Monday, 27 July 2015

You Gotta Pick A Strawb Or Two

Awww on a grey day a text arrived that made the sun shine...........

"are you doing anything?   would you like to come for cuppa?"

My beloved children and granddaughters were fruit picking at a local farm shop and asked me to join them.  how sweet is that?    no hesitation, deviation or repetition needed, instant response..........

"ooooh  yes please...........yippppeeeeeeeee".

There's something very satisfying about harvesting and eating your own pickings and even more so if you've grown it yourself.   some years ago a birdie pooped a strawberry seed into one of my big ceramic pots. until that moment it  was inhabited by a solitary  summer flowering jasmine.   one year there was no strawberry plant and the next there it was, with half a dozen little strawblets.......ok...what would YOU call a baby strawb?   never in my existence had i experienced a 'real' strawberry until the moment that tiny, red, hairy blob exploded onto my taste buds with all the force of a super nova.'s first day of school holidays, reasonable weather, fields a'fruity and ripe, pick your own is  flavour of the month, first day on the job for holiday temp staff and coffee shop is HEAVING.    every table, and there's a lotta tables, full to the gunwales and sloshing over the sides. staff hot and harassed, kitchen running an hour behind on orders, people queuing out of the door and customers are getting antsy.........
then in walks us.......children soggy and shoeless from picking, me exuberant and excited to see them, talking and laughing, much dropping of walking stick, decibel level up to 11, hugging instead of ordering, indecisive about cake selection, we must have been  customers from The Underworld sent to torment and try the patience of the best trained waitress.......yes, they were all female......why is that?......where are the boys when it comes to waiting on tables?   

Now, i'm not overstating the case when i confess to not being over endowed in the gift of observation.......ask those who know  and love me.  it would take a great deal of obfuscation to persuade anybody otherwise.......

       ob·fus·cat·ed, ob·fus·cat·ing, ob·fus·cates
1. To make so confused or opaque as to be difficult to perceive or understand: 
"A great effort was made ... to obscure or obfuscate thetruth" (Robert Conquest).
2. To render indistinct or dim; darken: The fog obfuscated the shore.

yet...... even i could see the differing dynamics being acted out among the tables.   body language and facial expression laying bare the diners inner attitude to the unmitigated chaos around them.   as my lovely daughter-in-law put it "is it my imagination or are people ruder than they used to be ?"    no my lovely, i think you might be right.

Some were using the time to chat with friends or partners, totally happy to simply be in each others air-space with no excuse to do anything but communicate by touch and eye contact and smile, obviously enjoying each others presence, faces lighting up in delight when food finally appeared, sympathising with those bearing trays full of goodies.

But most were foot and finger tapping, shoulders and heads turned away from table mates, scowling and tutting when a tray laden with drinks and cakes bypassed them to be welcomed into the embrace of table 13 or 14 or 15, counting how many till their magic number hit the jackpot.   grumbling and complaining at waitresses who were doing their best while being understaffed, undervalued and under duress.   infecting those around them with the contagion of their miserableness.

In the fullness of time it was our turn and.........they forgot our cakes.   

I hope daughter-in-law would have been proud of my attitude and approach when i gently asked if there was an oversight and stressed that it was totally understandable.

I hope i didn't come over as abruptly as the lady who complained long and loud that her gateaux was "horribly dry" and demanded a replacement in Lady Of The Manor mode .  

I hope i never forget how hard it can be to serve the rude, the impatient, the demanding, the inconsiderate, the overbearing.

I hope we all can take time to be kind to those who work hard so we can enjoy ourselves.

I wish i'd left a much larger tip !!!


Sunday, 19 July 2015

To Mobilise Or Not To Mobilise

Sitting enjoying chocolate cake and coffee with two  of  my   favourite humans earlier this  week.  the sound of birdsong came through the open windows and the sun warmed our backs.   what utter heavenly bliss.   Life doesn't get much better than that.

Us girls have the ability to roam  the galaxy with conversation,  as several weeks worth of experience and thought are squished into a couple of hours.  so much to little time to say it.   photos to be shown,  sadness  to  be sympathised,  laughter to be enjoyed, anecdote to be shared, opinion to be opined........opined ???

It was inevitable that conversation turned to disability as both my friends work/worked in the care industry.   it was equally inevitable that disability led to sickness benefits and thus to this gentleman.   meet Mr Jones from my home town of Bournemouth.

Have you read about this?   according to our most noble tabloids, whose sole purpose is to enlighten, encourage and enfranchise........hmm.......
he is the latest "scrounger" to be demonised and Little Britained for having the temerity to do what has to be done in order to leave his flat.......hoik his mobility scooter up five steps.    this, according to The Mail Online.........let it be stated for the record that the capital letters are applied, grudgingly, for the sake of attribution only grounds for hanging, drawing and quartering on the city walls at dawn in front of a mob of his peers.

Never mind the fact that he's had six heart attacks, a stroke, angina, kidney blockage and knee injury, and would be housebound if he didn't reprise his Man Mountain  act.  it's apparent to all that he's hale and hearty, and capable of a full time job.   he must be, mustn't he?? if he can haul that monster up all of 5....five...FIVE....F I V E ...!!! steps.

Now, i don't know Mr Jones.  i certainly don't know if he's faking it.   you don't you?   in fact, the only people who know the man and  his story are family and  those close to  him.     so how come tabloid land can lead the nation in scorn and outrage, splashing his physiognomy across it's pages with heavy hints of fraud?    even those unnamed neighbours may not know how his many problems affect his daily life as the truly disabled can become experts at masking their pain and struggle with a smile, a shrug and a heavy dose of bravado.    i know.......because i have have achieved gold star status in the art.

