Sunday, 28 February 2010

Antibiotics and Antibacterial Spray

Had a good lie in this morning, after staying up for Ruth and Catherine last night whilst watching Withnail and I and Disney's One Hundred and One Dalmations. The beginning of the film especially is so pretty and evokes a sense of London and the slight surreality of the earlier Disney films.

Am feeling somewhat better having started on my antibiotics last night.

Awoke to find that Ruth had been out shopping and cooked up a splendid Sunday brunch. Charlie had a lot of writing to do today, which he completed with gusto. I had a relaxing bath, went out into Brixton, and came back to do some cleaning and sorting, mostly cleaning the bathroom (our most hated chore).

Had an indulgent roast chicken for dinner with Fish, followed by some of Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice-Cream, soon to be Fairtrade.

Now watching Fight Club with Fish. It reminds me of reading The Dice Man, anarchic and brutal, the cutting fear and awakening of a life without consequence. The damage and the freedom.

I believe this is my 100th post. I enjoy keeping this journal, really pleased it is still going.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Campaigning in Birmingham

Me squashing down the inflatable mug at the end of the day.

A great day in Birmingham with the FAB (Fairtrade Association Birmingham), am filled with what people can acheive when they put their minds to it. With a gospel choir, a swing band and a few others, the music drew people in. It was a bit rainy, but that just made us even more appreciative when the sun came out.

Am having a quiet night in, as still not quite 100%. The others are playing diplomacy after a competitive day of go karting which apparently Dan won.

Friday, 26 February 2010

2 x Pass!

Have spent the day working from home, and being quite productive, resting and drinking copious amounts of weak squash. Feeling a bit better, hoping it lasts through tomorrow in Birmingham.

Am overjoyed to announce that I have passed both of my CIM Professional Diploma in Marketing modules from last term. A massive success, considering how much work it was to study two of them at a time, as well as fulfil my busy work schedule.

Ruth is also coming to stay unexpectedly this weekend, as she was down seeing Avenue Q and her accommodation fell through. Will be lovely to see her.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Dresses and Diuretics

Went bridesmaid dress shopping with Erika and Gilly this evening to ensure we have genuinely covered all options for the occassion. After some interesting trials with some contenders, and some pink fairy-like dresses

Was feeling pretty exhausted, as it seems likely I have come down with cystitis again ... oh woe is me! Spent the whole afternoon at work downing water and trying to get my kidneys to go into super-active mode. It is strange how something so specific can make you feel so wiped out.

Anyway, Erika took great care of me, making Fishcakes for dinner. No decision quite yet about the dresses, but I think one is on the way.

Eventually got back home, after getting confused on the buses in my ill state, and went straight to bed.

Will likely work from home tomorrow, so I can further consume countless pints of water and cleanse my system before spending the day at the Fairtrade Strictly Tea Dance in Birmingham on Sat. I can't let Brum down!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010


A little under the weather this morning after I yet again broke my 'two is plenty rule' last night. Will I ever learn?

Met up with Gilly for further Erika Hen plotting ... we are both getting very excited as it all comes together.

Have started reading 'Fragile Things', a short story compilation written by Neil Gaiman which Mink kindly gave me for my birthday. I decided I simply wasn't in the right place at the moment for the decedant and indulgent opulence of Brideshead Revisited. Maybe some other time. Maybe not.

Arrived back home and put the 'Man who Married Himself' poster up. It belongs on our lounge wall, as if it always has and always will be there.

Poppy has turned into a very chatty cat now the dynamic of the household has changed with no Max. She squeaks and chirrups at the slightest thing, one minute longing for strokes, the next eyeing you with suspicion. She is more cuddly, perhaps missing her cuddly bedfellow.

It is March next week, as well as the second weekend of Fairtrade Fortnight. I hope you have all registered your Fairtrade swaps!

Oh, and if anybody would like to see me dressed as a tea lady with my colleagues tomorrow, we are doing a publicity stunt on London Bridge at 8am, and then in Trafalgar Square at 11am. You can't beat a bit of traditional 'making a scene'.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

BAFTA Sweetie! Luvvie, Darling, Mwah, Mwah!

