Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Having a laugh - Tuesday 29th September 2015

My first task this morning, whilst the early mist evaporated, was to do the minutes from last night's meeting. Not only were we very thin on the ground but a level of apathy has not so much crept in as solidified. Four years of mismanagement has left the club floundering and some are now too old to be re-energised. Still, I've got to try.

Left with an hour to kill I picked up on a conversation Pauline and I had on the way back from Warwick. We passed a pub called The Green Man. I used to frequent a pub of that name in Coleshill and there are thousands so named across the country. It all stems from Pagan times when the Green Man was seen as a harbinger of Spring. Images of a man are made up of leaves and plants and some of them are incredible.

It may be subconscious but although Christianity has been around for 2000 years, Druid and Pagan celebrations still feature strongly in our British calendar. Witness the Morris Men dancers, Halloween and the well dressing in Derbyshire, the Abbotts Bromley Horn Dance and other ancient customs that still prevail.

It's a bit like going to church with your fingers crossed behind your back.

Pauline took Rita out for the afternoon and I went over to the Royal British Legion rooms for a meeting of the Armitage Shanks Pensioners Group. This large room housed 34 people, three of whom were men. I met Madam Secretary, well into her 90s and with a fog horn voice. I had been asked to be there at 2pm. I asked when I would be needed.

"Three o'clock. We do business first, then the speaker, and then we let them enjoy themselves!"

I spent half an hour of calm, updating my diary, collecting my thoughts and sipping tea. Then I was on. The audience wasn't gathered closely around, several old ladies sat as far away as possible. "Can you hear me at the back?" I asked loudly. "Yes, yes." they replied. "Good, because I can certainly hear you."

That could read as being quite rude but I said it with a smile and that's how it was taken. The next 45 minutes flew by and all I can say is that we had a real laugh. I can't remember a single thing I said, it was quite disparate, but the audience was lovely and quite fascinated by the Talking News and the various strands of technology that we followed.

I haven't had a session like that for a long time.

Tonight Pauline went out to the Horse and Jockey with the girls, reporting back that the food was excellent. I went to the South East Staffs & Seisdon Peninsular CCG AGM. The meeting was longer than the name. I made a couple of contacts who could be useful to the Talking News and then listened to some honest appraisals of what the CCG has achieved in the past twelve months, and admissions that there are problems that are taking a lot to get over.

One of the big stumbling blocks is that different parts of the NHS have difficulty in sharing a patient's records. Someone with a complicated condition may need to see as many as five different departments, and they may not all come under the same local authority. Thus you get situations where a patient may be given 4 appointments in one week, on separate days, in the same hospital or clinic and then another one the following week, when all could take place in just one day if things were coordinated.

My thoughts on this subject are, if the patient is capable, why doesn't the patient have control of their own records instead of them all being at their surgery? Also there should be a one-stop shop where the patient is given the list of required appointments and a central control coordinates them.

But I am too simplistic.

The Green Man

I've started getting the morning after feeling the night before.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Margaret Bresolin - Sunday 20th September 2015

I'm starting to feel real again. Maybe I've had a bug or some such but I've felt drained for a couple of weeks. Today the sun shone for the last time in 2015 and so we decided to do something about it.

Pauline took Rita to church and I got to work on the garden pool. The waterfall was almost a trickle, so the pump needed cleaning, the surrounding reeds and bushes were threatening to over power the whole area, and weed and algae had made the water into a soup. It took a couple of hours to clear all the forest that our poor fish have had to swim through of late.

With the water gurgling through the pump and free passage around the pool the fish went mad, cavorting all over the place, rising up and begging for food.

After lunch I went back to Wyevale for another stint selling Cow Pat Drop tickets, this time with Gary Nye. It was dreary, not with Gary, but the sun went in at 2pm and the crowds went home. We were barely taking £10 an hour.

Back home I found my hero had mowed both lawns, plus cooked another classic Sunday roast. I felt blessed.

I went through some paperwork and found this letter to file. Margaret Bresolin is a charming, personable and determined young lady. She came to Lichfield Lions for support in raising funds to go to Ghana for a year, and we gave her a kick start. Only £300 but it clearly lifted her. She sent me the following:

It is now 5 days until I leave for Ghana so just a final thank you and an update on my progress.

I finally finished my fundraising at the end of June, with a raffle at my prom raising £380. I could not believe it, raising £6000 whilst finishing my A levels was the hardest thing I have ever done but I am so amazed and proud to have done it. But I could not have done it without support like yours, so thank you.

I went back up to the Isle of Coll at the beginning of July for my training course. In which I had sessions on almost everything imaginable and had to be taught how to teach, and then give lessons. It was incredible and I now feel prepared to be as useful as I can be to the community.

I also learnt of my exact project specifics. I will be teaching English, along with Science and Maths in a Junior High school, in the village Atonkwa, just outside Elmina, Ghana. The children will be aged between 11 and 16, but there are also attached primary and secondary schools, so I have been informed there will be a lot of room for me to help in all three and take on as much responsibility as I am willing to. Also, setting up extra curricular activities as well.

