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Ups and downs.

It’s been a bit of a mixed up week full of stress and worry; some good news, some bad. David is still job-hunting at present, though he had two second interviews this week, one of which has led to an invitation for a third interview with HR for one of the positions. This is a very hopeful sign, so fingers crossed, good thoughts and prayers will be very welcome for next week!

We’ve finally had a stroke of luck for Dani’s educati. When Dani and Kathy came to live with us last November, the LEA really dragged their heels when it came to arranging schooling for the girls. Kathy was found a place at Walthamstow School For Girls in January, but despite repeated phonecalls, letters and emails – both from myself and from a social worker and the health visitor, and even a little assistance from Simon, the vicar – the LEA utterly failed Dani and so she was not able to sit her GCSEs this summer when she should have done. Even the local Connexions people were useless; they basically handed me a list of local colleges, suggested I start ringing round, and that was it.

Undeterred, I started ringing around, figuring she could perhaps sin up for a GCSE resit and sit her exams at Christmas, when others of her peer group resat theirs except each college said the same thing – the only resits they offered were for Maths and English, and that was that.

And then a leaflet dropped through the door on Wednesday for Brooke House 6th Form College in Clapton, who have a special Access to Advanced course aimed specifically at students needing to resit GCSEs or who did not have the chance to sit their exams this summer. It is an intensive 1-year course, at the end of which Dani will sit 5 GCSEs, enabling her to go on to take A-levels; exactly the thing she needs. I rang them up on Thursday, and on Saturday we went in to fill out an aplication form and for Dani to be interviewed. She has now been offered a place on the A2A course, subject to references from her old school in Wales.

Kathy is also excited, as they also accept pupils from 14 for regular GCSEs; she hasn’t been happy at the Girls School, and she wants to transfer to Brooke so she can be with Dani. She’s never really been that comfortable with children her own age and does better with older students, and an atmosphere that fosters and encourages independance and individuality in students rather than focussing on conformity is one that she will thrive in.

Getting the situation regarding Dani’s education dealt with and resolved has been a huge weight off my shoulders and left me feeling almost light-hearted as a result. I should have guessed the positive note on which the week ended could not last however; it ended this morning when I checked my mobile phone and found I’d missed two phonecalls from my mother. I knew what it had to have been about even before I listened to the voicemail.

My Nana passed away in her sleep last night, a little after midnight. Her passing was gentle and calm. She was my father’s mother, and the last of my grandparents.

I hadn’t seen her for some time, as she had Alzheimer’s and would not have known me; a visit from me would have confused her; she would forget things from one moment to the next. My parents would visit, she would look away for a minute, then be surprised to see them there when she looked round again, having completely forgotten they were there. She was living in a home in Hatfield, and visiting her would not have been easy with the baby – and when I got there, she would have had no idea who I was.

So my memories of her are as she once was – a feisty old lady who whizzed around in her little Mini, ferrying pensioners 20 years her junior to hospital appointments “because they’re old, dear.” Fiercely proud of having been a Matron in a London hospital during the Blitz and after. A tiny lady, even shorter than my mother (who is 4′ 11″; at 5′ 4″, I am the tallest woman in my family which on the whole tends towards small women who make up in spirit and verve what they lack in stature). My memories of her are wavy lavender-rinsed white hair, soft skin pressed to my cheek as she hugged me, a faint small of roses and talcum powder; a cheery voice warm voice as she tapped at the back door of my parents’ house and called “Hellooo! It’s me!”

My Nana was a Christian woman; she lived for over 30 years in an old little stone cottage literally a stone’s throw from St.Leonard’s Church in Sandridge, a little village near St.Albans, the city in Hertfordshire where I grew up. She was a regular at the church until she eventually became housebound. She had a quiet faith; she didn’t speak of it much – indeed, my Nana was a very private person on the whole. I know that she came from a family in which the menfolk had careers at sea, many of them Captains and even an admiral or two. The women, on the whole, were nurses and teachers.

I wish I had known her better. She was a remarkable woman, and I will miss her greatly.


About arkadyrose

Genderqueer artist, singer, musician, writer, tailor, mead-mazer and doll crafter living in Walthamstow, NE London.


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Arkady Rose

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August 2009
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