Thursday, 28 August 2008

Fit for the knackers' yard?


Finally, yesterday, after around 11 years of having no access to medical services, I saw a doctor and to my utter surprise and enormous relief, he appeared perfectly happy to accept that the symptoms I've been experiencing for the last 13+ years are those of fibromyalgia ... to the point that he asked if I minded if he put that on my notes.

Frankly, I don't mind what he puts, as long as he accepts that there's something to investigate, because, in the exceedingly long story that ensued during all this time, as I explained to him, the worst part (above the considerable physical pain I've endured) is having been doubted and treated as a liar by my own family.

Better yet is that he gave me a piece of paper with the word fibromyalgia printed on it that I was able to wave under my mother's nose. She sniffed at the paper with an air of suspicion then denied ever doubting me - like once before, when she said, "Oh I believe you, but I want backup."

I'm sure you get the irony / contradiction. She still doesn't, but lets see if that's enough to satisfy her and if she's capable of treating me any better now.

Anyway, the doctor wanted to get some basic information about me on that first visit yesterday - none of my notes have materialized yet (if they ever do) - and he's sending me for some blood tests; cholesterol, sugar, etc., but his intention is that we take a holistic approach (how I LOVE to hear that word from a mainstream medic), work out a management strategy between us and then tick off the issues one by one (as I'd made it clear that I have a list.)

Nothing is simple, of course, because I have to go to Lymington Hospital for the tests (on Monday), on an empty stomach. It will take two buses and a taxi, the least it will cost is around £20.00 return (for the approx. 5 mile journey) yet, because of the bus times (the first from here is 10 a.m.), the earliest I can be there is 11.30 in the morning. A bit late to be still starving as the nice lady at the hospital, who made the appointment, kindly pointed out!

The way she asked "Fasting or non-fasting?" sounded funny too, like "smoking or non-smoking" used to sound, when you had a choice on flights! :)

Still, it should represent a step forward, provided I don't faint on the way.

One step forward, two steps back?

If people with health books had to be wary of misprints in Mark Twain's day, then someone with internet access to Wikipedia should be doubly careful that they don't kill themselves off twice as fast with misinformation today, but ....

The doctor also took my blood pressure (when I was younger, this had always been on the low side of normal), but yesterday, he said was a bit high.

Yes, I know that one relatively high result does not indicate hypertension, but unfortunately, both my father and grandmother had high blood pressure, so the chances it might also mean that in my case are probably increased.

Further, we know that hypertension is one of the risk factors for strokes, heart attacks, etc. And case reports have raised the hypothesis that nicotine patches may increase the risk of myocardial infarction (heart attacks to you), so it would appear (to my logic) that someone with hypertension who uses nicotine patches might have an even more increased risk of heart attacks.

(Yeah, yeah, someone with that predisposition who smokes would too.)

Taking that as so, this appears to support my theory that the chest pains I suffered last October when I used nicotine patches and that I thought might be a mild heart attack (I wasn't sure I wanted to believe me, but that opinion was based on the fact that I was taught about the symptoms of heart attack (a sensation of tightness, pressure, or squeezing) when I passed (the second person ever to pass with 100%, I might add) a first aid course with St. John's Ambulance), may indeed, actually have been a mild heart attack.

At the time, I put myself in the recommended half-sitting position with knees bent, tried not to panic and eventually the pain and constriction subsided and breathing became easier, but for a while there, it was damn scary.

What I didn't do was to get professional help, because, as is usually the case when one is alone, once I was capable of picking up the phone to make the call, the emergency seemed to have passed and, it wasn't until some time afterwards that I did the research to be able to put 2 & 2 together.

We shall see if there's any evidence, but this would explain a number of other increased symptoms I've been getting such as; sweating, light-headedness, nausea, palpitations, breathlessness (now I've given up smoking, where I wasn't before), weakness, and fatigue, so it's a tad worrying. 

'Spose I could save the health service money and shoot myself first!

