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The Stunned Pause

Yesterday I had one of those instances where Big Sis would have literally laughed out loud. It began with my afternoon care visit, the carer is one I do not have very regularly but has been coming here for a few Saturday afternoons, we’ve had a number of conversations about various things. How to describe her, she’s short and rounded, akin the Estelle Getty look. She has a tendency to speak as if she’s looking after a half-deaf tottery ancient oldie who starts each sentence with a croaky “I’m eighty four you know…” type vibe.

She mentioned that her brother goes to a music evening where those gathered listen to and discuss music, wondered whether that would be something of interest to me (absolutely not). I replied that not many people listen to the styles of music that I enjoy. I went on to explain that I have a very mixed musical taste, depending on what I’m doing at the time. When I am concentrating on writing the HTML for the website I tend to listen to classical music, the likes of Debussy, Bach, Saint-Saën, Rachmaninov and such, for other creative musings it might be general rock and pop of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s preferring proper good tunes to specific groups, but my absolute go to for pure enjoyment and mood uplifting and this was my driving music was…..

(When I was telling BFF this in a telephone call at this point she went “You didn’t!”, oh yes I absolutely did.)

…..heavy metal, not the main stream but the off main rib rattling proper deep metal.

And then it happened, the face freezes as the mind adjusts and computes, the eyes reveal that they had a completely different perception of you. The sweet little innocent young (not so now) ‘nice’ girl. Ohhhh Noooooo, I have a dark side. I am sarcastic, cynical, stubborn, feisty, questioning. My tastes are eclectic, I enjoy Shakespeare and Dickens, but also Red Dwarf and child animation movies; tv quizzes like Tipping Point or The Chase and will have a crack at Only Connect and University Challenge; films it’s more the grizzly horror or mystery than sweet romance. Musically it’s what takes my fancy.

In a recent online convo with my BFF about getting my hair cut, she suggested like Tinkerbell, to which I posted the suitably cute smiling face and she, knowing me exceptionally well, said no, more like…

Can you guess who posted which, lol.
 
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Posted by on June 14, 2020 in General, Life, people

 

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Destructive Anger Destroys

Over the past few days we’ve witnessed more and more global unrest and calls for changes along with recognition of how the black community has been systematically treated. The death of George Floyd, along with far too many other coloured people, in the USA is a tragic, horrific thing, but it has lit a fireball that might yet engulf thousands of more lives. It was a wrong action by that officer, others were wrong around him, that caused a death; and there have been similar actions by other officers in the past. Thankfully very very few in the UK compared to some educated countries, but nowhere is immune.

The Black Lives Matter movement has a wish (not using the word agenda, it has connotations) and in the twenty first century, forward thinking, prosperous West, you’d think we’d be able to get it right more than wrong.

Watching the marches, the protests, the taking the knee, it is a commendable grand gesture but how does it teach, enlighten or instruct. I am fully aware that these events contain a few hell bent on chaos and destruction and a few more who get polluted by the mob mentality, but I am yet to understand how defacing buildings, statues, plinths, memorials will teach, enlighten or educate.

Where do I learn the other side of the story without being branded a racist, a privileged white b*itch, or such like, or being shouted at “you’ll never understand coz you’re not black”. Violence, rage, destruction, aggressive language etc will not help change minds, or teach a better way, it will fuel the old assumptions and stereotypes. It will instil fear and anxiety.

There was a particular image that enraged me to utter gutteral wanton disgust … it made me so angry I wished true, long term harm upon another person. Here is that image.

This is the Cenotaph. It stands in Whitehall, London. There are only three words on it “The Glorious Dead” and we see someone trying to set fire to the Union flag. The Cenotaph is a memorial to all those who died in the World Wars, all those who enlisted, all those who volunteered, all those hundreds of thousands who were conscripted, from ALL nations of the Commonwealth (last time I checked that warmly, willingly, includes ethnic minorities). For the millions who fought, suffered, were injured, who died, defending and protecting many rights and freedoms people so quickly abuse today. This person saw fit to trample and abuse that – my cynical sarcastic mind wants to ask “Is it because the Portland stone is too white?”

