Wolf-e-boy's Global Travel bites page-(29-09-'02 to 19-02-'04)
Travel bites from wolf-e-boy's 17 month trek around the globe, full edited version available in hardback from Amazon.com.
 
 
2019/20
What's going on in my life this year.
 
 
2017/18 Random Stuff
What's going on in my life during 2017
 
 
Blogging On 2016
Whatever moves me to scribe this year.
 
 
Blogging on- 2015
What ever moves me to hit the keyboard this year, here it is
 
 
Blog on 2013/14
What's going on in my life, Shoreham, and the outside world in 2013. My thoughts, my words.
 
 
Myanmar Times 2013
My trip to Myanmar with Tim Wall, an ancestral Royal, we think!
 
 
Blog on- 2011/ 2012
What's occurring in my life in or around Shoreham by sea, this year. For 2013, please check the page above, 'Blog on 2013'
 
 
A brief maritime history of Shoreham and its Fort
A history to explain the defensive importance of Shoreham, and its need for the Shoreham Redoubt, finished in 1857
 
 
Watercraft, my part in its downfall
Continuing from 'When I left school 1979'. I spent 6 great years learning my trade at Watercraft LTD, and this is the beginning of the story of my time there
 
 
When I left school, 1979
Leaving Cardinal Newman school, 1979, 16 years old, my first job, first proper wages, wide eyed and care free, look out world, here I come.
 
 
A bygone Shoreham Beach
Short stories from a childhood spent discovering Shoreham, plus links to some of our incredible local music talent
 
 
John Jabez Edwin Mayall
This page is a brief summary of one of the early leading lights of photography, J.J.E. Mayall
 
 
Wolf E Boy's Barn and Granary conversion blog
For 7 months, back in 2007, I worked on a barn conversion as site carpenter, at the same time as my book, Bangkok to BC', was being published, this blog tells the story of both
 
 
2009/10 blog n stuff
whatever moves me to scribble this year
 
 
Don't get me started- blogging
This is about just some of the things that daily piss so many of us off
 
 
Wolf rants- Wolf E. Boy's rhyming rhetoric
some of my 'Outspoken rhyming rants'
 
 
Silly, witty one liners page
Here are some of my fave collected one liners I've been posting on Facebook and Twitter. Feel free to return any time, as I regularly update with new one liners. Enjoy the jokes folks!
 
 
Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, Gone Fishing
Some things in life are meant to be, or not, Dan finds out the hard way when a simple trip gets complicated
 
 
The Scam page
This page is devoted to stories of scams, and how they happened
 
 
2008/9, bloggin' on
What's up this year ?
 
 
The Polish 'stag' experience
The Stag tradition goes to Krakow
 
 
Lamp Bassett, the evolution of 'weedspeak'
Evolution of 'weed speak'
 
 
Random Page
Random old scribes of mine
 
 
Steve's tree
 
 
My Ramus Family tree
This page is for the continued updating of my Sephardic family tree information.
 
 
The Ring Master & John William Godward
This is the story of the late Victorian, early Edwardian world of art dealing, and the link between William Walker Sampson, leader of the biggest art cartel of the time, and a painter whose style was being eclipsed by the emergence of the likes of Picasso
 
 
William Walker Sampson's Art Auction Ring
This is just a rough out for an art ring project already going on another page of this site, working, hopefully, to a final edit.
 
 
Victorian/Edwardian art dealers directory
One at a time, I will be writing up short bio's of art dealers from the late 19th, and early 20th century, a follow up to the Art Ring story also on this site.
 
 
A Brief History of Shoreham Aviation
This is a brief history of the aviators that helped establish Shoreham Aerodrome as a part of the evolution of flight.
 
 

2019/20

VE Day Brighton

 

 08-05-2020

VE Day 8th May 1945

Over time I’ve taken notes of conversations with my Pa about his young life, some of which I’ve recorded. He was born in 1927, so as you can imagine he lived through some extraordinary times. With the anniversary of VE Day approaching, here is a snippet of his recollections, having arrived back from service out in the far east leading up to the long awaited Victory in Europe.

John Ramus- Squadron Scribe for HMS Vengeance, a Light Fleet Carrier. (Taken at Katakarunda, Ceylon)

Coming home:-

From Ceylon, I sailed home by R.A.F.A, H.M.S Eagle(?), to a west England port, possibly Portland. Back in England, we got the customs officer blotto, took a load of ‘Rabbits’ (contraband) ashore with us, I had a radio. They (the Customs Officers) must have dreaded us coming, we used to get them so drunk every time we came ashore on arrival back home. The ship birthed at Portland, and we were taken by lorries to Pompey barracks. While there, at Queens Hotel in Selsey, I was typing up 1st, 2nd, and 3rd rate ticket exam papers for Merchant navy boys navigation exams. I met up with the boys, Pat Dalton, and Johnny Phelps in Pompey. Johnny Phelps was the man for getting the beer vouchers, good snooker player and general schmoozer, six foot one, blonde, good looking lad with a great sense of humour.

Pa on board either HMS Ranee or HMS Vengeance. Circa 1944/5

 

While posted at Portsmouth, the V.E day celebrations occurred while on leave to Brighton. A number of us Navy boys made the trip by train from Pompey to Brighton station, straight in to the Imperial Arms, we worked our way down Queens Road in full uniform, picking up mates as we  went, determined to stop at every pub along the way, I took a left at the Clock Tower down in to North Street. No one would let me buy a drink, so by the time I reached St Peters Church, I’d had a few. I had my trumpet in a bag over my shoulder, and some people asked what was in the bag, when I told them, they demanded I play a tune. A policeman held up my music sheet, and I played for the crowd. After I’d played, perhaps noticing my condition, the bobby flagged down a cabbie and instructed him to get me home. He dropped me outside Boof and Auntie’s place at the top of Elm Grove, no charge,  Auntie came out and hauled me in”.

The following day:-

“I must have been all right, as I woke up in the morning and went down to the pub with Auntie. I’d long since made a solid decision never to try and out drink Auntie, that was a battle you’d be sure to lose, she could drink with the best of them”.

Pa on leave, with his brothers, Mike and Tim.

Remembering Ma

 

26-04-2020

It was this time last year I was in the ambulance with Ma, the heavily tattooed body builder paramedic doing his best to take my mind off the, doubtless to him, obvious outcome, as we bounced along the pothole riven A259 coast road to Worthing Hospital. I didn’t expect it was going to be a one way trip for Ma, that bombshell was going to be dropped on me later, albeit in a very caring and compassionate manner by a lovely lady doctor as I blubbed like a baby in front of her. The rest of the family made their way along to say their goodbyes, with Lizbet refusing to leave Ma’s side until she passed away two days later, Sunday 28th April.

One year on and what a different world we now live in, I wonder what daily hell that poor lady doctor is now having to deal with. She was in the emergency ward then, so I guess she’s front line now, and seeing things she never thought she would have to see in her lifetime.

