Anxiety and Fear of Strangers…

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I’ve been saving this up for you. Just in case you thought you were a tad unhinged, I think I’ve now overtaken you and reached the top of the class in that department.  (Nb Photo with lassie above is not me … even I wouldn’t clean the car in heels …)

A glorious day in Scotland, and it was not raining, in fact the weather was positively tropical. Everyone still wears their coats though, after all, it’s common knowledge for the Glaswegians that if it’s not raining, it’s about to and if you’ve not got your coat, you’d be well advised to nick someone’s else’s.

By now I think you will have understood that ‘The Car’ is my husbands true love (along with Jaffa Cakes, women with long legs and beating me at Scrabble). With time on my hands, I figured that an outing to the car jet wash was the order of the day.

I must confess that being somewhat mean with money (the old fear of dying broke with 5 children from 5 fathers in a studio flat in the darkest depths of some God-forsaken city surrounded by beer cans and cigarette butts regularly rears its ugly head) …. moving onwards and away from that particular thought … this forces me to not be frivolous with the old notes and to generally get out the bucket and sponge and wash the car myself. However, a moment of madness and a simple trip to the car jet wash ensued. Or so I thought….

My money is in the machine. I’m not wasting a penny. The timer is going. I sense urgency to get the darn car clean; I have only eight minutes to complete my task and the clock’s ticking … they don’t call it a pressure washer for nothing. What started out as a blast of water that ricocheted off the car onto my face, was quickly replaced by bubbles. A lot of bubbles, with force.

The hose is stuck under a tyre; I’m flicking it away, it’s caught on the stumpy aerial on top of the car, I’m flicking it away again … every flick comes with a drenching of white bubbly car detergent all over yours truly. Eyes stinging and streaming, I look as though I’ve entered a wet t-shirt competition for the over 60’s – it’s really not a good look. Perhaps wearing a coat would have been a good idea.

Suddenly the hose is snatched from my hands by a huge Scottish man who barks at me in a language I can only assume is native to the farthest part of The Outer Hebrides …. I comprehend nothing. I snatch it back …. However, I am now not alone in being covered in bubbles.

His eyes are narrowing and yet he once again lurches towards me to grab said hose with more of the guttural, phlegm-inducing sounds which I can only assume are more words …. ahhh but I’m quick off the mark here! I can see Angelina Jolie in myself as I swiftly dodge his swipe and point my brush at his face, bubbles exploding over his huge chest and now bubble-splattered hairy face.. God he’s enormous. “Go away!” I squeak. He responded with words that my brain couldn’t register, except for two, “help” and “mad”. He shakes his head in bewilderment at me, bubbles flying from his beard.

Dear God, he was trying to help me. Another squeak, “Oh … Bugger!” Back-tracking required with speed.

“Um, gosh, thanks awfully. But um, I rather enjoy this …. see?” When in fear, the frightfully British accent lurches forward overtaking all normal speech. The thought of a burly Scot vigorously rubbing the paint off my husbands pride and joy was too terrifying to contemplate, so I now spend the next two and a half minutes pretending to simply adore washing cars as I rub and squirt and spray with gusto and all the time gibbering and thanking him profusely for his offer. He looks baffled, bewildered and somewhat wet.

At long last, the timer rings and the furious noise and force of water diminishes, and I am left standing in relative silence opposite a mammoth soggy Scot with bubbles in his beard and a now flaccid hose which rather halfheartedly gives a final and rather pathetic little spurt of water before dribbling onto the ground. “Sorry.” I mutter and hand it to him, whilst ineffectively wiping at his bubble-soaked jacket. I wisely leave the beard alone as I make out another two words, “Focking nootter …”

“Yes, you’re quite right … awfully sorry.” It’s the Noel Coward accent again, but I’m in the car pronto and making a hasty exit.

Sometimes you know, even if people look scary, they’re as kind and soft as … well, they’re just not. Think I’ll stick to the bucket and sponge in future – infinitely safer.

Katie x

Do you ever judge people wrongly? Do you ever act like a complete fruitcake?

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55. Dirty Weekend!

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Ooooh! Advice to anyone …. when your husband is just a teensy bit tipsy, starts telling you how much he loves you and suggests a romantic weekend away, say yes and start packing.

Which is how I now come to be in the most glorious hotel overlooking the snow-covered Cairngorms with a bed that could fit an entire family plus a couple of dogs, and a bathroom to die for. I’m writing this, The Colonel is watching the rugby … can things get any better?

