Thinness, lacklustreness and bling …


Well, here I am. I told you I was a nutter. Something clicked on Tuesday. I hit the afternoon

Mum’s semi domesticated pheasant. He’s a big boy.

and didn’t feel so bad. By Wednesday morning, with five hours on the motorway network ahead of me, you’d have thought I’d be feeling extremely mortal but no, I felt a lot better by then. I felt even more chipper when pulling up the first part of the drive I discovered a pheasant in my path. I dug some more holes in Mum’s garden in the rain and got rather more soggy than I’d realised. I didn’t find much just a very pretty little butterfly and a thimble for someone with very tiny thing long fingers, like maybe Groot? Or a child, but it would go over the top joint it was that long and weird. Brass by the looks of things and probably Victorian but late on. It would have had a fruit tree standing on top of it for most of the twentieth century though so I’m guessing it was from the days when the house was still a cart shed.

Anyway, it was all normal and I’m delighted and grateful that I’m no longer feeling the thinness of the barrier between this world and the next. And relieved to still be here. McMini helped hugely. I explained it to him and we made endless jokes about my impending doom. It was all a lot easier after that. Onwards and upwards via a bit of a dip.


Here’s the butterfly I found at Mum’s

Not sure what was going on on Thursday but I had a terrible attack of the meh. I felt tired, sad, and because the stress has ramped up over Mum I’ve started putting the weight back again. Sigh. It all felt a bit lacklustre. I had a think and I suspect the basic gist of the problem is this … During the first half of lockdown, I was going up to town to run small errands or just have a walk most days and, it being Bury, I usually ran into someone I knew so I didn’t have the feeling of being cut off which I might have had. Then, I had to islolate before the knee op and I didn’t really get out and about much again before the more catching versions of Covid started popping up. No-one appeared not to give a shit in public spaces, Bury wasn’t as bad as some places but it still wasn’t great. Personal space was at a premium and I just felt a bit vulnerable. I really do NOT want to go getting covid. So I started going out less.

On top of that, I was trying to get the book done and Mum wasn’t handling this one well and needed me to phone more, which took time, and I had to make sure I remembered, which was a task in itself. We’ve upped her care time a little now and of course there’s been the stroke. The constant flutter of nerves in the pit of the stomach is back. I’m back to jumping every time the phone rings in case it’s ‘the call’. I’ve put on four pounds in three days – that’s just under two kilos in new money. Looks like it’s back to piling on the weight now. Never mind, at least I know it’s possible to lose it if the stress levels drop again.

Friday, it was time for my fortnightly zoom call with a bunch of lovely local writer friends. I decided that I needed to smack the meh on the head beforehand and thought I might have worked out how. Popping out to get some Mother’s Day presents on Tuesday so Mum and I could have NOT Mothering Sunday on Wednesday, I met a friend from McMini’s old school and had a lovely chat to her. I realised that single piece of interaction had significantly reduced the meh. Therefore, it seemed logical that popping into town for some bits and bobs, would, most likely, lead to some human interaction and whack the bleargh. It seemed to be a theory that was worth testing anyway.

One of the joys of living in Bury is that I seem to know a lot of people. I’m not sure how this has happened but it is rather lovely because it means that if I go out, I often end up meeting someone I know on the street and we’ll have a chat. In these strange times this is a lot more social interaction than many people get.

Thus it was that I put my cunning plan into action and headed out to buy some cat food, grab some shampoo and stuff and pop into church to have a gossip with the ladies ‘invigilating’. You know, sitting there and then cleaning everything after any visitors have gone. I gave them something to do by putting my potentially covid-infested bottom on a chair and it was just lovely to have a chat to someone again. Following on from that was two hours chatting to the Bury Writers on zoom and then a zoom call to wish my Aunt a happy birthday with all my cousins.

Source of meh identified? Check. Cure, go out and bump into more people.

Interestingly, I read an article someone shared on Facebook recently called, ‘Why the pandemic is doing our heads in.’ If you’re interested in having a look at it you can find it here …  The basic gist was that the human brain is not designed to cope well with constant prolonged stress. Short bursts of the hard stuff, fine and dandy, but endless grey, grinding, worry-filled days? Nah. Not really. What amazed me was some of the things they listed as side effects. These included short term memory loss and cognitive impairment.

