Reunions to remember…

I am a sentimental kind of gal. Today, I have a few things to talk to you about in relation to reunions and anniversaries. I think it is important that we mentally mark these kinds of dates in our mind… and/or physically celebrate them. It is life and special things happen and we decide what to celebrate.

This weekend, I had a Uni Reunion. It had been 6 years since we had left Uni and 3 years since our last reunion! We always say we won’t leave it as long next time. But you know how it is – life gets in the way and before you know it, time has zoomed by and the 5 minutes since you were last swigging beer at the pub, turns into 3 long years!

It was great to see the gang. But these 3 years seemed to have been a vital 3 years of change, in the road that is life. I had the fridge stocked with wine and beer for the midday arrival of the gang and was greeted with responses to drink orders of, ‘Oooh can I have a cuppa tea?’ or ‘An orange juice would be nice.’ The wildest member of the gang, who spent 3 years drowning in alcohol at Uni, now doesn’t drink much,  has a fiancée and a baby on the way!  Funny how things change. But it was nice in a way that we all got on so well sober (this may be the first time we had tried this!) and we are still friends in our modern lives.

My Uni friends come from all over: one from France; one from Doncaster (now living in Leeds); one from London (now lives in Northampton); one from Milton Keynes; one from Reading  – so you can imagine the lovely recipe of accents that emerge when we are together!  Naturally, when English students get together (well most of us are – one did Construction and one did Media), we played Scrabble! Again, wild times! 😉 I, embarrassingly, came 4th – and with 2 non-English specialists and one with English as her second language, I think that is pretty appalling! Haha!

The night led to cheap and cheerful drinks and food; karaoke; dancing and more drinking! So just like the Uni days! It was great and music always helps to remember things I think. One song and you are transported back to that crazy, student night 7 years ago.

So yes, we all had a great time and even had a pub breakfast to cure the morning after feeling – the change was this time, that I actually had to do jobs and chores after, rather than lie in my lazy student bed, putting off that Shakespeare essay until tomorrow!

It is also, almost, the end of term, and I have seen many speeches today of people leaving and retiring. They were all reflecting on the last year, last ten years or last 30 years. It is emotional to move on to the next step, I think. Which is important, we revisit  when we can. This can be literally by returning to the place; meeting the people we were with; or just, simply talking about the memories we have from that place.

Lastly, a year ago today, I started writing this blog! A whole year! I started off writing a post a day, which was easy because I was off work. Now I like to write weekly where possible and I am still enjoying writing about the randomness of my life and life in general. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank anybody who has read this blog; whether one post; lots of posts; part of a post. In addition to people who have liked a post, commented, followed or recommended it to anyone. These things are great for a writer to see – but I also know there are a lot of secret readers out there, who take a gander and then go. It all counts and it is very exciting that I am writing words – stringing them together and someone is reading what spills out of my head!  So thank you. I will keep writing! And hopefully, you will keep reading 😉

Celebrate today – it may be a year since you quit smoking. A month since you went on a great evening out. A year since you saw a family member. Ten years since you left a job. Twenty years since you left school. Get in touch with people, relive a memory, get the photo albums out (we also did this at the weekend!) and enjoy a reunion – even if it is just you and a memory! 🙂

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Sorry, who are you?

I have a relative recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I won’t go into too much detail as I have some family members who don’t like family business going on the world-wide web. But, it is a horrible condition and I’d actually written some poems about it a while ago. Remember on Coronation Street a while ago when Eileen’s bloke Paul had a wife with Alzheimer’s? I became quite interested then and wrote a poem from, in this case, the woman’s point of view and then the carer’s/male’s point of view.

Last weekend, when I visited my relative, he didn’t know who I was. 😦 You can prepare yourself for this all you like, but you are never fully prepared for that look they give you. No recognition. No love. Just blankness. He also thought I was another relative dressed up as someone else in order to fool him. I was caught between laughing and crying. It is difficult because you don’t know how much you should try and jog their memory. He was getting frustrated you see, as he knew he should know who I was.

It made me think of my poems again. See what you think:

Sorry, who are you?

(From a wife with dementia to her husband)

‘Sorry, who are you?

I like that picture.

Yes I’d like some orange

 Juice.’

‘Sorry, who are you?

I like you a lot but

why have you given

me orange juice?’

‘Sorry, who are you?

I hate that picture!

Let me tell you a story. It’s

really funny.

‘Sorry, who are you?

I don’t feel like telling a

story, I just want to go home!

Sorry, who are you?

Where is my orange juice?

I’m parched, I want it now!

It’s meant to be a rambling poem in terms of the form, structure and content. A lot of repetition and forgetfulness  – as these are the kind of things you here in the old folks’ home. Here’s the husband’s response:

I remember who you used to be

(A reply, to the woman with dementia, from her husband)

I remember who you used to be,
so happy and content and carefree.
Taking care of others then,
And we always watched the news at ten.

