ADRIENNE'S HIV BLOG – Hivine's Weblog

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

Archive for Adrienne's HIV blogs

Christmas stocking

What IS she doing now? I think all that activist stuff she did before Christmas for World AIDS Day, giving speeches, pontificating in cathedrals, cohorting with Canons, rubbing shoulders with celebrities in the Green room on ‘This Morning’ and rabbitting away on the airwaves has totally gone to her head, because she’s still talking away to herself. Doesn’t she realise she no longer has an audience? There’s only number one son who’s been working nights in the run up to Christmas in a noisy plastic factory so is now partially deaf and who never listens to her anyway. Neither does that grumpy old Luis who is over for the festive season and still refusing to speak English, insisting on calling it Navidad and telling her she can’t have her present until after the Kings.

“Bugger the Kings,” she swears at him, “Here in England there are no Kings only Queens and plenty of them and it’s called Christmas not friggin navidad.”

Now now, there’s no need to resort to bad language is there? I think she’s suffering from DCSS delayed celebrity stress syndrome, because she’s acting most peculiar, routing around in the dustbins in the frosty air with her rubber gloves on. I know she’s a pensioner now and times are hard and Christmas can be a costly business, but surely things aren’t that bad are they? Actually, I’ve heard about people like her, they did a television documentary about them on channel 4 hanging around supermarket bins in the dead of night extracting all the past their sell by stuff and claiming they can live for nothing in these financially challenged times. 

But it’s broad daylight and she’s rummaging around in her own rubbish bins, so what’s that all about and more to the point, whatever will the neighbours think if they catch sight of her. OMG she’s started on the recycling bin now, elbow deep in Christmas wrapping paper, tossing number one son’s hundreds of scrunched up coke cans over her shoulder. It’s a wonder he’s got any teeth left, but it’s her own fault he’s hooked on the filthy stuff, rumour has it that she used to let him drink it out of his bottle when he was a baby. But he’s a grown man now who can make his own tooth rotting decisions and who is working and contributing to the housekeeping and weekly shopping bills, so she shouldn’t have to be resorting to scavenging around in her own bins, should she? Nevertheless, I think I’ll have to report her to the bin police, not to mention the DSS as there is clear evidence of luxury items such as M&S ready meal wrappers in there. She should be shopping at Lidl and Aldi like the rest of the impoverished ageing population.

You can tell a lot about a person by the content of their bins. For example, in this household, aside from the embarrassing collection of empty wine bottles, there is a veritable mountain of potato peelings, which shows how many chips they eat. No wonder she’s got high cholesterol, she can’t keep blaming it on the Meds and no amount of statins can cope with the amount of saturated and unsaturated fats she ingests, even with the benefit of her tefyl actifry, with which I have to tell you she often cheats by adding more than the recommended one teaspoon of oil. There are also hundreds of mouldy old tea bags. Why isn’t she composting? And talking of compost there are dozens of empty camel packets in there, but she keeps saying she’ll give the stinky habit up for New Year, although she says that every year. There are empty Kivexa packets and pill boxes by the score, as well as damming evidence in the form of discarded carrier bags from Top Shop – isn’t she bit old to be going round impersonating Kate Moss? She should be ordering dressing gowns and thermal underwear from the Daxon catalogue.

I think she’s totally lost the plot this time because as she’s foraging she keeps muttering to herself and swearing out loud, “Where are you bloody Tom Tom?”

Whoever Tom is, surely he’s not hiding in the bin? Although one could hardly blame him. Thankfully, she’s gone back inside and is now prowling round the house muttering under her breath, trying to be quiet to avoid waking up number one son, opening drawers, looking in the wardrobe, banging cupboard doors. Apparently she took this Tom Tom character to Manchester with her the other day to help her find the way and according to her, he definitely came back with her in the car because he was sitting right next to her on the front seat. But seems he’s nowhere to be found. Done a runner by the looks of it.

She’s lit up a filthy camel, even though smoking is strictly forbidden upstairs and is still muttering away to herself, fag in corner of mouth charlady style and is bent over like Mrs Overall peering under the bed. “Come out come out wherever you are you.”

There’s no one there, obviously, so she picks up the phone and calls Willo her neighbour and partner in arms, who’s nearly as daft as her – these arty types, mad as hatters if you ask me. She’s asking Willo if she knows where Tom Tom is and if she gave him back. Apparently he belongs to Willo. What’s going on? Are they sharing him?

 “I know you’re in this house somewhere,” she continues her fruitless searching; “I will find you wherever you are hiding, even if it takes all day.”  

It does.

Surely she’s got more important things to do, like peeling the sprouts or conjuring up a nourishing stew out of the old turkey bones. But no, she’s started communing with the spirits (as well as drinking them) talking to her father’s portrait and asking him to help.

