Fast Forward

April 30, 2019

 

Our beloved Ma, with wee Freddie, who she adored.

Written 29th and 30th April 2019

In October last year, I went with Ma for a memory assessment at Glebelands clinic in Shoreham, this would be the third test  since Ma first became aware something was wrong with her memory, her first referral being back in August 2015. Her previous tests, she scored too well to be diagnosed with dementia, but was recorded as  having ‘mild cognitive impairment’ at that point.

This last time, her scores showed a significant change, and Ma was now officially registered as a dementia sufferer, a horrible term, for a dreadful disease. We were given lots of forms to fill in, and books to read on the subject. However this sounds, Ma was still happy in herself, and enjoying life as best she could, still meeting up with her Sewing Sisters friends, crocheting continuously, and gardening whenever the weather permitted. She couldn’t remember things she had read, or tell you what a talking book she had been listening to was about, but she knew if she had liked them. She struggled with people’s names, but we were always there to help her with that, overall, life has been really good, and Ma has been enjoying a happy existence. She keeps a diary, writing as much detail as she can so she can look back and see what she’s been up to, me and Pa keep one too, so we can check if anything got missed. The diary had long since become a necessity for me, to keep track of various doctors, dentists, medications, nails, hair, or dog related appointments. It isn’t full proof, things still managed to get forgotten, ironically by me mainly.

Fast forward to 21st March 2019, and Pa had had a bad night, with a PR bleed, losing heaps of blood from his backside. I’d called 111, and the assessment team said an ambulance was on its way, but if things got worse, then dial 999. I’d just helped Pa to the toilet, where he had another episode of blood loss, and he nearly passed out on the way back to bed. Looking white as a sheet as he lay in bed, I was holding his hand and he said, “I think this is it boy, I’m coming to the end”. I let go of his hand and went to dial 999, things were worse.

The paramedics were brilliant, as the entire NHS system always have been with Ma and Pa. They soon had their paraphernalia set up in the bedroom, with gadgets hooked up to Pa giving out readings. I told the medics what Pa had said, and could have kissed the lady paramedic when she looked at him, smiled, and said, “not today”.  Their readings told them he should be fine, but, when they went to move him to get him downstairs,  he went pale again, and on the verge of passing out, so they quickly aborted that idea. “Postural Drop”, the male paramedic said, which was what Pa had just experienced apparently. As a result they had to carry him out in a chair, lamenting the tight narrow staircase at our place.

We were rotating visits among the family to make sure someone was always with him at hospital, always arranging for someone to look after Freddie (our dog), I took Ma up the following day, Friday, when he was settled in a ward. Amazingly, after a lot of tests, Pa was allowed home from Worthing hospital by Friday afternoon, David brought him back as he was there visiting at the time with Simon and Ant.

As Pa slowly recovered, we gradually got back to our lovely home routine together, toast and marmalade in the weekday mornings, dog walks with wee Freddie throughout the day, two of which Pa comes along but stays in the car. Salads, crumpets, or cheese on toast among the lunch time faves, Wednesday had become a little highlight, with Ma and Pa coming along for Fred’s 9a.m walk, and going on to ‘Teddy’s’ in town, for a hot chocolate with toasted tea cakes at the dog friendly café/tea shop.  Swordfish steak on the Friday was another meal they looked forward to, with asparagus and courgette and a creamy dill sauce, nom nom.

At the weekend it would be cooked breakfasts Saturday and Sunday, then Ma in the sunny conservatory crocheting, and Pa relaxed between snoozes in the lounge. All in all a pretty blissful existence, other than Brighton’s anxiety inducing football results.

On the Wednesday 17th April, we had our usual trip to Teddy’s after Freddie’s Adur rec walk, and I had mowed the lawn as the weather was so fine. That evening we had a celebratory takeaway dinner for Pa’s 92nd birthday, with the whole family there, including Hannah and her boyfriend, Ben. It went like a dream, with bubbly popping, and rum and shrub for the salty seadogs. Unfortunately, Ma took a tumble down the stairs later that night, incurring a bruised arm and back. Pa heard her calling for help, “someone help me”, and came down to find her slumped on the half landing at about midnight. After gathering her up, he got Ma in to his chair in the lounge, then came and got me. I knew a deal of bubbly had been consumed, so put it down to that, got Pa up to bed so I didn’t have to worry about him, then came and got Ma, and steered her up to bed also.

 

Next day Ma had no recollection of these events, but had a bad back, which was very uncomfortable, but didn’t stop her getting up and about, she also had a nasty cut and bruises on her arm, her new watch bent out of shape and digging in to her arm, so I had to prise it off. Our friend, Ann, who is a nurse, came round to check on Ma, asked her to wiggle her toes, made sure she had no  broken ribs, and generally gave her the once over, verdict being, bruised but otherwise nothing urgent apparent to worry about. Ma’s appetite dipped after this, maybe as a result of the cocodomol and ibuprofen pills for the pain and swelling. We didn’t have the usual Trough night on Monday, as it was a bank holiday. Ma had her weekly Sewing Sisters meet at Pond road on the Tuesday, and Wednesday we had our Teddy’s treat with Freddie. Although Ma was in pain, while at home she was quite happy once she got settled in her chair, crocheting and listening to the radio.