So what will the consequences be, for me ….. Well, I’ll be blunt and honest, it will scare me. What if as I go to enter a door and don’t stop to let the ethnic person go first, am I about to be called racist. If I hold the door to let the ethnic person go first, am I exerting my white privilege. If I enquire for explanation or understanding about an opinion or action, am I being confrontational. I fully realise that not everyone is carrying that hair triggered chip on the shoulder but because so many do, how do I avoid getting snapped at, or flattened with a knee at my neck.

Dear World, I myself alone have no control on what happened during the past two-three hundred plus years or more. In that, I am powerless. I can only be responsible for my personal actions of the past five decades (and a smidge bit, very slim but more). I hope I have always been equally respectful and friendly to everyone I have ever encountered, for that is the best I can do.

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2020 in In The News, Life, people

 

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Sensible or Sinister

I know I have to move home, but where to go and how to go about it, is a big scary slathering barking hell hound. Going from financial and roof-over-head security to not being so much so. There is a great deal to wrestle with.

Since about week three of lockdown isolation my mind has been racing to an idea, to go through every single item in my hovel and either sell it, donate it or bin it, keeping only a very few considered key items. I really do mean everything, every keepsake, gift, trinket, souvenir, ornament, memento, book, cd, dvd, photo album, crockery, cutlery, glassware, clothing, shoes, costume jewellery, hobby item, stationery item, tool, cuddly, pot, pan and dish. Slim everything down to only the necessary minimum. I have held onto things in order to feel connected to people, places, memories, times when I felt included, involved, almost necessary.

As I cannot move about to fetch things or return things, why keep them, is knowing something is in an inaccessible drawer any different to knowing I once had it. Why hold onto kits, cloths and silks when I’m never going to cross stitch anything again, why keep the pieces I’ve done that are sitting in the drawer, done to fill time. There are things in this abode that haven’t seen the light of day in 5-7-10+ years. There’s a box of vinyl records in the wardrobe that have been there 15-20 years, I don’t even know all the albums that are in there.

But I, myself, cannot do any of that. Someone else will have to lift and fetch and handle. Whether it be taking items to a Post Office to mail, or local refuse/recycling collection centre (7.5 miles away), or charity shops. Someone else will have to fill the recycling big or general waste bin. I might have the idea but others will have the execution.

With my increased deterioration I will need more equipment, power chair, manual chair, shower chair, hoists etc, all which need space to be kept ‘out of the way’.

Is this need a sensible preparation for the future (even maybe getting ones affairs in order, when that times comes), or is it a sign of something relating to mental health triggered by my changing circumstances and the weeks, months, of lockdown.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2020 in Life

 

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The Rot Set In

How are you? How are you managing in these trying of time? Have you started avoiding the news and social media reporting? Are you feeling the need to contact that friend in your phone book you haven’t seen or spoken to in decades? Have you tackled that oft put off job?

Day one-hundred-fifth-something of being at home for me … it feels like the rot has set in, I could twiddle some yarn, I should get to reading that book, I would feel better if I tackled a task or two but ……….. no excuse nor reason, just the arse cannot be bothered. I usually quarantine myself during winter, after all if there’s no need to go out in the yucky weather there’s less chance of catching cold which evolves to chest infections. The pandemic timing extended that, cancelled BFF’s visit and the high jinks we were planning, means an additional three+ months have been added.

I’ve had two letters regarding my health condition and CoVid19, one on behalf of my GP from the Clinical Commissioning Group stating I am “likely to feel unwell”, so that’s reassuring, unwell sounds light, like a hay fever sniffle. But the letter from the Neuromuscular Advisory Unit has said I am at “high risk of serious illness”, that sounds rather worrying, conjures images of tubes and machine beeps. I cannot get out, so I’m not at greater risk and my carers are diligent with their precautions.

