Let’s have some fun on this blog!

Saturday 25 April, 2020

Life is pretty hard right now, and so blogging is even harder. So I’m going to take part in an old style blog/livejournal/xanga survey, based on music because it’s been the only thing I’ve been able to absorb for the last four months.

First 20 songs on shuffle, and your favourite line/lyric from the song.

  1. Collide by Howie Day – “Don’t stop here, I lost my place, I’m close behind”
  2. Sweets for my Sweet by The Searchers – “Darling, I would chase that bright star nightly and try to steal it from the sky”
  3. He Mele no Lilo – The Lilo and Stitch soundtrack – “He Inoa No Kalani Kalakaua Kulele”
  4. Words of Love  by The Beatles – “Words of love you whisper soft and true”
  5. My Eyes – The Doctor Horrible Soundtrack – “It’s plain to see, that evil inside of me is on the rise”
  6. Fallen in Love by McFly – “I wanna put it back together, cos it’s always better late than never”
  7. Newport Living by Deathcab for Cutie – “Just look at that social clique, do you really wanna be a part of it?”
  8. Between You and Me by The Ataris – “But everytime you hear this song you’ll know you made a mark on my heart and in my mind
  9. If You Buy This Record Your Life Will Be Better by The Temperer featuring Maya – “If you buy this record your life will be better, if you buy, if you buy, if you buy.”
  10. I Want To Hold Your Hand by The Beatles – “And when I touch you I feel happy inside”
  11. What’s The Story, Morning Glory? by Oasis – “Tomorrow never knows what it doesn’t know too soon.”
  12. Innuendo by Queen – “Just turn yourself into anything you think you could ever be”
  13. Then I Met You by The Proclaimers – It’s a tie between “Thought the song was sung and I could never sing another” and  “And then one night I went to Morningside and you were waiting”
  14. Down and Out from The Bugsy Malone Soundtrack – “Lady luck’s a fickle bird, but a lady is allowed to change her mind”
  15. Meet You There by The Malloys – “Down the lanes that we used to take back home (oh oh), I’ll meet you there”
  16. Soak up the Sun by Sheryl Crow – “It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got”
  17. Trucker Hat by Bowling for Soup – “Nothing in the world could ever make me look as good when you fit me like you do”
  18. Cruel to be Kind (Originally by Nick Lowe, this version by Letters to Cleo – “Well I do my best to understand, dear, but you still mystify and I wanna know why”
  19. Letter from America by The Proclaimers – “But you know our sense of timing; we always wait too long”
  20. World of Our Own by The Seekers – “And I know you will find there’ll be peace of mind when we live in a world of our own”

Confession: I am clearly more of a romantic than I generally admit to being.


Desert Island Discs – The Self Isolation At Home Edition

Thursday 9 April, 2020

So i’ve not been watching films, or telly, or knitting, playing games, or reading novels – fictional or otherwise, or building lego or basically doing anything really productive and I haven’t since my mum was in hospital. So what have I been doing?

Listening to music whilst flitting through social media. I mean, my friends and I have been calling each other more, which has been nice, but they can’t be on the phone all day, every day and quite frankly I wouldn’t want them to be. It’s no secret i’m an introvert at heart.

But the music… I always go back to music, whether it’s on the radio, or incessently listening to the same CD on repeat for weeks on end, playlists both sloppily put together or curated with care, it’s music. I can and have layed there with nothing to do for hours on end, just listening to music. It’s what helped me get out of my house when I was going otherwise trapped in my bedroom, between bouts of bed rest. Quite frankly if it was physically possible, I’d be going back to those live music clubs I used to go to ten years ago. But I can’t physically do that anymore, and anyway, we’re in lock down.

And I got thinking, the way you do when you’ve gone stir crazy, if I was on the show Desert Island Discs, what recordings would I choose? And then I changed the format because it’s much easier to think about 5 albums than eight single recordings, a book and a luxury item, when nothing but music is appealing right now.

1) The first album has to be a Beatles one. I can’t be a Beatles fan and not choose to take a Beatles album with me, and so I choose Magical Mystery Tour. It’s one of my three favourite albums by The Beatles. And when I was younger, me and my Dad would play chess to either that album or Sgt. Pepper’s, my other favourite album. I hardly ever won – I’m far too chaotic to be strategic, but every now and then I think my inability to strategise would throw him off and I’d get a lucky checkmate. He did not let me win. Trust me, my Dad is not the type of man to let you win just because you’re a child or his own daughter, it was a dog eat dog world when we played chess.

My favourite song on the album is Penny Lane. I love the descriptions and it’s a story of a morning in Penny Lane.

Confession: Despite being on the same bus route for many years, I have never ever been to Penny Lane.


Album 2 – KT Tunstall’s Acoustic Extravaganza. Oh let me wax poetical about how beautiful this album is. I absolutely love KT Tunstall, I think her on a half arsed day – not that she’s ever had any! – would save the world. If she turned up at my door with a washboard and only hummed at me for an hour, that would be the best hour of my life.

Her voice is just amazing, her guitar playing is perfect, she has the perfect soft tone for softer songs, and then can wrack it up for a more hard rockier sound, and she just seems like such a lovely person? This CD comes with a making of, and watching the process of her making this album was just… it was like watching a shooting star in the sky. And I got this for christmas off That Old Friend We Don’t Talk About in 2007, and I just fell in love with the album ever since.

Her first album – Eye to the Telescope – is great, do not get me wrong, she has perfect production on all her albums. But this acoustic album? It’s just so beautiful. I listened to it on repeat for weeks until I switched over to Drastic Fantastic (Given to me for Christmas off my Dad), which I then also listened to on repeat, until I just made one whole KT Tunstall Playlist of all three of her albums out at that time.

And I already loved Universe & U from Eye to the Telescope, but the acoustic version on this album? Honestly, it made me cry. I’m only a little bit embarrassed to admit that. Her and her guitar are in perfect harmony. Why would I not want that with me on a desert island?


Album 3 – A Night At The Opera by Queen.

I got given this album from my Dad, for Christmas in 2006. My Dad will claim until he’s blue in the face that he is not a Queen fan, and that this is the only album worth listening to. This is the same man who had half of their albums on records, and got them again on CD, and knows some odd details about the business side of the band that I’m sure only hardcore fans would know and bother remembering. But, he’s not a fan and doesn’t actually like their music. Okay. Sure.

My mum was the bigger fan, either way.

So when I first really got into them, not just liking what I heard when I heard it on the radio/telly/movie soundtracks, but going out of my way to listen to their albums, I borrowed my Dad’s albums and found his copy of A Night at the Opera skipped. Under the guise of wanting me to listen to The Only Queen Album Worth Listening To, he got me my own copy later that year for Christmas.

And, just like i usually do, I put it in my CD player and I listened to it on repeat for weeks. This wasn’t like Queen I or Queen II or News of the World or The Works, this was something else. I could understand what my Dad was saying about it being the best. I don’t agree that the others aren’t worth listening to (and clearly neither does he since he still has those albums on CD, and that they’ve survived multiple moves and big clear outs). The production is tied together better than their first two albums and there’s a song for every mood on that album.

