The Menopause Manual p1 #dailyinspo365

The menopause journey. With no clear start or end point, odd diversions, and an estimated time of arrival that can span years, menopause is certainly a trip, and then some, that requires some turn-by-turn directions.

Nobody tells you what the menopause is like, or how bad it is.

My mum never discussed it. The reasons for that were probably twofold. One, she is of a generation that invariably struggled with ‘taboo subjects’, often finding broaching them embarrassing, impolite even. Two, she never went through the menopause, having had to undergo an hysterectomy in her late 40s. Today, mum’s a lot more relaxed about discussing certain topics, gynaecological and sexual included. However, as she’s clueless in the menopausal department, there’s little point in broaching the subject with her, as it’s an experience about which she remains oblivious. Lucky her!

Experience – did I just call the menopause ‘an experience’? Well, what do you call it? A condition, a situation, a phase, a bloody pain in the arse? It’s not an illness, although many women suffer excruciatingly from its symptoms and side-effects.

the ceasing of menstruation.
  • the period (haha, lexicographer’s comic irony) – in a woman’s life (typically between the ages of 45 and 50) when menstruation ceases.

Anyway, getting back to the point, rarely are women told in graphic widescreen, dolby surround sound detail about the menopause. A high level overview, as they say, being the best we can hope for. Why? Probably because we women are still too embarrassed to a) admit that we’ve arrived at the ‘biological downturn’ commonly referred to as ‘change of life’, and b) discuss the finer details of hot and cold running sweat fountains and the resultant boggy bra and very public perspiration patches, middle-aged acne, and morphing into Fatzilla, queen of the middle-aged spread.

While many arrive unexpectedly at the menopause – “Surprise, surprise. Hello, it’s me, Men O’ Pause. I’m here to change your life completely, let’s get this party started!”it’s also fair to say that most of us will reach that point with little or no clue of what’s about to happen to us.

Now don’t get me wrong, we women know the basics, no need to be ‘splaining us thank you. The problem is that no-one talks openly about the menopause, so pre-Perimeno (and when did that become a thing?) most of us truly don’t know how bad it is, or rather will be.

So, how bad is it then?

For some, lack of sleep is the worst. Annoyingly, it doesn’t necessarily come with the onset of menopause. Instead, sleep disruption, like a spot on the face of hopeful innocence, can pop up at a time of its own malevolent choosing. Poor sleep mixed with night-sweats is a fate you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Not that I know first hand per se, but I do suffer from random bouts of insomnia and have borne the brunt of hot flushes, and they ladies, and gentlemen – if there are any of you actually reading this – are no bloody picnic!

Hot Flushes: Menopausal Woman’s Bane – Sounds like, giddy middle-aged embarrassment; Feels like, being slathered in molten lava from the décolletage up to the crown of one’s head.

Seriously, no words can describe the combination of shock, confusion, and heat that hit you the first time you have a hot flush. It’s like being ducked into and held down in boiling water for a minute plus, and then left dripping in rivers of rapidly cooling hot sweat, cue the shivers, while your armpits are like two perspiration filled paddling pools cosseted within the sleeves of your now seriously soggy jumper/blouse/tee-shirt.

Anyone who has experienced a heatwave, sat at length on a packed bus/tram/train on a hot Summer’s evening, run for more than 30 minutes, or been cooked in an oven at 180 degrees, will know only too well that the afterglow soon turns to ice cold sog.

Rank isn’t it, burning up until you think you are internally combusting and then having to sit or stand around in clothes wet with cold sweat? Now, times that x five and instead of a running track or bus, place yourself sitting in the middle of a business meeting, surrounded by a few colleagues, mainly men.

It’s your turn to offer up some suggestions on an upcoming project but … oh dear. You’re overcome by a wave of heat of equatorial proportions, beads of sweat have broken out on your brow (oh Jesus, can they see them?) and the floodgates have opened up under your clothes. Your train of thought has run out the door and in a two-fingered salute to your now drenched upper torso and reputation, your tongue is as dry as a camel’s hoof.

That’s a hot flush for you.

