Mind on fire

At last – the final ailment or condition in my interpretation of Dr Perlmutter’s book ‘Brain Maker’brain on fire

I came to the study of the gut biome (and this book ‘Brain Maker’ as part of it) because I was looking for the things I can do to help prevent brain deterioration. A dysfunctional gut-biome is found in a very high proportion of people suffering from Alzheimers and other forms of dementia.

Let’s start with something simple. B12. A vitamin that is found to be deficient in the brains of people suffering from Alzheimers. Though we can try to make sure we eat foods with B12, though we could take supplements, the fact is that our gut bacteria, when operating properly, MAKES the B12 our bodies require. It is well documented that a low level of B12 is a huge risk factor for dementia

In Brain Maker Dr Perlmutter leads us through the effects of gluten again in the sections relating to Dementia; even those who are not shown to be sensitive to gluten (no bloating or diarrhoea) can be affected, as the constituents of the gluten have two effects on the intestine. One is to be ‘sticky’ and prevent the uptake of some nutrients, and, two, the gliadin in the gluten causes leaky gut, causes the body’s immune system to be on high alert (producing anti-gliadin antibodies) AND allows the passage of LPS (lipopolysaccirides) into the bloodstream which, as explained previously, can pass through the blood brain barrier, (leaving the door open for other large molecules to follow) and cause changes in the way the brain sends signals to the body and inflammation there too.

gluten groupThe Anti-bodies to gliadin not only cause the release of cytokines (which are inflammatory in the brain) but they also cross-react with certain brain proteins. From many studies it is shown that this then leads to complications such as neuropathy, ataxia, seizures and neuro-behavioural changes.

Is it any wonder then that Dr Perlmutter connects the rise in dementia (over and above that expected just through living longer) to a disrupted gut-biome?

A word on fats. Omega 3 fats are essential for good brain function.

The over-use of Omega 6 oils (sunflower / corn -oil) is also brought up in this section. The demonising of saturated fats* to such an extent that Omega 6 oils now take up too much of our dietary fats is a concern as in the western diet now the ratio of Omega 6 intake to Omega 3 (Olive oil : cold-pressed rape-seed oil) intake is around 10 : 1 (or higher). The ratio of Omega 6 to the mono-unsaturated Omega 3  (shown to be required for brain health) is critical. It ought to be 1:1 or at the very most 3:1 – any more and the Omega 6 oils prevent the take-up of the Omega 3s (to the detriment of the brain!)

*Saturated fats are demonised as being Cholesterol raising. More and more evidence is being produced to show that this is not the case. Simplistically – an observation was made and the ‘result’ was viewed as the ’cause’ (arteries blocked by cholesterol plaques = therefore cholesterol causes blocked arteries) – from then on cholesterol and saturated fats have been demonised and a vast theory and business (phamacutical and dietary) has been built up around it. Why ‘saturated fats’ – well, because, though they do not contain cholesterol, they are found in the same source – animal products. When it comes down to it, our liver makes the majority of cholesterol our bodies need, if we do not eat enough of it, and it is quite hard to eat as much as is required, – it makes it.

Note however, that our brains need cholesterol (yes – even the ‘bad’ one) – to function properly, as do most of the other cells in our bodies. In one of the largest studies ever, where a very large cohort was followed over fifteen to eighteen years, those with naturally lower cholesterol in their systems as they aged were shown to perform less well in all cognitive tests.

The real question following the observations should have been ‘why has the cholesterol formed a blockage here?’ The answer comes back to the gut-biome (and gluten) as it seems that the arterial blockage is the result of frequent damage / inflammation repairs – and the damage is caused by the intrusion of proteins that should never have made their way in the bloodstream, (LPS – gliadin etc) and couldn’t have done, or wouldn’t have done, if the gut-biome was healthy and gluten wasn’t so prevalent in the diet to crowbar a way through the tight junctions. And if you are thinking that I have strayed from my concerns for the brain into heart-attack waters – I have not. The cause of vascular dementia is the blocking of blood vessels in the brain – resulting in brain-cell death and strokes of various sizes and effects – so if the damage to the lining of the blood vessels can be prevented, the blockages due to repairs should not happen either.

