lost my way

I have lost my way writing for this blog. I don’t know who or what its for. It started out as therapy and then became a soapbox to make vacuous political gestures (regret, regret regret), then a family diary for showing off about my loved ones, (that probably just pisses people off) then a platform for me to show off about my projects, (that probably just bores people) then a platform for Tuffin to show off (does anyone but me care about my attempts at telling Tuffin’s story) and now I don’t know what it is. I haven’t lost interest, but I have lost my way.

It came about through cancer and that hasn’t gone away however its narrative potential has diminished as ‘cancer world’ has become more routine for me.

I go for tests, things go up and down, I take drugs, I get results, I go for more tests, I have trouble parking the car at the hospital it’s so busy and crowded I think I am going to be late, I start to panic, no reason they always wait, I leave my mask in the car, I go back for it, approach the hospital door that opens automatically the wrong way potentially smacking you in the face (maybe a way to generate more custom) report to a very tiny receptionist at the magnolia centre (why name the cancer centre it after a dreary emulsion paint – he he he) whose arms worry me, they are so thin I wonder if she is a patient seconded to reception, she’s always really nice though, I have to stand and wait in a queue, they only allow a limited number to sit inside, I look forward to sitting, I look forward to sitting in all settings (home, work, country walks, beaches etc), in I go, get weighed, have to take my shoes off this time, didn’t have to last time so didn’t wear my slip-ons, laces, what a drag, bending over what a drag, must not fart, bent at this angle compressing belly a distinct possibility, finally sit, next to bald gay guy with partner who looks really poorly, can barely walk, feel very sorry for him but secretly glad I am not that poorly, I smile, he doesn’t, I connect to eduroam super-fast university network that all academics can access in any university in the UK, York is a teaching hospital so it’s available all over the site, super fast browsing of E-bay to check out ‘Evans table lighters’ all too expensive cos of postage from US, French vintage telephones from France similarly out of range cos of VAT and postage from Europe which is about as expensive as that from the US (why?), oh Brexiteers what have you done – scuppered my ‘ancien telephone’ collecting hobby,  called by a nurse for blood test, usual amusing fiasco cos NAC (where the sample gets sent) requires phlebotomist to use ‘vacutainers’ which require a special attachment to avoid two jabs for patient (apparently not cool for phlebotomists reputation) that York NHS doesn’t use, my suggestion to just squirt the blood into the test tube is rejected and he threatens to go to try to find an attachment (it’s a sort of a ‘hoselok’ system)  I say don’t bother, just make two holes I don’t mind, nope he’s out the door down the corridor for what I know to be a fruitless search,  I loll about on the blood taking chair and watch the analyst do whatever she does with other peoples samples, she is Eastern European and I turn on the charm to demonstrate how much I love Eastern Europeans in case she feels unwelcome (thanks again Brexiteers), I subject her to a series of inane questions about the blood test process that I really don’t want an answer to but I am stuck like a record in a groove and cant move on till the phlebotomist returns empty handed and goes reluctantly to get the amazing delightful specialist nurse Helen (who I am actually in love with) who immediately assembles a chemistry set of ‘hoselok’ adapters, clicks then together and completely painlessly syphons off the necessary sample, back to EBay to glide through postcards of Eynsford (always the same ones on sale) and Yamaha Xg accessories  to discover I am sitting on a goldmine of 80’s technology that has come back into fashion), nothing doing in the ‘seaside memorabilia’ collection either, so reply to the slew of university emails inviting me to do staff development in areas I didn’t know needed developing, I still haven’t got to grips with decolonising the curriculum without falling no into the trap of cultural appropriation so I sign up for some much needed help, my consultant calls my name and in a fluster I drop my phone, my waterproof, my glasses and my dignity, gather them all up, stick them all under my arm and trying to look fit and feisty I scamper after him, I have no idea why I am possessed by a sense of urgency but I note it’s contagious, everyone in here does it, it’s as though the last consultant train is leaving the platform and you need to get on before the doors close, he is very chill, asks how I am, I say fine, he says good, any new symptoms, no, looks at my numbers pronounces them fine, suggests we carry on as we are, I agree, tells me to call if anything changes, and go wait in waiting room for pharmacist to bring drugs, meantime bald gay guy and partner have gone so I take a chair near where I know the pharmacist will appear thus avoiding embarrassing waving or shouting when she can’t locate me, offload my arm load of junk and try to reorganise myself, another panic when I can’t find mobile, much frantic patting of every pocket I own until I locate it wrapped in my waterproof under my arm, Jeez I am actually getting old and doddery and stupid, heart rate subsides in time for the pharmacist to deliver a plastic bag of goodies, she offers to explain them, I adopt my professional patient mode and decline, something I will regret once I am at home, say thanks to whatever nurses I pass on my way past the thin receptionist through the smacking door and after yet another ‘early onset’ ballet of pocket patting I pay a modest mortgage for 2 hours use of the multistorey and hit the road back home.

