Week 64

7th March, 2010

Glorious sunshine AGAIN. The views across our valley were beautiful, although the snow covered ridges of the Pennines in the distance, have rather been lost in these photographs.


8th March, 2010

Long and arduous day today. Pauline’s Mum’s cataract operation is coming good but our trip to the hospital with her today got more and more exasperating by the hour. We have been treating extreme infection in her operated-on eye with three different creams/ointments every two hours. It has been an exhausting and exhaustive programme. The eye is showing real improvement. We were told to take her back to the Eye Clinic for 2.30 pm today. We got there early. The pattern is always the same: I drop Pauline and her Mum outside the Clinic with a wheelchair. I drive round and round the carpark until a space becomes available. Pauline arrives in the Clinic before the appointment time and then wait hours to be seen. Today, in spite of a precise appointment time, she was told the wait would be at least three hours – oh and by the way, we can do nothing until her notes arrive. These notes never arrive.

Because of my Mother-in-Law’s age, we have been regulars at the Oldham Royal over the past two or three years. Every time, the appointment is prefaced by an inordinate wait, an unknown doctor appears and asks all the same questions as the last time because the notes from before cannot be found. When it comes to it, the treatment is sympathetic and effective but the infrastructure is appalling. The consultation invariably ends the same way. Pauline’s Mum is given a prescription which can only be obtained at the Infirmary’s Dispensary. This is about the size of a cupboard. Get three people on the customer side of the counter and the bodily contact becomes so indecent observers would categorise it as troilism. The main function of this despensary is to service the hospital. Any outpatient demands go strictly to the back of the queue. After three hours in the clinic, Pauline had another 45 minutes in the Dispensary by which time her Mum was so desperate for the toilet, we nearly put out a flood alert (in my car!). The National Health Service is made up of lots of lovely, caring and often highly skilled people all drowning under a bureaucratic framework that is unable to cope with the demands of 2010.

9th March, 2010

Not feeling well today. Ironic really because it is five weeks short of one year since we were last in school. Only yesterday, I was remarking that, in that time, I we had suffered not one single illness. Usually, in any school year, we come in contact with so many ill people that I guarantee two or three bouts of cold/’flu.. Did a little bit of gardening in the sunshine but my heart wasn’t in it.

As you know, we all hate Arsenal but even I had to marvel at their performance against Porto tonight. It was breathtaking and the goal by little Nasri was wonderful. I still don’t rate Bendtner inspite of his hat-trick.


10th March, 2010

Sunny and warm today. We spent some time outside tidying up after this destructive winter. I suspect that a number of shrubs that have survived the past decade have been done for by this winter.

Received an email from Catherine. This is what she said:

Hi John

I had a lovely 55th b’day, It was a sunny but cold day.1 teach full time except for Tueday pm and eve when I am at college doing a psychotherapy and counselling degree. I teach the children who are out of school for one reason or another but mostly the ones I teach have phobias, OCD, trauma or Aspergers so it is interesting! I also am doing my first placement at a counselling service in Worthing which takes up evenings-I have to do 18months probation before getting paid work. I don’t get much time to do much else at the moment. The course finishes at Xmas – if I can get all the assignments completed! I don’t think I will ever be rich but don’t care about that as I have simple pleasures except Larie and I would like to move abroad to live in the sun. Jamie would like to move out of home but rent and properties are v expensive here. He is part way through accountancy training and has a very expensive girlfriend so no money! Our dog Bella is getting old so I am already eyeing up some puppies… but not telling her of course! I don’t mind keeping in touch but won’t be doing it every week as I don’t have time or the inclination and family stuff is not my’cup of tea’-to quote mum. hope that’s enough info to keep you going


I’m still not sure what made so many of us so anti-‘family stuff’ as Catherine puts it when so much emphasis was put on it in our early life. Maybe I’ve answered my own speculation in that sentence but I’m not sure. Answers to jrsanders@btinternet.com.

Talk about class! Did you see United tonight? Rooooneeeyy!


11th March, 2010

Cut the lawns today for the first time in 6 months. I needed oxygen after finishing it. Pauline drove over to have lunch with her Mum and arrived back to find me collapsed on one of the garden benches. I’m sure it did me good. I’ll be ready to run with Jane BG soon.

The whole of Greece was on strike today – no flights, ferries, trains, buses, taxis, trams, schools. No public sector of any sort and the Olympic Airways workers who were sacked when it was privatised a year ago are still striking too. Rubbish is not being collected again:


To make matters worse, Athens has been hit by a huge cloud of sand whipped up on winds blowing across the Sahara. The city is covered in a yellow film of sand.


12th March, 2010

Wonderful photo from Greek newspaper – Ta Nea (The News) – this morning of the demonstrations in Athens yesterday. It is taken in Syntagma (Constitution/Parliament) Square right outside Hotel Grande Bretagne. Unfortunately, it didn’t show the banks and shops that were firebombed or the policemen injured.


You will have noticed that I read Kathimerini (the English version) because my Greek is too weak to sustain the full Greek version. It is part of The International Herald Tribune . However, in the past few months I have upgraded Internet Explorer to Version 8 which is so superior to previous versions and it offers so much more in terms of Add-ons. Particularly, one can integrate Google toolbar with its language translator. This is a fantastic piece of software which allows me to load a multi-column newspaper page with dense text in Greek and it is translated in front of my eyes in less than a minute. The translation isn’t perfect but it’s a hell of a lot better than I could do and I can now get a Greek’s insight into the news.

Below is a copy of the front page of Ta Nea (The News) in Greek and then in its rough translation:

taneagr.gif     taneaeng.gif

13th March, 2010

I haven’t been to Ripon for thirty years and haven’t visited The Black Bull pub since 1972. It used to be a favourite haunt as a student. I was one of twenty males amid 620 females at Ripon. The transition in 1969 from an all boys Grammar School to an all girls College was genuinely enjoyable. In spite of having lots of sisters, I didn’t really know that girls were like that. Thirty eight years ago I left that closeted environment where everything was done for me and entered the real world. What a shock. The twenty males, of course, bonded strongly and, although one died during the course and two dropped out, we always knew ourselves as The Company of Twenty.

And yet, I really am not one for dwelling in the past. I have always resisted reunions. Today, in retirement, I went back to meet The Company of Twenty. In doing so, I visited the College buildings that are now private, residential apartments; I visited the building where my old flat was with the noisy brothel above. The green bay windows on the first floor was ours. The top floor was all together top shelf.


I visited The Black Bull where old men like me shook hands and tried to recreate the past. I came away deciding that I probably wouldn’t do that again.


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