Friday, 22 August 2008

Put your feet up and walk

777349_98753568 Conundrums and contradictions; puzzles and paradoxes, I haz dem ...

To say that the English climate doesn't agree with me is the understatement of the century and I don't just mean that I'm a wimp, start to feel cold at anything under 25C and just don't like it, although I'll admit that all of those are true as well.

No, I am genuinely in serious pain every time it's humid. The obvious difference is that, whereas that was one day in a 100 in Tenerife, here in the UK it has been the other 99 days too. On the roughly 99 out of every 100 days when it's too wet, too cold or threatening to be either or both, I'm in too much pain to move.

And we're not just talking about some minor ache, it's creaking joint and searing muscle pain, alternately both dull and sharp, in my shoulders, arms, wrists, hands, back, neck, hips, legs, knees, ankles, feet ... often severe enough to make me cry, nauseous and prevent me from sleeping.

This is the same pain I've been suffering (and had previously been managing with combination of benign climate, a special mattress, a heat pad and careful balancing of effort versus rest; none of which tools I have available now) since 1995, but as I suspected and said repeatedly it would, has been severely increased in frequency and severity in the British climate. And this is why I've spent the last 7 years begging my mother to make some sort of compromise to avoid it.

Even if she doesn't give a shit about me and the amount of pain I am in, logic ought to tell her that I cannot look after her if I'm reduced to being an invalid. Of course, she doesn't do logic.

Anyway, you get some idea why it's so difficult to cope, with the pain and with her.

And this is supposed to be summer. I will not be able to cope with winter.  

Of course I know that if I don't move enough, I'll just stiffen up like some creaky old relic (and do), but it would make matters much worse if I was to get caught in rain, so balancing it to move far enough, often enough to keep myself mobile, is proving beyond impossible.

Whenever I can on a day when it's dry enough, I get out and walk (can't afford anything else) the 2-3 miles to the village and back, despite the fact that it half kills me to do it and takes another few days before I can move again. But I do it, because already, when too many wet days passed and I wasn't able to go out my feet and ankles became so swollen that I could hardly get shoes on - never happened before - which was painful and quite scary.

It took a couple of days with my feet in the air to get the swelling down and, ironically, the only way I can keep it under control is by walking more and, when I'm at home keeping my feet up. The other contradictory thing I was recommended to reduce water retention, is to drink more water.

Now I can walk short distances, or I can lie down with my feet up, but I dare not sit in a chair for more than a few minutes, because my feet go to sleep and / or swell up like balloons. I already couldn't stand for long: that's now reduced to not at all, unless I keep moving.

It's difficult to manage, but how I managed it before was considerably better than taking some prescription drug with "... a monstrous list of side effects that includes diarrhoea, constipation, drowsiness, sleeplessness, hunger pangs, loss of appetite, euphoria, depression...", as The Grumpy Goat so aptly describes it. In the UK, it seems unlikely that I will cope without such drugs.

More contradictions: 

A dry skin problem on my forearms, wrists and hands that I only used to suffer in winter in Tenerife, has flared up painfully already. At the other extreme, oily skin and a plague of "teenage spots" have returned to my back and face and, one or other has me constantly itching and scratching like a flea-ridden moggie.

Oh, why the pic of the dandelions? Dandelion root, is a powerful and safe diuretic for reducing fluid retention, dandelion root promotes liver detoxification and dandelion leaves support kidney function. Ground roasted dandelion root can be used as a coffee substitute.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Walls Come Tumbling Down


Well, some of the tiles did, anyway. They were finally fixed last week, but what a bloody fiasco it took to get it done. Not to mention the fact that I came from that super-mega plumbing hell in Tenerife to ... Well, more of the same crap, basically.

This is something I really wasn't expecting. I had no clue or any reason not to believe my friend Andy's consolatory statement, when I'd had to come back to the UK, when she said, at least I would have the chance "to live in a house where everything works" for a while. How wrong we both were to assume that!

