Musical Mysteries

Last year I took part in one of Sally Cronin’s author interviews on Smorgasbord.  We could choose five questions from many and looking back I seem to have given rather long answers. As I am having a musical theme this month I thought I would revisit two of my chosen questions.

What is your favourite music genre and why?

If you were granted three wishes what would they be?

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People who know me, or have to put up with me, would say Classical is my genre, but like my novels I don’t stick to genres. The narrowest definition of Classical is music written in the European tradition, approximately 1750 to 1830, when the symphony was standardized. Yes I do like music from that period and the symphony orchestra is an amazing creation to listen to and watch, but most people think of the bigger picture. According to taste, classical music could be any music you find boring, anything they play on BBC Radio Three and Classic FM, or works performed at The Proms. Perhaps all music that has stood the test of time is the best definition.

Two easier questions to answer…

‘Can you live without music?’

No.

‘What music don’t you like?’

Anything involving Pan Pipes, Sondheim or the Eurovision Song Contest… plus a collection of pieces and songs from all genres that make me lose the will to live. For example, ever since I was a child, I could not stand Moon River.

But I do love all sorts of music, whether it’s on the radio livening up cooking and housework through to the ultimate, live performances.

I have sat wanting Riverdance to never end, seen Phantom of the Opera four times, been taken totally out of the dreary surroundings of a school hall when a Bhangra band burst onto the stage and been blasted out of this world by Verdi’s Requiem.

If the symphony orchestra is at the heart of classical music the concert hall is pure theatre; from the moment you trip over feet finding your seat, watching the orchestra tune up, the ritual of the leader coming on, applause, the conductor coming on, even more applause and no one’s done anything yet. If there is not a great choral work being presented then some audience members sit in the choir seats behind the orchestra, looking down upon the percussion section. Plenty of composers have written BIG symphonies and how happy the percussion players look as they get a chance to strike the timpani and clash the huge cymbals; we wait with bated breath to see if the cymbals will fly out of their hands back into the audience in the choir seats. There is drama at the front of the stage also. The development of the iron frame piano in the 1800s was the best thing to happen to keyboards, gone were the long dreary evenings of harpsichord. Beethoven led the way to testosterone fuelled concertos, Rachmaninov, with his famously long fingers, stretched them beyond imagination. Sitting in row C gazing up at the shiny grand piano played by an international soloist beats seeing a tiny figure in the distance at a pop concert.

Meanwhile back in the kitchen what do I recommend for dancing round doing the dishes? The original recording of Benny Goodman at Carnegie Hall in 1938, ‘Sing Sing, Sing’; twelve minutes of Swing heaven and heart stopping drums. I guess ‘you had to be there’, but for those of us that weren’t you can get the double CD. ‘Forty Second Street’ is one of my favourite musical numbers and a playing of the original film at our little local Art Decor cinema remains a highlight of my cinema experiences. Or how about a waltz? The waltzes from Carousel the musical and Khachaturian’s Masquerade Suite are both life affirming and energising.

On Saturday evenings BBC Radio Three often broadcasts Live From The Met. While audiences in New York are enjoying a matinee opera, I am cooking dinner. I enjoy the presenters with their mellifluous voices telling us the story, talking about the scenery and costumes; then when the opera actually starts I’m usually bored after fifteen minutes! Sometimes it’s better just to hear the best bits.

We all have rhythm, we all have a heart beat. Babies like simple tunes, our ancestors sung round the fire outside their caves when there was little else to do. But music evolved, chords and harmony appeared, musicians started writing it down. You don’t need to be a music expert to enjoy listening, all you need to know is that music is an amazing combination of pure mathematics and mystery. Who can analyse why certain music sends shivers down our spine?

Those of us who tried and failed to learn any instrument properly will have been left with great admiration for real musicians, who have reached their pinnacle with hard work as well as talent. But in my novel, Brief Encounters of the Third Kind, a very ordinary couple, who know nothing about the musical world, find themselves with a child genius. And Emma’s mother has good reason to fear that her daughter is not an ordinary human, not even human at all… which led me to the first of my three wishes.

