Tag Archive | life

14 things I discovered that made my life in 2017 just that bit easier (in no particular order)

1. Lidl: because no one is paying £3 at Tesco for a pack of prawns that you can get for £1 plus
2. Alpro yoghurt: because I developed primary lactose intolerance, but still love to put yoghurt in my smoothies
3. Soya and Almond milk: Because I never appreciated it when my mum made soya milk for me as a child….but I can still get my vitamin D and calcium despite the fact that I don’t consume dairy (see 2)
4. Allergy tablets before my run on cold day after I’ve fallen off the wagon: because of the increased blood flow during running, blood capillaries closest to your skin collapse (when you have fallen off the wagon) and your brain interprets this as an allergic reaction and causes an itch. I cheat this by popping a pill 20 minutes before my run especially when it’s cold.
5. My daughter’s 100% warm FireTrap coat: because she didn’t want it so I took it. Its a total windbreaker; It’s a size 10 so fits me properly. Winter has never felt warmer!
6. Calvin Klein Curvy girl jeans: because I have an African backside and my figure doesn’t always conform to regular jeans….these ones are marvellous for the typical African backside….
7. Moisturising my hair with body cream: because I saw this on a YouTube video. The lady said she did it as a student. I tried it and it was an instant pass! Means I only need to pack one type of moisturiser in my holiday bag!
8. Bulgur Wheat: because we are tired of couscous
9. OluOlu plantain crisps: because we need fast food and these are low in salt and sugar and not high in saturated fat either. Plus they are super duper tasty. Buy a box of 24 for 14 squids and thank me later!
10. Food Smart App: because you’ve gotta know how much salt, sugar and Satfat your food contains. It’s so easy to use; just scan the barcode!
11. Netflix: because there are loadsa things to watch. I have the app on my mobile phone too. Please don’t judge!
12. 8Fit App: because high intensity interval training is where it’s at. Quick calorie burn and effective cardio in 8-20 minutes right from your living room
13. Fresh parsley: because I only used it for fishpies but discovered that I could use them in my salads and smoothies. It adds a certain freshness to food!
14. DeepHeat: because when those aches and pains set in, there’s no shame in my game. A good massage with this banishes all aches and pains. Smelling like a grandma never felt so sexy! It’s the new sexy!


Waiting For The Bus To Truro

I sigh loudly and sniff into my daisy handkerchief. The receptionist looks up at me then quickly picks up the phone. I can hear her trying not to sound exasperated even though she is almost as frustrated as I am. 