For us, well we’re just concentrating on doing what we’re told, and making sure we keep Pa safe from infection. Shouldn’t be too hard, but then we are very lucky to live where we do. With this lockdown situation, we inevitably find ourselves trying to fill the hours, and plenty of time to think. Ma has been on my mind fairly well constantly this last year, but with the anniversary of that fateful day closing in I’ve been doing my best to remember as many of the stories she told me as I can. You see, there’s the thing, I always expected Ma to outlive Pa, she was 7 years younger for a start, and until 2015 when she had a transient ischemic attack (T.I.A), she had also been a fitter, more active person in her later years than Pa was. As such, I’d been trying to get as many of his stories down as possible before he shuffled off his mortal coil. If I’d known then that he had a better chance than Captain Scarlet I’d have spent more time getting Ma’s stories. As it is, I do have lots of memories of things she told me along the way, and just like Pa, she had plenty worth sharing.

Ma at centre. Left to right:- Jim, Peter, David, April. Circa 1935

 

Ma was the youngest of 5, daughter of a doctor, (Charles Courtney Bennett), Granddaughter of a Rear Admiral, (Frederick William Marshall), and her Ma, Granny Pip, would have fitted in as a fearsome Duchess in Downton Abbey just by being herself. It seems strange seeing old pictures of a much younger Pip holding Ma as a baby, and contrasting that image with the occasional raging battle axe we remember. In fairness, Pip did soften as we got older, and my overall memories of her are fond. When I made the front pages of the local Argus paper for kissing Duchess Lavinia of Norfolk in 1982, the headline was, ‘Kiss for a Duchess, just like his Gran’. I’d been chosen as the youngest apprentice at Watercraft, to give her a bunch of flowers after she presented our Chief of Sales, Tim Dunlop, with the Queens Award for Industry. Tim then arranged for the front page picture of me with the Duchess to be framed for Pip, and she kept it by her bedside at the care home she was staying at in Hove.

Granny Pip holding Ma, circa 1934/5

When war was on the horizon, Pip arranged for Ma and her sister, April, to be sent to Canada to stay with friends or relatives over there, until a passenger ship got torpedoed by the Germans, and the plug was pulled on that plan. Instead, Ma and April were enrolled at St Martha’s convent school in Rottingdean, where began their lifetime devotion to the catholic church. While April appears to have been a model pupil, Ma was clearly not. With her soon to become lifelong friend, Tisha, and two other girls, they were known as the 4 Toughs apparently, which still brings a smile to my face. She told me they were some of the happiest years of her life.

Ma, April, David, Peter, and Jim, (with Tisha between Ma and April) at St Martha’s circa 1938

As youngsters, Ma and April were assigned Guardians, in the shape of their eldest brothers, David, and Peter, with David having charge of April, Peter with Ma, or ‘Babe’, as they all called her. There was quite a difference in ages, with David born 1922,  Peter 1923,  April 1930, and Ma 1934. Ma recalled those years very fondly, and always said what great fun they all had as children together.

David, Peter, and Ma-2

When school days were done, and Ma was finding herself pursued by young men, Pip would hire detectives to find out if these ‘beaus’ were suitable or not. One boyfriend clearly did not live up to Pip’s expectations, and around 1953, to effect a split, Ma was shot off to Denmark to work as an au pair, where she lived and worked for over 2 years.

10. Ma n April circa 1955

Ma and April in Denmark. Circa 1955

Not long after her return, she and April started at Southlands Hospital in Shoreham, training as nurses. I know she has mentioned her time there, but I haven’t been able to find any notes, and my memory, sad to say, cannot recall. She did tell me of the family living at West House in Albourne, by the A23, and how she used to cycle to Burgess Hill to get straw for the rabbits they kept, or how she and April would think nothing of cycling to Arundel for the day, (a good 50/60 mile round trip), and having cream teas there. She also told me how they had to get the boiler going, which was quite a rigmarole, and the general rustic lifestyle they lived, hard but enjoyable.

Ma the farm girl

Ma the nurse. Circa 1956

 

 

When Ma and Pa first met, it was through April and Leslie’s friend, Jake, who they had invited over for tea. Pa was best mates with Jake, so came along. Ma told me that Pa was very rude about April’s rock cakes, commenting when she handed him the plate, “bloody hell”, and making like they weighed a ton to a startled April as the rest laughed. From there began a whirlwind courtship, and I must presume Pip gave her approval, as it was her that took the photo of Pa down on bended knee proposing to Ma at West House in Albourne. They had a Register office wedding at Brighton on the 23rd March, which they called their ‘Daffodil Wedding’, as all their friends nicked daff’s from the Royal Pavilion Gardens on their way for the occasion. They then had the wedding proper at St John the Baptist, in Kemp Town, on May 3rd 1958, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Ma n Pa’s Golden Wedding card

 

I wish so hard I had grilled Ma more about her young life, I wish she was still here, but also know she was already leaving us a little more with every passing day because of the dementia. They’re all gone now, David, Peter, Jim, April, and Babe, up there with Granny Pip, and Grandpa Co. Such a grand family they were, and although I’m not the least bit religious, but because you really were, I shall allow myself to say, God Bless you Ma, and all you lovely C.B’s. I miss you all, and especially you Ma, but you will live on forever in my heart.

Pa and Freddie

Pa's Lockdown 93rd Birthday

18-04-2020

 

It’s day 25 of Lockdown UK, day 34 of social distancing for our household, but more importantly, yesterday was the 93rd birthday of our dearly beloved Pa. We’ve maintained some semblance of normality at home during these worrying times, and thankfully kept the virus away so far. Having a birthday to celebrate, and to have chalked up 93 years at that, is always normally a reason to give thanks, but in the current situation, even more so. There was no party, or at least not the sort we conventionally think of, but we did manage a Facebook/Skype type thingy with Pa’s last living sibling, his half brother, Ian, in Taunton, and Jill, his lovely wife. We had a good natter, and decided we need to get to grips with technology and organise something called Zoom for next time, so we can involve more people from around the family.

During that call, Jill asked if I had made a birthday cake, to which I sheepishly admitted I had not, but now felt I ought to. Having then discovered we lacked most of the necessary ingredients and tools, but determined to try anyway, I Googled to find out what I could make with what we do have. (I can't even remember the last time I had made a cake, no excuse I know). The following fiasco of culinary disaster led to me whisking the egg mix using my cordless drill, much like a plasterer knocking up his mix, getting the order arse about face, so then cleaning out, changing tins, and eventually after a flour explosion all over the kitchen, finally having a dubious mix to pour in to the marge and flour lined baking tin. What else could go wrong? Well, having had the element in the oven recently changed, it appears our oven is now more like an industrial furnace, probably more use for firing porcelain. No prizes for guessing the outcome, a perfectly charcoaled cake shaped crust, with a barely edible interior. Me and Pa tackled the centre piece, which was the least cremated, enough to tell us if it had been in there for half the time it might have been ok. The rest went in the bin once it had cooled off enough to no longer be considered a fire hazard.

Dinners continue to be based on Monday’s main meal being made to last the week. Shepherds Pie this week, with the mix left being used to make spag bol, that was last nights effort. Pa asked me and Ant if we’d have a snifter with him that evening, so once we’d had our ritual House of Games at 6pm, we got the rum out ready for our next dose of The Last Kingdom on Netflix. Pa like to fill his own rum and shrub drink, and as usual, on the rare occasions he has  a drink, he’s making up for lost time, heavy on the rum. As it was his birthday he decided to have two, not something we would encourage on a regular basis, but he had two the other night, and slept soundly as a result, so me and Ant presumed the same would happen this time.