On computer next chatting to sister – “Can’t find bloody Tom Tom- has disappeared off face of the earth.” Sister not interested, too busy messing around with lulu. “Which button you like best?” asks sis.

“What button you mean, belly button?”

“Don’t be seely beely, Lulu button for blog so can sell many more books.” 

“Can’t concentrate on belly buttons or Lulu till have found Tom.”

They often chat in this daft form on computer so am not really surprised. Sister has no excuse as is much younger and not yet senile pensioner, but both supposed to be intelligent, although never think it to hear them chat.

“Got severe shoulder shake” types sis, “you stop make silly idiot jokes or fall off chair”

She shouldn’t make sis fall off chair, that very cruel, but obviously has cruel streak, that’s why Tom Tom buggered off probably.

Back on phone now to ‘their’ Janet making feeble excuses about not turning up for Jim because she is too busy looking for Tom. Jim will have to wait till after Christmas she tells her, or better still after New Year. If Jim’s got any sense he won’t hang around till then, he’ll take a leaf out of Tom’s book and run a mile.

In the end she found Tom Tom hiding behind the desk in the mess that is their excuse for a sitting room and handed him straight back to Willo. Maybe now she’ll get her priorities right and start cleaning up after Navidad and getting down to the sales where she can rummage around, albeit on the rails as opposed to the bins, to her hearts content. But she’s an extremely disappointed and bitter woman, as people, especially children, often tend to be at this time of year after not getting what they want, as she was hoping to wake up on Christmas morning and find a Tom Tom of her very own in her surgical stocking, then she wouldn’t have to keep ‘wife swapping’ him with Willo. What’s going on in that street I want to know?

According to local hearsay, Willo also chucked her car keys in the bin and the bin men came before she had chance to retrieve them. Well that’s her story.
Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Sofa to Go

December 1st was World AIDS Day and it was a special day for positive people like me to celebrate the fact that we are lucky enough to still be alive and to honour those who have sadly died. But on that day I found myself well out of my comfort zone. After a sleepless night I’d woken up in a strange hotel in the heart of London and a big silver chauffer driven car was waiting to take me to the television studios to appear on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ programme with Doctor Chris, Philip Schofield and the lovely Holly Willoughby, to talk about living with HIV. Practically comatose with fear and with knees literally knocking I asked myself over and over again – why was I doing this? The enormity of what I was about to do suddenly hit me – millions of people would be watching me, maybe even the Queen, who I believe often tunes in to ‘This Morning.’ Would I be able to get my message across and in fact, what was it?

My message actually was quite simple – to raise awareness about HIV and by speaking out about what it was like to live with HIV myself, hopefully put and end to HIV related stigma.

Sitting on that famous sofa with Doctor Chris, whose ‘bedside’ manner or maybe I should say ‘sofa side’ manner in real life is as genuine as he appears to be on the telly, calmed me somewhat and I managed to get through it. I was hoping my mum was looking down on me as she’d always loved Doctor Chris from his early days with Richard and Judy and I know she would have been so proud of me, as were the rest of my family and I have received so many lovely messages of support I feel quite overwhelmed – so thank you everyone who took the time to email me.

Incidentally, disappointingly I didn’t get any of that face crack filling makeup which was embarrassingly evident, nor a hair do and I wished I’d worn my sparkly jacket even though I’d been advised against it, because the gorgeous Jason Gardner (featured above in the picture giving me a big kiss) was doing a fashion slot and guess what was being featured – sparkly jackets.

The previous day I had been in the Houses of Parliament for the roll out of the Stigma Index, the first project of its kind in the UK – run totally by and for positive people. The findings were very clear – HIV related stigma still exists in a big way and our message was – “To Give Stigma the index Finger.” Annie Lennox who does so much valuable work for HIV/AIDS was there to give us her backing. Let’s hope our findings make a difference.

The other message I wanted to drum into the nation on television and also here in this blog, is to remind everyone that HIV has not gone away – that the statistics are ever rising, especially amongst women and heterosexuals and yet HIV is hardly talked about in the media – even on World AIDS day.

WHY?

I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know that there is a constant need to speak out, to make people, especially young people, aware of the dangers. So that is why I spoke out on television on World AIDS day and why I will keep on speaking out, because I know that every time I do it makes a difference in raising awareness and in combating stigma and if I can prevent one person from contracting this terrible disease it will all have been worth it.

After Sofa sitting I got the train back to Blackburn and went straight to the World AIDS Day Vigil at Blackburn Cathedral where I gave a speech. The following day I stood in the pouring rain at the Preston Flag Market and gave another one – then a couple of days after I was on the panel for two hours on BBC Radio Lancashire. Over doing it? Maybe. Over exposing myself (as the actress said to the Bishop!) possibly, but someone has to do it and fortunately many of us are. And this is no disrespect whatsoever to those who can’t speak out, forced into silence as they are by a society where unfortunately stigma and discrimination still exists.

