Life – Its Just Space Between Chippy Teas

There is nothing so great a the Friday night chippy tea, a sign that the working week has ended and the weekend starts now.

This assumes that most people still work a standard 9-5, Monday to Friday week. Oh and that you know that tea is the evening meal in this instance, not the drink.

Breakfast, dinner, tea – that is how it goes, with supper being a post bed snack. You can throw in elevenses if you wish.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner – that is how some others refer to it but these are the type of people that probably order “lightly- battered” fish and they deserve to never be indulged.

Fun fact, the more batter the healthier the fish is as the less oil that gets to it, so if you don’t want too much batter in your diet just eat less of it.  Don’t order it with less and then became a bit distressed that you have to wait while 5 normal people are served before you because “we’re still waiting on your fish.”

I’m blessed with an inordinate amount of chip outlets near me, even all the Chinese takeaways do a fairly good stab at it and whereas the chips and peas are good, the fish is pants but that is OK because I’m a pie, pudding and/or sausage person at this time of the week.

I’m not going to bore you with a load of local slang terms for the food you can get a chip shops, it serves no one in the long run and it just cultural appropriation.

The closest chippy to me did the most wondrous thing recently and decided to open in the evenings every day (except Sundays), I’ve yet to have chippy every day yet but I will build up to that.  I’ve not attempted it yet, not because of some health reason but because the Friday night chippy tea is still a special event for me.

The amount of cars parked outside the chip shop is a usually a fair indication of the queuing status.  As is watching people parking up, leaving and walking.  Each act done with an misplaced, increased level of stress that chips should not really cause as each character tries desperately to get into the chip shop, get home to eat, or beat the other foot soldiers who also valiantly increase their walking pace to get higher up in the queue.

One thing I’ve never learnt, how you wrap up left over chips they way they were presented to you originally.  The wrapping style associated with chip shop paper is like unfolded origami, it makes little sense with just a creased, 2-D piece of slightly fatty paper looking back at you.

The good thing is its now the weekend, which means dinner time chippy.

 

Thanks for reading.

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The Sound of Inevitability

Last week I was round my mum’s house when she got a phone call and when she uttered her friend’s name and then promptly ran out of the room with her worried voice in full effect I knew, deep down, what the call was about.

After she came back into the room and put the phone down I saved her the effort of needing to explain what the call was about.

My mate and I first met at primary school, I’d say about aged 4 and bonded over our interests in BMX bikes and He-Man.

He had Castle Greyskull.  In fact he had all the bestest toys.  I didn’t have toys to contribute to this relationship but I did have the vivid imagination that came with childhood.  We spent most of school in a fairly large group (akin to a 6-person Stand By Me) and a good deal of the weekends and holidays were spent together due to us living close enough for our parents to trust us to go out on our own.

The bond between our families was curiously similar too, during our whole tenure of infant and primary school (up to 11 years old) we were the only kids whose parents had divorced and so both our mothers had bonded over that too, so much so that, come sleep-overs at each others houses; the line “and if you misbehave your mum have given me permission to smack you” was the promise made to each of us every time, not that it was every enacted.

My mate was always the more quiet and introverted one when we were at school or in a group but far more brash and fun-loving when with our mums.  He was the first person to use my mum’s proper name, a fact that at that young age caused a bit of confusion “Who is this person whose name you are repeatedly mentioning?” being my usual internal dialogue.

We made daft tapes together. Me and him presenting radio programmes with silly characters, all of whom would probably have uncontrollable flatulence at some point during their “interviews”.

We went to the same high school, we were in the same form, but as we grew up and got put into different sets based on capabilities, the circle of friends we hung around in changed, we used to hang out and stay over, only they became less and less frequent.

Different colleges, different universities came and went but what was odd is that at least once a year we would bump into each other.  Fate would have it that our paths would cross as each of us making our solitary journeys back to our own homes and that privacy would give us each a chance to chat and catch up, we were in our own world just like when we were kids.

Over this last week my mum began digging out old school photos, unlike myself and my friend, my mum and his mum had remained close.

The funeral was today, my first humanist ceremony and it was packed to the rafters.  My mum was more upset than I was but talking to his mum gave them both some solace. His mum, like me, somehow knew this day would come; it was never going to make it any easier, she had had the misfortune to find him and what gave her comfort was that she could see in his face that he’d taken control, made his peace with himself and a world he was always off-kilter with and was now finally at peace.

