April girl

Always Marry An April Girl
By Ogden Nash

Praise the spells and bless the charms,
I found April in my arms.
April golden, April cloudy,
Gracious, cruel, tender, rowdy;
April soft in flowered languor,
April cold with sudden anger,
Ever changing, ever true —
I love April, I love you.

Last year was hard although broken by an idyllic trip to my childhood home in the Adirondacks. It ended on a high note, with a trip to Florida and a visit with brothers and sisters I hadn’t seen in years. I got back to France and was anticipating looking for a new job, trotting obediently off to the unemployment office, sitting behind a desk, only to hear the person in charge of my dossier saying, “well, because of your age, we won’t be bothering you much with (needless) job searching.” After hearing that, I went out and looked by myself, finding an announcement for a librarian and I sent out my CV and cover letter, knowing chances were slim, but still hopeful. So far, I’ve had two interviews with the HR and the head librarian, as well as the mayor of the town, and an elected official. So chances are, before too long, I’ll have a new job in a library!

February woes, March madness, April is the cruelest month

The Waste Land by TS Eliot is an interesting, difficult poem to grasp. I never really understood it before, although I read it for the first time in my teens, and thought it all about the war, and the decline and fall of a glittering, depraved society. Now, nearly 50 years on, I read it again, and find new meaning. (Just as I found new meaning when I was in my twenties and thirties – and each part spoke to me differently.

April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

Winter kept us warm, covering

Earth in forgetful snow….

(And now we’ll skip a ways down, to where Tirisias sees, because this is the part that spoke to me the loudest this time. In his endnotes, Eliot explained, “Tiresias, although a mere spectator and not indeed a ‘character,’ is yet the most important personage in the poem, uniting all the rest. Just as the one-eyed merchant, seller of currants, melts into the Phoenician Sailor, and the latter is not wholly distinct from Ferdinand Prince of Naples, so all the women are one woman, and the two sexes meet in Tiresias. What Tiresias sees, in fact, is the substance of the poem.”

The time is now propitious, as he guesses,

The meal is ended, she is bored and tired,

Endeavours to engage her in caresses

Which still are unreproved, if undesired.

Flushed and decided, he assaults at once;

Exploring hands encounter no defence;

His vanity requires no response,

And makes a welcome of indifference.

(And I Tiresias have foresuffered all

Enacted on this same divan or bed;

I who have sat by Thebes below the wall

And walked among the lowest of the dead.)

Bestows one final patronising kiss,

And gropes his way, finding the stairs unlit . . .

She turns and looks a moment in the glass,

Hardly aware of her departed lover;

Her brain allows one half-formed thought to pass:

‘Well now that’s done: and I’m glad it’s over.’

Bright and Dark

As an artist, I look at the world through colors. They can affect my mood, but mostly it’s just a case of seeing something and thinking, ‘naples yellow with a touch of emerald green. Cool shadows. Look like ultramarine blue.

Well, maybe not so detailed, but everything I see is broken down into colorful shapes with highlights and shadows. Maybe it’s because I’m nearsighted, and the world, without my glasses, is just a bur. Or maybe it’s from years and years of thinking about what certain scenes would look like on paper.

Sometimes it’s just colors, like Black Pony sleeping in the Sun, and sometimes it’s more detailed, like the river scene.

And here is my desk, with all my colored pencils in jars according to hue.

Sorry, I’m easily overwhelmed

Time slips by – one day it’s Wednesday and you’re walking to work. Your heart is thumping because the day before, everything seemed to go sideways. You haven’t been happy in your job for a while. The new bosses are young, dynamic, and have made sure that you feel like a dinosaur ever single day. Your way of doing things is not their way, and of course you try to adapt. It is their office now, their work, and you are just a thorn in their side, despite your efforts. Things have come to a head, and you have managed to negotiate an end to your contract, to your advantage no less, but their has been too much shouting, too much recrimination – you’ve kept your head down too long and you feel beaten into the ground. But it is the last day at work, so you go – you’ve helped train the two new women hired to replace you, and through the last month, you’ve tried to keep the atmosphere light so that the patients don’t notice. You smile, smile, smile… even though you feel like just getting up and walking out. But you are anything but a quitter. So you stay, and finally, it’s the last day.