Where HIV related stigma is concerned there is still sofa to go. By reading this blog you are helping to combat stigma so many thanks to all the hiviners who visit this site and please continue to do so, it means a lot.

Always remember, HIV unlike other chronic and terminal illnesses is preventable – by raising awareness and by putting an end to HIV related stigma – by practising safe sex and by getting regularly tested and knowing your status – together, we can wipe HIV off the face of the planet.

World AIDS Day 2009

 December 1st World AIDS Day

I will be on ITV ‘This Morning’ speaking to Doctor Chris.

Book Launch

My autobiography “The Spider and the Fly” is finally out and available to buy on lulu.com.

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

I started it when I was first diagnosed in 2002, and over the years it has undergone many changes, but I believe the final format reads well.

My wonderful literary agent Robert Smith was very close to getting it published by Random House, but in the end they decided against it. It seems a story about an older woman with HIV may only appeal to a limited market.

Unfortunately, statistics prove that the target market is growing daily.

However, not one to give up, I have always been determined one way or another to get this book out on the market and in the public eye. This is not an ego thing on my part but because I truly believe it could save lives.

As it says on the cover, “This could never happen to you – or could it?”

Yes it could. HIV can and does affect anyone and everyone, as the recent statistics of the newly diagnosed prove. I am also hoping that reading my story will reduce HIV related stigma which unfortunately is still rife. I am fortunate in the fact that I can speak out, as so many positive people can not.

Regular readers of hivine will know that my goal, from the outset, has been to raise awareness both by writing this blog and speaking out on behalf of those who can’t. I never thought I would end up being an activist but I will continue with my quest until this bloody disease wipes me out, because I don’t want it to wipe out anyone else.

I am very lucky that I have a supportive family.
I am lucky that I have a wealth of inspirational positive friends who have given me the motivation and the courage to carry on.
I also consider myself extremely lucky to be living with HIV because so many people don’t. They either die through lack of access to medication or through sheer ignorance.

So please buy the book and recommend it to your family and friends. Let’s try to put an end to HIV/AIDS through the raising of awareness, the message of practising safe sex and getting regularly tested.

Finally I would like to thank all hiviners who by visiting this blog and website have kept me motivated over the last few years to keep writing and updating the site and hopefully will continue to do so.

Also, a huge thanks from my heart to my sister for all her help with the editing and complicated formatting and without whom this book would never have come to fruition.

Travelling Light

 “Got no bags and baggage to slow me down” just like old Cliff Richard’s song – but tell a lie, not strictly true actually. Did have one small airline bag that didn’t need to be checked in, orders of my sis, international business woman and traveller who I was meeting at Schipol airport. As trip was purely for work purposes i.e. final book blast on ‘The Spider and the Fly”, was only allowed to pack minimum clothes allowance (wear the rest ordered sis) and my lap top, which as now antique weighs a veritable ton. Therefore am swaddled in big black all weather smoking/sleeping bag coat over totally impractical calf length turquoise tartan skirt and thick coordinated mohair cardi. Have successfully managed to squeeze tiny suitcase lid down on lap top, camera, various cables and sandwich box containing meds. Great, won’t have to go to collect baggage, will be able to walk straight off plane like true international traveller and business woman like my sis.

First, have to strip everything off at custom control, coat, mohair cardi, belt, bum bag, boots, but luckily not tartan skirt. Fortunately am wearing matching socks, not mismatched holy heeled sports socks of son – where do those other socks go? Socks are embarrassing shade of pink and clash with tartan skirt, also not sure if remembered to shave legs. Slink guiltily (as ever) through scanner without pinging, but then, “Who does blue bag belong to?” surly butch prisoner cell block ‘H’ security guard demands. “Me,” I raise tentative finger in air whilst frantically retrieving mohair cardi, boots etc. off rolling conveyer belt. Security guard thrusts ham like arms with rolled up sleeves in tiny suitcase and triumphantly extracts sandwich box containing meds complete with ice cooling packs – wonder if she knows what they are for? Disdainfully routes around in toilet bag and starts fishing out items one by one then depositing them in tray. What is she doing?

“Can’t take these items,” she declares viciously, “Are not in plastic bag.”

“Do you have plastic bag can buy?” ask politely.

“Liverpool airport not supply plastic bags,” growls security guard, “Are signs informing passengers of airport restrictions all along corridor,” points aggressive finger at wall.  

“Look, can use this,” I wave plastic shower hat under nose, “tie knot in top.” “That not plastic bag that shiwer het,” security guard gives sarcastic snarl and with sweep of burly arm sweeps lot into bin. “You can’t do this to me, please, I beg you,” but she already has. My life’s necessities, my costly clarins age defying foundation, sexy mother pucker lip plumper, brand new mascara, preparation H (just incase). I am speechless – dumbfounded – cut to the quick, hurt to the core, bewitched bothered and bewildered. Feel as though vital organ has been severed. In one fell swoop prisoner cell block ‘H’ security bitch from hell has stripped me of my identity.

