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Celtic Illumination, part 412, You shall be taken to the place from whence you came.

It was a strange six weeks, that’s how long they suspended me for.  I didn’t mind, I was still on full pay so concentrated on my studies at Lancaster University.  I had contacted the professor at Lancaster and explained my situation and asked if I could continue with the course.  As far as he was concerned the company had paid for all of us, up front, so my place was secure and I was welcome to continue.  Surprisingly none of the others from North West Community Services attended the course.  It was interesting to discover that I was a hot topic of gossip throughout Manchester’s social services world.  Some people, as I expected, were pleased that I might have the legs taken away from under me but many commiserated.  I still found the whole situation confusing.

 

I had actually seen people, who Delia had ‘cared’ for, when she was a nurse at Calderstones hospital, pick up knives if she walked in to the same room as them.  It was obvious that none of them liked her or had a good word to say about her.  She was a bully, as thick as two short planks and even the deputy director of Manchester social services told me that they knew they couldn’t trust her and that she was a liar but she could do the job.  How on earth she got the position in the first place I shall never know.  The course at Lancaster was fun and I was desperately putting out feelers to see if there were any vacancies on the horizon.  I know that I have often said that social workers are useless but the boss of Manchester’s social services, responsible for learning disabilities, and his deputy were two good fellows.  I wouldn’t have minded working with them as they got things done, unlike most social workers who spend most of their careers on sick leave with stress.

 

On the day of my hearing I arrived at the Liverpool offices and felt somewhat out of place, which I found strange as I had been so familiar with the organisation.  Rather than wander my way around the various offices saying hello to people and involving myself in idle banter, I was invited to take a seat in the foyer.  I sat myself down and waited.  The odd individual came and went then Jo came in, Joanne.  This is the team leader I had stood up for against Richard and Garry in the managers meeting.  She asked if I was there for my hearing and I explained that I was but she then asked who was my friend?  I knew that everyone in the Liverpool office had been warned not to get involved with my case as they would still have to work with Delia afterwards and they wouldn’t want to sour that relationship.  I couldn’t even get any of them to write a statement supporting me.  Jo stated that this wasn’t fair; I shouldn’t go in on my own, so she immediately volunteered to accompany me.  I wasn’t sure if she was just being nosey or if she actually wanted to give me some moral support so I agreed that she could accompany me.

 

We went in to the conference room and found Chris, the Liverpool accounts director, at the head of a large table.  Beside him the CEO’s secretary, with pencil poised over pad.  I realised that as everything was to be recorded I would have to be careful that I spelled out my case against Delia as good as I possibly could.  We sat down and the four of us swopped pleasantries.  Chris was the sort of fellow you would call in to and have a bit of craic with.  He was a nice enough fellow, pretty useless at his job but we had always got on, at least that’s what I felt.  He opened proceedings by saying that in his opinion the seventeen charges were a bit much and that he was willing to ignore fourteen of them and concentrate on the three main charges against me.  I refused.  I said, and I made sure I spoke slowly enough for the secretary to jot down every word, I said that it was my intention to prove that Delia was not just a liar, but that she had falsified documents and that her sole intention was to give her daughter my job.

 

As Chris had been the fellow who had telephoned me and inquired about the change, or the addition, to my monthly assessment I knew he was well aware of the situation.  My job now was to turn the whole situation on its head and get Delia in to trouble.   It took some time, I think it was four and a half hours in all, but at the end of the session I was satisfied that I had gone through every point sufficiently not only to prove my innocence but to highlight Delia’s guilt.  Chris said that normally these hearings would take no more than half an hour or forty minutes, after which he would make a decision.  In this case he decided that I had raised enough concerns to encourage him to continue investigating the situation and therefore I was to remain on suspension on full pay.  It wasn’t the outcome I wanted, which of course would have been Delia hanging from a lamppost in the street, but at least it wasn’t negative.

 

We were facing our final paper for the course at Lancaster and I made sure that I was not connected to any of the North West Community Services Crowd.  I did have my eyes open and knew that if I wanted to move any further up the career ladder I would need to get myself a degree.  This of course didn’t mean that you would actually know something as most of the social work cretins had a degree in social work which didn’t really mean anything.  I had decided that a management qualification would help me, as would an accountancy qualification, so I had signed up with the Open University and was completing a degree in management and accountancy.  The good news was that the course at Lancaster would contribute to my overall degree.  So even though I was a wizard with figures and actually enjoyed complicated accounts I would now have some proof that I could count and organise things officially.

 

I know that I went into the management programme with a willingness to learn but could only describe the management course as a sort of collection of Victorian parlour games.  And even though the world was moving in in leaps and bounds and some brilliant, all singing, all dancing flavoured accountancy programmes were available we were told that we would have to start with the basics and use handwritten methods before moving on to the new technology.  It was a bit frustrating but I got through it without shouting, too much, at anybody.  I have to admit that it was a very interesting experience as we had conference calls some evenings for debates and discussion and I soon learned very quickly how to take over and control these events.  Even on the management exercise I would immediately volunteer to be the team accountant as I knew most others would be afraid of the numbers, but I wasn’t, and once you had control of the purse strings you had control of the whole project.  I only wish I could have used similar techniques with my Delia situation.

 

Of all the seventeen charges against me there was only one that I couldn’t prove beyond a doubt that was not my fault.  I had difficulties in one house and the team leader had been fired.  I had problems finding a new manager for the house and asked one of the senior support workers to step up and cover the position for me.  It was really more of a paperwork exercise as my statistics now would please social services but I knew I needed a new team leader and was desperately scouring the company to see if there were any suitable candidates.  One of the people in that house had his medication changed by the local mental health nurse.  I made a note of the day it was to be changed and turned up at the house.  I explained to the acting team leader that I needed to check that the medication had been properly changed and documented.  He assured me that the medication books had been changed.  He told me that he was about to go to the pharmacist and collect the new medication and then pointed to a bag on top of the kitchen cupboards telling me that this was the old medication which he was about to return to the pharmacist who would dispose of it.

 

As far as I was concerned it was just another small routine problem out of the way.  Unfortunately I wasn’t aware that I was still on a huge learning curve and that the acting team leader had lied through his back teeth to me.  Ten days later the mental health nurse had turned up and noticed that the medication had not been changed.  Talk about brown stuff hitting the fan, the acting team leader was now in Vietnam for six weeks with his girlfriend.  How could I prove what I claimed was true?   After a further two weeks suspension I got a letter informing me that I was to given a six month written warning.  This angered me as I wasn’t too sure what it actually meant.  I also wondered how it would affect my search for a new job, but more importantly no action was to be taken against Delia despite the case I had put up against her.  I asked Chris why no action had been taken against Delia and he explained that the disciplinary procedure had been against me, not Delia.  I wasn’t happy but then my spirits really did go through the floor as Chris explained I was to resume my normal duties on the following Monday morning, back at Manchester and back working as Delia’s deputy.

University-of-Lancaster-005

 

 

 

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Celtic Illumination, part 411, The Devil is in the detail.

I had seen Delia erupt before, the worst time being at a social worker, who like myself was not expecting the outburst.  Delia welcomed her in to her office, allowed the social worker to sit herself down and then, as if flicking a switch, went into a rant that shocked the pair of us.  None of the bile was directed at me, even so, I was still amazed at the ferocity of it.   When it was over it was once again as if Delia had flicked a switch and she was back to normal.  So I wasn’t sure if the outburst that I had been on the receiving end of the previous day was a one off, a standard telling off, or if there was more to it.  Delia did pretty much as she pleased.  She would hire and fire people on a whim; in fact there was a rumour that she was behind the incident where Richard had been fired from North West Community Services.  Some achievement when you understand that Richard had been put in place by social services.

So it was difficult to know what to expect, or how to prepare for the next onslaught, if there was to be one.  I thought that I had mentally prepared myself for anything that Delia could throw at me, but once again I was wrong.  She came in to her office the following morning and sat down at her desk.  She then called me to come in.  I did as requested and she asked me to get my company telephone, my diary and my keys and bring them to her.  I gathered the objects as set them on her desk wondering what she was playing at when she said, “I don’t care who or what you are.  I don’t like you.  You’re not good enough to be my deputy, in fact you’re not good enough to be a service manager and I probably wouldn’t even employ you as a team leader.   Get out of these offices.”

So many questions pop up inside your head that you are unable to think.  I went back to my desk, threw my few personal possessions into my bag and left the office. I got in to my car and drove away, pulling over and stopping about five hundred yards away from the office out of sight.  I really wasn’t sure what had happened to me, but I thought that I had just been fired.  To say that I was confused would have been an understatement.  No matter how many times I ran through what had been said, none of it made any sense to me.  It took me a good fifteen minutes to settle my head down after which I drove home, still confused, wondering what I should do now.  Everyone else I now spoke to seemed to know what to do and the advice started to come at me thick and fast ranging from a baseball bat across the temple to legal action.

