Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I had all sorts of plans today including a few light hearted posts.
But that's all changed now.
I frequently check Dina's blog and though I have a lot on today something drew me there first thing.
The last post - on October 23rd - was, in typical Dina style, a picture of a gorgeous hat.
But then I checked the comments and found that Dina died on Monday night.
You don't need my words to tell you about Dina.
Read her own - in her blog and her book and her regular Guardian column.
And, if you feel so inclined, donate to the charity appeal in her name.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Whether you would like to be directly involved - or prefer to watch from the sidelines - go here to check out Your Messages.
It's the one who sits on your shoulder and whispers insidiously in your ear, sapping your energy and draining your confidence.
'You can't do this,' it says.
'Why are you bothering?
You'll never get anywhere.
You're doomed to failure.
And quite rightly so - you're crap.'
Sometimes you get on a roll and can manage to push it into the background -
- but inevitably the time comes when it's back, dripping with malice.
It may surprise you to know that just about every writer - published or unpublished, bestseller or midlister - has one of these spiteful demons challenging their urge to create.
In the BloggersWithBookDeals Forum there was a discussion recently about this phenomenon.
Realising the problem to be universal, but our responses to it to be personal, we thought we'd share the conversation by posting it on Bookarazzi.
You can follow the thread here.
While you're there, you might want to check out the other fab new material on the site, including a new Tips for Writers section.
Oh and there's another post about procrastination (the thief of time) just gone up.
I just fell over in the street.
You know how it goes - it looks spectacular enough to send a woman scurrying over to see if I'm ok but all I'm worried about is looking like a twat.
So of course I struggle to my feet, assure her I'm fine, and hide the bleeding palms and bruised knees.
But what I want to know is - at what point do you stop 'falling over' and start 'having a fall'?
Friday, October 26, 2007
I have no idea what this is about or where it's come from - and of course dad has no recollection either.
I phone patient transport to arrange for him to get there.
They tell me they can't accept a booking from me - it has to be arranged by the dept.
I phone the Cardio Dept.
Answer machine asks me to leave a message and they'll get back to me.
I leave a message saying I'll be at dad's for the next hour or so and leaving his number.
An hour later I call again and leave another message asking them NOT to call dad as he'll just be confused.
I leave my home no and mobile.
This morning I try ringing Cardio again.
Answer machine says there's no more space for messages and to ring another extension or dial zero.
I dial zero and am told it's not possible to connect me.
I ring the main switchboard.
They ask for the name of dad's consultant.
I say I have no idea but the appointment is for a 24hr tape - which I assume means he will also have to return the following day.
The operator says all the numbers are on voicemail.
She suggests explaining to transport.
She transfers me to transport.
Transport say they can't possibly accept the booking from me.
I should try the GP.
I call the GP.
Sorry, the receptionist tells me, they can only arrange a first transport and this isn't dad's first.
I patiently explain the problem and she says she'll make an exception 'just this once' and will arrange it.
Of course I'm still going to need to talk to the dept as I need to know if he'll have to go back the following day to have the tape removed.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
289 Queens Road, Peckham, SE15
8.30-midnight Friday 2nd November
The Original Sinners
Trip Team DJs
The bands are all appearing free.
All we have to do is turn up and enjoy!
Monday, October 22, 2007
A trip to the chiropodist a few weeks ago helped but didn't provide the miracle cure I'd hoped for.
So when I went with him to the doctor's today for a flu jab, I took my opportunity.
(Remember this is the crap GP practice I've mentioned before.)
Me: While you're in with dad, would you mind taking a quick look at his foot please? He says it's really sore and it was actually very hard for him to walk here at all.
Nurse: Oh no, that won't be possible. I'm very busy doing the flu jabs. You'll need to make another appointment.
Me: (through gritted teeth) Yes I understand, but as I said, he found it very difficult to get here at all and it is very sore and since we're here I'd be very grateful if you could just have a look please ...
Nurse: I've given him his flu jab and then I realised his Vit B12 jab was due too so I gave him that as well. I've put a padded dressing on his foot and moisturised his foot and legs. You should change the dressing in 3 days - here are some spares.