Stand there looking pitiful in tartan skirt and pink socks, hopefully not hairy legs, but too distressed now to care. “She’s binned my clarins,” I say tearfully to other security guard with friendlier face and anyone else who cares to listen. Nobody listens – nobody cares. Liverpool hard unfriendly uncaring place think.

Remain hovering, watching with keen but tearful eye to make sure security bitch from hell does same to everyone else and am not being victimised because of meds – HIV paranoia rapidly setting in. Eventually forced to put boots, mohair cardi etc. back on in case I miss flight but am now suffering from shock and victim of post traumatic stress syndrome.  Wander in dazed fashion to departure lounge. What am I without my age defying foundation and sexy mother pucker lip plumper? Daresay can manage without preparation H – but sure security guard from hell can put it to good use. Bet she’s got a stall on Liverpool market selling off confiscated clarins and brand new mascaras.

 “No comb and no toothbrush,” hum ruefully to self,  “I’ve got nothing to haul, I’m carrying only, a pocketful of Werther’s Originals, a few scrunched up tissues – and they weigh nothing at all,” unlike my stupid airline bag which keeps toppling over with weight of antique lap top. Luckily remembered had thirty pound gift voucher in bag from sixtieth birthday, so go to Boots to restock. Unlike Cliff am definitely not travelling light as am now wielding stupid topply over airline bag, heavy smoking in all weathers coat and stuffed Boots carrier bag.

Sweating profusely in unladylike manner join on to Easy Jet cattle queue lined up on stairs, lower heavy bag step by step, keep tripping over stupid tartan skirt which due to lack of hips (thanks to meds) is slowly descending floor wards, as are knickers. Take part in mad dash for seats and overhead locker space, then try to lift bag into locker. Impossible, cannot lift it no matter how I try. Easy Jet rule – have to be able to lift bag into locker without help – so no one offers, not even to newly diagnosed pensioner like self, the days of men acting like ‘gentlemen’ are definitely over, at least in Liverpool. Eventually young man with dreadlocks comes to my aid. Thank God for Rastafarians I say, where would ‘old’ ladies like me be without them? Wish I was sitting next to Rasta locks but am sitting next to a strange eccentric middle aged man in yellow corduroy jacket – fall asleep as becomes my age, also to avoid talking to yellow jacket. Dribbling probably – wake myself up with an unladylike snore. Have landed already. That was quick. Am dreading trying to lift bag down  so jump up and position self next to overhead locker three rows down, which means have lost sight of handbag with money, cards etc. Everyone rushes off plane. Am convinced yellow corduroy jacket has made off with handbag having completely forgotten handbag also had to be squashed in ridiculously small airline bag. Yet another Easy Jet rule. Luckily stopped myself from screaming stop thief – stop that man in yellow corduroy jacket.

Now seriously worried about short term memory loss and travelling capabilities, am obviously not fit to venture out alone. Perhaps am going senile or suffering from onset of HIV related dementia. Think am totally traumatised by daylight makeup and preparation H robbery and still in shock, added to which mohair cardi seems to have accumulated static on route and get electric shock every time I touch anything metal, like stair rail. Not doing anything for hairstyle – look like Jedwood of X Factor fame’s sister. The missing triplet.

Haul heavy suitcase up stairs trying to hold on to tartan skirt which is determined to trip me up and electrified rail which keeps giving me shocks. People giving me funny looks but no one offers to help. Motorised car waiting at top, “Ooh good, can I have ride?” ask hopefully. “Only if name is Macdonald,” says lady driver. Point to tartan skirt but doesn’t wash – “f*** off then,” swear at her and stalk wearily off. Hear car approaching behind me, “Give you lift as far as can,” offers lady driver. Accept offer and clamber aboard.

Limp next two kilometres to arrivals gate but no sis – feel abandoned – will now have to negotiate Dutch train system by self. Calming camel immediately in order so make directly to closest exit. Mobile rings – is sis – where hell r u – at door tell her – which door are many doors – don’t know – sis tuts – stay there will come to you – phone rings again – where hell r u – sis angry not good start – will walk to next door tell her – finally see sis through swing door, is standing on concourse with face on – push trolley through swing door – sis standing alone – crowd giving her wide berth – is clutching string with huge helium balloon of black and white cow beaming over shoulder with silly smiley face – cow not sis. We hug, sis gets shock from mohair cardi – I cry, we laugh, we walk to car park with cow flying over our heads getting tangled up on passing trolleys.

