Monthly Archives: May 2021

Tuffin 16

At the bottom of the road is a railway station. I am allowed to go there to do train spotting. I have an Observers Book of trains with all the trains in England and lots and lots of lists that tell you things like how many wheels they’ve got. I go there on my own because neither Jill or Andrew are interested in trains and going on my own is more grown up. There aren’t that many trains going to our station and most of them are the same type but I did once see a steam train but it wasn’t in the book so it must not be English. When I am waiting for the trains, I watch the people on the platforms. Once I saw a lady be sick into her hand, some of it splashed on the floor next to her. I was almost sick watching and everyone near her moved away but she seemed alright and went back inside the station I suppose because she was afraid people would laugh or to wash the sick off her hand or maybe she just went home and went to bed. I would have done that if I had been sick. Another time a blind man was at the station. He had a white stick but no dog. I thought he might walk off the platform and get killed but he stood very still well back from the edge and waited for his train and a man talked to him just like he was normal. I wondered if his dog was dead like March or had run away. I can’t be fun for a dog to look after a blind man all day long because the dog has to always be on a lead and the blind man can’t throw sticks or run fast without falling over.

When I grow up I don’t want to be blind

Important announcements – Lisa Marini and Robert Stewart

Lisa Marini is performing at Green Note with a new line up and some great new songs. Supported by Tall Ince. We are hoping to go depending on – well you know all the boring health stuff.
Book your tickets at once here

Robert Stewart our next door neighbours son has just had his first novel published.
You can hear all about it in this interview with Anna King on BBC Radio Gloucestershire

or grab the book – currently sold out! here

Tuffin 14 and 15

Steroids day today – so should be quite a productive night.

Tuffin 14

Andrew’s house is different from ours on the outside but in the inside it’s the same but without the worm hole.

It smells different to our house and the stairs have carpet all the way across and you can’t slide in your socks on the wooden floor in the hall because it’s covered in the same carpet. The carpet means that it’s more fun to jump down the stairs because it looks like soft sand and we can pretend it’s the desert when we jump. I can jump from six steps up because my legs are really strong from climbing the washing pole in the garden. Andrew manages only five steps because he is a lot fatter than me and his legs get very red and his face gets wet. I want to hit him a bit when he looks like that. Once a teacher said that my legs were too thin and I needed to eat more eggs. I hated her after that and wanted to hit her too.

Now I know what the smell is in Andrews house. It’s eggs. He must eat a lot of eggs that’s why he has fat legs.

When I grow up I will hit Andrew and fat people and teachers

Tuffin 15

Jill has a new dog. It’s called Fred which is the same name that she gave to the Guinea pig. It’s a German sausage dog which means it’s very very low down. It doesn’t seem to mind if Jill puts clothes on it or even paints its paws blue as if it was wearing slippers. Jill likes to dress me up sometimes. I won’t let her paint me as that would make a mess and would probably make my bath a funny colour and mum would think I was ill or had a secret. I keep it secret that Jill dresses me up even from Andrew even though I think he would like to join in or look. We do it in the scruffy bit at the side of the house where Dad keep bricks and bags of mud. She brings a bag of dressing up clothes, not all boys stuff either, and makes me stand on the bricks like a statue while she arranges everything. I get quite bored but I do it for her because in the end she is nice and doing things for her makes me feel grown up, besides in Sunday School we were told that Jesus did things for other people like feed them fish and make them better so wearing a girls dress is not hard work and might mean I go to heaven. In heaven the angels wear dresses not trousers so I might fit in well.

When I grow up I want to go to heaven and fit in well.

Confession time – pathetic!

I am taking a break from marking to share my relief and my patheticness!!!! and shame.

Ok I have been worried and stressed. This is why.