In case you missed the last line of Tuffin 22 it is … Oh yes I go to school now.

Tuffin 23

Our village has a famous river. It is famous because it is shallow so you can walk in it with wellingtons without getting wet socks at all and it has a track through it that lorries can drive through if they are too big for the bridge. So it isn’t really a river it is more of a road with a river running on top. Common people’s cars from Dartford or East Hill don’t use the bridge instead they break the rules and show off by going through the river very fast and making a big wave that fills your wellingtons and probably kills lots of fish. My dad always hopes they get stuck and water gets in the engine and ruins it. At weekends lots of common people’s children come to shout and splash in the river with just their pants on and throw stones and water at each other and at us. I hate them because they don’t know the rules. Luckily they have me to teach them. The bridge is only wide enough for one car small at a time. It is so narrow that it has places to hide at the top so that people don’t get squashed by the cars. I like to stand on guard stopping the small children from getting in hoping they will get killed. That way they will learn the rules like we have to at school. Rules for waiting or eating and playing and drinking from the water fountain and running and going to the toilet without wetting the walls or getting gravel in your knees or spilling ink and getting hit for not folding your arms, and writing in the lines and colouring in the lines and standing in lines with nowhere to hide to avoid being killed.

When I grow up, I won’t have to go to school, and I won’t have to hide.

Di’s statue is dreadful dross – Tuffin 20

I don’t know about you folk but I am unable to sleep, breathe, eat or function normally  since seeing the new Princess Diana statue. I have long ceased getting wound up about the big issues, survival of the planet, survival of the Labour Party, survival of me (that was all quite embarrassing in retrospect) but this atrocity has tipped me over the edge and I have to rant.

RANT: It is quite simply the worst piece of public art I have ever seen and I looked at loads for my Bridlington project.  The Artist should retire now and do something he is suited for like decorate Hallmark cards from the 1970’s, illustrate 1930’s children’s books or do those posters outside churches to come to a coffee morning. Sorry I do a disservice,  1930’s childrens book illustrators we’re working within the somewhat mawkish sentiments of the time and doing it rather well – this chap has dug up everything that is ghastly about the style – cute kids, mother/Madonna figure, maypole motif, horrible dress, someone else’s face (my vote is for David Bowie) and what seems to be a particularly finely wrought and enormous cowboy belt  to which he had added his own and ‘those brothers’ [I have nothing against them personally but I think we can now be confident that they don’t have an artistic bone in their bodies] particular brand of dreadful dreadful quasi religious kitsch – Sorry I do a disservice –while I despise all religiosity I love kitsch – this is beyond kitsch it is simply indescribable rubbish – lets take it down – melt it  – throw it in the canal and give a proper artist a chance to do something worthy of her reputation and tragic death – I thought the water garden thing was excellent – statues stink anyway – but really…….

Give it the commission to Tracy Emin and see what she comes up – at least it might look like a piece of 21st century art. The photo series below relates to her Cancer and is brilliant. I wish i had done something like it but I am not brave enough.

Ok, got that off my chest.

