Naturally Laterally

I had a hospital appointment the day after our delayed Christmas, for planning, which sounds more like a council department, but is to measure up for radiotherapy. Handy hint – always re-read your hospital letter the night before. I was supposed to do a lateral flow test. I had never done one as I have had regular PCR tests at oncology outpatients during chemotherapy. Luckily Team AK had half a dozen boxes someone had given them as the tests were hard to acquire over the Christmas season; the whole country had been told to do them frequently before visiting. Luckily Team H were still with us, with school and work they do them all the time. Fortunately I wasn’t on my own as chemotherapy has left me with peeling finger nails and peripheral neuropathy, making undoing or peeling open anything difficult. I read the instruction booklet carefully, set the kitchen timer and announced I must not look at the test result for thirty minutes. ‘No, twenty minutes’ said someone. ‘You have to check for the pink line after five minutes’ said another.

‘What pink line?’

There was no pink line, the test was null and void. It was suggested there was not enough magic fluid in the squeezy phial. Two more test kits were opened so we could use two phials. The pink line appeared and in half an hour I had a result. My son-in-law said I had better photograph the result in case I needed proof. It had taken a team of five, three tests and two self assaults on my throat and nose to get a negative result. Thank goodness I had not left the procedure till the morning.

Not all tests are exactly the same I gather and they probably have different names according to where you live. I wonder how anyone living alone with bad eyesight or hands that don’t work one hundred per cent manages to do these tests, let alone busy parents who are expected to test their children every time symptoms or contacts occur. I have also concluded from my limited circle of family and friends that we are divided over testing, the same as we are divided over mask wearing. Some families test continually and demand the same of visitors while others have never taken a test.

Parents with school children are testing frequently. Fortunately a positive result in children usually means mild symptoms and time off school, yet again…  A recent survey reveals that since the school term started three out of four grandchildren now have Covid…

Hallows and Heretics

I published my last book on Amazon Kindle and in paperback in November 2019. I have never stopped writing short fiction since then, but for the first time I don’t have a novel underway and I have barely started putting together another collection to publish. But Hey Ho, with all that’s happened in the past couple of years it doesn’t matter and I do have five novels and four collections always available – unless something happens to Amazon! The late Cyberspouse always helped me with the technical side and designed the covers, which made up for him never reading my fiction! Later on I was thrilled when it became possible to produce paperbacks through Amazon Kindle, at last my mother could hold and read ‘real’ books by me.  

If you have read all my books and are waiting for a new one let me know… To read about all my books here just link in above to My Books. In the meantime, I am always thrilled when a fellow blogger mentions one of my books in his blog and especially if he gives it a Five star review…

Top review from the United States

Geoff

5.0 out of 5 stars All Good Whether Dark or Light

Reviewed in the United States on January 8, 2022

Verified Purchase

I purchased Hallows and Heretics because I favor short stories. These are all winners because you do not know where you are headed when you begin reading one. Gogerty is comfortable in both ordinary and quirky settings. Relax and enjoy the twisting journey through two dozen different stories. Fun reads.

Take a look at Geoff Stamper’s blogs if you aren’t already following him.

Insurance Strategies | Suicide Squeeze (wordpress.com)

Prologue:      Hallows and Heretics is my second collection of short stories. Twenty four tales to take you through the year. ‘Gate’ is set in a Western Australian summer, return to Saints and Sinners for an English spring and pass through all the seasons in the British Isles. ‘Red Car’ and ‘Moving On’ take place in my local area. Discover the Hambourne Chronicles, other places you may not find on the map… These are short stories, the shortest is 700 words, the longest 3,000 words. As in the previous collection ‘Dark and Milk,’ some tales are light and others are very dark, but you won’t know which is which until it’s too late to turn back.

Hallows and Heretics was published in 2013. I was going to call it Saints and Sinners, after the first story in the Hambourne Chronicles, but after looking it up I discovered many books on Amazon had the same title. Hallows and Heretics reflects the good and evil in some of the darker stories. Hambourne is a place you may not find on the map, though perhaps it will feel familiar if you have visited Middle England. All the stories in the Hambourne Chronicles were written to read out at our writers’ group and are linked.

Some of my stories were entered for competitions and ‘Experiment’ was written for a competition run by Diamond Light Source, which does really exist.

Diamond Light Source is the UK’s national synchrotron. It works like a giant microscope, harnessing the power of electrons to produce bright light that scientists can use to study anything from fossils to jet engines to viruses and vaccines.

About Us – – Diamond Light Source

Alas, visits by the public are now put on hold due to Covid. But in my story the hapless Gregory, hoping for inspiration for the science fiction thrillers he writes, gets an experience he hasn’t bargained for… I wasn’t placed in that competition, but I entered it for a local competition in 2013 and came second. Amusingly, when I went up to get my prize, the judge was totally astonished that I wasn’t a man, she assumed only men write such stories?