Thursday 25th was a windy and grey day weather wise, but another idyllic day for us as we bumble around the house together, fussing over Freddie. Ma and Pa had both had a good nights sleep, not always a given, I picked up some Cumberland ring sausages from Tesco’s deli for lunch, with spicy chicken, a favourite of ours on occasion. I also picked up a cauliflower, having decided I’d try my hand at cauliflower cheese for that evening’s dinner. Ma couldn’t manage much of her sos n chook, so Freddie was a grateful recipient to help encourage him to finish his meal from earlier.

That night, having followed the BBC recipe for cauliflower cheese, I presented my efforts to Ma, Pa not being hungry. I’d also made a fruit jelly that morning, so was looking forward to happy faces. As we tucked in, Ma smiled and said, “This is lovely, you can cook this for me as often as you like, and macaroni cheese, I love that too”. We had the fruit jelly and custard pud, then watched MASH together, after which I went to bed with my normal line to them, “night night, sleep tight”, and Ma finishes the line, “Don’t let the bed bugs bite”, and grins. A lovely end to another perfect day.

When I came downstairs next morning, at 05.30, Pa was already up, I guessed he’d had a bad night, but no, it was Ma, he’d found her in the spare bedroom at 03.00, thinking she was in the toilet. He got her back to bed, but she had seemed confused, and was now sleeping. Having looked in on Ma just after 06.00, she seemed unwell, I saw she had been sick, yellow bile on the bed sheets, and was sick again while I was with her, so I called 111 for an assessment. They talked to me, and Ma, and decided on the evidence this wasn’t an emergency, but to call 999 if I thought things got worse, and call the local GP to get a doctors visit not less than 3 days from now.

It was Friday, and I usually do a Tesco shop, picking up my brother, Ant at 07.30. I decided I should be ok to get the shop done, and call the docs when I get back, they wouldn’t be open until 8 o’ clock anyway. I also had Pa’s appointment to get him to Worthing later for his pacemaker check, so asked Ant if he could stay with Ma while we’re gone. When I got back from dropping Ant off after shopping, I checked on Ma again, she didn’t respond, like she was in a deep sleep, I was more concerned now, so called our friends, Ann, and Hels, both nurses but couldn’t get through, leaving messages.

I picked up Ant, then called my brother, David, to tell him the situation, and it would need more than one person now,  I told David I had tried to get hold of Ann and Hels, and then set off with Pa to get him to his appointment, worried, but hopeful that Ma wasn’t too bad, and a doctor would see her soon.

At Worthing hospital we saw Lizbet, she was there to have a polyp removed from her throat. Told her about Ma, and went to get Pa’s pacemaker checked. On the way home I got a call from Ann, David had gone and got her after my call, she was at home, an ambulance there, paramedics in attendance, and Ma was going to be taken to hospital. I said we’d be back in 10 minutes, traffic permitting.

When Pa and I got back, the ambulance was still there, and it was decided I’d better go with them, as I know Ma’s medical history, medication etc. Ant said to me later of the relief he felt when he saw Annie walk through the door that morning, not just a great family friend, but a nurse, someone qualified to know what to do. She realised Ma was in trouble and got the ambulance ordered.

As we meandered through the traffic on the way to Worthing hospital, the paramedic guy was asking me various questions about Ma’s health, Ma rocking from side to side as the ambulance weaved about, and bumps in the road accentuated through to the cabin. I was trying to hold Ma from moving, as was the paramedic.

On arrival at A and E, I was ushered in to a waiting room with tea and coffee making facilities, they told me Ma would be taken for a scan, and was currently unresponsive. I waited and waited, had a couple of coffees, then asked if it would be ok to go for a walk, fine they said, and told me to just ask when I needed to come back in. I went for a sandwich in the hospital cafeteria, and got a call about work on the way. I told him I couldn’t deal with any work right now, and explained why, almost losing it, I could feel my voice quavering, part of me knew this was very serious, another part of me was trying desperately not to know that. He said how sorry he was, and no problem.

When I got back to A and E, I asked if I could see Ma yet. I was told to go through the doors in to the holding area, and they would update me. There Ma was, laying on her side,  little shudders running through her, the male nurse told me Ma couldn’t feel anything, and that these shudders were involuntary. Then the doctor called me over to explain things, showing me a screen with images of the brain scan they had from Ma, and bit by bit, the dawning of the meaning of the words I was hearing, “not going to recover”, “will not be resuscitating”, “just a matter of time”. I welled up, and couldn’t stop the flow of tears, the doctor led me back to the waiting room, and she sat me down, asking me if there was anyone I could call, did I live with my parents, how long had I been with them. I told her I didn’t envy her this job, and she said “it’s harder for you”, I was gone by this point, not really taking anything else in for a moment.

When the doctor left, I called my sister, Lizbet, told her the news but struggling to speak, “fuck” I said out of anger at not being able to communicate properly through the tears. Lizbet assured me she would contact the others, making sure Pa was brought up to have a chance to say goodbye, and I returned to Ma, to hold hands, tell her I love her, and quietly blub as the A and E nursing staff carried on their amazing work for the other patients there.

While we all kept a rolling vigil on Ma, Lizbet stayed with her throughout, never leaving her side once she got there. It was at 01.30 on Sunday morning that I got the call, Lizbet in tears, Ma had gone.

I can only imagine the effect this devastating news was having on the rest of the family, we each carry our own heartfelt love and adoration for Ma, and a world without her seems a very dark proposition, but I know she wouldn’t want it to be like that. Ma brought light and happiness with her wherever she went, always wanting to think the best, or mostly at least. If she wasn’t impressed by someone’s behaviour, she wouldn’t be frightened to let them know.