Your long hair flowing, you took such pride,
No imperfections, then, that you had to hide.

Now I take care of you
Since it took over, I have to.
I don’t resent it but it’s not easy,
‘cos I remember how you used to be.

Your eyes showed a knowing smile,
Your clothes sang an elegant style,
Your chatter and laughter filled the room,
From that day we were bride and groom.

Now, you glance the room, as if it’s not home,
But it was you who made it, made it our own.
I still love you as ever before
Even when you forget who we are,

I can get by each day you see,
because I remember how you used to be.

They still need a bit of work but I think they capture the thoughts and feelings overall. At the old folks’ homes I visit, you really do see some funny habits. There is one woman, who used to be a head teacher. She, now, patrols the corridors of the home all day, closing windows, moving things, checking on people, telling them they are smart etc. It is like she has regressed to that job role now. Once a head teacher, always a head teacher. Sad as it is, she seems happy. It was funny when I last went, because she put her head around the corner and gestured me to come to her with a pointed finger – just like a teacher would to a naughty pupil. I was tempted to go, but she soon forgot and walked off!

There is another woman, who is lovely. She sits there all day and it amazes me because she has her hair done nicely, wears her jewellery and smart clothes. One day, she said to me, ‘excuse me, can I say something? Aren’t you pretty?’ That was nice to hear and I thought ‘ooh I like coming here!’ Another day, she started the same, ‘Can I say something?’  I thought to myself, ‘ooh the compliment’s coming again.’ But she said,’ your husband is really handsome.’ Haha, it was his turn that day, ‘my husband.’ I had to check she didn’t mean my dad! But, luckily, she did mean my partner!

I recommend going to an old folks’ home if you can. It is great to go and talk to someone, even if just for half an hour. It brightens up their day. My boyfriend’s mum visits one of her relatives regularly and now takes her puppy border collie. He has a profound effect and made the old people interactive – and one woman spoke to the dog, who hadn’t spoke in years!

So people with dementia can still have a good quality of life, they need understanding and visits and patience. And a relative in disguise occasionally it seems! 😉

Not Always Worth it…

Well tonight guys, I am off for a meal with ex-work mates. No, not at my previous school but at Woolworths. I can’t remember if I have mentioned to you that I used to work for them…. right til the end when they went bust. Ever since we have all met up a few times a year for a cavery meal and a few drinks. There may have been a gap when we first left, since we had to wait until everyone had new jobs and could afford it! The meals are actually a family affair for me, as funnily enough, my Mum and sister both worked there when it shut down. My Mum had worked there years and was the one to get me a job after Uni and sister was a Christmas temp (very temp!).

this was the actual branch I worked at… just after we closed. It is now a PoundStretcher!

Working there was interesting. Yes, interesting, that is the best choice of word. At the time, I loved it but when I look back now, I didn’t really know what it meant to have a job you loved. It was awful hours, twelve-hour shifts, evenings, weekends. A lot of physical labour too and you got a lot of crap off the customers. Don’t get me wrong there was some lovely customers too… but they aren’t the ones that you moan about over dinner and a glass of wine that evening or the ones you remember years later. I do, however, remember a certain woman from when we were working through our last days. Stock was shrinking along with out patience and dignity. Customers were vultures and just wanted a bargain.. at any cost. (Never mind the 30,000 people losing jobs!) There was one lady though who donated £20 for us. To buy some buffet food to cheer us up, as it was Christmas and we were losing our jobs. Such a lovely thought and I will never forget that.

I will also never forget the time I found a pooey nappy on my department. I used to run the clothing department. We were only a small store so kid’s clothes was all we did. It was enough. A Mum clearly had to change a kid’s nappy one day and slid the nappy under one of my shelfs. Not at item I would want to sell! disgusting! And it is the likes of this that you get when you work with the public! I had to get a plastic bag and fish it out. Yul. I was definitely not on enough money for that! Occasionally too, I mopped up wee (but I told myself it was apple juice as I did it!) and one morning when I opened up (I used to run the store on Sundays) and some of the ceiling had caved in and bits of mushy ceiling were all on the floor. Dear me. We had to open a little later that day.

There are hundreds more stories from my short 1 and a half years there. I’ll share some more with you another time. Just one more though because this is really funny. I actually though of this the other day because, at school, we were on about people and pupils in particular who tend to have intelligence OR common sense but not both. As I said, I used to be in charge on Sundays, meaning I used to be in charge of quite a lot of teenagers, who needed a job whilst at sixth form or college. One boy started as a christmas temp and I was told he was extremely clever and got straight As… iI didn’t think he would have any trouble working a till. Turns out we didn’t even get to that hurdle easily. I told him at the beginning of the shift to put a bag in his bin for rubbish. You would know what I mean right? I even gave him the roll of rubbish bags as I said this. He then put the whole roll of bags in the bin! I said ‘no, just one bag in the bin’ meaning to line it. He ripped off one bag and put that in the bin. I think I walked off at this point! No common sense… or any kind of sense at all!

