Archive | June, 2013

The sad loss of friendships and more

28 Jun



It has been a strange week. No, not quite strange, but more the fact that a sense of melancholy has once again made its presence known in our house hold.

Only last week, my partner and I were talking about how different our lives were when we lived for several years in Torquay. We soon got onto the subject of work and a particular person was mentioned. This brought up memories that we had almost forgotten…One of my former work colleagues, MK, whom we got to know a little better through several social events. He was appeared to be pleasant and friendly and we got on well. Or so I thought…until that fateful day when we promised him a plant pot, informing him that we were about to leave our house for several hours and we’d leave the pot outside for him to collect. He said that was fine and he wouldn’t be long in coming round to fetch it. Little did we know that within a few minutes of leaving it outside, it would get stolen!!  Much to the chagrin of MK who said that he promised to give it to his sister. I tried to explain and placate his annoyance but he refused to speak to me after that incident. Although we worked together, the tension was slightly unbearable. I didn’t wish him any harm, didn’t hold any bitterness or grudges against him. After all, it was a misunderstanding and an incident that wasn’t worth dredging up… But MK chose to ignore me and eventually our “friendship” soon petered out as quickly as it had first started…



I hadn’t seen or spoken to him since…Last Monday, I read a Facebook status. It made a reference to a certain individual. I made enquiries as to whom it could be referring to and was informed that it was MK. He had only passed away 4 years ago. A man in his mid fifties, he’d only gone into hospital for a minor bowel operation, ended up in ICU, fell into a coma and died. I was saddened, shocked and sorry that a potentially fruitful friendship had come to such an abrupt end without any resolution. Our friendship and his life cut short like a piece of string which had unravelled in all the wrong places.




Today has also been blighted by the tragic death of someone who also chose to end our  friendship. She was supported by many people over the years, was a very private and respected person when I met her. She was petite, blonde, carried the air and grace of someone from a different era. She was very polite, tactful and a sensitive individual. Once in a while she would admit to “not being a very good mother”, but it was clear that her lesbian daughter and gay son loved her dearly. She had led a sad life. Her husband and mother in law had passed away in terrible circumstances. They were driving in a torrential thunderstorm when a tree, already on the verge of collapsing, crashed on top of their car. The legal papers said their death was due to the negligence of the Council.  The total amount of compensation was enough to allow our friend to spend money in the amusement arcades for a number of years. And that’s all she did…spent all the money on her addiction and a bottle of brandy a day. Oh, I hardly ever eat, she would say. I’m quite happy with my cigarettes and coffee. I only gamble to socialise, you know and it gets me out the house. Her gambling addiction took her away from her family and friends. When she moved several years ago in an attempt to be cared for and looked after by her slightly younger sister, it was her sister who had a sudden illness and passed away. Then, our friend returned to Birmingham. She had lost her home, her finances were rapidly dwindling and she was losing many of her long term friends who had stood by her in an effort to keep her “otherwise engaged” so that she didn’t spend all day, every day in the gambling arcade. And if it wasn’t the arcade, it was Bingo or online poker games.



Our friend, because of her age, bought herself a small flat in a block of retirement apartments. She was monitored and cared for on a regular basis by the Housing Officer or Scheme Manager.

Then, in a bizarre twist of fate, in the week leading up to Christmas 2012, her daughter had also been killed in a car crash. Another tragic loss which was revealed to us by text.

Our friend, who I used to think was as secretive as a squirrel, was so eloquent, informative, educated, and yes, quite glamorous in her own way, passed away in her sleep last Monday night. She was found dead on the sofa by a Nurse. Towards the end of her life, we could see that her body was shrivelling away through lack of nourishments, proper home cooked food and her reliance on brandy. We could see she was truly a gambling addict in denial, who was on the course of self destruction, moving away from people who loved and cared for her and falling deeply into debt and oblivion.  As she lacked strength in her body, she had to walk using a Zimmer/Walking frame which didn’t stop her from going into the gambling or Bingo halls. There wasn’t any signs of self preservation or the Will Power to keep out, her addiction was so great…  We think she was in her early sixties. No one is quite sure of her age, but whatever age she is, sorry was, or whatever she did, she would be missed and a piece of my heart feels the sad loss of a quirky, contrary, addictive personality.



I hope you have been reunited with your family and found true happiness at last. RIP Sandra xx

The Learned Kat


Had I heard the Whispers

28 Jun

Silver butterflies     Lily 1   Lily 2

Once in a while, I manage to catch up on all the people who have read, liked or commented on my blog. Sometimes, when I read a profile on someone, I am swayed, interested or moved by what they have written. If I feel there is an “unwritten connection”, I’ll decide to “follow”. I find that the “you follow me, I’ll follow you” principle doesn’t always apply… But today was an exception. Whilst going through the list of names in the notifications, I happened to read some poems by Melonie Ann. I liked the style, content and simplicity of what she described. I then read her post, called “Whisperings of a Muse”.  Now, I’ve never met or heard of Melonie at all before. So far removed from me in cyberspace I believe Melonie is in the USA whilst I sit here in good old Birmingham, UK…

After reading Melonies’ post I was compelled to reply. You have to read her post to know how this one correlates to what she has written.

I should imagine there are plenty of people out there who have developed an immediate affinity with another blogger in cyberspace…


The Learned Kat

Whisperings of Muse

27 Jun

Whisperings of Muse.