Have a peep inside the book.

Christmas Cancelled – NOT

We had our second, proper Christmas on Tuesday 28th as Team H felt well enough to drive 180 miles on Monday and had negative results. People still get coughs, colds and winter lurgies nothing to do with Covid. It would have been a waste of totally rearranging and child proofing the house if they couldn’t have come at all! With my son and daughter-in-law living with me it has tripled ( octupled? )  the amount of equipment needing protection from three and six year old boys, not to mention the mountain of Christmas presents they had given each other.

Traditional chocolate Christmas cake.

A favourite children’s present, sent by Nanna in Spain via Amazon, turned out to be very popular. Seasick Sam is a game, along the same idea as Buckaroo, but they just liked playing with Sam. You see how much food you can stuff in his mouth before he is sick. We five adults had Secret Santa with all presents to be bought locally or in charity shops and we all came up with a great selection.

Writing did not take a back seat as six year old wanted to write his own Frightened Freddy Lego story and being six it revolved around vomiting, with Seaside Sam having a starring role and toilets. We took lots of screen shots and edited the pictures on the computer. When I suggested we start writing the story he said ‘I think I’ll make the story longer…’ who would be an editor!

The next day we edited more photos and whittled them down to 33. Then he narrated and I typed, no easy task with someone who bounces around like Tigger the whole time, whilst leaning on my desk… We printed it out and sent the photos to his mother’s ipad in time for the deadline of going home .

Reviews and Resolutions – NOT

I can’t abide reviews of the year, any year and especially not the Terrible Twenties! Sport, politics, war, disaster or disease, I don’t want to see or hear reviews; it started days before the chimes and fireworks …

Revitalizing, reviving and rambling is what we need. You can ramble around having exercise or you can ramble on when you are blogging…

A BOXING DAY RAMBLE – FOR ONE DAY THE WEATHER WAS PERFECT and I was going to write a blog about it... but

I haven’t completely left 2021 behind; Christmas was delayed for three days Chez Tidalscribe, so I am a bit late arriving in 2022 and I have only just started reading the book for tomorrow’s Zoom book club.

Two days later… well it turned out only one person in the group had read the book and the lady who runs the group had not even opened it. Everyone cited Christmas as the reason.

Four more Christmas cards just arrived, one of which I will definitely have to answer with a review resume an update on 2021. Just when you think the Christmas card nightmare is over… remember those days in the December twenties when you realise you have not sent out cards early to tell old friends and relatives you have moved, got cancer, been widowed, made redundant… or you realise you did not reply to those old friends and relatives who wrote last January to apologise for not sending a Christmas card because they had been widowed, busy moving house, got a cancer diagnosis, lost their dog …

Covid has given us a whole new string of excuses for not sending cards, or more importantly getting out of actually seeing anybody next year…

We must get together when things settle down.

Would love to take you up on your invitation to come up and stay, but I’m working 24/7 at the hospital.

Just tested positive so New Year’s party is cancelled.

I’ll send you the link for the Zoom funeral, such a shame you can’t come, Dad would have loved a good turn out…

Christmas Crackers

CRACKER LIFTING

CHRISTMAS EVE – THAT GREAT BRITISH TRADITION; A CLIFF TOP WALK IN THE RAIN FOLLOWED BY MULLED WINE AND LUNCH AT THE BEACH HUT.

THE OTHER GREAT CHRISTMAS EVE TRADITION IS THE MORNING PHONE CALL… WHICH STARTS WITH ‘BAD NEWS..’ AMIDST ALL THE COVID TESTING, BOOSTING AND WAITING TO BE TRICKED BY THE PM INTO A LAST MINUTE LOCKDOWN, THERE ARE OTHER WINTER LURGIES LURKING. NOW WE ARE DEFERRING CHRISTMAS FOR A FEW DAYS UNTIL TEAM H HAVE NEGATIVE PCR RESULTS AND FEEL BETTER.

ELVES ALWAYS ENJOY CHRISTMAS
BUT SOME GET A BIT TIRED OF THEIR COMPANY…

IT’S STILL RAINING BUT WE’VE HAD A GOOD DAY, GOOD LUNCH, FACETIMED, WATCHED ‘ARTHUR CHRISTMAS’ AND EVERYBODY GOT MORE LEGO…

I HOPE YOU ALL HAD A PLEASANT DAY WHATEVER YOU PLANNED OR HAD TO REARRANGE…

Friday Flash Fiction – 550 – Through a Glass Darkly

Geoff opened his eyes, what just happened… a funny turn and where was Jill? The living room looked strange, not straight, his eyes, should have made an appointment about that headache, but surgery busy doing Covid boosters… opticians, ring tomorrow.

