Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Okay, going home now...

I've been taught some rather weird finger exercises by a nice physiotherapist, eaten far too many biscuits and Quality Street chocs, and answered a lot of 'phone calls (mostly asking "Are the Gardens open tomorrow?" - answer "NO!"), and now - I'm going home. Tomorrow I'm off down to Kent for a family Christmas of reading, eating, healthy walks, and finger exercises.

Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year to one and all!

Monday, 21 December 2009


Midwinter greetings, everyone!

From today, the days get a little longer, the nights a little shorter, and the Blessed Sun returns. This is that day of turning wheels and dancing light returning, the winter solstice. From this day, daily, the night steps a pace back and the light steps a pace forward.

Blessed light and darkness
Here where your balance
Is tightest, where the tension
Moves close to breaking point,
You turn, and return
Coming back with the coming spring
To the spinning wheel of seasons,
To the balanced moment, to
The next imbalance; ever on,
Eternal, swaying between
One stress and the other,
Extreme and extreme
And all the continuum between
In blessed living dancing, in
Light and darkness.

Happy Winter Solstice, everybody!

Things you learn when you break your right wrist...

This, as most of you will notice, is not me. I've never been to a ski resort in my life...


It’s amazing what you can do one-handed. But -

Loo rolls with faulty perforations are really irritating.

Loo roll dispensers on the right-hand side of the loo are really irritating.

People who don’t look where they are going and bash into your plastered-up and be-slinged arm are really irritating. Dogs and small children, ie mobile trip hazards, likewise, though they at least have the excuse of ignorant innocence.

Washing up is really irritating – even more so than usual, that is.

My elderly glasses are really uncomfortable, at least they are after a fortnight.

Boiled rice and (ready-chopped) vegetables with sauce (out of a bottle) and (ready-grated) cheese on top is nicer than it sounds, but it gets monotonous, and creates more washing up (see above) than a vegetarian cook-chill ready meal.

Tesco vegetarian cook-chill ready meals are vile. Sainsbury’s vegetarian cook-chill ready meals are okay, but bland, and give me gas (anyone care to identify the additive responsible?). M+S vegetarian cook-chill ready meals are okay but tend to include pastry – difficult to deal-with one-handed. Waitrose vegetarian cook-chill ready meals are excellent but horribly expensive.

It’s a good thing I love toast. Sadly at present it has to be toast with small irregularly-spaced blobs of butter or jam, as actually spreading anything is quite beyond me.

It’s hard to believe I am normally someone who tries to look reasonably well-turned-out. Initially I had precisely one bottom-half garment I could get into, a pair of 1992 vintage tracksuit legs I normally wear as gardening trousers, and precisely one wearable warm over-garment, a baggy knee length woolly I normally use as a bathrobe. However, I have managed, with a little expenditure, to get past the bag-lady look this gave me. I have purchased a pair of navy blue perma-press polyester elastic-waisted trousers, a gents button-fronted cardigan, and an alice band. With my glasses perched on my nose, my shirt-tails untucked, my long hair floating loose like a frizzy chestnut halo, no bra (& enough bosom for this to be noticeable), and terribly sensible flat shoes, plus the perma-press-and-cardi combo, I now look like a comedy lesbian version of the classic absent-minded professor. I hope this is acceptable in the office – thank the gods it’s an office at Kew and not somewhere with, like, a dress code or something.

On Friday I had an appointment at the fracture clinic for a follow-up x-ray, which was apparently so good that they promptly (well, pretty slowly, actually – they were, pun absolutely intended, snowed under) whipped my plaster off and took out my stitches, and then put another plaster cast on. This latest one is mine till late January. My bare, slightly swollen and misshapen right forearm, with a puckered, bloodstained four-inch incision down the soft wrist side, was an extraordinary and curiously tragic sight to my eyes, but the consultant declared it looked “splendid” and told me to use my fingers as much as possible and to make an appointment at Occupational Therapy for my first physio session on Wednesday.

I would have liked to have seen the x-ray, but everyone was so busy, that first wildly icy morning of the Great Cold Snap, that I felt I had no right to take up their time. Now that I am over the worst I am finding this whole business weirdly interesting. I really wanted to see my own arm again, and examined it with compassionate fascination; sometime I’d love to see inside it, with the plate + screws added…

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

One-hand Sally...

...or, how I managed to do something bl**dy stupid straight after getting back from my holiday.

Last Tuesday morning, running late for work & feeling post-vacation-lazy, I sprinted for a bus, caught my foot in an uneven paving slab on the Chiswick High Road, and went flying; bang, flat on my face. Masses of bruises, and what turned out to be a badly broken right wrist. I could unfold a tale - but typing left-handed is so tricky that I won't bother. The details are pretty dismal, anyway, so you aren't missing much.

It's an impact fracture, so the break is distal rather than transverse, and the x-ray showed I had a chunk of my right radius completely detached. It was clearly unstable, so on Saturday I went into Charing Cross Hospital to have a nerve block (ugh, never again) and have a metal plate and two screws put into my wrist. I'll never get through airport security unquestioned again.

I'm now stuck in plaster and a sling, and doped up to the eyes on codeine. I refuse to let this spoil Christmas, but it will certainly slow Christmas down a bit, and I have had to drop out of the Kew staff choir, which is a pity. In about six weeks I get my arm and hand back, and by then of course I'll need some physiotherapy; by the time I go to the Bartok "Concerto for Orchestra" in early February I may be able to applaud again...


Monday, 7 December 2009

Home is the sailor, home from sea...

Well, I got back rather late last night and didn't get to bed till nearly one am, and my system is still on Cyprus time, so I woke up at 5.00 – ugh. But I’m back to cold, wet, British reality now. A day's work on only four hours' sleep is 'orrible, but I should sleep okay tonight...

Paphos in the off-season was peaceful and comfortable, with enough of the tourist infrastructure still operating to make a visit very pleasant. Until the last couple of days it was outright hot, with clear skies and scorching sun all day, and crisp, brisk evenings. I spent my birthday lounging on the beach with a fat novel and a picnic lunch of bread and cheese, fresh fruit, sesame pastelli and beer; I swam in the sea and lay under a palm tree coating my shoulders with factor fifteen. Swimming in the sea in December, and in Europe, too; bliss. Later I walked into the town to have a chocolate ice-cream sundae and watch the sun set over the harbour, then finished off with a thoroughly indulgent meal out at the improbably-named Viva Cyprus Steakhouse Restaurant – which in fact did some very nice traditional Cypriot vegetarian food (and steak) including decent melitzanosalata, lemony tahini dip, grilled halloumi and fried kolokithia with garlic, and a good house white…

The last couple of days the weather went off; first windy and stormy at sea, which was dramatic but put paid to the swimming, and then abruptly and spectacularly wet, with wild thunderstorms, torrential rain and all the sloping streets turning into small rivers. At least all the rain made it easier to come home. Now I have to think about Christmas cards, packing and sending parcels, getting a tree and getting it set up and decorated… and getting in some basic groceries, of course, and washing all those summery clothes that will look so incongruous on the line now.

It was a good holiday.