Luckily Irene had some benefits where she worked, one of which was free legal advice and representation for the employee and immediate family, so we contacted the law firm and set the old legal wheels in motion.  The solicitor I spoke to was Irish and filled me with confidence as she ran through a list of what Delia had done wrong and what they would be able to secure for me as compensation.  It was nice to have the crooks on my side for a change.   Two days later one of the directors from the Liverpool office telephoned me and asked me if I would attend a meeting with him and Delia in Manchester.  I told him I would have to clear it with my legal team, which was just letting him know that I was no walk over.  The legal bods said it would do no harm for me to attend the meeting but not to agree to anything and to immediately report back to them after the meeting.

It was a very strange and a very tense meeting.  Delia was almost shaking with rage showing that she was either a great actor or off her feckin trolley.  She stated that by not carrying out a proper inspection on the house, managed by the young Pakistani team leader, I had undermined the authority of the senior management team.  I said nothing; there is no point in trying to put a sensible argument across when someone is fuming.  She then pulled out a cardboard box which she had hidden behind her desk.  “These!” she announced, were the company and individual household and personal financial accounts.  “Thrown in a box!”  If social services had implemented a surprise inspection they would have closed the company down due to the haphazard way I had thrown the accounts in to a box, rather than check them and store them in some sort of order.

Both these accusations were ludicrous.  I could explain my action with the new team leader and the accounts actually were all sorted and checked and stored in individual envelopes.  I still hadn’t decided the best way to store the receipts and accounts, but everything in that box had been checked, double checked and was in order.  I waited my turn so that I could put my case forward but Delia wasn’t having any of it.  She had lost all confidence in me, she had never liked me or trusted me, in her opinion I wasn’t good enough to be her deputy, in fact I wasn’t good enough to be a service manager.  However, I would be allowed to return to the company as a team leader under her close supervision.  I couldn’t believe that the director from Liverpool, who knew me quite well, was actually going along with this.  The difference between my then salary and a team leader’s salary was twelve thousand pounds; this was no slap on the wrist.

The director acted as if Delia’s case was hard and fast, that everything Delia had said was true and that I had no option but to accept their decision.  It was nice to say, “No,” to them.  It was nice to inform them that I already had a legal team working on the problem from whom they would be hearing within the next day or two.  I hoped what I was saying was correct.  I stood and explained that I was not going to allow anyone to treat me as they had been doing and began to leave the office.  Delia was having a fit screaming at me and the Director from Liverpool was stunned in to silence.  I ignored the abuse and went to my car and drove home to be told that the phone had not stopped ringing.  It was only a few minutes before it rang again.  In an attempt to try and discredit me Delia had initiated disciplinary proceedings against me which they hoped would undermine my legal challenge to them.   I was informed that I was suspended, on full pay and that they would be in touch with the date of my hearing.

I have to admit I was a little bit lost in the reasoning behind it all but I relished the chance of siting down in a formal environment and arguing every single point Delia might put up against me.  I had to wait for them to prepare the official paperwork.  I expected the two charges she had accused me of in our meeting but when the actual list of charges arrived, it nearly broke the postman’s arm.  There were seventeen charges.  The charge for not carrying out a proper inspection was one, as was the lies about the accounts, the others had been made up.  A child with a sheet of paper and a box of crayons would have made a better job.  I really couldn’t see anything coming from this but I was now determined to prove that the only reason Delia wanted rid of me was to give my job to her daughter, with a bit of luck I could have the tables turned on Delia and get her into some warm water.

To back up some of the ridiculous charges Delia had made there was a photocopy of my most recent monthly assessment where she had added a statement claiming that she had warned me about my poor performance and that she might have to demote me.  The pen she used was a different shade of black to the original pen that had been used and even the director in Liverpool telephoned to ask me if I remembered this being written on the form.  It was obvious that it was a con job and I hoped now that others knew too it might not go any further.  It really was a ridiculous situation but I was concerned that the Liverpool office were taking it so seriously.  The first charge was that as a senior manager one of my monthly duties was to carrying out a surprise inspection on a property that I did not directly manage.  Delia claimed that I had never completed this task and therefore was being derelict in my duties.  I made a note that the first four entries in the diary relating to surprise inspections were by me, regarding surprise inspections I had carried out and each with a brief summary.  You didn’t even have to read any of the reports to know I had written them as I was the only person in the Manchester office to use a fountain pen.  I think the motto was changing from Fight or die to come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough.

fountain pen

Celtic Illumination, part 410, The worst company in the world.

Forgive me, but you will all have to give me a bit of leeway this morning, I’m confused.  Not only is Colonialist being nice to me, but other people, Malla Duncan in Cape Town and Ian Thompson in London, are retweeting my blog on Twitter. Not only are they, ‘Retweeting,’ the blog, they are ‘Favoriting,’ it.  I don’t know what that means, either of them.  Today was going to be difficult enough as I have to perform the literary equivalent of a handbrake turn and take us all back to Manchester and the evilness that was Delia.  I had been released from hospital; I wasn’t cured, far from it and nothing much of note happened after that.  Even the following week when I returned for an evening appointment to have my scan, and after paying two pounds and ninety pence for the privilege of parking for forty minutes in the car park, discovered that I had been awarded a sixty pound parking ticket for parking in a disabled bay with an out of date parking ticket.

It’s all right, the letter arrived this morning telling me that all parking charges had been dropped, which is a shame, as I was looking forward to my day in court, I would have looked stunning, with legs like mine, framed with a black gown and wig.  So; steady the Buffs, its back to Manchester, Delia and pure evilness.  I had been working as Deputy Director of Operations for a large company providing services for people with learning disabilities and mental health problems.  The company was called North West Community Services and has to be one of the worst companies I have ever worked for.  The way they treated their staff was horrendous and the way they allowed the people with learning disabilities and mental health problems to be treated was despicable.  Most companies in the United Kingdom who profess to, ‘support,’ people with learning disabilities and mental health problems to live in the community are absolute rubbish at what they do.  Each company is basically a cash cow raking in money for the owners or directors.

Throughout my civilian life I was constantly told that I didn’t understand business, usually when I was being fired from a company, and there were a lot of them, and if that is the case I have no shame.  To know that I am not a lying, cheating, conniving, asshole, like Paul O Grady, does my heart good.  In fact I would say that even the care of the elderly, in the United Kingdom, falls in to the same category.  I went to work every day hoping that I would be able to help someone that day.   I had no ulterior motive, no schemes or scams.  I had enemies; I know that my meteoric rise through the ranks was viewed with jealous suspicion by many.  Three of my own team leaders were capable of doing my job but I really do believe I had an edge on them.  They were all girls, they were all uber-efficient and organised, but I do believe I was slightly ahead of them with my planning and organisational capabilities.  I knew I deserved my position.

There was no rule book or guide book to tell me what to do each day.  There were certain routine functions that structured my working week but mostly it was, ‘On the hoof,’ so to speak, something that I really enjoyed.  It also meant that I would approach different situations in my own way.  For example I had to complete an audit on a house where four people with mental health issues were being supported to live in the community.  I went there for an afternoon inspection.  First I would tour the house and inspect the fixtures and fittings, then I would go through the accounts and make sure everything balanced.  Then I would check the vehicles and record the mileage and fuel usage and that they were being properly serviced.  The team leader who had just been promoted and had taken over charge of the house was a Pakistani girl.  She was really nervous with my visit as the gossip that I was ex-military was still going around inferring that I was a stickler for the rules and regulations.

All four of the young men who lived in the house were violent and it was something you sensed the moment you walked in through the front door.  I began to tour the property but ended up in a scuffle, with one of the occupants, in the dining room which necessitated me disappearing as it might have been my presence that started the fellow off.  The team leader and myself retreated to the office and sat ourselves down.  The commotion continued outside and I knew that to attempt to inspect any more of the house would only cause trouble so I would leave it and focus on getting to know the residents, before invading their space.  After all, it was their house.  I began to inspect the books and discovered that the only outstanding factor was a missing twenty pounds which I had been told had been reserved by two support workers who had taken the most difficult individual out for the afternoon in case he caused trouble during my visit.  I couldn’t sign the accounts books off so decided to leave them until my next visit.

I knew that the van parked outside the house was two days old and had about six miles on the clock.  Not really worth me looking at it so I decided that the best thing to do was have a cup of tea with the team leader, get to know her and try and establish a decent working relationship with her.  There was no point in doing half an inspection.  It was the following morning when Delia came in to the office that things went a little skew whiff.  I have no reason to plot, or plan, or scheme and lie so you don’t really expect those around you to do so.  When you are open and honest you tend to expect everyone else to act in a similar way.  I think this is what people meant when they said I didn’t understand business.  Delia came in to the office like a cruise missile looking for a weapon of mass destruction. She came straight to little old me, at my desk, and without a good morning, or a hello, demanded that I follow her in to her office.  Both doors to her office were left wide open so I knew that this bollocking was to be for the benefit, or the enjoyment, of everyone in the building.

