On a Runaround

I shouldn’t have been working today, but life and the trials and tribulations of staffing issues demanded otherwise. This has led to a somewhat rushed day of bouncing from GP appointment to library opening to lunch cover to blood tests to prescription gathering… and now to my first coffee of the day. Phew.

I’m exhausted. I’m supposed to be going out tonight. I’m working tomorrow. Who has time to entertain depression and anxiety? I’m too busy for the black dog today!

Oh but it is nice to just sit in a comfy chair with a good coffee, that most importantly was made by someone else!

Tracking Anxieties

I’ve been given some homework by my counsellor to track the occasions when anxiety rises and to try and identify the sources. The overall aim I expect is to show me that the excuses picked out by my brain are all minor things that are being boosted out of all proportion by my misfiring brain.

So far so good, if only to confirm the usual suspects of timeliness and situations that I cannot immediately resolve. Intellectually I know the anxiety is out of proportion to the triggers, but it isn’t particularly helpful at the moment.

The other complication seems to be a side effect of the citalopram that makes my skin crawl and makes me want to keep stretching and rolling the joints of my limbs – and that does seem to be making it more difficult to draw a line underneath the anxiety and depression.

Oh well, I’m seeing the GP on Friday, so I’ll discuss it then and see what options we can come up with

Short Story: No Bright Ideas Please

Somewhere on the other side of the mirror is a world made of petrified pain; and there The Regent sits on a stool before a picture of his Yellow King’s Palace. He dreams of Carcosa, and around him the distillation of all the pain felt in our world is eroded by ceaseless winds.

There are no other inhabitants of that bleak place, but the dust storms shriek in borrowed tongues. They bear aloft the ground down screams of abraded fear to sandblast new tormented shapes from the landscape; and yet The Regent seems unaware and uncaring of its surroundings.

It’s not even a nice place to visit, and you certainly wouldn’t want to live there. That’s almost certainly why some bright spark seems to keep coming up with the bright idea of hiding things there every now and then.

It never goes well. Even if a passage through to that place can be opened, the scouring winds prevent flight or rapid movement, gumming up and stripping away exposed mechanisms and flesh alike. Then there’s the sheer crushing weight of the world’s pain on the soul of anyone stepping through; and of course there’s also The Regent.

We have an ornate mirror that we keep under lock and key, covered in cloth and dust. Every time some new researcher or poorly briefed civil servant suggests using it we bring them to it and show them the piles of corroded machinery and calcified skeletons in the bleached harshness of the landscape it shows.

Then we give them a business card to keep and contemplate. It bears a simple motto only visible to people who have looked through the mirror. “Thou Shalt Not Feed the Nameless Horrors. It Only Encourages Them.”

The Charleesi Is At University

This time last week, we dropped the Charleesi off at her brand new accomodation at Oxford Brookes. By brand new, I mean that it had literally been finished about a week before.

Oh no, its a confusion of MaidmentsAccompanied by her three parents (myself and the former and current Ladies M), the Charleesi learned she had one of the biggest rooms on the landing (due to an architect’s measuring error), and got to grips with the RFID electronic keys managing security and room access. An initial unpacking, a quick shop for provisions, lunch and some minor parental flapping later, she was free to nest and unpack properly as we got out the way.

And barring a quick resupply of bed linen as the bed was larger than anticipated, we’ve largely left her to enjoy Fresher’s Week.

Small snippets of information have been carefully unpacked in our direction by the Charleesi to reassure us: of being walked home from the pub; of an evening in a speakeasy that required riddle answering to gain entry; of tempting other English students to her room with offers of Prosecco and Guardians of the Galaxy; and of a massive fresher’s foam party last night.

She has described it as a mixed week – of good bits and not so good bits, and that’s largely a function of her introvert nature reacting to the social maelstrom around her – but overall it seems to be a good start.

Oh, and she’s been asked to write an Introvert’s Guide to Fresher’s Week by The Tab – so welcome to the writing profession Charleesi!

Best Resistance Ever

Every now and then, while working with the public, I get to see and hear the most wonderful conversations and interactions. It can make or break my days sometimes, but this week I heard something that has continued to put a smile on my face every time I’m reminded of it.

We have a homework club that meets in one of the libraries each week, and it is well attended with a lively bustle and hum that always makes me smile. This week I saw the father of a couple of the children lead his youngest daughter from the room that we hire to them.

His daughter was maybe four or five, so it was likely an older sibling using the club, and as they walked out of the room he was quietly admonishing her. “Be quiet! This is a library! No noise!”

“Noise!” Said a small but determined little voice.

“No noise!” He said again, leading her towards the children’s library area.

“Noise!” Came the quiet but clear response.

“No noise!” Came the slightly annoyed admonishment.

“Noise!” This time with a definite note of glee.

The call and response could be heard all round the library as we all tried to stifle grins. This is the sort of intelligent rebellion that tickles library staff. I instructed my colleagues to give her a sticker if she was still doing it when they came back…

Things Lady M Says: Recognition!

So we were watching 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and a discussion began around mangled word usage. It’s a subject obviously close to our hearts, especially when they started to talk about the kind of mismatched phrases for which Lady M has become well known.

Somehow I had never encountered the word ‘Malaphor’ – which perfectly describes the phenomenon. We both grinned widely, high fived each other and promptly failed to spontaneously generate one in the moment.

Ah well, you can’t win your chickens before they’re all hatched. No? Okay, worth a try – there you go, a new word to describe Lady M – Queen of Malaphors.


I was walking to get the bus this morning when I saw a cluster of young boys darting around a parked car. My first instinct was one of suspicion, but there didn’t seem to be any of the scowling furtiveness that I’ve encountered with mischievous or downright villainous kids recently.

They were happy in their game, faces bright and cheerful, and then they all got into the car and I heard them chattering away as I passed.

It reminded me of how my grandparents’ car was a centre of play and shared adventure when they came to visit. For many years we didn’t have a car ourselves: too expensive on my father’s wages as an Anglican priest. Our grandparents’ vehicle therefore was a totem of travel and adventure, and we would clamour to be allowed to go play in it while the grown-ups did… whatever it was grown-ups did.

That car was a spaceship, or an escape vehicle on the run from bad guys, or any number of excuses to change seats, flip switches, and listen to the radio for short periods of time so we didn’t run the battery down.

Funny how simple sights bring it all back.

Home Again

After the rains of Heligan, we were blessed with sun for our final day in Newquay, so we took advantage of the time before our train home in walking over the headlands and exploring the beaches in the area.

It was, without any doubt, the best weather of our short stay – and we spent a lot of it on or near Fistral beach, watching surfers and enjoying the hospitality of the beach bar when we needed a break.

For our return, we took the overnight train back – and that was an adventure: starting with the local train to Par in which we were the only passengers and none of the stations were lit up. The driver/conductor told us our journey overnight would be quiet as long as there weren’t any oddballs in our carriage. We hadn’t the heart to tell him just how odd we are…

Then we had a gentle forty minutes on the deserted platforms at Par until the night train glided out of the darkness with surprising quietness.

Reserved seating awaited us because the price of berths had been too rich for our budgets – and so my expertise of sleeping in chairs came to the fore for an extravaganza of catnaps, surreptitious leg stretches, and trying not to accidentally kick the elderly couple opposite us.

Getting home once we were in London was smooth enough, thankfully, especially given the chaos of the Waterloo engineering works recently. We burrowed into bed as soon as possible to catch up on sleep – and that was… Saturday…