The big problem with flushes is they can happen any time, any place, and in any situation, and they recur with irregular frequency. Five in a row can be followed by an hour’s downtime before being followed by a series of anything up to ten in quick succession. I sat crying on the sofa one night as I experienced flush after flush after flush, again and again until I could take no more, ran upstairs and jumped into the shower.

Having broken all possible records by having eleven in forty minutes, I spent most of the following day on Google search seeking remedies (HRT had already been ruled out – that’s for another post). Finally, I found the saviour of my menopausal world – Sage – bought a bottle of Menosan in the chemist, and never looked back. For the next six months, the Sage drops eradicated all traces of hot flushes, after which they started come and go intermittently, a shadow of their former selves. Certainly nothing of the epic proportion I’d previously experienced.

True story – I actually have the ability to bring on a hot flush. If I focus really hard, I can make myself so hot that I can draw on a flush. Another tip – embarrassment is a magnet for hot flushes, so if you think you’re going to feel a bit bothered in a public situation, try to calm yourself (Bach’s Rescue Remedy is a great calmer). Hopefully you’ll fend off the flush.

When I started writing this post, I didn’t envisage going through the granular ins and outs of the menopause but as the late Magnus Magnusson used to say, “I’ve started so I’ll finish”. But not today

To recap. Hot flushes are like flashes of feeling incinerated from the boobs upwards. They last about one minute during which you’ll be drenched in sweat and your concentration temporarily wiped out. They can occur once, twice, thrice, multiple times per hour. Every hour. 24×7. They can’t be stopped by iron will or fresh air.

They can be stopped by HRT if you can tolerate it, or more holistically by taking Sage tablets or drops. You’ll pick up sage in its various forms in pharmacies and health shops. Sage won’t eradicate flushes completely but it will minimise the impact. If there are other remedies, I’m unaware of them.

You’ll still suffer from over-heating particularly during exercise including walking. You’ll need to prep for sweat in places it never was before. Keeping a supply of tissues in your pockets helps. Always keep travel deodorant in your bag. And, if travelling, bring a spare top.

You’ve probably got the gist of hot flushes by now but don’t run away, there’s plenty more crapola where that came from.

We’ll see you back here for the Menopause Manual p2. You never know, if some feminist movie producer happens upon my blog we could end up with Menopause Da Movie! Now, unlike the meno, wouldn’t that be fun!!


*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

Simply Bee #dailyinspo365

Bees have always held a childlike fascination for me.

It’s their furriness, and those bright neon yellow stripes, and the constant bouncing around and grappling with flowers. The cuteness!!

It’s always worth hitting the pause button ‘to stop and stare’. To immerse oneself in the deep, wondrous pleasure to be had in watching a bee flitting from flower to flower before coming to land on a nearby purple patch, expanse of echinacea, or flock of fuchsia. Becoming ever more rare, these joyous occurrences should be savoured, each and every moment of them.

When a boisterous and buzzy bumble got stuck into a lunch of lavender today, I could not but be enthralled. This chubby little ball of coloured fluff hovered and capered, buzzed and bumped, foraged and probed.

He suckled and excavated a myriad floral honey pots, and when his nectary need was more than sated, flew off to another world, another floral universe.

So, when is a bee not a bee? When it’s a wasp. Hymenoptera Apocrita Vespidae – are neither bee nor ant. While the vast majority of wasps have no hand, act or part in pollination, a few species can effectively transport pollen and pollinate several plant species. Considered pests, especially in late Summer when they down tools and come a lookin’ for high GI sugary foods wasps will, like fraudsters, sting anyone that gets too close to them.

I’d take a bee over a wasp any day of the week, wouldn’t you?


Late addition. I’ve just come across this on Twitter thanks to Luke Turner of tQ. Wolfgang Buttress is showing the most sublime installation at the Greenpeace area at Glastonbury. If you’re there, please support art, the bees, and the environment by connecting with this immersive multi-sensory experience. If like me, you can only watch from afar, here’s a beautiful video soundtracked by the most delicious pastorale. The sculpture itself is accompanied by soundscapes by BE along with contributions by Kelly Lee Owens, Daniel Avery, Camille Christel , Spiritualized, and Coldcut. 🙏


*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

Valley of the Squinting Windows #dailyinspo365

Brinsley MacNamara’s take-down of Irish small-town life and human nature in general is sadly still as pertinent today as as it was when it was written.

