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HIVINE is written by HIV positive women but still with a sense of humour

Archive for January, 2011

House of Lords

Beggin’ your pardon my lords, ladies and gentlemen, but I have neglected to tell you about my recent visit to the Houses of Parliament. HIV has certainly taken me to some very important and exciting venues, for example the International AIDS Conference in Mexico, the ‘This morning’ sofa, News at Ten to name but a few – and now the House of Lords.

 I must say I felt very proud to be there as a representative of POZ-FEM UK and the Sophia forum – a human pawn, no matter how small, in our fight to keep HIV and the issues positive women are facing in the UK at the forefront of the political agenda for health.

Before I went through security I had a quick stroll in the grounds, in other words a quick fag, before I entered those hallowed halls and I stood gazing up at the statue of Emily Pankhurst silhouetted against the London sky and although I was by no means comparing myself to that most revered of women (and where would we women be without her), I did give myself a congratulatory pat on the back for at least trying to do something for us positive women here in the UK who sadly can’t stand up and be counted, or speak out.

Interestingly enough Silvia Petretti our great role model and founder of POZ-Fem UK mentioned in her excellent emotional yet hard hitting speech that there were only about thirty women in the UK who were actively speaking out for women’s issues. So few and that says it all. I’m sure that every single positive woman out there would have something to say about living with HIV and the issues we are forced to face, in particular stigma which holds most of us prisoner with its prejudicial reins. Silvia’s speech can be read in its entirety on her blog and website http://hivpolicyspeakup.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/visibility-voices-and-vision-a-strategy-for-women-and-hiv-in-the-uk/

Sophia which was co-founded by Dr Alice Welbourn is a network of women and organisations around the UK and part of the UNAIDS-coordinated Global Coalition on Women and AIDS. She is also the former International Chair, ICW and Director of the Salamander Trust. Alice has worked on international gender and health issues for over 25 years. Diagnosed HIV positive in 1992, she wrote a training package on gender, HIV and relationship skills called Stepping Stones, now widely used across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Alice currently sits on the UNESCO Global Advisory Group for sex, relationships and HIV education and is a member of the Steering Committee of the GCWA.

So a formidable team.

The Sophia Forum Round Table Meeting was Hosted by Baroness Gould of Potternewton and was aimed at addressing issues in relation to Women and HIV in the UK. The focus of the Meeting was to bring together 50 representatives of organisations working in relevant sectors, to address the many and complex issues facing women living with HIV in the UK. Participants included representatives from health, legal and education sectors – both professional bodies and Civil Society Organisations.

I was sitting next to a lovely young lady from Scotland representing Waverly Care who was also HIV positive. She told me she was suffering from a urine problem but I misheard her and thought she’d said a hearing problem so I pointed at her ear and joked that perhaps she should get a horn. She replied that a she-wee (those portable things for women to pee in) might be more appropriate. I was thinking why on earth would she need a shee-wee to help her to hear better and she was thinking why on earth would I need a horn for a urine infection – unless of course she thought I meant she could pee in it. Luckily the microphones weren’t on at this stage. Until we’d finally clarified the issue, she must have thought I was very odd.

I hope all the issues we raised did some good. I outlined a few relevant points so I did my bit, then it was back on the train leaving the glory of old London town in all its majesty behind and back to boring Blackburn and the other lady of the house – lady Doodle.

http://www.sophiaforum.net/index.php/Events/Round_Table_Meeting_House_of_Lords_January_2011

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Do it Like a Dude

Still having trouble coming up with the right name for new puppy Lady Doodle – Doody, Dood or Dude sounds a bit too masculine don’t you think? The dog trainers at doggy boot camp obviously thought so too because they kept thinking she was a boy, though this was mostly down to her unladylike behaviour; jumping on Mollie the collie in the puppy pen and making short work of baby rottweiler ‘Rebel’ who failed to live up to his name and wimped off and cowered in corner.

