Hospital – Dermatology

Today is my appointment at the hospital with the dermatology consultant.  The appointment, by the time we got to this point, actually came through remarkably quickly.  I’m terrifically thankful for the NHS and relieved to be seeing the experts.

It wasn’t long until I was called in to my appointment.  What a lovely young chap (eek do I sound old?).   He took his time to ask me questions, dates and how I felt.  Then the manual examination.   He then asked for the senior consultant to come in and do an examination to double check she agreed with his diagnosis.

The good news is the drugs are working!

The not so good news is that the consultant said I had obviously managed to get a severe attack of this stupid disease.  In order to get on top of the internal and oral spread, I am however going to glow for a little longer as he wants me on the big girl dose for an extended time. I reduce one of the steroids by 5mg a week but in reality it’s a pretty strong dose with risks associated with their long term use and many many side affects.

Very impressed with the consultation today and feeling super grateful for our NHS.  Let’s see how I get on with all these drugs and then I am to return in April to see the consultant and check progress.

My Health Update

Well there’s good news and bad news…

The good news is that I had my 6 monthly ultrasound and chest x-ray and no sign of any lumps of mets from Phyllodes.  That’s the good news.

I also met my new consultant at the Royal Marsden.  Lovely chap who’s just returned from working in the US.  He understood the frustrations with a rare cancer diagnosis and I was delighted that he’d taken the time to read my notes and know about ME.

He kindly spent time with me chatting about how I’d been and asking if there was anything I was concerned about.  I told him that my boobs were still very painful (they always have been, but so much worse since Phyllodes, however probably nothing to be overly concerned about as I have such a good follow-up regimen).

I also showed him a rash I have had – I only showed him the rash on my wrists.  (The poor radiographer who had done my ultrasound a few weeks earlier had been utterly surprised by the rash on my boobs and armpits.  She looked genuinely shocked and horrified that I’d been waiting for several months to get a dermatology appointment…. more about that in the ‘bad news’ section.)  My consultant didn’t know what it could be but thought it may be auto-immune.  This then led me to ask him what he knew or suspected about a connection between Phyllodes and auto-immune illnesses.  His response **raised eyebrows** “that’s very interesting, why?”.  I told him that within our Facebook Phyllodes Support Group we had, and are still running, a poll asking members if they (or family members) had been ever been diagnosed with an auto-immune disease.  Although only 150odd people have responded there’s a big percentage that have a link.  Auto-immune disease is a spectrum of disease though and covers psoriasis to multiple sclerosis.

A good explanation of auto-immune disease is:

Autoimmune diseases are a large group of conditions. They include

Rheumatoid arthritis
Multiple sclerosis
Inflammatory bowel diseases
Skin conditions, such as psoriasis

If you have an autoimmune disease, your own immune system attacks your body tissues. Normally, our immune system protects our body against infections caused by bacteria, viruses and other parasites. It recognises when something foreign enters your body and can usually get rid of it before it causes you any harm. But if you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system can make mistakes. Your immune cells start to attack your own normal body cells.

I left the Royal Marsden feeling assured about my Phyllodes health but also that they are assisting me and others diagnosed with Phyllodes in researching and answering questions for our Phyllodes Support Group.  My consultant has subsequently emailed me to let me know he has chased the researcher who has a list of ‘basic’ Phyllodes questions to answer that I sent in a while ago.  The answers to these questions will allay many fears for newly diagnosed Phyllodes patients.  As it is so rare and there is little/no clinical research to rely on, I have suggested that they caveat any answers of concern with ‘in the experience of Royal Marsden’ or ‘to the best of our knowledge’ etc.  It would be good to have some answers on behalf of the UK sarcoma medical profession.  It is then aimed that the same questions will be put to medical professionals in the US, Australia and Asia.  All four sets of responses will then become available to new members of the Phyllodes Support Group.

My consultant also advised in his email that he’s asked the research team to look at any links between Phyllodes and auto-immune diseases.

The bad news…

…back to the rash.