We finish book, we finally agree on cover – tis done and dust covered. We take helium cow out on dyke for symbolic launch and make celebratory video to put on you tube and send to agent – cows have been ongoing theme in our correspondence over last six years it has taken to get book “The Spider and the Fly” to completion.
Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.
Book will shortly be for sale – watch this space and also watch silly cow video by clicking on the link, “Adrienne Seed Cow Kiting ” on the blog roll followed by “Adrienne Seed Cow Kiting, – what happened next!”-  if you want a laugh.

Always Remember

granddad for hivine last

For our tommorrow they gave their today – and still are.

single_poppy_small

In My Life

"Daffers" Adrienne Seed

"Daffers" Adrienne Seed

I came to Ibiza for a week to escape and to celebrate turning sixty with my friends who still live here, the ones who are still living of course, although I am sure the ghosts of those who are not were celebrating with us, because I swear I could feel their presence and even see them at times. Some might say that was more likely to have been the result of all the celebratory champagne that was being imbibed but I would prefer to think otherwise.

I have lost many friends here for whom I hold fond and cherished memories, the most recent being Barry Flanagan RA the renowned sculptor who died on the 31st of August from motor neurone disease.

I remember many surreal conversations with him and the time he burnt the kettle dry and set the chimney on fire firing his clay coil pots.

My painting “Daffers” above features Barry as well as many other Ibiza ghosts. It was commissioned by Joel Daphne´s long suffering but adoring  husband when sadly she passed away from cancer and hangs in pride of place in Daffers restaurant in Santa Eulalia.

My mum who also spent a lot of time here with me is also on the painting along with the film star Denholm Elliot of Indiana Jones and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” fame. I can still picture them sitting together in a bar singing ,”These Foolish things.”

He was the first person I knew to die from AIDS although back then I never thought for one moment that years later I would also be afflicted by the same terrible disease.

So many stories, so many ghosts. I came here to escape but it seems you can never escape your memories or the people you have loved ánd would you really want to. For me the memories of these people are still so strong that I feel they are still here with me. 

And maybe they are.

“There are places I remember

All my life, though some have changed

Some forever not for better

Some have gone and some remain

All these places had their moments

With lovers and friends I still can recall

Some are dead and some are living

In my life I’ve loved them all.”

 

“In My Life”  The Beatles

I Will Survive

birthday mexican head sq

When I was first diagnosed with HIV the general prognosis at the time as to how long I would survive was eight to ten years, but with the help of medication I was told by my specialist which was improving all the time, a healthy lifestyle and a positive attitude, anything was possible. I was so ill at that point, I didn’t think I would survive another year let alone make it to my sixtieth birthday, so I was somewhat surprised and a little confused (although I believe that is all par to the course of being a pensioner) to find myself celebrating my very special day last week surrounded by my amazing family and wondrous circle of friends, some of whom I have only had the privilege to meet because of HIV.

A matter of further confusion to me was that half my family arrived in a mini bus from Wales cunningly disguised as Mexicans complete with black mustachios (disturbingly this also included the women and children) wearing brightly striped ponchos and huge sombreros, whilst madly strumming guitars and rattling maracas. The reason for this being I’d wanted to hire a real Mexican Mariachi band to serenade us and sing happy birthday to me in Spanish but it was far too expensive – for example two measly Mexicans cost £700 so you can imagine how much a whole posse would cost. As it turned out my family made an excellent job of singing happy birthday to me and more to the point they didn’t cost anything. Added to this my motley Mexican/Welsh Mariachis (and not forgetting our Great Uncle Peter the Godfather of the family) provided me with a lasting memory which makes me smile every time I think of it and helped to make it a truly wonderful occasion and a birthday I will never forget, unless of course due to my now ripe old age Alzheimer’s suddenly kicks in.

I can’t believe I’m sixty – it is making me feel quite disorientated, but I believe at my age that is also a common ailment. I don’t feel sixty, although I might look it thanks to the damage HIV and the meds have caused to my skin and my body shape. But what do a few wrinkles matter and I don’t really need a bottom anymore apart from to hold my jeans up and due to my advanced years I suppose I’ll have to stop wearing those soon. The fact is I’m still here, that’s the main thing and now what is termed as a long time survivor.

When I was getting ready for my party I was putting my make up on in an attempt to disguise the ravages of time and HIV as best I could, when my son popped his head round the door. “You look great mum,” he enthused, “don’t pay any attention to that stupid mirror.”

The new sixty year old me who is already suffering from an identity crisis, was alarmed to hear that I had also become the victim of identity theft. Unbeknown to me I had apparently changed my address and now resided in Manchester and was the kind of pensioner who liked to spend £700 at any one time in Asda. Does my impersonator not realise that pensioners do not tend to have that kind of money and due to financial hardship and a tightening of the purse strings I am now and have been for some time, a confirmed Aldi and Lidl shopper. Perhaps my impersonator would also like to come and write this blog for me? I’ve since changed my log in information and password of course, but if you do notice a sudden change in my writing style or my blogging character, please let me know because apparently at my age this kind of memory loss and abrupt personality change tends to happen. Perhaps my impersonator was the disgusting, beneath contempt (swearword) person who wrote a message on this blog proclaiming – AIDS is great, it kills people, which of course I instantly deleted.

