Wondering why I bothered 🤷🏻‍♀️

I posted this meme on Instagram on Wednesday – after I’d  been to to see Mum. It should really have said “stuck between try harder and why did I bother”. I had cried al the way home in the car (probably not ideal when you’re negotiating the M8). The tears were partly from sadness at seeing her deterioration and her obvious depression at where she’s found herself. But mostly they were from utter frustration!
Potted history for anyone who doesn’t know
I was a nurse, then I was a care home manager in assorted homes across Scotland, then I was away from care altogether for a couple of years and then I was a deputy manager in a home and then back to being a manager for a few years. Then, in 2001, they invented the Care Commission (I can claim a tiny bit of credit for the start of that process – but that’s a story for another day) and the home I was managing had its first few visits from the inspectors. And I thought “I could do that”. So I did. From 2003, for 12 years. And I loved it (mostly). I had some amazing colleagues and we visited services and applied guidance and regulations and national care standards and found some stuff that would make your hair stand on end. I even (irony of ironies) spent time in a team that investigated complaints – where I encouraged families to tell us about their concerns. And I really thought we were making a difference. At the time I was leaving, a few years ago, the way regulation was being carried out was changing (in ways I generally didn’t much like). It was becoming ‘lighter touch’, there were boxes to be ticked and not all the quality elements were being looked at at every inspection. My colleagues were being micro-managed in a way that deskilled everyone – it seemed to be an emphasis of quantity, not quality. But I left and, apart from occasional chats with old workmates, I was out of the loop for a while.
Fast forward to 2019.
When I was looking at inspection reports before Mum went into care, it seemed like some homes had had very minimal inspections for several years. And I had little experience of the west of Scotland, so didn’t know any of their history.
But, since Mum went into her care home in July (is it really only 3 months?) I’ve been more than a little dismayed by some of the things I’ve seen. I regularly see moving and handling moves that were deemed unsafe in 1997 (after I spoke to one of the nurses about it, this still happens until they notice I’m in the room, so I’m guessing they were told it was me who complained).
Although there are a few smaller rooms, most of the time most of the residents are in one big noisy lounge. Not quite sitting round the walls, but not far off it. Add visitors to the mix and it feels chaotic.
Staff are always either flying around looking very busy or standing in a group at the area where food is served,  talking to each other, but not doing much talking to the people they looking after – except when they are doing some physical caring.  When I approach them to ask anything it feels like an intrusion. Don’t get me wrong – the care staff are (mostly) lovely people. and Mum has repeatedly told me they are kind to her. But there seems to be a huge disconnect between the care staff and the nurses/managers. And whatever guidance and supervision they are having isn’t leading them in much of a good direction.
Yesterday the activity coordinator was in one of the dining rooms, giving some residents a manicure, which I thought was lovely,. She doesn’t seem to get much help from other staff and does seem to be trying to give residents time and get them interested in things. But then I saw she had water and a disposable razor on the table – and was shaving ladies’ chins as part of the ‘pampering’. This was in a public area with visitors sitting around.
Lack of dignity was also an issue when I was visiting one Sunday and all the residents in the lounge were being weighed – and their weights publicly announced to the person filling in the charts.
At her first review, we were promised that, now Mum was going to be a permanent resident, she would have a full care plan (apparently people on respite don’t get one of those – even after weeks). That was in August and I’ve heard nothing since. None of us (Dad, my sister or I) have been asked to contribute or suggest anything – so Mum has basically adjusted to their routine, regardless of her preferences.