At the end of October the soles of my feet started to really itch.  Initially there was nothing visible but soon there were small spots and dry patches.  I did wonder if I had fleas or bugs in the carpet.  I wish!  Next a sore angry rash appeared on my wrists, the palm of my left hand and both ankles.  I spent an age hoovering and rehoovering carpets, cleaning, dusting and generally convinced that it must be bugs.  Convinced that the spread to my hands and wrists must be because I’m scratching my feet.  I have been, as I’ve previously on my blog, very tired or fatigued for months/years but it had been getting worse. I know most of you see my facebook posts about my playing of tennis and going out… but you don’t get to see the posts that say I’m having an afternoon nap and didn’t wake up until midday and back in bed early or staying in most evenings.

Back to the rash.  By early November I could cope no more.  It sounded ridiculous but I was on the brink of tears trying to get a GP appointment asap for a ‘rash’.  I wasn’t sleeping well as the itching was so much worse at night.  My visual migraines returned and headaches for fun too.

My GP looked at the rash, said she didn’t know what it was and referred me to a dermatologist.  A few days later she called to say that the referral had been rejected and I needed to try a rash cream.  After a week of slathering myself in the cream, the rash had just spread and was as red and raw, if not more, than before the cream.  I booked another GP appointment.  This time she referred me again with a stronger note and saying the rash had now spread to my chest, armpits, groin, crook of my elbows and crook of my knee as well as my bellybutton… so basically anywhere that gets hot!

A few photos taken at the beginning of December:

LP - December

I waited… and waited… and chased up my appointment… and waited… and was told that my referral hadn’t worked in the system… had to chase my GP to do it again… and waited… and waited… and then called my GP again (in tears)… and waited… chased the referral service… who referred me back to my GP… who referred me back to the service… I cried… who then took pity on me and gave me a reference number, my secret NHS booking password and the number of the dermatology practice… I called them and was told the earliest appointment was over two months away… I booked it… put down the phone and cried again.

I know it was ‘just a rash’ but it F’ing hurt and believe it or not I was worried about the rate at which it was spreading.

I missed an ex-colleague’s funeral. Although the GP had said it wasn’t contagious, she didn’t know what it was and I couldn’t risk attending a funeral where other cancer patients may have compromised immune systems.   I’m sure Ally would have understood.

I was wanting friends, who’s daughter had been hit by a car in October and were ‘camping’ out in my local hospital at her bedside, to spend an evening with me so I could cook a homemade meal for them.  Again I was too scared that should this be contagious I’d make their situation worse just because I’d like to cook for them.  In the end I prepared a Friday night Indian takeaway meal of curry, dahl, naan, pilau rice, bhaji, poppadom, wine and beer.  The food prepped and cooked with me in latex gloves.  I also made some homemade soup for them for another night.  I did seem silly asking them to call round on the way home from the hospital to collect it without inviting them to stay.  I didn’t want to take the risk.  I’d never forgive my selfishness.

Apologies to anyone else I’ve not seen, rain-checked or not taken up some fun outing but I hope now you’ll understand why.

Just before Christmas I again called the GP and this time insisted on seeing my old GP at the practice, who’s been my GP since the 1980s.  He understood why I was so upset.  Looked at the spreading rash, he also said he didn’t believe it was contagious but didn’t know what it was.  He then wrote out a prescription that meant I had a drug that not only managed nighttime itching (generally eczema) but also had a sedative in it.  However he didn’t think it would cure the rash.  What a treat on 23rd December to have sleep!

Finally, 10 days ago, my appointment with a very kind dermatology specialist arrived.  I should have taken photos at this stage – definitely the worst time.  Diagnosis took just a few minutes.  Her opening line was “oooh I think I know what it is.  It’s very rare and you seem to have a severe case”.  (Oh joy another rare thing for me then!).  After consulting the computer and getting a second opinion from a colleague she told me that I’ve got an auto-immune disease, Lichen Planus.  So far my Lichen Planus (LP) is only external.

She did think that the LP may be caused by something else wrong in my body which has caused the LP to flare.  Blood tests ASAP.  Possible damaged liver or hepatitis.

I left with a prescription for some uber moisturiser and a really strong steroid cream.  She was concerned about giving me oral steroids as apparently what would be required for LP is super strong, has side affects and may be something that I have to continue to take.  So creams first.

I felt relieved to know what it was and had full confirmation that it’s not contagious.  But scared as to what it may be disguising.

