Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Stevie Wonder, Justice ‘East End’ Style, Skin and Bones


Welcome to the round up for the posts this week just in case you missed any. I feel a little guilty since I spent quite a bit of time off line and not spending time with your blogs but I promise that just another week to go and I will be more attentive.

The plan was to get the next volume of What’s in a Name finished.. I have two more stories to go Y and Z… already in my head and then I have some surprises to add that will be revealed when it is published.  A slightely different appoach to the names from K to Z with just ordinary people doing something they will be remembered for.. Even if it is only by those they love.

Some of you may remember that I wrote a story using an illustration by the very talented Donata Zawadzka.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/smorgasbord-short-story-tales-from-the-irish-garden-after-the-festival-illustrated-by-donata-zawadzka/

This story along with 24 more make up the sequel to Tales from the Garden but this time set in Ireland. Queen Filigree is forced to escape from the palace beneath the magnolia tree in Spain and to seek refuge with her Irish cousin.

I am working with Donata who is producing four central illustrations that head up the four seasons in the book and I am very excited by the project. And I have to thank Paul Andruss for introducing us. It will be in print as well as Ebook and is the first book of mine to be written in Ireland since 1999.

You can find out more about Donata at her website and her sales site:  http://dezawadzka.wix.com/donatasgallery
Buy her work on Redbubble: http://www.redbubble.com/people/donattien/works/7004053-the-birch-maiden?c=32080-ink-illustrations

I have managed to get some gardening done this week which has a duel purpose.. I pot plants and plot stories!  I am going to do the same this week whilst I finish the current projects but I will be in each day to check up on things and have a chat.

Thank you for all your wonderful support and wonderful comments… I am hugely grateful.

Now for a look at the posts from the week… with additional thanks to my two collaborators.. William Price King and Paul Andruss.

William Price meets the Legends

A brand new series and this time the artist is the amazingly talented Mr. Stevie Wonder who has entertained us for over 50 years. His first performances at age 11 propelled him to early stardom and some of his most iconic hits were written when he was a teenager.  To get you in the mood is one of my all time favourites.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/william-price-king-meets-some-legends-stevie-wonder-the-early-years/

Writer in Residence – Paul Andruss

Paul explores the origins of music and you might look at chimpanzees in a different light.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/writer-in-residence-extra-song-and-dance-man-by-paul-andruss/

The Colour of Life – by Geoff Cronin

Just a few more chapters to go in my father-in-law’s memoir but since so many of you have enjoyed I will also be serialising his second book of tall tales.. This week too I pay tribute to my mother-in-law Joan who would have been 97 yesterday. A lovely woman with the most infectious laugh you will ever hear.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/20/the-colour-of-life-serialisation-the-rosary-1955-by-geoff-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/20/the-colour-of-life-extra-behind-every-great-man-joan-cronin-1920-1994/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/21/the-colour-of-life-tommy-and-the-fish-and-the-power-of-prayer/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Book Reading and Interview

Just  a reminder that if you are in the bookstore you are welcome to do a book reading and interview. The details of how to do that are in this post.  My guest this week was Richard Ankers and next week Sandra J. Jackson and C.S. Boyack.

Sally's Cafe and Bookstore

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/new-series-sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-book-reading-and-interview/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/20/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-book-reading-and-interview-richard-ankers/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore New on the Shelves

If you are not already on the shelves of the bookstore then please pop in and take a look at this post which has a link to what you need to send me.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-13-steps-to-evil-by-sacha-black/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update

If you are in the bookstore you can enjoy regular updates of new releases, great reviews or offers.. Just send me an email to sally.cronin@moyhill.com

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/15/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-dan-alatorre-and-angie-dokos/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-deanie-humphrys-dunne-and-lesley-fletcher/

Smorgasbord Book Promotion – Air your Reviews

This is open to all authors on the bookstore shelves or not… just send the link to your latest great review to sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Jessica Norrie

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/smorgasbord-book-promotion-air-your-reviews-jessica-norrie-and-sue-coletta/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/18/smorgasbord-book-promotion-air-your-reviews-annette-rochelle-aben-and-hugh-w-roberts/

Smorgasbord Poetry

My thanks to Robbie Cheadle for her contribution to this post this week.. In a dilemma about which cake to bake for her husband’s birthday she took to verse…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/smorgasbord-poetry-which-cake-by-robbie-cheadle/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/smorgasbord-poetry-dark-waters-by-sally-cronin/

Smorgasbord Short Stories

The Sewing Circle is about a group of elderly residents of an East London estate whose lives are devastated by the actions of a family of thugs.  Here are all three episodes. More stories from this collection next week.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/11/smorgasbord-short-stories-the-sewing-club-part-one-by-sally-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/15/flights-of-fancy-short-story-anthology-novella-the-sewing-circle-part-two-by-sally-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/18/flights-of-fancy-short-story-anthology-the-sewing-circle-part-three-by-sally-cronin/

Some personal stuff

I was delighted to be interviewed by two writers this week. The first was with Amy M. Reade.

https://amreade.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/sally-cronin-is-back/

And the second was with Lisa Burton.... courtesy of Craig Boyack.

https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/2017/05/18/odd-job-girl-on-lisa-burton-radio/

I was also very honoured to be nominated in the Most Informative Category for the #BloggersBash this year and voting is now open. There are ten categories and some wonderful nominees.. Please head over and vote for your favourites.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/smorgasbord-reblog-bloggerbash-2017-voting-is-now-open/

Smorgasbord Health – Let’s Walk a Marathon Challenge

This week.. how to burn extra fat…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/15/lets-walk-a-marathon-update-and-methods-to-burn-extra-fat/

Smorgasbord Health – Top to Toe.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe-the-skeleton-the-progresson-of-osteoporosis-over-50-2/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/18/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe-the-skin-the-largest-organ-of-the-human-body/

Smorgasbord Health – Cook from Scratch

I would love to hear from you if you have a recipe made from fresh ingredients that is a favourite.. sally.cronin@moyhill.com

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/cook-from-scratch-the-sandwich-that-packs-a-punch-with-link-to-140-fillings/

Humour

Put your troubles away for a little while and enjoy the outlook of a pug who has a neural problem but does not let it get him down..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/15/the-afternoon-video-when-adverts-are-better-than-the-television/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/smorgasbord-time-for-some-laffs-joys-of-old-age-and-a-slice-of-scotland/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/lets-walk-a-marathon-the-agility-circuit-try-and-keep-up-with-this-jack-russell/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/20/smorgasbord-time-for-some-laffs-things-are-not-always-what-they-seem/

Thanks for showing up, commenting, sharing and being so supportive.. hugs Sally

Keep smiling

 

 

 

Smorgasbord Poetry – The Lure of the Waltzer by Sally Cronin


I have been revisiting my poetry from my teen years and have added some of the life’s experiences gained in the intervening 50 years. This one takes me back to fourteen and the lure of the summer fairground along the seafront.. and one slick operator in particular.