Tuesday 30th April

While going through Ma’s phone contacts to let her friends know she’s gone, and looking at her diary, I noticed at the top of the page for today, ‘David’s 61st Birthday’, and thought, that’s odd, it was his 60th on the 30th March. Then it occurred to me that it’s actually my birthday, oh well, she must have been confused. Going further through her diary, I spotted 30th June, “David’s 63rd Birthday”, so I looked back to 30th May, and sure enough, there is an entry, “David’s 62nd Birthday”.

I can only guess at whether this was linked to the brain bleed, or whether the dementia was starting to take more of a hold, but the one consoling thing I am trying to take from this heart breaking situation, is that Ma has been spared the worst ravages that dementia can reap on its sufferers.

Last night we had our Monday family Trough night, it seemed right, to have us all together, help each other through this, knowing each and every one of us has the same pain, but will get through it. I know without any doubt, that this would have made Ma happy, she adored her family, it was her life, and it went both ways. I will write something more uplifting about Ma soon, a memory of her wonderful life, but for now I’d like to finish with this beautiful set of words written by my sister, Lizbet, about our gorgeous Ma, Lavender June Ramus 01-07-1934 to 28-04-2019. When I read it out to Pa, we both fell to bits.

 

‘She’s with April,Peter,David and Jim all 5 dancing on the place that comes from within, they gave us joy a laugh and always a grin for these five people are our souls from the beginning , our lovely Ma the last little Babe our rock our mother our place to be saved ,  We love every piece and every part of you you are our Ma and we all love you. RIP X’

 

(Babe was the name Lavender’s siblings and parents called her, as she was the youngest in her family.)

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I Was There

April 5, 2019

 

05-04-2019

Once again the tabloids have been sent in to meltdown as the end of season results rolled in from last nights epic finish to Div1 of the Worthing Tarratt Pool League. John Webb has had to shut down his communications office under the weight of enquiries from around the world, while the commercial arm of his team will be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of harnessing the potential financial rewards to be gleaned from advertising revenue.

When the team coach rolled slowly through the massed crowds up to West Worthing Social Club last night, the tension in the air could be cut with a knife. Passionate fans climbed fences for a view of their heroes, coloured smoke flares going off all over the place, and the police cordon stretched to their limits to hold the eager supporters back. You sensed a big night was on the cards.

The WWSC II players were there to greet Farmers B in the main arena, everything to play for, winner takes all, the place was heaving with anticipation. The pool fans were going to be in for a treat.

Ever reliable Lee Hoey stepped up first to take on Dom of the W’s, and after a first frame which seemed to pendulum one way then the other, and faced with what looked like an impossible situation with his ball tucked rather too snugly against the black, which itself was over the corner pocket, and Dom’s last two balls sat over pockets just waiting to be put away, like a magician pulling the rabbit out of his hat, maestro Hoey smashed into his ball, which bulleted out, against the next cushion, and fired in to the opposite corner pocket. No one could quite believe it, Dom shook his head with a wry smile, what else can you do?

Next frame Dom was out of the traps early, working his way to a total clearance as he warmed to his task. As we all know from experience, never take anything for granted, and Dom’s luck had clearly come unstuck from the sole of his shoes, as he ran out of position at that most vital moment, on the black, he was snookered. Wily old Lee knew he still had a lot of work to do, but get the first snooker in. The look on his face told us he may have fallen short of his own lofty standards, Dom could see the black, he could see to pot the black! Up he steps and dispatches the pot, only to see the white ball disappear down another hole, much like Alice in Wonderlands rabbit. Lee won the frame without potting a ball, and the first game to the Farmers, 2-0.  Game on.

Lee Atkinson was next up for the Farmers, against that dogged competitor Goose. Two contrasting types of player, Lee the attacking pot machine, against Goose, the methodical, brow stroking grinder, no stranger to a drawn out encounter on the baize. This was always going to be billed as the Tortoise and the Hare, Lee determined that the result would not be the same as that billing implied, and until last week, they were both in the top ten of the averages, he wanted this meet up. Despite mild protestations of a shirt touching the ball, (it didn’t), Lee ran out 2-0, the Farmers B fans were going bananas.

The live stream to Thailand was temporarily disconnected, a raucous fan had stomped on the camera. Fortunately they were reconnected before the next game between the Farmers Bondy, and the W’s Dazza G. The W’s were rocking on their feet and looking dazed, time to send in the big guns. Despite Bondy’s valiant efforts, and some unexpected opportunities offered him by the usually clinical Dazza, the W’s laid their first glove on a Farmers nose, 2-0, team score now 2-1 to the agriculturals.

Si ‘Whatyoulookinat’ Tanner was next up for the Tractor boys, against another old war horse, Phil ‘Soarsy’ Soars, very much in the mould of his team mate Goose, a thinker with an eye and temperament for a tough pot. This reporter has to confess that the Guinness was flowing freely, and recollection of the latter stages is somewhat hazy. Nonetheless, there were a couple of quality moments of pure drama, first when Soarsy let out a roar as he potted a tough yellow, then the black to pull square with Si, at which, ‘Whatoyulookinat’ walks towards him, hand held out to shake, saying, “do you want a drink? You must have won”, Soarsy looked sheepish and apologetic, while his team mates went quiet too. The final frame culminated with ‘Whatyoulookinat’ mimicking Soarsy’s earlier cry on his last ball prior to the black, before an expletive laden war cry  as he stuck that away for his 2-1 win, to send the Farmers B fans in to a frenzy of promotion celebrations, and Champions in to the bargain.