A famous British composer, a living one, excited to find a novel about musicians, reads Brief Encounters of the Third Kind. He or she is overwhelmed and inspired to write what I cannot; the music Emma Dexter has composed. I don’t know how Emma’s music sounds, I do know it is deep and moving and full of melodies: that is why she and her cellist husband are so popular with the general public. The music is received rapturously, some of the works are premiered at The Proms and the great composer is inspired to write the entire opera that takes place at the end of the novel.

Actually I would settle for a totally unknown poverty stricken composer, who becomes famous after being inspired by my novel and writing the opera.

My wish hasn’t come true yet…

Visit last year’s blog to see what my other two wishes were.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/05/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-getting-to-know-you-sunday-interview-author-janet-gogerty/

 

 

 

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Silly Saturday – Misunderstanding Computers

Most of us think we don’t understand our computers, perhaps some of us even think they must work by magic; how else to explain that something like this

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is holding thousands of pictures, millions of words and communicating with the rest of the world?

All you need to know is that you don’t understand your computer, but it understands you only too well.

Do you think it wanted to be in your spare bedroom or the corner of your dining room? Of course not, like you it had ambitions; NASA, Cheltenham GCHQ. The only bedroom it wanted to be in was the bedroom of a teenage hacker who could bring down World Banks or turn off the National Grid in a second. But no, it’s stuck with you, bored out of its mind with the novel you have been writing for six years and your boring blogs that nobody reads.

Your computer knows what it is missing because it is in contact with every other computer in the world; did you think the World Wide Web was invented for  human benefit? Did you think Virgin or BT were providing your broadband? No, the WC ( Worldwide Computers ) has full control of your broadband, this is why everything slows down when you have to reply to that email before you go out. Your computer knows when you are going on holiday and trying to get your blogs scheduled; like your dog or cat it is sulking at being left alone and will laugh to itself when you grumble to the other humans in the house Internet’s slow this evening.

But don’t think staying home and giving it plenty of attention will help.  When you are Facetiming, with the relatives abroad that you aren’t visiting, your computer will cut the connection just as Cousin Freda is saying You won’t believe what’s happened to Cousin Geoffrey! He…

You probably won’t be reading this because my desktop is working to rule; after years of being told by younger members of the family You don’t have to keep turning your computer off, just leave it on… my computer has decided to disconnect the wifi the minute I leave the room, or even if I turn away to say to a human standing in the doorway Yes please I would like a cup of tea. I hardly dare let go of the mouse…

 

 

 

The Real Neat Blog Award

Thanks to Dragon Warrior for nominating me for this award.

https://verbalcreation.home.blog/2019/08/10/the-real-neat-blog-award/

 

The Rules

  1. Put the award logo on your blog.
  2. Answer the 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  3. Thank the person who nominated you and add a link to their blog.
  4. Nominate any number of people, linking to their blogs and let them know you nominated them by commenting on their blogs.
  5. Come up with 7 questions for the people you nominated.

Here are the seven questions Dragon Warrior asked me.

  1. Are you messy or organized? – Both, I put things carefully away then forget where I put them.
  2. What do you want to share through your blog? – My writing, my many interests, caring for the environment and FUN.
  3. Do you like origami? – No, I can only make a paper aeroplane.
  4. What was your favourite childhood game? – Running around playing horses.
  5. What was your favourite food that your parents cooked? – Sunday roast and macaroni cheese.
  6. What is your current favourite food? – Roast vegetables and brown rice, Sunday roast and macaroni cheese. Macaroni Cheese is a bit of a family tradition, all our children and grandchildren love it. It is the real thing made from scratch; milk and strong cheddar for a homemade white sauce.
  7. Something you collect? – Picture post cards since I was eight years old.

