The Caramel Crunch (29 February 2020)

Over at Caramel (Learner at Love), CARAMEL has started a new prompt. I’d like to see her prompt do well, and I had some time today to write a post, so here we go…

The prompts are called the Caramel Crunch and so far are centered around a moral question. For your convenience I shall repeat her question.

You are driving (or travelling) to an important event and you are late. You see a fellow traveller have an accident. There are a lot of other travellers nearby who might have also seen the incident. What would you do?

I’m afraid I have a wishy-washy answer again this week.

Whether my event was important or not, my first resort would make sure that whoever had the accident is receiving assistance, then I would probably carry on my way.

In fact, similar things have happened to me in my local city since the stroke. I don’t recall anything happening before. I have twice (separate occasions) seen people recently collapsed in the street. Both times, I have been hurrying (as only I can) for my bus home. It has really been the only practical bus I can get – there was a later bus, which was 90 minutes later and which would have dropped me further from home. Fortunately, both of these people were already receiving assistance, so I have carried on my way.

The reason I say this is because I don’t have any medical knowledge and the only thing I could really bring to the party would be a cellphone. I’m disabled myself so even if I got down on my knees to help, I’d never get back up again without someone else assisting me! I certainly don’t have the balance to help somebody up off the ground. But I could make a phone call.

The question becomes interesting when the person on the floor is not already receiving any help. Would I try to assist?

I’m not sure. How important is my important event? Unmissable? Life or death? I might be tempted to carry on my way and hope that somebody else came to their assistance. But there again, you can’t really just do nothing, can you?


I was chatting to another blogger in a comment section the other day – I can’t remember whether it was their post or mine – and we vaguely touched on the topic of trigger words.

What I mean by a trigger word is just something that somebody will use, most likely inadvertently, but which lights our fuse.

I have been on both sides of this.

I was once talking to somebody, the subject must have been the military, and I used the word squaddie. Now, as far as I was/am concerned, this is a standard, slang word in UK English to refer to a serviceman. It is not offensive, not as far as I am concerned. Anybody from a private to a general, to a sailor, to an airman could legitimately be called a squaddie. But this chap was upset that I used the word. I didn’t (don’t) understand why he was upset, but I understood that he was upset, so I used a different word with him thereafter. I mean, I didn’t really see any point in winding this chap up unnecessarily.

Then, after my stroke, the very last thing I wanted was to be labelled a victim. Actually, that is quite common among stroke survivors. There is a feeling that shit happens, but somebody then chooses to be a victim of it or not, i.e. whether they let it change them.

But I notice that this feeling is not universal, though. Not really talking about stroke survivors now, but I have met other people to whom shit has happened, and who will quite happily self-identify as being a victim of something.

I mean, mostly it doesn’t really bother me. I think people use such words because they are ignorant that the word causes offence, not because they’re malicious. I think you have to go beyond the word itself, and look at the intent behind it. As an example, not so very long ago here, it was acceptable in society to refer to a black person as coloured, and I think most people would have used that word, without intending any malice. Over time, people have realised that use of this word is offensive, and it is no longer used today. But I don’t think people ever used the word out of malice.

Having said that, when people do use trigger words, especially common trigger words which are known to cause offence to some people, I do sometimes look at them and wonder shouldn’t they know better?

Any of you guys have trigger words?

Just Visiting (Fandango’s Friday Flashback)

Fandango appears to be getting back to normal after his house move, and a short while ago he posted his Friday Flashback.

I have always liked that idea, so shall also post my own. As much as anything, it reminds me of where I was. Hopefully, you will find it entertaining too.

It’s a special one this week. It’s not quite to the day, but three years ago this coming Sunday, I started this blog up. I had started blogs before, but never stuck with them. And, as you can see, I am still here – I guess the difference was that this time, I had a more definite purpose. So, Happy Blogiversary to me! 🎂🎈🎂🎈🎂🎈

The post itself is something and nothing. 1st March 2017 was a Wednesday, and I was due to go out at lunchtime for my afternoon visit to the hospital. After I spent all morning setting the blog up (on Blogger), I had no inclination (or time!) to actually come up with any content! For us bloggers, content is always a good idea 😀.

But I knew by then that I had to start keeping some sort of diary – I walked 10 yards one day then 20 yards a month later, or whatever – just so that I could see that I was actually making progress. Because recovering from a stroke is so imperceptibly slow, if you looked from day to day, you’d never see a thing. In fact I know it is something I will be doing for the rest of my life.

Anyway, today I shall take you back to the very start of the rubbish that you read today 😆.

