Week 97

24th October, 2010

A wet day, I spent it reading the papers and writing my funeral speech. Nice to see United & Liverpool win and City lose.

25th October, 2010

Gloriously sunny day after heavy frost first thing. We were up early and drove to Pauline’s Mum’s Doctor’s surgery to deliver a thank you letter for thirty years of service. Dr Kelso is retiring himself in a few months time. He always greeted Mum with, How are you Lady Jane? and she loved it.

We then drove Phyllis & Colin over the Pennines to Huddersfield. I forced them to stop on the moors to get out and have their photographs taken:


We then took them on a tour of Huddersfield before going to Ciao Bella for lunch.


We had a lovely meal of Greek Salad, Italian Salad, Calamari Fritte, Spicy Meatballs in tomato and garlic, Chicken in cream and tarragon sauce all with roasted vegetables and a couple of bottles of wine.

After lunch, I took them on to meet my friend, Chris Woods at Honda. Colin needs a new car and quite fancies a Honda. I found an advert for special offers on Jazz 1.4 SE models. They are incredibly cheap at the moment.Effectively, he was paying £8.000.00 for a brand new, four door car that will last him ten years.

26th October, 2010

Miserable, wet, grey day today. Didn’t go out. Completed my Tribute for tomorrow. I was told I couldn’t speak for more than 5 mins but I can’t cut it down to less than 8mins. This notice appeared in the Oldham Chronicle.


27th October, 2010

Up at 6.00 am. Shower and breakfast of tea and toast with raspberry conserve. By 7.00 am, the sun is starting to show and, by 8.00 am, it is obviously going to be a beautiful day. By 9.00 am, I am off in the car to the other side of town to pick up Florence. Florence had been the cleaner of the Anchor Housing flats. She had befriended Mum over the years and done her washing once a week. A few months ago, Florence retired from her job but had continued to visit Mum each week to take her washing and to have a chat. Tragically, just as Florence was retiring, she was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Mum had been trying to raise her morale and to persuade her to fight.

I picked Florence up and delivered her to the common room in Mum’s flats where all the others had gathered. I then went down to meet the three cars and to get mourners in to them. Mum’s coffin looked wonderful with lots of her favourite white lillies. We drove down to the Hollinwood Crematorium – a journey of twenty minutes – through beautiful, autumnal sunshine. Alongside a photo of the Crematorium, below, is a copy of the Order of Service and a copy of my tribute.

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28th October, 2010

Got up later today. We both felt very tired after yesterday. It was a long day and very stressful. Now we have the clear up. Phyllis & Colin will leave on Saturday. We have to book removals to clear Mum’s flat of everything nobody else wants. It probably won’t happen for another week. I took this picture of some of the family as they were saying goodbye in Mum’s flat and setting off for the South. Phyllis will kill me when she realises that I have put this photo of her saying goodbye to her youngest grandson, Daniel, aged 6 who is being trialled by Fulham Football Club.

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29th October, 2010

We have been living in the warden assisted accommodation for month now. We have spent the past two weeks of Mum’s death with Pauline’s sister and her husband Colin. They are retired – in fact considerably older than us at 73 & 74 years old. They have been sleeping in the Guest Room (£5.00 per night) and we have been sleeping in the Hairdressing Room (£2.00 per night) which is much bigger but we have to move out each Wednesday morning so that it can fulfil its function. This week, the hairdresser came to the funeral even though it was Wednesday. She had her own special relationship with Mum. Mum used to make her two toasted currant tea cakes and a mug of tea every Wednesday at 9.00 am.

Phyllis and Colin are going back to Surrey tomorrow. We have booked the removal firm to deliver our goods from store and then to clear Mum’s flat. Unfortunately, that can’t happen until November 11th which means we will have been here six weeks but we have quite a few loose ends to tidy up. Pauline & I are going to The Garden of Remembrance at the Crematorium to scatter Mum’s ashes. Quite remarkably, her Dad’s ashes were scattered there in 1961 and the Crematorium still has a record of where. Pauline will be able to scatter her Mum’s ashes over the patch where her Dad was scattered. It will be a poignant but meaningful moment for Pauline. As executor, Pauline has to distribute Mum’s fortune. She has spoken to Pensions and made sure her rent was up to date. We have been inviting in all Mum’s many helpers to see if there are any mementos, photographs, clothes or trinkets that they would like and most have left with something. Cath had a photograph that she talks to every day and isn’t at all surprised when it shouts back at her. She also had a lot of Mum’s blouses. Florence had the boxed set of Daniel o’Donnell cds. It’s her favourite singer. Joyce had skirts and the warden, Margaret, had coats. We also donated two motability trolleys to the warden for distribution. The most moving thing about this has been the people and how upset they have been at losing Mum.