But I wonder what is the point of a care plan when the people doing the actual caring for Mum never seem to know what one is – let alone what’s in them. If I ask them about Mum’s care plan they shrug their shoulders and say “that’s the nurses that do those”. I was told last week that Mum had been allocated her named nurse and a key worker. But when I mentioned it to the staff concerned they hadn’t been told. And, anyway, I get the impression that these are in name only and nobody really bothers about them – “just speak to whoever on duty”. So I do –  to ask how much she’s eating or what her sleep’s like (because she seems to be asleep all day) but nobody knows the answers. I’ve spoken to nurses, I even made an appointment and had a chat with the Manager. But nothing has changed.
I feel like I’m bashing my head off a wall. On Wednesday I was told that Mums skin had got “a bit sore”, so they’ve put an airflow mattress on her bed. Considering she’s lost huge amounts of weight, and that I had told them weeks ago that her skin was vulnerable, I had hoped they would have taken preventive measures. But it appears not. And with no care plan to look at, I have no idea what else they’re doing.
In her original room, Mum had a monitor on her bed – to alert staff if she got out of bed. A few weeks ago she moved to a brighter room and in the move the monitor has disappeared. Do I assume that’s because she had never got up during the night, so they decided she wasn’t at risk? Or has it been an oversight? She is very frail and unsteady on her feet and her room has no carpet – just a hard floor. In the absence of a care plan, or someone to ask who actually knows what’s going on, I have to draw my own conclusions.
I could say more – this is just the top of the iceberg, but I would end up writing for days.
The deputy manager (who was allegedly to be Mum’s named nurse) looks at me as if I have horns. I told them I was a nurse, but I have no idea if they know my connection to the Inspectorate – I did have some experience with the homes in my area who are owned by the same service provider – but either way they are clearly not used to people asking questions. I went to the nurses station on Wednesday and asked again about a care plan – and got blank stares and, eventually, a vague invitation to speak to whoever is on duty ‘next time I’m in’. It seems that, in spite of my best efforts, I have turned into the home’s resident ‘daughter from hell’.
Mum’s dementia is so advanced now (and her general awareness of and dismay about what’s happened to her hasn’t helped) that all they can really do is keep her comfortable. And that’s all I want – I’m not expecting miracles. But if I was Mum, I’d be shutting my eyes to it all as well. And now I genuinely understand why people were so reluctant to make formal complaints to the Inspectorate. The response I’ve had since I spoke up about the moving and handling issues would put anyone off saying anything ever again.
My colleagues and I worked our backsides off for years (and a lot of the people I worked with are still there). Why did we bother? Why did we go into homes at all hours of the day or in the middle of the night. Why did we signpost homes to good practise and use enforcement action in extreme situations. Why did we spend days in a state of chronic dehydration (no time to stop for a teabreak) and hunger (lunch – no chance). We could never claim for overtime – we got to take ‘time-back’. I guarantee none of us ever took back a fraction of what we were owed.
For all the difference it’s made to Mum, we might not have bothered?
After 17 years of regulation, none of the services can claim ignorance of what is good practice. But after 17 years, you’d think that the Care Inspectorate (nee Care Commission) would have made more of a difference than this.
So on Wednesday I drove home in tears. Not because I think they’re being deliberately horrible to mum – I absolutely don’t. But from complete frustration and a feeling that I wasted 12 years of my working life.




