Larga vida a los NHS

I’m torn.

We’re seeing the results of consistent cutbacks in services yet the staff on the ground are still brilliant. I usually have to wait, grovelling on the floor for well over two hours before an ambulance crew arrive to scrape me back up. When they do come, they are also brilliant.

The latest incident has seen me hanging on for over four weeks for a pre-chemotherapy appointment with a specialist in Maidstone. When I rang, his secretary informed me that they had not yet received a referral.

At eight-thirty on Monday morning, a rather contrite nurse rang from Tunbridge Wells to say that she’d fast-tracked my case that morning. That was four weeks of suspenders. (Ooh matron!) But I know that my treatment will be beyond reproach.

I know they are stretched but I think I just fell off the radar. It happened when I was referred for radiotherapy.

The initial referral and tests started in September 2018. It was a dreadful year. And now all hopes and dreams for 2019 are on the verge of biting me back. Again I feel a sense of the double-edged sword.

I am grateful for early diagnosis and that the treatment being there for me yet the time-scale seems dreadful.

Catching some nasty infection in hospital didn’t help; bye-bye to five weeks of my life. And now I’m still dancing in limbo-land.

Am I turning selfish? Am I beginning to sound like the modern trend for egocentric adverts?

“I need to know so I can get on and organise my life. After all, everything about me!”

Well for starters, I am never going to slag off the warriors of the NHS. I’m big enough and ugly enough to cope. I am stubborn and determined to stay independent. Every now and then, life might go a bit pear-shaped but here I am.

Similarly, I appear to be waiting an age for my bathroom conversion. I know the wheels are turning but have they still got the handbrake on?

Both the local authority care system and all those wonderful people in the NHS have ensured my independence.

How can I complain?

Thank you for reading.


“I’m so illllllll!!!!!!!!!!!!”

This is not a full-scale assault on hypochondriacs. I know many of them. They are friends and happy to admit to their unique brand of paranoia. What I don’t like is the competitive sicky:

“My condition is worse than yours.” When you ask “how are you doing”, they look back as if it’s your fault.

As a  rule, I’ve been intolerant of such false attention-seeking transparencies. Attention-seeking is the key phrase here. It lurks in amongst close family and relationships. Innocuous at first, it niggles away at your stress factor, switching attention to the direction of said victim.

Image result for attention seeker

I like to ignore this at first but if their response to my ambivalence is to cry louder, I become exasperated. The terseness of my seeming indifferent responses creates an atmosphere of tension. I have witnessed a constant bombardment of this behaviour on parents, spouses and friends. If anyone spurns my optimistic “look at the bright side” encouragement, I begin to wonder if I’m wasting my time.

Case studies:

Firstly, let me talk about some of my friends. My friend Ian, is a prime example. He has openly admitted to worrying about potential affectations. The most memorable goes back to 2002 in a hotel in Ipswich. As we sat in the lounge watching an early afternoon match, Ian intimated his concern about contracting anthrax.

“The diary of anthrax,” quipped Pete. Laughter!

Ian has constantly bemoaned his propensity for contracting ghost symptoms but it’s all part of what makes him a great friend.

After an interaction with a taxi by Streatham Common, poor Ian faced long term hospitalisation and rehabilitation. It was horrific. But it was never a tool for attention. He didn’t hide in a burrow of self-pity. In fact, he went on to forge successful careers in programming and teaching. Respect. Oh no, does this eulogy mean that he will seek to give me a big manly bromantic hug the next time we meet? I’ll advise him to mind his knees. This is the getting down and getting on with it we appreciate.

Another case:

A so-called friend has been insistent that most of my own personal troubles are age-related. But he was always jealous of my easy-going “get on with everybody” nature. Most people think he’s a prick. That’s because he is. I don’t want to be shouted at for lamenting my considerable shortcomings.

One of my other friends is quite an expert in the field of his own symptoms.

hypochondria_cartoon (1)

He never misses work.