I suppose I shouldn’t feel overwhelmed. I did the same job for 12 years, but the last year has been difficult, and I just couldn’t find the energy to write. I didn’t realize that creativity depletes you, just like stress, and worry, and illness. When I stopped my job, end of December 2022, I spent a week just sleeping; then I started to paint. Drawings and paintings flowed out of me, and I managed to pull myself together more and more. Now, words are coming back, and with them, stories.

But it’s made me wonder about the myth of the starving artist. Yes, there are artists and authors who have managed to paint and write under horrific strain – but how many more talented people are slogging through life in exhausting jobs, cominng home too tired to imagine for an instant sitting down to write or paint? How much creativity is out there just waiting to shine – but crushed under teh weight of depression? If I, (an entitled, spoiled woman who had a job she mostly liked, a warm home and supportive family and friends, healthy children, and enough to eat) found it nearly impossible to be creative while I held down a full time job, than how many people who truly have problems are being stifled? It frustrates me to think of all the books, art, music, dancing, and beauty we are missing because people are being ground down by our unfair economic system.

Of course, now some people will be muttering “socialist dreamer”, “commie utopist”, “woke wanker” (OK, I made that last one up, but it’s true that as soon as someone starts suggesting that our current system might be horribly unfair, there are those who think that that person is out to empty their bank accounts and give it all to drug addicts and slackers.) But it’s not that. I would like to find a way to have a shorter work week – shorter hours even – higher wages, better healthcare insurance, more parks and gardens, more trees, better public transportation, and more affordable and comfortable housing. Seriously – is this too much to ask? Instead, they (They – the conglomerats that rule us) are pushing our retirement age back, threatening social security benefits, and ignoring global warming. While the solution is as simple as this: tax the rich fairly. Yes, that simply means Tax corporations and levy a 50% death tax on anything over 200k. (in the US, the exemption cutoff is now 12 million – wrap your heads around that…) Tax capital gains. Invest in education, not arms. The list is long, and oh so easy to imagine – and completely inoffensive to anyone in the middle class income bracket. Well, as long as I’m dreaming – how about a fairy godmother for everyone, with a magic wand that will do nothing more than smack some sense into people who think that we’re all out for their guns.

Oh dear – I see my post about creativity and the sense of feeling overwhelmed has turned into a political rant. I suppose I ought to go drink some herbal tea and get ready for my meeting at the unemployment office to try and find a new job before I become too creative and do something drastic, like vote for Bernie Sanders (I would) or join the protests in the streets against raising the retirement age (I want to).

Until then, I will go back to my painting, which should be dry by now, to add the details. And so I shall- and wish everyone a stress-free, creative day.

Sounds for sleep

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

Alexa, open sounds for sleep.

I can open Sounds for Sleep. What would you like to hear? I can –

Play rainstorm

Would you like to hear today’s weather? There is a rainstorm predicted –

No, play Sounds for Sleep Rainstorm.

I can play Sounds for Sleep. What do you want to hear?


I don’t know that one. Do you mean FarawayTrain?

No, I mean rainstorm. Rain. Storm.

I don’t know that one. Do you mean Waterfalls?

No, I mean… oh, forget it. Sure. Why not. Alexa, play Waterfalls.

I don’t know that one. Do you mean Rainstorm?