It’s been ages since I last blogged – and it feels right to start again. With a good old rant.

For me, it started in 1999. I had settled down in the cinema to watch The Sixth Sense – having been told there was a big twist at the end. After 5 minutes, my ex leaned over to me and whispered “do you think he’s dead?” 🙄😡

I’m not even sure if ‘spoilers’ was a word back then. It only really became part of my vocabulary when River Song started to use it in Doctor Who 😆 So, although I can’t blame social media for starting it, it’s got much worse since the advent of FB and Twitter etc. Whether it’s the plot of a new film, or a major twist in a tv show, some folks just like to let you know that they know something you don’t 🤷🏻‍♀️ I really don’t understand the mindset that thinks it’s lots of fun to spoil other people’s enjoyment.

I’m not talking about FB fan pages where you know people will have seen something and are discussing it. Those are easy to avoid. And mostly people will stick a huge **SPOILERS** warning at the top of any posts involving discussions about plots. For example, I enjoy NCIS (you might have noticed 😉). But the UK is a couple of months behind what they’re watching in the US (and I like to record a few episodes and have a bit of a binge-watch), so I know to mute the pages involving fandoms until I get caught up. But, when I was on Twitter, it was inevitable that someone, somewhere would stick up a tweet with the big ‘reveal’. That’s not the reason why I’ve deleted my Twitter account – it was all so angry and negative and depressing on there, so I decided to ‘protect my peace’ – but it was so annoying whenI was scrolling through my timeline, the day after a film was released and there was the twist at the end revealed in a random post. And once you see it, you can’t unsee it 🤬

And it’s not just spoilers. It’s all the endless speculation about where a series is going and what will happen to a character. I’m glad I was able to read the Lord Of The Rings and the Potter books without being flooded with everyone’s opinions of how it was going to (or should) end. Back in the olden days it was my boyfriend refusing to tell me if Frodo and Sam get to Mount Doom and who dies in the books! Or my girlfriend, who was reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince before me, refusing to tell me why she was crying as she got towards the end.

And don’t even get me started on all the moaning about whether something, in a new incarnation of a series that started in the 1960s, is ‘canon’. That’s a whole blog in itself.

So, with the last of the Avengers movies coming out next week, a whole season of Star Trek Discovery to watch and a collection of NCIS episodes saved up on my a TiVo to gave a binge-watch at some point, I’d like to raise a glass to all the people who are too good and decent to post spoilers 🥰🥰🥰

There. I’ve got that off my chest.

Be kind to each other.

Obligatory End of the Year Blog 😊


Well, here it is. New Year is almost upon us – and this is my summary of 2018 (NB figures quoted may not be entirely accurate 😉)

January was about six months long 😬
Then, the Beast from the East struck and we froze for six months (and I ran out of milk!) ❄️💨❄️
Then we sweltered for another six months ☀️😓☀️
Then it was Halloween 👻
And then it was Christmas for another six months 🎄

For me, personally, the year went something like this:

It started OK – plans were made 😊
And, then it got a bit shit 💩
And then it got a lot shit – all plans were cancelled 😕💩
Then it was worse fucking shit than the shittiest shit you can imagine 💩😣💩

But, finally, it got a bit better – plans have started being made again 🙂
And now we’re nearly at the end of 2018 😃
Thank fuck 😆

Here’s to 2019. As Prof Brian Cox once said – things can only get better, Can’t they 😉

Be kind to each other. Love from me and River  xx

I’ve been an introvert since I was two (honest)😉


Yesterday was my annual visit to my family for “let’s do Christmas early, because Jan is very selfish and prefers to do Lord Of The Rings Day on 25th December” Day 😆

And surprisingly (given the events earlier in the year where my dad and I hurled abuse at each other), it went really well. But, as expected, we were all in full-on reminiscing mode. We (obviously) stuck to Christmases when all was calm and all was bright, but it was good fun.

One oft-told story about one of my first Christmases was repeated – and it finally dawned on me that my preference for alone time on a regular basis started very early.

It was Christmas 1959. I was approaching two years old and this was my second Christmas. I was still an only-child (oh those halcyon days when I didn’t have to share 😆) and I was also the first grandchild and the first girl born in my dad’s family for a very long time. So there was a huge fuss made of me and loads of presents under the tree. And, although I was still too young to really comprehend what was going on, the family went completely overboard on the day.


(I’m a tad older in this picture, but it’s cute, so who cares 😉)

There was a lot of “oh Jan, look at this” and “Jan, look what Gran Beaton’s given you” and “this one’s from Aunty A and Uncle P” and “let’s look at this next”. I’m fairly certain my parents were having a brilliant time and I probably was too.

But, once all the fuss settled down and all the presents were opened, I must have decided I’d had enough. I picked up a doll and took myself up onto a chair and completely ‘zoned-out’, as my dad puts it. It must have made an impact – because, even in the depths of Alzheimer’s, my Mum remembers it. She said “your eyes glazed over and you didn’t respond to anything”. Dad wanted to try to ‘jolly’ me out if it – but Mum persuaded him to just leave me alone. So, they gave me some time to just sit and after about an hour, I came round and was fine again.

