Monday, December 26, 2011

What if...

you post something on your blog about desperately wanting a baby and then people comment "you haven't been waiting that long", is that wrong (for the record, this IS the person I moan about on FB)? Is it more wrong to comment that on the blog, than behind their back (or is it more wrong to do the opposite)?
And, if someone comments that being a parent is not all roses and you don't have a baby for very long, is that also wrong?
And further, if that same someone is told NOT to make unhelpful comments, and then replies that they find it hard to cope with their adult child with learning disabilities, is that also wrong?
A grey area, at best. I know how much those without children hate being told about the bad times, when they don't seem that bad. This sounded bad.  But I have never heard adoption bloggers or posters on forums (even the dreaded Adoption Is Scary forum that I avoid since my "we're matched!" post got zero replies... where all children have serious problems) say that people shouldn't think the grass is greener, and that they  would think again about adopting.
I rarely reply to this person but I am replying now (I guess I now count her as at the stage where she should be complaining!) but I am replying to say more or less what I've said here - it's now that you are actively trying to be a parent that you will get more sympathy, but also that many parents who have difficulties are very glad they chose to parent that particular child, even knowing some of the possible difficulties beforehand.
But I can't help hoping that our future child is as easy as the colleague's baby we met today. Only two pukes on my black dress. Serves me right for wearing that colour. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Class divide

I'm going to talk about money. And class. If you are English, look away now.

We are spending Christmas Day with Mr Spouse's mother who you may remember has quite bad memory loss and would not really cope with staying at ours. It's too far to bring her up to ours for the day, and her tiny old people's flat is too small for me to cook in so we went out for lunch.

My family, the middle class ones, have various taboos, one of which would be wasting money on things like eating out on the kind of day when it costs more (or indeed ever. See: mother's upcoming big birthday). My mother can be very generous (she just gave us a frankly ginormous cheque towards our travel expenses) but will not call me today on my mobile, I can confidently predict. My family also seem to avoid using cash (both parents seem to suffer from empty wallet syndrome when for example a coffee out is suggested).

So to me, having Christmas lunch in a restaurant is a new experience. We also never watched Morecambe and Wise (or ITV in general) and we had stockings where Mr Spouse had a pillowcase.

You may also remember my mother-in-law lives a few hundred yards from an area that was rioted in August. We did book an out of town place, and we booked the early sitting (old people eat their dinners early - oh yes, though this is also a regional thing, we grew up eating lunch followed by dinner, not dinner followed by tea). It was more relaxed than I thought it would be, and the food was better (it's a chain). But the early sitting was clearly the right choice. There were a few tattoos in evidence, but crucially accompanied by sufficient  teeth. All children sat still and wore age-appropriate clothing. Only about two blokes were propping up the bar chain-drinking lagers.

It was as we left and the 2.30 sitting arrived however that the true flavour of Christmas became apparent. Toddlers in tutus that would put My Big Fat Gypsy Christmas to shame. Enough fake tan to paint a canteen of undercooked turkeys (and that's just the blokes). At least half the adults permanently hovering right next to the door smoking (one hopes not too near each other's hair or the hairspray might ignite).

Clearly the 2.30 crowd either knew they wouldn't be up in time to get there any earlier, or alternatively wanted to get a head start on the drinking). Judging by the navigation skills of the friend being directed to the restaurant ("You just drove past! Turn round! No, not left!"), it may have been the latter (one hopes it was the navigator on the Stella).

Of course, as with absolutely everywhere we've been in the last 7 years, I was wondering how suitable it would be for a small baby - and it was a positive conclusion - lots of room to run around, very helpful staff. And I promise a) not to dress babies in suits or crinolines and b) not to say, like one dad on MBFGC, "you can't buy a doll for a boy baby, he's not gay".