Alf Ashe and Marco Usai played out the final game amid wild celebrations of popping champagne corks, fireworks, and pitch invasions. It was practically impossible to see clearly from the commentary box by this stage, but Alf ran out a 2-1 winner to finish in good company in the season averages, marking a great season for the Grandad of the pool world in the twilight of his playing career. 4-1 to the Farmers B on the night, Div 1 Champions again, and with a last twist of fate, denied WWSC II the chance of promotion as Lambs Agonna crept up on them with a 3-2 win at home to the Master 8ers, who in turn just avoided relegation as the Henty went down 2-3 to the Park View Dynamites.

What a ding dong end of season finale. Sad to see the lads at the Henty drop out of the division, and also a little sad having to leave it going in the other direction. This has been one of the most competitive seasons this reporter can remember.

The team coach on the way back was absolutely rocking, with many stowaway fans having managed to join the party. This night will live long in the memory for those who were lucky enough to say, “I was there”. Now for the Summer League in a few weeks time, bring it on!

WWSC v Farmers B 03-04-19. Won 4-1

Winner Takes All

April 4, 2019

 

04-04-19

Here we are again, with another nail biting finish to the 2018/19 Worthing pool Div1 season in in prospect. After a ding dong season as close as any in years, the TV sports networks have been fighting for the rights to show the possible winner takes all showdown between Farmers B and WWSC II over at the West Worthing Social Club, with only the winner guaranteed their place at the top table with the Premier elite.

Tickets for this clash sold out in minutes, with the site crashing due to demand, and touts are currently asking, and getting, huge amounts for the few tickets they could lay their hands on. John Webb has promised to look at measures to halt this iniquitous trade which robs real fans of a fair shout. Extra police have been drafted in from surrounding counties to control security around the WWSC, assisted by the clubs own security staff.

Lamb’s Agonna will be hoping to sneak up on the rails with a 5-0, although a countback may work against them, and their opponents, AMC Master 8’ers, by no means safe yet from relegation, will certainly be no pushover. In fairness, this has probably been the most competitive season ever seen in this division, with nine of the ten teams capable of beating any of the others on their day. Testimony of this shows in the fact that only ten points separate the top seven teams coming in to the final game.

Top line ex pro’s have been drafted in to give on the ball analysis for the game of the night, with Tony Clark rumoured to be flying in from his tax haven in the Isle of Wight to see if his old Farmers team can reignite the flames of past glories, and once again compete with the pro’s.  Shirt sales have once again seen demand outstrip supply, with Alf Ashe, Lee Hoey, and Lee Atkinson, making the club a fortune out of overseas sales as they hover around the top ten in the averages, as well as helping the promotion surge. Here’s hoping they can all improve their positions tonight!

Will WWSC grind out a win, with their ever reliable old war horses, Goose, Soarsy, and Dazza G, all doing well in the averages, or will Farmers B overcome one of their bogey teams, and stay awake long enough to get over the line? If you couldn’t get tickets, then get on to one of the many hooky live streams being transmitted to the Far East for the ever growing market of fans out there.

Good luck to all involved, at the top, or the bottom of the table.

Summer Pool League Finale. September 2018

September 9, 2018

09-09-2018

Summer Pool Div1

George, “when you can pot like me you’ve always got a chance” Ashe

Well, there just went an unpredictable Summer league of pool, keeping the red tops sport sections busy again with a three horse race for second place going all the way to the final game, a refreshing change from the relegation battle of the previous Winter League.  Having broken the club records to bring in ‘Stephanos Arees’ from a top Spanish team, early in the campaign, he only played the one game before scouts from a northern outfit spotted him, and promptly poached him with an offer that couldn’t be refused. That famous hotbed of pool, Skegness, has already sold out of shirts with the ‘El Arees’ monicker on the back, so we wish ‘Steve’, as our fans affectionately nicknamed him, every success in the higher echelons of Northern Monkey-land pool.

The loss of Arees meant an opportunity for the emerging youth prospect, George Ashe, who has had some promising performances, and two notable scalps, the redoubtable Marcus of the Henty, and Mark Hedayet of TMG Boys. At just 21, young George could be a name to look out for in the future, as long as he can tame his prodigious thirst, and occasional vocal outbursts! Old stager Andy Chip finally hung up his cue after the Winter league, citing burn out issues, and a desire to tour the European trick shot circuit for some easy money and foreign honeys. Best not get his Viagra mixed up with his spare pool cue tips, or he could be in for a hard time at the tables out there.

To cope with the loss of Chip, and our international signing Arees, the scouting team, which never sleeps, already had a player in their sights, but secrecy had to be tightly kept as he was signed on for a Premier League team, over at the TMG club, with the players agent forcing the issue to make the signing happen. Our own players were unaware of any transfer window action until Lee Hooey was unveiled before the return Henty game, marking the start of the second half of the season. Fans were caught out too, but shirt sale orders were taken while suppliers struggled to cope with the initial demand in time for the following game, a big match return against Lambagonners, where Farmers got revenge for the 4-1 lesson they were dished out in the second game of the season, and ran out 3-2 winners at the AMC, graveyard to the ever diminishing list of pool playing pubs. I occasionally wonder whether some time in the future, the entire league might not be located at the AMC!

