Monday, 16 July 2018
When I worked in the city several years ago, homeless people on the streets was part of the everyday landscape and unfortunately, it is on the rise in our cities as well as in our towns. Such an everyday occurrence that I believe it becomes easier for us all to walk on by, somehow we become dehumanised.
The office I managed in the centre of Glasgow had a basement area that a homeless man whom we will call John used to call his home at night. John wandered the streets by day and when darkness fell he shuffled down the grey stone steps in his ill-fitting shoes to shelter from the cold Scottish weather. He made up his bed of flattened cardboard boxes underneath an overhang from the walkway above which also gave him the means of seclusion from the passers-by.
In the morning I used to arrive at around 8.00a.m. by this time no matter how cold or wet it was John had packed up and tidied away his bed neatly into a corner where he knew it would stay safe and dry for his return.
One dark, cold November morning when I arrived at the office I was surprised to see John's small bundle of belongings at the top of the stairs that led to the basement. Looking down I could see John lying at the bottom, his shoes still on the steps, his feet lying bare to the elements. I knew instantly that he was no longer alive, but in case I was mistaken I hurriedly, unlocked the door and called the emergency services.
Sadly, I wasn't mistaken and as I watched John's body being taken away in a body-bag I asked one of the attending policemen how they would go about getting in touch with John's family or friends. He answered coldly, " What family or friends? He's homeless."
My heart sank, yes John was homeless but he was a man, someone's son, brother, friend. How long had it been since someone told him they loved him? How long had it been since he had been hugged and kissed? How long had it been since someone had spoken words of friendship to him?
Being homeless isn't just about not having anywhere safe at night to put your head down. Homelessness cuts an individual off from society pushing many into isolation. Poverty of any kind doesn't discriminate, it is something that can happen to any one of us at any time.
There is much suffering in the world ...physical, material, mental. the suffering of some can be blamed on the greed of others. The material and physical suffering is suffering from hunger, from homelessness, from all kinds of diseases. But the greatest suffering is being lonely, feeling unloved, having no one. I have come more and more to realise that it is being unwanted that is the worst disease that any human being can ever experience.
Mother Teresa (1910-1998)
Friday, 13 July 2018
The youngest child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, 11 weeks old, Prince Louis, was christened in the last week, which I'm sure you will have heard about. Without a doubt, he would receive an abundance of gifts from all over the world, in all shapes and sizes, as well as price tags.
However, there was one that to me no matter what anyone else gave him would be the best gift of all and that was the 1926 first edition of, 'Winnie the Pooh' by A.A. Milne gifted to him by his uncle, Prince Harry.
Yes, this edition is said to have cost a mere eight-thousand pounds/ten thousand US dollars, not too much if you say it quickly. But let's forget about the cost, it's the sentiment in which this book was given. Prince Harry had put lots of careful thought behind his choice of present like any good uncle should do. He is quoted as saying "That he wants to create an exclusive library for the royal children." This is said to be because he has fond memories of his mother, Princess Diana, reading him bedtime stories.
I was delighted to receive a paperback copy as a school prize when I was aged eight, along with a copy of, 'When We Were Very Young' and 'Now We Are Six.' I treasured them for many years until I'm afraid to say the well-read pages began to disintegrate and fall away from the binding.
A.A. Milne's fictional story 'Winnie the Pooh' is so much more than a children's story though, it tells the reader about some of the best qualities that can be found in a human being.
- Patience: "If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear."
- Thoughtfulness: "A little consideration, a little thought for others makes all the difference."
- Self- love: "It's not much of a tail but, I'm sort of attached to it."
- Love: "How do you spell love?"------ Piglet "You don't spell it.......you feel it."------ Pooh
- A.A. Milne
Well done Harry!
Monday, 9 July 2018
Over the last week, I haven't been feeling on top form and because I do keep reasonably good health when I do require to visit a medical professional my partner has to coax and cajole me to make that all-important call.
I take deep breaths before I dial the number and try to ignore the little nagging voice inside my head that tells me to hang up. I was told once that I have what is known as white coat syndrome and the diagnosis was correct without a doubt.
Now my fear is not just of doctors but of dentists too and because of this, I am ashamed to say that I don't go for regular check-ups.
However, when I found myself with a raging infection, a misshapen face due to swelling because one of my somewhat neglected teeth was protesting, it was time to push those buttons on my telephone key-pad. Otherwise, .......... I dread to think.
Eventually, I did find a dental clinic that would accommodate me, a non-registered patient and at three that afternoon, I entered the clinically clean building, like a pirate walking the plank.
The interior of the building was clinical but the staff were not, they were warm and friendly from the onset. I told them of my trepidation over the phone and this had been noted, meaning that each person I made contact with went out of their way to put me at ease. The dentist himself made me feel I had made a new friend and by the time I left I was feeling confident about making my return visit for a full check-up, clean and repair of the offending tooth.
Unlike, the rest of the world this clinic and many others in the UK provide this service free of charge to patients on low income. For those who do not fall into this category although charges do apply, the full cost is subsidised by the government-funded NHS (National Health Service).
This funded healthcare system founded by Aneurin Bevan July 5, 1948, applies to all UK citizens and helps us access hospitals and clinics for the medical help we need without facing hefty medical bills.
I have experienced medical treatment overseas and before a doctor would even speak to me I had to show I had the wherewith to pay. Thankfully, I did have medical insurance and my much needed medical treatment went ahead. But, it brought home to me how lucky we are in the UK to have the NHS.
HAPPY 70th BIRTHDAY NHS.
Tuesday, 3 July 2018
Memories are described in words when we want to share them with others. In our minds, memorable and not so memorable events are replayed in our mind's eye like old movies.
We believe when we recollect the happening from the past that we piece together the facts as they really happened, but of course, that is not the case. Our brain selects only certain pieces and puts them together, retrieved and decoded from the deep dark sections of our brain.
Depending on how old they are however the quality can be grainy and faded like a well-worn jigsaw puzzle. Words of love, anger, fear, envy, pity, joy, friendship and sadness whirl around in our heads until they are added as the crackly soundtrack.
Distant memories can pop into our head for no apparent reason at all, others because words we have read or pictures we have looked at act as a trigger for our recollection process.
If we want to communicate our feelings now we are likely to use one, or more of the many electronic communication tools that are available to us.
The messages we receive are unlikely to stay in our possession forever as they will be lost through time. They cannot be stored in a box like the old cards and letters that many generations before us kept, to capture memories forever. That is really sad I think.
The larger cards in the picture were part of my Aunt's collection and are all forty plus years old. They are filled with words of motherly love from her mother, my grandmother and live on after both are no longer with us.
The little notelets in the background are ones that I wrote to her thanking her for the gifts and kindness that she bestowed upon me all of my life.
There is nothing in this small collection that is grainy, faded or crackly. She took care of her memories.
Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them.