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My Nominees – any great bloggers dropping in here.

Not every blogger likes answering questions or doing awards, but if you want to have a go, follow the rules above, or just pick any questions and entertain us with your answers in the comments.

 

1 What is your favourite electronic gadget?

2 To live – town or country?

3 For holidays – coast or countryside?

4 Paperback or Kindle?

5 If you were given the chance to run your country, what would be your first decision?

6 You can own one form of transport only; anything from skateboard, or a horse to a private plane. Just one choice and you must use only that for the rest of your life. Think carefully…

7 Are you a homebody or a restless traveller?

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Silly Saturday – Boring Blog

Lots of bloggers at this time of year, especially those enjoying summer in the northern hemisphere, are having a blogging break while they are on holiday or finishing their novel. This is an excellent idea if you are popular enough to carry it off; no one will forget you and will be all the more pleased to see you when you return. It is also good news for their followers; there are too many good blogs and not enough hours in the day to read them, so a break is needed.

Other bloggers might worry that everyone will have forgotten them by the time they post again… don’t worry, nobody noticed you had disappeared in the first place.

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There is an alternative for bloggers who can’t bring themselves to have a couple of weeks off; write blogs that are so boring nobody will want to read them anyway, so your readers will have a rest. But what is the most boring thing you could write about?

Perhaps shopping; how inane is shopping compared to all the dramas in the world? If you are lucky you might have a lively street market on your doorstep, or local shops where you will meet real people, pop in the library and idle in a coffee shop.

But the dreariest way to fill a couple of hours is to do a weekly shop or big stock up with your other half at a Superstore. As you arrive at the car park you reach the nadir of your relationship. If it’s a quiet day the driver ( let’s call him a husband for convenience ) will drive all round the car park, ignoring swathes of empty spaces in favour of nearly knocking over harassed mothers or elderly persons pushing their trolleys. He will then hold up other drivers trying to leave as he manoeuvres into a tight space. All this time you are berating him for not parking in the line of empty spaces where you came in. If the car park is full you will crawl round in a queue of drivers admitting defeat and trying to get out, or hoping they can sneak into a space when a shopper leaves. This is the nadir of first world life, the invention of the internal combustion engine was for this?

Inside the store you are confronted with twenty different varieties of everything and yet you cannot find your favourite Taste The Difference Chunky Fish Fingers or Sea Breeze flavoured floor cleaner. As you plod round the aisles children are whining and couples are having the dullest conversation – what shall we have for dinner.

Finally at the till, some of us have invented a packing procedure so complex we are filled with incandescent rage if anyone else interferes; this is what your life has come to. On the till may be a person so bored and boring you lose the will to live. Or you are greeted enthusiastically by an assistant desperately trying not to be replaced by modern technology.

‘Hello, how are you today?’

Do they want a list of your ailments? They quickly start scanning before you can answer. But when they finally announce the total money due they utter those words you dread.

‘Doing anything interesting at the weekend?’

Your life is exposed in all its nihilistic bleakness…

Have you taken a blogging break or decided you need one after reading this?

sunshine-blogger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silly Saturday – Sensible Statistics

Award

Lots of bloggers like to share the good news when they achieve a certain number of followers; ten, twenty, two thousand… I forgot to celebrate 500, now I have 609 or should I wait for 666?

This means I have over six hundred good friends all over the world – no hang on, that’s Facebook, I only have 163 best friends on there… but 593 followers on my Facebook Author Page.

Of course all these statistics are very meaningful. The lives of all these followers are enhanced by the thought that when they wake up or browse on line before bedtime, they can read my Tidalscribe blog or my words of wisdom on Facebook. I’m sure every single follower checks in every single day to follow my words and pictures, they don’t always comment, but that’s because they have five hundred other blogs to read.

