Sunday, 30 November 2008

World AIDS Day....

Home from the service at MCC River of Life in Dorchester.......
Shattered - didn't realise just how much it would take out of me! (this photo is from 'Dorset For You' website....)

I said my piece and yes - I blubbed. I wonder if it will go onto the website for all to hear? I didn't 'lose-it' totally, but had to have a couple of really long pauses for composure.....and could feel the room literally full of people praying for me to keep going. Serving Communion afterwards helped the calming process. Phew!

This is what I said: hear it here!

The names we are going to share here today are those who spent their last days, hours and minutes at a place that was ‘Sanctuary’ in Bournemouth. A Hospice, dedicated to the care of those living with HIV/AIDS.

These names are from the ‘Sanctuary’ memorial book. [They scrolled up on the overhead].

To some of us those we remember now were our friends and fellows.

To others here, they may be just names – but they are significant none the less.

The ‘Sanctuary’ truly represented the nature of the word; also the deeds of Simon of Cyrene – the Good Samaritan of the Bible, whose name was used when the original Trust Fund for ‘Sanctuary’ was founded, by John-Luke Edwards.
Simon - if you remember, helped a wounded stranger when those of his own faith and social group wouldn’t.

The ‘Sanctuary’ was much more than an ‘organisation’ for all those who worked lived and died there.
‘Sanctuary’ was a place of spirit, where real and reality – often the most painful of realities, were held in the safety of non-judgement; a significant place where friendships and trust were tested too; sometimes to the bounds of breaking point.

A place where the simple – no, the complex love of humanity, was experienced in action, through service of staff and volunteers and in the very deaths of those who came through the doors; knowing on arrival that they were probably there...only to die. It was this reality that bound us then and continues to bind us in memory even now.
I would like to read a couple of quotes sent to me by Mags Smith – Patient Affairs manager at ‘Sanctuary’. She said “ do you some [sic.] it up eh xxx It binds me to you Mark and to Neil..[and of course to John-Luke..hang on...”:

From the book A Soldier of The Great War:

The war was still in him and it would be in him for a very long time to come, for soldiers who are bloodied are soldiers for ever they never truly fit in..... That they cannot forget, that they do not forget, that they never allow themselves to heal completely, is their way of expressing their love for those friends who have perished, they will not change because they have become what they have become to keep the fallen alive...[Mark Helprin 1992 Avon Books].

“And another...The aim of the Sanctuary was to provide care..what greater pupose is there; No obstacle should ever be put in the way of caring..Gary Wilmot”

‘Sanctuary’ was also about life - living - in spite of the awfulness of AIDS and it was a safe space in which the dying and the living confronted both the best and the worst aspects of that life together. In those days before the drugs – the illness was very apparent, both physically and emotionally.
The fear surrounding AIDS was sometimes tangible....
Obvious you might think in those who were ill, but then, this fear was also endemic in wider society; where people who couldn’t or wouldn’t understand presented many very unwell people with several extra problems. Rejection loneliness and isolation were real in the lives of some of the folk who came to ‘Sanctuary’. Friends, family and workmates had often disappeared; in some cases a much loved partner had died previously.
For some tho, families and friends were there for the last journey and ‘Sanctuary’ encompassed them too – embracing them with food friendship, emotional support and open door visiting.

‘Sanctuary’ was therefore a dynamic flux of humanity, nevertheless, isolation beyond its walls was palpable and at that time, very much part of the AIDS tragedy.

‘Sanctuary’ cared beyond that isolation and was there when others wouldn’t or couldn’t hold thinning hands, care for the basic physical needs, or cope with the ravages of body or mind. ‘Sanctuary’ nurses and the ‘Buddy’ network were there 24/7. No one was friendless or unsupported. Dr. Gillett worked well beyond the call of duty and ‘Sanctuary’ - just was – for a short time, quite a remarkable place to be.
MCC was there too.....Neil Thomas as Pastor of Bournemouth laughed and cried alongside clients, friends and family and staff.

For some of those in the memorial book, I was also there as the very end came. Sometimes, with Neil and other carers, I was at the last bedside vigil as a friend and supporter but it was me who in my work capacity cared for many of those named here after they died.

So I remember all of them with love – but also with gratitude for allowing me to share in their journey and for the trust they placed in me as a professional – knowing exactly what that trust actually represented.

But I also remember sharing long nights with the nurses and days of cooking green chicken for Alec – because he wouldn’t eat anything else!

These are the names from ‘Sanctuary’ - they are but a drop in the ocean of World AIDS.........

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Ok so another logo.....or three...

A bit more my style - but I thought it would frighten the punters off before I got to see any feet.......

What do you think?
I quite like the coloured scrabble on the less anatomical one...but I think I chose the best one. I promise I WILL show you it - in time!

logos and things are right - I did have a post about logos and I got really frustrated with it as I couldn't post a film clip of them......
here is a taster of one that got away - that is one of the 31 possibles that the lovely Ian Andrew thought up.

At least I can upload pictures!
I chose a stunning blue foot, which I thought would go well with the slight nautical 'In-Toe' island based (all in my head of course....) kind of aspect. When I get it onto something, (like a card), I'll share it too.

I have had a good day so far - tho nothing Nichiren Essay has been achieved yet as I went down to see my friend Mick who lives in a big grey truck. He also has a very comfortable (huge) workshop that he makes things in - mostly re-cycled from drift-wood or furniture rescued from the skip/dump. An eco chap with a very kind generous heart. Someone who it is great to pop in on and drink coffee with....this morning, I found myself cooking a breakfast for myself on his camping stove. Eggs, bacon, sausage and beans...washed down with coffee (real) and plenty of conversation (also real).