As the itching was still horrendous (but being treated) my original GP also kindly did a new prescription for the sedative pills so I can sleep.

So it’s been a crazy time.  Lots of time slathering moisturiser and steroid creams on my body.  For the most part the rash is less angry, the blisters are rarer and for the most part I’m just scarred.   The worst areas are where it started and first spread ie the feet and wrists.  Some photos from earlier today:

Lichen PlanusI’m worried about some new itches and spots on my scalp and mouth ulcers and spots.  From what I’ve read these areas can only be treated orally and if it spreads on the scalp may lead to permanent alopecia.

I’ve got my next dermatology appointment at the end of this month.  Hopefully the creams will have sorted the external spots and the other itching is only in my mind!  I’ll then get the results of my blood tests too.

I’m also feeling much better than I did when first I heard the name Lichen Planus, as I’ve found a fabulous support group on Facebook.  It’s been reassuring to ‘chat’ with others who’ve been diagnosed.  For the most part they talk about it taking months/years to clear and then returning some years later.  I’ve also read about it being incurable but manageable.  It was also been reassuring to hear that there are others who have loss of balance, visual migraines and fatigue – seems this may be something to do with what I’ve been experiencing.

I have been truly fed up though.  I’m fed up of being ‘rare’.  I’m fed up of having stupid and many symptoms.  I’m fed up of worrying about going to see my GP.  I’m fed up with trying to pick my ‘worst’ symptoms to tell the GP about rather than bother them with them all in the limited appointment time.  Nothing seems to be specific or fit into the box.  I hate being a GP botherer however I’m wondering if maybe I should have been earlier ie before LP showed up as a rash.

Anyway enough for now… thought you should know.

BTW I did email my Phyllodes consultant to tell him I’ve been diagnosed with an auto-immune disease.  He’ll be adding LP to his research.

So there you go… the good, the bad and the ugly (well that’s evident from my photos!)

Verdi’s Requiem and Stravinsky’s Requiem Canticles

Tonight I snuck off to the Royal Festival Hall for a concert.  I always feel a little naughty sneaking off to concerts on my own but delightfully happy to do so.  I particularly love the Royal Festival Hall as the acoustics are fabulous, the interior decor amazingly retro and tickets are affordable.

The incredible London Philharmonic Orchestra were performing the Requiem with a twist and I wasn’t going to miss it.

LPO RequiemSuch a clever performance and not as standard as most music lovers would know.  The conductor, Jurowski, bought together the London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Choir and Pamplona Choral Society to produce a spellbinding concert.  The evening’s performance was with both Verdi’s Requiem and Stravinsky’s Requiem Canticles.  A contrast in style, precision and drama.  Where Verdi had written his Requiem from grief, Stravinsky had written his with an expression of calm detachment.

A powerful performance suited the Royal Festival Hall perfectly.

Exceptional.  What a treat.

Reviews:

‘Jurowski drew from the musicians’ precise synchronisation for the Stravinsky, and realised Verdi’s quasi-operatic drama without ever indulging in mere theatricality.’
George Hall, The Guardian, 27 January 2015

‘… outstanding choral singing and orchestral playing [with] the splendid Orfeón Pamplonés [and] powerful singing of the London Philharmonic Choir. And rhythmic definition was razor-sharp, impetus highly charged, under Jurowski’s baton. […] Each tiny ritualistic section [of Stravinsky’s Requiem Canticles] was minutely sculpted by Jurowski into pungent fragments of sound and eloquent silence.’
Hilary Finch The Times 26 January 2015

‘Rather than let the [Verdi Requiem’s] Sanctus bound off like a race-horse, Jurowski settled on a slightly more relaxed speed that gave it substance and meaning, and the same approach to the big Libera me fugue paid off handsomely in terms of weight and clarity. This was very much an opera-conductor’s interpretation. […]
Peter Reed, Classical Source, 25 January 2015

The Unremarkable Death of Marilyn Monroe

Tonight’s outing was to St James Theatre Studio in Victoria to see a monologue play about Marilyn Monroe’s final hours.  The play was written as if we were in Marilyn’s bedroom and she was talking to us.  Incredible part and I take my hat off to the actress, Lizzie Wort, who ‘became’ Marilyn for the entire 1.5hrs.  The set was cleverly put together from police and press photographs and then sourcing the (now) retro items and specific books and prints to make sure it was true to the story.  Even the labels on the many pill bottles were correct to the many prescription drugs that Marilyn had at the time and even the prescribing Dr’s details written on them.

