After months of …🌏

After months of anticipation the FIFA Soccer World Cup begins. It is Tuesday 14 June and the hosts open the competition against Saudi Arabia. It is the start of a drawn out campaign that causes the England fans to falsely think that the “Cup” is coming home. As it happens the only cup that returned apart from … for God’s sake … good old English pride, was basically a hiccup! Oddly the cup is not a cup, but in fact a trophy. Perhaps they should rename the competition “The World Trophy”, but that doesn’t sound quite right. As a bit of trivia when Spain won in 2010, the “Trophy” was engraved 2010 Spain … in english, not spanish!

Although it is still early days … as my foot is still bad we decide to extend the trip back to La Marina Alta and do the drive in 3 days instead of 2. This is because Sarah will need to drive the whole way and we do not want to leave too early each day as we need to capture the early morning business time slot with Australia. Most of the return route will mirror the journey up, except we won’t be going back to Le Peyrail in France any time soon …! There are still 4-5 weeks yet until we leave, but it is the start of the high season and ferries and hotels will start to fill up.

The surprise change in the english weather from grey to very hot and sunny is not helping my foot. The ankle remains puffy, almost invisible. Again it throbbed in the night. So I decide to ensure that I don’t put any weight on it today. It’s not easy. It means using both crutches just to cross the room. It’s innately frustrating not being able to just get up and fetch something. It is a lesson in gratitude for good health and I sympathise with my Mum who has 2 swollen feet and mostly confined to bed. Perhaps it’s the universe telling me that I shouldn’t run any more. I don’t bloody know! In comparison I am in a bad way, but it pales into insignificance when I think of how my 80 year young Mum is coping. I wander outside for 5 minutes for fresh air and sanity. No chance of rushing to the phone. I can’t carry stuff as both hands are on the crutches and my arms locked in the clasps.

By Saturday I sense that the swelling  in my foot has gone down. Despite that, I am still sliding down the stairs on my bottom. It has been a long time since I did that. Bump, slide, bump. Going upstairs I grasp the banister tightly and heave my leg up. Sometimes I use a crutch, but I get half way…totter on the brink of falling, sway and fall against the wall. I can’t bend my foot and on the few occasions that my foot catches the step, a pain shoots up my leg like a hot iron. The weekend passes. I have lunch with Mum and Kim at the Boathouse in Christchurch. Monday is a restless night. The pain in my ankle is as bad as it was 8 days ago.

By Tuesday it is very painful. In the end I am persuaded to go back to A&E. I don’t want to go. The thought of all that mindless waiting is not encouraging me, but the pain forces me to get back in the car. Sarah drops me at the A&E entrance. I shuffle out of the car, juggling crutches. They seem to have a magnetic pull to the hospital and point up towards the sky. I need to sort myself out.  I lean back against the car to steady myself and close the passenger door. But Sarah pulls away before I am ready and I move with the car, sliding, nearly going arse over tit. Am I, is anyone, surprised!? Always in a hurry, always 10 miles ahead of everyone else. The waiting room is half full, or is it half empty? I anticipate another long wait. It is 4:45pm.

I go into Triage about an hour later. The Nurse takes notes and I return to the waiting room … to wait.

6:50pm and the Doctor calls me. This time the 10-year-old must be doing her homework. In her place a middle-aged indian gentleman smiles sympathetically and I hobble forward.

I am bombarded with questions. More questions. Further questions. It’s like he is trying to picture himself sat in the middle of my foot. It feels like he is! He doesn’t like the look of the swelling and starts to squeeze various parts of my ankle. As he does this I am asked if it hurts. No. There … no. There … no. There … f*ck, f*ck … yes! There … no … and back there? Ahhh …yes, yes, bloody yes I already told you!!!

He studies the x-ray from my previous visit. Apparently I should have been given some ankle and foot exercises to do. The young doctor obviously had not covered this off in her training or indeed learned how to prescribe painkillers. I now have some drugs to relieve the pain and I end up with more hospital assets. This time a black boot and a referral to a specialist. It could be a tissue fracture that the x-ray can’t reveal. Using my crutches I walk out of the hospital. Well I loosely say walk. Like the crutches there is a knack to walking with an orthopedic boot. It becomes easy eventually, but in the interim I walk as if dragging a log behind me.

On Wednesday we have an outing with Deidre to Wimborne St Giles. Just a chance to see the location for the wedding. On the way back we stop at the Horton Inn for a spot of lunch. Another old haunt from my youth.

