Saturday, 25 January 2014


Tonight is Burns Night.  Robert Burns (1759 - 1796) also known as 'Rabbie Burns',Scotland's favourite son; the 'Bard of Ayrshire', and in Scotland as simply ‘The Bard’.  He is widely regarded as the 'national poet of Scotland', and is celebrated worldwide.

Burns Night is celebrated annually on 25 January (the poet's birthday).  Haggis reekin', bagpipes skirling, whisky flowing, and good company are the traditional requirements to celebrate Robert Burns, 'The Bard'.

The traditional menu for a Burns Night supper will include Haggis, Neeps (Turnips) and Tatties (Potato).

The Selkirk Grace:
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some would eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.

Address to a Haggis:
Fiar fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wprdy of a grace
As lang's my arm.
Born in 1759, Robert was the eldest of seven.  He spent his youth working on his father's farm, but in spite of his poverty he was extremely well read - at the insistence of his father, who employed a tutor for Robert and younger brother, Gilbert.  When their father died in 1784, Robert and his brother became partners in the farm. However, Robert was more interested in the romantic nature of poetry than in the arduous graft of ploughing.  Alas, the trappings of fame (his first collection 'Poems - Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect - Kilmarnock Edition' received much critical acclaim) did not bring fortune, indeed he would often refuse payment for some of his work, considering it 'a service to Scotland'.  Burns produced the bulk of his more than 1000 works during the last 12 years of his life.  He died aged 37 of heart disease exacerbated by that hard manual work he undertook when he was young.

Robbie adored the lassies. He revered them and he loved them, the fact that he fathered 15 children, 6 out of wedlock, perhaps plays testament to that fact.  In some ways he was centuries ahead of his time. If he was alive today he would take pleasure in the equality of women, as this was something that he believed in two hundred years ago.

In 1792 Burns wrote:
While Europe's eye is fix'd on mighty things,
The face of Empires and the fall of kings.
While quacks of state must each produce his plan,
And even children lisp the 'Rights of Man'
Admidst this mighty fuss, just let me mention
The 'Rights of Women' merit some attention.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 'lest auld acquaintance be forgot'.  I ask you to be upstanding and join me in a toast to, the Immortal Bard, Robert Burns.

To A Mouse:
Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee
Wi' murdering pattle!
A Red, Red Rose:
O MY luve is like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June:
O my luve is like the melodie,
That's sweetly play'd in tune.
Auld Land Syne:
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
For auld lang syne!

Saturday, 18 January 2014


love ma Cous.  She's FABULOUS, she's FUNNY, she's BRIGHT, she's BONKERS
We really do have SO much in common!
She's younger than me.  A fact that she likes to remind me about.  Yes.  A whole year and three days younger than me. We were born in the 1970s.  You can probably guess that from the photos. The 1970s.  The era of brown swirly carpets, brown swirly furniture, and brown swirly wall paper.  40 years ago! Yikes!  But we were oh so stylish!  We still are!
But it's true what they say.  Cousins are the first friends we have as children, and 'Grandma's House is where Cousins become first Best Friends.'  Nobody can understand your crazy family quite as well as your cousin.

Sharing Sweeties.  Sharing Secrets. Visits to the Park.  Bouncing on Grandma's Bed with 'Boris' the dog. Those happy memories I share with my Cousin.



Saturday, 11 January 2014


Anxiety is something we all experience from time to time.  Perhaps anxiety as a result of uncertainty.

