Even Faster

I’m into the last two weeks of my fifties and it’s more than a little scary.  In a week and a half’s time I will turn 60.

I’ve been dreading this for months, but now it’s almost upon me I just want to get it over with in a way that involves the minimum of fuss.

It’s funny, I look in the mirror and see the grey hairs.  I feel the aches and twinges that never used to be there.  I know that, factually, this is my age.  But my mind feels more creative than it ever has before.  Admittedly, my forgetfulness is pretty bad at times, but that aside I still feel excited about new projects and ideas.

I hope the creative side of me never falters.

A bit of an eyeful


My right eye has suddenly reminded me of why I started this blog and I shouldn’t neglect it like I do.

I’ve always been a bit funny about my eyes, protective of them in strong ways because I’ve always been convinced that the majority of what makes me a writer and artist is in the way I see things.  So I’ve always updated my glasses regularly and the thought of wearing contacts has always made me shudder.  I like that my glasses are a small barrier in front of my eyes.

Then, on Sunday evening, after attending a lovely family barbecue in the afternoon, this huge, weird floater appeared in my eye and stayed in the centre of my vision, wafting about strangely as I moved my eye about.  All kinds of horror thoughts went through my mind so the first thing on Monday I phoned up the doctor for an emergency appointment and after seeing me she phone up the eye clinic at York hospital and got me an appointment that afternoon.

It was quite a bit of a wait for everyone who attended, but most took the delay very well.  Except for one little boy who said he was bored, to which his mother replied, “Well, let that be a lesson not to poke your toys in your eye again.”  I guess some kids need to learn to be protective of their eyes the hard way.

The doctor who eventually saw me was very thorough with his examination and declared that there was no damage to the retina, which was a huge relief, and that I had something called Posterior Vitreous Detachment.  This is where the gel inside the eye pulls away from the retina and creates this strange floater.  Apparently most people get this at some point in their later years and it rarely leads to anything more serious and usually settles down fairly quickly.  I just have to put up with this floater until it does so.

I know I’m no longer young, but this feels like a harsh prod with a pointed stick to point out that my body is beginning to get old even if my mind doesn’t feel like it is.

Beyond the personal reminder that I must look after myself better, I’m also fully aware of the importance the NHS plays in all our lives and how much worse off we’d all be if it were gone.  Which makes me angry that the Tories and their cronies are doing their best to destroy it and our lifeline to a healthy future.

I dread to think what I would have done if there was no NHS and my eye condition had been more serious than it is.


A Smack to the Head…

Someone just started following this blog and it dawned on me that I haven’t posted here in absolutely ages.  As I’m awaiting feedback on a few things I thought I’d take the quiet moment to rectify the situation.  Maybe it will even inspire me to update the damn thing more often.  Or maybe I need a smack to the head to make me do so.

So, what to write about?

My grandkids are all growing faster than I’d like (six of them, now).  It makes me seem old just watching them change so much every time I see them.  My youngest, Ariana, has started cutting teeth and it hardly seems five minutes since she was born.  And my eldest, Caitlin, is rapidly approaching her 11th birthday.  And now I realise I’m sounding like every other old fogey out there.

When I’m writing it’s like age has no relevance whatsoever.  My mind is fired up, sharp, filled with ideas and in love with the words.

Speaking of my mind, I’ve been feeling a bit more creative since coming off my medication recently.  Although there are still a few problems, I think I’d rather manage them than go through the slightly disconnected feelings I’ve been having.  It seemed like my emotions were all dulled and my rational mind was taking too much control.

Take my brother, for instance.  I just realised I didn’t post here about how he was rushed into hospital last year and, after an emergency operation, was diagnosed with cancer.  Because of the medication I was on it didn’t properly register with my emotions and I began to feel a little guilty that I wasn’t more upset by the awful news.  Over Christmas he was in a really bad way and my rational reaction made me think I had to do something about my medication.  I’ve had a few weeps since then.  Although my brother’s condition is not good in the long term, recently he’s been a lot better on a day-to-day basis and I go and see him a couple of times a week.

I’ve been incredibly busy with the writing lately, which is always good considering I’m a freelance writer, but I’ve pretty much given up on the comics as a result and don’t have as much time for drawing and painting as I once did.  Ah well, I can’t do everything.

Spring is filling the garden with new growth and buds and a few early flowers.  We have frogspawn in the pond and the goldfish have survived the winter okay.  We even have a new footpath.

