Wolves 0 – 2 City

Having picked up mum from Carlisle and then having a family roast dinner, I decided to record this match and watch it after the meal, so I warned fellow Blues with whom I normally exchange texts during games not to text, and then mum, Billy, Raji and I watched it together. I hoped we could beat bottom of the table Wolves, but our away form isn’t great so I wasn’t completely confident. However, City had excellent incentive to win as Everton had miraculously managed to score 4 goals at the swamp to hold ManUre to a draw (after being 3-1 down as well!) 🙂

We played a good attacking line-up and the match started brightly with both teams playing well. Frustratingly City missed 3 excellent chances before finally scoring half an hour in (Aguero) making me very nervous – and poor Billy and Raji had all my nervous squeals, frustrated sighs and mutterings in stereo as mum and I echoed each other 😀 Hart made at least two good saves to keep it at 0-1 for the half time break. City wavered for a while which did little for my poor heart, but then managed to sort themselves out and start playing again – and got their reward when Nasri scored our second goal – making me breath SLIGHTLY more easily. Wolves didn’t roll over and die though and it remained a game to the end – happily we kept the 3 points, though I’m sorry it sent down a team I like in the process.

If I was nervous about derbies before, I feel positively sick at the thought of Monday’s forthcoming one… we’re 3 points behind ManUre with +6 better goal difference, and there are only two games to go after that. City have to win it to stay in the title race…

MCFC’s 60-second highlights here
MCFC’s extended highlights here

World outside of sports.

Yes, despite my blog entries, I HAVE done other things besides play darts and watch football 😉

Work has settled and I’m much less stressed now – not because the workload has eased, but because I’ve changed my attitude and accepted that I am only human. Now, whatever’s going on, I just smile and deal with it.Calm and Serene” has become my mantra and it’s amazing how effective it is. Admittedly my fortnight off helped, and I have another week off next week, and K is well settled now so that I won’t come back to a pile of queries. 🙂

Last weekend was a strange one as Billy was working Saturday morning, as usual, and he was going to a conference in Birmingham on Sunday, going in a mini-bus in the very early hours of the morning with other north-east opticians. Unfortunately, this plan fell through when Billy was told that actually, there now wouldn’t be a mini-bus and he’d have to make his own way for the day. Great! This meant we’d have to miss a wedding party Saturday night so Billy could get the train down and then have to stay in Birmingham overnight. Then he sent me a text saying that the other optician (who was working all day) had had to go home, urgently, so he had agreed to cover the afternoon too. I saw him briefly when he came home to change and pack, and then he was off and I didn’t see him until Monday morning as he was late home on Sunday.

One good thing came out of the conference though – Billy learned about what might be causing my continuing sight deterioration. I’ve been getting ever more short sighted over the last 4 years or so, which we found odd as usually this settles in early adulthood. (Which mine had, but started getting worse again these few years.) Apparently, this is thought to happen in people who wear contact lenses for everyday use, but who then do a lot of close work (paperwork/computer). The eyes get lazy and don’t bother to adjust to the close work properly and accept a degree of poor focus – and the eye shape changes, making the person more short sighted. The potential solution, is to have the contact lenses to correct the vision for normal use, but for close work, wear glasses to UN-correct it to a degree. I’m certainly willing to give it a go and don’t mind wearing glasses for close work – they are just so uncomfortable to wear all the time which is why I prefer my contacts. Now we just need to find time for Billy to test my eyes and alter my lens prescription again and then we can sort the glasses. I really hope it works, firstly as I do worry about my increasing blind-as-a-bat tendencies and secondly because I’m wondering if my prescription change is affecting my darts. I’ve had this happen before and as soon as my vision was correct again, my darts improved – and since my darts are generally steady, I don’t think it’s my throw.

This week I have been sent a bottle of 2-in-1 Bold Gel to try. That was a nice surprise, though I wasn’t sure what I’d make of it since I’m a firm fan of Bold 2-in-1 tablets. I’ve been using it all week and must admit that it’s lovely and easy to use and it smells gorgeous. As the clothes dry on the radiators, it makes the house smell good too. I think the tablets (from Costco) are probably better value for me to buy, but if this gel was on special offer, I’d certainly be happy to buy it.

Stephen’s been poorly for a few days, with a temperature and cough/cold. I must admit I haven’t seen him so poorly for a long time so he had his mummy fetching him drinks and then, when the fever broke, changing his bed and freshening his room whilst he showered. He seems to be well on the road to recovery now, thankfully, though whether it was just a bad cold, flu or swine flu, we’ve no idea. I don’t suppose giving it a label makes any difference really.

On Saturday night, Nel and her friend wanted to dress up and go into town for the Halloween “Spook Night” and as they are both cartoonists, they each went as one of their own characters. Nel’s was one who wears a sari so she asked if I’d help her to don her sari that Billy’s mum had given her. I said I was willing as long as she was patient as I’d have to concentrate to remember how to put it on. I did hesitate a bit and have to tweak here and there, but over all I was pleased that I did OK – though I could almost feel Rani’s hands smacking mine when I went wrong 😀 Next, Nel wanted bangles, a necklace, shoes and a wrap to complete the outfit – so I obligingly dug them all out – and she looked beautiful. Really beautiful. I didn’t tell her that though, as I don’t think she’d have thanked me for it. As it turns out, the girls weren’t gone long as they said it wasn’t up to much and all the stalls were selling things that cost £5 or more. Still, I think they were glad they’d seen for themselves anyway.