On the way back, I picked up a box of fresh fruit ordered earlier in the day from the shop just down the road.....a lovely collection of goodies for us to enjoy and as I was leaving, a vast (free) bag of Jerusalem Artichokes was pushed into my hand....last time I bought some, I made soup and took the shopkeeper a mug to keep her warm!! Island life...I just love it.

Tomorrow 'Er Indoors' has to be up at 4.00am in order to catch a flight up to Scotland. That far for a day's work in the eyes of a 'recovered' Agorophobic is totally mind boggling....I am staying here to wait for the new mattress to be delivered! 2 weeks away at 'foot-school' made me realise that I don't have to wake up with back-ache every morning! I am just thankful that I could do something about it and buy an autoclave in the same week. Do you think 'Memory-Foam' works on the little grey cells as well as muscles and joints?

Here is another logo......what a joy to have such a talented friend.

Yesterday I wrote my 'Patient Charter' and started to design my brochure....the layout was quite beyond me - I can't for the life of me manipulate columns, so I will pass that job on to someone more computer literate!! ('Er Indoors' has offered -I think it was self defence more than anything).So today, it's back to Nichiren and enlightenment.....seems to be illuding me......

Monday, 24 November 2008

Normal - freaky or what?

Now then folks - those of you who know me and my foibles well, will know that I always 'thank Mother' for co-incidences and parking spaces.

The last offering from 'her in heaven' came to me seconds ago when I opened my weekly email - 'Weekly Words of Wisdom chosen by Lama Surya Das - 24 November 2008‏' -The Lama who is very much alive...somewhere in America - I recently signed up for his cyber offerings.....who knows why.

This was todays email......consider carefully if you will that I have just finished writing my AIDS day memorial words for Church next Sunday...remembering folk who died at 'The Sanctuary' a hospice (no longer in existance sadly) of great worth and note in Bournemouth......and of course my recent triumph in the distal plantar anatomical the fact that I am 'married' in a civil partnership kind of way to Catherine can come to your own conclusions.

I think that Mother has shown her usual inimitable approval of what I am currently engaged in......"Thank you Mother!"

I would value your comments - but would add that she never was one to do things in half-measures!

Lama Surya Das sent:


It could be said that God’s foot is so vast
That this entire earth is but a field
On God’s toe,

And all the forests in this world
Came from the same root
Of just a single hair of God’s.

What then is not a sanctuary?
Where then can I not kneel and pray
At a shrine made holy
By God’s presence?

-- Saint Catherine of Siena

Sunday, 23 November 2008

feet foot footsie......

Here I am back from a cram packed fortnight of clinical practice at 'Foot College'; the culmination of many months of study and I really enjoyed myself. Whatsmore, I passed the Diploma...hooray, even more letters after my name!

While I was away, Chris Quigley sent me a little snippet of information to be getting on with.......Thanks Chris - you can always be relied on for the 'off-the-wall' medical insight.....every situation covered! Check out the link and see for yourselves what Chris supplied to foot the bill in this case.

This was not a condition we came across at college I hasten to point out! Sadly, corns; callouses; verrucae and various fungal conditions predominated...alongside some terrible toenails. A nipple may have been a little too much to handle - specially in the first week!!!!!

Back home now to concentrate on Death rites and rituals and setting up in the business of feet. Continuing with matters of the sole naturally!

Saturday, 8 November 2008


This week brings us a week of remembering.....for me it hasn't simply been the red poppy type. More colour for me this year - or should I say several colours as 'her indoors' brought me a white 'peace' poppy to wear.....not only that, there are even more colours in my own rememberance....which always includes the strip of red white and blue ribbon that my Grandma saved from the celebrations after the 'Great War' in 1918.

Recently at university we looked at the Holocaust and somewhen today, I stumbled upon a blog site that included this photo and a poem entitled 'a rainbow of triangles'......the poem that went with the picture was really moving, but could I find the blog again - having closed the tab by mistake? No - of course not and I went there via Black-Boxes, so I was sorry as it was more than good...but by the fortune and miracle of google, I found it - 'A Rainbow of Triangles (poem) by Deborah Rey on AuthorsDen'.

Back to remembering....I am just about to go off for 2 weeks and won't be near my beloved computer - no Internet anywhere apparently, so I have been told. Therefore, having been asked to write some words for the AIDS memorial service at the end of the month, I had to finish the piece today so that the dear Pastor could arrange her service around it if necessary....or alternatively, get me to re-arrange my words around her plans!!!

Lots of memories then - losses of all kinds, war, violence and pestilence.

I led a remembrance day service at church a few years back and used coloured leaves as well as poppies to represent the 'people of the triangle' - it seemed to provoke a lot of thought and I managed to get through without crying.

I just don't know about the AIDS service this year - I am reading my piece through time and again - feeling the words, rolling them off my lips. But the memories are real and very personal - the losses were close. I suspect that tears will fall no matter how hard I rehearse.......

In the meantime - a two week period of reflection on foot anatomy with the vague possibility of a diploma at the end.....(it's the final fortnight of a diploma course that I have been placing on the back burner a little too often while studying for the more erudite university Masters course).

We shall may be tears all round......

Wednesday, 5 November 2008


I haven't been near this page for days and it's not because I got scared on that night of nights when ghosties and goolies get to go abroad!

Unlike some, I was not lucky enough to go to Mexico - but I did get to go up the road and through the village in a skeleton suit, to a party and then to the pub. The reactions were mixed! The best was in the street when a 6 year old told us we were "...SAD" - we enquired why, pointing out that she was also dressed up. Her reply was "Yeh - but like for a 29 year old....". This caused much mirth and we went away giggling about my being 50.

See, I'm still enjoying it!