Saturday, 31 May 2014

Word of the Week

So why have I chosen the name of a random body part for my word of the week? Well, basically because for the last few months I have come to hate my elbow and all it might represent! 

In fact, elbow is a fairly stupid word to begin with - 'el' part from old English for length of forearm and 'bow' from West Germanic origins meaning bend or arch. That seems sensible, right, but go back further and other older translations show 'el' and 'bow' as being the same thing so elbow in this sense means 'bend bend' - ridiculous! And ridiculous it has been trying to do anything involving my right elbow at the moment - it doesn't bend well even once let alone 'bend bend'. 

I've been plagued with what I've assumed is 'tennis elbow' for months. It seems an unlikely ailment for someone who never plays tennis but it's a lot easier to say than its proper medical term 'lateral epicondylitis'. I found that I couldn't lift a full kettle or brush my hair with my right arm (there are those who would say that my hair doesn't look any different unbrushed anyway), I couldn't turn a door handle or open a jar. These were all minor inconveniences as I could generally use my left arm instead. But then, I discovered that I couldn't fill the car up with petrol and when I tried to do so with my left hand, I dribbled petrol on the ground in what the garage called 'a spillage' and caused the attendant much moaning and muttering. I  probably would have continued to put up with it but the aches and pains seemed to migrate and my other elbow came out in sympathy for a while. Then a few days later my wrist became painful and then the joint at the bottom of my thumb. It was like a peculiar bodily game of 'pass the pain parcel'. 

Fed up, I took myself off to the doctor. She's quite a character my doctor. A fervent energetic lady who likes to sit in her doctor's swivel chair with her legs curled up beneath her like a cat, her shoes discarded beneath her untidy desk. In a voice much like Victoria Wood's she told me that I was right to come in and she wanted to do some 'fancy' blood tests. Blood tests? For a sore elbow? Ok, I thought, whatever,  and smiled indulgently at her.

The phlebotomist looked thoroughly delighted to see me. There were at least 8 phials awaiting my blood - more than enough to keep a vampire going for at least a month. She told me in hushed tones that these 'fancy' tests were expensive and so I did not complain as she repeatedly stabbed me, searching in vain, well, for a vein!

It turns out that I am something called 'seropositive' for rheumatoid factor and antibodies. Despite believing myself to be the very best 'Google doctor' I still don't really understand the rather complicated information about rheumatoid arthritis but I do understand that this isn't a confirmed diagnosis as apparently it is possible to have a positive result and not have it. Not so 'fancy' a test to be really useful then! So I will have to be patient and wait to see a rheumatologist for his opinion. I am thankful that my symptoms at this point are relatively mild and manageable and I'm still hopeful that rheumatology will laugh at such a suggestion and dismiss the idea altogether. I'm still working on my relationship with my elbow. 

I'm joining in with The Reading Residence and The Word of the Week Linky.
The Reading Residence

Sunday, 18 May 2014

A Fishy Tale

Well, it seems an awfully long time since I posted anything on this blog. The reason?...Just life, I think, taking over and filling up all my time. The teen has needed my help persuasion to revise and get ready for her exams; I was faced with an inordinate amount of paperwork to do and this nagged at my conscience each time I sat down and considered writing for pleasure rather than form filling; also I have been suffering with a RSI type elbow pain that has had me wincing every time I go near the keyboard. Now the exams are over for H (they're terrifically early in Scotland), some of the paperwork is done and I can type, slowly, with my left hand!

Keep reading - all will be revealed 
I know what you're thinking - what has any of this got to do with fish? Well bear with me and all will be revealed...eventually.

Our village hall is a rather utilitarian building with little going for it if you were judging purely on aesthetics. But we have a wily committee full of enterprising types who have done much to improve its appeal and increase its use. There's a community cafe, plant sales, a second hand book store, musical performances and a weekly mindfulness session to name just a few of the many events that take place regularly. So it came as no surprise to hear that there was to be a play in the hall and I duly bought tickets. The last time I went to see a 'local' production I had to bite my lip to stifle the giggles as various octogenarians shuffled about in dubious costumes and forgot their lines, and so I was not expecting much. I was to be proved very wrong in my assumptions.

'Get Up and Tie Your Fingers' by Ann Coburn is set against the worst fishing disaster in the UK's history. On the 14th October 1881,  20 boats and 189 men were lost in a storm (129 of them from the small community of Eyemouth, near Berwick).  Just up the coast from there, our tiny harbour, Cove, was hit the worst proportionately, losing four of its five boats and 11 of its 21 fishermen. Many of the family-run boats tried desperately to get back into the harbour but were swept past the harbour mouth and onto the rocks in the bay. Women and children were close enough to watch their menfolk drown but had no way of reaching them. You can understand why that terrible day is still referred to as 'Black Friday'. Long-time locals, some of whom are direct descendants of survivors or those who died, explained that the title relates to the call given to rouse the herring lassies who lived and worked in the local area and travelled with the herring down the east coast of the country.  These plucky women needed to work at terrific speed, sorting, slicing and gutting up to 60 fish in a minute! Those 'silver darlings' were slippery little blighters, and a gutting knife sharp, and so the women would bind their fingers with cotton strips to protect them from cuts and the stinging pickling salt.

The play managed to pull off that difficult feat - of being deeply moving but at the same time uplifting. Through the characters of young Molly, her obsessive and fearful mother Jean, and fun-loving Janet, the play brought to life the courage and resilience of truly remarkable women while exploring the metaphorical ties between mother and daughter. The cast was entirely women supported in turn by an all female choir.  Karen Wimhurst's original score sung a cappella added a haunting quality which was difficult to forget. The inclusion of a nineteenth century children's hymn,  'When Lamps are Lighted in the Town' left hardly a dry eye in the house - a simple and plaintive tribute without being mawkish.
Bronze sculpture at the Cove to commemorate the tragedy
I was so pleased that I went to see it and cannot think of a more fitting setting than within the very community that was so affected by this tragedy. To further the links to the local community, the village school children and crafting groups helped to decorate the hall and knitters across the region were responsible for delightful shoals of knitted herring that will be following the production as it travels down the east coast of England. I really admired the display and managed a chuckle when I wondered what the real herring lassies would have thought of the knitted silver darlings!

Even the corridor outside the toilets was decorated!

A creel of knitted herring