The final part of this book deals with How to keep your good bacteria happy and thriving and in balance for optimal health – and I will work on a summary of this soon.

What do you think – have saturated fats been demonised unnecessarily?

Have you ever tried a low / no gluten diet to see how you feel on it?

You know I love to hear from you – do share

Best – Ann

ps – for those interested, my Dad’s book is now also available for Kindles (from Amazon) or other ebooks from PendownPublishing

 

 

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All adrift – a smile for Wednesday

The past week – and weekend – have been hectic – and fun. First there was our WI’s 70th anniversary to organise  – properly celebrated with a great night, meal and dancing! Followed by a Saturday night belly-dancing at our group’s Halfla – a party for lots of belly-dance groups – to also raise funds for Macmillan cancer care.

There – excuses made – so here is your Saturday smile – perhaps a Wednesday is a better day to have a smile  🙂

So before Saturday I was thinking about all sorts of anniversaries – and that brought me to thinking about age and being over sixty – and how I wish I had known how to be as confident about myself before now. old purple

But to get here there is the menopause to go through …

hot flashes

and all that comes with it …

50 forgetfulbut in the end I think that this philosophy works for meold hippiealong with the best advice from tigger … tiggerHappy Wednesday

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The Guts of Obesity and Diabetes

Obesity and type 2 diabetes seem to go hand in hand – we are always being told of the rise in both – and that being obese puts you at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The temptation is to say – just stop eating the junk – that ‘these people’ must be lazy – must be eating too much and not doing enough exercise. How many times have you seen the guy (it usually is a guy) commenting on an article about obesity “it’s simple – food in must equal energy out or you will get fat!”

Fat and Thin Bronze courtesy Rui Fernandes
Fat and Thin Bronze courtesy Rui Fernandes creative commons

It is not as simple as that! Guy A may eat exactly the same as Guy B – do exactly the same amount of exercise … but  Guy B is Fat and Guy A is Lean.  Ah Ha! Metabolism – people say, Guy A must have a fast metabolism … well, probably not. Generally people’s metabolism is roughly the same if they do the same amount of exercise (excepting certain constant fidgeters) . It seems that Guy A may have a better gut bacteria balance – one that does the right things with the food he has ingested, one that isn’t compromised.

The Western diet – high carbohydrate, high sugar diet – and modern lifestyle – antibiotic treated, c-section opted, bottle-fed by choice, urban-clean living – has created a gut biome that is not as diverse or as balanced as it once was. This is pretty much agreed.

However, recent studies have shown that the balance between two groups of bacteria in the intestine can make all the difference as to what happens to the ‘food in’ side of the equation. There are two groups of bacteria that make up 90% of the gut bacteria – the Bacteriodetes and the Firmicutes.

First take the Bacteriodetes – this bunch of bacteria specialise in breaking down resistant starch plant molecules and fibres into Short Chain Fatty-Acid molecules that the body can use for energy (SCFAs). These short-chain fatty-acid molecules are good for our system, used in intracellular signalling and for creating Adenosine Tri Phosphate (ATP)  as an efficient form of energy, and more recently are indicated in causing colon-cancer cells to kill themselves (autophagy)

The Firmicutes are adept at breaking down carbohydrates and in extracting the greatest amount of calories from them. However they have another effect on our system – they can actually control the way our body uses energy – they do this by using the epi-genetic effect (turning on or off ‘switches’ on our genes) in this case telling our bodies to store energy – to lay down fat! epigenetic mechanism[Epi-genetics is another whole area of fascinating new research – not long ago we all thought we were stuck with whatever our DNA bequeathed us – it is now evident that ‘nurture’ (as in our environment, infections, treatments, food ingested and even the air we breathe) can turn on or off genetic expressions – so that even identical twins who have had different life experiences can end up with a different genetic expression from the same set of DNA]

The guts of naturally lean people (like Guy A) have a much larger proportion of the Bacteriodetes than the Firmicutes. The guts of obese people have a larger proportion of Firmicutes.

Indeed in a experiment where baby ‘humanised’ mice were given gut microbes from one of twin women, (one of whom is obese, the other being lean) then gave the mice the same food and in the same quantity to eat. Those with the microbiome from the obese twin started to put on more weight than those with the microbiome from the lean twin. When checked – their gut bacteria were far less diverse than those of the lean ones. More than this, when they allowed the mice to share a cage the natural behaviour of mice (to eat faeces) resulted in the obese mice eventually becoming lean – having taken in the correct bacteria and created the right balance to become lean (when checked their bacteria diversity had also increased).