Thanks to Rochelle for hosting Friday Fictioneers 

Two grandchildren

I felt as if I’d found myself when my children were born. They gave me confidence because suddenly I had someone else besides “me” to look out for. I was never very good about looking after myself, but I felt strong and fierce with my babies. When my grandchildren were born, it was another sort of emotion. When I held them – looking back and forth between the child in my arms and the grown-up person (who used to be my baby!) in front of me – it was as if I could feel all the weight of my years, but also the weight of my parents and grandparents behind me. It made me realize that I’d lost a little of my identity when my children were born, but I gave it up gladly. It felt constructive, as if I were building something, but I didn’t quite know what it would be. What I didn’t realize then was that I was forging a chain.

My mother in law died last week. She was 93, and fell and broke her hip. Less than six days later, she died of pneumonia. Although she had been old, she had been in good health until then, so it was a shock when she died. When we gathered for her funeral in a small chapel, and I saw her in her coffin, it was another shock. She’d always been so energetic, even in the last years of her life when she could hardly get out of bed. But she’d lived alone, with part – time caretakers, and had mostly kept her wit. My husband went to see her every other day, and a month before she passed on, my son stopped by to present her great-grandchild to her and she had been thrilled. Her other great-grandchild was at her funeral, making three generations of mourners. We told some stories, recited a poem, and shed some tears. It’s hard to say goodbye.

Perhaps were are nothing in this world; we pass through it like shooting stars – trees last longer, the oceans are eternal – but we are just flashes of light. Last week we said goodbye to a vibrant, funny, energetic woman, whose life had been full of both glamour and regrets. She would have liked to have lived in the south of France, she told me one day – with plenty of sunshine, near the ocean, in a village where her dream had been to run a little shop. But she was one of those people who live very much in the present, and her interests were centered firmly around her children.

I look at my two new grandchildren, and I wish them all the best. I wish that their lives be full of joy, peace, and prosperity. I am glad they are links in the chain that is my family – but ultimately, that they are part of the web that is humanity.

Plus ça change…

It seems we’re living in a sort of bad TV series made of reruns being dubbbed in different languages and played by different actors – but with the same plot.

Let’s go back to the invasion of Iraq by the Americans.

Bush said “We’re liberating a country from a tyrant – We are protecting our country – It’s a question of national security – Iraq has nuclear weapons”.

Sound familiar? Putin took a page from the American playbook to stage his own invasion and is misleading his people with fake news about the invasion. What happened to the US? Nothing – except it nearly crippled the economy, created a whole new slew of terrorists, and it dragged on for 20 years. TWENTY YEARS. The difference here is that there are talks of “Sanctions” (which no one was brave enough to inflict on the US – I call that “the power of MacDonalds”) and which Putin shrugs off with his usual blank stare.

Putin wants something, and he learned from Bush that if you have enough tanks and money you can bulldoze your way into any country. He has the gas reserves to keep his people warm in the winter, and he made sure that Europe was dependent on them these past 20 years by consolidating the gas lines. He’s got his weathy (obscenely wealthy) enablers all over the world, with bank accounts all over the world (thank you The Guardian for leaking the Swiss Bank papers just before the invasion…) and he does not care about his people, he cares about some sort of illusion of an Imperial Russia; but Russia is not the US. The Russian economy is not particularly robust, and Putin wants China and India to take his side. China, as usual, is waffling. It’s not in a particularly good position either – its economy is based on trade, and a complete boycott by Europe and the US would be disastrous. China wants Taiwan and Thailand – so it’s looking closely at this war to see how Russia fares. If Russia succeeds in annexing the Ukraine, China will attack. If Russia fails, China will most likely realign with the US and Europe. India is in the same position as China – it wants to remove the thorn that is Pakistan from its side.

As I type this, there is talk of removing Russia fromm SWIFT. I’m not sure that would do as much damage as people think – China has its own SWIFT platform and Russia will just switch over to that. I’m all for punishing Putin and his cronies, but the Russian people should not be punished. They are like the Americans when Bush invaded Iraq – misinformed, misguided, and many of them are against this war.

