This is likely to be a bit of a controversial post, and one that might not win me too many fans, but it’s something I’ve felt and believed for a long time, brought to the forefront by current events. And if I’m coming back here, perhaps I ought to do it with a bang.
So here is the truth: I don’t particularly feel that it’s “great” that Theresa May has diabetes. I don’t think it’s a bad thing either. I mostly think it’s an irrelevant thing. I definitely think it has received a disproportionate amount of attention from some of the diabetes population. I don’t, (gasp), feel immediately drawn to her, or anyone really for that matter, simply because of our mutual diagnoses.
It’s not her (or my) defining characteristic and I cannot base my feelings about someone in such a complex position entirely on that. There’s not even a tale to tell of her having risen up the political ladder “despite” diabetes, as she was already the incumbent Home Secretary (almost inarguably one of the toughest jobs in Westminster) when she was diagnosed three and a half years ago. What I’m saying is that I can’t have an opinion on a person simply because we have the same chronic condition. And I’m completely leaving the politics aside – as are so many of the pro-she’s-a-diabetic commentators. Which is really my point. I wouldn’t suddenly feel different about any politician because of their endocrine issues, it wouldn’t matter if they were the leader of the Monster Raving Looney Party. (If you’re interested, though, I was In. A staunch Remain supporter from the outset, although more vocal over the fact that it is not a question that ever should have been put in the British public’s hands – more on that another time, perhaps. And I was also firmly in the Anyone-but-Boris camp.)
From a wider perspective than Theresa May alone, I’ve often noticed a feeling amongst the diabetes community that we’re all instant friends. And I can’t subscribe to that. That we’re all in this together I do get, to a degree. We face some of the same challenges. Only someone who has experienced the fear and confusion of a middle of the night low, the raging thirst and sickness of extreme high blood sugars or the frustrations of continually getting different results despite doing the same things can understand what those experiences are like. And our voices are stronger together in campaigning for things like better access to technology (I’m currently a trustee for a charity doing just this). It’s also true that I do have something in common with all of the millions of other type one diabetes suffers.
But in the vast majority of cases, that will be the only thing I have in common with them. It doesn’t mean that I have to feel a kinship to each and every one of them, or even to like them, nevermind liken them to me. It’s no sole basis for a friendship. Because by the same standard I have something in common with somewhere around half the world’s population in that I’m female. (I have that in common with Theresa May too and it also doesn’t mean we’re at all alike. And whilst she may only be our second female Prime Minister, and that is noteworthy in itself, it’s equally not the most important thing to focus on. After all, Andrea Leadsom is also female. [And for what it’s worth in relation to that, I think that whatever was said, however it was written and reported, what she probably wanted to say was that she could demonstrate that she doesn’t want to fuck the country up because she has a vested interest in the future of the nation by virtue of the fact that she has children who will live with the legacy of the decisions that her party, or any government for that matter, makes. In other words, she wants a secure future, even if that desire is born of the selfish motivation to support her own offspring. Whether her version of a secure future would have meshed with anyone else’s will never be known] Wow, what a digression!)
Back to the matter in hand, I have my hair colour in common with countless others. I share my birthday with millions of people and I do the same job as thousands of others. None of these things alone instantly link me to those people, and neither does my malfunctioning pancreas form the basis of an instant relationship. Making it clear that I’m still leaving Theresa May and politics aside, but as a general observation, I also don’t have to instantly like or respect another person because an – albeit unpleasant – aspect of their life is similar to mine. For let’s not forget too that we all have different experiences of diabetes. It’s a bigger part of life for some than others. Some struggle more than others and many, many thousands of people still don’t even have reliable access to insulin, nevermind worrying about complications the psychosocial side of chronic illness or advances in technology – things which, at times, could be considered the diabetic equivalent of middle class problems.
There are potential positives, of course, to a Prime Minister with diabetes. It may help keep the issue front and centre in the minds of the government, the media and the population at large. But notice that I said “may” (no pun intended). Because it is equally possible that Theresa May will go on being a private person and little will be said. It’s possible that diabetes policy will actually be pushed down the agenda either because her own experience of living with diabetes is not troubled by issues that policy can fix, or because she doesn’t want to be seen to be focusing too much on the things in which she has a vested interest. It’s also just as likely that her diabetes will not surface and this in itself will help to cement the idea to the media and general population that diabetes isn’t that much of a big deal. We’re caught constantly between wanting to prove that we can follow our dreams and achieve our aspirations despite diabetes, but wanting people to realise that it’s still a difficult and dangerous condition. But the way people could easily perceive it is that if you can be Prime Minister with diabetes, you can do anything and it isn’t necessarily more challenging than for anyone else.
