My dislike of snow conveyed in a poem and sung to a carol.

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Sleepy June has just looked out

And was disbelievin’

At the snow that lay about

Deep and cold and even.

Grumpy she went back to bed

Snow’s a total nightmare

Pulled the duvet o’er her head

And is going no-oh-where.

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Bring me coffee, bring me food

Bring my laptop hither.

Staying in bed today is good

Snow just makes me shiver.

I’ll stay cosy, read some books

They are my salvation

In my bedroom, if one looks

I’m planning hibern-ay-ay-tion.

 

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Shopping in an online store

Really is the business

I just need a little more

Then I’m set for Christmas.

In my bed and drinking tea

Forgetting wintry woes

This is just the life for me

Who cares if it sno-oh-ohs?

The Duchess of Malfi in one minute… my Fringe offering?

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As part as my Open University course in English literature, I have had to wade through some formidable novels and plays; but I have learned that it is probably best NOT to read the four most depressing pieces of literature (Wuthering Heights, Othello [loved those two!], followed by the Duchess of Malfi and The Emigrants) one after the other, especially when you want to stay cheerful! Have just finished reading the last thing on the set reading list, Dancing At Lughnasa, and I’m thinking……well…..to be honest, I don’t know WHAT I’m thinking; I just didn’t get it.

However, in celebration at having finished my preparations for this part of the course, I have written a parody on the Duchess of Malfi – in case any of my blog readers are doing the same course as me and haven’t read it yet, or you are unfamiliar with this piece of historical drama. Just so you get an idea of what the “gist” of the thing is about.

So may I present:

THE DUCHESS OF MALFI IN 1 MINUTE.

Characters:

Ferdinand – Duke of Calabria, Duchess’s brother

Cardinal – Duchess’s brother

Antonio – Duchess’s secret hubby

Duchess – herself

Delio – one of the few survivors of the play

Bosola – the baddy and spy

Cariola – Duchess’s lady-in-waiting

Julia – The Cardinal’s bit-on-the-side

Doctor – self-explanatory

Pescara – a marquis

 Scene 1:

CARDINAL TO DUCHESS: You are a widow and your brother and I forbid you to marry again.

 Several days later:

 <band strikes up the wedding march>

 DUCHESS: (Aside) Too late! Antonio and I had better keep our nuptials under wraps. Don’t tell!

SCENE 2:

 9 months later:

 BOSOLA: methinks the Duchess is “in the club”, she’s filling out her dress a bit. Let me give her some apricots.

<to DUCHESS> What ho Duchess! I’ve got a lov-e-ly bunch of apricots.

 DUCHESS: Oh how lovely! <takes a bite> oh oh dear! I do believe this apricot has magically sent me into labour, seconds after I have eaten it. To my room, servants!

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SCENE 3:

 Time passes during which several odd things happen.

FERDINAND: So our sister is married to Antonio? I must kill him! Since she is married to him I won’t get any of her money when she dies, and this WILL NOT DO! <stamps foot>

Bosola, kill my sister for me will you? It’ll earn you a promotion.

 BOSOLA: Ah, ok. I’ve got a bit of experience in the old murder business. <goes to Duchess’s room>

<to DUCHESS> What ho Duchess! Don’t mind me – I’m here to measure you up for your coffin.

 DUCHESS: But that would mean I’m going to die. This is surely wrong!

 BOSOLA: Nope – you’re a dead wumman <strangles Duchess>

Ferdinand enters

 FERDINAND: Have you killed my sister?

 BOSOLA: Yup.

 FERDINAND: Why?

 BOSOLA: Errrrr, because you asked me to.

 Duchess returns from the dead.

 DUCHESS: Where’s Antonio?

 BOSOLA: Ach he’s around somewhere, don’t worry we’ll find him.

 Duchess dies for the second time.

 Cariola enters

 CARIOLA: Arrrrggghhhh a dead mistress!!

 BOSOLA: You’re next missus <strangles Cariola>

SCENE 4

 Cardinal chats with Julia

 CARDINAL: my bro and I have just murdered my sister and her kids, but you mustn’t tell anyone.