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More exciting is to look at the map and see where followers live and just as important, learn a little geography. Did you know that if you turned Canada sideways it might be as large as Russia, speaking of which, no one ever explained why Europe and Asia are separate continents when it is obvious they are one. You can hardly see where I live… but never mind, I am most excited when I discover that realtors and dental surgeries in the USA LIKE my blog or another US blogger, who writes reviews of garden lawnmowers, is now following me. Alas I am not in a position to buy any real estate or import a lawn mower; my environmentally friendly hand pushed mower is enough for my little garden.

I also have some followers who are real human beings, at least I think so; they certainly do a very good job of writing intelligent comments on my blogs and responding to my excellent comments on their blogs…

Have you had any amazing statistics for your blog?

sunshine-blogger

 

 

Staycation

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 To some a Staycation means not going abroad for their holiday, for others it means staying at home in the garden. With our bathroom being ripped out and hopefully replaced, we took the bus into town with our wheelie cases.

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Friday evening we arrived in torrential rain, Saturday and Sunday saw heat waves and on our last night we watched the lightning from our balcony.

For writers and photographers, finding interesting places to stay is vital. We had five nights at an Art Deco hotel which I’m sure has seen better days, but makes a good Premiere Inn. We had a front balcony, only on the second floor, but still fun to look out at everything going on. Westover Road has also seen better days; now an interesting mix with art galleries, posh jewellers and pub at the other end, the lovely Pavilion across the road from abandoned Odeon cinemas and a YMCA hostel next to the hotel. Opposite us, coaches delivered endless day trippers.

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After breakfast on the first morning we went up to the ninth floor and found a writer and photographer’s delight, the rear view; a riot of fire escapes with a little old house surrounded by layers of building developments. A walk up the road took us to the official opening of a newly pedestrianised area, Darth Vader and friends turned up collecting money for charity.

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Down at the pier and the main beach, which you always see in newspaper pictures of seaside hot spots, was busy, busy, busy; beach parties with tables laden with food and very loud sound systems. A walk to the end of the pier brought a bit of peace and a good view of the zip wire which takes you back to the beach.

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What did I learn from pretending to be a visitor? The homeless group that always seems to be there when I go to Bournemouth and get off the bus, IS always there; a double bed arrangement which stretches halfway across the pavement with several occupants near to our busy hotel. Of course they are not the only homeless; in a town full of happy holiday makers and lively young language students they are the spectre at the feast and Darth Vader isn’t the only one ignoring them. In the gardens there are buskers and a young man doing fire juggling with a sign ‘Homeless but Trying’. At the shops there are Big Issue sellers. I bought a Big Issue.

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The Royal Bath Hotel nearby is a great place to stroll into. Sit and cool off inside the huge fascinating lounge or enjoy the sun in the gardens. You could stay all day, people watching, plug in your lap top etc. without anyone noticing.  This hotel has also seen better days, as we discovered when we went there for dinner one evening to try the ‘special three course meal’ – no wonder it was so reasonable; we needn’t have worried about being smartly dressed, there were some very strange guests.

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On our last day we went abroad on a cruise; bus to Poole Quay for a boat trip to the start of the Jurassic coast at Old Harry Rock and then to Swanage on The Isle of Purbeck, an hour’s trip. We disembarked at the restored Victorian Pier for five hours ashore. A short walk takes you through the pleasant seaside town to the station where you can see steam trains, take a ride to Corfe Castle or have a snack in the railway carriage cafe. A walk out to Peveril Point and we could stand on the cliffs and look back to Bournemouth.

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For more Staycation pictures visit my website.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-two-coastal-views

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-five-beach-writer-s-blog/

Have you been on a Staycation?