A century on, Irish windows still squint, and often in both directions.

Valley of the Squinting Windows has become a stock-phrase implying nosey neighbours twitching their curtains, usually in small communities. In MacNamara’s fictional village of Garradrimna, almost everyone is beastly: begrudging, hypocritical, mean-spirited, malicious even.

We have a serious dose of the squints in our boutique cul-de-sac, our very own private Garradrimna –  without the privacy. Curtain twitching and window peering abound in equal measure.

The strange thing is, that the people who think nothing of staring into neighbouring windows have not just built ‘fortresses’ of trees, bushes and porches around the perimeter of their own gardens, their windows are perma-clad with net curtains, blinds, and super-thick drapes. No chance of a cheeky gawk there, I can tell you!

They’re also the very people who in the past have baulked at anyone espying their less than exciting daily grind – not the mine is any more exciting mind. Cue several hastily planted bushes and a fence being plonked on top of a party wall at 7am, without so much as a by-your-leave.

If I’m honest, I’m probably one of the least observant people you’ll ever meet. Apart from a cursory sweeping glance when I go outside to perform mundanities like putting out or taking in the washing, I rarely look up at other people’s houses or windows for that matter.

I look straight ahead when I walk, my mind usually in some bubble of thought or planning. I rarely gawp or gape at other people’s houses unless checking out their flower garden or something stand-out catches my eye.

The truth is, I have little or no interest. I’ve enough to be getting on with thanks.

Others, however, obviously have less mental processing or daily busy-ness to keep their thoughts occupied and so throwing the side-eye, casting a peripheral sweep, or simply just playing at ‘to stop and stare’ has become part and parcel of their daily routine.

A few weeks ago, I pulled back our downstairs living room curtains, situated at the rear of the house facing onto a tree-lined, fenced garden, only for my eye to be drawn upwards to a neighbouring bedroom window, wherein the man of the house was standing half-hidden by a curtain, staring down at me. He continued to do so until he realised I’d seen him, when he quickly disappeared with a flurry of vanilla material.

Mind you, ogling and nosing is par for the course with this guy. In fact, I’d go so far as to call him a voyeur, and I don’t so lightly. I don’t know how many times I’ve caught this man peeping through his bathroom window at my sunbathing self, or gone out to do something at the line only for him to magically pop up at his wall, like some geriatric jack-in-the-box, by the way fiddling with his green bin whilst peering through the cracks in the bushes.

Unfortunately for us, his house overlooks ours. Luckily for him, ours doesn’t overlook his (our houses are  perpendicular to each other).

And it’s not just him invoking Nosey Parker.

We have our resident ‘stop and stare’ merchant. Armed with the pre-requisites – baby in a buggy plus additional roaming toddler for that extra straying power – she is quite adept at scaling driveways, mounting pop-up surveillance, and scoping out areas you’d never think possible! A one-women wonder of espionage, she’d give M16 a run for their money.

Yesterday evening, whilst sitting on my bed chatting with a client, I turned around to find another one of the neighbours staring up at me while walking past our house. Did they wave, nod, smile, or salute? Did they heck! They did the same thing this morning. I was searching my mother’s dressing table for something, and pulled back the curtain to throw some light on the subject only to find them stood at their shed staring up at me. Hence the Valley of the SQ springing to mind.

Funny thing is that people seem to think it’s okay for them to stare in at others, but not ok for others to look out at them.

For instance, the rent-a-spy buggy lady’s house is a closed shop, in a permanent state of ‘dropped drawers’ and closed blinds. Similarly, there’s the young man whose house is in a constant state of shutdown; blinds drawn, curtains closed (except for the three inches that allow for peeping out – one rule for one etc), windows opened to a minimum, completely surrounded by high trees and bushes.

A couple of years ago, Mum, who as you know has dementia, was sitting in the spare room looking out the window. She used to do this not just out of boredom and loneliness but primarily because she was waiting for me to come home. Pre-retirement, pre-dementia mum was always too active and occupied to bother with looking out windows or the comings and goings of our small community.

The particular young man in question – who I might point out, never speaks or says hello to anyone – came down the road, obviously caught some motion out of the corner of his eye, and walked up to our gate. He stood staring up at my octogenarian mother until she got up and walked away.

