STATEMENT

Dear wonderful audience

 

During these unprecedented times of a pandemic-status viral outbreak, I am sure that like me, you are checking websites and news outlets daily as the unknown is certainly scarier than the known.

 

Rumours and whispers circulating hints at more extreme measures becoming imminent, already being in place across the world.

 

As a mother of three children; a teenager, a six-year-old and a five-year-old – each needing a particular style of parenting as they are all different. If you have been following my journey, you will know that my youngest has certain challenges which means that our whole parenting style has had to evolve to meet his needs. The need for routine and constant communication in regard to routine has been a necessity to his health and wellbeing. Now, with the threat of school-closures long term and very few warnings about when this is happening, leaves little time in regard to preparation.

 

So, with that in mind, I am suspending all activities that are not family-focused. Giving myself time to plan home-schooling so we are all prepared if it does indeed close for months. Not only that but with the risk of losing wages; with one of us being zero-hours contract and the other being a full-time parent carer and student, we need to work out contingencies. We also have our own parents that fall into the “high risk” category and will have to go into the mandatory self-isolation. I should be joining them as a chronic asthmatic, but as a parent, I cannot. Though we will be severely limiting our risk by not going out and trying to make our last shop carry us through.

 

What I will be doing will be creating timetables that are broken up, so my kids continue with their learning, I get my own coursework done (which is harder to do with kids around) creating engaging lesson plans that work around my youngest due to his energy and lack of attention span. Creating tailored lists and fun things that will keep them busy and engaged. I also need to work out food ideas; due to my youngest’s food restrictions (fussiness) as well as having the last deep-check to ensure I have ingredients to make what we don’t have as well as ingredients to create things within the lesson plans. I will also use this time to have a deep clean and sort out of our filled up house and preparing the unused room to be used as an office once this is all over – that room should have been my youngest’s but is unused as he and all the kids sleep better with him using the sofa as a bed (he will only settle there – at a reasonable time. He cannot sleep properly in the bedroom). I will also be trying – in between all of this – to focus on my own mental health. I have started counselling and was told to find time for myself.

 

Although this is keeping me busy; I love spending time with my children and I am concentrated on removing anxiety within these uncertain times. So I will be taking a step back. I will be still vocal on my social media and will share credible information via these platforms.

 

So I wish you all well, you will all be in my thoughts.

 

Kelly

Katomdoc

 

Information:

 

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

 

Stay at home advice

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.

 

Stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms!

 

Stay at home if you have either:

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new, continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly
  • Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
  • You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home.
  • Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home.

 

How long to stay at home

 

  • if you have symptoms, stay at home for 7 days
  • if you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms
  • If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.
  • If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.

 

Urgent advice: Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

  • you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • your condition gets worse
  • your symptoms do not get better after 7 days

 

Use the 111 coronavirus service

Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.

 

How to avoid catching and spreading coronavirus (social distancing)

Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading.

 

It is particularly important for people who:

  • are 70 or over
  • have a long-term condition
  • are pregnant
  • have a weakened immune system

 

Do

  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of coronavirus
  • only travel on public transport if you need to
  • work from home, if you can
  • avoid social activities, such as going to pubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas
  • avoid events with large groups of people
  • use phone, online services, or apps to contact your GP surgery or other NHS services

 

Don’t

  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
  • do not have visitors to your home, including friends and family
  • The NHS will contact you from Monday 23 March 2020 if you are at particularly high risk of getting seriously ill with coronavirus. You’ll be given specific advice about what to do.
  • Do not contact your GP or healthcare team at this stage – wait to be contacted.

 

How coronavirus is spread

 

Because it’s a new illness, we do not know exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person.

Similar viruses are spread in cough droplets.

It’s very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food.

 

Travel advice

 

There are some countries and areas where there’s a higher chance of coming into contact with someone with coronavirus.

If you’re planning to travel abroad and are concerned about coronavirus, see advice for travellers on GOV.UK.

 

Treatment for coronavirus

 

  • There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus.
  • Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses.
  • Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.
  • You’ll need to stay in isolation, away from other people, until you have recovered.

A Writers Progress: My work-in progess

I always have a project or three on the go (don’t all writers?!) and one of my recent ones has me thinking – not only about process but the way in which writers write, find time to write and how to put together a book that is not only intertextual but metatextual. Writers reflect on their work – almost constantly. And I thought – wouldn’t it be interesting to write as a writer who writes and ponders their own writing existence. A brain-twister for sure, but once inspired, the words have poured from my fingertips; I even wrote a chapter devoted to social media. It is written a little maximalist in places but it works. The inner voice, the hermit existence, the distractions around us all feature.

 

So here is Chapter Two: The Problem with my Generation:

 

Facebook, Twitter, Ello, Instagram, Snapchat. They are all crying out to be updated. But finding anything interesting about my life can be a challenge. So I focus on details. A close-up shot of my laptop with my work-in-progress hinted. A picture of my dead brown stick-bush with a heady clever caption, a picture of a picture. And of course, a beautifully shot, slightly edited selfie.

 

I keep my phone up to date with the latest high-end Apple device, I then always load it with Facetune (if I have time to use it) and for faster shots BeautyPlus. I took my hair out of the ugly mum-scrunchie and shook my head so my hair looks tousled and wild. I open my curtains enough for a natural hit of light and hold the phone slightly above my head. I know how to pose after years of practice and snap a few shots. Picking the one that I like the most, I then post on all my medias with the title “#momlife #writer #writerwriting #selfie #selfportrait When you look a mess but trying to be the best. I’m a poet and didn’t know it”.