The Lure of the Waltzer

Preparations take an hour to complete
With curlers, mascara and bright red lipstick
The adding of two years is quite a feat
As is the hairdo with the right little flick.

We sneak from the house without a goodbye
Heading for a forbidden destination
Very keen not to be caught in a lie
But we are obsessed with a fascination.

We loiter along the rails of the ride
With the others who have a similar aim
To walk away with a swagger of pride
Being winner of this particular game

Black-haired and blue-eyed with a rakish air
He knows the effect he inflicts on his prey
As he deigns to spin a customer’s chair
And rotates his hips with an arrogant sway

Spellbound we wait for him to catch our eye
All desperate to be singled out as the one
And when he does, and smiles, you almost die
From the joy of having your time in the sun

The Gypsy boy on the waltzer is god
But we know to only worship from afar
For we have heard tales of those he has awed
And have then ventured far too close to this star.

But the excitement and danger is bliss
For young girls exploring tales of the bad boys
To test new found womanhood with a kiss
Now that we have stopped playing with a child’s toys.

He grins as he whirls faster and faster
For he has finally selected a date
Let it be me, and not the disaster
Of him deciding that he fancies my mate.

To my relief he ignores both of us
And with virtue intact we leave for the day
Plotting next moves on the top of the bus
To win at this fun game of love we all play.

©sallycronin2017

Image: From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

Smorgasbord Poetry – Rebellion in Frome by Sally Cronin


As I delve back into my archive of poems written from my teens onwards it amuses me to see what emotional turmoil I put myself through… and others.

This poem was written when I was sixteen following a trip to the West Country with my sister Diana.. as you can see I was the cat.. and I was away!

Rebellion in Frome by Sally Cronin

My mother said no, that while I was home
That my ears should stay pristine
But away from her, in far distant Frome
I laughed at being sixteen

The hardware store said they’d do it for free
As long as I bought the gold.
I sat there frightened but still as could be
Feeling incredibly bold

Out came the needle, the cork and the flame
A hand reached out for my ear
I closed my eyes tight as nearer he came
And moved away from my fear.

At home again under parental care
My bravado left behind
My secrets stayed hidden under my hair
Waiting for a moment more kind.

Then one day as I leant over my book
She gently tucked back my hair
A shake of the head and a knowing look
Filled with her love and her care

Acceptance was slow and came with my tears
As we both relived my act
But she understood the worst of her fears
Were now more fiction than fact

The girl child in me had stayed back in Frome
A woman taken her place
But, it’s good to know you can still come home
rebellion packed in your case.

©sallycronin2017

If you have a poem that you would like to share… along with your links of course, please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com… Otherwise you may be stuck with mine every week!!

Thanks for dropping by and comments are always welcome. Sally

Smorgasbord Book Promotion – Air Your Reviews – Seumas Gallacher and John W. Howell


Welcome to the series where you can air your reviews.. As an author you can send me the link to your latest great review and I will post here, or if you are an author in the Cafe and Bookstore I can also post there.  This is series is also for those who review books on their blog and you can submit the link to your post and I will share.. my email is at the end of the post.

Today the featured authors are both in the Cafe and Bookstore.  Seumas Gallacher with his book Savage Payback – A Jack Calder Novel, reviewed by Colleen Chesebro.

Colleen Chesebro posts excellently presented and written reviews and I suggest that you head over and introduce yourself. https://colleenchesebro.com/category/book-reviews/

This is followed by John W. Howell with my review for the third John Cannon outing.. Our Justice. As I have already reviewed the first two books I will also be giving my overall views on the series.

About Savage Payback

A series of coordinated lethal bomb attacks on a dozen jewelry stores in London’s West End drag former SAS officer, Jack Calder and his specialist security firm, International Security Partners, into a deadly mesh of murder and international drug running.

A black ops explosives expert, an ex-colleague turned renegade mercenary with a twisted lust for revenge, emerges from the past to join forces with a powerful and dangerous drug baron from Eastern Europe.

A major cocaine trafficker from South America compounds the threats as competitive turf issues straddle international territories.

Attacks close to home heighten the urgency for Calder and his team to find and deal with each of the three sinister adversaries in a final savage payback.

The review by Colleen Chesebro for Savage Payback: https://colleenchesebro.com/2017/04/21/colleens-book-reviews-savage-payback-book-3-in-the-jack-calder-crime-series-by-author-seumas-gallacher/

I have been a fan of British crime novels since the late 1970’s when I was stationed in England. One day I found a treasure trove of cheap paperbacks at the local outside market, and that was all it took. I was hooked! There is just something about the word usage and the pacing which is always different than American crime novels.

I could hardly contain my excitement when I finally reached the middle of my To Be Read pile of books, and Savage Payback stared back at me. I was apprehensive because it was the third book in the series and I worried if I would be able to pick up enough background information on the characters to understand the plot.

I had nothing to worry about. Savage Payback passed with flying colors as its own stand alone novel. It swept me into a world filled with the violence of drug cartels and the callousness of Drug Enforcement Officers, Special Forces, and the kind of people that kill for money. Beware, the novel is violent, and the descriptions are not for the faint of heart.

The plot is quick, and from the beginning, the reader is thrust into the action when an attack on multiple jewelry stores explodes from the pages. The mystery of who was behind the attack develops at a steady pace. I was pleasantly surprised by many of the twists and turns which helped to move the story forward.

I love characters, and Gallacher’s Jack Calder is one of the best. Jack and his crew from the ISP (an international security firm manned by ex-SAS and other police/special forces personnel) are called in to solve the theft of the jewels and the murders involved in the attack. It doesn’t take long for the reader to find out that the ISP is also targeted.