Anyway, enough about that, it takes all sorts unfortunately, but luckily I am surrounded by the right sort of people and this was very apparent at my birthday party. I had a wonderful night and I know for a fact that if it hadn’t been for the support of my family and friends who travelled from far and wide and from all corners of the globe, well Holland and Ibiza, not to mention Birmingham, Wales and Lower Darwen to be with me, I would not be alive and kicking the sh** (if you’ll pardon the expression) out of HIV related stigma and discrimination. Without their total unconditional love and support I would not be here writing this blog or have been able to do all the things I’ve done. So this is thanks to them and I wish that all positive people in the world could be offered that same love and support that I’ve been blessed by, because believe me, it means so much. So here’s to them and here’s to us ‘pozzers’ and long may we reign over the small minded people who try to bring us down with their undeserved stigma and discrimination.

Speccy Four Eyes

Harry blogger square

Losing your car keys or locking yourself out of the house can throw your whole world into total turmoil, all for the want of a tiny piece of metal – but when your glasses snap in half, which is what happened to me the other day rendering me completely useless, it reminded me of what primitive things glasses or spectacles as posh people call them actually are. Two bits of magnifying glass which sit astride the bridge of your nose, held in place by the equivalent of a bent coat hanger wrapped around your ears Harry Potter style. You’d think someone would have come up with another more aesthetically pleasing option by now, wouldn’t you? I know there are such things as contact lenses because my friends are often to be found crawling on the floor on their hands and knees looking for theirs, especially after a wild night out, and there is affordable laser surgery constantly on offer now, although apparently that is not an option if you are over fifty, which as my sixtieth birthday looms definitely rules me out. The same applies if you are a lactating woman or HIV positive. My lactating days, I’m not sorry to say, may well be over but my positive days thanks to HIV unfortunately never will be, therefore I will have to continue to wear spectacles and be known as a ‘speccy four eyes’ as well as making (as is often the case) a spectacle of myself.

The day my stupid and not cheap glasses frames it has to be said snapped in two I happened to be on unknown territory in an undesirable area of Manchester and quite keen to find my way out. As I couldn’t see to read let alone understand the complicated bus timetable I got on the first bus that came along which luckily delivered me in an indirect fashion to the train station. The station was packed due to the cancellation of certain trains and everyone was peering up at the console with worried expressions on their faces, even me, although I was only pretending as it was all a blur. People kept approaching me asking about train times but I was forced to uselessly shrug my shoulders, dangling my broken glasses in each hand. When exactly did I become sort of person who looked like I knew where I was going I wondered?

The train to Bolton when it did finally arrive was packed to the hilt and we all had to stand squashed up together in the doorway peering over the mountains of overstuffed carrier bags from Primark. A huge black guy, a boxer he informed us proudly, was determined to engage the sardine like throng in unwanted conversation.  

“In America not safe to ride subways,” he squints from side to side over his broken boxer’s nose, “someone done shoot you man – an if you see some dude you know, don’t catch dere eye as dey more den like done shoot you too.”

“Sounds a bit like Moss side,” chuckles female shopper clutching Primark carrier bag to joggling bosom.

Everyone laughs in acknowledgement of joke thereby uniting squashed throng and the shared humour forms an instant bond. Boxer now has centre stage.

 “You from round dese parts dude?” he addresses washed out looking student with thin greasy imitation Rasta locks. “Ever been to the States man?”

Student shakes pathetic locks and looks petrified. 

Didn’t really want to get off as was enjoying interchange but even without aid of spectacles managed to disembark at right station. Would you believe it, forty five minutes to wait according to passing guard. Bored out of brains; no boxers to talk to, couldn’t read rolled up newspapers had been lugging around all day under arm, so was forced to pace up and down. Maybe they sell plasters at newspaper shop I think then can tape glasses together. No plasters madam but why not try chewing gum suggests assistant. Chomped away sulkily on gum like yeah but no but am I bovvered schoolgirl for a while, but was far too sticky to hold frames together and didn’t fancy having eyebrows involuntarily plucked, have hardly got any left as it is.

Boarded train and managed to locate seat. Opened newspapers even though couldn’t see print. Tried balancing two separate halves of glasses on nose but affect of distorted varifocal lenses didn’t help the constant vertigo I suffer caused by meds. Train windows wide open for a change, normally try to suffocate us. Rickety old train whizzes through long black tunnel. Deafening noise and icy cold wind rushes through carriage. Psychiatrists say dreaming about trains and tunnels has sexual connotation. All psychiatrists kinky if you ask me – well at least the one’s I know who shall remain nameless, at least for the moment. There is something called tunnel vision ponder to self and also tunnel love – or is that radar love?