With the Lambagonners having etched out a virtually unassailable lead at the top of Div1, the Farmers, Henty, and TMG Boys were having a struggle to throw away the chance of second place. It seemed almost as if none of them were that keen on promotion to the Premier League, with the Farmers getting a 4-1 hiding at the hands of WWSC who had their own battle on to avoid relegation, TMG getting the same treatment against the Henty, and then Henty manage to earn the dubious accolade of being the only side to lose to the Rusty Cues this season. It all boiled down to a finale with just the one point separating TMG, Farmers, and Henty. TMG had top side Lambagonners to play at home, while Henty were away to Con Club Sizzlers, and Farmers were at home to potential banana skin Rusty Cues. It was standing room only at the Farmers, with specialist Karaoke experts having been bussed in to keep the fans entertained between, during, and after, frames, with one entrepreneur doing a roaring trade in ear plugs. The highlight of the promotion earning 5-0 result came during George Ashe’s game, as he seemed destined for a two nil reverse, only to pull it out of the fire, and rescue the situation with two sublime pots in the final frame. Conveniently ignoring the paucity of talent he had displayed in the earlier stages of his game, and doubtless buoyed by the result, as well as the beers he’d necked, he confidently proclaimed, “when you can pot like me, you’ve always got a chance”. Thankfully it was the last game of the season, so George won’t have to suffer the ignominy that the ever popular Saul Mumford did after advertising his unblemished 7-0 record on Facebook, only to get panned afterwards, both on Facebook, and at the tables thereafter.

The Final Countdown

March 30, 2018

30-03-2018

The Bridge Buccaneers pool team, circa 1985.

 

As we approach the final week of this tumultuous season, column inches are filling the red top sports pages with the unfolding stories of promotion and relegation in the 2017/18 Worthing Tarratt Pool League. This week our focus is on that Phoenix from the flames of the past, Farmers B from Lancing. These old stagers, former 6 times league champs from back in the 80’s, with the Bridge, Lady Jane, and Ferry, all of Shoreham, decided to come out of retirement to play at the Waterside, Shoreham, after a reunion reignited their interest in 2010, some twenty years after they went their separate ways.

Bridge pool team supporters on finals night.

Bridge teams (A and B teams plus supporters) coach after finals night.

A drunk and happy Bondy boy, clutching the cup he won for us in the deciding frame of this finals night.

Time hasn’t diminished their will to win, but failing eyes and a dogged determination to remain seated once comfortable tend to hamper their ambitions. That aside, they have managed to ascend the divisions, and on their day, faint echoes of past glory can be whiffed, reminding us of the prehistoric days of Harry Heath when the Cissbury Hotel was HQ to the Worthing Tarratt Pool League decades ago. After protracted talks, a multi-national take-over and lucrative sponsorship deal brought the lads from Shoreham to play at the Farmers in Lancing, the result of some very shrewd negotiations by Mark the landlord with some Sheiks in Dubai.

Having reached the pinnacle of Premiership pool once more, when becoming Div 1 champions in 2014/15, sadly, owing to a lack of investment by the new franchise, Farmers B could only look on as the heavily subsidised Premier opposition made mincemeat of these Corinthian amateurs of yesteryear, and the inevitable return back to Div 1 happened in no short order.

Since then, a new training academy has started to bear fruit, and young George Ashe is the first of what is hoped will be many rising stars to break in to the first team, only this week he startled the attending press reporters with an astonishing display to win the decider at Div 1 leaders, West Worthing Royals. Fortunately, a power cut to the cameras meant his celebratory roar will not now be a you-tube sensation.

To temper the flow of youth emerging, the Farmers B scouting team had been busy in the January transfer window, securing the signature of Spanish international, Stephanos ‘Arees, or Steve Harris as the fans have already christened him. It is no coincidence that since the return to the baize of Signor ‘Arees, that the fortunes of the Farmers has taken a turn for the better. Also, a Worthing pool rising star, Lee Atkinson, has seamlessly bedded in to the side over the last couple of seasons, adding steel to the teams core, with his wife, and manager, Katy, keeping him on the straight and narrow, while fighting off the inevitable attentions of gold digging WAG wannabe’s.

The old crew, (though age and infirmity may dim their talents), are:- Alf Ashe, the not to be messed with legend and sorcerer of the tactical game, Andy Chipperfield, Mr Stato, always keeps his autograph book with him so he can get the signatures of his heroes alongside his hand written records of their exploits in the Worthing Premier Pool Division, Steve Bond, the dogged, never say die, though you might feel like giving up on it if you watch him too closely in a nail biter, Den-Fingers-Fiore, bucket boy, occasional match winner, and master of the dodgy hand shake, and Andy Ramus, the least keen skipper in the Worthing Pool League. These gents have too many decades between them, with the grey hairs and expanding waistlines to prove it, to worry too much any more, but when the whiff of relegation became a distinct and almost doubtless probability this season, it appears some innate force was awoken, and an unlikely fightback began.

We look now to the last game of the season, and while RAFA, Royals, and Dynamites, will be salivating at the possibility of Premiership spoils next season, the Crown, Farmers B, and Lambageddons are in a three way split to avoid relegation out of the hallowed Div 1 club. Good luck to everyone, may the best teams win.