He will now become another statistic in the gender and age-range that sees more suicides than any other and while a lot is made about depression and mental health and about talking about things and remaining positive there is always going to be a grim inevitability that surrounds certain people and sadly that is the thing those left behind have to come to terms with.

The way someone dies should never eclipse the way they lived.

 

To the larger world, a statistic he might be but to me he will always be Fiendish Fart-Head.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Cats, Lifestyle and Snowflakes

Oddly it is two years to the day that I wrote this piece as I had just lost my cat Izzy (who the vets insisted on labelling as Issie).  Now I find myself writing an ode to his son, Jones.

Both Izzy and Jones came into my house pretty much as soon as I’d moved in which is approximately 10 years ago and where as Izzy was a normal cat, in as much as the descriptor normal can be applied to a cat, it was quite clear that Jones would be an altogether different sort of normal.

It is fitting that he Jones died two years to the day that his dad did.  Looking over their “birth” certificates there were born 2 years apart and both died just after the age of 16.

Yesterday evening was like any other evening, the bowl of a hurriedly eaten breakfast was being transported down the stairs while I was trying not to break my neck tripping over Jones as he weaved in front of me, stopping to make sure I was following him and it wasn’t just a ruse and that quite possibly he was finally going to get fed.

Jones was a bottomless pit when it came to food, he would happily eat until he was sick (and then eat that) or it would come firing out of the other end in every conceivable location around the house.  He couldn’t have milk because this too would cause the release of equally noxious liquids, so there was a finite amount that I could feed him that would keep him going to his cat box regularly and with good consistency and that would also, vaguely, fulfill his appetite.

Jones is a cat that whenever I was in the kitchen he was expecting food.  He couldn’t remain asleep in his bed (or wherever he was sleeping) for fear that he may be missing out.  When he realised food wasn’t forth coming he’d make a point of either drinking water loudly (yes, loudly) or licking his bowl for the last few bits of dried morsels that might be left from his last meal.  I was going to do a blog about things that cats won’t eat if they fall on the floor but it would only consist of onions, garlic and bread with chilli sauce on it.

I fed him as usual, then stepped out for about 20 minutes and returned to find him on the floor, being sniffed at by our other cat.  He regularly slept on the floor but that fact that there was no reaction, either to the sniffing Missy or that fact that I might be bringing him yet more food instantly rang alarm bells.

Then came the hail, the thunder, the lightning.

He is now buried in the April snow.

But it was last night when I was going to bed that I realised all the habits I’d developed because of this cat.  The sofa seats could stay down as he wouldn’t be around to pee on them.  He only ever weed on the settee, never “his” chair, I found that out in his first weeks in the house.

I could shut the door to the living room and my bedroom, to keep some heat in.

I can probably leave things on the floor, or things can fall on the floor and now not be targets for the biggest flood of urine I’ve never experience before or since.

I cleaned the cat box and it wasn’t automatically used straight away.

I can give Missy a bit more food, which she can leave and return to, and she can even have some milk.

I won’t have to watch any food I’m eating for errant paws being stuck onto my plate like the intro sausage off Grange Hill.

I might make it from upstairs to the kitchen in one smooth, non-delayed motion.

I wasn’t woken up before my alarm.

I was actually spread out in bed rather than hanging over the edge.

 

He wasn’t waiting outside my bedroom door this morning and he won’t be there to greet me when I get home.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Jones (left) and Izzy (right). Sleep Well.
Jones (left) and Izzy (right). Sleep Well.

 

Good Cancer vs Bad Cancer

Today I woke to the “news” that Most cancer types ‘just bad luck’ or the now revised Random DNA mutations largely responsible for two-thirds of adult cancers but poor lifestyle can add to ‘bad luck factor’, says study

Obviously as people start the new year with a lot of healthy resolutions, you don’t want to be putting it in people’s heads that you can’t improve your lot.

If you eat loads of fatty foods you deserve the cancer you get.

If you don’t exercise and lead a sedentary lifestyle, you deserve the cancer you get.

If you smoke, not only do you deserve the cancer you get, but you deserve an additional cancer for every single person you’ve also given cancer to with you nasty, filthy habit.

I wouldn’t say my dad was a triathlete, but he ate fairly healthy, never smoked, worked in a physical job and was active and fit.

My dad has cancer.