Mister Bump

It is a Wednesday, which means that I will be doing my once-fortnightly hospital visit this afternoon. I must get ready!

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Love is…

Reminiscing a little about my hospital visits, which now look as if they are in the past.

One of the things for which I am most grateful is that I think I have seen what true love actually is.

If you’re interested, true love, for me, is not flowers, chocolates, hot dates or even hotter sex. If that is what somebody thinks, good luck to ’em, but I don’t think they’re even out of diapers yet – they’ve got a way to go.

I actually met Brenda professionally in a previous life. She was a lawyer, she drew up my will when all the shit was going down with my daughter. Brenda had a stroke in August last year, only in her late fifties – I guess she’s only five years older than me. There were complications and setbacks, and she is still in hospital today. She doesn’t speak yet, she can’t eat solids, but she has a tiny amount of movement through which she can communicate, as long as you know what you’re looking for.

She is unreecognisable from the smart, confident woman I once met. In fact, I only recognised her because of her unusual surname – one I had never come across before. When she was first in, the name clicked and I couldn’t resist asking her husband whether Brenda was a lawyer, and explaining to him my connection. He was a guy I got on with immediately.

In the run-up to Christmas I didn’t see Brenda or husband for a while, and I assumed they had been discharged somewhere. The hospital tends to do that – when someone is out of danger, and the staff don’t feel they can do any more, then the patient is moved on somewhere less acute. It was my own fault, I suppose, because I tend not to check the patient roster. I don’t really like to find out too much about patients, their first name is normally enough. In general, the less I know, the less complicated my life can get.

But I saw Brenda’s husband again in a corridor in January, and realised that Brenda was still on the ward. That’s about seven months, so far. She’d had another setback and seemed to have been jolted backwards, not forwards. Since then, I have made a point of seeking Brenda out each time I visit. I doubt that Brenda recognises me, I was probably only one of thousands of clients, but that’s not a big deal. Every time I see her, her husband is by her bedside, plus at least one of their (grown) children.

Love? Look no further.

Fandango’s Provocative Question (26 February 2020)

Yay, Wednesday already. Fandango is back to normal, and has just published this week’s Provocative Question. This week, he asks:

What is something you’ve long believed to be true, but you now realize is not true?

It looks like I am going to get everybody’s back up today (see previous post), so I might as well continue in that vein.

For many years I happily paid my taxes. I resisted the urge to move all my finances offshore, although it would have been easy enough to do so, and a good move in hindsight. I knew that a big chunk of my taxes were going into our NHS. I didn’t actually use the NHS, but it was an investment, wasn’t it? I’d be bound to need it one day, so it would look after me in the long run.


I suppose I should have seen the writing on the wall a few years ago, when I broke my collar bone in a cycle crash. After five hours of waiting, I was advised to take two paracetamol and come and see them in six weeks at the fracture clinic. I didn’t bother. When Bradley Wiggins later had that exact same injury, he was operated on same day (privately).

Then the biggie, the stroke. What do you think happens when someone has a stroke? They get rushed through the Emergency Room, and they receive double-quick treatment, right? To break up the clot? Well, such treatment does exist, but you’d be wrong. They sent me home. They scanned (scammed) me, but could not detect that I was having a stroke, even though I was displaying other symptoms. So when I then presented again 48h later, by then unable to walk, the damage had been done.

I saw one of the doctors six months after the stroke. You could use a FES, he says. What the **** is a FES?, I say. I’d never even been told about it before. Functional Electrical Stimulation. Bottom line, it is something you wear on your lower leg, it applies a small current to make the muscle flex and it helps with your gait. Why did I not leave hospital with one of these devices six months earlier? They had plenty of time to assess me there.

Plus, this device used a bunch of wires. After I’d had it a week, I sent an email to the manufacturers with my initial queries and suggestions. Top of my wishlist? You should develop a wireless version of these.

We did already. You only get the basic model, because you’re NHS. It was true. I could go to their web site and if I shelled out enough extra cash, I could have what I wanted. In the end, trying to sort a bunch of wires going down my trousers flustered me so much, I gave the kit back.

Physiotherapy – one hour per month for six months, then nothing. An hour a month? I spend more time in the can!

And it’s not just me. There are national guidelines for the treatment of strokes, and when I used to attend a peer support group, every single one of us felt let down in some way.

Even now there is the Eye Clinic. A catalog of errors. Because I do not have transport, I have to ask for appointments that coincide with bus times. They won’t do that – I am supposed to have a car. So I miss the appointments sometimes. Yes, I am one of those bastards who misses appointments. What do they expect me to do? Walk there? Probably, yes, it is only 10 miles, I could probably get there in a day.