And that, ladles and jellyspoons is the first occasion of my frequent “There has been too much peopling, I can’t people again for a while” 😆


That story prompted other memories from my sister of Christmases when I did the same thing and took myself off to read in a corner, or when I got so overwhelmed by all the laughing and excitement, that I sat on the stairs and cried for half and hour. For some reason it’s quite reassuring that this response to various excitements turns out to be a lifelong thing – and it’s not something I invented as a grown-up. I love to see people. I even enjoy a party (now and again),  but I need a bit of quiet time too. And, if that’s you too, know that it’s fine. And if it’s not and (like my sister) if you thrive in the peopling bits of life, that’s fine too.

I wish you a happy festive season – and hope you all have a perfect balance of peopling and quiet time.

Be kind to each other xx

Lord of the Xmas Rings Day 😊

I have a few new followers since this time last year – and have had some questions about Lord of the Rings Day being on 25th December.  Most of you already know the story (ad nauseum 😂) but, for anyone new to the weird world of Jan,  this is how it began. Let me take you back a few years………*wibbly wobbly time wimey stuff to the strumming of a harp *
Extract from my first ever blog in December 2013
Everyone I know – in real life and online – now knows that I have ‘Lord of the Rings Day’ on 25th of December. And I’ve talked about it often. But it’s only been a relatively recent thing. Because, for most of my life I celebrated Christmas like a boss! Especially for the 17 years I had what I can only describe as ‘magical’ Christmases with my ex.
From the first year we were together, when she surprised me with a little Christmas tree which was all we could afford, to the years we ate Christmas dinner on little DIY tables made from orange boxes, through to all the years when we started to be able to afford to buy ‘stuff’ for each other and went completely mad with Christmas presents. We decided from the beginning that we would always spend Christmas day on our own. And we always did. It has to be said that our families weren’t happy about it, but we stayed firm. Christmas Day was the one day in the year that we weren’t anybody else’s we were just ‘us’. It was a day we planned for months ahead and made lists about so we wouldn’t forget anything. It was, in short, the best day of the year.
Then suddenly she was gone – and she left just before Christmas in 2011.
I suppose I was in shock that first year. I told my family that Christmas was cancelled. I went to see them on Boxing Day as usual, but I didn’t want any of the trappings of the ‘Festive Season’. I just hibernated on the actual day. I had a movie marathon and watched the Lord of The Rings films back to back. And, despite the awfulness of the situation, it was lovely. Sort of familiar and comforting. And thus Lord of the Rings Day was born. Since then, even though I’ve recovered and although I’ve had the odd invitation to have Christmas dinner with people, I’ve always preferred to just hibernate at home. I make a big fuss about the LotR day and how much I love it – and I do love it. But it is slightly bittersweet and just now and again I do shed a (small) tear for the years gone by, before I pull myself back to the present and thank Twitter (and now Facebook) for the people I’ve met – the gifts that keep on giving. 
Back to now! 
So, that was how it all began. In between then and now, there was a year when I was part of another relationship and had Xmas with my partner and her family. And it was lovely, but I knew it wasn’t going to be a forever relationship, so it was, again, a bit bittersweet. And other people have invited me to spend Xmas Day with them. But, in the end, I always come back to my comfort zone. And now, it’s not bittersweet any more  – it’s just sweet. I can remember with a smile rather than a grimace 😊 And this year will be the same. It’s not that I hate Christmas – in fact it’s quite the opposite. Despite being a complete atheist, I loved Christmas and have so many brilliant memories from childhood and beyond. I just find that  the calm of Lord of the Rings Day is a brilliant alternative to being an interloper into someone else’s festivities.
So, if anyone is looking for me on 25th, I’ll be over here – reciting the dialogue along with the films ……”You Shall Not Pass’” and suchlike………, maybe joining in with Sarah Millican’s #joinin on Twitter, and eating my weight in delicious treats 😊
However you celebrate this time of year (or don’t), have a happy Lord Of The Christmas Rings Day one and all.
Be kind to each other xx

