Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Do you write a Diary?

Do you write a diary? I do, I have since I was 12. And I have kept them all.

My first ever entry was on January 1st 1980.

'Snowy (mouse) had her babies. I also played with Nicky Hunter and wrote thank you letters'.

There wasn't much room for each entry in my first diary, and yes I kept and bred mice, in fact I had a lovely little business going with the local pet shop and sold the young mice for extra money.

I soon learnt that I preferred diaries that had blank pages so I could write as little or as much as I wanted.

Over time this developed into a real love of stationary, so much so, that now write my diaries in a Moleskine pad with a Palomino Blackwing 602 pencil, which is, allegedly, what Hemingway wrote with. I think/hope some of Hemingway's genius will rub off on me when I am writing (I am fully aware of how pretentious this sounds, but in the spirit of honesty ...).

OK OK, so I'm a stationary snob, so shoot me, I can't help it, I love me some stationary, I have a Filofax with Dodo pad innards.

And yet I also like my technology, but I think it's OK to like both.

I prefer a book to a Kindle (tried one, didn't like it).

I like a new books because I love the smell, although I think Libraries are wonderful, I like my books to be bent to my will - yes I break the back, yes I take them in the bath (on the rare occasions I have time for one), I leave coffee cups on them to hold them open and they end up with coffee rings, and sometimes I even write little notes in them, once my book is my book, it's mine. I think it is almost like an animal scenting a thing to make sure everyone knows who the thing belongs to.

But I digress, as I often do, I write a diary, but over the last few years, I have wrote less. Thankfully, this year my lovely husband bought me Dawn French's Me You Diary, where she writes something and you write something, and it has really got me back into it.

 Most of my diaries are bulging with all sorts of bits and bobs.

I do worry that the current generation and those to come, won't have this, they won't have the physicality of a diary or a letter or a postcard sent from a friend when you are feeling low. All they will get is a little sad face emoji and a wave via text.

I have letters and poems, my Dad wrote for my Mum and they are beautiful, Dad's handwriting all squirly and Mum's all copperplate, so personal and lovely.

And of course, they won't enjoy the feel and touch of lovely stationary.

I have personalised my diary and 'scented' it so it is completely mine, I have always used my diaries as scrap books as well as something to write in. I ripped out the pages I needed to write in when I went on holiday and Sellotaped them back in when I got back, I have pressed flowers and put them on the front and Dawn, as I now know her, gets you to stick a photo of yourself into the diary every few months, which is something I would never do, but it's kinda nice.

So thanks to Dawn French I am now fully back on the Diary gravy train, and loving it, and although I write this blog, in a diary I can write whatever I like, there is no self censorship, no political correctness, just me, and one day my children can read them, like I read my Mum and Dad's letters, and feel a huge personal connection - hopefully.

So go on, start writing a diary, it's never to late to start.

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Monday, 21 May 2018

My Cancer and Me

I have lived with cancer for 8 years in August - 8 YEARS!

That's ages, especially when my first reaction was , well that's it then, I'll get my coat...etc...

For those of you new to my blog I have Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML), I take a pill everyday, and that keeps it at bay.

If you want to read more about my history with cancer, I have blogged about it on numerous occasions, but here are a couple of the highlights here and here

My results were so good that last year I had five months pill free (which was glorious) as there have been studies that some people who have been taking my drug Dasatanib and similar have come off it and shown no further signs of CML. I wasn't that lucky and ended up back on my drugs after 5 months.

That was a bit of a blow, as being off my drugs was great, I had lots of energy, my body ached less and my breathlessness when walking was gone. Sadly, all those things are back in abundance. BUT and this is a big but, I don't have to be injected with traditional chemo, I haven't lost my hair - it's thinned a bit, but on the whole it's hanging in there, I don't spend days vomiting or feeling nauseous (the nausea and headaches just happened when I first took my drugs and eased off over time).  On the whole my symptoms from the drugs don't impact my life too much.

If you'd have told me in 2010 I was still going to be here in 2018 I probably wouldn't have believed you, but as every year goes by my hope increases.

Me, blissfully ignorant on holiday about a month before my diagnosis.

Me today.

Initially, I had to have yearly blood marrow biopsies to check things they couldn't just get from my blood, now they don't need to my cytogenetic blood test is enough to give them all the information they need.

For anyone who has ever had a bone marrow biopsy you'll understand why I am happy to not have them any more.  Having an injection into bone is very painful, I am not going to sugar coat this, no it's not as painful as giving birth (because that goes on for longer), but it is painful.