 Julia screams

 CARDINAL: Kiss the Bible to promise you won’t tell.

 Julia kisses poisoned Bible cover and dies.

 CARDINAL: Murder number 3. Antonio next.

SCENE 5:

More time passes:

 PESCARA: What’s up with him? <points to Ferdinand>

 FERDINAND: ahhhh-ooooooooooooooh.

 DOCTOR: Ah don’t worry, he thinks he is a wolf.

 PESCARA: O-K….

 Antonio sneaks in to visit the Cardinal.

 BOSOLA <hiding in the shadows> Wahhhhhhhh stranger! <murders Antonio> Oh no! Antonio? It was you! Oooh heck, he’s dead! Better go and see the Cardinal. He’ll be rapt. But I don’t like the Cardinal – he is weird…..hang on, I have an idea….

 Visits Cardinal

 BOSOLA: Cardinal, take THAT! <wounds him with sword>

 CARDINAL: Owch! That hurt!

 Ferdinand enters and wounds Bosola by mistake

 BOSOLA: Ow! You shall pay for hurting me <fatally stabs Ferdinand>

 CARDINAL: Someone help me! I’m not feeling too good. <dies>

 BOSOLA: Come to think of it, neither do I <dies>

Enter Delio and Duchess’s eldest son

 DELIO: What a mess, best get this cleared up and let you be the Duke of Amalfi.

And there you have it. See? From my blog you have learned all about this fine piece of literature!

Studying continues…..

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My desk

This is not mess, it is productivity.

 

My blog has been sadly neglected over the past few weeks as I have had to rapidly catch up with my Uni reading list. However, now I am almost there, having just finished Othello this morning, and starting Webster’s The Duchess Of Malfi. Have to say, I have loved all of the books on the reading list so far (hope I haven’t spoken too soon) despite the last three I have read (Wuthering Heights, Othello and now DOM) being tragedies.

For those unfamiliar with Othello, or anyone reading this who has to study the play in academia, here is Othello in 30 Seconds:
IAGO to CASSIO: “You’re having a fling with Desdemona [Othello’s wife]; you have her strawberry-patterned handkerchief!”

CASSIO: “Yes I am….amazing woman she is too”.

OTHELLO: “Wahhhhh! This cannot be! She must be killed!”

DESDEMONDA ENTERS.

DESDEMONA: “Hi sweetie! What’s wrong…….? Pwthpwthpwth”…..<is fatally smothered by Othello>

CASSIO: “Wait a moment, I thought you said Bianca, not Desdemona. I’m not having a fling with Othello’s wife at all. Bianca’s my woman. The name sounds similar, I do admit….”

IAGO to CASSIO: “I know, I planted the handkerchief in your room as a joke. Muahahahahahaha!”

EMILIA [Iago’s wife]: *gasps* <dies>

OTHELLO: “Whoops! I’ve just killed my wife for not believing her and listening to that nasty Iago. Time to kill myself then”.

OTHELLO TOPS HIMSELF.

Now, I wonder if I can condense The Duchess of Malfi into a similar-sized act?  Watch this space……

 

 

 

 

Nearly as long as a life sentence…..

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Just a quick blog this evening, folks, to share with you my amazing new discovery. I do believe I have found the longest sentence in the world – not the prison variety, but the written type.

I thought Anthony Powell and Aphra Behn were bad enough for long sentences, but this one takes the biscuit. Or should that be coconut…..?

For my OU module, I have to read Sam Selvedon’s “The Lonely Londoners” which is written from the narrator’s viewpoint. The narrator in this book comes from Trinidad, therefore this book is written in both first and third person in Creole – so at the best of times, it is quite hard to “get” (especially for a grammar snob like me!).

Well, I was going great guns until I reached page 92. Then something happened. Either the narrator (via the author) had swallowed some oral laxative, or there had been an error in publishing (I have the Penguin Modern Classics version) but a sentence started which went on and on and on and on and on, without punctuation or paragraph breaks, and on and on for TEN pages! So not only was I craving a strong dose of caffeine, but I was having to decipher a constant stream of Creole, trying to get it to make sense by inserting full-stops etc into the appropriate places. Phew!