The only way is up 🆙

Hello again dear reader.
This will be my first post since May – and the reasons for the absence should become clear.
This has been hard to write and, if you are struggling with your own mental health, it might be hard to read. But I’ve been inspired by a couple of online friends who have been open and honest about their own battles with mental health, so I felt I needed to be honest too. Please, please, please know that what follows is not intended to make anyone who knows me feel bad. I’ve struggled with the decision to post this for that very reason. On one hand I didn’t want anyone to feel bad or guilty, and on the other, I didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. I would hate to be somebody’s ‘pity party’ or for people to treat me differently. Through this whole thing I wanted my contacts with my friends to be happy and positive – and there was nothing anyone could have said or done that would have helped, anyway. This was a situation that I had to work through myself.
To cut a long story sideways, all I can say is it has been the worst few months of my life. And I include the breakup of my marriage and the all events of the subsequent disastrous rebound relationship in that assessment so, yes, it’s been THAT bad.
This time last year, I was in a pretty good place. For the first time in years I felt like I had fully got past the endings of assorted relationships, I’d had an eventful, but brilliant, holiday, I’d adopted my bonkers little cat, I had painted my kitchen and I was planning to do more decorating in the flat. I even had a bit of a social life, with lovely people in my life who were positive and supportive and I was trying to figure out ways I could get out and meet more people. Then I made a disastrous decision.
If you follow me on any of the social media thingamajigs, you might have seen my blog in April, which was about my decision to come off all my pain medications. It was a decision based on the fear of the effect they were having on my body (and my brain). I knew that taking opioid meds long-term was not a good thing. My April blog was about that decision and the side-effects of the withdrawal process (which were seriously unpleasant) but I imagined (and was told by the various doctors I saw during the process) that, once the effects of the medication were out of my system, I’d wake up one morning with a clear head and would feel so much better. Did that happen? No. Not even close.
What happened was that the side-effects of stopping subsided, but never went away completely. And the pain came back.
I know!! Who’d have thunk it?!? I genuinely thought that being free of the meds would help me be more motivated to get more active and that getting fitter would help manage the pain. Thick as two short planks, me.
Oddly (but happily) the fibromyalgia pain hasn’t completely come back – there’s just a little bit of that left. But the pain in my spine came back with a vengeance.
I think the brain is very good at blocking out memories of pain. And because the medications had never completely removed all the pain, and I’d learned to live with a certain level of what was there, I’d forgotten just how intense the pain in my back could get. I’d forgotten about the days, when I was still working, when I would make it home after an inspection and have to lie on the floor in the hall with cats crawling over me, because the pain was too intense to even get from the front door into the living room. I’d forgotten about the days I wanted to go shopping but knew I’d only make it to one shop and back before I could barely stand.
So, when it all came back, I was (literally) floored.
As the pain increased, my ability to go anywhere declined. I planned things then cancelled them. Sometimes there was a genuine reason, like having to go to see Mum, but (and I confess I sometimes made excuses) sometimes it was because I was too tired and sore and anxious to go out, but I didn’t want to say that. I even stopped my regular trips to my favourite cafes on my own, to write and people watch. I became really isolated – and that has never been a good thing for my mental health. Everything seemed to spiral downwards. As I got more isolated, my mood went down. As my mood went down, my focus on the pain increased and I became more isolated. I found comfort in staying at home, knowing that I could potter around, but that I could lie down when I needed to – but the end result was less activity, putting on weight and a mood that was in the pits of gloom, with pain levels up to a 12 out of 10.
There came a point when I started to wonder if there was any actual point to my life. There was no enjoyment in anything. I ‘knew’ that I was just a burden on everyone in my life. I ‘knew’ everyone would leave me eventually, because that’s what happened before. So what was the point, if this was going to be how it was for the rest of my life? I even joked that a trip to Dignitas had became very appealing. But it was only half-joking. That feeling came and went for quite a while. And then I would get a text from someone, or have a chat on social media with someone, or get out for a coffee with one of my lovely friends and I would feel ok for a day or two.
