Wednesday, 21 January 2015
Leaving St M's in a hurry yesterday, busy morning several hold-ups I was hurrying to get to Sainsbury's to do my large weekly shop.
Successfully negotiated cobbles of Pebble Lane turned into the paved square and tripped on an uneven one, fell very fast and very heavily on my knees then 'splatt' on my face.
Blood was pouring from nose and I was somewhat shaken to say the least. Two wonderful Chinese fellows ran out from their restaurant one phoning for an ambulance the other trying to pick me up.
When they saw the state of me one of them grabbed some napkins or kitchen roll or similar and held it to my face while the other knelt down on the pavement behind me and half pulled up so I was leaning back on him. Poor little fellow was half my size and he was shaking even more than me.
Ambulance arrived took over and took me to the local hospital. Arriving at about 12.45 pm. From there it was a longish wait for Triage who fast-forwarded me (about half an hour) to see a doctor who would assess the damage and recommend treatment.
He was a really nice chap and took great pains to get all the facts right before telling me he thought rather than deal with it there they would get the plastic surgeon to come and see me.
All this time blood was hardly being stemmed by the succession of pads they gave me.
Finally at 4.30 the Surgeon had a look and told me I had sliced my nose to the bone, cutting the main artery to the nose which was why they couldn't stop the bleeding and he was not sure whether the nose was broken.
The next half hour was about the least pleasant one of my life, injections in my mouth lower and upper lips, in the inner corners of my eyes my cheeks and then worst of all about 8 or more tiny ones in my poor nose,
He then cauterised the artery which slowed and finally stopped the bleeding and then proceeded to stitch my nose from top to bottom washed some of the blood off me, put plaster strips on the nose and said that was it.
I won't pretend I was brave, I wasn't, it hurt, all the time and my hours of holding things to my nose to stem the flood had left my arms weak and shaking.
After the usual questions about my life a lovely nurse persuaded me that now was the time to make use of the offers of help from my neighbours. Looked one up for me, phoned her, explained the problem and she came and collected me to take me home.
It was then 7.30pm and I had had nothing to eat or drink since my coffee at St M's at 10.30.
The Close grapevine had got to work and someone had put my heating on and two of them brought a batch of tins of soup. One made tea and the other heated the soup.
I had been told I was not to lie flat but sit propped upright with pillows at night and also not to lean forward or bend down in case the bleeding starts again. Nor am I allowed to blow my nose, th eone thing I am dying to do.
That's my latest tale of woe, but oh my goodness, is it peppered with wonderful kind caring people.
The angel may have been looking elsewhere, but luckily for me no-one else was.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 5:01:00 pm
Thursday, 15 January 2015
The wind is shaking the house and even through the double-glazing blinds and curtains it is howling like a wild animal in pain.
Earlier sitting at the front desk in St. Mary's (Meet and greet) they call it, but there is no-one to meet and greet when the weather is so cold wet and windy.
"We are lucky here in this area where we seldom see the extremes of weather" we tell ourselves, but, bent double to hide from wind and rain, standing waiting for the bus it somehow seems less true.
Why is it expected of us that we be stoic and unfazed by regular soakings, freezings and generally being 'roughed-up' by gales.
"A mild winter" they say. Doesn't feel mild to me I think.
"Soon be spring" they say. Really? Not in my Welsh calendar it won't.
Too little physical exertion during the day leads to sleepless nights, for me anyway. So a good book is a necessity, and sometimes, just now and then, I actually find one among the library's mountain of dross.
My current one is very good indeed , "The coward's tale" by Vanessa Gebbie is a rare treasure. The author, new to me, has a wonderful descriptive narrative style, similar only to Dylan Thomas.
It is the kind of book which, far from rushing to the end, makes you want to read only a little at a time so that it will last indefinitely.
Reading at night for hours makes my eyes sore anyway so have had to give up for a while.
Some people lie there for hours trying to force sleep to come. That doesn't work for me but night-time activities are restricted and for me TV is a no-go after midnight, so the computer has a stronger than usual attraction.
Have just peered out of the window and the back garden is a lake with a frosting of snow. It will soon turn to sleet again I'm sure but it is not an inviting sight at 2.30 am.
Today, or rather yesterday, I collected two pairs of glasses from my optician, One for reading very small print and the other for watching TV if it becomes a strain.
I have incipient cataracts in both eyes which have not moved for years but I am told, are now doing so. So at some stage both will have to be operated on. Not a pleasant thought, but I have got away with it for a good while so I suppose I should be grateful.
My spirits are beginning to turn morose so will stop before the gloom spreads.
Sleep happily on dear readers, I only envy you a little.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 2:41:00 am
Thursday, 1 January 2015
That said, I have to add to my previous list "The Help" and this evening "Quartet".
These are two of the best films I have seen in about 20 years.
The first, for anyone who doesn't know, is the story of a white American journalist who took the brave and unusual path of trying to bring to the attention of a deeply prejudiced and habitually racist white South, the fact that the black domestic staff they employed were people with lives and needs, gifts and talents, intellects and problems, such as their own.
Superbly acted and faithful to the terrible truths of those times (1960's), the story is full of uncomfortable truths about the American apartheid system in some of the Southern States and the lack of recognition of that system by the bulk of the American population.
For those of us who remember "bussing" and the Ku Klux Klan, Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, the film is a memory jog and a recognition that though life is better than it was for the non-whites in the USA, there is a long way to go still.
The second film, "Quartet" is supremely well acted and for me, as an ancient ex-singer mainly of opera, very true to life in its depiction of crumbling bodies, tottering mentalities and voices which barely resemble a shadow of their former glory.
The entire cast is a jewel casket of top performers, amongst whom Maggie Smith and Tom Courtney shine with all the fire they possessed 40 years ago.
