Monday, 17 March 2014

5: 2 diet 4 months on

5:2 diet 4 months on

Well I have continued with the 5:2 diet since last November when my GP suggested I try it as my cholesterol level was too high and without taking Statins or doing the diet a heart attack was possible. Well to a hypochondriac like me that was a wake up call. And I really don’t like the idea of being on long term medication. 5 years on penicillin as a teenager was enough for me and I really didn’t want to see myself as one of those as on medication for the rest of my life. Well at least not yet! So I have become a 5:2 bore instead. Except many people I have spoken to are also on the diet - well the Mosley book has sold 500,000 copies last year alone.

So for 2 days a week I eat 600 calories or less, it is rather confusingly called a ‘fast day’ and this triggers my body into some very useful actions that lower my cholesterol and cause me to lose weight even though I eat more or less as normal on the other 5 days. My cholesterol levels have come down quite a bit already which pleased my GP no end! and I have also lost 8 kilos – 10% of my weight.

On the 2 days I am often hungry and a bit grumpy or is it the other way round? It helps if I am working at home or have plenty of meetings scheduled. I feel, and probably are, thinner skinned, a bit more vulnerable but also in more recent weeks I have started to like and enjoy my body more now that there is less of it. I have had to buy some new clothes as the old ones were getting a bit baggy.

Each day that I do the diet I feel a sinking feeling in my stomach, it is one day or maybe one week at a time and I just hope that one day my GP will say ‘Enough’ or at least ‘Just do it one day a week’. Two months to go till my next blood test.

My family have been great, helping my count calories and figure out some tasty low calorie foods. It also helps that I have flexibility in my work timetable and that I can vary the days on which I fast and fit things around holidays etc.

It is also supposed to bring a cognitive improvement but I can see little trace of that apart from a slightly manic phase for 3 days a couple of weeks ago, but I blame the moon for that.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Nice Ending Poem

Nice Ending
Rebus has got his man
And celebrates in the ox with Siobhan

Nice Ending
You walked away from me
And I didn’t feel sad

Nice Ending
You died and I wept
And then I felt all calm

Nice Ending
We shared a brandy together
And you left and I slept

Nice Ending
I got on the plane
And it left Nairobi

Nice Ending
It’s what we all want
Death at home in our beds with our boots on.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

At home

Sometimes I catch myself saying out loud (and it is often in the bathroom for some reason!) 'I want to go home'. This makes me wonder what home means to me. I certainly don't feel at home' in Manchester where I have lived for the last 18 years. Indeed I feel that I 'live in exile' in Manchester. But I no longer belong where I was born in Kidderminster in Worcestershire even though those West Midland and Brummie accents invoke such nostalgia in me. Indeed I was desparate to leave home from aged 14 onwards and never really went back after going to Uni at aged 18.

So being at home is not really a place for me. I do feel at home at times with groups of people when I can really let my hair down and I have discovered that it is nothing to do with alcohol as I have been high as a kite with people when no drink has been taken.

I do feel at home in some sacred sites including some churches (Lastingham, Durham cathedral, stone circles (think Avebury or Callanish) and of course when I have a mystical experience - in touch with all - then I am then really at home.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Over the rainbow

At the moment I play ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’ daily during my piano practice. For years I really did not like this song. I thought it was too emotional, too over the top, too much of a gay icon.

But playing this on the piano has changed how I feel about it. For a start I am focusing on the music and not the lyrics. And the music is moving me; it affects me. And I find that I am bringing different feelings in into playing the music.

There’s a poignancy that comes out of me in response tot eh music around the lyrics ‘way up high’. Sometimes I play most of the song with a passionate anger especially around ‘why can’t I?’ Sometimes the music invokes a real gentleness in me that infuses how I play the whole piece.

It’s a song then for many seasons. Of course it sin to just me. Listen to how Eva Cassidy does it: or how Rufus Wainwright does it:

Saturday, 23 November 2013


My friend Catherine recently told me how she wanted to be a saint. I was horrified at first and was flooded with memories of my own failure to be like Jesus. Having Jesus as a model is all very well but setting the bar that high for human behaviour is disabling - well it is for me at the very least! I am just a poor imperfect human being doing my best, trying to rein to the excesses of my ego and trying to face and embrace my shadow side and recognise how I am not that good and worthy as I might like to think I am. So becoming like Jesus - no that's inhuman - I still sin, mostly omissions, despite my best efforts and need forgivness. But sainthood? Well many of the saints had rich sinful early lives. I can relate to that! Sometimes their sainthood only comes out in their final moments - I can aspire to that! Meanwhile I'll do my best to love and be loved.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Music again

Music again

Regular readers of this blog will know of my somewhat torturous relationship with music - stemming from my music teacher at primary school telling me to mime rather than sing; finding myself at grammar school being second from bottom in music although I loved music; singing with my daughter in the monthly family choir at her primary school; being taught to read music in 5 minutes flat by my daughter who also introduced me to playing piano; finally taking piano lessons and then some singing lessons and joining the Manchester Community Choir. Lots of tears on the way, some of pain some of release and joy.

This week at piano lesson we were re-visiting one of my favourites ‘Over the rainbow’ and I expressed a desire to sing it and of course my teacher encouraged me but I also expressed a desire to play and sing and the same time. I am maybe not technically ready for this just yet but the thought of bringing my piano laying and signing together and with this song is pretty overwhelming and exciting too! Watch this space!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

At Quaker Meeting and weeping

At Quaker Meeting and weeping

Went to Quaker Meeting this morning for the first time in ages and found myself weeping. This was not that unusual and the great thing about it was no-one especially noticed so I didn’t have to deal with people’s reactions to my tears. Sometimes I want people to react sometimes not. Today this was between me and my Creator. I was thinking about my forthcoming retirement (in two years time but I am a Capricorn so I plan ahead!) and realising that I don’t want to vegetate; that I will want something to put my heart and soul into. This is what I do (at least some of the time!) at the University of Manchester. Sometimes my work their matters too much to me but better that than the other way round.

In 1999 I was in a support group for my friend Alex Wyldwood who was giving an important Quaker lecture called the Swarthmore Lecture. I met with his team of supporters some of whom were quite frail. One of them was sitting supporting herself with a walking stick and speaking a lot of sense. I asked myself about this in the Quaker silence and heard the reply, ‘She is frail because she is using herself up’.

So I want to use myself up until I am ready to die, hopefully not for many years yet! I do need to retire’ from the University of Manchester in Autumn 2015 – that will be 20 years there! But my work will go on. I am currently Visiting Professor at UCLan (University of Central Lancs) and who knows - my work there might well grow and develop and continue past my Manchester retirement. If not other things will present themselves, God willing. And of course I can and do put my heart and soul into other things beside my paid academic work. (Family, friends, piano, choir, creative writing etc) I am looking forward to having more time for this too.