The Last Furlong

Comments on the race of life.


Handicapped or disabled?

Goodness knows why us handicapped people now have to call ourselves ‘disabled’ instead of handicapped.

What was wrong with the word handicapped, I ask you?

Disabled implies I am less able than abled people. It’s really discriminatory. We can mostly do everything abled people can do, but maybe, we do it differently, like walk slower, use a wheelchair, speak funnily, have one leg or hand, eye or foot. I refuse to be disabled!

We are handicapped. Doing stuff for us, is harder than for people who are more common human beings. Our lives are just like a horse race where some horses are weighted to control the race. The handicapped horse is no worse nor better than any other horse, his performance has been capped by the weight he carries.

Sometimes, things are very difficult for me to do. I might have to ask for help. At those times I never think I’m ‘disabled’. I think of myself as being like a horse in the race of life. I just have been given a life-weight that makes it more difficult for me than the other horses around me. They have different problems.

My achievements are therefore more amazing than if I had lived my life without my handicap. I seldom moan. I do not feel a victim. I do not expect everyone else to grovel to my patheticness, nor offer me special favours. I have accepted my life-weight. My inner ‘ME’ has not been soured. Shit happens to everyone, in lesser or greater dollops.

I have collected up many brownie points for my next life, and facilitated others, all those who have helped me, especially Mr Furlong, to do the same!

Disabled? POOH!

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New fashion sheet

Mr Furlong has not been well. He had a tooth out. It has bled at night and ‘lost the clot’ since last week. We have now discovered why. Mr Furlong is on anti coagulants. He takes a pill in the evening and sure as anything, within an hour or so, the clot which he is carefully trying to preserve has gone! He bleeds instead. We know his anti coagulants work. They do not ‘allow’ clots.

So on one of the bad nights for Mr Furlong , I woke up terribly hot. I was cooking as they say. I knew a sheet would be nicer than my summer duvet. But the linen is stored in Mr Furlong’s room. I did not want to disturb him.

I lay and thought of possible alternatives. What was large enough, thin enough, and light enough to use as a sheet that was stored in a place I could get to without waking Mr Furlong (or the dog).

Ah! The English Flag! It was stored in a drawer in the lounge (‘living room’ as they strangely say here in the UK). But when I examined it, it felt polyestery and hot. God knows where we got an English Flag the size of a bed sheet, but we have one.

And then the solution came to me. We downsized from a large house with a large dining room table in the dining room. We owned table cloths stored in a chest of drawers next to the kitchen.

I found the perfect twenty year old many times laundered pink cotton damask table cloth in the drawer there where it has lain since we moved here.

I slept well under it and dreamed of many very happy times.


They toil not, neither do they spin

My sister and I were brought up to know about literature. The Bible was literature as well as Dickens and other stuff. Sometimes little phrases pop into my head.

We went to a famous garden at eyewatering expense the other day. I wore my new red shoes which was a mistake. I am still recovering. And we wandered around from the formal gardens to the wild gardens.

The formal sections included the Topiary. There we found gardeners of all kinds watering, snipping, checking every detail, working hard. The gardens between the topiaries had the beds neatly planted out with seedlings lined up like little soldiers all in a row.

Control, control, control. Man’s authority over nature seemed somehow sad to me. The ancient topiaries, artistic and beautiful as they are, have been constructed over hundreds of years.

My red shoes complained as we wandered through. There were benches there but my sister, who is older and frailer than me, never once suggested we sit down. She had her walker thingy to assist her.

But the wild gardens were the most wonderful of all. They were, well – wild! There were no gardeners there, only butterflies and bees; and wild plants and flowers. And exuberant joy.

It was worth the exorbitant gate price just to see those.

I forgot about my new red shoes. And something popped into my head.

Consider the lilies of the field how they grow,they toil not,neither do they spin, yet I say unto you even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Again, there were benches. But we never sat. I could have sat there for hours contemplating, absorbing, breathing beauty. Instead, I shuffled around behind my sister in my new red shoes feeling the pain. I bet Solomon made sure he was wearing comfy shoes at all times. He was a wise man, not vain, not silly like me.

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Recipe for a tickle-cough

Yesterday, I blogged that I’d hardly slept the night before because of the wretched tickle on the tonsils cough I have developed as a result of my ferocious head cold this week.

Mr Furlong remembered a recipe for coughing that we’d used many many years ago, that was passed down to us by our ancestors.

I am sharing it here.

It worked.

I slept all night and only had to use it twice.