30th October, 2010

A lovely day today. We were up at 6.00 am as Phyllis & Colin were driving back to Surrey. It was very hard for Phyllis leaving her Mum’s flat for the last time. She said she cried all the way down the motorway. We’ve got that to come in ten days time. Later in  the morning, Cath, the Maltese Falcon, who used to clean my office in school and who I persuaded to clean for Mum because she only lived over the field, called and we let her choose clothes & shoes that Mum had never worn. She was pleased to. Pauline spent the rest of the day bagging up the remaining personal possessions to go to Dr Kershaw’s Hospice in Oldham.

At the same time, we are trying to look ahead. We have completed the paperwork for our six month let. We can see the finished apartment on Monday just before the white goods go in. We’ve set up our insurances and booked the removal firm. As soon as we’ve moved in, we will go down to stay with Phyllis and Colin for a few days and start to search in earnest for a property to buy. Actually, it won’t be in earnest. It will be in Surrey or Kent.

Week 96

17 October, 2010 

This has been an amazing day. After wonderful treatment from the nursing staff, Pauline’s Mum has suffered attrociously at the hands of the doctors and consultants. She has been nil by mouth for over 24 hrs. The consultant visited her ward but ‘overlooked’ visiting her’ in his own words. I got hold of the email of  medical director for the Oldham NHS Trust and contacted her. By coincidence or not, we received a phone call from the ward sister 20 minutes later inviting us in. At 8.30 am we left for the hospital. She is sedated but alert. She has a protusion on her abdomen – a hematoma – which has to be operated on. The complications of that are her age at 96, the fact that she has just had a heart attack and that she is currently taking a blood thinning drug. However, the alternative is unthinkable and agonising.

Pauline goes in search of the consultant who missed her out yesterday. He turns out to be a nice man who deals with stomachs and not hearts which is why he missed her on the heart ward. He gives her more morphine and sends her for another CTC scan. Eventually, he tells Pauline that she needs an operation which, at her age, is most likely to kill her. Other than that, she will die in agony over the next week. There is no choice. Unbelievably, they demand that Mum gives her own oral and written permission for the operation. She does both confidently. She removes her teeth and puts her hearing aid in ready for theatre. Pauline and her sister, Phyllis, and her daughter, Mandy, say goodbye to her and she is wheeled to Theatre.  Two and a half hours later she is wheeled back past them and the surgeon puts the thumbs up saying, It’s all gone very well. He had removed a blood-filled hernia and then noticed a blockage in her bowel. He removed part of her bowel which had turned gangrenous and reconnected the bowel successfully. A heart attack a week ago may have saved her life.

By the time she was back in the High Dependency Unit, she was fighting to get up. Pauline had to restrain her. We left her to sleep and all drove home absolutely elated. I opened two bottles of Pinot Grigio from Ancona and we polished that off in minutes before tucking in to bacon sandwiches.

18th October, 2010 

The high of yesterday made the 6.30 am phone call from the hospital even harder to take. We were told that she had deteriorated rapidly in the past two hours and we should attend immediately. I bundled Phyllis, Colin & Pauline in to the car and drove them down to the hospital. Pauline’s Mum was conscious and talking. She told them that they had both been good daughters. They held her and kissed her and talked to her for five hours and then she died. If only it could have been like that with our Mum.


19th October, 2010 

Today is wet and dark. Pauline & I have finished phoning all who need to be contacted. We have to collect the Death Certificate this afternoon and then go and register the death at Chadderton Town Hall. Pauline’s Mum had organised and paid for her funeral some years ago. She and her friend, Angela, had taken out The Golden Charter Funeral Plan costing £1740.00. Basically, everything has been done for us. All we have to do is inform every one and arrange a get together afterwards. This will be in the lounge of the Anchor Housing flats she lived in. The catering will be done by the lady who comes in to cook them all lunch three times a week. Once again, I have to make a speech. I am gathering material for it now.