Back to the real competitive sickies:

For some, the incessant insistence on being close to the edge of some major condition is only part of an attention strategy. They want to dominate and will use every conceivable tactic. Lumps, rashes and informal aches are perceived to be harbingers of dreadful body and mind decaying diseases. They shriek when the sun shines covering themselves in factor 7,000 and run to hide from drizzle, assuming that rain is toxic.

This is the same substance that will be sought out and purchased whilst in a state of near-death exhaustion through lack of bottled water. Such desperation relates to the need to be seen drinking earnestly from these awful ocean pollutants rather than the thirst itself.

For those regular users of said rip-off plastic ridden items, please feel free to be offended.

Image result for serious water drinker

You’ve got a bloody tap at home.

I cannot claim this to be a modern phenomenon. I’ve been aggravated by attention-seekers my whole life. As a year six teacher it was a challenge to relish. It was easy to identify the glory hunters. Dealing with them whilst ensuring equality and fairness was a real art. Everyone could be satisfied with appropriate amounts of attention and prominence.

Hard? Yes!

More important than the development of knowledge and learning of processes? Yes! It’s more important to be someone to talk to than someone to just listen to.

For those who claim the pressure is overwhelming and detrimental to their well-being:

Pressure is part of life. A lot of it is relative. Sitting in the bedroom of your comfortable centrally-heated student accommodation block is not the place to be wailing about deadlines and workloads. If you are able to go on to higher education, surely you have the brains to realise the enormity of your situation. It’s time to grow up; not a time to complain constantly in a deluge of crocodile tears.

In one of my previous schools, there was a teaching assistant. She was actually a qualified teacher. As she had a knack of referring to her minuscule pay whilst trying to live a full and active life in South-East London,  I encouraged her to take on the temporary full-time post with a year two class.

Within two weeks she contracted a mysterious chest infection. It never stopped her from vociferously ranting about inequality but it ensured most of the term off on full pay. Some people thought it was genuine. The headteacher was a hard-talking non-nonsense Geordie. The contract was terminated.

It’s funny how the “illness” factor relates to work. Those who tolerate their affectations; albeit a cold or something more sinister, will continue to work. It often will take wild horses to drag them away from the coal-face to focus on recovery.

'It's John on the 'phone, he's no sick-days left... so he's rung-in dead!'

The “ill” people shy away from full-time long-term commitment. When I qualified as a teacher, it meant five long days a week plus all the extras. Fine. It’s what I learnt. For some, it’s a case of getting away with as little as possible.

Job-share gives the opportunity to stress-share. You know, an audience to vent your assumed injustices to.

Not all job shares are like this of course. Juggling children and work is a real art. I’m proud to know people who have done this but I think back to how my mum worked full time with three boisterous boys.

Now I’m going back to a mindset which gave no slack for illness. You may be sick of work but you have to work when you are sick. Factories never awarded full sick pay. Likewise, some of my hypo friends and relatives have never been workshy. They were never indulged by their parents. Common illness was seen as a rite of passage. No place for mummy’s little soldier or daddy’s princess.

This is not exclusive to the traditional working classes. Whilst all levels of the socio-economic pyramid are willing to graft, there is a band of the “comfortable” sector in society who cannot see the worth of working properly. They use the sick thing for attention and a meal ticket.

I didn’t use my social mobility to be amongst these. Every day I battle with life-changing conditions but my friends still give me stick.

I’m not ill. I’m fine. Well I am but I’m ill.

Ill is not about feeling sick or having specific symptoms that can be reeled off in a roll of honour.

Thank you for reading.


Who the hell are they?

The great mess of UK politics.

What is the right thing?

It appears that we are being presented with different types of nark. Can we classify them? I use the word nark as a general term for all those politicians climbing over each other for attention.