Busy planning/making a short documentary about the phone box. Learning about photography and film making as I go, so I have a very low expectations of quality. George is mentoring. I have been persuaded to rejoin the university research world and hopefully this will be part of my contributions. Other than uni teaching prep – [l guess the documentary project will contribute to that as well – additional skills and whatnot] – which is still quite intense, everything else has gone on back burner including Tuffin. I have 4 weeks holiday end July and August so we have plans but they are very very flexible to accommodate any last minute Nonna set backs but I want to use some of the time to complete the documentary and revitalise a few other projects which have fizzled out such as my CR-Apps but I also must get out and about… hmm (see below for bike news) .

Treatment goes well. Just started 4th cycle – hopeful for reduction in dose. Tastebuds not so bad this time – side effects generally less annoying. My wakefulness for three nights a week (this is night one) is no fun for Maria so I find a warm spot somewhere under the railway arches and kip there so as not to disturb her. Aside from the damp, the thieving and the violence it’s fine. I slip back in the morning to prepare her breakfast and tend my wounds

We have bought a second folding bike so we can go off on leisurely car jaunts and then take off free as birds – as long as the road is flat (no hills) and pothole free – airfields would be nice – very titchy wheels – oh and a convenient convenience, somewhere to get a snack – oh and a bus back to the car. Full size bikes are such a pain to stuff in car – likely to do back in loading the car never mind having a crash and falling in a ditch.

Maria continues to do things with apricots and exercise her new found passion for paper engineering. Separately I should say. She is incredibly neat and patient, qualities I don’t share, and she’s really good at it, if a tiny bit obsessive – says he.

Tuffin 20

Next to the station and to get to the wood is a narrow road. We are allowed to go down the road all the way to the donkey but no further as then you get to the shooting range where the army try out machine guns and bombs. I really want to go there but Dad says that even though it was in the war there still might be bombs lying about. I once heard a few bangs coming from there but no one was blown up or shot so I think it’s safe as long as you are careful and sensible. On the way to the donkey the road is so narrow that if a car comes you have to climb onto the bank to let it pass. The bank is full of snails and Jill is afraid of snails. They are really big ones the size of the crowns I have in my coin collection that the lady next door gave me before she died in bed. I sent her a thankyou letter but she must have been dead already because when dad went to make sure the house was ok it was still on the mat. On the way to the donkey we once found a mole in the middle of the road. I picked it up but it bit me so I dropped it. I pretended it didn’t hurt but it did and it bled a bit so I kept my hand in my pocket. After that we kicked it with our feet over to the bank to stop it getting run over but it didn’t move again so we left it alone. I think I killed it when I kicked it. The donkey is very muddy but we take carrots for it so it comes to the gate and puts its head over when it sees us coming. Everyone is afraid of it biting them except me. I like animals and they know that. Except moles perhaps but I think they are blind like the man at the station. The donkey has a really fat belly like Rosalind and thin legs like me. It’s not having a baby though as it has a big willy like Brian has when he is in the woods.

(There are lots of pattens in that bit – I must make a list later)

PS -The donkey’s best bit is it’s ears that are big, not sticky out like mine but sticky up. I wonder what donkeys hear like. If wonder if they can hear other donkeys making noises a long way off like submarines can. After all this one is all on its own and is probably lonely even with us there so it might like to hear another donkey even if it can’t see it.

When I grow up I want to explore the shooting range and find a bomb or bullets and I want my ears to be less sticky out.

Phew Nonna OK! & Tuffin 19

Long silence the result of some serious worries about Nonna now happily passed. Not Nonna – the worry!

Poor Nonna has been in hospital with a whole bunch of serious stuff. We were very very worried but after being pumped with antibiotics and believe it or not bicarb, she is back at home and happily prone in front of her Italian telly, happy as Larry. I won’t go into the details she can’t really give her permission (her understanding of the inter web is nowt, nulla) but suffice to say it was a life and death scenario and the latter seemed at first, to her doctors and to us to be a highly likely outcome. To say that because she’s approaching 90 (we had a birthday  party planned in just a week or two) and we should be prepared and possibly resigned to her never coming home was utter cobblers, we wanted her home and better, she is not an Eccles cake or a cannoli beyond its sell by date to be chucked away. Happily she agreed and despite dire predictions, much to our surprise and I think the doctors, her numbers returned to the  sustainable dreadful she has been maintaining for months now and she was discharged. She is beginning to be able to eat again without throwing up, can just about stagger with her walker to her essential services, has carers (who she really likes) help her dress morning and night, Maria makes her lunch, even I  managed to make a passable bowl of pastina when Maria was at work, manages a really complicated diet of new, changed and withdrawn drugs that makes mine look meagre and most importantly is so jolly that it makes us jolly. So now back to the status quo for however long such statistically improbable stability can be maintained – we can all breathe again and to some degree get on with our lives and think again about Tuffin and telephone box art that I just could not focus on while she was in such dire straits.