Have spent the evening at BAFTA with Charlie Fish at the premiere of his first short film, "The Man who Married Himself". It was well received, and was good to chat with some of the people involved. especially Warren Clarke who spoke about acting as if it were like any other job, one that you need to do because you enjoy it, not because of what you might get out of it.

That really spoke to me. You should strive to be in a position because you enjoy what you do, and you do it because it matters to you, not because of the destination. That is very Zen, investing in the thrill of the journey, rather than the kudos of the arrival point.

Hopefully this will be the beginning of many more nights like this, we just need to find more hours in the day for Charlie to write ...

Monday, 22 February 2010

Fairtrade Fortnight vs. Monday Blues

Tired after a fun start to Fairtrade Fortnight, combined with a 3 hour CIM class this evening ... phew!

Some challenging work situations going on which are difficult to solve. Very difficult to know in some situations what to do for the best.

Have added photos of Kew to the blog post from my birthday below, don't seem to have any of the Hive, so please send some if you have any!

Saturday, 20 February 2010

39 Steps and the Greenwich Meridian

Had a lovely day with Mum, Dad and Matthew wandering around Greenwich, popping up to the Observatory and going to see The 39 Steps at the Criterion. A beautiful theatre, which is strangely built underground. The play was super cheesy, but quite fun.

Friday, 19 February 2010

30 Years Precisely

What a brilliant birthday!

Woke up late this morning, was brought tea and breakfast in bed, and had a quick bath before being whisked off for my surprise birthday treat at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. We went round on the perimeter bus to have an overview of the site, and stopped off to look at incredible orchids, massive palms and to be overwhelmed by the Victorian architecture of the glasshouses.

Had dinner at the Hive (if anybody has any photos, please send!) with Charlie, Mum, Dad, Andrew, Matthew, Erika T, Erika S, Dan, Theresa, Demetris, Ryan, Kirsten, Alison, and Natalie, Laura W, Nathan and Caroline also came along later. After a lovely meal and some drinks, we pootled back to ours for some lazy drinks, some good Poppy lovin', and some indulgent watching of Simon's Cat.

Such generosity in lovely presents, great to have people join me on what has been a chilled out and fun day.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

29 years, 364 days, 23 hours and 55 minutes old

It has been a funny week, what with lovely Max, hyperactive and confused Poppy, big birthdays, my Mkt course and pre-Fairtrade Fortnight blitzes.

Me with Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's fame at their Leicester Square event today to launch their commitment to 100% Fairtrade globally.

So, people have asked me how I feel on turning thirty (in 5 minutes' time!), whether I have made lists which I may have completed in part (or in full), and how I feel about the last decade. And the truth is ...

... I feel very lucky and happy. I have a loving and devoted husband who is truly my best friend, and the company of a beautiful cat (until recently two beautiful cats). I have good friends who are there for me when I am emotionally challenged, who are fun and who help me make the best of myself (and I hope I do the same for them).

My job is hard but entirely inspiring and rewarding, and I push for any opportunity to widen my experience and develop my strengths for the good of my own development and the organisation.

My family are warm and inviting, both my direct and wider family, both of whom I am proud to call my friends as well as my relations.

I am inspired to make the most out of life, and although I get tired and sometimes stressed, I am driven by the buzz of what we can acheive and the excitement of what lies ahead.

So ... how do I feel on turning 30? I feel good.

And I have explained to Charlie that, if it is true that you are as young as the person you are feeling, then it is him who is 30, and I am 29 for 22 more days ...

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Maximus Cat is No More

So, they operated and found a large and very spread tumour on Max's intestine, and we made the difficult but right decision to not put him through any more pain ...

... we will miss him very very much!!

#If I were a Rich Vet ... #

Have been distracted again today, there is a lot going on at the moment. What with cats, boilers and Fairtrade Fortnight!

So, the latest on Max ...

... but first mild apologies, because I didn't intend for this blog to turn into Animal Hospital, but as you can imagine, the health of this beautiful cat is rather pressing on my mind at the moment ...

