She’s made them all. Admittedly, Pauline’s mincemeat is a wonder of the world.

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16 December, 2009

Received a lovely collection of photos from Ruth’s belly dancing break. Didn’t look too warm and sunny. I was afraid of that. At least Bolton won.

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17 December, 2009

We are on diet-watch. Ironically, we are not watching our own diets although we definitely need to. We are watching Pauline’s Mum’s diet to make sure she eats enough. Today it was Lasagne with sheets of spinach green pasta. It was wonderful. Pauline made it at home and we set off across the Moors to the Barnes residence where it was cooked. Pauline’s Mum ate a huge plateful. We had set off in a flurry of snow. The Pennine ridge looked sugar dredged and as we crossed from East to West the scenery was beautiful:

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18 December, 2009

Pauline is showing me no mercy. She has completed the Chrismas Cake. With a little historical touch, she has  furnished it with decorative figures she first bought for her GCE ‘O’ Level cooking class 43 years ago. It is quite amazing to think girls at the age of fifteen were making Chrismas Cakes in Home Economics in those days. They don’t get much further than sandwiches nowadays. I have included two photos of the cake. The second one was to provide a sense of scale.

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19 December, 2009

Memory can be quite painful and often surprising. Pauline & I were married 31 years ago (in about 11 days). It was thick with snow and the Gritters were on strike in Callaghan’s Britain which made the journey difficult for many people. As I write this, waves of snow are coming towards us across the Pennines. How lucky are we? We are tucked up warmly and have every conceivable distraction. The temperature was -13°C last night. Can you imagine the effect on a rough sleeper and we have some of those around Huddersfield. Last night, one group really were sleeping roughly, stuck in Eurotunnel without warmth or sustenance.

Memory of my wedding is neither painful or surprising. I loved it. This week, however, is the anniversary of the execution of Nicolae Ceauşescu.

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Twenty Years! Can you believe that? I can picture those last days in Romania as if I was there myself. Twenty years! That is very frightening. In twenty years, if I am still alive, I will be 78 years old. It has gone so fast and will go so fast. Time seems to go faster the older one gets. Forty years ago and away from home for the first time fending for myself I was never happier. I did what I wanted, wore what I wanted and ate what I wanted when I wanted to. It was like a dream come true. What came as an absolute shock to me was that these newly found freedoms were of so little significance to my peers. They had taken them for granted during their childhood. I could dine out on stories of family tea times and ‘one plain and one fancy’. Do you remember that? My friends were incredulous when I said that I had never been allowed to choose a single item of clothing for myself and they thought I made up stories of being taken to the Gents Outfitters by Mum and, after the shop assistants had received their obligatory dressing down from Mum, I left with striped nylon shirts to be worn with khaki slacks and a mustard coloured cravat.

Forty years ago this winter was my first away from home. My Best Man at my wedding – Kevin Dagg – was one of the first people I shared digs with. Today I received a card from his wife with a photograph taken in those first few months:

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It is a scan of a photocopy of a scan of a photo so the quality is very poor. If you’re unsure, I am the one bottom right with his hand up.