Stood staring at an old woman looking out of her own window. Doing no harm to anyone. Such a lack of charity and humanity is sad in one so young don’t you think?

Of course, the irony of a curtain-twitcher taking issue with an elderly woman sitting looking out her window was doubtless lost on him.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

The Valley of the Squinting Windows is alive and kicking in our village community. Sadly, human nature doesn’t change!


PS I’m dedicating the Smith’s This Charming Man to my devoted voyeur. If only he could show the same  dedication by cutting back the tree that’s now grown over five feet into our garden.

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

Nowhere to Turn #dailyinspo365

Where do you turn when you’ve nowhere to turn? When the person or persons you always turned to in times of strife, trouble, or woe, are for whatever reason, no longer there.

Very few of us have multiple people to whom we can turn in times of woe. Yes, some are lucky enough to have large families, others a large cohort of friends. But in the main, each of us has an average of four close friends, with that number dwindling after the age of 40.

What happens though when life, marriage, divorce, job opportunities, fallings out, illness and even death wipe out that small tight-knit group? Where do we go for comfort, to whom can we turn for solace?

If like me, circumstances (and there’s been a lot of them ‘lil critters) have bowled out those few remaining post-young adult period friendships, your options are limited.

Faced with the choice of getting out there – solo – and seeking out new friends, or bedding down and forging even closer ties with female relatives, it’s a rock and hard place no matter how you twist it.

Me? Well, I stuck my neck out and went for rock.

I did the salsa class (and got put into the line with the guys), the book clubs (I was the youngest member to join all three), the interior design class (I was the only person not in a pair), the concerts (people think you’re weird if you strike up random conversations with them), and a myriad exercise classes (note to self – people don’t go to exercise classes to make friends). Several false starts, partial lift-offs and damp squibs later, led me to abandon option A and settle down for my own private mumsnet, tea and biscuits optional.

See, I’m doing it again. Trying to make light of a grave situation.

For years now I’ve had two close allies in my life. Both women – strong, independent, intelligent, feisty, knowledgeable, worldly, stubborn, go-ahead, supportive, loyal; you get the gist. But today, I found myself alone. Alone with my bad news and emotional melodrama.

Nowhere to turn. No-one to turn to. Bit like Eleanor Rigby, staring out the window, outdoor face put safely into a jar for public and special occasions.

Today I needed to talk to someone, to offload, but there was no-one. Absolutely no-one, in a world full of people. How strange is that?

Where do you turn when you’ve nowhere to turn, and no-one to turn to?


*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

The Disappeared #dailyinspo365

The world we live in is full of ‘the disappeared’. What spurs people to walk away from their lives, and to where do they go?

These are questions I often find myself turning over in my head, but as yet, they remain unanswered!

Every day several thousand people ‘disappear’. I’m not talking about those who are abducted, or go on the run out of fear for their lives, or those poor lost souls who wander away in a demented state.

I’m referring to those who walk out the door of one life and, having shut it firmly behind them, step willingly through another door into a new life.

A clean sheet, blank canvas, and artistic licence with no expiry date.

Where they go and why, what happens to them and with whom, is simply a mystery, which they very obviously want it to be one. Or do they?

Do they leave without a trace because they wish never to be found, or do they leave in the somewhat foolish or naive hope that someone, a loved one most like, will play detective and go looking for them? I don’t know. We’ll never know, because in the main, these ‘disappeared’ are rarely found.

They seldom resurface and even when they do, it’s often several years later, and with an unwillingness to impart any detail on those ‘missing years’.

We have a ‘disappeared’ in our family. They walked out the door at 5am one morning and have never been seen or heard of since. Oh, there have been a couple of supposed sightings, and a few scraps of hearsay, but nothing concrete. Nothing definite to go on, no confirmed sightings, nothing in the official records, no communications, hints, or clues.

I didn’t know them. I wouldn’t know them now if they were to pitch up in front of me. But every now and then I wonder where they are. If they are alive or dead, happy or sad, fulfilled or still dreaming, well off or impoverished, surrounded by loved ones or sad and alone.

I, we don’t know, and never will, because there is simply no trace of this person, anywhere. No record or mention of their name in any database or medium spanning four decades.