I may already have mentioned this (sic) but these articles about the impacts of lockdown are incredibly comforting because they explain exactly what has been happening to me for the last twelve years. I went seamlessly from baby brain to stress brain. I’ve had a hard time remembering my own name without cue cards since about 2008. Now, I understand why. I have years of it to go, but at least there is a logical explanation for it and Mum’s dementia has been so much kinder to her so far, so maybe the levels will be lower than they were for Dad. Who knows?

There we are, anyway, meh-buster now sorted.

Sneaky covid vaccination attempt …

Closest I get to a science picture; weird wax formations in my lava lamp

McOther, being sixty, was called in for his Covid vaccination recently. He booked one of the centres and was then contacted by our local GP surgery who could do it earlier. I mentioned this to a couple of people who said that it’s possible to get an early covid vaccination sometimes if you go along with someone who is eligible. The sources were good, and I know it does happen with the flu jab, so I went along with McOther when he went to get his shot this morning. Seeing the queue, I was pretty sure they’d have matched people to slots and orders of vaccine very carefully, but I queued with him anyway.

After an hour, we got inside and I discovered that, while spousal sneak-in may be possible at the centres, it wasn’t at the surgery. I didn’t go into the consulting room with him but there were permission forms to be filled in and all sorts of stuff first so I doubted they’d just go, ‘oh do you want one while you’re here?’ the way they do with flu jabs sometimes. That said, I double-checked and was glad to see that despite giving me a ‘no’ in answer, they clearly didn’t think I’d been mad to turn up and ask, but sadly they had ordered the amount of vaccine for the amount of people and there wasn’t any spare.

If you hear that rumour, then, take it with a pinch of salt. It’s definitely not the case in Suffolk. But it might work somewhere else or possibly with the vaccination centres. It was an NHS worker I heard it from so who knows, maybe I was just unlucky. I guess it might work on slow days at the centres, I’d heard rumours of the equivalent of stand-by where you can turn up at the centres and wait and if they have a spare slot or someone doesn’t turn up you’ll get a shot. Something to try in the week, possibly. Although presumably I’ll get the call in a couple of months anyway.

Bling …

As far as I can work it out, I have now done everything required to launch my book, which is a first. OK so there’s not been much advertising but I have got the paperback done and all the ebook versions locked and loaded and Gareth will start the audio after the book he’s doing now so it should be done mid April … fingers and toes crossed.

Too Good To Be True? It does feel like it …

It arrived in the middle of a zoom call with the Bury writers so it was great to be able to show it to them. It does feel a bit too good to be true. I’m bound to have fucked something up but so far, nothing obvious. I’ve even remembered to do one for the British Library although I haven’t ordered it yet … which reminds me I’d better do that in a minute.

You know how these things are, you’re never sure how they’ll turn out. I was stoked because the docket said not to expect them until Monday. I only ordered a few, and one copy of all the newly re-vamped books with the logo and everything attached. I’m really glad I put the original K’Barthan Series into matt covers, they look much smarter. Anyway for your delectation, somewhere near this bit what you are reading now you will see a picture of the Too Good To Be True paperbacks. Though I say it myself, they are lush and this time, I just went for it and did the font a decent size. As a result it even looks decent inside too. And it’s the first full length novel I’ve written from scratch since 2014 (Escape From B-Movie Hell was a rewrite of one I’d written in 2007). So it’s kind of a landmark.


Dispel the meh with a funny book! This funny book.

Too Good To Be True  is out on 18th March in ebook format and 22nd March in paperback. This one is sort of a stand-alone. Officially it is, although I realised a moment ago that I do not, at any point, mention that Grongles are green. Not once in the entire book. Ah.

On the other hand, amazingly, I have, finally got my shit together and it is live for pre-order everywhere – if buying from retailers is your thing. Or you can still pre-order it from my website or my web shop for a whole £1 less than it is everywhere else! Mmm. By Grabthar’s Hammer! What a savings!