 

The hashtags to spread the message. A quick few words about who I am and what I am about. Narcissistic self-promotion at it’s finest. But a necessity to tell the world “Hi, I am here!” even if sometimes it seems rather pointless and banal. Within a day, on Facebook, I get over six-hundred likes, fifty plus comments, 99% men and a few “I love you’s”, whatsapp numbers, people begging me to message them, oh and one person steals my pictures and reposts them under my pictures – weird but flattering. Did I mention that I am married? It is obvious on my socials, I don’t hide it, infact, I regularly talk about my beautiful family, promote Autism awareness and share memes and stories of interest. Still, for a hermit, it is both an unsettling medium and a bolster for the often diminished confidence.

 

I am a millennial. Well according to a random, google-inspired search when I really should have been doing something more productive. Apparently, I fall bang smack in the middle of being a 1986-baby millennial; it starts on 1980 and ends 1994. Millennials are gen y. I remember the time before the internet, before the snazzy mobile phones became the social norm. I remember my teenage years being filled with msn messanger and emoji addiction. Before emoji’s became a varied vocabulary. According to Psychologist Jean Twenge we are the ‘ME’ generation. The depressed children of boomers. Also called a Peter Pan generation for our inability to follow the normal rites of passages from the people before us. We are told that we are more narcissistic, more driven by appearance especially digitally, sheltered, awkward. A lost generation and very much dissuaded by the past norms.

 

I might be a millennial but I also kind of went against what is considered the norm for a millennial. First of all, I married in my mid-twenties. According to a bunch of internet tick-lists, millennials put it off as long as possible. As close to the cat-owning spinster age as they can possibly get. Next, I bought a house, out in the country although the city is where my heart often goes when I need space. That is something that the tick-list said millennials put off in favour of flat hopping and uber rides. I have never used an uber. Seriously. I have never used it. Not just because it was starting to take off as I left London and they don’t have it in the little village town that I now live. I just never really felt the need to use one. I was just too used to using the Underground to get wherever I needed to go, or the overground. Or bum a lift from someone I knew because god forbid you took one off a stranger. I watched enough crime programmes to know that you just didn’t. Though i just remembered that I did, only once.

 

And it was from a girl, who turned out to have stolen the car from her rich boyfriend and was going through my area and had to take a quick stop to score crack from a drug den. After that, I wouldn’t. I did not want a criminal record or my body ending up in the Thames. Swollen and bloated from untold abuse and my identity not being able to be figured out. Every girls fear. And considering I had to walk in the crack den with this girl because she was jittery, paranoid and I worried for her safety, added the full stop to this grabbing a lift from randoms saga. As I was leaving, drugged up skeletons looked up from the dirty mattresses placed along the floors and walls and said “don’t take drugs, you’re too pretty” After she got back in the car, I walked the last mile home.

 

Now, after growing up in the technological age, this native is now natively plugged in, online, twenty-four-cyber-living-seven. Of course, before I have to leave the house, my face has makeup on so I could try and look a semblance like my profile pic but indoors, I throw on my etsy-purchased silk kimono, short-shorts, no bra, baggy vest. Gold hairband and wild-hair. Apple watch on one wrist, e-rosary on another, several layered amethyst necklaces with a vintage suffragette pendant and oversized rosary necklace adorning my neck. Depending on my mood, I take out my tarot deck and post a random reading for an unknown stranger on one of my socials friends or followers list.

 

I wonder how they see me. A moon-child, spiritually free banshee? A crazy lady that chucks everything together? A poser? A narcissist? A vacant spirit upon a screen to look at and fantasize about? Someone to feel sorry about? A nothing? A something? Everything? I don’t know. I truly don’t know and I feel like that I no longer post for other people though they see it. I just post what I feel like posting, even if I think no one will see or acknologe it, though in reality I get a lot of reactions and find it both flattering and embarrassing. Especially when people talk about seeing my bobs – and yes, the spelling is how it appears on my comments.

 

The whole point of social media is to lie.

Show a glittering happy smiley life that people aspire to. Show adventures even if you do not leave the house. Share philosophical and positive medias even when you feel like crap. Edit the hell out of your life so you look all golden and shiney. Make everything pretty and have meaning. Share the meaning of life, one quip, one meme at a time.

 

There is something rather isolating in living this golden age of tech life. You can seem like the most popular person, the most put together person. THE strongest person. But the truth is often so different. People think that they know you. They only know what you put out there. I read a repost once that said that each person you have met, knows only a part of you but they have never heard your inner voice – the one that only you can hear. Each person has a snapshot of you, from a period of time but will never know the whole you. You are an island. We are all bystanders that casually drift past like ghosts. One day, your pages will be active. And one day, it will simply exist in memorandum.

And people will only mention snippets of positive information:

“she was so nice”

“she was always such a positive person”

“she shared the BEST memes”

Not the reality that would look like this:

“She was socially awkward except online”

“She sure loved to curl up in her kingsize bed, surrounded by books, technology and Haribo Tangtastics”

“The girl hoarded weird things”

 

Truth is, everyone that thinks that they know you, cannot know everything about you. You might think that they do. You may be an oversharer. But they cannot read your mind. Those that have experienced you, have created a whole psychological belief system about who you are, what you are about and from that foundation, they will always believe you are this person that they, themselves have created.

 

The problem is, we feed into that. We all do. We still do. And our social networks encourage that. Nothing will ever change. As we shy away from becoming more physically social, we seem to increase our digital footprint. As less photo’s become printed. They still exist somewhere in a data storage tower in another country, far far away. What do we leave to be inherited? Will our grandchildren say how our posts were a good reflection of our times, or the outpouring of a technologically damaged generation?

 

I have reflected on all this and yet, I just snapped a picture, between the last sentence and the start of this, where that gap lies, was a moment where I snapped a picture and put “Writing 5000 words in!” and posted on Facebook personal, Facebook business page, Instagram and Twitter. No shame and very much a compulsion.

 

 

 

 

 

Ask me anything: Q&A The Fun Edition

If you were ruler of the universe; what three laws/codes of morality would you implement?