As you know i have been waiting to see if the current chemo recipe was having any effect – joy oh joy it is. i dont normally worry about my monthly blood results but this one was bugging me. Along with those tests I decided to take the routine test (offered to everyone over 60) for bowel cancer – perhaps i should have waited or just not bothered but anyway this involves sending a pooh sample off somewhere – not a pleasant process and waiting two weeks for the results. Unfortunately my brain decided to fixate on the following scenario

Test 1 – went to doctor with backache – sent to hospital – a week later told got amyloidosis
Test 2 – went to hospital with Amyloidosis – had some bone marrow removed – a week later told I had myeloma
Test 3 – went to hospital with palpitations – wore a heart monitor for a bit – a week later i was told I had atrial fibrillation

so it seemed perfectly reasonable that whenever i have a test its always positive. except for Covid – SO FAR

So i was busy planning for my colostomy bag management in Costa Coffee which only has one toilet – wondering if you could be treated for two cancers at the same time of if they had to wait there turn – wondering how on earth i would manage to consume any more drugs without turning into a walking chemical hazard – getting my affairs in order – ie contemplating releasing Maria from her marital vows, i thinks she quite likes a red face man who also grows tomatoes (that is until he completely failed to recognise her on a walk and was clearly dazed and confused to be regaled with tomato varieties when strolling along the daffy field path – oh how i meanly laughed) planning my requiem mass Verdi would be nice – but might be tough on the non existent church choir and the lady who plays the organ who has probably been by now recipient of her own requiem mass , couldn’t face a Sky Arts programme on Dantes Inferno which seemed like too close to home – blasphemy being a sort of line in the sand it seems for god – UNFORGIVABLE apparently – hubris i say – wondering if Vinnie would pine or hurl himself onto my lifeless but well preserved body (due to all the chemicals) and become a hieroglyph on my virtual burial chamber, wondering if there was a god after all and my well documented rudeness to all immortals was ultimately catching up with me – but i distracted myself over the weekend with some seriously obsessive preparing to be very ill or dead documentation you may peruse it at your leisure here –
and here

and i made this epic schematic – a clear reflection of my state of mind – where there is uncertainty and chaos bring order

(you can see where my priorities lie – how to keep my ‘Red Telephone Box the Talks a Bit Like Me’ going in perpetuity – never mind all that choosing a basket weave biologically washable coffin – or have you seen the latest you can be turned into liquid plant feed – Maria and Tomato man might find that useful)

And then behold this morning NEGATIVE!!!!! I am ridiculously relieved and really really surprised – a disease i haven’t got – just like 98 percent of the participants in this test – i am off the hook – well for two years anyway. I forgot to say that i bottled the last one two years ago – just couldn’t face it and not just because of the poo collecting element i was a COWARD. – that’s what i am confessing too – i am not brave i get scared and not always, in fact virtually never, for any sensible reason – i am just a big stupid HAPPY scary cat.

Tuffin 13

Jill’s Dad is called Sid. I like this name because it’s the shortest one I know – so easy to write on a list.

Sid’s job is to cut the grass and to clean the car. He is the first person in our road to have a green car. Mother says that is because he is some kind of artist and that artists like bright colours and she shows me some impression paintings done by Frenchmen. The pictures in the book are in black and white so I don’t really see the point but I don’t tell her because this is her most important hobby after cooking and cleaning. Sid is very quiet even when he is mowing or washing he never talks to anyone loudly. When I play at Jill’s he is usually inside in the dining room with his gun poking out the window waiting for the rats. I suppose this is why he is always so quiet. Jill says it’s something to do with the war but the war was over a longtime ago and I don’t think it had artists in it.

When I grow up I want a medal and a green car.

My numbers are looking good & Tuffin 12

so it’s worth feeling moderately dreadful most of the time – I am celebrating a 120 point decline in my bad thingies to a very respectable 44 thingies – hurrraahhhhh – and that was after only one cycle! I have been dreading the results in case they showed no improvement cos that would have been a massive downer. I confess I wasn’t feeling too great but this news has perked me up no end such that I have immediately retired to the settee, I am meant to be marking, for bonding with my favourite cat who has dutifully wrapped himself around my face for the full on fur sniffing experience – ahhhh – and some Tuffin time.

