Author Archives: savagepaphian

Once I was called ‘liberal scum’. I’m fairly proud of that…

I’ve been pondering politics today, at least the politics that us, the chattering classes bother ourselves with. Not the politics of our own day to days lives, we are often too afraid of the confrontation, and indeed the repercussions of dealing with those politics, but the politics of government, as we see them. What’s that phrase “if I ruled the world,”?

I’m someone who is interested in politics but much more from a psychological point of view. I’m interested in the people that make decisions for us, because we don’t want to make them for ourselves, and I want to understand why they are taking the avenues they take, however preposterous they may sound to some, many or few. All in all I’m interested in what makes the clockwork of government tick, and I’m interested in how we respond to them. But I am consistently astounded at how very like the politicians we are, bandying around our opinions like we know best. Or so it appears.

I must say that I am very tired of is this notion that politicians are evil. It doesn’t matter who is elected in, and it is you, us, we the people who do that, but someone always thinks they are evil. Can we stop this? Because IF you think they are evil, then why are you not doing anything to stop these evil powers? Why are you depending on another momentarily (until they get into power) less evil human being to save you, us, we, from them?

And can I ask this? If all these politicians are evil, who on earth do you want running the show? Warlords? Tribe leaders? Dictators? Modern society has abandoned the nation of Africa because of its politics, leaving children to fight what I think could be considered evil. Anyway, I digress.

When are the hoi polloi going to realise that every single monumental development in history is foreshadowed by fear? The theory of loss aversion is exemplified in every political movement: slavery, apartheid, women’s liberation, gay rights, feminism, Vietnam, Iraq, environment, gun laws; you get the picture. You know, those hot subjects that have had to, and continue to be fought for, where the leaders for change have been and still are considered dangerous, lunatics, or hang on, liberal. Darn those dangerous liberals who are known for their bigotry, racist, sexist and violent behaviour.

The theory can be also applied to taxation, and of course, many, many people are going to be averse to losing their money despite the gain for society at large. It’s human nature, and some are slower to accept change for the better than others. Especially miffed will be the large corporations who are used to being in control, and in particular in the USA where it’s not actually those evil politicians running the show at all but the conglomerates who wield the power.

I try to remind myself every time I listen to the news and find myself frustrated at the decision making of some, that there are many politicians I wouldn’t invite for dinner, just like a good proportion of the world at large. And I also take a moment to realise that the job of running the show is very much more complex than you, we, us, are considering when we are purporting how much better a job could be done.

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Working Mothers; Aren’t We All?

I’ve been a working mother since I tapped out a few work emails from the hospital bed I occupied for the 8 days following the birth of my daughter.  Of course I’ll forgive you for thinking that I’m a workaholic, but I enjoy what I do and there was no reason not to answer a few queries. The Royal Sussex is far from a hotel where one relaxes and quite frankly I was relieved for a momentary distraction from the events that had unfolded for my family and me. More on that later…

I’m pretty lucky; I work with my composer husband and film editor business partner. The projects we are involved in are often interesting, creative and flexible, so we all bend with the changes in our lives, we like it like that. Conversely the work can be sporadic and not always the most lucrative meaning we’re not exactly rolling in it. So why don’t I get a ‘regular’ job? Guaranteed paid employment with a company where I can leave my work at the office…hmmm…? I ask myself this when we feel like we are struggling, which in recent times has been more often than not. 

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I suppose it somewhat depends on what you are looking to get from your work. Is it money and status, a feeling of value and self worth, excitement and thrills, or maybe learning and fulfilment? We all like to think we get at least one of the pairings, but I opted for freedom and choice too, which doesn’t tally easily with earning bundles of cash it seems. And regardless of my politics I’d quite like bundles of cash to ease the journey for my daughter, whose entrance to the world was fraught with difficulties that might affect the rest of her life.

Before she came along I had already begun treading a new path of learning that will see me qualified in the next few years as a psychotherapist. As well as being a calling of sorts, the decision to re-train was made in an effort to ensure a better quality of life for us all as she grew, a hope for more of the couplings, including the potential of, maybe not bundles, but at least a few more beans in the bank.