So there you go.
As dad always says, if you don't ask, you don't get.
UPDATE: I replied to the GP's email I told you about here by asking who I should contact and what was the best method ie phone, email, letter, visit etc.
That was nearly 2 wks ago.
I've yet to receive a reply.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
In the comments, Kath T gave this example:
I dropped my purse on the bus a few years ago and a lady of mature years came after me to return it. Obviously very relieved I tried to buy her a coffee, she refused and told me to do the same for someone else, which I try to do.
And Carol G gave this one:
I live out in the sticks in Scotland, one night my car broke down on an unlit road, miles away from anywhere and to top that, I couldn't get a signal on my mobile. Plus the sweet sound of two teenage girls in the back screeching about getting their trainers wrecked if they had to walk through the fields!
An angel came in the shape of a man who'd just collected a takeaway pizza. He let us share it with him as we huddled round the engine lit by his headlights. Then, even though I lived 30 miles away from that bleak spot, he towed me all the way and helped my husband push the heap onto the drive.
He said he wouldn't like to think of his wife and kids stranded on a lonely road like that, and wouldn't have been able to sleep if he'd driven past us.
My dad always said that in every encounter with a fellow human being, no matter how small or transient, he hoped they went away feeling better than before he'd met them.
Let's go for a karmic shift here!
Please give examples of small acts of kindness that have happened to you.
20,603 blogs participated ...
There were 23,327 posts (some bloggers posted more than once - guilty as charged, m'lud) ...
Reaching an approximate readership of 14,631,038.
There's more - the Day was also picked up by all forms of traditional media around the world including TV stations, radio stations and newspapers.
And yet more - Blog Action Day was officially supported by the United Nations Environmental Programme.
'UNEP welcomes the simple yet powerful concept of Blog Action Day and calls on bloggers around the world to participate.'
So what - if any - tangible difference did all this make?
There are obvious limitations to this kind of initiative.
There's a strong possibility that we're preaching to the converted.
There are no guarantees that anyone previously sceptical may have been converted to the cause simply by reading a blogpost.
And there's a danger that - as with events like Live8 - people will sit back and feel smug - they've done 'their bit'.
In response, each of us should resolve to do at least one more thing for our planet than we currently do. It's not like there's any shortage of choice:
recycling, using energy efficient lightbulbs, not leaving appliances on standby, not using the car for short journeys, buying local produce, avoiding excess packaging, not taking plastic bags, turning down our thermostats by one degree, changing to a green energy supplier ...
If every one of those 14,631,038+ people implemented one or more of these suggestions, that would make a tangible difference.
But the main outcome we have to hope for is that initiatives like this contribute to such a groundswell of opinion that they lead to a cultural shift, whereby pressure is put on governments and corporations so that it becomes impossible not to factor in the effect on the environment of new policies, projects, products etc.
Now that's what I call making a difference.
Monday, October 15, 2007
The best way to deal with food miles, packaging, additives etc is to grow your own.
If, like me, you have only a balcony, there are still ways you can eat what you grow.
Today is important.
It's Blog Action Day.
All around our beleaguered planet, thousands of people are blogging today about the environment.
Go here to see Absolute Vanilla's passionate call to arms around housing developments.
Go here to see a post about plastic.
And here to see one about butterflies.
Here's one about recycling.
This is the list of 4 officially supported charities for the day.
Thousand of blogs.
Millions of readers.
What's your excuse for not getting involved?
Then along came the Thatcher 80s - and suddenly altruism was equated with stupidity.
Greed and ambition were to be celebrated and admired.
And we've never recovered.
But every so often something - or someone - comes along who reminds you that human beings still have the capacity for acting in a way that helps others, while bringing them no material gain - apart from the satisfaction of knowing you have been kind and made a fellow human being feel good.
So yesterday, my boys went to the park with 3 friends.
They were only going for an hour in the late afternoon, so I didn't bother giving them any money.
One of the friends bought 2 ice creams and apologised to the others for not having enough £££ to buy them each one.
'You 3 not having an ice cream?' the man asked.
