The Life of Julie Cope…

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After being lucky enough to visit Grayson Perry’s fantastic House for Essex in Wrabness I’d always wanted to see more of his work, so when I discovered that a local gallery was to feature pieces from his collection linked to the house I couldn’t wait to go and see it. Oh my goodness, it surpassed my expectations that’s for sure.

Although featuring sketchbooks, drawings, photos, woodcuts, ceramics and tiles the undisputed stars of the show were the gigantic tapestries. While you absorbed the minute details of the fabric you could listen to an audio of the man himself narrating The Ballad of Julie Cope.

For a social historian it was an utter joy as the story draws you in to the point where you completely forget that Julie is, or was, a fictional character. These artworks represent, in Perry’s words, ‘the trials, tribulations, celebrations and mistakes of an average life’ and certainly resonated with me. I may not know much about art but I know what I like – and I liked it a LOT!

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Technology is a Wonderful Thing…

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Walking along a crowded street wearing a device with wires attached made me strangely aware of how dodgy it might appear to others, however it was all perfectly innocent as I’d just been to the hospital to get a 48 hour heart monitor fitted. My beats per minute rose a little when the penny dropped that I should probably quickly check to make sure I had no cables dangling from under my jumper, but thankfully everything was securely strapped to the waistband of my jeans. Wishing to avoid any unnecessary panic I chose to return straight home rather than risk setting off any shop alarms.

Fortunately this monitoring was taking place during a weekend, which avoided enduring a ‘show and tell’ session in the office. I must admit that while most of the time I managed to forget I was wearing it, trips to the bathroom were a little more complicated than usual due to having to untangle myself, but overall the whole thing went without any major hitches.

I now have to wait for my cardiologist to examine all of the data, and hopefully the results will provide him with everything he needs in order to make a decision about the next course of action regarding my ongoing valve issues. A few years ago this would’ve required a two-day stay in a hospital ward, but thankfully nowadays all of this can be done while you go about your daily business. Technology really is a wonderful thing…

Expect The Unexpected…

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Although I’m technically on a ‘career-break’, when I received an email last week asking if I’d like my name to be put forward for some work in a massive Computer Science Department I couldn’t resist so I agreed; not really expecting anything to come of it. A few days later I had a call on my mobile inviting me for an “informal chat”, so today I popped down there just to find out a bit more about what they were looking for. I was in the office at noon and by 2pm I’d had a phone call offering me the position! Stunned doesn’t begin to cover it.

Turns out that everything I’d learnt in my previous post is exactly what they wanted from an administrator, so next week I will unexpectedly begin the next new chapter in my career. Who could have predicted that before the end of 2017 I’d be employed alongside people working with Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Robotics, Cloud Computing and a whole lot more? It just goes to show that you really never know what’s just around the corner…

Stress Echo…

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The last time I was up at 6am it involved a flight to somewhere fabulous, however this was no holiday; quite the opposite. A good friend was taking me miles out of my comfort zone, in every sense of the word, to a specialist heart centre in order to undergo tests, including one cheerfully named a ‘stress echo’. Any test including the word stress was never going to be much fun, and so the tone was set for the day.

I can’t remember the last time I was on a bike and I’ve certainly never ridden one topless, but there’s a first time for everything. In my mis-spent youth, having a man I’d only just met apply cold gel to a probe and run it across my bare boobs would’ve been considered a ‘blindin’ night out‘, however, when you’re past your prime, not to mention stone cold sober, it’s surprising quite how bashful you become. Onlookers included a nurse, my cardiologist and a registrar (should’ve sold tickets!)

Well, the good news is that my heart muscle is fine, the not-so-good bit is confirmation that I will, at some point, face valve replacement surgery. Ho humm… There’s also a slight issue regarding tachycardia as my resting heart was beating 100 times per minute, but it may have been partly due to anxiety. At least I’ve now had a thorough cardiac review and have been able to speak to my cardiologist in person about my concerns, and I’m now reassured that I’m not about to suddenly conk out unexpectedly. I do still have to undergo a 48 hour heart monitor test, so there’s more fun to be had from the NHS at the end of the month, so I shall look forward to that. Wonder how many beats per minute it’ll do after a couple of espressos…?

Big Bangs…

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Anyone who’s ever met me knows full well I don’t like fireworks, but in an attempt to push my own boundaries I decided to put aside my anxieties over large crowds, big bangs and a morbid fear of being in a close proximity to fire, and attend the annual fireworks display at the university where I work.

I have to admit that the atmosphere on campus was quite exciting and the fact it was after dark simply ramped up the intensity. There were plenty of stalls, all lit up, in one of the main squares, and queues for hot food were growing longer by the minute. Hundreds of staff and students were already on a slope enjoying the DJs and live music on the floodlit stage and before long the university’s own fire display team were hard at work thrilling (and terrifying) the onlookers.

Despite my reservations, it was impossible not to get caught up in all the excitement when the first rocket launched high into the sky, although the racket it made when it exploded shook my insides. Apparently, it’s impossible to put both fingers in your ears when taking photos, so I just had to embrace temporary deafness and enjoy the pretty colours in the sky.

I returned home cold and stinking of smoke, but I’m proud of myself for stepping so far out of my comfort zone and I have to admit that I actually enjoyed it. Time to find out what else I can do when I put my mind to it…

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Counting My Blessings…

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I’ve enjoyed some quality time with my family this week and it’s been extremely rewarding. At the weekend I spent a whole afternoon with my gorgeous twin daughters; putting the world to rights and catching up on all their news over cups of hot, sweet tea and fancy biscuits; and today I’ve spent several hours with my elderly mother celebrating her birthday.

I met mum off the bus in the town centre and we had our usual browse in shop windows as we passed them en route to the local park. It’s mild for the time of year so we were able to perch ourselves on a bench overlooking lovely autumnal scenery while enjoying a good old natter about anything and everything. As the town hall clock struck twelve we sauntered towards a nearby cafe for coffee and baguettes, and once sustained off we went again for a further wander through the town until it was time for her to catch the bus back home.

I’m so lucky to have my mum still with me and even luckier to have produced such beautiful, intelligent and caring children. I really do feel extremely blessed…

Happy Haggling…

karen waddy

Waking up in a bad mood, for no obvious reason, I figured I may as well use this uncharacteristic grumpiness to my advantage by giving my phone and broadband provider a stern talking to about a recent price hike. The predictable auto-selection process did nothing to improve my attitude and by the time I’d discovered the ‘If
you’re thinking of leaving us‘ option I was more than a tad annoyed, however, shouting never gets you anywhere so I took a deep breath and put forth my complaint in a constructive yet forceful manner.

I’ll give him his dues, the poor lad on the receiving end of my tirade listened patiently and accepted all the arguments I put forward without attempting to defend the company or it’s policies, and after nervously asking for a few more details from me he somehow managed to halve my monthly Direct Debit with immediate effect.

As if by magic, my mood was instantly transformed into cheery with a hint of victory, and within the space of ten minutes I’d completely turned around the outlook for my day, not to mention the huge chunk of cash I’d saved. Can’t wait for the next time I get out of bed the wrong side, I could save myself a fortune!