Delia then let me have the full force of her venom and I promise you, in Spinal Tap terms, the volume went to twelve. Luckily with the years I had spent in the military I was quite used to complete idiots shouting at me.  It was all about my inspection the previous day, the one I didn’t really carry out.  I could have argued each point with her but the one pervading thought was how on earth did she find all this out?  I couldn’t think of a reason why the team leader would contact Delia and complain, or report me, so Delia had to be the one who went to the team leader.  A real business person would then add the knowledge of the fact that Delia had told me that I was to interview her daughter for my job and give it to her and understand that both situations were connected.  I didn’t, I had been a hardworking, productive, employee, why should I worry.  I waited until she had finished showering me with bile and abuse and she told me to get out of her office.

I was a bit shell shocked; the way she had behaved was most unprofessional and therefore difficult to understand how to correctly respond to.  I knew I had to get out of there, but how and where to?  I know that I found myself driving to Liverpool where I went to Natural Breaks.  As I walked in Jan, the boss of Natural Breaks, looked at me and asked what was wrong.  “I need a new job,” I said, and she handed me an application form.  “I need a new deputy director of operations,” she said, with a smile, telling me that she probably knew, word for word, what had happened in Manchester.  It was pure luck of the Irish.  Natural Beaks were and probably still are the best company in the United Kingdom working with people with learning disabilities and mental health problems.  The chief executive Jan is a wonderful leader and manager; it would be an honour to get back on to her team.  Of course not everyone who works for Natural Breaks is a star and that evening as I sat at home filling out the application form I got a telephone call from Joe.

Joe had been my service manager at North West Community Services when I had been a team leader.  He was quite useless, but had used his position and connections to move to Natural Breaks when the management of North West Community Services began to crumble.  He told me that he now ran Natural Breaks, which I am sure would have been news for news for Jan and her senior management team.  On top of that he had promised his mate the new job of Deputy Director of Operations; however, if his plans didn’t work out and I got the job, I would be working for him and would have to do things his way.  All I wanted to do was help people with learning disabilities and mental health problems, they were my friends, but how could I protect them from uncaring staff, from people who were only interested in their own self.  Not the type of person you would expect to find in a caring profession.  I had worked my way up from the bottom but I was getting sick and tired of the selfish, heartless, useless people who seemed to make up the bulk of the workforce in this supposedly caring profession.  There was only one thing to do.  Civilians don’t really understand how military people give themselves to a flag, or a colour or a motto.   When that flag, or motto, encompasses your very existence, it’s easy.  Three words that sums up your outlook, attitude and determination, Fight or Die.  What else is there to say?

 

Celtic Illumination, part 410, The worst company in the world.

Forgive me, but you will all have to give me a bit of leeway this morning, I’m confused.  Not only is Colonialist being nice to me, but other people, Malla Duncan in Cape Town and Ian Thompson in London, are retweeting my blog on Twitter. Not only are they, ‘Retweeting,’ the blog, they are ‘Favoriting,’ it.  I don’t know what that means, either of them.  Today was going to be difficult enough as I have to perform the literary equivalent of a handbrake turn and take us all back to Manchester and the evilness that was Delia.  I had been released from hospital; I wasn’t cured, far from it and nothing much of note happened after that.  Even the following week when I returned for an evening appointment to have my scan, and after paying two pounds and ninety pence for the privilege of parking for forty minutes in the car park, discovered that I had been awarded a sixty pound parking ticket for parking in a disabled bay with an out of date parking ticket.

It’s all right, the letter arrived this morning telling me that all parking charges had been dropped, which is a shame, as I was looking forward to my day in court, I would have looked stunning, with legs like mine, framed with a black gown and wig.  So; steady the Buffs, its back to Manchester, Delia and pure evilness.  I had been working as Deputy Director of Operations for a large company providing services for people with learning disabilities and mental health problems.  The company was called North West Community Services and has to be one of the worst companies I have ever worked for.  The way they treated their staff was horrendous and the way they allowed the people with learning disabilities and mental health problems to be treated was despicable.  Most companies in the United Kingdom who profess to, ‘support,’ people with learning disabilities and mental health problems to live in the community are absolute rubbish at what they do.  Each company is basically a cash cow raking in money for the owners or directors.

Throughout my civilian life I was constantly told that I didn’t understand business, usually when I was being fired from a company, and there were a lot of them, and if that is the case I have no shame.  To know that I am not a lying, cheating, conniving, asshole, like Paul O Grady, does my heart good.  In fact I would say that even the care of the elderly, in the United Kingdom, falls in to the same category.  I went to work every day hoping that I would be able to help someone that day.   I had no ulterior motive, no schemes or scams.  I had enemies; I know that my meteoric rise through the ranks was viewed with jealous suspicion by many.  Three of my own team leaders were capable of doing my job but I really do believe I had an edge on them.  They were all girls, they were all uber-efficient and organised, but I do believe I was slightly ahead of them with my planning and organisational capabilities.  I knew I deserved my position.

There was no rule book or guide book to tell me what to do each day.  There were certain routine functions that structured my working week but mostly it was, ‘On the hoof,’ so to speak, something that I really enjoyed.  It also meant that I would approach different situations in my own way.  For example I had to complete an audit on a house where four people with mental health issues were being supported to live in the community.  I went there for an afternoon inspection.  First I would tour the house and inspect the fixtures and fittings, then I would go through the accounts and make sure everything balanced.  Then I would check the vehicles and record the mileage and fuel usage and that they were being properly serviced.  The team leader who had just been promoted and had taken over charge of the house was a Pakistani girl.  She was really nervous with my visit as the gossip that I was ex-military was still going around inferring that I was a stickler for the rules and regulations.

All four of the young men who lived in the house were violent and it was something you sensed the moment you walked in through the front door.  I began to tour the property but ended up in a scuffle, with one of the occupants, in the dining room which necessitated me disappearing as it might have been my presence that started the fellow off.  The team leader and myself retreated to the office and sat ourselves down.  The commotion continued outside and I knew that to attempt to inspect any more of the house would only cause trouble so I would leave it and focus on getting to know the residents, before invading their space.  After all, it was their house.  I began to inspect the books and discovered that the only outstanding factor was a missing twenty pounds which I had been told had been reserved by two support workers who had taken the most difficult individual out for the afternoon in case he caused trouble during my visit.  I couldn’t sign the accounts books off so decided to leave them until my next visit.

I knew that the van parked outside the house was two days old and had about six miles on the clock.  Not really worth me looking at it so I decided that the best thing to do was have a cup of tea with the team leader, get to know her and try and establish a decent working relationship with her.  There was no point in doing half an inspection.  It was the following morning when Delia came in to the office that things went a little skew whiff.  I have no reason to plot, or plan, or scheme and lie so you don’t really expect those around you to do so.  When you are open and honest you tend to expect everyone else to act in a similar way.  I think this is what people meant when they said I didn’t understand business.  Delia came in to the office like a cruise missile looking for a weapon of mass destruction. She came straight to little old me, at my desk, and without a good morning, or a hello, demanded that I follow her in to her office.  Both doors to her office were left wide open so I knew that this bollocking was to be for the benefit, or the enjoyment, of everyone in the building.

Delia then let me have the full force of her venom and I promise you, in Spinal Tap terms, the volume went to twelve. Luckily with the years I had spent in the military I was quite used to complete idiots shouting at me.  It was all about my inspection the previous day, the one I didn’t really carry out.  I could have argued each point with her but the one pervading thought was how on earth did she find all this out?  I couldn’t think of a reason why the team leader would contact Delia and complain, or report me, so Delia had to be the one who went to the team leader.  A real business person would then add the knowledge of the fact that Delia had told me that I was to interview her daughter for my job and give it to her and understand that both situations were connected.  I didn’t, I had been a hardworking, productive, employee, why should I worry.  I waited until she had finished showering me with bile and abuse and she told me to get out of her office.

I was a bit shell shocked; the way she had behaved was most unprofessional and therefore difficult to understand how to correctly respond to.  I knew I had to get out of there, but how and where to?  I know that I found myself driving to Liverpool where I went to Natural Breaks.  As I walked in Jan, the boss of Natural Breaks, looked at me and asked what was wrong.  “I need a new job,” I said, and she handed me an application form.  “I need a new deputy director of operations,” she said, with a smile, telling me that she probably knew, word for word, what had happened in Manchester.  It was pure luck of the Irish.  Natural Beaks were and probably still are the best company in the United Kingdom working with people with learning disabilities and mental health problems.  The chief executive Jan is a wonderful leader and manager; it would be an honour to get back on to her team.  Of course not everyone who works for Natural Breaks is a star and that evening as I sat at home filling out the application form I got a telephone call from Joe.

Joe had been my service manager at North West Community Services when I had been a team leader.  He was quite useless, but had used his position and connections to move to Natural Breaks when the management of North West Community Services began to crumble.  He told me that he now ran Natural Breaks, which I am sure would have been news for Jan and her senior management team.  On top of that he had promised his mate the new job of Deputy Director of Operations; however, if his plans didn’t work out and I got the job, I would be working for him and would have to do things his way.  All I wanted to do was help people with learning disabilities and mental health problems, they were my friends, but how could I protect them from uncaring staff, from people who were only interested in their own self.  Not the type of person you would expect to find in a caring profession.  I had worked my way up from the bottom but I was getting sick and tired of the selfish, heartless, useless people who seemed to make up the bulk of the workforce in this supposedly caring profession.  There was only one thing to do.  Civilians don’t really understand how military people give themselves to a flag, or a colour or a motto.   When that flag, or motto, encompasses your very existence, it’s easy.  Three words that sums up your outlook, attitude and determination, Fight or Die.  What else is there to say?

