Monthly Archives: January 2021

The longest stay

Hi everyone, I’m finally back writing in this blog; the delay hasn’t been due to brain activity (or lack thereof) following the operation, but… well, having little to say until now: I’ve been staying here at my family’s Worthing home for longer than I did in 2018, following my first bout of brain surgery, and indeed longer than any single period of time since I first went to London in 2003 — with no end date currently in sight!

However, even if Tier 4 lockdown hadn’t begun after I came down to Worthing for my folks (well, my mother) to take care of me during my recovery, I’d still be happy to stay here for the time being: it’s more consistently warm in this house than in the Victorian one back in London, I can take baths instead of showers, I (mostly) don’t need to cook for myself, and our weather’s a bit more moderate (due to being close to the sea) than in London, where it’s snowed!

Of course, there are always problems: I’m still having a lot of trouble sleeping, and although the dwindling supply of melatonin I was able to get prescribed has helped a little, bodily aches still either wake me up or keep me from ever falling asleep — and even ibuprofen (which I was nervous about, considering the depression it brought upon me in previous years) only prevents this for a time, if at all.

Perhaps this is why my plans to fill time productively while staying in my family home have all faltered: I’ve stopped practising the guitar (just when I was finally progressing through the Justin Guitar lessons I started seven years ago), I’ve barely managed to translate even one paragraph of a Japanese book (which I did a lot more between tasks when I was working from home), I haven’t written in this blog since the end of December… and worst of all, I’m barely even playing computer games now!

(My Kindle works still lets me read Stephen King at bedtime, though…)

All I seem to do is watch TV these days, and noting how little swearing is cut out of old evening comedies being broadcast in daytime on Gold: indeed, the only word I’m sure has been edited out is the one that starts with “B” and rhymes with “mastered” (Raquel to Del in Only Fools and Horses, a pre-watershed show), and not when it’s used in its original meaning of “illegitimate child” (Samuel Johnson in Blackadder the Third, a post-watershed show).

Other than this, they’ve kept in the other mild B-words (Del in Only Fools and Horses), a five-letter P-word used to describe a cat with even greater innuendo today than back then (Mrs. Slocum in Are You Being Served?), a three-letter S-word (where Baldrick’s first name came from in Blackadder the Third), and (especially in Blackadder Goes Forth), amazingly, both of the four-letter words (one dirty, one sexual) that start “sh–“!

The F-word is absent, because it wasn’t even used in post-watershed shows at the time (and indeed edited out of films, resulting in complaints about the Beeb showing The Terminator late at night in 1991) — but one type of thing that doesn’t seem to get edited out, are references to Jimmy Saville (Del promoting Uncle Albert in Only Fools and Horses) and Gary Glitter (Miss Brahms in a Christmas episode of Are You Being Served?).

(As a side note, Are You Being Served? inspired me to go to the trouble of adding another notification sound effect to my phone: “I’m free!”)

At least I’m saving money, my workplace happy to pay me during sick leave (it’s payday tomorrow!), and allowing me to take additional time off to recover before I return to work, putting me on furlough in the meantime.  I may not be in London, but I’m still able to handle bills for that shared household; three of my housemates are fine with it (I’m having the usual argument with “worst housemate”, who doesn’t think we should pay bills when we’re not in the house) — but as for the actual transference of funds, well, therein lie a couple of tales…

  • E.ON (who have been named and shamed many times in this blog) somehow took their £100 monthly DND from my bank account on Christmas Eve, instead of the day it was actually arranged for (and did this to other customers too), leaving me overdrawn as it’s an old account I only use for getting my housemates’ bill amounts together; the bank helped me more than the electricity company, who then “repaid” £100 that they hadn’t been able to take in the first place (due to my bank cancelling the event), and I had to arrange to pay that back to them!
  • When “ambivalent housemate” paid me his share for January, Barclays Bank somehow managed to reactivate an old standing order of his, which automatically paid me the old, much larger monthly amount in addition to his intended payment, and so I had to pay him back via my normal bank account (due to the difficulty of setting up a new recipient on the old bank account) — so for the second time, I had to be honest and not keep the accidental payment for myself!
  • And then there’s Barnet council, who I needed to call today to make sure we’re still paying council tax to the end of the 2020-2021 financial year (as I didn’t bring my set of bills with me to Worthing, only my folder of surgery letters), but their main number directs me to an engaged line — and that’s only if I call via landline, as my mobile gets cut off instantly!  I’ve thus had to assume it is indeed the same through to March, just in case.

