Monthly Archives: October 2013

Date & Tamarind Tofu + Lemon Couscous



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Vignettes from my mother’s bedside


The elderly lady behind the screen, telling the young-voiced female doctor about her drinking, about her “lovely, caring” assistant Pearl who found her and called the ambulance. “How much whisky do you drink?”.

“Well I’ve only drunk three times today, once at breakfast, just a tot”,

“You know my mother came round my house, she came round my house when I was out and COMMITTED SUICIDE”.

When the screens were removed you could see the dark, dark bags under her eyes. Too old and unlovely to be softly described anymore as “circles”.

The next day, the elderly lady in the next bed along, with one of those lovely old precise, English, accents. BBC English and women in WAAF uniforms making wartime radio broadcasts. A stroke? Aphasia? She spoke so clearly, but of tumblers and weasels and other nonsensical things fitted neatly into what were clearly normal sentence lines, whilst the male doctor gently questioned her. Her daughter (?) tried to reassure, “you’ll be back to normal soon, they say”.

Leaving the Acute Assessment Unit at 8pm, 9pm (?) to look for a sandwich for my father in a darkened and mostly-asleep hospital. All the vending machines are full of processed sugar in colourful packets. He is tired and diabetic and missed his roast chicken dinner whilst a chirpy, long-haired paramedic lady tried to assess my mother. A genuine immediate trauma case (no)? Instead then someone who nevertheless needs to be admitted somehow whilst avoiding the long wait and germs of evening A&E (chemo suppresses the immune system, you know). She somehow sneaked her in to a bed via the AAU instead. Maybe she saved her life. Maybe she dragged out the inevitable. I don’t know. My sister plans to send her a thank-you card anyway.

Whatever happens now I will still happily sign that card.

Northern Star


I hit the North Downs Way this time, just for a couple of hour’s hiking, after 50 minutes on the train next to a really annoying couple having a continual and high-volume Almost-Argument.

The weather today was supposedly going to be cloudy but dry (it rained, heavily, thank the Grods for cheap pac-a-macs in a bag). Also we are allegedly going to be hit by a major storm on Monday – one to match the 1987 gale that blew over around 15 million trees.

Judging by the howling wind outside, BigStorm2013 is moving way ahead of schedule. As such I offer up these photos from the hike, including shots of trees, on the basis that in 48 hours those trees may no longer exist……

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further flowers more…..



Word on the Facebook Street this evening was about an old university friend who passed away this morning, in his sleep. Not a surprise in some ways – even 20 years ago he was a fragile 5 stone and wheelchair-bound. I hadn’t seen him in years so real grief is muted. But it sits uneasily that he should pass and I not say anything at all.

Sleep tonight
And may your dreams
Be realized
If the thundercloud
Passes rain
So let it rain
Rain down on here…….
So let it be

“MLK” – U2

Are ‘Fiends’ Electric?


….dreamt that I left my flat unlocked, and someone broke in. I came back and the flat itself was fine; all possessions present and correct. But they attacked the plants on the windowsill – the bamboo plant and the basil plant are gone, the pots containing the cayenne peppers are still there, but the stems have been chopped off near the base and all are left are pitiful little green stems….

La Belle Beans Sans Merci


I own a toaster, but don’t use it that often, as it usually proves to be more effective as an ad-hoc tester of the smoke alarm than as a purveyor of tastily-charred bread product.

I forgot this fact today and tried toasting two halves of pitta bread, which were then hastily removed from the toaster and shoved under the cold tap whilst I waved a kitchen-towel over the toaster itself, whilst trying to get the window open, whilst trying to start up the extractor fan, whilst being in possession of only two arms, neither of which are 8 feet long.

Fortunately the alarm didn’t go off, and so my evening is, sadly, free of Hunky Firemen. However, I thought I would bring a hint of French sophistication to this evening’s meal, Pain au Bean des Tomatoe avec Fromage. Any resemblance to a common, economical and much-loved British dish are, of course, entirely coincidental……..


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