Fecal transplants have been used to even out the bacteria in humans too, though mainly used as a treatment for C Difficile, the results have, co-incidentally, been the same.

Then, once visceral fat is being laid down, there is another layer of trouble ahead. Visceral fat cells create their own ‘hormones’ and when in possession of too much visceral fat this can become overwhelming to the system. They suppress the hormone that tells us we are full, they stimulate the brain into wanting MORE sweet and rich food – more than we need – more than we consciously want – by making our brain CRAVE these things – and they cause inflammation – fat-generated cytokines are found in elevated levels in all inflammatory conditions – from  arthritis and heart disease to auto-immune disorders and dementia. (note: you do not have to be overweight or obese to lay down viceral- fat- some people are what is known as TOFI ‘thin outside – fat inside’ and are just as much at risk)

A larger proportion of firmicutes than bacteriodetes is also indicated in increased gut permeability – and so then in inflammation – leading to many other inflammation-triggered diseases.

[It makes me wonder if ‘being fat running in families’ can be partially due to collecting the wrong balance of bacteria at a natural birth, if the mother has an imbalance in her gut-biome – and then this causes a yearning for the wrong foods that starts the vicious cycle – this doesn’t seem to be an area that has been researched as yet]

And what of Diabetes?

It is a given that Obesity and Diabetes are linked. There are more and more obese people – so it follows that we are on the edge of a diabetes explosion too. But what if they are not only consequential – but actually initiated by the same problem – an uneven balance and less-diverse gut biome than we ought to have?

An experiment, carried out by Dr Nieuwdorp in the University of Amsterdam, using fecal transplants showed that insulin sensitivity and the blood-sugar variation was improved when he transplanted fecal material from healthy, lean, non-diabetics  into  diabetic patients.  This was a blind test on 250 people – with the control group being given a fecal transplant of their own bacteria to rule out the placebo effect. To reverse the symptoms of diabetes in this way is a breakthrough as, at the moment, nothing else does this.

Fecal transplants do sound rather drastic, however, the good news is that is is relatively easy to change the gut bacteria – by ingesting probiotics (pills packed with the range of bacteria that we need) or eating the fermented foods that have these naturally in them – PLUS making sure that we eat the type of diet that feeds the bacteria that are better for us to have in abundance (bacteriodetes) rather than those that it is better to have in smaller numbers (firmicutes).

This doesn’t mean that once your gut is populated healthily that one could eat everything and anything and not put on weight, only that on a sensible diet, rich in fibre from plants, well balanced with proteins and good fats it would be possible to be lean – whereas with an unhealthy balance of bacteria it would forever be an uphill struggle.

Has this section been food for thought

Has it raised any questions for you – I may be able to find the answers if you ask

I look forward to hearing your responses …

 

 

Find me on Facebook and Twitter @AnnFoweraker

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Lego-lego fun for Saturday!

I love Lego! (though I have to admit there are too many specialist-kits now – much better when things did not look quite so accurately like the the real thing – but the pieces could be used in so many other ways. Ships used to be built with blocks, so the hulls were ‘staggered’ and would only look smooth enough to move through water with squinted-up eyes. I blame the roof-tiles – they were the first bits to look ‘proper’!)

Anyway – I still love the creativity possible with lego (or legos as the Americans seem to call them !?) … and as a cultural part of life lego has acquired it own jokes – two of which drifted across my consciousness the past week.

This! made me laugh out loud!

lego pshychiaristThen there was this …

We have a living-room carpet that is multi-couloured and highly patterned – great for hiding lego on – no matter how well they were picked up at the end of the day! So This – for PARENTS everywhere 🙂

lego bare feet

And finally – an article I saw back in January in The Telegraph online – so cool 🙂 FUN video too 🙂

“British-based company is offering customers the chance to get themselves recreated in miniature form – as Lego superhero figures. Funky 3D Faces, a subsidiary of Lincoln-based 3D printing firm ELAT3D, uses facial recognition software to convert photos into miniature 3D models of people’s heads. For £30, the company uses two photos of your face (one taken from the front, one from the side), and uses them to create a small 3D print-out of your face, which it will then send to you fitted to a Lego figure of your choice. It can take up to two weeks to make your head.The firm is based at Sparkhouse, a business innovation centre with links to the University of Lincoln.”