Full of humour, pathos and lovely music it was a joy to watch and I wish I had gone to the cinema to see it when it first was released.
Not having set foot in a cinema for over forty years I funked it at the time knowing that sooner or later it would be shown on TV.
It was worth waiting for.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 11:27:00 pm
Friday, 26 December 2014
Zombie-like after the four hour's sleep between getting home after Midnight Mass and being back for the run-through before the service, I thought what a huge difference between the first couple of Christmases after John's death and this one.
Still totally alone, but no longer lonely and while grateful for all that being a member of St' Mary's church and choir has meant to me, nevertheless the chance to opt out of the bustle and excitement of Christmas and just fall into a chair, feet up and do nothing at all for as long as I chose was a very welcome change.
Yesterday (and I am ashamed to admit again today) I watched one of my favourite feel-good films, the glorious Nanny McPhee.
I also watched "Carols from Kings" and "Puss in Boots" followed later by "Emmerdale" and "Downton".
In addition, as if that were not sufficiently depraved, I watched "Coronation Street", which is sponsored by the great, wonderful, appealing , totally addictive Meercats.
I am not ashamed to admit that I love the Meercats, in particular dear lovely tender-hearted old Sergei and sweet little baby Oleg.
To my horror settling to watch the latest episode in their absorbing African Adventure I was grieved to see a heart-breaking farewell between the newly confident Oleg and his adopted 'parents'. Mr Alexander and Sergei.
Sergei's tear filled eyes were not the only ones.
Is there any hope for me out there, or have I finally bade farewell to my last half wit.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 8:33:00 pm
Saturday, 20 December 2014
Not a church-goer, not a Christian, not even with the vaguely "C of E" background of most British adults in the UK, I was despondent, lonely and with a hankering for I knew not what.
A caring lovely neighbour thought as a music-lover I might enjoy the experience of Midnight Mass and, since she was intending to go to our local church took me with her.
At a time when I would normally have been in bed, we left home and drove to town.
The church was beautifully decorated, candle-lit and amazingly full of people - no mean feat since it is a huge building.
There was an air of anticipation throughout the service. The sermon was preached by the then rector wearing a reindeer hat with antlers on his head, the excellent choir sang every carol and hymn with which I had a nodding acquaintance (from school days), until they got to one I had never heard before.
Sung softly, and unaccompanied the unusual and haunting tune caught me and stayed with me for many weeks after the service.
I discovered it was called "Jesus Christ the apple tree", and made up my mind then and there that I would learn it, start to sing again (after a 24 year gap) and that I would join the choir of that church and one day sing the lovely carol.
Five years and six Christmases after that, we are finally to sing it in our Nine Lessons and Carols Service tomorrow evening.
,For the past week I have been laid low with a horrible cold, sore throat and basso profundo croak, which is now beginning to loosen its grip, so tomorrow I will sing the lovely carol even if it kills me and deafens everyone else.
It is much too important an occasion to miss.
Christmas is about so many things, memories being one of the more important ones.
If I have done it right (unlikely), clicking on the picture at the top will give you the version of the carol sung by the St. John's College Cambridge choristers.
If it doesn't work you can get it on you tube.
Either way, listen, enjoy and have a very happy Christmas.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 2:49:00 pm
Wednesday, 10 December 2014
She had been in poor health for quite a while and had visibly deteriorated rapidly in the last couple of weeks, yet somehow, no-one had been prepared for this.
Always a controversial character, M had a very short fuse, a fairly sharp tongue, and a well honed critical faculty.
She had in her time clashed monumentally with many of us, not least yours truly, yet, there was an openness about her attacks which was refreshing and once she had had her say,normal service was resumed.
Additionally and much more importantly, she was the first to offer help, physical or financial when a sudden need arose. Always to be found making something for a craft fair or bazaar. The first to bring in a pile of quality items to be raffled (and only too ready to do the selling of the tickets for said items herself).
She had a very large house and garden with a heated swimming pool in its own building, both of which were constantly offered for church functions, or to raise money for her numerous charities.
If someone was taken ill she would run them home or to hospital, visit them and bring them home.
She collected jokes and always had a list of the best ready for every eventuality.
Tireless in her work for a number of groups and committees, she seldom used her failing health as a reason to duck out of a responsibility.
In short, she was a marvellously contradictory personality, and a hugely valued and well-loved pain in the posterior.
God rest your soul, Blessed thorn, and may you rise in Glory.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 5:20:00 pm
Saturday, 6 December 2014
For some reason, although I have his photo in my gallery, I cannot access it for the blog.
Yesterday was very cold and I had intended to give him his usual large handful of cat biscuits/kibbles or whatever they're called, but he decided to sit a few feet away from me and stare at me.
Slightly concerned since he is usually hungry I soon realised that he was not looking at me but at Hercules the other ginger cat belonging to a near neighbour.
Hercules was placidly washing his round furry face with a languid paw but with a glint in his mean green eyes which boded ill.
He is top-cat around this area and most of the other moggies treat him with respect. Not so my ginger lad.
For some reason he had decided to brave it out and only a certain rigidity in his long spine gave a hint that he was not too comfortable.
Neither cat paid me any attention so I grabbed the box of biscuits and put a small handful in front of each of them, standing between them to attempt to ward off attacks.
Hercules sniffed, ate one or two of 'his' pile and strolled off round the corner without a glance at my friend.
Delighted, I added more biscuits to his pile and said encouragingly "come on he's gone you're safe"
As he didn't move I touched the top of his head tentatively and said "eat your bickies".
He stood up.legs stiff and gave me 'the look'. You know the one, it says "will you never learn your place woman, this is man's business", He then walked off in the same direction as Hercules.
How can a cat make me feel small?
Posted by Ray Barnes at 10:06:00 am