BEFORE YOU START: Please note that although I currently volunteer for both the Stroke Association and Age UK, the views expressed in this blog are strictly my own. I am not a spokesperson for either (or, indeed, for any) organisation. I am based in the UK and the blog therefore has a UK bias - I've tried to use the Glossary to explain any terms which might be ambiguous, but if you think there is anything I've missed, please message me.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017


Met the "new" Stroke Association co-ordinator today. Combined it with a drop-in on the ward. I use "" because she seems far from new, I think her previous role covered the north of Wiltshire, and now she covers the whole lot. Poor girl, I used to have to drive to Swindon every day and it ain't fun. But she doesn't know Salisbury very well, and has some interesting ideas about things like raising awareness of the Stroke Association, just making better use of our "area".

To meet this woman, I was forced to miss the kick-off event for Age UK's IT course. I'll obviously need to manage these conflicts, right now I have a simple rule that the Stroke Association takes priority. But I hope it went OK for them. And, attractive as afternoon tea sounds, my sugar was high this morning.

Monday, 22 May 2017


Was really pleased this morning to open my browser (one of the tabs goes to Facebook) and see a friend request from a guy I only ever met once, who also does (or did, at the time) drop-ins at the hospital. I never knew he was there. although I must admit I never  particularly go looking. I'm generally quite happy with a small bunch of friends, people I already know anyway, so I never really feel the need to look for new people.

I only met this guy once and he too is a survivor. I remember him saying that he'd had his strokes (there were 3 of them, poor guy) 7 years ago. I remember being impressed because from his manners etc. it wasn't at all obvious to me that he'd even had a stroke! I remember that one of his milestones was to ride motorbikes again, something which I believe he achieved. Certainly his profile on Facebook is a lovely shiny red bike. It kind of reminds me about my own miestone, to get back on a pushbike.

I think I met him just before christmas, so it'll be good to catch up.

On a more serious note, it does kind of highlight how useful social media can be for people like me to find like-minded souls, which would be very difficult otherwise. I chat to a few survivors on FB. Meaning no disrespect to any of my other friends, who are very understanding, I can talk to them about strokey-type things, and the context is already there. No explanations necessary, because we already grasp the problem. It is very different from when I first left hospital, and felt very alone.

On more mundane matters, my wife was out all day yesterday, so I took advantage of the good weather to mow the front lawn. I got about 3/4 of the way around, before the mower decided it didn't want to start. So it all looks a bit of a pig's ear, although my wife says it looks ok (although she says it probably wasn't too bright to have started hitting the mower with a spade!). Anyway, will try to finish it today - whenever this happens I always smell petrol so presumably I'd flooded the engine somehow.

Thursday, 18 May 2017


I was thinking about things earlier. Reminiscing.

Many years ago, I ended up doing some work for the Royal Bank of Scotland, a UK bank which has subsequently hit the rocks. It wasn't deliberate - I was doing some work for a bank called Coutts, which was then taken over by RBS. They "inherited" me!

Now, Coutts had its faults, but I was privileged to work there with some of the most intelligent people I'd ever met - and these guys were kind enough to include me in their circles. The bank itself was very prestigious and had a mantra of doing things properly - their clients were few in number but had very high expectations and lots of money to boot.

RBS took over and quickly promoted a "supermarket" culture. I remember on guy, a really switched-on bloke, who worked at director-level, was fired because he missed a deadline. I knew this guy well enough - he routinely juggled budgets worth tens of millions - to know that he'd probably had some impossible deadline imposed upon him. And the only thing anybody heard from the bank was that "so-and-so had decided to pursue his career eldewhere". Goodness knows how many other good people this happened to. It successfully turned a culture where people were productive and successful, into one in which they feared (rightly) for their jobs. In my final months there, I was asked to investigate several technologies, to save money, and was told up-front what the conclusion should be. The last straw for me was when I was in a meeting discussing something with an RBS "strategist", who eventually said to me "Look, who owns who here?" At that point, I gave up and just started taking the money. For the last period, I used to take my laptop up to London and basically did my own thing (learning .Net, which had just come out).

