The School of Life

A level results day. The girl, who is still en France, did bloody well and can go off on her art foundation course safe in the knowledge that she rocked it. So sighs of relief all round here. I’ve been making curry paste since eight this morning to take my mind off things. Now we can all have a bath in it, I’ve got so much. Grating onions has never been so soothing.

For those who didn’t do as well as you wanted and or are still waiting for next week’s GCSE results I want you to read and inwardly digest what I’m going to say now (I am fully aware that my readership is not hip teenager, but you might know some who might find this comforting).

It doesn’t fucking matter in the end.

It matters to schools for their league tables. It matters to the people who taught you, because it’s their job. It might matter to your parents, but that’s only because they worry about you never moving out and allowing them to turn the spare room into a pottery studio. It might matter to your parents simply because they worry about you full stop, and just want you to be happy. Usually that’s what it is, even if it doesn’t seem like it.

It matters a bit if you need different grades to go somewhere, but this is not the end of the road. There is clearing. There are resits. There is begging (this has been known to work). There are also, amazingly, about a million billion other things you can do without A Levels, which is how large swathes of the population get on, and don’t just explode into Buffy like dust on opening the fated envelope.

Some people, surprisingly, got by without taking the bloody things in the first place. Some people more than get by.

Academic results measure only one thing, and that is how good you are at taking a particular test on a particular day. There will be other days. Trust me. There will be loads of them, and you get to choose what to do with them all.

I was a swot at school. Passed GCSE’s with flying colours. Got into Sixth form college to sit four A levels, an AS level and a random thing in Latin. Less than three months into my first year I had a nervous breakdown. I dropped Latin and French A Level because it turns out being able to order an air mattress on a camp site is not the same as reading Marcel Pagnol in the original, and I was worse at Latin. I barely went to school for over a year. One of my A levels was the dreaded General Studies (the most pointless A Level alive and one hardly anyone accepted at Uni). I was too ill to think about sitting the Oxbridge entrance exams I was asked to do. I could barely get out of bed.

I passed my A Levels despite myself. A university took my General Studies mark as a real A Level. Every disaster that befell me turned out ok in the end.

I went to university with the vague idea of doing history and archaeology. I ended up doing English Literature because I just loved it. I had no idea what I would do next. I had a great time. I got a good degree, but frankly, it was pretty useless for anything other than getting another degree.

I was going on to go to Manchester to study poetry because by then I wanted to be a poet. I ended up going to Oxford Brookes to study feminist literature, ironically because of a boy. I decided I would be an academic. Turns out I was terrible at being an academic.

Even with a great degree I had to work through my masters. Nobody would give me a job. I spent months signing on but not being eligible for dole money. My parents bailed me out time, and time again. Eventually I went to college and learned to type and use computers. After that I got temping job after temping job to keep myself afloat. Shortly after that I I failed my masters degree with all shame. I fucked up my relationship with the boy I went to Oxford for. My mental health was still fragile. Everything I had ever thought I wanted, dreamed of, planned for, had failed.

And yet.

I learned. I learned loads with every failure. I learned to pick myself up again. I learned how to ask for help. I learned how to live in real life, not school life. I learned how to get skills I needed. I learned to blag my way when I didn’t know what I was doing. I learned to keep a house, and budget, and put food on the table, and I learned what you needed to live was very different to what you wanted. I grew up because of my failures, not in spite of them.

I also played. I had some amazing times and experiences. I had such fun in between the scary bits and the despairing bits and the picking myself up bits. I made great friends. I went to great parties. I had terrific sex. I got small kittens (and let me tell you, most things are improved by the addition of small kittens). I travelled. I learned just how vast the world is outside of the walls of a school and university. I learned that life is messy and unpredictable and yet it offers you the most marvellous, wonderful opportunities, even when you don’t think it does. All you have to do is be open to the idea that you are not the expert on what your life is going to be like, and be willing to seize the day, even if it seems like the wrong day and the wrong time. It might be perfect. It will almost certainly be better than you think, if you let it.

Life is bigger than school. Life as you really live it is more important than any grade on any piece of paper. Nothing I have ever done in my life has worked out the way I thought it would, and yet my life is better and better and richer and happier than I would ever have dreamed. You will be fine. You are fine. Everything is good. Trust me. I know. And if you need me to write it for you on a piece of paper to believe it. Here it is. x

 

 

 

Unsex me now

The beer festival was wonderful. Just wonderful. I had such a fantastic time. We all had such a fantastic time.  I shall blog about it in more detail after this. I need to write another medical post, and I’m saving the fun stuff for after.