So here is latest followed by my own health update which is thankfully much less dramatic.

Tuffin 19

Andrew and I have a new game called hanging teddies. We both have teddies but because we are old now we don’t need them. Mine was given to me by my mean Nan, who my mum hates. She is not mean to me but she is mean to the family.  It has short fur and when you turn it upside it growls but it sounds like a cow. Andrew’s has long fur and is quite small and worn out. It doesn’t growl or anything. We attach string round their necks and dangle them out of my window. Because of the porch we can’t swing them very far without them bashing into the walls but we can balance them on the porch roof so it looks like they are going to do suicide  like the lady up the road did only she set herself on fire. The people walking up the road from the station saw us and smiled which is strange because I don’t think its funny. Andrew’s bear was weak and it head and body tore apart like it had had its throat cut. Andrew said the bear belonged to his mother and her mother so she would be cross. I knew about sewing from Mrs Friends class so I showed Andrew how to stitch the head back onto the body just like the boy at school had stitches on his thigh after he fell on some railings. I wanted to do the hanging teddies game again but Andrew said he was going home. Andrew is very weak like his Teddy.

When I grow up I want stitches.

My numbers are still improving so the dose of steroids has been reduced. I feel not too bad most of the time,  bit knackered and the food thing is annoying. Fizzle out in the evening but mornings are good and productive. I could definitely sustain this regime if it has to go on beyond September perhaps forever but I must admit I will miss experiencing  nice tastes. I didn’t think it was important, which it isn’t, but I do spend many a moment gazing longingly into the fridge trying to conjure up anything that doesn’t end up tasting like hoover left overs. I am still on pickled herring, tomato’s, apples, porridge with cream, plain pasta with butter, liquorice, tea and decaf coffee (thank goodness), fried bread, eggs and asparagus. Now looking at my list I don’t know why I am complaining but having been previously such a fan of most foods, provided I didn’t  have too cook them, such a specialised menu does seem a bit sad. I am hungry pretty much all the time which is also a new experience for me, I have lost weight, not a great deal, but my emaciated chicken legs are now even more hilarious when framed by summer wardrobe of three quarter shorts, short white socks, and my Clarks elasticated slip ons, (designed to make shoe putting effortless) -, sadly my belly persists resulting in over reliance on my non existent hips to support said shorts such that upon returning from the hospital a few days ago my shorts dropped to my ankles upon exiting the car much to Maria’s heartless amusement.

Oh one other important thing – Lisa and Arts gig scheduled for July has fallen foul of the Covid restrictions and is rescheduled for December 1st – Your tickets will still be valid – what a bummer though.

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 –

https://gravityisahat.co.uk/K6_Tech/k6_hardware/index.html
and here
https://gravityisahat.co.uk/K6_Tech/K6_software/index.html

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.

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.

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 https://unuseless.gravityisahat.co.uk/ 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’ http://chindogu.com/ics/ 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. https://brutalistwebsites.com/ 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.

yuk yuk yuk & tuffin 9

Check out the side effects of just one of my drugs in the video above – needless to say now that I have read about them I have them all! The highlight is – “take this drug and you might get cancer” – well bugger me I hadn’t thought of that! something else to add to the worry list.

i am sorry i keep going on about my treatment but when it isn’t pissing me off it fascinates me. What a funny way to treat a disease, to poison the person with it and make them ill and susceptible to other diseases. Its quite medieval like sticking your head in a beehive to get rid of head lice – yes there really was something like that – must be true cos i saw it on TikTok (btw must delete it again – addictive).

