Real-Life Moments Of Terror

Anxiety flooded her as she slipped her feet up onto the couch in the anaesthetic room. It was cool, too cool because of the laminar airflow system protecting the sterility of the operating theatre suite. She recognised only one face of the small crowd, that of the anaesthetist who had been to examine her on the ward 90 minutes before she had walked into this room.

He had discussed her previous operation’s slightly difficult intubation in detail, outlining exactly what plan of action he would undertake in the variety of circumstances which might present themselves as he performed this intubation. He had been meticulous and thorough, and when sitting safely in her hospital room she had felt completely reassured by the dialogue.

In the cold anaesthetic room, it was a different matter altogether. She still had every confidence in his professional knowledge and ability, but knowing she was offically marked as a previously difficult intubation on her hospital notes meant the same problem was likely to occur again, and this time it seemed really scary to know about the possible complications.

One assistant held her hand whilst the anesthetist inserted the venflon into a vein and connected it to a giving set dispensing clear Hartmann’s solution from a litre bag, and she found her gaze moving round the room crammed full of equipment. Immediately opposite her was a cupboard, bearing the glaring black sign “Difficult Intubation ” in huge capital letters, as if to taunt her. Another assistant was busily preparing equipment next to the cupboard, quietly but still with notable and unnerving metallic clanks and clatters. ” I want everything opened up now, just in case” she heard the anesthetist say softly, and the assistant smiled and nodded in reply.

Sticky pads for the cardiac monitor were placed on her chest and soon she was hooked up to the machine with its endlessly bleeping noises as well as the blood pressure and oxygen saturation montors, each flickering their readings. She knew her anxiety was mounting, not just because of her own flight-or fight adrenaline surge creating a body-wide sense of sheer panic, but because the wretched monitors were sounding audible alarms when the readings reached pre-selected thresholds of normality.

It was too late to get off the table and run out screaming now, she thought grimly, so she closed her eyes and instead, she constantly and silently repeated The Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy upon me a sinner”, feeling herself gradually calm down again.

The anaesthetist placed a clear mask on her nose and mouth, to raise the amount of oxygen saturating her bloodstream to compensate for the vital seconds which would elapse until the endo-tracheal tube was safely placed and would allow the anaesthetic machine to pump gases into her lungs. After a short while, he asked her to open her eyes and look at him as he began to inject the sequence of drugs so he could monitor her response to their action.

“You’ll feel this one creeping up your arm as a really cold tingling sensation” he warned, and she nodded as she felt the cold move up to her elbow, before her eyes closed and she was in the tender mercies of the anesthetist’s care for the duration of the operation……



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Lots More Wisdom From The Babushkim :-)

Modesty in Church

A subject close to Babushka Sian’s heart.

A charitable fund should be set up in every parish so that visitors – whether male or female – who inadvertently arrive at Church clad inappropriately may be given or loaned garments to enable them to feel less conspicuous more comfortable.

Babushkim are hereby authorised to deny entry into Church to both men and women wearing backless, sleeveless and excessively low cut clothing, unless they are happy to don alternative clothing, or in the case of women, to accept the loan of an all-enveloping pashmina.

Head coverings are not compulsory in many parishes, but it does the Babushka’s heart good to see modesty taken to the level of head-covering as it generally means that all other parts of the body are likely to be safely covered too.

Scarves, hats, berets and mantillas  are all highly commendable.

Bare feet are not normally acceptable unless the person in question is doing public penance or walking to Our Blessed Lady’s shrine at Walsingham.   Jesus – type sandals are perfectly acceptable, with or without socks,  providing the feet are clean. Unless of course the person concerned is on a holy pilgrimage, when dirty feet would be considered acceptable proof of the need for the Babushka  to provide the pilgrim with a jolly good hot meal and a packed lunch to take out.