The icy breeze catches newspaper pages and whips them up into frenzy, loose pages flapping everywhere. Katie Price a.k.a Jordan now stuck to ceiling, best place for her and her ridiculous bosoms if you ask me, sick and tired of reading about her. Tunnel seems to go on forever. Motion rattles glasses off nose, broken frame dangling from either ear, looking like Harry Potter gone mad. Wonder train doesn’t come out at Hogwarts.

Off to Specsavers the next day to get glasses fixed – still under guarantee I presumed as hadn’t had them that long. Specsavers packed, does whole population of Blackburn wear spectacles or is it the fact that they are offering two pairs for the price of one. That is total con as far as I can see – which I couldn’t as it happened. All assistants wearing spectacles must be part of the job description.

Offered broken glasses up to grouchy woman assistant for inspection without saying a word, lense in each hand dangling from fingers.

“How long have you had them?” mean faced assistant enquires her ostentatious thick black framed diamante studded glasses perched on her beaky nose.

“Ooh, let me think, tis less than a year,” I tell her. I really believe this.

Looks at me suspiciously and tap tap taps on computer with her matching diamante encrusted nails – was waiting for her to look up and say computer says no. Instead announces triumphantly – hah – March 2008.

“Really?” I gasp with feigned amazement, “I don’t believe it, how time flies when you’re wearing glasses. How long will take to repair them?”

“Irreparable,” she glowers.

“Irreparable?” I repeat in semi-threatening tone with a meaningful lift of the eyebrow.

“You must have been rough with them,” she challenges me.

“By rough do you mean taking them off and putting them on?” I enquire sarcastically.

“You always have to take your glasses off with two hands,” she throws back.

Is she serious?

“Surely this is more a case of shoddy workmanship?” says I.

Pause whilst we glower at each other across table, nose to nose like predatory Eagles, sizing each other up.

“It would have cost forty pounds to repair but as these frames are now out of date cannot do.”

“Only bought them little over a year ago, how can be out of date?”

“Are,” she insists.

“Why wasn’t I informed when bought frames that would be soon out of date and thus irreparable?”

“Well, we don’t know what’s going to be in fashion in a year’s time do we?”

“Does that mean now have to buy completely new frames at great expense to self?” I demand angrily.

“Maybe can adapt lenses to similar frame but will mean will losing ex percent of reading spectrum,” speccy four eyes informs me.

“Should have gone to specsavers – should have gone somewhere else,” mutter under breath and also quote old expression, ‘Men never make passes at gals who wear glasses,’ especially I would think in ol’ beaky’s case.

Whilst waited for glasses to be adapted did some shopping then went home, but couldn’t do anything useful or even write blog. Good excuse not to do things, like at school. Sorry, cannot do homework, glasses broken. Good excuse for retail therapy though as couldn’t see prices.

Son drove me back to town later that afternoon to collect revamped glasses. At traffic lights man giving me the eye from next car.

“That bloke’s looking at you mum,” son says in surprise, “Think he fancies you.”

“Why so surprised?” I asked him. His old mum might be approaching sixty have to resort to wearing glasses occasionally and be HIV positive (although of course man in car didn’t know that) but can still turn a head every now and then.

Maybe man in next car should have gone to specsavers – or in my experience maybe not!

Pillow Talk

under the sheets pink for hiv

Tossing and turning, all night long – brain in total overdrive, hurling pillows in air and flinging on floor like plates at Big Fat Greek wedding. Mind you, had been watching Olympic hurling trials that day and talking to nice Greek man. Not fat one hasten to add – slightly plump, more like comforting pillow would imagine, not that I was?  

How many pillows you choose to sleep with (or Greek men presumably) apparently says a lot about you, as in what size, shape etc. you prefer. For example, someone who sleeps with a hard one (they should be so lucky) probably suffers from neck or lower back problems, (serves them right I say) whereas someone who sleeps with no pillows at all like Joan Collins allegedly chooses to do, is thinking about not getting anymore wrinkles as opposed to winkles.

Thanks to Changing Rooms, sixty minute makeover and the like, the current fashion a la Matalan is to overdress your bed with all kinds of throws and scatter cushions, hence the fact that I spend half the night hurling them in the air and kicking them out of bed – talking pillows here as opposed to Greek men. There is a common practice known as ‘pillow talking’, which according to wikipedia is a conversation that generally takes place at night and involves talk of romantic interest. It is speculated that sexual partners of many world leaders have had extreme influence through this type of discussion. Well, as I currently don’t have any world leaders to cuddle up to and the last time I met Jack Straw he expressed no desire to talk to me in broad daylight let alone at night, I will just have to talk to my pillow alone, which I often do as it happens. However, I am no longer content with the company of my old pillows, there have been too many tears shed and too many bad dreams, thanks to the meds. Do pillows store up memories and dreams I wonder, and if so, perhaps the time had come to buy some new ones.