Pa is a bit wobbly at the best of times, and I saw him upstairs to make sure he got there ok, he seemed fine, and insisted he was ok, so I left him to it. About half an hour later I heard a thump, and legged it upstairs, Ant also with the same thought charging towards the stairs. We found Pa on his backside in his bedroom, and a little confused, dare I say, a wee bit Brahms and Liszt. With a bit of effort we got him up, and then he felt sick, so Ant grabbed the bathroom bin, which the old fossil promptly began filling with his recently digested spag bol. Bless him, as he apologised over and over, I said if you can’t get pissed and throw up on your 93rd birthday, then when can you. He wasn’t quite up to laughing at the idea then, but we did get him back to bed, and Ant said he was snoring loudly later on when he went past, and still in the morning.

Dear old Pa didn’t remember any of it, just wondered how his hand came to be swollen and bruised, he’d obviously broken his fall with it. It’s possible by the look of it that he may have broken something, but we won’t be going to hospital to find out at the moment. He had no hangover, and this morning enjoyed a nice cooked breakfast, so all is well. I thought I’d share this with you two, as giggles are probably in short supply at the moment, and this might put a smile on your boat.

Pa's swollen paw, 2 days after his tumble.

.................

28 Days Later

 

10-04-2020

On Friday March 13th I attended the funeral and wake of Danny Seales, a local legend of the waves, a father, son, and friend to countless many. A hugely popular person, incredibly talented surfer, windsurfer, and kite surfer, he was one of those people that makes you feel welcome and liked even if he’d never met you before, and his ever present smile could light up any room. Even that early we knew not to shake hands, and had known the week  before, we knew by instinct why it was so important from what we’d seen from China, elbow touching or knuckle bumping instead of the usual handshake, even if we did make light of it at the time. That day, for many at the wake, was probably the last time they set foot in a pub, certainly it was for me, and the last day I had an alcoholic drink. Now, 28 days later, our days are counted down by food supplies in the fridge, and the next foray out to the shops to stock up again, hoping to avoid crowds, and wondering what will or won’t be on the shelves. Perhaps the Lottery should add some Coronavirus prizes, like a Tesco home delivery slot, a months supply of toilet rolls, and boxes of hand sanitizers or soap.

Wash your hands, keep your distance, don’t touch your face, stay indoors, keep well, protect our NHS!

Despite being very lucky to be where we are, living by the sea and not in a densely populated area, I still occasionally wake up with night panics after a niggling cough, or eyes itching, and start playing through my mind where I might have let my guard down and picked up the virus, then start worrying even more about how that would affect Pa and Ant too, how would we deal with it? But it’s good to have that fear, hopefully it will keep me vigilant, and the panic soon passes, sometimes with the aid of a powerful pain killer to help me sleep.

Wash your hands, keep your distance, don’t touch your face, stay indoors, keep well, protect our NHS!

We’re a week away from Pa’s 93rd birthday on the 17th, and 2 ½ weeks away from the day that Ma died on the 28th last year, 2 days before my birthday, I long ago stopped celebrating my birthday, and never felt less like it than last year, so there will be mixed emotions this month. I’m happy we’ve been able to keep things as normal as possible for Pa, despite a few fractious moments as he sometimes either forgets, or refuses to acknowledge, the importance of certain measures needed to stay safe. We do our best to turn it round with humour if things get heated, or distraction also works, given that at his age you can change the subject and 30 seconds later he’s forgotten what the argument was about. Ant is discovering what an ecological disaster area Pa is, running a bath worth of water to rinse his cup out, or filling the kettle to the brim and turning it on just to then walk away and leave it, leaving lights on, things I’ve long been battling against with varying ploys. So now I have Pa bemoaning the fact that Ant races to get the cup out of his hands as he approaches the sink, and Ant telling me all about it as if I might not have noticed during all the years I’ve been living here. These are games I have long since become accustomed to, and now we have to add beating the old boy to the post and papers in the morning, to remove the front pages with the litter picker and put them to one side for a day. We read front pages a day late, it’s only local news after all, we’ve already seen and heard of the unfurling horror show via the radio and TV anyway. Among the stories, a rather unfair shot at footballers by politicians regarding a suggested pay cut, it’s funny how they suggest footballers take a pay cut (which helps no one but the clubs), but no there’s suggestion that investment bankers and hedge fund managers help in some way. The world bailed bankers out in 2008, now would be a good time to repay that debt.

 

Wash your hands, keep your distance, don’t touch your face, stay indoors, keep well, protect our NHS!

To keep ourselves busy, Ant has pretty much taken over the upkeep of the garden and drive, while this week I have mostly been making shoe shelves to house the multitude of footwear Ant brought with him, it’s like Imelda Marcos moved in! Liberating bits of ply or MDF from skips on my early morning dog walks has provided well for the various projects I’ve been undertaking, but my supply of fixings is rapidly being depleted. Hopefully what I have will do, and if not, then I’ll have to go really old school and think about making wooden dowels and using joiner shop skills. As time moves along we’ll try to keep busy to wile the time away, and hopefully the house should be a good deal better organised and tidy by the end of this lockdown.

Wash your hands, keep your distance, don’t touch your face, stay indoors, keep well, protect our NHS!

TV-wise, we’re getting used to Netflix, and have been watching on alternate days, The Last Kingdom, the main character being ‘Uthred of Bebbenburg’, during the time of King Alfred and the raiding Norsemen, better known as Vikings, a cracker of a series so far, and also Marco Polo, with Mongol warriors, ninja’s, and no shortage of blood, gore, and enough sex to keep them off the mainstream channels, both of which we watch after Richard Osman’s, ‘House of Games’. I only watch the news when I go to bed, and only an hours’ worth then, checking across all the news channels to get as wide a picture as possible. It may be depressing, but it’s important to know as much as possible about the science, and the medical side of things, especially when countering some of the childish nonsense being shared on some social media. I can’t explain better it than Jane Raison did with this gem:-

‘As someone with a Masters in disease control, you can only imagine the sheer hell on earth that Facebook is for me at the moment.

From Chantelle who has impressively made the leap from bath bomb retailer to consultant virologist in a matter of weeks and can tell you exactly why the government and their experts are wrong, to Bob who claims to have secret intel from a secret government group on the secret programme of secret treatment measures that the government are definitely bringing in at 3pm next Thursday, only it’s a secret, but he’s posting it on Facebook so he feels like 007, to Steve who thinks it’s all a load of bollocks and if he wants to wander round town he bloody well can cos he doesn’t feel sick and why the hell is ‘spoons shut cos his granddad didn’t fight the nazis for him to be told to stay inside even if pornhub premium is now free for a week.

I have left the middle section out, but she finishes with this paragraph:-

‘I’ve not even told you about the time I got the lab induced yeast infection up my nose, the time I sedated myself with chloroform during an exam, or had an entire, fully operational water treatment plant stolen over night, but, suffice to say I have a little window into this mad world we’re all stuck in together now.
I am not your government. I am not your health department. I am not the girl who decides on your country’s global treatment programme. I’m not Scully, or indeed, Mulder.

