You have the bridge number one!

Acting Captain’s Log

On the 24th September, my partner in crime was taken into one of the local infirmaries after spectacularly failing his pre-op assessment for his gall bladder removal in October. The nurses dealt with the situation admirably and facilitated his transfer from one hospital that deals with healthy people to another which deals with unhealthy people, still not sure how that works but never mind.

After much investigation it has been found that another gall stone has developed and is currently lodged in the bile duct which is causing jaundice. Thankfully Bean Counter today informed me that the operation to remove this troublesome bugger was successful and the hospital is hoping that the condition should subside over the next few days. They’ve also stated they’ll deal with removing the gall bladder in a few weeks. However, this schedule has changed so much over the previous few days I would take it with a rather large pinch of salt.

So for now I’m currently in charge of posting to the blog any updates and information that I receive and I sincerely hope that Smokehouse returns in the not too distant future to post, as only he can, about the fun and frolics he’s experienced on his time away. The idea of me posting to keep people updated was discussed at length when I visited him the other evening and the conclusion was that it would be an entertaining jaunt if anything else. His parting words to me: “You have the bridge number one!”

Is it possible to have better heroes

As is so often the case, it has been a strange week. The Traveller left for the South of France in the early hours of Sunday morning and we had a last meal together on the Saturday evening. I did not get much sleep on the Saturday night and I dozed listlessly until about 9-30am when I decided to get up. A pretty much uneventful day followed and then I fell asleep on the couch and finally went to bed at around 11pm. I could not move in the morning and so stayed in bed until the following morning and went into the bathroom feeling exhausted and at deaths door.

I do not know if any of you have ever looked into the mirror and saw an owl staring back at you. Well I did and a pair of bright yellow eyes and a skin pallor that looked decidedly unhealthy peered nervously back at me from the mirror. I am renowned for not panicking until something goes wrong; indeed it is only when something does go wrong that I do panic. Remembering that the last time I saw someone looking like that they were dead seven days later I indulged in some serious panicking. This was compounded by the fact that my water works had literally gummed up and I was trying to pass bright yellow porridge. I panicked for England.

Bean Counter was despatched to the doctors as I was to unwell and too exhausted to go and she returned with some serious antibiotics and the instructions to contact the doctor if things do not improve within 48 hours. I drank gallons of water to try and thin things down in the waterworks department and started on the antibiotics. 48 hours later and there is a marked improvement. Sometime later this afternoon I have to attend a pre-op appointment at the local hospital and then I am going to contact the doctor with the results from my pre-op assessment and to discuss further my change from Caucasian to Chinese.

It is perhaps fitting that I should mention the passing of two of my heroes within the last week or so. The first is Keith Waterhouse whose column firstly in the Daily Mirror and then the Daily Mail I read avidly for as long as I can remember. The man was the author of some 60 books and numerous plays and a lover of champagne and it is from him that I often draw inspiration to write. I could never write a novel as I do not have the patience for all of that crap but I love writing whether it be letters, diary entries or essays and dissertations. Keith made everything he wrote humorous but with a point that made you want to continue to the end and then absorb all of the points he made with a smile. I have tried to do the same, you the reader will be the judge of whether or not I have succeeded.

The second is a man who was the ultimate inspiration for any who was ever drawn to the kitchen with a bottle of wine. It can only be Keith Floyd. I loved watching his programmes from the early day’s right up until the last. I particularly enjoyed the way he threw in a bit of this and a bit of that and perhaps a glug or two of something else. He seemed to revel in the fact that cooking was not an exact science but something to be enjoyed and to have fun with and of course no cook should enter the kitchen without a bottle or two of something. I have tried to emulate in some way or other these two characters, in fact the blog was originally intended to be a barbecue blog but as the weather is so damn unpredictable that has rather got lost along the way. Floyd made me love cooking or messing about in the kitchen as some have said and Waterhouse made me enjoy writing about it.

Sadly both characters are no more; I will miss the pair of them although I never met either. The raconteur and the bon viveur, it would be nice one day to be compared to either. Providing the Doctors sort me out and quickly then at some point in the future I will be raising a glass to Messrs Floyd and Waterhouse. It is possible to have better heroes?


Belts and braces

At long last I have a date for my operation. It is to be in the middle of October and the nice consultant has explained all the procedure and possible complications that could go wrong. Apparently my gall bladder is so swollen that keyhole surgery may not be enough to remove it. They will not know for sure about this until they have opened me up and lobbed a camera inside of me to see how badly it is swollen. Naturally as I will be asleep (hopefully) when they do this I will not know what they are going to do until after I have woken up.

