What a week!

Where to begin. Firstly the good stuff…

We had a superb day out in Leicester for my son’s PhD graduation. So unbelievably proud of him. We took the train up, booked into a hotel then met up with him and his girlfriend. Once he had the gown and silly hat on we went to have official photos done then off to De Montford Hall for the ceremony.  Impressive organ btw.  Afterwards we popped into his old department then had a celebration curry to cap what was a really fantastic day. 

I had part one of my exam. So pleased it could all be moved to accommodate my son’s day. I think I did ok but you rely on the assessor agreeing with you don’t you?  Part 2, the written paper, this coming week… fingers crossed.  

Now the rubbish. I got one of those calls you dread at 4pm Monday. My daughter was outside my mother-in-law’s house unable to get an answer. My wife arrived as I started leaving London. She couldn’t get in as the door was locked. By the time I got there the ambulance crew had arrived and smashed a window to get in. She’d fallen and couldn’t get up butto nothing else amiss.  At least she now has accepted, however ungraciously, some help. 

We’ve been calling in, one of us, daily to check on her and my daughter called when we were away moaning that she wasn’t using some of the equipment.  So frustrating. 

If that wasn’t enough stress and on the coldest week so far this winter our boiler failed and we’re still waiting for it to be fixed. 

All that in 7 days or less.  

Glad I don’t drink anymore frankly I’d have been accelerating and exacerbating all the high and low emotions and not helping the situation at all.  People in AA often claim God will only give them enough stuff that they can deal with at any one time. Given I don’t believe in some omnipotent interfering being like that anyway this stretches my “faith”.  But I hear people say these things that makes me then think, it is still stuff I can deal with without needing a drink. 

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Looking Back, Looking Forward

That time of year isn’t it.  Why is 23:59 on 31st Dec any different to 23:59 any other day?  Well an artificial man made thing to do with calendars that Julius Caesar had a hand in along with Pope Gregory XIII.  Clearly not a superstitious man.  I was musing on this on one of Mrs F’s and my walks this holiday period saying to me that it would make more sense if our calendar was aligned to the solstice and that marked the turning of the year – why it is 10 days later seems odd to me.  Of course the adoption in the UK in 1750 meant my forebears lost 11 days when the date jumped.  Also it partly explains the stupid UK tax year start date – it had until then historically been Lady Day in March but jumped the 11 days into April, there’s another added day for some reason – anyway hence 6th April.  Frankly all nuts.

Back to 23:59:59 31st Dec 2016 then.  There we all were, drinks in hand – Horlicks in my case and a Hot Chocolate for Mrs F – how the big times roll hey?!  And the next second… 23:59:59 – WHAT!!!   Was this some bizarre time warp was 2016 never going to end?  Was it wanting to claim another famous victim before it finally went, would 2017 ever come.  Then 00:00:00.   Phew!!!

So did you notice the leap second?  Well 2016 was a second longer than most years as we have to adjust our super accurate physics derived atomic frequency driven reference clocks as the old earth is just so darn slow, and slowing down hence the need for the extra second.  What did you do with yours?

2016 – not a year I frankly look back on with much love.  I’ve not been well through a lot of it – my first ever need for surgery for example.  My Ménières Disease issues.  Then the widespread culling of celebrities starting with Bowie (Lemmy was actually just in 2015) and end with George Michael.  Then politically.  I won’t go on about it as I’m still trying to come to terms with living in a country where I seem at complete odds with the majority of the population now it seems.  Where did the country I thought I knew go?  Well in June it took a massive step to the right and I’m not comfortable with it at all.   But we weren’t alone as USA seemingly followed suit and now it seems you can dictate policy for the largest and most powerful democracy in the world in 140 character tweets.  To say I’m sad is an gross understatement.

On a personal note somethings have been good this year – my studies have gone well and I secured the placement I wanting, even if at times that been a challenge and been frustrating.

Let’s look forward then.  2017 will hopefully see me qualify as a counsellor, at least on the course and exam even if I don’t have the requisite hours this year.  However in working in placement and talking to many others it does seem like there is precious little chance of paid employment.  That was my initial plan a big career change.  I can’t see that happening now.  I do see myself continuing to work in the voluntary sector, thereby exacerbating the issue of no paid employment but using my skills for good for those that can’t afford the £40 a week and upwards that private therapy with an experienced counsellor would cost them.

With a busy schedule of work, study, placement, recovery stuff etc. I’ll not make any outlandish resolutions I know I’ll fail to keep but I do hope to do some more stuff musically this year and some other fun stuff too.  First off we have Son-of-Furtheron’s PhD graduation to attend later this month.  I really impressed myself sorting out the cheapest ticket option on the train to get there – that possibly should entitle me to some form of honorary award – seriously why is it that so difficult!

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Take a guess

I stumbled over this interesting article in the Guardian.Guardian Article

Essentially researchers asked over 25,000 people in 40 countries to give them an answer to questions like “What percentage of your countries population are Muslim?”

The disparity between reality and perception is incredible.

Here’s one of the charts from the Perils of Perception 2016 research –

take-a-guess

Source- https://www.ipsos-mori.com/Assets/Docs/Polls/ipsos-mori-perils-of-perception-charts-2016.pdf

Actually pleased, and a bit surprised actually if I’m honest, to see GB came 39th out of 40 as being the nearly most accurate terms of the estimates people gave.

One of the real saddest things is this graph – we all think we are much more miserable than we are – or we think others are more miserable than they really are.

take-a-guess-2

 

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Tis the season to be Jolly

Fa lala la la la la la la la.

