And Another Thing

When I wrote my last blog post I did not know of Theresa May’s announcement that more money, a lot more money, but still not enough, was to be forthcoming for our wonderful NHS. when I finally heard the speech my blood pressure, normally on the low side, soared. It was so full of caveats; the NHS must do this, it must prove that, it must meet the government’s requirements. So, a government that has consistently and cynically starved the NHS, made working conditions in many hospitals and GP practices almost impossible, has relied on the goodwill of staff but never ever rewarded or praised them, now, instead of owning up to the fact it has jeopardised one of the greatest achievements of this country in its entire history, make that the greatest achievement, apologising, holding its hands up and admitting it was wrong – something which would have earned them my respect for a rare moment of honesty in government – it wants to set hurdles. WTF? As for the Brexit bonanza, I don’t believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden and I don’t believe that if we leave the EU we will suddenly receive a substantial windfall of millions.

I have been a teacher. I have been through Ofsted several times, and yes I was rated as an outstanding teacher delivering an outstanding lesson. Ofsted is stressful. You know you are under the microscope. Everything you have written, everything you say, everything you do, is under scrutiny. If this current government were to undergo an equivalent scrutiny I have no doubt it would be in special measures. Continue reading

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Delphiniums and Chrysanthemums

I haven’t blogged for days; no, make that weeks. I’ve been busy with lots of work and quite a lot of play. That should be plural, quite a lot of plays, including Matilda, 42nd Street, Translations. I had complimentary tix to the first two. I loved Matilda. The children were amazing. Some looked as though they could have barely started school, but these were professionals giving fine performances and looking as though they were enjoying very minute. I saw 42nd Street with my friend Julia. We were a bit nonplussed by it. As a spectacle it is everything you could ask for and more, the dancers tap their socks off and the set pieces are stunning. But the story. Why would you revive that now? I wanted to stick #metoo hashtags all over it.

Which brings me to Translations at the National which I saw with my friend and colleague Tony. His family is from Mayo, and we often go together to events with an Irish connection, despite digging with different feet as you might say. Tony had see a production of Translations, also at the National, in 1981 and brought the programme along with him. He also bought a programme for the current production and it became very clear the same sources were consulted when the notes were written in 1981 and 2018.

But my goodness, what a production. It was fabulous. Ciaran Hinds has cornered the market for roles as Irishmen of a certain age. To my ear, his delivery owed something to the declamatory style of the late Ian Paisley. It’s part of the Travelex season, meaning we got to watch it in the Olivier for £15 per seat. Good seats, there are no bad seats in any of ten National’s three theatres. The Olivier is based on the theatre at Epidaurus so you can feel yourself a part of a theatre tradition stretching back centuries while sitting on cushioned seats. That last comment is because Octavia and I saw As You Like It at the Globe last weekend. We had seats, and hired the cushions, but it makes you appreciate small creature comforts like seat backs and arm rests.

Octavia and Celia are both away at the moment, which means my two close friends who live close by are absent. MasterB is having to listen to me a lot as I process my days. He’s given me the excuse I needed to write this post by sitting half on me and having a wash. Truly, no one ever lived with a sweeter cat.

The NHS is about to turn 70. There are some in government who would like this to be its last birthday. People who say things like “we can’t afford it” and “people need to be responsible for their own health insurance”. They are either wilfully ignorant or wilfully misleading. Maybe both. Mark Haddon, one of several people writing in the Guardian about why he values the NHS has hit the nail on the head with his piece which you can read here – and please do, especially if you are from the US or another of those countries where private health companies would have you believe the NHS is an unmitigated disaster and you are so much luckier to receive itemised bills for everything anyone does for you from helping you onto a bedpan to heart surgery. Continue reading

The End of the Weekend

After a glorious day the wind is picking up. MasterB and I have had a little amble around a marina that is suddenly deserted. All but two of the cars have gone. The birds are singing still, though the cuckoos have gone silent. The cows have moved with their babies to the far end of their field. It’s still light, but sunset can’t be far off.
We’ve enjoyed a two and a half day break from the Smoke, arriving on Saturday evening and heading home tomorrow. Older Nephew came over yesterday and we set off promptly, surprised to find so little traffic on the river on such a warm sunny day. As we passed through Ely we realised that lots of boaters were just moored up and soaking up the rays. Beer and wine seemed to feature quite prominently, so we decided to join in and open the rather lovely bottle of red that Octavia had brought with her a month ago but which we had not drunk.
We saw the usual crop of birds, swans, geese, a heron, great crested grebes, and something I think was a female reed bunting.
It was all very relaxed, quite lazy, and thoroughly enjoyable. We ate, we drank, we listened to podcasts of old comedy shows, we talked. MasterB joined us eventually in the fore cabin. We’ve got the hang of making him a cushion citadel now so he feels secure, and I sat beside him, one hand in his fur most of the time. Continue reading

