Friday, 16 May 2014
A Poison Tree by John Dolan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I read this book in two and a bit sittings. It would have just been one except that I realised that I needed at least some semblance of sleep before another day at the grindstone..
Having read the first two books in the series and having been gripped immediately by the quality and depth of the characters and the graceful prose oh and the plot(s) wow - the plot(s) the flow was amazing and you were taken from your armchair, or wherever you read, and cast with aplomb into the shady yet bright world of David Braddock, a man of many facets.. Anyway.. I'm getting a little carried away with myself - sorry
This third book in the series catapults you into the dreary heart of a Midlands city, Leicester, and here we learn all about what has made David Braddock the 'anti-hero' that he is... But the book is so much more than that; it is a beautifully written piece about many characters that are so interlinked that my mind instantly went back to an illustration in the first book in the series.
John has a mastery of writing that leaves you, when a connection between characters is made, actually saying "aaaaahhhhhhh!" out loud.
This book series seems to be going from strength to strength and I, for one, cannot wait until the next instalment!
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Thursday, 20 February 2014
Charlie was a man who looked like he was in his 70s or 80s and was very ill. He had been passed from pillar to post in primary care and now found himself in the same CCU as my dad. What became apparent from spending time in the CCU was that Charlie had enjoyed no visitors. I thought that maybe I had just missed his visitors but my dad clarified that he had indeed had no visitors. This got me thinking. Surely he must matter to someone. Surely someone must know he was there. Someone must care about him.
He's old... maybe he was married, maybe he wasn't. Was his wife dead? Was she immobile and unable to visit him.
Did he have children? Why were they not visiting him? Had they had a falling out?
Is it possible to be alone in this world? Had all his friends died? Did he have no friends?
What would being alone in this world feel like?
Personally I cannot imagine being alone. I get so much support from my family and friends and I know that in a crisis I will always have friends I can count on. Having, what felt like, my support network yanked away from me yesterday left me feeling very vulnerable and helpless; I wasn't even in a crisis! Every day people are admitted to hospital who are in the situation of having no-one that will visit them. We have sleepwalked into a society that seems to have lost all sense of community. I'm 37 years old.. Was community more social years ago? Could an old person who lived alone and whose children (if any) had moved away be admitted to hospital and have no-one that cares enough about them to visit them during potentially one of the scariest moments of their life; whilst they are looking at their death and possibly re-living all of their life, replaying past glories, past mistakes, love's lost and love's won...
Everyone should matter.....
Does everyone matter? How much do we know about our neighbours that live alone and get no visitors? What should we do about this?
Crikey - this business with my dad has got me all existential and ponderous - Maybe it will make me less cynical!
Friends and family are vitally important. Maintaining friendships with both is critical.
My heart was breaking for Charlie - I feel so guilty for not sitting with him and spending time with him, talking to him - finding out about his life, his legacy.. Who is this man? Was he a war hero? What did he do for a living? For all I know, he could have been an international spy. All the time though, all I could think was "it is not the done thing, you don't know this man, what if he tells you to get lost?" Why has society made it so difficult to talk to people? We seem to be being ushered into a state where we can go through a whole life without ever having to interact with each other:
- Drive through pay-at-the-pump fuel
- Tesco online
- Internet banking
- Working from home
Wednesday, 19 February 2014
This is a weird blog post to be writing..
I'm currently sat in the main entrance at chesterfield royal having had 3 hours sleep.. And worried out of my mind.
Dad was taken by ambulance here last night suffering from chest pains and my mum and I followed and stayed in A&E with him until 0230 hrs.
Apparently all indications are that he's had a heart attack.. It feels so strange to type that. Mum and Richard are with him at the moment and I'm alone in the main entrance with my thoughts and hundreds of people milling around. I feel so disconnected and so isolated. Hoping for the best yet fearing the worst. Apparently the Heart attack, if it is indeed that (will be confirmed with blood test results later on) was caused by dangerously high blood pressure. He stopped taking his meds for this a few years ago as his BP was only borderline high.. Apparently he is genetically predisposed to it and there's nothing apart from drugs that will help it.