But I rest happy in the knowledge that it is the good kind – Multiple myeloma.

Rather ironically, given that his family history is of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes it was his continual testing of his bloods for those symptoms that led to this rather more severe prognosis.

But my dad didn’t bring this on himself and it is this knowledge that has certainly lifted a weight not only from all of us in the family, but also on the over-burdened NHS, because my dad’s treatment is necessary as he couldn’t prevent it, it was just his bad luck and therefore because he didn’t live selfishly he justifies the expenditure.

As the snippet below from a talk show a few years back highlights, though talking about a different disease; we must remember to only ever care about and given money to the charities and numerous good causes that only treat people with good cancers.

 

Pets and Euthanasia

This is a rather personal post, with very little to do with beer…

I’ve always grown up surrounded by pets – cats and dogs, mainly cats.

Even when I went off to University, cats would seek me out.

I’m from a small family, mercifully the deaths of close relatives is currently 2.

Of course you worry about writing something like this that you are tempting fate, but to hell to fate, life is what it is, as too is death.

The amount of pets that have died is quite staggering. When I lived with my parents we had 5 cats and 2 dogs. When one of the dogs died my mother went rather mental, volunteered for the Cat’s Protection League and next thing I knew our house had 1 dog and 14 cats.

Currently my home (free from a cat-obsessed mother) contains just the 2 cats.

Just before Xmas it was noticed that one had an enlarged chin, so off to the vets for a check-up (the vets, which used to be a pub).

A tumour was growing inside his jaw bone. We were given steroids to fight the growth and antibiotics to combat any possible infection.

And so with the news, you live knowing that one day you will have to make a decision about the life of a cat.

I’m of the “if they eat, they are OK” train of thought.

Well, except with the last family dog…whose back legs went. So where the front end was eating and drooling and barking and sticking its nose in your crotch, the back-end just stopped working.

This tumour continued to grow in the cat’s jaw, but the cat continued to eat, bounce on the furniture, claw the crap out of anything made of fabric, get hairs all over the place and succeed in waking the house up before any alarm had gone off.

There came a point when he couldn’t really chew his food, but was OK with it mashed up.

The cat continued to eat, bounce on the furniture, claw the crap out of anything made of fabric, get hairs all over the place and succeed in waking the house up before any alarm had gone off.

There came a point when he couldn’t really pick up his food but he was OK when you fed it too him.

The cat continued to eat, bounce on the furniture, claw the crap out of anything made of fabric, get hairs all over the place and succeed in waking the house up before any alarm had gone off.

There came a point when I knew that the condition was going downhill like a Luge competitor and I started roasting chickens for treats that I could fire into his rapidly narrowing mouth.

The cat continued to eat, bounce on the furniture, claw the crap out of anything made of fabric, get hairs all over the place and succeed in waking the house up before any alarm had gone off.

There came a point when his mouth started bleeding and there is a point when eating, bouncing, clawing, malting and meowing are not the only factors that make up quality of life.

But that is the worry – am I still being to hasty? I’m a viewing the ever-increasing attention I need to pay to this cat as something of a burden?

The life of something as a burden to my non-stop life? What selfish twaddle. This cat is still the same cat as he was those months and years before the small swelling on his jaw was noticed.

Or maybe it is out of selfish behaviour that we are keeping him alive.

Of course, when I say keeping him alive, he is a cat, he will fend for himself when the servants aren’t there to do the bidding.

The harsh reality could be considered to be, rather than keeping him alive, we are allowing him to live.

We can “play God” and end the apparent suffering.

He can’t tell me how much pain he is in. He just carries on as normal as all our emotions twist continually.

This is a cathartic essay of sorts, but there are two things I should make clear as I wrap this up:

– When it comes to any sort of present tense of the story with my cat, it is now really past tense.

– In the hopefully very distant future I could re-read this piece but instead replace the word cat with Dad.

Our squeamish nature over death and our moralistic hand-wringing over having some dignity when we are about to shuffle off this mortal coil are brought under a microscope when it comes to a pet, but at least we have that choice to make a mature decision about the many factors associated with it when it comes to an animal.

The arguments against euthanasia are sensible, but every life and its subsequent end needs to be evaluated individually and as free thinking people we should all be allowed that choice to make by ourselves and it is a choice we should all give considerable thought to and take actions to plan for what is inevitable, but will never be dictated to by any delusion of so-called fate.