Regarding my lady parts being removed. There was a small chance I could have had my surgery on the NHS relatively quickly thanks to my private consultant also being my NHS consultant and being willing to go and see what the elective surgery lists were looking like on my behalf, which was jolly nice of her.

On Saturday a letter came through offering me a surgery slot on the 16th of October through the NHS, on the understanding that it could likely be cancelled and rescheduled. This required some thinking about. Private surgery is hella expensive.

In the end we decided to stick with the private and just deal with the cost. The 16th October is half term, a day before Oscar’s birthday and two days before Jason flies out to the States, so it was all very complicated. It was also not going to be my consultant doing the surgery.

Plus, if they cancelled and I was rescheduled, Christmas was next on the list to be shafted by my poor timing, and we actually have our only holiday of the year booked then. So, private it is. I go for a pre-op consult next Tuesday, and the removal of parts on the 30th.

I am now on the look out for decent nighties. Four previous abdominal surgeries have taught me that waistbands sitting across wound sites is not ideal, which is a shame, because my taste in pyjamas is excellent. Still, nightie hunting is taking my mind off things.

Congratulating myself on finally getting my foof sorted out, I proceeded to find a lump in my left boob on Sunday night. It was very sore and lumpish. It was all a bit much at this point and I snivelled quite a bit.

On Monday morning Jason insisted I go to the doctor. Yay for my doctor for having an appointment at half nine on Monday morning.  Yay again for the fact that he then proceeded to act decisively and efficiently. This morning I had a phone call asking me to go back to the surgery to pick up a letter. The letter is my confirmation of an appointment with the breast clinic at Glenfield hospital next Thursday morning at 9.30.

Yay for the NHS too, because when you need it in a hurry, it does not let you down.

As you can imagine, I am feeling somewhat shell shocked (like I’ve been hit in the face with a blast ended skrewt is the best I can come up with). I have it on good authority however that painful lumps are generally considered to be good news in the world of lumpy breasts as these tend to be benign stuff.

As it feels like I’ve trapped my tit in a drawer, I feel it is probably the most benign lump in the history of lumps, so this is good. There is a chance, according to the doctor, that the lump is down to the Decapeptyl drugs still floating round in my system doing their thing, because even though my last jab was in the second week in June, the stuff is an absolute bitch and takes forever to fuck off. This would also explain the random and terrifying mood swings and continuing nausea which is plaguing the life out of me at the moment.

It’s no fucking fun.

And that’s all I have today.

 

 

 

 

Ramblings of the verbal kind

I have just finished cleaning my house, for my friend Claire is coming tomorrow so that we can go to my friend Nicki’s beer festival, and I cannot inflict sticky floors and interesting (for interesting, read disgusting) dust bunnies on her. People clean their houses all the time, obviously, it is no big deal. I still sit here feeling that the door bell will ring in a moment and some kind of equerry will bring me a huge medal for services to domesticity.

Anyway. Enough of that. Here are some things this week that weren’t medical.

Tallulah is at Thorpe Park riding roller coasters with her dad. It is her birthday present from him. They are both coaster junkies, and every year they set off to fling themselves  off of precipices upside down at eye watering speeds. Today is that day. I am trying not to think about it as I scrub dried on toothpaste off the walls.

Tilly is still en France, wrangling les enfants. People keep asking me how she is, and whether she likes it. Here’s the deal. I assume she likes it because she is not at home. Our conversations never actually get round to real, practical issues. Take this, for example, from yesterday:

Tilly: ‘I had such a strange dream! I dreamt that mum got crushed by a ceiling, but the ambulances were too slow, so granny and I had to take you to hospital in a carrier bag, and then Jeremy Clarkson intervened and made you a wooden brace, so you could walk to the Royal, and then auntie Penny was there, and she said you were fine…’

Me: ‘Well, great outcome but I still hope it’s not a premonition. Particularly the Jeremy Clarkson bit.’

Tilly: ‘It would be a bizarre turn of events.’

Me: ‘It would, but it’s a funny old world, so you just never know.’

Tilly: ‘Very true. I will try not to tempt fate.’

Me: ‘BTW, Ambrose messaged me today.’

Me: ‘He said he’d like to come over and take some family pictures.’

