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The Cooker, The Phone, Her Head & Their Dogma (and a hatchet)

The cooker broke down. I decided on a new one.  That went wrong after a few weeks.  Apparently I could have sent it back to the Shop before 28 days but I was too late.  So the supplier sent an engineer who, after umpteen visits with the wrong parts even got fed up and advised 'ask for an uplift number', which means the manufacturer will inform the company who sold it to me to take it away and refund my money. 

The process should have been simple (in an ideal world) but I spent hours on the phone, was given wrong information, went to the nearest shop about 7 miles away because I was fed up of the phone calls.  After looking at the crap cookers on offer I was told the quite good one and not too expensive one wasn't in store 'it's a bit more complicated than just ordering another cooker'.  (To kill time my bored escort asked about a digital camera 'we dont have that one mate' said the cocky sales assistant.  'It's there' said my escort pointing to the camera in question!)  

So I would have to wait for my refund and then come in and order again. 'Can't I do that online?' - yes I could apparently and my money would be in my account the next day when the cooker was picked up OR I could go back to the store when the collection people picked the other one up.  We can get the collection carried out on Thursday this week.

Okay great!  Two blokes turned up but refused to take the Cooker away because they were not gas engineers!  A phone call later, 'gas engineer will be here Saturday, 'not in Saturday', 'ok when?', Thursday (my Thursdays were becoming a regular Cooker drama!  My Life was on hold!). 

Sooooo, the final Thursday, they came, they took, I called up for my refund.  'Sorry but you'll have to go back to the shop you bought it from'.  !!!****%%***!!!!!! (then I gathered myself) 'I BOUGHT IT ONLINE NOT FROM A SHOP!'.  (If anyone's bothering to read this and has lost the will to live - imagine my Head!)

Well, after some pleading and explaining, I finally got my refund.  Now, I have spent so much time on the phone I have looked over my kitchen and thought, I could take a hatchet to this unit and get use out of that space and taken on another nightmare - decided on a new kitchen! 

So, a pushy company got in touch straight away after I filled an online form and sent a Designer round that night.  After four hours of what supposed to be a mere quote I had signed to an added interest loan for a fancy kitchen I can't really afford!  This was a classic case of lamb to the slaughter of 'hard sell' tactics!  The man couldn't even finish his words he was talking so fast!  I felt for him, he is obviously overworked - he arrived at 7.30pm and left after 11pm!

Talking of talking fast, I listened to a commercial station on the radio and one bloke was mispronouncing words - under the duress of an airtime limit I guess?  Then on a new channel on tv, trend people giving out the news topics so fast they mispronounced words!  Everything has to be so got over so quickly.  We have to keep up and be trodden on and left behind if we don't.  Life is a ball of confusion and only the wrong survive in my eyes.  What's wrong with taking our time, choosing the right thing, doing the right thing, not being pressured into buying stuff that sends us into an abyss of nothingness in the end?

My work colleague says it's all part of the bigger picture where 'the people in charge' are messing with our heads to the point people don't know where their passport is....I don't know where mine is, albeit out of date, but I need to find it nevertheless and it made me think.  I'm beginning to believe that there this Dogma is stealing our power.  

We are bombarded with so many different companies for phones, energy, appliances etc etc (they call it 'choice') vying for our custom.  Of course, when their product goes wrong they seem to just want to put you off by ignoring us, confusing us, hoping we'll go away and say 'Oh I can't be bothered'.  Then there's the food we eat that's wrong one day, right the other, good stuff, bad it a ploy to finish us off rather than look after us when we need care?  Now a bigwig has come from America to take charge of the NHS and says we don't have enough 'local/cottage hospitals'!!!  Does this mean the campaigners were right after all!!

I digress, back to where it all started - my cooker!  I still don't have one.  I don't know whether I will have a new kitchen as all sorts of negatives are popping up.  Oh, forgot to mention in the middle of all that I almost bought a vintage cooker off ebay but traipsed to the West Midlands (from the South) to find a rusted, dirty, pile of what was once a beautiful Parkinson Cowan!  Then I saw a gorgeous 40s one but realised it was not practical so withdrew my bid!  (Is anyone actually interested in all this???).