Take an onion, slice it, place it in a bottle and toss in a desertspoonful (or thereabouts) of either brown or white sugar. Screw on the lid and leave in a warmish place. Shake occasionally.


Thats it!

The cough syrup is the juice it makes. Decant into a small container ( in this case a 30ml squeeze bottle) and take TINY, TINY sips when necessary.



Illicit visits

The Furlongs are looking foreward to a real visit from the family. We’ve had a few illicit ones.

These consist in sitting in our cars in the little parking lot next to the field behind our flat. From there we can talk through our car windows whilst the grandkids run on the field. Well, if the weather is good.

Our last car visit ended up in a tropical downpour and greats splots of rain driving onto us through the open windows. We usually meet a lunchtime and scoff our packed lunches together whilst catching up on the news. I can see my face in the side mirror. It really is depressing. My face at rest is decidely gloomy. I must remember to smile.

I might smile if there was a sunny day and we were all comfortable and warm in our own garden.

We have exceptionally nice neighbours. Yesterday, I delivered a bottle of garden fertiliser we were sharing to our next door neighbour.

A strange thing happened.

We had a moment of forgetfulness. Simultaneously. When the old lady came to the door she reverted to habit as in the past, when we have had pleasant chatting sessions with me sitting on her sofa rather than hanging over the fence. She said “Oh, DO come in!” So I did without a second thought.

It was only when we were well into sharing our thoughts on all sorts of topics that Covid came up and sort of simultaneously, it dawned on us that me sitting on the sofa and her relaxed in her armchair, as of old, was absolutely forbidden. We were breaking the rules. Furthermore, both she and I had moved out of our bubbles. We were being NAUGHTY!

How to escape?

Had the neighbours seen me enter her flat? Should I slither out of the back door and shin over the fence? Should I just leave and hope no one would see? All our neighbours are either shielding or in tight bubbles as we are old – all old.

I felt really guilty. Shocked really at how we both just ‘forgot’.

So I slithered out of her front door just as all the dogs were arriving home from their morning walk. It seemed as good a distraction as any.

And I came home behind them with my tail between my legs.

So to speak.


A question of colour

Mrs Furlong’s father (that’s my father) was a redhead.

Mr Furlong’s mother was a redhead.

According to legend, Mrs Furlong (me) had red hair when she was born. But it fell out and was replaced by thin blonder-than-blonde hair that no sane human would desire. She got stuck with it her whole life. As a child, she looked like a sucked mango pip, bleached white, with match-stick legs and arms.

Mrs Furlong’s redhead father was a very smart man, a scientist. A very sharp scientist who was sent to America for a year to find out and bring back to darkest Africa knowledge regarding milk and milk products for his laborotary. But unfortunately Mrs Furlong’s father preferred alcohol as his tipple, a fact that shortened his life considerably.

Mr Furlong’s redhead mother was a sharp cookie too. And gifted. She had a gift of piano playing from ear, any composition, any tune, any key. She was found to be essential as an accompaniest to the soloists in pantomimes and performances by singers who wandered in and out of keys during productions of musicals in the community because she could play on simply by spontaneously transposing to a different key. She entertained us for hours on the piano after meals and at parties. As a tiny child, the piano teacher refused to teach her because “she never followed the music”. She never had another lesson after that.

She was a smashing cook!

Mr Furlong’s father, ex navy officer after the war,  entertained himself by blotting out memories of the atomic bomb flash which he witnessed from his ship, by remaining mostly addled, but very entertaining in bars and pubs and parties for the rest of his life.

As parents, we had much discussion about who might inherit what aspect of intelligence, alcoholism, and hair that was so clear in our genetic heritage.

It was the subject of every conversation each time a new baby was due. And there was much talk about gender. Everyone contemplated the genetic chances of this or that, family, friends, and strangers too.

Girl? Boy? Who knew? It was always a surprise. Red, blonde, brunette. Dimples, nose, ears. All was discussed. Constantly.

At birth, it was all about the hair.





Now, in case no one knows, people with red hair often have a very unfortunate skin colour that haunts them all their lives. They are cursed with WHITE, delicate skin that keeps them out of the sun, that turns blotchy very easily, blushes, and produces freckles, bullying and derision in school.

In favour of red-heads is they are supposed to be more intelligent than the rest of us.

I produced three blonds, one brunette and one red-head. All of them are sharp cookies. They are now middle aged. None have turned into alcoholics. Nor musicians.

All have children themselves. And, guess what?


The red-heads are there! (and,of course, the skin.)

I was thinking about the dreadful racism Meghan has suffered when someone asked her about the colour baby Archie might be. It was her first baby. I think she didn’t know that people would wonder. I wondered myself.