But it’s not just for the musical reasons I’d want this album with me, it’s because my Dad is a ridiculous man who clearly wanted to share this album with me but for some reason wants to pretend he’s not a fan.

And choosing my favourite song is difficult, and the best I could narrow it down to is two favourite songs. And hey, this is my format and so I say it’s okay. The first is Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon. It’s so light and airy and fun! And it’s short, so it’s okay that I’ve got two favourite songs.

Just the imagery the song gives of a dapper dressed man going about his weekly business in the Edwardian Era. And the way Freddie sings “Fridays i go painting at the looooooOoOoOoOovre”. It’s just fun!

Which nicely counteracts the severe heart ache that ’39 can give me if I listen to it on the wrong day. Because that’s my other favourite – ’39. Brian May’s voice is so soft and his guitar playing goes without saying, really. And the story the song gives, it’s just so vivid. One of the first things one of my friend’s said to me, whilst we were fresh faced uni students bonding over music in our hall’s flat hallway, was that songs that tell a story always have more heart to them than generic songs that rely on cliches, and it seems obvious, but it’s true. I love The Beatles, but Love Me Do, I Wanna Hold Your Hand or Day Tripper don’t exactly tell a story, do they? But ’39 does. And it’s beautiful and yet sad at the same time.

Confession: I didn’t realise on the first few hundred or so listenings that it was about people going in to space and coming back 100 years later (i’ve got form for this). It wasn’t until about four years later that I twigged what the lyrics meant. Which beats my Dad by about 40 years because it was only just before Christmas last year when he knocked on my door and excitedly explained to me what the song was about.

But it is beautifully sung, with beautiful instrumental arrangement intertwining, and beatiful imagery. It might make me sad, but I think I’d be more sad not being able to hear that song, along with the rest on the album, ever again.


Album 4 – McFly’s RadioActive.

In all honesty, I was depressed when this album came out. My life was just on a stale mate, trapped in an inaccessible house, contained to one floor so I had access to the bathroom. I didn’t feel like I had a reason to get out of bed, or go to sleep, or exist.

This album felt alive.

I got the free one first, which I now regret because of the lack of integrity of the newspaper it was available in – And then the full album came out a few months later, after I started at Uni. I missed the McFly signing in Liverpool because I had to move into campus the same day.

There is not one bum song on the whole album. That’s not to say there’s some songs I like less than others, but there’s no downright bad song. I believe it was made with heart, and it was all of their tastes coming together to be shared with us, the fans, who all had similar tastes. It was Wonderland without the taste of Emo, it was MITO: The PHD Years.

And in 2009, it was my saving grace, as I went to see the band on their Radio:Active tour more than once.

I hear the album now and I think of pushing through hard times, and it doesn’t hurt to remember those times. I think of summer warmth, I think of friends, I think of crappy access I suffered through and came out on the other side knowing how to write strongly worded letters.

My favourite song is Everybody Knows. This was another hard decision to make, and yet not quite. It mentions ships!! I’m only half kidding about that reasoning.

I think the real favourite would have been POV, but the acoustic version, which is not on this album, is a nicer version than the full sound version that is on this album. And I love Smile, Do Ya and Going Through The Motions but not as much as Everybody Knows. (It mentions ships!!). It’s lively, it’s got good lyrics (it mentions ships!!) and good guitar. So I guess you can say, it sails above the rest!

(Also sometimes when they sung it live, they swapped ship for shit which amused me on a See No Evil, Hear No Evil level)


The 5th and Final Album – The Wizard of Oz Soundtrack.

No i’m not joking! I think a soundtrack would be a nice variety to what I’ve already chosen, and it’s a very good sountrack. The Wizard of Oz is a childhood classic that I’ve overwatched and listening to the soundtrack is like watching the film, without wacthing the film. And it has the extra tracks they didn’t use in the film!

It’s light and fun, and it’s dramatic and heart warming. And I like the idea of being on a deserted beach, sitting on a rock somewhere belting out If I Were The King of the Forest.

I got this album on a multi-buy sale from HMV, but I don’t know when. I just know that sometime, somewhere between April and May 2009, I fished it out of my CD case,  I put it on repeat and only took the occasional break from it to listen to Radioactive by McFly.

There’s nothing really deep about it, it was just a fun album from the dark days of monotony.

My favourite song from the album is Jitterbug. It was a song they filmed a scene and dance sequence for, but never used in the film itself. I don’t know what it is I like about it, because it’s jaunty but creepy and, of course because Judie Garland is carrying most of the song, it’s sung perfectly with a warm depth.


Notable albums I’ve neglected to mention:-

Breakout by Miley Cyrus – Not my album. Me and my uni flatmates listened to this almost exclusively whenever we were all in the kitchen together the first month at uni.

2 by The Calling

From Now by Rik Waller – It’s honestly never a good sign when I start listening to this album, because it means I’m stuck being nostalgic over a specific time frame in my life, and listening to it usually makes me more sad over that time. But Rik Waller, despite all of his faults that came across during his stint as a celebrity, has a lovely voice. It’s mostly a cover album, but  I believe the song From Now is an original, and that’s easily my favourite.

Unbreakable by Westlife – Don’t ask. But Bop Bop Baby is my favourite song from the album.

Space Oddity by David Bowie

Let It Go by Avril Lavigne

Justified by Justin Timberlake – Again, not my album.

The Labyrinth Soundtrack


The end of 2019 but this is mostly about Queen… again.

Tuesday 31 December, 2019

Not much has happened in the last two weeks, just a few odds spates here and there that make me think the universe is still on this Queen Alignment Haunting thing.

A few days after my last entry, I woke up after a nightmare at ten past 5ish in the morning. The first song that I was aware of being on the radio finished and then I Want To Break Free came on. Rather apt when you consider the fact I was only awake because I, ahem, “broke free” of a nightmare…

On the 21st of December, I woke up sometime during the traffic update on the radio. The first song after the traffic update was Radio Gaga. Later on that night I went to bed and the first song on the radio after I turned the radio on, was I Want To Break Free (yes, again). Also that day was the day the Sheltered Accommodation’s heating broke on my block, meaning we were all plunged into freezing temperatures and simply told to wrap up and stay in bed if possible whilst we wait for the repair team to be out within 48 hours to fix the problem.

We were told someone was on sight trying to fix the problem Monday afternoon, after the heating went off. They weren’t. Someone came out on the Tuesday – Christmas Eve – and we were told they call out team was staying there waiting for parts. They weren’t. They did try and fix it but unfortunately the boilers are so old, and for some reason the parts from the oldest boiler’s parts were used to frankenstein one of the other boilers and now there are no parts available for the oldest boiler. It’s that older one that’s broken, plunging all of the poeple on the same side of the building as me into freezing temeperatures. So eventually, late into the evening they had to leave. We didn’t get space heaters until the Saturday after Christmas!

On Christmas day, because the cold had kept me awake and tired on the Monday night into Tuesday, meaning I ended up having an early night on the Tuesday/Christmas Eve, I woke up at 7:23 exactly. 7:27, Thank God It’s Christmas came on the radio. A couple of hours later, after telling my mum about my Queen based start to the day, my mum found Queen’s concert in Montreal on the television.