Tuffin 12

I have found someone who just likes looking.

It was easy. I told Andrew that I didn’t like swimming but I did like looking at the pool, he said he would do the same. So he’s on the top of my list still. I am not sure about Jill, because of her dad she may have to stick with swimming but we all agree that looking is best anyway.

We stand facing each other without laughing. Jill is very white. Something to do with her blood her mum says. Andrew is very red like my Mothers hair. Jill says I am quite brown but that’s only because she is so white. We start to describe each other the way you are meant to in a story but that is boring so we give it up. The best kind of looking is secret looking so we go down to the woods to climb a tree and spy on people.

For ages no one comes so we just tear leaves of the tree and drop them down to see which one is first. Eventually Brian comes. We all know him well because he likes to stand in the woods a lot and show his willy to the girls. Jill has been told to run home if she sees him but with both of us to protect her so she doesn’t bother. As Brian doesn’t see Jill because she’s up  a tree we don’t see his willy which is a shame because it would be a good looking thing. We decide it’s best not to let Jill’s mum know we saw Brian because of her dad.

As we walk home for tea we see a giant pink crab in someone’s dustbin.

I have made a list of the best lookings I have had so far.

The back swimming pool

The crab

I can’t decide which of these two should be number one.

The pigeon with the broken leg

Jill’s white arm

My bike when I have washed it

Andrews birth mark

Marchs’ old lead that dad uses to keep the gate shut

An unopened book

A gun

Jill wee’ing in the middle of the road

My sisters confirmation veil

Instant whip.

When I grow up I want to be confirmed and wear a veil.

No I am not a cancer baldy!

Bright as a button at 2 am. 

My blog stopped sending out invites to my loyal readers. Even if you don’t read this would you be so kind as to tell me whether you get the e-mail. Ta. There may be back issues you missed if you are a Tuffin and like to read in chronological order.

Wednesday night is my sleepless night. It’s a bit “tiresome” if I have something important on Thursday morning but otherwise I don’t mind it. Not sure how it will work if I need to drive to Hull in the morning but I will address that when and if it is an issue. This chemo cycle has been less yucky than the last mainly because the back pain is much much less. I am not very mobile but I have managed two walks (hateful, hateful) and two bike rides (bearable). Out with the zimmer! Get quite tired after lunch (but then I always did), sense of taste is shot nearly all the time – I can eat with some pleasure – tomatoes, pickled herring, yogurt, coffee, porridge, chilli con carne, plain pasta or aglio olio. I am sure there are other things I have yet to discover but staples like bread, biscuits, chocolate, chips, Honey Nut Cornflakes and Angel Delight have all to varying degrees lost their appeal! Strangely bread is particularly revolting unless soaked in olive oil. Chocolate is almost gaggable still. I can’t say I am looking forward to a lifetime on pickled herring but I am going to pretend I am in one of my Scandi Noirs, a hunting lodge, a well-thumbed copy of Kierkegaard discarded next a fiord, the Northern lights pick out the shape of headless corpse floating in the outdoor spa while back at the station  the dysfunctional detective approaching retirement (me) finds solace in pickled herring and expresso.

Today I get my hair cut. I have decided to go short perhaps very short. The thought of revealing my flappers to the world gives me genuine angst so I may bottle it. If i proceed it would be the first time for about 50 years that the full extent of my flappers is revealed. I hope to keep my chopped off locks to decorate my death mask. That implies it will be a ‘live mask’ unless I leave instruction in my will and a YouTube tutorial for someone to do it. The other reason going suddenly short may be embarrassing, is that people may think it’s a halfway house chemo cut, sort of a attention seeking overture for going bald. Hmm… we’ll see.

Nonna is full of herself because the doctor who came to give her a cortisone injection in her knee,  praised her mental sharpness and general positive attitude, saying that none of his other 90 year olds were as active and positive as her and were still living alone looking after themselves. She is beaming with pride so we want him back for a twice yearly morale boost jab to accompany the knee jab.