Then, the last time they booked an appointment, Please comee on Tuesday 1st. The notification dropped through my letterbox on Thursday 3rd.

So, this notion of universal healthcare is rubbish. The only reason people happily pay their taxes is because they haven’t had to use the system yet, haven’t discovered it is not actually there.

If you are not from the UK, I’m sorry for my rant, you must be bored witless by now. If you are from the UK, it is a lottery and I hope that your experinces have been better than mine.

Bitter and twisted? You betcha! It’s your own fault, Fandango, for inviting me! Next time, ask me about nice things like bunny rabbits!

But, you know when you have days and everyone else is just dancing to a different tune?

Charity Update

The date is still in my diary. Thursday, 2nd March, 2017. I had had the stroke a year before, I had been volunteering with the Stroke Association since christmas, and they suggested I attend a seminar. Always willing to learn some more, I agreed.

When I went along, I found role-playing instead. Let’s pretend we’ve had a stroke. So, how useful do you think I found that? Still, I like to be polite, so I thanked them, and went on my merry way, not betraying my thought that the event had been a complete waste of my time. I did, however, make a mental note to be more judicious in future.

And, in fact, in those early days, I was burned again. Not only by the Stroke Association, but also by people at the hospital, where I was meant to be training alongside the staff. People seem to feel generally that, when you do something voluntarily, that your time doesn’t matter to you.

2020. I’m a lot firmer now, in both what I think and what I say. I’m a lot more able to say, Nope, I will not allow you to waste my time.

About a month ago, the current co-ordinator said she would like me to attend another course. I felt lukewarm toward the idea but played along. She said that they wanted to talk about the GDPR. General Data Protection Regulations. On such a topic, I do actually need to be up to speed, so I showed willing. I was a bit baffled about the timing – the Regs came into force in mid-2018, so why leave it until now to say anything?

Yesterday, I received an agenda for this course/meeting. Item One: who are the Stroke Association? Item Two: what doees volunteering for the Stroke Assiciation actually entail? In fact, the meeting had also been entitled Volunter Induction Course. Induction? For somebody who’d been working with them for more than three years? For someone whose last stint of voluntary work was just last week? And, I’m sure you will have guessed by now, not a mention of the GDPR, although I’m sure it would’ve come up as a five-second aside.

There was another funny. A lot of stroke survivors, myself included, are left disabled. Climbing flights of stairs can be a problem – it is for me and thank goodness I live in a single-storey house.

The agenda for this meeting also said that it was taking place in a room on the third storey, and that the building had no elevator. So there is a problem straight away – how am I going to get there? It is not just getting up there – I would make it eventually, I’m sure – but what if the building had to be evacuated while I were up there? By the time I got out (if I got out), I can pretty much guarantee I would be somewhat crispier!

So not only am I left thinking that the course actually isn’t relevant, but that the charity has made it unncessarily difficult for me to attend. So, I declined the meeting. This is voluntary work, after all, I am doing it because I want to be involved. There is no obligation on either of us.

I got a very flippant email this morning, saying that the GDPR bit was included, and it was important that I go. And besides, they would provide lunch so what more could I want?! (Honest, she said that.)

So I was left a little incredulous. They organise this meeting that they say they want me to attend, and yet they put obstacles in my way to prevent me from attending. I mean, I could understand the public at large being ignorant of a stroke survivor’s plight, but not really the main stroke charity. And that last line tipped the balance.

I decided that there was no point pussy-footing around here, One or two things these last few months, I feel like I am almost on a collision course with them, so I have just said outright that I’m not prepared to volunteer for them any more. Solves their problem, solves mine. So that is that. Fini. No more Stroke Association, no more GDPR*. In fact, I spent a pretty sleepless night last night worrying about it, and this is just voluntary work, it has no right to stop me from sleeping.

* except that I need to be aware of it for my other charity stuff.

I suppose on a practical note, there are a couple of things I now need to update – this blog being one. There are a few notices I put on the site about volunteeering for them, which I’ll need to fix as I find, and put into th past tense.


Tick Tock Tuesday (25 February 2020) – The Miners’ Strike, Brass Band

I thought I’d create a new challenge. It is a challenge primarily for me, because I’m new to this platform, and because you don’t really know me yet, nor I you. As my name suggests, I am recovering from a stroke, and I like to push myself in all kinds of little ways… including getting to know the Wonderful World of WordPress. Although this is something I will be doing, I invite you, if this idea takes your fancy, to play along with me and share with me some of your own selections.