I don’t have a crystal ball (well, actually I do) and I can’t see what will happen. But if the past has any bearing on the present, then Putin has just sunk his country in a long, unwinnable war. Putin does not care. He has more money than practically anyone on earth. If we want to stop the war, we have to find his stash and completely remove it. He needs to have a real worry – and taking his wealth away will hurt him more than actually losing this war. What if, when the US had invaded Iraq, the other countries around the world had suddenly grown backbones and put a stop to it by cutting the US off from SWIFT? It would have caused a lot of short term havoc, but it would have saved countless lives, and contributed to a more stable world order. Now any lunatic with an army thinks that invading another country is PERMISSABLE. We should have stopped the US 20 years ago. We have no choice but to stop Putin Now.

Sex and Sexuality in Tudor England  by Carol McGrath

 Today, I welcome fellow Headline Accent author, Carol McGrath, to my blog! 

Carol writes wonderful historical fiction, but today she’s here to talk about her newest nonfiction book, published by Pen and Sword History,  Sex and Sexuality in Tudor England 

A Visit to a Tudor Stew

What might you discover if you time-travelled to a Tudor brothel?

During the early modern period ordinary English attitudes to sensuality were probably freer than in many other parts of Europe. Foreign visitors to England from the late fifteenth century to the eighteenth century noted how persons of different sexes greeted each other with a kiss on the lips. The scholar Erasmus found it an attractive custom: ‘Wherever you come, you are received with a kiss by all; when you take your leave, you are dismissed with kisses; you return, kisses are repeated. They come to visit you, kisses again; they leave you, you kiss them all around. Should they meet you anywhere, kisses in abundance; wherever you move, there is nothing but kisses.

Tudor society had double standards. Any sexual positions other than the missionary position with the man on top and woman beneath were rejected as other positions might incite lust.  Any approach from behind was condemned because it suggested man was imitating the behaviour of animals. Any position with the woman on top was frowned upon as it inverted sex roles making the woman the dominant partner. Also, the Tudors believed, it reduced the possibility of conception. Use of unnatural orifices such as the mouth or anus and contraceptive notions such as coitus interruptus or the newly invented Venus glove (a crude early condom) was forbidden.

These rules were most likely bent in the stews, the name given to brothels of the time. Sex has always been traded and attitudes to selling sex has always been in flux. Patriarchal and puritanical stances developed in the West by the sixteenth century. For example, in Augsburg after 1508, cockatrices, the euphemism attached to prostitutes, had their noses cut off if they were found soliciting on Holy Days.

It is difficult to research the details of sexual practices within brothels during this period as there is no unbiased testimony of everyday people. We know the opinions of doctors and moralists, but, to my knowledge, we do not have sources representing the voices of sex workers themselves from the early sixteenth century.

Scene from a Tudor bathhouse

To cast back in time, during the thirteenth century sex was at the heart of a good deal of public bathing. In fact, sex and bathing were so closely related that phrases such as ‘lather up’ became sixteenth-century expressions for ejaculation. The medieval word for a brothel was a stew which derives from bathhouses. William Langham’s Garden of Health of 1579 recommends adding rosemary to a bath: ‘Seethe much rosemary and bathe therein to make thee lusty, lively, joyful, liking and youngly.’ Musk harvested from the glands of a civet cat became a luxury item in the stews, along with castor from the anal glands of a beaver and ambergris (which is whale vomit). Lavender was frequently associated with illicit Tudor sex, and prostitutes often smelled of it.Women in bathhouses used homemade, and often dangerous, dilapidory creams. Whores plucked their eyebrows. An abundance of pubic hair, on the other hand, was a sign of youth, health and sexual vitality. However, pubic lice could only be eliminated by shaving and this is where the merkin emerges. A merkin was a pubic hair wig which first appeared in 1450, according to the Oxford Companion to the Body. A well-thatched prostitute might be more desirable than a shaved one. Equally, a merkin might be looked upon as signifying disease, concealing the effects of mercury used to treat syphilis. It could, of course, be titillating if tied in place with a silky fine ribbon. 

