I've been blogging for around four years, posting roughly weekly. Not sure why I blog, but it's a personal and somewhat addictive pastime that keeps the old braincells working. Having said that, I find it difficult at times to find something interesting to say. Are you, dear readers the same?
For some time I have attended physiotherapy twice a week at a local hospital and am struck at how our little group (around 20 people) is a world of its own. 'We' have become a group isolated from the 'real' world; we don't care, at least for ninety minutes what is happening beyond the walls of the centre; neither do 'they' know or care about us. We peddle, we pump, we sweat, swear and toil yet the rest of the world doesn't know and doesn't care as to our efforts. We are in the main at least middle aged; we are nearly all sporting replacement knees and we are trying, oh so hard to return to the world of less pain and more mobility.
These are harrowing afternoons. Painful in the extreme, usually followed by at least as painful following days. Doubt and uncertainty often rule; I frequently doubt my progress and it shows; yet in a way it's an experience not to be missed. The staff, occupational and physio therapists are without exception brilliant, caring people. Professionals whom it has been a privilege to meet. Plus knee replacement groups are made up of a random cross section of the population. Thus memories will no doubt linger on long after our afternoon efforts return us to 'the land of the living'.
Whatever the stage in life we are at, however fleeting the moment, there are always people who help in our 'time of need'. Michael, discharged last week is such a man. A cheerful if diminutive man, very Irish with legs that would have no chance of stopping a pig in an entry; born one of nineteen children, he maintained academic prowess had never been his strong point in life. I will particularly remember Mick and the physic classes with affection, particularly for two stories, tales that Mick related to me during our all too brief acquaintance. (I know, I know, we were supposed to be working ALL of the time! Old men can 'chatter as well as old women; perhaps even more so!)
Michael went into a Derby glaziers for a pane of glass. He carried with him no measurements. He indicated the size he required by holding up his hands and indicating a pane of glass that was 'roughly', very 'roughly' fifteen inches 'squarish'. The glazier was not impressed but attempts at obtaining more accurate measurements from Michael fell on deaf ears. Somewhat miffed, definitely unimpressed, the glazier disappeared into the back, eventually reappearing with a pane of glass 'roughly' of the size indicated by Michael. Michael took the pane of glass, paid for it and turned to go. As he did so, the glazier, obviously thinking he was dealing with a customer of inferior intelligence to himself said, sarcastically, 'I hope it fits.' Michael stopped for a moment, turned and retorted to the 'superior' glazier, 'Oh, it will for sure. I haven't made the frame yet!'
I was fascinated by Michael and his 'Irish history. ' Evidently the grandfather of Michael served with distinction in the Royal Irish Fusiliers in the Great War. But it would seem that those of Irish descent were often rated as inferior by those English upper class leaders prevalent in all aspects of the British Army. Thus they were 'tested' on occasion by some eager to gauge the mettle of Irish soldiers.
The two battalions were engaged in fierce close fighting on occasion. Each forced the other back but any gain was often short lived. It was imperative that the strategy of the Germans be obtained if progress were to be made. Pigeon carriers were often used by the Germans but were open targets and often finished up in the No-Mans Land situated between the two front lines. It was imperative that the British retrieve at least one of the German messages. And who of course volunteered for this important mission?
Granddad Michael bravely entered No-Mans Land and diligently searched at great risk to himself until a body, complete with message was discovered and recovered. Triumphantly granddad placed the body in his rucksack and returned quickly to his battalion. His commanding officer was ecstatic, the Lieutenant- Colonel was summoned and granddad was presented before him.
'Well done, my man' said the Lieutenant-Colonel. 'And what does the message say?'
Thanks Michael, you're a star. Now if your children suggest you 'should get out more' I'm not suggesting you join a 'knee group' in order to meet people. But if you do 'join' don't be too despondent. As the saying goes, 'Every cloud has a silver lining.'