Maria is making significant progress with her piano playing (enforced). There is much less banging on keys and swearing. It really sounds good at times. We need a new piano! It cannot be tuned high enough so the match between recordings and live playing is excruciating. She doesn’t like the relatively posh £400 ish digital keyboard we have here on loan from G because of the action, so if we get something it will be a trad second hand upright. G got a brilliant one in Norwich. Angela as it was yours will you be sad if we get rid? We will in a way. Anyone in the family want it? Transport will be very costly and won’t be worth it.

Class teaching is over for me so now I embark upon the marking journey. Everybody’s least favourite activity. Many of us now provide video feedback so that’s a lot less arduous and the students prefer it but however it’s a bit like day one working as a newly employed pot washer in a hotel kitchen and you discover the last one was fired for not bothering to wash any pots for a month. Piles and piles of stuff to be scraped, sorted, washed, dried and put back on the shelves and you have yet to pick up the first grubby little spoon caked in dried-on Black Forest gateau. I will pick up that spoon on Monday

I have an emerging plan for my next live broadcast from the telephone box. I believe I have some good ideas but I know from experience a good idea does not necessarily lead to a good outcome. So watch this space. There is no scheduled date – phew – so I will broadcast when it’s done – i got quite stressed by the last self imposed deadline.  I think I can build some more CR-APPS as I have found some more images. I have decided to address the copyright issue if it occurs. After all, if it does occur that means the idea has made an impact sufficient to stir up the copyright gate keepers and I can call that a success. As the CR-APPs are free I can’t imagine anyone will care. I need to market them and my knowledge of social media marketing is zilch. Avani do you want a commission? I was thinking of starting with a Tik Tok video?

The cats are all steady at the moment. Bobby is on the balcony as I write (time has passed since I started this post) scraping to come in. He arrives at first light and sits patiently waiting till we get up. Ohhhh to have a cats capacity to not register or worry about time passing. He just waits with no appreciation of it being for 4 seconds or 4 hours. When we let him in he is as unappreciative of prompt responses to scrapey paw or neglectful responses. One meow, one stretch, where’s my breakfast?

Emergency update. Vince has just raided the balcony, a rare but catastrophic event which usually results in Bobby emptying his bowels then and there. Vince had him trapped in a corner such that when I opened the door to rescue Bobby it necessitated him getting closer to Vince in order to access the open doorway. There was no way I was going out onto the balcony in my socks cos it was wet so I had to speak to Vince firmly and get him to back away – not a concept in his repertoire of moves – Vince tends to go forward at a terrify velocity when encountering the incontinent tabby. Anyway after much negotiation peace was restored and Vince’s fur which had exploded into his full 1980’s Dallas big ginger hair look retreated along with Vince. Meanwhile Mitch sat in his bath chair and spectated.


Tuffin 11

Swimming is good for my body says my mother.

I am more interested in the black pool.

We ride our bikes to see the pool. The water is black because the pool has been left inside the house for years and no one can get in. To see it we have to look through the windows and they are covered in moss from inside so there are only a few places left you can see in. One day you won’t be able to see in at all, so we make hay while it’s still possible. We all agree it’s brilliant, better even than the stagnant pond further back down the lane where if you throw in a stone in it throws up a slimy green tail, opens a black hole then closes it down again and disappears. The black pool still has chairs around it like people will come and put their watches and clothes on and that makes it feel more like they may be in the water it’s just we can’t see them because the moss is in the way. If people are in the water they must surely be in another worm hole because we can’t hear them and the water is very still. I wonder if this is the source of my worm hole.

Jill and Andrew want to go but I could stay all day. They prefer swimming. I might have to move them down my list and find someone who just likes looking to move to the top.

When I grow up I want to just look as well as invent.