But her arrival threw us into a wilderness of uncertainty when we were told our new-born would likely have some development challenges from a birth injury. I put my training on hold to recover from the trauma of the birth, and shock of the prognosis, and to devote my time and energy to her needs for the immediate future, at least until we knew how she was fairing. I’m planning to head back to college in September, but my deferment has meant a 2 year delay to my journey.

There are days when I wonder if my decisions are the right ones. And every mother I speak with struggles over her choices in some shape or form when we discuss our careers, jobs, and work. We want to do the best for our children; we want them to have more than we did, whether that is time and attention from both parents, new clothes instead of hand-me-downs or perhaps piano lessons, family holidays and a more liberal education. But it’s often too easy to forget our own needs in the pursuit of happiness for our offspring.

The art of balancing work and children is a ubiquitous subject on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, but aren’t all mother’s working? Motherhood certainly ties up a few of those pairings though I’m not suggesting that taking care of my daughter is a job that anyone can do, or that it’s a chore, but caring for others so often means less caring for the self, and that value of self can sometimes be found in our work.oth parents, new clothes instead of hand-me-downs or perhaps piano lessons, family holidays and a more liberal education. But it’s often too easy to forget our own needs in the pursuit of happiness for our offspring.

 

So I squeeze bits of work in where I can, be it in between baby yoga and Gymboree, changing nappies and bath-times. Doing so allows me to enjoy all aspects of my life so I’m not resentful in the future, or feeling that I’m missing out on those beautiful moments of firsts. And on the odd occasion my daughter comes to a meeting with me. Get her started early I say; least I’m not sending her down the mines!

 


New Delhi – Namaste India!

14th February 2011

It’s raining in Delhi. But not the monsoon weather I associate with India, the skies are treating the capital to regular wet rain, not unlike the type we get back in Blighty, complete with mist and indeterminate raindrop size. It’s not a problem though, we are happy to be here, the beginning of our Indian odyssey and already we can feel, a far cry from Do-buy.

We scan the line of awaiting taxi drivers and Joe spots our names on a piece of paper held by hands belonging to the sweetest smile. Virender greets us with urgency, a paper free outstretched hand to take our bags. He hopes to carry them both but we allow him just mine and Joe hoiks his own to his shoulder. When Virender lifts my rucksack to his back I clip the waist support for him, he giggles, a little surprised I think that I should be so tactile.

The drive to our home stay is typically noisy, and through the rain spattered windscreen we observe the suburbs of Delhi retiring for the evening. Buses take workers home and shutters on roadside shops are being drawn as another day comes to an end.

Virender negotiates the traffic, and when he’s not dodging the raindrops there’s an auto rickshaw laden with passengers or packages to contend with, perhaps a bicycle or moped similarly loaded. Buses whose drivers, as in most places in the world, think the road belongs to them, as well as vans, trucks and regular cars, all wending their way to destinations around the capital.

We arrive at a block of apartments in the suburbs, the rain still falling as our driver leads us to what will be our home for the next two nights; Maya’s Nest. We are greeted by a lady who is, at a guess, in her late fifties. She has a refined air about her and it turns out she is not Maya, but Asha, Maya’s mother. Maya waves at us from the room they share, she’s working at a computer seemingly engrossed in something far more interesting than our arrival.

The next day when I am being a little bit nosey I find a photograph of a young Asha. It’s a black and white print and it looks to be from the 60s, although it’s hard to tell but she seems to be around 20 in the photograph. But her strong yet gentle expression looks out at me in the inimitable Indian style of posing for photos; much like the Victorians, serious and intent.

We settle into our room feeling at home immediately and remark that we made a good choice to stay here. Asha calls through to invite us to sit in the dining room and Maya comes out from her technological enclave; she makes us the nicest masala chai and directions are given for the nearby mall where we might eat.

Our walk to the mall takes us just 15 minutes, along the way we see so much that is familiar about India, even at this Northern end of the country where we have not been before. The auto-rickshaws keen to get a fare, the low hanging cables and unkempt streets, and men, always so many men, walking, waiting, squatting, carrying, on their way to, from and in the middle of doing something. Industrious India.

