Next please ….

My friend Martin never normally makes voice calls.

It’s normally connecting by e mail or perhaps a short text.

So when he called me on his mobile phone on Sunday afternoon I was rather surprised to see his name appear on my phone screen.

“How are you?” I said cheerfully.

“Not brilliant. Are you free at the minute?”

The bottom line was that he had fallen over on his patio in his garden and had hit his right leg on the stone step.

As it had swollen almost immediately he phoned his local doctor who advised him to get himself up to his local hospital Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department as soon as possible.

I immediately drove over to his house to give him a lift and to give him some company for his A&E visit.

A&E reception was bursting at the seams, full of people, with every seat taken.

We queued up to register and, amidst the high level of background chatter, Martin managed to get his details across to the receptionist behind the glass screen.

We luckily found two seats free in the same row but a few spaces apart.

Some kind patients in between offered to swap seats so we could chat easily.

And we did.

For about 2 hours, in fact, before an impressive male nurse with a clipboard called out his name.

We rushed up to meet him and his look told us that he was surprised to see us.

He was surprised because he has called out the name Margaret and not Martin.

Full marks for his observation.

No marks for our hearing.

We were sent back to our seats, now taken.

Eventually we went in to see the specialist.

She was warm, amusing but professional.

She tested his leg and his ability to move his ankle and knee.

All seemed ok so she asked if we had any questions.

“I have two questions” said Martin

“Will I be able to swim with this leg?”

“If you could swim before with this leg, you should be able to swim with it now” she said with a smile.

And the second question?

“Will I be able to take part in the pantomime we are showing at my local theatre next week?”

“Especially so if it’s Treasure Island and you are playing Long John Silver” she said with a wicked smile.

We both came out into the main A&E reception laughing and joking.

Other potential patients waiting nervously for their calls must have wondered what we had both been prescribed ….

In big trouble …

I think I’m pretty good at multitasking.

I can spin many plates and find ways of keeping nearly all of them up.

I love the challenge of just keeping things moving.

I do lists.

I tick off list items.

I add to the list.

I tick more off.

I make calls, I text, I write letters.

Lots of them.

But give me a book and I’m in big trouble.

I can only read in silence.

Without distraction.

The TV and radio must be off.

The cats must be asleep.

And not snoring.

The guy slamming his car doors outside my house needs to behave.

The boy racer trying to hit 50 mph down my residential road needs to grow up.

The postman needs to leave the large package he cannot get through my letterbox, despite a number of noisy attempts, on my doorstep and gently post a note telling me.

I just lose myself in the book.

Almost any book.

It’s a form of mindfulness.

It’s certainly spiritual.

A complete transportation into another world.

Lost in space.

Literally.

I’m not giving up on books.

Oh no, that’s not going to happen.

I’d just like the world to become just a little bit quieter…😎

The Call …

Years back, my father wanted a mobile phone.

For emergencies he said, to keep in his car glove box – just in case.

He wasn’t interested in web browsing (what’s that? I can hear him say), apps (what are apps?) so I bought him a “large key” mobile phone.

Easy to read, easy to use.

I programmed in some hot keys so he could dial me, my sister or the car recovery rescue company quickly.

Three large key buttons that he could easily press in an emergency.

My sister and I stored his new mobile number on our phones under “Dad” (very original) and he would make the odd call every now and again to us (not to the car rescue number) to check his memory of those hot keys.

He died back in 2013 and he is sorely missed.

On going through his things shortly after his death I recovered the phone from our box of his memorabilia.

I decided to charge up the phone to see if it still worked (and to check whether the pay as you go credit was still available).

I was over my sister’s drinking tea as she was cooking some food in her kitchen.

I took out his mobile phone (I was planning to surprise her that I had found it and it still worked) and pressed the hot key for my sister.

I could hear her scream from her kitchen as she saw the call from “Dad” on the display of her mobile phone, vibrating and ringing on her work surface.

Dad would have laughed out loud.