Open Letter to the NHS – Hygiene

Dear NHS,

I really love the wonderful things you do and all our lives would be very poor indeed without the on-going care and medical aid you give us.  However, I really get annoyed when I see reports in the newspapers about MRSA and lack of hygiene.

The reason for my annoyance comes from a regular display of practices that suggest a basic lack of understanding of simple hygiene from everyone involved.  In the last few years, for instance, I have seen a number of instances of each of the following:

  • Wearing cardigans over uniforms.
  • Wearing outdoor coats over uniforms.
  • Wearing uniforms to and from the hospital.

The idea of transfer of germs and bugs through such practices clearly escapes the grasp of those involved.  It is often impressed on visitors how important it is to wash/clean hands on entering wards and this is exactly right, but hospital staff should have much higher standards that include the right attitude towards clothing.

However, the above is nothing compared to one of the worst practices I’ve regularly seen happen – a complete disregard for how infection can be spread through the transfer from the curtains surrounding each of the beds on the wards.

Visitors constantly brush up against these curtains with their clothes, the patients touch them, everybody touches them.  Now think carefully about the main people who touch them – the nurses who attend the patients many times a day.

If they have just cleaned up a patient or re-dressed an infected wound, those nurses will push back the curtains with the soiled gloves still on their hands, transferring bacteria and the like to the curtains.

Worse still is that the next time they attend that same patient, nurses put on rubber gloves BEFORE closing the curtains, which immediately stops the gloves being sterile and risks passing on infection to the patient.  If this isn’t the cause of the majority of patient infections I’d be very surprised.

We’re all disgusted at the cut-backs enforced on the NHS by this current government, particularly when the majority of us have been paying for it through our National Insurance contributions, but this is not an excuse for a mind-set that cannot make the connections that lead to infection transfer this way.

Being in hospital is hard.  Working in hospital is hard.  But thinking about hygiene should be natural for all of us.

Please be cleaner in your thinking.

Steve Ince
East Yorkshire

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A walk on the Wolds

I try to go for a walk most days as it’s about the only exercise I get.  Today, with it being so beautiful, I decided to go for a walk up on the Wolds.  Ten minutes on foot from our house and up on the edge of the Wolds and I should get up there more often.  Through some woods, along the side of the golf course, down through more woods, along a few country lanes and back home.  Lovely!  I thought I was going to get attacked by a group of farm dogs at one point but they bounded up, barking like crazy, then shot off as soon as they’d checked me out.

Here are a few pics I took with my phone:

Wolds 1

Woods 1

Woods 2

Another year goes by…

It’s that time of year again.  That one where, if I’m not careful, I’ll depress myself with thoughts of advancing years.  However, I have a lot to be thankful for (pressies, for a start) so I should be positive and look at the good things like June, family, friends and a job I enjoy doing.  Blimey!  When I think of all the unfortunate people in the world (poor, hungry, ill, opressed) I’m a very lucky guy.  I wish everyone could have my level of fortune.  Take care.


I also figured that if I stop counting the years I may stop growing older.  😀

Zen – What?!

We decided to watch the startof the new BBC series, Zen, last night.  It would have been great if it wasn’t for the dreadful audio.

Overall, the sound was much quieter than other programmes so we had to turn up the telly quite a bit in order to compensate, but even then it was hard to make out what they were saying much of the time.  When the actors lifted their voices above that of a mumble they were often competing with too much background noise and the musical soundtrack.

Now I don’t consider myself hard of hearing by a long way, but I was struggling to make out much of what was said, so I dread to think how people coped who had genuine hearing problems.  I’m not talking about the level of hearing problem that means people need the subtitles but the slight loss of certain frequencies that means the sound in programmes should be much clearer.

Very poor show, BBC.

A Quiet Day

Today I had a little lie-in, which was pretty cool. However I don’t like to spend too long in bed or I feel as if I’m wasting my own time. Besides, I need to put out seeds for the birds and squirrels in this cold weather, even though it’s been slightly milder today.

I seem to have spent a lot of today doing very little, but I went out for a walk in the sleet to get a paper. The centre of Pocklington was really quiet and even the pubs I passed had virtually no one drinking in them.

I received a call from my dad who’d just returned from taking my brother to the hospital where they found that he had a broken ankle. He fell over on Christmas eve and thought he’d just twisted his ankle, but it turns out he’s been limping on a broken ankle for three days.