LEGO – love it or hate it?

Any funny lego experiences out there?

Do share – we all need a smile 🙂

 

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Gut reaction – inflammation

The book I am going to be interpreting is Brain Maker by Dr David Permutter. This is not a substitute for reading his book – but, I hope an insight that will lead to reading more around this subject.

For too long the western diet has been moving towards an industrialised food content. The average diet (and most studies are done in the USA) contains mostly foods grown under industrial farming methods – not just non-organic – but also reliant on the heavy use of pesticides and herbicides, including the large-scale 365 housing of livestock, requiring more use of antibiotics and ‘growth hormones *in USA’, and industrially grown crops to feed them.  A high percentage of the resulting crops and meat are then made into processed foods of various types. This can be of the ready-made product / meal – or the ready to use ingredient variety. In the processing the industrial makers of food products have also used ‘unusual’ methods (like hydrogenation) to change the chemical structure of food-stuffs to make them ‘work’ in industrial setting. They have also sought to make ‘created foods’ popular by exploiting our in-built love of sweet and of salty things.

The problem with this is that, over the last fifty or so years, food has changed so much that our gut bacteria have changed too. This does not seem a disaster at first – after all, how important can the variety of gut bacteria be? I am sure you have all heard of the ‘good gut bacteria’ that we are encouraged to consume (from tiny bottles laced with sugar) to keep a ‘happy tum’. It is true – we need the ‘good bacteria’ (but preferably not from an industrialised sweetened source) and I will attempt to explain why in simple terms.

A lot of this research Dr Perlmutter is basing his book on has dates between 2010 and 2015 – so much is quite new.

It has been found that it is not just a matter of having the good bacteria in your digestive system – it is about having the right balance of the right bacteria in there to support a healthy gut – even some of the ‘bad’ bacteria are needed in small quantities.

What the bacteria do: The number one thing that the correct bacteria do, when looking at health, is to ensure that our body has a strong defence against the things that should never get into our blood stream. After all, once in our blood stream then, whatever it is, it can travel anywhere in our body.

To understand this you need to know the structure of the thinnest interface between our gut and our blood-stream.  Our ileum (small intestine) is lined with villi – small finger-like projections – making the surface area for the transfer of nutrients into the blood-stream as large as possible, and it is only one cell thick!  The diagram below shows a villus in relation to the blood and lymphatic system.

villus

Now I have seen people argue with this – but they were confusing the ileum (small intestine) with the colon. The villi of the small intestine is the interface. Nutrients from our food get from the ileum into our blood-stream either by diffusing into the absorbtive cell and then out again into the blood stream, or they squeeze through between the cells of the villi.  Normally the junction between these cells is VERY TIGHT. It will only allow some very small molecules to slide between them, molecules our body is made to accept in this way, molecules we need to get into our blood stream and that do no harm while in there. Large molecules like proteins should never get through.

When your gut bacteria are ‘healthy’ (of the right mix and in balance) then this lining of the ileum is protected to a certain degree –  when it is not, then the gut is open to attack on this vital Tight Junction.

So what would attack the tight junctions? With the bacteria defences down our cells are more open to the ‘crowbar effect’. Gluten can do this, and is the most commonly eaten protein that has this effect – components of gluten act as a chemical crowbar forcing open the gap between these cells – allowing large molecules, that have no business being in our blood stream, to slip through – this condition is known as leaky gut.

What would get through and why does it matter? Pathogenic viruses and bacteria that are designed to harm us could now get into our blood-stream – this is an obvious danger – however, now some other large molecules, including proteins, are able to get through – and they can harm us too.

Pathonegenic viruses and bacteria aside – what is the problem here?

The problem is that when larger protein molecules get into the blood stream they begin to cause INFLAMMATION where ever they go as our body’s immune system reacts to their ‘foreign’ presence.