'No - it's ok, thanks,' the boys replied.
'We don't have the money - but that's fine. Thank you.'
You can guess, can't you?
Not only did he give them each an ice cream - he even gave them strawberry sauce!
Now that man's never going to be rich.
But he made their day.
And when they told me, it made mine too.
And now I've shared it with you.
We don't know his name, so he has no way of knowing how far his actions are being celebrated and lauded.
He won't even have the satisfaction of knowing how much they have been appreciated.
But he put a little bit of goodness into the world.
Can you put a value on that?
PS Still having some techy problems.
If anyone's trying to reach me by Googlemail - be warned. I can't get in.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Wish me luck.
If I disappear from your screens never to return, you'll know why.
It's been a blast ...
So long and thanks for all the fish.
(Mounts steed and gallops into virtual sunset clutching cd, modem, 4 wire thingys, 2 plugs, 1 unidentified techy object and a leaflet telling me it'll be a breeze.)
When dad was discharged from hospital back in July, I had terrible trouble getting the GP's prescriptions to tally with the meds listed on his discharge summary.
So much trouble, in fact, I could start a whole blog just dedicated to this one issue.
I mean, how hard can it be???
Before we went away in the summer, I contacted the GP again.
An agreement had been reached whereby 6 full sets of repeat prescriptions would be lodged with the chemist. That way I would only have to pop there to collect them as necessary, instead of putting in requests to the surgery, waiting 48hrs, picking them up and taking them to the chemist etc etc ...
This was the last communication I had from the GP back in July:
I do not know why the chemist has no record of Aspirin & Ramipril 5mg, they are both on the repeat list and were given on 29/7, I do not know where the spironolactone 50mg came from but had already changed it to 25mg last week, so as far as I am concerned the chemist already has a full & accurate list.
So yesterday, foolishly confident, I went to the chemist to pick up some essential pills that dad was nearly out of.
(I know, I know - I should have gone earlier ...)
Guess what. You've guessed it wasn't going to be straightforward, haven't you? But did you think it would be this hard?
There were 9 items on the repeat prescriptions the chemist had on file.
3 were for things that are non-essential and that dad doesn't take.
1 was for an item that his consultant and I felt might be contributing to dad's dizzy spells and so had been removed.
5 items - the most essential ones - were missing entirely!
So ... I had to put in the prescription request at the surgery but the likelihood is that I won't be able to pick it up and take it to the chemist before Monday, by which time dad will have spent at least 2 days without some of these vital meds.
I then wrote a long email last night to the GP explaining the anomalies and asking for her to ensure the chemist has a full set of accurate prescriptions.
I was nice.
It cost me.
But I was nice.
This was her reply in full:
I will pass this on, but should tell you it is not safe to rely on emailing me, I work part time, and no one else will see your messages
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
You stand at their virtual side as they climb mountains, occasionally slide down scree slopes on their arses and trek across flat, featureless plains, never knowing whether they will ever ARRIVE.
Well, Pundy HAS arrived.
His book, A Half Life of One, is no longer virtual.
We will be able to hold it in our hands, stroke the cover, sniff the pages.
So glad to have been by your side for part of your journey, Bill ...
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
This looks good.
A unique event that's the theatrical version of 'battle of the bands'. 16 VERY short plays compete for the title 'best new play'. Expect variety, bizarre stories and a lot of fun.
Sunday 28th October @ 8pm
VENUE: Bedford Globe Theatre, 77
DURATION: 1 hr 30
It's organised by Zeitgeist Theatre who say this about themselves:
Zeitgeist Theatre produces issue-driven, thought-provoking new writing that is relevant to people's lives. This is unpretentious theatre that challenges, reflects and focuses on modern times. Our aim is to relate this to an audience in an engaging, entertaining and creative way.
We believe theatre can change the world,
not just interpret it.
The organiser says that if this event is a success, it will become a regular event and they'll be on the lookout for new writers.
I've been called nice.
Verilion (who is so genuinely nice, she's uber nice) reckons she's got my measure.
Nice? Nice??? Me?