There are/were several worrying factors about this person’s disappearance: their young age; the fact that they left without taking any clothes, money or personal effects; the fact that they never contacted or sought to contact any members of their immediate family since they left home. This was a legal minor with few friends, no valid paperwork or identification, and no employment.

Worse, they had little or no experience of ‘the world’.

Why they left, where they went, where they lived and with whom, how or if they survived, and where they are now, are all questions that remain unanswered. Yet, they’re more than likely out there somewhere, under some name, living a life behind invisible walls in a parallel universe.

In this iteration of the universe, they’re just another name on a missing person’s list; another one of the disappeared.

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

Much Ado About Nothing #dailyinspo365

There’s a new philosophy in that town called Trend, and it’s called ‘How to do Nothing’.

That’s right folks, the latest cult top-tip to live your best life and “recover a more humane world in an accelerating age of commodification” is, to do nothing.

After years of being told to get our high-achieving energiser bunny on, we’re now being blitzed with a library of books chock-full of life-size hints spawned by self-appointed, self-help gurus on how to reverse all those boom-time, life-size hints that we were assured – in Dolby Surround Sound – would colour our otherwise wishy-washy vanilla lives.

Now, instead of having it all, doing it all, leaning-in to the point of collapse, and burning our three wick super-size Jo Malone candles at both ends in the hope of reaching twenty-first century super woman status, we’re being told by a new gaggle of so-called ‘experts’ too young to worry about Botox, to order arms and ‘go out into the natural world’.

Gee, why did I never think of that?

‘How to do Nothing’ the latest on-trend best-seller manual-for-life, was written by a young lady – she’s 33 – who ‘wants to give readers permission to be a human, in a body, in a place.’ In the words of Mrs Brown, “that’s nice”.

” … you can make a small decision to just notice things that you haven’t noticed before,” she extols. “You can always do that, no matter where you are, even if they’re not pretty.”

Such pearls of wisdom from one so young!

What have I been doing with my life that I never copped on to getting out into the natural world and noticing stuff? How remiss of me!

You know what? A few days ago I wrote a post about wanting to write a book but being too bowed by insecurity and indecision to have dotted the first ‘i’, and crossed the first ‘t’.

Having read about this latest deluge of self-help books I’m debating whether to join the multi-million dollar fray. After all, I could write one of those books riding a bicycle backwards blindfold.

I’m >33 with a Pandora’s box of life experiences from across the spectrum which if opened wide, would fill the leaves of enough books to max out the new books section of my local bookshop.

Write a book about doing nothing except skiving in the natural world and looking under stones to find wiggly things I mightn’t have yet happened across? No problemo! When do you need it by?

I don’t know about you, but all of these wellness cum self-help trends are beginning to wear a bit thin. Isn’t it time we rolled back to when common sense prevailed and people took a no-nonsense approach to life?

They worked, got outside, ate well, enjoyed the weekends, and kept luxuries and treats to a minimum. Pretty basic really.

And yet here we are, millions of us forking out chunks of our hard earned cash for books, workshops, and weekend retreats to be told to do just that. Buying into clean-eating regimes and paying ‘experts’ to teach us how to ‘live normal healthy lives’?

While I might write the odd post about mindfulness, I’ve yet to write a book giving people permission to be human, or anything else for that matter.

Food for thought though! What do you think?


*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

A Dream within a Dream : Words On a Grey Morning

Our world has become a dream within a dream but we will face this, our incubus, together.

Tuesday 21st March, 2017

Outside a cold, unfeeling grey light has settled itself around the landscape. It will rest there, for the next few hours, in a non-committal way, showing no signs of the day to come. Like an heartless anaemia, it drains all colour and life to create a world of half-shadows, settles a stillness on the chittering giving it a spectral air.

Inside too is grey despite the wan disinterested glow from the high wattage bulb. It’s almost as if the pre-dawn’s grizzled aspect has by some form of underhand osmosis, crept its murky way into my world. Blurring, confusing, bleaching, bewildering.