So please don’t come at me bro, I’m not interested in arguing with you because you’ve read how eating 4 oranges a day will give you a shield of protection like you’ve just had a bowl of 1970s readybrek, or how you have a file of secret evidence as to why this has been made up by the Chinese/Trump/ phone companies or your dad. I’m just here to say STAY THE FUCK INSIDE.

Now, Judge Judy is on and I’ve just treated myself to a Freddo Frog, so have fun y’all and STAY INSIDE.’

On that note, I will leave you both to ponder what the rest of Jane’s post contained, I expect if you’re interested in actually reading it for yourself, you could probably just google the first couple of lines and find it, it’s both funny and informative.

Last night we were out in Havenside clapping for the healthcare workers, another great turn out in the neighbourhood. It isn’t much, but if they can see or hear it and know we care, then it’s something. I had Pa’s old wooden football rattle, the old boy opposite had an old metal dustbin lid, others whooped and whistled, and the majority clapped. It felt good to be a part of, now let’s all do our bit and stay indoors for them.

Take care, stay safe, keep well, and do whatever you can to not get this bloody virus, for the sake of all our healthcare workers, everywhere.

.................................................

Covid Times. Lockdown UK. Shoreham by sea

02-04-2020

The Covid Times

 

Well here we all are, day 18 of social distancing, and day 9 of Lockdown UK.

As this pandemic envelops the human race around the globe, and medics fight this appalling virus on our behalf, many already having lost their lives as a result of putting themselves in harms way to help those infected with the Coronavirus, which causes the disease- Covid19. It’s hard to get a grip on things at a time like this, and is bringing out the best in many people, as neighbours look out for each other, and thousands volunteer to help out with the NHS, food banks, and many other ways to help those that need it. It also brings out a sadder side, the nonsensical nationalistic bullshit which seeks to point fingers and apportion blame to ‘others’, in this case, China.

Make no mistake, they’ll be looking to learn from this awful situation, just like every country in the world will hope to, but this could have happened any number of times down the years, in any number of countries, which is why there were already pandemic response teams in place. With one notable exception mind you, where the most powerful country in the world had allowed itself to be led by probably the biggest moron in the history of politics ever to lead a nation, the idiot Trump, who more than anyone has pushed the ‘blame game’ agenda with China. The US actually had a Pandemic Response Team, but Trump decided to fire the entire team 2 years ago, for no other reason than it had been set up by Barack Obama, think about that. His early refusal to take any notice of his medical advisers will likely lead to hundreds of thousands more deaths than would have been the case if he had acted on their advice straight away. His childlike mentality, empowered by daddies fortune left to this imbecile, have allowed him to grow up never accepting the word ‘no’, he gets his way regardless of being right or wrong. When it was business, all he did was lose money, without doing major harm to the masses, this time the cretin has been shown up for what he is, unfortunately, as is so often the case, it will be others paying the price for his staggering incompetence. I fear for the huge swathes of Americans who will be carted off to temporary morgues, without even the dignity of a decent funeral. Trump has at last heeded the advice of those that know better, and admitted to Americans that they’re in for hard times

My heart also breaks for the victims in Italy, Spain, here in the UK, and everywhere else around the globe. I can’t even imagine what devastation is about to be unleashed in India, and when you think about the wildfire like spread of this virus, it’s hard to imagine anytime soon when we as a race will overcome it. There are roughly 9 billion human inhabitants on planet earth, and this virus has already proved it can get everywhere, so even with a vaccine it will take some time to eradicate, if it can be entirely.

Our own country is currently paying a price for years of underfunding of our NHS, and we’re run by a party that actually cheered last year when a proposed wage rise for nurses was voted down by them. Jeremy Hunt has gone on record as regretting the damage he had inflicted on the NHS during his time as the Health Minister, the first time I’ve witnessed empathy on his usually smug boat. It’s a bit like we’ve done the exact opposite of what would be needed to prepare for the situation we now find ourselves in, and now we’re here, there are voices getting up and stating what a great job Boris Johnson is doing, like some collective case of Stockholm Syndrome (a condition in which hostages develop a psychological alliance with their captors during captivity). Johnson continuously voted down any proposals to raise the wages of NHS workers, as did virtually his entire party, while they also oversaw the cutting of nurses numbers during their time in charge, as well as many nurses leaving the profession, as stated by the Royal College of Nursing, who issued warnings about large numbers of experienced nurses leaving the profession, with many citing concerns about working conditions. Basically, the Tories have ensured that this country was as badly prepared for a pandemic as is was possible to be. So rather than bigging up undeserving politicians, let’s see more voices demanding our health workers are given the protective equipment they require, and the tests they should be getting to see whether they have, or have had, the virus. When I see the daily conference talks on TV, we still have politician speak where rather than admit they made mistakes, they skirt the question, and spout meaningless numbers. Real leadership would absolutely demand that the NHS were getting everything they needed, and would have it covered before the situation arose, well in advance. Remember, we had China, Italy, and Spain in front of us, there is no excuse for not knowing what was coming. That said, we have to back the people we have to do their job, but we should not just blindly believe them, they need to be held accountable, our NHS workers deserve nothing less.

At home, where we are adhering to the self isolation protocols, and wiling away the time by getting household chores done, making up skate ramps for the neighbours children, and gardening, I know how lucky we are to have space around us, a garden to walk around, and the beach to walk the dog in the morning. As part of our daily routine, we’ve just had a light midday lunch after doing some weeding in the driveway, as always being overseen by Freddie. Having a set routine in the lockdown is going to be essential in the long run I believe, and stretching out the jobs which need doing, so we work in short spells, broken up by lunch, or a tea break. Lunch is generally only a sarny with a cuppa, but it uses up time, always washing hands as soon as we step back indoors, keeping our hands off door handles beforehand, and finally getting to scratch that facial itch once our hands are clean!

 

For my own part, I don’t mind isolation, my mind keeps me occupied with wide and varied thoughts. I’ve been working on an early aviation history of Shoreham, something I started a couple of years back, currently writing up the year 1912, which I hope to share with you both some time soon, very much in the vain of Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines. I’ve also been getting my dad’s early years of life written up from the many notes I have, it’s just a case of finding and gathering them all together. Among other things, he was a despatch rider aged 14 in 1941, delivering messages up and down the counties of Surrey, Sussex, and Hampshire, and also he and his other young despatch riders used to escort fire engines down to Portsmouth after bombing raids, leap frogging each other at junctions to keep the way clear and then bringing up the rear after the fire engines had passed. Having tried to get in to the air force while under age and been found out, he then tried the navy, and got in underage, but got found out again, finally getting in by 1944, enlisted as a ‘Scribe’ on an aircraft carrier, HMS Ranee. These are some of the things which will keep me occupied over the coming months, as well as hopefully helping our neighbour, Allen, who is one of the many designated ‘vulnerable’ over 70’s with Crones disease and compromised immune system, and not forgetting our venerable Pa, who at 92 is doing pretty well all in all, and my brother Ant who has been an invaluable help as we try and keep as much normality in the household as is possible during this lockdown. One of our battles is to keep Pa away from the newspapers and post when delivered, he cannot grasp the idea that the virus can be transmitted by paper, no matter how many times we tell him. Next project is to make an American style outside post box so he can’t get to it before one of us! This is as nothing to our heroic NHS. I sincerely hope when this whole episode calms down, that people don’t forget how vitally important our medical services were, and the risks they took to care for the Covid19 patients, or the fact that they were already doing an amazing job before this even started.

