Sunday, 1 July 2018

Dog Days


These feel like the dog days. Days which, if you could see them, would look like dirty pieces of paper thrown in a ditch. Days when the heat becomes too much. This is England, we're not used to such warmth, while ambition deserts us, energy is sapped away and nights are sweat soaked middens of messed up sheets.  The garden is full of dead rose petals and bits of plants, as if the shrubs and flowers had wiped their brows and tossed out all the bits they didn't need. The humidity has been enervating, and my family has lacked the energy to do anything much except watch the football.
Brexit comes and goes, another conundrum that makes one lose the will to live.

There has been some latent energy in the government just lately. According to a recent edict designed to cut NHS expenditure, we will no longer be able to have our massive breasts reduced in size just because the strain on our back is too much. Carrying two weights of six kilos attached to our shoulders - if you can find underwear to fit- is not something any woman wants to do. Forget the stupid ones who go in for implants; they just asked for trouble. Forget people like me who, after a mastectomy for cancer, was left with a no-breast/ large breast combo which made me feel unbalanced and peculiar.  Restoring the no-breast would have involved removing skin from another area and making a fake, silicone filled breast and tattooing a nipple onto it. A lengthy operation, I was told.

Reducing the size of the existing breast was a simpler option. I would wear a prosthesis on the no-breast side, and have a smaller, neater breast on the other.  And it worked. The scars on the no-breast side are neat and inoffensive, but there's no nipple. And, if I'm honest, not much sensation either.  I breast fed three children for about a year each, so I know what sensation is like. But the other reduced-in-size breast is perfectly ok. One out of two ain't bad. If this choice had been removed I would have been unbalanced for life. I still am, but not as much.

Tonsils is another procedure being questioned.  As a child, I had endless bronchitis, sore throats and infected ears and sinuses. I lost a year of school, and the climate in Peterborough, where we lived, didn't help. Fog on the Fens and bronchitis go together. If I were medically trained, I could give a few reasons why tonsils and adenoids may be necessary to the health of your children, but I also know that removing them gave me a new lease of life, free from earache and asthma attacks.

Many of our ailments are self induced. Obesity, substance abuse, excessive exercise, no exercise at all, poor diet, lack of hygiene and close proximity to those germ factories known as small children,
mean most of us are going to be ill at some time in our life with something we could probably have avoided, like riding a motor bike with no helmet, or playing Russian roulette with wild mushrooms.

I wait to see which other 'unnecessary' procedures will be taken off the NHS lists. Now -put those chips down, throw away the pizza and put that fag out. Soon you'll have to. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Saturday, 30 June 2018


We heard the news where you are; war and rumours of war.

It’s not far, just across the border. Bad news travels fast.

They say little is left of all your ancient cities.

Palmyra razed! Even Alexander didn’t manage that.

Such senseless destruction! Now just dust and rubble.

You must be devastated.

Here our men are peaceful. We work the land together,

keep busy tending our fields, our livestock,

mending our mud-brick houses,

keeping our floors well swept. Sounds boring, but it’s worthwhile.

I can’t imagine fighting.  Over what?  You didn’t say.

We are peace loving people, men and women working together.

Meeting on the roof terraces above our houses,

we linger in the evenings, podding beans, grinding millet, telling stories - you know –

and we are content. We talk often of the news where you are.

It’s always bad. We pity you.

We hear of things that we don’t understand:  explosives, bombs and guns. What are these things? 

No, don’t explain; we wouldn’t know about them. Wouldn’t want to.

Anyway, we hope you manage to find some safety, shelter, food,  despite the difficulties.

Can you still buy bread?  And does the camel train still stop outside the town?

Someone should tell the men not to go destroying everything

or there’ll be nothing left for future generations.

Which reminds me, are your children well?   And how’s Faridah?

Write soon.