My sister didn’t …..😎

I’ve still got the phone ……it is safely stored away …

Looking back in wonder …

We all know the years fly by.

Back in the 80’s I was wondering what the year 2000 might be like.

We are now 20 years past that.

I have been keeping a personal blog (DayOne) since May 2014.

I never believed I would keep it going.

I have.

Every day without fail.

Maybe because it is on my phone.

And I’m always on my phone.

It allows me a search facility to pin down certain events, places, people that are vague, until it brings up the detailed journal page.

It is my retrievable, detailed memory.

Stored in the cloud as backup to my brain.

It offers a peek at what I’d written 1 year back, 2 years back etc on the same day as I may be writing today.

“Can it really be 2 years ago?” I sigh ….

Memories captured, neatly and clearly (well to the best of my ability).

It is, essentially, a book of my recent life.

Well since May 2014.

And when I read it, at random, complete with photos I have attached to the relevant journal entry, I marvel at what I have experienced.

I smile often and sometimes cry just a little.

But I remain grateful that I am blessed with being able to keep on writing my book …

And still looking back in wonder at an incredible journey ….

6 months a blogger …

At school I used to dread the annual reports on my progress.

The teachers told it how it was.

No holds barred.

“If he put as much energy into his school work as he does into his chatting to his mates he might do well”

My father would smile.

My mother would frown.

So I approach this half year report into my new experience of being a blogger with an objective and reflective stance.

I’ve realised that I just love writing.

I also enjoy reading what others have written.

I get a kick out of following other bloggers and commenting when I feel the urge.

And that’s often.

Quite simply it’s been both educational and amazing.

My e mail in box is full of notifications of new posts … and I don’t mind at all.

I love it, in fact.

I feel I’m building up a connection with lots of new people, continuously.

It’s been a really supportive and friendly community.

Yes, I know I am still chatting to mates – to quote my teachers.

But I think I’m doing quite well and enjoying the experience immensely.

Thank you blogging community – all of you! 😎

Slow down and breathe …

What’s going on?

Why the rush, the impatience, the rudeness, the lack of tolerance?

 

Competitive bus queues, 

Barging in the street, 

Car horns blaring,

Waiting in line, fuming.

 

Everyone in a rush

They’ve left it too late

Time Management an alien expression

Slow down and breathe… please.

 

Courtesy “out of the window”,

Blood pressure peaking,

Heart rates soaring,

Connections to meet

 

Eating on the go

No time for a break

Texting whilst running

Headphones at peak 

 

Everything urgent

No space to reflect

Adrenaline pumping

No manners to detect

 

Slow down everybody

And appreciate the journey

There’s much to see and enjoy

You will be pleasantly surprised

 

What you are truly missing …

 

Waiting Room Blues …

This is not a song or musical genre.

It’s just that I’ve been in a couple of hospital waiting rooms supporting some friends lately and it’s been interesting.

I expected to see queues of people and overworked reception staff.

I was therefore not surprised as we lined up, almost out of the door, to check in.

I marvelled at the calm receptionists who were handling patients arriving late, in the wrong place, demanding attention.

Being difficult, looking stressed.

Phones were ringing everywhere (many from patients in the queue), hospital staff were barging through with trollies, with papers and clipboards.

People were trying to register their car number plates into the new parking permit system and banging the touch screen because it was not responding.

Nurses were coming out calling patient names over the general hubbub and patients were straining to work out if the name was theirs.

On one occasion the nurse called for a Mr White and two gentlemen stood up at the same time and tried to work out what Mr White she really wanted.

It’s easy being a support when you are not in the firing line (not literally) – you can practise your yoga breathing and reflect.

You can offer some observational humour.

Words of support too of course.

I’m not sure if I would feel so reflective as a patient though ….. on my side of the fence it’s so damn easy.

30 Minute Flashback …

I’ve always loved photographs.

We used to keep them in large albums with thick, heavy, covers which were difficult to open.

