Tuesday, 28 August 2012

What Q?

As part of an assessment, I took an IQ test. I scored 200. I think that caused them some consternation, because they asked me to do another one. I scored 205. I refused the third time.

To put that in context, my (amused) doctor has an IQ of 140. Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein scored at 160, so that would put more on par with Emanuel Swedenborg, the theologian, scientist and philosopher at 205.

Wouldn't it? Would it heckers like.

Thirty years ago I considered taking an Access to Nursing course. There were a number of criteria to fulfil, such as qualifications, demonstrated ability, an exam to pass, and an IQ test.

I had a chat about it over a pint with a friend, a professor at a local Uni, who mentioned with a broad grin that their psychology department was doing a short project called 'How to pass an IQ test". After a good natured debate - he didn't want me to do the nursing course - I said, right then. You're on.

The title is of course a joke. Everyone passes an IQ test.

How did I do on the nursing course? Pretty good actually. It was just challenging enough to be good fun.

Then came the phone call about the IQ test. They thought there'd been an error, and would I mind doing a retake? Why? It was 190. "A bit too high". Eh? ok, I said. They were very nice about it when it came back again as 205, and very apologetic, but would I mind awfully?.... Yeh, actually, I would mind.

"The result was inconsistent with the requisites for completion of the course" Which is hogwash speech for either "What's someone with an IQ like that doing on the course, it's suspicious", or "Nurses aren't supposed to score 205". Ouch.

Though it's nice to know that I still score that after 30 years and a few Strokes, it confirms my belief  that such tests are in no way a measure of intelligence. It's something, like anything else, that you can learn to do. Consistent demonstration of ability in those fields of endeavour you choose, that makes you happy is.


A bit of common sense comes in handy too. For instance, if you ask the wife, shorter than you "Put that in the bottom cupboard for me will you ducks?". If she grumpily says "Why?", shut up. Don't quip "Because you're closer to the floor than me". Hmmm. Not very bright.

Sunday, 26 August 2012


Have you noticed how the prices of food basics have crept up lately? Apparently it's down a few months of wet weather that has left crops well below supermarket standards, left farmers with low yields  and root veg such as potatoes, carrots and beets rotting in the fields or soon afterwards.

Apparently people don't want pale salad and wonky veg. I have sympathy with the farmers. Most of my little crop has been wiped out by sodden soil and a snail and slug invasion. You plan for at least a 1/4 loss anyway - the snails get some veg and salad, the hedgehogs and birds get those and other garden pests. Even snails are worth eating, if you don't mind hand feeding them to cleanse them. Not really worth the effort though :)

But I've lost two thirds stock. but I'm quite used to wonky carrots, and with a bit of barter I've managed to acquire 4 lbs of  gooseberries, 5lbs of early cooking apples, with a promise of more later. I've had a good crop of sweet plums to trade with later. Some of the stuff I've bartered for will be re-bartered or turned into jams and chutneys in exchange later for late season veg. 

It helps if you know a few little tricks. For instance, spring onions. Spring onions are immature onions. If you simply use the green leaves, cut 1/2 inch above the white bit - then put the white part with the roots in a glass of water, and change the water every couple of days. Kept on a windowsill, it will keep producing leaves for weeks for salads or cooking.

If you are feeling adventurous, same as above, but plant in compost in a plant pot, and allow to develop. Use when your patience runs out. 

Likewise, if you buy onions, red or white, chop the root end half inch from the root. Float on a glass of water for a few days, then transfer to a pot. It will produce 'spring onion greens' eventually. I'm told they may even, given time, produce onions.  If you don't mind planting some cloves of garlic the same way, the leaves offer a mild and delicate garlic flavour to salads.

I was asked recently whether you can grow carrots, beets, turnips and swedes from the tops you may cut off? Not in my experience. But you can produce gorgeous, delicate, beet, carrot, turnip, swede  leaves for salads, soups and casseroles. Frequently used in restaurants. Which reminds me....