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When I was in my early 20s I was a little obsessed by Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Sammy Davis Jnr, Jackie O etc etc and read every biography and autobiography that I could get hold of.  The intrigue, deceit and glamour of the age kept me reading and cross-referencing the stories.  Rarely did the next corroborate the last.  Clearly there was much more to what happened, when and by whom.  Or was it simply that there was so much going on at the time that memories, dates, times and persons present were often ‘forgotten’.  So attending this play was fascinating.  It turns out the playwright had also started in a similar way reading, cross-referencing and asking questions.

The play was his interpretation of what may have happened in the last few hours of Marilyn’s life.  It explained a lot but it also raised more questions.  Cleverly delivered and an amazing performance by Lizzy Wort.

For me, I loved it.  Perhaps only for those who have been captivated or truly intrigued by Marilyn Monroe.

Following the performance there was a Q&A with the playwright, Elton Townend Jones and Lizzie Wort.  Fascinating to stay for this part and hear why he wrote the play and where he got the information upon which he based the script.  We also discovered where the props were sourced, why the clock was set at that time and why there’s a the bad picture of a bust of Abraham Lincoln.

The play originally staged at Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2013 and has been on tour since then.

Some reviews:
★★★★★  ‘Superlative’ RemoteGoat
★★★★★  ‘Simply stunning’ Edinburgh Reporter
★★★★★  ’Spellbinding’ The Carrick
★★★★★ ‘Outstanding’ One4Review
★★★★  ‘Anything but unremarkable’ Three Weeks
★★★★ ‘Fantastic’ Broadway Baby

‘Visitors’ at Bush Theatre

I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of either the play ‘Visitors’ nor the Bush Theatre until today.  Both were incredible and I can heartily recommend the play and the theatre.

First a little about the Bush Theatre.  It’s a very short walk along Uxbridge Road from Shepherds Bush.  Honestly it’s a fairly uninspiring building from the outside and looks like so many other public buildings in London.  The inside however tells a completely different story.

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In 2008 a shiny new library was opened in the nearby Westfield Centre leaving the future of this building in doubt.  I suspect originally the Local Authority may have seen a value in this building and relocating the library freed up this big site for possible redevelopment.  What the Local Authority perhaps hadn’t considered before the relocation of the library was the wishes of the philanthopist, John Passmore Edwards who had ‘gifted’ the building to the Council.  Mr Edwards had, so the rumour goes, included a clause that said the building was to be used as a library for the public and if this use ceases then the ownership of the building is to be given to his old school.  Ha, now what?

So as not to lose the building, the Council cleverly looked at reuse with the inclusion of a library.  The newly redesigned inside now offers something for everyone and complies with Mr Edward’s restrictions.  There’s a lending library with an assortment of novels, fiction, history and other books in a side room from the bar, separated by the original partitioned wood and glass doors and walls.  There are also large bookshelves in the library area displaying, for sale, manuscripts of plays performed in the Theatre.  Mr Edwards’ wishes are still being fulfilled in the newly designed and re-purposed space.

In addition to the library/reading room, which is furnished simply with mismatched chairs, tables and sofas, is a cafe/bar.  A chic yet comfortable space.

We were pleasantly surprised to see a vast range of food and drink offerings at affordable prices.  The alcoholic selections of beers and wines appear to be at normal bar prices.   However the coffee/tea, soup, sandwiches and cakes are at non-London prices and wonderfully so.  If I was a local, it would definitely become somewhere I could pop in for coffee, cake and a read regularly.  Clearly even on a theatre day, there were locals enjoying the space and relative peace and quiet of the reading room.  I’m revisiting in a few weeks with my Godmother for lunch.  Very much looking forward to seeing what it’s like.