Back to Bristol then North.

I woke at about 6.30 am as usual on Saturday morning, and immediately had a shower (pinching A’s towel which was the only one I could see) and dressed as we needed to get away early back to Bristol. The plan was for Raji to drive us there, and go to Rani’s flat so we could start to sort it out a little before friends of hers came to do most of the clearing, and then their Uncle J and his wife, whom we had seen yesterday, had invited us to lunch with them before we set off for home, since we’d need food at some point. I wasn’t sure where Raji had spent the night, knowing he was supposed to be at an Uncle’s, though I suspected he may have stayed at A’s flat like us, but knew that his car was still at Aunt C’s in any event.

I crept out of the bedroom and up the stairs to the living room/kitchen area (as with many London flats, this was spread over 2 floors, plus a rooftop terrace. It is a lovely flat too.) As I had half expected, I found Raji asleep on the sofa so I tried to be as quiet as possible as I hunted in the kitchen for some coffee. I found tea, cocoa – and even a cafetiere, but no coffee 🙁 Disappointed, I went back downstairs to the bedroom and packed my bag – and then remembered that my “Be Prepared” kit had a couple of sachets of instant coffee 🙂 Back upstairs I went and rinsed a cup and made myself some coffee. (Yes, I am addicted to caffeine in the mornings, I admit it.) I read my book for a while but started to feel hungry. I hadn’t seen anything in the kitchen for breakfast but decided that the beauty of being in London was that shops wouldn’t be far and I could find somewhere for a proper coffee and some food. I didn’t think anywhere in this neighbourhood (Kensington) would be likely to be open before 8am so read until then. Billy stirred slightly so I told him of my plan and raided his trousers for some cash (I’d used up all mine.) I then tried to sneak out of the front door, but couldn’t get the key to turn, and A emerged from the other bedroom to help, and he suggested I took the key with me so that I could get back in the main entrance on my return.

I only had to go a few hundred yards before I found a Patisserie which was open and so I had a croissant and a coffee (for the ridiculous sum of £5.50 ) which did the job nicely. When I returned, it was 8.30 and I woke Billy saying he had better get in the shower so we could leave soon, so in he went (also using A’s towel.) Meanwhile, I went and made Raji a cup of tea (rinsing out the one cup I’d found, and already used) and then, when Billy as out of the shower, I recycled the cup again to make him a cuppa. Eventually Raji had a shower (guess what – he used A’s towel too!)and finally at about 9.30 we were ready to go and fetch Raji’s car to drive to Bristol. (I had worked out that Billy and I really needed to leave Bristol by 1pm at the latest so already we were cutting things fine.) Raji went and told A we were off, and I hoped he knew how much we’d appreciated him having us – and especially for giving up his bed, shower, towel and cup for us.

We took a cab back to Aunt C’s and of course, we then had to go in and see everyone – and have a coffee, and Raji wanted some breakfast. I was starting to fret about time as I am not good at driving later than about 8pm and was keen to be on the road as soon as possible. When we did finally leave we were caught in long delays getting out of London due to a burst water main and we didn’t arrive in Bristol until 1.30pm! We had tried cancelling our lunch arrangement but Billy’s Aunt was determined that we would need to eat and so we skipped going to Rani’s flat and went straight to their Uncle’s house. They had chosen the place they wanted to take us for lunch but as it was busy had booked a table for later – 2.45pm! I couldn’t believe the way the day was going and was very worried about driving so long later, especially as I was already tired from the last few days.

That aside, we did have a very pleasant lunch with Aunt V and Uncle J and both the specialist sausage restaurant and the company were excellent. I enjoyed getting to know them a little and they certainly wanted to catch up on our lives, and it was also the first time I’d known anyone chat about Billy’s and Raji’s dad so casually with them, and felt it was probably rather nice for them both. If I hadn’t been worried about the time, I’d have really enjoyed this interlude more. (Likewise the morning in London.)

It was 4.30pm before we set off for home, and even on a good run, it’s a good 5.5 hours drive so I as very concerned and was already feeling tired and heavy eyed by the time we got on the M4. We did have a lovely smooth run but just south of Birmingham, we made the decision to be safe rather than sorry, and we arranged to stop off at my mum’s overnight, in Chester. I felt bad because we were both keen to get home, but I knew how much I would struggle to stay awake if we attempted it in one go and Billy fully supported me.

Mum made us very welcome and it was nice to relax and be cuddled, and cared for by her. Billy just about finished his drink before going to bed as he was absolutely shattered. I stayed up chatting to mum and telling her about our trip, and we both enjoyed catching up properly. However, it wasn’t all that long before I had to give in and go to bed too, and Mum’s guest bed being a kingsize and very, very comfortable, I was out like a light and had a wonderful night’s sleep.

