All posts by speccy

anti social behaviour

We both have white hair and short legs. We need plenty of sleep, and to be well prepared for social engagements. We do things at our own pace. We have a boring wee world and it suits us.

However, I’m a short-sighted middle aged person, and he’s a blind elderly dog. There are key differences.

We were both anxious when the camera crew arrived last week. I was worried about what I was going to say, would I burble too much, what if I cried? Jake was worried about the new smells, strange voices, odd clunking noises and boxes blocking his way. When he got patted, the growl could be heard outside. This wasn’t his normal ‘leave me alone’ grumble; it was ‘I’m Very Fierce Leave Me ALONE’. I lured him to the kitchen and closed the door. He was content lying on the mat in the sunshine, with a snack. Who wouldn’t be?

His confidence around the house and garden is well improved, but Jake is still not a happy mutt when out for a walk. Sniffing is good, but ‘outside’ is overwhelming. He’s not out  walking anywhere near as much as he used to be.

do not be deceived
do not be deceived

Last night it took 10 mins to get to the next street. I couldn’t face going much further and wanted to see our bloggy buddy Dawnriser. We called to her house (yes, she lives in the next street now) and I attached Jake to her gate. Come in, she said. The cats are out, she said. He’ll be no bother, she said. And so it came to pass that Jake discovered the joys of her front room. He covered every inch of cat territory. A younger Jake may have made it on to the window sill . He was engrossed.

Dawnriser, A and I blathered away. A PhD thesis is almost ready for submission; Dawnriser, cool and calm. Until her super hearing picked up at a sound from behind the sofa.


He was relieving himself all over the cats’ carpet, ensuring that they’d feel uncomfortable in their own house. I’ve known Dawnriser since school, I’d thought I could never be embarrassed.

I was wrong.

The shame.

I crept home, my face still burning, to spread the horror amongst my nearest and dearest. Jake skipped home, happy to have conquered new territory. He’s never going visiting again.

what did I say I would do?

If it’s not written down, it doesn’t happen. In order to impede on my consciousness, it needs to be written in the diary, in the calendar AND on the phone. Daily email reminders are useful. Even so, I’m likely to be amazed that the event is to take place this week. Is it that time already?


A film crew is coming to the house tomorrow morning to record my experiences of living with a neurological condition, and something of my mother’s story. I have no idea what I’m going to talk about- they’ll be able to film brain fog in action.

I’ve talked a bit about herself on film before*, but this is a different beast. I’ll have to talk about myself. How my life has been changed by illness. How I’ve become familiar with uncertainty, and discovered there is such a thing a sociology of health. (That could be really interesting, if my brain had the energy to check it out properly. I could figure out how I do biographical disruption and recreating self. Any sociologists amongst you?) Have you spotted that I’m referencing journal articles rather than considering my emotions? Hmm.

I have thinking to do, and not much time to do it in. But then, I’ve had years of it. They may not be able to shut me up once I start.


*you can see me and Jake about 4 mins in


the little things

Yesterday was a dozy day. I tried getting up, but retired defeated, after eating. Eventually I showered, put on clean pyjamas and made it as far as the sofa, accessorized with hot water bottle and little old lady rug over my legs.

Today was to be better. I had plans. But time has this habit of vanishing. It’s lunchtime and the cupboards are not cleaned, the ironing isn’t done, tasks from 6 weeks ago sit on the table, shaming me. There are things to be doing, but I’m faffing on the internet. In my dressing gown. If the sun shines I notice the grubby windows. I brought a cake stand to a coffee morning on Saturday and it needed a good clean before we could put the buns on it. Luckily, I’m not proud- I wasn’t remotely bothered when I could have been mortified in front of the Irish dancing mummies. (I’d never cope if I was a competitive Dance Mom).

When I wasn’t doing any of the many things that I need to be doing, I read Emma’s post and recognised the feelings. You probably do too.

Then, on twitter, a moment of sanity. Words of wisdom from @SharonOwensAuth- housework all on one day, another day for writing, a day for other things, time to do nothing at all. Sometimes we just need somebody to point out the obvious. Little steps to make the chaos a wee bit more manageable.


murder, we wrote

We seemed like a a civilised group. Polite, welcoming, passing the sandwiches. But we definitely wanted to kill the baddie. No half measures. Murder was called for.

We’d talked about character motivations, backstories, the parts of the story where we had flexibility. We learned something of exposition, complication, mini climax, major climax, resolution and coda. We learned a lot about rhino horn.

My morning had started with an early bus journey (along with an abundance of bus characters and a man reading tractor magazines), reading of a nearly finished story and a visit to a library. As part of creativity month, crime writer Brian McGilloway was facilitating sessions in four different libraries, with the output of the process being a story written by all participants. Each group wrote a chapter. Ours was the last chapter. Threads to tie up, puzzles to make sense of. It was a fascinating process, with flip charts and notes and minor squabbling.

‘Could we?’ ‘Will we?’ ‘Maybe..’ ‘No, because’ ‘But then we’d have to…’ ‘That won’t make sense’

How do you real writers do it? I think I need a writing partner to chat to/ irritate- we could  write under a name combination like some folk do, Speccy Yourname, or Yourname McSpec.


The big issue was how a character was to die. Quietly in bed aged 96 was not an option. We wanted drama, excitement, revenge. We wanted it all in one chapter. We wanted it in Omagh.

The plan was to work out the story before lunchtime and write it after. Luckily, ‘lunchtime’ was flexible, because we talked and talked and dismissed many scenarios. Eventually one of us had a light bulb moment. Starvation/ fatigue/ common sense meant that nobody had any arguments left. We embraced the moment, and the lunch.

Later, refreshed, we wrote up bits. Eight people, four pairs, four sections of the chapter. it worked.

The finished chapter (and overall story) is not a masterpiece. That wasn’t the point. The story works. Each chapter was created in a day by a group who turned up at a library somewhere in NI. The story was taken forward the next week by another group, in a different location. Around 50 people wrote this story. Brian was probably driven demented by the process and the editing,

I loved it all. Reading, thinking, puzzling, a wee bit of writing. Great stuff, and a joy to not have to explain or get distracted or wonder about the other things I should be doing. I almost decided to not go- fatigue, anxiety, being a big sleepy scaredy cat -but I’m glad I did. It really was worthwhile.

You can read the whole story here. I was involved in Chapter 6.

Thanks to all my fellow murderers!