Now my mum is a rather unflappable lady. In fact, she makes fun of Me for being rather, er, flappable. But she took one look at Freddie Mercury standing there on stage, in his very short shorts and nothing else, went a little bit red and couldn’t look at the television. I took pity on her and told her she could turn over. At what point in my life did I become the person who could handle seeing someone in not much clothing!? I don’t know. I suppose a lot changes in 10 years!

On the 27th of December, all traces of Christmas was gone from the music channels. Talk about mood whiplash. I’d just come to accept my Dad watching 24 hour coverage of Christmas no. 1s yet again, and then suddenly there wasn’t any christmas music at all on anywhere!

There was however a 70s Big Hits countdown on The Box, which my Dad put on quite happily. First song, starting as soon as he landed on the channel? Bohemian Rhapsody.

My Dad tried to explain to me that this is all the Green Car Effect, which as you know, I’d quite happily accept and wave away as one big coincidence, if it wasn’t for the timing. It’s not like I’m already listening to the radio and watching TV and whatnot when Queen come on and suddenly wondering why they’re on everywhere all the time, it’s that I turn the radio on, go to turn the radio off, enter a room, exit a room, put something on the telly and suddenly at that exact same time, Queen come on. Of all the channels and stations, of all the times of days, Queen could come on… it’s those exact moments I’m at the most opportune moment to hear them. Right? Not a second later, not a second before, not a different station. Of course I don’t actually believe I’m being haunted… But if there’s patterns in the universe that happens, then this is certainly a pattern.

Anyway where was I going with this? Oh yes. He tried to explain this to me by saying I could have watched a Duran Duran documentary that could have kicked off the Green Car effect for Duran Duran… rather than Queen.

To which I said, “Duran Duran? You mean the band with the Other Roger Taylor in it? Of all the bands you could have used to try and explain the Green Car effect, you used Duran Duran?”.

In the words of Jellyfish (the band, not the betentacled sea creatures) I think I’ve made my point.

And today, the latest and probably the last of this year… Again, nothing else to watch, and we live in a very maudlin household that doesn’t handle new years very well, the Box and a 1970s music video was on. I quite enjoyed the first few videos we saw but I started getting a bit bored at Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin and, unfortunately, Elton John with one of his lesser favourites of mine when I silently threw up a plea to the gods of music to please put on some Queen some point soon…

Well the gods – or is it Freddie? – heard me, because the very next song was Crazy Little Thing Called Love. Who’s that by again? Oh yes. Queen.

Green Car Effect? I don’t think so!

In other news, we finish up the year with an odd mix of same old same old, some Queen, and a hope that next year is better than this one and the previous two.


Piazza, New York Catcher by Belle and Sebastian

Sunday 22 December, 2019

Years ago now, my Good Friend got me into Belle and Sebastian. Or, to be more accurate, I liked a couple of songs without knowing who sung them and from him being a fan, I put two and two together.

Me and my Good Friend are sadly no longer friends, but the music he shared with me has stuck with me to this day. And in great Dan Rydell style, this one song stuck with me more than most, but not for the reasons you might think.

One very bad day in 2010, I put this song on and I “listened” to it on repeat for 26 hours. And yes, I was awake for 26 hours. Like I said, it was a bad day. And it was only a few sporadic listens over the next few days when I realised I’d completely misunderstood the song. I can’t work out how many listen throughs of the song I must have racked up, but because I only really absorbed sentences here and there and put it together like a badly made patchwork puzzle, the over all sentiment hardly got through to me. I thought it was about a man trying to escape a cult-style religion, not about a Baseball player’s life. I wish I could remember my Good Friend’s reaction to this interpretation.

It must have been the lines about pagan holidays and devils to erase that planted the seed, but it was the “life outside the diamond is a wrench” that solidified for me. I imagined something like Scientology, with a big non-descript building in the middle of nowhere, in a diamond shape, where people gathered to worship their god. And how was their god symbolised? Well, the statue, of course. As in “The statue’s crying”, and “meet you at the statue in an hour”.

And of course, what’s a cult religion without it’s take on sexualtiy? “Piazza, New York Catcher, are you straight or are you gay?”, Who was Piazza? No idea.  What was a New York Catcher? A cult-member who recruited other cult members  (I liked The Orioles, in theory, but that was the extent of my baseball knowledge at that time). And this was clearly a cult based in New York. Yes, New York, you know, the city known for it’s… big open fields…? And they were clearly questioning his sexuality because he didn’t want to marry the women in the cult, and they wouldn’t imagine it was because he wanted to leave the cult, just that he might not be into women.

It all made sense at the time!

And of course a cult would focus on virginity… I misheard “the borrowed bedroom, virginal and spare” slightly. I thought “Virginal and spare” was talking about this Miss Private, and the “spare” was, well, her being the spare sacrifice, which they were giving to the statue.

Other things I mishead where:-
“The statue’s crying too and Willie May” – Who’s Willy May? Possibly the leader of the cult
“The Giants and Maxwell Play” – I’ve never heard of that one, must be a Pinter.
“You betcha boots religion’s first, and rest on holidays” – This one’s self explanatory
“He’s praying for a doorway back into the life he wants” – This poor guy wants to leave the cult!
“The confession of the bench” Must be a cult that’s taken some elements of catholicism.
“Meet you at the statue in an hour” – He’s either defeated, because of how Cults work, and will meet the girl at the statue in an hour because that’s when they’re going to kill her, or that’s it, that’s when their big escape is happening.

See, it all made sense!

This song was absolutely fascinating to me in those 26 hours. What a song! This poor Piazza fellow was imagining a life after leaving a religous cult based in a diamond shaped non-descript building. It was beautiful. I hoped he and this Miss Private would go on to be very happy indeed.

And of course, then I learnt that I was completely wrong and the bubble burst somewhat and my Good Friend explained the information I’d been missing. But I’m nothing if not like Dan Rydell and, like I said above, it’s stuck with me anyway. Mostly because I prefer my interpretation.

Anyway. This came to me because I was looking for Sports Night clips on youtube and an irrelevant video with this song came up and I thought it was too much of a freaky coincidence not to write up about it.

 


I’m being haunted by Queen

Friday 22 November, 2019

I know. I know. It’s a bold claim to make considering only one member is no longer with us on this plane of existence, but it’s true. Either that, or there’s a glitch in the matrix. No way could this be pure coincidence, or worse, the green car effect!

It all started two weeks ago when I read this interesting bit of trivia, which I don’t know if it’s true or not but it is amusing, about Roger Taylor. He was apparently so adament that his song, I’m In Love With My Car, should be on the B Side, that he locked himself up in the cupboard until Freddie and the rest agreed it would be.

So, Roger Taylor is not just an expert drummer and great singer, but he’s also a top notch negotioator too. (If the rumours are to be believed.) And that’s how all of this started.

The next day, I recieved Bohemian Rhapsody in the post from Cinema Paradiso. Coincidence? Glitch in the Matrix? Or, a message? I don’t know.

