Flying with Claustrophobia

No, its not the name of a new airline.

Claustrophobia is the irrational fear of confined spaces. It’s normal to fear being trapped when there’s a genuine threat, but people with claustrophobia become fearful in situations where there’s no obvious or realistic danger.

By the time you read this I will probably be on an aeroplane, terrified, strapped firmly in my seat and trying to breathe. The flight is only three hours but that is about my limit. I choose an aisle seat and preferably near the emergency exit.  Not because I am thinking of escaping but because there is a little more space to breathe.

I know its irrational but I feel there is no air on the plane, or at least not enough.  If only I could open a window.  Apparently that is frowned upon on an aeroplane.

For the journey I have packed four magazines, an iPod, a Nintendo DS, a Hudl tablet and a puzzle book.  That should do me.

my worry now is that, not unreasonably, the airline insists you be psychically fit and “normal” weight.  I am not really either of those things.  I cannot, hand on heart, say that I would be able to rip the emergency door open and let people out.

If I don’t sit in this seat I will have a panic attack. If I do and there is an emergency I am not sure I am the right person to help.

Lets hope you are not watching me on the news channel.

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I want to decorate my room.

Six words to strike terror into the average parent. As a rule I do not like decorating.  I don’t like the upheaval and mess. I do, however, like the outcome. Middle daughter decided to decorate her room.  To be fair, her room has suffered major trauma. A hole in the roof meant water pouring in through her ceiling and most of her wall suffering from damp. With the roof fixed and the damp dried out, it really is time to fix her room.

She pulled the paper off herself.  Well, when i say herself you really only had to look at the paper and off it came. We then decided it was best to take off the paper underneath. Then we could paint anti damp treatment. That proved a little tricky as it is stuck fast.  I used a steamer to loosen the paper.

This is where it got tricky.  Pulling the paper off under the window caused this…


The piece of wood on the left there is actually holding up the windowsill which threatened to fall out. The rest of the plaster was very wobbly.  Which lead to this….


By now, elder daughter had joined us and decided to help out.  Despite our concerns that the whole bay would fall at any second, we decided that all the loose plaster must come out.


and come out it did.


Eldest daughter had the brilliant idea of buying plasterboard and fitting it in.  We could then plaster over the top and no-one would be any the wiser.  We carefully measured the hole and off to B & Q we went.  (other DIY stores are available)

Once there we realised we had forgotten the measurements so had to guess at the plasterboard we needed.  I also remembered that I had forgotten to switch off the steamer. We concluded that by the time we got back either the bay would be in the front garden or on fire.  Maybe both.

As it happens, it was neither. Although the steamer was red hot.

And the plasterboard?


Fitted perfectly.

Still hate DIY though.

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Date Night

Don’t worry there is no explicit material in this post.

Recently I went on a date night with spouse.  This was at the suggestion of middle child. She pointed out a Stanley Kubrick exhibition at Somerset House in London.

“Father would like this,” she said “you should go together”  My heart sank, I didn’t really want to go anywhere with him , but felt, maybe, I should make the effort.

After first confirming  which dates he was free (his drinking days have a “u” in them) I purchased tickets.  He himself had chosen a Thursday so I felt I was safe with this. He was coming straight from an early day at work so I also packed a goodie bag of food for him.  He arrived home in time! I had made the effort of doing my hair and sticking a bit of slap on. He noticed neither expect to say there was lipstick on my teeth.  Off we set with me carrying goodie bag.  Apparently he had no pockets whereas I had a huge bag.  Its true that I have a Mary Poppins type bag crammed with lots of things. Doesn’t mean i want to carry all and sundry.

We arrived in good time and looked round.  It was a strange, yet fascinating exhibition.

Once we were done, it was early evening and surely time for dinner.  I suggested dinner for two and we settled on Pizza Express. (other eating establishments are available.)  I got a salad because the salads there are amazing.  I also had an elder-flower drink.