... he went in for an X-Ray at the vet today to see what is going on inside his middle. For one blessed moment we thought it might just be extreme constipation, but they have found some internal bleeding. Caused by either a trauma (unlikely, as he is an indoor cat) or by cancer, he has a tummy full of blood.

So this evening he is in kitty hospital and they are draining it all out and giving him a transfusion to keep him going. And tomorrow we will get the verdict on whether the cancer (presuming it is that) is operable or not. The vet is apparently called Roger, and sounds very nice (according to Charlie), and we will be getting regular updates (I should expect so, given the arm and a leg we will be contributing towards his pay cheque).
It makes me uncomfortable to think that I might have seen him for the last time this morning, as I reassured him that the bus would be coming any minute now, but we have discussed it at great length, and if there is a good chance of fixing him, we have a duty to go for it. Roger at the kitty hospital has given him 50:50, so we are all systems go.
Our vet also said something interesting today, in that he would age Max at nearer 16 than 11, the age that Battersea gave him. So perhaps he is a proper old boy cat after all. Will get the rocking chair, pipe and slippers ready in case he does come back home.

Just for your interest, as it is the week of my 30th birthday, below is the Johnson Hospital in Spalding where I was born on 19th February 1980, provided courtesey of another nice Roger (the Dad sort).

Monday, 15 February 2010

Classes and Conflict

Went to the first class in my Project Management module this evening. Will be a challenge to get to grips with it in the speed I need to to reach the June assessment date, especially along with the other module going on simultaneously.

On a brighter note, we are going to Sri Lanka for a week of relaxation and dropping in on Laura in March from 18th-26th. Really looking forward to the peacefulness I felt when I was last there, and sharing it with Charlie-Fish this year.

Found it hard to focus at work today, still slightly distracted by the Max situation. We are taking him to the vet again tomorrow. Probably for another blood test, possibly for some feeding, but overall just to get some more guidance on where we go next with him. To be honest, he is so weak now that Charlie and I are convinced it is his kidneys and there is nothing that can be done.

But of course we don't know that, so when we ask the vet for advice, of course he is going to suggest test after test after test to try and get to the truth of what is the matter. After all, his organs may well now be failing from not eating, not necessarily from any physical problem or cause. But endless testing can't be fair on the poor cat, who is still emitting empty meows every now and again, still purrs but seems barely able to move.

So, for now, we are going to trust the vet. But we will not hesitate to seek a second opinion if needed.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Sunday Rest and Valentine Smiles

A lazy morning, recovering from yesterday in the pub. Erika and Dan came round for lunch so Erika could give Max some Reiki. Also, Dan brought round the remainder of the delicious sweet potato and chorizo soup we had yesterday.

Max responded well to the Reiki, seeming more alert at times, and more content. And he is peaceful in himself, though his movements and behaviour are awkward and slow.

Charlie has gone out to write lots of words, and I am intending to catch up on all the jobs I neglected during my busy week last week. So, the house will be cleaned, emails will be caught up on, and if I get through a decent amount, I might also make some time for writing, especially after my inspiring Valentine's card from Fish. He mocked up a scene from my book with Photoshop ... bless! I got him a lottery scratchcard and a Kinder Egg. We have never been particularly serious about Valentine's Day but it is nice to have some fun with it.

Brixton was alive with love though, with queues at the flower stall outside the Tube, which had heart shaped helium balloons floating around it. Also there was a man on a bike clutching a bunch of roses as he swung round the corner

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Battersea Cattersea

Have spent a lovely day with Erika and Dan, first with them cooking lunch for Charlie, me, Robin, Marion and Jane, and then the four of us went to the pub ... for a little longer than we intended!

And now, after an indulgent day of food and drinks we have come home, to find Max ... weak and still ... just lying on the bed. He had some water that we offered him, and is now again just lying down, looking fragile and absent minded. The Internet has taught us a lot. That it is probably his kidneys, and that he is probably not in pain, just feeling like he has a hangover (how do people know this?!?!). He is still purring, and he still clearly enjoys being stroked, so there is still some time left. But when it gets much further down the line (which may take weeks), we will have to show our love for him by taking the pain away.