Considering our recent reponse to Dubai it seemed only fitting that we should be heading to eat in one of the three malls that Vasant Kunj has to offer its residents. The first is a general mall brilliantly named ‘Ambience Mall’ and where we are headed, just next door is called Promenade. We don’t see the designer mall Emporio further down until the day we leave, it’s apparently the most expensive Mall in India once more reminding us that consumer is king here too.

It’s not something we do much back home, going to the mall, much less eating there. We had to visit the Churchill Centre in Brighton before we left, and the last time I was in one out of choice was when we went to the cinema at The Westfield, not something I’m keen to repeat. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that the only place I don’t mind the mall shopping experience is in the states, maybe because they created the modern mall, a derivation of the souk or market but on the whole I find they are places to be avoided.

But here we were, and it was fun. We cleared security – India is very security conscious since the terrorist attacks in Mumbai – and wandered through the mainly closed and almost deserted space on our way to the top floor. When we arrived we were surprised by the atmosphere, the food court was filled with well-dressed young people; couples, friends, laughing and sharing their late night food experience.

A novel and somewhat socialist system of payment was in place whereby would-be diners purchase a card that can be ‘filled up’ with cash to spend in any one of the 10 or so outlets. Certainly it seems to speed the process up and once we had our card – this almost not happening as we’d arrived so late, but a super funny and friendly cashier sneaking us in past the cut-off time – our food arrived quickly and with a great deal of cheer. We’d opted for ‘Tikka Town’ and our meal consisted of a veg and non-veg thali which was very generous in portion and surprisingly tasty for the venue.

On our way back to Maya’s we were met by another way of life indicative of India; a dog’s life. Just past the entrance to the mall a number of roads meet and a small patch of wasteland in the centre is home to a pile of garbage and a small brown and tan puppy. He sits alone, seemingly guarding a hole. We wonder what’s inside but as we show interest in him he stands and begins to walk tentatively over towards us, tail wagging gently, unsure as to our intention.

As he gets closer Joe points out his back, jumping with fleas. Much as I want to scoop this tiny creature into my arms, take him away from the rubbish and provide him with food and a clean, safe haven I know that this is a problem I am going to run into time and again on this trip. So we walk on, leaving the saddest eyes following our steps, and for a moment he pads after us, hope still wagging in his tail. I glance one more time and feel guilty for having paid him attention in the first place, knowing that we could never offer him the love every creature deserves.

***

Sleep wasn’t so easy to come by; I’d been struggling to shift a chesty, tickly cough for the past week. It had troubled me so much that in Dubai I’d barely slept a wink, so when coupled with jet lag, having lost a night’s sleep on the journey from Gatwick, I found my sleep pattern completely knocked out. Now it was Joe’s turn to cough and splutter so between the two of us our first night in Delhi, whilst comfortable was restless.

After an egg breakfast – always a good way to start the day in India – we were picked up by our driver who was to take us around the sights of New and Old Delhi. There is a huge amount to see but we didn’t have a huge amount of time, however Asha had given him a list of places to take us that would give a decent glimpse into what the city has to offer, but as it was raining again what we had time for might have to be viewed from the confines of a dry vehicle. But no matter, I had my 550D that I’d been longing to put to good use; we would soak up the history and the rain – Chak de India!

Good job Laura had sorted us out that lovely polarising filter, this day would certainly benefit from adding a little bit of blue to the skies. I snapped away as we approached the gates of The Rashtrapati Bhavan or The Official Residence of the President of India and we got out of the car at the gate where we proceeded to marvel at the hedges fashioned into elephants; my eye at the viewfinder and oh?

“Joe, I’m getting an error message, this isn’t good.”

I could hear the shutter move but it seemed not to complete its action to take the photograph. I may not have sounded so worried had it happened just the once, but even after removing and reinserting the battery as the error30 message suggested, the sound of a photo not been taken continued and the display flashed the error message once more.