I'll have you know that beneath this so called 'nice' exterior lurks a vicious and evil demon, struggling to get out.
'I've got the strength of ten men.
Nine of them dead, and the tenth dying ...'
Sunday, October 07, 2007
I have a father and no mother ...
A brother and no sisters ...
A husband and no wife ...
Sons and no daughters ...
I sometimes feel like a lonely female island lost in a progesterone sea.
So just imagine what this weekend has meant to me.
It was my dear friend C's birthday and for her present her daughter gave her something she could share with her female friends. (This is typical of them both, by the way.)
So it was that 5 beautiful, funny and bright women (6 if you include me) met in Brighton on Friday evening.
After a scrumptious meal, we went to see Grumpy Old Women, and for once I didn't feel in the slightest bit grumpy.
Then it was back to F & L's gorgeous house in Worthing where we stayed up to 3am, talking, eating, drinking, smoking and laughing like demented banshees.
Not much later, we shared a leisurely breakfast before wandering down to the beach to gaze at distant horizons.
I arrived home 24 hours after I'd left - relaxed, refreshed, replenished, repaired - and bloody knackered.
The warm cosy feeling lasted all of ... oooh, I'd say at least 5 mins.
If you're a woman in need of some serious pampering, F & L run a women only B&B, which I can't recommend highly enough.
(They also have a houseful of books!)
Friday, October 05, 2007
There are international demonstrations planned tomorrow.
See here. And here.
NB: The day of action has been organised spontaneously around the world, with coordination through facebook.
This is what this medium's for, folks.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
I've blogged several times about the ongoing situation, unchanged since I wrote that book in the fervent hope that the horrors it depicted would soon be consigned to the dustbin of history.
If you happen to have visited Trafalgar Square recently, you'll have seen graphic evidence that the traffic in women is still thriving.
This is an extract from the website set up to publicise the journey of these women.
The UK has become the prime destination for trafficked women and girls. The growing sex industry supplies a huge demand resulting in enforced slavery and gross exploitation of thousands of women. Victims come from countries burdened with poverty, poor education and high unemployment, countries such as Lithuania, Albania, Nigeria and Thailand. Over 210,000 people have been trafficked from Balkan States and 260,000 from North Africa. Girls of 16 or 17 or even younger are tricked into accepting bogus jobs abroad.
Sex trafficking is big business that makes money from terror. A girl can cost as little as £1000 and be sold in the UK for £3,000 to £5,000. Once broken and set to work that girl will service up to 30 men a day earning their captor up to £250,000 a year. These girls are made to pay for every aspect of their keep, accommodation, clothes, food, tissues and condoms, but at an inflated rate that means they will always be in ‘debt’. This is going on all over London right now and is a rapidly growing industry.
This is from the Council of Europe Convention on Trafficking site:
This new Convention, the first European treaty in this field, is a comprehensive treaty focusing mainly on the protection of victims of trafficking and the safeguard of their rights. It also aims to prevent trafficking and to prosecute traffickers. In addition, the Convention provides for the setting up of an effective and independent monitoring mechanism capable of controlling the implementation of the obligations contained in the Convention.The UK finally signed up to the Convention earlier this year.
(See here for my post when they signed and here for my reservations as to how meaningful this would be in real terms.)
Because the Convention can only come into force if it has at least 10 ratifications.
So far there have been 9.
The UK is not one of them.
But our government does have an Action Plan.
And this is what it says about ratification:
It will inevitably take some time to move from signature to ratification. We are not able to give a date for ratification because much will depend on the extent to which we will require legislative amendments and new processes and guidance. We will not ratify the Convention until we are satisfied that all the required legislative and process changes are in place.
Meanwhile read these case studies and see if you feel OK about the length of time it takes for the bureaucratic wheels to turn.
Then scroll through to read the struggles these women continue to have with the Home Office.
Then support the work of organisations like the Helen Bamber Foundation.
And harass your MP ...
This time I checked the library before going to dad's flat.
Good move as it turned out cos there he was. Same light summer jacket but at least it's warm and dry today.
He had a new dressing on his head and I found some notes at his flat from the district nurse.