I’m a mental health nurse by training, so you would think I would be more likely to ask for help. But it was still hard. Eventually, I knew I had to do something and I saw a GP and told her about the pain and how miserable I was feeling. She started me on medication for depression and referred me to a mental health nurse (Jane). Jane was so lovely and positive and talking to her helped. She referred me to Healthy Active Minds, which is an Edinburgh Leisure project to help get people with mental health issues more active. I felt genuinely hopeful and I hoped that going to the gym and improving my physical health would help my mood. Unfortunately, all that happened was that I came home after every session in the gym in extreme pain and feeling worse than before – because I felt like a failure. I felt like I was letting Jane down!
Now, here comes the really hard bit.
Then came the day when it turned from an airy-fairy “Dignitas would be an option” to “ I can’t do this any more”. I got as far as ‘putting my affairs in order’ as the saying goes. My will was already written and I wrote instructions for my sister about what was to happen. I even prepared a list of passwords for various things that would help her with banks etc. And I wrote notes to the important people in my life. I sat at my table with loads of the painkillers (stuff that I’d had leftover from before) in front of me – and wondered how many I would need to take to be sure I wouldn’t screw it up. I just wanted it to stop. I think Jo Rowling was a genius when she used the Dementors in the Potter books to describe her own experience of depression. It really feels like all the good stuff has been sucked out of life, and there’s no possibility that you will ever be happy again.
At that point, even if someone had called and asked how I was, I would have said “I’m fine”.  There is no way that talking to someone would have helped. I was still maintaining a ‘front’. My social media stuff was continuing as usual.  This is why I know that (for me) the well-meaning advice that, if you feel like taking your life, ‘just reach out and talk to someone’ doesn’t always work. By the time I had got to that stage, I would never have talked to anyone. I didn’t want to be talked out of it. I didn’t care what anyone would think (and I knew Mum’s dementia would, ironically,  protect her from knowing what I was about to do).
I sat there for hours, contemplating.
But I had forgotten about my cat. My bonkers wee cat. In the end, it was River who stopped me. It was the thought that it might be a long time before anyone realised I was missing – and I couldn’t bear the idea of her being hungry and alone. It probably sounds stupid to think about a cat and not humans, but thinking wasn’t my strong-point by that stage, and that wee animal probably saved my life. I’m sure, if I’d been really, really serious, I wouldn’t have used her as my excuse. I would have sorted out something for her before I did anything. But, in that moment, she came over and sat on my shoulder and the blackness started to turn a bit more grey.
So, after crying for the rest of that day, I went to sleep – and I woke up knowing I had to do something. And I went back to see a GP. I was fortunate enough to see the lovely Dr. Murphy (may his name be ever blessed). He listened – then he said “well, it’s pretty obvious that all this is pain-related. You don’t need more anti-depressants, you need to go back on those pain meds”.
And, dear reader, that’s what’s happening. I’m currently at the start of the process of increasing from a tiny dose of what I was on before and have been given the freedom to increase what I take over a few weeks until I’m up to a point where I feel that I can function. That might be as much as before, or I might manage on less – I’ll have to wait and see what works.
And, almost immediately I felt better. Even just the feeling that he had understood helped. And, the little amount I’m taking has eased the pain and allowed me to do a few more things around the house. Then I went for physio on Monday and got some simple exercises to do to help my overall flexibility. And, because of slightly lower pain levels, my motivation to do things has gone up. I know I have long a way to go before I feel physically and mentally better – but the difference in how I’m feeling is already huge. And I’m grateful for that.
So that’s my story. Thank you for reading – and I’m sorry if it’s a bit of a ramble. As I said at the start, I don’t want anyone to feel bad for me or guilty, or anything daft like that. What happened was a combination of circumstances and brain chemistry and bad decisions on my part and I just wanted to be honest – and maybe get the message out in a small way that this happens to a lot of people. And now I’m on the way back up, so hopefully, my next blog will be on a slightly more positive subject.
Be kind to yourselves and each other xx