Manchester

 

Celtic Illumination, part 409, If you ever go across the sea to Ireland.

Dear old Oscar, that’s Wilde to you lot, once said, “With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone.”  So as time passes I do seem to accumulate more wisdom, I even believe that I understand why the double top secret cabal, preparing me to take my rightful place as High Chief of the Clan O Neill and therefore the true King of Ireland, would make me write this blog.  It’s not so much the writing of it that is important but the responses it draws from you lot, The Illuminati. Many of you will already be saying okay, it has to be that Colonialist again, what’s he done now?  So, see, even you lot are accumulating wisdom.  Colonialist hasn’t really done anything that bad, not this time anyway. It’s the emotional damage he causes that perhaps is the worst.

Here’s poor little old me, pouring my heart out, explaining the trials and rigours I had to face, simply so that if any of you poor souls had to face a similar situation you might be prepared.  I’m only sharing information, preparing you for what might happen, baring my soul to ease your pain should you ever need it; meanwhile Colonialist suggests that I should have been committed to one of the remaining nuthouses.  I know; many of you will be shocked to read that I was, but my time in the nut houses in Liverpool has yet to come.  I don’t mean I’m going there, I mean I’ve been.  The Florence Nightingale Hospital in Liverpool, Fazerkerly secure unit and Ashworth high security psychiatric hospital in Maghull.  Where else did you think an individual with a skill set like mine would end up?

It is quite obvious that the double top secret cabal want me to understand that each and every one of you is an individual, that you all have your own hopes, and dreams, and aspirations and that most of you should be locked up.  I can understand complaints about bullfighting, as I am sure many of you can.  Harming donkeys too is a shameful and barbaric practise but I never, not even in my wildest dreams, expected to be challenged to a willy measuring contest, by six of you.  Especially with one of those six being a female flavoured woman.  Perhaps those six, and the wimmen in particular, should be considered for nuthouse admission rather than my good self.  Not wanting to be seen as a spoilsport I would suggest that venue should be the gentleman’s toilets in the Philharmonic Rooms in Liverpool, deemed to be the grandest gent’s urinals in the world.  A pub in Liverpool with a cathedral at each end of the street should satisfy even the worst Heathens among you.

The toilets in the Philharmonic Rooms are world famous; why they are famous I’m not exactly sure.  They look like marble but are actually ceramic and the best story about them is that they are meant to be exact copies of the toilets from the Titanic.  In fact there is a suggestion that they were stolen from the shipyard while the Titanic was being built.  Highly unlikely as the pub was built in or around the 1900’s while the Titanic was built, in Belfast, across the feckin Irish sea, in 1911.  But why let a bit of geography get in the way of a good story.  I’ll contact each of the participants individually and arrange a suitable date, tickets will go on sale about ten days before the event.  I’m sure no matter what the outcome we shall all wake up the following morning with sore heads following a decent night of pillow abuse.

I suppose that is how many of us felt when we were roused at six o clock on the Monday morning with the old two stroke razor reverberating throughout the hospital.  I really did find my emotions swinging between two extremes.  On the one hand I couldn’t stop laughing at the memory of the Welsh preacher calling for the Lord and his angels on high to sweep the ward of evil while at the same time feeling sorry for the poor old fellow as his actions were only a physical manifestation of the turmoil within his head.  He must have been so confused, but it’s hard to feel compassion for someone when you are laughing so hard.  The nursing staff weren’t really trained for such a situation and they gently coaxed the old fellow back in to bed.  He lay there, or sat there, groaning and snorting while I kept erupting into sporadic fits of laughter.

The second time he woke us all up it wasn’t as funny.  He was still as animated and as manic but this time the staff manhandled him and his bed out of the ward where he spent the remainder of the night parked by the nurses station where they could keep an eye on him.  It’s nice to be woken from your slumber with a breakfast trolley being wheeled to the bottom of your bed, very civilised.  It’s not so pleasant to feel absolutely exhausted after what should have been a decent night’s sleep.  Whether it was having your blood pressure taken or you sins expunged there was always something happening.  The morning routine began and in a way I was looking forward to the day as it was a Monday, a working day.  The routine on the ward would be back to normal and something was bound to happen.

It was then that I realised that I had been in hospital for a week, I could see my stay being extended, I held my breath when I thought of those people who had said they had been in for months at a time.  I didn’t like the thought of a long stay in the hospital although I did want to get fixed or as the medics said, cured, not that I was a side of bacon.  The phlebotomist came and went as did the girl with the towels and toothbrushes, the magazine fellow, the sweet trolley, even the pill trolley made an appearance and then we had Doctors rounds.  If only we had been in the Philharmonic Rooms and it was Adrian buying everyone a drink, I would have looked forward to them.  Only one of the pretty doctors came to see me, she didn’t waste any time.  “We’re letting you go home today,” she said, at which point my mood lifted somewhat. She explained that most of my ‘levels’ were back to, or almost back to, normal and that I would be continued to be tested but as an outpatient.

I allowed her to finish and then asked at what time would I be ready to leave the hospital.  “Between two and three o cock,” she said, so I thanked her and began to make arrangements to be picked up.  I sent Irene a text message and explained that I would be ready to come home at three o clock that afternoon.  I then began to gather my stuff together and noticing that the bathroom was empty went off to give myself a good scrub from head to toe.  I was back on my bed pulling on a clean set of clothes when a nurse approached me and explained that they needed my bed, would I mind clearing out and moving to a waiting area.  It was eleven o clock in the morning and I didn’t fancy sat sitting in some high backed uncomfortable chair for four hours so I asked her, in her opinion, what time I could leave the ward.

I was surprised when she said that I could leave right there and then if I wanted but the only factor, that was beyond her control, was my medication.  I could always leave and come back later for the medication if I wanted.  My medication may have been outside her control but it wasn’t outside mine.  I asked if I arranged transport for twelve o clock, one hour away, if that would be okay, she said yes.  “Aoife!” I called, as the curtain was drawn back.  Aoife came in to the ward and stood beside me.  “Any chance my medication will be ready in forty five minutes my dear?” I asked, and with a smile she assured me it would and went off to get it.  I then sent another text to Irene explaining that the plan had changed.  I would be ready to leave the hospital in one hour, as we lived a thirty minute drive from the hospital, I didn’t think it would create any sort of problem.  My escape wasn’t planned with military precision, close, but no spot prize.

One hospital rule was that I had to have a porter take me to the front door of the hospital in a wheel chair.  This was hospital policy and I still couldn’t walk very far so everyone was happy.  He turned up at a quarter to twelve as did my medication and without further ado I left the ward.  It was nice to get out in to the sunshine and fresh air.  The porter took me to a bench near the front entrance and I sat myself in the sunshine hoping that no one would notice I was wearing slippers.  Irene is a very pretty woman so it’s very difficult for her to think about things and remain pretty at the same time.  So it was no surprise to get a telephone call asking what was happening.  When I explained that I was sunning myself outside the hospital she got very angry and started telling me off for releasing myself from hospital, for a hospital would never ask anybody to leave.   Thirty minutes later they pulled up and loaded me in to the car but the telling off continued.  The hospital would never ask anyone to leave a bed or a ward, it was all my fault.  My fault!  I had been sat sitting in bright sunshine, relaxing and enjoying myself, harming no one, yet I was being told off for it.  As we drove off I began to miss the ward and wondered if I shouldn’t have stayed for another week or two.

 

Celtic Illumination, part 408, Saturday night fever.

Well; Saturday had arrived and unfortunately it was going to be, ‘One of those Saturdays.’   There was a definite change in the way the ward ran, but the human traffic that mulled around the nurses station had certainly diminished.  I am sure that if there had been an emergency it would have been catered for.  I was especially down heartened as I had been told they were not going to be pouring anymore blood in to me.  They wanted to allow me to stabilise for twenty four hours and see how my poor little body was reacting to what they had done.  When your day starts at six o clock in the morning with the commotion from a ninety five year old, over in the far corner, the day certainly drags itself along until it reaches midnight.  Don’t worry it wasn’t his routine morning exercise that woke us all up, not that his joints were squeaking and groaning, they were, although in hindsight that could have been the bed he was holding on to, it was the fact that after he finished he would bring out his electric razor, which sounded like a two stroke petrol driven chain saw, and rasp off his morning stubble.

I was quite surprised that The Scouser was still on the ward, still showing people how he had been taught how to walk and stand still, not at the same time of course, after all it was only the army he was in, well; the marines.  I did notice that a young lady with learning disabilities and or mental health problems was on the ward.  She had her own room and two support workers.  At one point it sounded as if there was a circus act in the room, that one person was supporting another, who would be running around the walls of the room, like a motorcycle on the wall of death.  You could see the hospital nursing staff react, once any commotion started, then pause and understand that the support workers would handle the situation.  It was like watching The Exorcist without the dog collars.  I relaxed, knowing I didn’t have to get involved, but in a way I missed it, strange that.