That latter point is dangerous in itself. Sometimes I think there is a lot of pressure on people, particularly young people, with diabetes to “achieve despite diabetes”. To stick two fingers up and say “Look what I can still do”; Climb mountains, fly a plane, break marathon records or whatever else. Sometimes simply living a normal life, and living it well, doesn’t seem to be enough, even though that is what most of us do. Diabetes brings enough pressures without people thinking they have something to prove.
At the end of the day, we have a new Prime Minister. There remains just as much uncertainty, both in Westminster and the nation at large, as there has been since this whole mess started. And there is as much uncertainty as there always is with a change of leadership. What Theresa May can, and will, do in office remains to be seen. But her being diabetic is not a special reason to support her, or admire her or even like her. It’s just part of the package of who she is.
It may horrify you, but I don’t feel an affinity to every person with diabetes. Some of my friends happen to have diabetes, but they are friends – and people that I admire and respect hugely – for reasons other than that. People with diabetes are from the same diverse community as people without. It pays for people to be kind and tolerant and to get along – life would be so much simpler if we could all just do that. But we’re all different and we’re no more defined or bonded by that one characteristic than by anything else.
I guess I’ve devoted a lot of words to the simple belief that Theresa May’s type one diabetes makes no difference at all to how I feel about her or her appointment to the biggest job in Britain. And no person’s diabetes makes the slightest difference to how I feel about them at first sight either.
This week has been a bit of a tough one. I’ve had some health stuff going on for a while that I don’t really want to talk about here (yet, anyway) and it all seemed to reach a peak this week. I’ve also been battling with out of control migraines, but hopefully some medication changes will help. It’s one way to lose weight, anyhow! Parenting is particularly tough when you feel really rough, and my job is not a breeze either. Coping and putting on a professional front, and a happy front, is taking its toll.
But I started these posts to find the positives, and there have still been a couple this week.
I finished the Third Wife by Lisa Jewell. I’ve read all of her books since a friend recommended Ralph’s Party back when I was… I don’t know, probably about twenty! I have to say that this one wasn’t my favourite, but it was still good. Guess it wasn’t quite the page turner that I Let You Go was!
I’ve not read a lot else this week as my head state has not really been conducive to it.
Strictly Come Dancing, of course. There is something about this show that it seems to become progressively not quite as good as it used to be as the series go by. Not sure what it is, but I still find it perfect Saturday night viewing.
I’ve also found some good stuff on You Tube this week. Thomas watches a lot of You tube videos, but I have some fairly stringent criteria in what I let him watch. Ideally I prefer stuff that has some sort of storyline and is well made rather than just mindless videos of unboxing of trains, or trains at various stations around the country (which Thomas would watch for hours if he could). I also prefer to avoid anything that is overtly advertising, so videos that centre around product reviews are out. There are some fantastic stop-motion animations using Lego out there though, and our favourite this week has been the Lego London Bank Robbery. Definitely worth a watch!
I’ve been indulging my love of classical music this week, partly off the back of our Vienna trip and also in efforts to help me chill out and relax. I’ve been particularly enjoying Dvorak’s New World Symphony.
I haven’t actually worn it yet, but I did take advantage of Boden’s 25% off weekend last weekend and indulged in a new duffle coat. It’s absolutely gorgeous, lined with really soft fluffy lining and with a good substantial weight to it. I went for the grey on the basis that it goes with everything, (especially black trousers – I have a thing about black and navy not going together, so the navy was out for that reason) but I do wonder if I should have been bold and gone for the red! I’m just waiting for some cold weather to wear it for real now.
I also treated myself to this top with the pink birds at the same time. It’s a wee bit creased in the picture as I’ll have to admit to rescuing it from the laundry pile for the photo! The stripy top in the same picture is one of my White Stuff sale purchases. I do love White Stuff!
This week’s bake was another batch of Peanut Butter cookies as it was all I was up to. These aremy “legendary” cookies as whenever I bake them for people they always ask for more (or the recipe!) it’s based on the Hummingbird Bakery recipe but I’ve made modification including some of the fat being oil. They are really scrumptious and never last long.
We’re enjoying a quiet family weekend this weekend which is exactly what I need. Sometimes you cannot beat shutting out the world and snuggling up together. I’m planning on watching the rugby with a nice hot drink made with our fancy new kettle (the old one blew up, sparks and all). here’s hoping I start to feel better soon.