I’ve enjoyed the access viewing, things like the Thursday night National Theatre productions being streamed on YouTube, I’d never be able to attend in person, so this opportunity has been relished. I’ve been totally engrossed in all of them, marvelling at the staging, the acting, the imagination, seeing productions I heard of but never seen, like Treasure Island, One Man Two G’vnrs, Frankenstein, Twelfth Night, Jane Ayre, Anthony & Cleopatra, Street Car Named Desire, next week The House. There has been the Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals, Jesus Christ Superstar was outstanding. Various orchestras and musicians have been producing videos of performances, some quarantine themed, changing the words of known songs, some of performing classical pieces without the pomp and ceremony of the venues. Of course the small children or small pets interrupting has been amusing.

When this is over, what will we take away from it? There will always be selfish idiots, there will always be negative attacking media, there will always be unreported acts of kindness.

I sense a general mood change as I watch/listen to the vox poluli… an undertone of resentment and slight anger. Maybe it is the media bias but the consensus seems to be that Joe Ordinary doesn’t want his kids to go back to school but does want the pub to open … people jump in their car and drive to the beach and are shocked and surprised that five hundred or more had the exact same idea … persons in positions of knowledge and authority flout the rules and ignore the old time lead by example ethos.

As the aftermath of WW2 did for Churchill, will the aftermath do for Boris … will any politician or party truly be trusted and reliable in an era of PR and popularity over substance and commitment. Will I get out of my hovel this side of Christmas!!

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2020 in General, In The News, Life

 

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Beans anyone?

As morning carer unlocked my door I could hear her struggling, curiosity was sparked. Apparently a large heavy brown box had been left on the door step.

Into the ninth week of self-isolating shielding lockdown, I have received a Government emergency food package. The notion of ensuring that those who are confined to their homes have access to a few basic necessities, is a highly commendable one, the execution of such a project has a few gaps. What a single person uses is different to two people or a small family. The contents were intriguing.

There is a loaf of bread with a warnings its previously been frozen and is good for five days from thawing (when was that because it’s very thawed and dry, so yesterday or even the day before), the large Frey Bentos chicken pie, a bag of potatoes one spud is so big it needs two hands to hold it, a huge tin of beans (850g pictured) plus an onion also sizeable, a bag of pasta, jar of bolognese sauce, small tin of tuna, a small bag of rice, a pack of digestives, bag of oats, bag of carrots, apples and oranges, two one litre cartons of milk, two cans of chopped tomatoes and three cans of soup. A couple of instant coffee packets and a few tea bags, one loo roll, a small hand soap with five bottles of bath soap (think hotel freebies).

The enclosed note says it’s for the week (anyone got a recipe for roast-stewed-curried onion) and there are online links to get them stopped or changed (except the links don’t do that). They tell you to contact your local council if you no longer need the help, except the council website doesn’t say who to contact. The note says to simply tell your driver not to deliver, well seeing as it’s just left on the door step before my carer gets here, that’s not going to happen. In fact if it wasn’t for the carer tripping over it trying to get in, I’d have no idea it was even there.

I hope I’ve managed to make contact with the right people to stop getting these, although the idea is commendable, for me, in my circumstances, sadly the majority of contents I cannot make use of – so I’ve given my carers first dibs. I’d much prefer the good dead to go to someone in much greater need than me, I am sure there are some.

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2020 in Life

 

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Mask Mates

It all began when I was sat on the toilet, as things do. I had asked my carer how she was getting on with the masks and she was saying how sometimes they chaff the cheeks but soon the tie masks might be running out and they’d be using the elastic loop ones.

I remarked that I had seen how some people use paper clips or plastic holders to take the elastic from the ear and stop it cutting into the skin and that there had even been a crochet pattern for them.

The penny took a while to join the dots and add two and two together for joined up thinking. I crochet! I have a suitcase crammed with yarn! I could have a go at making them!!

Carer positively beamed at the idea and the offer of helpfulness.

I googled, I read up, I pondered, I prepped, I twiddled, I tucked ends, I attached buttons and ……. tada!

My button stash has let me down, I’ve run out of 3/4inch and 1-inch buttons. But I’ll wait and see how things go before getting any posted to me.