  1. Selfishness/greed would be highly frowned upon – from those people that pretend to be needy which ends up taking from someone actually in need, or people who put their interests above the greater good or those that insist that they must come first for everything.
  2. Anyone that has hurt a child, an animal or harmed others repeatedly would be chemically castrated, face high security mental institutions or max security imprisonment dependant on crime. Regardless of how small a life – anything like that would mean that your junk would be rendered useless.
  3. Education would be free and you would be encouraged to take classes at least once a year – this world would be highly educated, so no decision would be ill-informed. History would be mandatory up until post-grad – so you will know political history, societal constructs, the mistakes of the past etc. You will need to pass a politics test to vote. And then you can do any classes you would like – from yoga to advanced maths. Coding to farming. Our country would be stronger, no one would be unskilled.

 

What animal would you say that you are most like and why?

A Staffordshire bull terrier – I like a wander but am happy in bed, surrounded by my toys and food. I am the land-seal/pig of the dog world. I can look cute or rough but my heart is in everything that I put my mind to. I am also short and stocky.

 

What is the top of your bucket list?

Fulfil my nans wishes. Make her proud of me.

 

What are your three guilty pleasures?

  1. Prosecco
  2. Haribo tangtastics
  3. Sleep

 

If you had ten million pounds what would you spend it on?

I’d pay off my mortgage and any debts. Buy a house next to mine and create the ultimate house. I’d buy a few investment properties to rent out. Take the kids on a few holidays – though keeping my youngest in mind with them as I wouldn’t want to overwhelm him. I’d pay for my partner to get trained up in any job that he wants. Fix up a few bits on my car. Get my partner the rat bike of his dreams. Sort my mum and in-laws out with whatever was needed. Kit out the ultimate office. Get a life coach, councillor and also build a business to work from my home as well as continue being a writer. Not overly spendy, but would actually help the whole family and enable me to be here for my kids – especially my youngest as I could not have anyone look after him, he needs that routine and security.

 

Where would be your ideal destination to visit and why?

I would love to visit New York again. I’d go to all the tourist places, the museums, wander in central park, go to a Broadway show and soak in the busyness of the city, whilst writing and taking a ton of photos.

 

If you could ban one food item, what would it be and why?

Peanuts. Absolutely hate peanuts. Even the smell makes me nauseous. To me it tastes like dirt and crunchy poop. Earthy, sour and rank.

 

What is your top 10 music tracks?

  1. The Sound of Silence – Disturbed
  2. Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie
  3. Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden
  4. Cruz – Christina Aguilera
  5. One of Us – Joan Osborne
  6. Born Slippy – Underworld
  7. Sweet Nothing – Florence and the Machine and Calvin Harris
  8. Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morrisette
  9. Mad World – Michael Andrew Ft. Gary Jules
  10. Summertime Sadness – Lana Del Rey

Hard to pick just ten but I listen to these the most at the moment.

 

Who do you admire most?

  1. My kids – all different, all with their struggles – I admire them every single day. Byron for his sweetness and loving nature. Pauline for her strength. Henry and his special brain. All are wonderful, unique creatures.
  2. My mum – had a lot to deal with and still a super positive, supportive mum.
  3. My nan – she worked so hard her whole life. Heart of gold. Beautiful and strong.

 

What are your most useful skills?

I learn things quickly and am good on any operating system, can update my own computers and good at finding solutions for problems.

 

What are your top three movies?

  1. Natural Born Killers
  2. Goodfellas
  3. Dawn of the Dead

 

What four series would you watch time and time again?

  1. Sopranos
  2. Girls
  3. Sex and the City
  4. Dexter

 

If the house was on fire but you could only save one object (people/pets are already safe) what would it be and why?

Well I keep my tech by a backpack or in a backpack – so it’d take to seconds to throw it all in the bag. I really look after my tech so I’d rescue all of it. I couldn’t pick one and I keep them all together anyway. I love my laptops, I love my phones, I love my watch… boom saved.

 

What do you miss most about being a kid?

Not having any responsibilities and being carefree.

 

What makes a person beautiful?

Their attitude. Their smile. Beauty fades but someone can stay beautiful by being kind, caring, being gentle, loving and positive.

The Empire: Outtakes

Some of these have been for writing activities within my Masters degrees so may or may not actually be used within the book that I’m working on. But I thought I would be share, to give you, my audience, a hint of what is to come – feel free to let me know what you think:

The empire: Work in progress – this is written in diary form in sections – this one is about the death of the main characters’ mother by the hands of the government due to her not adding to the empire due to disability. The three POVs will be from one of the guards of “The Peoples’ Army”, one from the mother and one from the narrator. I want them to be connected, yet clear so have to think about how to weave them together. This has to be written with the idea that the diary may be read by someone who may use it against the protagonist. 

November 19th:

The wind bites; colder than the last month and threatens us all with snow. Before I go for a mandatory run with my assigned partner, I have taken what rations I can. Not nearly enough, when the overseer’s back is turned, I work swiftly. Since my mother no longer gets benefits for her spinal condition, her bank account has emptied from the government take-over and they have not provided her much. Luckily she doesn’t live too far. Wait a minute, there’s a knock at the door. I can hear someone outside and the knock was both heavy and official. I better go see who it is.

This is the worst part of my job. But no one is safe from the will of the empire. It’s bitterly cold out, almost as cold as my next assignment. No one wants to do this, but you have to do what they tell you. They. The invisible force that has transformed our country and soon the world. They, the higher-ups, have designed this system to be hard on the less fortunate and golden for those able to keep up. I know someone is in, and the person I am here to see should not be out, as soon, they have to fulfil their duties too. I know they aren’t going to like what happens next but it is necessary. I am here to ensure all is done as it is supposed to be. Not the nicest job; it hurts my heart to have to do this, and I have to ensure no one runs from this. After the girl is collected, soon, we will depart.