I know better than you:

Yes! I know better than you because I have a posh voice and point out your inferiority with instant denials of anything you suggest followed by a spurious but forcefully presented assertion that you didn’t read things properly and are therefore misinformed because you are stupid. The MP for Sevenoaks, former foreign secretary and staunch supporter of Doris Johnson (Deliberate typo), is just this sort of person.

Fallon Brookes cartoon

He’s probably programmed to instantly deny anything you say before going into a lengthy patronising explanation of what is real truth. The Fallon breakfast table has probably always been silent since Mrs F once said:

“Oh, it’s going to be sunny today.” “No, it won’t be sunny today, if you’d have read the forecast properly, it suggests a 3% chance of precipitation. As you should already know…….” In the late evening, Mrs F remarked on the nice day. She regretted it and never brought the subject up again.

In the great Sevenoaks grammar school brouhaha a few years ago, many people from that privileged little corner of glossy Kent took an identical approach when addressing the press. I wonder what little job Doris has for his best bum-licker Fallon?

Serious stick-on faces:

This was Cameron’s speciality. When out and about. He would go into hospitals, factories or schools and select a worker to listen to. As the poor employee would try to explain their difficulties, the Cameron frown, complete with pouting gob would form in sympathy.


By the time he was in the limo speeding elsewhere, he’d be oblivious of what had just happened. To pretend you care is not caring. I wonder who trained him to pull that face?

Call me Tony:

From the Blair school of cool, some MPs want to give off an aura of informality. The trouble with those who follow in this sharp-dressed sharp-tongued demeanour is that behind the gloss are the usual suspects: Self-interest, reputation building, ego and the ruthless streak necessary to achieve this.

Question; why was Blair complicit in the invasion of Iraq with the false claim of WMD?

The silver-tongued Alistair Campbell was Tony’s right-hand-man for this explosion of image.


Did he suggest, eight months before the 1997 general election: “Listen gov, sort out your wife so your inevitable landslide in the summer will coincide the birth of your new baby”? Cynical? Mois? Ouis. After years of witnessing politics, I know coincidence is a rare commodity.

In the nineties, John Major’s education secretary John Patten was a sharp-suited man. He assumed a level of respect completely unwarranted for a backroom dickhead. More recently, Andy Burnham licked his wounds from a failed leader bid to become mayor of Manchester. He compliments his suit with eye-liner. The funny thing is, I think he’s okay.

Should I really be questioning my wanton categorisation of political stereotypes? (Let’s all shout a hale and hearty NO!) They put themselves in the public eye so it’s fair game.

The well balanced:

To be well balanced is to have chips on both shoulders. We don’t have to think very hard here. They claim to be unpopular because they appeal to hard-working folk. They claim to be picked on by the media because they’re spouting what people really think. They prey on people’s fears of an England dominated by foreigners attempting to spread their evil beliefs, culture and language thus destroying centuries of our true British traditions.

Yes, when I went into Lidls on a late Saturday afternoon, everyone was talking Polish/Romanian/Bulgarian/Iggle wiggle. So what?

They also claim that a no-nonsense approach is what politics is crying out for. Yeah right.

I have heard some people from the states protesting vehemently against anything resembling an NHS. Since the rule of trumpery, Obamacare has taken a lot of flack:

“Why should I contribute to the treatment of drug-takers, alcoholics or obese people. It’s their own fault.” The chippy-shoulders believe that too. They want to scrap the NHS in favour of an insurance scheme. I wonder who I’m thinking of?


They crave publicity and exposure.

The mild-mannered:

Beware of the calm quiet-voiced orators. Speaking in tones equivalent to an automated telephone response service hides many sins. In teaching, I’ve known such intonation to work wonders. But in politics, and I speak from the cynicism developed through a lifetime of experience, it’s a deliberate ploy.

Jeremy Hunt is a fine purveyor of the art. He cares little for the masses. He cares only for his reputation and fortune yet he talks like a doctor with a good bedside manner.


