About makingspace4life

A keen writer who enjoys life. Favourite activities include: painting, travelling on a budget to enjoy small luxuries, self-advocacy, comedy, film, books, ideas, conversations, team sports and gardening. (Currently limited to my basil plant and any others looking thirsty). Currently studying Professional Writing Masters at Falmouth University and loving it. Great group of people and wonderful place to live. Moving here from life in London - being in a rut a year ago - is inspiration for my blog.

Exhibition Review

Photo by Lauren Watts (c) 2012. Martin Howse and his 'psychogeophysical' walker

Photo by Lauren Watts (c) 2012. Martin Howse and his ‘psychogeophysical’ walker

Here is a review I wrote about a contemporary art show.

Martin Howse – September 2012

In September, 2012, performance and experimental artist Martin Howse – previously found in action at places such as the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London cooking up his creative work set to music with his contemporaries – chose Falmouth for his first solo show Execution.

Here is my review of this interesting and strange show, which incorporated itself beautifully into the Fish Factory’s exhibition space, with help from in-house and the artist’s own craftsmanship.

The review can be found alongside many other recent shows which have been held in Cornwall on the ArtCornwall.org website. Martin Howse Execution.

Enjoying the Performing Arts in Falmouth

Comedians in Falmouth

Since I moved to Falmouth in 2011, I’ve seen two of favourite comedians perform within walking distance of where I live. One, Mark Steel, was at the Pavillion and the other, Josie Long, was at the Poly.

Thanks for the pose, Josie.

Thanks for the pose, Josie.

In a year I’ve also seen Henning Wehn, who was fabulous, Robin Ince, Seann Walsh (not my cuppa) and Jo Caulfield (laughed throughout). At the Pavillion, I also saw Simon Day from the Fast Show who seemed ill-advised in his performance of a reading from his autobiography for £14 a head.

It’s not just comedians but local theatre companies too. Owdyado Theatre toured Wrong-doings and Wake Up Calls at the Stop-Off Motel, which I saw at the Poly. Last night I saw Near-Ta Theatre’s Christmas Time in which two guys in jail get themselves worked up into Christmas excitement which climaxes with their own nativity musical.

Here’s a link to my review of Josie Long at the Poly in the local paper.

Two Stories of Misidentity of Hearing Aids and Nuts – Part 2

This evening.

I am rushing to get the bus to see a talk. I can’t find my hearing aid.

The chance to get the bus comes and goes and while searching for missing hearing aid, I find the batteries for my back up.

After midnight, I return from a night of painting Falmouth a light shade of red and see the bag of nuts I had moved to my side table.

I remember, without my glasses on, picking up nuts from my bedside table – where I put my hearing aid at night – after the bag had spilled out the night before. I remember the feel of a large nut that I guessed was a Brazil.

Seeing the bag of nuts that I had folded up on the side table, I have an idea. I look inside and lo and behold, my hearing aid is in there.

Two Stories of Misidentity of Hearing Aids and Nuts – Part 1

I went on a yoga weekend last new year’s eve.

There was a hot tub, which in me induced extra sleep.

A friend had persuaded me to come on this weekend and she also found 4 days without alcohol and with a hot tub meant lots of rest. So she brought a plate of monkey nuts from the kitchen to the room we were both in.

I had booked on this weekend at last minute, so people had been paired off into twin rooms. It was only by warning the venue organisers that we both snored, that we were both in the same room. Therefore we had a plate of monkey nuts to enjoy while reading in between yoga, hot tub and food. And sleeping.

No, Apple Mac, organisers is spelt in English with an s.

Plate of monkey nuts demolished, my friend scoops the shells onto the plate and takes them to the kitchen where she leaves them on the side.

I go to put my hearing aid on to go to dinner but can”t find it.

After a few minutes of panic, I work out that my hearing aid was on the side near the monkey nut shells and resembles these in both colour and shape.

I run to the kitchen and find the plate of empty nut shells.

