Saturday, 18 July 2009

A busy week

Close up of the centre of a pink poppy
Last Sunday, Lola II and I 'helped' dad to sort through the stamp and coin collection that dated back to his teenage years, plus a few family 'heirlooms'. It was difficult for all of us: for him because we were proposing to dispose of a lifetime's work; for Lola II and me because we couldn't muster a scrap of interest in this stuff he has cared for and cared about for so long. First day covers, miniature and minister sheets, 'Tet Besh' configurations, piedfort coins, Maundy money, Churchill crowns - someone wake me up when it's over. But the English exercise book where he'd written about King Lear while at school in the 1950's, or the metal tin that contained a powder puff belonging to our grandmother, still retaining a hint of fragrance - I'd keep those in my living room, to pick up and look at from time to time.

Then during the past week I've been to Nottingham, to learn about and help with the PhD that one of my lecturers is doing. I've done a bit of data entry from returned questionnaires, and took part in a set of role play scenarios as the 'patient', while two proper dietitians were taking turns to play 'good' and 'bad' helpers to demonstrate various different communications skills.

I was a single mum with two children aged 5 and 7 living in a council flat, and my problem was a chap living downstairs who had his TV turned up loud at all hours, keeping us all from sleeping at night. There were six little segments, each of which we filmed once as 'good' and once as 'bad'. By the end of the day all three of us were exhausted, and it was difficult to remember that I don't live in a flat or have any children. The video clips will form part of a communications skills course for health professionals.

Meanwhile, Mr A was away on a motorbike trip in France. He was tipped off about it by a biker friend, and it involved following directions in the manner of orienteering (but with GPS), mostly off-road. This is the sort of thing he loves, but the pressure was on - many of the other participants were from the army, days were very long, and the riding was fast and difficult. At some point he lost the clutch and most of a brake lever, and eventually decided that the bike was too unroadworthy to ride back home (even though he could probably have managed it). His bike insurance included European recovery, so he gave them a call, and then spent 10 hours hanging about at the side of the road and in garages before finally reaching a hotel. The whole thing was a nightmare, but he made it back eventually, although it will be a week or two before we see the bike again. He says that apart from the journey home, it was a really good trip.

Mr A's troubles didn't end there though, because today I was called upon to wield the clippers and take his hair down to a reasonable length. Due to an unfortunate misunderstanding he has ended up completely bald, rather than his usual no. 2 cut, and he is not too happy about it.

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