Result? Not quite as it turns out. The dressing on his elbow hadn't been touched. I tried to take it off but bottled out again as it was sticking to the wound.
Bah! Will have to phone them yet again. Knowing how these things go, what's the likelihood of them coming while he's in the library?
There was a letter there saying he has an appointment at a Falls Clinic for an assessment.
Where did that come from?
On the plus side, it said he'd be there for a full day but they'd arranged transport.
On the minus side, there were various aspects that were unclear to me, let alone him.
Will phone them and find out so I can explain it to him and leave an appropriate daft-old-bugger note.
Thing is, my number's on just about everything connected to him, so why didn't anyone phone me to let me know this was being arranged?
On Monday I'd switched his heating on and left a note on the switch.
'It's getting cold. Keep heating on or face the wrath of the daughter.'
It was off today, of course.
A conversation about people going on holiday without insurance:
Dad: Well of course that's really foolish ...
Me: You can bloody talk. Look what happened last time you went away.
Dad: Ah yes, I remember. I came home early.
Me: No you didn't. You came home late! Alan (my brother) went to bring you back.
Dad: Really? Why? What was wrong with me?
Me: (Taps chest. Don't want to remind him of that terrible time last year when he was rushed to hospital and had 2 emergency stent operations before anyone so much as got round to contacting me to tell me.)
Dad: What, heart? Nonsense. I've never ever had any problems with my heart.
I got back in time to pick up LG and had a conversation with a woman in a similar position, except her father's in a residential home just up the road.
It seems she and I are a recognised phenomenon.
We even have a name: 'sandwich carers'. Not because we make lunches (though we do) but because we're sandwiched between the needs of children and parents.
In the news this week: people in the 100+ bracket are in the largest growing age category.
Hope society gets its act together to take proper care of our elders before we ourselves become the bread instead of the filling.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Our emergency petition to stop the crackdown on peaceful protesters in Burma is exploding, with nearly 500,000 signers from every nation of the world. But the situation in Burma remains desperate, with reports of hundreds of monks being massacred and tortured. Burma's rulers have also killed and expelled international journalists, cutting off global media coverage of their cruelty.
China is still the key - the country with the most power to halt the Burmese generals' reign of terror. We're delivering our message this week with a massive ad campaign in major newspapers, beginning Thursday with a full page ad in the Financial Times worldwide, and in the South China Morning Post. The strength of the ad comes from the number of petition signers listed – can we reach our goal of 1 million signatures this week? The link to sign the petition and view the ad is below, forward this email to all your friends and family!
China continues to provide key economic and military support to Burma's dictatorship, but it has been openly critical of the crackdown. Now we need the government to match words with actions. Our ad paints a powerful moment of choice for China in its relationship with the world – will it be a responsible and respected member of the global community, or will it be associated with tyranny and oppression?
People power, on the streets of Burma, and around the world, can triumph over tyranny. Our strength is in our numbers, spread the word!
With hope and determination,
Ricken, Paul, Ben, Graziela, Pascal, Galit and the whole Avaaz team.
For the best local reporting on the situation in Burma, try these links:
Please please sign the petition if you haven't already done so.
And pass the message on.
It will cost you nothing.
And it won't result in you being beaten ... or arrested ... or shot ... or tortured ...
I know our experiences are far from unique, so I'm hoping these posts will resonate with other people in a similar position.
This 1st post in the series was written on the tube on the way back from seeing him yesterday.
On my way up to dad's 2nd floor flat, I drop in to wish DZ's daughter a Long Life. DZ died yesterday and her funeral's today, leaving dad the only nonagenarian left in the block.
Let myself into dad's flat. He's not there! I do the usual holding-breath-while-opening-doors routine, but, no, he really isn't there. Further investigation reveals he's gone out wearing a light summer jacket (it's cold and pissing down outside), no hat or brolly and without any of his selection of walking sticks or zimmer frames.
Phone his GP. They haven't seen him either. Grab an umbrella and prepare to search the streets for him, hoping against hope that he hasn't fallen again.