Bristol / London: The Funeral

We had arranged to breakfast with H,M,A and J at 7.30 on the Friday morning so I was up early enough to shower and dry my hair first, then Billy had his. We both put on yesterday’s clothes for breakfast though – just in case of accidents. Once again Billy’s cousins helped make the meal go down and the boys were in good form – I think they ate the entire hotel’s allocation of yoghurts between them!

We had worked out that we needed to leave the hotel by 9am but by 8.30am we still hadn’t heard from Raji and couldn’t get hold of him. (We had his suit, remember!) We finished getting ready ourselves and decided that if Raji still hadn’t arrived, we’d check out, but leave his suit at the hotel for him – then he finally arrived at just gone 8.45am – without having had a shower and wanting to use ours! Then we had a call from Billy’s Aunt, asking us to get a book in which people could write condolence messages! AGH! The funeral was at 10 am! I went and got an extra towel from reception and saw Billy’s cousins down there and told them about Raji just arriving and about his Aunt’s call. They immediately volunteered to set off straight away and get a book for us – what absolute stars. 🙂 I went back to the room and Raji asked me for some shampoo! (HOW has this man ever survived alone all his adult life?! ) Billy had just left to put our bags in the car so our toiletries were no longer with us and the hotel dis not supply any. I suggested he use shower gel this once – only to be told he didn’t have any of that either! Eventually, I remembered that I was a good Girl Guide and kept a little “Be Prepared” kit in my bag – complete with sachet of “hair and body shampoo“. Leaving Raji and his cousin J to check out for us, we set off to the church in a taxi.

    PART 1: Bristol

We arrived at the ideal time and were present to greet most people as they arrived. G and J, (Cousin M’s parents) had come up from Dorset to offer their support (they are almost surrogate parents to Billy and Raji and very much loved) which was wonderful of them. Billy’s Uncle J, (his late dad’s brother) and his wife also came, which again was much appreciated and they hadn’t seen each other for a long time (just due to life getting in the way.) There were friends from Bristol who had supported Rani through her illness, friends from the early days of Billy’s parents’ marriage, living in Brunei, members of the church congregation who knew Rani, and of course, the family of her siblings, nieces and nephews who had travelled down from London.

We all started getting twitchy as 10am approached and there was still no sign of Raji and J, and indeed, the hearse with Rani arrived before them. This was a bit of a problem since Billy’s family always have their coffin borne into the church by the male relatives, so Raji was needed. Fortunately he arrived just moments later, so I went inside to sit ready for Billy and Raji to join me.

The church was beautiful and we could imagine Rani appreciating it as she worshipped. The vicar knew her well, from her visits to the church and his to her home and bedside, so was able to make the service very personal which was an extra comfort to everyone. It was quite a long service with several hymns, a Reading from Raji, a word from C and H, the two nieces (aged 11 and 9), the main tribute from Billy, a poem from Rani’s sister C and a final Reading from a friend. It was perfect for Rani, and therefore perfect as a whole. Billy had fretted over his tribute and had not managed to write anything down – but what he said was brilliant! From the heart, in keeping with both his and her characters, and he received many compliments on a job very well done.

After the moving service, refreshments were served in the atrium, courtesy of a couple of Rani’s friends, who had taken over this task. Billy, Raji and I were too busy circulating and thanking people for coming to eat, though young Cousin A did grab us each a coffee so we at least got a drink which was much appreciated. We didn’t really get as much time with people as we’d have liked, though I did exchange contact details with a few (a little surreal as I didn’t know some of these people at all.) Naturally, over the course of the morning, there were tears and I tried to give what comfort and cuddles I could – this family have had 4 bereavements in just a couple of years now, so it was very hard on them and memories of Rani’s parents and sister inevitably surfaced.

All too soon, it was time for the family to leave for the actual burial in London, so off we went, with Billy and I hitching a ride with Rani’s sister C and her husband, and cousin A’s girlfriend, M.

    PART 2: London

The journey to London passed with idle chatter and a weird air of being in a little bubble. We just had time to use the loo and grab a glass of water at C’s house before going to the cemetery where Rani was to be buried next to her parents and sister. Everyone had arrived about the same time, even the London vicar who had previously presided over the other family funerals. In fact, this man had travelled to Bristol of his own accord, and been present at the morning service, sitting quietly, and then travelled back to London for the afternoon’s ceremony. There were also a few London based friends who had not been able to travel to Bristol (the Bristol contingent had not travelled to London, by the way – it was family only that travelled.)

There was a short ceremony, well organised by the undertakers and vicar and it all went smoothly. More tears, and cuddles of course, and then we all went back to C’s house for refreshments.

There followed a very mellow few hours with wine, good food and relaxed chat – an occasion which Rani would have very much enjoyed. Despite the awful circumstances of the gathering, it WAS nevertheless lovely to see the family again and they are a very close-knit family who support each other and draw everyone into their circle, seemingly effortlessly. Everyone relaxed, including Billy and Raji, and the youngest three cousins (all girls, aged 3, 9 and 11) had their older ones (Billy the eldest, Raji and cousin A at 29, J at 20 (all men) and F 26) entirely wrapped around their little fingers. (By the way, you’ve never met such a gorgeous looking lot – they have all inherited the very best of the genes from their parents, both Asian and European.)