Behind the bar and down a few steps is the theatre.  It’s ‘in the round’ and the seating is unallocated and on long wooden cushioned benches.  Some people have commented about being uncomfortable for the whole performance.  Not me, I have my own ‘padding’.

A superb theatre venue and looking at their programme of upcoming and previous plays, they clearly like to promote new plays and upcoming writers.  Definitely worth a visit, you might just see a new theatrical gem.

Visitors

Now to the play we saw, VisitorsNot my choice and initially, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure about it.  My main concern was that the story was tackling a huge subject that sadly affects so many families around the world, dementia.  It’s a subject that sometimes is trivialised or that ‘sufferers’ are treated unfairly or misunderstood.   So very difficult to get it ‘right’.

The play is about a farming family where the mother is clearly becoming more and more forgetful.  Her husband, beyond retirement age, still runs the farm himself.  Tending the land and animals whilst looking out for his wife who clearly he adores.  Their son, married and with his own children, has left home and now works in the City.  Clearly his choice to pursue a career other than farming didn’t sit right with his father and you can feel the tension between father and son.

The final cast member is a young lady who had applied for a live-in companion role on the farm to keep an eye out for the mother.

The play is wholly about the dynamics between each of the parties.  It’s every day as the mother’s health deteriorates and relationships become strained.  The length that the father goes to to show her love and not to let her go into a home.  The practical son who wants them to sell the farm, Mum to go into care and Dad not to have to worry about everything.  Totally heartbreaking.  The part of the carer-companion is delightful.  Her smile and enthusiasm to show love and care to everyone.  Her choosing to sing with the mother songs and see that she knew every word to but couldn’t remember how to ask for a cup of tea.

The play is beautifully crafted.  It is incredibly sad and thought provoking but also peppered with comedic parts that left you laughing at the most poignant of moments. It tells the real story of dementia and Alzheimer’s.  It’s incredibly touching and I don’t mind telling you that my eyes may have leaked once.  What was totally incredible about the script and it’s delivery was that I came away ‘understanding’ the position of every person in the story.  I didn’t feel sorry for any of them but could totally empathise with the decisions that had to be made or the upset at not being understood.

Incredible production and I really hope it makes it in to other theatres or even televised.  It would help so many people in this situation or for whom it’s ahead of them.

Following the production the charity Dementia Friends run a short workshop in the library for anyone wishing to learn more.

Amazing.

Alzheimers Society
Dementia Friends

Reviews:
Independent – It’s a play made with love.
The Guardian – Infinitely touching.Telegraph – It is an absolute beauty, by turns funny, tender and desperately sad.

My very special Christmas Tree

I don’t usually bother with a Christmas tree in my little London flat.  Most years I’m heading out to family, too busy or ignoring Christmas entirely.  This year though I’ve really entered into the spirit.

Christmas cards have been made by hand, written and sent.

Christmas presents bought and wrapped.  With those that needed to be mailed have been sent and received by the recipients ready for Christmas.

A Christmas tree has been made too and decorated with some very special ornaments.  I chose some canes wrapped in willow for the ‘tree’.  I’ve then wrapped silver wire around the canes to represent the branches.  From the silver ‘branches’ I’ve hung decorations that are very special:

  • Some were Mums and had hung on her Christmas trees over the years.
  • Some were made by Mum from old Christmas cards.
  • Some have been received from around the world from my Phyllodes ‘Sisters’.  Each year our Phyllodes Support Group host a Christmas Ornament exchange between members.  Names are selected at random and distributed.  Decorations are bought and sent by mail around the world.  Over the years I’ve received some truly special ones from some amazing people who’ve also been diagnosed with this rare sarcoma cancer.  Some ornaments were sent to me from ‘Sisters’ who are no longer with us.

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It may not be straight or have perfect symmetry in the decorations but it’s super special to me.  Suffice it to say that I love my very special Christmas Tree.

 

A woman’s mind is as complex as the contents of her handbag…

A woman’s mind is as complex as the contents of her handbag; even when you get to the bottom of it, there is ALWAYS something at the bottom to surprise you!
~ Billy Connelly

Recently I was doing some more sorting.  This time through a big bag of old handbags.  Not mine but my Mums.  I’d forgotten about them.  The bag had been hidden in the bottom of a wardrobe in the spare room.