I watched the film, I loved the film, I then said to someone that, yes, whilst I like We Will Rock You (the song, not the musical – I’ve not seen the musical) by Queen because, obviously it’s a great song, I also quite liked Five’s version back in the 90s. Not to the point where I think it’s better, and it has it’s flaws (what were they thinking with that rap!?) but yeah, I can listen to it and I can sing along.

I listen to Absolute Classic Rock. Any Queen song can come on at any time. The next Queen song to come on after i said that, was We Will Rock You.

A few hours later I struggled to fall asleep, but eventually I started to doze off. And then Hammer to Fall came on the radio. I woke up about 10 hours later. The first song to come on after the song I woke up to finished? It was Hammer to Fall by Queen. Nature of a repetitive playlist? Coincidence? Or something more? I don’t know.

I explained to my brother that these wierd Queen-related things keep happening. Do you know what came on the telvision? An advert for a Visa card, which has Somebody to Love as the background song. It’s not unusual, they’ve been used in Adverts before – a furniture advert if I remember correctly – but the timing is a bit suspicious. Is it a green car effect? Has Queen just been everywhere all this time but finally I’m back in tune with them? I did have a Queen phase a few years ago, but it was more of a subphase to the 1970s/1980s kick I was on at the time and that’s a lot of ground to cover to know every little thing about every artist, and I think I just binge learnt about Meatloaf, Bonnie Tyler and Tiffany, and none of those artists ever seemed to follow me about during my day.

Well, a couple of days without incident went by and then I ended up watching a youtube clip of Ant and Dec where Ant’s a farmer wearing a giant wig and Dec loses it laughing. This one I brought on myself, deliberately, just because I needed to hear Dec say “It’s Brian May!” to Ant in a geordie accent. And then, I went the loo, came back to We Are The Champions on the radio. Could it be Green Car effect? Is this all just a coincidence? I don’t know. All I know is that later than night I wrote in my actual physical journal “This bizarre link to the universe needs to give me less Queen on the radio and more money”, and a split second after I wrote that sentence, Queen’s I Want To Break Free came on the radio. I think if the universe had any sense of humour, it would have actually given me “Money” by the Beatles (Or by it’s original performer Barrett Strong, or the infamous cover version by the Flying Lizards) but maybe this isn’t a case of humour.

Maybe this is all a message. What that message is, I can’t figure out!

And well, that brings us to today. Today, trying very hard to catch up on Uni work through sickness and fatique and major reconstruction works on the block of flats I live in, I had to take a break. I was falling asleep. I needed to laugh at something.

“I know!” I said to myself, “I’ll watch that clip of Paul O’Grady falling off his chair, that always makes me laugh” (sorry Paul O’Grady). And, this is tangenitally related to Queen but I’m taking it anyway. Do you know who was on the couch when Paul O’Grady fell off his chair? Matt Lucas, David Walliams and Anita Dobson. Who is Anita Dobson married to? Brian May.

I told my brother about this latest wierd coincidence, as tangenital as it may be, less than 30 seconds later “I Want It All” came on the radio.

So, Freddie Mercury, mate! I’m listening. I’ve got eyes and ears open! But I can’t figure out whatever it is you’re trying to tell me!

And, hell, i’m being presumtuous here. Maybe it’s not Freddie. Maybe it’s Roger Taylor, or hell maybe even John Deacon. It can’t be Brian May, because he’s quite active on Instagram.

Maybe, whoever it is, they’ve stopped communicating on our plane of existence and the only way they can communicate is through wierd coincidental timings involving me? I have a history of this kind of thing, after all. Maybe I am actually psychic! (or is it a Kind of Magic? hah hah hah)

Never for anything useful like Money or busses, no, but definitely if you want a film on television or a song on the radio, all I need to do is talk about it and your wish will be granted within 48 hours. Usually what happens is that I order an obscure film through Cinema Paradiso that’s not been on television in a while, only for it to be on television the day after I watch it on DVD.

Either way, whatever the message is, fellas, I’m waiting!

 

Edited to Add: The day after writing this blog post, I woke up very late and had a late start on my uni work. The uni work involves interactive videos, so I went to turn my radio off to hear them properly. Just as I reached out to slide the switch off at the back, Queen’s One Vision came on. Later on in the day my laptop crashed. I often sing to myself and as I finished one song – The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues by the Proclaimers – I started singing Bicycle Race. I picked up my phone, checked social media to find a friend had, just a minute before, posted a picture of Freddie Mercury with an inspirational quote about being yourself.

To add to this, unrelated slightly, but just as I sung the line “Jaws was never my scene and I don’t like Star Wars”, another friend posted about playing the latest Star Wars game.

What is this message and what am I meant to do with it?!

*This post is written almost entirely in jest. Though these freaky coincidences have been happening and does creep me out, I do not actually believe Freddie Mercury, or any other member of Queen, is trying to communicate with me through the power of bizarre timed songs on the radio or youtube video clip guests. But it is a nice idea, that out of all the poeple in the universe, I would be the one trusted to recieve an important message should Freddie Mercury or the other Queen Members find themselves trapped in the astral plane. Normally I’m not even trusted to pour milk out the carton.

No disrespect or offense is intended. Especially not to John Deacon, who now lives a quiet life out of the public eye and I almost didn’t mention him due to that fact, but that felt even more disrespectful to him as a person as well as a respected artist.


Weight Loss Journey: Re-Approaching The Last Hurdle

Saturday 2 November, 2019

So, I thought I’d update people on this little issue… This gets gross, so just, be aware. Turn back if you can’t handle icky, gross embarrassing health issues!

I was steadily losing a bit of weight by eating smaller portions, more veg and less potatoes and bread, cutting down on chocolate for unrelated dairy-digestion issues as well as weight… and then suddenly I had another spell of acid reflux that was more like choking on my own saliva than anything else. For six hours, I was regurgitating tiny remnants of food I’d eaten over the last two days – a bit different to outright vomiting, as vomit is (I believe) rejected and projected from your stomach, where as I had food work their way half way up my throat and get stuck, and hiccups that ended up in randomly projection of acidy gunk from… somewhere. My stomach? My throat? No idea. And after that night, I could barely eat for two months as eating anything solid, heavy, greasy, dry or soft and mushy would get stuck in my throat and come back up as chewed, digested bits in acidy gunk, a few hours later.

My diet for weight loss went out the window because I had to eat what I could, when I could. And the weight dropped off me. I don’t know how much, it might not as been as much as it looked, but it looked bad to me. It felt bad. It was also a worry that people who knew I was trying to lose weight would see this as something self inflicted, I’ve had those suspicions before when I had a blockage, but I was suffering, both then and now. For those two months, I wasn’t eating much more than cereal, bananas, chicken and over cooked pasta, chicken and rice, and peanut butter on toast.

I’ve had tests, all came back “normal”. Which means that i’ve been discharged and left to manage it by myself, because obviously if the tests say everything is fine, that means the symptoms aren’t actually happening… Oh to have a doctor like Gregory House!

It was the middle of august when I started to get an appetite back, and I felt I could eat without food getting stuck in my throat. Over the last two months i’ve managed to re-introduce food at more normal portion sizes than what I could over those two months. And I’ve put the weight on. And then a bit more, somehow.

