Rosh Hashanah

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 9 October 2016

One week later the Cholla, chopped liver, Gefilte fish balls, bagels, egg and onion, Shepherds Pie, Macaroni Cheese, thirty thousand cakes and 43,000 bags of nibbles have finally left the house.

66 guests, including a dozen radio active children and one visiting dog from next door, have finally left the building.

This new year was celebrated by apples nibbled, dipped in honey, with us toasting Year 5777, with fruitfulness, sweetness and joy.

I've walked to work off the Champagne cocktails, smoked salmon and cream cheese, and various mouthfuls of cheese cakes. I've trodden on acorns, berries, drying leaves and dodged falling conkers. I collected the fruits of the Chestnuts to bake them, steep them in vinegar, and then thread them. If they're still whole, next year we will have a conkers tournament in the garden. We are all getting older so drinking will be replaced by games. The winner can do the washing up.

Sunday October 30th. and the clocks go back. An extra hour in bed and two pairs of bed socks. The old git put the heating on yesterday and pruned the Euonymus, Aucuba and Box, when the last apple has fallen he'll prune the trees. I've got bulbs to plant and
roses to tidy. The lawn will get hoovered and my mothers plants will be tidied. Soon it'll be the end of a year when we struggled with Theresa, Trains and Trump. Grrrrr.

The dark duvet covers have been put on, as well as the heater in the bath room, and I'm revisiting the library, to keep it, and my mind open. The woods in the wood shed, the cats on the bed and my one coffee of the week has gone down a treat.

Jim has fixed the tap in the bath so now I have real running water as opposed to a trickle. Ah! First world problems.....

May the beginning of Autumn bring baked apples and cider to your door.

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Blind Aid

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 26 September 2016

I'm meant to be sleeping but I'm not ready yet. It's 2.45a.m. I'm in the attic, the clock is ticking, everything else is dead quiet. The mole who is destroying the garden is asleep. The foxes have stopped screaming, and the old git is snoring gently.

Yesterday I did my annual hosting for Blind Aid, a remarkable charity run by Sue O'Hara and her team of young inspirers. Richie, who is as tall as The Shard, bends down to hug me. Even on tip toe I still can't reach his cheek. The annual tea party takes place in Westminster. The sun reflects on the brass hand rails and the sweeping marble stairs of The Methodist Hall. Most London Boroughs are represented, some Mayors attend, their finery glinting. Tuxedo Junction play dinner jazz as visually impaired guests take their seats. Volunteers sit with them. My job is to interview selected people, make jokes and generally host the afternoon. Newly formed bands play medleys, poems are spoken, stories read and the afternoon is brought to a close with a young crooner who sounds like Tony Bennett.

I interviewed a poet, she gradually lost her sight over the years. One day she realised that her last bit of seeing had gone. She talked of helping others and adjusting to a life of darkness. Her first dinner party, as a blind woman, ended with her jamming half a lemon in her mouth and sticking a green bean up her nose. She was funny and real. A man who had been blind from birth discovered he was terrific at teaching others IT, but had only discovered it after learning to cook at Blind Aid sessions. Literally the blind leading the blind, but in a good way.

Normally I would bob between tables and eat sandwiches and cakes, but I was allowed to leave early. I walked out into the sunshine. Past the tourists outside Downing Street, past the guards atop their horses, past the Trafalgar Theatre

Walking down the Mall dodging Japanese photographers and groups of Italian students I was happy that I could see, and delighted that I had the energy to dodge.

The train at 16.00 left charing Cross 2 seconds late. I arrived five seconds before. Home by 5.00 with the 'oosbind waiting in the car.

Last week I was on Radio Sussex, early starts, and three hour shows. I'm 98% back to normal. My 'condition' has still not been named, but my body is healing itself, every day I get better and better. Walking away from Westminster I was aware that the resilience of all the people I had left behind in the Methodist hall was catching.

October 3rd is the Jewish New Year, mine started yesterday.