I try not to despair thinking we will be able to get this sorted, after all, we are in the capital of one of the most densely populated countries on the planet, as well as being one of the most photographed, there’s bound to be a Canon outlet here or at least someone who can help. Our driver had since moved on to our next tourist photo opportunity where we alerted him to our plight. Despite his lack of English and our non-existent Hindi he was wonderfully helpful and after conferring with another taxi driver took us to a camera store in the renowned Khan Market. I had tried to urge him to take us to the Canon store but he made it clear this was a good place for us. How important it is to insist in India, but this was only day one and I was still in English mode.

Still raining yet still giggling we trudge through the puddles following our intrepid driver as he hunted out the store in the plethora of shop fronts offering all kinds of goods and services. When it was found the store appeared to be reputable enough being a Nikon dealership and retailing a number of cameras for all shooting possibilities and budgets. I explained the problem they said they would be able to fix it “no problem.” I was to call back in a couple of hours to check and they’d likely have it ready tomorrow evening. But of course this couldn’t be; we were leaving first thing in the morning. Ok, they’d call me and if it could be done I could collect it at 8pm.

On a practical impulse we purchased a point and shoot. We would hate to miss getting some shots of Delhi, and all being well if the Canon came back healthy we’d have an extra that would no doubt get used regardless. Off we go, take two…


Dubai…Do-buy…Do-bye

I rarely travel with expectations; it generally only leads to dissappointment, but of course we wonder what the destination we are headed for might be like. Being a relatively new internationally occupied country I had visions of Dubai being rather like the pristine parts of Florida I had lived in; water sprinklers keeping expanses of lawn fresh, gated communities manicured and tended to by bowing and scraping Indians who work to provide for families back home, and a well heeled beach crowd dripping with sun oil, flaunting Versace swimsuits and Prada flip-flops.

It’s not quite like this, and even though this notion is far from my vision of utopia I honestly think I would have preferred it. That will teach me. Instead we were greeted (greet is used loosely) with a city that has not being granted any foresight from it’s creators. There has been no evolution of space here, just a landscape dominated by skyscrapers severely lacking in character, built in haste for profit and little else.

The view from Marina Quay West across the harbour bears a resemblance to Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’ and when lit up at night it’s certainly a sight to behold. But I can’t help but think that place holds very little positivity for the world at large. It’s carbon footprint must be massive considering the amount of consumer activity that is an integral part of life in Dubai.

Massive billboards straddle the six lane superhighway promoting the benefits of spending; happiness equates more shopping and this happiness can be found in one of the many malls across the area, of which probably the most famous is The Mall of the Emirates where you can nip into Harvey Nicks, go skiing, grab a movie and dine out; all under one big daylight robbed ceiling; lovely.

Joe and I take a stroll to the beach the evening before our departure. We are struck once more by how soulless the area feels, few people smile and the boardwalk seems to be more for showing off the number of shopping bags acquired from yet another mall visit, than a place for strolling along and enjoying the surroundings.

But of course, that’s part of the problem here. When 35 storey buildings mark the edge of land, rather than the land itself, how can one escape the dominance of money? Only here would a group of off-shore islands called ‘The World’ be developed; it seems somewhat appropriate and yet frighteningly metaphorical, that they are sinking.

There is nothing small or humble about Dubai; from the ghastly pink Atlantis which guards the entrance to the other island creation ‘Logo Island’ to the 7 star Burj Al Arab, this city in the desert screams of shallowness and the obsession with status is prevalent at every turn.

As we head back the loud growl of a bright yellow ferrari punctures the sound of the waves breaking on the man made beach. It cruises around the car park on the edge of the boardwalk (another prime example of atrociously poor planning), it’s blacked out windows shielding a driver who is clearly showing what he is worth.

Joe and I look at one another and laugh.

“Come on,” Joe says to me, “let’s get out of here and get to India.”


By The People For The People?

