Monday, 18 July 2016

If you're over 60, please read this! (Not a Brexit rant!)

We have been in Cheshire all day today celebrating Nathan's nephew's 18th birthday. It was one of those occasions which makes the rest of us feel really old! I've known Lewis since he was a pudgy-faced four-year old. He's now bearded and 6'4" tall!

I was astonished to discover today that Nathan's niece, Jenny, has been with her partner, Tom, for a staggering ten years. She was just fourteen when they started dating. Both her mother and her Grandmother are in relationships which began more recently! I wonder if there are any other young ladies in the world with this particular claim to fame!

It was such beautiful weather today. The forecast (predictably) had suggested it was going to be muggy and overcast, but the sun shone relentlessly and burned us all to a crisp. Summer seems to have finally arrived. The whole of Nathan's family was there. The oldest and the youngest ran about in the garden having water fights whilst the rest of us sat under giant parasols. (When did I become a grown up?) There was Pimms, tea and birthday cake.

I tested my theory today, namely that people below the age of about 30 don't have a clue what the word "zany" means. I asked Nathan's nephews and nieces and they were utterly stumped and quite amused. Nathan's mother felt the word was perhaps a bit 1960s for them to know. It does feel like a very 1960s word, like "cool" and "zowie", but a quick blast of research tells me it's actually a 16th century French word. How zany is that?

We had a lot of fun filming everyone doing ludicrous things in slow motion on Nathan's phone. The potential of the iPhone never ceases to amaze me. We have a friend who's just shot a pilot for a major comedy series and apparently about 60% of the material was shot on an iPhone!

Nathan's Mum continues to bloom after her hideous encounter with giant cell arteritis (GCA). If you're a woman over the age of about 60 and you're reading this, I urge you to read up about PMR (polymyalgia rheumatica) and GCA (which is also known as temporal arteritis.) Here's the deal: if you're a woman, you're post-menopausal and you find yourself with inexplicable and excruciatingly painful joints over a long period of time, particularly if the pain is bilateral (in the small of your back, your knees, your elbows, your ankles or your shoulders) it is absolutely worth asking the doctor to investigate whether you might be suffering from PMR. My Mum had it. Nathan's Mum had it. It's THAT common.

The good news is that PMR is eminently treatable with a shortish course of steroids. If left untreated, however, it can lead to GCA, which itself can lead to blindness and, in extreme cases, death. PMR is not, for some reason, one of the things that most GPs routinely check for. They will often send patients away, telling them that their symptoms are "nebulous" or "non-specific." For the best part of a year my Mother was told her pains were a result of general "wear and tear." I've mentioned all this in my blog before and I will continue to do so. It is vital we get the message out about this. My mother was in agony for a year. She started taking steroids and was pain free within hours. It look a lot longer for Nathan's Mum to be diagnosed and she was a great deal more poorly as a result. So if you, or someone you love, has these symptoms, get to the doctor and start getting better!

We travelled home in a blazing sunset, stopping off in North Warwickshire at Ruth's house. Ruth is a member of the Rebel Chorus and has a hugely prominent solo at the start of the movement of the Pepys Motet I'm filming to promote the album release. Her presence in this film was vital! Ruth moved out of the big smoke a couple of years ago, so I had been racking my brains to think of how I would be able to film her without her having to go out of her way. The idea came to me like a bolt from the blue last night when I realised our journey to Cheshire would be taking us within a stone's throw of her gaff. 

We filmed her in her bedroom with all the lights out and just the flame of a match. I'd love to have the time, equipment and manpower to properly light all the shots, but we're having to be both incredibly speedy and highly inventive. Our only pieces of equipment are my camera, a few torches and some candles. Today we were draping some of Ruth's clothes over the torches to stop the light from being too white! The end film will undoubtedly look a bit rough and ready, but I'm beginning to think that most people expect that from an Internet film these days.

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