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Excuse the poor quality of the photo – my dinosaur iphone 3GS has a rubbish set of cameras – but these are pages 2 and 3 of the neverending sentence. It’s like a game – “Make the next ten pages make sense – extreme edition featuring Creole English”.

Hmmm, methinks it won’t catch on.

My now complete mountain of literature

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Yippee! The last piece of literature has been delivered, via the wondrous amazon.co.uk, for my Uni course and now I have a completed reading list. Fourteen pieces of literature under which I will be buried for the next year. Are you ready for this?……it’s a huge mountain…..

 

 

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OK, I maybe hyped it up a bit. It doesn’t look much does it? In fact the Willie Shakespeare is deceptive – as I only need Othello out of that weighty tome. Thank goodness for Kindles!

Now as I write this mini-blog, I’m trying to decide where to start with the 10 books I haven’t read yet. I think that I will make that decision tomorrow……..

My Cancer Victory – six weeks on (published July 2012)

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My Cancer Victory – six weeks on (published July 2012).

It’s a big day for me today.

It’s six weeks to the day since I had my double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery for breast cancer. It’s a day I have been looking forward to for months. The day when I can ditch the velcro band that I have had to wear 24/7 since the minute I came out of theatre (except obviously in the shower!). The day when I am allowed to drive again and get a bit of independence back. The day when I need not go to bed at night to try and get to sleep sitting up. So, yeah, it’s a big day!

 