But what about the anxiety? Did I stress about leaving the house, hiding the silver in the fridge, the potato basket and the wellington boots (until the Colonel thought we should bring them with us, so I had to empty them again … I managed to ignore his raised eyebrows and twitching mouth this time). Did I stress about the fridge freezer setting fire, or have to go and check three times that the front and back doors were closed, locked and double bolted? Did I worry that I’d forget to pack something of vital importance and then have to drive back, collect it and go through all the door closing, locking and double bolting three times more?

Well, I certainly thought about these things, but I know a good opportunity when I see one and the best thing was that I had no time to stress. I didn’t have days and days for the thoughts to fester and grow in my mind in a downward spiral until I’d be dreading the event. Because to be honest, that’s what usually happens. Actually, it’s what always happens. I’m pretty sure that’s what happened when we last went away … too much time to think about it all, and whoosh! My mind went on a fictional nightmare of an adventure of its own.

To make matters even better, we went via Edinburgh with its stunning castle, cobbled streets and abundance of cashmere and tweed shops. I’m afraid the shallow side of me took over, the shops won, the tourists were pushed aside and I am now the proud owner of a discounted cashmere cardigan and a half price stunning, yes darn stunning, tweed, fitted, just above the knee coat! Sod anxiety …. bring on the shopping.

I tend to be a very nervous passenger in the car … the hangover from a nasty accident in the late ’80’s. I have a tendency to shriek rather a lot and put my hands over my eyes. Apparently it’s rather off putting to the driver.

The drive north from Edinburgh however was glorious. The vast and bleak open hills and spaces, barren and devoid of the softening effect of any trees. It looks so inhospitable, almost frightening. They’re exposed and raw without a single nook or cranny in which to hide from the biting winds and harsh weather. It’s no wonder that nothing but the toughest of plants grow here, and any that do grow, grow low, low to protect themselves.

The roads are narrow and twisting and from the great heights we then drop down into the forests. Within the endless dense forests, the ground is a mass of thick leaf litter and pine needles and there are rocky streams meandering through. From time to time we pass tiny villages and hamlets with houses all built of the same solid thick stone with slate roofs and chimneys spiralling smoke. Mossy stone walls follow the roads with occasional stone pillars and lodges indicating the entrance to yet another vast estate. I try to look down the driveways, but they’re miles long and hidden from sight from nosy southerners like myself.

The people who live here are miles and miles from anywhere. It’s remote and they’re tough. I wonder whether they suffer from anxiety or whether they have more important things to worry about, like if the sheep are lambing and stuck in snowdrifts, or whether the generator will work properly when the electricity fails again. Perhaps they worry about how much food they have stored in their larders, but somehow I suspect that their log stores are full, the larders are bursting and the fires permanently lit.

Perhaps I need to get things just a teensy bit into perspective and stop worrying as to whether an axe-wielding thief is going to break into the house, rifle through the potatoes, find the silver and set fire to the house, and instead spend more time in this beautiful place and get filling my larder and log store and frankly write a book. Bet I wouldn’t have quite so much to stress about then, and if it all gets too much, I can put on my lovely new tweed coat and stroke my discounted cashmere cardigan. Bliss!

Katie xx

47. Robbie Williams and Mental Health

 

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So now Robbie is making the headlines about ‘the disease in his head that wants to kill him.’ Well if that doesn’t help break the stigma, I’m not sure what will. There will be those of course, who say that he frazzled his brain himself with all the drugs and frankly with all that money he can afford the top treatments which perhaps are not accessible to the rest of us and therefore sympathy might not be high on their list of priorities. Personally however, I rather like him, not in a groupie sort of way, but in an ‘I’m going to attack life and give it my all’ sort of way.

And that is, when I’m feeling drab and a tad shoddy, what I lack. That ‘va va voom’. That gusto and effervescence that I know is lurking beneath the surface, but is being smothered by a heavy dark and murky fog.

But today is a beautiful day, snow is blanketing Scotland and I’m housebound. So, let’s turn on some Robbie, dance around the kitchen and find some va va voom!

Happy Wednesday!

Katie x

46. Shopping Anyone?

 

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Morrisons …. probably on a par with Aldi, but sells the same as Waitrose at a fraction of the price with even a smattering of the more upmarket scallops and quinoa if you happen to a) like them and b) know how to pronounce them …. Personally, I don’t, to either.

Shopping Trip and lesson no. 1: Sometimes, being a southerner whilst living temporarily in Scotland, it’s better to keep quiet.