Dear old Gideon was a bit like that too. Along with Dave the rave they decorate their quiet reasoning with words like fair, wrong and the right thing to do. It was a bit like the old public information films using measured tones to give its orders. Such smooth-talking has obviously been developed as a tactic. No chips there it seems; just something very fishy. 

Upper-class twits:

Edward Heath springs to mind. I think he did have the country’s interest at heart but he just couldn’t quite see through his privileged demeanour.


Charlie Elphick the MP for Dover, sounds like a whinging public schoolboy who has just lost a game of fives because his opponent cheated. He was suspended from the Conservative party due to allegations of sexual harassment. Surprise surprise! He was reinstated on condition he followed the party whip on Brexit matters.

In the seventies, a Labour MP changed his name from Anthony Wedgewood-Benn to Tony Benn. What can I say? He called his son Hilary! I could include many more.


They want to fight. They want to win. Churchill was a warrior; ugly but effective. He focused on the bigger picture. It was an important picture. Thatcher wanted to defeat the unions. She didn’t care who was caught in the crossfire. She destroyed a lot more than the miners.


The horrendous unemployment figures were reduced by encouraging many to claim incapacity benefit. 

Apart from sounding the alarum bell (as used in the Scottish play) at the country’s manufacturing industry, she used stealth to knockout the concept of affordable rented housing. She encouraged councils to sell off their stock.

“Oh let’s get money moving around.” A short-term fix. Many have aspired to her spirit. Hang on while I giggle.

The incompetents:

Theresa May and Gordan Brown never had the killer instinct. Even with noble intentions, I could list some: 

Neil Kinnock

William Haigh

Iain Duncan Smith.

Michael Foot

The trouble with IDS is that when he was restored to a position of power, many sick and disabled people suffered. And where does Jeremy Corbyn come? I think he’s like a naughty schoolboy who likes throwing stinkbombs.

Shrek with a machine gun.

With traits of Stan Laurel and Harry Worth, this is how I describe Doris.

Heaven help us.


Thank you for reading. 

Norbert Head


Isn’t it shocking?

Such attention to detail will ooze class and distinction thus proving his true place in English aristocracy. This level of grammar was probably beaten into him at prep school along with times tables and the four rules. John Major once espoused the back to basics mentality alluding to Victorian morals and traditions.

Please note; Victorian working conditions, poverty, child abuse etc etc.

On entering the office, His Moggesty will demand an instant chorus of Jerusalem followed by three cheers for Alfred Lord Tennyson who glorified one of the most ludicrous and tragic incidents in British military history. There will be a recitation of devotion to her maj, natch and a pledge of loyalty to Doris and his archaic minded bottom salivating racist devotees.

At four PM, everyone will stop to share a cup of tea from a rusting pot with a Tesco’s saver custard cream; the cost being deducted from their wages of course.

This is just the start. All his office staff will be forbidden to bring in their smartphones. These will be kept, labelled in a safe to which he alone has the key. Let us hope for no late sittings of the house.

The new office furniture will not accommodate a computer of any description. There will be no plug sockets. It’s strange that many pubs are now using similarly elevated seating and tables.


The concept of the all-singing dancing wheel along office chairs will be a thing of the past. No more wheelie hockey with a screwed-up bit of paper. Lunch will be a formal sit down job with two members of staff handing out the cup-a-soups and boiling water from said rusty kettle.

All facial hair will be banned. No hipsters in Moggy’s little community. Staff will work with fountain pen and ledger. There will be spot checks on dress, make-up, overall cleanliness, tidiness and, of course, grammar. (Note my use of the comma after and.)

Can you imagine the family home?

Image result for rees mogg house

Mrs Mogg, of equal mentality, gladly remains at home to run the household. There are probably servants and scullery maids, concealed behind the more modern titles of personal secretaries or kitchen executives. But every so often, Mrs M will remind them of their lowly status and why such humble origins deserve very little reward. They should be grateful they are not on the streets; not that her ladyship has any idea of what the real streets look like.