Its entertainment week. Another lunch at the Boathouse. This time with Kelly Lucas. Sarah and I both know Kelly from the Portman where we worked. I recruited her during a merger crisis as I remember, but she became friendly with Sarah before we got together and has remained in touch all the time we have been away, exchanging letters when we were in New Zealand and later on through Facebook.

The week like me, hobbles towards the weekend. Tomorrow another event that has been long, long in the planning. The marriage of Mr Richard Peter Watt and Miss Lily Elizabeth Rose …

Until next time 🌏

The rest of …🌏

The rest of the week went by. My ankle was starting to throb and swell. So much so that Sarah went to the chemist and bought a strap for my ankle. A lovely bright blue as if I was going to show it off at an ankle strap pageant. In fact I didn’t want to show anything off. I didn’t want to play “poor me” and hobbling around like an old git, but I did. I even borrowed Sarahs walking stick that she used after her hip operation. On Sunday afternoon I hobbled next-door-but-one to the Newtons for a BBQ. Then I hobbled back. I was hobbling everywhere.

The foot was now difficult to put weight on. Sunday evening the pain and constant throbbing was so bad that I had to do something. I don’t like going to the doctor. I don’t have much faith to be honest. It took ages to find a good doctor in Sydney. I don’t like their guesstimates and “lets give this a try” approach. I didn’t like it when a young doctor in Southbourne many years ago called the psoriasis on my scalp scurvy. Pr*ck!

Anyway, after much pain, at 3:00 am I succumbed and asked Sarah to take me to Accident & Emergency (A&E) at Royal Bournemouth Hospital which luckily was only just down the road. She dropped me off at the entrance and went and parked the car while I hobbled, stick in support, to find a seat in the waiting room. Sarah appeared shortly and signed me in.

I wondered if there may be some problem as we are Australians about to live in Spain with British passports, but it seemed to go smoothly and they still had my record from 24 years ago when we lived in Poole. Well … we are still paying our UK National Insurance after all.

The waiting room wasn’t full, but it wasn’t empty either. Arms and legs seemed to be the main issues with the occasional dizzy person. A sign announced that post-triage the waiting time was over 3 hours. After some time I hobbled into the nurse and explained my pain. At least I tried to. I always find it difficult to explain pain. It confuses my mind when there are brief seconds of relief and I wonder if I imagined it. I feel like a fake. But then it burns back into my ankle and my eyes water. The nurse taps away into the computer and Sarah goes off on a mission to find a wheelchair. What? Yes, a wheelchair. I try my light wit on the nurse with little effect. I imagine Sarah looking for a wheelchair … I hope she finds a spare one otherwise some little old man may be lifted by one hand and tossed away somewhere. She is gone a long time, but as my thoughts wander she suddenly appears through the Triage door with a … I don’t know. I thought Sarah was getting a wheelchair, but she is pushing what looks like blue scaffolding on Tonka Toy wheels. The scaffolding has protruding bars at waist level and a padded black platform with a matching upright. Clearly she was a long time because she had to build this out of Meccano and some bits of old piping she found. Of course this was the National Health Service hospital version of a wheelchair.

I put on my hard hat and support straps, then carefully climbed the scaffolding to mid-peak where the landing pad held out a softened invitation and slumped into it. I was then lovingly pushed out of triage back into the waiting room. I knew it was a waiting room because we waited and waited and waited. People came and went. Hobbling in one door and hobbling back out another. It seemed that as doctors became available they would appear at the door and call out a patients name. Different doctors of all colours, ages and sizes would appear. As darkness turned to light and the Sun came up, over 3 hours later the hospital ward door burst open and a female voice called my name. I looked up, but I couldn’t see a doctor. However, in the doorway stood a 10 year girl in green overalls with a stethoscope around her neck…. smiling. Off course she was older, but I couldn’t help thinking, not by much more. And yes, a real doctor. I was wheeled at speed through the swing door ensuring I kept my arms in so that they weren’t cut off at the shoulders. Sarah push’s the scaffolding like she rides her scooter … fast and braking sharply.

The young doctor who clearly should be getting ready for school at this time in the morning started to ask questions about my pain. I felt like her grandfather and we were playing a pretend game of hospitals. Her sweet smiling head nodded in understanding and she thought it would be a great idea in the game for me to have an x-ray. Like Lewis Hamilton on the grid, Nurse/Driver Sarah sped down the hospital corridors as I gripped the bars on the wheelchair. We turn the last corner on the front and back left wheels and slammed to a halt on the front 2. From looking straight ahead I was immediately looking at the floor and then jarred back into the upright position.

