Nan & Grandad

I’ve been thinking about my Nan and Grandad a lot just recently. I miss them, they had such a huge impact on my life. So much in fact, that I turned down jobs abroad to make sure I stayed in the area so I could be there if they needed me.   Don’t get me wrong, I don’t miss them in a sad, feeling sorry for myself kind of a way.

They were both amazing and generous people who would never turn their back on family or even friends.   And, they had a great sense of humour.

We were living in Newark and I was just about old enough to go to the park on my own….I say just about, which kind of translates to: I legged it to the park at any given opportunity.   After the panic of my disappearance, Nan started looking around for me and eventually found me at the park.   It was raining and I refused to go home with her, to the point where I sprinted to a climbing frame that was essentially a huge stepladder curved into an arch, and climbed to the highest point and proceeded to taunt her.     It was like the top left one in the pic below.

Climbing Frames

What I didn’t expect, was the turn of speed my nan was capable of displaying, and she shot up the climbing frame at a rapid rate of knots and grabbed me.   I demonstrated the kind of caring child I was by yelling “I hate you nanna” repeatedly.   This was interspersed by my nan responding with “I hate you too”, followed by a slap of my arse.   This continued all the way home, until I was grounded :(

My Grandad was known to perform amazing tricks like, stopping in the middle of a crossroads because the lights on the other side turned red as he was going.   He would laugh hysterically as we would look for a change of underwear.

I blame my nan for my current size (unlike most people who blame bone structure or water retention).   My nan was like Mrs Doyle on speed, but instead of cups of tea it was food.   I will blame her, I always have…she loved it really.   This was really down to her generosity though more than a need to feed people to bursting.   She would also order stuff that was too big, or that they wouldn’t want, just to be able to give it to members of the family.   They took this to the extreme once when I needed a washing machine.   My nan convinced grandad that they needed a new washer as it didn’t “fit” with the look of the kitchen.   A week later I had their perfect condition, 1 year old washing machine.

They had their little foibles too though, both of them would go nuts if anyone touched my grandads grandfather clock or stereo equipment.   It had to be me and only me.   Someone else tried to change the time on the clock once, got it wrong and was almost exiled from the family.   I was called immediately after they left to sort it out.   Same thing with the stereo equipment, my grandad had 2 stereos and swapped them from time to time so as to keep them from wearing out.   Quite why he couldn’t have bought one and used it until he needed to buy another one was something that always escaped me.

There are hundreds of stories of how they affected my life in a positive way, how they never stopped believing in me, eventually I even started to believe in myself, and for that I am eternally grateful.   I have still never managed to forgive myself for not being strong enough with my boss to leave work when my grandad was dying, I blamed my boss, but in reality my lack of strength resulted in my grandad passing literally as I pulled up in my car.   Something I have most definately addressed since that day, so thankyou Grandad.   I have to say though, Sarah was there when he passed and said something which I now see as a nice thing.   She said that they all heard my car and that either Sarah or my mum said “Davids here”, and my Grandad smiled and passed away right then and there.   She says that he did this because I was there to take care of everyone and be strong for him.   To start with, that just hurt me more, but over the years I have come to take some solace in that whenever I look back.

My nan passed a couple of years ago and I made sure that I was there, I called the family together when people were unsure if it was the right thing to do…basically the strength I got following my Grandads passing helped me through it.   Nan was fading in and out, but I recall a very lucid moment about a day before she finally (and peacefully) passed.   She called all the family together, like the veritable matriarch and gave every single one of us some information that she felt important, something a lot of people don’t get the time to either give or recieve so we were all grateful to that.

The information she gave me?

“Get to Germany David, don’t let anything stop you, there is nothing holding you here”

Thanks Nan and Grandad…. I love you both


Near death experience…..

…. ok, maybe not – But it could have been.

A couple of years ago, a few weeks into a new job, I started getting a real nasty pain across my back. This got worse as the day went on, culminating in me having to stop driving on the way home until it eased off.

That night, the pain got more and more intense and I was keeping Sarah awake. So, being ever chivalrous I told her to sod off downstairs and sleep on the couch…..OK, ok, so that would have caused me considerably more pain. What I actually did was head downstairs onto the couch for the worst nights sleep I had ever had (at that point).

The next morning, still in massive pain, I decide that it would be a really good idea to go to work. I still to this day have no idea what I was thinking, but try I did. It was at the point of pulling my trousers on that I collapsed backwards (and rather fortuitously) onto the couch. Pain the likes of which I had never felt before reduced me to tears, whereupon Zak comes sauntering downstairs and finds me.

“Whats up daddy?”