There amongst them is my hearing aid.

Not what acne drug but how much you take

Documentary

I’ve just seen a BBC programme about a boy who ended his life because of depression, which was suspected to be linked to the medication he was taking for acne.

Before each new batch, I went to see the dermatologist, got a prescription, went to hospital for a blood test and then took home the pills. But no one asked me how I was.

When I was 21, after trying various different approaches, my mother organised for me to take Roaccutane to get rid of the rather persistent spots I had. I remember spending quite a long time with a cover-up stick attending to the potato patch over my left eye-brow before going to my 21st birthday party. And the little bastards hurt too.

Roaccutane

After seeing my local G.P. I was sent to see a Dr Peter Copeman on Upper Sloane Street. Each visit was paying him more than I was living on for a week and yet he dismissed all my questions about side-effects and wrote out the next prescription. He gave me the standard warnings on my first visit, but after that he didn’t give me any advice or reassurance about my hair or other discomforts.

In a Sunday weekend newspaper supplement, I read an interview with Rob Brydon who revealed that his pock-marked skin was what was left after a course of Roaccutane.

Lucky escape

Each prescription would give you a month’s supply.

Before each course of pills was dispensed, I had to go to the hospital for a blood test. It seemed weird that all these checks were made, but none of my questions were answered. Having been warned about the drying up process, advised to not do too much physical activity and told it was important not to get pregnant, the dermatologist I had to see each time I got a new prescription did not monitor me at all and airily dismissed any concerns I raised.

Because of this, I questioned going to see him and asked for my prescription to be sent by mail. It didn’t sit quite right with me that I was told I needed to have an appointment before getting the prescription. Why? Why on earth see someone just so they get paid for seeing me, when they don’t DO or check anything. He didn’t ask me any questions. He was like ‘OK, hello, thanks for coming in. I’ll get your prescription.’

Spots Gone

My spots went after the 2nd or 3rd batch. I was told I was less than half way through the treatment. There seemed no point going to see Dr Copeman as he wasn’t the slightest bit interested in my progress, just in his pay, so I got the secretaries to send me the prescription by post.

They did. I went to the hospital, had my blood test, got my pills and never took them. I had very dry skin and hair, which had got unattractively frizzy and took years to regain its oiliness. Periods were painful. I was sick of not taking exercise and my spots had gone. Why did I need to take more pills? Against strong advice (based on what?) I simply stopped taking the pills. I considered giving them to someone else, but thought that was too risky. Eventually I threw them away. I’ve not had acne since. Barely a few spots, so why did I need to take this pill for 6 months and not just till the acne had stopped returning?

This is a professional and a human failing. I just watched Gemma Cairney’s investigation on the BBC about Raoccutane, in the wake of two sad suicides or deaths of John and Jesse, and some fundamental questions were not even touched upon. Gemma did a good job but we’re not getting to the heart of the matter.

Monitor!

Humans put in a position to monitor must monitor. if a drug is even fleetingly considered to cause emotional turbulence, sexual dysfunction or other side effects, a suitable medical professional needs to be in charge of the patient to see how they are doing.

Here are my recommendations if you or a loved one has acne and are considering taking Roaccutane:

1. Just read Inconvenient People by Sarah Wise to see how biased and defensive and blinkered different professionals can be to suit their own agenda and income. Never take them on their word. Always question them. Find out what psychological support they will give if someone is taking Roaccutane. Is their head in the sand or are they going to put a patient before their ego and ensure they are MONITORING their progress and will consider that some people will be effected by the drug.

2. To find professionals who will mentally prepare a new patient at the start for possible side effects and lay out the ways in which they will listen and support the patient as if the patient actually does know their own mind and body better than another person, even one with a PHD.

3. For the course of pills to end when acne stops returning. If the patient is given enough correct and reliable information about acne, they will be the best judge for when they think the treatment should stop. Curing acne is the point here, not someone earning money.