“Why are we in Pizza Express if you are not having a Pizza?” was his first query.  his next was “Elderflower?  Why that?” And then the big one. “why did you choose tonight? Its my drinks night?”

These questions I felt, we unnecessary. But I kept my temper and did not remark on the pink of beer he ordered.  After a really delicious dinner we decided to walk along the banks of the River Thames until London Bridge and then get a train home.

It should have been lovely and romantic.  This being summer it was still light but would be twilight soon.

“The river is lovely when lit,” said my spouse “Lets sit in a pub until the lights come on”  I was not keen on this.  Spouse is not known for his even temper post alcohol.  He has also lost his keys, his Iphone, his Ipod, and his bank card…twice.  So not a good record.  I declined. We then stopped at the window of every drinking Establishment on the way, and there a quite a few. He would drool as a child at a sweet shop.  Each time I declined to stop for a “quick half” He got grumpier and grumpier until we eventually reached the station by which time we were no longer speaking. We went home in silence and sat…in silence. Not a great end to date night.

He did go out the following evening, despite the fact there is not a “u” in Friday and got blotto.

He lost his bus pass.  Enough said.


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Hot weather? Not a fan

I find it amazing that in the country that spawned The Scout Movement, we are amazingly unprepared for practically anything.

Snow, just think of snow. Snow happens every winter. One inch and its five hour delays on the motorways and schools are closed. Actually, because I work in a school I don’t mind that bit. 

Leaves. They fall every autumn. And every autumn they delay trains, block drains and cause floods. 

Rain. We live on an island. Rain happens all the time. And now, floods happen all the time. And we don’t save it so as soon as it stops raining we have a drought.

And Brexit. Don’t get me started on how unprepared we were for Brexit.

But the worst problem for me is hot weather. Every year, not surprisingly in the summer, we have a heat wave. And every year it comes as a shock. Roads melt, train tracks buckle and shops run out of ice-cream and you can’t buy a fan for love nor money. 

Technically a heatwave is “when the daily maximum temperature of more than five consecutive days exceeds the average maximum temperature by 5 degrees”. (www.m ) But really, anything where you can fry an egg on the pavement counts. As an aside, I would never eat that egg.

And so it came to pass that the weather turned hot, in the summer. I was in the kitchen with the back door open and an ancient plastic fan whirring. To be honest, the fan did little more than spread hot air around the kitchen.Nevertheless I felt better with it. Suddenly, there was an ominous cracking sound followed by a high pitch whine. I was a little stunned to see that not one, but all three blades had shattered. I mean splintered, into a million pieces. I didn’t count the pieces but I am still finding them. 
I wish I had taken a picture, but in a rare display of efficiency I have already disposed of the errant  appliance at the dump. 

Of course, I made with undue haste to the local fan shops. Argos, Tesco, sainsburys. (Other fan shops are available). And, unless I wanted to pay upwards of £50 (I don’t) there was not a fan to be had. 

Of course you could say that it was I that was unprepared in not having a spare, reasonably priced fan. And you would be right.

But then, I am British and not really prepared for anything. 

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When my daughter was 21, we arranged  a surprise party for her.  She loved it.  It was hell, stressful and I swore I would never do it again.

So last Saturday we arranged a surprise party for my husbands 60th birthday. I cannot keep a secret, ask anyone.  Lying does not come easy to me. I almost told him about the party several times.

However, the day dawned and as far as I am aware, he was clueless.  He also did not know about the party. Middle daughter took him to the allotment and her job was to keep him there until summoned to bring him home.

Meanwhile,  my house filled with helpers. They were cooking, balloon inflating, gazebo erecting and anything else to assist. I had had the bright idea of not only throwing the party but making it a Guyana one.  Flags, banners, food.  So, it came to pass that, with help, I cooked a full Guyanese dinner for 25 people. IN SECRET!