Inflammation is Dr Perlmutter’s BIG concern. In my last but one blog on this subject I said he was a neurologist that ‘jumped ship’. He, as all neurologists, had been taught that the blood/brain barrier prevented any harm coming to the brain by substances carried in the blood. Moreover – that the constituents of the gut had nothing to do with how the brain functioned (after all, the gut – essentially a tube from mouth to anus – was seen as almost ‘outside’ the body anyway)

He / we-the-world, now know different – and he is sure that many of our seemingly brain-centric disorders are, in fact, caused by inflammation of parts of the brain, and that our westernised gut population is causing this to be able to occur.  As he points out, our gut biome is the equivalent to a second brain – containing as many different type of nerve cells as the brain, creating hormones and chemicals that affect not only how our bodies function but also our brain; through our moods, functionality and concentration.

His first take-away message has to be – repopulate your gut with the right bacteria and keep them happy and flourishing by eating the right food for them.

The second take-away message is – avoid gluten. He is not doing this on a ‘fad’ idea – but on the science that shows it is one of the main ways that this ‘tight junction’ is opened up – which  then allows some of the other things that our western diet has brought on to cause more damage.

Does this make sense to you?

Do you have a gut feeling that this is correct?

Do share – you know I love to talk about it…

 

 

Find me on Facebook and Twitter @Ann Foweraker

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Tune up your body ;)

… so this doctor said, to the woman on the Radio 4 programme, ‘I recommend that as you get older you change the radio station you listen to – choose a music station with music you like to dance to … that way you can exercise whenever you are working around the house – just dance!’

WP_20160203_16_27_07_Pro
me … in my youth 🙂

OH YES!

I grew up with Radio 4 on in the background (Home Service in my youth – if I am truthful) and though as a teenager I listened to Radio Luxembourg / Pirate radio and eventually Radio One (when they gave up fighting it and made pop-music mainstream) on my radio in my room while doing homework or reading in bed – Radio 4 was the sound-track to my home life.

After my parents moved in with us down here in Cornwall, Radio 4 was once again the default on the radio – and always on. When, because of her developing dementia, Mum couldn’t follow what they were saying and she began to get annoyed with Radio 4, I found that music stations were better for her … and for me. Radio 2 now became the default and, though I missed the thinking pieces, the reports and studies, and some of the humour from Radio 4 – I found I really liked the music played on Radio 2 as so much was ‘my era’.

Music of your own era is hard-wired into your brain. It is a fact that memories associated with music are extremely evocative and form some of the strongest memories. There have been various pieces of research that indicate that the emotional response that music can create may have something to do with this. Dementia patients, who respond to very little else, will suddenly join in with songs and music from their youth – singing along with Old Music Hall songs (as my Mum would) or be-bop-a-lula – if that bit younger.

As for me – hard-wired is the operative term – and it is both brain and body. There are some pieces of music that I just cannot sit still and listen to – I have to get up and dance around (or at the very least tap my foot enthusiastically) 

So – I listened to the doctor – and dance as I go about my everyday life. And it works – okay – so it may look strange to see me pirouette and shimmy across the kitchen, utilising all my favourite belly dance moves – or mosh to heavy-metal in the dining room – but it keeps this old gal limber (love that word!) and if another lovely memory 😉 happens along with the song – it puts an extra smile on my face.

Now for your Saturday Smile – enjoy this video – and go on, GO ON! Why not?  Have a dance around 🙂

What is your favourite music to dance to?

Do your have music-linked memories that return every-time you hear a tune?

do share – I’d love to hear from you

Ann

 

Find me on Facebook and Twitter @Ann Foweraker

 

 

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Getting passionate about …

The first time I was in my forties, and I blame the WI. After all, if I hadn’t seen the day out in the County News I would never have decided to have-a-go.

IMG_1111 crop
Cheesewring, Cornwall – photo Ann Foweraker

So it was off to the wilds of Bodmin Moor – to the quarry at the foot of the famous Cheesewring. When I say, at the foot … if they had continued to quarry there would have been no famous Cheesewring left to see, as it hovers near the top edge of this defunct granite quarry.

We, a group of WI women from all over Cornwall, were gathered to have-a-go at Rock Climbing and Abseiling.

