Thursday 19 December 2013

Going walkabout

Good morning (I think - although it might be another 24 hours before I post this).  Greetings from somewhere over Asia.  No idea where as the in flight map isn't working.  I think we have an hour to go before we land in China, en route to Oz.

I've just spent the most uncomfortable night I've ever had on a plane.  The seats on this one are hard, rock hard.  Had some difficulty over our seating at check-in (I worked out that we had not been seated together on the flight plan, so surprised the staff when we said we are travelling together. This airline gave no choice of seats).  Anyway we scored a rank of three seats between the two of us, so could stretch out, but it doesn't mitigate feeling like you're sitting on/snuggling into concrete.  My head has obviously been in a weird position because my neck is complaining. 

So far the airline is scoring (out of 10):

Cleanliness 10
Service 5 (OK but don't collect dirty cups or towels)
Comfort 4 
Food 9.5 (would have been 10 except for the sabotage prawn in the dim sum)

There were no passenger comfort bags, ie with ear plugs, eye mask and tooth brush.  I'm desperate for a toothbrush - my teeth are furry and horrible.

The crew are a bit unenthusiastic.  Better on the second flight than the first, but they remind me a bit of theChinese  crew on the last Qantas flight out of Beijing in April 1986, which coincided with my only trip to Beijing.  (There was some deal and China Airways took over manning the route.). Anyway the Chinese crew were rather obnoxious and demanding and did not endear themselves to the Qantas crew (one of the Qantas stewards grumbled to me about them).  It was obvious that they weren't air crew because they liked helping people.

I hate being at the mercy of people like that!

Anyway, we'll be landing in Melbourne soon.  Can't wait.

-Pam (written Saturday night)

Friday 6 December 2013

Doing the laundry

Probably the most annoying thing about having the kitchen gutted is not being able to use the washing machine.  Currently, it has no waste pipe.  Although we'd done two loads last week, before the builders started on Saturday, it's amazing how quickly the dirty laundry builds up again.  This afternoon, I loaded up the laundry trug and headed out to find the nearest laundromat, 3 miles away.  They've almost disappeared - we had to find this one on Google - and when I set out, I'd never been near this one before.  Drove passed it twice before I spotted it.  

Once inside, I was gobsmacked to discover the price of a wash. The last time I paid to do laundry was 1990, when it was a couple of Pounds to do a wash AND dry.  Guess how much it is now?  £5 for a small machine.  £6.60 for a large.  Talk about expensive!  At that rate, a family doing two washes a week could pay for their own machine in four to five months.  

Both large and small machines only took £1 coins or 20p pieces.  I'd planned to do a light wash and a dark, but ended up shoving everything into the one large machine - I didn't have the change for two.  (DH - aka "Keeper of the Laundry" - will go spare when I tell him.  Mixed washes are one thing he doesn't tolerate.). Reviewing my resources, I had 6 x £1 coins, 4 x 50p and 3 x 20p. (I'd already had to pay 60p to park.  Thank heaven I hadn't used all the 20 pences.)

Settled down to read my latest book, leaning against a dryer.  The wash was surprisingly fast, just over half an hour including prewash.  

It was only when I emptied the washing machine that I remembered how laundromats make their big money: from the dryers.  The dryer is 50p for 5 minutes and only takes 50p pieces.  However, even after it had been through the industrial spin, my wash was very wet - not sopping but more like twice as wet as it would have been at the end of a cycle in a domestic washer.  I split the load into 2 and put 2x50p into each machine.  I'd thought I'd had more but it wasn't the case.  I sat there praying the big industrial dryers dried really fast because I was out of 50p's and there was nowhere to get more (I tried buying something at both local shops but they were out of 50p's).

10 minutes later, they both ground to a holt.  Gingerly I opened the closest door. Inside was a pile of hot, streaming laundry.  The other dryer, with the sheets, faired better. The sheets were almost dry.  

With no other option, I bundled the wet washing back into the trug, put the almost dry stuff in a bag, and headed home. Every radiator now has it's garland of washing carefully positioned thereon and the house smells like an old-fashioned laundry.

Unless our washer is workable, I'm not doing any more laundry until I get to Melbourne next weekend.  I'd rather turn up at my sister's house with a suitcase full of dirty clothes than pay those exorbitant prices again.

- Pam (did I mention we're spending Christmas in Oz?)

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Angel of Death

One of the constant descriptions you hear about nurses is “they’re angels”, which would be rapidly followed by a comment about how “nursing is a noble profession”. When I was nursing, there were times when both statements would annoy me. I remember snapping at my dad once, saying “there’s nothing noble about watching a dying man trying to tell his wife he loves her when she won’t damn well listen!”.

Because I spent much of my nursing career working on cancer wards, together with a year working in Radiotherapy And Oncology Outpatients, I rapidly came to the conclusion that, if I was an angel then I was an angel of death, since I spent most of my time trying to make the dying comfortable.

I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately. It can’t be helped - several of my friends have either lost a parent this year or are experiencing the pain of watching a parent undergo life-prolonging treatment for terminal cancer. Perhaps it’s our age. It’s the alternative mid-life crisis; not so much “life is passing me by -what do I do with myself?” but instead “I’m not old enough to lose my mum/dad! How can this happen to me?”.

As a friend, I have learned that the best thing to do is listen, hug your friend and ply them with tea/suitable beverage. Offers of help need to be specific: “do you need me to collect your brother from the airport?” is easier for a grieving mind to process than being asked “is there anything I can do to help?”.

On Saturday, I will be singing in a service to celebrate the life of a dear friend’s dad; a lovely man who recently lost an 18 month battle with pancreatic cancer. I consider it an honour and a privilege to have been asked. It is my gift to my friend and her family. I hope they gain a level of comfort from it.

- Pam

PS: The other life lesson I’ve learned is that marriage makes things far easier if your life-partner dies – from organising the funeral to dealing with the deceased’s estate, being married to your partner will make things much, much easier. There is no such thing as de facto marriage in this country, so if there isn’t a will the surviving partner will lose everything. Even if there is a will, they won’t be sheltered from inheritance tax on the estate. (And don’t get me started on hospitals/doctors who refuse to give spouse status to the non-married life-partner of a patient….Red rag to a bull, that….)