Then there are the Mogg sprogs. Heaven help them, growing up in such a sterile environment where the most important things are the least important.

The fact is, behind all the hype, our leaders are making some futile effort to scare the masses into their idea of a perfect life of devotion and servitude. Homelessness, poverty and illness are seen as a weakness deserving of punishment.

Are you homeless?

Well, it’s probably down to your own denial of personal responsibility.

Are you ill?

You should purge yourself of all filth and moral depravity.

Are you poor? Then work harder you lazy little pipsqueak.

Mental illness?

Pull yourself together.

Can these type of people not realise that modern times cannot be forced back into “Hard Times”? If you are familiar with Dickens’ rather fragmented but compulsive novel of the same title, you may realise that he does not hold back in his criticism of the higher echelons of social society.

Indeed, whilst his work is beautifully worded and punctuated to the point of being spectacular, the opening paragraph of “A Tale of Two Cities” breaks all grammatical formalities. At the beginning of the school year, I would ask my year six pupils to rewrite it using appropriate conjunctions or connectives. But then, despite the adjustment, it loses its effect. Gone is the sense of chaos it describes.

Image result for a tale of two cities

Incidentally, if you want to sample a taste of Dickens at his best, go straight to the chapter entitled “The Wine Cask” and admire his art.

The so-called breaking of grammatic rules can often lead to a more expressive style. Who on earth invented these rules? Some public school English master ruling his pathetic little toffee-nosed domain with his cane and slipper? Again, if you read the opening of “Hard Times”, you’ll get my gist.

No, the “rules” have developed over time, a long time. Since the great art of reading and writing has been gifted to all of us, styles have developed. Were you around twenty years ago? Would you have understood the idea of textspeak? M8?

In “Wuthering Heights”, Emily Bronte used creative spelling to recreate a Yorkshire dialect. The reader has to work hard to decipher it but it perfectly expresses the precise manner of the situation. George Bernard Shaw left money in his will to develop a phonetic alphabet. This would eliminate all the wonderful inconsistencies in our mother tongue. (That worked!)

Work this one out; what is a ghoti? No, it’s not a man’s little beard, it’s a fish. Here’s a clue; enouGH.

Image result for silly fish

Therefore, the directive given out by the ever cretinous, high handed, tunnel-visioned dick we know as JRM, is a perfect illustration of how he views the world. From the confines of his bottom.

Between Doris and all his cronies plus the Trumpton regime over the ditch, we’re being forced into a world resembling a cross between game of thrones and the woodentops presided over by Bill and Ben. Who will be Weed?

As much as I hate it, the gradual adoption of American English and corporate dominance has been inevitable.

(Stop it. May 18th 2018)



In all my years, I have delighted in the anomalies of the English language. Teaching it has been fantastic. Encouraging expressive text through a mixture of techniques and then blending in expression and art has been a favourite challenge.

Hang on to your hats (baseball caps, newsboy caps, fascinators, headscarves, wevs) the world is changing faster than ever.

Image result for fascinators

And, why can’t an official communication be expressive?

Up yours Moggy and all the other self-important public schoolboy-brained blood-suckers in your locker.

Thank you for reading.  

Sunday shoppers

It’s something to avoid. Never mind the “I’ll just nip to the supermarket blah blah blah.”  This is Sunday. If you want to blacken your sabbath then feel free. On seconds thoughts, perhaps it is good for the soul to occasionally witness the extras from Shaun of the dead.

Unlike the outrageous images from Walmart that bounce around fb like a bad egg, the purveyors of the Sunday shop on this side of the ditch show more subtle signs of extra-terrestrial behaviour.

Trips to Morrisons on a weekday involve quips and badinage with fellow-shoppers. Real people. Blocking aisles with a counterpoint of trolleys for a quick goss is acceptable. A quick “ahoy there” will clear the way in a flurry of apologies and giggles. But on a Sunday?