Well, that's my rant for today!  However, the oddest things happen when you stand waiting on the phone for a human voice (thought at times an automaton would be preferable), you look at your kitchen, you think about life,

you wonder where the hatchet is and almost chop the whole fucking thing to pieces!  Then someone says 'can I help you?' and the units are saved.

I just want a cooker
be nice to be a looker
but practicality is a must
and I have sussed
though vintage is cool
it be a cumbersome tool
new ones are not pretty
fall apart like putty
nothing's built to last
they wear out fast
like my brain
with the strain
it's been too long now
living on cold food
I wanna make spag bol
Grilled bacon, some stew
Bring me my pan of burning fat
Bring me potatoes (maris piper)
And I will cook some home made chips
Maybe I'll build a makeshift fire
My countenance will be divine
And hopefully I won't lose weight (HA!)
When I have some home made grub
In Wendy's cookerless flat!


Posted by Wendy Young, 30 May 2014

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 11 May 2016

Wheelchair Dancer

I just want to express my joy when at a 1940s event on Saturday night, the DJ came from behind the decks in his wheelchair, took a lady by the hand and they bopped a real good jive.  

Turns didn't stop him as he spun like fury and didn't fail to catch her hand as they danced with perfect timing.  I am not sure how he did it but it was very impressive.  It showed real passion and determination for the music he loves.

Wheels of Fury

DJ of the be bop big band jive
From behind the Decks
He almost dived
Onto the dancefloor
For his favourite song
He and his lady he danced along
With perfect timing
He caught her hand
Syncopated rhythm
Inspiring his aim
Wheels of fury
Round they went
While other boppers had long since spent!

Posted by Wendy Young, 19 May 2014

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 20 May 2014

Is there life on Mars?

With all the furore about the future of housing, the depressing prospects for people trying to find a home, Camerloon laughing at Milipede's proposal for a three year tenant/ landlord agreement, I think it's a good time to pull out this poem that fantasises about getting the hell out of this world! 

It may seem influenced by God Bowie (with a bit of help from Patrick Hamilton's great book title 'Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky' but it could well be for real one day as scientists experiment further and deeper into space. 

As a kid, from our upstairs window, Emley Moor Mast had throbbing red lights and I imagined my saviour David would land there and beckon me in his cream egg suit to save me 'oh no love, you're not alone'. 

There's something about looking up at a night sky, lost in other worlds, and the glitter!  There was something about looking out to the pennines and seeing orange lights and think 'where's that, it must be better than this' until of course you grow up and realise nowhere's perfect but even now I am captivated by street lights in the black of night.  The twinkling and the glimmering of light has always fascinated me. 

There's something magical about looking up and seeing stars - an escape - even the words and names - Milky Way, Galaxies, Mars - though that my childhood fantasy of chocolate bars?  Wilko Johnson, the Dr Feelgood superstar, has a high-grade astronomical telescope which he looks out of his skylight in Canvey Island because he 'wants to see the rings around Saturn'. 

He has just opted for surgery on his pancreatic cancer as he has survived longer than expected (he was diagnosed in early 2013 and wanted to live out his life naturally.  Could his childlike nature, and looking into the cosmos be his therapy?  It is a beautiful experience, as long as your neck is positioned correctly - think Alexander technique and pull it out of the shoulders and flex gently back - as opposed to jerking the head into the back of the neck  as I used to!  Look up and see......


Of which we all are
S.T.A.R plural
I wink back
At the twinkling stars
Shining on me and
20,000 streets under a London sky
I’ll be nice to the stars
Who knows
I may want to live there one day
‘cause I’ll never get a house in Brent!
There’s a brainstorm
A Star
In the 7th house
Say Hi to Jupiter and Mars
Mmm bars
Build lots
In the Cosmos del Stellar
It’s a huge Milky Way
Why not have a retreat between meal deals
Don’t daydream it
Just cream it
Don’t tell the Galaxy
How many squares we can build on
Hard to soft – perfect!
Begin the race
To make our mark-et
Zoom!  Humans in space!
House trekking across the Universe

But watch for the ‘spin’….

