My Family and Other Animals

The last couple of weeks have been full of fun, anniversaries, tiredness and a few seizures. Oh, and a return to tumour business. Continue reading “My Family and Other Animals”


Chemo Confirmation / Cole’s Miscellany (Part Eleven)

[I felt that I couldn’t publish a blog without saying anything at all about yesterday’s attack in London even though I have nothing to say that hasn’t already been said. Hope those of you in London (and your friends and family) are safe and sound. Take care.]

To mark the end of Brain Tumour Awareness Month, Brain Tumour Research is hoping to make Friday 31 March 2017 “the biggest, boldest and hattiest Wear A Hat Day EVER“. So get your hats out (or borrow one of mine) to join in!

Chemo (Round Two)

On Tuesday, I met with Dr M, my Consultant Oncologist, who asked me how I had found Round One (which I said had gone fine, as it did). She also asked how many seizures I’ve had since the “flurry of seizures”* (Dr M’s term) that I desc Continue reading “Chemo Confirmation / Cole’s Miscellany (Part Eleven)”

A Ton of Post[s] but no Telegram from the Queen

This is the hundredth post of this blog.

Today is the 170th day that I have known that the Squatter is inside my head. Therefore, on average, a post has been uploaded every 41 hours or so by me or one of my surrogates. That’s not too shabby a run-rate considering that Continue reading “A Ton of Post[s] but no Telegram from the Queen”

Cole’s Miscellany (Part Nine)

  • Meryl Streep’s speech rocked. Kellyanne Conway’s response did not (unless she misspoke and meant to refer to her paymaster instead):


  • Perhaps if I had the time and energy, I’d write a book about the impending transfer of power in the States called “From The Audacity of Hope to Mendacity and the Dope”.
  • That reminds me: the first rule of Narcissism Club is that no one else can join. But enough about Trump.
  • I recently came across the phrase “lift while you climb”*. I hope that we all aspire to do this (even if we forget it and/or fail from time to time) but fear that it’s not something that reflects modern life.
  • On a lighter note, the Flash Mob craze passed me by – is it still a thing? Anyway, I recently came across this one, which makes me smile not because I’m a big Black Eyed Peas or Oprah fan but because of the sheer number of people involved, how it started with one girl at the front and Oprah’s obvious excitement at the surprise.
  • My favourite piece of trivia that I’ve learned this week is that one of Newcastle’s many claims to fame is the world’s first electric street lighting, which illuminated Mosley Street from 1879.


*The full quote from which it derives is by Mary Church Terrell:

And so, lifting as we climb, onward and upward we go, struggling and striving, and hoping that the buds and blossoms of our desires will burst into glorious fruition ere long.

Cole’s Miscellany (Part Eight)

  • For those who didn’t get the film reference (re Dumb-Ass) in my previous post, The Woman in the Thermoplastic Mask, watch this.
  • I read this article the other day reporting that Pfizer has been fined for overcharging the NHS for the Chocolate Fire Guard. Tut tut.
  • We had two parties for Leo last weekend and the Good Lady Grandma of the house made three cakes. This was the showpiece, which was appropriate for a boy for whom solid food was the answer (he’s barely stopped gobbling things up since he was introduced to porridge):


  • Sunday marked a year since Leo was admitted into hospital at eight days old and Wednesday marked a year since he was discharged. He marked the occasion quite literally with a mottled viral rash all over his back and tummy. Never a week goes by without a medical appointment for someone in this house and, as I’m in a holding pattern until my appointments next week, Leo was kind to step in and take one for the team.
  • This is what I wrote on Facebook a year ago, which is similar to posts on this blog about my recent experiences with the NHS but is worth repeating:

    The NHS and its staff get slammed (not least by the minister in charge of it) but we’ve just experienced the NHS at its best in helping our brand new baby boy overcome viral meningitis. It was very scary at times but the community care from midwives who agreed with our concerns and referred Leo back to the RVI and the care provided to Leo (and us) by the staff of ward 33 and the special care babies unit was absolutely amazing. This included amazing support and care over the weekend (shock horror). Everyone (including nurses, midwives, consultants, registrars, junior doctors, catering staff, cleaners, and all other staff we came across) was wonderful with Leo and with us. We couldn’t be more grateful that our boy is on the mend and back at home.