The lift doors opened and an old man jumped. Immediately he turned his eyes-a certain sign that he would not be receptive to one of my famous witticisms. Was it the chair or the beard?

Going through an almost silent shop, the aliens were silently rummaging through the freezers. At one corner an employee was applying money off stickers. Behind her, a cackle of hyenas stood hovering; arms waving in eager anticipation.

Image result for hyenas

For some strange reason, I noticed a collection of thin nosed mealy-mouthed men coveting the stationery shelf. They were studying the small print on the back of the vac-packed ballpoint pens. One was using a monocle. He didn’t look like Patrick Moore. When he caught my eye, his face crumpled slightly. I felt uncomfortable. Was my presence troubling him?

The meat aisle was dotted with large ladies leaving their trolleys in the middle. I gently pushed them away for passage through these troubled waters. They said nothing. Their heads tilted. Their gazes looked watery and distant.

On leaving, a Sunday student was wheeling a tall trolley full of seedlings towards me. I moved to one side whilst he stared straight into my eye. Again, silence.

“You can say thank you if you like,” I wailed.

It echoed around the shop.  Still silence. Then everyone was looking at me. What Sunday rule had I broken? Why was I feeling like a turd in a swimming pool? Was it Sunday desperation?

A person’s week may be so packed with duties that this is their only chance to break into the great hall of hell. Does that explain the zombie ambience?


Obviously shopping online isn’t right. They need to visit. It’s like a drug. They have to come and handle things. Behind vague eyes, they look and judge me. Does my chair define me? Am I breaking some unwritten rule? Is Sunday my day of supposed inactivity.

Maybe they imagine me at home being fed thin soup by some moustached spinster carer. I’m wearing an enormous bib whilst she uses the spoon to scoop up the droplets running down my chin. She talks to me softly but professionally.

“There we go, just one more mouthful and we’ll get some ice-cream. It’s buttered pimple flavour today. Your favourite.”

Some years ago, I used to horse-ride on a Sunday morning. On my way back I passed Sainsbury’s. Unfortunately, I was gripped by an “I’ll just pop in” moment. It wasn’t quite ten. There was a crowd outside. It was my first experience of Sunday shopping. I should have known then.

And what was my reason for today? I have no idea. I wanted to leave the flat and I needed washing-up liquid. After Morrisons, I went into Smiths. It was like a library. Why were there “back to school” signs? They don’t finish until Tuesday. The taciturn assistant was clearly belonging to the Sunday sect. One worded answers were uttered through his reluctant vocal communication system. I had to go home.

Why am I so scathing of Sunday shoppers? Well it’s a bit tongue-in-cheek. The experience was so dull I felt the need to pimp it up a bit. I’m sure there are many valid reasons for joining the march of the lost causes. But dull it is. 


Oh, there was a Walmart special. A large young lady carrying a baby whilst wearing skintight tracksuit bottom and top. 

 Thank you for reading.  

What was all that?

Sometimes you catch a moment. That moment can leave you surprised, delighted or exasperated. It may not even be a moment. It could be a day, a weekend, a week, a year perhaps. I have that sense about a decade-the eighties. For me, the eighties was a fantastic roller-coaster of happenings and emotions. I did so much. My feet were nowhere near the ground.

Well, I’ve just had a weekend like that. Here’s how it went.


The previous two weeks were full of struggles. With MS, your body is constantly fighting but when something else comes along, it’s hell. The thing is, you don’t realise anything until it’s too well established and one is flapping around in the six-foot waves. Some might think I’m waving!

The last-minute idea of getting on a train to go up north may not have seemed the most prudent of decisions. I wasn’t going to listen to anybody-not even my body. Ok, I know when I’m in fragile mode and I know how to busk it. It’s all in the preparation and anticipating the consequences of such tomfoolery. 

13th of July:


It’s being prepared to struggle. There I was, all bagged and out the door. To get to the bus stop requires crossing a main road. No problem? The so-called drop kerb was not dropped enough for smooth transition onto the intended pavement so I held up the traffic, including the bus whilst I struggled.