I wonder what is taking so long; I’m cold, wrapped in a knitted blanket, sat in my wheelchair, surrounded by old plates cemented with leftovers. I can’t have the heating on and it hurts my bones. I try so much, to move and not dwell on the past. I voted for this, I voted for my grandchildren’s future. Where did it all go wrong? A bag sits by my back door, filled with empty wine bottles. Oh how I would kill for a glass! I’ve run out of my medication, I ran out ages ago. And if it wasn’t for my daughter, I would starve. She’s been my rock and I wish she had more time to linger here, chat to me, help me tidy up like she has done for years. But since the rise of the Empire, they’ve had her on a strict schedule. I know she will get in trouble if found here, but I need her. Now, more than ever.

I’m sorry, dear reader. It has been a while since I could continue this diary. I’m afraid my tears will smudge this ink. My hands hurt, my heart is shattered into a million pieces. Where did we all go wrong?

She opened the door; the girl I am here to collect. I see the worry etched on her face. Usually my presence would mean trouble. That hasn’t changed, but it is not what she thinks. I introduce myself and tell her that I am here to collect her and she is relieved from duty today. She instantly asks why. It is unusual to be allowed off the runs and meetings and work duties, though she is now given compassionate leave.

“Why do I need companionate leave?” her voice raises a few decibels and then I reveal it. I am here to escort herself and her mother to Sleepy Hollow’s – she doesn’t know what it means, I have to explain. This is the government-sanctioned facility to relieve patients of their mortal coils. To relieve the empire of it’s burdens. I am here for her mother. I see the whites of her eyes as it hits her. Today, is her mothers’ last day and we must leave immediately. She shakes her head and mutters “no, no, no” softly, then walks straight out and follows me into the black van.

Finally, my daughter arrives, I see her shadow and know that someone is with her. Someone who is carrying a large gun. My nerves fail me and I shake like a leaf. I sit here in prayer, god, please let me have not got her in trouble, her kids need her, I need her too! But she walks in, I can see she has been crying, and the man follows, looks around at the mess at my bungalow in the old peoples’ complex and sighs. She hugs me, longer than normal and she tells me “mum, we have to go now.” Her voice cracks, I can see she is trying so hard to hold it together. I ask why, and she says that we have to go to a hospital. I see her waiver at the word hospital. I ask her why she is upset, and she says that it is because they have no choice and she grabs my hand. “Mum, I love you so much. I am so sorry.” The man helps take me to the van, he barely looks at me as the driver starts the engine and we begin the unknown journey.

My mother is my world. I lost my grandparents a few years ago. One to cancer, one to kidney failure, both within a few months of eachother. Somehow we propped eachother up. Got through the darkest times of our lives. I watched my mum fall into a pool of depression, drinking more to escape the physical pain, escape the pain that ripped through her heart and soul. Somehow she was also strong, inbetween those moments, she gave me strength to pull myself out of the abyss for my children. My mum was my best. The person I’d talk to everyday. My last link to the memories of my family. My dad was never around, it was always me, my mum and my nan. I don’t know how I will cope.

A nurse was waiting outside of the entrance with a wheelchair. The girl stayed by her mothers’ side, trying to be strong. A hand on her mothers’ shoulder as myself and my assigned partner followed. I have a brand new pack of cigarettes in my pocket, I don’t know if she smoked – nowadays these are near impossible to get hold of, but I was allowed to offer her as much as she needed, I had water in my belt and weapons to hand should they try to escape, though I really don’t think they can or will. Still, we are prepared for anything. My partner stays with the mother as she is checked in, I call the girl out and offer her one of the smokes. She takes it. I light it. Then the tears fall like a fountain. I am not allowed to apologise as it would be admitting the Empire is wrong and I don’t know who is listening. Instead, I stay quiet, except to answer questions.

They have taken me to a bed where a nurse is now fussing for readings. The other man who drove us here is stood beside the bed. Holding the large gun. I ask why I am here, but he stares through me, like the nurse. I can feel it in my gut; the feeling of dread. I look around and see many people in chairs and beds. People in fatigues, like my daughter, look distressed. I have a feeling, a bad feeling. When I hear the tone. I heard it before on TV; I used to love watching medical dramas, wishing that I could’ve been a paramedic until my condition got in the way. It was the tone of death, and it came, one after the other, after the other. It hits me. Like a ton of bricks. I’m here to die.

My mum stared at me when I came back in and asked “they’ve taken me here to die, haven’t they” I was struck dumb at her awareness and could simply nod. “Mum, I am so sorry. So so sorry” I reply and hold her hand, I can’t stop the tears once they’ve started. I watch as a nurse adds a line into her arm and my mother doesn’t even flinch. She steps out leaving the two men and myself alone for a moment. I can see she’s trying to stay strong for me. It kills me inside. I hate that I feel so powerless right now. The machine beside her, beaps with each heartbeat. And the little blip where she has a hole in her heart. Not long after, the nurse returns and nods to the men beside us and states “it’s time, now. I am going to administer this. You won’t feel a thing, it will be like you’ve fallen asleep” then, without a pause, she begins. My mothers eyes flutter “I love you” and as she gets to the You, the machine lets out the screaming tone of no heartbeat. It was over too quickly. I hold her hand and lay my head on it, crying like my insides were being clawed from within me. Now, I am all alone in the world. Parentless. Grandparentless. Less of a person. Less. I whisper the lords prayer and silently hope that heaven exists and she is heading there with all the people we’ve lost. They allow me this. A few moments with my mother uninterrupted before once again, staff follow suit and wheels the bed away whilst another one waits with a new bed. The guard who has been by my side through the whole thing asks “smoke?” I nod, because what else could I do?