Billy’s aunt S, and I were wiped out and at 6.30pm it felt like at least two hours later! Some (mainly men!) were talking of starting the family card game (3-0-4) but quite apart from the fact that I simply cannot grasp this game at all, I was far too tired and said I’d sit out. Apart from one Uncle, it was the cousins that were up for it so they started to talk about moving on to A’s flat to play , and since this was where Billy and I were staying for the night, I liked this idea as I could then escape to bed when ready. By about 8.30 pm, I could tell that our hosts were beginning to want their house back (not unreasonably – it had been a very long day after all) and apart from having to persuade Uncle that he really DIDN’T want to play cards, it was a relatively easy decision to move on.

Billy and I, Raji, cousins J and A, and A’s girlfriend, all got a taxi and went to A’s flat where they all continued drinking and played cards, and I went thankfully to bed. A had given us his own room which had an en-suite shower and loo so I was able to relax and against expectations, I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. I heard Billy come in a while later – how he could still stand after what must have been 3 or 4 bottles of red wine over the day, I don’t know, but if ever there was an occasion where he was perfectly entitled to get drunk, then this was it. He fell asleep straight away – and commenced snoring 😉 – and when A came in a little later to fetch some things, we exchanged smiles. Billy’s snoring not withstanding, I still had a great night’s sleep.

First Stop: Bristol

On Thursday, having had to wait for Raji’s suit to be dry cleaned, we finally set off for Bristol in the afternoon, which meant, of course, that we hit Birmingham at the wrong time! We had also encountered roadworks along the way and eventually arrived in Bristol 7.5 hours later, and were then faced with an awful hotel car park which had tiny spaces, partially blocked by pillars. As the car would be there until Saturday morning, I was keen to do the fiddly stuff on arrival whilst it was quiet, so attempted to reverse into a very narrow , angled spot, with a pillar sticking out into it – and just could not do it. I was tired, and growing more impatient, when a car stopped and the driver got out and stood behind me trying to guide me in. But I hate being guided – I can’t work out which way they are pointing (allowing for reversal in mirrors) and at times, can’t see the person at all. In the end, he asked if I’d like him to do it for me and I gratefully accepted. After I thanked him with a cuddle, we worked out that he worked there so was probably used to the fiddly parking. At last, I could switch off a bit and was looking forward to relaxing.

We checked in to our room – very basic (which is what it says on the tin) but perfectly adequate for our needs, and it had the benefit of being the same hotel where Billy’s cousins were staying, with their two boys. These are relatives on Billy’s dad’s side so it was unbelievably great that they had come to support Billy and Raji for their mum’s funeral.

After quickly freshening up, we went to meet them and then we all wandered off for a drink. H and M are absolutely lovely and the boys, A and J are equally so – I always feel very comfortable with them all, and I know they are amongst Billy’s favourite relatives. A is 16 and is now 6’8″ and J, at 15 is not far behind! As a group we did attract a few stares!

A and I were in perfect accord at one point as we walked in between some water features – we took one of Billy’s arms each, guided him through the gap and splashed water over him as we went 😀 Oh and how could I not take this chance to tell everyone that A was sporting no eyebrows!?! (He had shaved them off whilst under the influence of alcohol! Need I say more? 😉 )

After a couple of drinks, we went to an Italian restaurant for some food and had a really lovely time. The boys were chatty and fun, and mum and dad were as excellent company as ever – which did Billy good I feel, helping him to relax a bit before tomorrow’s sadness.

(City were playing away to FC Copenhagen in the UEFA Cup and I knew I would not be able to follow it, so Prestwich Blue kindly sent me a half and full time text. 2-2 wasn’t bad I thought, and I was delighted that Ned was one of the scorers. )

Pales to insignificance

but a quick mention of what else has been happening for the past week:

    Saturday –

I went to City v Boro (1-0) and on the way down passed the time of day with a mini-bus full of young lads going to the match. Then saw the same lot at the last services (only ‘cos they beeped the horn to say hello else I’d have walked straight past without noticing) and tried to convince them I wasn’t stalking them! 😀 It was a very cold day and many matches around the country were being called off but ours was OK with our underground heating. However, one of the away fans came to the front of the away section, wearing a kilt, which he lifted to reveal he must have been of true Highlander descent! It was FREEZING, we were in thermals, and this mad fool was in a skirt with nothing on underneath! The game itself was not bad, and Shay Given had a very warm welcome even before he proved himself MotM with an outstanding performance. I liked the fact that he could clearly be seen talking to our (young) back four and think he is a valuable asset to the team.

Afterwards, I drove to mum’s, by which time the cold which had been threatening, really got a grip and the streaming nose/eyes and raw sinuses started in earnest 🙁 (Happily I’d caught this cold from Mum last time, I think, so I didn’t have to worry about giving it to her.) We had a lovely dinner and a relaxing evening though Rocky went and hid IN mum’s bed (and didn’t re-emerge until after I’d gone home.)