I mention this just to give some insight into my past. Even my wife doesn't understand fully what I used to do - she'd watch me leave the house each morning and not really have much of a clue what I did all day. And of course, anybody who follows the news would also be aware that the same people who were running RBS at that time later became very publicly unstuck. And I must personally admit to never owning either an RBS, or a Coutts, bank account.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017


Yay! Really pleased with myself this morning because I walked to the centre of the village (about 1½ miles away) and back. Of course there were plenty of rest-stops both ways, but I made it! Twice as far as I've walked since the stroke ( I got the bus there once before and walked home). Bloody hard work though - I really need to concentrate on riding either my scooter or my bike, to do everything more quickly - I timed one way and it was about ¾hr.

There is a small cafe in the centre of the village, and this was the venue for a meeting with a few Age UK people. They are running a course soon about how we can get old folks online and making use of the net, and I have offered to help.

When I got home, I even had a call from the new Stroke Association contact, suggesting that we meet next week.

I love it when progress happens.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Fox Hunting

A lot of stuff lately about fox hunting. Apparently Theresa May said that she was personnally in favour, but I think it may have been highlighted by Labour supporters in an attempt to discredit her.

Now, let's put to one side that if she says "personnally", it probably means that it isn't Tory party policy. And with these things, there are always two questions that you need to ask: (i) do I agree/disagree with something? and (ii) do I care enough to do anything about it? I'm sure that if I were contemplating power, there would be far more important things to worry about right now.

Also, we should also put to one side the fact that the ban is a popular law, apparently enjoying the backing a many voters.

But, of course, the very subject raises very emotive language on both sides. People in favour of the ban talk about "defenceless" animals. As a chicken-owner, foxes are far from defenceless - and we need to take anti-fox precautions every day to keep the chickens safe.

But equally, I heard a farmer the other day saying that since the ban, they'd had an increase in lambs taken, as the foxes get bolder. But does this mean that you need to dress up and get out on your horse with a pack of dogs? Is there not some way that foxes can be controlled, if control is necessary, without making the act of control a "sport"?

Storm in a teacup.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Stroke Visits

In mid-March, the girl whom I always dealt with at the Stroke Association phoned me to say she was being made redundant at the end of the month. I mean, I think thats very sad, but shit happens and we have to make the best of things in the face of it.

But since then....nothing. On the grounds that somebody would have told me if something was changing (wouldn't they?), I've just carried on doing my ward visits, on my own, on alternate Wednesdays. The girl who left told me that they hadn't decided who'd organise what yet, but that her area manager would likely take over liaison with volunteers. But no phone call or email from the new person to say hi. Nothing. So I went up there today and one of the nurses says, "I didn't think you did this any more". Well, I was only there a fortnight ago so I asked her what she meant. By the sounds of things, the other guy who visits - we went on alternate weeks so generally missed each other - has stopped doing visits. Reuben - the other guy - had a stroke several years ago, had been volunteering since a long time, and was obviously quite well known to people (although possibly more his purple garb, just like mine, than his face).

I feel a bit like I'm doing these hospital visits, but nobody at the Stroke Association has any clue that I'm doing them. One day, someone will approach me and say "what are you doing?" or "who the hell are you?" Or, possibly, "what are you doing wearing one of our shirts?"

I mean, this is only volunteering after all, but I'd have hoped for slightly bette organisation!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

UK General Election (3)

Interesting to hear the Conservatives talking about capping fuel prices.

The news feeds have picked up on the fact that they have hijacked an idea from the Labour party of a couple of years ago. And the two parties claim to be diametrically opposed to each other...

But the thing I find interesting is that the Conservatives always advocated a free market economy, whereas they are now proposing an interventionist stance. To me at least, this is big news. Not that I'm complaining - I think that the market is far too short-term a thing on which to base your infrastructure policy (for example, whether your mines, farms or railways are viable).

By the by, I talk about my own energy arrangements here.

Monday, 8 May 2017


In the recent local elections, I was asked by the Green Party if, as a supporter, I would be prepared to display a poster in my window. I said yes, but was a little uncomfortable at the prospect of this, particularly when I saw its wording - "Vote Green".