As I pass the library, I peep in and think I see him in the window. But it's not him after all. Decide I might as well check properly inside. Bingo! He's there, reading a newspaper. Huddled under the brolly, we head home for lunch.
'I'm a bit doddery,' he says in wonder.
'That's why you should take your stick when you go out,' I say. 'I've left one of my 'daft-old-bugger' notes next to your keys to remind you ...'
These daft-old-bugger notes generally work well. They remind him of crucial things (eg 'Don't wear these shoes, they hurt your feet, you daft old bugger') and make him laugh.
After lunch, I fill his pill box. He's forgotten to take his morning meds as usual (in spite of the 'Don't forget to take your pills, you daft old bugger' note stuck on his cereal bowl). Decide to call every morning to remind him if I'm not going to see him that day.
His medication has been changed following a discussion I had last week with his consultant. I've questioned the meds before with his crap GP to no avail but the consultant thinks I might have hit the nail on the head with my suggestion that dad's dizzy spells might be caused by one of the items.
The dressings G & I put on his head and elbow following his last fall haven't been changed. I tried to do it myself last week but bottled out and organised a visit from a district nurse. They confirmed they would come but clearly the visit never materialised. Will have to phone them later and find out what's happening.
Also see from notes that V, his lovely carer who pops in every evening to prepare a meal and ensure he's taken his next batch of pills, has been replaced by someone I don't know. Dad's acute short term memory loss means he didn't know about the change and no one's contacted me to let me know. I'm concerned as V and I have a really good relationship and she knows exactly what dad needs. Will have to phone agency later and find out what's happening.
Leave later than intended which means I'll now be late for picking up LG from school as it takes over 1.5 hours to get home.
I am continuously enraged by dad's GP's practice. They do the absolute minimum, have been known to lie to me, are outrageously inefficient and - more importantly - treat dad in a way that is at best uncaring and at worst downright negligent. I would complain except I'm really scared that they'd take it out on dad when I'm not there. I have a strong suspicion that there have been times they've sent him away without seeing him but I can't prove anything and of course he doesn't remember.
He's so vulnerable. It appalls me when I think about people who don't have family and friends looking out for them. This is no way to treat the elders of our community.
Luckily there are also some wonderful and caring people out there, working at the sharp end of the NHS and sharing these frustrations from the other end of the stethoscope.
This is an extract from, a new book, In Stitches, by Nick Edwards, who is a doctor in an A&E dept:
A sign the world has gone mad?
What has had happened to my patients today? They seemed to be getting lost when I sent them for X-ray. I'd given the same directions as normal, there had been no secret muggers hiding in the hospital corridors and as far as I know, no problems with space - time dimensions in our particular corner of the universe.
I went to X-ray to investigate. I found it quickly because I knew the way. However, I looked for the signs for X-ray and they were gone. The nice, old-fashioned and slightly worn signs had gone; they had been replaced by a sign saying 'Department of Diagnostic Imaging'. What the hell? I know what it means but only just and only because I have been inundated by politically correct 'shit-speak' for a number of years. What a pointless waste of money; to satisfy some manager, they replaced a perfectly good sign with one that means bugger all to 90% of people. Why don't they change the toilet sign to 'Department of Faecal and Urinary Excrement' or the cafe to 'Calorific Enhancement Area'. Who makes these decisions? Who is employed to do such pointless stuff? Why? Why?? Why???
I needed a caffeinated beverage in a disposable single-use container - management-speak for shit NHS/Happy Shopper instant coffee. I went to sit in the 'Relaxation, Rest and Reflection Room', previously known as staff room. There, the nurses were moaning that tonight one of their colleagues had called in sick and to save money their shift would not be covered by a bank nurse. In A&E, staff shortages can seriously undermine the safety of patient care.
I am sure this genius plan was decided by some personnel manager who I doubt has ever seen a patient, cannula or trolley, and therefore is obviously an expert at making nursing planning decisions. We have a hospital that can fund unnecessary new signs, but not replace nurses when they off sick. So, tonight who is going to go looking for the patients when they got lost on route to the Department of Diagnostic Imaging?