I had three books with me, all of which I had to read, but I just couldn’t be bothered.  I did try, but couldn’t get in to the books, so left them in my bag.  I suppose many of us often think how nice it would be to spend the day in bed, to not have to do anything.  But in reality it is so difficult, so boring.  And yet you sort of prepare yourself for the long haul and before you know it the nurse is at the bottom of your bed asking, “Have your bowels opened today sir?”  Sunday came and I actually expected for them to announce that I was cured and could go home.  They still had I suppose what most people would call, ‘Doctors rounds,’ and during my Sunday morning visit was informed that there had been some improvement but not what they were expecting.  I was to be given more blood.  I was feeling more and more like a geriatric vampire as they began tapping my arms looking for a vein and the routine started all over again.

Beds were still being moved around.  The old fellow in the corner, no, the other corner, the ninety five year old clean shaven exercise freak, was on the move to the heart attack ward, well; that’s what we told him.  He was replaced with a friend of the fellow next to me; the one who had ran the pub in Spain for ten years.  They then began holding conversations across the ward about people they knew and cats that they had had, oh yeah and a certain pub someone had for ten years in Spain.   Then they brought a new fellow in.  He looked as if he was sixteen, but he had so many tattoos on his arms and shoulders that he must have been much older.  He looked very young and acted it too, as he demanded that the curtains remain drawn around his bed.

I hadn’t seen behaviour like it since boarding school, although if the truth be told we were much worse.  Although admittedly we didn’t hide away in case anyone saw our willies, how could you when at six o clock every Sunday evening we would be marched off for a shower.  A weekly wash supervised by the Dean, who would flash a bamboo cane across your arse, if you were not fully immersed in the deluge of fresh cold water.  Which was good for you.  I would love to get my hands on the idiot who announced to the world that cold showers were good for your health.   I bet it was the same feckin idiot who said salt was nice on porridge, especially on the lumps.  I always found it strange that in the centre of the shower room there was a huge bath and this was considered to be a luxury.  If you were teacher’s pet, you would be given a bath while the rest of us stood shivering in the showers, Irish logic I suppose; well it is when you understand that the bath was as cold at the fecking showers.

The school was populated by farmers sons and farmers and farming types, all  apart from me of course, a sophisticated urbanite, in fact we had our own farm at the school so that might allow you to understand the approach of the students and staff, which is probably why I was an outsider from the word, ‘Go.’  The fellow in charge of the farm was a priest known as Father Hackett.  We called him Big Ged.  He was six feet seven or eight inches tall, had bow legs, walking as if he had forgotted his horse, his eyesight was non-existent and he taught Latin.  He was duty priest one night and caught a bunch of us having a willy measuring contest in the dormitory bathroom, as you do.  It actually makes life most interesting these days for when you go home and you are in a social situation, introductions are being made, such as, “You remember Joe don’t you?  You two must have been at Violet Hill at the same time.  Joe’s now a barrister.”  And you do remember Joe, but at two o clock in the morning in a cold bathroom with his pyjama bottoms around his ankles stretching his willy out as if it were a rubber balloon he was about to inflate.

Just as an aside, Big Ged was the most vicious of all the priests at Violent Hell.  He was an animal and I know that a good number of boys actually had a go at him, unsuccessfully I might add, but at least they tried.  There’s so many of the feckers I would have liked to have met afterwards but water under the bridge and all that.  In fact Big Ged became a parish priest in Lurgan and was my Aunty Margaret’s parish priest.  I remember, not knowing that she knew Big Ged, telling her all about the man and what sort of an animal he was.  Margaret then told me that he was now her parish priest, which shocked me as I had a mental image of Big Ged beating everyone up at a baptism as the baby wouldn’t stop crying.  But she added, “He’s all right now, as long as he takes his medication.”  Meaning that there must have been something wrong with him when he was in charge of us at Violent Hell.

But what made me think of Big Ged I suppose was our Little Welsh preacher in the corner, our little tabernacle trash talker.  Big Ged was a very animated man, and violent, did I mention how violent he was, it wasn’t uncommon to get a punch in the head if you were late with the communion bell when serving mass for him, I bet baby Jesus was pleased with that sort of behaviour.  Nothing like mass in Latin with a thump in the temple to make a Sunday evening go with a zing.  It was Sunday evening, the question had been asked and the correct response had been given, just like communion, except we were given medication instead of a communion host, amen, praise the Lord, seconds away, one a, two a, three a….  The lights came down; the young fellow was still hiding behind his closed curtain so the ward had a different sort of feel about it.  It was about half past eleven and I knew it was pointless trying to go to sleep as I would be up and down all night long, but I was tired and couldn’t be bothered trying to plan for a decent nights sleep.  The fellow next door had managed to scrounge five pounds off his wife, who used to run a pub in Spain with him for ten years, and was glued to some film on the television.    The preacher was in a dark shadow so I couldn’t really see him, but he was grunting.  The others on the ward were recumbent so I allowed myself to drift away.

Next thing you know is that it is one o clock in the morning, Monday morning mind you, which is what I found strange about the whole thing as you normally only get preaching on Sundays.  But there he was, Monday morning preaching away, to himself mainly as it was quite dark.  One of the staff heard the commotion and a door opened, sending a spike of light onto the ward which highlighted our Welsh pastor standing over the ex-Spanish publican roaring about God and Jesus and Satan and anyone else whose name crept into his poor befuddled mind.  I immediately burst into laughter. The ex-Spanish publican was crapping himself as he thought he was in the middle of an exorcism or sacrifice or the like.  The Welsh Preacher was giving it wellie, screaming about the Lord giveth and he taketh.  I was in stitches for not only did he look like Christopher Lee in full flow, that’s full Hammer House of Horror flow and not Bond, but he also looked like Big Ged.  Even the young fellow who had hidden himself away poked his head out to see what was going on.  I promise you, if you want a good laugh and don’t mind not having any sleep for a week then get yourself off to your local NHS hospital, much more better for you than cold showers and lumpy porridge and you don’t even have to have a willy measuring contest, well; not unless you want to.

CHRISTOPHER LEE

 

Celtic Illumination, part 407, Gwahoddiad.

Saturday morning was thundering towards us and all I wanted to do was go home.  They hadn’t found out what was wrong with me and tests were still happening, as and when, but I just wanted to get home, well; one side of my brain did, and for those of you who have read this complete blog, you will know that an Irishman does not have two sides to his brain, like a regular person, an Irishman has four sides.  It’s why we lead the universe.  Normal people have only two sides to their brain, the left side, which controls logic, language and analytical thinking.   Then there’s the other side, the right side, depending which way you are facing of course, which is best at expressive and creative tasks.  But then we have the Irish with the two extra sides.  The frontal lobe, braininess frontiness, which is used for impaired sensory navigation otherwise known as, ‘Walking whilst drunk,’ or as many people refer to it, incorrectly, as staggering.  And then we have the rear section of the brain, the back side, which we use for talking through whilst drunk.

As an Irishman it would be normal to be told that you could, ‘Talk the hind leg of a donkey,’ and why someone would wish to disfigure some poor wee animal is beyond me and no, let’s not get into the bullfighting again.  But if the drink has been taken then it would be more common, as an Irishman, to be told that you were talking from the rear of your brain, or as it is more locally referred to as , ‘Talking out your backside.’   So I knew that there was a battle going on in my head with one side wanting to go home, another side wanting to stay and get fixed and the other two sides just wanting a drink.   While all this was going on, in my head, some fellow appeared beside my bed.  Don’t worry we are not talking divine revelation here, he introduced himself and we shook hands.  He explained that he was the chap who was about to shove a tube, with a camera, down my throat.

It was nice, for once, to have a young man offer to shove something down my throat and for it not to be accompanied by a threat.  He explained that there were two people before me and that I would probably be taken down within the hour.  Now I know many of you would expect me now to connect the term, ’Taken down,’ with British courts and justice and prison and then make the leap to acknowledge that Gerry Conlon died a day or two ago.  Gerry was one of the Guilford Four who was imprisoned for being Irish for fifteen years and during that time watched his innocent father die beside him in jail.  As there is no connection between British courts and justice, especially for an Irish person, then there is no point in referring to it, but at the same time the man’s passing must be acknowledged.  And talking about passing I suppose I was impressed that someone from a busy department would come down on to a ward and introduce himself and run through the basics of what was going to happen.   It was a first class service, as all of the care was in the hospital.

It was a little disappointing when he turned up half an hour later apologising that he wasn’t aware I hadn’t been fasting for long enough and therefore would not be taken down to his department until much later in the afternoon.   Still a great service and even though they waited until my afternoon visitors had gathered around my bed, before coming to get me, I would still have no complaints.  I only wish I had a camera handy to take a photograph of Irene and the others sitting around an empty bed space.  As an Irishman with four sides to my brain, and therefore much more brain power than the ordinary person, I had all four sides of my brain concentrate on the fact that my duty was to get better, so this camera down the throat business was a part of that.   I didn’t fear it in anyway whatsoever, in fact I welcomed it.  I liked the way I was able to remain on my bed; all I had to do was get on to my side.