One reason I would not be a politician is that I have a set of views and am quite comfortable with them. But I would not want to foist these views on others, who have presumably done their own thinking about things (and indeed I think have a responsibility to do so). If these views leave me in a minority of one..... not a problem. And I think it would be very conceited of me to presume that "I am right and you are wrong".

So I really thought that my views were inconsistent with encouraging anybody to vote one way or another, although I was happy to declare publicly which way I would vote. In the end, I relented because a think a poster saying "Vote X" is more of a traditional slogan.

Same goes for religion, btw. I don't believe in any divine being, and am absolutely comfortable with that, but I'm fine if other people do. In my book, actions speak louder in any case. I do think that (all) religions (without exception) offer people good templates to live a positive existence, but there is absolutely nothing to stop someone developing those values independently. And, however they are derived, putting those templates into practise is important.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Psychiatrist / Psychologist

Ha ha - the girl on TV just now clearly didn't know the difference, but rather than using one, being consistent, and hoping she'd got it right, she chopped and changed word throughout the article, making her ignorance quite obvious.

But I must admit - I don't really know the difference either! Answers on a postcard, please (or in a comment)....

Friday, 5 May 2017

UK Local Elections

An interesting result, at least so far. Many UK councils have not even started counting yet, although now that I have my postal vote, I must admit to having cast my vote weeks ago. The Greens even had a candidate in our ward, so it isn't much surprise that I voted for him, as I was one of his nominees!

Elsewhere, I am satisfied that the extremists of UKIP have lost ground. Now that the UK has had its referendum, I think the general public is struggling to see its relevance. Of course they argue otherwise...

But I do see some contradictions, too. The Conservative party has effectively hijacked many of UKIP's policies, and yet rather than people being wary of their adopted extremism, they have strengthened their hand. And again, despite evidence that our infrastructure is deteriorating - high-profile evidence such as health and social care, but also visible, everyday evidence such as worsening road surfaces as councils can't afford to make repairs, people still prefer the Conservatives to other options. Certainly, for a party that uses a lot of rhetoric about economics, the numbers don't stack up.

I suppose it also says something about Labour's credibility, although other parties had quite poor result too. It's not reallly clear whether their results appear so bad because (a) they are exactly that, or (b) because they are such a large party, their losses appear magnified.

Plus, of course, the media doesn't help, trying to rile the politicians (I'm sure that confrontation gets much higher ratings) but their interviews really are quite amateur and superficial.

So is it really any wonder, in the face of skepticism of both main parties, that I looked for a different option? At least the Greens can claim electoral success last night - although in their case the numbers are so small.... But perhaps evidence that more and more people are dissatisfied with the larger parties?

I must admit, finally, that these results feel somewhat strange to me. It is almost as if I'm looking on as an observer, that I'm not directly involved. I certainly can't feel the passion these days like I used to. Interested, certainly, but passionate? No. But then my blood pressure is that much lower these days, too, and maybe there are other fish to fry!

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Cheesed Off

A bit fed up. Daughter arrived Friday and probably had a whale of a time for the weekend. After she left today I found the empty cup of tea that I made her on Saturday morning - is it so unreasonable to be cheesed off when someone is so idle? I know when she lived here that her room was full of filth, but I would have hoped that over two years in environments where, in theory, she is obliged to be tidy, would have improved things.

This is to say nothing of my glasses & case being "relocated" from on the sofa to under the sofa since yesterday. Without them, I can't see the guide on the TV, so I was scrabbling around on my hands and knees this morning looking for them - no mean feat when I find it difficult enough to stay on my feet without toppling over!

Then, last night, my wife joined in. "Are you watching anything on TV?", she asked, as I am in the middle of watching the news. This is code for "I want the TV so I can play my computer game", so I turned the TV off and had an early night. No supper for me, which made gauging my Insulin dose quite difficult.

Fortunately, daughter left this morning, and I haven't bothered speaking to wife all day. I sorted my own supper tonight, I didn't see why I should starve two nights in a row!