I have to say, it was an exhilarating experience, made all that more wonderful by the fact that you could almost palpably feel the goodwill driving you on to reach that next hand hold or edge of rock to rest your foot on, from the women below (and above) as you climbed the ‘sheer’ rock face. Okay, so it was a real ‘beginners rock face’ with plenty of hand holds once you knew what to look for, and the places to put your feet were substantial enough to suffice, even though we were all in conventional trainers.

Once we reached the top, yes all of us managed it, we had the opportunity to abseil down again. This was quite another thing.

Climbing, taken that you are roped and belayed, is relatively safe, you are also in control of your movements. The LOOK of abseiling sent my heart beating fast. It looked unsafe. It looked out of my control.

My turn came, the sound of my heart beating, in my head so loud I could barely hear the instructions. I stood on the cliff edge feeling sick and started to lean back over the abyss, the rope taking the strain, my grip on the rope, as it went through the rappel, tight.

It was magnificent! The bouncing off the cliff-face and landing further below; a new sort of freedom, and it finished all too soon.

That day was completed with a second, higher, climb and abseil and I exalted in it, enough to organise another event for other members of my own WI on Kit Hill the next year. However, that was it… until my boys, now very (read EXTREMELY) keen and good climbers started taking me with them on local sorties … and to the local climbing wall where they also have Bouldering. A giant ‘rock’ in the middle of the huge climbing barn, dotted with coloured holds, making routes of differing difficulties which you climb without ropes. And, though some routes can be a struggle (for me) the sense of achievement when you reach the top on your second / third / fourth go! ZIPPP!

And I am hooked. I am thinking of buying climbing shoes (rather than hiring them) and, in true WI style, making my own (very individual) chalk-bag  😉 My only grievances: – my fingers are not very strong, and though this will improve, I suspect over-sixty is not the best age to grow new finger-strength – watching  youngsters fly up the holds, their lithe, lightweight bodies scrambling like spiders, and wishing I’d done it back at that age  –  and finally, time – it is hard enough to fit everything I want to into a day as it is!!

Here’s a lovely video of a baby to show you just how easy it is really 🙂

Do you have a new passion this new year?

Have you tried climbing – is it your thing?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you…

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Memories to Memoirs

clock poplar
Clock with map showing the area of Poplar he grew up in

Are you always having to listen to tales of what happened in the ‘old days’ – what your parents did way back when? We are often too busy to stand and listen just when they have remembered something in particular, and as for the grandchildren listening …

I am in the process of creating a book from my fathers memories – for him.  He is eighty-nine and has really LIVED a LIFE and would like his grandchildren and great grandchildren to know something of ‘where they came from’. He is writing it all in longhand and we are getting it typed up – then I am putting it into sentences, paragraphs and chapters – as the memories are written down as one long narrative.

Here is part of the first chapter …

I was born on 12th June, 1926, in Harrap Street, Poplar, in the East End of London, the first child of my parents and what follows in this first chapter is what I was told by my parents and memories that nobody could have told me – because I was alone in hospital from the age of eighteen months until the age of four years.

The state of the economy was low and, though my father had a job, the wage was poor, as there were a lot of unemployed. It was a struggle to make ends meet. Consequently they were already in a bad nutritional state, and then the employers wanted to cut wages by a shilling a week. The miners called a national strike and evidently all the small employers locked their workers out, so my father lost the little income he had. Mum and Dad went to the relief office to ask for a bread voucher, and the officer said “Why don’t you send your wife out to work?” and Dad said she was not in a condition to work. The officer said “Bring her in and let’s have a look at her – is she crippled or something?” (nobody mentioned the word ‘pregnant’ in those days) When he saw Mum, he said “That’s not my fault, and if you can’t feed your wife, you should keep yourself to yourself, and not come here begging”.  Dad grabbed his shirt front and hauled him over the counter. Immediately the copper on duty took Dad to the magistrates who were sitting full-time. Dad explained what had happened, so the magistrate sent for the relief officer who came, full of self-importance, and was soon told his job was to issue tickets, not pass obnoxious comments on the applicant’s condition and to go back and do the job he was paid for. Then he told Dad to go back and get the ticket. Dad thanked him and said that if that was what it took to get a loaf of bread he would sooner starve.