These places remind me of conveyor belts. I do not think it is fair how quickly the turn around is. And I know all the dead will shortly be thrown in the furnace and the ashes then put into holes in the ground. It isn’t right but it’s not my place to condemn. She’s in pain, the girl, and I don’t think they’re given enough time to prepare. All I can do, is offer what I have and am allowed to give. After this, I am collecting another person from the same complex. At least this woman had the girl, some people have no one. A lot come out of their trashridden homes looking like skeletons, some never leave at all as the weather changes and the lack of heating has done the job of this facility. I’ve known the odd person to make a run for it, and we are then allowed to disable them as they will be destroyed anyway. I’ve known family members to fight but that means re-education and a missed opportunity to say goodbye. The girl did her duty, as did the mother. I will report only positive things and she will be allowed extra rations, I will also petition for her to be allowed to keep something from that bungalow of her mothers, as she won’t get the ashes. Before the place is reconditioned and the belongings claimed and recycled, before a family is assigned the emptied place. The girl will get a week to recover and a letter from the Prime Minister of the Empire, basically telling her how she has done her duty and because of her, a worthy family has a home and her family will be rewarded. It’s no solace, I know. But it is our duty for our new country.

Writing activity

Reflect on the relationship between the kinds of character you write (ideally in your ongoing project, though you might like to think about how far this typifies your approach to character more generally) and the style and world of the fiction they belong to. Write a 500 word reflection on this and share and discuss with your fellow students.

I am currently working on (for myself) a story called The Empire; Britain has voted in a party that promises to “Return the British Empire to its former glory”. Considering its current tension filled climate, I wanted to take a deeper dystopian world of what could be.

The main character, Cilla, is both the narrator and mother within this story. It occurs after The Empire has taken power, and families have been militarised – every household has a “maid” or overseer who sees to the house and children but also keeps an eye on the husband and wife to ensure that they are doing their duties. This is written in diary form, as she keeps a diary to write out her thoughts, even if they end up getting read. She fears being sent to a re-education camp, so tries to be careful as to not write anything damning about The Empire.

Generally, the type of characters that are write are female, dealing with a darkness within them. In this instance, Cilla is dealing with external forces outside of her control. She doesn’t like the overseer, as she seems too harsh with the kids, particularly the autistic son. She watches her daughter take on duties with ease (as all children must not only go to school, but also must go to a form of Empire Cadets), her husband works long hours on the Railway infrastructure, she tries too look after her mother between her exercise drills, before meeting with her assigned partner, as all sort of aid, benefits and medical help for elderly and disabled has been ceased. She also has to watch her mother die in a government sanctioned assisted suicide building. She is no longer allowed to mother her children, and has to handle policies that include a five-child minimum, a society where telling on your neighbours in encouraged, and very little alone time to collect herself.

Compared to my other characters, Cilla was a normal mother, whilst other characters like Lana Lane (Black Moon Rises: The First Book) is a victim of abuse, and the abuser changes her whole world into become a part of werewolf society. Both are victims of external forces, but Cilla is a stronger character. She has to adjust or lose everything. Lana ran from everything and tried to build herself a new life.

Whilst Lana Lane’s world is purely imaginative, Cillas world has roots in real events – the Nazi take over of Germany was a big inspiration; as they completely changed society to build their versions of the ideal “Aryan Race” – as I have visited Auschwitz and researched extensively during my Undergraduate History and Literature Degree, I wanted to model some of that world to Cillas.

Cilla and her family are also modelled on real families; a mother, father and three children.

Writing activity

Write a 500 word piece in which you emphasise the anti-heroic qualities of the narrator or main character from your work in progress. Even if you have never conceived of your character in this way, it is vital to grasp their inevitable imperfections.

Think about how you are going to do this without losing the reader’s engagement. Maybe we sense a hidden depth or vulnerability; or a tragic lack of self-knowledge; or the voice has so much energy (wit, inventiveness, verve) that their faults become irresistible; or the character is pitifully unsuited for what they hope to achieve.

What do you think of when you think of a maid? A drudge? A cleaner? A subservient worker at your very beck and call? No. We are not what you must think we are. Take my belt for example. A belt has a lot of functions; it holds up your clothes, you can attach things to it. But here, my belt plays two main parts. A punishment and attached, a holster to hold another form of punishment. We are told, that we can use them on disobedience, what ever the age. And a little punishment doesn’t hurt anyone. I remember getting the belt. I was about the same age of my assigned families youngest, about 5 years old when I felt the sharp sting across the back of my legs for wetting myself in front of my father. My father never had patience but nevertheless, I certainly did not wet myself in front of him again. The difference this time though, is we also get the use of an electric device. Something we had a little basic training for. A tazer.

Now, you may think that I am an awful person. Going around hitting and attacking anyone that disagrees with me. In some cases, yes. I must be harsh. Kids need discipline and they also need to model what The Empire wants them too. I am in charge and they have to respect their elders. Their parents cannot go attacking us either. I’ve heard of other maids being beaten for simply giving a well-deserved punishing to a child who needed to be rid of their bratty ways. This Empire has absolutely no tolerance for brats.

Talking of brats. This family has a particularly wild youngest child. The reports said he is a “high-functioning” branch of Autistic. Yet, he is very oppositional. And it is taking a lot more than a few cracks of my belt to get him to do as I tell him. He tries to run to his mother, but she knows the look. He is my responsibility, and if I do not keep him under control, then he could be recommended for destruction. Though, he has been advocated for, by his teachers for his excellent mathematical and reading which is currently two years ahead of his peers, eclipsing that of his brother. His potential to aid The Empire, certainly outweighs the resources for his very life, so he was allowed the privilege to live.

My child wasn’t given that. So when I see him, screaming and flapping, crying like a two year old. I feel angry, In those moments, I feel myself reaching for my holster. I question whether his behaviour is worth his potential, because what is potential if it is hindered by immaturity? The threat of the tazer is sometimes enough. Once they are in bed, I have heard his brother comfort him. And it is in those times that I sometimes regret my reactions. Yet, for The Empire, I must continue. I allow the brother to quietly comfort him.
Because they are no longer allowed the comfort of their mother.

