Sunday 19 October 2014

School's Back for Autumn...

The new academic year has begun for everywhere now. Even the hallowed halls of Oxford have accepted that they need to spend a few weeks teaching their students (what a bother and inconvenience) and week one of Michaelmas Term has just come to an end.

For most school teachers, however, the summer holidays will be a faint memory as they claw their way desperately towards half term and the chance to catch up with themselves.

I love the smell of the new school year, the strange mix of butterflies and excitement it sets off in my stomach. It worried me that this feeling was still so strong until I worked out that of my 45 Septembers/Octobers 27 of them have seen the start of some kind of study – don’t worry, I revel in my geekiness!  

I am a little perturbed, however, that I began to experience those strongly evocative scents in MID-AUGUST.

Aah, memories...
When did August defect from summer and join forces with autumn? 

Did I miss the memo?


How come Scotland had insider info? 

Their autumn term has started in mid-August for yonks. Scotland definitely have it sussed – the children are on holiday during July, when it is often hot, and back to school in August when it is often wet. I hadn’t noticed this fact until, about 10 years ago, a gardener friend of mine pointed out that she lost more days work through rain in August than any other month. Since then I’ve paid more attention and, yes, the weather in August - the month around which our entire tourist season is based – is crap!

I digress. 

This academic year brings with it three things I would like to ramble on about…

My PERFECT Doc Marten's
1. My niece, The Brilliant, has completed her Masters in the History of Science and Medicine (or something like that) at Oxford – hopefully she will carry on to do her PhD and become Doc Martin, DM to her friends. I wanted to be Doc Martin myself once but, being realistic, she’s not only smarter than I am, she’s not as lazy. She also has a lot more stamina. In other words she can burn the candle at both ends with more aplomb than I could ever muster – she’ll pull the all-nighter to meet her essay deadline AND still get a good mark; I would be more likely to negotiate an extension and then procrastinate a bit more. So, as she is a genetically superior version of me, I am happy to yield the title to her youth and brilliance!

2. I am doing a 10 week course in web design through Oxford Uni’s Department of Continuing Education – so I can do clever techie stuff with this blog and make it look incredible…or that’s the theory. Eeeek! Still, at least I can now genuinely say I’ve studied at Oxford. Pretentious? Moi?

3. The Legend has started a course in Fire and Leadership Studies at the University of Central Lancashire. So, like a proud parent (he is, after all, The-Son-I-Never-Had) my next blog post will be all about him. The great thing is I can say anything I like without fear of repercussion – he’s way too busy partying…I mean studying hard…to read my blog!

Mwah ha ha!
Me. On a good day!

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Sciatica sucks. Who knew?

Thank you to Jaime for her fantastic piece about pain, insomnia and the difficulties of having either a hidden diagnosis or no diagnosis at all. Ironically, while she was writing that I was lying in bed languishing with sciatica.

After my last blog I spent the best part of two weeks in Lowestoft where I completed my ice bucket challenge and then, at last, after nearly 5 years, with the help of The-Son-I-Never-Had, the shadowy figure pouring icy water over my head, (hereafter, The Legend) I unpacked my book collection.

It was like being reunited with long lost family.
I would like to digress here to make a small addition to my comments in The Little Things...

Although I am still completely against ratings for books, it would have been SO helpful to have had a little info box a la DVDs indicating levels of violence, bad language and scenes of a sexual nature. Instead I had to read all the blurbs of the piles of unread middle grade and YA books and skim through their contents to establish which would be suitable for the 10-year-old she-cub. Not exactly a hardship but, my goodness, did it eat away the time.

Anyway, according to the chiropractor, scar tissue from the op I had a year ago is meshing itself round my sciatic nerve causing 5000 volts to periodically shoot down my right leg. This only happens when I’m sitting. Not enormously helpful when I use seated transportation to get around most of the time – wheelchair, Rascal, car. It has also made working at the computer a bit like sitting on a time-bomb.

I have, therefore, become very cautious and prefer to remain horizontal as much as possible.

“Aha!” I hear you cry. “So how are you managing to write this blog?”

And that is, indeed, a good question. The answer is I am dictating to a piece of software called Dragon Naturally Speaking. I love the idea that I have a dragon PA taking dictation for me but before we could start I had to teach her to speak Jane which involved reading out loud what felt like the complete works of Roald Dahl. Sadly, Dragon is not a fast learner and a fair bit of editing is required. The following, for example, is so far from what I actually said that, returning to it a week later, I haven’t a clue what I was on about:

This was fine when McCain would should stand my leg last a few seconds and then disappear. However, while Citigroup rented me completely immobile and necessitated recall, including the at work.

Bless my little dragon, if nothing else she makes me laugh!

Chiropractic magic, time and an ability, learnt over a lifetime, to adapt to new physical impediments mean that I am now able to type more easily and do more stuff around the flat – much to Beardy Man’s relief (although he is very good at it, he HATES cooking.) I have found that if I stand up at the first fizzing hint that a zap is on its way, I can head it off.

So now I look like I have Tourette’s Syndrome, as I will suddenly leap to my feet mid-sentence, mid-mouthful… you get the idea. We decided that this was probably incompatible with going to the theatre especially to see a stand-up comedian! It was agreed that Beardy Man, The Brilliant and Sylvester, in various combos, would attend separate shows by Jon Richardson and Alan Davies while I stayed home quite literally getting on my own nerves. Hey ho!