And it makes me so sad.

We talked at lunch today about the Richard Dimbleby lecture recently given by Sir Terry Pratchett about assisted dying for the terminally ill. Why are we so comfortable, even under social pressure, to ensure our pets do not suffer when they are insolvably sick, yet we are not permitted to help the people in our lives in the same way? I mean, the people we love are not permitted the same respect and dignity we allow our pets? Another symptom of the topsy-turvy world we live in.

So, we will see how Max goes. I can only think it is going one way. But for now he purrs, and smiles, is warm and expressive and lying at the end of the bed.

And ... relax

What a week! With a cold house, new boiler, new course, sick cat, and all sorts of other crazy stuff going on, thank goodness we have a relaxing weekend planned. It started off with a good lie in this morning, and I did arrange to go for a run with Alex at 11 so I have to be quick now.

Max is very weak now. He barely moves, and every now and again when he tries to meow, sometimes no noise comes out, just a breathy intention. He is still drinking water occassionally, but no food at all now, even turns his head away from treats. I think stress is unlikely, and more probably his kidneys are failing. We have seen other cats go this way before, and the only thing we can do is make sure he is as comfortable as possible, and if he gets to a point where he is not purring anymore, then we have to think about what is best for Max.

He is so much lighter now, but still the same beautiful pink-nosed monster cat he ever was.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Diagnosis ... confused!

So, the latest in the cat saga. The blood test results came back and apparently Max's organs are working well. Great! The only indication from his blood count is that he is suffering from ... wait for it ...

... stress!

Now, I don't know how many of you have met Max, but he is not known for his levels of consciousness, never mind getting worked up about anything. So he is now on the kitty equivalent of prozac for one month, which I hope will not drive him into a complete stupor. And I am reminded of the joys of trying to get a pill down a struggling cat's neck twice a day.

Was a bit challenging today to be in a 2 and a half hour phone conference whilst the drilling, gurgling and other odd noises were filtering through to the bedroom.

The house is cold, but the boiler is now on the wall. Charlie will be home tomorrow for the final joy of putting the heating back on. And my first treat will be a nice hot bath! I will think of that as I try and keep all the warmth of my laptop close now.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

A Special "We're Having our Boiler Replaced/The Cat is Still Sick'' Extra Update

So, the house is pretty cold. So I am looking after the kittens by getting Hot Water Bottle Eeyore to give them some warmth.

Max is really looking unwell now, drawn and slow. Today I took him some water in bed, and three times he lapped it up. Still zero interest in food. It is so sad to see him just fade away. We have not lost hope, but I can't see what can reverse what is now almost 2 weeks of not eating. He is weak and strained, and is so still when he sleeps that it is hard to remember the meowy, playful, indulgent big cat he was until only recently.
One treasure of a find today was the kitchen wallpaper from times past that was still visible behind the small radiator by the fridge. A ray of optimism ...

Muppetry in Extremis

Have just come back from Moorgate seeking to start my course, only to find that I had gone in on the wrong day ... triple d'oh! Going to search through emails now to see where I went wrong.

Have spent the day trying to get work done, whilst simultaneously helping the plumber sort out our boiler, and trying to get Max to eat, drink and go for a wee in the non-absorbant kitty litter.

An odd day, overall.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Taking the P**s

Excuse the language, but this is the next task in Operation Fix Max. We have been given special kitty litter which does not absorb his whizz, so that when he has to go for a tinkle, we can extract it from the tray with a precise dropper, and fill a small vial so it can be tested for any kidney problems. He didn't need sedating for his blood test today, which was a relief as he is now very weak, and his heart is not strong, so there would be a distinct possibility he would not have come to.

On a lighter note, I met Richard E. Grant today! And not through my husband's exciting writing connections, but instead at a film premiere I was invited to for 'Food Inc.' at the Curzon, Mayfair. I couldn't not go up to him and say hello, and although we were both a little embarrassed, he said what a great story 'The Man Who Married Himself' was, and then he said "Oh, and there's that thing on the 23rd?" and I said "Yes, I'll see you there!" How exciting! My Comms Director was reasonably amused at my nerves, but I was pleased I said hi.