Exhibit A: the bathroom, as you see, is a "nice" 1970s style "avocado green" and, even on that, mother had to call me a liar publicly - I was explaining the general nature of the job to the tiler on the phone - when she insisted (excessively defensively) the house was built in 1980!

The whole thing is a convoluted and surrealistic tale of denial and fantasy, but if one wanted to be really pedantic, one could argue that there's only a day (or mere fleeting moment) between December 31st, 1979 and January 1st, 1980, but when I casually and lightly said, "So call me a liar for a year", I got a shouted diatribe of arrogant assertion back that it was 10 years.

Anyway, when I'd arrived in June, I'd noticed immediately that half a dozen tiles (two columns of 3) had blown and were standing proud from the wall.

When a friend came to visit he also immediately noticed it and asked my mother when she was going to fix it. She was kinda dismissive about it with him, but when I'd mentioned it, she'd displayed forceful denial: adamant that there was nothing wrong and that she couldn't do anything about it, in that (illogical and totally contradictory order), followed by the now classic ...

She hadn't seen this before, until I got here.

Oh, like I arrived, waved my evil magic wand and the tiles came loose?

Her words, if measured precisely (and I'm sure she does), could actually be true. What she fails to grasp is that by insisting that she had not seen the problem, she categorically PROVES she hasn't had a bath or shower for however long it is that those tiles were unhinged. And, if you need a clue, they certainly didn't become detached overnight!

Well, clearly, the tiles are not the only things unhinged in this house and, I gladly include myself in that category after all the many frustrations.

Meanwhile, the tiles urgently needed fixing before they fell and broke the plastic bath or smashed (not a good idea, since they're a size that can't be replaced now). The alternative, or consequence of ignoring the problem, could have been to have had to re-tile the entire bathroom. She should be thanking me for avoiding this, but no, as usual, she didn't want me touching them.

Despite her protestations, I was going to take down the loose tiles for safety and for the bloody obvious reason that I quite like to get clean once in a while, so I asked for some old towels or blankets to put in the bath to protect it and the tiles from damage. To ensure that I could proceed no further with that idea, mother told me, curtly, that she had nothing at all suitable. Full stop.

She also proclaimed that she didn't want me to remove the loose tiles, because, she said "it wouldn't look nice." Hardly the issue, I think!

As Michaela said, going to hospital with a broken tile sticking out of my bleeding foot wouldn't look very nice either. And I'd said pretty much the same thing when I was trying to get my mother to see that it was urgent, but the prospect of such danger just did not provoke any reaction whatsoever. No, simply because, to her, the solution is to not have showers.

Unfortunately, I tend to stink if I don't. Maybe it's just me, eh?

Fortunately, the tiles stayed up by a wish and prayer until my boxes and a thick double duvet arrived from Tenerife. By then one of the tiles was almost flapping in the breeze, so one morning when mother was out, I used the duvet to line the bath and set to "work." Well, all I did was place my finger lightly on the loosest tile and all six fell straight into my safety-net. Another three were in imminent danger, so I took those down too, then I fixed the bin bag over the space to keep the water out until it was fixed properly.

Which it was, finally, last week, but only because I made several phone calls to get it arranged, because she still wasn't about to do anything about it. 

And, believe it or not, this is not even half the story yet!

To a normal, sane person, it wouldn't be a surprise that some maintenance is required in a house almost 30 years old, alright 28, but we're not dealing with normal, sane reasonable folk, we're talking about my mother.

Wherever I look, I'm finding things 30 years old (and often much older), that haven't been maintained or are simply at the end of their useful lives.

And having wilfully ignored them for so long, the situation has escalated, but reality not even being a casual visitor to this house, mother has convinced herself meanwhile that the considerable inconveniences to put up with it all are how it always was and is what's normal.

It does explain why she could come to the house I was renting in Tenerife once a year and, seemingly (cruelly), not even notice the absolute shit hole I had to put up with.

It never occurred to me that "willfully not seeing" was what she'd trained herself to do for this reason tho' and it doesn't get anything fixed. And it does depreciate the value further.