The strike was soon over because of starvation and the employers took their shilling off the wages, and then I was born. My parents struggled on, and when I was slow to crawl they asked the older women in their street what they thought was wrong, and in my case it was obvious to them that the child was just lazy in one leg. The only health service at that time was a scheme called ‘The Panel’ which only applied to actively working people, not wives or children, but at the end of eighteen-months they realised that I could not and would not be able to walk. I crawled, but only dragging my left leg, or stood, by standing by a chair with my left leg hanging free. So my parents tightened their belts and took me to the GP, who watched me crawl along the floor, and, for one shilling and sixpence, told them that I had a congenitally dislocated hip – just a bald statement – and then left them to get on with it.

Now, to add to their troubles, they knew their first-born was a cripple, doomed to wearing a leg-iron for life, useless and dependant on relief. Remember there was no NHS at the time but I think Dad had always belonged to the HSA (Hospital Savings Association), which, for a subscription of about three pence a week would finance any serious hospital treatment, the full cost of which you paid back in weekly instalments. (My father was still paying this back when I reached eighteen)

I was taken to Guy’s Hospital where they started the attempt to rectify the problem. The ball joint now was above the pelvis and had grown in, so over many weeks it was loosened and, by a system of pulleys and weights, the leg was stretched until the ball was in line with its socket.

My parents said that they couldn’t visit much, as they couldn’t afford the fares, so would walk when the weather permitted. I was only aware of strange faces swarming in and out of my vision. When the doctors were satisfied with the alignment I was put in a plaster cast from lower ribs to ankles for four months (my parents did visit at this time at least once, for years later I was told I was almost unapproachable because of the stink). At the end of the four month period the plaster was removed and I was fitted with a corset to keep the hip in place until it became stronger, and I was removed to Shadwell Hospital, where the muscles in my leg were to be exercised and strengthened. Bearing in mind that I had never walked, it must have been very difficult for the nurses.

The life was very confusing for me at the time – apparently during this time I caught all the childhood complaints, and I understand at this time my mother became ill, and visits were even less often.

Eventually I reached the age of four, still not walking unaided, and was fitted with a leg iron for support. I went home, except I didn’t know it was home, and my mother was ‘Nurse’, and when Dad came home, pulling faces, trying to make me laugh, I would say ‘That funny man is here again, Nurse’.   9781909936904-Perfect_FINAL copy

 

NOW AVAILABLE!!

ebook  http://amzn.eu/9h313ER

paperback: http://www.pendownpublishing.co.uk/shop/non_fiction.html

How many other people should be getting their memories written down? What rich heritage are families losing if they do not? What rich heritage of everyday life is the country losing – for instance if the memories of being a midwife in the East End in the 1950s hadn’t been written down then we’d never have had ‘Call The Midwife’ for instance. We have plenty of the rich and famous lives of each era – but, perhaps, not enough of the everyday people.

Here’s a thought, if your parents have retired*, get them to use some of their time in writing it down. (yes – I know this means they may be still quite young – but it takes a long time to write up fifty / sixty / seventy years – Dad began writing his story when he was about 68!) You don’t have to ‘publish’ the book to get it in print – Create Space is a wonderful set-up that you can use almost for free and only get as many books as you want printed for the family by Print On Demand  POD  (rather than the old way of having to have a lot done all at once)
*or this may be YOU?

What did you think about this excerpt from my father’s memoirs?

Are you, or your parents, on this task right now?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you.

ps – the grandchildren – now in their twenties and thirties – are, at last, standing still long enough to listen – and I am sure they will love the completed books

NOW AVAILABLE!! ebook  http://amzn.eu/9h313ER

paperback: http://www.pendownpublishing.co.uk/shop/non_fiction.html

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Talk about the Weather!

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Members of Dumnonika with Sally at her book-launch

Oh? Yes! It’s me, I guess you’d forgotten about this blog… it looked like I had, but I hadn’t. Life had just got in the way, but this time pleasant life.

We are fortunate enough to have been off to Malaysia to visit our eldest son, wife and their three sons – our grandsons. So Good to see them at their home!

I won’t give you my travelogue here, but when I came home it was the weather that struck me most of all. Apart from the feeling that you are living the the perfectly moderated air-con environment when outside (this lasts for a day) it becomes abundantly noticeable why the British are obsessed by the weather.