 

 

Self-Care

I have been concentrating a lot recently on self-care. Something I’ve learnt in “group therapy” is that self-care is necessary to a healthy state of mind. So these are the things that I’ve been doing to improve mine:

  1. Taking my meds. This one is most important as these meds not only help with my insomnia, but balance my moods which in turn has helped my depression, anxiety, PTSD and though I am still fully capable of the rainbow array of emotions, they are not extreme. The dreams have been pretty epic too! So creativity has not been lost (my biggest fear!)
  2. Vitamins: I cannot take normal vitamins as I vomit them straight up, so have turned to gummy versions. During Black Friday, there was an offer on from a reputable company (Wicked Gummies) to get 40% off their ranges. So naturally, I took advantage and got their whole bundle. I emailed to check the dosage, to ensure I do not OD as vitamin OD’s can be pretty serious. Luckily, they do not interact with eachother negatively and focus on certain things so 2 of each x 4 (Happy Tummy, Multivitamins, Vitamin D, Hair and Nails) then 2 of the Peaceful Sleep ones an hour before bed means a healthier body. As someone who’s body struggles to absorb things and pretty intense IBS, these promise to aid in these issues. Plus they do not taste bad at all! Oh and they are Gluten Free!
  3. I dyed my hair and due to the frizziness and brittleness, I turned to a special Coco and Eve hair mask (you use a good shampoo, towel dry the hair, then coat and brush into the hair, leave for a minimum of 10 minutes, then rinse. I left it in for 30 mins due to the condition of my hair) and now my hair is shiny and looks healthier!
  4. I have started a full-body skincare routine – for body, I use Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum cream all over (not face) and use the hand cream and body spritz to finish. For face, I remove all makeup, then apply Dr Pierre Ricaud Renaissance de Nuit Night serum and Sarah Chapman Skinesis. I know it says day cream on it, but I use it at night after using the serum. as well as Eborian Yuza Sorbet Eye Serum. For the day, I use Dr Pierre Ricaud Luminexpert first thing in the morning. Then I use Eborian Yuza Sorbet Eye Serum, Pink Perfect Cream, CC Eye in Clair, and CC Cream in Clair. If I’m having a bit of a breakout, I use CC Red Correct. Or extra glow, I may dab on a bit of Glow Cream. This stuff doesn’t ever react with my skin and it seems to balance out my skin tone beautifully. Then, I move onto makeup.
  5. Makeup gets to ready to start the day – when I have a bit of makeup on, I get in the mindset to get started. My favourite brand has to be Charlotte Tilbury and I have been lucky enough to be gifted with a fair bit! So, Foundation has to be Airbrush Flawless or Magic – which has fantastic coverage. Then I use the Airbrush Flawless Finish brushed on with a foundation brush, Kiko blush, C.T Gold Bar for highlighter and bronze, and then C.T Too Bad I’m Bad Hollywood lips. I love C.T Palettes too, so go between Walk of Shame, Pillowtalk Palette of Pops or Starry Eyes to Hypnotise depending on the look, finishing with Supermodel Brow Pencil and Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara. My makeup looks does get compliments and these palettes are perfect!
  6. Routine: I have a set routine in the day and once I manage to get the kids upstairs, I try to catch up on a bit of TV. Though my youngest often comes down or needs me for support due to his Autism, I keep his routine to the letter so he feels a lot more calm. Of course, every night is a bit of hard work but he is happy and I can easily pre-empt his needs. I also enjoy my time with him, as it is just him and me throughout the night, and sometimes, he just wants a cuddle – even if he does not know how to fully express it.
  7. Perfume – if you smell good, you feel good. So I always take a few seconds several times a day to have a spritz – my top 3 at the moment are Charlotte Tilbury: Scent of a Dream, Thierry Mugler: Alien and my nans favourite that I had given her: Penhaligon: Endymion – which I got for free a few years ago – I only use it for special occasions or when I need to feel her close to me – I have very little left of it so use it sparingly.
  8. Food – in the worst of my mental health, I would go days without eating anything. Now I am on my meds, I make an active effort to eat regularly. Yes, at times, I find myself feeding the kids and forgetting myself, but I do try harder, even if I throw together a salad or a wrap. Food nourishes the body AND the soul.
  9. Reading and Writing. I am a writer and as I’ve been told, a pretty darn good one. But through the routines, time can be a massive issue. So I always have my sidekick baby ipad loaded up with a ton of ebooks and I make time to write. Even if my writing is purely for coursework. Which brings me to:
  10. My Masters – keeping the brain active and exploring the psychological intrigues in my writing is a great way to get the internal hidden emotions out. Writing is Cathartic and aiming towards a masters feels good. I have grown a lot in my degrees and this is no different. This was a promise to my nan, who wholly believed and pushed me in my writing. Because of her, and her wishes, I have taken this as well as learnt to drive!
  11. Get out of the house, even if simply a trip to take my mums dog out. Fresh air clears the cobwebs and gets the blood pumping. Exercise is good for you. If I did not make an effort to leave the house, I probably never would. I learnt to drive – a HUGE achievement as a burst into tears several times, whilst learning. But my nan wanted me to learn – “… to be more independent” if it wasn’t for her, I probably never would.
  12. My “Alter” it is where I light candles and give thanks. Being thankful and remembering the people I’ve lost and having the serenity, gives me peace.

Thank you for reading this. I hope you are too doing something for your own self-care. You are more than welcome to share!

Kelly

 

To those that hurt my nan

Have you ever loved someone so much that you would give your life for them? Anything to give them peace and to feel loved?

No. Not you. You wouldn’t. You didn’t.