“But she has been waiting here for three hours! When is the bus coming? What? You said that an hour and a half ago when I last spoke to you. Please send the bus. We are all tired of waiting!”
Then she looks at me and tries to smile. “I’m very sorry. They should have been here ages ago. I will write a letter of complaint”. She hangs up the phone in frustration.
I try to smile back, but I’m tired! I look at my daisy handkerchief. It is not as white as it used to be, but the daisies are still bright. Red daisies. Christian bought it for me. He said that red daisies signified beauty. I catch sight of my wedding ring on the middle finger of my left hand. It’s hanging loose. I might have to take it off altogether. I had moved it to my middle finger because it was too loose for my fourth finger. It has not lost any of its brilliance. It still shines as brightly. I remember when Christian bought it, almost 66 years ago to the date! “See? It’s polished English gold” I think he called it English gold because it was hallmarked using UK symbols rather than the fact that it was mined in England.
I have only ever taken it off once: when I was pregnant with Joseph and had oedema so that my fingers swelled and looked like palm weevil larvae. I was glad to have the baby finally even if only so that my fingers could return to normal.
Joseph. I remember myself as a young mother. I was a stylish young mother. With my bright red lips, cooing and touching foreheads with my son. He was not as light skinned as me. But then again, I am what used to be called a mulatto. People don’t say that word anymore. Apparently it’s a corruption of the Portuguese term for mule; which of course is half horse and half donkey. And no one should be called a mule, not even half a mule! But I quite liked the word until Joseph came home one day and told me it was ‘not a nice word’. I looked at him with his incredibly pointed nose, his skin that shone like polished bronze and his piercing black eyes that always reminded me of Egyptian scarab beetles. ‘Not a nice word’. That decided it because that was the last time I ever used the term to describe myself or Joseph.
I loved being a mother. I loved kissing Joseph and I loved the way he held my finger in his hand. It filled his whole hand.
I look at my hands again and I am snapped back to my present moment. I sigh again. The receptionist looks at me again and tries to force a smile. “Would you like another glass of water? I’m not sure what’s keeping them”. I shake my head. No. I don’t want another glass of water and I don’t know what’s keeping them either. I wonder why there is a pressing need to get there. It’s not like I’m in a hurry though. I’m just tired of waiting. People shouldn’t be kept waiting for this long. Even if they are not in a hurry.
I remember waiting on a plane at Heathrow airport. We were there for 2 hours because there was a faulty fuel truck on the runway which meant that our plane could not take off. Surprisingly, I was not in a hurry then. But only because it was a trip to South Africa that I had been chosen for. I had been chosen to represent my university, and I felt unworthy and inadequate. As if I was a fraud and that any minute now, someone would realise it and ask me to disembark so that a more worthy person could board in my place. I look back now, and I know that I was worth all those hundreds of miles. I was chosen because I had done incredibly well in my Anthropology class. I had published a paper and now it was being presented at the University of Witwatersrand. If I could go back, I would tell my younger self this.
I see myself telling Joseph to believe in himself. For a moment, I almost jump out of my skin as I actually hear my own voice “Joseph, there is nothing you cannot achieve”. It’s a strong voice, full of conviction. I think I actually believed it. Immediately, I am back in the present, looking at my daisy handkerchief and the hands that hold it. They are painfully thin, with skin hanging. The skin is smooth so that I cannot see any veins. Just bones. Bones and liver spots. I wipe my eyes with my daisy handkerchief. It smells like mothballs and white musk. Christian also smelt of white musk.
A young lady walks in with her son who is wearing a Spider-Man costume. He looks like he’s about 6 years old. He’s crying and sucking on a lollipop. He has a shock of blonde curls that contrast nicely with his bright red face. His father is walking behind and bends over to try to wipe the boy’s nose. He is as blonde as the boy but with considerably less hair. He’s making such a mess of it. His mother takes the tissue, squats beside her son and skilfully wipes his nose. She wipes it dry. I smile to myself ‘ask a man to wipe a child’s nose and he feels useless so he consults his friends. They form a think-tank and call it something exotic. They discuss about the best tissue to use, the most accurate angle to position the tissue for the most precise wipe, then they create a formula to work out how much force to use. In the end, nothing gets done. You ask a woman to wipe a child’s nose, she gets the tissue out and wipes the damn nose within an inch of its life, so much so that the snot retreats in fear’. I remember hearing Germaine Greer saying something like this. The child has stopped crying and is sucking on his lollipop noisily. His tongue and lips are as blue as his lollipop. Blueberry flavour. I can almost taste it. Joseph loved blueberry.
A young lady walks in. Confident, purposeful and beautiful. She reminds me of my younger self although I’m not sure if I was this confident or beautiful. She’s carrying a black handbag, a laptop bag and luggage which she is pulling behind her. The wheels are rather squeaky. She’s dressed in a pink tweed dress. Not as loud as her bright pink luggage, which is rather gaudy. But a softer pink. I like her dress. I should be sick to death of tweed by now. But her tweed is very pink and very modern. When I moved here 27 years ago, Joseph made fun of me.
“Mum there are going to be enough old men in tweed and flat caps walking their ferrets!” Joseph was always a Londoner. There are going to be enough this or enough that. He never said a lot, or plenty, or even many. No, he said enough. Of course he was right about the tweed and flat caps, but he was dead wrong about the ferrets. Dead, dead wrong. Sick to death. It sounds almost ironic.
The lady in the pink tweed dress looks at me, she tries not to look it, but I know she’s taking me in. “I was once like you, you know?” I think it, but I cannot say it. This young generation don’t understand that they do not own exclusive rights to innovation and perceived intelligence. I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the automatic doors that I have been facing for the last few hours. My reflection almost takes my breath away. The same piercing eyes, but I read the eyes, and it is obvious that I am tired. My soul is tired. Tired of having hopes and dreams and not enough strength to carry them out; tired of fighting; tired of the drip stuck in my arm; tired of the pain. The brilliant white in my eyes is now a sickly yellow. And my face is a bit more wrinkly than the last time I looked. Wrinkly with yellow undertones. The lady in pink tweed is speaking to me. I am transported back to the present. Her hand is on my shoulder as she bends over and talks to me. It is warm and pleasant. I feel my shoulder underneath her hand and imagine it to be a bag of dry bones.
“The receptionist tells me you are going to Truro?” Is she asking me a question or is she telling me? “I’m going there too and can take you in my taxi. I came to get my grandma but she’s gone already and I have a big bus that could fit both of us and your wheelchair”. Just then, my bus driver arrives. I smile weakly at the lady in a pink tweed dress.
“I will take it from here, luv”. He sounds like he’s from Manchester. I imagine that I am being fought over. It feels good. But I’m too tired to look like I’m enjoying it.
“I can take you and your wheelchair too” the lady in the pink tweed dress is saying. And my wheelchair. Because that is my plus one. My old trusty. Joseph emigrated to South Africa.  Christian died 13 years ago and left me in my wheelchair. I was full of dreams and ambitions; I fulfilled a lot of my dreams and ambitions, and now I’m just an old lady in a wheelchair. In a wheelchair waiting for a bus to Truro. A bus from the cancer clinic. To my final destination. The hospice in Truro. I look at the lady in the pink dress “I will go with my bus but you can ride with us if you want to”. She smiles……..