Like Jessie J who is currently at number 3 in the hit parade with her single, ‘Do it Like a Dude’ Lady Doodle is not by any shape, means or form the shy retiring kind or any form of lap dog – or lap dancer for that matter. The only time she stops acting like a hooligan is first thing in the morning when she rushes to greet me with abounding love and affection, which gratifies my previously love denied existence no end.

But a slight problem has arisen and I have no idea why, when, or how it happened. I have taken to addressing her as Boobies – “Good morning Baby Boobies,” I whisper into her silky albeit slightly mucky from digging up my garden lobes. Or worse I shorten it to Boobs. “Well, good morning my precious Boobs.”

What is wrong with me? I have never before spoken in such a way to man nor beast, especially to man – and in particular in regard to my boobs. In fact I usually tend to ignore them – my boobs I mean, not men, who tend to ignore me anyway these days due to my antisocial disease and the fact that I am way beyond the age of mating.

A word of warning – shouting ‘Boobs’ or ‘Boobies’ in a public place is definitely not advisable, you will find people looking at you in the oddest manner. Phrases to be avoided at all costs – ‘Down Boobs’ – ‘Boobs will you stay put’ – ‘Get off boobies’ and even more confusing, ‘Boobs do you want to do a wee or a poo poo?’

At puppy boot camp me and my baby Boobies were singled out by the trainer. “If puppy won’t listen to you,” she barked (obviously spent too much time in the puppy pound) “make your voice that much deeper.”

Talking in a very deep voice especially about boobs is not to be recommended, unless you want everyone to think you’ve suddenly turned butch or are undergoing a sex change. A more appropriate name has to be found and soon before I either get arrested or start attracting (I should be so lucky!) a host of lesbian admirers.

Daisy – Daisy Doolittle, Daisy Doodles – could that be it? Don’t think I’ll have any daisies or daffodils in my garden this spring as Lady Doodles has dug up and probably ingested all my bulbs. As for my cousin Viv of ‘Viv Lives’ fame, she made this recent comment on her twitter post, “Well, hello brave snow drops, you don’t know just how pleased we are to see you.”

I presume she was talking about her bulbs and not her boobs. Well, at least I think she was, unless her husband who is Welsh has a pet name for them, in which case they should really be her ‘daffies’ shouldn’t they – or her ‘Leeks’ although it has been many a year since she’s had cause to breastfeed. I don’t know whether my cousin Viv has brave ‘daffies’ or not, but I would think so after undergoing the agony, not to mention the indignity of regular mammograms – bosoms have to be very brave to endure that kind of torturous procedure.

Does Daisy Doodle care about any of this you may ask – or the pontification of her name? In a woof no – she lies happily zonked out on the carpet, dreaming about sniffing bottoms no doubt.

It’s a dog’s life!

Bogged Off!

Oh dear what a mess, wet through and covered from head to toe in black soggy mud and I’m not talking about Lady Doodle here I’m talking about me.

I think I’ve mentioned before that here in the north of England it never stops raining. Well, true to form it was pissing down this afternoon but I thought I’d do the decent thing and take Lady Doodle out for a walk on the field next to the junior school in front of my house.

I was not looking my best, no ‘face’ on, baggy tracksuit bottoms, scruffy black anorak, hair stuffed under hideous old lady M&S black fur hat inherited from my mum who had always refused to wear it because she thought it made her look ugly and like that woman with the dog out of Emmerdale – and she was right.

Off we set with Doodles pulling on the extending lead bought from the pound shop and obviously intended for miniature puppy not a baby lioness. Woof wohay…. sniffs galore – everyone walks their pooches on that particular stretch of grass and the school kids (shame on them) also toss all their rubbish.

In all fairness it wasn’t Lady Doodle’s fault but suddenly both my feet slipped from under me and I landed flat on my back, totally winded, in what can only be described as a bog. I then slithered out of control at a rate of knots and most ungracefully, down a sharp incline. It was like being on a water shute.