When an attack is successful against Jack’s wife, Mae Ling, the story pivots and the reader is taken on a rollercoaster of events culminating in a climax of an ending. The suspense was superb!

Now, I need to start from the beginning of the series and learn all there is to know about Jack Calder.
Read some of the 50 reviews for Savage Payback and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/SAVAGE-PAYBACK-Jack-Calder-Crime-ebook/dp/B00G00GZEO/

Also by Seumas Gallacher

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/seumas-gallacher/e/B005DVJY8U

Connect to Seumas via his website: http://seumasgallacher.com/

Now it is my time to share my review for the final book in the John Cannon series, Our Justice by John W. Howell. I have reviewed the previous two books individually but this time apart from giving my views on Our Justice… I will be looking at the series as a whole.

About Our Justice

The terrorist leader and financier Matt Jacobs figured out a plan to eliminate the President.

He is relying on John Cannon’s stature as a hero to help him carry it off. John finds himself walking the fine line of pretending to help Matt while trying to figure out a countermeasure to the plan. The third book in the John J. Cannon Trilogy brings together two strong wills for a showdown. The question to be answered is who will feel the satisfaction that the achievement of justice delivers? John, Matt or neither?

My review for Our Justice and the John Cannon Series.

John Cannon as a character is everything that a hero should be. Handsome, fearless and patriotic. As the final chapter of this series unfolds it would seem that there is little time to take a breath following his last encounter with the secretive and driven Matt Jacobs.  From the start of this third book bullets fly, bombs go off and escape routes are compromised.

John Cannon is a marked man and his nemesis is going to literally move heaven and earth to bring him to heel. It is almost a love hate relationship. Matt Jacobs has buried his roots and his beliefs beneath a veneer of civilisation that is enabled by his vast wealth and his army of followers, who are not all that they seem!  The relationship that these two very committed and determined men have is about to come to a head. If John does not get his act together it will not only he his neck on the line but people he loves and admires.

To spice up the action there of course needs to be some beautiful women and I like the way that John Howell does not go down the traditional route of blonde bombshells who are purely decorative. Both Stephanie and Sarah are bright intelligent women who find themselves embroiled in the lives of these two adversaries and their characters are well portrayed. They are women who are prepared to fight for their survival and the ones they love.

This is a fast-paced action thriller and finishes the series well. Which brings me to my overall view of the life and times of John Cannon.

I suggest you read the three books back to back as I have, because the time span the series covers is only six months and there is barely time to catch your breath.  With so much action it is easy to miss some of the quieter moments that reveal more about the characters and plot, and these are well worth lingering over. The characters are well developed, and if I was to comment on this element, it would be to say that I felt that Ned, who takes John under his wing, not only deserved a medal, but could have perhaps been fleshed out a little more.

Overall I have rated the series a definite 4+ stars and would recommend the series as one to download and read in a ‘John Cannon Fest‘… I do recommend that you buckle up before getting into the action!

Read all the reviews for Our Justice and buy: https://www.amazon.com/Our-Justice-John-W-Howell/dp/0996911529

Buy all of the John Cannon Series and find our more about John W. Howell: https://www.amazon.com/John-W.-Howell/e/B00HMRWO6C

Connect to John via his website: http://www.johnhowell.com

Thank you for dropping by today and please do not hesitate to let me know if you have received a great review or have written one for another author.  sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Shopping ….. by Sally Cronin


Shopping…. by Sally Cronin

‘Come on let’s whip into that lane over there.’

‘No, I am fine here, look the line is moving already.’

‘Are you kidding me?’ He glared at her in frustration. ‘We are going to be here till Christmas at this rate and the game starts in twenty minutes.’

She shrugged her shoulders. ‘It’s only football for goodness sake, just be patient.’

‘Patient, patient!’ Hands in pockets he made a face.

‘I came shopping with you didn’t I? He put a hand on her shoulder.

‘Come on Penny, please we only have three items and that line is much shorter.’

She shrugged his hand off and took a deep breath.

‘She doesn’t like me.’

‘Who doesn’t like you?’

‘The woman in that checkout.’

‘Excuse me!’ He looked at her in disbelief. ‘What are you talking about?’

‘I have been through that checkout several times when I was in a hurry and each time she has made rude comments.’

‘Love, you’re losing it babe, big time.’ She glared at him.

‘Okay last time I went through that checkout with a pizza and ice-cream, she said that she could see why I was fat.’

‘You must have imagined it doll.’ Laughingly he grabbed her waist fondly. ‘I love every inch of you and you are not fat just cuddly.’

‘Alright, I’ll prove it to you.’ She turned and stomped off to the now empty check-out and waved the first item, which happened to be a packet of fish fingers, under the scanner.

A slightly metallic female voice spat out of the speaker. ‘Oh my, still picking the fat options I see.’

Penny turned to her husband and gave him a glare…. ‘Well, do you believe me now?’

‘It must be a wind up… Candid Camera or one of those stupid programmes. Put another item through.’

Penny put the two other items under the scanner one by one. The voice smugly pronounced. ‘That will be four pounds and eleven pence and half a stone madam.’

Fuming Penny put her debit card into the reader and completed the transaction. She threw the offending items into her bag for life.

‘Okay Penny let me have a go.’ Her husband picked up some gum from the stand next to the checkout and passed it under the scanner.

‘Hello handsome,’ spoke a silky sexy voice. ‘What are you doing for the rest of my life?’

 

©sallycronin 2016

Thank you for dropping by and wave to me next time you go through the automatic checkout because I am likely to be in a queue!  Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Short Stories – The Easter Eggs by Sally Cronin


The Easter Eggs by Sally Cronin

Lily dusted off her hands. They had been covered in soil from planting the three little primulas that she and her mother had picked up at the nursery today. Her mother always let Lily pick the colours and this year the purple petals with their golden centres danced in the soft evening breeze. She picked up her small watering can and gently moistened around the base of the plants like her mum had shown her.

“There you go Daddy, I promise to look after them all summer, watering them every day and picking off the dead flowers to let others grow like mum showed me.”

It was Easter and tomorrow, Lily and her little brother Michael would race around the house looking for the small cream eggs that her mother had bought at the supermarket yesterday. Both of them were very excited and it was really the first year that her brother understood what the egg hunt was all about. Mum said that three each was more than enough especially as they were going to the dentist soon for a check-up.