    Sunday –

I took mum to Tesco to stock up on all the basics as she’s been having trouble getting to Tesco lately. Unfortunately, hobbling around the shop almost killed her so I felt bad – next time I think she’ll have to be a lady of leisure and let me push her round in a wheelchair. 😛 We had lunch when we got back and then I set off for home, after collecting from Mum’s neighbour, a very nice microwave which they were replacing and offered us. (Ours is rather worse for wear and we’ve been making do with it for a while now. I really must write and thank them properly too, but with all the events of this week, I haven’t yet done it.) Just as I was leaving, it started to snow fairly steadily but luckily all he roads were clear of ice, and I just drove through a blizzard or two. The Lake District was pretty with snow all around. What wasn’t pretty was my nose and my poor, red-raw sinuses which had me sneezing and snuffling all the way home.

    Monday –

My cold was still a bother though I felt I’d turned the corner and thanks to my herbs and my herbal sinus cream, I wasn’t as bad as some people have been with this particular cold. (Characterised by the unusual order of the symptoms I think – sore throat first, then nose/sinuses streaming, then a cough and a tickle.) I came home at lunchtime as the dry hospital air was making my head pound and I couldn’t concentrate.

    Tuesday –

Cold much better, just a cough (though I did have one enormous coughing fit whilst on the phone at one point which was a bit awkward.)It was a frantic day at the hospital, as ever.

    Wednesday –

The day of my presentation to the Post Grad Education Meeting at the hospital (“Herbs for cardiovascular health”) – and I didn’t feel prepared! I also woke up with no voice! I subsequently spent all of Wednesday morning desperately trying to finish off and polish up my talk, (in between talking to Billy on the phone, and sorting out things for him) and still felt unready when it was time to go, though at least my voice was back. Just to make things more complicated, we are now in the posh new meeting rooms of the education department with lovely new technology including multiple screens around the rooms plus one very large one at the front. Fortunately it wasn’t too difficult to manage though I was aware of my body being there but my mind with Billy in Bristol. In the end the presentation went as well as I could have hoped, though I knew it wasn’t a terribly polished performance, and my audience showed plenty of interest and asked pertinent questions. I was pretty drained by the evening as I then spent the afternoon concentrating on running my clinic plus starting to prepare the talk I was giving the following day to the Parkinson’s Support group.

    Thursday –

Billy called me at 4am to say his mum had passed away and I just couldn’t sleep so I got up at 4.30am and carried on writing my talk, as well as talking to him repeatedly on the phone – throughout the day in fact. I felt helpless to do much for him but I knew that talking to me helped him. It started snowing quite heavily mid morning and I wondered if the talk would go ahead, and then just as I’d finished my preparation to my satisfaction, and printed my handouts, I had a call saying they’d decided to cancel due to the weather. I will now do the talk in April – but at least it is all written ready.

I looked at the weather and the snow was settling fast so I thought that rather than leave the food shopping until tomorrow as planned, I might go to the Tesco in Hexham whilst the snow was fresh and powdery. If I left it, it might freeze over and then I’d be stuck. So off I went, and found Tesco almost empty, did the shopping, and came out to find a rapid thaw setting in. Ah well, at least the shopping was done, whatever happened. By the evening, I really was wiped out and had an early night, hoping Billy and Raji would also manage to get some sleep.

    Friday –

I decided to go to the Metrocentre to the Orange shop to try and sort out my Orange contract. Three months ago I’d been contacted by a company who persuaded me to let them change my business phone to Orange since I was unhappy with my T-Mobile coverage (Orange have improved theirs and I am very pleased with their coverage and service.) I had various problems with the 3rd party company including them sending my phone to the wrong address, charging me for a period of time when I did not have the phone nor had I activated the SIM, and then being fobbed off with lies (“refund is in the post” )before they stopped responding to my mails at all. I felt my bills were rather high and wanted to find out why. Well, the staff in the shop couldn’t have been better and they were shocked at the way my account had been set up. I am on totally the wrong contract for me and cannot down-grade for another 9 months and I was not told that I would start being charged for weekend and evening browsing after the first 2 months! They did manage to get the weekend and evening browsing charges removed for me at least, so that was a help.

Billy had asked me to pick up a black tie for him whilst I was there and I found a very nice one (which his mum would have liked, I think), and I called to see if Raji wanted one picking up too. He did, though he wanted a different one, so I bought the two ties and thought I was done. On my way out, however, I spotted a very nice black shirt for me, in the sales, and thought it would go with my black suit for the funeral, so although I didn’t really have much money, I got it. I think Rani would have approved, anyway, and a black shirt is always going to be handy. (As an aside, if I had a white sari (white is the colour of mourning in India, but mine are all coloured) I’d have worn that for her funeral, which she would have appreciated, but I don’t so will stick with traditional English mourning instead.)