If Music Be The Food Of Love 😊


Like most of my blogs, this one has had a couple of versions. When I started writing it, a couple of weeks ago, I was in a bit of a grumpy place. I’m still in the throes of drug withdrawal symptoms and my mood swings would be seriously impressive if they weren’t so horrible (this will also, I hope, let you excuse me for it being a bit all over the place 😬). Anyway, this began as a bit of a rant about how I didn’t ‘do’ music during and following the events of my last two relationships. Which is partly true (you will still see some of the angry stuff in here)(well, it wouldn’t be one of my blogs without them, would it?) but I think the final version has mellowed into something that is a little bit happier 😃

If Music Be The Food Of Love – Famine or Feast edition 😉

It was a Sunday morning. And I was trying to cheer myself up by doing a bit of kitchen dancing to one of my music playlists (as you do) 💃 They say you should ‘fake it till you make it’, and this definitely works for me now. I love putting ‘My Happy Stuff’ on shuffle,  because I get a bit of variety – all my favourite tunes from the last 60 years interspersed with the soundtrack of Lord of the Rings and occasional chapters of a Harry Potter book (these are from before I figured out how my technology works – and I’ve just left them there, for sentimental reasons 😂). It’s damn near perfect 😆

On this particular morning, as the songs rolled on, I realised how most of the music was pre-1994. There was nothing there that came from after I met Sarah. And my negative train of thought (dangerous things, those trains 😳) took me to a place where I remembered being constantly annoyed with her for never being able to play all this music when we were at home together. And remembering the same thing going on with my last girlfriend 😡

I’m not someone who has ever been a serious music buff. I never fell into the John Peel mode of following all the new bands and finding out what the next big thing is (or what I ‘should’ be listening to, to be one of the cool gang). But I always knew what I liked (and what I didn’t) and enjoyed singing loudly and tunelessly in the car. In the days before the back pain thing set in, I also loved going to gigs – I was at Knebworth to see Led Zeppelin, saw Queen at the Apollo in Glasgow and there was Live Aid, of course. Not forgetting the scary/brilliant sensation (also at the Apollo) of the balcony bouncing as hundreds of Status Quo fans jumped up and down! Sadly I can’t do live music any more unless the gig is seated – and sitting down gigs are never as much fun 😕

Looking back it felt as though, between the 18 years of that relationship and the debacle of the rebound one that followed,  I had lost music from my life altogether. Sarah had music in her very soul. She hated anything she considered mainstream – it had to be things that were new. Things that other people hadn’t discovered yet. And it’s not that I actually hated any of her choices (mostly) – some of it was great and has stayed with me (as will be explained). That relationship started in the early days of music being mobile. It wasn’t as easy to listen on the go as it is now. So most of the music that was played, was played at home. But, when an album went on, it never seemed to be one of mine that was playing. And once it was clear that she wasn’t exactly overjoyed at my (old 😉) music, I started to only listen to my stuff when she  wasn’t there – which wasn’t often. Eventually I stopped playing my music at all. I’d tell her (and myself) that music has never been important to me. And I think I actually started to believe it.

After we broke up (and as I healed and got past the stage where ANY song reminded me of her in one way or another), my music very gradually started to come back into my life. I started listening to music radio again. But then I fell in love – with someone with a huge musical life 🙄. And off I went again. One of the stranger moments – in a sea of strange moments in that relationship – was sitting at home, happily enjoying one of my own choices from the Sonos playlist I was setting up. Then I got a text from her, commenting on the song and laughing about it. This was when she was at work, miles away, but tuned in to all the remote network stuff at home. That was seriously creepy 😳. And, because my choices of music seemed to be hilarious and less ‘valid’ than hers, I went back into ‘let’s just play your stuff’ mode. When you love someone and they love something so much, it seems easier to let things go. And watching her create her own music genuinely made me very happy, so I focussed on that. Even when I was doing all that driving up and down the A1(M) I had a CD that she had made up for me to listen to 😆

So, for nearly 25 years, I allowed my choices of music to be secondary to my significant others’. But very, very slowly over the last couple of years, the music’s crept back. It’s been brilliant to figure out this new technology thing and to start putting my own playlists together (I’m a slow learner 😂).