Posted by Wendy Young, 13 May 2014

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 11 May 2016

Age Concerned

After watching Panorama's harrowing but must see programme about the abuse of elderly patients in a £700 a week 'Care Home' on the BBC last week, I was reminded of my maternal grandmother Lucy's death. 

My grandmother at age 86 fell out of bed, she had not been ill, in fact she had never been in hospital (apart from working as a cleaner in a strict regime in the town hospital).  A week later she was dead. 

I was only 12 and felt traumatised. I would not believe it. Maybe it was youth or maybe it was a deep knowing that something was deeply wrong. My mother and I visited her and she wept 'I've never been like this Jenny'. She kept saying 'what's that black dog doing there?' and 'who's that man?' - there was no man.  What an undignified end to a woman for whom dignity and being a good, upright person was everything.

I now realise she had been given hallucinatory drugs. A nurse who practiced in those times confessed that old people would be 'finished off with a cocktail of drugs'. Sounds unbelievable? It wouldn't surprise me.

Being old in this country is not seen as a positive thing as it seems to have been for mother's and grandmothers generation respected older people (as probably the unfortunate patients in the care homes did). Everything seems geared around youth. When you disclose your age do people try to categorise you? 

Age is a number and as long as we take care of ourselves, it should not impede us. I am certainly more interested in 90 year old Dorothy up the road than the trendy yuppies moving in. A woman who has seen drastic changes, lived through World War II, worked in a munitions factory, wears two hearing aids, broke her hip but defies her kids warnings about going out - has a little walk to the shop and sweeps her pavement is far more interesting to me than whoever or whatever's 'trending'.

As Jarvis Cocker sang 'Help the Aged', not just because we will all be old one day but because they should be respected and listened to. I still feel guilt about my grandmother's death but it was out of my hands, the establishment seemed to order it. And the little Close where she and other single elderly people lived and where everyone looked out for each other e.g. my gran would send me with home made food and lemonade to the man next door or to Annie the 'drunken one' who sometimes could be found laid out on the grass after a few too many stouts at the Rose and Crown an gran felt sorry for her but as was the case back then, no one really knew each other's pasts as people didn't share life stories back then. I feel lucky to be in an age where at least we can exorcise our ghosts. 

My paternal grandmother died long before I was born but it would be nice to have a mirror like Erised in Harry Potter where we could meet our loved ones. She was a psychiatric nurse in Scotland and suffered severely as a result of her sensitivity and ended up in Yorkshire nursing my great grandfather who was a Scottish farmer. She met my mentally unstable grandfather there which led to a terrible life and she died at the young age of 54. So there was a case of paying respect but not being respected back as she fell pregnant, was unmarried and had to clean the stone floors of the farm kitchen for sour milk. 

Will we ever get to a point where we are all equal?  No one disrespects anyone else. It could be just human nature that lies at the heart of it and the way it takes it course can never be controlled.


I am sorry I wasn't there when you fell out of bed
I am sorry you were alone and frightened
I am sorry you called for me when the home-help found you
I am sorry I never told you how grateful I was
For the warm coal fire
For the safety
For the home cooking
For the sanctuary
For being upright
For not giving in
For your humility
For your history

I wish I'd been older
I wish I'd been wise
But my youth was calling
I had to cut ties
But it was never no better
Than being with you
The bullies already had me
You didn't realise
You thought I was selfish
And ungrateful and mad
But underneath
You knew I was sad
I wish for your stories
Of blackleading the stove
Of being a mother to your brothers
When yours had died
The losses you felt
When they were killed in the war

(The ones who survived seemed spoilt
No support)
When your sister died aged thirteen
Like lots of children then
She clutched the orange she never ate
You kept it forever - a brown toy in the drawer
Empty but for pips that I shook like a maracas
Was put in my mother's hand when she died
History gone
Respectfulness rid
You could have lived longer
To this end I am sure
But killing you off seemed to be the law
My testament Lucy, to you, my gran
Is that your dignity and good
Lives on in my in my poem when I am gone.

Posted by Wendy Young, 6 May 2014

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 11 May 2016