Great, two for one at Asda. Push them around in my trolley, then take them home and introduce myself, as will be sleeping with them for next twenty years I hope, although that might be bit optimistic considering age and affliction. Try some pillow talk.

“What to do about credit cards and mounting debt?” ask new pillow.

“Ignore for now,” pillow advises me, “And go to sleep.”

Ask it golden counselling question. “Pillow, if you wake up tomorrow and everything is alright, how would you know?”

Pillow not answering so stick between knees to relieve aching hip

Make note – have seen specially designed knee cushion in kleeneze catalogue. Always have pen and paper directly to hand next to pillow incase wake up in night with idea for painting or new blog. Sometimes write very strange things that cannot understand in morning as am usually hallucinating from meds, for example found other day written in big scribble – how do you say Noddy in Spanish – don’t be daft Noddy doesn’t live in Barcelona he lives in Toy Town.

Now what would you make of that?

Write down on pad ask Luis what is Spanish word for pillow. New pillows useless as far as conversation is concerned.

“If you despierta manana,” ask Luis next day “And everything okay, khow you know?”

“Que?”

Luis too tired from painting wardrobe doors to play mind games.

New handles and knobs needed for said wardrobe doors so googled ‘interesting knobs’ – various websites pop up, posh knobs, knobs and knockers not to mention snobs knobs – which don’t bear thinking about really.

Off we go to B&Q on knob hunt – take old knobs in pocket. Most knobs extremely boring as anyone who cohorts with rich will know. Nothing of any distinction in B&Q and very expensive to boot, so go to small hardware shop like something out of Two Ronnie’s sketch.

“Got any Fork handles?”

“Four candles?”

 “Got any interesting knobs mate?”

Back to B&Q before hardware man calls police. Settle for least boring knobs can find, but on way to check out discover have stuffed stray knob in pocket along with old knobs. Luckily didn’t try to walk out door or would have got arrested like Richard Madeley for knob lifting.  Looking for knobs can be a perilous business it seems.

Got home to find downstairs laptop had packed up on us – domestic tragedy on a grand scale as Luis likes to read Spanish periodico of a morning. Tell him he has broken it by tapping too hard on touchpad and swearing at it in Spanish when it wouldn’t do what he wanted it to do – and we English know you have to be kind to computers; they are very sensitive and moody entities which have to be treated with the utmost respect. Downstairs lap top obviously taken offence because cursor was acting peculiar and had to tilt lap top backwards and forwards to make arrow move – t’was too frustrating by far for a fiery Spanish hombre who kept beating fists on table thus sending arrow into complete hiding.

What to do, we put defeated cabezas together and ponder – cannot afford new lap top and Luis cannot survive without reading Spanish news in morning – have to keep him khappy or won’t screw new knobs on.

“Why not use mouse?” advises sister on telephone. “Mouse much better than touchpad any day.”

Haven’t got mouse but think very good idea – sister very clever, much cleverer than moi.

Take Luis back out on exciting magical mystery trip to PC World (normally only gets to go on outings to B&Q and Asda) it’s a bit like Sea World I tell him, but no pescado, instead lots of mice for computer or ratons as they are called in Spanish.

“If mouse called raton,” I ask him, “What rat called?”

“Ratta” Luis growls rolling r’s.

“As in rattafarian,” I make joke, “with dreadlocks?”

Luis not in mood to laugh till lap top fixed.

Don’t worry be khappy sing to him.

Choose shiny black raton to take home with us and wonder of wonders it works without cable. Tis wireless operated mouse opposed to clockwork mouse. Luis now not worried, very, very khappy, keeps stroking raton and protecting from me with hands, wonder doesn’t call it Basil like Manuel in Fawlty Towers.

Basil   Basil

Oh no, get up next day and ratton not working – Basil ees dead Mr Fawlty.

When Luis not looking, roll Basil over on back to see if balls clogged. Discover wireless controlled ratons don’t have balls – don’t know much about mice or ratons, more used to cursors, but thankfully since menopause haven’t one of those for a while

“No touch khim,” Luis jumps out of shadows

“Was only looking to see if had any cojones,” tell him sulkily.

Cojones Spanish word for balls – Spanish word for cushion cojins. Very similar sounding. Already fallen into language trap by telling Luis had been sleeping with two many cojones and was looking for some new ones.

Anyway, you will either be sorry or extremely pleased to hear that the Spanish vocabulary lessons are coming to a temporary halt as Luis going back not to Barcelona but to Ibiza. Will have to make sure he doesn’t try to smuggle Basil with him in suitcase – there is heavy duty fine and even imprisonment I believe for attempting to smuggle ratons either in or out of a country.

Whatever will I find to write about? No more knob lifters, rat smugglers or fork handles. Four candles – although hopefully not a funeral!