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My first report for this year: Two young nurses arrived while I was in the bathroom (isn’t that always the way).  They arrived to check on hubs, is he being cared for properly.  He was sitting up, washed and dressed in a casual fashion.  Bloods were taken , scars examined, they are truly hideous.  Many questions asked and answered, all the boxes ticked. Problems?  Feet, the blood seems to struggle to get to the toes.  Advice to me rub some cream on , not on the scar tissue but on the whole skin.  Hubs keen to ensure his diet is healthy, no cakes, no biscuits, no fat, cut down on sugar.  This last not so easy sugar is apparently added to everything even breakfast cereal.  Must read the small print on the packet, where did I put that magnifying glass?

Two alert and pleasant young women, a very reassuring presence  for me in my role as chief nurse, indeed only nurse.  Who knew that dressing an adult would involve such a detailed and orderly set of instructions?  The patient is talking more, able to move more easily.  We have discussed what could so easily been the alternative.  The  shock is beginning to subside.


Hubs is moving more easily and generally making progress.  I’m thinking of pinning a badge on my blouse, MATRON, I do want everyone to know, ‘I’m in charge’.  So many details to remember.  Is it time for the before breakfast pill?  Has he had the remainder of the pills?  Another nurse came this morning, very pleasant, very professional, told the patient how well he is doing.  Promised to inform the GP of the new tablets which need to be put in the tablet box and to have the box delivered to the house.  Altogether helpful and reassuring.

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THIS DAY IS APTLY NAMED.  I feel as if I had been 12 rounds in the boxing ring with the world champion.  I am exceedingly groggy but still standing, just.  The match isn’t over, it will go on for some time yet.  Best not to count the days, hope each one will be a little less gruelling.  Two weeks ago my husband had an operation on his heart, according to the medical people he is recovering well, on Christmas Eve we brought him home.

   It has to be confessed we are both old people, he had his 76th birthday the day before his operation.  I am the elder by two years. These are the facts of the matter.  The whole business raced away with us, some complaints about being breathless, pains in the neck and shoulders, pop in to see the GP and the world collapses; within days a hospital appointment and what had looked like a minor problem suddenly becomes a major concern.  A transfer from our local hospital to a specialist regional hospital with expertise in heart operations. Further tests and the decision is taken, a heart by-pass operation is necessary.

A cousin of my husband’s take me to visit. I’m a non driver.  Himself is lying on the bed with tubes attached barely aware that I am present.  Events seem to have a momentum of their own, its Christmas Eve, I phone to say I will visit and he says I will come home with you.  An extremely kind and helpful cousin takes me through, yes he has been discharged officially he can come home.  We travelled home in the gathering dark, the same relative as a Good Samaritan.

Now to get to grips with looking after someone who can do very little in looking after himself.  Who knew that washing and dressing could be so complicated and take so long?   Me I’m the squeamish type,  I feel faint at the sight of blood.  But needs must, be calm in the face of angry read scars make a joke about the problem of getting socks on swollen feet.  Feel a huge sense of satisfaction my man is washed and dressed, collapse in a chair, feel like going back to bed.

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This morning two delightful young women came to our house, they were both in their first year at university, so we could have been something in the relationship of grand-parents.  Of course we have no biological connection. They arrived at our front door as complete strangers.  Two charming young women from if I remember correctly Kent, it soon became clear that in normal social circumstances we would never have met. The prestigious university, probably the largest commercial enterprise in the city, seems to be looking to minimise town and gown friction by setting up a befriending scheme.  We agreed, in a very bold moment to be part of this initiative.

   Two lively eighteen year old girls arrived on Saturday at the appointed time; one was clearly 6 foot tall, the other 6 inches less. ( I’ve decided I’m shrinking my skirts are getting ridiculously long)  Height is something which always makes a big impact on me.  They were polite and courteous, the taller one rather shy and quiet, the dark haired girl very vivacious and talkative.  It soon became clear that they came from a very different social background to my husband and myself.  As a child I lived in a council house, I was fortunate that free education was part of the post war world, I passed the 11+ and went to grammar school.  There was consternation about the extremely expensive school uniform, but a small grant was available so my parents were able to make sure I wore the same uniform as everyone else. 

Tiny hints made it clear our guests experience was totally different, they had been to independent schools, of course they did not directly make any reference to this.  We talked about education, their studies and the dreadful mess the world is getting itself into.  Time passed very quickly, soon they were leaving, what they made of two ancient characters like us I have no idea.  Maybe we seemed like two ancient mariners relics of a long ago time and a far away country called the past.  To us it was an adventure.