It is for a good reason that one of the most popular opening gambits in a British conversation, with both friends and strangers, is a comment about the weather.

No one seems to talk about the weather when it is 36 degrees and very humid everyday when you wake (to a sunrise at the same time everyday of the year) followed by more of the same until late afternoon/ early evening when the wind will get up, the sky darken, lightning flash, thunder crash and the rain will sheet down like a waterfall for about ten to fifteen minutes before the sky clears and everything quickly steams dry again before nightfall swiftly arrives at the same time as it always does, around eight.

What is there to say? ‘Looks like the weather will be the same today?’

So home; the first day cloudy when we arrived, turning to bright sunshine that lasted into a late evening.

Second day; started dry but overcast and quite cold over the morning, brightened into hot by late afternoon and into the evening.

Third day; rained and drizzled all day.

Fourth day; a day of blazing heat and beautiful sunshine – and I know because I spend this day outdoors with the lovely Sally Newton at the launch of her novel ‘Caradoc – The Defiant Prince’ – set AD25 – where we were accompanied by Dumnonika – an Iron-Age re-enactment group for the first day of the Upton Cross Art and Craft Exhibition and Sale.

Book launch Upton cross poster Black &  Red & BlueIn fact it was such good weather and it was so hot it wasn’t really the best day to draw in the crowds … though rain would have proved even more difficult for an outside event like our part of the day.  As it was, hordes headed to the beaches, though a good sunburn could be had where we were too, and we had small groups of interested and engaged people instead – perfect. This made for a very successful launch of Sally’s novel which is the first of a trilogy covering the life of Caradoc, a real historic figure of the Iron-Age.

If you live in SE Cornwall (or SW Devon even)  and would like to see the Art and Craft Exhibition and Sale at Upton Cross it runs until 6pm on the 16th August and is well worth a look, but though signed copies of my books, and Sally’s, are on the Pendown Publishing stand I’m afraid we will not be there, nor will Dumnonika – but if you want to know more about them go to their website at Dumnonika.com.

 

Have you ever been away and then found the simple things of home more pleasing?

Do you like historical novels, Iron-Age anyone?

Do share, you know I’ve missed you    😉

 

[p.s. – seems I will be there on Friday afternoon – helping out – so if you want a book dedicated just ask at the door where to find me 🙂 ]

 

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Pictures at an exhibition

pic3Yesterday I went with a friend to see an exhibition of paintings by another mutual friend (what a lot of friends) Let’s call them Krissi and Anthea.  Yes, that Anthea – Anthea Lay! – the one who was on the Big Painting Challenge on BBC1 earlier in the year.pic2

Paintings were displayed across the top of the grand staircase as we arrived, as well as this lovely poster, the background being a painting by Anthea’s co-exhibitor the equally talented Katy Stoneman.

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The exhibition was in a delightful space atop the visitors centre in Bodmin. Inside it was on a sort of  indoor balcony, as you can see, with wonderful light.

The balcony went around half the top of the visitors centre – here is Anthea alongside paintings at the other end of the balcony to the previous photograph.

As you will know I am really excited that I managed to commission Anthea to paint me a picture that will become the cover for my work in progress set in a fictional village in the Tamar Valley.

However, that has to wait! First I have the official Book Launch of Some Kind of Synchrony coming up this Friday – and in preparation I went down to Truro to talk to Tiffany Truscott on BBC Radio Cornwall again. As always she was a delight to talk to as we looked at the triggers that got me writing this book when I did. Tiffany  and me skos for blog Listen again (for next 21 days) HERE

And it is still not too late to come and join us at Waterstones  – 65 New George St. Plymouth [UK  😉 ] at 6.30pm on Friday 15th May, where I am lucky to be joined by Simon Parker, editor at the Western Morning News, author and publisher, who will be conducting my author interview and shedding light on the choice of venue.

After which we’ll have a well deserved glass of something bubbly, mingling and book signing. Waterstones SKOS BOOK LAUNCH Friday 15th May back colour poster pic .doc

I look forward to seeing you there.

In the meantime – if you are around Bodmin between now and the 22nd DO go to Anthea and Katy’s exhibition at the visitors centre in Shire Hall – I am sure you will enjoy it!

 

 

 

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