Today we had to put the milk money out for the milkman who called every day. Mum was very particular about how it was done and the money was already counted out in a brown envelope in the second drawer down of the dresser. The little brown envelope had to be put under the plant pot just outside her flat door where the milk was left. The milkman would look for it but he wouldn’t be surprised if it was accompanied by a pot of jam. Mum had problems with her hands from chronic arthritis or Arthur as it was known and from an industrial accident. As her strength failed, she couldn’t open jars. She would leave a new jar of jam out and the milkman would open it for her as he left the milk. All part of the service for Lady Jane as her doctor called her.

20th October, 2010 

Had lovely support from family members. Liz read the Blog and alerted Ruth to Pauline’s Mum’s condition. Ruth phoned me and then clearly alerted other members of the family. I had a lovely email from Bob:

I am so sorry to hear that Pauline’s mum has died.  I’m sure you are both coping with the situation but it is a sad and difficult time.  If there is anything I can do to help in any way just let me know.
Best wishes to you both.

and another from Catherine:

Hi John and Pauline
I heard your sad news from Ruth-hope you are supporting each other and I send my thoughts and love to you both.
Love cathy xx

I replied but I just hope they know how much it meant to me.

21st October, 2010 

A mawkish day preparing funeral details:

  • Putting an advert in the local paper
  • Preparing and order of service leaflet
  • Arranging extra cars for people
  • Arranging catering

It all feels bonkers but it has to be done. I have had to write the eulogy which I am being made to make. I have also had to prepare photographs for documents. These will be on the front and back of the order of service:

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22nd October, 2010 

I have been in contact with the Medical Director. This is what I wrote to her in Pauline’s name:

Thank you for taking the trouble to reply and to look at the problems we were having. We now know that the problems we were experiencing with our little old Mother were not isolated to her or to us but appear institutionally present across Oldham Royal.

Jane Barnes, our Mother, had fought her way to 96 years old. She was immensely proud and amazingly independent for her age. However, as with any 96 year old body, bits started to fail and fall off. She had a pace maker. She had a cataract operation. She had a tumour removed from the tip of her nose. As she became less active, she developed problems with her legs and, in her final years, she suffered a great deal with bowel problems. We made numerous fleeting trips to Oldham Royal to have these problems attended to and occasionally Mum would spend a couple of nights in hospital. Mum didn’t want to go and was always desperate to get away but she would acknowledge, as we do, the wealth of lovely, genuinely caring people she came across in the course of her time there.

What we were not happy with was the lack of Joined-Up Management of the environment within which these people were desperately trying to offer a good service to us. Every time we came to the hospital, we waited in a cubicle for someone to come and ask the same questions – often fairly platitudinous and condescending – as she/we were asked three or four days earlier. The answers were always recorded long hand on paper and when we pointed out the fact that this information must be on file, we were invariably told that The file hasn’t come back from the other Department yet. There was and still is a distinct lack of rigour in information management across the hospital which slows down the treatment of patients.

Ten days or so ago Mum had a heart attack and was admitted to hospital and found herself on Ward F2. She didn’t want to be there and she was desperate to get home but she knew she was being extremely well looked after by nurses who were overstretched and didn’t have a spare minute. Because Mum was so independent and determined to look after herself whenever possible, the ward staff responded to her very positively. She couldn’t speak more highly of them nor they of her. Her heart problem was stabilised with drugs and we were about to bring her home on Saturday when she suffered a terrible night of agonising pain with her bowels which had caused her immense suffering for a couple of years.  I sat with her in the ward until late Friday night/early Saturday morning until she underwent an x-ray. I had to personally fight hard to get doctors to visit the ward. That is inexcusable.  A large protrusion, thought to be a hernia, appeared on Mum’s abdomen and she was in agony. If Mum roared with pain, you knew she was in agony. She was incredibly tough and long suffering. Eventually, after a lot of agitation from us, Mum was put on a drip and given much needed pain killers – progressively leading to morphine.

Visiting her early on Saturday morning, she had been made nil by mouth by a 7.30 am Ward Visit and was informed that she would be seen by the surgical team during the morning ward round. This didn’t take place. The pain was under control and remained so throughout the bulk of the day. In fact, she was quite chirpy. When my sister visited at midday, Mum was still expecting to be seen by the Surgical Team and told my sister to leave by 2pm as they were due to arrive then but that didn’t take place either. Eventually, I was told that she had  been “overlooked” and apologies were profuse. By seven in the evening she had deteriorated badly and she was in extreme pain, still nil by mouth and crying out for water which she was refused. She couldn’t even have her lips moistened or take her medication. In fact Mum was extremely anxious that she had not been given her heart medication as she believed it would cause her heart to worsen again. The ward nurse, Lorraine was very upset because she had been ‘bleeping’ the doctors for many hours for attention for Mum but she could get no response. I actually stood with her while she bleeped to no effect. Once again, that is inexcusable.