The rest of him felt odd, don’t say he had Covid, Jill would kill him just before Christmas, only a week since he had the booster, not kicked in yet? He wished now he had bothered to get some of those lateral flow tests, could check, eliminate that before panicking. Right, let’s see where Jill’s got to. Ow. Geoff bumped his nose on something. He tried to put his hands up, but couldn’t feel his arms, or his legs. A stroke, God no, not a stroke, vegetative state and all that. Surely Jill would come and call him for dinner, call an ambulance, speed was of the essence, but all the ambulances were queued up at the bloody hospital, full of patients waiting to get admitted. Jill – illll – no use, he couldn’t talk.

It wasn’t painful, the opposite, he felt as if he was floating. But why couldn’t he hear the television, the news was on when he got up to check the pump in his tropical aquarium. There was Jill, sitting on the sofa doing the crossword! Bloody hell hadn’t she noticed what happened to him? She did look strange. If he took a deep breath perhaps he could summon the strength to yell. His breathing felt odd, he was feeling warm and sleepy…

Something nudged Geoff’s shoulder, paramedic at last? He half turned and let out a silent scream. This wasn’t Jill towering over him, or a paramedic; it was a mermaid. Staring, unmoving, he recognised her, that red hair. Huge plants waving round her shoulders and behind her a gaping mouth, an ugly creature that could only have come from the depths of the ocean.

Hallucinating, that’s what was happening. Intensive Care, Stroke or Covid, didn’t make much difference, still helpless, but if his mind recognised what was happening he could fight for survival. Jill sitting nearby, nurse looks like just like that ghastly mermaid ornament the grandchildren gave him for the aquarium, had to put it in to please them, no wonder it was giving him nightmares.

Noo… keep away, yellow and black stripes, those bulging eyes…  sharks as well… I know you’re not real…

Oh hello Marica, no I’m not busy, glad you called. I’m just relaxing doing the crossword, watching the fish. I never took much notice of them before, but they are very soothing, except for that new one the grandchildren bought me after Geoff died; it keeps staring at me. No I am feeling okay, I’m just worried the poor fish isn’t settling in. I know it’s only a fish, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have feelings. It circles that ghastly mermaid ornament then comes back to stare at me. No of course I don’t believe in reincarnation and nor did Geoff. At least you had time to talk about the meaning of life with poor Mick. Geoff didn’t have a chance to talk about what he thought, gone just like that. I went to tell him dinner was ready and there he was lying on the floor by the fish tank.

FOR MORE TALES WHERE ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN, CHECK OUT MY SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS.

Idle Thoughts of a Tidalscribe

Why Omicron, what happened to the other letters before that. I keep forgetting what it’s called… Omicrom, onicrom, Covicrom… What is your favourite Greek letter? I rather like Epsilon.

For ordinary folk everyday chit chat is banal, but the life blood of family, friends and hum drum jobs; the antidote to World Crisis, disasters and politics. It means nothing to outsiders and sounds very dreary.

Six boxes short on the crisps and they haven’t delivered the sandwiches!

Hardly a Global Crisis, but to the three workers on the team it is a big drama.

I saw Phil when I was in Aldis!

A remark full of significance when you relate your shopping trip to your friend, in fact you messaged her before you even left the store.

Our regular banal conversations are now littered with remarks that meant nothing two years ago, testing positive would probably have referred to pregnancy.

Sharon’s tested positive. Have you had your results yet? Evie’s going back to school on Friday. No she can’t think where she got it from and her friend had to come and collect the dog.

Covid, Christmas, Chemotherapy and restricted lives bring vivid dreams as our brains take themselves on holiday. Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley camera club in the church hall – in my dressing gown and pyjamas. Next minute a fellow blogger ( who doesn’t even blog about cooking ) was concocting the most delicious recipe, deep frying rich wraps of hidden delights. The food fantasy is understandable when chemo and sore tongue make food tasteless or vile. I am obviously missing an ideal opportunity to ascend to a higher spiritual state in which food is no longer important, or even vital. I do not have what it takes to go into the wilderness and live on leaves, but at least I have found that out now before going up a mountain or into the desert. The fact that millions of people do not have enough food does not stop me being filled with lowly envy when people drop remarks like

‘No, we’re fine, we stopped off at MacDonalds on the way.’