I’m late with this post, largely because yesterday’s return from our trip to Vienna turned in to, if not quite the travel day from hell, then at least a very trying experience and we didn’t make it home until the early hours of this morning. So definitely no time for writing about all the things that I’ve been loving this week, especially as there have been so many.
With incredibly poor timing, my Kindle went wrong in the departures area at Gatwick. Faced with the prospect of nothing to read all week, I rushed in to the nearest bookshop to pick up some “real” books. I didn’t have long to choose, but since I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh had been on my Kindle purchase shortlist anyway, it immediately caught my eye. It absolutely did not disappoint. Pretty much everything, I’d seen about it was comments along the lines of “OMG twist!” and now I know why. Employing a clever device indeed, it was compelling enough that I could even forgive a few of the slightly implausible threads. I couldn’t put it down but was sad once I’d finished it and had no more – an irrefutable sign of a good read.
Since the paperbacks were on “Buy One Get One Half Price” I also picked up Lucie Brownlee’s Life After You, the true story of what happened after her husband’s unexpected death. I seem to have an attraction to death and grief memoirs and for the life of me I have no idea why. Despite the subject matter, however, this contained several laugh out loud moments. The humour is dark, naturally, but the entire book is incredibly sincere and down to earth and ultimately reaffirms the truth that the will to not simply exist, but to live, is strong and the human capacity to heal after trauma can be tremendous.
I’m now half way through The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell, which makes for the third book in a row that opens with, and centres around, death. Much as I’m also enjoying this one, I think I ought to opt for cheerier subject matter next!
Given that we’ve been away, I’ve actually managed to watch a reasonable amount this week. Browsing through new additions to Netflix last weekend, I spied Peaky Blinders, which is a series friends of ours have recommended several times. To be honest, it’s probably not the sort of thing I’d usually watch if it weren’t for the recommendation, and the first episode seemed a bit slow going in places, but I’ve got quite in to it now, so I’m passing on the recommendation to you.
We also caught up with An Inspector Calls on iPlayer. I was reminded it had been on by Jess’s Little Loves post last week and can’t believe that I’d forgotten to watch it. Thank goodness for the wonders of modern technology and catch-up TV! It is one of my favourite plays and whilst a television adaptation will never to compare to a really good staged version, I wasn’t disappointed, and thought the casting was spot on.
Finally, we’ve also been watching Frozen on Netflix. I’ll hold my hands up and admit to being a closet Frozen fan. Thomas loves it too, and its appeal definitely isn’t just to girls. Ian, however, rolls his eyes every time I belt out the soundtrack in the car and has so far resisted the purchase of the DVD. So imagine my delight when we found it on Netflix. There is no way my husband can resist that, I thought. My excitement has been short lived, however, as it turns out that it was available only whilst we were in Austria. English audiences are not so lucky. (We watched it twice this week though!)
Sadly my White Stuff delivery didn’t arrive before we left, so no new clothes were worn on our trip. In fact. It’s been another jeans and converse week, with a reappearance of the raincoat towards the end. I really must do better next time…
Since we spent the week in Austria, I heard plenty of German. As a language, I’ll never love it as much as Italian or French, but I did love hearing Thomas’s attempt to speak a few words. He was very hesitant at first to try out saying “Thank you” but he quickly became a pro to the point that he was thanking people for anything and everything. He raised a lot of laughs from the guy in the local corner shop where we bought travel tickets by saying “Danke schon” about twenty times in the space of five minutes.
I’ve also loved hearing Thomas make people laugh for other reasons, especially in a week where he has exhibited some challenging behaviour and made me wonder how many onlookers were silently judging my apparent lack of parenting ability. His earnest little running commentaries have been very amusing though. Every train or tram journey was accompanied by detailed explanation of what was happening and where we were going. He lectured a man waiting at a tram stop in the intricacies of the changing points on the rails, to much laughing all round, despite the language difference. On arriving at the airport he rushed up to a man in a lift in order to tell him “we’re just going up to the top floor with our suitcase so we can go to the desk to check in. Then we will get on another aeroplane, which will fly in the sky and take us home….” And on and on!