By this time, we were getting frantic. We threatened to escalate the situation by demanding to see duty team management and we were told that no one knew who it was because it was the weekend. I threatened  to go to A&E to declare an emergency situation and the ward nurse frantically bleeped the doctors again. Eventually, a very young girl – a doctor looking like a Top Shop Assistant – arrived and with no urgency asked fairly inconsequential questions. She was clearly out of her depth. She appeared quite scared and her interpersonal skills were dire. She could take no executive decisions. She said she would need to speak to her Registrar. She left but no Registrar turned up. We were told that a doctor would be with us in ten minutes. They weren’t. The young doctor also informed me that the medical teams and the surgical teams do things differently and she could not intervene in their systems, she could only consult her Registrar. After half an hour we were told it was too late for a visit from the current surgical team because there was about to be a change over of surgical teams at 8.00 pm..  My niece and I went out into the corridors and grabbed the first doctor we could find. We told him the problem. He advised us where to go to find out who was the On Call Consultant if the Registrar or a member of the Surgical Team didn’t come down. Afterwards, he told us to complain strenuously. Communication and urgency of action between sections appears to be a major weakness.

Two hours later, at 10.00 pm, a doctor from the surgical team arrived and examined Mum. He said he thought she needed an operation but he would have to refer to the consultant who was at home. He arrived just before midnight when Mum had been nil by mouth for about 16 hours. We were then told she could have sips of water until 3.00 am. This was really distressing Mum and greatly raised the anxiety of the situation. The pain was managed and we returned home.

When we arrived at the hospital early on Sunday morning Mum was told she would have to take on a large amount of solution prior to having a CT Scan. Nurse Lorraine had to query the solution sent to the ward because it was one for injection not imbibing. She said that this was quite a common sloppiness in the system and was one reason she was leaving the hospital. This delayed the 10.00 am scan while we waited for the correct solution and Mum had been nil by mouth to all intents and purposes for about twenty six hours. I have to conclude that this extended period of denial served to weaken Mum and engendered considerable anxiety both in her and in us. Once again this is inexcusable. The scan demonstrated that an extremely risky but largely unavoidable operation was required. The risks were fully spelt out. We understood and Mum did. We made a fully informed decision together and the operation went ahead. The surgery was completely successful but Mum’s 96 year old heart couldn’t sustain her and she died around midday on the Monday. Although we shouldn’t have been surprised, we can’t help thinking that the context of the operation in which Mum had been nil by mouth for so long and desperate for sustenance and her heart medication didn’t provide her with the best platform from which to fight the stresses of a serious operation.

All patients and their relatives are naturally stressed by illness, hospital environments and operations. They do not need and should not have the additional stress engendered by dysfunctional management of the process. How can it be acceptable or justifiable for desperate ward nurses to be calling for doctor attention  not just for minutes but for hours without response? How can it be acceptable or justifiable for relatives to have to feel it necessary to take matters in to their own hands and to start charging in to the corridors desperately searching for help? Where is the discipline in this service and where is the management? Nurses and Doctors we met in the hospital were very critical of the process that was clearly failing us and gave us the impression that it was very common in Oldham Royal. They also said that it was exacerbated by being the weekend. So many nurses said, Don’t get ill at the weekend in Oldham. How can hospitals have weekends? Do the population of Oldham really need to be ill only during the week?

The lack of urgency shown by doctors in response to requests for help by the nursing staff was equally mirrored when it came to getting the death certificate. We made three different appointments with the registrar’s office while waiting for a doctor to get round to signing the certificate. The lady in the hospital office said she always had to continually bleep to get doctor attention and assistance and was often ignored. When a doctor did arrive, she was totally unprofessional in appearance with skin tight jeans and ballet pumps and, just like Top Shop girl on the ward earlier, she displayed no urgency or people skills and ignored us completely. How can it be reasonable to demand professional dress for nursing staff but not doctors? Patients and relatives need their confidence in professional staff to be bolstered not undermined. It seems to be indicative of the lack of discipline in the hospital.