The film itself was very clear, a tale of how the US food industry has become a production line from beginning to end, and hypnotises consumers with labels showing green fields, when the reality is cooped, diseased, unhealthy conditions for farmers, workers and animals.

Sometimes I think it is inevitable that I will turn vegetarian, and that it is just a matter of when. We don't eat very much meat anyway. But it is more than that. It is taking responsibility for every morsel that you put in your shopping basket, every purchase is a vote for either tacit consent to these big companies and the huge traders who hide from public view ... or a vote for change through producer empowerment (Fairtrade), better farm practices (Organic) or nutrition (a carrot).

Sunday, 7 February 2010

The Hat Game Revisited

Had a strange night's sleep. Having dozed between 9pm and 1am yesterday evening, went to bed and was unsurprisingly unable to sleep. So was up till 4am, trying to find ways of dropping off. Wasn't all bad, as I then slept in till 11am, when I went out for a swim with Andrew and Alex.
The Brixton Rec is currently undergoing a refit of the swimming pool changing rooms, so there was much apprehensive and uncomfortable barefoot tiptoeing up and down stairs to get to and from the pool to the changing rooms on the 6th floor (usually on the 2nd floor, where the pool is!) Along with some dodgy pool ettiquette (snails pace swimmers in the slow lane ... slow doesn't mean THAT slow), it put me off swimming till the building work is complete (mid-March).

Andrew and I then went on to the Biometric Reflectopoedia celebration at Mango Landin', with Norris, Liam, Kirsten and Charlie. It was poignant, funny and warm, picking out different years of each other's decade and reflecting on what had happened, and how we felt. Very introspective, and emotionally healthy, I think.

We were later joined by Owen (Ozles, Norris' brother) and his girlfriend Sarah, when we played the Hat Game, which was as fun as ever ... hurrah!

So now I have come back home to get some jobs done before the weekly circuit starts once more. Going to the cinema tomorrow though ... and also taking Max to the vet for his blood test. Fingers crossed for some answers on that front.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

But what about me?

Is what Poppy seems to say as we move our attention away from her to fawn worridly over Max, who is still not well. We discussed today seeing if we can get him an x-ray as well as a blood test on Monday, to see if he has some kind of obstruction. Poor thing, he is completely uninterested by food and starting to look so awkward and uncomfortable.

Went for a 5km run with Andrew and Alex today, then Charlie joined us for a tourist visit to the Cabinet War Rooms and the Churchill Museum, which is contained within it. It was a very interesting place, and I especially enjoyed the enormous maps that covered the walls, and the various snippets of Churchill info which provided what seemed to provide an objective, rather than two-dimensional, picture of him ... flaws and all.

Met up with Ant for his birthday at Gordon's Wine Bar. But due to the cold, and the excess clotted cream I had consumed when having a cream tea at the cafe at CWR, I wasn't (and am still not) feeling quite the ticket. So spoke quickly to Ant, Ryan and Natalie, and made my excuses.

Have had a lazy evening in with Alex and Andrew, with Alex kindly cooking and Andrew kindly doing the washing up. Given that we rarely watch Saturday night tv, it is actually quite entertaining sometimes. Harry Hill is a little quirky, but sometimes genuinely laugh-out-loud funny.

So, now the Wii sports have come out, and I am snuggling in a corner under a blanket with kittens around me. Cosy, warm, restful, mmmmmmmm ...!

Friday, 5 February 2010

A Standard Friday Night ...

... spent in the pub! After a long but good day at work (if a little tense at times) went to the Hoop and Grapes near Aldgate with Jon, along with various Foundation people. Jon and Dan bonded over discussing data, I was a bit lost, but it all seemed to make sense. I guess if you are talking medical tissue or food products, a system is a system ... you just have to adjust to the genre in question.

Met up with Charlie at The Hive. He had his fortnightly day off today, and had written many words. Hence we indulged in dinner and drinks, and were joined by Andrew, Erika and Alex.