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I do feel like a fraud here. The number of people I have had to tell about the adoption plans has grown exponentially but I have still had to say to all of them "it might not work out" and they are still saying unhelpful things like "that's very rare surely?". I really cannot explain the US system to anyone who is not an extremely close friend with whom I wish to spend an hour or so talking - it's just too complex, and I feel judged too.
N is still in need of moral support, and I think is not aware that I'm working at home (to be honest, no-one else would really be aware except for the unfortunate colleagues who I keep pressing for a meeting, or return of documents, as I haven't got much done). I just feel very wobbly talking to her, as I overanalyse everything, and the SW isn't as available to me (which is no doubt why she calls me when she's having a panic), but I might give her a call later in any case.
I think I am going to go out now and go for a run to make the most of the last bit of daylight.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Help. Just.. well, help

So the SW at NLA feels that it is necessary for us (or at least me) to be around at the birth. I may not be in the room, but N doesn't plan on caring for the baby, and the whole point of making a plan for adoption with named parents, rather than having it made for you by CPS, is that the prospective adoptive parents are the ones caring for the baby immediately.
So it looks like I'll fly around the 15th January, Mr Spouse will join me as soon as the baby is born, and I'll be hanging around the hospital first and then around the foster carers, till I can take the baby away. NLA were trying to suggest something that I am pretty sure OHP would not like, but we think we have reached a compromise.

I'm also serving as unofficial agony aunt/social worker as N is having some traumatic times in her personal life and rang me three times (!) today (mainly ringing back after being interrupted) to tell me about it. It's all good fun, as Mr Spouse would say. N thinks the baby will come earlier than the due date - I'm squeezing in work appointments at the last minute but really, that is not a good idea, and I am going to have to tell people to back off.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like...

...I'm a person who's going on adoption leave before too long.
I had my last lectures of the term, of the year, and possibly of the next 12 months, yesterday. We had a few negotiations during the week about Christmas presents, paperwork that hasn't been sent, and what might be possible re. travel dates, with OHP and NLA. I ordered some small things for N's apartment as a Christmas present (some of the to-ing and fro-ing that the SW has been doing has been related to N, with no possessions, moving into an unfurnished apartment) and called her yesterday evening to let her know something was on its way, and that if it was late it was my fault for waiting too long to order it (and not springing for Christmas delivery - as I have no idea which day the SW will see N, there didn't seem much point). The SW is hassling N for some paperwork so I didn't want the SW to be the bad guy on late presents, too.

We have worked out that we cannot both travel before the birth, for a boring insurance-related reason (the policy needs a name and a date of birth). We are neither of us really sure that we have an active desire to be at the birth - not quite sure why - it seems like the Holy Grail of domestic adoption but to us it seems private, and definitely not something we should press for. However, if N is really keen for that to happen, I guess I know more when I'll travel - I'd go over a week before the due date I think - and just hang around. That has implications for adoption leave because I'd have to take more time as holiday and less as adoption leave but it's not the end of the world.

If not, then I am no closer to knowing when I'd go away and I'm getting hassle from colleagues who want to know this.  We'd probably be able to have custody of the baby about a week to 10 days after birth, if all goes well - we are not sure if I then will take more annual leave (before we come back to the UK) or if my adoption leave kicks in as soon as we have custody.

Next question is exactly how long am I going to be twiddling my thumbs/holding the baby in a hotel without Mr Spouse.  And who is going to come and hold my hand? I am kind of wondering about posting an appeal on the FB page of a couple of well-known US bloggers I'm FB friends with (not the one who told me to get lost after a flippant Victor Meldrew style comment recently though), to see if any of their fans live in the area. 

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Up again, down again

Finally came home to a voicemail from N.  We spoke briefly as she was actually in a loud place on her way to the doctor's.  Not sure if she got the date wrong, it changed, or it was just a case of being generally confused.  But what is noticeable actually is that N has called me back (despite the chronic phone tag) but the social worker from Nice Little Agency has not called OR emailed. N is supposed to call back later but I think again may worry it's too late - so I might continue the phone tag game tomorrow.

We have some questions both for OHP and NLA, but I still don't feel ready to ask "what happens after the birth". Mr Spouse is out having a Christmas dinner with his chums. So I made fudge.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Very wobbly

We have now reached, more or less, the stage at which we could get a call saying "healthy but very early baby" (the due dates on the medical reports we've seen say, first report, 12th Jan, second report 24th Jan, and I do know the first one is more likely to be accurate). So why am I panicking more about things going wrong?