I'm off on a wobble with some cooking apples and frozen gooseberries to a neighbour with a "weird 8 foot  weed taking over her front garden" It's Fennel leaves - I estimate about 5lb in leaves alone. Nice in salad and soups, and I feel a recipe for home-made aniseed sweets coming on.........

Friday, 24 August 2012


Granddaughters second birthday. Bear and Tots have been busy making lots and lots of buns, then their off. Tho' it's only a few minutes away, I've sent up my home-made pizza dough for her dad. 

I won't be going. From long experience, as the evening wears on the adults will have a few drinks.

Granddaughter and I will do our own thing later. Granddad is making her something and she can help me finish it. Catch 'em young and turn them into Makers, and they'll never want for anything ever again.


Projects under way. 

Charlie's present. yeh, it's overdue, but that is quite deliberate because I want her help. I know she's only two, but that's the idea. If I may be blunt, I want to catch her now while she's young. I've had multiple strokes and I don't know if I'll have any more. But in twenty five years time, when she's looking at a blank wall, or thinking of a gift, I want her to think "What would granddad do?" That will be my legacy.

Besides - who said birthdays should last one day?

On my infrequent trips out with Bear, I've come across chunks of layered sand stone rock. I find it exciting to think that when in the last ice age, the glaciers ground through the valley's below and shoved aside chunks of a period when it was much flatter, the valley's didn't exist, and there were shallow warm seas and ponds  that laid down layer upon layer of sand and silt.  

In honour to my land ancestors, I'll be carving one into a copy of an oil lamp. In Europe, the oldest found on land, is 17,000 years old. And yeh, I know sandstone is absorbent. Then I want to carve a Boar, which will be a challenge. It's crumbly stuff.

My sister makes memory books. Not scrapbooks. Gawd help anyone that calls them scrapbooks. Since I do bookbinding, I'll be make a few starters for her. Making sewed covers, pockets, embroidery, stitched animals and figurines and secret places is beyond me though, eh, Josie? :) .

I want to make a little model steam roller from scratch. I did it from a kit when I was a kid, and I've looked around and been horrified at the prices. So using materials at hand from recycled materials safely is going to be good fun.

Dray x


Thursday, 23 August 2012


Right, sorted. This blog should be viewable now. Sorry about that. A glitch at googles end.

Son is a little better. In the end we all got fed up with being fobbed off by A&E and talked to the GP, who had a look at him end of surgery, and sent him off to the Hallamshire hospital.

Who kept him in overnight, both injected and gave him intravenous antibiotics. The following day they discharged him across road to the dental hospital, who partly drained an abscess, and sent him home with some powerful antibiotics. He looks much less like Mr. Balloon head now.

Now comes the tedious task of finding a dentist that will take on an NHS patient. Very difficult :(

More later.......

Monday, 20 August 2012


Scott McKenzie, who sang "If you're going to SanFranCisco" died yesterday aged 73.

It was released in 1967 - when I was blurbblurbub. Respect.

It seems insertions of youtube video isn't working at the moment and working with html isn't either.

Try this. Sanfrancisco

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Bit of a worry

My lad, after suffering from toothache a couple of days, began to feel unwell. He had a chat with a pharmacy, who recommended a gel-stuff-thingy. After he awoke at 6am with his face and lips very swollen, he spoke to NHS Direct a couple of times and was referred eventually to an emergency dentist, who gave him an appointment for this evening, and suggested if his temperature rose beyond 38C he should be taken to A&E.

There was a worry that he might be allergic to the gel recommended by the pharmacy, but since he has no breathing problems, that was ok.

He's spent the day with us, and the swelling has got much worse, so much so his lips look like he's had implants, his face is swollen and one eye is beginning to close. His temperature has hit 39 C (102.2 F) .

We've got him a lift to A&E with his mum. My guess is that he needs antibiotics. It's a bit of a worry.

Friday, 17 August 2012


It's an odd thing kindness.