There was a lot of gagging, but I promise you no pain and no real discomfort either.  I was worried in case I threw up, as there were females in the room, but otherwise quite a straightforward procedure and it seemed to be over in a flash.  They had sprayed my throat with all sorts of stuff and it wasn’t until I was back on the ward that I gathered myself together and wondered what on earth had just happened and begin to wonder why my throat was numb.   Not everything went to plan, for example one morning a nurse explained to me that I was to be given three pints of blood that day.  I knew that they wouldn’t conduct a transfusion on me during the night hours as they kept going on about the chance of me having a bad reaction to the transfusion.  It was a little disconcerting when they linked the bag of blood up to your vein and stood back as if the proverbial fuse had been lit.  But I wasn’t to worry, that’s what they told me.

And why wasn’t I to worry?  Well, if I was to have an adverse reaction to the new blood I was being given it would happen within the first fifteen minutes.  Great I thought, clock watching, along with the nurses.  But what flavour reaction would it be, would I levitate, have an epileptic fit or just find myself disco dancing for half an hour while throwing up green bile by the bucket load?  No one ever explained to me what form the bad reaction might take.   So you realise that the common denominator for the day will be blood transfusion, but then things start to go wrong.  More bloody rules for transfusion, this time the time limits for matching my blood with the stuff they wanted to give me was running out.  In order to establish that the match was fine and that the transfusion could go ahead I needed more blood taken and tested.  Three nurses later and we are now waiting for a doctor.

The doctor didn’t turn up for four hours so the clock can start all  over again but you understand that you are not going to get your three units of blood this day and therefore will have to stay in hospital that little bit longer.  I suppose a normal person might get angry but I understood that there were people in the hospital who were of much greater need than myself and had no qualms about understanding that when it was my turn they would get to me.  The poor medics were working their socks off and deserved some leeway.  I still felt that the doctor who made my right arm swell up so that I looked like a comic book version of Popeye the Sailor man, was a little off centre, but as he wasn’t Irish he didn’t have the option of being perfect.

The only other Celtic patient was of the course the Welsh preacher man opposite me.  As a ninety five year old man I felt sorry for him, it must not have been nice for him to have been in hospital and to tell you the truth he did look a bit lost.  However he did make me laugh.  Very cruel of me I know but the television screen that draped over each of our beds, like Triffids, also had a telephone.  Each time a telephone would ring, out by the nurses station, the Welsh preacher man would leapt out of bed, well; leap out of bed as best as a ninety five year old gentleman can, race around to the far side of the bed, which for me was funny in itself as all he had to do was remain where he was and reach up to the telephone.  But of course he would now be stood standing by the side of his bed yelling into the telephone hand set “Hello?  Hello?  Hello?”  And of course with him now on his feet he could have done the decent thing and given us a song, a good old Welsh Hymn, or his version of a Welsh male voice choir with a jaunty version of Cwm Rhondda, which for the Heathens among you has nothing whatsoever to do with the Beach Boys.

I do like a Welsh Male voice choir but only at a distance, fifty yards would be best, so I had no wish for his congregation to turn up and serenade him at his bedside.  A Welsh male voice choir came to visit us once in Germany.  Being serenaded in a rugby club, in Germany, by a Welsh male voice choir is an experience in itself, but it didn’t quite fit right.  With a sound like that, you need space for the voices to grow and expand.  I however wanted to speak with the minister; I wanted to begin to question his beliefs, which normally I wouldn’t do, but I was angry with this Pentecostal lot now.   Live and let live is my motto; well; as long as you are not a rabbit.  Something Irene hates me for I must be the only person in the United Kingdom who invites Mormon missionaries into their home.  She would often come home and find me with two smartly dressed American young men in the room at the front of our house with the big leather seaty things.  I would invite them in, sit them down, furnish them with tea and biscuits and then begin to question the very core of their belief system.  In fact, if you ever have some Mormon missionaries knock at your door ask to have a look at their guide book.  Look at the third page, at their, “Rules for survival in the field.”  Number seven.  Beware the Irishman, for he doth talk out his backside.

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Celtic Illumination, part 406, Murder most fowl.

You would think that yesterday’s blog, on a scale of one to ten, would be reaching at least eleven on the old Spinal Tap amplifier.  But no, can you believe that some people were still not satisfied.  They say that as we get older we learn more and we get wiser, more understanding, more tolerant, not me, I want a gun.  I could write the perfect blog, mind you, I seem to do that most days, but I am sure I would still get complaints.  I even got a complaint yesterday from my daughter who tells me that she is home on Thursday not Friday, as if that is important in the great scheme of things.  But the line that caused most concern yesterday was when I admitted that I wanted to attend and experience a bullfight.  I found the response to this most interesting as recently, last week in fact, another writer was in hot water over the death of a rabbit.

When I say hot water and bunny rabbit, I’m not talking bunnie boiler here, but real life blood, guts and gore, veins in my teeth, I wanna kill, type violence.  The good sort.  Jeanette Winterson, author of the bestselling novel ‘Oranges are not the only fruit,’ found a rabbit eating the parsley in her garden and murdered the little fecker.  Not only did she murder the little fecker, but she murdered it to death.  Now, unfortunately we live in a world where using social media is like having a nervous tick, and I don’t mean a dog flea sitting on your arm worrying that he might upset you if he bites you.  She went for a wander in her garden, as you do, well; as most writers do, just after the mid-morning champagne and just before lunch time gin, and saw a rabbit.  One is assuming that, like most writers, she lived in a palatial mansion in the countryside and would have been carrying a shotgun, broken, unloaded and carried in the crook of the arm, if you don’t mind.

The rabbit would have identified itself as a rabbit, by being all brown and fluffy and she would have identified herself as being the Lady of the house by loading her gun and blowing the feckers head off.  Now, nothing much out of the ordinary there, not if you are a Lady of the manor, or indeed a rabbit.  Jeannette then posted, on Twitter, a photograph of the skinned rabbit on her kitchen counter stating that the rabbit had eaten her parsley now she was about to eat the rabbit.  I thought it quite clever, I mean in terms of originality it’s leap years ahead of a photograph of someone’s dinner, saying yum yum or nom, nom, nom.  She then began to issue more photographs as the rabbit progressed from carcass to meal.  She even cut the choice bits out of the entrails and fed them to her cat, again pictured.  Unbelievably there now follows a long line of attackers and abusers who threaten never to read another word Jeannette may ever write.

People argued that she should be feeding her cat, cat food, a statement that shows just how far we have moved from the realities of life, where people pretend to care more about their pampered pooch than the human beings next door.  How sad.  So yes, not only would I be happy to murder rabbits to death and then prepare and eat them but like my great hero Hemmingway I want to attend a bullfight.  As Earnest once said, not to me of course, I think he was talking to the barman, “Anything capable of arousing passion in its favour will surely raise as much passion against it.”    So I understand that as there will be people who are against me on this, there will be those beside me, in favour of it, this is something we understand more and more as we get older.  The oldest fellow on the ward was ninety five years of age.  A good innings you might say, but he scared the bejesus out of me, like a bull charging at full pelt, the first morning that I saw him.

It was six o clock in the morning.  This old fellow didn’t really join in with the rest of us, he would sometimes listen and I could see him smile and that made me happy, but I think the banter was too fast for him and his hearing wasn’t up to it.  But at six o clock in the morning he got himself out of bed, which I promise you appeared to be quite a struggle, and then I thought was having an epileptic fit, standing up.  I initially prepared myself to summon help for the old fellow but as I watched, I saw that there was a certain routine or repetitiveness to what he was doing and realised that he was running through his morning exercises.  He was ninety five years of age and doing his morning exercises.  I was a lot younger and could hardly walk; you certainly start making promises to yourself when you experience stuff like that.

There was a new fellow in the middle bed opposite.  He had very poor eyesight and actually sat with the television screen right up to his nose, which he watched constantly.  He was complaining about bad headaches, see, even most of you are now coming up with diagnosis and you’re not even on the ward!  Another old fellow was escorted on to the ward, and he too was ninety five years old.  Deaf as a post, dressed like Al Lewis’ character, Grandpa Munster, from the television series of the same name, he walked proudly onto the ward in his bright red dressing gown and silk cravat.  I knew I was okay as I didn’t have much blood left in me but I worried about the others.  The staff were fussing about him, settling him in to his bed and chatting away when he announced that he was a minister of the church.  My heart sank.