Generally my husband can be relied on to spend all day at the allotment.  Not for nothing he chose one with a bar that serves alcohol…But, Murphy’s law, he wanted to come home at three.  Middle daughter text to see if we were ready.  We were not ready. Always thinking on her feet she took him Pokemon hunting.  I don’t know how much fun he had but it bought us an hour and three Pokemon for daughter. Eventually I realised she could hold him of no longer and gave the signal to return.  She asked if she could drive home.  Her thinking was she would drive really slowly. His thinking would be what a careful driver she was.

We were ready!  The food was cooked, the house decorated, we waited, silently,  in the back garden for him to arrive home. Party poppers at the ready…the doorbell rang.  Yes it was my brother in law arriving at almost the optimum moment. I dragged him in and shoved him unceremoniously into the garden.

Meanwhile, husband, in the passenger seat has spotted brother in law strolling down the road.

“That looks like Mike” He remarked as middle daughter, ever resourceful, hit the gas.

“I don’t  see him” she says casually as the car screamed past the house at 50 miles an hour. He may have smelled a rat, but fear of dying probably knocked that our of his head.

Its possible that he may have suspected something before he wandered into the garden to hear “surprise” and 25 party poppers erupting.  But he looked pleased and surprised.  Job done.

But, my friends, never again.  Never, never again.


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Graduation and all that brings

So my son graduated.

My baby son graduated recently.  Obviously he is not a baby but he is my youngest child. I am lucky in that this is the third graduation I have been too.  I am not including mine because, ironically, i didn’t go to that one.

It was poignant but not for the reasons you might think.

we travelled some 130 miles to get there and naturally our first though was food. The nearest eating establishment was KFC.  I am not a fan but needs must and all that.  because I am old I always take the opportunity to use the facilities. Whilst washing my hands one of the staff  came in, dived into the cubicle, and within minutes was shouting “Yes, Yes!”

I thought this was odd but English politeness prohibited a comment. She emerged from the cubicle soon after.  I raised an eyebrow at her which I felt conveyed all I needed to say.  The lady apologised and said ” my sons friend was murdered, his killer was in court today, i just heard he was found guilty.”  I had no idea what to say.  I put my hand on her arm, and said “I am glad that’s resolved, but sorry for your loss.”  She looked in the eye and said “he was 16”

I thought about this for most of the ceremony to be honest.  Then it was my sons turn to graduate.  We whooped and cheered as he went to the stage.  Many photos were taken and hands clapped.  Then a degree was awarded posthumously.  The buoyant crowd was shocked into silence. His mother and father bravely crossed the stage to get his degree.  We clapped them loudly but no cheering.

I did not pick up my degree. I was ashamed of my grade, and felt I was not worth the celebration.

But, two set of parents were denied the joy of celebrating graduation with their sons. It made me think, maybe we should celebrate everything, however poorly we think we did. Because some people cannot.


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The last day of half term

So here it is, the last day of half term.

I work in a school so I get more holidays than most people. However, these holidays are looked forward to all term. I count down the weeks, days and hours as a child might for Christmas.

Because we have so much holiday, unpaid holiday I might add, we are not allowed any leeway in term time. No dentist, no doctor appointment. No appointments of any kind.

I shouldn’t complain. Except this half term holiday has just finished and this afternoon, late on a Sunday, is the only time I have had to myself. And instead of resting, sewing, watching TV , I should really be getting everything ready to return to work tomorrow.

I don’t mind helping people, truly I don’t. But it’s, well, you have a week off , you can help me decorate, come shopping, pick me up from university, take me to the airport. Well, you get the idea. Then, tomorrow I am going to go back to work to “have a nice break?” And I am going to do the ungrateful thing of saying,”it was too short”.

I really needed to visit the doctor, my asthma is getting worse and I didn’t get to go. Getting an appointment is tricky. You have to start ringing at 8.30 and get through about 30 minutes later. Then the appointment can be anytime that day. You literally need the day off to see the doctor.

Oh well, its seven weeks until the next holiday. I will be off for five weeks. Wonder if I will be able to see the doctor.

Don’t hold your breath… especially if you have asthma.


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