Grey /grei/adjective – of a colour indeterminate between black and white , as of ashes or lead – silver, pearly, smoky; silver, hoary; ashen, wan, sickly, bloodless, drawn, deathly, ghostly – without interest or character, dull and nondescript: noun – grey colour or pigment, “dirty indeterminate tones of grey”: verb – become grey with age

I have tried for too long now to fictionalise this more than factual storyline. Pushed it around like a piece of gristle on a cold plate. Uncanny then that reality bites during this cold and hoary hour which belongs neither to night nor day. I awoke into its uncaring coldness to the harsh reality that, as they say, the hour had cometh. For my world, is indeed fading to grey and at a speed that appears to be accelerating by the week. I am living in a landscape fast losing its colour, in a storyline that has rendered me impotent.  

I am losing her, I am losing her, I am losing her. Right in front of my very eyes, like a rudderless boat drifting out onto a vast lake, its course getting more uncertain, its speed quickening with time. I am within reach, touching distance of a hair’s breadth and yet here I am, grasping at nothing, chasing shadows that cannot be caught. She is here and yet she is not here, or rather like a will o’the wisp, she is here and then she is gone.  

The time has come for me to walk into this fast encompassing twilight and to stand with her, side by side, to take her hand and squeeze it. To let her know, during our more lucent hours, that I am there, I will be there, always, through both seeming and reality. Our world has become a dream within a dream but we will face this, our incubus, together.

“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream”Edgar Allan Poe


*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

How to Disappear Completely #dailyinspo365

In which like a snail retreating into its shell, I immerse myself in writing this post, and somehow, silently, magically, disappear completely.

Some days are harder than others. Some days “that there, that’s not me”.

I like to keep it positive, keep it brightside, but it isn’t always easy, maintaining a front.

My mother has dementia. I can’t remember if I’ve told you that before but there it is. In plain English. Dementia. And it is eating away at her … and gnawing away at me.

Somedays, her ‘demented mind’ and warped way of thinking skew facts, deconstructing and reconstructing past events, churning up ‘history’, and raking up the bones of a long buried past. Dementia drives obsession and obsessive behavioural patterns. Those suffering with the disease often focus on past happenings, and sadly, in my mother’s case, these tend to be predominantly negative.

I don’t know what triggers these bouts of obsession, and while irregular in frequency, they are regular in recurrence. They come and they go, lasting anything from a few hours up to as many weeks. At the moment, mum is currently experiencing a bout of fixation that is particularly vitriolic. I keep trying to swerve the conversation by changing the subject or leaving the room, but it’s no use. She just keeps on, and on, and on, repeating the same angry utterances again, and again, and again.

Like stone on glass, it grinds and wears me down. I feel myself shrivelling. I feel my temper burning. I feel sadness burrowing into my heart and darkness enshrouding my soul.

And then it takes my hand. The need to evaporate, to fade, to disappear completely.

That there
That’s not me
I go
Where I please
I walk through walls
I float down the Liffey
I’m not here
This isn’t happening
I’m not here
I’m not here
In a little while
I’ll be gone
The moment’s already passed
Yeah it’s gone
And I’m not here
This isn’t happening
I’m not here
I’m not… – How to Disappear Completely, Radiohead (Kid A)
Some days, no matter how hard I try, dementia beats me into retreat. You can only fight the invisible in so many ways, and for so long, before like a war-savvy guerrilla it takes you out.
The words of this Radiohead song perfectly sum up how I feel in these instances of mind-bending unreality. Because that’s how it feels. Unreal. Mind-warping. Nerve-wracking. Tension tightening. Emotional straightjacket.
And all the while, there she is. Oblivious. My wonderful, intelligent, determined, courageous, brave, inspirational mother. A fragile and frayed iteration of her former steely self. And I hate it, this disease. It has forced us to fight a battle we cannot win.
I stand bruised but not broken. Bloodied, but unbowed.
For now though, I need to go.
” … In a little while
I’ll be gone
I’m not here
This isn’t happening
I’m not here
I’m not”
You can listen to the first episode of my dementia podcast Fade to Grey here. More episodes will follow shortly.

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

Hi Hi Hi Beautiful Sunday #dailyinspo365

Today, we’re belatedly celebrating Father’s Day, and probably because of that, the bars of ‘Beautiful Sunday’ are running riot in my head. 