“Go and get your mum please son”

Off runs Zak back upstairs and tells Sarah that and I quote “Daddy is crying mummy, come and help him”. Now, you might all be thinking “awww, bless him”, you forget the male ego – All I was thinking was “Traitor, I will have my revenge when you decide to bring a girl home to meet the parents….”

Nah, just kidding – I was really pleased that the sight of his dad crying didn’t freak him out, and, at just under 3 years old, he was able to process the information and go get his mum.

Sarah arrives, notices (in this order) Dave on couch, trousers halfway up legs, Dave crying.

Once the laughter died down she decided to call the docs.

Now, it should be pointed out at this time that I hate hospitals. A lot. No really, I detest them. I will go great lengths to avoid doctors and especially hospitals. I am not a great believer in faith healing or anything hippy and new agey, I just believe that me and hospitals do NOT belong anywhere near each other.

The doctor arrives and I am now determined to show that there is in fact nothing wrong with me. I would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for that pesky pain. Just as the doc has duly prescribed a day off to rest, the traitorous back pain flares up. I am now rocking backwards and forwards like a pregnant woman in the beginnings of labour.

Doc procedes to exam me again, only this time managing to find the exact series of spots that cause me to yelp, like a dog, a naughty dog that has just been hit on the nose with a rolled up paper for so much pee on the carpet. She made me yelp. Doctors. Are. Bastards.

I am then admitted to hospital immediately with gallstones.

Genius, morphine drip, TFT television I can pull just in front of my face and watch shite TV at the bargain basement price of ?10 per day. Oh, and a built in telephone that charges more than your average 0898 sex chat line (apparently). Did I say morphine drip? Possibly one of the best inventions of the modern world. Ahh, blessed relief. I don’t recall phone conversations with family, but apparently people were phoning just to hear my random blitherings for a laugh, such was the effect of the Morphine.

Anyhoo, they keep me in for a few days and I get the miracle recovery. No amount of radioactive toxic poisoning from various scans reveals even the smallest gallpebble, let alone stone, and they let me go home.

Sarah collects me and we head home. About halfway home (15 minutes), I start to get a headache and feel a bit sick. No problem, I will ignore it, that method has served me so well just recently…

About 2 hours later I have one hell of a migraine (just a headache, it will pass) and another hour after I start being sick.

This continues through the very worst nights sleep I have ever had.

By the next morning I was really struggling, to the point of being unable to even keep a glass of water down for more than about 15 minutes. The headache now felt like I was being forced to listen to Steps and the Fast Food Rockers on repeat in my own personal hell. Sarahs wonderful boss told her she could stay home and look after me, providing she did the first two calls of the day (she was a care worker).

She got home an hour or so later and by now I literally cannot keep a sip of water down, but I am hella dehydrated, so I keep drinking anyway (Catch 22 anyone?).

As I am not an emergency apparently, the ambulance says it could be 3-4 hours to come get me. I am now so badly dehydrated that I am starting to hallucinate. I have vague recollections of the next few hours. I remember my mum and dad turning up, a small fight when someone tried to take my water away from me. The car ride from hell to the hospital (every bump was like a million smurfs pounding on my head with their little hammers of doom…they have those right?) and being put in a private ward so that…and I quote “He doesn’t freak the other patients out”. Did I mention that patients are bastards. I will tell you about my wonderful neighbour patients in a future post….

It is at this point that I am relying on information provided by Sarah after I left the hospital. Apparently the following happened:

  • I was carried into the bed (no small feat, way to go strong nurses and dad)
  • Someone tried to take my water away from me
  • I freaked
  • Seriously freaked, like a small child when having his favourite toy taken away from him. I was hanging onto my water so hard they thought I was going to break the glass.
  • I had no idea where I was, and apparently who I was
  • I still wouldn’t give up the water..Sarah says I was literally screaming “You can’t have it, you won’t give it back” over and over
  • Oh yeah, the sink was less than a foot away from my bed, water aplenty

Eventually I relented apparently, some time around the time that my new best friend, the lovely morphine drip, came to visit.   Unfortunately, morphine drip clearly had far better things to do than take my pain away.   So I basically stayed awake, rocking like those people that normally get given crash helmets on “special wards”, until my body could literally take now more and I collapsed with exhaustion.

Now those of you with any experience of British hospitals can vouch for this:

The number of doctors, nurses, ward assistants and orderlies available at any given time to assist in the treatment of patients is in direct contrast to the amount of sleep a patient has managed.

Basically each time my body gave in and I fell into fitful sleep, in they came to wake me up by turning on 1000w halogen lights, examining me, changing drips and taking blood samples.   They managed to achieve all of this work in, probably, 1 minute over the time where I could have fallen back to sleep.   Meaning I am now awake and in pain.   Have I mentioned that doctors are bastards yet?   Yes?   Good.