Social Distancing, Lockdown, NHS, and Deadly Shoppers.

26-03-2020

Well here we are at day 11 of our self imposed social distancing, and day 3 of the UK Lockdown. Sadly too many are ignoring the advice, and some are just plain ignorantly defying all the evidence based messages without a thought for whosoever it may affect rather than suffer short term inconvenience themselves. Selfish scum basically.

Wash your hands, keep your distance, don’t touch your face, cough and sneeze in to a hankee or elbow, don’t go out too much.

At home we’d been getting ready for the inevitable just over a week earlier than the Government imposed lockdown. As the doctors were telling those that were listening, if you keep away from everyone, you won’t catch it. I know for some it’s very difficult because of financial reasons, but we only get one shot at life, no second chances once the old ticker beats its last. I started by cutting down on what I eat, to make it go further, half size cereal bowls, miss lunch, which was only generally a roll or sarny anyway, and smaller dinners. I’ve made my Monday cooking last the week for some years, so that side doesn’t change much. I’ve also began using local shops, but they don’t always have a great deal in, as more people are using them now too, but anything which keeps me away from the larger disease factory of Tesco has to be a good thing. Let’s hope they sort it out soon.

Wash your hands, keep your distance, don’t touch your face, cough and sneeze in to a hankee or elbow.

Sarah next door added a few things on to her home delivery shop for us, I haven’t been able to get anywhere on that front, all their date and time slots are fully booked up, and you’ve got no chance getting through on the phone to try and tell them you have an elderly person you need to provide for. They need an army of drivers, and obviously delivery vans, to bring that up to speed and ease the numbers at the shops. The horror stories coming from friends who had no choice but to go to the supermarkets, no social distancing, no manners, and no compassion, and similarly, the staff getting abuse. What a vile mob the public can be, Blitz Spirit my arse. Even at the supposed ‘Over 70’s’ and ‘NHS workers’ priority shop times, there were still mass crowds and no distancing, and suggestions that many flouted the rules and went in when they had no right.  Something needs to be done to regulate the flow of shoppers and force the 2m rule of social distancing otherwise the virus will never go away, and the NHS will sink under the weight of the sick and dying. NHS staff deserve better than to have to deal with that.

Each time you hear this, or read it, think about the result of this madness, more cases of Covid19 pneumonia crushing the life out of the NHS, it can’t be repeated enough.

Wash your hands, keep your distance, don’t touch your face, cough and sneeze in to a hankee or elbow.

Passing the time

At home in the garden last week, me and Ant started tidying up and keeping busy, much as I’m sure people all around the country, and the world, may also be doing, where they can. This week we were given a project by our neighbours, to make skate ramp profiles for Sonny and Nev to skateboard on. We made up a swing arm template for my router, and made the profiles up in the back garden, happy to have something to keep us occupied. We now need some 6mm ply to fix to the profiles and form the ramps, and have been searching skips now that there are no builders merchants open. If anyone reading this has any, please let us know. It would be nice to get the ramps finished for Sonny and Neve so they can utilise the time ahead honing the skateboarding skills.

Last year I had started turning the garage in to a combined man cave/workshop, and with that almost complete, was ready to do the old coal bunker connected to it, thankfully I anticipated early and ordered the materials before the shutdown, just, with my mate Jamie picking the stuff up and dropping it off to us. The merchants were snowed under with delivery orders by builders trying to ‘future proof’ their work for the weeks ahead. Ant and me have been doing a few hours a day framing out and ply boarding the space, hoping to string it out and make the work last as long as possible, but I’m sure we can find other stuff to do once that’s finished.

Wash your hands, keep your distance, don’t touch your face, cough and sneeze in to a hankee or elbow.

Home Hygiene

With newspapers and the post, it’s a race to beat Pa to it. Trying to convince him that he doesn’t need to get to everything that drops through our letter box as soon as it arrives has thus far proved an impossible task, with heated discussions following as I order him to wash his hands and try to explain why he shouldn’t pick it up. Quite simply put, there is never a goddam thing that comes through that feckin letter box that needs to be looked at straight away. I have a littler picker for picking it all up, and then quarantine it until the following day. The newspaper I just remove the front page and give him the rest. But it’s testing, as we have to keep a constant eye on him to stop him as he either forgets, (he is 92 after all), or refuses to believe the severity of the situation. We’ll get there though.

Other than finding work, or household chores, me and Ant sit down everyday at 10.30 to test our miserable memories with Ken Bruce’s pop quiz on Radio 2, and in the evening we all sit down to watch House of Games on BBC2, a simple enough, but enjoyable quiz show, and thankfully one that we can get a few answers right!

I hope you’re all finding ways to help the time go by without having to risk your health by going out more than is absolutely necessary, and preferably not at all in crowded environments. Stay safe you two that are reading this, and hope to see you both on the other side. (Not the spiritual one!)

Wash your hands, keep your distance, don’t touch your face, cough and sneeze in to a hankee or elbow.

..............................................

Covid 19. Self Isolating. Day 3

Written- Thursday 19th March 2020

Wash your hands, keep your distance, wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands.

Wednesday 18th

Day 3 of self isolating, but had to go to Tesco’s first thing for us, and a few things for Allen, our neighbour- it was packed at 06.40, – they only opened the doors at 06.00, and had double queues the full length of the store waiting to get in then apparently. Lots of stuff already gone from the shelves, and bigger queues than at Christmas, but general behaviour better than I’ve seen on the internet. Felt soiled by the overall experience- walked through it like a scene from a zombie movie, petrified of catching the virus and possibly giving it to Pa, who at 92 would be a disaster. No protection for the staff, and they all have to work even longer hours, increasing their risk. I wished them well, but was so glad to get out of there, and really don’t fancy having to go back in a hurry. Forgot a few things, but wasn’t going back in that potential virus farm, so stopped at a Tesco Direct on the way back, which used to be my local pub for a while, the Green Jacket, before Tesco’s bought it. Even then still forgot the milk, you’d hardly believe I had a bleedin’ list! Stopped at the beach garage to get the milk, then home and put all the shopping in the garage to quarantine it according to the latest advice, for 72hrs. Go indoors and wash my hands thoroughly.

Any little perceived change in my health, a wee cough, sore throat, or temperature, and I’m sweating like a bastard over the thought I’ve got it, playing havoc with my nerves. I’ve never washed my hands so much, and live in constant fear of Pa catching it.

Phoned up Dao, our Thai friend, to see how her dog, Pixie is, as had been off her food and unwell, only to find Dao thinks she has the virus. She sounds poorly, but remained upbeat, and has self isolated. She assured me she’ll be looked after ok, she has 2 school age daughters with her, and an elder daughter who works and can help if necessary. She’s 2 days in to it from noticing the cough, sore throat, headache and temperature. Even though she’s a strong lady, it must still a big worry for her, but she managed to come across as cheerful despite feeling lousy.

