Home Turf

It doesn’t always feel obvious, but there was a reason why we moved out to the New Forest all those years ago.

Today it was grey all morning, so we went out and did the grocery shopping. It had brightened up by the time we had finished so we stopped at one of our old haunts on the way home. We were just outside the village of Wood Green, just a few miles from home. I used to enjoy these views every time I went out on my bike.

Downton Abbey

I don’t particularly follow the crowd. My tastes are pretty unique. It’s not something that bothers me, especially now. Becoming comfortable in your skin is just ageing.

Take television. For example, a very popular show in the UK is The Apprentice. I find this pretty offensive – the notion that financial gain is the be-all-and-end-all. So, I buck the trend. Another example, I can’t be bothered with your typical Saturday night fodder, so a lot of programmes I’ve simply never seen. These shows are just low-budget, low-quality tv.


The other day I watched a re-run of the first few episodes of Downton Abbey. I think this aired for the first time between 2010-2015. Ish. But they missed me completely. I suppose, at that time, I was finishing up up in London, up in Liverpool, then trying to get the bike mechanic venture off the ground. So I was pretty busy. Not to mention all the grief with daughter was brewing up nicely.

I’d certainly heard of it, I knew it was a massive production, but I never watched. So I’m a bit late to the party. It was the same when I caught up with Brideshead Revisited (originally aired in the Eighties) a few years ago. And with Downton Abbey, I’m pretty impressed. Of course this upstairs/downstairs thing is absolutely disgusting, but, you know, it happened. So I suppose a vaguely accurate portrayal of the time – it is only a hundred years ago, after all.

So on the strength of these episodes, I’ve just ordered the box-set of every episode, and, really, you can count in years when I last bought a dvd. Let’s hope that the next fifty-odd episodes live up to the standard.

Oh, and note to readers – there really is a place called Downton, in fact it is a village not far from me. But it has no abbey. In the series, the house is actually Highclere Castle (still only thirty or forty miles away) and the “town” filming looks very much like the Cotswolds. The story, though, is entirely fictional, and set up in Yorkshire.

Salisbury

I guess a lot of posts from now on will be reminiscing about stuff.

I was in Salisbury yesterday, was waiting for my wife, who was at the opticians, and sat on the edge of the Market Square just watching the world go by. It is weird about having a brain injury – certainly immediately after the stroke I never thought I’d see Salisbury again, then when I did get out of hospital, going into Salisbury was like going to a different world. Part of that undoubtedly is because my habits have changed – rather than shopping, I’ve got everything I need so am happy to sit and watch people, but that trend of downsizing was happening anyway, even before the stroke, so possibly a healthy me would have behaved just the same?

But yeah, the fog is clearing now but it certainly felt like the Twilight Zone. I suppose as I’ve become more able to go places, my world has gradually gotten bigger. I do recognise that getting to the bus stop was my first mega-milestone, just because it allowed me to get further afield. If I hadn’t have made that one, I’ve no doubt it would ultimately be fatal.

What’s quite strange is that I must have improved gradually over time, I’ve always kind thought along the lines “aren’t I doing well?” I mean, I’m stronger now, certainly, than a couple of years ago, but even back then I don’t remember thinking “I’m a wreck now but I’ll be better in 2 years”. I mean, I certainly think the second half of that – that I’ll keep getting better – but certainly not the first half. I’m confident that there’ll come a time when nobody will know I ever had a stroke. I’ll always know, but nobody else will.

I probably haven’t said things very well. Reading it back, I don’t think I’ve particularly done a good job.

The other nostalgic thing which happened yesterday was that, quite by accident, I met the guy who was my next door neighbour in hospital. They put us next to each other because we were both youngsters, in fact I think this guy was only in his thirties, even younger than me. He hadn’t had a stroke, but had had some other brain injury, I’m not sure which. I wouldn’t have taken it on board at the time. We both happened to be in a music shop, we recognised each other, I knew I knew him but I couldn’t place him. He recognised me, though. He’d put on weight from what I remember, but then so have I. I don’t know if he gets fatigued, if that makes him more sedentary than he used to be, but I know that fatigue is not just limited to strokes. Unfortunately my wife and I were just on the point of going back to the car, and this guy was just getting served, it would have been nice to have a proper catch-up with him. I hope he feels he’s doing as well, if not better, than I’ve done.

Cuckoo Fair

Gearing up today for the bank holiday weekend. Mayday is always the time of our local annual village fete, the Cuckoo Fair. It is billed as this twee country affair, yet in reality is somewhat larger and less personal. Lots of traders who will spend the summer months going from fete to fete, lots of fast-food stalls which leave you wishing you hadn’t bothered…. When we first came to the village, it was an occasion we marked in our diaries, but this has waned over the years. even before the stroke, to the point where these days I actively avoid it. Our sleepy village of 5,000 inhabitants, swells to 25,000 for the day, they close the main road and parking is generally a nightmare!

I’m not sure if my wife feels the same as I do, but certainly this year has made other plans. She is away for the weekend in the lovely Lyme Regis, some craft course or other.

My daughter, however, still likes such occasions, and has said that she will visit for the weekend. I suppose it is also an opportunity for her to see  the mates she left behind when she went into care, although we don’t need particularly good memories to remember all the times, before she left, when she would complain that she had no friends. So as you can tell, there is still contact between me and my daughter, although in reality most of her contact is with my wife – I guess a mother’s love really is unconditional!

But on these occasions when she does visit, they are invariably non-confrontational, mainly because we are both quite reserved with each other, and avoid contentious subjects. But all a far cry from when she claimed to be fearful of being in the same house as me. My wife is only away Saturday and Sunday, so we may even all go out for a coffee on the bank holiday!