This afternoon I watched Inception for the first time and while I thought it was a good film it wasn’t as clever as I’d been led to believe it was.

I managed to fit in some time to draw an prepare a couple of Mitchell cartoons for tomorrow and Friday. I hope I can find time to do Wednesday’s Mr. Smoozles comic strip as we’re out visiting much of the day.

Oops, it’s after midnight so I’d better call it a night, particularly as the cat is giving me funny looks. I think he wants feeding.

Water, water…

I seem to be drinking more and more water all the time.  Well, fluids in general.  I don’t drink too much tea and coffee – maybe three mugs a day – and have a couple of glasses of juice – but inbetween these I seem to be drinking lots of water.

I’ve always been one for drinking water instead of over-doing the coffee or tea, but it’s definitely on the increase.  Sometimes I’ll drink a glass of water and still feel thirsty afterwards and so have another, which doesn’t strike me as a good sign.  And, of course, another effect of this is that I go to the loo an awful lot.

Yesterday I did a rough estimate on my fluid intake and I must be drinking something like 6 0r 7 litres of fluids in a day and it could be more.  I know that people vary in their intake, but this seems a lot more than the normal 4 litres I’ve seen quoted in various places.  Even if this amount is within reasonable bounds, what happens when I reduce this probably isn’t.

If I’m out for the day and don’t drink as regularly as I would normally do, the following day I can feel as if I’m unwell, which explains why I’ve been feeling so up and down lately.  I’ve only just made the connection and seen this as a pattern, but it explains so much.

June and I have a strong feeling that it could be diabetes, but I’ve had tests for this a couple of times in recent years.  However, this is clearly a serious problem so I’m going to have to visit the doctor again and insist on more tests.

Although no one wants to be diagnosed with a serious complaint, I’d rather have something I can get a handle on and learn to deal with than struggle along with something unknown that’s virtually impossible to treat.

A day of bits and pieces…

My dad had an operation last week.  It was fairly minor, but he can’t drive for a couple of weeks; so this morning I took him to his doctor’s medical centre to get his flu jab.  they must have been shooting the stuff in with a nail gun as each person in the queue was in and out in seconds.

While we were there we bumped into a couple of people (husband and wife) I haven’t seen since I was about nineteen.  They’re a bit older than my dad, but still looking very fit and healthy.  The woman had the cheek to say that I was “broader” than when she last saw me.  Blimey!  I’ve jut lost a bit more weight, too, which makes it 12 pounds in total since the beginning of September.

I went to see my son, David, and his girlfriend, Katie, and my grandaughter wasn’t there!  They went out to see a film last night and Leilani stayed at her aunt’s for the night.  I dropped David off on my way home as he was playing rugby this afternoon.

June and I went shopping this afternoon, which was a little odd.  Although we didn’t get a huge amount, the local Sainsbury’s seemed to be less well stocked than it usually is.  It’s not a big supermarket, but it’s always been pretty well stocked in the past.  Mind you, when we need to stock up in a big way we have to go through to Market Weighton and shop at the Tesco there.

There’s another supermarket being built in Pocklington and the local paper described it as a “discount supermarket”.  Aren’t they all?  I don’t know the details, but I suspect it’s going to be a Netto or a Lidl, which I can’t believe will get the custom.  We already have a Co-op and this doesn’t do nearly the amount of trade that Sainsbury’s does and it’s a bigger store.

The cat was all over my desk a little earlier while I was trying to catch up on my e-mails.  I have to push the keyboard away to give him space or he’d just walk all over it and today he just plonked himself down right in front of me and only moved when I’d stroked him and scratched behind his ears enough, at which point he jumped down and went back downstairs.  It’s good to know that I provide an adequate service for him.

I drew this week’s Mitchell cartoons a little while ago and prepared them for posting tomorrow and Friday.  I’m really getting into doing them.  With the semi-demise of Octavius I may return to doing three Mitchell cartoons a week.  I’ll see how I’m fixed when the latest workload clears itself.

It’s been pretty dull today and now it feels like it’s getting dark already even though it’s not quite 6pm.  I really dislike the way that the dark evenings rush onto us so rapidly at this time of year, especially when we put the clocks back later this month.

I don’t think June’s knee is quite up to a walk to the pub, so we’ll probably spend the evening in watching the TV.  I hope we have something good recorded because they’ve taken Wallender off this week.