Let me tell you a little about the beginning of the end. My nan. My hero. My heart, knew her cancer came back, even when we tried to console her that the surgeon got it all. She knew. And she was a smart cookie. She put things in place because you caused her nothing but pain.

My nan loved her flat; close to the bingo, close to the buses, close to everything, she loved it. Though after her first surgery to remove the cancer that had spread within her body, and caused her a serious hernia, she needed care. You threatened to put her in a home and in no circumstance was that an option. She had to move with me.

My mother; with complex care needs herself acted as nurse, loving for and caring for her mother more than herself. But where were you? That’s right, you changed the locks as soon as my grandmother stepped outside of the door, though she should have stayed longer. Rented it out quickly and illegally. YOU. Who only contacted her for something, took over her bank account, run up debts in the flat, even landed my grandmother with a CCJ. YOU. Who tells her friends and everyone who would listen how you cared.

Here’s the tea. You did not come to even one appointment. You never cleaned her, or changed her or helped her. Your motives have always been clear. Fuck your family, fuck your mother. You wanted the flat and you made her life a living hell. HELL.

YOU. You never watched her cry herself to sleep. You never heard her cry about coming here with only her clothes and a few belongings. You never saw her look tearily up from her bed and exclaim that if it wasn’t for me, she would be in a home (her greatest fear), you never heard her talk about how hard she worked only to have nothing of her own. Because of you, she missed out on relationships, she never even really knew her other grandkids. You never saw the embarrassment cross her face as I washed her and comforted her. Because of you, my nan lived in pain.

But I promised her, peace.

Did you know I have PTSD? From seeing her laying in a pool of her own blood, after I was only minutes sorting her medicine away from the children. To come down that she had tried to go to the toilet by herself, quietly, but then could not balance, and tipped until she smashed her head on the corner of my bath. To see that image, which haunts me to this day, as I go to my bathroom I still see her there. Do you know what it is like to make a phonecall to the ambulance services and scream, like my voice wasn’t my own. To then learn that she had a bleed on the brain.

Fast forward to her home and from then, she was not the same. She was dying. In and out of the hospital with sepsis, to be told to do a DO NOT RESCUCITATE form. To have to make that choice. To fighting everyday to get her home, as was her wishes. To make her as comfortable as humanly possible.

Then to hear the death rattle. I barely slept, moving a sofa bed in just so I could be there day and night my mother came. Helping her eat and drink until she could no longer.

Do you know the guilt of cooking and eating when the person you love most, couldn’t? No? And you… every text, every call, not asking about your mother, but her will, the flat, what YOU could get.

I set up a TV in her room, with a USB full of Father Brown episodes. As she forgot us all she never did with my eldest boy or myself, until the last day when I simply became “nurse”. When she forgot the world, due to the bleed, she thought she was still married to grandad and wanted to get home to him, she asked to go back to her home in Kennington, and I had to tell her that her home was now with me. The look of confusion on her face when she saw my mother – because to her, she was but a little girl. She never asked for you, or mentioned you at the end. She forgot you, and thank god she did. Because in those moments, the pain you caused her was forgotton.

Then in the early hours, as I ran in as the sound of her breathing was so spaced out. She took her last breath, not alone. And my little boy sang to her body “I’ll be your sweetheart” and he also sang to her as the priest blessed her within the white box containing her ashes.  You had the audacity to text my mum asking for some of her remains. But no, it was her wish to remain with me. Intact.

They say time heals. But it doesn’t. Not at all. Not in my case. I miss her, I yearn for her. When I need her, she’s no longer here, no longer here to drink from her favourite cup or give me strength to take on life. I wanted to be with her so badly, that my depression almost led me to take my own life. Something I have not admitted to anyone. But when those thoughts consumed me, I knew that she did not want that, and god knows if I would have met with her. In Catholicism, suicides do not go to heaven.

Do you know what gives me comfort? That she has been reunited with the children that she lost. She told me about the baby she lost, and I know my uncle was waiting. I know grandad was too. Though she would never admit it, she did still love him right up until the end. I hope her mother gave her a hug and took her to heaven, she deserved heaven.

You wasn’t there when she saw the ghostly people pop into her room, she wasn’t scared, she would talk to them like old friends. Everytime I asked her “nan, do you know how much I love you?” she nodded and the last day, squeezed my hand.

I kept notes as I cared for her, so the Macmillan nurses knew in detail, every day what we did. I watched her skin mottle. And threw out my back carrying her to the toilet. Until I could no longer. She still wanted to go even with a catheter. But we kept her comfortable. I prayed for her, when she stopped talking.

My nan in life was THE STRONGEST woman that I had ever known. I was proud she was my nan. She would have given the last penny and clothes off her back for other people. Even people she did not know well, because she was that sort of person.

But you weren’t there.

And now I have gotten the best solicitor that money can buy to fulfil HER wishes.

You didn’t even come to her funeral, though you were invited. Even people she did not know sent love and prayers for her… you? “What about the flat?” others talked crap about what should be, never asking what she wanted. My mother and I listened to her, as she had told us in detail exactly what she wanted. We fulfilled it to the letter.

Yes, what about the flat? She left it to my mum. She never had dementia. Nor did I have power of attorney. I cut you and yours off to let her have the room to die in peace, do you know why? Because you lot threatened us, threatened my home, my children, my partner. Who did nothing to you. Did you know within a few days she had to be taken to the hospital as the stress caused her heart to go into arrythmia. You can thank your son, the chip off the old block for that.

My nan was a clever cookie and all we want is for her to have true peace. If that means that I have to spend everything I own, and more. Then I will. I will take on everything, I will tell people how you really made your money because you never had a proper job in your life and have lived on benefits. I will sue you, I will not stop until that flat is gone and debts paid.