The stews of Southwark were where you might find the most notorious brothels of Tudor London, situated between Maiden Lane and Bankside, close to arenas for bull and bear baiting. They gained their name from the ‘stew ponds’ where the Bishop of Winchester bred his fish (estuwes also was the name of the stove used to heat water for the bathhouses). Southwark was outside the jurisdiction of the Lord Mayor of London and under rent control of the Bishopric of Winchester. During the Reformation the Catholic bishop’s lands passed to the new Anglican Bishop of Winchester. Ironically, the Catholic bishop Stephen Gardiner cemented his relationship with the King by providing him with Winchester geese. This was the name given to Southwark prostitutes, which derives from the bishop’s association with prostitutes.

The stews were closed for a while by King Henry VII in to halt the rising levels of syphilis. The thousands of prostitutes who were evicted from the brothels had no choice but to ply their trade in the streets. A year later, though, they were reopened. On 13 April 1546 his son Henry VIII shut down the Southwark stews again, issuing a royal proclamation forcing the closure of all houses of prostitution in England. This did not end prostitution. In fact, it increased the practice within the City when the ladies moved over the river from Southwark into ale houses or other premises used for purposes other than selling sex.

A map showing the stews of Southwark

Single women working in the stews were forbidden the rites of the Church so long as they continued their sinful life. They were excluded from Christian burial if they were not reconciled before their death. A plot of ground called the Single Woman’s Churchyard was appointed for them. John Stow writing in the Elizabethan era describes the Bishop of Winchester’s house in Southwark as ‘a fair house, well repaired, and hath a large wharf and landing place called The Bishop’s Stairs.’ Interested merchants and nobleman must have landed close by, ferried over the Thames, to visit the stews.

Carol McGrath

Following a first degree in English and History, Carol McGrath completed an MA in Creative Writing from The Seamus Heaney Centre, Queens University Belfast, followed by an MPhil in English from University of London. The Handfasted Wife, first in a trilogy about the royal women of 1066 was shortlisted for the RoNAS in 2014. The Swan-Daughter and The Betrothed Sister complete this highly acclaimed trilogy. Mistress Cromwell, a best-selling historical novel about Elizabeth Cromwell, wife of Henry VIII’s statesman, Thomas Cromwell, was republished by Headline in 2020. The Silken Rose, first in a Medieval She-Wolf Queens Trilogy, featuring Ailenor of Provence, saw publication in April 2020. This was followed by The Damask RoseThe Stone Rose will be published April 2022. Carol is writing Historical non-fiction as well as fiction. Sex and Sexuality in Tudor England will be published in February 2022. Carol lives in Oxfordshire with her husband. Find Carol on her website:


Follow her on amazon and on Twitter @CarolMcGrath 

Subscribe to her newsletter via her website (drop down on the Home Page).

Buy Sex and Sexuality in Tudor England 

The Christmas Pageant

Christmas is a mixed bag with me – it was the best of times, and it was the worst of times. We Catholics anticipate Christmas all the year. While Easter is a downer (the King is dead, long live the King…) Christmas is all about a babe in a manger, shepherds guarding their sheep, three kings bearing gifts, a poor man, a donkey, and the Virgin Mary. As a little kid, I had fantasies about being the Virgin Mary. She was so kind and accepting, so solemn and calm. In none of the statues or paintings or drawings of her, does she have any expression except tranquility. (Lightyears away from my character – but there you go – we all want what we can’t have.) I imagined myself as Mary during the Christmas pageant – after all, our church had a Christmas pageant, right? Not at first – they didn’t even sing at first; this was the hard, Puritan, New England Catholic church, built of invincible gray granite, no fancy trim, not even any singing or choir. But that year, a new priest declared it “the year of the pageant” and it included all the kids in Sunday school, even me, even though I’d been kicked out. But I had dispensation because as a Catholic child, I – along with a handful of other Catholic children going to the local public school – was bussed to the church on Wednesday afternoons (missing study hour) to confess and save my mortal soul. So I was excited. For the first time ever, I would try out for the part of the Virgin Mary.

