Dance with the Wolves

Location: St Annes, Lancashire, United Kingdom

I'm happy. I'm amused by life. I know who I am and why I'm here. I have a masters degree and very little money.

Monday, February 27, 2006

As one door closes another slams in your face.

You know that feeling when you been through something - anything, hard time at work, illness etc. - and you think 'I'm glad thats over, things should get a little better"? And then you realise its not over or something just as bad or worse starts up? I had one of those moments on Sunday morning. Bear with me this is a bit longwinded, but I'm in a longwinded frame of mind.

My wife and I sat with my father in law (he's 82 but you wouldn't know it) and his 62 yearold girl friend just talking, mainly about tracing the family history which has turned into the the national hobby following a couple of BBC programs tracing the geneology of one or two minor celebrities. The conversation drifted into holidays, a topic I am begining to detest with a passion. We had planned to go on a narrow boat for a week in May but with one thing and another I haven't organised it. I mentioned how little time we seem have and somehow the conversation turned into a discussion of the difficulties of maintaining work/life balance when you look after small children. My wife may have taken thia as a dig at her chosen profession.This in turn caused a discussion on how much time we spend with our grandchildren. Now I dearly love my grandchldren and I love to be with them, although the two year old can be wearing occaisionly. I know that I moan when we have them at weekends and they wake up very, very early in the morning but in general the time I spend in their company is delightful. They're both wonderful human beings and their childhood will not go on forever. I enjoy the 'grandad experience'. Given my son and daughter's problems over the last few months we have babysat as necessary to help out while they sorted themselves out. Its the least we can do.
My wife began telling her father how many times we had looked after the grandchildren and let slip the fateful sentence "of course we've had them a lot since W and P spilt up before xmas". At that point purient interest on the part of the 62 year old took over and I had to sit while my wife went through the whole story for her benefit. Now I found this painful for two reasons fisrtly I didn't want to hear it again - I don't dwell on the past - and secondly I had told my daughter that my father in law knew nothing about her problems. She was pleased about that because she knew that her husband's grandfather thought highly of her. I could do nothing to stop it; it just rolled out for what seemed like hours. I could not bring myself to comment but changed the subject as soon as I could. Luckily my father in law is quite deaf so he only picked up some of the story. He was very surprised and didn't react any further than that. His girl friend the 62 year old, daily mail reading, reactionay, neo-facist, heard everything though. I've tolerated this woman for a long time. I now feel glad that I only see her a couple of times a year.

Anyway this long story ends here. I'm very sorry Pixie. Grandad P knows all. The story of your troubles is now officially part of the family legend; regardless of the fact that your story is not quite over yet. I don't think that they needed to be told they're not close family or a part of the Lancashire arm either. But whats done is done.

Other than that it was a great weekend! We had a curry night on Saturday. My eldest son cooked a wonderful pork curry, it was brilliant, no powders or pastes used just each spice used appropriately. I firmly believe that only happy people cook well. This was extremely encouraging. I did a Caribean curry and a prawn tikka both excellent but not in the same league as the pork curry my son made. We also played cranium which was really good laugh.

We finally got rid of my in law at 14:00 on sunday and had time to go into the garden where some heavy digging enabled me to rid myself of the frustration caused by my wife's outburst. Next weekend we have my other loverly daughter and her husband and their dog. The dog loves me, but he's deaf and a little insane.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Family life

I started this blog for two reasons. The first was discuss or analyze the state of my eldest son's marriage and to have a little fun on the internet. Up to now the blog has been dominated by the former. This is as it should be because the people involved a very dear to me. I have said little or nothing about my other children or my interests. Samll wonder that I've only had a few hits averaging 3.9 seconds.
My real daughter C is a bit of star. She has had quite a life already even for her young years. She lived in south Africa for a while. Now that is a brilliant place. Not the first choice for a holiday for everyone but the people are lovely, the weather is superb in our winter, the wildlife is brilliant and anything seems possible there. If you get the chance go.

My daughter is now married and lives in a completely different part of the country so I don't see her every day but I do think about her every day. She is beautiful, young, fit and well on her way to being a Reiki master. Her husband has the ultimate secure job. She has a great life ahead of her. And you just don't know how proud I am to have such a wonderful daughter. I've sponsered her today for a fun run - the race for life - as she's raising funds for cancer research. The link is
. Please donate some pennies if you can.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I'm healthy! My family less so.