In addition to the lack of sleep, the bloodwork comes back and with no small amount of joy, the doctor tells Sarah that I am not suffering from Meningitis.   After the joy subsided, I was stricken by the realisation that noone had previously mentioned this as a possibility.   Again, doctors..bastards…am I getting through?

So, in the absence of knowledge, they do what anyone would…they start giving me random cocktails of drugs in an effort to ease the pain.   Nothing works, generally I throw up within about 10 minutes of recieving said drug cocktail…this means that they can’t give me anymore for four hours due to not knowing how much I had digested… repeat ad infinitum

I think I was like this for 4 days

  • Rock with pain until around 2am
  • Fall asleep as body can’t take anymore
  • 2.10am, wake up to bright light and various proddings/exams.
  • 2.25am, feel like I could go back to sleep
  • 2.26am, proddings and exams now wide awake (albeit still exhausted)
  • 2.36am, throw up tablets…call nurse
  • 2.40am, nurse makes notes, recommends different drugs…which will be administered in 4 hours
  • Rock with pain until around 6am
  • Repeat throughout day…..

Good eh?   I liked it.

Now, whilst I maintain that doctors are bastards…Ward Sisters, now they are goddamn angels or something else totally genius and amazing..

After 4 days of hell, I am at the 2am rocking with pain stage when I get visited by an absolute vision….the Ward Sister.   She arrives in a blur of blue cotton…straightening, checking temperatures etc.   I assume I am in for the usual nightmare cycle.   Then it happens, and I remember this vividly, she stares at me rocking like a lunatic for a few minutes and says “Still no better eh?   Right, it ends tonight”.

“What do you mean?” says I, at this point glad of the bedpan as I am thinking mercy killing quite frankly.

“Give me 10 minutes” says she, and leaves….

I then hear, what can only be described as, raised voices and “heated” discussion.   I don’t know what is being said, only that this Ward Sister may be about to kill me.   Sure enough, 10 minutes later she arrives back in the room with a tray containing a syringe….cue another bedpan change.

While focussing on the syringe, it dawns on me that she is talking to me..

“Now Dave, I am going to inject this into your dripfeed pipe and I need you not to panic.   It is going to feel very strange and is important that you remain as calm as possible”

“What is it?”

“Morphine.   I am going to deliver it directly into your bloodstream, are you ready?”

Now, when she pushed the syringe, I literally felt the morphine rush around my system and punch (what felt like through the top of my head.   I lifted off the bed with the force of it and I immediately panicked (sorry Sister) and started hypervenilating.   The Ward Sister quickly ran round the other side of the bed and started calming me down with very soothing speech and stroking my head.   Within a minute I simply had a nasty headache – No more, no less.

Doctors may be bastards, Ward Sisters are genius – It’s that simple.

A day later I am on the phone to my nan, who is persuading me to have a lumbar puncture.   A lumbar puncture, for those that don’t know, is where a doctor inserts a large needle right next to your spine.   The purpose of this is to extract spinal fluid for testing.   I of course was happy to do this without even the slightest argument…Hence the call from nan.   Dammit nan, you were supposed to be on my side.

So eventually I get told that the procedure will take place at around 1am..the doctor arrives, looking like he really needs more coffee, and starts prodding my back.   When asked why he was doing this, I am told that he needs to feel for where the needle goes in, oh and I shouldn’t move.

Thats right ladies and gentlemen, unbeknownst to me, this is a blind procedure, BLIND….as in CAN’T BE SURE ABOUT LOCATION

Cue bedpan

Sing it with me, “Doctors are bastards”

A short while later I am diagnosed with Meningitis (Yep, after they said it wasn’t already).   Fortunately it was Viral and not Bacterial they say.   Phew says I, caught a break there*

Everyone smiles and a days later I go home.

* I checked wikipedia for Meningitis some days later.   Whilst Bacterial Meningitis is a really quick killer and I was definately lucky not to have that one…here is what it says about viral:

“Viral meningitis
Patients diagnosed with mild viral meningitis may improve quickly enough to not require admission to a hospital, while others may be hospitalized for many more days for observation and supportive care. Overall, the illness is usually much less severe than bacterial meningitis.”


Doctors. Are. Bastards  

Honesty is the best policy

A few years ago, the elder of my two younger brothers got married.

It was a fantastic day and everything that it should have been for the married couple.   Everything went superbly from the “Mad Professor” organist to me spinning my Nan around in her wheelchair because “she would love to dance with everyone, but can’t these days”*

My youngest brother gave the speech, and quite frankly blew everyone away.   Who  knew he could be so eloquent and funny….clearly he has my share.    I was trying to take photographs of the speeches, so I  can’t remember the entire speech, but the  opening was fantastic.