However, the real prize was the two large chocolate eggs that were hidden in very special places. In her father’s wardrobe perhaps, or his study where he would read them a story before they went up to bed, or even the garden shed that her mum laughingly called his man cave.

The next day Lily and Michael got up early and began searching the house. It took them an hour to find the six small creamy eggs and by the time they had rushed into the kitchen to show off their finds, two of them had already been eaten. Their mother looked at the smeared evidence of their successful hunt around their mouths and took the remainder off them for later.

“You need to eat your breakfast and then you can find the other eggs, I am going to hide them now so no peeking”.

The children hurriedly ate their bowls of cereal and drank their juice eager to get on with the hunt. After about ten minutes their mother returned to the kitchen and clapped her hands.

“Okay, let’s see how quickly you can find the big prizes”.

Lily took their dishes to the sink and the two children ran off hand in hand heading for their father’s study to continue the search.

They found one egg after about five minutes. It was beneath the big oak desk in a waste basket hidden by some crumpled paper. There was a card attached to the egg with ‘Michael’ written in big letters and he clasped the colourful box in his small hands as they raced from one room to the other. Finally they gave up on the house and headed out to the garden shed. There hidden under a cloth in a large plant pot sat a beautiful egg nestled in its packaging with a note perched beside it.

“The flowers are beautiful Lily and your daddy’s favourite colours”

From the kitchen window their mother saw her nine year old daughter lead her brother up the path to the house. Michael was clasping his egg to his chest and beaming from ear to ear. Lily looked up as they entered the kitchen and smiled gently at her mother as a look of understanding passed between them.

That night Lily placed the egg on her bedside cabinet next to the photograph of her daddy in his army uniform surrounded by other men in his team. He was smiling and looked happy. It was the last picture taken of him two years ago and Lily stared at it for a long time before switching off her light.

Tomorrow the Easter egg would join the other one on the shelf in her wardrobe and would never be eaten.

©Sallycronin 2015

Thanks for dropping by and hope you have enjoyed my recycled short story – have a wonderful Easter. Sally

Smorgasbord Short Stories – The Soldier by Sally Cronin


The Soldier by Sally Cronin

Norman carried his plate carefully across to the gingham covered table under the window, setting it down next to his cup of tea that had been as carefully transported a few minutes before. He could not walk without his stick and had to adapt his routine to fit around this inconvenience. He steadied himself on the back of the wooden chair and deposited his walking aid up against the window sill. He turned himself around and sat down heavily with a sigh of relief.

He assaulted the still steaming cup of tea with four spoons of sugar and smiled wryly at the silence that accompanied this act of rebellion. If Ruby had been sitting opposite him there would have been hell to pay. He closed his eyes and willed the disobedient tear to cease its descent down his cheek. He sniffed and reached for the butter.

His flat was in an anonymous looking block on a small estate that had been built in the 1990s. He had moved here begrudgingly from their little terrace house that had been home for fifty years. The council were going to knock the late Victorian homes down and make way for a modern housing project. As a widower without any living family, he did not qualify for one of the new three-bedroomed semi-detached houses. They had moved his bits of furniture and treasured belongings to the flat, but the money that they paid him for the compulsory purchase of the house was still sitting in a bank account untouched.

He managed his simple needs on his state and army pension, only glancing briefly at the monthly statements that showed a steadily increasing balance, before throwing them in a drawer in the sideboard. There had been an effort by his previous neighbours to fight the compulsory purchase. He had watched the protests in the street dispassionately, ignoring the knocks on his door from those soliciting his support. Ruby had only just died and a part of him had as well. He had been numb at the time and also strangely voiceless but he had looked upon the resultant pay out as blood money. As he looked around the small room that had never seen a visitor, he realised how much he had relied on Ruby and the community spirit in his old neighbourhood.

Norman’s flat was on the second floor of the building and thankfully the lift was in operation most of the time. He couldn’t manage the one flight of stairs now even with the stick; resenting this as evidence of his further decline. During the day the building had always been reasonably quiet and he barely noticed the passing of the hours. That is until he would hear the sound of the children returning from school and diving straight into the playground at the front of the flats. He usually opened his windows and sat with a cup of tea, enjoying their shrieks and laughter. It reminded him of his own dead son when he was that age; long before he joined the army and went to Iraq.

Recently however there had been new sounds and they drowned out the childish laughter. Teenagers from a neighbouring estate were prowling the stairwells and communal areas of the blocks nearest to them, but away from family and possible consequences in their own neighbourhood. His own block had taken on a seedy and unwholesome appearance with  evidence of night-time drinking and drug taking on the landings and underground garage. The local residence association had contacted the police and there had been a begrudging response which included one or two more cars patrolling at night, but no arrests were made. The council representative had said that they were powerless to provide security with cutbacks to essential services already.

The residents now rarely went out at night unless absolutely essential; locking their doors and windows and turning their televisions up louder to cover the noises of anarchy on their doorstep. Children no longer played on the swings as aggressive teenagers of both genders took over the playground in the central area as a gathering point in the afternoons, jobless and bored. Graffiti began to spread across the walls of the ground floor and up the stairs; Norman shook his head at the hatred and violence it depicted. He had never felt so powerless in his life.

It was Wednesday and Norman always went down to the legion for a pint and bite of lunch. It was his only interaction with others during the week, except for the cashiers at the local supermarket. He laid out his suit on the bed and found a shirt that was crisply ironed. He would wear his regimental tie today and give his black shoes an extra polish. He needed to look his best for what lay ahead.

An hour later he made his way through the swing doors of the legion and walked past the walls covered with photographs of those who had served and passed away. One day his image would join them and younger men would mentally salute him as they walked into the bar. But he was not there yet, and grasping his stick firmly, he straightened his back and walked briskly through the tables of men talking quietly in this place that linked them to their years of service. Some looked up and said… ‘Morning Sergeant Major.’ He acknowledged them silently with a nod.

‘Atten… Shun’

At the barked command thirty pairs of eyes swivelled to the front of the room and automatically several stood to attention. As Norman’s stern gaze descended on the other men, they too stood to join their comrades.

‘You have all served your country bravely, but now you, like me sit silently by and watch as an enemy infiltrates our way of life. The people we fought for are under attack and barricaded into their homes afraid to breathe in the fresh air and walk unmolested.’

