Stuff Just Happens (and Getting Rid of It)

Mon 11 – Sun 17 Dec 2023

What a week! So much stuff just happened, it was totally knackering for all concerned. It all started with an unexpected bolt from the blue on Monday that impacted the rest of the week. This led to lots of unplanned activity. And even when I looked to my gym routine to help, that got messed up.

  • All week me and Dave were supporting our friend who was in and out of hospital. This included needing to part-clear his flat which reinforced my belief in the value of not accumulating stuff.
  • Some quality time with Dave and mum. With the latter to the panto which she loved.
  • Only one gym trip and a temporary back injury that buggered up further exercise.
  • Two very impressive sci-fi books finished and reviewed.

Helping friends in crisis

It all started on Monday with one of our friends falling at home and ending up in hospital. He was supposed to be coming with me, Dave and my mum to the panto – see below. But Dave discovered him and went with him in the ambulance. So began our experience of current health and social care provision.

We managed to persuade the hospital to keep him in for 24 hours. This was so we could sort out the stuff in his flat that would enable him to be able to return home and move around his flat safely with the stroller they insisted he had to use.

Shit hits the fan again

Me and Dave were visiting our friend daily at his home after his release on Wednesday. Then, unfortunately, on Saturday he had a series of falls. Thankfully wearing his ‘bleeper’ this time so Dave could get over there and alert the paramedics to help get him up. The community care team also came out and did various tests.

Then on Saturday afternoon, our poor friend went back into hospital because the tests had shown an infection. He was still there on Sunday night awaiting results and post-release care planning.

If you think the NHS and social care isn’t in crisis then never get ill or old

The paramedics and community care team were responsive although some slight frustrations around different borough boundaries i.e. if you live in one borough but your GP is in another.

But overall me, Dave, and our friend had a series of horrible experiences:

  • Waiting hours on a trolley in A&E
  • Key objective is always discharge asap leading to solutions not based on reality. Our friend was assessed on Monday to go home with a stroller though his flat was totally unsuitable to accommodate this until me and Dave could get in and, literally, get rid of his stuff.
  • Indeed, the rush to get our friend out of hospital led to him at one point being moved to the ‘Patient Discharge Lounge’ in a hospital gown with a stroller and a commode. Again, the latter being completely impractical for use in his flat.
  • Doctors and nurses were downright rude and dismissive. For instance, for hours we tried to get help so we could sit our friend up in bed only to basically be told ‘Go away, we’re busy’.

Getting stuff cleared

Mine and Dave’s top priority last week was looking after our friend. Which meant over 2 days clearing out stuff in his flat so that he could return home, not be at risk of falling, and able to use the stroller. With our friend’s agreement, we made a huge effort to get rid of rugs, furniture, and other stuff.

We’ve also taken on responsibility for sorting out his laundry each week. And it’s becoming clear that we are going to have to sort out getting him a new and more accessible bed which will mean having to clear more stuff out.

Pleased to say that our friend is very happy with what we are doing and is grateful for all our efforts. I hope someone looks after me or Dave in the same way as we get older. But all this just made me think that one of the best things you can do in life is simply not to accumulate stuff. Not least, as ultimately someone else always has to get rid of it.

cardboard boxes

Mum: Panto, shopping, and antique TV programmes

Me and mum were at the theatre in Wimbledon on Monday when Dave contacted us to say he was going with our friend to hospital. We’d taken an Uber there and it was agreed that we should use the tickets as there was nothing we could do to help if we didn’t go. It turned out that mum had a fantastic time. She rarely goes out and the whole trip felt like a big adventure. It was a matinee so it fitted perfectly into the day without wearing her out too much.

Overall, last week was a good one with mum – stuff went well. She had a great time at the theatre. And on Wednesday, I took her for a big shop at a large supermarket. She wasn’t 100% sure she wanted to go but she was fine once we got going. Indeed, she quite enjoys a good shop and I carried all the shopping to the bus stop and then home.

Also spent plenty of time with mum just chilling. We are getting along pretty well at the moment. I’m very aware of when she is really tired and when she needs a little nudge to stay active. We also love spending time watching TV particularly the antique programmes.

Dave: Creating time together

My partner’s been great this week. He’s really stepped up to help our friend whilst dealing with work stress. And I’ve tried to do my best to support him. It doesn’t feel like we’ve had a lot of time to ourselves. However, on Tuesday night we did go straight from sorting stuff out at our friend’s flat and visiting him in hospital to the Union Jack Club for dinner. It was a really nice meal and reinforced that all couples need to make time to just be together and support one another.

outside a street cafe at night

Panto: The magic of theatre

As said, me and mum went to the panto on Monday. It was ‘Cinderella’ featuring Craig Revel Horwood of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ fame. He also turned out to be an accomplished singer. The audience was about 90% primary school kids who could make a hell of a noise. But we joined in the shouting and booing.

The script was silly and predictable but enormous fun. Indeed, I think some of the jokes were calmed down to be more suitable for the matinee audience. Buttons was also a very good magician with some very entertaining tricks. Lots of dancing and Strictly references. Plus some fantastic costumes and an amazing trick with Cinderella’s coach and horses.

In a week of stressful stuff, this was a definite highlight. Mum said it made her feel like a child again. And it reminded me of the impression that live art can make on us and our lives.