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Pots and Pans

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 29 August 2016

On the hottest day of the year I mounted the 8.17 to London Bridge. My feet froze with the trains air conditioning. I walked out of the train station. The Shard shimmered in the sunlight. I asked an armed policeman where Guys Hospital was. Clutching his rifle he said he had been seconded from Heathrow and didn't have a clue love. We both stepped onto the escalator. We both looked ahead and their in Giant sized letters nailed to a brick wall the legend that is GUYS HOSPITAL screamed. The copper and I exchanged glances.

I stepped off the staircase and walked past a Sainbury Local, into main reception. Up to the fourth floor in the Tower Block. Past a Costa Coffee, and another one selling junk that were just the ticket if you were visiting a hospital, not far to walk in case the heart gave out or you had a diabetic hypo.

I entered the breath testing room, there was one nurse and us patients.

A woman who looked like a Russian vamp. Short skirt, tiny vest, bubbly hair and a lap top.

A neat woman, French pleat, knees together, reading a kindle.

Accompanying his wife was a geezer in a polo shirt with one earbud in. He left the other for his wife who was finishing her summer novel. The pastel paperback cover matched her summer frock.

Opposite a cabbie from Lewisham with his fulsome wife who was on her smart phone.


A Philippine female on a computer designing dresses.

And a black student who looked like my daughter.

There was a sign on the wall that encouraged us to talk to the other VISITORS, but only if the visitor was willing to talk. None of us did, well not until the three hours came to an end.

The one nurse took us behind blue curtains and taught us how to hold the breathing bag, take two full breaths - to practice in case we hyperventilated - release the breathe slowly, then really exhale until the lungs were empty. Pinch the white plastic tube and push in the blue stopper. I dropped my stopper twice. The one nurse had to get me a clean one.

She took each one of us, in half hourly intervals, behind the curtain. She then tested each bag for hydrogen, methane and whatever else was necessary.

I had my bank card and train ticket. I hadn't brought a book, laptop or ipod. The magazines were so old Sharon Osbourne still looked normal. 9.46 was my first test. And then at half hourly intervals. I watched the clock. Slept. Watched the clock. Wandered around. Counted the minutes. Breathed. Calculated the remaining hours. Read the literature they had given us. One page full of hand drawn stools. Not the three legged variety. We had all been given a laxative drink when we arrived. Should any one of us require the facilities we then had to tick the picture that corresponded to our expulsion. Only the neat woman left the room. On her return she ticked the appropriate illustration. The rest of us looked away to preserve her modesty.

By 12.15 I was ready to eat my own eyeballs. My hydrogen levels were low indicating some kind of diabetic cock up. I started talking to the cabbie from Lewisham. He was amenable to chat. He had been suffering from gut ache for twenty five years, had watched two of his doctors die and was onto his third gastroenterologist who still hadn't diagnosed his condition. My 7th and 8th breath test revealed that my hydrogen levels were actually normal.

I had finished my breathing test. I shook hands with the cabbie who said in time honoured lingo.

'Be lucky.'

The black kid shouted 'Bye mum.'

I left the hospital at 1.00. I had not been allowed to eat since 9.00 o'clock the night before. 16 hours without food. I was starving.

Nipped into Sainsbury and bought a green drink and a tub of edamame beans with a ginger dressing. For one whole month I had cut onions, garlic, dairy, wheat, sugar and practically everything else out of my diet so the test wouldn't be compromised. I hadn't read the info properly - typical - I had deprived myself of any meaningful taste for four weeks. I had only needed to do it the day before. I had also brushed my teeth and used hydrogen peroxide to clean my gums. The instructions had said no mouthwash. I'd missed that bit. When we arrived we were all given a very strong mouthwash. After one minute we had to spit it into the sink in the full glare of the other VISITORS. My hydrogen peroxide hadn't ruined anything. The only possible problem was my regular intake of KAFIR. A probiotic. Home made courtesy of Elaine and David. The one nurse was slightly concerned but in the event it didn't disturb the tests.

I got to London Bridge at 1.05. The 1.07 to Tunbridge Wells arrived at 1.08 and I was home by 2.00.

The results will arrive Gawd knows when. I have to rearrange a radio active mashed potato test, an aorta test and a consultant visit for November and then I'm shoving all the letters from the NHS where the sun don't shine.