They were often filed away in a cupboard and brought out by chance when we noticed them whilst looking for something else.

Nowadays we have, perhaps, courtesy of digital cameras and phones, too many photos.

Too many to review, often now resident on our laptop computers or personal phones.

Never to be seen again or shared once taken.

My wife, bless her, decided some years back to scan all of our old photos from those albums into digital form for posterity.

It was a massive project.

We recently decided to build, over the weekend, a 30 minute slide show of a selection of these photos (plus some latest phone ones) so we could share with family and friends as Xmas approaches.

We had to decide on selecting 150 photos covering our life.

It was a tough call.

Little did we know how we would react to being transported back to memories, people, events and places that just became suddenly vivid and real again.

30 minutes plus chat time of course.

It became 3 times that estimate when we did a trial run.

A flashback of our lives.

A journey now stored in the digital cloud.

For us and others to review and reflect.

I’m still shaking.

It ought to be on prescription…

Filling Time? No ….

It was time for my 6 monthly dental check up.

I used to have a morbid fear of dentists until my 6 year old son asked me, way back (he’s 38 now) why his teeth were checked but mine weren’t.

Then my son called me a wimp.

Not sure who taught him that word.

But it worked.

I got straight on the phone and booked that appointment but that’s another story.

Watch this space for that post.

I’ve been going for my 6 monthly dental check ups ever since and I’m calm.

I speak to my dentist about golf, about yoga, about anything.

He’s a really smooth guy.

Charismatic, great sense of humour, you know what I mean.

My wife loves him.

I’m sure she eats sweets so she has more visits.

He shakes my hand when I enter his consulting room.

He smiles.

He is genuinely interested in how I am doing.

The examination is comprehensive but quick.

“You’ve taken my advice about using that electric toothbrush” he smiles.

I try to smile back with a mouth full of dental mirror and half of his hand.

After the consultation I gave him some advice about his nagging backache (I asked him how he was doing, of course!) and told him to try yoga.

In 6 months time I’ll check whether he has acted on my advice too 😎

I’d never thought, all those years back, that I’d look forward to an update with a dentist.

He’s that good…

Driving me up the wall … Part 2

L and I arrived far too early for our climbing induction at the Colchester Climb Project.

We built in loads of contingency to our travelling plans because the roads at that time in the evening were normally full of slow commuter traffic.

We sat in the car outside the Climbing Centre.

We can’t go in yet. Too early.

We chat.

We don’t watch the clock.

We chat.

We realise we really have to go in.

We are greeted by a jolly chap wearing a bobble hat (and other clothes!) who asked us our shoe sizes so we could be issued with climbing shoes.

“They should be tight” he said.

Mine were excruciatingly painful so I asked for a size up.

Then Alex appeared (aka Aly) who was to be our instructor this evening.

A slim, bubbly lady with a great sense of humour. Also wearing a bobble hat.

It is chilly in this warehouse of climbing walls.

We were joined by Jeremy, a fellow inductee (is there such a word?) a charming Finance guy from the City, we learned, who looked remarkably fit.

Aly (who was simply an awesome trainer too by the way) has us doing warm up exercises before she leads us to the first wall.

She explained about the safety issues in some detail, what to watch for, how the walls were structured.

I did not want to go first so avoided eye contact with Aly.

Jeremy stepped forward and off he went up the wall.

Impressive.

I was next.

L looked on, hoping I would survive.

I surprised myself by following Aly’s guidance and reached the top and got down in one piece.

L did the same and when she got down we just hugged for a bit.

More relief than a need to keep warm.

A shared emotional experience.

We tackled other walls with gusto.

All encouraging each other.

No competitive egos here.

After 40 minutes Aly offered us the option of a cup of tea or a further 10 minutes climbing.

It was a no contest.

Tea always wins for L and myself as we watched Jeremy scale a few more walls.

We will be back.

We do hope we see Jeremy again too.

Next time with a family audience perhaps to confirm that we really did do it….