Thursday, 10th August, 2023

[Day 1242]

Well, after yesterday’s outpourings of grief, today seemed to return to a more normal type of existence. Yesterday, though, we had gone to our monthly meeting organised by AgeUK and had a fascinated illustrated talk by one of our number who had decades of experience scuba diving in the Red Sea off the port of Aquaba. The illustrations were mainly of fish and corals and I have to say were a stunning sight for those uninitiated into the joys of snorkelling. There are also a lot of wrecks in the areas and experienced divers, like our club member, were permitted to make a tour of a wreck so long as they were experienced, part of a team and were aware of the risks. So we had a video clip of a tour round one of these wrecks. At the end of the morning, there was a sort of facilitator person whose function was to act as a sort of liaison and trouble shooter to help members negotiate some of the intricacies of the links between NHS on the one hand and social/voluntary services on the other. This contact was absolutely excellent and she was not particularly surprised to learn of the difficulties we had encountered in negotiating this interface. So she took our details and promised to look into things to see what could be done to improve our experience. There are quite a lot of support agencies provided that one knows about them but obtaining access to what is needed can be a very hit-and-miss affair. The best analogy I have is a large hospital with a lot of specialised departments but no signposting anywhere within it – a patient could find out what they needed immediately by chance or they could fumble along finding one piece of needs meet here and another there, all quite fortuitously This is well known by people working in the service who do their best to provide relevant links but the key word here is that one has to navigate the systems, sometimes with help and sometimes quite independently.

Today being a Thursday, I was off to get some money out of an ATM and then get to the supermarket before the doors opened and everything worked smoothly. Then it was a case of picking up the newspaper, getting home to cook breakfast for Meg and unpacking all of the shopping. We knew that there were various hardware type purchases that we needed to make so we then made our way to Droitwich where, needless to say, we had our cappuchino and teacakes before repairing next door to the Cancer Charity shop. The store seemed exceptionally well stocked with goodies today and we did buy a couple of skirts for Meg as well as a black tie (for obvious reasons) for myself. There was also a ClassicFM quizbook which we thought would be good fun for both of us to have a dabble with when the mood took us but the prime focus of our visit was to get to Wilko, the hardware chain that started life as Wilkinsons as a family firm in Leicester in the 1930’s. We located what we needed, principally a new shower hose to replace the one we have which has finally broken at the point where they always do and some new clothes lines as the one(s) we have in place have unaccountably snapped. There were one or two other items that Wilko stocks and we cannot think of another hardware store that does so we were eager to get round the store before its demise. I spoke with the checkout lady what she knew about the future of the firm and she said that she and her partner (who also worked for Wilko) were being informed on a day-by-day basis but they had had no real news. But on the way home in the car, we heard the sad news that despite the best efforts of the new management team, they had not found a buyer or a ‘white knight’ and the firm was now going to go into liquidation. I find it hard to believe that such an accessible and useful store should bite the dust, like this, but the internet and some cheaper rivals are taking the blame.

When we were in the charity shop, I received a telephone call that an NHS support worker concerned with falls prevention would visit the home to assess Meg’s health status. We had to make a lightning dinner and the person called round at 2.00pm. She was exceptionally sympathetic and had actually grown up in Staffordshie not too far distant from where Meg had her youth. She was incredibly helpful and has promised to activate another couple of links for services that be especially useful and welcome to us. After that, we had to race off to get to a local QuikFit garage to investigate and correct a slow puncture in the front offside wheel. The culprit was identified as a small screw, just over a centimetre in length, which had become embedded in the tyre and was causing the problem. The resultant damage was easily reparable so a brand new tyre was indicated but we were very relieved to get this recurrent and irritating problem resolved for us. I thought I had heard a ‘click-clicking’ sound a few weeks ago and so it proved.