As I whooshed meandering from side to side down the slippery slope I was considering the following things – first and foremost was I ever going to stop or would I end up on the school football pitch at the bottom of the hill. Luckily it was Sunday so the kids were not at school otherwise I would have been a laughing stock. Secondly would my neighbours be watching from behind their (unlike mine) immaculate net curtains tut tutting – reconfirming that in their opinion it may not have been a wise decision at my age to take on the responsibilities of a new puppy.

Meanwhile Lady Doodle galloped alongside me thinking I had invented a new game purely for her amusement. However at sixty one years of age and especially in my condition (my nosey neighbours are probably right) I am definitely too old for such frolicsome antics. The problem was, because I was clutching on so tightly to the handle of the lead for fear of losing Doodle, she was actually pulling me along in the mud.

It seems funny now but at the time it was traumatic to say the least. I could have broken something or hurt my back. Luckily the fact that I’d landed in a bog actually saved me. More than anything it was humiliating and I felt really foolish, squelching back to the house, my head bowed covered in mud – and with my wet pants hanging between my legs I really did feel like an old lady!

I must admit, once behind the safety of closed doors I had a bit of a cry, mainly because I felt so stupid but also because it reminded me that I am not as young as I was and I do live with a chronic condition that will only get worse. Then the thought occurred to me, had I broken something how long would I have been laying prone on the field until anyone thought to come and search for me?

Maybe I need one of those buddy devices they keep advertising on telly.

Old age – the thought terrifies me, dependent on others, dependent (heaven forefend) on my son – dependent on Lady Doodle. Hardly, she’d run off with the first person who offered her a treat and abandon me and so would my son come to think of it!

This was no good, I quickly pulled myself together and put an end to all those negative thoughts. You are as young as you feel, or as dirty old men say, as young as the lady you are feeling – or in my case the lady I am stroking, as in Lady D. Lady Doodle is going to keep me fit and HIV isn’t going to stop me from having yet another form of love in my life, no sirreeeee.

So all those negative thoughts can bog off. I will immediately get back in the saddle, so to speak, don my furry hat, pick myself up, wipe myself off and start all over again…. nothing’s impossible de dee dee dee… da da da da….. de dee dee dee

And talking of deee’s – woof woof from Lady Doodle.

Alone Again Naturally

Drove Luis to Liverpool airport four o’clock in the morning. It was dark, rainy and depressing, my poor old Mondeo chugging along in the slow lane being overtaken by huge lorries, obscuring our way forward with their onslaught of spray.

I could see Luis’s profile out of the corner of my eye gleaming like an old (well worn) Roman coin, staring out at the black rain, thinking no doubt that he would soon be escaping this hell hole and be back to his Mediterranean roots.

Hmmm – its alright for some I say. I was feeling a bit down, everyone leaving, my sis already gone back to ‘Happy Holland’ and now Luis, will be all alone again apart from Lady Doodle of course. The two of us were silent, listening to the radio, each thinking our separate thoughts. Fittingly on the approach to Liverpool they played Gerry and the Pacemakers, “You’ll never walk alone.”

Drive on… through the wind…. drive on through the rain…. though your dreams be tossed and blown.

When you coming back? I ask Luis. Luis doesn’t know, what with the creeesis and flights being so expensive – am starting to feel quite maudlin.

Drive on…. drive on… with hope in your heart.

Then we saw the sign – PIES IS YOUR DAY scrawled over the motorway bridge in bold Graffiti.

“Que significa pies?” asks Luis.

“You should know what pies are after spending all this time in the north of England, especially in bloody Blackburn where they eat nothing but bloody pies,” I mutter. That’s not strictly true actually but I was feeling a bit grouchy.

“Bluddy Blackburn,” Luis echoes sorrowfully, “Bluddy pies.” See he has learnt a bit of Engleeesh after all these years.

“Meat pies, apple pies, steak and kidney pies,” I reel them off, “meeenced pies, you ate enough of those over the festive season, shepherds pie of course, you favourite, not to mention potato pie.” Luis still no comprende how you can make a pie out of potatoes.