On the day of the try outs, it became obvious the the words ‘try outs’ were misleading. We arrived, stood in line, and the priest and his accolytes moved down the line pointing. To the boys it went:  “King, angel, shepherd, king, Joseph, shepherd, king, cow, donkey.”  To the girls it was: “Angel, angel, angel, Mary, angel, angel, sheep, sheep, sheep.” 

I felt sorry for the cow and donkey – then I was declared a sheep. I wasn’t even an angel. I would have nothing but ‘baaaa’ to say and wear a white fluffly sweater, a knit hat with ears, and sit quietly in the background imitating a sheep. The animals were taken to a small room for our costume fitting (the cow was a brown coat, a hat vaguely reminiscent of a Viking helmet, and a cowbell. The donkey was a gray blanket and a paper mâché head with huge doney ears made out of cardboard. The sheep were, as I said, white fluffy sweaters and knit caps with little ears. It soon became obvious that the animal kingdom included the trouble-makers. The new priest must have been informed by the sisters which of us were best left in the background. But this cowed us – including the cow. We were oddly silent as we sat on our folding chairs, our costumes on our laps. Each of us had secretly been hoping for the starring role – Mary, Joseph or a king, or even better, an angel (who wouldn’t want a pair of wings and a supercilious expression to wear?)

We spent the remaining half hour plotting ways to increase our visibility with the crowd – the donkey considered ways of moving its ears (and maybe taking a shit – I won’t lie – we were the Sunday school dropouts) and the cow and sheep all just sat and sulked. And then one of the nuns poked her head in the door and said the bus was here, to leave our costumes on our chairs, and to remember that we had to come to each rehersal, because if one of the main characters or angels (God forbid) got sick, we would have the honor of replacing them.  Is it unchristian to wish the angels catch the flu?

I longed to resemble the Virgin Mary. I loved her blue robes, her narrow hands, her smooth face devoid of expression. Not a line, not a wrinkle marred that perfect brow. She was the original botox beauty.

The girl chosen to portray the Virgin Mary was a lovely girl with long, dark brown hair and perfect manners. She was also head of the class, her father was a doctor, and I used to copy all her papers when I was in first grade, so she stayed as far away from me as possible. It wasn’t as if I couldn’t count all the fish in the bowl and circle the number ‘4’ – it was just that I’d daydream so much that the teacher would call time before I’d even started. So I’d peer at this girl’s paper and quick copy all the numbers, knowing she had carefully counted and gotten everything just perfect. Since I had the conviction that these worksheets were just a way to keep us quiet while the teacher read her Reader’s Digest in peace, I had no qualms…until I got caught. When I got caught, the teacher made me admit what I’d done in front of the class, then apologise to the girl whose paper I’d copied, which convinced her I was most likely a serial killer in training. It didn’t help that she’d been in her father’s office the day my mother had brought me in with an ear-ache. The doctor took one look at my ear and reached for his syringue. “A shot of antibiotics will clear that right up”, he said. I was off the table and out of the window like a shot, dashing across the porch, leaping down the steps, and sprinting across the lawn, screaming that he’d have to catch me first.

So, the first day of rehersal, the Virgin Mary took one look at me, dressed in my sheep costume, and visibly paled. “She can’t sit behind me,” she said to the Sister. The Sister, who knew me, nodded and put me on the other side of the stage, nearest the donkey and the Shepherd with a crook (Hit her if she moves an inch), next to the far wall, and under the spotlight (it wasn’t shining on me, but I looked up, and there it was – the spotlight that represented the The Star of Bethlehem). That first day of rehersal, everyone was handed their lines (except the animals. We had no lines to speak. According to the Catholic church, animals don’t even have souls, so believe me when I say that we sheep, ass, and cow were the lowest of the low on the pageant ladder.) We were expected to sit quietly, nodding our heads was the most we were permitted to do – and not a sound should we make. I was a sheep. It wasn’t that bad – a little hot, a little itchy, but bearable. The cow rested his head on his hands and dozed, and the donkey, hidden behind his paper-mache mask, was unscrutable. But before he’d put on his mask, I’d seen he’d sported a bruise on his face. I sidled up to him and poked him with my foot. “What happened?” I whispered. He swung his head sideways and shrugged. “When my dad heard I was to be the ass for the pageant, he got mad.”

