Monday, 8 May 2017


Tomorrow I'm meeting a friend I haven't seen in around three or more years and the apprehension is creeping in, and yesterday I watched half a hilarious western on the telly!
     These two totally unrelated events might not mean much to most folk. Meeting an old friend? Delightful. Watched a western with an exclamation mark? Huh?
     Let's start at the beginning and all shall become as clear as mud. First, the friend...
     I met my Aussie mate, Colin, in a bus queue outside Disneyland, Los Angeles – as you do – back in 1978. Colin is delightful. Funny, tall, rangy, looks like he lives outdoors – as Aussiefolk often do. He sported long fair hair back then, but had it all chopped off years later. Shame. Loved that hair! But he's still funny, tall rangy, looking like he lives outdoors. We've kept in touch all these years and all through my depression. He's been over here many times, a number of them on business, and we always met up. Luckily he and Husband get on like that proverbial house on fire. My parents loved him, and he even attended our wedding. Shows how close we were.
     But when depression gripped me in that evil way it did, seeing Col was hard, but he understood, bless him. I was shy, the confidence was sapped, I didn't know what to say to him. I couldn't cope with the idea of him staying with us. Even now I'd find that hard. Last time we met was in London over three years ago and we had lunch and wandered around a bit. Thankfully, Husband and Col talked and talked, and I listened a lot. I was a tad jealous, but that helped because I was nervous being alone with him, and I stuttered.
     That was before my medication crisis three years ago, and now I'm building up a life I've never had before.
     Colin, in the meantime, ran a business, has a lovely partner and sons, has built a house and grown a rainforest – again, as you do – hosts band get togethers at his pad, motorbikes with mates, and travels the globe. So you can imagine how I've felt when talking to him. And now he and his lady are globetrotting and popping into London and driving down to see us tomorrow. Business or pleasure, I asked? Definitely pleasure, he grinned back, virtually.
     Now I'm apprehensive. The night before last he messaged me, live, which involved me actually talking to him (yikes! - I hate phones) in the middle of me playing four-suit Spider Solitaire which I was actually winning. I promptly handed him over to Husband. We were on speaker so managed to discuss stuff, including our meeting, which will be here, in Hampshire, tomorrow afternoon. I am looking forward to meeting Rosie, his lady, who's lovely, judging by our chats on Facebook, but apprehension is definitely creeping in. I'll be glad when tomorrow's over. Except that I really, really want to visit their pad in Aussieland.

My first wild west camp

     Now, westward ho! I'm funny about the west. Next to art and writing, it's my big hobby, and I've grown into adulthood wanting to be that gun-totin', cigar munchin', saloon-goin' n' cursin', prospectin' frontiers woman in buckskins and stetson. I joke that I'm reincarnated from Calamity Jane but hopefully better looking – hadeha - but then I wonder if it's in the genes/jeans. But, apart from my dad's great-uncle emigrating west to British Columbia during the 1890s, being burnt out of his homestead and heading south to join Sunkist in California, there's no-one else with the genes/jeans. The other ancestor, who went gold prospecting in Dawson City in Canada, wasn't a blood relative.
     But that's all another story.
     This story, the one about my hobby v my brain, is a pain in the proverbial buckskinned butt. Just as I was starting to write my western novel, and beginning to join western clubs, our kids came along and kaboom! went the hobby. Years and years later, after embarrassing embarrassible daughter by turning up at the school gates in buckskin fringed jacket, and proving myself at western events by doing the fast draw (which Husband and me hated), depression began, irrevocably, to distort anything to do with the west in my head. I had to prove myself. I couldn't watch westerns without sadness creeping in and I couldn't read western novels for the same reason. I was just about okay visiting western events, because I was dressed a la Calamity in gun and pants and doing my Kitty Le Roy thaing (although I had to stop this due to extreme anxiety...growl). I even became Hampshire Deputy for the British Westerners Association, began Kitty Le Roy's Wild West website, joined umpteen wild west Yahoo groups (which became Facebook pages) and formed Kitty Le Roy's Wild West Saloon on Facebook (rather pleased about that). So, yes – I'm a wild west woman with bells on.
     Three years ago my brain began the journey towards wellness with bells on too, and I began, ve-e-ery slo-o-o-wly (deep voice) to rebuild my creative life and life in general. Last year we managed a wild west living history camp – after the inital nerves I felt... fab!
     Now. Last night they broadcast A Million Ways to Die in the West on the box. Husband suggested I have a go at watching it. It's hilarious. A whole buttful of swearing and stupid, slapstick humour. Fab! The humour and ridiculousness made it so watchable. So I chortled and played four suit Solitaire so I wasn't totally concentrating on the film. It was great fun, and the sharp-shootin' heroine was a brilliant role model, slightly reminiscent of Sharon Stone in The Quick and the Dead, my other role model.
     But then I began ruminating on Aussiepal Colin's visit at the same time and my brain went on overland and the tears emerged. Fabulous Husband turned the telly off, sat by my side, and together we CBT'd (cognitive behavioural therapy) the situation. Remember – I'd watched half the western without a problem. We're seeing Colin tomorrow and I'll be fine (son Tom reiterated). It's all in me head.
      I am getting there. It will take time - these things always do. After thirty years what else do I expect? But having voiced (or typed) these thoughts, it can actually make a difference.
     So – I'll be in touch in a couple of days, post Colin, and give you all the gen on what happened. Squeek...

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