my mass observation day


mass observation day was yesterday, May 12th. here is my diary of the day.

background info.

i am a 49yo woman. i live in tottenham, on the ferry lane estate. i have a garden flat which backs on to the river lea. i have lived here since last september, having spent the last 20 years in the east end. i am single. i have been in a relationship for a year, and my boyfriend, tenyen is often here. i have a dog, a rescued staffordshire bull terrier called poppet. i am not working. i was a lecturer in art and design and have worked in theatre. i became too ill to work 10 years ago. i have fibromyalgia and chronic migraine and am diagnosed unipolar.

12 May this year was the first sunny day in a long while. i have been under particular duress recently because of the govt workfare programme. the night before i was particularly unable to focus, and took morning drugs instead of evening drugs, so only got two hours sleep.


woke at 6am. took my morning medication; 500mg naproxen (pain killer), 75mg venlafaxine (mood elevator), 15mg lansoprazole (to protect my stomach from the pain meds), and 10mg loratadine (antihistamine).

back to bed til 7.40. (gives a chance for the pain killers to work) had a large mug of tea. ten slept in the sitting room last night, which he often does because i go to bed so early. he comes in with me for tea. i have the laptop on in bed and download revenge to watch later on. after i’ve had tea, i take the dog out. ten offers to take her, but i feel ok at this point, and knowing it is likely he will have to walk her later i take the opportunity that having some energy presents.

it’s a sunny day. we see a lot of poppet’s friends, and i take photos of them. i walk round the park with one of my neighbours, paul, and tell him about mass observation day. he tells me that he liked the documentary series 7 Up which followed 14 7 year olds every 7 years from 1964. coincidentally, 56 Up is scheduled for tomorrow night. just before i get indoors i bump into a neigbour, phil, who offers to take a look at my garden for me, tell me what indeterminate plants are weeds, and he tells me he will have his dog, a retired greyhound, put down this autumn, since she has suffered so badly this winter with arthritis.

my next door neighbour, steven, has been away for a few days, so i ring his doorbell, and poppet and i go in to say hello before we go home.

when i get home i have a bath and change of clothes (i tend to do first walk in the day before’s clothes) and have a discussion with ten about sun screen. i wear a vest with invisible support (much more comfortable than a bra), a pair of yoga pants and a cardigan. i am planning on doing some weeding because the last few weeks of rain has left the garden a bit wild, and this is my first chance to get out there. he believes i should have sun screen on, i am not so sure. (i would have given in if i had ended up spending any real amount of time out there, but as it was i went out in short bursts and not for very long).

i go out for about 20 mins, and pull up some of what i know are weeds, and am suddenly very tired and rather shivery. ten tells me to rest, and i go back into bed and watch revenge on the laptop. it’s rubbish, really, but it passes the time very well.

i go back outside until 12.15. chris upstairs is on his balcony, he says hello. and the italian girl and her boyfriend and their 4 dogs stop to say hello to poppet through the fence. we chat briefly about the dogs.

i am too tired to cook, so ten makes the lunch. he’s bought some salmon and broccoli because he went out to shops last night. we are a bit cut off here, so i do a big shop every couple of weeks and we top up now and then. i can hardly sit up at the table to eat, so when i am finished i go back to¬† bed properly. i listen to a couple of radio shows, radio 4′s all in the mind which is about a prison that is run as a theraputic community, and the life scientific about the guy who invented gaia theory. i had heard it before, but in this state, pretty much just wanted a comforting blah blah blah to listen to. i laid down til 2.15. i’d had two texts, both from specsavers promoting their latest offer. i don’t get as many texts as i used to.

i go through to the sitting room. ten is on a netbook doing emails, and poppet is snuggled up next to him. i join them on the sofa. after a while i rally a little and go out to the garden to do a little more.

i go back into the bedroom and post the pictures i took of the walk on my blog. i am glad i took these photos, because they tell a story on their own, and i am not well enough to write. i had planned to photograph the whole day, but ran out of steam after the walk. i’d been taking quite good notes during the day, but had to check what time i posted the photos – it was 4pm. i tidy away the tools and things. ten has put the weeds in the compost bin he has made.

after that i sit in the sitting room with my laptop, looking at twitter and facebook and reading blogs. ten says he will take poppet on her last walk before he cycles home (in south london) if i sort out my medication in a way which will stop me from taking morning pills at night. i am more than happy to do this, since lying in bed awake but too tired to do anything for 8 hours is not my idea of fun, and it messes up the next few days quite badly too. i have never made this particular mistake before, but have done it twice recently and really mustn’t. it is horrible.

after that, although it is only 6pm, i throw the towel in completely and go to bed properly. i sometimes go to bed as early as half seven, but try to stay up til 9, so this is really admitting defeat. i take my medication (500mg naproxen and 150mg quetiapine – an antipsychotic, which will help me sleep) and fall asleep almost immediately. i don’t even hear ten leave. i wake up at 3 and have to take a sumatriptan for the inevitable migraine. i don’t usually go without meals, but i couldn’t face food and didn’t stay awake long enough to have a complan (vitamin enriched milky drink. i have it with soya milk). even if i had had a meal though, i was unlikely to avoid a migraine. i fall asleep listening to an oliver sacks audiobook. i don’t remember any of it, i will have to listen from the beginning again.


I donate my 12th May diary to the Mass Observation Archive. I consent to it being made publicly available as part of the Archive and assign my copyright in the diary to the Mass Observation Archive Trustees so that it can be reproduced in full or in part on websites, in publications and in broadcasts as approved by the Trustees.