The overt lottery winner who wins acclaim from the papers. A hungry acquaintance with a gift. A brown envelope through the letter box with a tenner. A stranger who says you have a kind face, strokes it, and walks on.

A kiss on the cheek. A peck on the lips from a neighbour, a trusting cuddle from anyone's kid, a phone call saying "I miss you". What do you need? What can I do? Can I help? Can you reach that?

A touch, a hand on a shoulder, a firm handshake, a laughing cuddle from a mate, a friendly  punch on the shoulder, a laugh when you don't get a joke, the feel of an unshaven cheek on yours. A gentle touch, the smell of perfume, sweat, closeness? An arm around you?

Be held, to hold, to feel.

Good. Isn't it? Try it.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Thought for today.

If you are a person, such as I, who depends on carers, be very careful.

'Dependant' is situation aware.  The effects of stroke are on a sliding scale. However, people get confused that the control centre which affects the limbs, speech or cognition - the brain, being also the mind, are mutually inclusive. Not so.

Inside that body is often a mind that's perfectly functional. My experience is that carers go for the practical. What you are capable of is what you are. Not so. Which makes a stroke survivor is no different from anyone else.

How often have you fought to express yourself, or reached and hit your physical limits? How often have have you had to back off and wait until you needed to rest? 

But if you have carer's there's an extra danger of a slow creep between care and control. For instance, I've been told I can't have a holiday because 'it wasn't suitable'  I can't go to a theme park because 'it wasn't suitable'. They did. I don't even know the pin number for my benefits. Honestly, that would look very iffy if I wasn't aware.  I have people getting upset when I refuse to do what I'm told. But they do what they want when they want. Don't you?

I've never been to a Burger King, or to buy myself a pair of jeans, a t-shirt or a cafĂ© or a coffee shop. A pizza or a take-away, a football match ? Things people take for granted. It doesn't matter whether it's worth it. It's the principle. Why can't I - within reason?

If I was in prison, I'd get at least an hour exercise a day, and early release for good behaviour. 

I've been rebellious and wobbled off to the shop on my own. It took ages, and it takes me a couple of days to recover. But it's my decision. I could do without the ear bending. 

I think I'm reasonably lucid, and I'm very grateful.  But. What do you think?

Friday, 10 August 2012

How it was

Oh, such a lovely dream. I was battling leaning into a tremendous blizzard. It was snowing so hard horizontally into my face I couldn't see more than a few inches before me. Wonderful it was, and cold? Man, was it cold. Magic.

Then I snapped awake with a kitten sat on my forehead, sweltering. I hate it when that happens.


Had a bit of good news. Discovered that some little ditty I wrote way back in the early 1990's was being used without crediting me. I knocked off a little email making fun of them, asking for a little recompense, not really expecting or wanting a response. 

I was surprised to have delivered, from the well known reputable multinational company, a profuse apology, and just what I asked for. The occasional copyright credit, and two cans of lager. I haven't stopped chuckling all day :)

In case you're wondering, they had my address because I'd ordered from them in the past. I guess I was checked out :)


Back then, there was no advertising or commerce allowed on the 'net. Free knowledge was the normal citizen thing, and all we asked was, look hey, I made this, and if it was midi music, we included it in the header*. I know it's hard to believe, but the only commerce on the net was between individuals.

* If you're a bit iffy about headers and privacy, you're in for a shock. Photos from mobile phones and digital cameras contain exif information - best way to explain that is an attached text file that contains everything from the location, the make of phone/camera, the shoot information, and GPS information of where it was taken.

Likewise, emails have headers with information about where they come from, their route to you, and who from. This can be altered. (It's called spoofing)

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Love is.

Another young couple referred to local church for a food parcels - with a bit from us.

Just some basics, cheap bread, milk, rice, pasta, cheapo tea bags (which I find yukky) couple of tins of own brand supermarket beans, soup and tomatoes. Potatoes, and my own chopped veg mix, and home made toddler food, cos it's cheaper that way. If nothing else they can do a 'knock together' for a couple of days.