My plan is: each Tuesday, until I run dry, I shall post some piece of art with which I have some connection – which has helped to mould me, which makes me tick. Okay, a piece of art is a bit vague – it might be a piece of music, a movie, a book, a painting, or ???? – so my phrasiology is deliberate. It might be anything – I will play this post by ear, so I’m not sure what I’ll think of each week. And, I’ll keep posting on the theme weekly until I run out of ideas.

My rules? Well, I’m not big on rules! My choice will be something with which I feel a connection. That’ll be the important thing, just having some kind of fleeting affection for something probably won’t be enough, unless I’m using my choice as an example of something bigger.

It will be one choice per week – I’m aware that long posts can be quite onerous to read, and I’m in no hurry to complete this so if I have two ideas, I’ll probably hold the second until the next week.

In that same vein, I’ve created this block as a Reusable Block, which I intend repeating for every post on this theme. The block ends with a full-width separator, so if you want to skip ahead each week it doesn’t really matter.

I probably won’t post any lyrics, or any kind of analysis – if you like my choice, the information will be out there for you. But I will try to briefly explain why I feel a connection to my choice, just to try and enhance readers’ understanding of what makes me tick.

I will tag my posts TTT and I will go looking for other posts with that tag. If you’d like to join in, please do the same, or comment, or pingback to this post, and feel free to reproduce my graphic. Lastly, I look forward to reading about what makes you tick.

I wanted to talk one last time about the UK Miners Strike of 1984/5. Or rather, not the strike itself, but the fallout from it.

One of the traditions of British working life were the communal activities, based around the workplace. One such outlet was the brass band. Many collieries and factories formed associated brass bands, and as the strike ended and th pits closed, these bands largely disappeared. Grimethorpe in south Yorkshire, was onee such colliery, but the band played on – I guess it had a critical mass, having already won national awards. It has since won more, being crowned the National Brass Band Championship in 1992 (which happened at the same time that the pit was closing, and which is dramatised in the movie Brassed Off). It is a feat it has achieved four times in its history.

I happen to like the soothing elegance of the brass band, and the traditional roots are not lost on me. So, the piece I want to showcase today is a wonderful, peaceful hymn by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band – I can also appreciate hymns, though I am not religious – released by the band a couple of years after the pit’s closure, in 1995. Abide With Me.

Who Won the Week (23 February 2020)

I have Fandango to thank for this title – he has been posting regularly on this subject from his west-coast-USA vantage point. I am interested in current affairs too, and normally have some nonsense or other to spout about one of the UK’s topical news stories. So, I like to join in. Maybe there’s something in your world that you’d like to post about?

I didn’t really have a winner this week, but I did read a quirky news story in the Irish Times which raised my eyebrows. It’s becoming clear to me that I need to think of these posts more in terms of quirkiness than in terms of winners/losers, but I’m going to keep the title and tag, just so I remain consistent with other posts on the theme.

Anyway, I bet you never picked up on this story from your reegular news feeds!

We’ve all heard of the Mary Celeste, right? The American ghost ship which was found drifting off the Azores in the late nineteenth century? Such an unusual story it has passed into folklore, so surely lightning could not strike twice?

Let me introduce the Alta. The Alta is is a freighter, which was en route from Greece to Haiti when, in October 2018, it suffered unrecoverable engine failure out in the Atlantic, about 1,400 miles from Bermuda. Its crew of ten were picked up by the US Coastguard, leaving the ship to drift.

You’d think someone would care about a ship, wouldn’t you? It’s not exactly tiny, it must be worth a bob or two, and after all, this was 2018. But the ship was allowed to drift. And drift. And drift. Last August it was spotteed back across the ocean, off the coast of Africa, having drifted about 1,500 miles across the Atlantic.

But the Alta wasn’t finished. She continued drifting. This time, northwards, until Storm Dennis finally lifted it onto the Irish coast at Ballycotton (what a beautiful name!) in County Cork last week. Because, of course, before Storm Dennis hit the UK, it tore through Ireland.

You wouldn’t have thought any of this was possible in this day and age, would you?

There was a serious side to this story, though, because when it was abandoned, this ship had an amount of fuel on board, so the Irish Times were actually reporting this story from a pollution perspective. If it breaks up, the Irish will have a job on their hands to clear up the mess. I did have a look this morning to see if there was any further news – as of yesterday, so far so good. It is still ongoing but the vessel hasn’t broken up yet.

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