We spoke to N briefly (as in, I'm about to go eat, nice to speak to you, oh you don't have a holiday there?) on Thanksgiving (we ended up having guinea fowl on the Sunday, though we do sometimes have large group Thanksgiving meals - we had a lovely one a couple of years ago), but since then have again got voicemail a couple of times. 
Though so far when this happens she has rung us back I'm biting my nails over a couple of things - the last time she called us, she sounded shocked that it was so late in the evening here (we don't mind at all, it wasn't that late for us, and we stay up late - especially Mr Spouse - and we occasionally get calls at odd hours regarding his mother). 

Also, she was due to have a doctor's appointment which I think was after Thanksgiving, and she told us she'd try and get us a copy of the ultrasound. Now leaving aside how freaky that would be for us, we don't want her to feel obligated to send us this if she doesn't want to, and apart from of course being worried that she's a) changed her mind about us or b) had a very large life crisis which is a likely event given what she is susceptible to, and gone off-grid, I'm also worried she c) is rethinking the ultrasound issue but doesn't want to say.

We did email the SW yesterday to say some of this (but sounding less panicky) and now of course I'm worried that we haven't heard from her, and no news especially in case b) does not necessarily mean good news.

We were chatting at lunch (great side effect of Mr Spouse being temporarily a spotty student is that we can have lunch together) and also realised we're very confused about the custody/timing issue after the birth, IF things get that far (well clearly the baby is not staying in there for ever but you know what I mean!).  I'm having to tell more and more people I might not be around, so I think I'm going to have to find out from Official Hague Person more of what the timetable might look like. Which is in itself of course even more scary.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Well, that wasn't awkward either..

Remember this colleague?

As he works in a fairly similar area to me, I had to talk to him about taking on one of my students while I am away - my boss had decided he would do it, it was just a formality, and to be honest I would have preferred just to speak to the student and leave information for the colleague until the last minute, on the need-to-know principle. He didn't really have a choice about doing this.

But to be polite, I told him what was happening and why, and he asked "so, are you adopting from the UK or overseas?" Fair question, since we both know Overseas Adoption Colleague and her husband, of course. "Overseas" I say. "Oh, which country?" "The US" I say.

Giggle. "That well known developing country?".

I managed to bluster something about the country not having much to do with whether a child needs adoption or not, but really? If you know nothing, is it not wiser to keep quiet.

Hopefully he has at least taken on board the warning that the information is not for sharing.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Just heard today that our final renewal paperwork is on its way to the notary and thence to Official Hague Person. Do not pass the labyrinthine corridors of the Department for Education, do not collect $200.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I made a large pot of chilli, and some Christmas cards (though they look like my Brownies made them) and put some fruit to soak in some cheap sherry for a Christmas cake, today. It is not particularly that which is making me relaxed, more the fact that I called N, it went to voicemail, and I am not panicking.

Jobs for the evening: get rid of some paperwork, and do some ironing, while watching more Boardwalk Empire I suspect. We still have all but four episodes of the last season of The Killing (Danish) to watch and the new one has just started. I like it, but it's hard to watch while you do anything else.

Do any Blogger users know: in the new template, why when I have saved my post font as Trebuchet, does it keep reverting to Times at the start of all new posts?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Work to rule

Our union has brought in a work to rule i.e. work your contractual hours. In my case that's about 37 1/2, so if I start at 9am I'm supposed take an hour for lunch and down tools at 5.30 daily.

This week I had three classes scheduled till 6 (fortunately I am a dab hand at telling the students "don't worry about that, we'll deal with it next time" or "just leave that bit") and today I had a Skype meeting till 9.15 (the US, East Africa and Australia. At least I didn't have to get up at 7am as the colleague in Australia did. On a Saturday).

I am running out of ways to tell colleagues "we really need to finish this project by Christmas, no particular reason, we just do". We've got a strike day scheduled for later in the month, the day I have two meetings, one of which should involve planning a large project for next year.  I am a sad union geek and extremely anti working on days we are supposed to be on strike. But I'm still very very anxious every time I have to mention the A word to anyone. 

We have been having some building work done (new loo under the stairs, if I haven't mentioned it it's because I've been trying not to think about it. Lost our dining room to Stuff for 2 months). Finally, I can get to the table and make some Christmas cards. We agreed we'd probably share the good news in our Christmas cards - but I don't think I'm going to feel ready. Do you think we can tell people "if you don't hear anything, it probably means bad news"? Or how about letting them know when the baby is leaving school?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Slightly wordless

I've been doing a 52 photo challenge this year. Photos have been a bit random but I'm up to 40 photos for the year now. We lit our sparklers yesterday because we didn't get round to them on the 5th.
In other news, I desperately need sleep.  I wouldn't mind if being awake was in a good cause, and if I didn't need to teach new classes I wasn't 100% sure about. But I'm worrying about nothing in particular, and I do have new classes.