I managed by going briefly along the road to a better drop kerb. On my way past the stop, I pleaded with my fellow passengers to hold the bus for me.

Then why did it stop before the actual space leaving me no room to line up my chair for the ramp? The poor driver’s attempt at expediency had failed. He had to move his vehicle along whilst I broke into a cold sweat, feeling the staring eyes of the passengers, searing through the tinted windows. And stare they did. Right up until I bagged the space onboard.

“Well, that was the cabaret,” I cheekily quipped, desperately looking for a tissue to wipe away the lather running down my forehead. Some giggled whilst others turned their eyes. This form of blanking is a familiar gesture from the seat of my roly-poly. It’s their problem.

My bags were heavy. Yes, I know they were tied to the chair but I felt their weight. My man bag was a ton. It contained enough medical supplies for a week and my all-new professional camera.

An early Saturday afternoon train to Liverpool might well be the one to get. It was empty in second class. The trick is to go just before the end of term-time or just after the start of a new term.

Damn that whistle Stop shop.

Image result for whistle stop euston

It lurks in a corner of Euston beyond the mad scramble for the public toilets. Two mini bottles of red for £7. It was perfect to wash down my homemade roll with paprika and cumin fried chicken breast.

“Oh, I’ll save the second bottle.” Did I bollocks, I was returning first class. Liverpool was chilly so I bought a Primark denim jacket. Should I be ashamed of myself?

On the other side of the water: A text.

“I’m here now.” Reply.

“We can eat in the pub at 6 before going back home for drinks.”

“Ok, I’ll just nip up to Sainsbury’s for some whisky.” Reader, we finished it!

Image result for old pulteney

14th July:

The church was 12.30. I first looked at the phone which said it was 11.35. Booking an accessible cab is fairly random. Some refuse because electric chairs can be huge and not everyone can drive them. The driver related stories of wheel spinning on the ramp and chairs flying into the opposite door causing untold damage to interior trim, chair and feet.

Well, he got me there just in time. Heads turned as this odd beardy weirdy in wheels trundled up the aisle. The service was warm and the priest was kind. He opened the double doors to let me out. What was he saying? (Not everyone has my outstanding driving skills.) At least I remembered to take my hat off.

The afternoon do was one of those big joyous catholic affairs full of love and joy. I had great fun talking to the faces of the past. They hadn’t changed. It was an honour. Here is some of it:


Then at the end; you realise we were at NewBrighton Cricket Club, we nipped next door to the other bar to watch the cricket in a room packed with shouting men. Nuff said. By this time, my right arm had been wrenched and was causing great pain. After a lonely bus ride, it was eased by good friends and another drink. It kept me awake. It was pain. It would go away.

July 15th:

A comforting breakfast preceded the journey back. Gower Street was all over the place so I rolled through the campus of UCL. At Trafalgar Square, I shook hands with Tanni Gray Thomson. She was friendly and humble.

I’d slept a lot on the trains. It felt like I’d ran into a brick wall. The anvil of indulgence hung heavily around my neck.

What was all that?

Thank you for reading.

How hard can it be?

Threading a needle.

I must have been about nine or ten. Determined to sew something up, I set about getting that tiny thread of cotton through the eye. This was microsurgery. it needed a steady hand, sharp eyesight and a master’s degree in logistics. How did I know about cutting the cotton to avoid fraying?  The meter began to run low. But what a lesson. I did sew up that little silk bag.

There followed a successful career of altering trousers and shirts. It gave me a sort of boho improvised shabby chic look; in my own mind. That was a self-created problem. In a simpler time when I’d be happy to wiggle a stick in a puddle and throw marshmallows at passing cyclists, threading a needle was the ultimate achievement.

It’s different now.