I went to my teams Christmas meal last Tuesday lunchtime.  It was nice – the food was reasonable given the size of the party and per head cost and the service reasonably efficient getting everybody served quickly.  The company was nice learning something new about some of my colleagues – apparently “peanutting” was only something that happened in Kent schools.  Both Kent born and bred fellows knew what it was all others were just blank stares.  (Briefly the game of getting hold of someone’s tie and pulling it quickly and viciously into a really small tight knot that normally just had to be cut off you.)

Anyway the first course came, the second and then the sweet.  I was ok sipping my large coke through that.  Then the plates were cleared and additional drinks were ordered.  Now I’ve been away from drink for 12.5 years, I have no interest in drinking at all, it hardly ever registers other than my daily acknowledgement that I’m an alcoholic and that I’m not planning to drink today and that I remind myself regularly of all that.   But then there are the “normal” people, the sensible ones all ordering more drinks and the Director giving permission for people to stay away from the office for the afternoon.  There it was in my ear like a shot.  “Well maybe you could just have one?”   Where did that come from?  Simple I’ll never be done with remaining vigilant in my abstinence.  I made an excuse about needing to get back to the office for something and left.

I’m so grateful that stuck in my head are the memories of what drinking was like for me and what I know it’ll be like again – lonely, desperate, despairing, horrible, paralysing, regressive etc.  And grateful for hearing others share about when they walked away and very much grateful to the horror stories of those that didn’t walk away at that point. That’s why I have to remind myself repeatedly that I’m an alcoholic who can never drink safely again.  It will sit there silent on my shoulder waiting for another opportunity like that and I have to be vigilant and willing to tackle it when it does.

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2016 – and then there were none!

Well it almost seems that way doesn’t it.  Lemmy, God Bless him started it all of when he finally proved he wasn’t immortal after all at the very end of 2015 but since then… David Bowie, Pete Burns, Leonard Cohen, , Gene Wilder, Kenny Burns (R2D2), Caroline Ahern, Carla Lane, Mohammed Ali, Prince, Victoria Wood, Paul Daniels, Ronnie Corbett, Terry Wogan, Alan Rickman, Harper Lee, Keith Emerson (for me perhaps the saddest) and his band mate Greg Lake.

The list is a list of people I’ve grown up with in my life, some were those I had huge respect for Lee, Emerson, Lake, Bowie, Wilder, Ali, Wood, Corbett… some I never really got it Wogan (to me always a bit of a jovial but bumbling fool) and Prince – to me I never really got it, some of his stuff was good but I never got the adulation he often garnered.  Then others will look at ELP and point to Pirates as a ridiculous overblown theatrical piece and I’d smile and nod and say “Yes that was the genius of it for me, a whole musical in 13 mins!”

For how long will these people live on in history?  Most of these have achievements that’ll remain talked about for a long, long time – Ali for example and Bowie’s ability to continually reinvent himself and stay relevant throughout his career.  Others a place in the nations psyche that will retain them for many years – Wogan, Corbett, Wood…

One thing though – If I were Carl Palmer – I’d be crapping bricks right now!

I leave you with my favourite ELP track though… Pirates!!!  Aha me hearties…

 

 

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Intuitively handled situations that used to baffle us

Anyone who’s been about the rooms will know that statement.  It comes from what is commonly called “The Promises”.  Actually it is the Step 9 Promises, as there are some others in the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous at various points but these are the ones often read out at meetings.

I often realise I have reached this stage in my recovery only with hindsight.  I’m having one of those reflections right now.  I am working hard on my counselling studies – sorry that is probably why, coupled with repeated hassles with my Ménière’s Disease I’ve not been writing or read much on here – we have our external assessment (read assessment and exam) in January.  We’ve just completed the mock and I’m awaiting feedback from the tutors but I was reasonably ok with it.  So I’m preoccupied with that target.  Then my son contacts and states that he has his graduation date… yes they clash.   What do I do?

Do I…

  1. go into panic meltdown, blame the world and everyone for screwing me over.  Rant and rave about it, doing nothing productive but justifying my anger on lack of a solution.
  2. ignore it hoping it’ll go away telling neither family or my training enter of the issue whilst secretly hoping something happens that’ll make it all ok
  3. Do I make some ridiculous scheme up involving lying to someone somewhere – probably my training centre, not realising that in the modern social media connected world saying I’m sick on the day to them will be exposed by my grimacing face on twitter of the like.
  4. Instantly talk to everyone.  Tell them that is a problem.  Explain that family has to come first on this occasion.  Prompt my training centre and then work with them and my peers on my course when a solution is proposed.

Yes I choose option 4 – instantly without thought.  I intuitive handled a situation that would in the past have baffled me – and given me a good excuse to stand at the bar bemoaning how life was stacked against me.

Now all that might screw this up is expecting to travel from Kent to the Midlands and back in a day on public transport in January.  Somethings I really do still struggle accepting I have no control over….

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21 today

My little daughter is 21 today.  Is it fair I still call her that?  Well she is little, barely 5ft, like many women in my family the height genes gave her a miss going straight to my son who is over 6 ft.  He still calls her “kid” – and probably will be still doing so when they are my age.

On Sunday we had a celebration of this momentous event.  It ended up with 25 at our house for a party.  All my family under one roof which now there are nieces and nephews their partners and great nieces and nephews is a very rare event and the tribe has grown by two this year with two new additions to my brothers list of Grandkids.

I felt – blessed.  We may not meet all the time and be in each others pockets but they are a really terrific bunch you can be proud of in terms of how they live their lives etc.  And we all get on so well.  I hear so many people bitching about their families and all this backstabbing and snide talking and all that goes with it, falling out, ganging up etc. etc.  Simply we’ve never had any of that and it doesn’t feature – everyone just gets on so well with everyone else.

Top of my gratitude list today right after “I haven’t wanted to have a drink today” is… Family, Love, Family gatherings, kindness, laughter, … etc.

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