Tilly: (clearly snoozing through the previous message somewhat) ‘What? Jeremy Clarkson?’

Later on the same day:

Tilly: ‘Today I caught some crabs ‘a la plage’ (not the scurrilous, infectious kind) and then we came back to the house and I had to look after the smols (general Tillyism for small people) while X and X went on a hot date.’

Jason: (totally not interested in anything but food) ‘Did you eat some cruswants?’

Tilly: ‘Non. I had madeleines for ma petit déjeuner’

Me: (more interested in sea life) ‘Did they take the crabs with them on their date as an interesting talking point?’

Tilly: ‘No. I couldn’t wrestle them out of the hands of X’

Me: (clocking the breakfast news) ‘Ah! How Proustian.’

Tilly: ‘The crabs or the breakfast?’

Me: ‘The madeleines, not the crab wrestling.’

Tilly: ‘Aha’

Me: ‘Although Proust could have been considerably more entertaining had there been crab wrestling.’

Tilly: ‘True enough.’

We then got into a discussion about how I had said ‘fanny’ in an important NHS meeting earlier that day.

This is how we roll. Earlier in the week we discussed chucking baguettes into mountain streams, whether Mr. Whippy really was a fascist (NO. Liz Yeates I am looking at you. We agreed that Mr. Whippy is for the Everyman, and Everywoman.) and Swedish people called Smorgen who really ought not to be people but your actual dragons.

Hence, I have no idea, but I am very grateful for modern technology which means we can talk absolute shit without racking up huge phone bills. Hooray for the 21st Century, even if it does have its drawbacks (Donald Trump. Kale. Dusting).

In other news, I survived a day of paint balling with ten small children in the pouring rain. I did not take arms against a sea of trouble and by opposing, end them. Which in retrospect is a bloody shame, because it seemed to go on for about six weeks and the toilets broke down at two p.m.

It was paint ball purgatory and nothing on God’s green earth will persuade me to do it again. The only good thing is that as a pacifist (I classify myself as a really angry pacifist, which is a particular and special sub set of the genre), I fundamentally oppose weaponry. This is difficult because my son, in the manner of small boys almost everywhere, likes the idea of shooting the shit out of everything that twitches. Endorsing his gun fantasies by taking him paint balling seemed a bad thing to me (in all kinds of ways, not least the expense. How fucking much?). However, I love him, and I am weak willed, so we went. At the end of the day after he had spent six hours crouched in dripping undergrowth in a sodden, khaki jump suit, had to pee in the woods and come home with a startling array of bruises after having been trounced by grown ups with too much money who should frankly know better, he was very disillusioned and has gone off guns. A small victory but mine own.

We have been to the dentist. Steve says our teeth are marvellous. Another small victory considering Tallulah has taken up biscuit making in grand style this holiday, and we are dutifully eating the fruits (and biscuits) of her labours.  I have taken my car for a service. I am on top of things.

As I type this I know it is the cue for all the things I have pushed to the back of my mind as ‘too difficult to contemplate’ to come surging to the fore, and I will, much in the manner of expecting a medal for housework, realise I have done a paltry amount of things that most people consider normal, and be overwhelmed by how utterly difficult it is to be a real person.

I shall put that off a bit longer however, as Nicki has insisted that we dress up for her beer festival and I need to go and raid a few shops for the final festival touches. I was feeling confident until Tallulah told me that Ellis (Nicki’s son) is going as an inflatable horse. The stakes are high.

 

I don’t think we’ve had enough medical posts yet

It’s been rather an overwhelming week so far, what with one thing and another. It feels like I’m on day twelve of a seven day week already there has been so much activity. I need to regroup.

I had the appointment with the consultant on Monday evening regarding the evergreen topic of my craptacular menstrual health. You may recall that we paid to see the same consultant I saw a few months ago on the NHS, due to my last NHS clinic appointment being cancelled and rescheduled for some time in the next five years if the wind is in the right direction.

I had been stressing about it, which will come as no surprise. On Monday morning I woke up from a hideous nightmare which, luckily for you I can’t remember a thing about, but which I took to signify a lot of ‘argh’ around the whole appointment. This mainly boiled down to: ‘What if she doesn’t think it has all worked and wants to delay surgery while she tries a whole load of other things because I’m not really bad enough to have surgery even privately?’