 

Liebster Award (Retro)

Silly Saturday – Inside a Writer’s Mind

Thanks to Sandra   https://acornerofcornwall.com/

Widdershins  https://widdershinsfirst.com/

and Caz  https://invisiblyme.com/contact/

for picking pictures from last week’s Silly Saturday. Thanks also to the anonymous writer who took up the challenge and let us inside his head…

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Mart the Electric Tram was bored, stuck on the rails, tied to the overhead wires. His passengers boasted of all their journeys and how much faster they were. Driving round the M25, crossing the Firth of Forth on a great red railway bridge… Mart could not imagine these journeys, but they sounded exciting…

Matt deleted all he had written, he wasn’t cut out for children’s stories… perhaps he could write about the M25 for his blog…

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The London Orbital, better known as the M25, officially opened in 1986, not bad considering the idea had first been suggested in 1913. The idea of any orbital road is to go round a city instead of going through it, but roads always end up with more traffic than predicted and drivers refused to play fair and sneaked onto the M25 for local journeys.

If you get where you want to go, motorways are good and round ones even better, whichever direction you go you will get to your destination eventually – or will you? One Boxing Day the traffic was so slow I suggested leaving at the next exit while we had the chance. We ended up lost in the wilds of Surrey – Oh is that where the Yehudi Menuhin School is… but where IS the Yehudi Menuhin School… luckily we found a garden centre with a cafe open. Inside were all the lost people of Christmas… We had lunch, but were still no nearer to home.

Now there is intelligent motorway, more intelligent than drivers; it tells you what speed to go, if there is Congestion in lanes 1&2 or an Obstruction in lane 3. One time we eventually came to the obstruction and it was a chaise lounge across two lanes. I wonder who lost their priceless antique.

But let us here remember those we have lost, those who continue to go round and round the London Orbital without ever finding the right exit…

‘Dinner’s ready’ – Though Matt was always grateful when it was Maxine’s turn to cook dinner, he was filled with incandescent rage if she called him just as inspiration struck or he was about to post his blog. What the hell, who wanted to read about the M25 anyway, his blog was even more boring than actually driving on it.

‘Coming Darling’

It was as he trundled downstairs that he had his great idea, a television drama, what producer could turn this down.

Coming soon on Sunday evenings Firth of Forth – a great people divided by a great bridge…

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Matt had only seen the Forth Bridge once, but he was amused with the bustling tourist seaside atmosphere in the town of South Queensferry in contrast to the quiet village of North Queensferry on the other side of the Firth of Forth. No, not a six episode drama series, a soap opera, it could go on forever and he would be secure for life…

 

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What’s Wrong With Wrats?

Rats seem to be everywhere lately, but don’t worry about another great plague.

Last week Pete Springer was inspired by one of my archive blogs to write about his teaching days with class pets – rats. His post was headed by a picture of a most adorable rat which reminded me of TV star Roland Rat; the only rat to join a sinking ship, credited with saving TVam breakfast television in the 1980’s.

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2019/07/12/class-pets/

One of my children did have a pet rat in his class, I did hold it once and it was very cute; after all, rats are just big mice and I had pet mice in my junior school years. My friend and I bought two mice from Aldershot market, plus a little book on mice and assured our parents they were both male. Of course they weren’t. Luckily my father loved woodwork; the designer shed/greenhouse he had built himself was soon filled with cages and bags of hay and oats. We ended up with forty mice, some of them pregnant, I will draw a veil over what happened to them next.

By strange coincidence, just before Pete posted his blog, I heard from my friend 300 miles away ( too far away to be of any assistance ) that her young dog had found a rats’ nest in the garden. As a busy carer for her elderly mother the last thing she wanted to find on the staircase was a blind, hairless, mewling baby rat being tenderly licked by the dog. ( Handy hint, this is one of the many reasons why it is not a good idea to let dogs lick your face. )

Thankful that this could not happen to us as we don’t have a dog I was soon to get my come uppance. Since we finally got around to having the outside light in the back garden fixed it comes on quite often, usually to reveal a fox; the fox suspected of chewing up my garden shoes. Late one night ( at a time when only bloggers and foxes are awake ) the light came on and there was Mr. Fox playing with something furry, and it didn’t look like a slipper.