Walls Come Tumbling Down, by Style Council. "You don't have to take this crap ..."

Do not feed the troll

Some people are never happy until they have something to complain about. Well, I'm sure it seems like I'm never without a reason for a good moan either, but this seemingly contradictory statement appears to have found the ultimate proof in my mother yesterday.

(I will get to the root of the problem and find a way to deal with it. She wants me to believe that I'm at fault all the time. Well, I don't claim to be perfect, but I'm also sure I'm not.)

In the meantime, I just don't know how anyone puts up with her ...

The other day I overheard her spouting an ignorant opinion as fact, words measured, but her tone was superior, to someone who definitely knew the topic under discussion better than her. It was fleeting, but the tone of the replies she got suggested that this person found it tiresome.

Anyway, yesterday, a friend of hers called to collect her to go out shopping. Mother answered the door, merely tells the poor woman that she has to shut the door (WTF?) and does so, in her face.

And my mother didn't even attempt to explain why, until after she'd collected her things and went out again and, even then, was just rattling on nonsensically and incoherently about "we're not really sure" of something to do with not letting the cats out.

Only minutes earlier she'd left the back door wide open, yet there's nothing unsure about it. The cats are not behaving in any way settled enough to be allowed out alone safely, on the contrary, they're behaving scared and skittish, therefore I'M ABSOLUTELY SURE they cannot go.

When the friend had phoned earlier to ask her to go shopping - and bear in mind that shopping is my mother's favourite pastime - I'd have thought she'd have been more than happy to receive the invitation and go. No. She tells me she's going, sighing as if resigned to some dreadful fate, then asked, with a slightly snarky tone, if that would be alright with me.

And I resisted (that'll shock a few people, since it's not my usual nature to demonstrate restraint) the rhetorical question in response, because I already knew it would make no sodding difference whether it was OK with me or not. And nor was I going to profess an opinion that she would use against me later. And I couldn't care less anyway. Well, the peace would be nice.

So I treated her question with all the respect it deserved and said absolutely nothing and, of course, there's nothing more irritating to a self-absorbed person than being ignored, is there?

So then she had to find something else to say and waffled on about how she normally turns down these invitations. 

Like hell she does! Presumably, she thinks I haven't noticed all the other shopping trips she's been on in the last couple of months, that she's told me about before and spoken about after then, or assumes that I've forgotten about her telling me - several times over the phone over the years - that she particularly likes shopping with this woman because she has good taste.

This was just rattling, merely for effect, nervously and to draw attention to herself, which likewise deserved and got absolutely no verbal response from me. And, where's the grateful for this woman bothering to phone her up and ask, drive over here to pick her up, bring her back?

Remind me always: do not feed the trolls!

A Real Crap and Bull Story

978945_38287332 Style Council might have sung, "You don’t have to take this crap", the reality, however …

In a previous post, I detailed how we finally got the tiles on the bathroom wall fixed - which, when they were loose made taking a shower into a "dangerous sport" - but if you think that was the end of the matter, you'd be seriously wrong.

Amongst many other things, this still leaves the problem of the impossibly low water pressure ...

Warning: whilst I often talk a load of crap, this post actually does talk about poo (human waste), so you might want to avoid reading it over your lunch!

Anyway, the water pressure is so pathetic that, in the shower, you can't get wet all at once and rinsing off soap or shampoo takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r. At this time of year it's a pain, but in winter ... (With fibromyalgia pain? I don't think so!)

Unless there's some miraculous improvement in the meantime, I face not being able to shower or wash my hair at all then. Mother doesn't take showers, gets her hair done outside (or washes it in the kitchen sink) and claims that the water pressure is perfectly normal.

When you put your hand immediately under a tap, maybe it feels like it. Once it has to go up, then fall from shower height and runs out of energy half way down, it's like trying to shower in light, lukewarm drizzle. And apart from the cold, I simply can't stand long enough.

