The Anonymous Widower

Widowhood Is A Lonely Dark Club

And a dark club, that no-one asked if you wanted to join.

After forty years of a generally happy and vibrant relation, especially when it came like a thunderbolt from nowhere, makes it no easier.

It is lonely, but I do have the freedom to do what I want.

I could just throw my clothes on the floor each night and live on beer and baked beans. Which I don’t!

Today, I’m off to see Ipswich lose at Sheffield Wedneswday.

I’m then off tomorrow for four days in the Canaries! Nothing to do with Norfolk!

But both trips will be alone!

Surely, there must be widow, out there who feels like I do!

November 5, 2016 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Suffering From Short-And-Alone Syndrome

It is amazing how many jobs around the house are difficult for someone living alone, who is short in stature.

My new bathroom, has a problem. I suspect that the electrician who installed the six spot-lights in the ceiling, bought a dodgy batch of LED bulbs, as one-by-one over the last few months, they have died. Having a bath in the dark or lit by candles may be fun for couples, but this sixty-seven-year-old doesn’t find it the tiny bit interesting at all.

So I bought some new bulbs and got my step-ladder out, but found that the builder had gummed up the holders with paint, so working with my head about twenty centimetres below the fitting and my arms at full stretch, I can’t get the dmn things out of the ceiling, as I don’t have a third hand to hold the torch.

So now, I’ll have to get someone in at great expense and time, to do a job that if I was ten centimetres taller and had a third hand handy, I’d have done myself.

I think there’s a moral in this story for everyone. If you’re going to have these ridiculous spot-lights, make sure that they are fittings like I have elsewhere in the house, that have lugs so you can easily turn them to change the bulb.

In fact, I could design a light and a special tool, that would enable the bulb to be changed by a person of very limited height standing on the floor.

 

June 29, 2015 Posted by | World | , , | 5 Comments

Reflections On Surviving Another Year

As I sit here typing at the computer and watching Graham Norton, I can take comfort in surviving another year. Nothing remotely serious happened, although I was badly effected by the incredible heat of the summer, which was made more unbearable by Gerry’s terrible roof.

So the roof and my bathroom are now fixed and 2015 will be the Year of the Kitchen. I’ve already press-ganged a Project Manager and someone to install it, who although he is not reliable, I know will deliver at some point. I also don’t have any communication problems with my schizophrenic other half. I remember Nobby and myself having a discussion about whether all great programmers have two personalities; one to do the programming and one to do the testing. We felt on balance they do!

C and I had some good New Years and some bad ones. I always remember this good one for selfish reasons, but the Millennium was great in Deya. In fact some of the other good ones were totally unplanned and a party or good time just happened. Just as the bad ones did! The worst one was probably, when C died just before Christmas and my advice to anybody in that situation, is to think carefully how you handle that difficult time. Everybody is different and we all respond to the same situation in different ways. So we must make a selfish decision. Something that like me after forty years of living with someone in a great deal of harmony, was not easy.

I did go away to Venice that we loved a couple of months after C died, just to prove I could travel abroad alone. I would advise people to do that! You certainly learn a lot about yourself, when you’re alone in a foreign country.

C had the language skills, the knowledge of food and wine, and I had the camera and I like to think she trusted my practical skills.

A couple is a sentient being with two brains and four of most things, like hands and eyes. Think how many small simple jobs need three hands for a start.

December 31, 2014 Posted by | World | , | 1 Comment

A Letter In The Times On Widowhood

On Friday in The Times, I had a letter published entitled The Widowed.

Sir, As a widower (letter, May 20), I feel that modern life may be making the word redundant.
Widowhood is no respecter of gender or sexual orientation, and all widowed are in the same possibly dark and unhappy place; so should we not just use the female form of the word?

After all lots of other words like actor, doctor and other professions are becoming applicable to all.

I wonder if there’s a language, where widower and widow are the same.

On a brief look using Google Translate, it would appear that in Finnish, Turkish and Welsh, the word is the same for both sexes.

 

May 27, 2014 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

The Problem Of Living Alone

Yesterday wasn’t the worst of days by a long way, but it does illustrate the perils of living alone.

I had four jobs to do, when I planned my day.

1. Take delivery of my new television from John Lewis.

2. Go to the Regent’s Canal to prepare myself for the Ward Forum tonight.

3. Go to John Lewis to see if one of their kitchens would fit my requirements, when I replace Jerry’s terrible one.

4. I was also expecting the builder to come round to sort out when he would finish my half-completed bathroom.

That would all seem very simple.

But the builder and the television turned up at the same time, so I naturally asked him, if he’d help me put it on the wall.  All it needed was to remove the old television, swap the bracket and then lift the other one on.  But of course the old bracket didn’t fit and just needed to be drilled out. The sort of job, that I could have easily done, if I could find my Workmate, which is somewhere under the builder’s mess in the garage. The builder then left, leaving the old television on one sofa and the new one on the other.

So I decided to go for a walk along the Regent’s Canal and then when I got to Haggerston take the 242 bus to Oxford Street for John Lewis and lunch. But then I cut my hand on something and had to get it patched up. As I was a fair walk from home, I decided to go to my doctor’s surgery to clean myself up first. They checked the wound and put a plaster on it, so at least that bit worked. I then walked home looking for someone to drill out the plate. I didn’t find anyone, as most small engineering workshops have closed.

I then realised that I also needed to get a set of spare keys cut, as the builder has all my spare ones, so I walked around the corner to the local Locksmith.  And there it was, sitting in the back of the shop, a proper bench drill. So I got the keys cut and the plate drilled so that it would fit the new television. And all for £14.  Well done, Barry!