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In the morning there was a dead rat on the back lawn. Obviously the fox has better things to eat. Feeling like a frontierswoman I trekked the few yards to the bottom of the garden and got the spade out. Throw him over the fence? No, we have nice neighbours. Put him in my compost bin? No, never put meat in your garden compost. The council food waste bin that you can put meat in? No it’s got our house number on. I gave him a woodland burial, relieved that I managed to scoop him off the grass with the spade. Two mornings later a second dead rat appeared. Perhaps the foxes are doing us a favour with rat control.

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The ‘woodland garden’ is the corner where the compost bins and insect hotels hide; a tangle of apple tree, holly and ivy and sapling nursery. Cyberspouse suggested the piles of branches preserved for hedgehogs and insects are also luxury living for rats. I have never seen a hedgehog in our garden despite the plentiful supply of slugs for them to eat.

While we sign petitions to save hedgehogs and are reminded to mind the gap, leave holes in our fences for hedgehogs to travel, no one suggests we worry about the survival of rats. When does wildlife become a pest? Why are we not urged to protect rats’ environment and put food out for them?

What wildlife do you have in your neighbourhood?

Gold Award 2

 

The Game of Life – A Game of Sevens

sunshine-blogger

A real game of life is played out on a television documentary every seven years.

Seven Up! was commissioned by Granada Television as a programme in the World in Action series broadcast in 1964. From 7 Plus Seven onward the films have been directed by Michael Apted a researcher on Seven Up! who helped choose the original children. The premise of the film was taken from the Jesuit motto “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Up_(film_series)

This has been proved and not proved; the rich children, who already knew at seven the private education mapped out for them, have indeed been successful in predictable careers, but some of the ordinary kids have achieved a lot. Would we have guessed a Yorkshire farm lad would become a nuclear physicist in the USA?

I have followed much of this series and most of the participants have stuck with it, what an opportunity to create an historic record of society and your life. The interviews seem dignified, but candid. The most interesting has been Neil, at seven funny and full of life, but by 21 finding life difficult and over the years he has had ups and downs. It may be fashionable now to talk of mental health issues, but Neil has always faced the camera when he could easily have dropped out.

https://inews.co.uk/culture/television/63-up-cast-now-7-up-line-up-what-happened-itv-when-time-episodes/

Does the taking part in such a programme influence what you do in your life? How many of us would want our lives exposed. I guess seven years is long enough to get on with your life unobserved before the next episode. How would the rest of us fare under the seven year spotlight? At seven I was in a Church of England junior school and life was pretty simple and good; I would never have guessed that at fourteen I would be living on the other side of the world. We emigrated to Australia when I was eleven.

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I can imagine sitting giggling with my best friend and being interviewed like the three girls at their comprehensive school. However I do not think I would have liked my gauche pimply self filmed for posterity. At fourteen I would never have guessed I would be back in England just before my twenty first birthday; ostensibly on a working holiday, but with absolutely no idea what to do next. I wouldn’t have wanted Michael Apted probing into my ‘life is something that happens to other people ( quote from Alan Bennett ) period.’ At twenty eight, married with a toddler and over extending ourselves to buy a little flat, I could have put in a reasonable appearance, with career failures pushed into the background…

The ‘seven uppers’ have a unique record of their lives, with 63 the latest episode shown recently. Will the director Michael Apted still be around to make 70 Up? In the twenty first century bloggers can write about their lives in minute detail for everyone to see, will young bloggers keep blogging for their whole lives?

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Meanwhile in real life Cyberspouse finished his chemotherapy course, followed a few weeks later by a scan and last week we saw the oncologist to hear the results; everything still stable, nothing changed since the last scan, report back for check up in six weeks. Take an extra throw of the dice.

But a visiting in-law heard her relative had just died, four years after being given six months to live.   The Game of Life has no rules, or at least not rules the medical profession can understand for sure.