On Friday I spent a delightful hour or so in the company of my daughter in law having a very nice lunch. The meeting was her idea as we haven't sat down and talked for quite while. I value every moment I spend in her company, she has taste, style, imagination and charm and is, as I may have mentioned, quite beautiful. I have known her for over nine years and I love her as much as I love my children, perhaps more. Although the company, the setting and the food were sublime the conversation was much more serious.
She gave me an update on the Relate sessions then a reveiw of family life and then her own feelings and worries. I had prepared myself a little for this meeting but not in enough depth. I am so sorry for the way she she feels and I'm there for her; anything I can do whenever, whatever and howsoever I will do. Even if its just listening. As a man who has been trained to listen I can do that but again as I am a man I have to resist the temptation find a complete solution which I could do but know that I can't do (as it were) - its their problem. There were some things that I found I could not say to her for quite a few reasons - love, sentiment, sensitivity to her feelings, shock, and thats just the start. I don't intend to say them here either.
What I will say is this: their relationship and their love for each other is not dead. Many marriges have survived much worse trauma. They are both in a very unpleasant place as a direct result of actions taken by BOTH of them. If they still love each other enough then thay will find a way to repair the hurt and rebuild their lives togther with their beautifl, beautiful children. Right now I am a very worried man. As a rule I tend not to trust what people say but I do trust what they do. From my postion I have seen what they have both done to upset each other and what they have done since. My son went back to his wife quickly (just a few weeks) after they broke up. My daughter has divorce papers filed with a solicitor. My son (with my daughter's help) has obtained a more correct medication for his depression.
They have both started attending Relate. My son is very very gradually begining to come back to life but he has not yet forgiven himself. He has not started dealing with some important financial and health issues but he has made a small start. They both find talking a little easier and are discussing things more readily. My son has not yet asked my daughter for help (I think that he has to do this). Most of this is positive but there is enough negativity there to cause me concern. My son is ill and my daughter is hurt. My fear is that if my son doesn't recover or doesn't recover quickly enough my daughter will hit him with a divorce that will destroy his life forever and radically change the life of my oldest granddaughter. I am however an optomist through and through. If there is enough love left then their life can be changed, reinvented, improved, renewed - its do-able. They both have to do it. When I was thirtytwo I nearly left my wife. There were no affairs or anything I just thought that I had fallen out of love with her. The reason I am still married to that woman is largely as a result of the love she has for me, her disappointing husband, and my realisation of how valuable it is to have someone who loves you in your life. My daughter doesnt realise how valuable she is, trouble is neither does my son. Perhaps I should tell him, I will tell him, soon.

And I am by the way quite healthy. I had a quick diabetic check up yesterday. My cholesterol is 4.7 (perfect), my blood presure was 122/68 (better than the 135/73 recommended), my blood sugar a slightly elovated 6.8 (7 or below is what I have to achieve) and this is all acheived under stress! Looks like all the had work I've done over the years is helping me stay healthy. I'd better start exercising again soon.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Good health - lets have some