Bless her, poor thing. She had no family of her own to endlessly cogitate what qualities would appear in the next family baby like we did. Times have changed.

But, I wonder, is Archie a redhead?

Or is that racist?


Covid entertainment

Doing nothing much?

I’m not doing anything much either.

I have been entertaining myself watching THIS PLAYLIST. You might like it too if you enjoy educating yourself.

I have been learning. I have no idea the name of this lecturer but I think he is Dr. Aizaz. I like his voice, his diagrams, his “vibe” and I can actually follow the simple stuff.

Here are three of his videos I found most illuminating.

In order – March 2020, December 2020 and the last one was uploaded in January 2021

March 2020

December 2020

January 2021


Sad story, happy ending

Our neighbour’s very old dog died. Well, worse, they had to have her put to sleep in their home. She was very old and developed dementia. Did you know dogs suffer from dementia?


Our neighbour looked gaunt with grief. I was really worried about her. Losing a pet can be traumatic for some people and our neighbour took it very badly. Also, when you actually get the vet to kill a creature you love, it’s even more dreadful.

Our neighbour was used to walking two dogs. Now, daily, she was walking out with only one. So she offered to walk our dog too. Everyday she went out with one creamy white pretty girl dog and one handsome black and tan boy dog. She began to look less devasted with grief as the days progressed.


In another town near here, someone unknown died in their home with their little dog mourning beside them. They remained undiscovered for quite some time. No one knows how long. It must have been a long time because the dog was in a frightful condition when it was finally rescued. It needed urgent loving care.

This little dog has come to live with our neighbour to nurse. They have adopted her.

They have called the little grieving dog ‘Maisie.’

Maisie was just quivering skin and bones when I first saw her. Maisie was a wreck, no question. But Maisie is filling out. Every day she is coming alive and beginning to look like a happy dog. She is an intriguing little thing. I like her. She’s going to be a ‘character’ dog. I suspect she’s got all sorts of genes in her. But she looks like a kind of small Jack Russell with long spindly legs.

Bass is good with all dogs. He just likes dogs. He likes everyone, humans too actually! So now he now goes out daily with two creamy white girl dogs dressed in little red jackets. They make a really good looking dog team for walking with. Now that Maisie has settled in, our neighbour even lets them off their leads in safe places. They all come back when called.

It’s wonderful what love can do.


Bed Dog

Our dog’s loyal servants, US, have been well trained in all aspects of his life.

We make ‘nests’ for him when his baleful eyes tell us he screwed up the one he was making .

We turn on the outside light at night and open the door despite bright moonlight and a perfectly good dog flap so that he can see when his stare tell us he wishes to do his business but we must open the door and turn on the light first.

During the day, the dog flap works well, but it doesn’t work when its dark, evidently.

Our life is timed by his commands. Noon is lunch. Three o’clock is supper. Ten o’clock is bed.

A short sharp yap is ‘look at me!” An excited barking from the couch in the bay window means “look at them,” and the hysterical yip yaps, squeaks and loud barking happens if someone is at the door.

Mr Furlong has a routine. When the doorbell rings, he ushers the dog into the forbidden front room where it leaps on the chair in the window with great joy. Mr Furlong then closes the door and Bass is trapped in the room, allowing us to deal with the people at the door. From the front bedroom window, the dog can observe, comment and warn us of the dreadful danger of any visitors.

So we are well trained and have succumbed to every whim of our master.

Except one.

It’s the race for my bed.

I love dogs ON the bed but not IN the bed.

Bass burrows. He nests in just about everything he can find. I have to make certain my duvet is dog burrowing proof.

Mr Furlong is more relaxed. Sometimes after the visitors at the front door have left, we ask “Where is Bass?” Having been let into the forbidden front bedroom, he is making sure to have a cosy kip deep inside the happy dark, under Mr Furlong’s duvet.

Mr Furlong is a pushover.

But not me.

Under MY duvet?


Well almost never. We are still working at it Bass and I. He’s finding me very hard to train.


Yackity yackity yak

What a tower of babel surrounds us at the moment! Opinion, opinion, opinion.

Yackity yak.

Trump or Covid, Biden or Covid. Trump and Biden and Covid. And Boris and Covid. Vaccinations and Covid. And flooding. Trump, Biden, Kamala, Boris, Floods, vaccinations and covid.

And Covid.

You could scream.

At least these cats seem in harmonious conversation. Maybe you’d rather watch them than the News? Or the livestream I offer at the end of this post…..