First up, forgive the gloom and somewhat downbeat nature of my news this month. I’ve not been well. If you need better news, skip to the end. I’m going to do the misery first. The idea being my three ghosts of Christmas are all Christmas present and at the end I’ll skip through the front door with cries of ‘God bless us everyone one’.
The first winter chill descended on the Fanning household last weekend. After days of complaining of backache and a bit of a cold, I found myself wrapped in a blanket with chattering teeth and a bucket. I want to call it flu, but these days people say this about the slightest sniffle. Over the course of a week, I threw up daily and had to be helped to a chair in Lidl. Lidl, I tell you, not even Waitrose. It didn’t help that Mr Fanning ran in my shadow, falling sick just 24 hours behind me. We sat in a grumpy bed, resenting each other and snapping at the slightest provocation. Having a dog to walk didn’t help. I woke near a bus stop with him licking my chin as concerned faces loomed to ask if they should call an ambulance. Dignity be gone.
I’m better now, thanks for asking.
And this came after a week of feeling like the world was playing a cruel trick. For almost a year, Mother Fanning has suffered with AMD and needs injections in one eye. Being a typical Fanning, she hates the idea and needs a general anaesthetic to cope. At her advanced age, this knocks her around so the doctors ration what should be a monthly treatment. Guess what. She’s gone blind, and not just in the eye that they now tell us is ulcerated beyond repair. The hurt of seeing someone you once thought of as a fighter struggle to even find her way from one room to another is enormous. Worse yet is the bond of hope she makes with me it will get better. Finding the right time to break away and head back to Brighton after putting in place care was close on impossible and I’m still not sure we did the right thing.
And finally, the triple gloom whammy. In 2016, the UK voted to leave the European Union. A decision I was sure we would overturn. Last week, all hope died. The election result forced me to accept that the vote wasn’t a one-off choice made on the back of misinformation. Britain wants to Brexit. For three and a half years, there’s been a small sign in the window of my neighbour, an elderly French woman who long since scored a British passport. A laminated sheet of A4 paper on which she printed ‘I demand a second vote on the terms of Brexit’. Nothing more. It never moved from the window through all the turmoil and government paralysis. She added no other poster, badge or proclamation, just this simple demand. On Friday morning, it vanished, and that caught in my throat more than any other image from that dreadful dark morning.
Right, I’m done with the gloom
Christmas lurks around the corner, and much as I’ve sulked in bed, insisting I’m cancelling the turkey, not getting a tree and looking into the return policy for a range of online stores, I’ve loosened the Scrooge switch today and we’re heading for a garden centre to buy a tree. Gloom be gone!
Look out for my many postings where I moan about needle drop, and remember, this is a sign of healing. If that’s all I can find to moan about, the Fanning life is getting better.
My short story collection, ‘Five Gold Rings‘ is the perfect companion for this time of the year – and it’s remarkably cheerful and upbeat in parts (there are dead bodies, but only what you might expect). It’s FREE for Kindle for the next week (starting late on the 15th and running for five days).
If you’re alone this Christmas
Sarah Millican does something wonderful at this time of year. The #joinin campaign is for anyone who needs to chat. Sarah encourages people to use the hashtag and link with one another so as not to feel lonely. People from around the world have already tweeted with their experiences.
“The main rule is to be kind. We’re all here for each other.”