I ran through all kinds of scenarios in my head and fined my options down to chaining myself, weeping, to her chair leg and thrusting bundles of fivers at her until she gave in, or stabbing myself with a scalpel to show I really mean it.

Luckily this did not happen. She apologised for the cancellations of her clinics and was upset that we’d had to fork out just to see her. It was jolly nice of her to say so. Anyway, the upshot is that she is as convinced as we are that my hormones are rising up and trying to kill me, and is absolutely fine about ripping all my bits and pieces out and consigning them to hell for eternity. I am booked in for surgery on 30th August, although there is a slight possibility that this date may change, but only within about a two week window.

I was in shock for most of the evening after that, to be honest. It’s quite hard to get my head round the fact that something I have been asking for for a decade is going to happen very soon.

There is a question mark over whether she can do keyhole or whether she has to gut me like a kipper. It’s largely to do with the fact that I have had so many surgeries that my knee bone may be connected to my eye bone in there, and nobody can tell until they’ve opened me up. Sort of like a pass the parcel thing. If she has to do keyhole I am looking at a two week recovery time. Opening me up like an envelope requires six weeks recuperation.

She will leave my uterus alone, because it is relatively well behaved compared to the rest of me, and may also be welded to my bladder thanks to my other surgeries. If she takes the uterus out I may never be able to go on a trampoline again. And nobody wants that. Instead she will remove my ovaries, which procedure goes by the wonderfully named oophorectomy, and what is left of my mangled fallopian tubes. The reason keyhole may not be an option is because my tubes have partially exploded, partially been removed already and then what was left has been tied up in knots, so there will be scar tissue literally up the yin yang.

I think it’s fair to say that I’m a medical marvel. Which is nice, and a bit worrying, except I’m trying not to think too much about the worrying thing. The correct term for the whole procedure is a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. I may take this as my stage name when I have a late blooming career as an elderly actress. I will specialise in crone work, husk activity and showing my interesting scars whilst loudly shouting how old I am.

So it’s happening and I am relieved and a bit terrified but largely delighted.

 

Thanks

Thank you all for being so lovely about my last post. I don’t like leaving grim posts up for too long. They’re useful as catharsis, but not to brood over, so I thought I’d counteract the earlier gloom with some of the things that have worked to make me feel better. It’s not that I can’t see the good things, even on the bad days. It’s just that it’s hard, and sometimes it takes until  I am in a calmer place for me to really find the peace to appreciate them fully. It’s quiet now. Everyone is asleep and all the demands of the day have fallen away. My head is quieter and my heart is fuller and here are the good things.

Tilly seems to be having a lovely time in France being an au pair. She is being eaten alive by mosquitoes, roasted by boiling temperatures and oppressed by rules about French swimming pools, but otherwise good. She is in charge of two small children and everyone is still alive and smiling. Plus, there are chickens.

The other two are also managing to have a lovely time despite my health handicaps. Oscar has become the most popular child in the world and is hardly here, rotating as he does between the homes of his friends, and fulfilling many of his dreams by going rock climbing and water sliding and paint balling. He comes back to throw stinky clothes in the wash basket, eat me out of house and home and use all the hot water, and then he’s off again. It is a foretaste of the years to come.

Tallulah is spending her time teaching herself to cook, redecorating her room, refining her skincare routine and shopping with her friends. She is content. I know this because she is very good at letting you know when she isn’t.

They all surge backwards and forwards, give me consoling kisses and then vanish. I was feeling guilty about not doing stuff with them earlier, until I realised that actually I’d only cramp their style and they are perfectly happy.

So that is making me feel better.

Also biscuits. Biscuits have been key this week, along with toast made from cheap, white bread. I have a bread maker, but my heart desires Warburtons’, and that is what it is getting, toasted with lashings of salted butter.

I bought a bangle yesterday for the grand sum of 39 pence. I think it may be silver and turquoise, which would be grand. Even if it isn’t, it is thin and delicate and pretty and beautiful to wear. I’ve worn it all day today, running it up and down my arm. It’s such a tactile pleasure.

My mum and aunty came round earlier and took me out for tea and toast, and we sat in the sunshine outside a local cafe and talked rubbish, and they were kind, and it was easy and I didn’t have to try to be anything other than myself, so that’s love right there.