I’m sure, we will relive some of these stories tonight….. hope you enjoyed the insight into life at Woolworths and realise it wasn’t always so ‘worth’ it!

XSXS

Age is a Growing Number

People say that age is ‘just a number’. Which I guess it is. Especially when it comes to people who you are friends with (age doesn’t matter) and when couples have a huge age difference. You may want to do certain things that isn’t normal for your age…. for example this afternoon I am going to use bright coloured poster paints (that are actually called finger paints aimed at toddlers!) and paint some Harry Potter banners for my boyfriend’s sister’s themed birthday party in a few weeks. So yes in that instant as well, my age of ’26’ is just a number!

But it is a growing number… we all get older every day, every year. And until you get into your twenties, I don’t think you really bother about it. And until you get to 18 you worry about it in reverse as in you want to be older so that you can get into clubs and get served for alcohol. So from 19 – 20, it suddenly loses its novelty yo get ID’D and by the time you reach 22-23 sort of age, you want to be ID’D because it shows you look a little younger. I remember, a couple of years ago, I went out for my birthday with my sister and her friends (who are 5 years younger). So I was turning 24 I think and they were all about 19. We queued up to get into a club and all of them were ID’D and I fumbled in my bag for my pink, driving licence to present it proudly to the bouncer. As I did this, he laughed and said he didn’t need to see mine! Gutted. On the odd occasion that I do get ID’D, it is either because the shop assistant is being over cautious with the ‘look under 25 rule’ or I am looking particularly rough without makeup or something. Or both!

Yes, I’m at the stage there where I love being in my twenties and even though I don’t get ID’D much, I can make my peace with that. I feel more self-assured than I did when I was 18 and more self-confident and know more what I want from life. And I still party sometimes like you can see in Down and Dirty with the Teenagers Part 1 and 2 and Not Sloshed enough to Mosh? My main fear in life is turning 30. Something about that one seems so grown up. Twenties to Thirties. You are more likely to be married with kids in your thirties and do all the serious, grown up stuff. Not as many allowances for screw ups! So for my 30th in three years time, I plan to have a party and celebrate the last 30 years whilst getting very drunk. Surely, you are never too old for that? 😉

It is funny how some people are about ages. At school at the minute, there is a competition for the kids to guess the combined age of the English department. There is a mixture of ages so it is quite amusing. Some are shy about the kids knowing their ages. When kids guess ages it’s normally way off anyway… they don’t seem to have any idea. I have had guesses of anything from 18 – 45 (the 45 guess was from a special needs kid, I will add!). I offered for the department to add my ’26’ age in…. as I am partly with the department too so could be in or out…. and said it could help to lower the average 😉

At the beginning of summer, we had our ten year school reunion. That’s when you feel being grown up and a little older, when you have your first school reunion! Ten years since we left, woah. It was a great evening actually. Some of my close friends organised it and I helped out by getting some old photos together. It was a great night to catch up with people and I actually spent a lot of the night talking to people who I never even spoke to at school. Ten years can change people a lot and the shy, geeky kids are all grown up (I was one of them!) and actually willing to socialise with people. I recommend it to others who are considering a reunion!

I also wrote a poem for the occasion actually, take a look:

Ten years since…..

Ten whole years it has been,
Since years at school as a teen,

Since in Maths we saw Chicken Legs dance,
And over her glasses, she did glance,

Since ‘significant’ Lord of the Flies,
Was a ‘bitty’ chapter in our lives,

Since small, white notes were always passed,
As the back turned they flew so fast!

Since Drama was a Jolley time,
Where farting and burping, both a crime,

Since Collier said ‘Oui’ and ‘Nein’,
Oh Howe did we survive this time?

Since some teachers went into a Buckle,
Pea shoots flew as all did chuckle,

Since Peanut came out of her shell,
If we said too much, she did yell,

Since strict sir Sealy ruled P.E,
But on the fields we could be free,

Since Music gave us fun and smiles,
A purple tracksuit you could see for Miles,

Since Lappy had scared us all so,
But Good Head on his shoulders though,

Since Science gave us Bushes and Woods,
Fires and chemicals and sometimes floods,

And Big Man Watts was the guy in charge,
Where no problem, too small or large,

It really has been a whole decade,
But our funny memories will never fade…

There is a lot of mentions of teachers there, which naturally you won’t quite get the humour unless you went to our school. Many people enjoyed my poem to reflect back on the good and bad times…. which ten years later all seem funny. That’s the thing as we all get older, you have memories that you have built up. The older you get, the more you get.

(See my Circle of Life post for some other thoughts on life and age.)

See you tomorrow, all of us a day older 😉

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