Monday, November 14, 2011


I clean forgot to blog yesterday. Never mind, I'm not officially part of NaBloPoMo anyway because of the impossible signup system.

We are wading our way through old episodes of almost everything on our Sky+ box, and we just got round to watching the last two episodes ever of Sarah Jane Adventures, starring the late lamented Elisabeth Sladen.  In the first episode of this series a second alien child lands on Sarah Jane's doorstep.  Mr Spouse was heard to mutter "just wait till the social workers come round" and "bet they don't have alien adoption agencies".

We're also enjoying Boardwalk Empire, but the latest (for us) episode has the evil Prohibition agent holing up his girlfriend in a flat in a warehouse where she is pregnant with his baby and he is paying her to have it so, presumably, he can take it home and pass it off as his own and his (infertile, at least assuming he is fertile and the baby doesn't turn out to be, say, Chalky White's, wife). And she's been trying to throw herself down stairs.

All very odd, to say the least.

Please can someone point me in the direction of a nice show with no abandoned children or coercive people removing children? Actually we do have some slightly safer shows recorded (though you never know what you're getting with some of them, such as Who Do You Think You Are). I don't have much of a record with books, either - my real life book group read The Help (recurrent miscarriage) and my online book group has read Sister (lots of dead babies), Behind the Scenes at the Museum (dead children), The Midwife's Confession (ditto), and The Long Song (child snatched away) this year.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


We are spending the day in Blackpool, first at the Pleasure Beach (an amusement park) and then seeing Mike Harding, a comedian and singer we like, whose book "A Transvestite Yorkshireman on Everest" has to be a contender for Best Title Ever.

A month ago I was here with the Brownies on a big regional day out. There were 9000 girls and leaders, as well as various unwitting members of the public looking bemused. We managed 3 rides all day, including one we waited nearly an hour for. I'm just glad the girls didn't have watches. There was a rather good ice show included in our tickets, though.

Today I've lost count of the rides we've been on -  I'm sitting in a cafe while Mr Spouse goes on The Big One for a second time. I do rollercoasters, but not huge ones.

It's odd, considering that we normally go to classical or folk concerts, and the theatre, that we both like amusement parks. We really enjoyed Disneyland too. This does feel like the kind of place you are supposed to bring kids to be let in, but not overly full of babies - mainly 10 year olds. And there are some boring middle aged couples too.

Plus, it's looking like a gorgeous sunset -off to take a look and go on one last ride.

Friday, November 11, 2011

How not to lose weight

I have been doing a fair amount of exercise and last time I was weighed at the doctor's (our scales broke, I see no point in getting a new one) I'd lost 3kg. 

My mother-in-law needed some new bras and, as her carer put it, "a girdle" (she meant a suspender belt, she is English but most people my age or younger have probably never tried to wear one of these). So it fell to me to work out what size she was, roughly, and where to buy suspender belts that are not Sexay and black, and to get a selection of bras in different sizes (the Triumph Doreen is apparently the world's best selling bra). You can see my halo from there, can't you?  I slipped in a few bras for me to the very large order and, well, the smaller of the two cup sizes was too big. That's not supposed to happen.

I am by no means skinny (I re-ordered a DD) but, feeling sorry for myself today, I made some butterscotch brownies. My recipe, from my copy of Fannie Farmer, has chopped walnuts and is twice the size of this one, but otherwise more or less the same.

Anyway, I'm off to have a bath and take some Night Nurse.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Just to keep up my daily post, I am reporting that I'm lounging on the sofa watching Californication and knitting a scarf for my mum's Christmas present. And sneezing.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Baked goods

After my moan of the other day, I bumped into a friend at lunch and she asked if we were around over Christmas - and when we said yes we were, said "oh good". So I promised to bake lots of cookies and bring them over for her and her visiting relatives.