Maria’s day v Chris’s day

So instead of going on about all the silly arty nonsense that gives me pleasure and purpose, in the spirit of Tuffin here are two lists – Maria’s typical day and mine (while on chemo – see postscript)

Maria’s list on the days she doesn’t go to work

  • Bring me a cup of tea in bed, make coffee
  • Feed 3 cats – much cat wrangling required
  • Shower
  • Stand in mouse guts in bare feet
  • Replenish coal for stove add mouse guts as additional fuel
  • dress, make-up, contacts etc
  • Bring me toast and coffee in bed
  • Open Nonna’s front door so that the two cats who don’t try to kill each other can get in for snacks and Nonna love
  • Listen to me moan about illness from bed over Alexa ‘announce’
  • Visit Nonna
  • Do some of the necessary for Nonna – cleaning, sometimes lunch prep later – help with bathing – wash hair – unpleasant potty toilet business
  • Prepare open fires
  • Collect kindling and fill coal buckets (after all my poorly back!)
  • Online shopping for us and Nonna – I would do ours but I am not allowed, – grievance 1
  • Washing machine stuff – I  don’t know what exactly as I have always assumed a laundry fairy did it
  • Put clothes out to dry in sun
  • Take clothes back in from hail
  • Tidy up and vacuum fresh rabbit fur tails etc
  • Remove the previously missed desiccated cat kills, vomit or just occasionally poo
  • Change cat litter as response to above – the little sods like their bathroom to be ‘cilit banged’ or they wont use it
  • Empty bins we have 4 indoor kitchen bins
  • Move outside and shuffle the 4 different coloured outdoor dustbins we have + Nonna’s four
  • Feed cats again – this goes on all day
  • Chop wood with chain saw – her favourite thing –  think she imagines its mine or Nonna’s head under her ferocious blade
  • Loads of garden jobs including cutting grass or tending the tomato farm next door
  • Walk down road to get eggs
  • Put away online delivery for us and Nonna  (after all my poorly back!)
  • Make my lunch (naturally)
  • Maybe some ironing
  • Practise piano (bang the keys a lot and swear)
  • Prepare work for school eg recording backing tracks (a little bit hilarious because of above)
  • Respond to emails from Tiger mums
  • Do an online safeguarding course again – third time lucky with the acronyms
  • Make me a refreshing cup of tea
  • Listen to me moan about my illnesses
  • Visit Nonna again
  • Listen to her moan about her illnesses
  • Do Nonnas washing up
  • Lock Nonna in
  • Realise Mitch is also locked in at Nonna’s
  • Find Mitch hiding at Nonna’s
  • Lock Nonna in again
  • Feed traumatised Mitch who doesn’t like enforced house moves
  • Wrangle the other two cats (can involve chasing Vince round the kitchen table a few times with Bobby hissing in the b/h a door in the background)
  • Water a million outdoor pots
  • Make my dinner (now late cos of above – Grievance 2 – prioritise Chris not pot watering)
  • Collect my lap table and cutlery and present a delicious home made dinner
  • Receive praise from me (naturally}
  • Watch my choice of TV (actually that isn’t true I can’t let that go makes me sound like a lazy misogynist tyrant)
  • Go to bed annoyingly early because she is tired!
  • Read Woodhouse to escape – I wonder why.

My list

  • Wake up (phew) – be awake already (poo)
  • Take pills and Eat breakfast
  • Moan about my Illnesses
  • Add trousers and jumper to my three day usage bed underwear thus completing my work wear in 14 seconds
  • Go to my desk /Faff about with e-mail/push paperwork hither and thither for a couple of hours – sharpen pencils – bash blackboard rubber – drink milk from tiny bottle with white paper straw – cry internally most of the day – oops i digress that was primary school 
  • Eat lunch then well deserved nap
  • Sometimes teach the few students who attend online sessions thus avoid marking for the fifth day
  • Buy something online to make me feel better and less stressed about the build up of marking
  • Obsess for the next 5 hours about some ridiculous arty project until my arse grows numb
  • Moan about my illnesses which now includes numb arse
  • Get pissed of that the ridiculous Arty project doesn’t work
  • CLEAN UP THE KITCHEN (yep this contribution has to be writ large- (after all my poorly back! – what a martyr))
  • Eat delicious dinner, much telly, pills
  • groan my way into my bed in now approaching 4 day usage bed underwear
  • Not sleep
  • Write this

Ps. Of course when I am not on chemo it’s a different story – of course!


still a bit yuk but moving on

my first course of the new chemo finished a week ago – this morning i start my second. i had a good moan to the consultant about the side effects and he said people do end up packing it in or going onto a reduced dose – i am not going to do that as its really not that bad and if it works I will be on a reduced dose in 6 months time so i am moving on.