Skirts which are mere frills around the waist are not acceptable, even with opaque tights. Kilts are only allowed when assurances have been given in writing  prior to attendance at Liturgy that appropriate underwear is also being worn. Budgie-smuggler type shorts or underwear are not acceptable for similar reasons; metanoias and prostrations are far too revealing when done with this type of clothing and have been known to give small children nightmares and parents some difficult explanations to formulate for  those of a tender age.
Anyway, Orthodox churches are generally far too cold for these items to ever be suitable clothing, unless in Midsummer in the United Kingdom, and having to summon the clergy to anoint  persons who have turned blue with hypothermia during the Liturgy is NOT a good thing as it means that the lovingly prepared food cooking in the church hall will not be tended to in good time and is likely to be burnt, due to the temperamental Aga.

Schisms have started over far less, and it is the babushka’s duty to ensure good order.

Reference should be made to Babushka Joanna for further clarification regarding current climactic and clothing conditions in the United States of America.


The well dressed Babushka and modern fashion.

This is something of a contentious topic, and it should be clearly understood that these are mere suggestions, not hard and fast rules.

In more traditional Orthodox countries, Babushkim and Yia Yias generally wear a sober and serviceable black outfit which is hard wearing and relatively stain resistant, as well as clearly depicting the wearer as a solid and dependable member of society and as a warning to the unwary not to cross canes with a babushka.

These principles are indeed generally endorsed by the International  League of Babushkim, but as the role of the Babushka has extended and been enhanced several times during the twenty first century, we must needs move with the times too. This may be contrary to the general ethos of Orthodoxy ; I hear some members cry out  “Change  – what is this change ? We don’t do change. we are Orthodox !”  but Orthodoxy does evolve, though admittedly at an often glacial rate of progress, measure in centuries if not millenia. Babushikm in the western developed world are also being forced to change, but at a slightly faster rate.

Practical, modest, serviceable and respectable clothing continues – and will always – be the global standard of Babushkim, but outside of Church, trousers and jeans are now sometimes the most  vital garments in the Babushka’s armoury, and in order to be able to blend in on some of our more arcane and exciting assignments, we may need to embrace  a variety of colour schemes depending on the task at hand.
It must be stressed however, that pillar box red clothing should only be used as a last resort in dire emergencies, such as when running out of clothes due to the breakdown of washing machines, being at a ridiculous distance from laundrettes and/or  lack of access to a suitable bathtub for hand/foot washing clothes.  Pillarbox red is likely to cause comments if worn to Church, however modest the style may be, though red coats are entirely appropriate for Remembrance Sunday in November. and during the darkest winter months.

Clashing colour schemes and patterns are to be avoided if possible; Babushkim are expected to set a certain standard of fashion for others to follow in church and some of our younger girls need no encouragement to to experiment with allegedly fashionable ideas.

Head coverings would be recommended although  not mandatory for attendance at Church, but are optional at all other times unless having a bad hair day or if your favourite hardresser is off sick, which may make it advisable in order to avoid drawing attention to one’s self and to avoid comments from the senseless, which may in turn need reprimanding by judicious use of the brolly or cane.

When confronted by females wearing  clothing wholly unsuitable for anything other than attendance at work in a brothel, it is permittable to shout loudly  in horror- stricken tones : “You look like a prostitute !” in order to bring the aforesaid  female to her senses.
Many women now are so immersed in modern culture that they forget that even forty years ago, some fashions were indeed only worn by working women of a sort which one would not wish to be mistaken for.

Unless going through a period of teenage rebellion, which needs a Babushka-ly word of advice and  possibly a conversation with the parents of the young woman in question.
This should however be a last resort only, as if the parents grew up under your tutelage and have allowed their offspring to dress like working women of the wrong sort, you have clearly failed in your duties as a Babushka and will be summoned for urgent peer review by the Council.
Standards must be upheld. MTV has a lot to answer for.

Beachwear is a different matter altogether, and skimpy clothing is now de rigeur, though Babushkim might be wise to consider the use of all in one bathing costumes if there is any chance that they might be seen by other parishioners in order to avoid accusations of “it’s not fair ! You told me that….” Hem hem.