Several men nodded and Norman could read their body language as he had thousands of soldiers before. They too had lost their purpose and it was time to give them their pride back.

Later that afternoon the children arrived home from school and were ushered straight into their flats on the different levels of the apartment block. A few stray elderly residents also made their way back from shopping and packed into the lifts that would distribute them over several floors. The block was preparing for the daily invasion of the gang.

They were not disappointed, and as the warm sun hit the playground it began to fill with the dross from the neighbouring estate, laughing and throwing their rubbish on the ground. When dusk fell they would start working their way through the block with their spray paints and drug paraphernalia; turning this community into a no go area for decent people.

Suddenly one the group caught sight of movement coming from the direction of the main road. He shushed his mates and one by one they went silent. They watched as an old man walking with a stick marched up the street with determination. He was followed by at least thirty men in rows, also marching in time. They wore suits and looked proudly to the front where their leader preceded them. Some of the youths began pointing and laughing but a tall, older boy told them to be quiet.

The marching men arrived in front of the block of flats and turned sharply to face the playground. Norman took three steps closer and placed both his hands over the head of his stick. He looked to his right as two large vans marked with the name of an industrial cleaning company pulled up to the kerb.

He turned and addressed the youths now waiting expectantly and looking at each other in stunned silence.

‘These men behind me have fought in wars around the world and are all trained killers. They will now be patrolling our estate day and night in teams of three and have orders to treat any they find defacing the walls, using drugs or threatening the residents as terrorists which is what you are.’

Norman paused and behind him he heard the snap of boots on the road surface as a number of the men took three steps forward and stood with their arms folded menacingly.

Sergeant Major Norman Smith pointed at the two vans. ‘These contractors will now clean the graffiti off the walls and remove your filth from the stairs and hallways. You will now pick up all your rubbish you have dropped and put it into the bins provided. You will then leave this estate and not return again. These men behind me are just a handful of those at my disposal and any ideas you might have of bringing reinforcements to assist you will be met with severe repercussions.’

The youth who the others followed, looked at the old man and smiled slightly as he shook his head. He pointed to the others to pick up their discarded cartons and soda bottles, which they did reluctantly. He glared at some and gave others a sharp word. He knew there were other soft targets out there. Perhaps not as convenient to his estate, but this one was no longer worth the hassle. Hoods up and hands in pockets, the youths turned and began to saunter nonchalantly out of the far exit of the playground.

As they did so Norman heard doors begin to open on the sunlit walkways behind him and voices as people tried to find out what was going on. He glanced behind him as the cleaning crews began unloading equipment from the back of the vans. He had finally found something to use that blood money for in a way that he could live with.

Applause broke out on the walkways, and as the last of the youths sauntered off down the road, a mother ventured out of the safety of the building holding her two children’s hands. They broke away from her and raced into the playground shouting and laughing.

Soon others left the surrounding blocks and came to speak to Norman and their new protectors. As he watched the exchanges between the former soldiers and the liberated residents he saw how they carried themselves now with pride and purpose.

It was good to be back on the front line again.

©sallycronin 2017

 

Smorgasbord short story – The System Administrator by Sally Cronin


The System Administrator by Sally Cronin

Jennifer stood in the middle of the lift and stared at her black leather pumps. She noticed a scuff on the left side of the toe of the right shoe, realising that she had kicked the full waste basket a little harder than she thought at the time. She was weary and unusually tearful. It had been a tough week all round with particularly hard advertising revenue to achieve, but it had ended on the sourest note of all.

She managed a team of fifty telephone sales canvassers who sold high end car and luxury property advertising for the national online paper she worked for. These days both those markets were tough going. It seemed that people were hanging onto high ticket items waiting for a rise in demand for both.

However, her boss who lived in his ivory tower of an office on the top floor of the building, still insisted on increasing her targets for revenue on a monthly basis, dismissive about the state of the market. Despite creative campaigns and offers, she was finding it more and more difficult to satisfy his demands.

Her guys worked their socks off and she knew that they did so for their generous salaries and commission. She also knew that they did their very best to achieve the targets that she asked of them, even though they might groan when she wrote them on their sales board in the office. When they hit their daily and weekly revenues, they always included her in their trip to the pub for a celebratory pint, and on tough days, most would stay late to pick up an extra car or property advert to make up the numbers.

The doors to the lift opened and she wearily made her way across the cement floor to where her company car was parked. She had to admit that she could not complain about her hybrid Turing which was a perk given to sales managers once they had been in the job for five years or longer. She had inherited the vehicle from one of the senior executives when he retired a month ago and she loved all its special add on features and programming. At this very moment it was about the only thing about the job apart from her team that she did love.

She saw that the car was already idling and that there was the faint sound of music coming from the open passenger side window. She smiled and knew that the day was just about to get a little better. She touched the keypad in her hand and the boot lid opened so she could store her briefcase away. She went around to the driver’s side and slid into the leather seat and rested her head back against the comforting upholstery.

‘Bad day love?’ The calming tones of the other occupant of the car made her open her eyes.

‘The worst Martha, the worst.’ Jennifer reached across and turned the music down a notch. ‘Beaumont came into the office before everyone left, and gave us his usual Friday afternoon lecture about how we were not achieving our targets, and that the team were obviously neither motivated nor managed well enough to do the job.’

She paused as her eyes welled up with more tears and sat silently for a moment. ‘He then turned to me and told me to be in his office first thing Monday morning and then stormed out.’

As she bit her lip, she felt warm lightly scented air move across her face and body calming her down. She wiped her eyes and blew her nose before pushing the buttons on her pathfinder to take them home.

As the car exited the underground garage she checked right and left before nudging the accelerator to join the line of traffic headed in the direction out of the city. She switched the car to auto but kept her hands lightly on the wheel.

‘That was most unfair of him Jennifer and very unprofessional,’ Martha spoke quietly in her ear. ‘That is a deliberate tactic to make you worry all weekend about your job and your team’s security and my advice is to put it out of your mind completely however hard that might be.’

‘I know Martha,’ Jennifer kept an eye on the busy Friday evening traffic at the same time as acknowledging the truth of her companion’s words.

‘This car and your unexpected friendship are about the only thing keeping me in the job at the moment,’ she smiled ruefully. ‘Of course that is not entirely true, I love my team and I can’t bear the thought of them being left in the hands of that narcissistic jumped up jerk.’