And in these latest two months, I’ve only had an acid attack twice, and that was in the same week. Regular bouts of acid reflux are at the normal level of “every few days”.

And now it’s winter, which means being tempted with halloween themed cake, and hot chocolate, and roast dinners. I’m sticking to my idea of cutting chocolate out, it’s just hard when people offer me it becuase I’m known as the chocolate lover, and the cake eater, and I do love a good donner kebab. That one has nothing to do with diary, but I thought, whilst I was being honest… Though I haven’t had a donner kebab in a long while!

I just want to fit into my jeans again. It’s not about the numbers, it’s a third about health, but it’s mostly about my favourite pair of jeans.


I don’t understand reusable menstrual knickers

Saturday 19 October, 2019

Disclaimer: I have dyscalculia and every calculation on this post was carefully written down and calculated using a calculator, but my understanding of numbers comes and goes so there could be mistakes here and I welcome any corrections.


Thinx? Wuka? Modibodi? I don’t get them. It might be because I’ve not tried them, but a fair few youtubers have and they seem to be hit and miss. And I refuse to call them “pants” or “Panties” because I’m not American. I’m British, they’re knickers.

I’m not trying to make a big song and dance about it, there’s some wild claims out there about how some of these products don’t work and they really only highlight user error or deliberate misinformation, but I just really don’t understand how it’s meant to work. There seems to be a lot of washing involved, and an assumption that you have ready access to a washing machine, and can dry them no problem.

But I’ve been looking into products available. First of all, I was shocked at the price. People on facebook led me to believe that you can buy a set of reusable period knickers for maybe £20-25, so I was shocked and appalled to find Boots sell one pair of the Thinx brand of menstrual knickers for £30 each. I went to the Thinx website, and I found the same prices, or a set of 3 for between £73-77, depending on your style. That’s a lot.

They do say if you’re not happy with them, you can return them within 60 days, no questions asked, so that’s something.

You’ve got to wash them on cold, which makes sense if you understand blood, you can’t bleach them, which also yes, makes sense, but you can’t put them in the dryer, they have to hang dry.

So you have 3 pairs of re-usable menstrual knickers for, say £73.13 because I’m an organic cotton full brief kind of person. And that comes with two heavy day pairs and a medium day pair. So you’re going to want to dedicate one of the heavy day pairs for a night pair… unless you just want to freebleed on your sheets… You probably don’t want to do that.
So, really, you’re going to need 2 sets for one period, unless you only bleed for one day. So that’s £146.26… Wait, what? Sorry, that’s £146.26!?

For that amount of money I could buy 146 packets of Always cotton for 99p from Bodycare! Or 42 packets of TOTM Organic Cotton for £3.36 from Superdrug. There’s 14 pads in the former, and 10 pads in the latter, that means for that amount of money I could buy 2044 always cotton pads, or 420 TOTM pads. Say I use 4 pads a day, for an average of 6 days a month, so that’s 24 pads a month on average. That means for that amount of money, Always cotton would last me 85 months, and I’d get less milage out of TOTM which would last me 17 months. What? 85 months is just a bit over 7 years!
How long do thinx knickers last? Well ordinarily you’re meant to throw your underwear out every 2 to 3 years for health and hygiene reasons, but is Thinx different? There is no information on their website as to how long a pair should last a person, or signs to look out for which show they may need replacing, unlike Menstrual Cups which are lauded as lasting for 10 years. So if you go with the general information for knickers, that’s max 3 years. I mean, you’re not exactly getting bang for your buck, here, are you?

Okay so in this scenario where I’ve forked out £146.26 for 6 pairs of knickers. That’s £24 per pair of knickers btw. Not exactly my normal price range considering I get multipacks from Primark…

So I’ve forked out this money and let’s start with a night, because who risks going to bed when you’re due on without a pad on? Sp I get up the next morning, I rinse it under the tap and then I put it in the washing bag. In this scenario I’m your average person with a job, not a disabled unemployed mature student currently unable to work. The Thinx knickers can take up to an average 8 hours worth of bleeding, but there’s a “heavy” pair and a medium “pair” and it’s hard to say how heavy a person is and how much a “heavy” pair can really take. Let’s say I’m the heaviest I am, in pads I’m changing every 3 hours, because even pads for “heavy” days say they should last 4 hours between changes, so let’s say this means instead of 8 hours, the knickers can take 6. So, i’m at work, I woke up at half 7 in the morning, which means I need to change my pair of knickers by 2 in the afternoon at the latest. Maybe you’re more likely to change them at a convenient time earlier than 2 depending on your break. Okay. And then so, depending on when i’ve changed them, i change again between 7 and 8 in the evening. And then I swap that out for another night pair of knickers and that day’s worth of knickers have gone into the wash. I’ve started with 6, and I’ve already worn four of them, and I’d be wearing the fifth over night. And I’m heavy for two days.

By description, I assume they’d last longer on lighter days, but whether wearing a pair of longer on lighter days is advisable, I don’t know, because I can’t find that suggestion either way on their website. It’s all about how they match up to tampons and pads per amount of blood, rather than an hourly kind of thing. You might be able to get away with 12 hours if you’re very light, if doing so wouldn’t cause a problem like wearing a pad or tampon might.

I’m not trying to sound difficult, but that means you’re going to need to do washing when you get home and hope they’ll be dry by the next morning, to take a pair to work with you. Now as a disabled person who doesn’t go to work, and has limited access to a washing machine and absolutely nowhere to hang dry them… I’d need a third set, I think? At an eye watering total price of £219.39?

I have never once see anyone say they need to buy three sets of Thinx knickers, so what am I assuming wrongly here? Or do you really need to be washing the knickers you’ve worn, every day?

For the record, for £219.39 I could buy at least 221 packets of Always cotton pads, and at 14 pads per packet that’s 3,094 pads, or 65 packets of TOTM organic cotton pads, and at 10 pads per packet that’s 650 pads.

I know what you’re probably thinking. “But they’re disposable! Is the cost so important when it comes to the future of the planet!?” and the problem is, with disposable ones, they’re low energy and I can depend on myself for the most part. I unwrap them, i put them on, I wrap up the old one, I throw it away.

If I was to buy Thinx knickers, I would have to think about having enough between washes, I would have to figure out how best to dry them in a damp bathroom used by other people and the outlay of the cost. When will they start paying for themselves? Will they ever, if I’m forking out £219 every 3 years? It’s a lot to ask of someone to fork out a high financial cost as well as a high personal energy cost when there’s a lot more out of my control that effects these being viable. I could wake up tomorrow to a letter from the social services saying they’re revoking my care package all together, and then what would I do? And I’m sorry to say it but when it’s a choice between 9 knickers I’d need to wait on someone else to wash and hang up to dry for me that might only last 3 years, and 3094 pads which would last 171 months (14 years! Is that right?), or even 650 pads which would last 36 months, also 3 years, I know which sounds more appealing. At least TOTM promise their pads are ecologically friendly and plastic free.

Lastly, going back to a previous post, people need to stop recommending these as something else that homeless people can use. I see it less than with menstrual cups, but I do see it and I think this post highlights as to why menstrual knickers are hardly viable for the average person, let alone someone who is homeless! Asking someone who likely does not have much money in the first place to fork out the crushing expense of between £73 and £219 for not even a full week’s worth of period care, and then having nowhere hygenic to wash them, is cruel. And that offer only seems available online!