8:00 am drug breakfast – even the water is drugged – no scary ones for a week though

Today I begin my week off the the two cytotoxic drugs so i hope by Friday to be back out clubbing with Maria (family dont know this every Friday night we like to do the Micklegate run in York finish off by groping some fire officers and puking up our donners in the back of an Uber) until it all kicks off again on next Wednesday after seeing my consultant for a checkup to make sure my system is coping – it is i’m pretty sure.

When i get cheesed off i remember Lisa’s friend who has been on an even more extravagant gift basket of daily drugs for years and years and just gets on with it – but for now, for me its quite new, to start each and every day with a ritual swallowing routine that lasts several minutes after which you feel a lot worse than you did before you started – which is fairly bad after a night of pissing and not pooing or vice versa. Perhaps it would help if i had a sacred space where this event could unfold (make it a bit more special like getting that wafer thing from jesus – ‘communion’ its a word like epiphany that i can never remember) and maybe some Roman house gods to guide me, a few candles, incense, even humanist prayers (is there such a thing somehow i doubt it) accompanied by humming or whale noises or Enja but just gulping them all down and trying not to gag on the steroids – (aaaahhhh – they are disgusting if you get one under the tongue and it starts to dissolve)

-sort of trivialises the idea that these innocuous little babies sealed in their little silver cradles are my life force – without them i am a gonna. I feel a poem coming on – — – — — — — – – – nope its gone…

YUK – the most noticeable side effect, other than the constipation which is now under control (phew), is the taste bud decimation. i actually spat a sausage out while watching ‘Call My Agent’ (grab on netflix ‘toot sweet’) – i don’t think i have spat something out with such ferocity since primary school orange sponge – i actually tasted like one imagines a partially embalmed slug to taste (flabby/firm and chemically) – and it was an expensive Italian sausage from a posh deli – what a waste. i plan to leave this story as is but it is a tiny weeny bit of a lie because maria believes the culprit to be bad defrosting hygiene rather than my taste buds but that takes us off topic and spoils the story – but yeh its likely they were on the turn. We may have been ‘infected’ by Nonna quaint country ways – she sticks uncooked italian (the same incredibly expensive) sausage in the fridge and leaves it to dry out for a few weeks so she can eat it like salami – if Maria find its she bins it and tells her off – but i think some sneaky amateur meat curing maybe going on – Uncooked pork, ‘matured for a month’ in a slightly damp old fridge, ingested by a 90 year old who has no functioning chewing teeth and a continuous gippy (putting it mildly) stomach is probably not in the manual of health eating for the older person, but we apply the philosophy extolled by the pharmacist who queried the combination of drugs Maria was collecting for Nonna (apparently a dangerous combo) until Maria said her Mum was nearly 90 at which point the Pharmacist congratulated her on her longevity pronouncing ‘if she can get to 90 on that combo then she’s doing brilliantly and nobody should mess with that.’ so lashings of class A drugs for tea for Nonna.

for me most things taste bland (which is fine) – salt and sweet perception seems to have disappeared a few things are really gross – biggest loss chocolate and sweeties both of which maintain the textural features but taste a bit they might be trying to be good for you because they contain a chocolate substitute made from deodorised cuttlefish extract and the sort of sand you keep your pet lizards in. Side effect of the thalidomide – WEIGHT LOSS – i wonder why? But thats a bonus i suppose.

Tuffin 9

The shed was once grandads. He is dead with coughing all his life. I was a bit sad as he was an inventor like me but I was glad because we got all his tins as well as his shed. I don’t think grandad liked anything other than things and wrestling. I know that because he left one hundred and forty one tins called old Virginia with different things in them. Some of them have just one thing in like a door bolt or a chain but others have hundred of little things like staples or washers. Some things are sticky and some are dry and chalky. Although he has painted what they are on the side of the tin I had to ask dad what a grommet was and he said be careful. Grommets don’t look dangerous but I suppose you never know. Swallowing would be fine as they have a hole in them, you could still breath. I suppose you could put one on your willy because that how they make dogs stop being bad so it might work on boys. It didn’t work at all on March so you might end up going on holiday and never coming back.