For some reason I immediately placed him in a negative position in my mind.  You see the previous week we had the big story about Pastor James McConnell, another self-styled, self-appointed, clergyman, like dear old Ian Paisley, from some tabernacle in Belfast, who claimed that Islam is satanic, Islam is heathen, and Islam is a doctrine spawned in Hell.  These statements annoyed and embarrassed most people with a brain from Northern Ireland; they also annoyed quite a lot of Muslims throughout the world.  I wasn’t angry that idiots like Pastor McConnell would make things up, week after week, just to keep his collection plates full, like Paisley and his ‘silent collections.’  I was angry that people actually believed the crap he came out with.  So you can imagine how many millions of Irish people covered their faces in embarrassment when Peter Robinson, the First Minister of Northern Ireland, came out and defended his words.  Especially when he added insult to injury by saying that he wouldn’t trust a Muslim but he might send one to the local shop to buy him something.

This is the same First Minister, Peter Robinson, who bought the land to the rear of his back garden for five pounds then sold it to his property developer mate for three hundred and fifty thousand.  The same fellow whose forty five year old wife was shagging a nineteen year old, while arranging a suspect business loan of fifty thousand pounds for him from the same property dealer, for which she charged her toy boy lover, ten thousand for the privilege of doing, while stuffing as much cocaine up their noses as they could find.  Of course when she was caught and charged, her psychiatrist said that she was so depressed with the prospect of the court case that she might consider suicide so she was never taken to court.  Well, guess what, Pastor James McConnell said that Jesus forgave them.  That for me sums up the whole world of these pastors, and I’m sure many of you remember the stories about Jimmy Swaggart, Pat Robertson and Jim Bakker.  I really do want a gun.

So Pastors and Ministers all fall into the same category for me now and one of them was now lying opposite me.  I don’t mean he was preaching I mean that he was reclining on his bed.  I immediately felt so sorry for the hundreds upon thousands of innocent people who are lied to, week after week, in the name of Jesus.  I of course would never lie.  Not unless there was a very good reason for it.   I didn’t have to lie about anything anyway, the training I had received to enable me to take up my rightful position as the High Chief of the Clan O Neill and therefore the True King of Ireland, meant that I had powers beyond the wildest dreams and aspirations of the normal man in the street.  I already had Aoife, the ward pharmacist, on the top of my new good friends list.  Nurses from the other wards, where I had been, were now unable to pass my bed, or ward, without entering in to some form of banter with me.

From being the quiet fellow in the corner bed, the one with the black and blue arms and the loveliest legs in Ireland, I was now becoming the centre of attention on the ward.  Not that I did anything to attract this sort of attention.  I hadn’t told anyone that I was the King of Ireland, I didn’t want to worry any of them, but what I needed was to get the head nurse on my side.  Head nurse on the night shift, the one with the pills; she was a key player in the politics of the ward so I waited for the right moment and then made my move.  Many of the nurses were young females, and by young I mean thirty years of age or thereabouts.  All very pleasant and all very nice and professional.  The head nurse was about fifty years of age, a sturdy woman, with dirty blonde hair, who looked like a smoker and reminded me of a young Peggy Mount.  It was that time of the evening, the one with the pills and the question, yes that question.  She glanced at me as I opened my eyes and smiled at her.  “How are we this evening sir?” she asked, aware that her question the previous evening had seen the whole ward in stitches of laughter for five minutes.  “I’m all right now I’ve got a big leggy blonde at the end of my bed.”  I said, which I promise you saw a fifty year old woman giggle and squeal like a twelve year old and me get the best medical attention a man has ever received in that hospital from that moment on.

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Celtic Illumination, part 405, He who laughs last, laughs longest.

They tell me that ‘blogging,’ I still don’t like that term, anyway they tell me that blogging is a two way affair.  So protocol demands that I mention the fact that Colonialist has been trying to be funny.  Normally it’s just barbed comments, meant to hurt and annoy me, that he posts, but this time it’s actually humour he’s attempted.  Despite the fact that I’ve been pouring my little heart out, recounting the nightmare situation I’ve just been through, Colonialist has decided that my near death experience, for isn’t that what Man Flu is, would be a fair subject for humour.  His approach was quite decent, as in, he not only used humour but he set it up with a little smattering of timing.   Perhaps one day I’ll give him a real lesson in timing.  He started off by trying to wrong foot me, which is always a great precept for a joke, by saying that the medics were taking so much blood out of me that my poor little body didn’t have time to restore the blood so cruelly taken.

So you think, “Ah!  How nice, and perhaps there’s some truth in it?”  then you read on and realise that he wrong footed me because now he states, “Searching for veins in vain doesn’t help.”  What a clot.  This is a very serious subject and you won’t find me making fun of it.  I simply want to tell my tale so that any other person, male of course, who suffers Man Flu, will know what to expect.  So let’s just skip over this unfortunate incident and hope no one was too badly insulted.  I had all sorts of interesting stuff to tell you about instead of having to deal with this literary hooligan, for whom I shall have to apologise, for as the old saying goes, you can’t choose your family, but you can choose who joins The Illuminati, or was that Ghandi?

Many people think that the grandest time of day for the patient, like me, near death in the hospital bed, is visiting time.  On this ward there were two periods of visiting time per day; one was three to four o clock in the afternoon.  The second period was in the evening between seven and eight o clock.  I have always been a great believer in the saying that rules were meant to be broken so every morning at half past nine my son James, that’s number two son, would stroll on to the ward beaming his infectious smile.   You could see all the nursing staff go weak at the knees, even the female ones, for James was just like his father at that age and is exceptionally beautiful.  He really is a gentle giant and all six foot six of him would stroll down the ward and grab me and give me a huge bear hug.   He would sit on the floor beside the bed, so that no would could really see him and try to get me to agree get into a wheel chair so that he could take me for a whizz around the hospital grounds.

James, of course is a man’s man, and doesn’t really know what to talk about in hospital.  We couldn’t really talk about much anyway as there was a constant stream, of nurses coming to the bottom of my bed, ‘reading my notes,’ which when James was about seemed to become very interesting reading.  Irene and sons number one and three would visit during the prescribed times and bring sweets and fruit which they would then sit and work their way through.  I knew if I attempted to eat any of them I would immediately start throwing up so I opted for the choice of lying back and listening to descriptions of them eating the goodies for me.  The one person who didn’t visit me in hospital was my daughter Jane.  No excuse really, although she seems to think that by living over four hundred miles away gives her some sort of legitimate excuse. She also seems to think that I should mention her more in this blog as she claims to read it every day and says that she finds it exceptionally funny.

I don’t believe her for one moment, I mean yes, it is exceptionally funny, well; according to Ken Clare, but as for reading it every day, we’ll soon see.    She’s home this Friday and I’ve prepared a written test for her; we will soon see who’s telling the truth.  I meanwhile, being battered by the staff and mal-treated by my family, kept my spirits up by continuing my social experiments on the ward.  I noticed that the day staff and the night staff seemed to be somewhat permanent.  The same faces kept popping up.   The staff seemed to be as bored with the routine as we did.  Despite this they went through each procedure in their professional way, but that didn’t mean that I had to.  The ward was always quiet, ish.   So you would have a nurse stood standing at the end of your bed, perhaps pushing a huge medical cabinet full of pills, tablets and lotions, with probably the odd unction or two.

It was the same situation when you are in a room of people and something ‘funny’ is on the television.  You watch the programme and suddenly everyone is laughing, while you are sat sitting there wondering what just happened.  I especially hate the American programmes where they tell you when to laugh.  I will laugh when something funny happens or is said, not when some fecker pushes a button, like feeding fecking monkeys at the zoo.   So the ward is quiet, ish.  I have a nurse, female, stood standing at the end of the bed.  She opens my file and begins to flick through the pages.  She then sets the file down, with the appropriate page open, and begins to drop pills and tablets in to a small paper cup.  Now and again they would ask if we wanted a sleeping pill, an offer which I would immediately accept, although I felt asking for some Prozac and a small single malt might be pushing it.

Then came the question, every night, the same fecking question, which surprisingly I found rather embarrassing and, for me, unnecessary.  “Have your bowels opened today?”   I know it’s not a social situation and wouldn’t exactly fall into a chat up line, even of the worst variety, unless of course you went to one of them specialist clubs.  It wasn’t the old, “Did you hurt yourself much?”, “Pardon?”,  “Did you hurt yourself much when you fell from Heaven?”   I know it was medical and perhaps relevant, or appropriate, but really I could have been handed a piece of paper and asked to tick a box.  So, on reflection, I suppose when she would move on to the other bed I would do the equivalent of sticking my fingers in my ears and humming as she ran through the motions, if you get my drift.   So, as I was suggesting, different people react in different ways to various situations.  Many sheeple simply follow the crowd, and good for them, not everyone can be a world leading go getter, like myself.

It had been a long day, drifting in and out of sleep, watching family eat my sweets and fruit, simply wonderful having the grand children bounce on the bed and trying to get to know my new neighbour in the bed on my left.  The fellow who had been great friends with the chief executive of the hospital had been released and he didn’t know if he should go home or not.  He I found very interesting for I had gathered that he was a sixty ish year old male who lived on his own.  We were having great craic on the ward and there was no power in his flat.  It was apparent that he didn’t want to leave, strange how you can feel sorry for people when you realise there isn’t a pill you can take to combat loneliness.  We encouraged him to go home and waited to see who would take his place.  Again, the most interesting thing was to sit back and listen and watch how a person introduced themselves.