We do not want you to consider this as a formal complaint. It is not. Indeed, to do so would be an insult to the wonderful nurses who cared so hard for Mum and to the surgeon who was prepared to take on such a high risk operation and to give Mum the fighting chance that she deserved. What we do want is for this to be seen as the observations of an end user on her local hospital in the hope that conclusions can be drawn and changes made to the service provision.

The hospital phoned back and invited us in to meet the management team.

Went back to see our old neighbours who had received some post. It was our new, ten year passports. The photos are awful. Nowadays, you cannot smile or have hair covering your ears. Pauline was mortified. While we were there, we went up the garden to see the rock fall. It looked as if our old shed had been deliberately targeted. It was flat as a pancake.

23rd October, 2010 

Today, I had a morning appointment with the diabetic opthalmic consultant. She is gorgeous – Ms De Souza. Unfortunately, she has signed me off saying she doesn’t need to see me again.

We went on to the Letting Agents to find out when our flat will be available. It is ready on November 8th and we hope to move in by the 10th. It will be nice to be settled for a while.


Week 95

10th October, 2010

When I was working, Sunday was dominated by the papers – usually The Sunday Times, The Observer and one red top. I would get up at 6.00 am to go out and buy them from the local garage. Delivery boys never got anywhere near us until after 9.00 am. Far too late. I would read solidly for five or six hours until lunch time. The afternoon would be set aside for school work. Many of my most enjoyable and absorbed times have been immersed in political history, and current thought. When I retire, I thought, I will have so much more time to enjoy the Sunday papers. Well I have retired and I’m enjoying them less. It must be me but the articles seem more vacuous and sterile than before. The Labour Party are drifting distinctly back to the Left. The Tories are dragging the Liberals firmly to the Right. The middle ground is classicly being neglected and left up for grabs. It ought to be a time of high excitement but I cannot feel it. The working Middle Classes are being assaulted at every turn and yet they don’t seem to have the gumption to rise up. In Greece, in Spain, in France people passionately take to the streets. Politicians think three times before attacking their population’s status quo. Not here. We meekly accept and I’m the same. I can’t get involved in the debate. For once, I am more interested in Finding somewhere to live, visiting the hospital, etc.. Today I’ve even been planning our return dates for Greece. We will leave on Tuesday, April 12th and return on Saturday, October 8th. This is exactly the statutory 180 days we are allowed out of the country.

11th October, 2010

A glorious day. We were expecting to bring Pauline’s Mum home today but, when we go to see her, we hear she has had another bit of a heart flutter and that they want to keep her in until tomorrow. It’s so nice of her to move out to give us a bit of space. We are booked in to this guest room for three weeks at £2.00 per day. With no additional costs apart from food, I’m thinking of extending it to six months every year.

12th October, 2010

Another glorious day. We set off early for Huddersfield to take our car in for service.  It is the big, four year or 48,000  service but it is still free for us. When we bought the car, we paid £500.00 up front for five years free servicing. We didn’t expect to keep it more than one year but it has really paid off. We discussed a new car with them when we went in and it looks like a new model of our car will be out this time next year. It will cost about £35,000.00 so we’ll have to do a bit of saving. Saving? What is that? The gave us a courtesy car – a brand new, sporty style Civic R-Type. It was so low to the ground, I could hardly get in it. And it was manual. Do you know how tiring that is? We drove to the hospital  to let Pauline see a Dermatology specialist about a suspicious mole but it turned out that all was well.


Pauline had made a appointment to discuss her Mum’s condition with the specialist in Oldham and then we expected to bring her home. The specialist said they were amazed by her mental and physical agility. She was challenging all of them over the side effects of her medication. She caught them out giving her too many water tablets and gave them hell. They had now controlled the heart problem with drugs but over night she had a stomach upset which she has regularly and they want to give her a CTC scan and keep her in until Friday. She’ll go mad – and she did but she knows it’s for the best.

13th October, 2010

Pauline’s Mum is in a ward with four other elderly women who have largely given up on life. One is refusing to eat at all. The others spend their time sleeping and don’t respond when their relatives come in. While Pauline was talking to the nurse and to the Specialist in one corner of the ward, they turned round to observe Mum trimming and filing her nails. Later, Pauline helped her to the toilet and as she passed the mirror, she said, Oh. My wrinkles are coming back. She ordered face cream immediately. Amongst these sleeping old women, she cares desperately about her cleanliness and appearance.