Anyhoo, here’s the gen …

Too Good To Be True

When the trouble comes knocking, meet the only man dumb enough to answer the door!

When The Pan of Hamgee encounters some mudlarkers trying to land a box on the banks of the River Dang he is happy to help. Having accepted a share of the contents as a reward he cannot believe his luck. It contains one of the most expensive delicacies available in K’Barth, Goojan spiced sausage. If he can sell it, the sausage might spell the end of his troubles. On the other hand, knowing his luck, it could bring a whole load more.

Suggested UK cinema rating for this one PG (parental guidance) there’s a slightly saucy bit and a bit of light violence. Even so, this is a humorous science fiction fantasy story set in a parallel reality.

To find out more, and for links to pre-order it if that’s your thing, go here:




Filed under General Wittering

17 responses to “Thinness, lacklustreness and bling …

  1. Continued stress has been known to be deadly at least since I was in graduate school in the 1970s. Even good stress does real damage. There are online stress inventories you can fill out.

    I’m sorry you couldn’t get the shot, because that stress drops significantly two weeks after the final shot – and switches to a slightly different – When will the kids be vaccinated? for those of us with older kids.

    Our youngest, due to the rules in New York State, is getting it today, I think. Fortunately Biden won, and the vaccination program here has accelerated nicely – and our community is starting to relax rules again. We’ll still all be very careful, and masks are de rigueur for the foreseeable future, but they’re cautiously going to let us have dinner again with our friends – the main reason people moved here.

    I love hearing what you find with your metal detector – and wonder how all that stuff got there in the first place. A thimble I can see someone losing while sitting outside in nice weather mending or embroidering.

    CONGRATULATIONS on the launch! And after a year of pandemic. Way to go!

    • Thanks. The stress is just something I have to work with for now. It usually settles a few weeks after each change.

      • Don’t be fooled. It does not settle – it just becomes familiar. To remove its influence, you have to get rid of the stressor, talk it out with a counselor and resolve it, find a new life, something active. Or have it removed from your life somehow. Sorry to tell you – the literature is quite clear. It’s the total stress (that’s why the inventories are helpful), not how well you’re managing it.

      • If that’s really true, I will die well before Mum does. Indeed I would have died several years ago. The stress is the responsibility of caring for sick loved ones, in this case Mum. There is no removing it unless I remove one of us. I’m in what a journalist over here calls the desert years. People I love are sick and have been for years and years and years. I’m too soft hearted to cope with watching very well but there is only one path and I have to walk it.

        I approach it like this. What do I want to do to help? How much of that am I capable of doing. How much can I not do – to preserve energy for the long haul – and still like myself as a person afterwards? Whatever the answer is, I do that. There is no choice because I have to be able to look myself in the eye in the bathroom mirror of a morning.

        I use cognitive behavioural therapy to manage it all. Being sad for a long time is wearing, so I just have to concentrate on what my parents gave me and embrace this opportunity to give it back … The CBT spin makes a huge difference to stress levels, it’s just that, temporarily, I’ve dropped a couple of the plates. That’s probably where lock down comes in. Each level changes things and I have to adjust, ditch stuff, add stuff, etc. I’m probably not explaining it very well. I am very aware that I’m walking the line and that my principles will cost me. But since I could no more stop looking after my parents than stop breathing telling me that looking after them is going to kill me isn’t helpful. It just increases the stress. On the up side, if it does for me, at least McMini will be spared this horror with one of us. That’s a mercy.

        On Sat, 13 Mar 2021, 22:30 M T McGuire Authorholic, wrote:


      • Also, caretakers dying before the person they’re taking care of is a well-documented and very distressing possibility, even when the caretaker is much younger.

        You’re doing a lot of things that help – and you have family support – and it’s still hard.

        Being aware helps a lot, but you know you’re stressed. So take good care of yourself, too.