It’s at times like this I believe I’d be positively dangerous if my neurones were properly connected.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2020 in General, Projects

 

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Confidence Wanes

I don’t know whether this is an age thing, a result in changed circumstances thing or a lock-down self-isolating thing but I can feel my confidence depleting, especially when interacting with another human.

A couple of things have happened this week that has highlighted this odd sensation. It’s home insurance time, I’ve been a tad lazy the past couple of years and just let it auto renew but I decided to grapple that particular bull and fudge about a couple of comparison sites and a few direct ones. I tapped in the data, took screen grabs of quotes, pondered and perused. When I go a hunting and the quote is considerably less I fine tooth comb because I must have forgotten or undervalued something, but no, the quotes were a lot lot less.

So after pondering some more and returning fresh eyed the next day I decided, okay time is up, I’m switching ……. then the stomach knotted and the throat clenched. That means telephoning the current provider to cancel. They’re going to question me, persuade me to stay, re-quote, make me doubt my decision, so with trepidation I dialled and was surprised that the chap was very pleasant, took me at my word, cancelled the renewal no quibble and wished me well! My fear was for nought.

Then it became necessary to bring to light something with my care agency. It involved the actions of a particular carer (don’t fret, it was not to my person, I am 100% well looked after). I knew I had to bring something to light but felt an incredible sense of responsibility, along side feelings of snitching, what I say could have a consequence to this person. Although justified, and necessary, it stuck in my throat (don’t worry folks, BFF put me in my place with love and a telling off, lol). I bit the bullet and emailed the office and the manager telephoned me and listened, letting me fully explain in my calm mannered way. I also said how I felt about talking like that and she understood my point of view, but also appreciated me telling what had happened. The matter is resolved and while I pang if I think too much, it was right and necessary to do so.

I can feel the dread rising when I think about having to telephone the dentist, or rearrange a hospital appointment (when we are through the pandemic situ). It’s not the same as reluctantly having to do something unpleasant, it is having to interact with another human and almost fretting over the curve ball they may lob.

I never used to be this way, I had reliable competence and ability.

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2020 in Life, people

 

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Behind The Screen

This blog is a little different to my usual because it is being written with the intention of adding a link elsewhere to try and explain/highlight what has happened ‘behind the screen’ to bring a web page together.

As some may know I administrate, edit and manage a web site about a particular musician and have done for many many years. It is an on-going, complex, multi-layered learning experience that gathers information into one place. I do it for my own satisfaction, to have a one-stop place that collates his work, for the fans and those interested to visit. Yes, it costs me money, but what hobby doesn’t.

Recently he was interviewed by Dom Familaro for The Sessions Artist Series published to YouTube. If you are interested in the workings of the music industry, the various musicians that back, support, perform with many A-list names, perhaps you play an instrument, these interviews are entertaining and interesting to hear so many peoples different life stories, how music became their profession and where that profession has taken them and things they’ve learnt and experienced on the way. But I digress…..

The website has a few interview transcripts and it occurred to me that even though YouTube has the ‘captions’ option (akin to on the go subtitles in language of your choice), there is still a section of the world wide audience who are missing out, so I decided to transcribe the thirty-eight minute interview and find a way it can be translated, thus broadening it’s reach. Sounds reasonably straightforward, doesn’t it. Ha!

Step 1. Using a mix of shorthand, speed writing and longhand I begin taking down the dialogue. Gone are the days when I could audio-type thanks to my depleted dexterity. So it’s listen intently, stop video, write, reread, rewind and listen again, correct script, add punctuation. Continue to listen, pause it, write it down, check it, relisten to the passage, make corrections and proceed ….. you get the idea. It took a few days, working an hour or two per day.

Step 2. Thanks to my muscle disease rendering my fingers/hands/wrists so weak the easiest way to transcribe the written word is to use dictation, no more confidently typing at between 70-75 wpm for me anymore. I create a fresh document, hit the microphone and speak clearly, deciphering my scrawl as I go. Stopping after a couple of paragraphs to read over the dictation, correct the errors, add the punctuation, capitalise names etc. Hit save and carry on. It takes a couple of days but at the end there are nine pages of crisp type, each paragraph a persons dialogue, all checked, proofed and corrected.