Now, if at this stage, you're thinking that you've heard this one before, you'd be absolutely right, because this was exactly the same problem with poor water pressure (and poor maintenance, poor quality, etc) - and the landlady claiming otherwise - I had in Tenerife, but at least in Tenerife, I had the option of calling someone to fix things. Here I can't do that.

The reason, in both cases is the same: extreme meanness, coupled with the fact that it's not them suffering so they could care less about it.

This same crap (pun intended) water pressure also refuses to sink er, "solid human effluent" down the loo. It generally takes 2-3 flushes to kill, which is definitely not nice to live with.

Most of the time it won't even cope with half a dozen sheets of bog roll, which doesn't bother me, because I'm used to putting it in the bin in Tenerife, except she will NOT permit a bin in the toilet (presumably, it wouldn't look nice).

Beware of mad cows

Notwithstanding that the paper issue alone proves otherwise, do you want to know what my mother's answer to this is? It's because I eat too fast. Maybe compared to a cow chewing the cud, or the excessive amount of time it takes my mother to eat nearly nothing (as it is with lots of old people), of course, it may seem as if I eat fast, but it's only relatively fast and, even if I do eat fast, I'm sure that isn't the reason, because in all my years, I've NEVER experienced this "personal" problem anywhere in the world before and, I think I'd have noticed, don't you?

The mad cow version is that there can be nothing wrong with the water pressure, the toilet can't be too old and in need of replacement either and, naturally, it has - of course - never happened to her (using the same loo, I can assure you that is not true), so it must be me.

808214_68296464 She who defies all known logic, has  decided that, because (according to her) I eat too fast, somehow this has made my poo "unsinkable." I'd love to ask a qualified expert (what would you call them, a crapologist?) if eating speed can affect poo "sinkability", but it's not the point, is it?

While eating speed might influence weight control, stools that are firm, well-formed and floating generally indicate a healthy, balanced condition, we're told (see Floating And Sinking Poop from The Poop Report and The Bowl Truth) (amazing what you can find online.) :) so I'm in no doubt it's just a total load of crap (of course, pun intended) that she's made up to suit her own purposes.

Ah, but she can prove it, she argues, because my dad had this "problem" too (very comforting to hear that, since he had cancer of the colon). All that tells me is that the toilet cistern has been less than efficient for years, because he died in 2001, but I just gave up before saying that.

I've considered suicide, but maybe I should just get a Shit Box! :)

So, as the tiler was also a plumber, I'd wanted to casually mention the water pressure, but it proved impossible to do so without mother jumping in. And what did she tell him? Believe this: That the pressure is MUCH higher than it was when I first came here (not so I'd noticed when I last showered) and, now it's SO HIGH (she tells him) that the "water goes everywhere."

What planet is she on for Pete's sake?  


And, just to add even more surrealism to an already totally bizarre situation, there's the matter of the toilet roll. (I couldn't resist stealing this image from Chez Pazienza's blog - who clearly shares my enthusiasm for the Olympics.)

What the image also shows is what I had always understood, that the "right" way to hang a toilet roll is with the flappy bit over the front, you know, so you can grab it to use.

And I know that is how chamber maids - not that I've even done the job - are taught to do it in hotels, with the little pointy bit to make it look pretty.

Truthfully, I don't think it matters a jot, nevertheless ...

Oh no, that isn't right! If I hang a toilet roll "the right way," the next time I go to the loo, I find it hanging the other way, with the loose bit hanging down the back and I even got yet another lecture on why I am wrong and why wrong is right. One day, just to see what she'd do, I made a point of correcting it and, every time I put it "the right way" round, she put it back "wrong" again.

Every single time throughout the day ... which has to be the most pathetically petty deliberate belligerent pedantic, obsessive-compulsive, control-freaky contrariness evar!

I'm Going Slightly Mad ...

As Chez Pazienza observes:

"There's nothing more sadistic than making someone believe he's slowly going insane."