Isn’t it funny that we get so riled up about politicians? I was living in the states during the 2000 elections and was lucky enough to be involved with a Gore digital campaign managed by Oprah Winfrey. During a conversation with some of their team, one of whom was Clinton’s impeachment lawyer, i made a comment that was applauded; it was this; anybody who WANTS to be involved in politics shouldn’t be…because democracy is lost when you campaign for votes.

Politicians are mainly one and the same whatever flag they wave or party they represent, they are playing an elaborate game of risk, monopoly, battleship and boggle with the world, the rules of which are far more complex than I can imagine. How one makes the kinds of decisions that are made in the corridors of power are beyond me. Just think how hard it is to balance your bank balance, your relationship, your health and your job without the added worry of whether you think it’s right to send more troops into a country whose people are massacring their own women every day in the most brutal and horrific ways.

Those who have such vehement views about politics should get more involved with advocacy, charitable aid and perhaps the deliverance of a promise for something better than what is on offer. We need a sense of optimism to make real change, I don’t mean to sound like a hippy but the negativity doesn’t help a troubled cause

Obama does offer the USA and maybe a small portion of the world, a chance for a difference whether real or perceived. There will be change due to the psychological shift that America is experiencing right now. I’ve spoken to a good many democrats (and republicans) over the past few days with varied interest in politics and they are all excited about potential for the first time in years. They are also relieved that they may be seen as decent people again by the rest of the world, rather than being represented by the outgoing shrub.

In 2000 the republican half of the country was celebrating, now the other half are getting their voice heard. This is going to make some of the more liberal thinkers in the states happier and therefore more inclined to move forward and make change of their own.

The shift was minimal towards the democrats but with a wider gap than the 2004 election, and perhaps this is what we should be offering consideration to. More people voted than ever before, which in itself is of huge importance. It means that folks over there are paying attention, something us pompous Brits have been lambasting them for since they voted Bush in for a second term.

For sure we’ve never really thought that they knew what they were doing but since Iraq and the second term Uncle Sam has really had his public image screwed up by the poor deliverance of policy. Because the same things were likely to have happened under a democratic presidency; they would just likely have been communicated with more eloquence.

As for how Barack’s placement in the Whitehouse as a black man will affect racism; who can tell, the world is horribly racist and it’s not really about skin colour but culture. But he is black, doesn’t matter if his mom was white, I am sure he will consider himself black, oh and he isn’t descended from slaves, moreover his genealogy suggests he is descended from slave owners!!

I just think we have to sometimes look at the broader picture to see why we behave the way we do. And as a matter of amusement…I took a crap in John Nott’s loo a few years back. He had press cuttings about himself framed in the bog.

(written 2008)

 


Not Quite The Golden Girl

I am learning how to summon up the emotions I have for the past, listening to music and empathy seems to hold the key, I’m going to try smells too but for the time being, I listen to the lyrics and feel my experiences run through me. Alex left such a huge scar on my heart that it’s hard to put into words how I am left without him. We never imagine that love is going to end when we are living it, the shock of being told it’s over is so overwhelming it can kill. I never thought I’d get over him, in some ways I won’t, I still would like to speak to him even though I am odds with how he treated me two years after our less than amicable break-up! It’s a saga, much more of a soap opera than seen on most daytime television. The illicit love affair at work, turned into a big romance, a love story and finally a sad finale of pain, insanity and violence. Shall I tell more…?

I’d heard about this new guy at work, and was told he was weird looking but my type, what did that mean? I eventually got to meet him on a training course; I was attending the last day of the week-long event to meet my team, the men I had to look after, yes like a mother hen! He was odd, tall, skinny, and adolescent almost with big ears, Roman nose and a slightly demonic look about him. An intense character who seemed to care little of what people thought of him as mostly they appeared to like him and if not like, possibly envy his gregarious personality.

I really thought nothing more of it at this time; you’ll see a familiar pattern that I am now very aware of, if I think nothing, why not!? Work was chaotic, a new department, and a lot to prove to my superiors, myself and the team I was supporting. Someone once said during the time I worked with the sales team that, ‘all roads lead to Rachel’ and it was true, they did. I had three telephone lines, Lionel my manager, a team of ten sales executives, leads coming to me, customers calling me, customer services querying orders, escalations, oh and more! Immersed in all this I had no time for men, Peter and I had been the last thing and that was over, I was 21 and what could a man offer me other than trauma? Anyhow I was working with enough of them, attention wasn’t lacking so I was entertained. That was at least until the premier of James Bond’s Goldeneye!