  • Leo is starting to speak, saying “hello”, “oh dear” and “all gone” . The letter two phrases might well be linked to his eating habits (see above).
  • Jennifer has been “helping” to sort out some things from our house as part of the Cole clear out. She has disturbing hoarding tendencies reminding me of the Doctor of the house.
  • This bookworm puzzle is a partial explanation of why I’ve Gone Quiet in the last few days. That, and a big step-up in the dating habits of me and the Silver Fox with a visit to Five Guys.
  • I have just learned that “i.e.” stands for “id est”. That’s me done for the day on the learning front so I can chill.
  • Miss W was kind enough to surprise me before my operation with key rings made for me and my people. She has about 20 left and is happy to sell them to those who would like one. They cost just over £2 so I would suggest a minimum of £3.50 so that the money can go towards brain tumour research. Let me know if you’re interested. The bowling ball has two holes (just like my head!):


No real update on the Squatter front. I: am still averaging a seizure a day; have possible movement in the troublesome toes (I need the official Toe-Watch adjudicators to confirm); and, am enjoying the relative calm before the possible storm of radiotherapy starting next week.

That’s all Folks!



Cole’s Miscellany (Part Seven)

  • One of Jennifer’s bedtime stories last night, Elmer and the Rainbow, was new to me. I’m a big fan of the Elmer books and this one didn’t let me down: “Some things you can give and give and not lose any. Things like happiness or love or my colours”. I’ll take a sentimental patchwork elephant with a positive message like that any day of the week over a certain selfish swine not worth her salt.
  • Before Squattergate kicked off, Leo had never slept at the Rents’ house but Jennifer regularly invited herself here for sleepovers. They both slept here for my first two nights in hospital. On the third night, even though I was still in hospital, Graham was keen for Jennifer to sleep at home to bring a semblance of normality to her life. She was not massively keen on the idea to start with but devastation set in when she realised that the plan was for Leo to remain at Grandma’s. No prizes for guessing where she slept that night after she asked: “is Leo taking my place?”.
  • There have been quite a few logistics to sort out as a result of the Immigrant, which have required a fair few forms to be completed. I’ve found the “One Size Fits All” forms infuriating (and, at times, impossible to answer truthfully) as my pedantry makes me uncomfortable ticking the “best fit” box when it is potentially misleading or incomplete. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few weeks mentally redesigning the travel insurance claim and DVLA notification forms, in particular. I was considering a sideline in redesigning forms to simplify them, not because I thought it would be remotely lucrative but it would make me sleep better at night. Of course, insurance companies don’t want to make it easier for people to make claims, so that’s the end of that sideline before I’ve even got started.
  • It probably won’t come as a surprise that this article struck a chord with me. Bring it on!

Cole’s Miscellany (Part Six)


  • This is the kind of overly-sentimental Hallmark moment that my Mam likes to provide me with. Still, it’s not defamation when it’s true so I mustn’t grumble.
  • This is an “LOL” video if ever I’ve seen one.
  • As was standard practice in 1981, Mam and I stayed in hospital for 10 days after I was from my mother’s womb
    untimely ripp’d. This is therefore my longest-ever NHS holiday. It wasn’t a personal record that I was looking to break, but there you go.
  • I apparently uncovered a mystery to solve even as I was medically critical enough to require 1:1 nursing care. I only rediscovered the mystery during my interrogations of Graham on the Missing Links of the seizure storm. I have no recollection of quizzing staff why the unit was called “ITU” (Intensive Therapy Unit) rather than the familiar term (to me) of “ICU” (Intensive Care Unit) but it was an issue that evidently bothered me during the storm. Coming back from one of our afternoon dates, I was therefore puzzled to see Ward 18 described as “ICU” after all. As Ward 18 consists of both ITU and HDU (High Dependency Unit, which is 1:2 nursing care), my theory is that “ICU” is the umbrella term for both units. However, initial enquiries of staff here on Ward 16 has so far not yielded any further insight.img_0874
  • Long before Francis Underwood’s Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Leslie Lynch King, Jr. was the first person to become Leader of the Free World without being elected to office as either Vice President or President. I’d never heard of him until this week.
  • Jennifer looks set to follow in my footsteps and assume navigational responsibilities for the family at an early age. On the way to visit me in hospital the other day, she asked my parents if they were “going around a bend and then over the Scotswood Bridge”. I think I assumed map responsibilities when I was about 11, so Jennifer is on course to beat my record by a country mile. I couldn’t be more proud.
  • Conventionally, one is not supposed to talk about religion or politics, but I don’t find many things more interesting or important. This article got me thinking about one of my pet peeves. I don’t believe that any political party (in the UK, the USA or anywhere else) has the divine right to the “Christian vote”. It won’t surprise you that I have my own views on the hypothetical question of how Jesus might weigh up manifestos and decide which (if any) is the best political party to vote for. To bring in some sweeping generalisations to mix in with the toxic cocktail of God and politics, it always seems to me to be Right-wingers more often than Left who so loudly and hypocritically assert that they have God on their side, and it baffles and infuriates me. It also brings to mind the following quote from Mr Lincoln, the best president of all time in my opinion both in words (and, my goodness, what words!) and deeds:

    “My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side.”