I knew his father. They were our closest neighbors. The five kids lived in an old house just down the dirt road from us. They had chickens in the backyard, and an old washer-wringer. The children helped their mother cook and clean. The father worked all day, and came home, and when he came home, he terrified his family. Sometimes I’d be over there playing when the car drove up. When that happened, the board game was shoved under the couch, the kids all leapt up and ran to their rooms, and I hied out the back door, across their back garden, and headed home before he saw me. The mother regularly sported a black eye or split lip. The kids were often limping or holding sore arms. That family was a reminder that, no matter how bad things were – they could always be worse.

The pageant was to take place during regular Sunday service, and if everything went well, for midnight mass. The priest was giving us a test – and of course, I failed. It was my fault. The Star of Bethlehem, like I said before, was a spotlight. I was sitting next to the wall it hung upon. The wire ran down the wall, and the plug was within reach. Just as the shepherd started talking about the star, I reached over and unplugged it. Then I looked up and gave my best “Baaaaaa”. Inspired, I added, “Baaaaad sheep.”

Someone tittered in the congregation. The priest glared at me. The shepherd nearest me pushed me aside and plugged in the light. Plugging it in and out must have strained the bulb, because it popped – with a huge “Bang” and a shower of sparks.

The donkey, cow, and sheep exited stage left, while the shepherds, angels, and three kings ran to the right. Joseph and the Virgin Mary ducked under the pulpit, and a huge spark landed in the manger, where a doll, dressed in swaddling clothes, lay in the straw. The straw caught fire.

And that was the end of the Christmas pageant. That was the end of my career as a sheep. That was the end, actually, of my trips on the bus to the church on Wednesdays, as the priest told me there wasn’t any use of me confessing anymore. And anyhow, two months later, we moved (again- I was always moving) and I never saw that school, bus, or church again.

But be of good cheer. Years later – years and years later, my 3 yr old son had an earache. We were visiting friends, and they sent us to the nearest clinic. At the clinic, the doctor who took care of my son looked at me and frowned. Then he started to smile. “Remember me?” he asked. “I was the ass in the Christmas pageant.”

(first published December 2018)

I got the jab!

Stef and I got our first shots of AstraZeneca against Covid. Stef had no ill-efects, but I woke up in the middle of the night with a fever and chills. I went to work the next day feeling tired, but the fever and chills went away with doses of paracetamal, so it was no big deal.

I keep reading and hearing about the thrombosis from the AstraZeneca, and saw that some doctors think that the vaccine was encouraging some cells to work like platelets and act as ‘bandaids’, causing blood clots. It is worrisome that this wasn’t found out before the vaccine was rolled out, but on the other hand, it is extremely rare, so only a huge roll out would have brought this to light. The fact that over thirty million doses have been given and such a small number of people affected makes it difficult to say whether or not the cases of throbosis were caused by the vaccine, or would have happened anyway.

Because people have been in a sort of lockdown for over a year and have therefor gotten less excercise than they normally would have could also be a factor. After weighing the risk of getting thrombisis (one in every 600,000 persons) and catching Covid, I decided that the AstraZeneca jab was a better choice for me. I was impressed at how it was developed, the price, and hopeful that it will be able to slow, even stop, the spread of Covid if enough people get it. Because it is so cheap to make, it will be a boon for the poorer countries. So let’s take a moment to give thanks to science and to scientific breakthroughs, and let’s hope that this marks the beginning of the end for the pandemic.