“But what mean pies eeees you day?” Luis is confused dot com.

We both ponder this puzzling conundrum. “Day of the pies? Pies it’s your day – tu dia, dia de las tartas.”

“Dia de las putas (prostitutes)” Luis grunts.

Hee hee…. that makes us both laugh. We are easily amused, even at a sad time like this and the prospect of Luis’s imminent departure.

Talking of tarts, thank God ‘Shameless’ is back, there’s a new episode every night this week, what a treat. That thought cheers me up somewhat.

“Pie in the sky,” I quote to Luis. He thinks I’ve gone all psychedelic and Lucy in the sky with diamonds on him. Well, we are passing through the huge Edward scissor hand blue lights on the approach to John Lennon airport. Check him in, go for a quick pee then get off the rip off car park. HUH! Four quid for a pee.

On the way home on my own now, bit scary, is still dark but the traffic hotting up, all speeding to work. Another fitting golden oldie on the radio, “Alone again naturally,” by Gilbert O’sullivan.

“May as well go home as I did on my own, alone again, naturally.”

Whoops wrong lane on roundabout. Lorry blasting horn at me.

“I remember I cried when my father died not wishing to hide the tears.”

Huge lump comes to throat and can no longer sing along.

“Couldn’t understand why the only man she had ever loved had been taken.”

Bloody hell, don’t understand this roundabout system – more angry tooting. Then I’m on the long black expanse of the M6 heading towards Preston. “Alone again….. Naturally.” Remember that advert, “You’re never alone with a Strand.” Probably not unless you’re as old as me. Those were the days when it was legal to advertise smoking. I light up a calming camel in defiance.

Those were the days before HIV came along to shatter my world.

“Then as if to knock me down…. HIV reality came around.. and without so much as a mere touch cut me up to little pieces…. leaving me to doubt talk about God and his mercy cos’if he really does exist ….why did he desert me ……in my hour of need…. I truly am indeed…. alone again…. naturally.”

Thing is we’re never alone when we’re living with HIV. It comes everywhere with us whether we want it to or not. Not so for HIV services which are being cut left right and centre. Our beloved HIV specialist worker Chi Ko is facing redundancy. What will we do without him? We’ll carry on of course, we’ll have to, but it won’t be the same without him.

Walk on…. walk on….. Look on the bright side. At least us pozzers have each other and there’s the next episode of ‘Shameless’ to look forward to and Lady doodle of course. Talking of Lords and Ladies am off the House of Lords next week with the Sophia network and Poz Fem to highlight HIV issues faced by women in the UK – so time to tighten my activist pants again, they were getting a bit slack and Brigitte Jones like!

Fight on… fight on… with hope in our hearts…. and we’ll never walk alone – we’ll never walk alone.

No, because unless they find a cure, we’ll always have our old friend the HIV virus to accompany us.

Dooderella Rockafella

The best Christmas present ever this year from my sis – Lady Doodle. My sis not called Lady Doodle, new puppy is, but both sis and new puppy brought love and joy to household this festive season and for once nothing horrible happened. No one died or ended up in hospital as has been the case over the past few years to the point where had started to dread the very mention of Christmas.

This year sistah kindly delivered (albeit not personally, although we do tend to live in a bit of a stable at times!) a brand new baby on Christmas Eve. A gorgeous Labradoodle puppy, something I have wanted for years, in fact ever since I was first diagnosed with HIV and desperately needed something to love and to love me back.

However, have to keep reminding self that puppies are not babies. So then why do we keep talking to Lady Doodle in silly high pitched voices using inane baby talk? Even Luis’s deep throated Spanish growl rises several tones higher.

“Hola Doodeeeee, que quappa eres, Doodydoo.” But then he quickly reverts to his usual ferocious growl with, “No Doodeeee no,” especially where the chewing of his precious ‘thappatos’ are concerned.

