27 May 2009

A Minor Procedure

Last Tuesday morning it was off to the Clementine Churchill Hospital just up the road for (quote) a minor procedure - the permanent removal, sorry, ablation, of the nail on my right big toe. ‘The Clem’ (as the cab drivers tend to call it) looks exactly like a conference centre, both within and without, all pastel walls and art overkill, with strategically placed plants, but it is both clean and pleasant, with very friendly staff, and I know my way round, give or take a rebuilt bit or two.

Because the procedure only needed a local anaesthetic, it was a live broadcast, as it were: the podiatrist is a cheerful type and chatted away to all of us between bits, including a horror he’d heard recently about an anaesthetised patient coming to in the middle of a foot op and doing a runner! As he said, how do you proceed? You’ve lost the sterile environment, so you can’t just carry on with the op, but because it involved bone breaking, you can’t leave it either. Maybe they should fit operating tables with safety belts…very pre-Victorian!

Anyway, the offending nail (which had regrown from the last time in rather saurian form, as below) went into the bin with a satisfactory clang, and phenol was applied to dissolve the root. Off to Recovery, with coffee and bourbon biscuits, and home again by half past ten. I had to go to a hospital at Bushey to see the podiatrist at his clinic there for a follow-up next morning, and he was almost unbelievably bright and cheerful for eight thirty in the morning – but at least that’s better than the medics who look as though they’re about to take coffin measurements! And the hospital, though equally modern, isn’t as well laid out or as welcoming as ‘the Clem’ – can’t even provide you with old magazines to read while you wait! – so he did redress the balance a bit.

The whole business now is to keep it from getting infected, since it’s an open wound, and bleeds fairly readily – although that is probably not a bad thing at this stage, if rather annoying. I’m working at home at the moment, and am certainly not looking forward to taking it on the tube. I have always so much work to do actually at work, that I shall have to make the attempt tomorrow, but Mr Les is taking me there by car (sadly no longer the Merc, but no matter).

Meanwhile, it is not painful, much to my surprise, especially after the previous experience some years ago – but then that was a purely surgical procedure and the area was probably infected despite a prepatory course of antibiotics. I suspect I shall get heartily bored with wearing sandals over the next six weeks, but at least it’s summer, and it will be brilliant if the treatment works.

25 May 2009

The Cat Sat on the Rat (Warning, this is revolting)

…But not hard enough – yes, Harry brought us in another live young rat some days ago and laid it down. Although injured, after a moment or two it declined to remain recumbent, and ran for cover in the front room, yelling defiance. Harry found this quite upsetting.

I wasn’t mad keen, either. And I don’t suppose the rat was very happy, come to that, but it did have its revenge later. We both tried to catch it, and in the end I moved quite a bit of stuff around, in an effort to stop it doing something unhandy like getting behind the fish tank, or the books. No luck, anyway, so we both gave up in the end. Harry subsequently brought me a dead rat – his intentions are good, but We Have Been Here Before. “I don’t think that’s the same one, is it, Harry?” “Well. It’s as good as, anyway.” Hmmm.

Sure enough, after a while, I noticed that I was seeing more flies about than I would normally expect. Uh-oh…and then we smelt a (dead) rat, quite literally, so one of the Bank Holiday afternoon’s tasks was to locate it and deal with it. And where had it died? Why, in the middle of the stuff I had piled up on the sofa, of course. Most fortunately, we have a large cotton ‘throw’ over the sofa, which contained most of the (ahem) fall-out. Unfortunately, it’s cream-coloured, but thank heaven for washing machines and modern detergents.

Ewwww, gross!

19 May 2009

The Forelog (as opposed to The Prologue)

The backlog is what you come back to when you’ve been away, the forelog is what you have to work through before you go (a useful phrase gathered from someone from the publishing trade that we once met on holiday – thank you, Elizabeth). As I’m working at home for a few days consequent upon having a ‘minor procedure’ on my right foot (permanent removal of nail on big toe) (for the second time), I did have a forelog this week.