QPR: Lazy complacency = lost points

It’s not been a good week in many ways and QPR did nothing to make things better. A possible easy 6 points up for grabs. But only 1 point due to a draw against a team with just 10 men. And defeat by the team at the bottom of the division despite being 1-0 up. Looks like confidence from recent victories had become lazy complacency. The players need to remember they are still in the relegation zone for a very good reason: they are not playing well enough to get out of it.

My exercise routine is not back to normal

After the disruption of Brighton (you can read my blog about it here), I had high hopes for my much treasured exercise routine to return to some sort of normality. But stuff gets in the way. Taking mum to the panto on Monday and then spending most of Tuesday and Wednesday sorting out our friend’s flat.

Thus my planned 2 trips to the gym, turned into just one visit. Thursday morning and I don’t think I have so looked forward to getting back there. Pushed some good heavy weights though it left my lower back feeling fragile.

109 gym sessions since the start of 2023 divided by the annual membership = £4.55 per session.

An injury and the knock-on

That fragility got worse through the day (reminders of my ankle / Achilles injury) and it led to a terrible night’s sleep. Basically I couldn’t turn over in bed and was awake on and off all night. I had booked to go for a swim on Friday morning but had to cancel it. Though, TBH, it’s hard to motivate yourself for a swim when the weather is cold and wet. So instead I checked in on our friend who had been in hospital then onto the physio.

pain from back problems

Another physio visit for ankle / Achilles injury

The physio wasn’t for my back injury which thankfully got better as Friday progressed. This visit was another check-in on my ankle / Achilles injury. It is getting better but still giving me niggles and definitely not totally healed. A very good physio who has given me some new progressive exercises and a follow-up appointment in January. He did say it’s definitely too soon to start back jogging.

Weight: Surprisingly good news

Good news that my weight has dropped to under 12 stone 12 pounds. I’m pretty sure the strain of last week and physically trying to get stuff moved had an impact. I’ve been skipping some food especially on Saturday which really was one hell of a day. I wouldn’t be surprised next week sees a small increase if I start to eat more sensibly.

Weight scales

‘The Sheep Look Up’ by John Brunner

Brunner is a cult sci-fi writer (now deceased) who I have rediscovered in 2023 – read about him here. He wrote many dystopia novels and ‘The Sheep’ is very firmly one of them. It’s influenced by the year it was written in (1972) featuring hippies, psychedelic drugs, and an America traumatised by international events.

Bits of it are dated particularly the language. And Brunner failed to foresee the rise of the internet or mobile phones. With his characters sending letters and reading newspapers. It’s a novel about ecological catastrophe albeit caused by pollution and the over-use of chemicals. But there are many parallels with the potential catastrophic developments that are likely through climate change.

Brunner’s world is dominated by rampant capitalism with consumption of stuff over-riding the importance of anything else. The quality of food is declining as well as being in short supply. Drinkable water is a compromised commodity. Meanwhile, disease is rife as antibiotics cease working and governments create internal enemies to justify their behaviour.

Not an easy novel to read and I found the plot summary on Wiki a useful way of following what was happening – read it here. But one of those books you come across which was so prophetic and provides an angle to view the world as it is now.

Lightning represents ecological catastrophe

‘In Ascension’ by Martin MacInnes

This was the second sci-fi book I completed last week. It’s another one I would definitely recommend though not as strident and lecturing as ‘The Sheep’. Written in 2023 and longlisted for this year’s Booker Prize. It’s a long book set in the near future where humans have discovered how to travel to the edge of our solar system and there is an indication of life elsewhere in the cosmos.

We follow a young woman who specialises in basic oceanic life forms and her dysfunctional relationship with her family. I don’t want to give the plot away but it has a strong theme that connects our exploration of space with the need to fully explore the natural world around us. This particularly includes the oceans which are basically unknown to us.

A very fine study of what family means and loss plus some reflections on the current world and how it may develop in the near future. A feature of both ‘The Sheep’ and ‘In Ascension’ is the power of companies. This is something we should think about. Do we really want these unelected and unaccountable bodies, often led by egomaniacs and dominated by making money, to decide our future?

What is ahead of us

Just don’t buy it

I have railed before in my blog about how our obsession with stuff is causing the destruction of our planet. And everything that has happened last week simply reinforces this. We accumulate more things than we need using precious energy and natural resources to create this stuff. Then we ultimately throw it all away where it sits not decomposing for centuries. We don’t deserve this planet.

Extinction Rebellion fighting climate change

  • It should be all about getting ready for Christmas. However, we need to see how things go with our friend. We will continue trying to sort out his flat including getting a new bed. Fingers crossed for some sort of care package when he comes out of hospital this time.
  • Dave heads up north for Christmas on Saturday
  • I have a definite aim to get 3 gym sessions and 1 swim session done though stuff may well get in the way again
  • Things I’m looking forward to: starting new books; shingles vaccination (I’ve had this disease before and it’s not nice); seeing my friend Jo; spending time with mum including doing our Christmas food shopping.
Quotation by Einstein about value

2 thoughts on “Stuff Just Happens (and Getting Rid of It)

    1. Many thanks for your comment. I write this blog for other people to enjoy and to help me reflect on my own life.

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