After a year of unbelievable nonsense I've come out the other side. My wardrobe is three sizes too big, and that's the contents not the wooden structure itself. My hair is as long as Farrah Fawcett Majors was, when she was alive. My wedding ring fits again. My collar bones have made an appearance and my spectacles slip off my little nose. I know what I should and shouldn't eat. I know what I should and shouldn't drink. And I have made friends with Epsom salts and 20 minute baths. I'm ready to work. I'm ready to walk. To read. To dance. To sing. To Yoga. To write.

Feel weird writing that cos what if ?

What if they never know what caused it ?

What if my guts get like the cabbies in Lewisham ?

What if I can never eat chips again ?

What if I can never drink coffee again ?

What if ?

Can't be going down that route.

As George bernard Shaw said; 'If if's and an's were pots and pans there'd be no need for tinkers'

I think I understand what he was saying, anyway good old Georgie cant be wrong can he?

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Pevensey Bay

Posted by Jeni in | 17 August 2016

Some say its the last of the summer sun, but I have my doubts. There's pots to plant and lawns to mow and clouds to wonder at.

On Monday I went to see Dr. B. The diabetic consultant. He took my blood pressure, declared it normal. Asked me about pains and gripes and remarked that it was REMARKABLE that I was keeping my blood down with no drugs. Good job too, he said given my sensitivities. He apologised for the length of time my last test was taking to arrive, shook my hand, told me he was there for me should things get out of hand, and provisionally signed me off. Not sure why it was provisional.....

It was 8.20 a.m. I arrived home, empty handed as most of the shops were still shut. Lay in the garden meditated to Belle Ruth Napersteck and had the thought that it would be good to go to Pevensey Bay, stroke the pebbles and watch the water, breathe in the sun and take in the positive ions. The old git was amenable. So picnic blanket in hand we left. Impromptu. If this last year has taught me anything it's not letting the grass grow, even after a sleepless night.

Towards Eastbourne, A22 round the bend and into Pevensey. Somehow we found the pebbled beach with nothing on it but our memories of Jackson the dog and B the tiny daughter. The one kiosk still stands. Up the stone steps and the smell and noise of the sea was mesmerising. We only lasted about an hour given that we had nothing with us. We didn't even stop off for fish and chips.

Yesterday My TUI NA masseuse arrived with his wife. Jim put up the massage table and David poked and rubbed, massaged and released. By the time he was finished my ratings were up. Last week my body was 5 out of 10. Yesterday it had gone up to 6/7. No pain. No nadging. No blockage. Gingerly I say this because it hasn't completely gone and nobody can tell me what occurred, but I felt so energised we drove off to CHERRY GARDENS organic farm shop. Wonder of wonders Maira the hot chocolate guru had set up her trailer. We had biscuits and a catch up with Ros and her grandson and Lulu and her dog, both there to shop for organic vegetables. Three out of the five of us had all been born within a mile of each other in the East End. Daughters of dockers, villains, Italian entrepreneurs, sat round a table in East Sussex discussing Chines Medicine and gym slips.

This morning I had another doctors visit. This time with Dr. W. I was kept waiting for an hour. She apologised twice. These doctors have to spend their time apologising. I told her I didn't want to be in the hospital any more. Was she going to discharge me there and then. 'YES', she said and signed me off. Nothing provisional about that one. No more visits to places of illness repute.

I cried in the car, on the way home. Was I really coming out of annus horribilis. Onwards and upwards, no more testing - well not this week - no more acute pain. No more dark thoughts. So I stopped off at the farm shop and bought a Scotch egg, a pork pie, a lump of cheese, two spelt flour rolls, flapjacks, date slices, honey comb ( I know!!!!) and brandy snaps.

'Picnic?' said the girl with the pony tail.

'Indeed.' I said.

Got home and the 'oosbind had boiled the kettle. One thermos for his black coffee, one for my white decaffeinated latte. Picnic hamper - courtesy of our wedding - filled with salad and all the goodies, tea towel, packet of salt, basil olive oil and real china cups. A bag with books, phone and thermos flasks, two travel blankets. And off we shot towards Eastbourne and the A22. Round the bend, but we couldn't find out beach. It didn't matter.