Just writing that gives me the horrors- numbers starting to rise in this country- and big concerns over the ability of the NHS to cope.

Had a visit from two nurse friends, Ann and Hels, stopping by on their return from Sweden to see how Pa is, wasn’t sure about letting them in, but they assured me they were ok. I led them straight to the bathroom to wash hands and gave them a fresh towel, then seated them at a safe distance from Pa and gave them tea and biscuits. One more thing to keep me on panic mode for the next five days, especially with the Tesco trip earlier. After they left, Ant cleaned all the door handles with a cleansing wipe, washed their cups thoroughly, and we both washed our hands likewise. That’s really the mantra now, wash your hands, keep your distance, don’t touch your face unless you’ve just washed your hands. “Take no chances” Ant said, I’m so pleased my brother is living with us now. We’re building up a siege mentality, and with that we get, or I certainly do anyway, a feeling of extra security. We’re in this together, keep Pa safe, as well as ourselves.

I called our weekly Monday night family Trough gathering off until further notice as we prepared for the long haul of isolation, but still cooked a roast chicken with all the trimmings that day for us three, which was plenty for the following day too, and stick the carcass in the slow cooker ready to make a chicken and veg broth for the rest of the week. Wednesday I deboned the carcass and added in the seasoning, so we have healthy soup for the next few days, and enough roast left for Pa, who worries about soup and his digestive system.

Had a call from Aunty Tisha, Ma’s liflong friend from their school days on, she’d had a Facebook message from some scumbag who has hacked Ma’s FB account- she died last April. It was lovely to talk to Tisha and her other half, Pat, I told her she needs to change her password now as she answered the message. They’re self-isolating too, I hope the stay well, Tisha is the last part of the ‘Gang’ of Ma, April, and her. My cousin Trevessa in America also messaged me to tell either Ma’s account has been hacked, or she’s contacted her daughter, Sophia, from the other side!

On TV- Doctors begging the Government to enforce a lockdown because they know how under prepared the NHS is, and how vulnerable they are on the front line of this scourge. There’s talk of bailing out businesses, let’s bail out the NHS first though, however it needs to be done. How about a plea to China for some ‘hands on’ help, at a price of course, and bring their recently learned expertise over here to ease the strain. Clear lesser airports and fly them in to set up hospitals with all the necessary specialist equipment and staff. They send us everything else during normal times, well there won’t be a market for those usual supplies for some time, so why not gear up to make some money out of helping their western market friends, and elsewhere for that matter, they’re almost certainly the best placed country to be able to achieve that, and make the world their friend as a result. They could mass produce all the masks, ventilators, suits, and when it hopefully arrives, the vaccines too.

That’s all for now, please stay safe everyone, be sensible, be kind, help out those that need it if you can.

......................

12-03-2020

Covid19

 I honestly don’t know how to start with this, it feels as if we’re in a metaphorical canoe heading for the rapids, except it’s a virus we’re possibly heading for.  I’ve seen Pa go through pneumonia once, and nearly again with similar symptoms, both of which he recovered from. Same with Ma, with a swollen leg, the result of a transient ischemic attack, leaving her having to be on warfarin for the rest of her life, then a perforated bowel, losing half her intestines and fitted with a stoma bag, then eventually, possibly due to the daily intake of warfarin, a bleed on the brain and death two days later. All of this within 5 years  up to Ma passing away last year. These things happened too fast at the time to spend too much time worrying, rather you just deal with things as they come up, and in your quiet moments you let loose and the tears flow.

This time we’ve been watching this dreadful virus careering around the world, working out that it will inevitably arrive here sooner or later, and now it has. Via the internet I’ve been able to follow the harrowing stories of Italian doctors trying to cope with a tsunami of cases in their hospitals, how they no longer have different types of doctors, everyone of them is just another doctor in a virtual war zone situation. Even those doctors with early stage symptoms of Covid19 have to carry on their duties as they can’t afford to lose anyone while trying to deal with an overwhelming caseload of patients. Having to prioritise patients who have a chance of survival over those they already know can’t be saved, not having enough beds in the intensive care units, and all the cases with the same chart showing ‘bilateral interstitial pneumonia’.

One of the threads I’ve been following via Twitter, Silvia Stringhini, is a translation of  ICU physician, Daniele Machini, from Bergamo, Italy, which started via a thread on March 9th:-

 

2/ This is the English translation of a post of another ICU physician in Bergamo, Dr. Daniele Macchini. Read until the end "After much thought about whether and what to write about what is happening to us, I felt that silence was not responsible.

 

If you read the whole thread through, it’s like an apocalyptic novel, except it’s real, and happening in real time, right now, soon to be at a hospital near you. I have to step away from the laptop every now and again for my sanity, but the doctors dealing with this disaster have no escape at present, I dread to think how our NHS will cope, having already spent the last decade struggling to keep pace with ever increasing work loads.

It's a nice sunny day outside at the moment, and I’m up to date with my work of planning applications. But however nice everything may be right now where we are, the knowledge of what’s going on elsewhere, the possibility of it arriving in our house, and the implications for my 92 year old Pa, mean my nerves are on red alert. I won’t be going to my pool match tonight, or football Saturday when Brighton should be hosting Arsenal, and there’s a funeral tomorrow which even if I don’t go, my brother is. As we wait to see if or when our Government decide to declare a lockdown similar to the countries just ahead of the UK in the Covid19 pandemic, I have decided to self-isolate already, and hope against reason that this country escapes the worst of things, but I won’t hold my breath on that score.

My decisions are nothing compared to those Italian doctors struggling to cope with this dreadful virus that none of us had heard of just 3 months ago, and who knows where this will all eventually end up.

Dear Ma

 

23-12-2019

Ma n Freddie in the porch

Dear Ma,

our first Christmas without you is almost upon us, and you’ll be happy to know we’re prepared, albeit in a last minute kind of way. The dec’s went up yesterday, me and Ant put them up, (he’s moved in with us now by the way), while being overseen by Squire and Freddie, and the cards were all written out and sent in time as you would have liked. As usual there were a few dramas, the tree plug proved elusive initially, and when Ant did find it,  it had a loose connection, suddenly I remembered I’d intended to get that fixed during this year, thought that might amuse you.

The nativity set you loved so much is back in position, with an added Viking from your Norwegian trip, your present to Ant, so we have one each side guarding all the festive dolphins, elephants, Bassett Hound, and the rest of the traditional characters. We haven’t got any red berries on it yet, but I’m sure Allen next door will provide as he has done in Christmas’s past.

Our Nativity Scene

 

Ma and April with their Sewing Sister buddies.