As time progresses, things grow minds of their own. Anything when a strap bonds with fellow straps and the arms of chairs. Simple tasks like placing and removing objects become a step towards the scattering of little bits over inaccessible floor areas. Please, feel my pain. The other day, I was discussing the worst ever noise. Many examples entered the conversation:

Nails on a chalkboard.

You’ll never walk alone.

Toddler supermarket rage.

Power tools. You are 7th in the queue (cue phone music).

Phones on trains. I could go on.

My most hated sound is a small delicate staccato ping. It can be accompanied by a flurry of identical sounds, like cute little raindrops pattering on a conservatory roof. This is the sound that ceramic baking beans make when falling on the kitchen floor.

Image result for ceramic baking beans spilling

I take it very personally. I love my beans. I count them every night. I have 109. It’s taken a while to get over the lost bean; it was called Haz.

There is always the familiar drag when you pick up something on the back wheel of the chair. It needs a merry dance to shake the little bugger off before realising that due to one’s cool moves, the grabber is also on the floor.

Ahhhh! The petite hapless crunch of reading glasses being flattened on the carpet. The squelch of the floored cherry tomato. The music of breaking plastic.

Hermes deliveries; they play ring and run. I’ve informed them many times of my situation. I’ve heard of many considerate delivery drivers but this one is an ignorant dick. Read the delivery notes, bellend.

Here is an arm of my wheelchair.

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It’s the left arm, the side most used to load from. This could be a major obstacle for putting a coat on. Just imagine how that tapered end loves catching all manner of straps, sleeves and handles. It’s a guilty arm.

As most things I pick up have a cable attached, it creates the clinging spaghetti wrapping itself like a scared child. Then think of unravelling wires and picking things up without other naughty little lumps falling to the floor.

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“Thud!” Such a simple yet emotive sound. I now have grabbers in every room. When I drop a grabber, I have to get another one to pick it up and then remember to put it back.

Let’s talk about other kitchen matters.

Things will always fall onto the floor. Like straps, kitchen objects will bind creating a chain reaction. Touching one thing creates an avant-garde version of the mousetrap game. You can watch everything interact hoping the final piece is not one of your expensive whisky tumblers being ever-so-gently pushed over the edge.

Warning! Always ensure bottles of cooking oil are sealed. Those shitty litre bottles of sunflower oil have flimsy caps capable of popping open after a trip to the laminate flooring. Fix that in a wheelchair! 

Now for something more universal. On Sky and BT sport, commentators will remind you of an upcoming event on channel so-and-so HD.

Excuse me? Ordinary definition? It does exist. I have a fairly big screen. It’s fine. I don’t need to see the detailed globules of an overpaid tattoed Viking-bearded gobbing over the grass.

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Do they think I’ll have a sudden seizure thinking I’ll not be able to access Dagenham and Redbridge versus Harrogate on a bleak Friday night in January because I haven’t subscribed to an over-expensive HD channel?

How do they regard their loyal customers? 

As a thread goes (writing level 5; make links between introductions and other parts of the text), this is an infinite concept. But I have to finish.

Let’s go to links.

Never click a link to the Liverpool Echo.

The relevant content jumps all over the screen as the promos attempt to invade your head like a spoilt brat, standing in front of the TV to get your attention. I’m not interested in 50 photobombs or bits of human anatomy sticking out of underwear.

If you wish to print out the free Independent crossword be prepared to deal with the dancing content ensuring that a barrage of ads passes before your very eyes. It’s like nipping into Smiths at Sandbach Services to buy a newspaper. You have to navigate through the grotto of pink tacky shite to the papers at the back of the shop.

“You can skip this ad in 5 seconds.”

When 5 seconds are up, the position of the icon shifts. When you scroll up to delete a worthless page, a huge thing pops up demanding you like them. The list is endless. But we have lives.

In the grand scheme of things, I’m lucky to live independently. I’m lucky to have technology and friends and support and a comfortable place to live. But I know I sing as part of a large chorus, targeted by marketeers and the ironies of life.

Thank you for reading.