Anxiety disorders are recorded as some of the most common mental health problems, and their very categorization as a 'mental health problem' ensures that there is a stigma and discrimination associated with anxiety.  As with many mental health issues, for the sufferer there is the fear of being alone, and this can be the worst source of anxiety of all, the anxiety of feeling detached from your environment and the people in it.
Anxiety can be seen as a 'modern plague'.  Anxiety due perhaps to uncertainty and due to the unrealistic expectations that we place upon ourselves.  Expectations to BE more, to DO more.  And the fear that we won't live up to these unrealistic expectations.  Anxiety is those intense feelings of fear, panic, doom, foreboding, gloom.  These can be accompanied by physical symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, trembling. When your heart beats, pounds, races and in that moment you let the irrational thoughts take over and gain control.
Anxiety is not the same as fear.  Fear is regarded as an appropriate response to a perceived threat; something intimidating or dangerous or frightening. Anxiety is a feeling of fear, worry, and uneasiness, but it is largely unfocused and often irrational; it is seen as an overreaction to a situation that is only subjectively seen as menacing; a dread of something unlikely to happen.
However real or imagined the fear is; no matter how irrational, it is often uncontrollable and it certainly is very unpleasant.

Anxiety is often accompanied by restlessness, fatigue, problems in concentration, and muscular tension. Anxiety is not considered to be a normal reaction to a perceived situation.  But these symptoms of inner turmoil that are experienced are themselves very unpleasant and very real.  It has been suggested that 'anxiety' could be defined as agony, dread, terror, or even apprehension. People often experience physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms when they feel anxious or stressed.  In addition stress and anxiety are known to affect the body's ability to fight disease.
So symptoms of Anxiety can include symptoms of restlessness, fatigue, irritability, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping, and difficulty concentrating.  It is therefore not terribly surprising that anxiety is associated with living with multiple sclerosis (MS) (it is thought that about a third of people with MS are affected) which not only shares some symptoms (fatigue), but which is itself a source of uncertainty.
It is not surprising that living with a chronic condition that is so unpredictable that anxiety is therefore another symptom of the MS that I am trying to understand and come to terms with.  MS is the fear that causes my anxiety.  I live with a constant state of uncertainty and therefore of anxiety. 
For me, my source of anxiety is the overwhelming, overpowering, devastating fear that I am not good enough.  My uncertainty leads me to feel that I am not good enough.  That negative feeling.  That nagging doubt. That constant sense of not making the grade.  That isn't good for anyone.  It certainly isn't good for me.  I may not be the best, but I am doing my best.  I am trying to be the best that I can be, and surely that is good enough?


Sunday, 5 January 2014


I love the word 'Epiphany'. It is just a lovely sounding word, 'Epiphany'.

The West has historically observed a twelve-day festival, starting on 25 December, and ending on 05 January, a period known as 'Christmastide' or 'the Twelve Days of Christmas' (My true love gave to me. . . A partridge in a pear tree, Two turtle doves, Three French hens, Four calling birds, Five gold rings, Six geese-a-laying, Seven swans-a-swimming, Eight maids-a-milking, Nine ladies dancing, Ten lords a leaping, Eleven pipers piping, Twelve drummers drumming. . .).  Interesting choice of gifts.  I hope he kept the receipt!
Epiphany is celebrated with a wide array of customs around the world.  Including Eating and Drinking.  In some cultures, the greenery and nativity scenes put up at Christmas are taken down.  Some countries hold that it is unlucky to leave the Christmas Decorations up after Epiphany.

In England, the celebration is also known as Twelfth Night.

'Twelfth Night'; or, 'What You Will' is a comedy by William SHAKESPEARE with romantic overtones, mistaken identity, sub plots, cross dressing and the like.  It is believed to have been written around 1601–02, the first recorded performance was on 2 February 1602 (but the play was not published until around 1623).  The play was meant as a Twelfth Night's entertainment for the close of the Christmas season.

So, today is 'Epiphany' and marks the end of the Christmas celebrations.  I didn't really celebrate Christmas this year as I have been poorly, and I feel that I have missed out.  The decorations are cleared and packed away for another year; it seems quite sad as all of the twinkling lights are gone and it all seems a bit bare.  This is perhaps a time for reflection, to think about what has happened, what we hoped would have happened, what didn't happen.  But, the New Year has begun, and we begin to start to look forward to the Spring.  Indeed, a time of new beginnings.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014


So!  Series 3... Sherlock HOLMES is Not Dead... Benedict CUMBERBATCH is Back... My obsession with Sherlock HOLMES continues... What a way to start the New Year.