Some friendly chatter at the till whilst waiting in the queue, led to my over-excited confession that I had recently got married….

“Och!” says Till Lady 1 in more of a guttural phlegm-inducing noise, than actual word, “Do you hear that Sheila?” she shouts to Till Lady Number 2 across a couple of aisles. Clearly Sheila has hearing issues as my new marital status is now belted out a couple of times, involving not just 2 till ladies, but customers too. Lots of smiles, nods and general looks of approval in my direction. I beam delightedly.

“So, where was the wedding?” shouts Sheila of the dodgy ears. All eyes on me … I shuffle uncomfortably …. “Um, well, down south in fact”. Bit of a mistake. I hear sucking of breath through teeth, and a general sense of disapprovement on a somewhat large scale.

“Och!” the guttural sound again with added sniff to enhance the disapproval. I thought it was only my mother who did that. “Shame” says till lady no. 1. “Of course,” she pauses, “you could have had my brother … Now, he’s a fine figure of a man!” she says proudly her bosom jutting out.

“Err …” says I

“Your brother!” exclaims Sheila, “He’s focking fat!”

All eyes on till lady no. 1 who is turning somewhat frosty and a tad purple …

“He might be focking fat, but he’s happy and that counts for plenty” she retorts.

All eyes now on Sheila – this is something akin to a Wimbledon final, myself and customers turning from one to the other, but hey, the attention is off me so I’m delighted.

“He’s happy?” squawks Sheila, “He’s a focking drunk, that why!”

Oh dear God. Till lady no. 1 pauses, clearly digesting this information. There is a moment where we, the customers are waiting with baited breath for her reaction. She slowly begins to nod, “Aye, you know you might be right, BUT,” she says wiggling her finger indicating for me to move closer. I do so extremely hesitantly; she has an unusual dental arrangement and frankly scares me. She continues, “He might be a wee bit of a drunk, BUT” she belts out with a scream of laughter, “…. he’s got focking good sheep!”

An explosion of cackles, laughter, nodding and ‘ayes’ from all around …

I grab my Lurpac and organic ham and escape – sharpish.

Perhaps this is how men should be rated … On their ability to keep good sheep or did I miss something??! Think I might try Waitrose next week …

Katie x

15. Snow Glorious Snow!

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Glasgow this morning is covered in a thick blanket of fluffy, white snow. I feel transported back to my childhood and have an overwhelming urge to bounce out of bed and wake up The Colonel to show him the fox’s footprints in the garden.

Instead, as the bedroom, sitting room and kitchen radiators are not working and Carillion Amey who look after the house can’t get out until a week tomorrow to fix them, I stay in bed, warm and cosy but with a jolly cold nose peeking out from over the bedclothes.

So, I turn on the iPad, in the process getting a pretty cold arm too and look at the news, the weather and the latest on American politics. I see that Donald Trump is in excellent health and could possibly live to be 200, and the rest of the news is all pretty bleak with pictures of jackknifed lorries and people stuck in their cars overnight. The weather doesn’t look to be improving all day either.

A few weeks ago, I would be fascinated by disasters. I’d read every story on an avalanche, mudslide or earthquake. I’d read about children kept hostage for years by mad men and women. Frankly anything bad or evil. The good stuff, the happy stories seemed to bypass me. Although in my defence, there often seems to be in the news more horror stories written, than stories of joy.

It would take over my day, my week, my entire thought process. I’d feel hopeless, helpless sympathy for the poor souls who had lost parents, sisters, brothers, children and their homes. Whilst I suppose it shows an element of sympathetic humanity, which is good, my obsession was fairly extreme and therefore not so good. Particularly when you bear in mind that almost every single day, there is a disaster somewhere in the world.

Today for the first time, yes, I read the news. I pondered over it. I felt for the struggles of others and yet, I didn’t dwell on it. I have my own little struggles to deal with, however meagre they may seem to others. I have my routine which is getting stronger every day and helping me enormously.

But I feel guilt. Guilty that I’m not thinking every moment about others. Does that make me a bad person? I don’t know. Isn’t there something in the bible about taking the branch out of your own eye before taking the splinter out of someone else’s? I don’t really remember from my scripture lessons, but either way, I’m not sure that is easing my guilt either.

So I ponder on this as I lie in bed having put away my iPad and snuggle back to the warmth of The Colonel. My freezing arm wraps around him and my nose happily thaws itself on his warm, soft back.

Oh dear, it appears to have woken him up. Shame! Is it still too early to show him the fox’s footprints in the snow?

Kx