Jamie's Notes

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Very, very frightening

Thunderclouds above our house

Brilliant sunshine gave way to belligerent clouds this evening, and with them dozens of lightning strikes and thunder that rattled the windows and agitated the neighbourhood dogs.

Even as an adult I find thunder unsettling. The lightning, not so much.

E slept peacefully through it all. My mother used to wake me when there was a good thunderstorm. She would first unplug all of the electrical appliances, in case there was an electrical surge, and we’d watch it out of my bedroom window with all the house lights off. I used to laugh when I thought about this later, until I lost an ADSL router during a storm and was without internet for a week.

George is leaking

George had his operation on Monday. We waited all day for news, and at 4pm received a call to say that it had been a success and that we could come and collect him.

The vet explained that because the removed mass was so large, the remaining space would fill with fluid unless it is allowed to drain. He now has a little tube sticking out from his abdomen for the liquid to escape. ‘He will drip’ she warned, before handing over some large waterproof pads to protect the car.

So, he’s back home and leaking. He was disorientated at first, probably the after-effects of the anaesthesia, but is back to his old self now. The ongoing challenge is making sure that he doesn’t lick or scratch the wound. Easier said than done. We coaxed him, at the vets recommendation, into an Elizabethan Collar – aka ‘the cone of shame’. That didn’t go too well. He looked unbelievably sad, tripped while going down the steps to the garden and then got himself trapped beneath the swing. He is content to wear my old vests instead.

Not happy

His fear of the vet is now firmly and irrevocably entrenched. He refused to enter the building when we took him back for a check-up yesterday, and had to be carried in.

Not a dirty word anymore

I was in my home town today – for work, rather than anything interesting. I took the opportunity to drive to the top of Olivers Mount and looked down upon the town of my birth. From up here, I can see the first twenty-five years of my life spread out before me. Down there is the house that I grew up in, the place that I first kissed a girl, my schools, the old railway yard that my friends and I explored and the beaches that we roamed.

The view from the mount

I moved away from Scarborough in 2005. I was twenty-four years old and felt ready to leave it in the dust. For a long time before, and after, I hung all the baggage of my childhood and adolescence on this place: my parents’ divorce, the loss of my mum and grandparents, relationship breakdowns, broken friendships – all of it. I hung it neatly and then left it behind. So long suckers. Adios. I actively avoided the place In the intervening years. Scarborough became a dirty word.

Lately, I’ve begun to feel different about it. The good memories are the ones I think of first, and the bad ones no longer weigh me down. When I come back to Scarborough now, it just feels like home.

Where on earth do you think you are going?

Back in January, when George was having his annual health check, the vet suggested that we have a lump removed from his front armpit. The vet thought it to be a lump of fatty tissue – a lipoma, to give it the correct term. They’re common in older dogs, and not harmful, but can cause discomfort if they get too big.

The lump has continued to grow and now affects his movement – so this morning, after dropping E at school, I walked him to the vet for his operation.

George does not like going to the vet. I’ve never been able to precisely put my finger on why. He’s never had any other operations, and quite happily sits for his annual injections. He was neutered by the same vet when he was a puppy – the only other intrusive procedure he’s ever had. That operation went without a hitch, and I don’t think that George ever understood what had happened – but the resident cat took a disliking to him in the waiting room and gave him a quick swipe across the snout. George was highly offended by this unprovoked attack. Could that be why? He has been known to hold a grudge.

I could sense his resentment this morning as we waited outside, and as I left he looked at me with eyes that said ‘where on earth do you think you are going?’

They’ll do some blood work first, to check that there are no underlying issues that would make anaesthesia dangerous – then put him under, whip it out, stitch him up and have him ready by tea-time. Hopefully.

Vague feelings of manliness

I’m not a ‘manly’ man. I don’t watch football, drink beer or play snooker. My beard is rubbish. I do not own a leather jacket. I’m not sure whether these things are the measure of being a man, but they are manly things. Anyway, this is all an excuse to list the manly things that I have done over the past few days.

I have:

  • bought new blades for my jigsaw
  • driven a van
  • re-felted the roof of my shed
  • bought a couple of panes of double-glazed glass from a glass factory
  • purchased timber – with the intention of making something with it

Love what you do

I enjoyed this post by Kev Quirk, on the importance of doing work that you love.

If you’re working in a job you’re not happy with, move on. Even if you have to take a step back in your career, it’s so worth it in the long run.

Kev Quirk

It’s something I’ve thought about a lot over the past few years. I certainly don’t love my job. I can’t remember the last time I woke up raring to go in – it’s just what I’ve done for twenty-odd years. It pays the bills, it’s secure, and I’m good at it (or at least not bad at it).

Is that enough?

How many devices is too many?

In response to Kev, Bob and others who have posted lists of the extensive amount of devices that they use, while wondering aloud if they have too many. I absolutely do have too many, and I accept your judgement.

Here’s my list:

I’m a late adopter and usually a couple of iterations behind whatever is current, so while it looks like I’ve got the relatively new stuff – I’m just at that point in the cycle. My last phone, for example, was an iPhone 6. My laptop is seven years old, and I can’t see any reason to replace it.

I mean, it does look like a lot. But is it really?

Notes for week ending March 21st, 2020

Well, it’s all getting a bit scary, isn’t it?

In the beginning, it didn’t feel significant. It was important in the vague way a lot of things in the news are, but it was a long way away a I filed it away in the ‘probably important, but not right now’ file. The vagueness resolved itself rather quickly. I was told to work from home, the phrase ‘social distancing’ became normalised, the schools closed, groceries became scarce, restaurants & pubs closed their doors. Many things are less certain than they did a couple of weeks ago.

Am I worried about the virus? We are young and healthy. We’ve got stable jobs and employers that allow us to work flexibly. By any measure, we are incredibly fortunate. We’ll follow the government advice and hope for the best – because that’s the responsible thing to do to ensure that the NHS can treat those affected by the virus along with all of the other people it needs to treat each day.

Yesterday, my eldest daughter remarked that we’re living through a time that the children of future generations will learn of in school. She’s having a bad week. It’s her eighteenth birthday on Friday and everywhere is shut. On top of that her exams, which she’s been working towards for two years, have been cancelled and her employer has cut her hours to zero.

We adapt to this new way of life. There’s no choice. It seems more of an inconvenience than an emergency, but we treat it with the seriousness it deserves. There is little grumbling, though there is rising anger at the cretins stockpiling pasta and toilet-roll. ‘What a surprise. Selfish bastards’ said a woman in Asda when she saw the rows of empty pasta shelves. What on earth are people doing with all that pasta?

I’m working from home, so have left the house rarely this week. That’s not a big change from normal, except that everyone else is home with me. We like each other though, and I’m sure we’ll be fine once we’ve worked out the logistics of it all. If push comes to shove, they can evict me to my office in town.

I’ve been making an effort to reach out to people I haven’t spoken to a while (by phone of course), just to say hi. For some people, this will all be quite scary, and knowing that someone else is thinking about you might be enough to take the edge off a really shitty day.

Be kind to each other, and wash your hands.