If you haven’t been following my story so far, then a short re-cap. I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in December, brought about because of high dose radiotherapy I had in the sternal area for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma 19 years previously. Although it had always been a threat, it still came as a bit of a shock when I was diagnosed, as I thought that maybe being so long after the radiotherapy, I was going to be ok. Then it was the decision what surgery to have. The hospital were advising me to go for the mastectomy option, whereas I felt I wasn’t ready for it, and was pushing for the partial mastectomy option with chemo follow-up. My surgeon was very sympathetic and didn’t want to push me towards something I wasn’t emotionally happy with so two days after Christmas 2011 I went in to hospital as a day case for a wide local excision and sentinel node biopsy. Normally, after such an op, most women (and some men – yes men get breast cancer too!) then go on to have low-dose radiotherapy to the area, but because I had been zapped before, this option was not open to me, and I was started on a course of tamoxifen 20mg to be taken for the next five years. Yep, it’s a long course! However, on receipt of the pathology results, my surgeon informed me that whereas during my WLE op they had managed to get the 11mm tumour out, there was still some DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ – basically cancerous cells that have not yet spread) remaining, and that a second operation was required to remove them. So in February, I went in for the exact same procedure – and this time it was successful.
On my follow-up after the second procedure, my oncology surgeon provided me with some rather scary facts – basically the likelihood of a more aggressive cancer returning within the next 12 – 24 months in one or both sides was extremely high, and I should still consider having a mastectomy – either one sided and the other done six months later, or both at the same time. Either that or I could continue with the tamoxifen treatment and just live “on a wing and a prayer” that the cancer wouldn’t return. Basically, the options were lose my boobs and live a happy and long life with no threat of breast cancer returning, or staying as I was and in doing so, cutting my lifespan short drastically. I wanted to see my kids grow up and get married, I wanted to do so much more with life that I decided the double mastectomy was the sensible option – get it over and done with – and booked myself in for the surgery at the beginning of June.
My hospital room
Although initially I hadn’t wanted implant reconstruction, the medics advised me strongly to get them – mainly because of my age (they recommend young patients to get them as the emotional impact on life thereafter is more positive), and all the information was given to me well in advance of The Big Day, including the necessity to wear a velcro band across my chest 24/7 for six weeks (to keep implants in place), do no housework for the first six weeks post-op, no stretching, no strenous exercise, no driving and no sleeping flat in bed. The next thing I knew, the op was over and I was the owner of a new set of smaller boobs and the victor of another battle against cancer. The surgery took a few hours (I believe) but within a couple of hours of getting back to my “suite” (my name for my personal hospital room) I was having the obligatory tea and toast; and the very next morning I was up and about, dragging two surgical drains in my wake. Recovery was uneventful – the painkillers were great as they were not only effective on making the whole post-op thing pain-free, but they turned me into a space cadet, so visitors were often subjected to me rambling on about nothing in particular usually about nonsense! Having had my surgery on the Tuesday, I was scheduled to go home on the Friday, but my drains were still filling up too quickly, so my stay was prolonged by an extra couple of days – very frustrating, but necessary – and then I was home!
Went back for my review appointment a couple of weeks later – the surgeon had in his hand the pathology results from the operation. He told me that in choosing to have the double mastectomy when I did was exactly the right decision, as they found that in the opposite side from where my tumour had been, there were numerous atypical cells and a 4mm section of DCIS – in plain English, if I had just stayed on tamoxifen treatment without having had this operation, I would have been in a worse position come this Christmas than I was last year as the cancer would have returned (a different and more aggressive type of breast cancer that is not affected by tamoxifen). So there you go folks! It seemed a bit of a drastic option to take, but it has literally saved my life.
Six weeks on and I have enjoyed bedrest whilst watching Wimbledon tennis on the TV, people running hand and foot after me, my Mum’s baking arriving by the tin-ful, flowers and cards from friends, and a few visitors. The reconstructive surgery is so good that many people haven’t realised I have already had the operation! My cancer nurse has warned me that I will shrink some more, and that by Christmas time (another five months away) my body will have taken on its new look. So I guess I am still metamorphosising as I type up this blog. I am back on tamoxifen (to purge any rogue cells that may have got into my system from the surgery) and that makes me feel nauseous most of the time, but I see that as a small price to pay for beating cancer yet again. I have the odd “wobbly” day when I have a self-image crisis, but that is because my chest still feels tight and like I have internal sunburn; and also because I’m still quite swollen, I think that everyone is looking at me thinking I look like Dolly Parton! But things are on the up, and having reached this milestone it’s the start of a whole new life chapter.
Cancer isn’t necessarily a death sentence folks – take it from a Pro cancer fighter like me. Stay positive – getting stressed or wallowing in self pity won’t make it go away. At times it is tough going, but persevere. Having a fantastic family, fabulous local friends, and an amazing array of supportive gems through Facebook and Twitter (most of whom I have never met!) has helped enormously, especially with the emotional side of things. Advice and humorous stories from one lady on Twitter who went through similar surgery to me a few years ago was appreciated most of all – thank you Sandy. Since then I have been able to help a couple of people online who are facing similar surgery to that which I have gone through. Cancer is scary, cancer is frightening, but when you beat it to a pulp, there is not a feeling like it in the world. There’s a great life out there for living.When I was in hospital, I often took a little stroll along to the adjacent General Oncology ward to chat to some patients who hadn’t got visitors, and compare surgical drain bags (yes the fun we stooped to in hospital!). In that ward I met some real superheroes, all fighting their own personal battles against the big C – some were winning, some were trying their best to win, but things were tough. It was a very emotional experience. I went back to my ward knowing I was one of the lucky ones who would be walking out of that hospital when my discharge day came. I still think of those brave souls today and wonder how they are getting on.

Scores on the doors: June 3, Cancer 0. Let’s hope this time it got the hint and never comes back
!P.S. An update to my last blog…..I completed my Race For Life in May and raised £1,057 in the process. Thank you to all who sponsored me.

Just A Wee Recap….

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For those of you who have followed my June’s Jottings blog on Blogger, well, I just can’t get the hang of that site at all – so I will be running that one down and posting more on here. Yes I know my page is dull and boring – I haven’t worked out how to make it look pretty yet…..bear with me. I need something to play with when I’m supposed to be studying…..AND I’ll try and blog more – though what about I have no idea…. 😉