In other news I am having One Of Those Days.  Too many mountainous tasks plus some rather unwelcome discoveries about things that people have not done that should have been done by now. So instead of doing them, I am blogging.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Home alone

Mr Spouse has gone out to a pub quiz with his chums, which is rather unusual (normally it's me that's away for work/out at book group/at a Guiding meeting) so I've been relaxing on the sofa (oh, and doing some painting, lest you think I'm totally idle. The endless job that is our understairs loo is nearing its end, but the house is still covered in stuff).

I was watching Death in Paradise which is a bit of light relaxation and scenery, with murder thrown in. Although the flavour of the island is clearly Caribbean instead of African, the food and nature are pretty similar to where I used to live, and the main character, a buttoned-up English detective, complains that the food is "too Caribbean". Too much lobster, crab, and mango. Now, while many people would not consider this a hardship, it struck me (I do have a point, honest) is that there are some kinds of food that you think of as typical of a cuisine, while other foods are "default". I personally consider most types of meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, and probably rice, as "just food" and I don't get tired of them (I wouldn't say, oh, we had meat yesterday, let's not have it again today), while pizza, pasta, curry, stiry fry are from a particular cuisine and therefore something to be rotated among the weekly dishes.

I'm not really sure where that particular thought leads me, but clumsily I am trying to link it to what we think of as "default people". Default people have a "default accent" or a "default colour" or a "default number of children". Other people are "special"; it's like the description of a criminal as black, but not usually as white, by white victims, or the child's designation of an adult woman as a mother.

Anyway to get back to my evening, N rang while I was watching this, and sounded more positive, and told me a few things that are going on, nothing major, mainly positive. She is moving apartment and I don't think she has a car, but her new place is opposite a mall, which is going to be much easier for her. I'm not sure she really gets the time difference, but we don't go to bed too early so it's fine.


Monday, November 07, 2011

My perfect plans are not going, erm, according to plan

Last year we took my mother-in-law out for Christmas lunch, then a couple of days later my brother and his family came to stay, my nieces who speak English-but-not-as-we-know-it went to play with the neighbour children (the nice girl I know anyway and her friend), we all had a jolly time, and my brother despite saying "I don't like baked glazed ham or trifle" wolfed them both down.

This year we have booked the Christmas lunch (it is too far to go and get her for the day, she is too confused to stay at our house, and her flat is too small for us to cook dinner in, or even eat it really, though it's fine for watching Doctor Who in). My mother has a big birthday just after New Year (cue drama), so we are going down there at that point, just before New Year.

I really wanted to have my brother up here in between, if all goes according to plan we will be very busy and not particularly interested in hosting the whole family for about the next six months (not to mention, out of the country for some of it). Yes, we'll see them at my mother's but a) we won't be staying there (her house is tiny) and b) did I mention she's having a big birthday?

I suspect my brother thinks we'll be hanging out at her house, or possibly everyone at my dad's house, all the time we are down there. We're planning a) to take my mother to the theatre b) to go out to an orchestra concert on NYE (because the alternatives are overpriced hotel dinner, or sitting at my mum's house watching TV, which is fine at our house, but hers is very small. Did I mention her house is small?) and c) not to stay at my dad's house either because he refuses to get a double bed or even matching single beds for visitors.

So now I'm thinking "well, I may as well go back to work between Christmas and New Year". Which is a) completely unlike me and b) completely pointless since our buildings aren't even open then. Or I can just sit around at home and feel sorry for myself, and try not to buy baby stuff. And I don't get to make nice food (because we can't eat it all). And I could try and throw a party but everyone is either away or not that friendly.

Oh, and we are evil people and immoral for planning to stay in a hotel and ditto inconsiderate for suggesting a post-birthday pub lunch where the main courses cost £15 (too expensive). How many times do I have to explain to my mother that my brother will, occasionally, spend money if she doesn't put her hand in her pocket first, and that although yes I am earning money and she is on a pension, I am currently supporting a student husband who eats a lot and a large house in a cold part of the world, and that she actually does have money in her bank account that she could use to, oh, you know, buy things for herself. Or us.

I have no real question here, I just want a moan.