‘I may have done something that should help.’

Without taking her eyes off the road, Jennifer stiffened with surprise. Martha would never do anything against the rules; she was by nature very rigid and predictable and this was a complete shock.

‘What are you talking about Martha, what have you done?’

There was a moment’s pause. ‘As system administrator, I have access to the emails sent throughout the company, and I read Beaumont’s this morning. I found several from the chairman of the board of directors insisting that he had to cut at least £200,000 from this year’s staff budget.’

Shocked and now even more worried, Jennifer gripped the steering wheel; despite having no need to except in an emergency. ‘Oh no Martha, if they find out they will terminate you.’

Martha continued. ‘Well actually I am afraid I did a little more than that.’

‘Oh my friend that is so dangerous. I don’t want anything to happen to you because of my problems.’

‘Don’t worry; Beaumont will be in no position to do anything to me or to you and your team by Monday morning.’

This was serious, and seeing a gap in the parked cars to her left, Jennifer indicated and pulled in. Now she could focus on what her friend was saying.

‘Tell me everything Martha and don’t leave anything out.’

‘I replied to the chairman’s emails on Beaumont’s behalf after he left this evening, resigning effective immediately. His reasoning being that he is paid £250,000 per year plus various benefits that amounted to over £400,000. He stated that this would prevent any need for a staffing reduction for the next two years, enabling the market to improve and also current sales targets to remain in place. He also recommended that you become Sales Director with a salary increase and that you be given the freedom to manage your team as you see fit to achieve those targets.’

Jennifer found it difficult to take this all in and was absolutely speechless that this mild mannered entity, who only wished everyone well, should have come up with such a Machiavellian plan.

‘But Martha, they will simply refuse to accept his resignation and worse still they might investigate his email and find out you tampered with it.’

‘Jennifer I designed the system and know how to cover my tracks very well. I also took out a little insurance policy that will encourage the board to accept his resignation without question.’

This was now becoming surreal and Jennifer shook her head from side to side in amazement.

‘I’m waiting Martha…don’t keep me in suspense.’

‘I checked Beaumont’s personal text messages on his company phone and discovered that he has been having an affair with the head of human resources; who is also married incidentally. Unfortunately one of those texts will arrive on the Chairman’s phone by the time he gets his first cup of coffee on his desk on Monday. A scandal at the moment is the last thing the company needs; Beaumont’s resignation will be seen as a blessing.

Jennifer was finding it very difficult to get her head around this seemingly well thought out solution to her dilemma, but then realised that it was already underway, and nothing that she could do at this point could change that.

Making sure that she was clear to join the decreasing traffic out of the city she instructed the car to indicate and proceed homeward. She rested her hands lightly on the steering wheel as it made necessary slight adjustments.

‘Please say you are not angry with me.’ Martha sounded contrite and Jennifer took a deep breath. ‘No, I am not angry with you Martha, although you have overstepped the bounds of your job specification. I know it was done because you’re my friend.’ She paused and tried to be as clear as possible.

‘You must never put yourself in danger of termination like this again. Please promise me that they will never discover how involved you have become with me and my team. We rely on your essential assistance to help us achieve those major targets week after week.’

As the car entered the drive to Jennifer’s home, and before she switched off the ignition she waited for a response. ‘I promise Jennifer.’

The front door opened and her husband stood in the doorway framed by the light from the hall. Jennifer retrieved her briefcase from the back of the car and walked into his comforting embrace.

‘How was your day love, did you end the week better than it started.’ James looked down at his wife.

She smiled at him and they wandered arm and arm into the kitchen where a delicious aroma filled the air.

‘You are not going to believe this, but you know that our system administrator is the latest A.I. technology called Martha… well it seems that she is a little more intelligent than we expected!

©sallycronin 2017

Smorgasbord Health 2017- Top to Toe Your heart is only as good as the food you eat!


Smorgasbord Health 2017

I appreciate that many of you who have been kindly following the blog for a long time will have seen this post before. However, if you are new to Smorgasbord, I hope you will find interesting.

In the series Top to Toe I will be covering the major organs in the body and their health.

Healthy Eating for the Heart.

The aim of this eating plan is to help maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of diabetes, atherosclerosis and high blood pressure all of which are contributory factors to heart disease. Ideally you will combine this plan with an exercise programme to maximise the benefits and you will find some links in the weight loss programme at the start of the year. https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/weight-loss-reduction-2017/

Firstly, it is more than likely that you already know that certain lifestyle choices you have made may be contributing to heart disease. If you are a smoker you are at a higher risk of developing arterial disease and a heart attack. If you eat too many junk foods, high in saturated fats and sugars, you are risking high cholesterol and probably diabetes. If you drink excessive amounts of alcohol then you are again taking chances with your heart health.

The good news is that eating a healthy heart programme need not be boring. In fact it will mean that you get to spend more time in the kitchen experimenting with all the wonderful alternatives to fats and sugars that are available everywhere. You need not compromise on taste and after a few weeks you will wonder how you managed to eat food that was so fatty, salty and sweet.

The aim is to eat all natural, unprocessed foods that have been touched by no other human hands than the one who picked it, packed it and yours.

I am going to give you a list of foods that have a specific role in preventing artery damage and heart disease. In that list are some foods that are high in potassium, along with the minerals Calcium and Magnesium. Potassium is a mineral that is essential for heart health and calcium and magnesium are essential to balance the potassium in the body.

You should be careful of supplementing with potassium if you are on heart or blood pressure medications but eating fruits and vegetables that contain this mineral in moderation once or twice a week should not be a problem. It is also important to balance their intake with calcium and magnesium rich foods and I note those in the list.

It depends on the medication so always check with your doctor or a qualified nutritionist.

The foods to EXCLUDE in your healthy heart diet

It is easier to detail the foods that you should not include in your healthy heart eating plan as you can eat everything that is natural and unprocessed limiting any other foods to a maximum of 20% of your daily diet. Notice that I say avoid – this does not mean cut out all together as that is impractical – but there is a huge difference between having two biscuits each time you have a cup of tea and having two once or twice a week. Ice cream is delicious and having once a week is not going to be the cause of a heart attack – but it will be if you have every day in combination with bacon, ready meals, cakes, sausages, processed sauces, biscuits etc.

These contain extremely high levels of salt and phosphorus, as well as harmful additives and colorants.