Even though it’s not an aesthetically beautiful Sunday, it’s still going to be a good one. In fact, it already is.

I woke this morning with something of a spring in my step, notwithstanding three failed late night attempts to catch up on the Archers (yes, guilty pleasure!). In fact the last thing I remember before nodding off was Shula’s voice agonising over the latest drama to befall her and Alistair – aside, does anything think that pair are getting interestingly close to each other again? Stranger things etc.

Owing to the fact that I was out of Dublin on Father’s Day we had to park celebrations, now planned for today, and all going according to, it should be a pretty straightforward ‘out to lunch’ event, no drama. Well, you’d think that wouldn’t you, but then again, you haven’t met my parents. Enough said.

Currently, I’ve got a vision of Dad traipsing through my mind, and with it the beats of Daniel Boone’s 70’s one hit wonder, Beautiful Sunday. A favourite of my father’s, he used to sing it non-stop – well, two lines on repeat – whilst doing that strange thing with his arms that he used to do – not as strange as the one legged shake thing he was notorious for. I can still hear him singing it. “Hi, Hi, Hi beautiful Sunday, This is My, My, My beautiful day”. 

And this is his beautiful day. Father’s Day. Yes, I know it’s one week late, but it doesn’t matter. What counts is that we’re still celebrating fatherhood and acknowledging his contribution and a life lived. I won’t lie and say that my memories of my Dad are all good, but in the main, those from my childhood are softened by many warm and funny moments.

Always one up for mischief, my Dad was Ernie to my mother’s Bert, George to her Mildred. He used to get up to all kinds of hysterical nonsense (putting his hands through the window and pretending to choke a neighbour asleep in his chair), loved all sorts of childishness (the Flintstones being a case in point), and could be often heard yabadabadooing from inside the garage or kicking ball with the kids out on the road.

That was then.

Now in his nineties, my Dad can no longer walk unaided. Instead he speeds around with one of those wheelie shopper doo-dahs – meep, meep, it’s the road runner. However, he still has that glint in his eye. The one that says, “beware, mischief maker present”.

So while the skies might be grey, and heavy rain is threatened, this will still be our Beautiful Sunday. Because while we’re still our very own shamble of a family, we are just that – a family. And nothing is more beautiful than that.


*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

Isn’t Life Great Though? #dailyinspo365

A short post in which the author ponders the greatness of life … for today at least!

Life is great when it’s Saturday, and after having an ‘oh wow, really?’ seven hours sleep, one awakes to blazing sunshine and eye-hurtingly blue skies.

As I’ve said, it’s Saturday, and after a pretty full-on week that included humping two suitcases and an octogenarian two hundred miles via public transport, overseeing two geriatric hospital appointments, detangling two psychopathic cats, and de-smoking a smoking oven, for once, there’s no agenda. The diary is clear. I’ve nothing to do. Well, I do – housework, gardening, some shopping etc – but I’m keeping it low-key.

I’ll do what I have to, a dash through some chores followed by a little light weeding, but that’s it!

Tomorrow I’m booked in for belated Father’s Day duties so today is the only one with availability for some quality me-time, and I intend making the most of it. When I finish writing this brief post, I’m off for a not-too-long power walk, for which I’ll be rewarded with a strong coffee, yum. Then, I’ll sweep away the few to-dos before getting on with the task of enjoying life.

Relaxation is the name of today’s game. Reading, listening to music, silence, laughter, bird watching, lots of tea, bit of chatter, and a little bit of what I like to call the Monty Derv version of gardening – which is all very random and not at all planned or thought out but seems to work for some if not all of the plants! That reminds me, I need to update you on my progress or lack thereof, in becoming the next Helen Dillon!

Isn’t life great though? Even if it’s just for one day. I’ve learned to take what I can, celebrate small, unexpected gifts of joy, and be thankful for every bit of GREATNESS that life bestows upon me.

Currently, I’m sitting typing this, whilst drinking tea and listening to Maconie & Radcliffe on BBC 6 Music. And it’s thanks to them that I discovered This is The Kit’s easy-on-the-ear ‘Moonshine Freeze’, to which you can listen below.

So today, whatever you’re doing or not doing, whatever you’ve got planned or not, I wish you all a GREAT day!


*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!