I am Fish! The art of acceptance

26 Jun

Silver fish 3


“I am Fish!” said the ornate fish

“Yet I have no skin” he said.

No thick skin to reflect criticism

except shimmers of glass

No clear skin to draw admiration

except mirrors to reflect a body of art

No colour of skin to determine my nation

Accept that I am One

Accept me for who I am

Silver fish 1

The Learned Kat



23 Jun

As the golden globe of amber glow reflects on the dark glass

and the silent screams on the silver screen flicker black and white

and the low murmur of voices hum behind a wall of grain and stone

The darkest night drifts on and on

and a solitary man sits

on his own.

Crying because I’m chopping onions

22 Jun


I’m not weeping because

I miss you

I’m crying because I’m

chopping onions

I’m not lonely because

you’re not here

I’m cooking the dishes

you used to prepare

I’m not nostalgic with

memories of you

I’m trying to recall all

your recipes

I’m not wondering about what

you would say

I’m pondering on how it would taste


I’m not sorry

you left me

I rue the day

you went

I’m not looking for comfort in

your dishes

I’m trying to recapture

your essence

I’m not searching for

your happy look

I should place your recipes

in a book.


I wrote this poem whilst cooking a curry which was taught to me by my mother. She passed away three years ago. I find cooking or baking, therapeutic, a distraction. There IS comfort in food which is prepared and cooked with the extra ingredients of warmth, love, and happiness. I’m not saying it lessens the burden of bereavement, but it does help me to ease the pain.

The Learned Kat




The Return of the Medallion Man

22 Jun


There is something about Russell Brand that I just don’t understand. It might be the way he ingratiates himself to the public, prancing about on stage, preening himself and always so vocal. He looks so unclean and yet so manufactured. I’m sure whilst he was at drama college he must’ve experimented with lots of different looks, voices and accents before he fell upon the one which he felt, and no doubt, his peers, would suit his stage persona. His accent sounds like a fake cockney accent ( or mockney, as they say in the media) and I can imagine his relatives when he gets to visit him saying in a plummy voice “We never taught you to speak like THAT!”

Russell is a product of what is fashionable at the moment. Fair to say he has been around for a few years now and his popularity appears to be waning. He has created a number of controversial faux pas in his time, famously marrying Katy Perry in India being one of them… But his image has been honed and stylised to such a degree it is hard to distinguish who is the Real Russell Brand. 

I mean there he was sitting quite nonchalantly on a BBC television programme the other night. At first, listening and responding as required. Then, he appeared to be getting a bit restless and agitated. But that’s neither here nor there. Whilst I was listening, I couldn’t help but thinking how he could sit on this panel, pontificating political issues with 2 MP’s, the Mayor of London and a Daily Mail columnist, with several of his top shirt buttons undone and exposing his hairy chest bejewelled with a long, dangling cross. I looked at him, and  thought it was fair play to him, he was just being himself.

Then I thought it must be the accepted face of fashion or stars of a certain calibre. I mean, look at Simon Cowell

Theo Paphitis from Dragon’s Den

and Andrew Lamberty, one of several Antiques dealer from Channel 4 show Four Rooms.

There are a number of other male  television presenters or stars who are either stylised to expose their manly chests in a certain way for the screen or choose to dress that way themselves as if to show of their proud hairy chests. The appeal being that maybe their fans would love the idea of running their hands through that lovely strong broad, puffed up chest…

Hang on! We had a similar look back in the 1970’s didn’t we!? Greasy, sometimes wavy hair, always a bald pate discreetly combed over, a thick handlebar moustache, silk, patterned (Hawaiian style?)  or plain shirt and a long chain which dropped down the chest, allowing a gold medallion of various sizes to dangle prominently over a barely exposed navel towards a very wide belt which held up flares which flared out just below the knee but were snug at the top, just tight enough to pronounce the bulge of the male anatomy. The smell of Brut or Old Spice  (or some other cheap aftershave) would often be so over powering it could knock you out…

That whole OTT look that has since been parodied and ridiculed many times. More recently by Keith Lemon…

Back in the 70’s, Medallion Man also heralded a very different kind of male presence in society. Not only was it the face of pimps, gangsters and “bad guys” in films or movies, the look was associated all things “macho” – posturing, arrogance, pride, ego…All things machismo reigned the day. The woman in his life was treated like a second class citizen and not worthy of his time unless he clicked his fingers and then she supposedly had to be at his beck and call…

I thought it was good that the  negative words associated with image of “Medallion Man” had taken a turn for the better and the whole “look ” had dropped off the fashion radar, relegated to the bins of an outdated mode of what was deemed to be a  male dominated society. It appeared that All things “masculine ” and “masculinity” began to change and the New Man was born…

But really, the Medallion Man hasn’t changed. The hair has just been coiffed, the handlebar moustache has either been removed or made to look more distinguished, the cheap aftershave has been replaced by a more highly expensive eau de toilette, the jeans or trousers are more tighter or fitted better…The Medallion Man has been repackaged and softened to be a more acceptable face to the fans. Underneath all that, from what we see and hear of these famous faces that either adopt the look or tweak it to suit their highly successful positions in the public eye, the negative attitudes of a Neanderthal Man  still seems to permeate from the pores of the new, freshly painted Medallion Man.

All hail the return of the Medallion Man!