The weather was lovely today and I got to sit out in my garden with my book. Gardening has stopped until my health is better, but I am more than capable of sitting out on the deck, listening to the bees living it up in my lavender bushes, and speculating how long it will be before I can pick and eat the passion fruit off my vine. The sweet peas are busy twining themselves up my pea canes. The roses on the pergola are going into their second bloom and holding their own against the jasmine. My new, Gertrude Jekyll roses are thriving, and even my hydrangea are not dead yet.

I am reading a wonderful book called The Art of Flight by Fredrik Sjoberg. Sjoberg is a Swede who writes about art and culture and nature. In this book he traces the life of a Swedish painter who went on to become one of the foremost painters of the American wilderness. The book is absolutely enchanting. He is a marvellous writer with a wonderful wit and the ability to write about things I generally have no interest about in a way that makes them absolutely fascinating.

Lined up next on the to read pile is American Gods by Neil Gaiman. It wasn’t until I started watching the excellent TV series that I realised that I hadn’t read it. I had confused it with Anansi Boys, which is the sequel. I have been saving it for a bleak time when only the best of books will do. It seems apt to break glass with hammer now.

This evening, me and the smols (Tilly’s word for them) watched an Eddie Izzard stand up routine before bed. They’ve never seen his stuff before and it was brilliant to share it with them. We laughed a lot. It was so nice.

Your comments cheer me. Really they do. It is really good not to be alone, shouting into the wilderness, or locked into the bleakness of my own head. You all help to anchor me. It never fails to astonish me, the power of reaching out to people and having them reach back with a word or two that helps steady you just enough to keep on keeping on. Thank you.

 

Some words

I am going to blog about my health again, or the lack thereof. Please do feel free to abandon me until such time as normal service is resumed. If I don’t write this out of my head though, I am afraid I will explode.

I keep reminding myself that I just have to hang on now until Monday. Monday is not very far away at all. Monday is totally achievable. I have a private appointment so they cannot cancel me (except in extremis), nor can they put me to the back of the queue. Monday is solid. It is an island in a sea of uncertainty.

This week has kind of encapsulated in microcosm the entire reason why I want all my innards ripping out and an Ikea shelving unit putting in its place. My rational brain tells me that this is a good thing. Everything I am experiencing confirms my diagnosis and thought processes and makes it easier for me to deal with those people who might think I  am exaggerating/wrong/stupid. My irrational brain is just slumped in a corner, forking biscuits into her mouth and weeping through the crumbs.

In a ‘normal’ hormonal cycle ( I realise that normal is a stupid word, because everyone is different, but humour me), there is a reasonable order to the things that happen in one twenty eight day cycle. A person can, should they be so inclined, plan for this; i.e. more drugs in handbag on this day, spare pants and no white linen trousers on that day etc. This, with small variations, will repeat indefinitely until pregnancy or menopause suspends play.

My hormonal cycle eschews routine with a firm hand. My hormonal cycle tramples all over the flower beds, draws moustaches all over your favourite pictures, vomits in your waste paper baskets and stabs all your friends because they looked at you funny once in 1973.  AND YOU WEREN’T EVEN BORN THEN.

This week, physical symptoms have included hot flushes, which at one point were so frequent they just joined together in a rolling sea of sweat. I have also had a vomiting migraine which anti emetics failed to touch and which made me feel like someone had stuck a screwdriver in my ear and was oscillating it – for twelve hours.

Twelve.

I’ve had dizzy spells, palpitations, itching and breathlessness. These are minor symptoms, and as long as I can sit down for a minute or two, manageable. Obviously the itching bit doesn’t care whether I sit down or not, but it’s a more stable platform to scratch from.

I have also had regular headaches, because, well, why not? These are almost daily. Migraines are for best, although seem to be cropping up as a weekly feature right now.

I seem to have developed intermittent insomnia. There are days when I cannot sleep until three or four in the morning. Then there are days when I cannot stay awake. I am also having nightmares. I woke myself up last night by shouting in panic. I woke myself up the night before because my hands hurt. I had weals in my palms where I had been digging my fingernails into my flesh.

I have, and this is certainly too much information, developed a mild case of piles. I have no idea if this is related to the withdrawal or just adding insult to injury. I fucking hate them anyway.

In the early hours of this morning I was woken by hideous cramps. They lasted for an hour. They tore right across my lower belly into my hip bones. Despite feeling exactly like period cramps at their worst, I did not bleed. I did however, spend that hour on the toilet, shivering, shaking and shitting. This morning I have woken up to nausea, belly ache and another bloody headache.