Our passports are about to run out. Ten years go I had a moustache and never dreamed I would be retired by the time it needed renewing. We had just driven to Greece for the first time after selling Slade House and buying a field in Sifnos. We were still in our forties – just. Today we have filled in renewal forms and the new passports (costing £155.00) will take us to the brink of seventy years of age. Let’s hope we get there!


14th October, 2010

We received an email from our previous next door neighbour, Jean:

Hi John and Pauleen
Hope you arrived back safely and enjoying the British weather.  It hasn’t been too bad so it’s easing you in gently.

Thought I would cut the grass last Tuesday as it was sunny in the afternoon.  The bottom didn’t look too long so I thought I would lawn rake the top as everyone’s is covered in mushrooms.  What a shock as I reached the top. The hut was absolutely flattened by a rock fall. The stones are massive and in the middle of the lawn with tree branches under which probably broke the fall and stopped them rolling. I was shaking when I saw what had happened.  Perry always said that those rocks would fall and I just thought, Perry is worrying about nothing again. I was glad your house was sold as that would have put most buyers off.  I haven’t spoken to the new neighbours yet as Joanne has just gone back to  work this week so I haven’t seen her.  Perry saw her and said she didn’t look too concerned. We have contacted the insurance as we think it is John Whitworth’s responsibility. It is going to drag out for a long time and take some sorting out.

Hope to hear from you soon.
Love Jean and Perry

To put this into context: everyone who came to Quarry Court said, Aren’t you worried about the rock face crumbling? So did Insurance Companies. Every time we would answer we answered, Of course not! Before we left, we donated our garden shed to our next door neighbours. Now it has cracked and fallen and demolished the shed as well. Poor old Jean & Perry. How fortunate are we? 

Dear Jean & Perry

This sounds awful. I always thought the place would fall apart after we’d left but even I didn’t expect it quite so quickly. Thank goodness you are alright. But the shed sounds like it’s done for and we were going to ask if we could lodge in it for a few weeks. Pauline & I never thought the quarry wall would crumble – In fact, we thought it was rock solid. The problem now is what you tell the insurance company when you come to renew your policy.

We went to Sainsburys to have our passport photos done. It’s changed in the past ten years. Now you are not allowed to smile, to wear reflective glasses, to let hair cover your ears, to look to one side or the other. The machines have improved though. You can do a test photo and then another before you print them. £5.00 each for the photos and on to the Post Office to use their ‘Check & Send’ service – £8.00 each and the passport for £77.50 so the new passports cost us over £180.00

On to the hospital to learn that Pauline’s Mum would not be released until Monday. She is undergoing more tests which will not be complete Friday evening and discharges do not take place over the weekend. She is resigned to it and has told us not to visit tonight because she wants to read her book and everyone keeps going in and disturbing her.

15th October, 2010

We went to the hospital for afternoon visiting. Pauline’s Mum had enjoyed another good night and she had been told she could go home two days early – on Saturday. We return three hours later to find her doubled up in agony in the toilet of her ward with violent stomach pains. She is screaming with the pain. She has a lump on her abdomen the size of an orange which doctors think is a hernia but Pauline thinks is blocked waste matter from her bowel. She is in so much agony that she is administered morphine. With the indelicacy of the situation and to give her more privacy, I retreat to the car at 8.00 pm. Eventually, the pain subsides and she begins to sleep. Pauline emerges half an hour after midnight and we drive off to sleep a little ourselves. Pauline has called her sister, Phyllis, to come down from London just in case. She will arrive tomorrow morning.

16th October, 2010

We got to bed at 1.30 am and were up at 6.30 am today. It almost feels like a school morning. Pauline had phoned the ward at 3.30 am last night and does so again now. Everything seems to be alright and the doctor is with her now.

Week 94

3rd October, 2010

Last night was our first in Pauline’s Mum’s warden assisted flats. We have rented the guest bedroom which is just two doors down from hers. It allows us to be quickly available if she needs us. She goes to bed at 6.00 pm and gets up at around 5.00 am. By the time we get up at 7.00 am, she has washed, dressed, made and eaten her porridge and tea and she is reading her book. She is looking a lot better but she isn’t well. She has fluid on the lungs which is making her breathing difficult. A couple of weeks ago, one of her legs,  which swells hugely and painfully during the day, burst and water and blood ran everywhere. The nurses who came to treat her didn’t get it right and the leg became infected and very sore. She was prescribed antibiotics by a locum who didn’t know she was allergic to them and this triggered the current crisis.