A contentious issue. Feelings run very high on this subject.

The International  League of Babushkim have contented themselves with this brief policy statement to be  taken under advisement by all members and given the most serious consideration:

The one thing which is essential is that all our young women are clearly instructed that they MUST NOT kiss the icons or receive Communion when wearing lip-balm or lipstick; it does irreparable damage the icons and Father has the dickens of a job to get the grease marks off the chalice after Communion, sometimes necessitating the entire post-Communion set of prayers to need to be said no fewer than three times on one dreadful occasion in Babushka Sian’s parish. It is of course normal practice for the faithful to remain for the post-communion prayers before leaving the church, and considerable amounts of food had to be thrown out as a result of being overcooked. This is totally unacceptable and a scandalous waste of time and money.

A box of paper tissues and one of wet wipes should be kept in the Narthex at all times, so that ladies may wipe off their lipstick etc before entering the Church proper and avoiding all the unnecessary inconvenience to others.

It is perfectly acceptable for make up to be re-applied immediately after leaving the Church, and many Babushkim do, in fact, now carry a small compact mirror in their handbag for emergency purposes.



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Politics & Lungs


Although Babushkim have very similar, decided and forthright views on the subject of religion, which they are happy to share with all and sundry, political viewpoints can vary quite dramatically indeed amongst individual Babushkim.

In order to avoid distress, bloodshed and mayhem,  it is recommended that no political views not be aired in public fora except when policy statements have to be thrashed out, drafted and composed for the International League Of Babushkim in order  for consideration by national and international governmental bodies and departments.
Otherwise it can all end in tears. Or fatwas.



It is essential that all Babushkim spend plenty of time outdoors in the life-giving fresh air each and every day, regardless of the prevailing  weather conditions.

Deep breathing exercises are strongly recommended so that the Babushka will have adequate lung capacity for tending the candle stands, blowing out guttering candles {and dealing with hair fires at Paschal services due to overcrowding etc },and  to lead the congreagtional responses, even if in a tone different from that being sung by the choir.

Most crucially of all, taking good care of one’s lungs will enable the Babushka  to hone  the all-important ability to shout loudly enough to halt recalcitrant children or clergy in their tracks, and to alert parents and Matushkas that they need to exert their God-given role and bring the emerging situation in Church or the Parish Hall  into some semblance of godly order.
Babushka Margaret has written an excellent pamphlet on the subject, and is the acknowledged authority on these matters.


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Lethal Weapon

“I’ve got a loaded weapon and I’m not afraid to use it!” she shouted, holding the cat in her arms like a machine gun as the snow swirled around her on the open playing field.

“You touch our snowmen again and I will set the cat on you!” she snarled, walking menacingly towards the group of chav-scum teenagers who were busy kicking over her children’s carefully constructed snowmen.
“Oh yeah, as if we’re scared!” one of them challenged her.  She just smiled, peeled back her black balaclava and revealed her badly scarred face. “He did this last month.” she said simply, and let the cat down on the ground with only two words:
“Kill, Tigger!”
The cat strode menacingly towards them, and their grins slowly turned to concern and then to absolute terror as the cat climbed up the leg of the ring-leader by digging in his claws and hauling himself up, claw by agonising claw.

“OW ! Gerrit off of me!” he screamed, and the cat just carried on. “I’m sorry ! I won’t do it again!” he pleaded and the cat immediately jumped down, purring calmly as if murder and mayhem were the furthest things from his mind as he strolled back to his owner, who picked him up and whispered sweet nothings in his ear and telling him what a good boy he was……


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Carol Concert 1

She’d arrived early, determined to get a good seat, and preferably as far away from the biting draught that whistled through the open doors of the building, through which the crowds were currently pouring. It had been bad enough walking for forty minutes in the bitter cold; she had no desire to feel the cold air until it was time to start the long walk home again.