Once home, I spent some time trying to book Billy train tickets to come home in the evening, but there were none available so I had to book him on an early one for Saturday morning. Paul asked me if I wanted to drop out of darts in the evening, but I decided that getting out with friends would do me good after such a stressful week, and Billy agreed. I had started watching my diet this week (since I’m feeling stodgy and out of shape after a year of chaos) and refused to be led astray by fate yet again. I had borrowed some Weight Watchers books as guide and had been really good all week, saving my extra points for darts night drinks – good job too as I felt I needed them!

We were away at The Grapes – a not so nice pub, and just like last year, we were kept waiting to get to the darts board whilst people carried on playing pool. (League rules state that the away team must have access tot he board at 8.15pm and the game must start at 8.30pm. The pool players only cleared up at 8.30 !)This pub also charged the away team more for their drinks than the home team, which was rather out of order we felt. I wasn’t sure how well I’d play but as it turned out, I did OK in our trebles, and Simon and Claire put in the high scores and I finished off for a win. I wasn’t quite so good in the doubles but happily Roger finished for us. But it all went terribly wrong in my singles – all of a sudden I missed Billy and his usual presence behind me for this game. It was silly as I do sometimes play without him and do OK, but I think the strain of the week, and the worry and sadness for him caught me up. I lost very convincingly and then managed to cry whilst talking to Simon afterwards. I calmed down fairly quickly but then did the same thing to Roger later. They both gave me nice cuddles, and everyone on the team was understanding but I did feel bad. Part of my brain recognised it must have looked odd to the home team who may have thought I was crying because I’d lost 😀 In the end it was a good evening because we won 4 – 7 ! YAY! I felt we deserved that, not least because we had accommodated their team when we played them at home, costing us the match.

Simon and Claire walked me home, and Claire volunteered to come and collect Billy with me in the morning as I can never find my way in Newcastle’s one way systems,on my own.

In fact, throughout the week I’d been constantly responding to texts, and e-mails, keeping people informed and accepting their good wishes, then passing them on. We really do have terrific friends and family and their support has helped enormously.

Rani

Well, as you will have seen from my Twitter/Brightkite updates in the left panel, Billy and Raji’s mum, Rani has passed away after losing her battle with cancer.

This was the latest crisis that had hit us – well, her sudden worsening, and I simply haven’t had a chance to write properly about it before now.

Since Christmas she had been having more pain and was told that the cancer was very aggressive, and then she was admitted to hospital whilst they ran tests, tried to alleviate her pain and did radiotherapy on the tumour in her neck. Then Billy and Raji had a call last week, telling them that there was an emergency and to go down to see her fast.

She had been told she had a bowel obstruction but was too weak for life-saving surgery, so it was felt she would not live long. By the next morning, the blockage turned out to be a twist of the gut, which managed to untwist and the immediate emergency was over. However there was a lot of concern over how weak she was and the pain she had, and we started to think things didn’t look good. More tests were being done but things were stable, so Billy and Raji came back home and on Monday, Raji started his new job, though was continuing with the evening bar work for this week to cover staff shortage.

On Monday night Billy was told that Rani was still getting weaker but that his aunt would go and see on the Tuesday what the situation was. On Tuesday, she advised Billy to try and get down again, so he booked a flight for early Wednesday morning to see how things stood. So on Tuesday night, Billy packed a bag, tidied up some loose ends at home, and then was about to go back to work to write an urgent GP referral letter, when the phone rang. Rani’s bowel was blocked again and she was getting very much weaker and not expected to last the night.

So Billy phoned Raji at the bar and advised him to get home straight away so they could drive down immediately. Raji didn’t even pack a bag. This was about 9.15pm and they were gone and just hoping they’d get there in time.

They did. They stayed with their mum and she had moments of clarity and others too clouded by pain and drugs, but she appeared to be stabilising. On Wednesday morning, they spoke to the doctor who said that she was far too weak for any further chemotherapy, which would not have any significant effect anyway. The worry was that there was nothing else that could be done really, other than keeping her as comfortable as possible, and we knew it was just a matter of time. This was confirmed (for Billy and I) when she was later moved in to a side room, and off the ward.

Rani finally passed away at about 4am on Thursday, with both her sons at her side. Billy called me to tell me and I really wished I could have been there to cuddle them both and help them through the awful few days to come, making arrangements. Instead I’ve just managed as best I can to support them through phonecalls and doing anything I can at this end, such as keeping people informed, from friends and relatives, to employers. (Who have all been outstandingly supportive.)

It seems impossible to remember this time last year, preparing for Rani to move in with us after having surgery to remove the first round of the cancer! In fact by looking at all the posts about her, I can see how much this awful disease took over!

Arrangements are still being finalised but the funeral will be Friday 20th February – next week, and then hopefully she can rest peacefully at last.

Gone AWOL

Sorry I’ve been AWOL. As you possibly guessed from the silence (apart from the couple of protected posts) we’ve been having a bit of a crisis. We’re not out of the woods yet but think we may have started clearing undergrowth to show the path through.

Other than all that, life has carried on regardless, as it does.