I know about the wrestling because we watched it together on Saturday afternoons and it was the only time he didn’t cough because he was too busy shouting. Once he shouted so hard he kicked his bottle of beer across the carpet. After that the room always smelt nice but grandma said it made her sick and that grandad made her sick and that she would sit in the kitchen, but she stayed in the sitting room and watched the wrestling with us which was nice because she let me lean across her lap like a dog.

I miss my dog. I wish he wasn’t dead.

When I grow up I will bring my March back to life and my Grandad but not my Grandma. I may have to turn on the worm hole again.

Tuffin 8

Mum had dropped a milk bottle in the new fridge and it had split the plastic shelf. Now she is crying on the bed.

I want to invent something with the bag of taps. I have decided that they have been put there to stop me using the electric saw. I respect that because all tools are dangerous in the wrong hands. There are probably a hundred taps in the bag. Why would a house need a hundred taps? That’s fifty baths or sinks or twenty five of each type. That’s very clean people or clothes or washing up.

I note the connection with my remaining hole and write it down as a clue in my list.  It seems that someone has planned to makes lots of new baths to go with mine. I think about keeping this a secret as it might be important but the cat had my tongue so I let it out to Jill. She says her dad will know because he has some medals from the war. I tell her not to tell him yet because of his gun.

Brainwave!

That’s what I will make. A tap makes a perfect gun. That way if Jill’s dad were to want to kill us instead of the rats I could defend us. It’s a pity the rose perfumed wax didn’t explode as my book on guns (opened so many times the glue holding the pages has dropped out so it no longer a book just pages) tells me I need a propellant. There is no mention of rose petals or wax but there is mention of charcoal, saltpetre and sulphur in five/seven/five proportions to make gunpowder. The best charcoal is made from willow, it says, so I roast my cricket bat in the old bread bin using dads blow torch. It takes a long time and a lot of paraffin at at the end of it my head hurts and my eyes hurt a lot. Jill says that’s a good sign.

Tomorrow I will ask Dad to get me some some saltpetre and sulphur.

When I grow up I want to be a pyroman and to fix mum’s new fridge.

bit of a moan and two more tuffins

I started a big moan and then my site went wrong (problem with the migration for as you may note I am now on a uk domain run by Lisa’s totally brilliant brother Khairil – thoroughly recommended for all your web technical concerns – bloody genius in my view and loves my phone box!) – anyway i am looking 9 months pregnant with twins as against my usual 4 months with a single. Its really gross but bloating and constipation is a side effect – joy oh joy – i really need to strengthen my core to hold it all in or get a girdle. i am really not to keen on my body at the mo – i feel it might be letting me down – my brain however is a strange fusion of excitement, verbosity and ‘articulateness’ – i am churning out Tuffin stories – and my online teaching sessions this week have gone really well – or at least thats what i think – the students may not agree – but my memory is shot and i keep dropping things – blimey old and crap or what. The zimmer is being dragged out the loft cos the old back is a bastard again but during the day i can walk about just fine its at night and the trips to either do nothing consequential in the bowel department, not to be able to pee because that shuts down at night (so i probably have prostate cancer as well) or pee for five minute stretches cos some drug or other makes you pee like an open drain pipe. I am pissed off!

but actually feeling very creative – doing a lot of work – with Khairils help i have been able to resurrect the old CrestNetwork site – the proudest achievement of my academic career- where my short film with Lee Ridley can be seen plus videos of Maria singing weird stuff with speech synthesisers for Russian TV and a load of other weird stuff with speech tech.

oh danger danger – am i living in the past? – resting on a few old achievements to make me feel worthwhile – yep – oh never mind.

Here’s some more Tuffin

Tuffin 6

Now that I only make inventions I only have time for one hole so I shut the worm hole, fill in the compost hole and that just leaves the bath. I think Dad would be cross if I did something with that as the bathroom would be empty and we would all be dirty. Jill is still nice so I didn’t need to take her off my list of people but Andrew is new so he has moved to the top.