One of the guys opposite was mid-seventies and an old truck and crane driver.  He was great fun and told excellent stories; he had no pretence about himself or airs and graces and was a lovely man.  The new fellow was wheeled in and I drifted off to sleep.  I wasn’t being ignorant I just didn’t want to be the one who would have to tell him that he had his hospital gown on back to front.  He wasn’t friends with the chief executive of the hospital but had ran a pub somewhere in Spain for ten years.   I have never wanted to visit Spain, which is a lie.  I want to visit Spain and pay homage at Salvador Dali’s house, all of them, and I want to experience a bull fight.  I am a huge fan of Dali’s work but more importantly  loved the fact that he bought his wife a castle where she could live, while he lived in cottages and shacks, but that she would write to him once a week, asking him to visit her at a specified time to perform his marital duties.

Every time someone would attend to the new fellow in the bed next door he would, by the third sentence, or response, have told them that he used to run a pub in Spain.  You can’t help it when you are lying there on your bed with nothing to do but listen to what’s going on all around you.   I was even tuning in to The Scouser who was showing people how to march and stand still which he had been taught to do in 42 Commando, although he didn’t quite finish basic training as there was something wrong with him.  I didn’t wish to make any suggestion as to what might have been wrong with him as I am sure the doctors and consultants who were encouraged to watch his marching and standing still skills had their own prognosis at hand.   So it was now my turn to be listened to.   She asked the question and then looked at me.  “Have your bowels opened today?”  “Opened?” I asked, loud enough for the ward next door to hear.  “They broke the feckin world land speed record.”

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Celtic Illumination, part 404, Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

 

Hello all.  Sorry that yesterday didn’t really happen, but it was just one of those days.  Usually, especially these days, I find myself taking a wee forty wink nap, on the big seaty thing in the next room, normally during the afternoon, whereas yesterday I was there for about six hours’ worth of forty winks, which was more like a very long game of hide and seek.  Don’t worry, I won.  And there was so much to talk about yesterday, no point now as it’s only the same as today’s fish and chip wrapper, whatever the electronic equivalent of that is.  Despite the fact that there were reports which stated the NHS provided the best health care in the world there were the little niggling stories about doctors receptionists refusing to call for ambulances when people were having heart attacks in front of them.  But doctor’s receptionists are not medics, harridans, hags, bullies even, but not medics.

I would then use that point to leap in to the statement that I wouldn’t have a bad word said about any of the NHS staff I met, or received care from, in the hospital.  It was the best care possible delivered in a friendly and professional manner. I might have one or two slight grumbles, most of which are being dealt with by my legal team at the moment, but nothing sensational.  I had hoped that my third ward move would be my last, but I was wrong.  I didn’t mind my next move, as two of the fellows sleeping in my ward could have been dead, but I didn’t want to say anything.  I was taken to another six bed ward where this time I was settled in to a corner spot.  I was surrounded by sick people and medics.

This would appear to be the room where I was to be treated as they descended on me again and took even more blood.  Myself and the staff reached an unwritten sort of schedule, or routine, when it came to taking blood from my arms.  Three nurses would each try twice to find a vein and then they would give up, now, their rules stated that a doctor would have to take the blood.  The first doctor was a young female trainee doctor or junior doctor.  She was very careful, very gentle and managed to extract three vials of blood with no commotion or bruising.  There was a very simple and straightforward solution which I didn’t know if I should point out to the staff but every morning at half past nine a phlebotomist would pitch up and take blood from me.  Again, no fuss, no pain, no bruising, why couldn’t they be employed to take it during the rest of the day?

My arms were black and blue and I mean black and blue.  First thing people would say when they say me was, “You look awful!” but then their eyes would fall to my arms and all sorts of expletives would be expressed.  It was the second doctor who took blood from me that caused the problem.  I had dragged myself back from the toilet and was sat sitting on the edge of my bed when he came up to me.  I could tell from the equipment he was holding that he was there to take blood.  I asked if he wanted me to lie down on the bed but he poo pooed the idea and began to tap the back of my right hand.  I watched the needle slip in through my skin and, like the doctor, was surprised when water seemed to ooze out around it.  He then began to raise and lower the needle, but following a fan shape, looking for a vein.  Eventually he found a vein and managed to take the blood.  I was glad that he had managed to get some, so that my transfusions could continue, but in the hours that followed I wondered about his oath of Primum non nocere, first do no harm.  All I could do was watch as my right arm began to swell up, which I can assure you was far more interesting that anything they were showing on their television screens.

It was explained to me that most of the blood tests were like dipping the oil on your car, making sure that there was still some in there and seeing if my own systems were beginning to build my reserves back up.  Then the tests began to see if I was compatible with the blood they had brought up from the laboratory.  I was then hooked up to bags of blood which was fed in to my body.  One nurse explained that they had to be extremely careful with the blood as it had a four hour life.  That from leaving the laboratory the blood had to be transfused within a four hour period, which included travel time.  She explained that although the blood had been donated free, the processes it had gone through to clean it up were very costly so that had to be taken in to consideration as well.  On top of this you had all the monitoring and checking and double checking, which I felt was them politely explaining, because of the exact systems they had to follow, that I now wasn’t exactly anaemic to them but perhaps more of a pain in the arse.

I wasn’t sure if I would move ward again but settled in to ward life by listening to the other men there.  I found it very interesting watching and listening how different people tried to establish themselves within the group.  Of the six men on the ward four of us would actively participate in conversation.  Well; for them it was conversation whereas for me it was social research, or as we used to call it in the forces, ‘Taking the piss.’  The guy in the bed next to me kept telling all who would listen that he was great friends with the chief executive of the hospital.  I think he thought that this made him something special, that the doctors attending him should only wear bow ties and he would receive special treatment.  I never once saw the chief executive come to visit him on the ward and wondered if I told him that I was friends with a porter, who regularly came to see me and ask If I needed anything, that he would understand his pretend little world of ‘I am better than you,’ was quite hollow and empty.

In a way his typical English attitude of, ‘I am better than you,’ encouraged me to act myself, which was pure Irish working class scum, despite the fact that I am King.  But as everyone shall be equal in the new Ireland then I can be either one or the other, or both.  It started with the two pretty Indian doctors and it was day two of the blood transfusions.  In they came, drawing the curtains, and you knew that everyone else on the ward was listening to their prognosis or your problems.  “Have you been bleeding?” asked one of the doctors, I’m not sure which one.  “No,” I said.  “But your blood count is not going up?”  Here they started getting all technical talking about haemoglobin and stuff like that, although why they would start talking about the film the Lord of The Rings is beyond me.

I could see that the process they used was very similar to the thought process I used myself, which was to shout at things or at least run though my options out loud.  “Doctor,” I asked.  “Is the blood you are giving me English blood?”  The two girls looked at each other and really didn’t know what to say.  “Not a bit of wonder it’s not working,” I said, mainly for the ears of everyone else on the ward.  “I need decent Irish blood, not that foreign English muck.” They smiled nervously at me and began to back away.  “Look I said.   If you don’t have any decent Irish blood knocking about just give me a couple of cans of Guinness and I’ll be fine by the morning.”  Then I heard an Irish accent.  Way off in the distance I heard a little female voice that hailed from the same part of the world that my voice did.  She responded to the name Aoife, (pronounced Ee Fa) and was the pharmacist on the ward.  Of course the first thing that shoots in to my mind it that this could be a sister of mine.

Stranger things have happened, so the next time that she was checking the file at the bottom of my bed I engaged in conversation with her.  After the basic pleasantries I got straight to the point and asked Aoife where she was from.  Normally in Ireland this is one of the methods used to determine what religion you are, or as they say over there, what foot you kick with.  She said Omagh and I expressed a sigh of relief, explaining that I was worried that she may have been my sister and hoped she understood that I couldn’t have cared less what foot she kicked with if she kicked at all, I mean she may have been a biter.  I was still being woken every fifteen minutes to have my blood pressure taken, something stuck in my ear and a plastic clothes peg type thing put on one of my fingers.

One of the beds became vacant and I tried to get the other patients on the ward to agree that we would tell the next patient to be wheeled in that everyone on this ward was expected to die within two days and we were all putting five pounds in a kitty so the last remaining patient would scoop the lot.  Staff were expecting me to start leaping about the place with the huge amount of fresh blood they were pumping in to me but I wasn’t having any of it.  I was still falling in and out of sleep like the Dormouse at the Mad Hatters tea party.  Unlike the Dormouse when I was woken, and thankfully not by having tea poured all over my nose, but by a heafty Turkish male nurse at the end of my bed shaking my foot, I didn’t start singing Twinkle twinkle little star.  “Do you mind if take your blood pressure sir?”   My head was still befuddled with sleep, so I didn’t reply, but when he was wrapping the cuff around my arm, he asked, “Did you have a good night’s sleep sir?” I couldn’t help myself but say.  “I feckin was, till some shit woke me up.”

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