Whether it's caused by a debilitating illness, or someone trying to convince you that it's you, not them, who is in need of psychiatric help (mother couldn't remember the words psychiatrist or psychologist during her last outburst of madness, so she screamed at me that I need "a brain doctor"), I truly get the full sentiments of that statement and the hell it is to endure.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Stuff That

100_0162 The marrow, freshly picked, was given to us by a neighbour, so I was determined to use all of this rare gift of a genuine fresh vegetable. And I was equally determined that it would be healthy and not yer regular "school dinner" job, involving minced beef (despite being certain that such a retro food classic from the 1930's would have gone down a treat, especially if it were served with "wartime food" like Smash potato!) 

Mother has been pouting again about the lack of meat in the meals I cook. So, I did lapse and eat meat, once or twice a year if I ate out, in Tenerife, but that was because it was usually locally raised, actually had a flavour there and, was a lot less chemically poisoned than the crap sold in the UK. Other than that and always at home, I've eaten 99.9r% vegetarian for at least 2 decades. You'd think she might have noticed by now. 

I don't handle meat, because I dislike handling it - I can cope with things that don't look like any animal or part of one, like sausages (but equally avoid processed food) and I don't eat meat in the UK, because the chemicals that come with it cause my symptoms to increase and go haywire.

What kind of person tries to "demand" a vegetarian to serve and eat meals with meat? Or someone with food intolerances to eat foods that makes their symptoms worse?

Then again, I wore a top today that I bought only a few weeks ago while she was with me in the shop. She insisted she couldn't remember that and had never seen it before.

She also claims that she does not forget things! So, either she does forget and is lying, or she doesn't and she's being deliberately cruel, controlling and belligerent over the meat issue.

Anyway, a quick peruse of the internet and I came up with two vegetarian stuffed marrow recipes to use as inspiration (I never follow recipes to the letter); the first from Riverford Organic Vegetables would have used lentils and another from The Foody that called for rice or beans. As you see, I used more the ingredients of the latter, with the method of the former.

Had to use tinned kidney beans, because there wasn't time to soak dry ones, but those were added to onion, three colours of peppers, sliced mushrooms and tomato, all sauteed together, seasoned and served in the baked marrow.

Ha, I'm not the only person (as had previously been intimated) to have moaned about the general standards of vegetables in the UK (Tesco's are the worst.)

As a comment on this post on Riverford's blog says too, "I spend a lot of time in Italy where vegetables are a source of joy and I was always sad to return home not least because the local supermarket could only offer me highly packaged dull vegetables." Yep, that about sums it up.

It would be too much to ask that we have a box of organic vegetables delivered (Riverford deliver to our postcode, on Thursdays, I discover.)

On the other hand, mother claims to have overheard a conversation at the vegetable department in Tesco this morning. Their packaged "pseudo-fresh" vegetables, frankly, have been a scandal, they're always wet when you buy them and are prone to rotting and going moldy in just a couple of days. Someone apparently remarked that today they didn't feel wet for once and the other shopper's reply had been that there had been a big complaint about it. Lets hope for improvements.

Hung out to Dry


Accuse me of airing my dirty laundry in public if you wish, but on Friday my washing was done and it was a major event, as it was for only the second time in more than 2 months. Which is a tad difficult to cope with when all I was able to bring with me was 1 suitcase of clothes.

This also shows you my mother's standard reaction to everything and is just one more example of the absolute impossibility of dealing with even the simplest of everyday things.

First, the chances of my mother being at home and not already doing her own laundry, on a day when the weather is also good enough to hang washing out are only slightly higher than that of finding rocking horse poo on your lawn.

The "right answer" to this, obviously, is for me to do my own washing, but ...

(First I can't manage to hang washing - have great difficulty with anything that requires reaching up - so I've had tumble driers for most of the last 25+ years. She will not allow me to have one.)

