Laughter Is Definitely The Best Medicine

inspiredSo, last night we went back out for #Tuesday, gathering around us the usual crowd of reprobates and trouble-makers to pretend to listen to some music while unwinding from the chaos of life. I was on driving duties because, let’s face it, I wasn’t going to even try to justify getting between Lady M and a couple of pints of beer.

The upside is that I have perfect recall of everything that happened last night, and will be leveraging this knowledge mercilessly for as long as it’s funny.

Lady M and I were joined by Lord Danger and Sir S, and in the spirit of shenanigans and partial gallantry we swiftly rescued the ex-Lady M and Lady G from the conversations in which they were enmeshed. As they came across to join us, I could see musicians flinching in anticipation of a loud night to come. How could we disappoint them? By the time we reached the half-way point in the evening, there were quiet appeals from the frazzled musicians, who claimed to be unable to hear themselves play over the sound of an increasingly tipsy opera singer, the Ladies, and the occasional bemused smirk from myself and Lord Danger (who was regaling us with tales of his own return to work this week).

These appeals of course, in the style of school children around the world, provoked the sort of semi-hushed giggling and pretence of compliance hated by teachers wherever attempts at quelling hilarity are encountered. Out of deference to Lady G, who has to live with one of the aforementioned musicians, we did tone it down – a bit.

Rowdy, bawdy, and generally heavily invested in just having a good night out, it was definitely the spirited tonic we needed. Roll on next week…

 

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Picking Up The Pieces

Life is slowly starting to resume a more normal pattern, but it’s hard going. On top of the grief that came with the passing of Lady M’s father we have a lot of anger to process, and a mountain of paperwork.

Without going into any great detail, his estate is a mess and it has taken all our savings to bury him. There’s only a slim chance of recouping our expenses, and it is increasingly hard not to take it all very personally. We’re still experiencing sleepless nights, but for very different reasons now.

But we’ll get through this, just as we get through everything else, by dealing with what is in front of us as it happens. We’ve even been spotted smiling briefly in the last couple of days.

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A Eulogy For Eddie

We’re finally home again after burying Lady M’s father. It has been exhausting, and we’re still on a rollercoaster as we try to sort out his estate. I was asked to speak for the family at the funeral – to give his eulogy – and with their permission, I’m posting it here this evening.

The first time I met Eddie, he looked me up and down, furrowed those mighty eyebrows, and said: “Who are you?” It wasn’t meant rudely, but it certainly made a lasting impression. At the time I’d just moved in to a flat-share with his daughter: Joanne. We weren’t dating, but a father’s protective instincts are never far away.

The second time I met Eddie, it was to ask for Joanne’s hand in marriage. I once again got the long look. Then there was a little nod, and possibly the driest commendation I’ve ever heard came my way:

“Just remember – she’s not just for Christmas right? You can’t bring her back if she starts running rings round you.”

These two short encounters illustrate so much of what made Eddie so unforgettable. His dry humour and love for his family were rivalled only by his ability to make friends wherever he went, and by his huge generosity of spirit. Everyone knew Eddie, and he usually left a trail of smiles in his wake.

He was never slow to help the people around him. Trying to track him down for a conversation often started with my being told he’d “just popped over to see so-and-so”, or that he was ” fixing something for someone”. As you can imagine, this was sometimes more than a little frustrating for his family, especially if they were trying to get something of their own fixed, or something sorted out.

It will probably come as no surprise then to hear that as we’ve met people over the last few weeks, the universal reaction to the news of his passing has been shock and genuine dismay – particularly among the ladies of the town: his ready wit and silver tongue seem to have left a trail of flirtation and teasing wherever he went.

We can only imagine that Barbara is feeling his ear right now and giving him a round telling off.

The last time I met Eddie, he was finally at peace. The pain and loss that had marked him in his last years were finally lifted. His relaxed features looked proud, and in the raising of his two amazing daughters – Jo and Suzanne – he has every right to be.

However we remember him – with love, affection, annoyance, or gentle smiles – his greatest achievements are here in this place with us now, and for that we are all truly grateful.

So, goodbye Eddie.

Rest easy.

You’ve done well.

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New Week, More Of The Same

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I’d love for this not to be a depressing blog, but it’s been a crap month – January having almost become the Monday of Months (to paraphrase one of the baristas at the local coffee house).

After a brief battle with my GP this morning, we’re back North today to carry on sorting out my father in law’s estate (or lack thereof), and all the attendant paperwork to go with that process. As we’ve already been financially snookered by the costs of hotels, fuel, and food over the last two weeks, we’re going to stay in his bungalow while we clear it out and clean it. I’m expecting this week therefore to only increase the trauma and headaches before it is done.