No meat though. There's a good chance they were on pay as you go for fuel, and meat doesn't keep. They'll get tinned meat from the food centre.

I try not to make value judgements. But  I get a nervous twitch when someone's mobile rings in their pocket. They can afford mobile credit? I draw a line if someone pulls up in car. Ahuh. A car seems essential if you're used to one. Cars to me are a luxury. When you add up maintenance, tax, insurance, and you can afford that, you don't need feeding. I understand that State side, fair enough. But not here in the UK.

Waddda'ya want? Food or petrol? Petrol /Gas is the wrong answer.


Don't you just hate it when people are in conflict about something, and their way of sorting it is to yell a lot?

It's like, their brought up to believe that being rude, noisy, sarcastic, and gladiatorial is the way to resolve a problem. No, it isn't. It just means the noisy one wins, which is no solution at all. It means that the way to resolve a dispute is to bully everyone else into submission.    

If I may be blunt, well, cobblers. 

The secret is to sit back, and detach yourself. Pull back, don't get involved, and watch. 

Friday, 3 August 2012


A tip for you. Don't absent-mindedly pass the wife home made sweet chilli from the fridge instead of strawberry jam. One bite of that toast and all hell broke loose. She's not  talking to me at the moment.

Actually, I don't think she can....


Until a few minutes ago, I was surrounded by a group (flock? gaggle?) Gaggle of ladies swapping various articles of clothing and underwear. I'm quite used to being the invisible bloke in the corner pounding on his keyboard, but blimey, it's a good job I'm an old 'un. Ish.

A wedding tomorrow of someone I've never heard of, and I'm not invited. Hence the ladies all of a flutter (Including mine) doing all that swapping and changing. Lots of  Eeking and Ooking And "Oh my god, what am I going to wear?"  I see a rather large dent in my wallet arriving.


Oddly, they seemed to have problems undoing bra straps. Very odd. As a right of passage I learned as a very young man to undo them with one hand. All you need to practice is to acquire a bra, and a chair. Place bra over chair back. Or if your're very desperate, a woman. How hard can it be?

Yours, confused, Wheelie :)

Thursday, 2 August 2012


  • Q. There are many kinds of Stroke. What kind of Stroke did I have?

  • A. Cerebellar, and TIA's.  The cerebellum is part  of the brain at the back. For an explanation see Here. In a nutshell it affects my co-ordination. I'm told that technically I shouldn't be able to walk. I agree. But I'm stubborn, pig headed and grumpy, and make sure I have lots of practice.

I have trouble walking unassisted, and if I miss-step and/or trip, I can't get up unaided.  It's a bit like slipping on deck on a rough sea.

But it isn't just walking. If I reach for a cup, for instance, I have to calculate quite where I think it should be, or my hand will either miss or go through it. Bring a cup to my mouth, I have to be sure it goes there, not in my left ear, My lass spends a lot of time washing shirts. Even after all this time, it's like learning to play darts. 

You have no idea how funny it is when I pick up a dart. For some odd reason people say "Oh, F**k" and do a runner. Can't think why..... 

Other than the obvious signs of a missing or reduced cerebellum, such a stroke takes a lot of investigation. For instance, people with severe alcoholism can lose their cerebellum. So even if they give up drinking, they seem to be drunk. At the time I was teetotal. So that and lots of annoying tests ruled that out.

  • Q. What is a T.I.A. ? A T.I.A, or (here)  Transient ischemic attack is the most hated phrase in my personalverve. Cus it ain't. The idea is that it's a tiny stroke who's effects last than twenty four hours.

For a start, 24 hours is a purely arbitrary time. It's like five-a-day. A lottery figure. I mean seriously. It's like my missus saying "Would you like your 5 a day?", me saying "Don't mind if I do!" after she's read fifty shades of grey and expecting to walk afterwards. Rubbish.