If you think homeless people should be using them, then I hope you have an open door policy on your home so they can use your washer and washing line in the garden to facilitate the wearing thereof!

Now if i am completely wrong, which I might be, I would like to know. It does feel a bit “mountain out of a molehill” here, and what do I know? I haven’t used them. But all that expense, all that work, that doesn’t seem viable to me, not in any reasonable circumstances. So I would also like to know if I am right, and this is exactly what you have to do to make menstrual knickers work for you.


Yes, we know about the menstrual cups

Thursday 12 September, 2019

If someone had told me at age fourteen that I would one day become so incensed by a sub-group of menstrual rights campaigners that I would write a blog post for everyone to read on the subject of menstruating and the right to choose which products suit you, I would have blushed and looked at you like you’d grown a second head.

But here I am, writing a blog post for everyone to see because a certain sub-group of menstrual rights campaigners have incensed me. Incensed!

Now before I get started, I know it might not sound like it, what with the straws issue and now this, I really do care about the environment. But I also really care about people and if i was to put something first, it was would be people above senseless ideals. The idea of recycling is always reduce, re-use and recycle. Nowhere does it say “Make a one size fit all solution to the detriment of a lot people”. For example, if you don’t need a plastic straw, great, don’t use one. But you don’t get to tell disabled people who do need plastic straws to find another solution… Well, unfortunately for me, you do get to tell people that because of the international bans that are happening everywhere. But this isn’t about straws, this is about menstrual cups. And the menstrual cup brigade keep coming on to posts, into the threads, on facebook, twitter, blog posts, charity articles, and vomit their hivemind all over it: “Use menstrual cups! Why not use menstrual cups! Give them menstrual cups! Take away choice and replace it with a menstrual cup!”

We get it, Martha, you love your Menstrual Cup so much you don’t just want to marry it, you want us all to marry it too. Like a cult.

For those of you don’t know what a menstrual cup is, a menstrual cup is an egg-cup shaped sillicone cup with a short funnel, which you stick up your, erm, “ladyfloo” (Look, I’ve got better with this sort of stuff over the last few years but you’re going to have to bear with me here, I’m not Jackie Collins) during your period and it collects the blood. I believe you have to empty it every 8 hours, or sooner if you have a heavy flow, but unlike tampons, there’s a low risk of toxic shock syndrome.

But the menstrual cup, however great for these people, is not the one size fits all solition they wish it to be, and I am quite frankly thoroughly sick of it being suggested every time a period-related issue comes up.

It is not going to help homeless people on their period, because not only is it still cost prohibitive to buy, there are a lot of hygiene related issues when it comes to being homeless. Even when given free ones, you have to think about cleaning it, you have to think about sterilising it, and you have to think about storing it. It is not good to just “wipe it with a bit of tissue” like I keep seeing suggested! I’m not a microbiologist, but I think the last thing a homeless person would want is to be made sick by a bit of remnant tissue fibres and dried blood being shoved back up inside them when their own hands don’t feel clean enough to even handle applicated tampons. And homeless people have their stuff stolen, confiscated, ruined and set on fire on a regular basis.

It’s not going to help girls staying off school because of period poverty, again because the cost is prohibitive, and you’re asking twelve year old girls who might not even be comfortable with tampons to handle something like a menstrual cup – by these people’s own admission, there is a “technique” to it – at a time when their bodies are changing. They might have strict parents, or strict religious parents, or helicopter parents with boundary issues who do not allow insertable period products which means they couldn’t wear them even if they wanted them.

And thirdly, it’s got to be about choice! And what I keep seeing from the menstrual cup brigade, is that they see these as all individual problems all solved with this one thing. Too poor to regularly buy period care? That’s okay, one up front cost of £20 and you’re set for 10 years! Kids can’t go to school on their period? Get them a menstrual cup! Amazon workers can’t have bathroom breaks to deal with tampons and pads? Don’t worry, the menstrual cup can be used for 8 hours! Long journey and a tendency to leak? You can’t leak with a menstrual cup (you absolutely can if it’s not inserted correctly or your flow is heavy)!Oh the environment’s suffering at all the disposable period care that makes it into the eco system? Solve it by only ever using one product for the next 10 years! Let’s ignore that you might need to clean it and use something in your underwear whilst it’s being cleaned.

That’s the menstrual cup brigade’s modus operandi. They ignore a lot of things. They ignore what they themselves know – Everybody is different, and because of that, everyone needs different things. The size and shape doesn’t work for everyone, just like tampons don’t work for everyone. On a very personal note, I have almost always exlcusively used pads because I can not use tampons. I’ve used them twice, I am not compatible with them, and cups are bigger and take more handling to insert. I’d rather freebleed than try a menstrual cup.

There’s a “technique” that some people, no matter how hard they try, can not “master the art of”. And, by the menstrual cup brigade’s own admission, sometimes you have to use a different type. Now a quick google tells me the Mooncup is £21.99, the Lily Cup is £18.99 and the Diva Cup is £24. So that’s someone, who might not have that kind of money, forking out at least £65 to try something that might just not work with their body? Bodies are so different! Why are people, in this day and age of understanding the issue with “for women” clothes sizes, and diet advice and medication is more dependent on an individual basis, so ignorant to suggest this one solution can work for all body types, all flows, all lives and all priorities? It doesn’t!

I am barely scraping the top of the issues I have with the menstrual cup brigade here!

I have seen them say charities should hand them out to every kid who starts their period and they’ll be set for all of school. As well as the issues i’ve already covered, ignoring the matter of simply choice, am I really reading that a bunch of adults think a child who could be as young as eight use a menstrual cup!? I mean we’re talking the practical sizing issues of this, and the emotional trauma of starting puberty young. At least lillets do nice small pads aimed at tweens in cute packaging. It’s inoffensive, it’s non-confrontational and it, or at least it is aiming to, convey the message “you might have started your period, but you’re still a child!”. I can’t see them being able to manage that with a menstrual cup. I’m not sure I’ve even seen tampons aimed at tweens.

And yes, at the forefront of this, is choice. It doesn’t matter if the menstrual cup brigade can bulldoze over issues such as pracitcality (Ask a cafe for some boiling water!) and hygiene (just wipe it with a tissue!) and home life situations (tell your parents you make your own decisions! Your religion is oppressive!), they can not bulldoze over the simple matter of choice.

You have the right to choose what to use with your period care. And whilst I’ve seen the menstrual cup villify anyone who explains their issues with the menstrual cup, blaming them for not doing it the right way, not using the right product, not having the right body, and downright eviscerating anyone who says it’s simply something they choose not to use, it doesn’t change the simple matter of fact that you have your own rights and your own voice. Don’t let them take away disposable pads, disposable tampons and plastic applicators like the straw brigade took away our straws.