“Being asked to be best man is kind of like being asked to have sex with the queen…. It’s a great honour, but nobody really wants to do it”

I don’t know if that had been done before, but a lot of  photos came  out blurry just after that :-D  

Now, as has already been mentioned, my dad was in the RAF, so as such we led a pretty fantastic life.   I wouldn’t say that we were spoilt, but we certainly weren’t left wanting for anything.   Living in the security of the British Armed Forces, you have experiences that a lot of people may never get the opportunity to have.   You tend to have a very dry and sarcastic sense of humour.   You also get used to certain things.

One of those things is (in my case) RAF bars.   RAF bars (to the uninitiated) run at cost for the most part, and tend to be staffed by service personnel as part of their job.   Let me give you an example; A single shot of Smirnoff Vodka in a normal UK bar would set you back around ?2.00, in an RAF bar you would be expecting to pay around ?0.60

 To my family and I, this is perfectly normal.   To people that are close enough to my family and I to be invited to bases regularly, this is normal.   To most of the guests of my brothers wedding, most of whom have never been to an RAF base…let alone a bar, this is not normal at all.

 I recall buying a round of drinks for 10 people and getting change from a tenner…yes folks, it is THAT good.   I recommend applying to your nearest RAF recruitment center :-D

Now, to the title of the post.   After this happend the first time, I actually stayed at the bar so that I could watch the reactions of people when asked for payment.  

It was very easy to classify family and regular visitors, their behaviour is thus:

  1. Order
  2. Pay
  3. Thank barman/woman/person <— damn political correctness
  4. Make the statement “And one for yourself” to the barthingy <— this is how they earn a bit extra
  5. Take drinks
  6. Leave

It was also quite easy to classify those that have been to an RAF bar or two in their time:

  1. Order
  2. Pay
  3. Thank barthingy and laugh about how cheap it is
  4. Make  hysterical comment about how you  would never leave etc etc  
  5. Wait for polite laugh of embarassment from barthingy to confirm that you are indeed a comedy genius
  6. Take drinks
  7. Leave

It was also easy to spot those that were in an RAF bar for the very first time… However, they fell into two distinct categories:

Category 1 behaviour:

  1. Order
  2. Ask for price
  3. Show moderate disbelief and ask for price again
  4. Confirm that barthingy hasn’t forgotten to add the <insert multiple beverage here> to the bill
  5. Ask for price again
  6. Pay
  7. Thank barthingy and laugh about how cheap it is
  8. Take drinks
  9. Leave

Category 2 behaviour:

  1. Order
  2. Ask for price
  3. Raise eyebrows for a split nanosecond and fumble in wallet/purse for money quick
  4. Practically throw money at barthingy
  5. Whilst waiting for change, beckon friends to sprint over and get all the drinks
  6. Take change
  7. Smile to self and skulk away before someone notices that a ?30 round just cost you ?5

It was category 2 that kept me at the bar for the better part of an hour, that and the ?0.50 cost of the ApfelKorn :-D.   I guess what I found the most funny about this was that, their behaviour was repeated every time they came to the bar.   Although they would try and send someone else each time, I assume that this was just in case the barthingy realised that they had made a mistake and came after them.

What is the point of this?   None really, although observing this behaviour gave me an evil thought.   It may also have been the Apfelkorn, I can never be sure…

I waited a little longer until I saw a category 2 male heading to the toilets and followed.   When he was on his way back, I took him to one side and told him that the barmaid had been sent home (true, she had been working 8 hours and someone else came in to take over).   Apparently the till was around ?90 lighter than it should have been.   I also may have mentioned that, as the barmaid is a member of the RAF, she would not get fired, but she would be arrested by the Military Police on grounds of theft.   I couldn’t quite commit to, but recognise the possibility that, I may have also said that it is likely she would be courtmarshalled.   I also seem to recall a voice, not too dissimilar to mine, mentioning that this particular barmaid had already been questioned before about undercharging and possible theft, which is why it was so serious now.

My explanation for not turning him in, my dad was in the RAF and had vouched for every person on the base for the wedding, even if he didn’t know them, and he could get in trouble for this.

I told him that if I happened to “find” the missing money, I could claim that she had dropped it whilst counting the till (quite impressed he bought that tbh)…I said that people would believe me because of my dad, but that we only had about 15 minutes before the MPs arrived.

I waited for him to round up the money from his cohorts and told him I would go and “find it”**


People can be idiots

* How I didn’t make her throw up is beyond me…she always loved having fun  – RIP Nan, I am always thinking about you…

** I did give it back later. No honestly..I really did