Yes. The effects are indeed shortish lasting. But every time it happens, you lose a little bit more of yourself. Most importantly, I'll kid you not, from my experience, a stroke is a stroke, is a stroke. 

Don't mess around with doctors appointments. If you have sudden facial, arm, speech problems F.A.S.T-ime to call 999. 

I ignored that. And for no-one else's  fault but my own, I have permanent right sided weakness on top of the  cerebellar stroke, Speech problems, swallowing problems and as much as I hate to say it, some cognition problems (I'm a bit slow on the uptake). All because I don't like hospitals. I'm an idiot. 

Please don't do as I do, do as I say.  

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Ahaar, Jim Lad.

"He could do more. He just needs to make the effort. Fair enough, he's been ill for a long time, but everyone gets better eventually"

I'll spare the blushes of the twit that said that a few feet from me and not name them, but they should know better.

"Who's ill?", I said standing up, and somewhat towered over them. 

That flustered them. I do that. Suddenly become visible. "But" they said stubbornly, "how come you take all those tablets then? Those clinics and doctors appointments ?"

"Ahah. You mean me?" I adjusted my reading glasses to the end of my nose and gave them 'The Look' over them. If you use glasses, you really should try that technique. Watch 'em squirm :)

No. I'm not ill. Not bleeping invisible either. Never been better. Not had so much as a cold for years. Nor have I had a 'ology', an 'itis' or an 'ism'. I'm probably fitter than most people I know. 

Perhaps I'm being a little unfair. I can see where they're coming from. Poorly people go to the doctors and take tablets. Happens to everyone. So if that goes on for a long time and effects your quality of life, you're ill for long time, right? Fair enough. Sorta. 

In my case, I have excellent cardiac and pulmonary function. Kidney and liver function are great. Hearing is perfect. No clogged arteries, I'm not overweight, blood sugars are normal. I don't even get headaches. My mental health is superb. My IQ, for what it's worth, is uncomfortably high. My only glitch is that I'm a little short sighted, hence the reading glasses. But that's not unusual for a bloke is his fifties.

I'm a Stroke survivor. I had a major glitch, and some smaller ones in the control centre that disconnected it from some body parts by varying degrees. Those body parts and limbs are otherwise, themselves, perfectly healthy. Why that happened, no-one knows. It just did.

How do I know I'm well? Because of those doctor and clinic appointments. So why the tablets? Because they keep me that way. Most of the bases are covered. It's almost certain that because of them I'm much healthier than many of the blokes I know of my age. 

I don't suffer the vagrancies that many so called 'middle aged' men seem to accept as an inevitable part of ageing. Daft buggers.

Lets put it this way. When I eventually shuffle off this mortal coil, as we all do, I'll be one of the fittest and healthiest stiffs under that tree. Chatting to some of my contemporaries, they most certainly won't :)

What's my point?

From where I'm at, sickness and disability should not be lumped together. You can be sick and disabled. You can be healthy and disabled. You can have no disability and become sick. You can, as I did, be healthy and become disabled but healthy.

It's a sobering thought that it can happen to anyone.

But you can't generalise, and presume someone is somehow sick, and will 'get better'. I will never 'get better'. Improve in small ways, certainly. I'll always need some support to live the same life as those who are neither sick, nor disabled, and more so, ye small gods forbid, should I ever become sick too. I hope, like anyone else that should I ever become ill, I'll recover. 

I am not ill, nor will I ever get better, and as was implicit and annoying, do more and be less of a burden on others. I have nothing to get better from.

My responsibilities to myself and those around me are actually greater than a lot of able bodied, because I have the same responsibilities with the added annoyance of disability.  That isn't a complaint. It's a fact. 

I'm not cared for. I'm supported. In the years ahead, should life change for you, I wish you the same. Because it's wonderful.

Odd that people don't see it that way.


Have you any idea how hard it is to type with an 8 week old kitten sat on your shoulder? At least Long John Silver had a parrot....

He was disabled too. As was Captain Hook. Didn't hold them back much, did it?  :)