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My favourite programme of the week, brightens up my Saturday and Sunday nights, Strictly Come Dancing.  In these short, cold, dark days, it is a dazzling concoction of; lights, a kaleidoscope of ice-cream colours, movement and music.  Don’t tell anyone but I find some of the music the most disappointing aspect of the whole show.  I can’t detect a melody, a clear rhythm or indeed much that is pleasurable and familiar about the music played for the professionals and their celebrates to dance to.  The unkind may say my tastes were fixed at a much earlier period and I have no appreciation of modern music.  I confess I find much twenty-first century music a chaotic noise lacking all charm and musicality.  The music  of the 1950s and 60s.

Its a delight darling.  I like the comments from the judges, the remarks on the dancing by Len, the extravagant gestures of Bruno, the harsh judgements of Craig and the kind comments  of Darcy, who has fully embraced the celebrity status, and dazzles and glitters as if in a fairy-tale.  The show has all the ingredients you could possibly want: the vitality and speed of the professional dancers, not to mention the good looks of the male dancers, the swish and swirl of the dresses, the elegance, the drama and even the wicked step-mother.  (the thought passes through my mind, it could be the twenty-first century type of pantomime).

If     you want to recall it

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This is an unusual view of British society,  there are certain facts that appear difficult to assimilate.  Throughout the twentieth century Britain has been in a constant state of change.  there have been waves of immigration; Jews from Russia and Poland, successive waves of immigration from Ireland, the displacement of people during the 1 World War and the much greater movement of people after the 2 World War from the devastated countries of Eastern Europe.  Yet we like to think of ourselves as a homogenous  British group that we have been since the days of the Norman Conquest a thousand years ago.  Two groups that are largely missed out from this story are those who came on the Empire Windrush in the 1940s from the West Indies and those who came from India and Pakistan, from what was then the British Empire.

Another subject mentioned only briefly was Britain’s leading part in the inhuman Slave Trade for two hundred years.  Some British families got exceedingly rich and set up their very large estates on the profits of this trade between Africa and the Caribbean. Some beautiful mansions were embellished with paintings and elaborate furniture  bought with the profits of treating human beings as if they were bits of machinery to be used ceaselessly and thrown aside when their usefulness came to an end.  Historically Britain’s part in the slave trade has been minimised to the point of being a footnote.  Maybe generations have to pass before we can face the full horror of what we have done.

Of course we know that workers in Britain in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries worked in appallingly dangerous conditions: in the mines, in the factories, on the land and in the ships.  The only issue that mattered was Profit.  The workers were not owned by the coal owner, instead it was a kind of serfdom.  The programme ‘Black and British: a Forgotten History’ by the historian David Olusoga on BBC2 was brilliantly done.  I’m looking forward to episode 2 tonight.

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The BBC have produced an breathtakingly  amazing, gloriously filmed programme about this incredible planet which is our home:

The photography is wonderful in its scope, its exquisite detail and the magnificence  of its overhead views.  We have never seen the earth like this before.   Together with the narration by Sir  David Attenborough it is a work of art, the photographers are the Rembrants of the twenty-first century and the words set the moving pictures in a story  we can all understand.  A lot of superlatives here but everyone completely necessary.

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Young babies learn amazingly quickly when they are hungry they cry and someone feeds them, when they are wet someone changes them. At the same time the baby responds to mother by gurgling and smiling at this caring person.  The caring person responds in very much the same way and also by adding some words: whose a beautiful baby then.  Very quickly mother and baby are communicating with  words.  Some time later Bill or Sue will learn to walk and then walking and talking will develop with astonishing rapidity.  Much of this learning is a one to one business, one person speaks and the other listens, they take turns.  Sitting in front of a television set is completely different.  There is no to-ing and fro-ing , the programme has no interest in the person watching whether that person is two years old or eighty-two.  It is totally unresponsive.

    I heard on the radio that some children in England starting school in their fifth year are scarcely able to talk.   Teachers expect children to follow simple instructions and to be able to respond using brief sentences.  It is inexpressibly sad that young children in a rich country like this one start school  at such a terrible disadvantage.  There is a view  that the education of poor children is an unnecessary expense because they will get ideas above their station.  In this rapidly changing world who knows what skills and knowledge will be required in 20 or 30 years.  Countries where only a small wealthy elite are educated like Saudi Arabia or Syria tend to develop very unhappy populations ripe for any demagogue who appears.  What follows is hundreds if not thousands of deaths and a society always in poverty.  In countries where the education of every child matters for example Finland, Sweden or The Netherlands populations, societies are at the forefront of modern developments and their societies are peaceful and prosperous.