Nothing unusual about handbags you might comment… but… as I sorted them through I spotted a pattern.  Mum kept the same things in EVERY single one of them.  A mirror, scissors, pencil, comb and a tape measure!

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I now have a plethora of each and every one of these items!  I ‘get’ most of them… but the tape measure???

I also discovered a few other fun things…

AAAA Membership

MumMum

IMG_7418Membership Card to the Elvis Presley Fan Club in Johannesburg!

and a note from a man I’d never heard of!!  (errr no photo for this one!!)

Most of us may move the ‘important’ items from bag to bag.  Perhaps a mirror, an umbrella, a wallet or an address book.

What do you keep in every handbag that might surprise or confuse?

 

Lovely old crackly vinyl

Indulge this old bird for a second, particularly any youngsters reading this post…. I need to talk about my love for vinyl.   To avoid any confusion, I mean vinyl records!!

Err whaaat?

You may have seen some in a museum.  They look much like uber sized drinks coasters with grooves on them.  Larger versions of CDs really but they have music on both sides.  You need a turntable to play them.  They work by you lifting the ‘arm’ and placing the ‘needle’ carefully onto the vinyl record.  Once done, without knocking the needle or player which may result in a screeching sound, the music will begin to play.  The best ones, for me, are the records that have become slightly crackly and clearly have signs of being overused and well-loved tunes.  They’re fragile.  You can’t play them in a car and to transport them was a nightmare.  Certainly no listening to them as you’re walking to work or on the tube.  Hehe that was where the Walkman came in, if you were lucky enough to be able to afford one you could listen to your ‘chart hits’ on a recorded cassette.

Vinyl comes me in three main sizes (or at least in my collection they did)….

IMG_7083Three record covers showing the sizes.IMG_7082The three vinyl record sizes amongst my collection.

So far so good?   Indulge me further…

I’ve finally opened up the couple of moving boxes that have been packed up since 1998 when I left for Australia.  They were stuffed with vinyl records.  I haven’t opened the boxes until now as I didn’t own a record player anymore but still I couldn’t bear to part with the vinyl.  There’s something so special about vinyl records.  Unlike most people I don’t remember what was my first record I bought or where – although I suspect it may well be in this collection somewhere.  I do however remember saving pennies to buy the latest music.  Venture into the record shop, spend hours searching it out, listening on headphones to endless other records I couldn’t afford and finally handing over my pocket money for one single record.  Leaving the shop carefully carrying my new purchase and eager for it not to be knocked or bent before I had the chance to play it.  My choice of record was probably influenced from my listening to the Sunday night charts show.  I’d often record the show onto a cassette tape.  It was a tough job.  On a Sunday night you’d be glued to the stereo with your finger on the pause button listening intently to the top 40.  Cleverly you’d pause the recording between records so as to avoid the chatter of the DJ making the perfect mixed tape to listen to all week.   I’m quite sure that hour or so was a blessing to parents around the country who got peace and quiet whilst we carefully listened to the chart show in our rooms.

What a total indulgence these past few weeks have been for me.  I’ve bought a record player that records to my computer.  Importantly I’ve been able to listen to each and every album in turn.  Most of them hold great memories for me.  Many of them make me cringe.  I can honestly say my collection is varied and eclectic.  I’ve loved it…. I’m not sure my neighbours have though??

IMG_7080 IMG_7081I also discovered a host of singles.

IMG_7084Again varied, cringeworthy and brilliant.

Amongst them one single that I remember playing over and over to annoy my big brother…

IMG_7087Yes the B side… My Brother!

One of the first singles I pulled out of the box when I first started this job was this one:

IMG_7085Couldn’t have been more perfectly timed as I discovered that I was playing it when Issy passed away.  Her favourite opera and one that we’d promised to see/hear in Milan in January but due to health issues didn’t make.

Crazily, I also discovered several flexidiscs which were presumably given away free with newspapers/magazine etc:

IMG_7086And even crazier was this flexidisc.  Issued by the Conservative and Unionist Central Office:

IMG_7088Oh yes… a flexidisc that was sent to all households in 1964 to help ‘swinging voters’ decide who to vote for in the election.

