This life of mine
Saturday, November 15, 2008

Some days are easier than others. Today’s had its share of difficulties.

I decided to go to Ilford on the bus. Ilford has a decent shopping centre which includes the best ‘pound shop’ I’ve ever been to (it’s actually a 99p store). It’s not part of a chain, and the owner buys lots of stock from the States. It’s the only place I know in the area that sells Irish Spring soap, for example.

Last time I was there I bought some Plantolin lotion, which I’d never heard of before. It turns out it’s great for psoriasis, but I didn’t know that when I bought it. I looked it up online, and it seems to be out of production or sale in the UK, so my ‘uh oh’ radar was on, because I suspect that what they’d had in the 99p store was a load of bankrupt stock, and once that’s gone, it’s gone.

I decided to get the bus to Ilford because there’s a direct bus from the station where I live, and parking at the station is free on Saturdays. Parking in Ilford is difficult and expensive, and the round trip on the bus would be just £2. Easy-peasy. Yeah, right.

The bus is meant to be every 20 minutes. Which means I had to wait 35 minutes for it (luckily with a seat on the bench at the bus stop). There were a few old ladies waiting for it too (including a rather stern looking woman who had a sweet little dog - a whippet who was wearing a little winter coat), but when the bus came a young woman barged straight on ahead of everyone else.

But I managed to get a seat, and I do enjoy bus rides if I have a seat, I really like to look into people’s houses and gardens, at the street scenes, and not have the stress of driving.

So, my first stop was the 99p store. As I suspected, they had no Plantolin lotion. But I did get two bottles of posh vinegar (red and white wine vinegars – no, they don’t contain alcohol) and a couple of other bits and pieces.

There was a Christmas market on in the town centre, where I bought some lovely French cheese from the lovely French man selling it – three little packs for £5 – a brie, a chèvre and a Provençale cheese (which has a lovely earthy, mushroomy flavour). The goat’s cheese I will probably use to stuff inside chicken breasts, along with garlic and basil, before wrapping them in pancetta or bacon and roasting them.

When I came to get the bus home, laden with shopping (well two bags, not all that heavy, except for the two bottles of wine vinegar) it was a 40 minute wait for the bus (did I mention the bus runs every 20 minutes? Yes, I thought I did), and when it came, although I was at the front of the queue, there was a surge of people who barged on in front of me, so again it was a struggle to find a seat.

They appeared to fall into two groups – kids who have been brought up with no manners and/or with this sense that their needs are more important than anyone else’s and who live in a world where ‘waiting your turn’ does not exist, or men who for cultural reasons (Ilford has a diverse ethnic mix) see no reason to allow a woman to go ahead of them.

A few stops later, the whippet lady got on, and nobody offered her a seat (she was probably about 70). I was sitting so far back that if I’d got up, she wouldn’t have got my seat.

So although I try to reduce my carbon footprint and my personal expenses by not driving everywhere, it’s trips like this that make me realise exactly why I dislike travelling by bus so very much.

From a personal point of view, it’s not been a great day. I struggle so much with low self-esteem, that feeling of worthlessness that’s dogged me since I was a child. I find it very hard to be kind to myself, and when I’m sad or anxious, the self-doubt and self-loathing sometimes overwhelm me.

I’ve been sad since last weekend when I went to Jon’s funeral. It’s not a good time for me, mid-November, because on Friday it was 3 years since George died. And I’m anxious about something at work – paradoxically not a ‘bad’ thing, quite possibly a good thing, a very good thing. But it’s something that I have no control over, so all I can do for now is sit it out and wait for things to pan out, hopefully in my favour.

I grew up being told that nobody would ever love me because I was unlovable, and I believed that there was something about me that was so disagreeable that I would be destined to live a solitary life, without friends, and – without doubt – never a partner.

My sister, on the other hand, was told all the time how pretty, talented and wonderful she was, and she grew up never having to – never needing to – make those massive adjustments and compromises that were essential for me to make just so I could find my way in the world.

You know the kind of thing. Or maybe you don’t. Keeping my expectations low, never asking for too much, or hoping for too much, because then I couldn’t be disappointed. Now I’m daring to dream about things that could happen which would turn my life around.

Dare I dream? Dare I?

Saturday, November 08, 2008
  Brummie Jon
Jon Goble 1949-2008
Jon Goble 1949-2008,
originally uploaded by essexjan.
I said goodbye to a friend today, a man I knew as Brummie Jon.

I met Jon for the first time in 2001 when he came to his first AA meeting at Whipps Cross Hospital. I was secretary of the meeting, and I remember him walking in the door, wearing one of his coats of many colours (just about every garment he owned was in some combination of clashing colours), and his customary woolly hat, looking scared, bewildered, defeated and defiant.

Some people come to their first meeting and you never see them again, but not Jon. He immersed himself into AA and sobriety, and we soon became friends. Jon found many friends in AA. He was that sort of a man, people were drawn to him. He would tell the most wonderful anecdotes of his drinking days in his broad Brummie accent, and there was no doubt that he was definitely 'one of us' - the lucky ones who were given a second chance at life.

Jon was a remarkable man - a man of science and a man of arts. He was a clinical psychologist by profession and worked for many years in the health service, and as a lecturer.

But he was also - and I think this is how he would have defined himself - first and foremost a musician. A wonderful, wonderful musician. A self-taught jazz pianist of uncommon talent. He loved music, and his love of it infected everyone around him when he played, or when he talked about it.

In January of this year Jon was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He knew there would only be one outcome, and he refused to spend his last few months having chemo. Instead he catalogued his music, compiled an album, wrote his autobiography and spent time with the people he loved - his wife and three children, his mother and brothers.

Jon was a lovely man - warm, funny, a little bit bonkers (well, most musicians are), challenging, inquisitive, unique.

I'll miss him very, very much.
Rantings of a sober madwoman

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Location: Essex, England, United Kingdom
February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / February 2007 / February 2008 / May 2008 / August 2008 / October 2008 / November 2008 / March 2009 / May 2009 / June 2009 / July 2009 / August 2009 / October 2009 /

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