Starting the year with gratitude!

In the final third of last year, I got drawn into the Gratitude Challenge by a friend on Facebook.
It entailed listing three things I was grateful for, everyday for 1 week. And then challenging three different friends to take it up everyday.
The idea behind it was that people would find things to be grateful for where they hadn’t noticed previously. I think it worked for me. In fact, it worked so well that I decided to live everyday with an attitude of gratitude.
People are not born lucky; it is your positivity that draws people your way. People bring with them opportunities, and your positivity in turn compels you to take on new opportunities.

This is my excerpt from day 7: 

 So today is day 7, the final day of my gratitude challenge. During the day, I made a mental note of all the things I wanted to be grateful for but I’ve forgotten most of them now. So I think I will have a bonus day of gratitude tomorrow.
But for the ones I can remember, I’m grateful for 

1. My resilience: I had very difficult years during my early adulthood and had struggled with depression since my teen years. I’m not sure at what stage I rose above it, but I had to decide to choose happiness each day in order to. Nowadays making that choice comes very easily but I’m aware that not everyone is able to bounce back. I had a friend who committed suicide some years ago due to depression amongst other things. I still miss him terribly but I’m glad that I’m able to be a part of his son’s life, but more so that I am able help people bounce back. The human spirit is indomitable and resilient but each person needs to recognise that in himself. 

 2. The sound of laughter in my house: I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal but I love that we can all laugh at ourselves and amongst our selves. My nine year old was a bit of a cry baby when she was a lot younger. It wasn’t until she was 4 that she developed a great sense of humour. My 6 year old was born laughing and has always had a ‘wikid’ sense of humour. It makes life soooo much more pleasurable. 

 3. My father in law: I went to school in Abuja where’s there’s a 725m monolith called Zuma Rock. It’s just after the northern edge of the city but visible from just about every part of it. My father in law is a bit like that. Not as foreboding, but constant, solid and always there. Kinda like a compass that always tells you where you are and where your true north is. I had a few struggles with various in laws (and outlaws) in the first 6years of getting wed; but my father in law kinda came through and always made it right. Not that he ever got involved in the madness, in fact he never really did. He rose above most of it and just showed the way.

I Finally Experience a Rock Concert!

So it started when my goddaughter’s mother asked me very nicely if I could take my goddaughter to a Rock Concert on her 16th birthday. I assumed it was because I was the cool ‘aunty’…..well it was, but that wasn’t the whole reason.

So it’s the day of the concert and I go to my goddaughter’s house to pick her and her friend up. I find out that her friend’s mum (who I will refer to as my companion) has bought a ticket for herself and her older daughter too. So that makes five of us. A bit crowded but hey, it’s a concert, the more the merrier. Her friend’s teenage sister and mum turn out to be great fun and great conversationalists, but my goddaughter’s friend: she’s the real bright spark. A live wire, kinda like me when I was a bit younger.