You lived on lives Including claiming carers, which let’s be frank, you never cared for my grandad either. He’d call us to tell us about him worrying about his things going missing or how you want rid of him. You had your bathroom redone when he did not even live with you, he was back in Thailand or Cambodia. He went back early because you wanted rid, because of that he died, if he was here, he would not have and you cost him the last visit with his most beloved daughter Pauline. Mark my words, he knows everything now. His soul knows exactly what you did.

You never told my mother until you were boarding a plane to Thailand, 5 days after he passed. My mother and I could never be that cruel. We notified you, the morning of my nan’s passing.

How can you even look at yourself in the mirror? Are you that disgusting? She never raised you to be so heartless. Yet here you are. Contesting something that she wanted. She never left you the flat because of what you did in life. You destroyed lives. You made hers a living hell, for so many years. Yet I know what you have told others, because your ‘friends’ – well some of them know what you are REALLY like.

You have hated me. It’s sad. All because I have looked after your mother since I was 15 years old.

I am making her proud though. I have learnt to drive and am finishing my master’s degree – both things that she wanted me to do because she believed in me. I have my own demons to fight but even they agree that until she has peace, none of us will stop fighting. I kept receipts as the saying goes. We will use everything we have to make you face up to what you did.

You will. Hell is only half full.

Grief is a long road….

Over a year has passed… a year without my best friend, my grandmother, my confidant. It has been beyond hard. I have cried endless tears. Prayed for signs and truth be told, i have been lucky to have them; dreams of hearing her voice. But it doesn’t stop me missing her or the accompanying loneliness. Mix that with the responsibilities of being a parent and some days, I am simply broken. Add to that further, having a child with special needs that don’t understand their actions, their particularness to impulse control and sensory issues and the worst days can have me feeling even more alone. It all reminds me that I cannot simply go next door with a cup of coffee (for me) and a giant cup of tea (for her) and to simply talk. We used to talk about everything and my nan gave me strength. Sometimes, I feel like that since she has passed, she has taken my strength and happiness with her. Sometimes, I think how the hell do I move forward?
I try to give myself space, I try to be kind to myself. But sometimes, those tears flow and for that day, it is impossible to stop.
For my nan and my family, I put one foot in front of the other and spark that last bit of fight that I have. Because what is right, and good – I cannot stand the thought that people who could have caused so much pain for my nan could carry on in her name and cause more destruction in their paths.

My nan never wanted the proverbial noose of others’ greed around her neck. She used to tell me that she worked hard all of her life, never run up debts and tried her best to bring her children right. She used to cry that if it wasn’t for me, she would have been put in a home or worse. She used to say to me “I’m sorry for being a burden” she never was. I know, though she was embarrassed to be getting help for the basics of things, as I said to her, she helped raise me, and I will always look after her. She knew how much I love her, past and present tense – even at the worst of it, she would always nod when I asked her “do you know how much I love you?”.
I still get flashbacks of her last few weeks. How I had to bury every bit of emotion I had to ensure that she was looked after alongside the little ones, an older one who was still reeling from the death of their father and in a sense acting out, because their last time to see their father was cruelly taken by the actions of another.

I had the house, the dog, the kids, the nurses, my partner, his parents, we all tried to rally around. The dog would lay under her bed day in and day out. My mum kept her company through the day whilst I’d try and keep the other plates spinning.

I put a sofa bed on the other side of her bedroom wall, kept the doors open and would check on her several times, and call out nurses to make sure my nan was pain-free. She passed the early morning, I awoke as the laboured sound of her breathing ceased.

Walking into the bedroom, the bedcovers haven’t moved since she was last tucked in. A simple line of fluid rolled down her chin and her skin began to whiten as the blood stopped. “Oh, nan” was all I could say. I touched her hand and repeated, “do you know how much I love you?” I then called my mum.
My brave mum. A woman who struggles day in and day out herself was there within 5 mins and I left her with nan. Whilst I had to think of all the practicalities. This woman, my mum, has always been by my nan’s side through cancer the first time, the second time, the appointments and then her funeral. Pretty much, it was mum and me (and my little family) through the whole thing. My grandmother deserved more than how she was treated by other family members. She deserved more than she received in life – and I know things need wrapping up for her to have peace. ALL I can do is try to give that to her. Because I love her.
Her ashes take pride of place in my living room. With a sweetpea candle burning by it, a bonsai tree beside her, and a glass of never-dying flowers. I talk to her every day, wishing that she could answer me, or just to sit with me and watch Homes Under the Hammer.

I refused to let her ashes be split up like my grandfathers’, I kept her whole and undisturbed. I reached out through my anger and offered an olive branch by inviting all to her funeral service (she was cremated the day before and followed the request of a peaceful sendoff) yet no one but my mum, my family bothered to reply and attend. Byron (my oldest boy, then 4) sang “I’ll be your sweetheart” as the priest blessed her. At least the only people who ever loved and cared for her surrounded us. But people who still pretend to love her never uttered a sound except for the question of “what am I going to get” as my nan said before – she did not raise them like that.
All I can do is allow my heart to journey with this grief. Feel it until the tears cannot come anymore. Light some candles and pray that everyone i have lost, finds peace and unending, enduring love. In this house, we remember. I try not to let the anger eat me up too. Anger at those that should have cared about my nan, not simply what they could take from her.
This all can hit from the most innocent of things and it can crash into me. The grief is like a black horse that sits on my shoulder and kicks me with the pain of grief. Bites with the blackest rage at my heart. But for my family, I have to be stronger.

One day, they will have to answer for all that they have done. And I am sure there is a few awaiting to see them again because my nan is not the first and won’t be the last of the people that have been damaged through those people.
One day, I will be reunited with her and the others that I have loved and lost. We all have to face our maker, stripped away and the truth of your soul laid out. I have nothing to hide. I have never been perfect and I accept my flaws. But my heart is broken and I wonder, will it forever be so?

Thank you for reading. I know this is a charged piece but today, i needed to explain.

Love and light ❤