I wipped the sweat from my brow and not before too long invited into a somber room to be blasted with rays that can see through my flesh and outline my bones.

Having had a pit stop we returned to the circuit. Another stop and a little waiting. The young girl dressed up as a doctor appears again and tells me that I have severely injured my ligaments and the swelling is trying to protect them. How nice of them! So the instructions were quite simple. The RICE method. Rest, Ice, Compact and Elevate. I won’t elaborate only to say that over the next 6 weeks none of this was as easy as it seemed and even the most simple part … just rest .. was as frustrating as bloody hell!

Anyway, I was sized up for a pair of nice new NHS crutches. A young porter appeared and adjusted them to length and he then gave me some instructions on how to use them. Uhh, as if I need that. Clearly I did. It seems there is a knack to using crutches. Instead of the elegant swing to and fro I manoeuvred out of the hospital like a spider with 3 paralysed legs. After 20 feet of bashing doors and trying to miss people I waited at the exit for my driver.

We returned home. I went to bed and slept all day.

On Tuesday Deb and Sunny join us for dinner. Wednesday we land on a new departure date and change the ferry booking from Poole. In the afternoon we venture out to the cinema at Tower Park to watch the Book Club starring Jane Fonda and Diane Keaton. Despite being summer I wasn’t comfortable wearing flip flops to the cinema, but there was really no choice. My foot had swollen to proportions that meant getting a shoe on was impossible. I felt like a hippie! I was dropped off, the car was parked. Sarah and Deidre (Sarahs Mum) caught up with me as I now expertly swung on my crutches towards the cinema. It wasn’t exactly buzzing on a week day afternoon. Due to my incapacitation we took the back lift which oddly meant going outside to the lift door. We found our seats in the cinema and I shuffled with the crutches, trying to find a resting place for them during the next few hours. Something didn’t seem right with the cinema chairs. I seemed to be leaning back too far. It was difficult because I needed to arrange my ankle in a comfortable position. There was a commotion behind. People in the wrong seats. Why are the public so dumb at times? Legs brushed past my head. I lean’t back and sensed knees behind me. You know the feeling when you lean back on a seat and it locks in a comfortable solid position. Well these seats didn’t. They disobeyed normal social standards and went back as far as they could. Its like they had given up and as the weight of my body pushed against them I just kept going until I has almost flat. I say almost because the seat stopped at the point of the lady’s knees behind me. It seems my seat wasn’t faulty. They were all like that, but for some reason the awkward way I was sitting caused the situation to exaggerate itself. Feeling uncomfortable I thought I should, move, but that would only transfer the problem to somewhere else in the cinema. In the end I stayed on the basis that as I was the injured person with crutches and if the person behind me was uncomfortable, then they should move. But they didn’t and so I spent the next 2 hours psychologically gently rocking forward to mitigate the situation. But I could feel stubborn knees behind me burning through the seat!

Until next time🌏

Having returned home …🌏

Tuesday 5 June

Having returned home from Moss Bros it was time to get ready for the funeral. My Auntie Doris, Auntie Da Da, as we used to call her, had been in a nursing home and due to ill health confined to her bed. Doris was Mum’s older sister by a few years. To my shame I hadn’t seen Doris for many, many years and her husband, Uncle Reg, passed away some years ago. I rember Doris as a country girl with a strong country accent, much harsher than my Mums. Its funny as you look back what you remember. For example my birthday is 28 December and I knew that at every Christmas as Doris gave me my present and wished me merry Christmas it would be accompanied with the words “…and it includes your birthday present!” What a cop out.

I remember Uncle Reg fondly, although as a small boy I wasn’t impressed with his humour. I would make tea when they came round to visit and would hold the teapot high. Reg asked “is that a long pour?” and I raise my eyes to heaven. Looking back I realise it was my ignorance and in fact he was a nice man. He was a well known amateur motorbike racer, but unfortunately had a very bad accident at work which put paid to his motorbike days. He always wore mustard coloured socks and brown shoes like a trademark. The most amusing thing we all remember is the Summer Mum started to host foreign students who would come over from Europe to study English. Mum did this for many, many years and students came from all over the world. She was probably one of the finest hosts in Bournemouth. But the very first students were two very young and very pretty Swedish girls. Both blonde of course. For some reason they didn’t go to the beach, but would strip down to their bikinis and sunbathe in the garden. As is common in most households when close family visit we just sat in the kitchen and chatted. Uncle reg would steal this opportunity to place a chair by the kitchen window and just stare at the girls. Strange behaviour my 9 year old mind thought, but as I got older I began to realise what may have been going through his mind!