The air-con on as it was baking. We stopped at another beach, still the same old pebbles and sea. Now we had old wooden groins either side and seagulls whealing and squealing in the sky. Set up camp. Jim took photos with his new/old camera. I ate and tried to read but fell asleep on the rug. Three hours later, the fancy rolls fed to the birds and my mouth puckered from honeycomb and pork pie we decamped and set off home.

Unloaded to the 5.00 clock news, Jimbo stopped off at Lidl for beer and I read an article about Trump, who seemingly never, ever wanted to win any kind of Presidential race just wanted to up his fee on the Apprentice. Would make sense, the greedy, dissembler that he is.

It's now nearly 6.00. My shoulders are bronzed from the sea air, my eye lids drooping from the salty wind, my body still out of pain, remarkable given that I'm not taking drugs and I've eaten enough for a Somerset cricket team.

Tonight it will be a bath, bed and hopefully proper sleep. Last night I caught up on Van Gogh's ear and James Corbin's Karaoke carpool.

Tomorrow I'm driving to my acupuncturist in Clapham, and then next week it's a massive test at Guy's hospital. After which I'm closing the book. I've had too many chapters devoted to sickness, I'm now choosing health. My body is getting stronger, my blood is flowing better, my organs are not failing me and my drug cupboards are bare.

With a little trepidation I am declaring I am healed. I am well. I am healthy and so it is. As my old man always says. Fake it till you make it.

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Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 2 August 2016

August 2nd and the grey clouds are a backdrop to a wind that belongs in October, or even April. I dream of Harry Smith Beach, in Barbados. I dream of the smell of the ocean. I dream of the smell of freshly barbecued fish on a Jetty in Mallorca. I dream of midnight feasts on a balcony in warm Rome. I dream of anywhere but the greylings of England. I do love this country, and my cottage and the surrounding forests and trees and sheep and cows that wander across the road. I do love my garden and the hydrangeas and lavender. I love the dying raspberries and the newly flowering strawberries, the rampant mint and the sage and rosemary. But sometimes, just sometimes I yearn for a change of scene.

I do have a vivid internal life, and enough chatter to keep me going, but sometimes, just sometimes I want a coffee on a veranda overlooking a bay where the sun just shines, and the grey clouds keep away.

I have another test on August 24th. Guys Hospital will be hosting me for three hours when I have to eat then have my hydrogen and methane tested. And so on until after lunch. I then have three more hospital appointments and hopefully - with any luck - one fine person might be able to tell me just what is going on. Because sooner or later I'm gonna scream so loudly that my buddies across the pond will take a long haul flight to help me out. I will scream soo, soo loudly that all my Scandinavian friends will put down their Gammel Dansk and get on a Viking boat. I will scream so,so, so loudly that everybody I know in Scotland will put down their Referendum notes and rush to Glasgow central and come on down to kick some arse. I'll scream and stamp my foot so belligerently that my mate Silyve from Chatham will hot tail it down here, smash her way into the doctors surgery, without an appointment mind, poke the doc on her left shoulder and say 'Ere, my mate's been in agony for a year now and all you do is give her drugs and make appointments. Enuff already lady MAKE HER BETTER.'

My lovely Dr. M in Scotland has left the country and wont be contactable till mid September, so I'm on my own with my dark thoughts. Tomorrow I am driving to Clapham to have an hour with my Swedish acupuncturist who will try and make my legs pain free and tell me everything is going to be alright. I know I'm getting better but I want to be cured NOW. Not in two weeks time or next month. Now.

So there we have it August 2nd 2016, BHS is closing it's doors and selling everything off at 70% discount, the staff are so demoralised as they stand around in empty sale-rooms flogging batteries at a quid a go. I hope that Green gets his foot stuck in a drain on one of his yachts, better still I wish him what I've got , that'll teach him.

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Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 5 July 2016

A bunch of flowers arrived today. Pink and cerise, red and white. The smell so pungent they beat the Philadelphius in the garden. The first shrub I planted when we moved in 32 years ago.