Plans to run tomorrow ... after almost 30 years of having known each other, I still have not run with Andrew, so we will see if tomorrow is the first day. Then possibly to the Cabinet War Rooms for investigation, before joining Ant's birthday timetable at the National Gallery (2), Gordons Wine Bar (4), Wagamamas (6) and Chandos (8). Well, we may opt out of certain bits ...

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Zeal and Zzzzzs

A strange day ... a good day ... a scatty day.

Had a particularly difficult situation with my boss' passport form which I misguidedly volunteered to witness for him. Between dating the document with my own date of birth rather than today's date (thus requiring him to complete a second form, which thank goodness he had), and not being able to write on the back of the photo to certify it as it was too shiny, thus leaving my signature looking like a beleagured scrawl. How embarrassing, but at least it entertained my colleagues.

Went to a sustainability event at PWC this evening where my other boss was on a panel with two very senior sustainability directors. He did very well, and the panel was both compelling and in agreement. Perhaps they did well, perhaps they didn't get too many difficult questions. One of those directors was particularly zealous ... I still can't decide whether he was a bit too much, or whether he was actually inspiring in his zeal.

Either way, afterwards was very pleased to meet up with Charlie, Kirsten and Jon for dinner at Las Iguanas by Waterloo, where (as we are putting Jon up for a few days) Jon's company paid for dinner. Hurrah!

Feeling drained now though, bereft of energy. Sleep ...

... oh, and still no sign of improvement from Max, though once again he didn't hesitate before having a couple of treats. Surely he must be hungry, and that proves he is well enough to eat. I just don't get it.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Focus and Concern

Trying to concentrate, extremely hard.

Max is still not eating ...

Tuesday, 2 February 2010


That about sums up my mood today, surprisingly difficult to get anything done. Feeling tired, and a bit cold. Hard to concentrate, easily distracted.

Gave the cats some Iams this morning, in case they are also feeling lacklustre towards the Whiskas wet food they have had over the last year or so. You never know. Max still is not quite right, but on the purry side of ill.

Monday, 1 February 2010

The Power of Cat

Had a yummy Chinese dinner with Andrew this evening, I think after all the Birmingham curries I am still trying to catch back up on the crispy duck pancakes front. He was extremely helpful, imparting his wisdom and later we had a lazy chat whilst wandering round HMV. Good to hear that he is happy, though working lots as per usual.

Stopped off at Sainsbury's to have some Ben & Jerry's ice-cream before popping back to ours for him to show me the wonder that is the new spangly show called 'Glee', which seems full of teenage thespian kicks, and surely is not a million miles away from that phenomenon unknown to childless adults in their 20's and 30's ... High School Musical.

Max has been off his food over the weekend, and on calling the vet, Charlie was told he should bring him in today, just in case. So he dutifully wrestled the enormous beast into his box of misery and took him to be poked and prodded by the vet, Goddards.

So, after being investigated, and having his temperature taken in the most awkward of places (Stockwell), there seemed to be no major symptoms, so the doctor suggested a blood test, to be on the safe side. So, having been warned that he is a feisty cat not to be messed with ["Yeah right(!)", says vet], Charlie leaves the vet to extract the necessary.

So, they shave his neck on one side and, unable to make him stay still, try again on the other side. Unable to make it work, they put him in their 'cat bag', like a giant pencilcase according to Fish. But even this is unable to contain him, and he BROKE THE CAT BAG!!!!

I would have been mortified if I had been there, but on the end of a phone line I automatically became mildly hysterical. Poor little Max. So, if he is still not well at the end of this week, he will go in to be sedated and have the blood taken when unconscious, but hopefully he will be back on his food by then. He seems pretty chilled out now, though looks quite strange with a strip taken out of his neck/chin, kind of like a teenager trying out new and highly stylish beard topiary.

I hope he gets better, it is worrying that he is not himself at the moment. He is relaxed and purry, but just not interested in eating. Although he could afford to lose a bit of his tum, it shouldn't be at the cost of his health.

More amusingly it makes me realise how much Poppy copies him. Like the daily breakfast wake up call in the morning. Without Max's lead, she just forgets and keeps sleeping. Silly little tart!