Care home cares

Country road at sunset

A poem in memory of my grandmother Mary (Muriel) Peacock.
I hope that all you believe has come true.
You deserve it.


The swell of dread arises miles before,
Minutes tick away in jolts of angst.
Regret, guilt, and apprehension,
All throng to the beat of a wheel on tarmac.
A visit of duty, a duty of care.
Is the duty mine and do I
Care enough? The look of pleasure and
Appreciation is too much to bear, too grateful.

Those eyes whose confusion melts
Into a loving glow stoked from years
Lost in quiet and familiar unconditionality
Express too much too freely.
Hands worn smooth by aged cold-creams
Compelled by hiccoughs of the brain to rest withered on the pane
Grip with a strength of eloquence. A war-time
Wedding ring presses the words, I knew you’d come.
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A crutch a day keeps the bus away

Broken arm

Now that time is passing – and the swelling, if not the pain, reducing – I can look back on the funnier aspects of the day I broke my arm and snapped the tendons in my knee.

One stand-out is the hospital nurse who fitted my leg splint and gave me crutches. My memory of the encounter is something like this:

Her: Now that your leg’s splinted, here are your crutches. I’d like them both back at the end, please.

Me: Thank you, but as I’ve broken my arm I can only use one.

Her: Yes, I appreciate that, but you must take both.

Me: But I have only one functioning arm. I only need one crutch and, in any case, I can only physically carry one.

Her: Yes, I appreciate that, but you must take both. And I’d like them both back at the end.

Me: But I can’t take both, I have only one functioning arm.

Her: Yes, I appreciate that, but I need them both back at the end and if you only take one I can’t have both of them back at the end.

Me: Fine. Shall I shove the second one up my arse so I can carry it too? (This last only in my head, I must admit).

Her: How did you break your arm?

Me: I tripped running for a bus.

Her: You should never run for a bus. I ran for a bus once and tripped and fell under the wheels and it drove off. I have never run for anything since.

Me: Is that because of all the extra crutches you have to carry?

Her, confused: Hmmm?

Me, to Graham who has just entered the room: Graham can you take this spare crutch please?

Graham: But you only need one, your arm is broken.

Me: I know, I know, please just take it. We can put it in the cupboard – they don’t have any cupboards here. Goodbye!

Her: Goodbye! Don’t run for buses!

Christmas trip

trip sign

Yesterday on my way to work (so no alcohol involved!) I tripped on the curb and came down with a bump. I thought I was OK and went to work, but it got more painful so later on I went to Accident and Emergency – and left with arm in a sling and leg in a splint!

I have a fractured elbow and suspected meniscal tear in the knee cap. Today I can’t move my leg past 20 degrees and so we’ve had to cancel going back to see friends and family for Christmas, and Graham has been out doing an emergency Christmas dinner run at Waitrose.

One small bright spot – what wonderful treatment I got through the NHS. From turning up I had seen a nurse, had x-rays taken, seen a doctor, been fitted with sling and splint and out in 2 hours! Then I had a follow-up call this morning from a junior doctor at the fracture clinic who had reviewed the case with a consultant doctor and was answering any further questions and getting my email address to send further info, as well as booking me a follow-up appointment in a couple of weeks when the swelling has gone down. And all free. The Tory government had better not muck around further with our NHS!

Pescetarian pests

Fish near hook

It is almost 4 weeks since Graham and I ate meat. I say “meat” deliberately because we are still eating fish and seafood, and that doesn’t count as meat. I checked in the dictionary so it must be true. I believe this makes us “pescetarians” doncha know.

I don’t much like that term. Firstly I don’t like it because it makes you sound like a middle-class tosser. I made my peace with that years ago, though. Mainly I don’t like it because it sounds like you’re a vegetarian manqué. A wannabe who doesn’t quite follow through with their convictions, and I don’t like that mainly because it’s true. This makes it head an on-going list I have of drawbacks of pescetarianism:

1) You have to defend a stance that you agree has elements of hypocrisy. “It’s ok to eat fish ’cause they don’t have any feelings,” sang Nirvana ironically. Yes Kurt, I know, I know. You’re right. Fish and sea-dwellers are still living creatures. My disingenuous answer to this would be that I don’t think that these creatures routinely suffer as much as meat-producing animals can. The real answer is, baby steps! If we get on ok with no meat then perhaps no fish will follow. As it stands, I would have gone mad without being able to eat fish and seafood over the past few weeks.
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Brighton workhouse

Brighton workhouse

‘View of Brighton from Hudson’s Mill’ Published Jan. 1st 1846 by W.Lane, 3 Market Street. A very rare lithograph by C. Childs after a sketch by R.H. Nibbs

This is a view of the West Hill area of Brighton, where I live. It was taken from the top of Hodson’s Mill (given as Hudson in the name of the picture) the base of which survived fifty yards from my house in West Hill Road until removed in the 1950s. The fields to the right of the pathway belonged to the Brighton workhouse. More information here.

My house – or at least such that it existed back then – is the one on the very far left with a peaked roof edging the field. So strange to think it was then on the edge of town when the town’s edges now stretch miles further than this.

Fortune Cookie

fortune cookie

One of the more ambiguous conversations I’ve had with a waiter.

Me: It was lovely but I just couldn’t finish it. Just the bill please.
Waiter (in an extremely thick Chinese accent): Are you travelling?
Me: (slightly surprised, but hey go with the flow) Yes I’m here for work.
Waiter: Are you a job seeker? (pronounced “seekerer”)
Me: (unsure if I’ve either misunderstood the words used or what he means by them) Erm… I’m here to do work. We have an office here.
Waiter: So you are not seeking work?
Me: No…I probably wouldn’t be here eating a delicious but expensive Chinese meal if I were looking for work.
Waiter: I am a job seeker.
Pause during which he looks at me expectantly and I look back even more unsure if I’ve grasped this conversation.
Me: But you work… You’re a waiter (I add helpfully).
Waiter: But that is only to pay the bills. So I am a job seeker. Like you.
Me: (Getting scared) I really have to go, can I please have the bill?

I’m still not convinced that either of us fully understood what the other was saying here. But it seems to me enigmatic enough to bear many interpretations, as fortunes are wont to be. Am I seeking something, beyond the usual cornerstones of home, food, love and work? Aren’t we all? Does it show so clearly in me that this man couldn’t help but comment?

We’ll never know because I ran all the way back to my room. As men are wont to do from fortune-tellers.

Whisky woes


Graham has an expensive bottle of whisky in the cupboard, and I have an expensive bottle of brandy. Graham poured himself one of his whiskies and offered me one.
When I’d had finished it:

Me: Would you like one of my brandies?
Graham: Oh, I didn’t offer you a whisky just for a brandy in return.
Me, turning away to get on with something: Oh good.
Graham: !!!!