A tall man arrived at 11.00. I greeted him. He held a brief case, me my two hot water bottles. He berated me for not writing this blog. He reads it, made a timeline of my misery and came up with a plausible diagnosis - which is more than four doctors have done.

We went into the piano room. I stood and he tinkled - on the ivories. I took a deep breathe. Breathing is the answer. The breathe of life. And so commenced a singing lesson, my first in over ten years. Wonderful. Me weak and weedy him strong and decisive. After nearly an hour he revealed there was still a voice lurking in there. So I made a cafetier of coffee, boiled the milk and took the sugar out of the cupboard.

The tall man asked me how was I really.

'I have no job, no status, no spare cash, no youth.' I replied. 'But I'm still here surviving'.

He stood up to his full 6ft 3", and came and hugged me, knocking the full cafetier of hot coffee onto the floor. The smell was delicious. We adjourned into the garden, talked and shared stories and then off he went.

He gave me a complimentary class, although to be honest he gave me a lot more than an hours exercising. I love him, he'll smile when he reads this. Crucially he gave me back the prospect of a future.

Which dear 'L' cannot be said of our leaders. I haven't spoken about the Brexit nonsense. All I will say is that when a caterpillar thinks its the end of its life it turns into a butterfly. Out of the wreckage created by selfish, ego driven opportunists, those younguns will rise up. The sooner we stop talking about fiscal this and fiscal that and look at the quality of life for ordinary people then there will be change. A velvet revolution, no bloodshed, no insults, just a mass of people speaking as one saying enough is enough. I wish I could join them.

HOWEVER, this old bod is still ailing. To date we have had to cancel 2 weddings, 4 birthday parties, endless first nights and a funeral.

Yesterday I saw a new geezer, in an airy clinic. A silent nurse took notes. we went through the whole sorry saga again. He asked me about my tan, who had high insteps in my family and where exactly did it hurt. I stood and modelled my painful areas twirling around like Debbie Magee. He pulled a blue curtain round the bed and pressed into my flesh. My bony body oohing and aahing on cue. He held my arm gently when I wept.

'Am I a complicated case?' I snivelled.

'Yes', he said whilst writing up my notes, in handwriting so illegible I knew he had to be a proper doctor.

'Yes. you are complicated but that's better than being boring.'

Jimbo and I left, I cried and cried and cried since the new geezer said he thought it might be some kind of auto-immune thingy, but nothing that can't be cured.

So this morning I set the alarm and drove to the nurse. She took four phials of my rich blood and sent me packing. She will also send me a bottle to wee in for 24 hours, it contains chemicals that will reveal whether I've got something else.

Today after the arrival of my beautiful flowers, and delicious 6ft singing lesson, I lay in the sun. My achy legs and my watery eyes on hold until. 5.00, when I came in for one of my many daily baths. I suspend myself in blissful hot water, set the timer for 20 minutes and think. Five minutes for one leg in the air, five for the other and ten for hands above my head.

Tonight I will watch some telly then got to bed with my trusty hot water bottles.

My man in Scotland is hanging in there with me and my friends and family are being extraordinarily supportive. Keeping the faith is the key.

Believing that I will be better, believing that things can only get better, believing that the ar*hls that are running the asylum will be toppled. In both cases it's going to be a hard job but there ain't no point in giving up now. We've come this far.

United we stand, divided we end up with a Michael Gove sitting on your face. And who would want that?

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June 12th already

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 12 June 2016

Friends and long lost acquaintances have been visiting me. i think they think my days are numbered. Well they are, in a manner of speaking.

This morning I woke at 6.00 and climbed into a salty, lavender bath. Lay there for 20 minutes then slipped into bed next to the 'oosbind. I meditated and fell asleep until 9.00.

The strain, the drain, the pain, weasles its way into my consciousness. However, today I'm factoring in the washing, the ironing, and then a trip into town to attend a concert of one of the dawter's friends who's playing a gig at the local community centre.

I mopped the kitchen floor yesterday and lay in the sun to recover. The old git drove us, in my car - roof down - to buy organic carrots and partake of a raw chocolate drink with a delicious hazelnut shortbread biscuit, made with organic ingredients. The afternoon was taken up by my ex-cleaner who sat on the settee and introduced us to her delicious new man, she stroked my feet and told me of a healing centre that is a but a sunflower seed away. So tomorrow I will investigate yet another route out of this labyrinth.

