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

A Not Uneventful Day

The trouble with not posting on a blog for while is that I have too much to say, too much to record, and sometimes, make that often, it's easier to draw a line under the passed days and start from wherever I am now.

I have always failed at keeping a paper diary for the same reason. Somehow a blog feels more forgiving. If this survives beyond me, and future family historians try to understand what great-to-the-power-of n Aunt Isobel's life was like, they may well suspect that the silent days were ones where I had nothing more to say than that I got up, had breakfast, fed the cat and frittered away the hours. If so, they will be wrong. In my head, walking along, on the bus, queuing in shops, I compose posts that are never written; posts where I muse on life's beauties and inequities, posts where I opine that the NHS could probably save a small fortune in anti depression medication if only IDS and Michael Gove were barred from speaking in public, or preferably at all, posts where I rail against cruelty to all animals, human and otherwise, posts when I realise that true happiness lies in the perfect poached egg.

Also posts about the Daily Mail, a paper I would go a long way not to read, but whose outrages are often reported elsewhere. A paper from which one might catch something nasty ending in ism. Does it have a purpose in the grand scheme of thing? Perhaps just to remind us of what hell might be like. I suppose Paul Dacre must have his uses, but so far I have not devined what they are. Apparently his staff have suggested his shoes never wear out as he goes from carpeted office to chauffeured car to home with barely any contact with the pavement, or reality. I'd like to think he pays enormous taxes that go towards funding the NHS, but I have a hunch he will have his money stashed in some offshore enterprise that means the exchequer sees little of what he is paid.

The Tory party has not learned from the Strong and Stable backlash, and is still in love with repeating alliterative phrases. The current fave seems to be stability and certainty, though for variety they are happy to use the words singly, then join them like cymbals for effect. I don't know how this goes down with other listeners, but I find I cannot remember a single word of what they have said other than the alliterative pairings, and those I translate as blah blah blah, a cover up for not really knowing what they are talking about. If they can't be bothered to make proper arguments why on earth should the electorate be bothered to listen to them, far less take them seriously?

Continue reading

The Health of the People – the Highest Law?

I missed the article in the Guardian by Harry Leslie Smith, but fortunately these letters in yesterday’s edition led me back to it.

Maybe you missed it too. If so, I urge you to read both the article and the letters.

Yesterday, a few of us were discussing how regeneration is affecting our neighbourhood; how untruths, half truths and downright lies, damned some buildings to demolition. It reminded me of the behaviour of a certain London council in the 80s. Residents, all of them council tenants with secure tenancies, were told that there was danger from asbestos, and evacuated from the homes. People were rehoused in housing stock that was often inferior, in different parts of the borough. They thought this was a temporary measure before they could move back to their homes. Continue reading

Health Bulletin

Things are slipping, it is quite obvious. I was at Buckingham Palace this afternoon, outside, not in with ER, though the flag showed she was in residence. There was no bulletin about MasterB on the gate. So I shall have to do one here.
We slept well. That’s not the royal we, I mean the residents chez IsobelandCat. For all MasterB’s protestations, and there have been more this evening, I think he is tired. He took himself back to bed after breakfast and, to all appearances, stayed there until I reached home this evening. He was pleased to see me, and we had a cuddle. He lay down by my feet. He was less pleased when I bathed his wounds, but it was fairly quick. He has had some food, sat in the hall with his left paw in the air, and gazed out of the bedroom window. Now he is having some zzzzs on my bed.
I took some photos of him, so if you are squeamish, skip this next bit. Continue reading

The Naked Arm

I could show you a picture of my newly naked arm. The consultant pronounced my healing stitches beautiful, which was enough to let me know I wouldn’t be asking him for art exhibition recommendations. I hope and expect it’ll look more pleasant in time. I scar fairly easily, so I anticipate a visible line down my arm for the rest of my days.
So instead, here’s a photo of tulips and ceanothus from the hospital grounds.
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London has moved on from cherry blossom to ceanothus and lilac. The shrubs and trees in their glorious blues, mauves and white obtrude prolifically across pavements and brighten the dullest corners.It is incredible how, in such a short space of time, leafless trees are thickly green and abundant; roses have burst into bloom; the cherries are already forming as the blossom petals still carpet the grass. Spring is my favourite season; the embodiment of hope and possibility. Funny to say so when the first anniversary of Mother’s death is only a week away, and I hope it presages a new acceptance, and a shift to good memories infusing the future. Continue reading

Care Home Quest

Heading East in the morning to spend time with Mother at the hospital, and to view nursing homes.

Sorry, I mean care homes with nursing that specialise in looking after residents with dementia.

It pays to get the vocabulary right, or too late you find you have had an entire conversation at cross purposes.

You also learn to watch for the loaded phrase, such as ‘best interests’ and understand how that is defined by the Mental Capacity Act.

Since the notes for guidance to this act has been my bedtime reading for about eighteen months, I’ve become quite good at spotting these which some professionals use as conversational landmines.

The specialising in dementia part is important too. When it was understood that Mother’s house is not worth a fortune, and that social services will not be recouping from a bottomless pot when it is sold, it was suggested that Mother’s needs could be met in a home without the dementia specialism.
This on the grounds that her dementia leads her to call everyone darling and say she loves them, rather than chucking jugs of cold water over them. So she would be easy to manage. Nothing about the need for staff to understand where she is coming from. Continue reading

Blogging as Therapy: Nursing My Thoughts

Walking the lanes today and looking across the fields I thought about Mother and her options.

If you or I broke our respective legs and needed the level of care and nursing Mother does while they mended, we would be transferred from our acute beds to somewhere we could receive rehabilitation until such time as we were able to go home.

When Mother broke her hips (each one at different time) she went to the hospital close to where she lives and received physiotherapy to get her back on her feet. All paid for by her National Insurance contributions and taxes.

But her dementia means that she is not considered to have the potential for rehabilitation, so that option is not open to her.

So where can she go?

Well, there are some hospital beds in nursing homes, but not many, and we’ve been told she won’t get one. There’s the hopefully named Rehabilitation Ward in the hsopital where she is now, but the Ward Manager is the first to admit it is significantly lacking in rehabilitation.

I suppose Holding Bay doesn’t sound great.

Or there’s a nursing home. Continue reading