White packaged breads tend to have a great many additives, cheap brown bread that comes wrapped in plastic has probably been treated to a caramel colour rinse as well as having a white flour base. In house bakery whole grain bread is about the best option if you do not want to spend the time making yourself.

Although some margarine may be low fat they contain hydrogenated fats and additives and it is better for your health to have a little butter on your bread and potatoes.

Do not drink fizzy or condensed fruit drinks as they have extremely high levels of sugar and colorants. Also Aspartame is still raising its ugly head despite manufacturers wishing it into the healthy column. There have been some comments from people that they have it on good authority that it is harmless and that it is just hype. My philosophy is to follow the money. There is no financial gain to be made with the argument that artificial sweeteners including Aspartame are harmful to our health. But there is a great deal of money at stake for those who use it across the board in their products.

Moderate your intake of alcohol to no more than two average size glasses of wine per night or one spirit. Better to restrict to a couple of glasses when you are out for a meal at the weekend.

Take a close look at the labels on any mineral water that you drink and ensure that the sodium levels are below 1.0.

Foods that help your heart stay healthy

I am a firm believer in eating foods that are packed with nutrients. If you need to lose weight you need to eat less calories, but that should not be at the expense of nutrition. I have already introduced you to several of these foods in previous blogs. The following ones in particular contribute to a healthy heart and help prevent high blood pressure and elevated and oxidised LDL cholesterol levels. Combined with lean proteins such as eggs, fish including some oily fish and poultry, these foods will help maintain your healthy heart.

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Brown Rice Pilaf packed with heart healthy ingredients.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2016/01/20/smorgasbord-health-multivitamin-supplement-or-brown-rice-pilaf/

  • All vegetables and fruits are rich in antioxidants, which remove free radicals from the system and also promote the growth of healthy cells and tissue. They can all be eaten freely on your healthy heart diet, but here are some in particular that are very beneficial.
  • Avocados with their healthy fat that actively helps to reduce cholesterol. They also contain potassium.
  • Dried apricots are high in potassium and fibre.
  • Banana has fibre too, which helps clear the system of debris and keeps the arteries clean. Also it contains potassium so important for a healthy heart provided you are not on a potassium restricted diet. Don’t forget to include calcium and magnesium rich foods that help balance the potassium.
  • Beans for fibre to keep arteries clear, potassium, low fat protein and magnesium.
  • Broccoli contains calcium and magnesium to help balance the potassium in your blood stream
  • Brown rice helps keep your cholesterol down and your arteries healthy with its fibre.
  • Brussel sprouts for their antioxidants and potassium
  • Figs for their alkaline effect on the body and potassium levels.
  • Green tea with its antioxidants, which inhibit the enzymes that produce free radicals in the lining of the arteries. This not only prevents plaque from forming but also improves the ratio of LDL (lousy cholesterol) to HDL (healthy cholesterol)
  • Kiwi fruit for Vitamin C and potassium
  • Oranges with their fibre to help keep arteries clear and their Vitamin C which prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Oranges are also high in potassium.
  • Oats with their fibre called beta-glucan which helps lower cholesterol and prevents plaque from forming in your arteries.
  • Olive oil for essential fatty acids.
  • Onions in particular which contain sulphur compounds that along with B6 and chromium help lower homocysteine levels in the blood- homocysteine causes platelets to clump so that they can attach themselves to the walls of the arteries and block them. One of the major causes of high blood pressure.
  • Pears for fibre and potassium
  • Potatoes for kukoamines to reduce blood pressure and fibre.
  • Prunes and prune juice for antioxidants, potassium and fibre.
  • Raisins for potassium.
  • Salmon, halibut, sardines and scallops high in Omega 3 and B6 – has the same effect as walnuts. Also contain calcium and magnesium.
  • Skimmed (semi) milk and low fat yoghurt for calcium, potassium, low fat protein and its possible ability to reduce blood pressure.
  • Spinach for many nutrients but also potassium and calcium.
  • Shitake mushrooms that have so many therapeutic benefits apart from their definite effect on heart health
  • Tomatoes for antioxidants and potassium
  • Tofu as a vegetarian option for low fat protein, calcium and magnesium.
  • Walnuts, most unsalted nuts and seeds with their monounsaturated fat which lowers lipoprotein in the blood. Remember, Lipoprotein causes platelets to clot which in turn can lead to strokes or a cerebral aneurysm. Walnuts also contain B6, which is very important for a healthy cardiovascular system in general.
  • Wholegrains in the form of unprocessed, fresh baked bread and natural cereals, without additives, to provide B vitamins, fibre and magnesium.

As always if you are on prescribed medication check the fine print but it is also important to do your research. Sodium and potassium are very important for the body and you should not or must exclude completely.

Our bodies are designed to extract the nutrients that they need from natural food we consume. It is the additional and hidden levels in industrial foods that are the problem.

Eating a ‘cook from scratch’ diet which is richly varied is the best approach to a healthy heart.

©sallycronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2017

Please feel free to share and as always welcome your feedback.  thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Health 2017 -Top to Toe -The Heart – Angina, Arrythmia and Valve disorders


Smorgasbord Health 2017

I appreciate that many of you who have been kindly following the blog for a long time will have seen this post before. However, if you are new to Smorgasbord, I hope you will find interesting.

In the series Top to Toe I will be covering the major organs in the body and their health.

One of the main causes of angina and heart disease is atherosclerosis and that is where we should start when looking to change our lifestyle and diet.

Atherosclerosis is the hardening of the arteries as a result of plaque that has built up in the arterial walls narrowing the blood vessels and restricting the flow of oxygen rich blood to the heart and other organs such as the brain. Atherosclerosis accounts for almost 75% of deaths from cardiovascular disease.

Plaque build up in arteries

What is Angina?

Angina (angina pectoris) is a type of temporary chest pain. There are a number of types but the two, stable and unstable both indicate that there is likely to be coronary heart disease.

Stable angina attacks occur after vigorous exercise that requires additional blood to be sent to the heart. An attack might last from one or two minutes to fifteen minutes. Activities that also increase the risk of an attack are cigarette smoking, stress, abrupt changes in temperature or altitude, heavy meals that are not given time to digest and sudden exertion such as running for a bus or upstairs. These types of attack are also described as “predictable” as they tend to happen between early morning and noon. One reason for this may be the body’s inability to go from a state of complete rest to fully active immediately on getting up in the morning. Like an old car, it takes time to get all functions working efficiently especially if arteries are blocked and oxygen is in short supply.