It’s November and I’m dressed like it’s November. We arrive at the concert venue and there are young people who seem to have camped outside, they are barely dressed and I feel cold just looking at them. We wait for about an hour and a half on the queue. And I’m feeling as smug as a bug in my uggs. I’m also wearing ski socks and three layers of tops underneath my coat and multi-coloured chunky scarf. I take pity on one of the teenagers in my party who says she can hardly feel her fingers because of the cold. I give her my gloves to wear. She has no scarf, or coat. Her answer to her mum when she was asked to put on a coat was to go back upstairs to put on a vest; a vest I said, not a coat! I might be an old fogey, but I’m certainly a warm and cosy old fogey! Someone says they want a T-shirt with the live tour dates. I find out that I only have my credit card on me. I feel like a rebel as I climb over the queue barriers to get to a cash machine which is out of order. In the end, I go to a supermarket and buy apple juice, and cheese and onion flavoured crisps in order to get cash back from the cashier at the tills.

We get into the venue, past security and past men stamping the backs of our hands with some sort of dark blue dye that smells toxic. The venue is actually quite nice inside. Not at all like the fire hazard of a warehouse I had imagined it would look like. It’s actually a proper venue. Very theatrical. The teenagers go onto the dance floor, and my companion and I get ushered by a very nice black guy upstairs. It’s away from the madness but we have a clear view of the girls and the whole concert.

So support act number one comes on and the lead singer says ‘Hallo Landon, you are foking crasee’ and my companion looks at me and we both laugh like demented hyenas. ‘He’s foreign’ she says, which is an irony because we are both foreign ourselves. I think he’s French.
The music is not my cup of tea, but the girls are loving it. The whole room knows instinctively when to nod their heads, when to jump, and when to point their index fingers….impressive!
But the novelty is wearing off quickly and I’m getting bored.
At 7:45 he says they have 2 more songs! They’ve been playing on the stage for what has been very clearly in my mind an eternity! At this point I know that I would never be caught dead without my iPad in this situation again (did I say next time?).

Act number 2 comes on around 8:15pm. I spend the whole hour of the act wondering if the lead singer, who’s dressed in monochrome, is wearing a dress or a kaftan. He also has an incredible girl drummer. She’s fabulous, and she’s the highlight of my evening thus far.

When he talks, I can’t understand a word of what he’s saying. Then he finally says ‘Phoenix, Arizona’ and it becomes clear that his words are lost in translation somewhere between the Arizonan drawl and my North London twang.
I also spend the act wondering how much longer I have to wait until it’s not considered rude to bring out my phone and start surfing the Internet! My companion is fussing about not being able to see the girls. I’m as cool as ice because with a venue as good as this, security is tight….and I can see the girls from my vantage point anyway.

Finally the main act comes on and it’s a female lead singer. She’s incredible too. She comes onto the stage wrapped in a huge Union Jack flag. She’s got forest green hair under a black baseball cap which is on back to front. But I’m not fooled! I know the band is from Sydney, Australia.

I thought my goddaughter said no moshing??? So what are those guys doing? They look like they are trying to mosh. I’m wondering if I should go down there and pick them up by the scruff of their necks. But alas I’m a bit too short for that! I am also horrified because there are crowd surfers riding the crowd all the way to the front to get a HiFive from the lead singer. My girl had better not entertain the thought in her pretty head for even a second! The phrase ‘perish the thought’ comes to mind! I check my watch and its 9:30. I’m dogggg tired but feeling sorry for myself because apparently, the gig ends at 11! I’m taking these deep yawns and wondering how long before I fall fast asleep. By now, I don’t care. I’m just tapping away furiously on my iPhone. Too tired to care if I seem rude. Truth be told though, being antisocial is not even an issue as the music is far too loud to even hold any sort of dialogue.

I have never heard any of these songs before. It’s not really my type of music, but I know that as long as I have Internet connection and a place to sit, that I would always be fine. Now the penny drops and I understand why my goddaughter’s mother has never brought her to a concert…..and also, why she chose me.
She has never brought her because she quite simply can’t stand the music, and she chose me because, well because she quite simply cannot stand the music! And I suppose also because I treat everything like a brand new adventure. Well, I can do this adventure next time, but I am bringing my iPad, and I’m not having a companion! Those are my rules.

True to form, the concert ends at 11. We file outside in quite an orderly manner, walk to the train station to go back home. The girls are buzzing from the concert. They had such a great time. I’m just tired and need my bed. I’m happy for my good deed of the day, but I’m also thinking about my work deadlines. Still this life is to be lived in the here and now. And my here and now is this carriage, on the tube. We are on the Northern Line travelling South to Euston. I’m happy, I’m content and I’ve just had quite the adventure to write about. I’ve also just listened to three bands that I’d never heard of before today. This is my here and now, and this is my reality. I feel blessed. Tired, but extremely blessed