My current playlists have a whole heap of songs that come from my childhood.  (If You’re Going To San Francisco and In The Year 2525, for example) and some from my teenage years (much David Cassidy – my first and only true love) and a smattering of the songs from the long hot summer of 1976 (Chicago, Bellamy Brothers, Dr Hook), the year my life changed in so many ways 💜😢


And now I’ve even bought a turntable – so I’ve been able to listen to some of my ancient vinyl collection as it is supposed to be listened to – crackles and all. The vinyl has been gathering dust on a bookshelf for years and the spines are destroyed by assorted cats scratches (the purists would be horrified), but it was flicking through all those dusty album covers that brought back memories of so many people and places and the songs that remind me of them.

In my teens, there was Laurence, who sang Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline to me. I still sing this one for my baseball team (Go Red Sox!) and I think about him every time I hear it 💜. Charlie and I played Elton and Kiki when we sang Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, and lovely, lovely  Tommy……sigh……he had me head banging to Status Quo’s Down Down.


In my early 20s, David and I had FreeBird by Lynyrd Skynyrd and I remember Stuart and I doing the “On a hot summer night would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses” bit from Meatloaf (cringy and corny and stupidly funny – that makes me smile) 😍 That whole album takes me right back to parties in the Bellsdyke Nurses Home. The entire party singing Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad 😃


So, sometines it’s not specific songs, it’s the sound of certain voices, artists and albums that remind me of people I loved and all those important moments in time. Charlie showed me Janis Joplin’s genius and Stuart gave me Harry Chapin and the Moody Blues and Pink Floyd. David gave me Led Zeppelin and The Who. Ian, who I was engaged to for a while (have I ever mentioned that I nearly got married to a guy 😳) was a huge fan of The Jam, so I got Paul Weller.


Then, when I swapped sides, I picked up Carole King and Billy Joel and kd lang from the first woman I fell in love with.


So, dear reader, there I was on that Sunday morning, kitchen dancing – and feeling thoroughly pissed off about all the years of missing listening to these and being ‘deprived of my music’ and I started writing a blog. But, as I wrote, it dawned on me how much of my music came from places of love. And then I started to remember the good stuff from the Sarah era and I checked my CD collection. Blimey, there’s some bloody good stuff in there!

In spite of having dwelled on how much I’d been deprived of, it turns out I gained so much more. The music she gave me is wonderful. It started with Bjork and Jefferson Airplane and then there was Radiohead and REM. I got Snow Patrol, The Reindeer Section (‘You Are My Joy’ was ‘our song’) and Coldplay (just the early stuff, because they went ‘mainstream’ 😂). And, for good measure I have a love of Bach Cello Suites and some Gregorian Chanting (I know – some eclectic stuff).


For just those things, I will always love what she added to my life. And now I can happy-dance to all the music that reminds me of her and other past loves without feeling any of the angst. Maybe in a few years, I’ll be able to play the song the last one wrote about me (although, as with most things, it’s actually more about her)(What? Still angry? Moi? Never 😆) without cringing about what happened at the end. Or maybe I won’t 😜🙄

I could add a hundred other things to this list of songs of my life – ones that aren’t necessarily about relationships, but still take me back to moments in time, but this was what came off the top of my head. So I’ll leave it here.

So, apart from realising that I had way more boyfriends than I thought, back in my yoof 😉,  I think what came out of this for me was finally realising just how important music really has been to me. It has been the food of (and fed by) love my whole life 🎶💜🎶. And I have resolved that, whatever happens in the future, my music stays. No more famine, just thefeast 😊


So, from anger to contentment in one blog. Not a bad result. Thank you to the boyfriends/ girlfriends/ partners/ wife who helped me find the music I love.

Be kind to each other x