We still haven’t cleared your conservatory or porch completely, and little reminders of you are scattered here and there, like your small bags of wool ends which you saved for the birds nests, or tins of buttons which you insisted were like gold dust, as buttons, “are so expensive”. Don’t worry, I’ll hang on to them, because you never know, but in reality I pick them up and smile as they remind me of you straight away, along with so many other little things of yours we’ll never get rid of. Dao keeps your orchids watered along with your other plants in the porch, and those lovely pink flowers you planted in the front flower pots are still in bloom amazingly. Ann and Hels have been the main beneficiaries of your craft work tools and materials, and what they didn’t have need or room for, the charity shops were very happy to receive, I hadn’t realised just how much stuff you had Ma, but then as you’d say, “you just never know when such and such might come in handy”.

Ma crocheting in the garden

I know you’ll be happy the Monday night Trough has carried on, with Pa now at the head of the table in your chair. I’m on Trough duty tonight actually, last one of the year, Lizbet and Hannah come along most weeks, joining David, Simon, Ant, me n Pa, and the table banter is up to the usual standard. The food disappears as if a plague of locusts descended upon our kitchen, which hopefully points to a meal enjoyed, and then sit in front of the box to compete in University Challenge with a cup of tea. So as you see, things haven’t changed too much, only the significant absence of a certain special someone.

There have been lots of cards with lovely messages saying how much you are missed, which have brought a tear or three to Pa’s eyes. So many people came to your seeing off do, I think you’d have been quite chuffed, and with Christmas here, they’re still sending you love. Quite the popular thing you were!

Christmas dinner is going to be at David’s this year, the first time we haven’t had it here, so I’m excused boots from cooking duties.  I know it will be great, but a big part of us will be thinking about you and wishing you were with us once more. Even though you know we’re not religious, God Bless You Ma, and if it’s at all possible, I hope you’re with April, David, Peter, Jim, Pip and Co now, all with a celestial fag in your hands, heads back and laughing together. Miss you, love BB.

Left to right:- April, Peter, Jim, David. Cousin Gerard with the camera.

Ma, (front left) with April, (Front right), Tisha in between, David, (Back right) Peter, (Back left) and Jim, (Centre left), plus two nuns. Taken at St Martha’s, Rottingdean, circa 1938

Ma in the sunny porch with our beloved pup, Freddie


Goodbye Ma.

Written 29th and 30th April 2019

In October last year, I went with Ma for a memory assessment at Glebelands clinic in Shoreham, this would be the third test  since Ma first became aware something was wrong with her memory, her first referral being back in August 2015. Her previous tests, she scored too well to be diagnosed with dementia, but was recorded as  having ‘mild cognitive impairment’ at that point.

This last time, her scores showed a significant change, and Ma was now officially registered as a dementia sufferer, a horrible term, for a dreadful disease. We were given lots of forms to fill in, and books to read on the subject. However this sounds, Ma was still happy in herself, and enjoying life as best she could, still meeting up with her Sewing Sisters friends, crocheting continuously, and gardening whenever the weather permitted. She couldn’t remember things she had read, or tell you what a talking book she had been listening to was about, but she knew if she had liked them. She struggled with people’s names, but we were always there to help her with that, overall, life has been really good, and Ma has been enjoying a happy existence. She keeps a diary, writing as much detail as she can so she can look back and see what she’s been up to, me and Pa keep one too, so we can check if anything got missed. The diary had long since become a necessity for me, to keep track of various doctors, dentists, medications, nails, hair, or dog related appointments. It isn’t full proof, things still managed to get forgotten, ironically by me mainly.

Fast forward to 21st March 2019, and Pa had had a bad night, with a PR bleed, losing heaps of blood from his backside. I’d called 111, and the assessment team said an ambulance was on its way, but if things got worse, then dial 999. I’d just helped Pa to the toilet, where he had another episode of blood loss, and he nearly passed out on the way back to bed. Looking white as a sheet as he lay in bed, I was holding his hand and he said, “I think this is it boy, I’m coming to the end”. I let go of his hand and went to dial 999, things were worse.

The paramedics were brilliant, as the entire NHS system always have been with Ma and Pa. They soon had their paraphernalia set up in the bedroom, with gadgets hooked up to Pa giving out readings. I told the medics what Pa had said, and could have kissed the lady paramedic when she looked at him, smiled, and said, “not today”.  Their readings told them he should be fine, but, when they went to move him to get him downstairs,  he went pale again, and on the verge of passing out, so they quickly aborted that idea. “Postural Drop”, the male paramedic said, which was what Pa had just experienced apparently. As a result they had to carry him out in a chair, lamenting the tight narrow staircase at our place.

We were rotating visits among the family to make sure someone was always with him at hospital, always arranging for someone to look after Freddie (our dog), I took Ma up the following day, Friday, when he was settled in a ward. Amazingly, after a lot of tests, Pa was allowed home from Worthing hospital by Friday afternoon, David brought him back as he was there visiting at the time with Simon and Ant.

As Pa slowly recovered, we gradually got back to our lovely home routine together, toast and marmalade in the weekday mornings, dog walks with wee Freddie throughout the day, two of which Pa comes along but stays in the car. Salads, crumpets, or cheese on toast among the lunch time faves, Wednesday had become a little highlight, with Ma and Pa coming along for Fred’s 9a.m walk, and going on to ‘Teddy’s’ in town, for a hot chocolate with toasted tea cakes at the dog friendly café/tea shop.  Swordfish steak on the Friday was another meal they looked forward to, with asparagus and courgette and a creamy dill sauce, nom nom.

At the weekend it would be cooked breakfasts Saturday and Sunday, then Ma in the sunny conservatory crocheting, and Pa relaxed between snoozes in the lounge. All in all a pretty blissful existence, other than Brighton’s anxiety inducing football results.

On the Wednesday 17th April, we had our usual trip to Teddy’s after Freddie’s Adur rec walk, and I had mowed the lawn as the weather was so fine. That evening we had a celebratory takeaway dinner for Pa’s 92nd birthday, with the whole family there, including Hannah and her boyfriend, Ben. It went like a dream, with bubbly popping, and rum and shrub for the salty seadogs. Unfortunately, Ma took a tumble down the stairs later that night, incurring a bruised arm and back. Pa heard her calling for help, “someone help me”, and came down to find her slumped on the half landing at about midnight. After gathering her up, he got Ma in to his chair in the lounge, then came and got me. I knew a deal of bubbly had been consumed, so put it down to that, got Pa up to bed so I didn’t have to worry about him, then came and got Ma, and steered her up to bed also.

 

Next day Ma had no recollection of these events, but had a bad back, which was very uncomfortable, but didn’t stop her getting up and about, she also had a nasty cut and bruises on her arm, her new watch bent out of shape and digging in to her arm, so I had to prise it off. Our friend, Ann, who is a nurse, came round to check on Ma, asked her to wiggle her toes, made sure she had no  broken ribs, and generally gave her the once over, verdict being, bruised but otherwise nothing urgent apparent to worry about. Ma’s appetite dipped after this, maybe as a result of the cocodomol and ibuprofen pills for the pain and swelling. We didn’t have the usual Trough night on Monday, as it was a bank holiday. Ma had her weekly Sewing Sisters meet at Pond road on the Tuesday, and Wednesday we had our Teddy’s treat with Freddie. Although Ma was in pain, while at home she was quite happy once she got settled in her chair, crocheting and listening to the radio.