She sat in the vast, echoing chapel, painted stark white and fitted with the original wooden box pews, watching as parents and friends filed in  – or in some cases, galloped in – for the school’s carol concert, jostling for the best seats.

Best seats, of course, meaning only that they provided closest access for those wielding cameras and camcorders to record the event for posterity. Quite how many of the camera wielders took anything of the real meaning of the performance home in their hearts was difficult to judge, and, in any case, as she sternly reminded herself, none of her business.  She knew she was too judgmental by far.

 The reality, of course, was that most of the dvds created of the concert would be watched once then languish on the top shelf of people’s bookcases and cupboards  – too “precious” to be thrown away because they contained images of that family’s beloved children, yet too “boring” to bear repeated watching. Unless , of course, your particular child had a special starring role, in which case, every visitor for the next month was likely to be forcibly sat down on the sofa with a glass of sherry and compelled to watch and make appropriately admiring comments about your child prodigy.  🙂


Each pew contained a few copies of a modern language “inclusive” Bible, and on the walls were a few crafted banners.  For a denomination which eschewed idolatry of any sort, with not even a plain cross hanging on the walls, there were banners instead, though all but one were abstract in design or created so that the biblical figures represented were viewed from the back or a half angle, thus avoiding the need for – gasp – faces.

 Faces which might, of course, lend themselves to idolatry.  Backs of head obviously did not carry the same danger.


Many of the families actually belonged to the denomination at whose building the carol concert was being held, and could be seen clutching their own cameras so they could indulge in their own version of idolatry and capture images of their children. 

They made strange bedfellows, she mused, modern technology and late medieval heresy………………

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How To Impress A Babushka – A Young Man’s Guide.

How To Impress A Babushka – A Young Man’s Guide.

This is a lengthy process and cannot be rushed without disaster striking. Be warned.

1/ Shower, hair wash and teeth cleaning is mandatory prior to at least the first three hundred appearances at Church. A microscopically slight diminution in standards may then be acceptable provided you have an excellent and verified excuse.

2/ Shaving for men is optional, as Babushkim are quite fond of bearded men, but designer stubble is OUT. No arguments or exceptions…..
Unless you are Colin Firth or Alan Rickman planning on making a surprise visit to Babushka Sian’s parish.

3/ Clean clothing. Need we say more.
It should have no outrageous logo or slogan, although “Babushkim rule!” would be acceptable , in white letters on a plain black or grey T-shirt.

4/ Shoes should be clean and polished; Sandals should also be clean.

5/ Long Hair should be tied back in a neat ponytail. Long hair indicates a willingness to consider a career in subservience to a Babushka as a potential clergyman, which is always to be encouraged.
6/ Phoning the priest to introduce oneself prior to appearance at the Liturgy and to arrange for confession etc is de rigeur.
Asking the priest for the phone number of the chief Babushka in order to both introduce oneself, ask if there are any particular rules of conduct or dress specific to that parish is a particularly good idea.

7/ One of the chief ways to a Babushka’s heart would be to ask if there is any way in which you could help to :
prepare the Church in readiness for the liturgy,
clean the Church after service,
make a monetary donation to the food fund for Sunday’s pot luck lunch,
volunteer to provide food for the lunch and / or to wash the dishes.

These provide an excellent first impressions both to Babushkim and potential girlfriends, and should never be under-estimated, provided you do actually carry through with the proffered help at the specified time, or preferably at least turn up for duty half an hour earlier. Failure to do will undoubtedly result both in bruises and a bad reputation proceeding you to every other Orthodox parish in the known world.

8/ Learn to cook. Quickly.
Or be prepared to spend at least a tenth of your weekly income at M & S .
Throwing one’s self on the tender mercies of the Babushka in charge and begging to be taught how to be a useful male is also acceptable, providing that the said request is accompanied by at least one bottle of good quality wine, a large box of chocolates or a gift card for Amazon, with which the Babushka can indulge her passion for liturgical books, kitchen gadgets or dvds.