“Songs for Swinging Voters” [features on Side 1: John Citizen; Nationalisation Nightmare; and Four Jolly Labourmen. Side 2: One Man Band; Poor Old Jo; and John Citizen] a six-track flexidisc of anti-Labour singalongs issued by Conservative Central Office

If you want to listen to a couple of the tracks I’ve uploaded them to my Soundcloud – John Citizen and Nationalisation Nightmare.  Hmm I wonder if this technique was to be used again it might work… perhaps instead of a flexidisc they could send the songs to every itune account for free.

There has been a substantial amount of ‘cheese’ in my collection and I’ve loved relistening to them all.  I’ve recorded quite a few albums and singles so that I can now listen to them through my i-devices.  I’ve even recorded the entire Wind In the Willows story perfect for long car journeys.  I am so very much looking forward to listening to them over and over and over again, crackle and jumping and all.

As for the vinyl.  I think it may be time to deliver it to my big bro, together with the record player and recording device so that he can indulge in our past for a while too.

Tower of London Remembers : Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

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To mark one hundred years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in the First World war, an incredibly impressive and striking art installation called ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red‘ has been installed (and continues to be installed) at the Tower of London.

I understand that it was the imagination of ceramic artist Paul Cummins who proposed the idea and with the assistance of stage designer Tom Piper, the project is coming to fruition.

888,246 ceramic poppies, each poppy representing a British military fatality during the war, will progressively fill the Tower’s famous moat over this Summer.

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I’ve seen photographs and listened to commentary on the radio talking about the installation but truly until I arrived there on Wednesday evening I’d not realised the full extent of the impact.

The installation itself is stunning, rich red in colour, each poppy beautifully crafted and individual in it’s perfect form.  Yet together creating this image of blood pouring from the Tower into the Moat in such a striking and moving way.

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We arrived shortly before the evening’s Roll of Honour was to be read.  As we stood looking down into the Moat we listened to the Yeoman Warder reading out a list names.  Each name and rank was read with care and respect.  The Yeoman looking up at the silent group of onlookers and pausing after each name.  At the end of tonight’s long list of names of soldiers who had died too young and lost their lives fighting for our Great Britain, an officer moved up to the ‘mound’ and played the Last Post.  Each note resonated around the Moat and almost clung to the Tower before drifting off into the evening’s last light as the sun went down.  Still and solemn silence from the large group of onlookers with most of us occasionally dabbing an eye.  An incredibly moving experience and one I shall remember for a very long time.

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Since attending, I’ve now registered as a volunteer so that I can play a part in this installation but more importantly to honour the men and women who gave their lives in  World War I.

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Poppies can also be purchased here and I understand will be dispatched after Christmas 2014.  The sale proceeds are going to support 6 UK service charities.

If are in London before the installation is dismantled carefully on 11 November 2014, you MUST go to see it.

Five years has passed….

Hi Mum

I can’t believe it’s been five years since you left.  Sometimes it still feels like yesterday when we watched you close your eyes and go to sleep. Sometimes it feels like forever since I heard your voice.

So often I find myself reaching for the phone to tell you something or just to have a chat – I wonder when I’ll stop doing that?

As I start a new chapter in my life, I’ve been sorting through some more of your things and found some great pictures and cards.  My home phone also broke recently so I plugged in my old one only to discover a whole heap of voicemail messages from you.  How strange to hear our voice after all these years and to know that I won’t hear it again.

Five years since you passed is also significant for me and my health.  I found the lump on the morning of your funeral.  Gosh it’s been a strange five years.  Five years is so significant in cancer terms as most are able to consider it to be the point of ‘all clear’.  As mine was a special/unique/rare/whatever variety, I get to continue the regular checks beyond the five years.  It’s so odd to think you knew nothing of this part of my life, the cancer bit!

Anyway, thought it was time to post some more pictures of you…

Mum TennisSherborne School House Cup Winning Team of 1956

MumGlamI wonder why this photograph was taken?  Looking v glam

21and18Mum at our birthday party celebrating my brother’s 21st and my 18th

BarbadosHolsMum and I chilling in Barbados

MumPartyingBrilliant!  Love that I’ve found a pic of a squiffy Mum with a ciggy!

Miss you Mum

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