We played darts last Friday – a cup game against the team at the top of the A league (and we are bottom of the B league!) We actually played OK and although we were beaten 1-6, we felt we gave a reasonably good account of ourselves. I was partnered with John and we could have won our doubles game had I got my finish. I wanted 18 then x18. I hit 18, 18, 9! Oh well – it was my first game for ages – that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it!

On Saturday, City should have been playing away at Portsmouth but their dump of a ground (I hate the place!) didn’t have under soil heating and the game was postponed due to the frozen pitch. (The weather has been very cold and Fulham’s game was postponed for the same reason.) At least this gave me my afternoon free to do the ironing as I’d spent the morning in my clinic.

Billy’s mum has been poorly again – the tumour in her neck is back and she now needs radiotherapy. She is talking about moving up here but we can’t help feeling that would be the wrong thing for her to do. It would be an enormous undertaking, and she would be isolated without her friends. This would mean relying on us for company and of course we are pretty busy ourselves and not about much. She also hates it up here – too many bad memories, and far too cold. It seems to us that it would cost her more than she’d gain.

And finally, on a good note – Raji is going to move in with us so we can all be one big happy family together. We’re all pleased with this arrangement though of course, we will now have some planning, furniture moving and sorting of belongings to do. 🙂

A pretty busy week then – and described only briefly but at least you now know I am still alive 😉

The Christmas Festivities

Welcome back – I hope you have had a good Christmas with families and friends. Ours was fairly quiet but enjoyable, and certainly I appreciated a bit of relaxation after such a busy build up.

    Tuesday 23rd Dec:

The children and I went to Chester to stay with my Mum for Christmas, whilst Billy and Raji had a couple more nights at home before going to see their mum for Christmas and Boxing Day. (Being apart over Christmas wasn’t ideal but was the lesser of a couple of evils, and we planned some family time at New Year to make up for it.) Mum has done something to her hip and is in agony with limited mobility so the children obligingly put up the decorations. Stephen did the Aztec totem tree, complete with a light shade for a star – it certainly had a presence 😉
Tree

    Christmas Eve:

Laura, Mum and I drove to a farm outside of Chester to see a 7 month old kitten who was too soft for farm work and wanted to be a house cat. He was a little darling and we took him back with us so he can have what his little furry heart desires, and Mum can have a little furry, purry companion to spoil. 🙂 His name is Rocky and he has the most amazing little purr. He was very, very, unsure of new surroundings and hid in a corner most of the time, but came out for fusses and cuddles. Each day he relaxed a little more and learned that he could trust us – well, more importantly, mum.
Rocky
By the end of our visit, he was starting to enjoy being on mum’s lap in the evenings:
Rocky Lap

    Christmas Day:

We opened our presents together and had dinner, watched The Queen’s Speech and all the other usual, enjoyable things that make it Christmas. Throughout the day we also spoke on the phone, and texted, family and friends to wish them a Happy Christmas.Then after the clearing up was all done, mum produced four identical looking presents from “Father Christmas“. Each contained a bowl and mug set, with paints to decorate our own set. Brilliant! We all sat at the table together and painted – it was fun, and different, and we had a laugh together.
Blank crockery
Painted crockery

    Boxing Day:

Stephen and I were each going to our respective football matches, and then Stephen was returning home with his friend afterwards, so I drove him to the most convenient motorway services for his friend, and waited until he had been picked up before setting off to Manchester for my own match. What can I say? I thoroughly enjoyed our 5-1 win over Hull and once again wondered just which City was the real one. When I arrived, there was a man sitting in my seat, so I smiled and politely said he was in my seat – so he grudgingly moved to his own seat in the row behind. His friend was sitting in the seat next to mine, so obviously they’d hoped to sit together. It’s amazing how possessive you can get about your own season ticket seat! I wouldn’t want to move from it, but had he been pleasanter, I may have offered. As it turned out though, there was room later for his friend to move back a row so they were together anyway. We always have a minute’s silence at this fixture, to remember all those who have passed away over the year. It was poorly done this time round, I thought, as there was spontaneous applause from everyone as the names were read out, but then the ref did not blow his whistle for the silence, and it was left to fall naturally. After only about half a minute or so of immaculately observed respect, he blew to end the minute. Very weird! Home fans were bemused at half time, not just at being 4-0 up, but also at the opposition manager holding his half time pep talk dressing down on the pitch in front of the travelling fans. That was a new one on us – but not a bad PR move, and it seemed to help a little as their performance was better in the second half. Credit to the Hull fans who continued to sing and get behind their team throughout. Geo was substituted in the second half, giving home fans the chance to join in with the visitors’ applause which was a nice touch. I drove back to Mum’s very happy with the day, though poor Stephen and friend had not had a similar outing. Newcastle lost 2-1 to Wigan in an apparently poor game. Mum and Laura had waited for my return so that we could eat together and we all traditional Boxing Day fare of enjoyed chips and cold meats.

    Saturday 27th Dec:

Laura had arranged to see her friend for the day so I dropped her off and spent a couple of hours catching up with our friend Lee, which was very pleasant. Mum and I then had lunch and popped to the retail park – mainly to pick up some bits for Rocky from the pet shop. I collected Laura later and we had a quiet evening in.