Waiting on board the bus to board our plane home (as we were being held there as passengers hadn’t yet finished disembarking) he prattled on similarly. Ian asked him if he was ever quiet and without a pause he shook his head and said “Noooo. I can’t be quiet because I’ve still got plenty of voice in here (pointing to his neck ) in my voice box. There is so much voice in here” at which point the woman behind us dissolved in to snorts of laughter saying it was one of the funniest things she’s listened to in a long time. He then treated her to all of his terrible jokes such as “How do elephants fly?” Delivered every time as if it were the best, most original joke in the world. I absolutely love it when people just can’t help but smile and laugh and my lovely boy is the reason!
Since we’ve been away, my resolution to make rather than buy treats has obviously been put aside for the week, and my on going craft projects have also languished at home. Cheesy as it sounds, however, we have been busy making memories. A proper post about our Vienna adventures will hopefully be coming up, but here is a sneak peak at a couple of pictures.
If the above sounded cheesy, then this will sound even worse, but we had a minor incident with a missing wedding ring this week. Fortunately it was located again, but in the time it was missing I was reminded how the little things like a ring, or even the marriage it represents, mean nothing in comparison to our relationship. Without the ring we’d still have been married and still loved each other to the ends of the earth. That fact was somehow brought in to sharp focus by the momentary sadness of the missing ring. No matter what else happens in life, I’m so lucky to have my little family.
And now, onwards. We only had one week of full new preschool and activities routines before we were away firstly at Alton Towers and then in Vienna. So I’m looking forward to settling back in to the routine properly and cosying down as autumn begins. A bottle of wine is already chilling in the fridge, and the logs are waiting to get a roaring fire going tonight.
It’s no secret – or at least I think it’s pretty obvious – that’s I’ve been in another bit of a slump lately. Not least because there are some health issues going on, but also the change of seasons and yet another round of everyone and their aunt announcing pregnancies or popping out babies. Yeah, that still isn’t any easier to deal with. And as far as blogging goes, I’m still feeling a lot out of sorts. A lot like I don’t fit in and can’t find the community I really crave.
The only thing I know for sure is that I’m the only person who can do anything much about most of these things, including relocating – if I ever had it in the first place – some kind of blogging mojo. And in efforts to address both that, and to bring a little positivity and happiness, I’ve decided to join in with the Little Loves linky for the first time.
I know what you are thinking – I’ve joined a lot of linkys before and have the staying power of… Well, something not at all sticky. I can’t promise this will be any different, but since it involves very little forethought or organisation in my part (my massive downfall when it comes to photo linkys!) and because it is one that several people I follow participate in and so keeps popping up in my feed reader, I will give it a try. And hey, even if I only join in once, it’s a happy post. That’s got to be good, right?
So here we go:
Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriarty utterly engrossed me. Moriarty seems to be an “author of the moment” but I have to admit to not having really got in to either of the two books of hers I’d tried before, including the highly acclaimed The Husband’s Secret. Maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind before though, and will have to try again after loving this so much. I don’t want to give too much away, but the book centres around a crime but keeps you guessing about the identities of both the victim and the perpetrator for a long time. There is an additional twist too that I’ll freely admit to not working out until right at the last moment. A great page turner for sure!
Disney music! We spent over eight hours in the car with Thomas this week, going to and from Alton Towers. I must admit I’m pleased the Julia Donaldson audio CD obsession has waned in favour of the Now That’s What I Call Disney album and Frozen soundtrack. (Nothing against Julia Donaldson, but there are only som many times I can listen to The Snail and the Whale without going a little loopy.) I was belting out the tunes (to much eye rolling from my husband!) as we sped up the M1. I’m glad Thomas is such a fan, and it bodes well for our trip next year!
Not particularly original, but we watched the Great British Bake Off. We were driving back from Alton Towers with every intention to make it in time for the start, but roadworks, hold ups, horrendous weather and a child wriggling free of his car seat straps (naughty boy) all delayed us and we didn’t make it through the door until five minutes before the end. Fortunately it was up on iPlayer straight away and so I insisted we watch it before going to bed! I do love GBBO since becoming hooked during (I think) the second series which was on whilst I was pregnant with Thomas.
I think we’ve reached the end of the blackberry season and we made our final batch of blackberry jam, some of which I then used to make jam tarts. It’s delicious enough to eat straight out of the jar with a spoon. Not that I’d do that of course. Ahem.
I’ve actually made a bit of a resolution recently to make some sort of treat each week rather than buying stuff like cakes or biscuits. I find if I make things I enjoy and appreciate them more, and I’m more likely to want to make them last rather than eating them mindlessly. Shop bought biscuits are so much less satisfying that I often find I’ll mindlessly much through several ip without really thinking about it, which isn’t particularly healthy! I’d much rather enjoy a proper treat, that I’ve made myself, each week. Along with the jam tarts I also made banana bread this week and previous recipes have included my G&T cake, peanut butter cookies and Millionaire’s Shortbread.