Lady Doodle, like most ladies of any worth has a thing for shoes, anyone’s shoes, she’s not fussy – although I daresay she’d be partial to the odd Jimmy Choo (or Chew) as would her mistress. I can now only ever find one of my shoes, the other one will be half way across the garden or abandoned at the foot of the stairs like Cinderella’s glass slipper.

Maybe we should call her Dooderella? In which case me an my sis are definitely the ugly sisters, especially when we both put on our long black Scottish widow coats and carry her off to the vets for horrible things like injections and worming pills, or escape for hours leaving her with Tio Luigi and Ben to indulge in some necessary retail therapy in the January sales, where I found myself strangely attracted to anything furry, especially if it was golden. A matching doodle coat! But as you can see it didn’t really suite me.

In the waiting room at the Vets, me and sis sitting side by side in our big black coats clutching Doodle on our knees (she can stretch over both our knees) like proud parents.

“Doodle Seed?” shouts receptionist. Me an sis look at each other and burst out laughing. Doodle’s going to be a very big girl everyone keeps saying, shaking their heads and looking at the size of her paws. Mmm… might grow up to be a bit of a donkey – a donkey doodle says sis. Although Luis, being Spanish, might beg to differ and say a donkeyhote.

“Donkey doodle went to town riding on a pony.”

It’s pitiful, we keep singing doodle related songs. “Yippee de doodle yippidee day.”

“Hey you beautiful dog, you great big beautiful dog, let me put my arms around you, I could never live without you.”

Lady Doodle looks at me with what I can only describe as Royal disdain when I sing to her, but I can’t seem to help myself. We all seem to have gone a bit ga ga since we got her, so maybe we should call her Lady Ga Ga? Mum mum mum mah ….Mum mum mum mah – or as Luis says, Lady Ca Ca, as he has to wander round the garden at night with a torch in his pick hammers (or maybe he’s just pleased to see me – sorry that old joke again!) cleaning up after her.

Yes, must keep reminding self that Doodle is not a human being. She’s a mere puppy and will soon grow up to be a dog (or a donkey) and dogs are not human ‘beans’ as my friend’s grandson says. Human ‘beans’ don’t get up in the morning grab things between their teeth and shake them from side to side, do they? At least not on a good day. Although I suppose it depends on what kind of mood you wake up in. Human beans don’t have tails either, although it would be funny if we did. Lady Doodle is going to have a very wavy tail, in both senses of the word, and wavy ears.

Human beans have ears of course, but hopefully not curly ones. I suppose at a push I could shake my pony tail from side to side and even my ears, which I must point out are not hairy. However, I am not a dog and am not, nor ever will be, a WAG of any description, although I feel like wagging something since Doodle came into our lives, because she makes us all so happy. Dogs may not be humans but they can certainly light up our lives. Cue for a song – “Doodeee… you… light up my life… you give me hope…to carry on…you light up my days…and fill my night with song”

Lady Doodle – “Woof, and I do wish one wouldn’t! (Lady Doodle as her name implies, has quite a posh puppy voice at times, although because of her nickname Dood she sometimes resorts to rasta or urban speak). A dood can’t get any woofin shut eye in this hood with that crazy gansta mistress of mine rappin in my hairy lobes innit. Oh no, off she is goin again (paws over ears). Do I have to put up with this out of tune racket for the rest of my doggy years? Dogs ears are very finely tuned one knows and pick up high screechy noises such as my mistress constantly emits. I’ll just go and chew one of her shoes or her best cushions, that will shut her up, or I’ll pretend to do pee pees (she means urinate innit) in the grounds, then she’ll shut the woof up and give me a puppy treat. At least a puppy can get some peace when she goes upstairs to tap away on that machine writing what she calls her blogs – doggy blogs no doubt, but I daresay she’ll soon get fed up of writing about me and you’ll all be spared.

Woof Woof for now – woof a doodle – One woof – Royal Woof – Royal woofter (oh sorry – that’s Prince Edward innit)