Spent a long but enjoyable (sort of) day driving through the shires of England and Wales yesterday. I began the day in Oxfordshire and drove into Buckhinghamshire and Berkshire to visit a small hamlet (it wasn't big enough to be called a village) where a good friend now lives. I'd never been there before but it was just up the road from Ascot and although it was quite posh there were some very, VERY nice big houses with one or two normal, ordinary size houses there (my friend lives in one of these). The sun was shining and it was a quintisential early spring day. My friend was not at home, out at work probably, I'd just popped in on the offchance reaaly as I was vaguely in the area. So back across to Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Somerset before going into Wales - I don't know which county Cardiff lies in. Then after a exceptionally boring meeting where I virtually said "hello" and "goodbye" and nothing else I drove home the long way: Herfordshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Staffodshire again, Cheshire and Lancashire. I stopped a few times to have a bite to eat or telephone home (it Valentine's day). I enjoy driving long distance alone - perhaps I should be a lorry driver - as it gives me time to think. Its not like gardening or Tai Chi though. I can focus my attention on the traffic and the physical actions of driving while my mind wanders over anything and everything. I thought a lot about myself, I've been feeling older than my fiftytwo years for while now and perhaps I am not fully recovered from the recent flu like illness I had. It began when I shaved first thing in the morning. I shave every day but I never really examine my reflection usually because I am pulling faces as the razor moves over my face. There must have been something though because I stopped shaving and had a good look. As I have Addison's disease I am the proud posessor of a year round tan. In winter I look as though I've been abroad or fresh out of a tanning salon. In summer I go quite dark and can look asian. The reason I stopped to look was I have two pathches of white skin one under each eye that I haven't had since I was healthy when all of my body was white. I have "panda eyes" in February. I am also diabetic so are the white eyes a symptom of uncontrolled blood sugar or a sign that my liver is packing in? Or is my heart about to stop? (I have felt real sustained pain in my heart several times this year)Perhaps I need more exercise - that is to say more exercise than the nothing I do at the moment. I have a restricted diet but I cheat without thinking about it so it couold be elevated blood sugar. I looked at the food available in the various motorway service stations and it seemed that my life is set up against the normal way of life. It was very difficult to find food and drink that catered for my requirements. There was too much sugar and too much carbohydrate in just about everything. So after a good long think I decided to try a detox, no alchohol, less caffiene, more water, more fruit and green veg and more exercise. I will also go and have a personal MOT done. (A MOT is test carried out on all British cars over three years old, it is also an all round medical check up for everyone over the age of fifty). Then its light exercise followed by heavy exercise as I get fitter. As long as my heart holds out I'll live long enough to draw my pension!

I stayed overnight at my daughter's house in Oxford and she told me that she was coming to visit us on the first weekend in March. This means that the next three weekends will be spent with family. I know that I should relish the time with spent my family - I love them all - but when I am going to get some quality free time with my wife and my garden?

I spent a long time thinking about my son and daughter's difficulties. Why did they both look outside their marriage for a little happiness? Was it boredom, vanity or desperation that led them to wander or just the natural programming to continue the species? In Blackpool on every night of the year the bars and clubs are full of single and married people who are out without their partner and either on the pull them selves or ready to be pulled should they meet someone who is available. Also in business situations there are times when socialising that sex can be offered and if you meet the wrong person at the right time then mistakes can be made. There are people around who just don't care about vows, their own or others. Twenty years ago I knew a woman, lets call her B, who was married and worked in the same building as me. She went to the pub every time we did usually at lunchtime but occaisionly in the evening. She was tall and slender with long red hair and very pretty. She was a good laugh and her way of saying hello was to put one arm around you, kiss you full on the lips and unzip your trousers. If you couldn't pull away quick enough (if the pub was crowded for example) her hand was inside your pants and she took a firm hold of you giving you marks out of ten. This woman was having an affair with two people in my office (neither of them was me) even though she was happily married. While messing around with another may be fun or even exciting it merely infaltes your ego and encourages you to continue. The fact is that this kind of messing around can ruin lives. I know that my son and daughter have given themselves a fright and now realise the full implications of their actions. I hope they both can salvage their relationship and return to a happier life together.

I mentioned the alarming woman above to illustrate that, while I've never had an affair, I'm not holier than thou by any means, I'm as fallible as anyone. (I was a nine apparently! She called me "Bwana").

Monday, February 13, 2006

Whose life is it anyway?

Well February is only half way through and my life has returned to what it was last year. I have no free time to do what I want to do (whatever that may be). My brother and sister in law came to visit over the weekend; no worries there they are good company and I like having them over. However next weekend is the scheduled parachute jump for D so there will be a housefull again next weekend. The weekend after that my Father in law is coming down.

Don't get me wrong I love all of my family and I love having them stay but at this time of year the only free time I have thats in the daylight is at weekends. We have committed to changing the garden and this is the best time of year for moving trees and shrubs. I havent even sowed seeds yet. Of course my wife enjoys visitors coming to stay as it gives her someone other than me to talk to. What makes things worse is that we havn't invited anyone over, they've just decided to turn up. This is fair enough I supose, we've always had an open house, but I feel as though I am not in control of my own life. I also know that it will be my fault when the planned garden doesn't appear on time. My sister in law suggested that J and I should go up to her for a week sometime in the next month or so. J readily agreed, forgetting that we promised her father a holiday on a narrow boat sometime in the first half of this year AND that I was going to take a week off work to rebuild our kitchen. As I have only 8 days holiday left until July I don't know how we can fulfil our committments.