But what of the people in my life?  Well, my poor mother’s overstressed looking after both me and her mother, and while I’ve recovered enough to help out a little, my grandmother has deteriorated over the recent months, to the point where (despite her defiance) she needs to go around the house in a wheelchair, to avoid the danger of her falling and hurting herself.  She can’t do any housework beyond drying the washing-up (from a seated position), and she barely seems herself any more — but at least we’ve been able to get her vaccinated, so she’s got a better chance of survival.

(The dog’s okay, and just needs attention, treats and walks — all of which I can do!)

At least none of us are suffering indirectly due to the pandemic: my mother’s not worked for years, taking care of my grandmother full-time (and receiving a pitiful welfare grant for it), and is close to her (unfortunately five-year advanced) retirement age, while my grandmother hasn’t been able to go anywhere over the past few years (lately not even to the supermarket with my mother) due to her health situation, so their lives have remained unchanged, and I empathise with them (in my current situation), the only real difference between weekdays and weekends being what’s on TV.

I myself don’t much like going outside except to exercise, and throughout the lockdown have been happy having my personal trainer torture me online via Zoom —  and now that my “six to eight weeks” limit on exercise has come to an end, and his own health situation seems to be under control, we should be able to resume.  I’ve always hated loud, crowded places such as pubs and offices, and I never go to football grounds (or other sporting events), so you can understand I’m happier in a quieter world — and I certainly have no sympathy or respect whatsoever for party animals creating chaos on housing estates, spreading the disease as well as making a hell of a noise and risking destruction of property!

I’ll never truly miss commuting every morning on a packed London Underground train (even sitting next to “manspreaders” and politely but firmly nudging their legs back across the seat divides gets dull after a while), though I would be delighted to do so once in a while, acting as “boots on the ground” in the workplace for the sake of the team.  The only other places I’ve used it to travel to, apart from work, hospital and Victoria (when going to Worthing), were the Castle climbing centre, my personal trainer’s gym, and Trafalgar Square to meet the “helping the homeless” organiser, and I can’t do any of these from here anyway.

I won’t need it to travel to salsa classes or to meet “first dates” any more: as you know, there is one special person in my life… and she lives in a Far Eastern island nation (not Japan) which appears to be the only country in the entire world to get a grip on the virus and keep it down to virtually zero — so I wish I could meet her again face-to-face, either me visiting her in the safe region she lives, or her visiting me without bringing a virus to this nation (or catching ours).  But that’ll take time, due to the international lockdown and quarantine (currently three weeks for me visiting her, or her returning home from visiting me), so we must continue to chat online, textually or through Skype, and hope for the future.

(She’s making sure I live long enough, by sending me medical supplies that might enable me to travel safely back to London some day!)

As for living here in Ferring medium-term: obviously I’d rather have a truly private room, but my mother keeps her visits to this room to a minimum (mini-mum?  No?), and I’ve rotated things so I have the space for an armchair in front of this contraption, as this small computer chair may be behind my aches and pains to some extent, and nowhere near as comfortable as the “gamer’s chair” I got for my birthday in 2019, to use in front of my non-Windows 10 supercomputer (by chance, also useful in 2020 when working from home!) — and the low “tray table” I’ve used for the keyboard here since 2018 hasn’t helped either, especially the crossbar at foot level.

So, apart from my room (when it’s not cold), my supercomputer, my desk and my gamer’s chair, the only thing I miss about my London home is… er… my physical CD collection, as I’ve been systematically re-ripping them in .ogg format (I hate having to use Windows’ lousy .wma format on my phone, as it clicks between tracks), and want to listen just to those superior-format albums in bed at night, as a sleep aid (missing most of the tracks is a good sign!).

On which topic: I’ve gotten some new CDs recently (mail order is still working), and one of them… well, guess who remastered their 1990 album, the first of theirs I ever heard…?

— — —

P.S. Just be thankful I didn’t get all political this time… I’ve saved the text I cut out, so maybe I’ll have the basis of another blog post soon, just to get things off my mind?  Regarding the sort of people who call themselves “Proud Boys” or “QAnon”…?