Norwegian Poles.

This morning I set my alarm for 7.00
Leapt out of bed, okay teetered out of bed, abluted then dressed in track suit bottoms, two jumpers and my new fancy Gortex-plus-whatever-else-they-put-in-walking-shoes, walking shoes.
Stumbled to the car and drove ten minutes whilst listening to broadcasters going on and on about the Euro bale out.
Parked in the pub car park, turned off my lights – yes it was barely light, then took my two Norwegian walking poles, which were slightly too long for the boot and struggled to get out of the car. After catching them on my hanging angel, my safety belt and stabbing my own finger I finally got out of my cockpit. Met up with a delicious JB and her dog Caspar.
Caspar was working for the police but he used to hide under the table when anybody naughty came in so JB got him.
We walked for an hour past puddles and gorse, through bracken and mud, my inner thighs hurting from heavy feet ends and Norwegian walking sticks. Would they were made of wood, I could have said I was walking with Norwegian Wood, but they’re made of fancy metal that Jim found at the recycling tip.
I got home and called the hospital, not because of my inner thighs, but because, yeah-here-we-go-again, my mum.
Yep the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing I think about when I go to bed to not sleep.
My mothers plight is going around in my head like a slithering snake.
Now, at 7.30, after a very long day, l am sitting in my new writing space. Which is situated 80 feet from the kitchen.
Walk to the end of the garden, down the path made by my female gardeners years ago, into La Shed. ( His bit is called Le Shed ), and there you will find me opposite the fountain and ‘right next to the cows’, actually they are to the left of me along with the two oast house, but ‘left next to the cows’ don’t sound right do it?
In the red door turn right take four steps and you walk into a warm, cosy room where THE TABLE, transported back from Battersea and lovingly released from the garage, takes centre stage.
My Yamaha piano, ALL my crystals, ALL my books, bloody hundreds of ’em, Cd’s, cassette tapes – yes cassette tapes with great stuff from ‘It Bites’ to Brazilian singers – fairy lights, red chile lights, rugs, pictures, ALL my writings, forty three thousand pens and pencils, pictures of Jim wearing tights, photos of B shoeless in the rain and pictures of my mother when she was in her prime.
Guitars, cellos, double-basses, banjos ukuleles, balalaikas, bodhrans,the top of my 60th birthday cake made by Eric Landlard, lamps, stones, lots of otters, my totem animal, made out of porcelain, wood or cheap ceramics, and stacks of yellow and white writing paper. I even have my sausage award I was given on GFL to celebrate my support of sausages….
I should have been in here sooner, but the amount of time I’m spending trying to sort out my mother and the emotional exhaustion that goes with it, has drained my energy. Everything is taking far longer than it should.

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The Brady Bunch

I don’t know whether I’m Carmen or Cohen as the Jewish nun said.
Backwards and forwards, some sleep, no sleep, more sleep less.
Roses are red violets are blue I’m of two minds and so am I.
I don’t know whether I’m here or there although I have learnt about the Jubilee line, London Bridge Station and the condition of my cardio vascular fitness which is merde.
Running for trains, up and down stairs, eating too many apples off the tree. doing Vanessa, meeting helpful women, trying to fit in screenings of brilliant films, all of which I have missed, has been my last few days.

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The Loneliness of the long Distance Mother.

I have on thick green socks, snazzy jim-jams and a big woollen cardigan my mother knitted for me when I was pregnant 24 years ago.
The arms are for very tall primates whilst the rest of the garment could envelope the entire West Ham football team. Why West Ham you may ask, well I found out yesterday that a great uncle of mine – and by that I mean an ancient uncle I have no idea whether he was great or not – Sidney Kodish -played for the Hammers. I cant find him on google so I don’t know anything about him but he passed on his skills to the boys in the family.
I found out about my athletic relative at my mothers bedside in Barnet General Hospital.
The last few weeks have been traumatic to say the least, and they continue to be a nightmare.
My 89 year old mother has been in hospital first with a kidney infection then cellulitis. She has been pricked, poked, scanned and punctured. She has been talked at, to, with by the many doctors that have read and re-read her notes. She has been wheeled from one ward to another. She has pushed away food and occupational therapists. She has sat in a chair dealing with her minor dementia and major discomfort.
I have been absent, which has made me feel guilty and sick, absent because I have been geographically challenged.
The balance is almost impossible.
I call friends and family in the desperate attempt to make myself feel alright and to try and make sense of the situation.
They sent her home this afternoon, after weeks in hospital. They sent her home alone to a flat where her plants had died, where the fridge was empty, where the warden had gone home, where her new telephone baffled her.
They sent her home against my better wishes – I went and sat with her after the show yesterday and talked to a lovely doctor who wanted to release her from the short stay ward. My brother and I could read the situation but we are powerless.
I talk about the treatment of our elderly on the radio endlessly but experiencing it first hand is utterly soul destroying.
My 89 year old mother is disoriented, frightened, unwell and alone.
I am 70 odd miles away, and she is panicking I feel like throwing a brick through the window of whoever is responsible for allowing her out to cope on her own.
She cannot cope and at 7.45 on a cold night in October, I am unable to offer any assistance. She is low, lonely and my mother.

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Old McBarnett has a plan….

The phone went and it was Dan the man asking after his grandmother so I called the hospital.
My mother was having her ‘bum and bits’ washed, she told the nurse to tell me.
She was due to come out tomorrow but she has another infection.
When I asked the nurse whether it was sinister she said “I hope not.”
I am in a low-level-state-of-anxiety over my mothers hospitalisation, she’s a long way away from me and I have a packed schedule, when I get back from Glasgow – I’m doing EGGHEADS with Wincey willis, Sarah Green and two other women of a certain age – Jim and I will go and visit her on Thursday.
My days are shrouded in the knowledge that my 89 year old mother is completing her life with the help of paramedics.
It’s horrible, not that she is getting older we all do, but that her final years are so fraught with bureaucracy and lack of funds.

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post haste

First show back after two weeks out. No vacation just unpacking and more unpacking. Le Studio, at the bottom of the garden, looks like a boot fair. Gods Gift has taken to making pink apple juice every day with the biggest apples this garden has ever produced. I’m housewiffering to try and get everything into … Read more


Brighton today played host to Muslims, Jews, Asians, West Indians, Alcoholics, Cockneys, Northerners, OAP’s, babies, and dogs. There were mountains of bodies. The red of skin, white of skin, the tanned of skin and the burnt of skin. There were teeming hoards of the tattooed, the pierced, the shaven and the bald. The Pebbles played … Read more