A large chunk of it consisted of preparatory work for the annual mini audit of the collections: basically, on a notified day, Records Section pick fifty objects at close of play and then come to us next day to see whether those objects (a) are where the record says they are (b) carry a museum number and (c) have a full record. Hours of fun for all concerned…well, it is of course a very important thing to do, and at least we no longer have to do the whole collection every five years. It’s at times like this that the quality (or otherwise) of the computerised record really shows up, though - when you have literally dozens of examples of something on a shelf, ‘Doll, German, 19th century’ isn’t a lot of use, although there are often fuller records in the old registers. Probably the least helpful one we’ve come across so far consisted of the single word ‘Christmas’…

I also had the usual routine things like e-mails and phone calls to respond to, and finished off the day with an interesting challenge, which fell to me to answer as the longest-serving member of staff. Our shop manageress came to find me as she had a customer who had last come to London as a child about twenty five years ago and remembered her grandfather taking her to see a doll exhibition in a museum. But was it our museum she had visited? After a quick look in the exhibitions files (we had two doll exhibitions in the 1980s, apart from the fact that many people can’t differentiate between temporary exhibitions and permanent displays) I went up to see the visitor. It turned out that the museum she had visited had had a carousel in the grounds – not ours, then. I suggested that it was most likely that she had visited the London Toy and Model Museum. “A very tall narrow house full of toys and dolls, near Paddington Station – it had lots of stairs, and you would have had to climb up and down between four floors, from recollection”. “Yes, it was a house – and just as you describe – I’d forgotten the stairs”. That’s the difference between our ages on visiting – her ten year old legs barely noticed, my thirtyish ones were already complaining. Sadly, I couldn’t send her off for a re-visit, as it no longer exists: an independent museum, its owners eventually sold it, and the collections went to Japan, while the house is probably worth six fortunes on the property market even now. But at least these days it’s quite likely that somewhere on the Web she’ll find some references, or other people who remember the place.

18 May 2009

A life outside the news

It puzzles me sometimes. I watch the news on television, and I often struggle to relate it to real life, at least as lived in our house.

Millions raised for this or that disaster: not from us (we continue to support the charities we normally do – they need to be kept going too).

People are confused – sorry, Confused. It doesn’t matter what it’s about, either. Heaven help us, people are even confused about the effects of alcohol, I don’t know how, considering that never a week goes by without someone, usually several someones, bobbing up to tell us about the awful effects of drinking. It’s even bad for you if you don’t do it, which must be some kind of record. We continue to have a bottle of wine between us a few times a week with food, as we always have.

Everybody is in trouble with debt. Happily, not here, or at least not yet. And not if we can help it.. But then we didn’t even like having a mortgage (which is only organised debt, after all) and paid it off as soon as we could. Cautious Baskets R Us.

Everybody wants a second home, or a property abroad, or property to rent. Really? One house is quite enough to look after, thank you, even before these Credit Crunched times. And you can only live in one at a time, anyway.

Shoppers are having a spending spree on the high street. Or not. Meanwhile, we continue as normal. I still spend money on books and food, and now and again buy a few new clothes or some piece of domestic equipment. But I really prefer to buy things that will last – I ‘ve never been able to understand shopaholicism, except as a mental disorder, and I certainly don’t understand the craze for having everything new all the time.

I don’t think this is just us, either. I guess I first really noticed this phenomenon in a major way in connection with Princess Diana’s death. The country was prostrate with grief, we were told – life had virtually come to a standstill, with memorial tributes and people sobbing into their hankies wherever you went. Well, no, actually: OK, maybe this will be more visible when I get to work. The citizens of Bethnal Green are perhaps more inclined to wear their hearts on their sleeves than many. Nope, not a thing. And this is the area that was brought to a standstill for the Kray brothers’ funerals, too. I gather that when Diana died it was fairly awful for the staff at Kensington Palace, who had to spend hours mopping up tearful visitors, but that was where she lived, after all.

The media do a superb job of making things up out of whole cloth, sometimes.

06 May 2009


Lyme Regis harbour at sunset

Notre Dame de Paris

Mallow on the banks of the Tweed

Rubbish on the towpath, Greenford

Photographic magic circles - some more possible paperweights, just as Jilly commented at jillysheep

03 May 2009

Newcastle and Berwick

What on earth...?

Which is what I found myself wondering when I came across this just now among my photographs from a trip to Newcastle and Berwick a few years ago...Oh yes, now I remember, a sideways view, through a rain-spattered bus window, of the letters STO from the road markings for a Bus Stop!

On the day I went to Berwick (birthplace of my great Grandmother Ann Wood Outlaw - now there's a great surname if you come from the borders!) I was taken by the colourful display of luggage on this stall in the street market, and subsequently made it into a circle using some of the options on PaintShop...