I hate being alone with my thoughts.. I'm missing Anna and the kids.. Trying to imagine telling people the worst isn't helping my state of mind.
It's my dad.. He's indestructible..
It's times like these when I realise what a total rock Anna is to me.. She really is a great security for me.
I know at times I've been guilty of not really caring about the sanctity of life.. Not now though. Life, all life is precious and fragile.
So many questions to be answered and so few answers.
I refuse to go to pieces. I'm going to be strong and trust God that he's got his hand on it. I refuse to give in to morbid thoughts.
It's strange.. I want to cry but also don't want to for some unknown as yet reason. I daresay at some point I'll crack and get it out of my system.
Tried to go outside to get some air but it was polluted by people smoking right next to the sign that tells the it is illegal to smoke... People eh!?
I should probably eat but my stomach is churning far too much.
Update: still very tired but have finally eaten and feel somewhat better for it.
The good news is that Dad was looking better after he managed to get some sleep. Mum and I had a walk around the hospital and gave him the chance to get some shut-eye.
I can only imagine the stress of being convinced that you're dying coupled with massive sleep deprivation and being in a place that is unfamiliar.. It is no wonder that people use it as a form of torture..
Really hoping that dad can come home on Friday..
One interesting part was when my brother turned up. I was relegated to the main waiting area by a very stern staff nurse which is where I wrote a majority of this 'stream of consciousness'. Richard came down to go home and I think he could see that I was barely holding it together so he put an arm around my shoulders and said some words I will never forget: "don't worry bro! I know dad will be just fine! He's getting better. I know you're tired; I'm not and I'm more detached from it all so if you need anything, I'm here for you."
If you knew the relationship my brother and I have; you would know how much those words meant to me. I have always been one to think that blood is no thicker than water but I will happily revise that. There was an unspoken bond there and I'm hoping and praying that we will become closer as brothers after this 'episode'.
Watching how my parents interact when there is an excrement / fan interface has been very humbling. They both plainly love each other so much and are so integrated into each other's life that it really is impossible to see where one finishes and the other begins. I so hope that Anna and I can emulate their love and devotion.
I'm not sure if this post will ever get published and I still haven't broken.. Maybe I'm too tired.. Hope so.. It is still only 2000 hrs and I refuse to go to bed until nine as I don't particularly want to mess up my body clock.
A very emotional and possibly irrational Mat.
Friday, 14 February 2014
1. Don't try to fix your wife - She is not broken! She is just wired differently to you. When she outlines what looks like a problem, it is just her way of sharing and processing - getting it off her chest if you will. When this happens, don't just jump in like a Neanderthal and give her a list of what she must do to solve this conundrum. Just listen and repeat back what she has said.
2. Pursue holiness - not happiness. I haven't found anywhere in the bible where it says "pursue happiness". Pursuing holiness and getting close to God may well result in happiness and contentment. It seems to me that the people who pursue happiness are some of the most miserable people on earth and the people who genuinely pursue holiness seem to be the happiest.
3. Don't date loads of girls. This at first glance, this seems like a weird one. Culturally, I would have to agree. When I look back and count the number of girls I went out with - I feel regret.. There is one girl that I really treated badly. For this I sincerely apologise. Looking back, the only reason I actually went out with so many girls was that 'it was the norm'. I didn't even tell my parents about most of them because I knew they would discourage it. They would have been right but I would have seen it as that they were old and out of touch. They weren't! They were sensible!
Taking that amount of baggage into a relationship with a good, godly woman who hadn't dated anyone before was such a bad thing to do. Despite all protestations to the contrary, I have been guilty as hell of comparing her!
4. Respect is more important than love! If your wife respects you, she will automatically love you. We have all seen women love real jerks in whom they have no respect
I still have so much to learn - Please God let me learn it well and soon....
Thursday, 13 February 2014
I know that Putin is a homophobic moron (please KGB, don't kill me with polonium 210) but having to explain to kids about homosexuality before they've shown any interest in sex at all isn't really on!
Please can we rise above the homophobia and just stick to the damn sport!?
It is turning into a propaganda war and the losers will be the innocents who are having sexuality forced upon them by homophobes and gay-rights activists at a sporting event!