4. Don’t take Roaccutane unless you trust and can talk to the dermatologist prescribing it.

Facial

Ten years after my Roaccutane treatment, I began to read about cases of depression and suicide in the press. I had felt ‘a bit funny’ while taking the drugs and hated the dryness. it was hard to know if I was depressed as it was a sad part of my life when my Mum died. Also, the bloody medical professionals did that English thing of Simply-Not-Mentioning any possible side effects to the psyche so I didn’t think about it. But I still instinctively stopped less than half way through the treatment, when my spots had dried up.

I went for a facial in North London and the topic of acne came up. I couldn’t remember the name of the renegade dermatologist Mr I-don’t-care-a-fuck-about-making-a-difference-so-long-as-I-get-paid in Upper Sloane Street. The beauty salon lady said ‘oh I’ve heard about this before. Dr Peter Copeman.’

The point of this tale: If you are a medical professional prescribing young people Roaccutane, flipping well look after them, even if this means that you don’t bloody know everything. It’s not about you, it’s about your patient.

Buying local fresh food is the best

As I was brought up in the countryside in the 1970s, I have appreciated fresh local produce ever since. My parents kept chickens and had a vegetable patch and various fruit trees in the garden.

Just before Perranarworthal on the A39 out of Penryn.

The delicate aroma of homegrown potatoes will never leave my memory, even though I’ve not smelt many potatoes like those that grew in my kitchen garden since.  I remember having unpasteurized milk when my mother dropped a school-friend home to her parents’ dairy farm.

Yarg

On the way home for Christmas, last year, I stopped at a fruit and veg stall just before Perranarworthal. That was my first introduction to Yarg. Wrapped in wild garlic leaves, this white Cornish cheese is sold as a mini-Yarg – despite the word ‘mini’ a decent amount of cheese, it lasted my family the whole of Christmas last year – for £4.95 and that is the best price. This cheese comes straight from the producers. There are plain ones for people who don’t like garlic.

Every time I visit this farm shop I go home inspired to write a blog. Another speciality is the meat. The owner, Juliet Purley, has a pig farm and sells food for other farmers as well. The venison is especially good and at very reasonable prices. I got venison steaks, sausages and burgers. Apparently venison is a low fat meat, I didn’t know this, so some pork has to be added to gel the sausages and burgers together.

Once I’ve had one of their pork or venison sausages, I don’t think I could have a normal Richmond or supermarket own brand sausage again. The meat quantity rather than fat is 80% and they proved themselves to be low fat by giving off no fat in my roasting dish.

OK, the bananas are not locally produced.

Prices

Behind the counter there are three or four stacks of eggs. These come in small, medium, large or extra large and are not only very fresh (sometimes warm with chicken feathers still attached) they are cheaper than eggs laid by battery hens in the supermarket. I enjoy taking back an empty egg box and saying ‘fill ‘er up please.’ You’re saving on packaging for one thing.

Carbon Footprint

Why not eat healthily, save money, reduce packaging and your carbon footprint? Sounds too earnest and worthy for some people? Out of season fruit and vegetables are sold, apparently to meet demand. Juliet tells me that some people just shop there at Christmas.

What is it about Christmas that makes people treat themselves to proper food instead of bribing the supermarkets to keep hoodwinking us. OK, supermarket are great for some things, but not fruit, veg,

Fresh eggs are easily to cook ‘home schooled’ in water with a drop of white vinegar.

dairy, fish or meat, I’d say. Especially not in Cornwall with so many different producers around.

Shopping bags

I came away with two bags laden with food. When I do a supermarket shop and have that much stuff, I notice two differences:

1 I’ve bought the kind of stuff I put in a cupboard and don’t use for ages.

2. I’ve bought too much of some things and they’ll disappear into the freezer.

They say a full English Breakfast is what we’re known for, so feast your eyes on this.