Sarah and I headed for Poole Crematorium. The previous funeral ceremony was running late. I guess they weren’t running, thats why they were late! So lots of people waiting around. It was a very small affair, Very close family and friends. Some I knew well, some I knew, some I didn’t know. There were also people, in fact family, that I thought I should know better, but didn’t Some that I should have spoken to, but didn’t. It seemed Sarah knew them better than me! My Cousin Kevin, the single inheritant of the Pollard fortune, because he was an only child came over to say hello. Kim and I always called him “Cousin Kevin”. His name is Kevin and he is a cousin, so it only seemed right, but in fact it was odd because we said CousinKevin as if it was one word. Now I think about it I was CousinDavid and my sister CousinKim. I can understand CousinKim in order to distinguish between her and the “Fur Baby” of Doris and Reg, Kim the dog! A wild thing that they locked in a room all day which sent it a bit mad. I don’t know who came first the dog or Kim. Either way it was either insensitive of Doris or absent minded of Mum and Dad.

As numbers were low Kevin asked if I would be a pallbearer and help carry the coffin. I reluctantly nodded. I was stood next to Ged, my sisters husband who also wasn’t keen, but as we gathered near the hearse and the funeral director started organising things I stepped back and stood behind Ged who was then in the spotlight for the job!

The eulogy briefly summarised the life of Aunty Doris, her long standing loyalty to her work, the fun Reg and her had Caravanning and the friends that they made. A picture was built of a woman that I realised I didn’t know. But we were reminded how Doris and my Mum ended up in Bournemouth in the first place. My grandfather who I called Poppy, had a dream of emigrating to Brisbane in Australia. The family had packed up and moved from Braintree in Middlesex with the idea of stopping off in Bournemouth before sailing to the other side of the world. But Poppy loved Bournemouth so much they stayed. Its funny how all those years later I fulfilled a little bit of destiny when Sarah and I ended up living in Brisbane.

The Wake was a sort of village hall “Do” …sandwiches and cake with a few pies. Tea, coffee or some sort of cordial to wash it down. Doris had a favourite drink … Baileys, so we Toasted with that and CousinKevin said a few words. Then it was all over.

Wednesday 6 June

I return to Moss Bros in Bournemouth and park right outside the shop in Westover Road. At one time Westover Road was the premier road in Bournemouth. Where all the top shops were located. It was like little Bond Street. There were 3 cimemas, the Palace Court Hotel Casino, the Ice-rink … as well as the Tufty Club. All gone now. A recent casualty, the Odeon cinema is now boarded up. Other shops have closed and the infamous Russell and Bromley will be closing their doors soon. It feels empty. Souless. Men linger intimately in groups. Smoking. Chatting. Looking. Along the road there is the occasional person sleeping in vacant shop doorways. The entirety of their worldly belongings with them. One with a cup held out to passers-by. It is an oxymoron as a smartly dressed bodyguard stands proudly outside one of the jewellers. It is a testiment to the world we now live in and a showcase to opulence and poverty. Like oil and water they don’t mix. This is not the Bournemouth I knew as a boy. It is not the Bournemouth I want to remember.

I didn’t have enough coins for the parking meter, but on studying the instructions I can pay by phone if I download the “PaybyPhone”App. For fun I do that and it works brilliantly. The app locates where I am. I can even upload a photo to prove where I am and with a click my parking is paid for. Another useful app that allows you to spend money too quickly!

Every morning and evening I do my walk. I picked up the route that I worked out last year. I play a game and when in the shadows I jog. On Thursday evening my ankle felt stiff. I was power walking. By Friday morning it was stiff and painful. Very painful. So much so that on Saturday Nurse Sarah purchased an ankle strap to bandage around the swelling. I had lunch with Mum and Kim at the Boathouse in Christchurch. Me hobbling, Mum in her wheelchair.

It wasn’t looking good.