She uses the washing machine as her dirty linen basket and it's more than my life's worth to touch that, so I've very diplomatically suggested that, if she were to do the same as me and keep her dirty laundry elsewhere (she insists mine must be hidden away), then I could just do my own laundry. No. She says that she has to do the laundry (after all, I'm only 51 and had only lived on my own for 30 years: she doesn't yet trust me with the machine ...) and, that I only have to ask.

Like I asked her if "we can do" (note: carefully not "to do") the approx. 4 wash loads (linens that came off my bed in Tenerife on June 4th and had to go straight into the boxes taken by the shippers) and that are still waiting to be washed?  

She refuses to change anything to accommodate me, she doesn't want me touching her laundry or the machine (even though she needed me to show HER how to use it), then she storms off, slamming doors and muttering in a stage whisper about how unreasonable / wrong I am.

What, for wanting clean clothes on a regular basis?

Hang out to dry: (Idiom) If you hang someone out to dry, you abandon them when they are in trouble. And, boy do I feel as though I have been!

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Britain's Really Disgusting Foods


Some of dem live in our fridge!

Really, there is something not at all right about this beetroot going moldy after only a few days, in a Tupperware, in the fridge. We'd also had fish go off from Monday to Thursday one week. In a cupboard, potatoes and carrots go soft and manky in only a few days, onions went all green and furry ...

All the fruit and veg here looks too ripe and won't keep. It's mostly packaged and sweats in the plastic, so I open it and put it on sunny windowsills to dry before it goes away, but it all still goes funny after only 2-3 days. The quality is truly dreadful, compared to the beautiful, fresh ingredients in the Canary Islands. Oh, but the best part, according to my mother ...

This didn't happen until I got here!

It CAN'T be her fault (nothing ever is) and the house can't be damp, so it must be me. All it suggests is that she NEVER bought anything fresh that could go off previously.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

How to be a non-person

You wouldn't choose to do this voluntarily, but here's what happens now when you move country - even back to one that is supposed to be your own country - because you have to start over from scratch again.

Even though I've had a bank account with the Royal Bank of Scotland (for around 15 years), it's only a savings account, so it doesn't come with a cheque book (not that I want one), nor a debit or credit card I could use to make payments in shops or online.

All it provides is a cash card I can use in hole in the wall machines and that has a severe limit on the amount of cash I can draw at any one time anyway.

But, I also discover that I can't apply for a different type of account to be able to have more card options (despite my history with them), because now all new accounts, irrespective, are subject to the same fraud checking procedures and those require that I have something like a utility bill in my name (which I cannot have as I'm living in someone else's home), or a bank statement, which I can't get because I don't fulfil the requirements (bleeding obviously).

Actually, I'm pissed off about this because, I took the time to phone them from Tenerife before I left and told them what I was doing, where I was going and what I would need. I'd asked then if there was a card I could apply for and had been assured that there was.

They told me to ring them once I'd got to the UK, which I did some weeks ago and they said they'd send the forms. They didn't and I had to chase it up and they still didn't tell me on the phone that I didn't have the right sort of account nor that these terms apply.

The requirements for applicants elsewhere are generally: 

Please note that to apply for [whatever card / account] you must be over 18, have had a permanent UK address for the last 3 years, a good credit record, and regular income.

And out of that lot, the only thing I qualify on is that I'm [well] over 18!

Ironically, my Spanish bank, despite the fact that I hadn't paid a "nomina" (regular income) into the account for at least a decade and had no credit history, had no qualms about giving me a credit card with a very small limit, the sole purpose of which was fraud protection - i.e. something I could use online and that didn't expose my main account to vulnerability.

Of course I get fraud regulations. Actually, I didn't and still don't want credit (and now it's been "crunched"), but does anyone know how I'm supposed to get around this Catch 22 situation? I may not earn anything, but I'll need to be able to make online payments earlier than in 3 years time, which currently I have no means of doing.

This means I can't can't top up my mobile online (so I'll have to walk a 3 mile round trip for it).

Heck, I can't even book a ticket out of here (which is more than enough alone to create panic.)