As I drove over the Norfolk Bridge this morning

March 8, 2018

08-03-2018

 

As I drove over the Norfolk Bridge this morning, with Freddie on Pa’s lap, returning from the dog walk at Adur Rec, the sun was shining, with a keen breeze running and white cotton wool clouds in the sky, I said to the Old  Man what a pleasant place we were in, compared to a few months back, and more especially since the miserable Baltic weather of just a week back.

Last week we had the bath taken out and replaced with a nice swish walk in shower tray, a result of Pa’s locomotive struggles in his autumn years. I joked that we should call him Spiderman, not because he has any super powers, but because he struggles to get out of the bath. My mate Si Wilson did a bang up job as always, with me doing all the carpentry work required, and the Aged P’s were chuffed to bits with the finish.

Si and James at work, changing bath to shower room. Feb 2018

Si nearly done with tiling

Shower tray done

This week I’ve made a start on the composite cladding that Pa has been keen to get done, as he puts it, “while I’m still about to appreciate it”. I had hoped to get a trade in to do it, but when the price of £10,000 was quoted, I decided I’d better do it myself. Ma has been enjoying the return of the sunshine, giving her the chance to get out in the porch and make the most of it. Next to her are the balls of wool she’d just spent a week unpicking from a jumper she had been making for me, it had proven to be too small unfortunately. I asked her when we got back from dog walking, whether she would be making a second attempt at the jumper, hopefully, as I really liked the wool colours. This is one of those points when you have to hang on and not let what you’re thinking give you away, she had no memory of having unpicked, or even knitted the jumper in the first place.  The fact that she even knitted the jumper too small is a sure sign that things have changed, she could have knitted one perfectly, while blindfold, not long back.

Ma in the porch with Fred, and the jumper in progress.

Ma used to get quite irate over her memory letting her down, but these days she just smiles and says, “oh well, never mind”, or something along those lines. I’m pleased she doesn’t get upset, but also sad because I realise she’s changed a bit more from the person she was not that long ago. I didn’t jinx myself earlier when I said what a pleasant place we are in now, I allowed myself to forget momentarily that we’re only ever a heartbeat away from a possible backward step.  Humour still keeps us sane, and there are far more smiles than scowls in the house, so we continue to bumble on.,

I must say, having been back on the tools for a few hours here and there after so long away from the toil of handraulic labour, my poor aging body is not at all happy about things! I’ve been enjoying seeing the fruits of my labour, and sleep well, (once the aches diminish enough to allow), but parts of me feel like they need oiling, and this after the sort of work I would have considered the ‘easy life’ when in full time employment in the building trade. I think a loft conversion would just about see me off now, so thanks be to pencil and paper that I can now earn an easier way, (physically at least).

For those that may be reading this who will be attending the Aged P’s Diamond Wedding anniversary on May 12th, I can’t tell you how much we are all looking forward to that occasion. Maybe everyone should have name tags for Ma’s sake, and perhaps a wheeled chariot for the Old Man. This will be the last big family get together until David’s 60th birthday in March 2019, so let’s make the most of it.

Life is good

February 13, 2018

13-02-2018

Life is good

Sunrise on Shoreham Beach. 13-02-2018

This will be the start of short blogging, to try and get back in to the swing of writing again. I’ll try and stick a few paragraphs up as often as possible, and chuck a picture or two to go with them. Just sharing a bit of our world here on Shoreham Beach.

Walking Fred along the beach front at 6 this morning, the world seemed a rosier place. Having written last time about how good it was to have our dad finally out the other side of a lousy few months of ill health, (see blog below), he promptly goes down with another illness, which also brought on another bout of debilitating hiccups. 12 days they lasted this time, and I hardly need to say how rough that must be for an unwell 90 year old! (From the 22nd December 2017, to 7th Feb 2018, he had a total of 23 days of hiccups in two spells, both in combination with an illness). The weather outside at the moment is lousy, blowing a gale, and lashing down intermittently with rain, and yet life again seems rosy, his health has returned, at least as well as it gets for him these days. Much like my brother, Ant, he doesn’t really have good days health-wise, just some days that aren’t as bad. Neither of them moan about their lot, but when they are in a poor state, you can see it etched in their faces when a movement triggers a pain inducing reaction.

Pa n Fred snuggle up.
Feb 2018

Yesterday at the weekly Monday Trough, it was back to business as usual, with seven at the table, Fred’s favourite day of the week, as he gets to make a fuss of everybody, and a few scraps off the plates in to the bargain.

Today is Shrove Tuesday, or ‘Pancake Day’ as it’s better known. Ma is at her morning Sewing Sisters session in Shoreham Town, with the afternoon Sewing Sisters due to descend upon us later, so yours truly will be attempting to fill Ma’s shoes, and knocking out a few rounds of the eggs and flour recipe, courtesy of her old 50 year old Tricity cook book. I’ve tried before, my efforts would not have won any prizes, and what a mess! Up until last year, it would always be Ma making the pancakes, especially if it was a ‘home game’ with the Sewing Sisters, but as with so many little things that are disappearing from her memory, (names of things and people mostly, so far), the pancake recipe, but once she sees it happening, it will remind her and then she’ll guide me. We bumble on between us, using humour to make light of any problematicals, and Fred always lightens the mood regardless of the situation.

In between all of this, I have been getting more in to the world of planning design, hopefully on a steadier footing, and happily, work is coming my way, courtesy of some good mates pointing people my way. Next step will be to try and learn the software so that I can get away from doing it all by hand drawing. If there are any architectural bods willing to assist with tips regarding an easy to learn programme, I’m all ears!