Last Wednesday we went to the cinema to watch The RSC's HAMLET. MY surrogate son is in it. Eating popcorn and watching him was a pleasure. My legs jiggled and my body hurt apart from Gertrude, I really enjoyed it.

On Thursday we visited the hospital, yet again, I am the most investigated woman in GB. Even the doctor said so. He asked me to describe my symptoms, said there were two more tests he could try then offered me yet more antibiotics and drugs with lots of 'LLL's' in the name.

I left feeling despondent, relieved and angry. By the time they have diagnosed me I will be 7 stone and weaker than a rain soaked kitten. My cleaners new boyfriend thought I was Sri Lankan, too much lying round in the sun, so I'm changing my name to:

Tumuchisuntanintamraparni. Which loosely translated means I look like a copper beech tree that is withering in the sun. Thank heavens its raining today......

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Last day of May.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 31 May 2016

So what has happened in the last 22 days.

My aquilegias are bobbing their bonnets all over the garden. Pink, mauve, blue, pink and white, alongside foxgloves, rhododendrons and two massive peony buds that are about to pop.

Last Thursday I cut the lawn and managed to do some weeding. I pushed and shoved the mower backwards and forwards and rejoiced in the feeling of little pain.

Friday I went up to town for a voiceover. The sun shone and I tied my raincoat round my waist. Met the dawter for lunch in Berwick street - WHAT ARE THEY DOING TO SOHO, CHINESE BILLBOARDS, LANDMARKS TORN DOWN - and then a slow walk to Charing Cross. By the time I reached the old git waiting in the station car park, I was doubled over in agony.


So the doctor expedited her last letter to the Gastroenterologist saying that August 26th was too late to see me and that it WAS urgent!!!!

As I write the rain is raining, the bath is running and my pain is paining. My Scottish man says I'm getting better but we have to get to Scotland again for him to see me, feel me touch me....

The pain changes from ouch to to PERLEESE to what the Fu.......

I'm 'slight' according to one doctor, 'thin' according to my oldest chum and wasting away according to the cashier in Waitrose.

Pharrell the pheasant visits daily, sometimes his wife Philomena joins him, the 'oosbind hangs out bird feeders so we can spot woodpeckers, jays, tits and squirrels. I lie on the lounger and watch them, meditate, watch them again and meditate some more. I've caught the sun and look like Art Malik's Auntigi.

I am getting better but the discomfort is so all encompassing sitting down and writing for longer than ten minutes hurts. Lying watching the telly, after an hour or so, hurts, ( could be the programmes though ) walking around hurts. Driving hurts. I've started jumping up and down but yup, after a few minutes, it hurts. I've cancelled meetings, weddings, Barmitzvahs and funerals, we're going to see HAMLET, in the cinema, on June 8th, but I fear after ten minutes of the Bard I may well have to walk round the foyer eating picknmix to quell the pain to jellybean or not to jellybean....

PLAWHATCH organic farm shop provides me with raw cheese, raw milk, raw Kefir, cabbages that are pesticide free and raw chocolate made with raw goats milk. I am attempting to do what the good Scottish Dr. tells me about what and not to eat. I am doing what the lovely Jimbo tells me. Holding my head back and poking out my tongue so he can drip drops of herbal painkiller onto it.

The dawter is releasing her first single 'CREEPING' on Friday, and we are delighted that all her hard work is paying off, we wont be going to the launch party no hip-hopstar wants an ailing mother hanging round the speakers. Jim is waiting for confirmation of a film role, whilst I lie around surrendering to being a mystery case that no-one can solve.

More tests are lurking in the wings and then I dread them telling me I have to have a colostomy bag, after all where will I find shoes to match?

Darling bloggers all, I cannot wait to give definitive news about this frigging episode, but as I write I'm none the wiser, I am not dead. I have no intention of dying yet,but sometimes ethenuckinasia appeals, although the trip to Switzerland would be hellish.

Enough of this wingheathon, may June bring you flowers, showers and bundles of joy.

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