And if you’re reading this thinking “Well I just like to suggest to people there are options”, here’s the problem, you’re not the only one making the same suggestion. If you think by now poeple don’t know about the menstrual cup, if you think your ability to use one means everyone has the ability, the practicality, the financial stability to use one (or two or three), maybe just try one thing before you barrel on with that suggestion: Ask them if they want a suggestion for an alternative first. Because I can tell you, they probably don’t. Homeless poeple don’t, school children don’t, charities working with vulnerable people don’t. They just want people to have better access to the products that they are already familiar with.

Just, stop.


The weight loss diaries 2: Back in the habit

Saturday 13 April, 2019

So I suppose this is my quarterly update! To be honest, I don’t know what to say. It seems like all other diet and well being blogs focus on numbers and meals that they’ve depended on, but without a way to weigh myself, I don’t really have any numbers to share, and I wouldn’t want to focus on “the numbers” anyway – it’s not my way of doing this – and I don’t have a miracle meal that’s seen me through.

The ultimate thing is that I have lost some weight.  The clothes that I’ve worn for years that were getting tighter on me are now a bit looser, and I can now get my favourite jeans on passed my thighs. I just need to lose a bit more to actually button them up and sit comfortably whilst wearing them.

I thought the hardest thing about eating better and going back to a vareity of foods would literally be the variety aspect. Over the last ten years I’ve ended up with a wierd hodgepodge of intolerances and allergies, and I can’t keep track of them and it seems neither can my body. It’s sspecially wierd because three years ago when I really wasn’t well, I seemed to have bad reactions to a lot of things and I had to swear off a lot of things – for example, bananas, eggs, fresh tomato, and all citrus fruits, and these reactions were anything from agonising pains in my stomach, stomach upsets, to itchy rashy skin, but over the last year or so, I’ve risked some things again and found myself okay with them; Others haven’t been as bad as I was expecting, like lemon, but still the itchy tingling sensation I got in my mouth leads me to think that i’m best staying away from ingesting lemon again in the near future. So as it is, the variety is okay. It’s not the best, but it’s better than it was.

The hardest thing about eating better and losing weight is actually the boredom eating and the lack of infratstructure in the big wide world.

So with the snacking… I have a history of comfort eating. It started after my friend died in 2005 and every now and then I uncontrollably fall into that same need to eat whatever chocolatey, sugary, biscuity snacks we have, in the evening a couple of hours after tea. I could psychobabble myself through the explanations but I think all that’s relevant is that these days it’s because of boredom, stress or needing a sort of edible procrastion. So it’s been hard to tell myself no. Because this is not hunger, it’s literally either wanting something to do, wanting something extra to do whilst doing uni work, or wanting to take my mind off whatever I’m stuck on with uni work. I’m worried it’s always going to be a constant battle. How can I take eating healthy seriously when 8’clock rolls around and all I want to do is eat a whole packet of jaffa cakes? It’s like I get hit with a sense memory of jaffa cakes, the taste, the soft texture of  the cake mixed with the smooth texture of the jelly and the tang of the orange, the sound of the package crinkling, the smell after the package is open, and it doesn’t go away until I’ve eaten enough Jaffa cakes to feel like I could throw up. The havoc it’s caused on my acid reflux in the past is ridiculous. So the boredom snacking, you could probably even call it binging though that feels like a loaded term that I woudln’t like to misuse for risk of trivialising people who struggle with binging – that’s been very difficult.

But, the other thing that’s made it difficult is that when out and about, there’s no real eating places if you take your own food. Sure, there’s a few benches here and there, but there’s no picnic tables, or if there is, they’re not wheelchair accessible. I thought my biggest problem would be keeping my food edible between leaving the house and eating it at lunch time, but actually even though my home made ice block made from a sponge has it’s problems, the biggest problem is comfortable eating. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before, but it’s like city centres and towns want you to depend on them for your food choices. If you want to eat at a table, you need to eat in a restaurant of some sort, and then you have to trust that all the health information is accurate.

Now recently research was done that discovered something I have always felt to be true, that fast food chains tend to be healthier than resteraunts. This is because they have smaller portions, and, because of their reputation, now have decent ingredient/food intake information on everything, and everything is basic. That’s not to say it’s bad, it’s just they don’t go out of their way to add a million ingredients in the bid to make their food better. It’s basic cuts, basic eggs, basic flour, basic deep fat frying, where as restaurants don’t measure how much “non-ingredients” they use, and they use a lot. So of course there’s going to be a difference between a basic chicken mayo – the aforementioned cut, egg, flour, fryer, to a gourmet chicken burger, which will have high quality of oil, herbs, peppers, possibly a mixture of bread for the bread crumbs. Even though it’s not really listed, it’s still ingested, and it all adds up.

So yes, I have found myself going to McDonalds and subway when out and about, because a) it saves struggling at a bench with a sandwich on my knee and you can forget about the rice and pasta idea!
b) I know exactly how much is meant to be in it, though I understand if it’s a bit off but it’s going to be closer than what I guage with my own ingredients being made by my wayward family who don’t listen to my instructions. You can’t tell me a basic chicken salad from McDonalds or Subway is going to be worse than any salad with a dressing I can’t even bare to eat, possibly with ingredients I have bad reactions to, from an upmarket restaurant.

But I really believe if we put the infrastructure back in, with picnic benches, with public areas that welcome you to eat your own food in comfort, we’d see a lot less people eating salt and sugar rich restaurant food of any kind. And maybe, just maybe, why that’s why we don’t see picnic tables around city centres or parks anymore, because why allow people to eat their own food for free when you can make them eat unhealthy food and make money off the commodity of comfort?

Also due to my health and my parents health and carer availability, i’ve also been depending on microwave meals. Again, not the healthiest, there’s a lot of salt in them I wouldn’t eat if I had the choice, but the fact is I don’t. I try and get the healthiest ones I can – I’m quite partial to getting Marks and Spencers mini meals, but the cost wracks up so I can only get them if I know I can afford them.

Maybe with all of that combined, it’s why progress might be considered slow. But actually, given how close I am to fitting in to my favourite jeans once again, I’m doing well. I mean, I am undoing a year’s worth+ of over eating and comfort eating here, and being unable to exercise,  something must be going right just with portion control.

(Portion control comes from a lot of diet and health apps and general health and well being advice, which seems to be a mixture of calory counting and making sure as many as the different food groups are represented on one plate. We’re talking less chips and potatoes – not none, just less – and more green vegetables at it’s most basic).

So let’s see what happens in the next four months.


Spontaneious Travelling: Chester (Part 2)

Saturday 23 March, 2019

After we ladies who lunched in McDonalds, we headed over to Chester Cathedral. This was not a revisit from me and my Nana’s day out in Chester, I’ve just always wanted to go to Chester Cathedral, mostly to compare it to our Anglican one here in Liverpool (We don’t talk about the Catholic one). There wasn’t a set ticket price to enter, however there is a certain pressure to “donate” a “suggested amount” at the entrance before you enter, in the form of an intimidating donation box with a sign as you pre-queue to go in, passed a staffed desk by the doors. I paid the donation, but due to free carer tickets being the standard, I only paid for myself and my Carer came in free with me. I think it was quite fair!