Regarding Sherlock HOLMES.  Where do I start?  A family holiday to Norfolk (Mundeslay - we stayed in a chalet).  It is c. 1986 and I am c.13 years old. I spent my entire week's pocket money of £5 in one go on the first day and bought myself the 'Canon'.  I still remember the excitement of owning my very own Canon, and this far outweighed the fact that I had no pocket money left for the rest of the week, as I had more that a week's worth of reading, and I felt like the luckiest person alive.  Luckily for me, my Grandma had come away with us, and she spoiled me terribly and despite my having no pocket money left I was still afforded ice-cream by my ever loving and most glorious Granny.

But, from that point on, that was the end of life as I knew it. As I turned the pages, I fell hopelessly in love with Sherlock HOLMES.  I didn't see the point of 'Heathcliffe' or 'Darcy'; it was all about SH.  I joined various Sherlock Holmes Societies, read articles, contributed articles and met some of the most wonderful and, if I am honest, really quite delightfully weird people.  But I didn't even notice they were strange, verging on bonkers, because I was one of them, and actually I was perhaps somewhat unconventional myself.  Yes, my summer holiday in 1996 (by which time I was 23 and really perhaps should have known better), I adopted the character of Miss. Mary MORSTAN (SIGN) and travelled to Reichenbach on a coach with c.50 other Holmesians, and didn't once, at the time, stop to consider that perhaps this was a little bit of an unusual thing to do.

Growing up, for me, Jeremy BRETT was obviously a near 'God-Like' figure in my existence.  I was the original 'FAN-GIRL'; although I am sure I said 'OMFG' less often and there were not social media sites for me to channel and share my obsession through.  And for me Edward HARDWICKE was the ideal Watson.  I obviously wrote (probably incoherently) to them both and received charming hand-written replies.  When 'The Secret of Sherlock Holmes' ran in London, at the Wyndham Theatre in the 1988-1989 season for a couple hundred performances, not only did I go and see it twice (apparently it had terribly harsh reviews, but I didn't read them, and if I had I wouldn't have cared one jot!) but I stood outside the stage door to shake their hands, and to give Jeremy BRETT a red rose.  You see I was very taken with the scene in The Navel Treaty (NAVA) where Holmes says:
 “What a lovely thing a rose is! There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as religion, it can be built up as an exact science by the reasoner. Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its colour are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.”

Anyway, in 'A Scandal in Bohemia' (SCAN), Watson comments, "To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman". So, to me Jeremy BRETT is always the Sherlock HOLMES."... and then Benedict CUMBERBATCH came along... and I fell in love with Sherlock HOLMES all over again.  Sherlock HOLMES isn't loveable. He is damaged.  "It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love... All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind." (SCAN), but yet somehow, there is something about his 'alone' that is quite upsetting, heart breaking, and I wanted to alleviate his pain.  He doesn't want to need anyone.  He doesn't trust, and he doesn't need, and he doesn't love - or perhaps he fears trusting and fears needing and fears loving someone, in case that trust is broken and that need is violated or abused, and the love not returned.  We all fear that don't we? I don't know, but it is compelling.  And Benedict plays the part fantastically well.

The idea of updating the adventures to a 21st Century London is just absolute genius, and obviously I would expect nothing less from Mark GATISS (and Steven MOFFAT). I can completely believe in the modern age that HOLMES would be texting, “WATSON. Come at once if convenient. If inconvenient, come all the same.” (CREE). Making Moriarty the 'camp' arch-enemy Mastermind is a also a stroke of genius, but there are so many subtle little touches that pay homage to Conan DOYLE's original text; everyone involved fully deserves the praise that may have been lavished upon them. "Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius" (VALL).

Anyway it is on tonight on BBC1 at 9pm.  And I cannot wait.