Tag Archives: Lynn

Listening to my own death rattle and the circling black bats of Borehamwood

Dark thoughts and dark deeds amid the shopping paradise that is Borehamwood in Hertfordshire

I buggered my back two Mondays ago. Well, it’s an old, unrepaired spine injury, I blogged about it.

After osteopathic attention, it was sort-of mending this week.

Lying on the floor and walking a lot both help – not simultaneously.

But I also have a bad cough. And, yesterday afternoon, a coughing fit must have dislodged something and I was in agony again.

The bad cough thing involves mucus in the nose and throat which may explain what happened in my mind at around 5.00am this morning, in that strange semi-consciousness time between sleeping and waking and dreaming.

I couldn’t move much because it resulted in multiple phantom scimitars being sharply shoved into the base of my spine and I was lying there listening to myself breathe through light mucus muck in my throat. A hoarse, throaty, liquidy, breathy, inhaling-through-water sound like listening to my own death rattle.

In 2001, I sat in a dimly-lit room for 45 minutes – or it might have been 90 minutes, I can’t remember – listening to my father’s breathing as he died. Just the two of us. His death rattle went on for the whole time. 

So listening to my watery/throaty breathing this morning, pretty much unable to move, was like lying there listening to my own death rattle.

Which is something I would like to do twice…

Well, the first time would be interesting… just a flash forward to what it would be like to die…

The second time, I would not really care whether I heard it or not.

It seems such a pity to miss experiencing your own death with all your senses which, I guess, many or most people do. I think the doctors pump you full of morphine to kill you off if they are certain you are going to die fairly soon… Better, they think, to have ‘a quiet death’ than all that throaty rattling sound.

Anyway, I did not die, of course, and my eternally un-named friend came up to Borehamwood this afternoon to see me, bringing stewed apples.

As dusk set in, she asked: “Are the bats still here?”

“Bats?” I asked.

My eternally-un-named friend and bat bush

“There used to be bats in that big hedge/tree thing…”

“Were there?” I asked. “I don’t remember.”

“You seldom do,” she told me.

This is true. I have always had a shit memory.

A few days ago, my friend Lynn (not to be confused with Lynn Ruth Miller) told me that she and I had gone to some sort of premiere screening of Terry Gilliam’s movie Brazil.

According to Wikipedia – always correct on factual detail – this must have been in 1985. 

I have absolutely zero memory of this.

But, then, once I mentioned to Lynn that, although I had worked on the children’s TV programme Tiswas when Sylvester McCoy had been semi-regularly appearing on it, I had never seen him perform live on stage.

“Yes you have,” she said. “You’ve seen him perform in West End plays at least twice. You went with me.”

…or she might have said “three times”… I can’t remember…

Anyway, when she said it, I then did vaguely remember having seen him on stage in Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist. This seems to have been in 1981.

That was a long time ago.

Anyway, back to bats…

As my eternally-un-named friend and I stood in my kitchen tonight, with dusk setting in, she said to me: “Unlock the back door.”

The aforementioned bush/tree is close to my back door.

“Give me two 5p pieces,” said my eternally-un-named friend. “They have ribbed edges.”

“The bats?” I asked.

“The coins,” she said. “If you rub the edges of the coins against each other, the bats can hear it… It summons them.”

“Rubbing two 5p coins together?”

“Any coins with ribbed edges.”

She rubbed the two coins together.

My eternally-un-named friend summons the bats by rubbing together two 5p coins

A bat shot out of the bush/tree and swooped round in a circle.

“Does this mean bat shit on the grass tomorrow?” I asked.

“They usually go a lot faster…” said my eternally-un-named friend.

“That was pretty fast,” I said.

“…and they do a figure-of-eight,” she continued.

“Why do they do a figure-of-eight?” I asked.

“Well,” she conceded, “maybe they don’t do a figure-of-eight, but it looks like a figure of eight. They go really fast. That wasn’t. That was just a circle.”

“Surely,” I suggested, “if it looks like a figure-of-eight, then it IS a figure-of-eight.”

“You are just being difficult,” she said. “It’s going so fast that, if you try to take a photo, then it looks like a figure-of-eight in the photo. But I’m not really sure. Alright, I am now guessing… You are so annoying.”

When we shut the back door, we found there was a daddy-long-legs in the kitchen. 

That is another story. 

I won’t tell it.

But the daddy-long-legs survived.

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Filed under Death, Eccentrics, Humor, Humour

Other people’s lives – encountering pirates and witches in West Africa

My friend Lynn is currently in West Africa.

A couple of days ago, I posted a blog based on something she encountered in Côte d’Ivoire – aka the Ivory Coast.

In fact, she had sent me a previous message last week, but I did not want to post it while she was in a particular area. The message she sent from a ship read:


“…renowned for their ill-treatment and torture of victims”

They are seriously worried about pirates. I kid you not. Security burst into our room last night as they thought we had left a window open.

Open deck areas are all closed off and all curtains drawn so no lights are showing. 

The Gulf of Guinea is where the pirates operate.

They took nearly a hundred hostages last year that are known of (many ransoms being paid secretly) and are renowned for their ill-treatment and torture of victims. They largely target oil tankers by capturing workers sailing with supplies for the tankers.

The instructions if there is an attack are mainly to go into a corridor and lie on the floor as the ship will perform “a zig-zag navigation… if the pirates succeed to board the vessel, do not panic and do as they say.” 

In fact, the instructions for Military Forces boarding are panic-inducing: “Stay low to the floor and cover heads with both hands. On no account should anybody make movements which could be misinterpreted as being aggressive.”


Lynn and her husband Frank are currently in Côte d’Ivoire – the Ivory Coast… She writes:


How to spot Ivory Coast witch

I may regard political correctness as an evil perpetrated by my generation but… I was just making conversation with a well-spoken, fashionably-dressed young guide after seeing witch costumes and getting a history lesson:

“So how do you deal with witches now?” I asked.

His immediate reply in a matter-of-fact tone was: “We kill them.”

“What happens,” I asked, “if you hand them over to the authorities instead?”

“They kill them.”

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Filed under pirates, West Africa, witches

Other people’s lives – in the Ivory Coast

I was in Leytonstone, East London, yesterday.

It is not one of the most glamorous parts of London.

My friend Lynn and her husband Frank were in Côte d’Ivoire – the Ivory Coast as was.

A tad more glamorous.

Both Lynn and the Ivory Coast.

I have just received this from her:


“My highlight was our police escort…”

As a fan of film car chases you would have enjoyed yesterday, as my highlight was our police escort. 

What does it tell you about a country when the traffic ploughs off the motorway instantly as this cop gesticulates madly and has us following him the wrong way down the motorway?

Only one vehicle challenged him – a white van man flashed his lights as the mad  biker drove at him and zigzagged towards him to prove he wasn’t kidding. The van gave way.  

“We approached a traffic jam at a major crossroads in Abidjan…”

We approached a traffic jam at a major crossroads in Abidjan and he careered across the central reservation into the oncoming traffic and disappeared.

It was only when our three lanes of traffic magically started speeding through the crossroads that we found he had stopped three lanes of traffic in each of the other roads so that we could get through.

When he got back to us he stood up on the footrests and punched the air  as we cheered (whilst admittedly worrying about the chaos left behind us). 

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