A quiet day reading the Sunday papers on Sunday. It poured with rain all day.

4th October, 2010

We don’t know how long we can afford to rent the room – it cost £2.00 per day – but we are going in to Huddersfield this morning so Pauline can have her hair cut, we can have our tyres checked and start to look for a temporary flat to rent. There are a huge number of brand new flats on the rental market here with carpets and white goods but unfurnished. We want to take one on for six months so we can look after Mum and go house hunting in the South. It has to be in our doctor’s catchment area. A 2 bedroom apartment like this is going for around £500.00 per month which is peanuts really and will do us well.

I wrote too soon! We got down to our car to find we had left a small reading light on inside on Sunday morning and our battery was completely dead. We had to phone the AA. They came in about 20 minutes and a nice lad revived us in 10 minutes. Unfortunately, we were just too late to make the hair appointment but rearranged it for tomorrow. We still drove across the Pennines on this glorious day to visit Sainsburys and took some photographs. There is something fantastic about the elemental nature of the Pennine hills.

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5th October, 2010 

Happy Birthday to my darling, Pauline. She is 59 today but looks 30 20 years younger. We are going out for Lunch after she has been to the hairdressers. Unfortunately, Pauline’s Mum had a rather bad day which rather overshadowed things.

6th October, 2010 

Torrential rain this morning. Unfortunately, unlike Jane, I am not too important to notice. We have appointments in Huddersfield this morning to view apartments on six month lets. The sooner we get this end tied up, the sooner we can look for property to buy in the South.

We viewed the first ground floor apartment in a old, non-conformist chapel. It had been sandblasted and split into four apartments. As we walked in through the huge, iron door on to stone flags, the smell of new paint mingled with the distinct smell of damp. We quickly made our apologies and left.


We then went on to a new propertyin a new ‘estate’. It was a two-bedroomed second floor apartment but was so small that the Master bedroom was about the size of our ensuite in the house we have sold. We left the estate/lettings agent on a positive note and he had two more viewings immediately after us – we passed them as we went out – but the moment we got to our car, we both spontaneously said, NO and moved on.

We drove back to Oldham to find that Pauline’s Mum had been unwell with chest pains. In spite of her protests, we phoned her doctor who told us to get an ambulance. The change in an old lady of 96 was amazing. From someone who had terrible chest pains and couldn’t breathe well, the sight of an ambulance team brought out wise cracks and an attempt to jog round the room. She was distinctly deflated when told she had no choice and would have to go to hospital. When we got her there, she expected to be released after her blood test but was furious to be told that she would have to stay over night to have further tests.

7th October, 2010 

We have been told to phone the hospital after 11.30 am to see if the monster was ready to be released. In the meantime, Pauline found a penthouse suite in a new apartment block that is currently for let and she made an appointment to view it tomorrow afternoon. The hospital tell is she is not being released today. We go down to see her. It is confirmed that she has had a heart attack. She doesn’t think much of that diagnosis but realises she can’t get away until permitted. In the ward, there are three other women lying flat out. She is dressed and walking around. Pauline gives her her walking stick and stands back. We have taken her current book for her to read. She is being told that she has to spend two more nights there while her drugs are rebalanced.

After a couple of hours we leave. Just as we do an estate agent phones to say that a new block of Charles Church apartments, which we have watched go up, are about to be completed in a fortnight. Clearly, they have no confidence at all of selling them because they are to be offered to us immediately on short term rental terms. We will be able to see them next week. We will be back at the hospital tonight to visit the caged monster.

8th October, 2010 

We continued our dual activities of vising rental properties and visiting hospitals. In the morning we went to look at a penthouse suite of two bedrooms, dressing room, two bathrooms, kitchen diner, lounge and balcony overlooking the grounds. It had a mezzenine bedroom and was full of tubular steel and industrial sized windows inteded to appeal to 20/30 something professionals. It felt cold, impersonal and strangely laid out. We decided against it even for six months.


In the afternoon, we visit Pauline’s Mum in hospital to be told that she has had another heart flutter in between running round the ward. They want to keep her in until Monday and she seems quite happy about it and says she is in the right place to be sorted out. The nursing staff want her to stay because she keeps everyone else entertained and happy.