Crucial advice for getting your payment protection insurance repaid with ease

I wish their was insurance on time, after spending an hour on writing a previous version of this blog, onto for a box to appear: ‘Leave the page’ or ‘stay on page.’ I pressed ‘stay on page.”stay on page.”stay on page.”stay on page.”stay on page.”stay on page.”stay on page.”stay on page.”stay on page.”stay on page.”stay on page.”stay on page.”stay on page.”stay on page.”stay on page.”stay on page.”stay on page,’ until I must have pressed wrong option (option???) and it obliterated my work. Cheers.

Nuisance Call

The phone rings. I’m sifting through Tweets anyway so I answer it and there’s a pause. Then a voice says ‘An Urgent Message on your payment protection policy.’ I think using the word your, suggesting something I own, something in my possession, something that exists even, when this is not the case, should be illegal. If words used can be proven to be false, there should be a custodial sentence. That would stop the increasing piles of bollocks being written and said by companies.

I claimed a payment protection policy that I had been mis-sold with a loan back in 2004. It was easy, quick, satisfying and fun. Also, I got some money I hadn’t expected to see again. The reason for this is I worked on insurance magazines.

Check out my radio show on thesourcefm at 7.30pm on Sunday evenings, for a useful hour on consumer power. Also, there are some issues of insurance magazines I have produced on my editorial services page.

I do not have a payment protection policy. Would I speak to someone about it who can’t even be bothered to find out if I have one before telling me I can be repaid it? No way. Who takes these calls and does business with these companies? STOP IT NOW. Read these points below:

  • If you have been told you cannot get finance unless you buy an insurance policy to protect the lender, you have been missold this insurance.
  • If you were not in steady employment, with a reasonable salary, in a job you had been in for at least 6 months, without any signs of the company going belly up, or you being made redundant, you were missold the insurance.
  • If you were told to get a loan or took out a credit card, and payment insurance was included without you being able to opt in to it, ie it was added to your bill and then interest was charged on this, you will be repaid that money. Yes, this happened to me a few times.
  • It is, as you know, illegal for lenders to sell a payment protection insurance without checking that you meet all the criteria of eligibility to claim, should the occasion arise.

If you have bought a Paymenet Protection insurance, you can go to your lender and ask for it back, please. How? There are various ways, but essentially you need to find out how much you’ve paid on PPI and how much interest has been charged. One of these options will help. Remember, your lender will have the figure easily attainable on their system, but you want to check they are parting with the correct amount.  With me, they tried to withhold the interest, but I challenged them and it was repaid.

  • Get out your loan or credit card paperwork, which will show that you were sold PPI.
  • Take this to your lender and say you want to be repaid this insurance, please.
  • If they quibble, which I think they won’t, say you will go to the Financial Ombudsman and make a complaint about them.
  • You can say that
    • You were not eligible for the insurance
    • You were not asked questions to check you were eligible (if you were actually)
    • You were told that you had to buy the insurance to get the finance.
    • The insurance was added without your knowledge, ie you had to opt out rather than opt in. The insurance was added to your loan, mortgage or credit card bill.
    • The conditions of the insurance were not laid out clearly to you.
    • You could go to your online banking service, open the account you repay your lender from, download a statement and then do a sort by the column which shows who you are paying. This will tell you exactly how much you will get back.

Mobile Phone Insurance:

As insurance is a bit like gambling or investing, only you can work out if mobile phone insurance is worth it for you. Ask yourself:

  • How many times have I lost a mobile phone?
  • If I have, has my insurance provided me with another one?
  • If I am serial mobile phone mislayer, do I get a replacement more than once a year?
  • Do I pay for a bank account? This info is old, so I am sure you know your bank probably provides free mobile insurance.

Once, when I first had a mobile phone, I worked out that if I bought insurance at £11 a month, and lost my phone once, paid the excess, I would have saved 50p, had I not bought insurance and paid for a reconstituted phone.

All you need to do with insurance is treat it like a flutter on the horses. Have fun asking yourself what it costs, when you had needed it before, how much it saved you, could you claim, what other benefits came with it, how was it sold to me?