9/ Offering to solve Babushka’s broken laptop / internet connection problems or set up her new whizzy smart phone with all appropriate Orthodox apps will also earn you Brownie points.

10/ Make sure that any potentially damning (in Babushka’s eyes at least) content or photographs have been removed from your Facebook page before even thinking of making yourself known to Babushka.
Warn your friends not to post questionable content on your page for the next ninety years, as you can guarantee that somewhere, a Babushka will get to know about it and post it on Babushka .Net. Trust me on this.

And then you will get a sternly worded public telling off in the parish hall coffee hour, ending with the words which will strike terror into the stoutest heart ” “You are going to Hell!”, as everyone knows that the Babushkim have a hotline to the Almighty.

Alternatively, un-friend the reprobate characters completely or set up a new persona on Facebook entitled “Harry the Hamster”. This may involve you wearing a hamster mask to all future meetings with your dodgy friends so that any photos posted on the internet will not identify you in any way……but if it was good enough for Alan Rickman / Severus Snape, it should be good enough for you.

11/ Throw yourself on Babushka’s tender mercies and explain that you so very much want to find a good Orthodox girl to woo and make your wife. Babushkim absolutely love to matchmake, and have contacts across the world. If you really want a wife, they will find you one.
Be warned, you will also need to ask Babushka to be Godmother to any children you and your wife are blessed to produce, and it is essential to make sure that you buy her presents at Christmas, Pascha, Birthday and her Name Day celebrations. She will be a joy and a delight, and an almost permanently available babysitter except for Babushka conferences.
She is now an ineradicable part of your family, whose influence will linger on long after her death. You will find that you will end up saying to your grandchildren, long after Babushka has entered Paradise : “For heaven’s sake, xxx, what on earth do you think you are doing, going out dressed like that ? Babushka X would have a fit, God rest her soul!” to the inevitable accompaniment of rolling eyes from the aforesaid grandchild who never had the privilege of meeting Babushka in the flesh, but who knows enough about her reputation to trudge back to his or her room to change into “something more appropriate”.

12/ Offer to drive Babushka to the largest shopping centre of excellence within a hundred miles of the parish at regular intervals and be prepared to spend at least twelve hours trailing round after her, carrying enormous amounts of purchases. Once you have driven her home, make sure to offer to hang all new pictures / icons/ bookshelves immediately for her, no matter how late at night it may be or whether you need to be in work in Uzbekhistan by 6 am the following morning, put all the shopping away and make her a nice cup of tea (or pour her a nice glass of wine, which you happen to have in your car, depending on whether it is a wine day or not,) and she will be your friend for life.

Until you cross her. And then the whole process starts again from scratch.

Edited 5th Dec to correct a few typographical errors.

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Friends of the Babushkim

Friends of the Babushkim

There are numerous people who are Real Life or online friends with the Babushkim, and supporters of the concept  and traditions of the Babushkim. Not forgetting those who would like to be Babushkim, but are not able to do so at the present time due to age, infirmity, family circumstances, geographical location  and being of the male persuasion, all of which are bars to undertaking Babushka training and gaining due accreditation and qualifications.

To all these people, we bid a hearty welcome and an invitation to become full members of Friends Of The Babushkim instead.
We are proud to announce that our very first member was hot off the starting blocks in the race to receive the coveted 001 numbered membership card, and is revealed to be Mr Brian Patrick Delaney, to whom we bid a warm welcome and hope he enjoys the insanity which is the World of the Babushkim……

Benefits of membership include:-

Insider information as to menus appearing at coffee hour and Patronal/Ordination festivals across the Babushkim world.

The chance to assist Babushkim “behind the scenes” at such events, and be rewarded for washing up by being fed tasty morsels put aside especially.

Receiving brand-new recipes

Being given low-level security access to

Being given access to the unexpurgated version of The Babushka’s Guide to Life

And having a guaranteed Babushka guard of honour and catering at your wedding, christenings, monastic profession, ordination or funeral occasion.

All Rights Reserved. Copyright belongs to SEW, December 2011.


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