In some ways though, it was my undoing, as I now fitted the bracket and attempted to lift the television onto the wall. I could lift it with ease, but the constant stretching of the fingers in my left hand, meant that the cut opened up and the plaster fell off. This picture shows the location of the cut, which explains a lot.

My Poor Hand

My Poor Hand

I couldn’t mount the television, as it is a job that needs two hands and two sets of eyes, because the television blocks your view of the bracket.

So eventually, I set off for Oxford Street to hopefully go to John Lewis and have some lunch. The first bus to arrive was a 30 and I intended to take it to Highbury and Islington station to go to Oxford Circus.  But the dreaded roadworks struck again and the driver couldn’t take a direct route, so he went round the houses before dropping me and perhaps twenty irate passengers at the station.

I got a train without a problem, but by the time I got to Euston, blood was now going everywhere, so at the next station I chickened out and went to A & E at University College Hospital, where I got it properly bandaged. I was also in and out in forty minutes.

I now have the problem of putting one television on the wall and getting the old one downstairs for the Council. If I could do just one of these jobs, I could at least sit on a comfortable chair.

You can really understand, how One Foot In The Grave got written. But it’s just so much more likely that things will go wrong, when you live alone. After all, if I still lived with C, she’d have cleaned up the first cut, ut a decent plaster on it, told me to take it quiet and probably made cups of tea for me all day.

I’ve now got the problem of strapping a plastic bag over my hand, so I can have a bath.

A Bath In A Bag Hand

A Bath In A Bag Hand

It wasn’t too difficult. But this is probably because the fingers of the left hand work better in their bandage and I could cut the parcel tape before I put the bag on.

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Health, World | , | 2 Comments

Bridget Jones Becomes A Wrinkled Widow

Several newspapers, like the Glasgow Herald here, are reporting that in the latest Bridget Jones Diary, the heroine has become a widow. The Herald’s headline is something that I know a lot of widows will disagree with.

Meet Bridget Jones at 51: a wrinkled widow who becomes a Twitter cougar

I’ve met quite a few widows and widowers older than than 51,who can’t be described as the least bit wrinkled. In fact, I have to go a good bit past 51 to know any that are the least bit wrinkled.

I may be 66, but I don’t think I’m also too wrinkled. If anybody would like to check, I’ll buy the coffee.

I think the Herald, just played the alliteration card to get a catchy headline.

September 29, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Can Food Help Us Cope With Grief?

This article on the BBC web site, asks the question, posed in the title of this post.

Cooking and food has certainly helped me, in that when my late wife died, it was either learn to cook, eat out every night or starve.

So as I already had the basic skills from my mother’s training, I chose the first and now find that I can cook pretty well.  Or at least those who have eaten one of my meals, haven’t complained! Or gone to A & E!

The article also has some links to some nice meals, I might try, like this cottage pie.

June 9, 2013 Posted by | Food, Health, World | , , | Leave a comment

Paying It All Back

Liverpool University has been good to me in many ways, so it is only right, when they ask me if I would mind being interviewed as part of their research into widowhood, I don’t say no.

Last week, I was interviewed by a student and as ever I found it rather a pleasant experience, which is probably better than paying for therapy.

I very much believe that we should all use our experience to help others and what better place to start than your old school or university. I can’t go back to my old school, as it no longer exists, so Liverpool University will have to put up with me.

In an ideal world, there would be a central database of research projects, that needed guinea pigs or experienced professionals to help fulfil the research.

March 11, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment

Patchy Paperwork

I was interviewed today, by a student from Liverpool University about some of the aspects of widowhood.

One thing that got me at the time of C’s death, was how professional some organisations and companies were and on the other hand how sloppy some others were.

I was moved to write to The Times, and this is my letter they published on April 16th, 2008.

The paperwork carried out when a relation dies should be standardised across all organisations.

I was widowed last year, and it is only now that I’m starting to get my life together. The response of the various government and local authority departments in handling all the paperwork involved has been very patchy.

 Registrars: excellent, very sympathetic and efficient; Work and Pensions: bereavement allowance came through with a few hiccups, but not too difficult; Premium Bonds: system worked but could have been better; council tax: this was reduced automatically on signing a form by St Edmundsbury — totally painless; DVLA: its online systems worked well; winter fuel payment: found difficult to claim and missed it for last year.

The private sector wasn’t that much better, with some companies having people whose sole job appeared to be to deal with bereavement faring much better than those that didn’t. Some wanted death certificates, some accepted faxed copies and others took my word.

We need a lot more joined-up thinking in this important area, as, with nearly a million deaths in the UK every year, it would surely help the bereavement process for those left behind if every company, organisation, government department and authority were automatically notified. After all, if St Edmundsbury can do it here in supposedly sleepy Suffolk, then surely everyone else can.

Since moving to London, I could add a few to both lists, although nothing has been specifically about bereavement.  In some ways the biggest surprise has been that the London Borough of Hackney hasn’t made any mistake, that has caused me the slightest bit of inconvenience.

February 22, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , , | 5 Comments

Lonely In The Cold

I think that living alone in the cold weather, we have had the last few weeks, has been much worse, than living it with someone. The weather is after all a classic mutual moan and a problem to share. And where do you get cuddles from?

At least if the sun is out, the sun gives you a lovely rub and bathe!

This weather can’t go on much longer.  After all Noah only had to put up with just over a year and he had some nice pets to play with! And some awful ones too!

February 6, 2013 Posted by | Health, World | , , | Leave a comment