This reads as a petty complaint but I feel that control of one's life is important. My daughter in law is having a crisis of confidence at the moment for just the same reason - lack of control. My problems are slight compered to those of my son and daughter. He is still at the early stages of recovery but seems to be happy in a sort of child-like way; she looks anxious and aggitated most of the time. This is only what I have observed as neither of them has spoken to me in any depth for a while. I don't mind that so much as I can catch up with my daughter's worries via her own blog. Although the thought of her taking advice from, at best, anonymous strangers and, at worst, voyeurs of anguish worries me a little. On the one hand written advice is or can be precise and accurate but on the other hand personal advice can be more powerful and direct and theres always a hand to hold. Perhaps the situation that they're in is too overwhelming for them. Perhaps they are uncomfortable in sharing too much. I don't know. I may never know. As a parent I will always have concerns about my children but they are all adults now and must live their lives their way. I don't preach to them or demand that they do things in certain way. I can give advice if asked but at the end of the day I trust them to get on with things themselves. I was never a control freak with my children but since they became adults I have transitioned into a friendly father figure rather than an actual father. If my suport role is to be relgated to the background thats fine but it would be nice if someone told me that.

I'm off to Cardif via Oxford tonight for my monthly trip to my Welsh customers. I enjoy the traveling but the arrival in Cardiff less so. If the weather holds it could be a good trip. It would be even better if I just jumped in the car and drove off to nowhere in particular...

Monday, February 06, 2006

And so it begins

Its been a while since the last update. Both my wife and I have been ill. My wife particularly. Feelings of nausea and tiredness have meant that family and work have been our main concerns. The New Year has started slowly for me. I usually travel for work down to Cardiff in Wales or the south west of England. But so far this year I’ve only had one trip to Cardiff. We have decided to reorganise our garden and started by digging out a quince bush. I thought this would take less than an hour to achieve but in the end it took one and a half days. We have sandy soil and there were roots everywhere. I can barely lift my arms to type as I now am so stiff and aching. I don’t like this time of year when I am not feeling 100% I miss the long hours of daylight and the chance to be outdoors. There is nothing as nice as sitting in the garden with beer or with the family around for a barbeque. I also enjoy working in the garden – its something to do with being English. Mind you the year ahead will mean a lot of working in the garden. I find that gardening is a little like doing Tai Chi or yoga. Your body is active but your mind is focussed and while gardening I am not thinking about anything else. All of life’s problems recede into the background and when I am finished working I can appreciate that I have had a respite from them.

My eldest son and my daughter in law are going to Relate (a counselling service in England) and they both seem to getting something positive out of it. Neither of them say much about the sessions now as they have agreed to keep conversation about their problems “in the box”. They only open the box at the relate session. This is fine, its their problem after all. It’s a little frustrating not knowing what they’re talking about after being so close to them during the initial break up talking issues through but they have to sort this out one way or another. I just feel relegated to the side lines now, not as involved. The last I heard they were discussing my son’s depression and trying to get at the cause(s). This sounds to me like psychoanalysis rather than marriage guidance but I’ve never needed to have marriage guidance myself so I don’t know if this is a valid method of sorting him out or not. He seems a lot happier but I don’t know whether that’s only a result of his medical treatment or not. I would like to think that he is feeling better as he is changing into a happier person rather than a result of his medication. He says that the relate sessions are helping so it’s looking positive. We’re still here for them. We baby sat while they went to London last week for a couple of days and I’m glad we did. Part of the thank you was a rather nice bottle of Montrachet. This was the good stuff Pinot Noir etc. Marvellous.

My second son D had his 30th birthday last week. We gave him a large bottle of whisky and a pile of jazz and Zappa cds. He was telling us that his girlfriend was thinking of moving in. It would be nice for him to have some able bodied company. He says that he is happy living alone and will be just as happy if she moves in. I’m glad that he’s happy. His parachute jump has been moved to the 18th of February so I won’t see him until then. It’s good to know that in spite of his MS he is enjoying his life. He has been sustained by music and his good friends. He is even thinking of learning to drive. I admire his positive outlook and I am very proud of him.