Thursday 25th was a windy and grey day weather wise, but another idyllic day for us as we bumble around the house together, fussing over Freddie. Ma and Pa had both had a good nights sleep, not always a given, I picked up some Cumberland ring sausages from Tesco’s deli for lunch, with spicy chicken, a favourite of ours on occasion. I also picked up a cauliflower, having decided I’d try my hand at cauliflower cheese for that evening’s dinner. Ma couldn’t manage much of her sos n chook, so Freddie was a grateful recipient to help encourage him to finish his meal from earlier.

That night, having followed the BBC recipe for cauliflower cheese, I presented my efforts to Ma, Pa not being hungry. I’d also made a fruit jelly that morning, so was looking forward to happy faces. As we tucked in, Ma smiled and said, “This is lovely, you can cook this for me as often as you like, and macaroni cheese, I love that too”. We had the fruit jelly and custard pud, then watched MASH together, after which I went to bed with my normal line to them, “night night, sleep tight”, and Ma finishes the line, “Don’t let the bed bugs bite”, and grins. A lovely end to another perfect day.

When I came downstairs next morning, at 05.30, Pa was already up, I guessed he’d had a bad night, but no, it was Ma, he’d found her in the spare bedroom at 03.00, thinking she was in the toilet. He got her back to bed, but she had seemed confused, and was now sleeping. Having looked in on Ma just after 06.00, she seemed unwell, I saw she had been sick, yellow bile on the bed sheets, and was sick again while I was with her, so I called 111 for an assessment. They talked to me, and Ma, and decided on the evidence this wasn’t an emergency, but to call 999 if I thought things got worse, and call the local GP to get a doctors visit not less than 3 days from now.

It was Friday, and I usually do a Tesco shop, picking up my brother, Ant at 07.30. I decided I should be ok to get the shop done, and call the docs when I get back, they wouldn't be open until 8 o' clock anyway. I also had Pa’s appointment to get him to Worthing later for his pacemaker check, so asked Ant if he could stay with Ma while we’re gone. When I got back from dropping Ant off after shopping, I checked on Ma again, she didn't respond, like she was in a deep sleep, I was more concerned now, so called our friends, Ann, and Hels, both nurses but couldn’t get through, leaving messages.

I picked up Ant, then called my brother, David, to tell him the situation, and it would need more than one person now,  I told David I had tried to get hold of Ann and Hels, and then set off with Pa to get him to his appointment, worried, but hopeful that Ma wasn’t too bad, and a doctor would see her soon.

At Worthing hospital we saw Lizbet, she was there to have a polyp removed from her throat. Told her about Ma, and went to get Pa’s pacemaker checked. On the way home I got a call from Ann, David had gone and got her after my call, she was at home, an ambulance there, paramedics in attendance, and Ma was going to be taken to hospital. I said we’d be back in 10 minutes, traffic permitting.

When Pa and I got back, the ambulance was still there, and it was decided I’d better go with them, as I know Ma’s medical history, medication etc. Ant said to me later of the relief he felt when he saw Annie walk through the door that morning, not just a great family friend, but a nurse, someone qualified to know what to do. She realised Ma was in trouble and got the ambulance ordered.

As we meandered through the traffic on the way to Worthing hospital, the paramedic guy was asking me various questions about Ma’s health, Ma rocking from side to side as the ambulance weaved about, and bumps in the road accentuated through to the cabin. I was trying to hold Ma from moving, as was the paramedic.

On arrival at A and E, I was ushered in to a waiting room with tea and coffee making facilities, they told me Ma would be taken for a scan, and was currently unresponsive. I waited and waited, had a couple of coffees, then asked if it would be ok to go for a walk, fine they said, and told me to just ask when I needed to come back in. I went for a sandwich in the hospital cafeteria, and got a call about work on the way. I told him I couldn’t deal with any work right now, and explained why, almost losing it, I could feel my voice quavering, part of me knew this was very serious, another part of me was trying desperately not to know that. He said how sorry he was, and no problem.

When I got back to A and E, I asked if I could see Ma yet. I was told to go through the doors in to the holding area, and they would update me. There Ma was, laying on her side,  little shudders running through her, the male nurse told me Ma couldn’t feel anything, and that these shudders were involuntary. Then the doctor called me over to explain things, showing me a screen with images of the brain scan they had from Ma, and bit by bit, the dawning of the meaning of the words I was hearing, “not going to recover”, “will not be resuscitating”, “just a matter of time”. I welled up, and couldn’t stop the flow of tears, the doctor led me back to the waiting room, and she sat me down, asking me if there was anyone I could call, did I live with my parents, how long had I been with them. I told her I didn’t envy her this job, and she said “it’s harder for you”, I was gone by this point, not really taking anything else in for a moment.

When the doctor left, I called my sister, Lizbet, told her the news but struggling to speak, “fuck” I said out of anger at not being able to communicate properly through the tears. Lizbet assured me she would contact the others, making sure Pa was brought up to have a chance to say goodbye, and I returned to Ma, to hold hands, tell her I love her, and quietly blub as the A and E nursing staff carried on their amazing work for the other patients there.

While we all kept a rolling vigil on Ma, Lizbet stayed with her throughout, never leaving her side once she got there. It was at 01.30 on Sunday morning that I got the call, Lizbet in tears, Ma had gone.

I can only imagine the effect this devastating news was having on the rest of the family, we each carry our own heartfelt love and adoration for Ma, and a world without her seems a very dark proposition, but I know she wouldn’t want it to be like that. Ma brought light and happiness with her wherever she went, always wanting to think the best, or mostly at least. If she wasn’t impressed by someone’s behaviour, she wouldn’t be frightened to let them know.

Tuesday 30th April

While going through Ma’s phone contacts to let her friends know she’s gone, and looking at her diary, I noticed at the top of the page for today, ‘David’s 61st Birthday’, and thought, that’s odd, it was his 60th on the 30th March. Then it occurred to me that it’s actually my birthday, oh well, she must have been confused. Going further through her diary, I spotted 30th June, “David’s 63rd Birthday”, so I looked back to 30th May, and sure enough, there is an entry, “David’s 62nd Birthday”.

I can only guess at whether this was linked to the brain bleed, or whether the dementia was starting to take more of a hold, but the one consoling thing I am trying to take from this heart breaking situation, is that Ma has been spared the worst ravages that dementia can reap on its sufferers.

Last night we had our Monday family Trough night, it seemed right, to have us all together, help each other through this, knowing each and every one of us has the same pain, but will get through it. I know without any doubt, that this would have made Ma happy, she adored her family, it was her life, and it went both ways. I will write something more uplifting about Ma soon, a memory of her wonderful life, but for now I’d like to finish with this beautiful set of words written by my sister, Lizbet, about our gorgeous Ma, Lavender June Ramus 01-07-1934 to 28-04-2019. When I read it out to Pa, we both fell to bits.

 

‘She’s with April,Peter,David and Jim all 5 dancing on the place that comes from within, they gave us joy a laugh and always a grin for these five people are our souls from the beginning , our lovely Ma the last little Babe our rock our mother our place to be saved ,  We love every piece and every part of you you are our Ma and we all love you. RIP X’

 

(Babe was the name Lavender’s siblings and parents called her, as she was the youngest in her family.)

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