The company I worked for were sponsoring the Birmingham premier and as the newest and hottest team we were given a table. Off I went to Karen Millen and purchased a gold dress, well what do you expect? There was little to it but my figure at that time meant I could carry it off! We all had rooms at the Novotel on Broad Street, I had brought along the necessary provisions; music and a big bag of grass, first drinks of the night were at the Metropol hotel, martini’s, shaken not stirred! I don’t recall whose arm I went on but I arrived at the Odeon bar with my eleven men ready for more drink and the movie. After sitting through the first of Pierce Brosnan’s Bond roles, dinner was to be served back at the Metropol. Off we trudged in our evening wear and penguin suits toward the coach and onward to where our food would be served. We were possibly, no what am I saying? definitely the rowdiest table, we drank a couple of bottles of wine each, heckled Gary Newbon, a small time television personality and encouraged some poor woman to bid over a thousand pounds for a football in the charity auction. I can recall Dillon one of the Sales Executives ordering more wine and giving his room number, we weren’t even staying at this hotel! After dinner it was time to dance, and I always like to dance. I slinked around the dancefloor, Jed and Alex occasionally joining me when they weren’t chatting. Chris danced with me too, I had a big crush on him; he was so sweet, angelic almost but nice boys rarely like me, they sense the danger!

When we were done with dinner and dancing we headed back to our hotel and hung out at the bar drinking Bailey’s on ice. It was getting on so I suggested we head to my room for a smoke out, what with the minibar and a few of bottles of wine, who was likely to turn down an offer like that? Numbers had been reduced, there was me, Jed, Dillon, Alex and James. Lionel and the rest had long since been ditched; you know how the cliques work. At one point I can remember Jed crawling on his hands and knees out of my room! Dillon had sloped off, he never could keep the pace and eventually there were three, James, Alex and myself. James and Alex were discussing music, each adamant that he had the best tape, Alex proceeded to collect a tape from his room, one track on it was Galaxy by War, I was impressed. I don’t remember James leaving but soon Alex and I were alone and locked in a look that seemed to go on for hours and yet I’m sure it was just moments. He took my breath away, we were soon in each other’s arms, kissing and making love so passionately I thought I was going to die right there and then. Excessive drinking followed by smoking very potent marijuana had left my stomach reeling, I made my way to the bathroom to relieve myself of the alcohol that was poisoning me.

Here’s something; why is it when in a drunken mess women vomit into the sink? Whatever is wrong with the big white telephone? I’ve never understood but since this episode I have made sure to remind myself how messy puking in the sink is. I must be graphic here, just remind you of the state we get in! Puzzled at why the chunks wouldn’t go down the drain I tried scooping the vomit into… guess where? The bath, that’s where, notice I still deny the toilet its purpose, that of a waste disposal unit! In my pathetic state I neglect to realize that if the vomit won’t go down the sink then it’s highly unlikely it will wend its way to freedom through the uncannily similar drainage system in the bath.

You know its love, or you realize soon after when the man you are sleeping with wants you even when you smell of booze, cigarettes and vomitus! We continued to kiss, make love and giggle at the stench for many hours, but we didn’t laugh quite so much when we woke, the odor was completely overpowering and we abandoned my room for Alex’s deciding it was a better idea to get showered and dressed in a clean bathroom. Meeting up with the rest of the team in the foyer we assumed our previous stance as work mates. Jed had slept in his car, Dillon was back at work and the stragglers from down south were left nursing hangovers. It was time for us all to part company, spend our Friday recovering and get sober for work on Monday. I’d already motioned that we go back to my father’s house, just Alex and I that is so we headed off.