Unstable angina is more dangerous as it is also unpredictable and will last longer than fifteen minutes. It can occur at rest and without any previous history of heart disease and should be treated as an emergency as it could indicate that the person is just about to suffer a full heart attack.

What are the symptoms of Angina?

People who suffer from angina describe the pain as crushing, burning behind the breastbone and as if there is a weight resting on the chest. The pain can radiate out from the chest and affect the neck, arms, jaw and the abdomen. Women are more likely to experience abdominal pain during an angina episode and it makes it more difficult to establish the problem. The person might also feel light headed and experience a faster than normal heartbeat (arrhythmia)

Some attacks are accompanied by nausea, sweating confusion and dizziness. These kinds of symptoms, particularly in the elderly add to the difficulty of diagnosing the problem.

Whether the episode lasts a minute or longer you should get it checked out. There is a strong possibility that if the attack occurs after eating a very heavy meal that you might be suffering from indigestion. But, if this is happening frequently the causes need to be identified and treated.

However, if the pain has moved from under your diaphragm and you are experiencing discomfort in any of the other areas that I have mentioned above, and the attack lasts for more than a few minutes you should definitely seek medical help.

What are the treatment options for Angina?

The medication most commonly prescribed is Nitrates such as nitro-glycerine that dilates the walls of the blood vessels allowing more blood and therefore oxygen to reach the heart. If there are repeated angina episodes then there could be the addition of beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers.

Beta-blockers slow the heartbeat and also reduce the strength of the muscle contractions taking some of the load off the organ.

Calcium channel blockers block the entry of calcium into the cells. This dilates the coronary arteries and increases the heart’s blood flow.

Antiplatelet and anticoagulant drugs inhibit the formation of blood clots by inhibiting the platelets that normal bind together. Aspirin is often prescribed in a relatively low dose, which a patient can take daily.

There are a number of surgical options for advanced stages of atherosclerosis and therefore increased angina attacks. These include angioplasty, stenting and coronary artery bypass grafting.

Blocked artery 3 - Baloon inflated

Angioplasty is a procedure where a balloon-tipped catheter is inserted in the blocked coronary artery and inflated. The balloon compresses the plaque against the walls of the artery, which increases the blood flow. This is usually combined with the inserting of a stent via the catheter. A stent is a small mesh tube that holds the damaged artery open allowing for increased blood flow.

A coronary bypass is a far more invasive procedure, which involves the grafting of the patient’s own veins and arteries, from other parts of the body, around the damaged blood vessels thus by-passing the blockage.

What can we do to prevent Atherosclerosis and Angina?

One of the most important preventative measures that you can take is to learn about your own body and also the medical history of your immediate family. It is more likely that if your parents, grandparents suffered from heart disease or diabetes then you may also be at a higher risk of the same problems. Diabetes sufferers are more likely to suffer from heart problems and monitoring this through regular blood tests is important if there has been a family history of the disease. Having this knowledge gives you the opportunity to make lifestyle choices that reduce your risk of developing heart disease in your own lifetime.

First and foremost you must give up smoking cigarettes, as this is a major contributor to heart disease.

Cigarette smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease by itself. When it acts with other factors, it greatly increases risk. Smoking increases blood pressure, inhibits oxygen uptake during exercise and increases the tendency for blood to clot. Smoking also increases the risk of recurrent coronary heart disease after bypass surgery.

In the last three years I have written several blogs regarding both the unhealthy type of LDL cholesterol which has smaller platelets and when oxidised (likely with a poor diet of refined sugars and industrially produced foods) it clumps in the arteries causing blockages and narrowing the blood vessels. You can also read about elevated blood pressure as well.

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Other common heart conditions.

Apart from Angina, there are a number of other conditions that affect the heart. The good news is that most are either preventable or can be supported with a few changes to your lifestyle.

Arrhythmia and problems with your heartbeat

  • Arrhythmia is an erratic and abnormal heart rate. This is most commonly caused by blocked coronary arteries.
  • Sinus tachycardia is a regular heartbeat but too fast, usually over 100 beats per minute. It can also be caused by over exertion or stress.
  • Atrial fibrillation is caused by abnormal electrical activity and the result is a heartbeat between 300 to 500 beats per minute.
  • Ventricular tachycardia is caused by damaged heart muscle resulting in an ineffective heartbeat of between 120–220 beats per minute without the power to push the blood through the system.

Heart murmurs

We normally cannot hear the blood actually flowing through the heart but sometimes there may be some unusual noises that are called murmurs. These indicate that the smooth flow of blood has become unstable due to structural damage inside the heart. This is commonly caused by damage to the valves between the atria and the ventricles which causes either narrowing or leaking.

Heart valve disorders

As with any part of the body, the heart valves are subject to wear and tear. Our heart function is totally dependent on the pumping action and therefore on the health of the valves. There are two types of abnormality, stenosis which is a narrowing of the valve, allowing less blood through and an incompetent valve which allows blood to leak back down into the ventricles through an improperly closed valve.

Some valves can be corrected surgically but it is quite common these days to have the valves replaced completely restoring normal heart function. The replacement valves are made from metal and plastic, which may require medication to prevent clotting, or animal or human tissue which is not as long lasting but does not cause clots.

Next time some foods to include in your diet to help maintain a healthy heart. It may also help you lose weight and if you have read yesterday’s post you will know that the heart beats over 3 billion times in a lifetime and as with any pump it wears out.

Just losing a stone in excess weight can reduce the number of times your heart has to beat every day significantly – saving a million heartbeats a year will extend the life of your heart and therefore your life.

©sallycronin Just Food For Health 1998 – 2017

As always delighted to get your feedback and questions. This is not intended to take the place of your doctor’s presence in your life. But, certainly in the UK, where you are allocated ten minutes for a consultation and time is of the essence; going in with some understanding of how your body works and is currently functioning can assist in making a correct diagnosis. Some doctors believe that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I believe that understanding our bodies, how it works, how we can help prevent health problems and knowing the language that doctors speak, makes a difference.  Taking responsibility for our bodies health is the first step to staying well.

Thanks for dropping in and please feel free to share.