Most significant news is that I have finally published CR-APP1 (TIE) -(10 years of thinking time to produce THIS CRAP). The fact that it doesn’t work on new Android phones is being addressed as we speak, in collaboration with my lovely, patient, daughter-in-law, the only person in my circle who has a fancy, new Android Phone. Please go here if you want a peak but read below first otherwise you might not get it and I will go down in your estimations and feel sad

In keeping with my approach to Telephone Box Art I suspect this piece of App Art will confound my readership. It is based on the Japanese concept of ‘Chindogo’ which is a design method that celebrates the notion of the ‘Unuseless’ (neither useful nor useless). There are 10 tenets for Chindogu –

  • Chindogu must be (almost) completely useless. …
  • Chindogu must exist. …
  • Chindogu represent freedom of thought and action. …
  • Chindogu’s uselessness must be understood by all. …
  • Chindogu are not for sale. …
  • Humor must not be the sole reason for making chindogu. …
  • Chindogu are not propaganda. …
  • Chindogu are never taboo.

Thus the app called TIE – does only one thing, has no options, no settings, no features, no personalisation, etc, etc etc none of the things an app should do – but it is still exists as an App. I plan to produce a series all doing one simple action displaying one word against a black background that translates to an additional, somewhat absurd repurposing of the mobile phone. I am using 1980’s photo romances as the visual hook. If you happen to have some in your loft I am desperate for issues of ‘Feelings.’

‘Feelings’ back cover – maybe there is only one issue and I have it

I can get ‘Blue Jeans’ in abundance but the copyright for Blue Jeans is owned by DC Thompson who own the Beano and I suspect they wont let me use it. The copyright to ‘Feelings’ is more likely to be negotiable as it belongs to a defunct untraceable publisher.

In addition I have been trying out brutalist website design. I suppose some viewers may regard this as ugly bad web design but i have been a fan since the early days of web design when brutalist design was the default define style cos not much more than ugly was possible. It is now a trend – a response to all the glib prettyness and vacuous coolness of so much off the shelf web design these days.

Tuffin 10

Dad took me to Boots to get the saltpetre and the sulphur. Saltpetre is potassium nitrate and white. Sulphur is called flowers of sulphur and is yellow. I also bought some sulphur sweets in all sorts of colours. I ate them in our car on the way home.

Gunpowder is easy to make as long as you are patient and sensible. The recipe is to grind the three ingredients up using a pestle and mortar. I had one as part of a chemistry set I had never opened as it was obviously a toy rather than real chemistry. It had a picture of a boy on the box. He wasn’t wearing a tie so it was likely he was just playing not working. That’s no good at all! “Things worth doing are doing work.” Play is for babies and children. The boy looks a lot like Andrew so I took a note to talk about it later with Jill before we opened it up to Andrew. I think Jill might like the picture but she can’t have the chemistry set as it has one or two ingredients labeled poison – another present from Auntie Margaret.

Another surprise is that Gunpowder does not explode easily. Hitting it with a hammer is as ineffective as hitting waxy radio bits and rose petals. All those shows where people throw barrels of gunpowder down mountains and they blow up and cause an avalanche must use special gunpowder because I only managed to throw up a coating of grey dust across the bench that got muddled up with the dust left by dead grandad or the sawdust left by my dad when he made a seed frame.

Now I need a number two very very badly. Mum says it was the sulphur sweets, but I can’t see the connection. No time for a list.