I have met my partner Katy, who I will be living with in the village. We are both so ready and so so excited, to learn more then we can imagine and try to make a difference in the children's education.

I will keep you updated as best I can throughout the year.

As she updates us, I will share.



Have you any idea how cruel it is to give alphabet soup to a dyslexic. They read far too much into it.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Why a gannet? - Saturday 19th September 2015

We both had things to do, so we got on with them, except I was distracted for a few minutes. We live as far from the sea as you can get in Britain. It is not uncommon to see black backed gulls in numbers. They started drifting inland following tractors, then found the joys of Council refuse tips and - hereabouts at least - the ever ready supply of food from pig farms. But today a gannet sat on the roof of our neighbour, looking almost as big as the heron. It had something large in its beak and when a magpie crept close out of curiosity it looked tiny.

Something seriously wrong with that bird's navigation, unless it knows something we don't know.

I was on Lion's duty from 11am till 1pm selling Cow Pat Drop tickets at Wyevale. Our causes are the Penguins Swimming Club for the Disabled and the Gartmore Riding School for the disabled. One guy passing by and hearing us turned on me and snarled "I don't give money to anything to do with humans!" Then he held up a bag of goldfish and said "These are my friends, not you." Normally I ignore these tirades but he was about to jab a finger at me so I smiled at him (gritted teeth) and said "And when you need help, it will be us that gives it. I doubt your goldfish will be much use."

The sun shone. After lunch we did something that has been missing from our lives for quite a long time.

We cleaned both cars, immaculately.


I've decided to live happy ever after. So far so good, at least until the football results.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Rested - Friday 18th September 2015

I couldn't afford to laze today, but I did. I don't bounce back like I used to, running on adrenalin.

Pauline and I spoke at 6.30am, I had a cup of tea, watched the early fog drift away, spruced myself up, took four very full sacks to the Post Office, carried my work down into the dining room so the sun could shine on my back, sorted it into neat piles - and left it there.

Pauline came home at 11.15am and we just sat and caught up on each other's news. Then it was time for her to take Rita food shopping, so I prepared my own little shopping list. I don't cook as often as I would like and I never tell anyone when it doesn't work. Tonight's was one of my better efforts, full of taste and flavour, so I'm happy to share.

I kept it relatively simple with the main course being of two halves. I cut some potatoes fairly small, sliced a leek crosswise into ringlets and parboiled them in chicken stock. Then I layered them into an oven disk, sprinkled chopped bacon on top and gave it a good layer of cheese and baked it.

I seared sirloin steaks for 3 minutes each side then wrapped them in foil to keep them warm. I sweated chopped onion, garlic and mushrooms until almost opaque, added a glass of white wine until it was reduced, then beef stock and gradually butter until the sauce had thickened.

I'd do it again.

As for the rest of the day, I did nothing!

It's too early for this
Exit signs are on the way out.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Brick walls - Thursday 17th September 2015

Right now I'm running on empty. The work pile just gets bigger and the urgent items list is getting longer. Still, my trip to Wales next week has been cancelled, and that will help.

I cleared a few items away and then got on with recording the Stevenage Talking News. After lunch I did the Live at Home run, picking up one lady that was new to me, and then it was back to talking newspapers.

Pauline went shopping in Reading with Helen and decided to come home in the daylight - tomorrow - and that took pressure off because I didn't have to think about cooking.

Peter Fox rang to see what time I would be at the studio and we met at 5.30pm. With Peter helping me we rattled through Stevenage, Gwent and the Scotsman and were ready for the Lichfield readers when they turned up. Ben was there which means I have time to update some of the paperwork.

The next few days will be busy but then the diary starts to become more reasonable. I might have time to think.

someone's got a sharp penknife

Thursday, 3 September 2015

It has started - Wednesday 2nd September 2015

I did a lot today, and even achieved a few things. There was barely a spare minute, but when you write it all down it doesn't seem much.

I started by downloading news for Scotland and Wales. That took a good hour. Next I went to the surgery to collect a prescription for Pauline and then carried on to King's Bromley to meet a new listener and provide him with a media player. He was very pleased and wanted to make a significant donation, but I told him to listen for a few weeks to be sure he still feels the same way.

Kings Bromley

Back in Lichfield I went to the studio for more players (we got two more new listeners today), then to the tip and on to the Sorting Office for the returns. I was processing these on the patio when John Whitehouse came with a problem about internet banking for the Lions. He said that when he was on the Nat West website they said our account number was not recognised. I asked him what happened when he tried Lloyds Bank, where we have our account.

When we stopped laughing, there was still a problem, so we'll call in the experts.

This afternoon I went back to Hints for a four hour course on Photoshop. There were only two of us doing the course do we were finished in three hours. I was back home in time for a snack with Pauline and then went to the studio to see that everything was OK. Peter turned up, plus six readers, so I wasn't needed.

Back home again to consider what I learned today.

Two snakes slithering through the long grass. One says to the other "Here, Sid, are we crushers or are we poisoners?" Sid replies "It doesn't actually matter, does it." to which his friend replied "It does to me, I've just bitten my lip."