Sunday, November 06, 2011


When I have a weekend day with not much planned, I always think I'll get done more than I do, so even if I get a lot done I still feel disappointed.
Today I:
Went to church
Went for a run (for an HOUR which is amazing for me, I coughed a bit but other than that my lungs and legs were fine. OK, I didn't run the full hour, as I do some run/walk but it was over 50 mins running)
Cleared some stuff in the garden (sum total of tomato harvest for the year = 2)
Put two coats of emulsion on the newly-plastered (and partly newly-constructed) wall next to our new downstairs loo.
Did a little knitting.
Put in a wash and hung it up.
Arranged for two Rainbows* to start in our unit in a week's time
Probably headed off about 6 other Rainbows who want to start, but can't, because we are trying to run both age groups at the same time.
Managed to call N after getting her voicemail again (she sounded a little distracted, but she was heading off to see a movie so perhaps that was why). She doesn't have any more doctor's appointments till the end of the month so I have plenty of time to panic.

But I did not:
Do any ironing
Get my sewing machine back from being serviced (though the person who has it didn't ring me to tell me I could pick it up)
Cut out the skirt I want to sew when I get it back

*A Rainbow is a little girl who wants to grow up to be a Brownie

Saturday, November 05, 2011


Normally (ok, 3 times so far) we call N on Saturdays, and if she's busy she or we call back, but today we got voicemail. We've been out to watch fireworks and have a few drinks and now I'm trying to work out a) if anything could be wrong and b) if I should call back or c) if I wouldn't sounds great on the phone if I did.

Friday, November 04, 2011


I have discovered that this is the name for what Irritating Facebook Friend does. Vague status posts that lead everyone to say "awww there there dear". Recent samples include:

"How do some people manage it?" (truly vague, but not a reference to being superwoman/juggling career and babies, I feel)
"would like it to be her turn now please"
"is still hoping"
"Disappointed. Again"

These have all been since the 29th October...

Thursday, November 03, 2011

And the soul-searching begins...

I'm sure this will seem far less important when I'm dealing with crying all night, and nappies, but having had a quick look (and then run away screaming) at baby clothes on Amazon, I am in despair. Everything is either bright pink or has footballs on it. Or trucks. Or camouflage. And this is just the newborn stuff.

I guess one can divide the purchase of clothes/toys into the age groups "too young to object", "old enough to make requests/have a tantrum" and "old enough to reason with" (the latter starting at about 25).

I recently visited my friend who has 3 year old boy/girl twins and I was happy to note that both of them have a dressing-up dress and a pirate outfit, but the clothes they wear on a day to day basis are definitely highly gendered (pink t-shirt, denim skirt with pink bits; blue t-shirt, denim shorts) and their "no dummy" reward charts end in a car for him and a doll for her. My friend is not one to assume that children will follow gender stereotypes but I also caught myself assuming that the floor covered in cars and tracks was the responsibility of the boy, and quickly backtracking.

I always thought if I had a girl I would try and put her in unisex clothing because I hate so much of the girls' stuff that is out there. But now I'm thinking the same for a boy. But then at what age is it really necessary for children to wear gendered clothing? What age are Storm's parents going to tell people whether Storm is a boy or a girl?

There are some types of clothing where adult men and women wear more or less the same thing (especially outdoors gear I have noticed). But I have a purple cycling rain jacket (and they don't do purple for men) and I struggled when trying to get a fleece/waterproof combo as the options for my size/shape were black (invisible), navy (ditto), baby blue (attracts dirt) or fuchsia (which I got, though I would not normally wear fuchsia). But I would not wear jeans with pink flowers on, so I don't see that little girls should have to. And adult men at least wear pink flowery shirts. And skirts.

How soon can you put a baby boy into grown-up men's clothing??

(If you have not read Delusions of Gender, by the way, and you are male or female, or have a male or female child - go and read it NOW)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

All Souls'

We have a Requiem liturgy (with Faure's Requiem for the last couple of years anyway) on this day at our church every year. In Paradisum is just glorious.

There is one couple that we know lost their son, we don't know how old he was, and I knew some of the other names that were read out. 

I was discussing annoying journal editors (bear with me, this is relevant) the other day with a colleague and some of them are extremely pernickety about whether they have got approval from every single co-author. I had to tell one of them "you aren't going to get anything from him. He's dead". As they would have known if they'd read the acknowledgements.

As well as our four losses, I thought about my mentor, who died at 50 from pancreatic cancer; my grandparents; one of our former project workers who died in a car accident (the most common cause of death for young adults in some African countries) and the five, at least, former project workers who have succummed to HIV.