Oh, and I’ve been asked to write and give the eulogy at his funeral. As of the current, admittedly angry, mental draft it has a lot in common with a stand up routine, but will no doubt mellow as I actually commit words to paper.

Right, time to get this show on the road.

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Gaming Recovery

wpid-wp-1427066913510.jpegOne of the ways that I deal with my depression and assorted mental glitches is to play games – on the PC, on consoles, or round the table. The distraction of concentrating on these activities is extremely useful, and Lady M has got used to my dealing with tough times by diving into games where I shoot waves of aliens, wander post-apocalyptic wastelands, or parkour across the rooftops of various historical cityscapes.

This last couple of weeks, I’ve been diving into Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, and having a great time – not just because it is set in my home town and the views are spectacular but because it’s rather cathartic to be immersing myself myself in something other than the crap that’s currently taken over our lives. I was discussing this in therapy just the other night, and was moderately relieved not to have this dismissed as an unhealthy escape. This is largely because one of the joys of my recovery has been finding and putting in place better coping mechanisms than the awful ones I’ve been able to put aside. Even though it has been nearly eight years since I last did anything consciously harmful to myself, I still count myself as still being in recovery. Healthy alternative coping mechanisms and boundary setting are as important now as they have ever been.

But back to the games: before Syndicate, I was playing Fallout 4, but I’ve put it to one side for now as it’s so open ended. Syndicate has a specific storyline despite the open world elements, that is a lot tighter/linear than Fallout’s. The plan is to return to Fallout once I’ve completed Syndicate, then break from that to another of the many games that I still haven’t quite completed. Admittedly, this list is rather long. With a very quick glance over at what’s stacked next to the console I can see:

  • The Witcher 3
  • Lego Marvel Super Heroes
  • Sunset Overdrive
  • Shadows of Mordor
  • Disney Infinity 3
  • Forza 6
  • Lego Batman 3
  • Assassin’s Creed Unity (I know, I know, but I should at least finish the story)
  • Assassin’s Creed Rogue (last-gen but again, I haven’t quite finished it)
  • Forza Horizons 2 (should really complete those last few championships and challenges)
  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel
  • Metal Gear Solid V

Ah well, plenty of distractions to keep me occupied. Of course, the best distraction is my Monday night D&D group, which continues to bemuse, aggravate and pleasantly uplift me on a regular basis – largely because of the social element, even with (or because of) it being through a screen rather than round the table. I’ve upgraded my Roll20 membership to Pro level over the last few months, and really must devote some time to perfecting some of the more obscure toys in that sandbox.

Something to look forward to then. I, and Lady M, definitely need that right now.

 

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Home for the Weekend

We’re still sorting things out, but between prior commitments and exhaustion we’ve taken the weekend for ourselves so that we can recharge our batteries a little.

There’s not a lot else to say really – just thank you to everyone who has sent condolences and offered assistance/encouragement over the last couple of weeks. You’re awesome and even if you’ve been on the other side of the country, or world for that matter, it has made a huge difference to know that we’ve got people who have our backs.

 

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So, Here We Are

 

wpid-wp-1438900347357.pngWe knew it wouldn’t be long, even as we hoped for the best. The summons back North came at lunchtime on Tuesday, with the news that the doctors needed to talk to us. Both our places of work have been exceptional in their support, freeing us to go when we needed, and Tuesday was no different.

Without stopping, the journey between Sunbury and North Tees takes about four and a half hours. With roadworks and one brief stop for caffeine, it took us five hours. I didn’t play any of the music we normally have on. Instead, we drove in silence – nothing else felt appropriate or soothing – and got to the hospital at around seven thirty.

The doctor who had been in charge of Lady M’s father’s treatment explained the situation quietly and seriously, and guided us through the dance. We all already knew why we were there: that Eddie had reached the end of his journey and all that remained was to say goodbye while they kept him comfortable. We didn’t feel able to stay to the very end, and took our leave.

Nature took it’s course.

If I was writing a story I’d end it on that sentence but life and death, as I’m learning, are never so simply wrapped up. This is the first family death that I’ve had to take an active role in organising. Sadly, it isn’t Lady M’s first rodeo. The intricacies of hospital paperwork, the notifications of appropriate authorities, and the quiet language of the funeral directors have engulfed our day. Tomorrow sees the start of clearing and cleaning a suddenly empty house.

There are certain friends with whom I am having new conversations that I am only now equipped to appreciate – in much the same way that the parents of newborn children suddenly find new connection with other parents. This new layer of connectivity with friends is both shocking and reassuring in that it confirms certain universal reactions and experiences, but it also raises the spectre of what it will be like, in the future, when I must do this for my own parents.

Neither Lady M or I are sleeping much right now.

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