So yes, no more bone marrow biopsy's equal huge relief, but also demonstrate how quickly this field of medicine is moving on. Some believe that I will end up with medicine that is specifically targeted to my DNA, which would be amazing.

So just remember when you are asked to contribute to Cancer Research or Blood Wise, do, because you will be helping me and people like me.

I want to grow old, I want to move to the seaside, I want to see my children become adults and celebrate life, however they choose, and this seems to become a more realistic probability every day.

So yes, I am 8 years with cancer but I am optimistic that I will continue to fight, and get the best medicine and support the charities that support me, and that tiny niggle of what would happen if my condition took a turn for a worse lessens everyday.

So I live with Cancer, it's not my bestie, far from it, it is an annoyance that I can overcome, most days (I still have bad days), because cancer is stupid and I am better than it.

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Sunday, 20 May 2018

My 20 must watch films and songs from the 1980's

My millennial daughter has asked me to write a blog about the 1980's - this is quite a broad subject.
I think she is thinking about films and music, but I can add some more to that.

In the 1980's I was going to be an actor, fact. There was no bend in me on this front, I went to tap, ballet and modern dance lessons. I had singing lessons, I was in my local amateur dramatic group and I forced my way into every production I could at school, by the time I was going to Uni I realised I wasn't that great an actor and didn't know what I wanted to be, (which was a bit of a blow, to be honest) by the time I left college I wanted to be a theatrical lighting designer- that didn't happen either, but it didn't matter because in the 80's (until the recession) you thought you could do anything. It was a pretty amazing time.

I started secondary school in 1979 so I am a proper, fully fledged, teenager of the 1980's.

I wanted my hair to be like him out of flock of seagulls during the early 80's, then I just wanted to be Siouxsie Sioux during the late 80's.
Me Circa 1984 between flock of seagulls and siouxsie sioux

Siouxsie Sioux
Him from Flock of Seagulls


During the 80's we saw vinyl moving to CDs, we saw portable telephones, Slimfast, the introduction of laptops and the massive takeover of Microsoft  and in 1989 we saw the fall of the Berlin Wall and in essence the end of the cold war. It was a time of great technological and political change.

We saw this with music and film as well, MTV was introduced and in 1983 they finally started showing 'black music' playing the video for Michael Jackson's Billie Jean on heavy rotation.

Films started using better and better special effects and we saw Steven Spielberg's meteoric rise with films like ET, The Goonies, all the Indiana Jones Films, The Color Purple and Empire of the Sun. All of which hold their own today, not just because of the stories but also because of the amazing visuals.

But what are my 20 must watch films and 20 must listen to songs from the 1980's?

This has been really tricky as there are so many great films and songs to choose from, so today these are the ones I am thinking of - tomorrow it could be completely different. Here is a selection of just some of my singles from the 80's, I had quite eclectic tastes (still do).

Which ones did you have?
In no particular order (and I could have picked so many more)- Films

  1. Blade Runner 
  2. The Lost Boys
  3. The Shining
  4. Alien 
  5. Aliens
  6. The Breakfast Club
  7. Terminator
  8. Die Hard
  9. Raging Bull
  10. Airplane
  11. Platoon 
  12. Full Metal Jacket
  13. Scarface
  14. The Princess Bride
  15. The Blues Brothers
  16. Dirty Dancing
  17. Blue Velvet
  18. Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure
  19. Heathers
  20. Tim Burtons Batman
 In no particular order - Songs
  1. When Doves Cry - Prince
  2. Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns n Roses
  3. Blue Monday - New Order
  4. Push it - Salt n Pepa
  5. Girls just wanna have fun - Cyndi Lauper
  6. West End Boys - The Pet Shop Boys
  7. Rapture - Blondie
  8. Grimly Fiendish - The Damned
  9. Spirit In the Sky - Doctor and the Medics
  10. 9 to 5 - Dolly Parton
  11. Flashdance - Irene Cara
  12. Sweet Dreams - Eurythmics
  13. Faith - George Michael
  14. Dear Prudence - Siouxsie and the Banshees
  15. Only You - Yazoo
  16. Temptation - Heaven 17
  17. Thriller - Michael Jackson
  18. Back to Life - Soul ll Soul
  19. Prince Charming - Adam and the Ants
  20. Buffalo Gals - Malcolm Maclaren
 So there you have it, if you do nothing else, watch one film and listen to one song that you haven't listened to/watched before - you might enjoy it.

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