We also made Thomas’s birthday party invites this week, which is a bit early considering his birthday is not until November. I knew I would be seeing a couple of the mums from Thomas’s old preschool that I now won’t see much now though, so I wanted to take the opportunity to hand them an invite as Thomas is quite insistent about certain people he wants to come to his party! (Let’s just hope they can make it, otherwise I might need to be creative to avert disaster!) I’m pretty pleased with how they look.
This week I have been mostly wearing black skinny jeans – which has been a change after a summer of cropped jeans. I’ve also been wearing a raincoat – although we were lucky with the weather at Alton Towers we did have a few showers. And I’ve also been in my hoodys, as I refuse to put the heating on until at least October (although we have cheated and had the log burner going!) I have treated myself to few new things online this week though, so hopefully they will arrive soon and I’ll do better in this category next time!
We had a great time at Alton Towers this week using free tickets from our previous trip in June immediately after the Smiler accident. And now it’s Friday night, the log burner is going, I have a glass of wine and…. a whole week off work! We’re off for a quick break to Vienna. There is lots to love about life.
The last week has been one of yet more change for our family. In fact, it’s been the final step in a gradual process which has spanned the summer, since Thomas left his previous preschool. This has been the week where everything has come together – the new preschool, wearing a uniform and dealing with full blown school-run traffic – and fixed new family routines that will persist in to the far foreseeable future. It’s easy to say that it’s been nothing like as momentous as the weeks of those who have four year olds, embarking on their first days in a formal education career that will span thirteen years or more. After all, Thomas hasn’t started school yet.
I feel like a fraud, with pictures of my small boy in his pristine, too-big uniform amongst the scores of photos of “real” school starters on Facebook and Instagram. I feel like a fraud writing about how big this all feels to us when it’s only a preschool rather than compulsory education. I feel a bit like people might think we’re pretending to be something that we’re not. Or making a mountain out of a molehill.
But then, when I stop and think about it properly, I see that there can be no denying that this week has been huge.
It may still only be preschool but he is now settled at what will become his actual school when he does make that transition this time next year. The only difference in the routine will be moving across the playground to a different building (and, of course, attending five days rather than three with none of our current flexibility to nip off on holiday for a week whenever we choose). He is wearing his first school uniform, slightly too big in all dimensions, but having that immediate effect of making him look taller, older, so much more grown up. And it’s pretty much the same uniform that he’ll wear next year too.
I suppose, the point is, Thomas’s new school has been a massive change in lots of ways. He starts earlier, we travel by car, he wears a uniform, plays in the playground with older children and eats lunch in the school dining hall. Next year, when he actually “starts school” the changes will be much smaller. To the point that I think Thomas will barely notice, certainly in the run up and until he fully experiences the differences in classroom routine, teaching and learning. He won’t be nervous about starting in a new environment where he doesn’t know many faces because he’ll already have done that; He’s doing that now.
So no, I’m not trying to jump ahead of where we’re at, or rush through milestones in anyway. But I cannot not celebrate this one. He may not have started primary school yet and I may not be a genuine “School Mum”, but everything we’ve done these last couple of weeks has felt exactly as though that is what is happening. Effectively, this week has been his “starting school week”. The start of eight years of attending the same place, wearing roughly the same clothes and seeing the same people.
It won’t feel like this next year. I’ve no doubt it will still feel huge, but it will already be comfortable by then. Familiar. Not such a leap in to the unknown for all of us.
Which is exactly what it has been right now. New people, new places, new systems, requirements and regulations. I’ve been overwhelmed with ensuring I know who is who, where to hang bags and coats and which email address to use for what. And I’m an adult, not a not-quite-four year old.
So no, there is no denying that this week has been huge. And I couldn’t be more proud with how my little man has handled being left for long days in an alien environment with strangers. The most we have had is the occasional lament that he misses his old school. What he gets up to whilst he’s there, who he plays with and what he eats may be closely guarded secrets (his word!) but the smiles on his face, and the utter engagement I glimpse when I slip in, unnoticed, to collect him, speak volumes.
He’s not a school boy yet, but in his uniform I can already see the school boy he will become. I’m allowed to be proud of that. And to want to remember how it feels right now, without waiting for the officially defined “starting school” milestone. If I don’t capture this one now, it might have slipped through my fingers by then.