It is nicely done! It is not 100% wheelchair accessible, but it was accessible enough for me to finally feel welcomed somewhere. I would say it’s got a different feel to it indoors than the Liverpool Anglican cathedral, and because I’m biased I might be inclined to say it’s not as beautiful as the Liverpool Anglican cathedral, but that would be unfair. It has it’s own beauty to it and it was nice to look around. We arrived just at the start of a short afternoon service, so me and my carer stayed at the back, admired the architecture and when the priest finished his short service, we went looking around the grounds

I’m not religious now though I used to be, and although there’s a lot that doesn’t sit right with me when it comes to religion – and never did, as a matter of fact – but you have to give credit where it’s due. This building, like the Cathedrals here in Liverpool, have become half way houses to meet the needs of the religious and the tourists, and it is a very peaceful place to wander around.

The side of Chester Cathedral at a corner. A cast iron fence in the foreground at the bottom of the screen, with a bit of green garden between that and the building. The building is mostly a dirty brown. On the bottom floor is 8 glass windows, the second floor shows 10 glass windows, with spires obstructing their view. Above those windows are more spires and the top is the tower bellfry with three chimneys showing

And, like all tourist places, it even had a gift shop! It was a bit cramped, but you’re reading the words of someone who got through Liverpool Anglican Cathedral’s gift shop without knocking a single item over, so rest assured, no items were smashed in the procurement of labelled pens! There was also a lovely stain glass window effect magnet that I now regret not buying.

Finally, after what felt like a terrible morning, my mood was shifting and I started feeling a bit better about this outing and my lack of mobility. Ironically it took an almost 2000 year old building to do that, against a backdrop of modern businesses. Modern businesses in a similar-ye-olde-aged-building, admittedly, but modern nonetheless, with modern customers who are no longer institutionalised in institutions…

Ahem.

Where was I? The only downside was the battery on my wheelchair. Thanks to our stop and start tour around the Cathedral, and the weather warming up temporarily, I found my battery was still hovering on full orange when we first came out of the Cathedral, however 10 minutes later after trying to get my maps on my phone to work to see where the roman gardens were, I turned my wheelchair back on to see I’d gone down a full orange.

I still decided to continue on and risk it. After all, what’s a day out without risking battery failure in the middle of the main road, right? I did let my carer know what was going on, at this point… but not to the degree that I could have. I told her, at that point, I was losing power a bit more quickly than normal, but we should have enough power to get to the park and back. With her faith in me, we continued.

So we eventually got to the park, but not without a few false starts. IE, I can’t read maps and even when I’m following the directions I always tend to go to wrong until the arrow sends me off in the right direction. Unfortunately, it was winter, so the beautiful gardens with the beautiful roman mosaics on the floor didn’t shine up on me like it had all those years ago. Don’t worry, I plan to go back and admire it in full bloom!

So I took a few photos but, the temperature had dropped again, we could see our breaths despite the bright watery sun in the sky, and worried my battery – at this point flickering between one orange and two oranges – would leave us stranded at the bottom of the ramp, we didn’t go much further than half way, and turned around.

“Can we get a hot coffee?” my carer asked.

“Yes,” I said, “And I’ll get a cup of tea.”

The plan at that point was to head back to the train station, get something to drink there and wait around for our train back. However we saw a nice little quaint tea and cake shop on our route which had a ramped entrance and, frozen to the core and my carer’s caffiene levels dropping as fast as my battery power, we ducked inside for a mid-afternoon, pre-train snack.

Elements of a fancy tea - a jug of hot water, a jug of milk and the teapot behind, all white on top of a white tablecloth with a blue layer coming through the lace. A nicely manicured hand is in the background, the nails visible show an orchid magenta and a light pink on the third nail. To the left of the photo there is a pot of sugar and salt sachets

I found the tea was lovely. My carer ordered coffee and a traditional cream scone which she also thoroughly enjoyed. It was only after drinking my tea and finding myself in need to use the toilet that I realised I’d failed to do the first basic check when in a food establishment – ask where the toilets are first! This place did not have a wheelchair accessible bathroom and their non-disabled toilet were down a set of internal steps.

Bugger. I do hate giving money to places who only want my money, not actually cater to my needs.

On those grounds I can not recommend this place, and that’s also why I won’t be naming them here. You know who had an accessible toilet? McDonalds and the Cathedral!

Oh well! We continued our journey for the trian back. It was at that point I told my carer how bad the battery situation was – I was critically losing battery power, flickering between the last orange and the first of only two reds, and that I thought the taxi driver had done something when he tied his straps around the wrong place on my wheelchair. This wasn’t the usual cold weather battery loss. So the walk back to the train station had to switch to the bus – which was easy to catch once we knew which bus stop we had to go to, and unlike the shuttle bus, it stopped at a normal stop opposite the train station and we got out no problem.

On arrival at the station I nipped to the toilet – red cord was tied up and there was a bin in the transfer space – and then with the help of staff and my Carer, got on board the train. At that point I was down to the reds and wondered if I was going to make the switch between platforms when back to Liverpool, but that turned out to be the least of my worries when I was on board.

I won’t go into details, but basically I got harassed on the train, the staff did nothing to help and next time I go to chester, I will go by bus. On the plus side, thanks to the warmth of the train and being stationary for a while, by the time we got back to Liverpool, I’d gained full oranges again. With the change over to the Northern line and then the pavement journey home, I managed to get back on red, going at a snail pace.

I do plan on going to Chester again, especially because shortly after I got back I was made aware of a guardian article that said Chester was one of the most accessible places! But I would do things a lot differently. Whilst the rows is accessible – as in you can get to them from the ground floor of the shopping centre – it’s not completely accessible, and most of the shops on the rows have steps to get in to them. I have a policy for life – If I have to ask to get in, I won’t go in and i’ll go somewhere else. It could be that the shops have ramps inside, there might be alternative entrances, but that to me is shifting the responsibility of access on me, not them. If there are alternative entrances, why are they not good enough for everyone to go through?

And the shuttle bus situation needs to be fixed. I sent a complaint letter shortly after I visited chester, and I never heard anything back. I should probably chase that up!

But that cathedral is very much worth a visit. I think on a warm, sunny day, just sitting in the gardens would be lovely, and next time I go I’d like to try the cafe instead of depending on McDonalds.

On the matter of this being an affordable day out, let’s tot it up:-

Train Faire:- £5.20, day saver
Begdrudging Taxi Faire:- £10.00
McDonalds Lunch consisting of a McChicken Sandwich, Medium Fries and a cup of tea:- £5.37
Cathedral “suggested donation” entry fee:- £4
Afternoon tea:- £5.50
Emergency Bus Faire:- £2.40

Total:- £37.97.

A bit high for a day that was only half enjoyable, I must admit, especially when you think that taxi faire was completely unneccessary, but for the distance travelled and in comparison to a day out in, for example, London, I think it’s not as bad as it could have been. Especially when you compare it to London even one step further and think how long it takes to get between places when in a wheelchair. At least in Chester, the furthest part ouf was the park.

And for anyone interested, I went out a few days later and despite only being out a couple of hours I came back on orange. I called up the wheelchair repair people and the guy who came out confirmed what I suspected – the battery case had been cracked, and also a wire connection had been broken. There is only one way that could have happened.