Thursday 30 June 2011

Odd maths

We've reached a milestone on this blog – 1000 hits. It's really nice to know that people have enjoyed reading what we've written on this journey – even though we're distinctly short on cruising time as yet.

However, things don't add up. Sitemeter says we average 3 hits a day, but that would mean the blog had been live for 333 days, and it's only been up since December. Anyone know what's going on?

I'm also interested in whether Sitemeter registers those who read the blog via a newsfeed or Google Reader. I can see this could account for the discrepancy if it includes them in the total but not for the average daily count.

Wednesday 29 June 2011


My best beloved's knee is not behaving. It's getting its required mix of exercise and rest, stretching and ice, but is resistant to change. They’ve changed the physio regime from a weekly group to thrice-weekly individual attention. The joint itself is fine, manufactured to perfection. It’s the surrounding tissues that are sulking. I can’t really believe they’re missing that grouchy old neighbour which moaned and groaned and gnashed its teeth whenever required to stir itself. But they’re definitely not happy. Can’t flex.

We’ve been trying to set a good example of how to manage change, of course. These things happen, we tell it. Life moves from one phase to another. No point in hankering after what’s left behind. Rejoice in the new framework. Embrace metamorphosis. Welcome transmogrification. Etc.

Knee’s not listening. Hope we do better!

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Will the NHS survive?

They laid on a retirement party for my best beloved last week, all brilliantly organised by Hazel, one of the secretarial staff. Boy, did they pull out the stops! Patients in the rehab unit where she works could not quite believe their eyes as departmental heads past and present and even part-timers on their day off turned up to share in the fun. Great therapy! Tables laden with sandwiches, cakes, scones and cream and jam. A photo montage of her from age 3 up (graduation pictures in nursing uniform competing with that 1960s bikini!). The dad of one of the staff entertained all afternoon with clarinet and tenor sax to backing tracks. At one point, all the unit staff donned folded newspaper pirate hats and gave a rendering of "Messing about on the river". There was a seriously complimentary speech by one of the departmental heads, who said "Margaret, you are the Day Hospital". Professor this and Doctor that dropped in to add their tributes.

There were presents. One or two eminently suitable for life afloat, along with a couple of things from the nick-nack table. And finally, the hats. Two of them, baseball cap style with – well, I'll leave you to guess what was printed on the front. If you can't guess, see my post from 13th February.

Thanks, Hazel.

Monday 27 June 2011

The last times

NB Erin Mae is part of a plan which involves retirement for us both. It’s interesting to observe yourself during a period of disengagement, as you do various things for the last time. I have loved what has fallen to me for the last 25 years. Now the time has come to move on, I’m neither longing to leave nor resisting the change.

I've now given my last lecture, had my last tutorial, played my last staff/leavers volleyball match (we won – first time for about five years!), chaired my last course committee. Still to come: a considerable amount of marking (one of the things I shall not miss) and pulling everything together for a final exam board. It's one of the busiest periods of the year (no blogging for the last three weeks).

In the circles where I've worked, "the last times" is a code phrase for that part of Christian theology which looks forward to the future. In that context it's not only about wrapping things up and sorting things out but also about new beginnings. Sounds like a pretty apt tag for what's currently going on with us.

Wednesday 1 June 2011

What a session!

We went to the Spittal Brook in Stafford for a folk session last night – standard Tuesday night fare at this pub. I haven't been at anything like it for ages. About fifteen musicians had brought a range of instruments – several guitars, mandolin, banjo, bass, fiddle, mouth organs, and a strange sort of triple pipe thing from which the player produced a great train whistle sound at one point. Our friends Roger and Mirjana took their melodeons. Anyone (or a combination) started up a tune whenever they felt like it, and anyone who felt like it just joined in. I found myself accompanying on the guitar some melodeon tunes I'd never heard before – the challenge was to guess the next chord sequence before it arrived (or adapt pretty quickly and make it look like you were being creative!). The range was traditional English and Irish material to protest songs, with some humorous ditties along the way. Mirjana contributed a fabulous unaccompanied song she'd written about the Welsh village where she grew up.

So, thanks to everyone who made the evening so special. Not just the musicians but everyone else who was listening or joining in the songs. It reminded me again that great music depends on appreciative listeners as much as talented performers.