Meanwhile, Billy and Raji were in Poole for their cousin Mike’s 40th birthday celebrations, which consisted of a game of touch rugby in the morning, proper rugby in the afternoon and then a hog roast and fire show in the evening. They’d been looking forward to this and I was pleased to think they could relax and enjoy seeing this lovely branch of the family after spending Christmas itself with their mum. Helen had taken lots of pictures, so I’ve snaffled just a couple to share with you.
Billy: Billy worn out!
Billy in action: Billy rugby
Raji in action: Raji rugby
The whole mad lot of them! Mike's 40th Birthday Rugby bash

    Sunday 28th Dec

Laura and I packed, cleared beds away and then helped Mum to clear her spare room in preparation for the decorator who is coming in the new year to paint it. Lee then very kindly came with his friend to move the furniture for her as we couldn’t have done that – have I mentioned that he is a nice man? We had a quick lunch, and after packing the car with the entire kitchen contents goody bags of food mum had packed, we set off for home and had an uneventful drive. Mum had done very well to be such a good hostess and spoil us, when she was in so much pain – hopefully the chiropracter will sort things out for her as I hate to see her suffering this. Happily, little Rocky distracted us a fair bit of the time and he is settling in well – Mum says he likes turkey, bacon, and licking butter off her fingers! Hm, definitely meant to be a spoiled house cat and not a hard working mouser, methinks 😀 He’s enjoying spending the evenings on her lap though still jumps if there is a loud noise on the TV. He is one lucky little puss and they will suit each other very well I think. I feel so pleased to have been there to meet him when he first arrived and hopefully he won’t be too scared of me when I next visit.

Once home, I sat and watched Blackburn v City on TV, which was a watchable game, but looked like another bad result for us when we were still 2-0 down with about 3 minutes to go. I couldn’t believe it when we equalised thanks to Danny Sturridge and Robinho pairing up nicely for both goals. It was a jammy point, but I was happy to take it, whilst still sparing a thought for Blackburn fans who would be gutted. Having been on the wrong end of this kind of thing myself a few times, I know just how it feels. Credit to my boys though – they stuck at it and their efforts paid off.

Billy and Raji arrived back in time to join me for most of the game – despite having listened to the Newcastle v Liverpool match on the radio on the way. It meant we got to catch up a bit before Raji had to go to work, and it was really nice to do so. Poor Raji had a cold and hadn’t been feeling too great which was a shame but hopefully he could recover now he was home. Billy and I opened the presents he’d brought back with him and had the chance to properly thank each other for ours to each other. Then we spent a little while settling back in at home and catching our breaths before the New Year.

Family Round Up

    Laura:


We went to Laura’s Parents’ Evening on Thursday and as usual, managed to see some, but not all, teachers due to the 5 minute times slots. We are pleased with her over all and she has achieved well, particularly in the subjects in which we know she’s always struggled. She has already taken some of her science GCSE papers and got C’s in all but one (an E, but she will resit this one) and she has taken her English Language GCSE paper at Higher level(results in January, but predicted to do OK (Resit if not.)) She’s just had her R.E mock paper marked and she was 6 points off a C – 6 points she could easily have gained by making sure of the wording of the questions, so hopefully she can manage a C in the real paper. By far her greatest achievement though, is in maths – in which she has always lagged behind her peers. She has caught up really well and is predicted to get a C with continuing hard work. The disappointing area, for her, is in Art and in Graphics. In these she has done great course work (60% of the total) but has struggled in the mocks due to artist’s block. She’s been feeling completely UNcreative due to other things going on and so if the mocks were the real thing, she’d be looking at an E. Her teacher (the same one for both subjects) has been doing all she can to help, and can only hope that Laura gets her creativity back for the actual exams. As the teacher said, Laura is so very gifted in this area that it would be very sad to see her fail the exams. We did come away feeling encouraged and pleased, and we hope that things will settle on all other fronts for Laura now and that her school work will reflect this.

    Stephen:

Has had temporary work this week which has been bliss for the rest of us 😉 He’s been working 9-5 Mon-Fri for a market research company (though he won’t get paid until the end of next month, and it isn’t very much, but it’s a start.) He made me laugh the first day when I asked how the day had been. Having worked there previously for a couple of hours in the evenings, he said “It was OK, but working ALL DAY is SO boring! A couple of hours in the evenings was fun but I don’t like working all day.” 😀 Welcome to the real world, son!

    Billy’s Mum:

Has now had 4 chemotherapy sessions and the latest scan reveals that the tumours in neck and stomach have shrunk which is good news. With luck, by the end of the course, she may earn 18 months remission, which would be a good result.

    Raji:

Is still doing bar work which is helping, and may have a 6 month temporary contract doing office work soon, but he’s still looking for a permanent job – and preferably one that will use the talents he has. I asked some on-line friends for any CV advice for him, though we felt his CV was actually fairly good already, and they did offer some tips which may be very useful. The on-line football fan community has demonstrated yet again a wealth of knowledge and a generosity of time and effort. 🙂