I am exhausted by my physical body, and reminded of everything I do not miss about what my life with periods was like. I have to say, for the sake of clarity, that I did not get all these symptoms every month I bled. Apart from anything else that would have been far too organised. No. It was always a lovely guessing game of what might happen, when.

Now it’s as if my body has missed all this and has just decided to cycle through the various horrors on a day by day basis. Some days are manageable. Some days are not. Some days I am fine. Most days I am not. The good news is that my joint pain is better, which confirms it was the drugs and not me just adding another fascinating symptom to my own, personal medical dictionary.

All the physical stuff however horrible it is, and bits of it are really horrible, is nothing compared to the mental turmoil I am currently undergoing. I am on a permanent see-saw with the moods, only they are mostly dark to darker. I can be jolly. I can be upbeat. I can be positive, but it is all hard work. It all sits on a bedrock of anxiety, sadness and sometimes anguish.

I have to exercise enormous self control at all times just to appear reasonably functional, and sometimes, particularly when the physical stuff is giving me a pounding, I can’t. Then I just cry.

I seem to spend a lot of my time either leaking from the eyes or attempting not to leak from the eyes.

When the hormones were absent I knew that the teary episodes were not real. I could laugh about them. Sometimes at the same time as the actual crying. Now though, the teary episodes feel really real, even though my rational brain keeps telling me that they aren’t. It just doesn’t make any difference, because there’s different levels of knowing and just because I understand it isn’t real, I don’t really ‘know’ it isn’t real.

It’s that depression thing of knowing that what you’re depressed about is not real, and that somehow making it worse, because there isn’t any way to fix it, or anything to explain it, and you get all those fucking idiots telling you that you just need to cheer up or asking you what you’ve got to be sad about. And you know that if you knew that then you wouldn’t be depressed in the first place. If that makes any sense at all?

So today I am eating toast, which is about all my physical body can tolerate, and I am doing what I can, where I can to be normal. When I can’t be normal I am talking about how I feel, because it takes the pressure off my poor, exhausted mind for a bit. Saying it all out loud makes me see where I am being truly ridiculous instead of just mildly ridiculous, or not ridiculous at all.

And I am counting the days until Monday.

 

 

 

Some stuff about my incessant failure to be healthy

Having an absolutely terrible day, 98% of which is in my head and about my head, I feel there is merit in exploring the Wurzel Gumming option here. I should bin off this head, the head that is full of self loathing, bleak despair and sobbing, and which is trying to have a migraine, and put on another, nicer head.

I’m not vain. I don’t mean a prettier head, although removing the eye bags that when I look at them always makes me think of the line ‘four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire,’ would not come amiss. I just want a head that will leave me in peace to get on with things, instead of one which made it almost impossible to cut up a leek without severing a finger thanks to spectacular visual migraine effects or which meant that as I swept the floor, I cried all over the broom.

To be fair, this is not really head related. This is chemical menopause withdrawal related, and there was never an episode of Wurzel Gummidge where he whipped out his uterus, slung it on the muck heap and skipped off into the sunset with Una Stubbs.

There should have been. It’s all I’m saying.

In real, non fucking with my head withdrawal life, things are actually fine. I managed to de-stick the kitchen floor and get rid of some of the smell left by five trillion youths all bedding down in every nook and cranny of the house, leaving me with piles of assorted bed clothes to be laundered. I mean, it’s still pretty grim, domesticity wise, but it is less eye waveringly immediate grimness, and more the subtle essence of grim. I can live with this.

I have finished reading the Vagenda, which is excellent, and funny about things which are really not funny at all. I like this in a book. I like this in a person. Without humour about things that are awful I really would have to move to Mars, given how terrible things are in the world at large at the moment. I am now ploughing through a book about Alexander Hamilton. I feel very strongly that Alexander Hamilton is not my bag, however I got the book to review, hoping that Tallulah would love it. She doesn’t, and now I am obliged to finish it. The good thing is that it is an easy read and it will all be over soon.

I keep watching a gif of a shrew caravan. This is not shrews travelling about in a motorhome, parking in lay-bys and arguing over who has the top bunk, which would actually be brilliant. It’s more shrews being intrepid by holding onto each other’s tails and pootling about nervously. I am finding it very soothing, despite the ear worm of the words ‘shrew caravan’ replacing ‘pink cadillac’ as my ear worm.