I still have some primitive hope that a new year might present new horizons, even though 2023 has not started too well. Battleaxe won’t go boring on about the weather and the state of the nation, we all know about that. As for Harry…. hell, I’ve been a counsellor myself and have pronounced piously to enough poor divvils about how it helps to be open and to talk about stuff, but banging on endlessly to the whole world? I don’t think so. Look, Hazza, we don’t care. Just stay home and shut up. As for Battleaxe… feeling low? Why not give your spaghetti poodles a nice bath….
Did you know Battleaxe was once a counsellor? Yes, many, many moons ago, in my twenties, I was the youngest person in the West of England to be selected as a Marriage Guidance Counsellor. Back in those days the selection process was very tough, few were chosen, and I felt very proud and grown up. I lived with my first husband in deepest Gloucestershire, and after only a few months of training, my very first client was a man who did something unmentionable with chickens in the Forest of Dean. I felt very worried about the poor hens but but it didn’t put me off. I ended up working for NMGC, and then when it became Relate. I even did the sex therapy option. As well as counselling I wrote and published books on counselling commissioned by Relate. I went on to be a full-time counsellor and group worker with people with drug and alcohol problems, with Aquarius in Birmingham. But as I got older I got less patient. I’d find ‘Just pull yourself together’ hovering by my lips. Fortunately it never got said, but it was time to give it up.
Battleaxe likes chickens. This family came to visit last summer when I was snoozing in the orange grove of our holiday place in Cirali, Turkey. I like the way the chicks adult feathers are growing through their fluff. I’d like a few chickens in the garden here, but we have so many foxes.
Battleaxe did a lot of things in her long working life, and I now realise I want to stop doing most of them. Yesterday, I decided that I wouldn’t carry on as a Trustee of the Friends of Conquest Hospital. I won’t go into the reasons here, but a part of it is that I no longer want to do, as a volunteer, all the same things I did at work and got paid for. Not counselling – although some of the chicken type business might now be a welcome diversion – but yawn scratch, not-for-profit governance, strategy, board development, finance, recruitment, staffing issues… the same old things you always have do to run a small organisation. The endless litany of the usual stressy grief. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met some nice people but fun? No. If I’d wanted to volunteer for the Friends I’d have done better pushing a trolley round the wards… and you can’t even do that now because of risks of infection. I have still got some volunteering appetite left, but no more positions of responsibility thanks.
Ideally, I’d like to work with animals. Saw this van yesterday when Philosopher and I were walking down to town. What is that doing here in Hastings? I guess fund-raising, not working with actual stranded pets in the Ukraine. That might be too much even for Battleaxe – picking through the ruins of Bakhmut for some child’s lost gerbil while Russian shells rained down…
Trouble is, the animal opportunities in Hastings are quite limited. There’s the Bluebell Ridge Cat place, where our Digby came from, but am not quite into Mad Cat Lady yet. Then there’s Mallydams RSPCA wildlife centre, just up the road. Don’t think they are taking anybody right now, because it’s all shut up due to bird flu. Anyway, I’ll give all of it a rest for now, and concentrate on my creative stuff… poems and novel. Today I have WI Book Club and then novel-writing group, and maybe I’ll bath a few more spaghetti poodles….