One would imagine that being alone, sober and at my paternal home may create tension or at least make us feel uncomfortable but quite the contrary, we made love in every room as though we had been doing it for years. The final venue for our passion was my father’s bedroom, rebellion evident even here. As I sat astride Alex our breathing still frenetic and at the brink of hyperventilation he popped a question that would make me think twice. Not the question but my answer would change my life. Now I have finally recognized my pregnant pause could have been on it’s way to being a wise one, I shall pay close attention next time this kind of thing happens. He asks me to spend the weekend in Hastings, I am shocked, and think, then I say no. He convinces me after a while and I leave a note telling my father I’ll be home on Sunday.

(written in 2001)


On the Cards

‘Daisy? Daisy!’

I hadn’t heard my father utter my name in such a long time that I didn’t register at first that it was him calling me. We’d barely spoken those past few days at Grandmas but now his urgent voice came from her bedroom, my response was heightened. I took the flight of steps 3 at a time, after 5 days my legs were now used to the stretch. He was sitting at the right side of Grandma’s bed.

‘Hello there, what’s the latest then, all good?’

I always tried to keep upbeat around her, as one would with a child who is suffering. Dementia is after all like childhood in reverse, so positivity was imperative with as little drama as possible whatever the situation. Calm and decisive was how I’d seen the nurses behave, but with smiles and light voices so I tried to emulate their good practise in my own style. Grandma knew she was dying so being maudlin or over the top with concern was the last thing she needed.

‘Is everything OK? Grandma?’

She was moaning gently, groping at the blankets over her legs, her face awash with a mixture of discomfort and frustration. I leaned in to soothe her and ease the weight of the layers on her tiny frame. Her whisper was pleading.

‘Send him…help…pain….oh darling’

She wept without tears, even they were too much for her.

‘She said her legs hurt. Can you rub her cream in or something?’

He sounded panicked and somewhat helpless, which of course he was. How could he be expected to manage this situation? His mother was like an exotic bird to him; beautiful and protected. It had always been that way. Just because she was frail and nearing the end of her life didn’t make her poise and dignity around men any easier to penetrate. Well, not unless she had a real soft spot for him, and that’s not how it was between them.

I needed to move her body in the bed to prevent sores, but also to alleviate the pains in her right hip, of which the femur we knew to be completely out of it’s joint. I lifted the blanket discreetly, I could see the bone protruding against her delicate translucent skin. Rubbing a topical painkilling gel was the only remedy now in conjunction with a daily intake of paracetamol and a generous dose of love and care.

‘Can we have some privacy please?’

My voice once more came out sounding weak and empty, somehow I always hoping that those around might have a grain of common sense and know instinctively how to behave around a dying woman; I didn’t think I needed to be masterful. But I kept forgetting who I was dealing with. I don’t think the ease sound in please was even out when he responded.

‘I’ll stay here thank you.’

Being my father’s daughter it’s easy for him to trip my wire. Whilst I like to think that I am the next evolutionary step from him we share some traits, and the sharp tongue we can boast connected the three generations in that room. I glanced up and could feel the temper burning through the sorrow in my eyes as I urged in that look an understanding of female dignity for both my Grandmother and me. I knew it wasn’t being received.

‘Please. Please can you leave the room?’

The tension between us was immediatley palpable. One of the regular carers was standing  in the doorway and I felt her awkwardness as he got up, walked around the bed and slid out past her. I knew I’d hurt his feelings but he wasn’t my concern, at least not any more. Neither could I waste time lingering on the guilt, Grandma needed me and it was her time.

After changing the dressing on her leg, repositioning her in the ‘princess and the pea’ bed and chatting for a while I settled Grandma for a rest. The house became quiet again as the activity surrounding care subsided. I crept downstairs to poison myself with another life saving cigarette and liquify my stiff sleepless bones with hot sweet tea. I peered around cautiously expecting another uncomfortable group moment but he had gone.

I wanted to call, tell him I was sorry, such was my old behaviour. Always feel guilty, always blame myself, and always bow down to his dramatic exits, curtailments of phone calls and endless silences. I knew that this time was the last time I could put out the olive branch, but it would have to wait until tomorrow; I really needed to sleep.