Alternatives were discussed and dismissed. Dissolving the stones is a long process with expensive drugs and the side effects can be pretty severe. Blasting them with radio waves only works on certain types of stones and again this was crossed off the list. Removing the stones only was also discounted as this will not stop them from reforming in the future. In short the only real way to deal with the problem is to remove it completely. The side effects, I have been told, will only be temporary and should consist of nothing more than a few days of diarrhoea at worst until my body adjusts to the constant drip feeding of bile into the stomach.

If I do have keyhole surgery then I should be out of hospital the following day and back in work within two weeks. If I have to have open surgery I will be in hospital for around 3 maybe four nights and off work for between four to six weeks. I asked the consultant that if he should have to perform open surgery could he leave me with an interesting scar instead of a boring straight cut. He said it was such an unusual request and that it would be a challenge he just might! Right now I am thinking of something along the lines of an attack from a wild animal or a bayonet wound. These are much more of a talking point at the beach than a boring old straight cut with neat little stitches.

Throughout the last few weeks Bean Counter has been an absolute angel and has put up with my many mood swings caused by pain, medication and sometimes sheer anger and frustration at the problems that such a little thing like a pebble sized stone can cause. There have also been some funny moments such as when I put on a pair of trousers that had not fitted me for a very long time and they fell to the floor in the kitchen. I have since started using belts and braces.


memories still live on

My my, doesn’t time fly? I was in the local supermarket the other day when I spotted a friend and wandered over for a quick chat. After small talk and how are yous etc I realised we had first met some 38 years ago. During that time Clever Clogs has happily settled down with two children and a devoted spouse and life appears quite rosy. It is a heart warming story to hear that life has turned out rather well for old friends especially when so many of us still do not know and may never know exactly what it is we want. The same evening the Carer popped in to see me and we quickly realised that in a little over two days it would be two years since Elsie had passed away. This was yet more evidence of time flying by and naturally we had to arrange an anniversary event and at short notice.

Fortunately the weather over the weekend was glorious and Bean Counter, Roger Moor and the Traveller were all pressed ganged into action. Lawns were mowed, gardens tidied up, barbecues cleaned and a spread prepared and laid out all in record time and within minutes of our first guests arriving. Nearly all of the usual suspects were there and only those with outstanding commitments could not attend but as it happened over 30 people including 8 or more toddlers filled the grounds of Château Ghastanbury. It was almost like a vigil with Sophia Loren lighting a candle and the Carer offering to lead collective prayers. Several glasses to the missing Elsie were offered and drunk in the spirit of one toasting absent friends. As one group departed another one arrived and as Ogri and Boadicea left the Animal and his family landed. As the Carer and her family departed Rikers mum and her husband turned up.

Naturally it would be no show without Punch and so Little Miss Sunshine flounced in sporting a new pair of glasses. I do not think any of us have ever seen her in a pair of glasses before and it was not long before we (Rikers dad, the Animal, Roger Moor and me) decided she looked like a secretary. Of course this was meant as a compliment and I am sure it was taken as one as we are all still alive and unscathed! Someone else I had not spoken to at any length for a number of years arrived with her beau, Casey and the Godfather. Casey and I met in the summer of 86 via mutual friends although in recent years we have not seen much of each other. The pair of them have attempted to settle in Italy and Spain since then but have arrived back in the UK. It was great to get an alternative view of leaving these shores and how it is not always as rosy as the guide books would have us believe. After what seemed like only a few minutes but was a few hours they left promising to keep in touch more often.

The evening ended in the small hours with LMS being the last to leave and only after a disastrous attempt to make baked potatoes in the embers of the fire. They were wrapped in tin foil and thrown onto the glowing coals. After some time I stabbed them with a poking stick to see if they had been cooked and as the poking stick would not pass through the parcels I concluded that they were not done. Sometime later and after becoming fed up of waiting I took the parcels out and looked at solid charcoal lumps. It was no wonder the poking stick would not pass through them. With some butter to soften them up and some salt to take away the horrible taste me BC, LMS and her beau set about devouring what was left inside the rock solid husks. With a lot of help from very good friends the whole event had been a complete success and in spite of the occasion it was a very happy affair.  I had to conclude that time may pass, the years might fly by but… memories still live on.