And can you imagine living in the 21st Century without any plastic?

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

The oldest operating pier railway in Britain - Hythe, Hampshire In the unlikely event that I can actually be arsed on that hypothetical day when (if) the weather turns fine again here, I'm filing an idea for a theoretical day out. If you'll be in the area, you can beat me to it ...

Anorak required for this trip, BTW, not just for train spotting and cold weather (it's August, but there's a biting wind), but as Wikipedia tell us, Hythe's position makes it one of the best vantage points for viewing liners arriving at the port of Southampton, which attracts many ship-watchers to the area. The pub is called the Lord Nelson and I keep being reminded of his local connections every time I go into the local newsagents to be greeted by his picture on a tourist map.

In fact, Nelson keeps appearing everywhere I look lately: First there was the re-enactment of the Battle of Santa Cruz, in Tenerife, I bumped into him again readying his fleet in the bay of Marmaris in Turkey, then he turns up for a last time (getting fatally shot on the deck of HMS Victory) in Alexandre Dumas' lost, last book, The Last Cavalier. Is the seeming coincidence trying to tell me something and, should follow the trail to discover what it is? :) - Hythe Pier and Railway, Hampshire - The oldest operating pier railway in Britain Amongst other famous British folk who've passed through this area was T. E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia (someone perhaps less welcomed by the Turks.) Then known as T. E. Shaw, he turned up in Hythe in 1931, seconded by the RAF to the British Power Boats factory in Shore Road. He lodged in Myrtle Cottage (pic) at the junction of St John Street and Shore Road and left in 1932.

Since he only lodged there for a short while, it really does seem like stretching the point a bit to put up a blue plaque or call this the "Home of British legend", but I saw in the local paper that "his" cottage was on sale for £350k. - Hythe Ferry, Solent, Hampshire Browsing the charity shops (always better quality cast-offs in richer areas) and just enjoying the seaside village scenery will do me nicely, but the cute little Hythe Pier Railway looks like the real scene stealer. Opened in 1881 and electrified in 1922, it still uses Word War I locos. Catch the train to catch the ferry across to Southampton (for ship-spotting, a bit of shopping and more), from where I could catch the train directly home.

Bus #112 (PDF) plies the route from Lymington to Hythe, via Beaulieu and the National Motor Museum gates for a triple helping of local sightseeing.

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Pictures by: Ian Britton - 

Wishful thinking

image "In the same way that each of us has had to learn in growing up to resist the temptation of wishful thinking about ordinary things like lotteries, so our species has had to learn in growing up that we are not playing a starring role in any sort of grand cosmic drama." --Steven Weinberg, American physicist and Nobel laureate

Seen at: My Case Against God

It's a sad, but true, fact that my mother refuses to shake her belief that the lottery provides a realistic chance of obtaining a large enough sum of money to solve all my problems. Or just get rid of me, perhaps and, she also sees this as her only possible way of helping.

I tell her about the near impossible odds over and over again. Still she buys tickets. Still she treats checking the numbers, the moment the draw is televised, as though it's a life-and-death necessity and still, she also claims that buying lottery tickets is "doing as much as she can" to try to help me. Obviously, it is nothing of the sort and falls a long way below what might reasonably be expected of a family member who has the means to assist, as she does.

A "normal" parent faced with the ability to ease their child's pain and suffering would, I am certain, move heaven and earth to do so. My mother will not compromise one inch. She seems to have an over-developed sense of entitlement: that she need not make any concessions, whereas everyone else has to bend for her. Especially me, because, I am only a child, after all (yeah, forget being over 50) and my needs (even medical ones) are subordinate to her whims.

My wants don't even exist. I deserve and get no respect as a human being.

I think it also demonstrates how infantile her thinking is. Often, wishful thinking is the only kind of thinking she does. Why? Fantasy land is more comfortable, I guess.

No, of course, I know I'll never change this, but it does make even the simplest conversations with her the mental equivalent of beating one's head repeatedly against a stone wall.