Step 3. Now it gets a little technical because I need to add the HTML tags that make it show on the eventual web page. Each paragraph needs a <p> at the beginning. It makes visual sense to have the interviewers dialogue in a different colour to the interviewees, so I add a font=“colornumber” to those lines. I also have to add the speakers name to each paragraph to make it easier to follow who is saying or asking what. So that’s added, all in capitals for emphasise.

Step 4. Using a specific software program I create the webpage, it’s basic style set to match the myriad of pages already there. I add the techie bit of code to embed the YouTube video, making sure it sits comfortably and is the correct size. I add the tab heading and explanation. Then in chunks I add the coded interview transcription. Crossing my fingers I hit the ‘test’ function to see what it looks like as a web page. I am reasonably pleased with the result except the colour is way way off, neon lime green, the hex code is a shade of red! Hmm……that needs investigating, it works on other pages already published.

Step 5. Thanks to an excellent web site that walks you through, teaches and shows how to grapple with HTML coding I can put together the five or six lines of instruction to add a button to bring up a menu of languages that Google will then translate the whole page. Wow! I add it at the top of the transcription coding and hit ‘test’. It’s there, and what’s more……it works! Victory! By chance it answers my query about the text colour coding, I think the issue is that versions of HTML change things, and that’s what has happened here, the code for changing the font colour is now a script command within the <p> notation, so I will need to put together the new bit of code, then copy and paste it at the beginning of each of the interviewers dialogue.

Step 6. I confidently upload the new page to the server, add the link to the main media page so viewers can get to it and voila….well no, not quite yet, actually. I forgot the special text snaffoo, you see when you type characters like & ( ‘ ) “ and then copy/paste them into a coding page, things go a little bit odd, it turns a ‘ into ’ . So I need to go through the entire transcript and remove the gobbledygook and replace the appropriate punctuation mark.

Next time I am at my desk, I will have to go through the coding, change the font colour code and correct the ‘ (oh I hope the find and replace will help me). That a rough idea of what is involved for just one page. I intend to add the translation script to every page of the site, a mere thirty or so. Like the Forth Bridge, there is always something that needs working on to improve.

Link to the interview ….. The Sessions Artist Interview

Link to the website http://www.stcgibb.com

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2020 in Music, people, Tech, Website

 

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Making The Cut

Across these weeks and months of having different carers in and out, regularly preparing my food, I have come to notice differences when it comes to cutting sandwiches.

Essentially there are four different ways, there is the classic horizontal and then the single diagonal, dividing the sandwich into two. Then there is the horizontal and vertical and the double diagonal, quartering the breaded munch. What I hadn’t noticed is how these different cuts affect the perception of taste.

Of course this is completely irrational and unscientific but I wonder if there is such a thing as the psychology of sandwiches. You see to my mind, the double diagonal quartered sandwich feels like there is more crust than wich, where as the horizontal single divide has decidedly less crust to wich ratio.

The diagonal single cut seems to unbalance the handling of the sandwich with the hypotenuse corners seeming to flap apart and cause the crumbled filling to escape. The horizontal and vertical quartering reminds me of children’s packed lunch boxes, or posh crustless cucumber and smoked salmon afternoon tea nibbles.

Before you think I have completely lost the plot, remember, there are people out there who firmly believe that tea should only ever be drunk from a bone China cup, that has been brewed in a pre-warmed bone China teapot.

Food is a serious business!

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2020 in General, Uncategorized

 

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A Ditty For National Poetry Month

Poets are looking to rhyme corvid19

That has put us all in quarantine.

First some people act as an unruly teen

Behaving the worst I’ve ever seen.

But what can we glean

From this growing scene.

Of their stockpiled pasta and Andrex clean,

Of groups congregating, turning mean.

A few with the kind hearted gene

Volunteering to help and shop for cuisine

Deliver food and much needed caffeine

A smile and a wave through windows clean.

Perhaps there is much we can glean,

Society may not be pristine

But during times of the unforeseen

Acts of consideration are not few and far between.

©️AnneMarie2020

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2020 in General, Life, Uncategorized

 

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