Would you want to know?

January 19, 2018

19-01-2018

 

I have written sparsely over the year just gone, despite the fact plenty had happened, but I jotted a few notes here and there, especially in recent months, so forgive while I try and make some sense of them now. Towards the end of 2017, Pa seemed to be going downhill health-wise, with visits to the doc raising more concerns, among them, anaemia, he’d been looking quite pale, as well as being ill rather too often. Blood tests confirmed an iron deficiency, iron supplements were prescribed along with antibiotics, but the Old Man, or, ‘Squire’, as we affectionately call him, reacted somewhat explosively to the medication and his condition deteriorated even further. His GP referred him to a specialist in gastroenterology, hoping to get to the crux of the problem. So up we went to Worthing hospital, not really having a clue about what to expect.

It just so happened that the old fossil was a bit wobbly on the day, and probably looked more fragile than usual. The specialist instinctively reached out as he saw the poor old fella stumble, got him seated, then talked through Squire’s recent medical history, the concern over his iron deficiency, and possible causes. He came across as quite serious, explaining the potential severity of the situation, before the unforgettable words, “if it were cancer, would you want to know?” arrived, followed by various reasons people do or don’t want to know, and about making plans in the event of the worst case scenario being realised. He went on to explain how, having now met Pa, that given his degree of frailty, most of the procedures to properly discover if any cancer existed might have serious consequences. He also added that even if a cancer were to be found, for the same reasons, they wouldn’t be able to treat it as his ‘functional status is too poor’, but a CT scan would be organised, which would give them some idea at least if anything major was going on. Squire told the doc he would want to know if it was cancer, and that at 90, he’d already had a good life, so let’s just see what turns up and take it from there

My head was a bit of a whirlwind by now, so I can only imagine what Squire must have been thinking.  The ‘would you want to know’ part, was on a repeat loop in my head, while I was trying to make sure I remembered the rest. Towards the end, the doc said he didn’t want to put worry in our heads, I just said, “it’s a bit late for that unfortunately”, to which he apologised. I didn’t mean it as a sarcastic response, it just came out. Thankfully I had my wits about me enough to say how much we appreciated everything he’s said, and what a tough job it must be to be giving anyone this kind of news. As we said our goodbyes, having been told Pa would get an iron transfusion in the next week or two, and a CT scan as soon as possible, we turned in to the corridor to be met by a nurse handing us a questionnaire about, ‘how well we’ve done’, and ‘would you recommend us to friends’. It gave me and the Old Man a chuckle in the circs.

That was last November. The CT scan showed all organs looking normal, but showed a thicker stomach wall than they would like to see, so they wanted Squire to have an endoscopy to get a proper look inside. Owing to ill health, one appointment after another for the endoscopy had to be cancelled, including gout, a chest infection, and a bout of hiccups which lasted 11 days over Christmas and in to the New Year. Finally, on the 11th January, he had an appointment he was well enough to attend, and despite a few concerns regarding the procedure, it all went smoothly. They informed us there and then that they had found no evidence of any cancerous growth, but had taken multiple biopsies for further investigation.

I can’t think of a better present to receive than that piece of good news, and now we can plan for the year ahead, the parents 60th wedding anniversary on May 3rd, his brother’s 50th wedding anniversary a couple of months later. I don’t mind saying, I had some pretty dark moments worrying over this, and although the Old Man seemed quite philosophical about the whole thing, it must have given him a few sleepless nights.

April

September 13, 2017

 

I’d been trying to remember a quote I heard for someone dearly departed, which went along the lines of, “try not to be sad that they’re gone, but be happy that they were here”.  No words can ever really make you feel better, or cover how those closest must be hurting, but you know everything carries on, the unstoppable juggernaut of life relentlessly marches on. On Friday 8th September, Ma’s sister, April Weller, succumbed to her illnesses while in hospital, leaving Ma, (Lavender), as the last of the Courtney Bennett siblings. April had an accident while on holiday in the U.S a few years back, which needed surgery, with a wire cage being used to hold her leg together as part of the solution. Later down the line this wire cage caused complications, infections were becoming a repeated problem, eventually resulting in the leg having to be amputated. Despite all of this, April was ever upbeat and positive in her outlook, and her Catholic faith remained rock solid. She was determined that she would make this year’s pilgrimage to Lourdes, regardless of having lost her leg, and the Lourdes pilgrimage people made sure it happened.

April and Uncle Leslie were taken by ‘Jumbulance’ to Lourdes, Ma went with the medics charter coach and plane. Ma and April had been going on the Lourdes pilgrimage for some years, but this year it was looking as if it may not be able to happen owing to April’s ill health, her strength of faith, sheer determination, and the fantastic assistance of the Arundel/Brighton Lourdes Pilgrimage team, made sure it did happen.

Ma n April at Lourdes 2011

April and Lavender at Lourdes 2015

Only two weeks ago I saw a postcard on Facebook, and instantly recognised a very young April Courtney Bennett in a garden at St Martha’s Convent, Rottingdean. I printed it out, and when myself and Ma went to visit her next, took the photo along. April told us it was her first day at the convent school, around 1935, she would have been 5 years old, and the photo was staged for a postcard. She didn’t have a uniform yet, so they kitted her out in a borrowed one for the photo shoot. She also recognised some of the others in the picture, one of whom she recalled was Angela. Ma, (Lavender Courtney Bennett), joined the school sometime around 1938, with the threat of war looming, and it was from here that they both picked up their Catholic faith, which they have carried with them ever since.

