Tuesday, January 18, 2011

An End

To some the End comes quickly - a bullet, a sword-thrust,
The End not really expected, just discounted until it arrives without warning.
To others there's the long drawn-out agony of waiting, being eaten alive from within
That most terrible of human fears - of animals, larvae, or, today, cancer.

Three-score and ten is our allotted span, we're told
And all after that is a gift from chance, or luck, or the Almighty
As if we stay through temporary lack of space in Hell
Or through our own stubbornness too unwilling to move on.

Last week I saw my father, spoke to him on a sunny morn
We chatted over finches at a feeder and how nurses were not for chasing.
A talk between man and man, common enough you'd think
This morning he was gone - stubborn and obstinate no more

They say that, near the end, some folk
Wait for something - a visit, a word, an action
That will release them from this mortal coil
Was he waiting for that visit?
J.M. Irwin. 1927 - 2011.   R.I.P.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Quick Visit to England (Again)

For those of you who read this and don't know, my father has been in a nursing home for just over a year now, with increasing dementia. It's not a pleasant disease to witness, as, totally aside from the catastrophic physical deterioration of someone you've grown up always feeling would be a constant presence in your life, the fact that they remember you but appear to have little or no short term memory beyond about three minutes seems almost as confusing to you as it must be to them.

While they're out in their own flat or home, fending for themselves, people seem to manage to survive for themselves. Their homes may be very messy, but what actually has to get done does get done, like shopping, eating, and putting out the trash. When they go into care they don't have to do many of these things, so they just let that part of the effort of their lives disappear, and seem quite happy to just sit in a chair and daydream and doze. Sometimes this is necessary - when they simply can't do them for themselves - but it also seems like a lot of their reason for living - living itself - has vanished, and they just start slipping away.

I went to England last week because the doctors became quite alarmed that my father might die very soon. As if to prove them wrong, I got over there and went to see him and found him apparently better than a couple of months ago, before Christmas. No blame on the doctors, though - his two brothers exhibited the same off-again, on-again behaviour towards the ends of their lives.

So, that's why I was there. England can be a wonderful place for photography, but - especially in the winter - you need some time to get back into the bare countrysides and the low light levels - the skies are normally leaden grey! In fact, in 10 days we caught about 30 minutes of sunshine. So there aren't any picture of Brighton or anything - sorry! I've now added pictures of two shops - Quilty Pleasures and Purl (most links to them seem to miss out the "www" prefix, which you do need), which are a quilting and a knitting shop, respectively, in the Dike Road area of Brighton, almost overlooking the railway station. Purl is just down the road from The Chimney House, where husbands can go for a pint while the wife is clearing out the wallet!

As you can see, Purl is a well-stocked shop, seeming somewhat Tardis-like after you enter the smallish front door. As well as all the yarn, there's a nice large table for gathering around for knit-meetings.
Below-right is a shot of another wall-display of yarn (the little blue and pink tags tell you what you're looking at and the price, so you don't have to pull everything out all the time - nice idea!). To the left is a rather sweet example knit up, and, because I really liked the sheep, I've left two more pictures of their shop window display trail the left margin.

Also worthy of mention is the knitting group on Wednesday evenings at Temptations in Gardiner St in what is now called "The North Laines". Nice friendly group and an excellent meeting spot. Very good food, good drinks (alcoholic and non), and an overall good place to meet people.

Brighton in general has lots of places like that. Others to look out for include The Prince of Wales at the western corner of Churchill Square, The Bath Arms in The Lanes, TicToc (Meeting House Lane in The Lanes), and both pubs in Preston Village. TicToc is run by a Frenchman, much to my surprise, and, while excruciatingly small, provides very good food. I also had lunch in the Cafe Roue, which is an excellent Bistro in exactly the form you'd expect to find in the heart of Paris (excepting no Biere Pression :(   oh well. I can live without Kronenbourg! ).