Until next time🌏

Bright eyed and …🌏

Bright eyed and bushy-tailed I awake to the new day. Clearly Bournemouth hasn’t received the message that it is Summer. We have been told of hot, steamy and balmy days in the sun here recently, but there is no evidence of it. Perhaps the world’s weather is changing. When I was a boy I remember long hot summers. They were almost guaranteed. Now it seems to be a bit of a lotto. During the breaks from my incarceration at school I would help my “honorary” uncle Donald with the boats on Bournemouth beach. He had a site almost level with the East Cliff Zig Zag near the cliff lifts. The lifts are closed now due to land slippage, but they hope to open next year. Don lived next door with his younger brother James and their parents auntie Alice and uncle Max. Salt of the earth people who were Canadians. Everything about them was big. They were big, their fridge was big and Max was loud. In fact Max was very loud. One of the loudest things he did every day as he came through the back gate towards the front gate was to reach into the depths of his respiratory passage making a noise like an elephant and then spit the large piece of phlegm from his mouth as if in an olympic event. A real character who rode a motorbike. Unfortunately he was involved in a very bad accident which gave him a permanent limp, but also with the compensation allowed him to buy a brand new Austin 1100 that he drove as if fueled by kangaroo petrol. I can’t remember much about Max other than his political incorrectness and that fact on one occasion he had to go to hospital to get a cylindrical Hoover delicately removed from his manhood.

The house smelt of staleness and cooked fish. Dear auntie Alice didn’t have cleaning as her top priority. My sister Kim wouldn’t even go into the house. They had an open coal fire and the ceilings were black. As large and unkempt as Alice was, she was also the sweetest person on earth. In her largeness she was delicate as an artist and her speciality was still life. Flowers in vases … that sort of thing. I would go up to the shops for her to earn a few pence commission. Mostly to the fish shop on Wimborne Road in Winton to buy giblets for her cats. Those were the days when the fish monger was part of the social network, before the supermarkets started to take over.

I remember that her fridge was stacked with big colourful bottles of Corona, a fizzy drink that was popular in the UK. So much was consumed at the time that it would be delivered by the crate. The Corona man would drive around in a big flatbed truck going from house to house. Much like the milkman. It was a sense of summer.

So where was I? Don. Well Don had a huge shed at the back of the garden where he built rowing boats. He built them for a funny little man called Mr Bennett who rode around on a moped. Don would spend the winter with his electric saw screeching and then in the summer he would operate a boat hire business down on the beach. This included fibreglass floats which he also built in his shed.

Throughout the summer I would get up bright and early. Don would load up his old Bedford van which didn’t have a front passenger seat, so I sat on a plank that kept sliding every time he braked or turned a corner. Once at the beach the first job was to untie the boats and floats that had been neatly arranged and covered the evening before. We would line them up ready for customers. The highlight of the day was then breakfast. Out came the little Campus stove. Eggs, bacon and a mug of tea. Combined with the fresh sea air and the morning sand they were the best breakfasts ever. Looking back it is a reminder that these small things are the treasures of life and pale into insignificance the distorted amount of money I have spent on vogue restaurant meals since those days. God bless you Don!

Anyway, I spent the day pushing boats out and pulling them back onto the sandy shore once the tourists had their fun. Don had another little helper who I think was a relative of Mr Bennet. He wasn’t much older than me, maybe 1 year older or something. He could handle a boat though despite the fact he looked like an overgrown ant. We often got young couples hiring the boats. The girls all dramatic and squealing as they attempted to step into the rocking boat. The boys would be all bravado as they muscled into the oars like Lord Nelson on a campaign. But the current along the Bournemouth shore is quite strong. One time it took hold and clearly one of the guys was struggling. The current was taking him further and further away. Eventually Don sent his little helper to rescue Mr Muscles and his fair lady. It was funny to see them at the back of the boat being rowed be this tiny little boy.

Today is a day of conflicting activity. I have to go to Moss Bros to hire a suit for a wedding and then attend my aunts funeral. This could be an idea for a movie! My nephew Richard is getting married at the end of June and it is a top hat and tails affair … without the top hat on good advice from Guy, my brother-in-law. The basis for this decision is that it is rarely worn and will save having to carry the thing around with us. I suspect though, I will be thinking there is something missing. After a few drinks I will probably be searching for the top hat I never had, wondering where I left it.

I thought that I may need an appointment for a fitting so when in Spain I emailed Head office to ask if I needed to. They sent back a reply with the opening hours so I just turned up. But the young lady was flustered because I did have to make an appointment and I was irritated because I now had to return tomorrow. I wasn’t happy about that. Not good enough and made a bit of a fuss. But later, just out of curiosity I looked back on my emails to reinforce my argument only to discover that in fact they did recommend I phone to make an appointment. Bugger! I clearly had a junior moment!

Until next time 🌏