April at St Martha’s convent, Rottingdean. (“2nd left) Circa 1935

 

The C.B’s:-Ma, April, David, Peter, and Jim at St Martha’s circa 1938

April and Ma were always very close, and I imagine their time at St Martha’s had a lot to do with that. They were at Southlands Hospital in Shoreham together in the 1950’s, training as nurses. In later years when they had both married, one of my earliest memories is of going by train to Hove with Ma, travelling in the guards carriage with the pram, then once at April’s, one of them would be taken for her driving lesson, while the other looked after all the children, and vice versa. I can still picture a sand pit in the basement, a faint memory of black and white tiled steps, and the concertina gates of the lift at Hove station. They both passed first time, and their driving instructor, Mr Doo, would go on to teach us all to drive many years later.

Further on, after a terrible case of seasickness while sailing to France in the teeth of a gale, I had to be farmed out to April and Leslie’s place in Hove Park Road whenever the parents went on boat trips across the channel. It seemed a very peaceful place compared to our noisy home, talking to Trevessa years later, she told me that April very rarely raised her voice, and taught them all not to raise their voices either. That has always been the thing about April, she radiates a kind of peace and tranquillity, and you can see that in her children, doubtless they have passed that on to their children too, all of whom April was so incredibly proud, and rightly so.

Leslie, middle of back row, April front left, Ma front right, Uncle Peter back right

As well as having a strong religious faith, April and Ma inherited their mother’s relentless industry with needle craft, knitting or sewing. Neither family has been short of jumpers, hats, or scarfs, and to that end, they began getting involved with friends in what we later laughingly called their, ‘Stitching and Bitching’ Tuesday’s, gathering at each others places alternately, to chat and make things. They all enjoyed a well told joke, so if I had come across something which made me laugh, often rude, I’d print it out and give it to Ma to take along. You knew it was a winner if you heard April laugh, not because that was unusual, it wasn’t, but she had a glorious laugh, her head would rock back, a kind of shriek would be the precursor to the following bellow of laughter, and it was totally infectious. The joke would never be read out loud, but passed around, so that one by one, the Sewing Sisters would wait their turn, and those that had read it already, would wait with interest to hear the ’pay off’. These sessions kept going until recently, but sadly with April’s illness, and other factors, came more or less to an end a while back.

While April was in the Sussex County hospital, Leslie was making the trip in everyday to visit, parking at Bristol Gate, and climbing the steep hill each time. Whether this had an effect or not, Leslie ended up in hospital himself, having suffered a stroke. On Friday, 8th September, came the worst of all news, April had passed away, with family around her. Ma had gone to visit, but got there too late. I don’t think we realised just how bad April must have been, but I’ll struggle with the fact I didn’t insist on driving her in. Ma had been visiting April by bus for so long, other than the couple of times when I drove her. I packed her off with some fresh pineapple chunks, as April had said she’d rather have that, than the tinned stuff they served up.  When I picked Ma up from the footbridge, she told me she had been too late. We drove back quietly, I know how close they have always been, and how devastated she must be, as will Leslie and the family. She will be missed, and greatly, but she will be remembered well. For now it’s the difficult process of becoming used to that fact, while trying to tap in to some of April’s quiet, determined, positivity.

 

May you rest in peace Auntie April.

Utopian Times

August 18, 2017

 

17-08-2017

Driving at snails pace through Shoreham High Street, getting dirty looks from foot sloggers wanting to cross the road away from the pedestrian crossings, a bus holds us up because it can’t get in the allocated bus stop bay owing to badly parked cars. So I’m waiting alongside a white convertible BMW Beetle that’s parked the wrong way round, the owner and his daughter just getting in, and the driver in front of me starts indicating, and her reversing lights come on. I have nowhere to go, and the Beetle driver can’t get out as I’m stuck alongside him.

Clearly the driver in front thinks I’m being difficult, she wants that soon to be vacant space, perhaps I should have got out and kindly asked the by now heaving high street traffic to back up to allow me to reverse and let the Beetle driver out, then wait for this individual to get the parking space. I hold my hands up and mouth the words, “where do you think I can go?”, to which she begins gesticulating to me by joining her thumb and forefinger in a circle, then making a sideways motion, back and forth, like she was milking a cow, or something like that.

She eventually shakes her fist at me and moves forward, indicating to turn left, and I mosey slowly on my way.  Later on, I took the parents and wee Freddie in to town to get a watch strap for Ma, and pick up the old boys watch, both from Ross’s jewellers opposite Coronation Green. The watch strap would take 15 minutes to sort out, so we repaired to the Tom Foolery coffee shop that opens out with a view of the Adur across the ever busy High Street, for a hot chocolate and rest for the aged P’s. The first thing that hits you as you sit down is the taste of exhaust fumes in there, really quite strong, but hey, what harm can that be doing you? Not sure I’d want to be working there mind you, gasping in all those exhaust fumes day in day out.

As all of this was happening, I was thinking to myself, what we really need are more people in this town, four car families preferably. Let’s get campaigning to build ever more estates, without improving the traffic flow, or infrastructure, just chuck in a roundabout here and there, think of the extra council tax revenue, and with the ever diminishing mortality rates caused by the pollution levels, a cracking turnover of humanity. But then I realised, someone has already thought of that, and it’s being put in to action all around us. How lucky we are to live in such Utopian times.