  2. First of all, thank you very much for deciding to follow my blog; I am very grateful.
    I am sure that you will be called for your first injection very soon. After a slow start Suffolk is now one of the top counties for vaccine roll-out and has injected half of its adults already. A friend of mine in her fifties is having her first injection on Monday. Your surgery will contact you and will probably book you in locally. Friends who have responded to the general NHS letter/message are often sent miles away.
    I am so pleased you are still in the land of the living! My grandmother used to get premonitions so I know how disruptive they can be. Perhaps your stress and anxiety made the premonition appear worse than it was meant to be?
    Both my daughters have mental health problems so I spend a lot of my time worrying about them and then there is my mother who is very frail and lives alone but will accept no help from anyone except me – sometimes. This lockdown business has added to my anxiety and I too have short-term memory loss and a much diminished attention span. I thought I would cope really well with the lockdown as I like being at home and am not a party person but have been amazed to discover I hate the restrictions and made myself ill last summer during the first lockdown. I am supposed to be staying at home all the time and having others to do all the jobs I normally do. Like you, I have discovered a way of making the whole thing bearable – you need a little, regular face-to-face interaction and I need to get out of the house, against NHS advice, preferably on my own, ( I love my husband and daughter but I crave some alone time) and care for my mother instead of having other people try to do it.
    Congratulations on the book launch!

    • It’s very comforting to know I’m not alone. So many of us are facing the same or similar problems. And the the blog, it’s a pleasure. I thought I followed it already to be honest. 🙂

      • No, you aren’t alone but I think that the length of time you have been caring for your parents with no hope of them ever getting better makes your case a special one. I don’t think your parents could have asked for a more caring and loving daughter and I am amazed that you have been able to achieve all you have done in the past decade! These lockdowns have made your job so much harder to do and I truly am pleased you have found small ways of alleviating your stress. 🙂

      • Yeh, it’s been tough. I can see myself calling these the desert years in future but yes, coping in small ways … there are people who have it way harder than I do.

  3. Diana

    If I were caring for my mother again I’d do a whole lot of things differently. I have learned so much after the fact — and much of it from you and the stories you tell.

    Great job on discovering that the personal contact is so life affirming — and so “normal.” We are still in a pretty strict lockdown or sorts here, too, so social interaction with others goes a long way to “normalizing” life.

    I am learning that cutting out sugar, gluten, and most meats is the best way to reduce (or eliminate) the chance of developing dementia. I wish that were easy. It’s rather comforting to know that the memory problems I am dealing with these days may be stress related, rather than clear signs that dementia is in my future. But I still hope to train myself to eat more healthfully.

    As for the thimble — is it possible that it belonged to a thin-fingered seamstress with exceptionally long finger nails? Were they fashionable at the approximate time the thimble would have been in service?

    The book looks great! Congratulations on finishing it so well!
    And Grongles are green? I would love for you to create (or have created) a chart of characters — so that I can actually see what you describe. For instance, the lock keeper (Zeb?) — I am curious about whether my mental picture is anything close to yours.
    Such a wonderful imagination you have!

    • Diana

      or have you done that already somewhere?

    • That’s a thought about the nails. Less Groot and more Mrs Scissor Hands. I did draw that characters for the first series and there’s an email in my hello protocol, which you will get eventually, that shows them while, at the same time, demonstrating why I haven’t done that many. I’ve been trying to cut down on carbs and sugar too. McOther does all the cooking and is a working class Scotsman so cutting out meat is a challenge. As for looking after your mum … It’s so hard at the file to know if we’re doing the right thing. All anyone can do is their best. It might not always be what you thought you would do or think you should have done but you just have to do what you can and let the rest go. 🧡

  4. As always, your updates are interesting, with ups and downs and realizations of things previously puzzling. I know it’s been a rough 12 years, MT. Hugs to you, my friend.
    And yes – even though I’m more introvert that extrovert, not being able to go out and do things gets to me sometimes too. I’m lucky to have family here, including a toddler, which means at least two delightful moments a day – her hugs are the best, and when she discovers something new, what a joy!

    • It was so lucky they were with you and have been with you all through. I bet you would have been worried sick about them if you’d been separated all this time. As it is it must have been rather lovely in many ways for all of you. 🧡🧡

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