The wise and learned in the dark arts of psychology would be able to explain the many reasons we feel the need to point the finger and sneer at the Mr Jones of the world.   from that very human desire to be superior in every way to those we deem our "lessers"....."I would NEVER do something like THAT" the deep rooted, often unacknowledged, truth that we are all simply one mis-step away from disaster ourselves.  we instinctively revile the thing we fear.   

The tragedy of this current meme is the crippling effect it has on those far removed from the original story.  those who are afraid to make the most of the little freedom and ability left to them, for fear of the backlash.   you think i overstate the case ??  consider this..........

Very occasionally it would be possible for me to reach the pub on the corner of my street, and i would love to go have coffee and cake, read the Guardian, be around people, escape my prison even though it's a very pretty prison.    sometimes the call is painful to refuse, but........refuse i must.  

To receive Disability Living Allowance a person has to be unable to walk 20 metres.......take a look out of your window for a moment please.......20 metres........doesn't get you far does it ???..........could you get food shopping?.......take the cat to the vet?......visit a friend?.....go to the dentist or doctor?......attend a hospital appointment? a letter?........reach the pub at the end of your street ?????   if i'm seen walking more than 20 metres,  and some malcontent (i know sad isn't it) decides to report me i lose my DLA.

Mr Jones may be able to pull a scooter up 5 steps once in  a while but it doesn't mean he can manage all the above.

Ohhh.....and for those of you who are very sweetly thinking i could use my wheelchair.......ready for this ???........the Dept for Work and Pensions have changed the wording.  to be eligible you must be unable to......M O B I L I S E.........for 20 metres!   yep......wheels equals mobilisation.    wonderful isn't it.



Monday, 13 July 2015

The Tale Of Two MRI Scans

This is the tale of two worlds and two MRI scans.   my world and "their" world, my scan experience and "their" scan experience.   also a tale of the "opening of eyes", and the "closing of doors".    my eyes and, potentially,  "their" doors.   

My first scan was  at a private clinic,  funded by the NHS.   the second at an NHS hospital in a big city.   a quick Googly search enlightened me that my bank account would have been en-lightened by about £300 - £500 for the scan if i had paid for it, that's without any payment for consultant and radiographer.   so.....what would my cash have bought me?

First off.....parking.   At the clinic there were a multitude of disabled parking bays at the main doors,  no charge with my Disabled Blue Badge, and a short walk/wheelchair push to the "MRI Suite" ......posh designation for posh people.   NHS.......multi-story parking £5.00 and a quarter hour trek up in lift, down corridor, down in lift, along more..more...MORE....corridors that all looked the same and all seemed to lead to dead ends and all with names that  ended in......ology.    at no point did i actually see the words "MRI" just "neuroradiology"......hmmmm very user friendly !!   

I am so thankful for my beloved son's navigation skills as there is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY i could have found my way back to the car.  many years in the future a little skeleton would have been found wreathed in cobwebs and purple boas curled foetally in a pink wheelchair with a last desperate plea for "COFFEE" written on the tiles in body fluids.   a sad end indeed.   Ahhh speaking of yourself machines on strategic corners versus that previously mentioned safari trek involving lifts and corridors, going in the opposite direction, leading to canteen or Costa.    2 coffees and cake = £13.00 ouch!!

Your £££s also buy comfort.   waiting in a softly lit, carpeted lounge with squidgy sofas and a choice of the day's papers was far preferable to bracketed and fixed fold down hard seats under flickering fluorescent tubes, grubby tiles and one  torn four month old copy of Good Housekeeping.   Now, i know these are cosmetic differences with no discernible effect on the proficiency of the scan process, but try asking the private patient to accept the cut price version as their lot and see if they believe it to be mere appearances.

One difference that would have mattered if it had been my first scan was the time factor which in turn affected the panic factor.   at the clinic what to expect was explained calmly and clearly before having to face that giant maw.   quality, disposable, in ear noise defenders were given and a comforting voice spoke to me via a speaker above my head whenever the sliding table was about to move or if the noise was going to change.  if unsure or concerned about what was happening i could ask and she could answer.   my auditory angel and i conversed through the entire process so no shocks, no surprises, no panic.  

NHS ? ........full on shock and awe.  the disconcertingly handsome young man was kind but rushed.   no preparatory explanation, no effective ear protection, no communication.   in a matter of moments, before i could catch a breath to ask a  question, i was out of Bassett The Wheelchair, mufflers popped wonkily  on ears, buzzer plonked in hand, laid flat out and eaten by the machine.   nobody to hear if fear set in, nobody to reassure that the universe still existed outside the maelstrom , nobody to give a sense of connection when noise and vibration shook the     foundations of the earth.     Daisy   May's  fear  is now    totally understood  (see post 24/4).   If this had been my first scan i know i would have freaked out instead of simply emerging like a stunned slug with PTSD.

The most shocking difference your mega-bucks provide is privacy.   Clothes with metal must be left behind because of the mighty magnets in the scanner. so flies.......enter sans trousers !!   BUT..... to enter,  said gentleman had to walk past a crowded waiting room and down a corridor with his  bum hanging out  the back of a flapping micro hospital gown as he valiantly tried to hold it closed with a spare hand.   no en-suite changing rooms for us, just indignity, humiliation and embarrassment.
Let me stress, this isn't an indictment of the NHS.   it's an indication of a two tier health system that's slowly becoming an accepted normality. slipping into our national consciousness is a narrative of first and second class humans deserving first or second class support and care. the media and political class are beginning to sound like our Victorian forbears talking of "deserving" and "undeserving" poor.   "strivers" and "skivers".

If we don't open our eyes to these changes and speak out at every opportunity through petitions and demonstrations and support for organisations whose voice carries weight, you and i will find their doors are closed to us.   only the moneyed class will receive first class care, as if it were no different to first or second class travel.   This way to the Workhouse.