Injury Update

On Sunday I was looking on the internet to find out how long my rib injuries were likely to last. Three weeks seemed the most optimistic possibility, so I gave in and took Ibuprofen, which I have to say made a vast difference. the next time I see anyone being kicked in the ribs, and I hope it’s part of TV drama rather than footage of a brawl, I shall be much more sympathetic. Really, I had no idea. Coughing, sneezing, even sitting up caused me to wince in pain. I found myself walking along covering my right ribs with my hand as though to cushion them from further harm.

Then, as if by magic, on Monday something shifted. I can still feel my bruised ribs, but they aren’t troubling me. My knees have faded to a grubby yellow, the left one adorned by two healing scabs, and the bruises on my forearm have faded to nothing. I’m left feeling quite chipper and impressed by my body’s recovery. I can’t be in such bad shape is how I interpret it. The warm sunshine may have helped too. I’ve been outside quite a lot, and those healing rays must have contributed. So onwards and upwards. Though toady is a paperwork day, so I’m inside spending time on the ‘phone and at the computer, taking a break from my tasks to write this. Continue reading

A Shout in the Night

It’s been a lovely weekend of blue skies and warm sunshine in London. Just a soft breeze and the temperature somewhere in the mid 20s C. Pretty perfect. The neighbours stayed quiet last night, no loud voices or braying laughter drifting through open windows until all hours, something that happens all too often for my liking in warm weather. So MasterB and headed off to bed bedtimes. I read for a while, finished a crossword and fell asleep.

Around two in the morning I woke as someone shouted “Put your hands up”. I thought at first I’d Been dreaming then realised there were quite a few voices. MasterB was growling, and when I opened the shutters to look out of the window, for once he didn’t leap up onto the sill to look too. Whatever it was, he didn’t want to get any closer.

It turned out to be lots of police officers and one man not in uniform. He was the one with his hands in the air while his pockets were searched and he was patted down. I heard an officer tell him he was under arrest and to put out his hands as he was to be cuffed. Continue reading

Things that go bump on the knee

Exhausted

Wednesday night and the Boy and I are on the sofa. He’s sleeping as though he’s spent the day cleaning the flat from top to bottom (he hasn’t, there are paw prints on the windowsill and other things I’m not mentioning). I’m watching 24Hours in A&E and enjoying the human interest stories while admiring the wonderful professionalism and compassion of our NHS staff. People’s resilience is astounding.

I’ve got my left leg elevated after an accident that fortunately has not required a trip to A&E. One moment I was hurrying along the pavement wanting to get to the bank before I started work, the next I was sprawled on my face in the dust. A slightly raised paving slab and my failure to notice it were to blame. ‘Are you alright?’ said a concerned voice. ‘I don’t know yet,’ I answered, resisting the urge to get to my feet immediately and recover my dignity while I tentatively checked with my various parts to see if they were all still attached. They seemed to be, so I got to my knees, then to my feet. And oh the relief, my trousers were intact. I was expecting a jagged tear across the left knee which seemed to have taken the force of the fall. No grazes on my hands either. My sunglasses still on my nose. Hurrah! Continue reading

Vote for Meghan

Oh I’m glad to be home. I’m tired. I have to go to work tomorrow, but tonight it’s a stir fry, cuddles with MasterB, a glass or two of wine and undemanding television. Right now I am watching When Harry met Meghan, a programme I normally would avoid. But oddly I am enjoying it. I am surprised to learn that where I live is currently gripped by wedding fever. You could have fooled me. I wish the couple well, but I am not intending to watch the event on television. I don’t even know if it is being televised.

Meghan Markle appears to be an intelligent, compassionate and aware woman. She’s a feminist, an activist. She has humour, determination. I’d say the Windsors have struck very lucky. She’s mixed race coming to live in a country where racism and xenophobia is on the rise. She has courage. If I were her family I’d be very proud of her. Hell, she’s not my family and I’m proud of her. I’m really hoping she’s going to be our Michelle Obama. She gives me hope. Continue reading