I hardly ever have MacDonald’s and have certainly never ordered a cooked breakfast from Tesco to be delivered to my door, but these are now things on my wish list for 2022. I have learnt a few things though. Expensive and fad diets are pointless, if you eat less you lose weight. If you want to try this without chemo, just picture honestly what you have eaten and drunk at the end of each day and cut out the sneaky biscuits, fizzy drinks, crisps, chocolate ( insert your favourite treats ) the next day. I do now have an insight into young children at meal times, or people with eating disorders; putting something into your mouth when you have no idea what it will taste like or cannot bear the idea of anything passing your lips. We glibly tell our children they are going to like strange textures and flavours with no notion what their tongue is telling their brain.

Your body in good health is a marvellous machine that repairs itself, with your skin and nerves protecting you from the outside world and your internal organs function efficiently without having to be programmed by a computer. You do not need expensive moisturisers or exotic food supplements. But there are the odd benefits to chemo interfering with your system. After decades of barefoot and sandal wear resulting in as many decades of pumicing and moisturising my heels ( in fairness to our bodies, the feet naturally grow tough soles to walk barefoot, much healthier than wearing shoes ) my heels just fell off, revealing the feet I had not had since I was  baby…

Friday Flash Fiction 360 – Ether Mail

I can’t believe I’ve been dead this long, not that I know how long it’s been, that’s the trouble with eternity; it just seems a long time as I’m still waiting to register. Not sure if you will get this ether mail, I haven’t grasped the technology yet. I would not have promised to keep in touch if I knew how difficult it was going to be.

 I can understand why they are so busy, more people than ever to process, what with the population on the earth plane increasing exponentially. Haven’t seen anyone I know yet, I was a bit miffed there was nobody to meet me, perhaps that’s why it took me a while to realise I was dead, which also explains why I am only just getting in touch.

Nobody else knows what’s going on either, lot of milling around, I gather the trauma cases get dealt with first which is fair enough. Can’t actually remember what I did die of, so can’t have been anything violent. When I say I haven’t seen anyone I know, I am not sure what they will look like. I can’t see what I look like, no mirrors. Hard to describe what people look like this side. Those we see in pairs or groups must have come over together, we’re all newbies, so not likely to meet friends and family till after we’ve registered. Right old mix we are too, from all over the earth plane; obviously only one portal. That makes us all equal, thought that would please you and language is no barrier as there is no language, just thought reading, a real babble, lucky we don’t feel pain as it would give me a right headache, interesting though.

Have to finish off now, looks like something is happening. Not sure what else to say… how are you, what you been doing, I can’t seem to remember what you did like doing. In fact I’m finding it hard to remember what you looked like let alone what our hou… ho.. what was the word? Where did we li.. where did I l…

The Only Blog you will ever need to read about the Brain

I recently had a revelation which will simplify our understanding of the human brain. Reading about yet another celebrity relieved to get a diagnosis of autism in their fifties, or to discover they are on a spectrum of some sort, they report that this explained why they always felt different. But aren’t we all different? Whether you are a psychiatrist or a brain surgeon, nobody understands how the brain works, how that grey jelly holds a universe of knowledge and creativity…

‘A synapse is a structure that permits a neuron (or nerve cell) to pass an electrical or chemical signal to another neuron or to the target effector cell. Synapses are essential to the transmission of nervous impulses from one neuron to another.’ 

So where does that electricity come from, how did it get into your brain, charged up by your mother’s solar powered battery when you were in the womb?

Enough of scientific talk. The only term you need to know is neuro diverse, it covers everything. The human brain is so amazing it would be strange if it didn’t work in many diverse ways, no one is wrong, just different.

Most of us are not as clever as we think we are. We know that humans are super intelligent because we build cities and space stations and create sublime art and music. Alas, most of us could not even build a garden shed or write a knitting pattern ( the original binary system ) let alone create a computer. But we still have the capacity to find our way round a big city or experience the joys of culture.

When experts are inventing new syndromes they are more interested in our interactions with each other and our talents only come into the equation when everyone assumes autistic people must be brilliant at ‘Something’.

A person who identifies as autistic may feel unable to cope with parties or too much stimulus of noise or lights, but have a wonderfully heightened awareness of music or nature that passes others by. Of course we will never know because we don’t know what others see, hear or feel and if we are experiencing the same sensations. We don’t even know what is mind and what is brain and what is ‘mental health’. I cringe when I hear people say ‘Then I had to leave work because I had mental health.’   Noo , if you had mental health you would be fine…

 If you are in the fortunate position of understanding your own mind and everyone else’s, let us know. In the meantime the rest of us have a good standby to cover work and social life.

‘I’m Neuro Diverse.’

‘Oh, so sorry, we’ll move your office desk to a different position and give you a bigger computer screen.’

 ‘You must come to our special quiet screening of the film.’

‘Would you like someone to accompany you to your hospital appointment?’

For plenty of neuro diversity, why not read one of my books?