My bike has two cross bars but they are thin. This isn’t a mistake it’s modern. It troubles me a bit because I expected one cross bar but as the bike cost dad £16 and Andrew’s cost his dad £14.00 its higher on the list. His has white tyres mine are black with white round the edge. We scramble with them so they get messy and end up the same colour . Jill can’t play because her bike doesn’t have a cross bar at all. She wee’d in the middle of the road when I told her. I looked but Andrew didn’t. She laughed at him but only as a joke. I think I like Jill best but there is a problem with her bike.

I have invented a cross bar for Jill. I found a stick in the wood near the station and cut it to the right length with my hacksaw. This is not the right saw but it’s the only one I am allowed. I want to use the electric one grandad made from an old washing machine but someone had left a bag of old taps on it and I can’t lift it off. I sellotaped the stick onto Jill’s bike and she is really pleased and promised not to wee in the road anymore. Andrew is pleased about that. Jill scrambles with us now all the time. She is quite fast because of the cross bar. When she wins Andrew sings a song about the crossbar. “Crossbar star I love you.” It goes.  I can’t remember the rest but it’s good. I think Andrew might prefer Jill’s bike to his. He needs a hacksaw.

When I grow up I want to use the electric saw and give Andrew my Hacksaw.

Here is a list of our scramble races.

Round 1 Winners
Me
Me
Andrew
Jill
Me

Round 2 winners
Me
Jill
Jill
the rest of the races weren’t recorded as they were just for fun

Overall winner Tuffin (Me)

Tuffin 7

When I am not inventing I like to watch the pigeons on our roof. We get loads because Jill’s dad has built a pigeon house in the back garden next to the pond. So before they go to bed the pigeons  walk around the roof of our house. I suppose they are not tired yet.  I give them names and voices. If I am with Andrew or Jill I talk outloud but if I am on my own I talk inside my head as if I am inside a wireless. I wonder what would happen to the pigeons if I turned the worm hole back on and they accidentally flew inside. Where would they go. Would they fly off and meet that dead Pekingese. That would be bad because they make nice cooing noises and nobody would know they were there because of all the snorting from that dead dog.

I love wireless’s  even if they don’t work. As well as making saws from washing machines Grandad knew how to fix them. He gave me a bread tin full of radio parts. Some are glass, some are China and some are rubber a few are made of wax. I lit one like it was a candle using dads blow torch. It melted but didn’t burn much. The smell was bad so I mixed in some rose petals to cover it up. I thought I had invented a fire perfume maker. Andrew thought it smelt ok but would probably work better as an explosive so we hit it with a hammer but that did nothing so we threw it all away and went back to the pigeons but they had gone to bed.

When I grow up I want to be a perfumer.

Tuffin 5

Now I have three holes and lots and lots of stones. My three holes are –

The worm hole in my room that means I don’t ever have to be a child

The hole next to the compost where I can smoke my pipe like dad and sleep with Jill

The bath that is really another compost hole but indoors and drains and drains.

You know about my stones.

This was enough things for me to start my research at the library.

The library was a lorry. At first this confused me as the normal lorries carried bread and coal not books. This one has a door in the side and steps and a rubber stamp and a librarian called Linda that my mum knows from Bexley where my Nan is in hospital for trying to cook her head in the oven. Linda doesn’t mention this but she does say that the book my mum wants is in, so my mum is pleased and doesn’t have to pay. I ask for books on worm holes and stones but Linda suggests ‘Bom the Little Drummer’ so I take that instead. It’s a good book because Boms’ drum rolls down the hill and that gives me an idea for an invention so instead of holes and stones I ask if l can have a book on inventions. Linda says she will bring one in a fortnight when I return Bom. That’s the trouble with libraries you have to give the books back. The best thing about a book is keeping it. That’s more important than reading it. I keep my books on my shelves in order of how may times they have been opened. The unopened ones are the best but I only have one – ‘The Observers book of Freshwater Fish’ – Auntie Margaret got it for me so I could look up ‘minnow’ but after she gave it me she also tried to cook her head in the oven so Dad said best to leave it shut.

When I grow up I want to be an inventor and invent something round like a stone or a hole or a wheel – something that goes somewhere.