Lifestory Showcase - Chappell
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It is mid November, and I am starting to write my yearly epistle of my year to send to all my friends at Christmas as a newsletter which eventually turns into the next Chapter of my autobiography that I have been writing on and off for years. Everyone who has read it, say “I ought to get it published” I am still trying to find out how to do it; as I know that it can be expensive. But my story will never have an ending until my last breath, they I could become famous!
I ended my letter last year by saying, that there was a war on, but to be honest I cannot remember where, as there always will be wars rumblings throughout the world as there always has been and blood being shed somewhere or other, and British blood as usual.
After September 11th when I do not think anyone could believe what we were seeing actually happening in New York, which all so quick and over in seconds after being so well planned and unfortunately it worked so well for the wicked ones who were willing to give their own lives knowing exactly what would happen.
When everything changed with the whole world on alert for what may happen next at any minute. We have the BBC 24 Hour News here and I find myself watching almost nothing else almost an obsession until I cut it down a bit, but I still follow all that is happening. The sad fact is, that nowhere and no one is safe anywhere now and how we it all work itself out after so many were killed in America and since in Afghanistan.
The only way is to enjoy every day as we can and just get on with living and doing what we consider is the right thing to d. I have had a very different year from the one before, as by January 2001 I had got over my ‘good accident’ with my brand new hip which has made so much difference with no pain with my leg back where it should be after 23 years of having my hip twisted and my leg stuck out at an awkward angle.
I am still very, very well looked after, with a Home Care every morning of the year to get me going. I still have a Carer from Crossroads who comes Monday and Tuesday afternoons when I get into a car and taken shopping or sightseeing around this beautiful city by the lakes, in the parks and woods.
We have not been swimming at all since my accident, only talked about doing so but never got there for one reason or another. I am not really bothered now whether I ever swim again. I did it for many years here with certificates to prove it, and I used to enjoy swimming at camp.
There have been changes with my Home Care, as Annie who was my Carer for about six years went on to work on another area. I missed her at first, but I already knew Chris who came in Annie’s place and we get on very well. I am going to miss her over Christmas as she is ‘off to California for three weeks’ but will be back again in the New Year.
But someone else, Madeline who I like, will be coming instead while Chris is away. At the time of my accident I was having problems of finding a private carer to come in and do my cooking, cleaning, washing and other odd jobs. I had to get rid of one who wasn’t suitable and I wasn’t happy with.
Then in November last year, Annie spotted someone on her rounds and introduced us. Marion was the best thing that happened since Mum died, she is idea and we love each other, she calls me ‘Mum’ and brings me in lovely cooked dinners all home made.
Marion really cares with no fuss and knows just what I need and where everything has to be put for me to manage the rest of the day on my own. She lives on Beanhill and can walk here in 10 minutes and will pop round at anytime if I am really stuck.
Like when the battery in my smoke alarm went off at 1.30 in the morning, she and her husband Alec walked round to change it for me. I am going to spend Christmas Day with them and their family, which I am really looking forward too, and am told they are forward to me joining them.
In March on my birthday, Derek and Elizabeth brought Uncle Len with them (Mum’s brother) that made my day very special. I have not seen them since but we keep in touch most weekends, if they are not globetrotting. As they have been to America and France recently, I am glad they take the chance while they are able, as none of us are getting any younger as the years fly by.
I have only been outside of Milton Keynes once this year, as on two occasions plans that were made did not work out on the day. Firstly, my dear friend Brian and I set off to go to the N.E. C in Birmingham last May to the NAIDEX Exhibition. He had, had to take his car to a garage the week before after someone banged into the front of it.
He got it repaired in time, but we had only just got on to the Motorway where there had been an accident, so he had to drive slowly, stop and start then the fan belt was overheating. Brian could not risk going all that way and being stuck with me in the car. So we had to turn for home before we got very far which was very disappointing but safer.
The other disappointment I had was at the end of September when I was up and ready to go to my school reunion at Ferndown, I had everything arranged to go with a chap who Leslie had asked to take me as she was away this time. We had agreed on time etc. but he did not turn up, I sat here over two hours before knowing it would be to late if he did turn up.
I was very upset as I had to sit and phoned friends who were coming to Ferndown during the afternoon to see me. I had a miserable weekend alone, then all my friends here bouncing in during the week, asking me how my day went. Try again next year, as it was the second time I missed having just come out of hospital last year.
I wasn’t able to arrange to have a holiday at all, but I went to an open air Classical Concert just round the corner from here. It is held every July, it is very like the ‘Last night of the Proms’ on a lovely summers evening it is very enjoyable, taking a picnic supper and a bottle with everyone else around you doing the same which was very enjoyable.
My Crossroads Carer Pam had arranged to take me, but Pam and her husband Colin had, had a nasty accident a few days before and were both badly shaken, but someone else took them and her Mum and me and it was a very pleasant evening, I met her sister and her husband who I had always heard a lot about. Pam hasn’t been able to return to work yet but we keep in touch on the phone and email. We are hoping she will be well enough to return to work soon.
My new Crossroads Carer is Jennifer, who takes me shopping etc. now and we have fun. Jenny has spent several years working in Bosnia so she knows and understands and helps me in different ways to Pam. So although I still love living on my own which means so much to me, I see someone every day besides my Home Care, Chris usually help me have a shower/bath.
I am home on Wednesdays and Saturdays mostly but not always if something turns up. My special friend Brian tries to call in Wednesdays and Fridays to see me. We have known each other many years now and he is always there for me.
For about six months now, I have been having a go at an Internet Computer Course and intend to do others to keep me busy in my spare time! I have been doing this through Milton Keynes College Adult Education, through this I found my new friends of the year!
Anne visits me here for an hour every Tuesday morning and sets me new task. I have completed one Course and deciding what to try next is the New Year, as my computer is still my ‘live-in’ companion, and now we, my computer and I are on the Net and I am hooked.
Travelling from one thing to another without even thinking about it and wonder how I ever got on to that subject. It is so interesting, as you can look up anything when you know how. I also write quick letters and messages to friends by email.
Anne’s husband Bill is a teacher and into the computer world, he has been to sort out other problems I’m always getting myself into with my computer. I find the dozens of books I have looked at do not help me at all; until Bill or anyone else who can just show me how, I can then get on with it forever. I had not known Bill and Anne many weeks before they offered to take me to London for the day, which I did enjoy and appreciate so much.
EYE – EYE
On August 22nd 2001, my friends Anne and Bill had planned to take me out for a day to the London Eye. I had been looking forward to this treat for several weeks. We set off at 10 am, travelled to Stanmore by car. An easy run; after parking the car I was pushed up the ramp in my wheelchair to the station where we soon boarded an underground train.
This was the first time I had travelled by underground and I was very impressed as to how easy it was to get the chair onto the train over a slight step with special spaces just inside every carriage for wheelchair passengers, I was surprised how simple this was.
I really enjoyed the journey, stopping at about a dozen stations along the route we reach Westminster Bridge Station where I was taken up in a lift to ground level. We were right outside the Houses of Parliament alongside of the Thames. I was then pushed over the bridge to the Eye where we met up with Mathew and Helen my friend’s two children who had travelled from Milton Keynes by train.
We found a shady tree and a bench in the park and enjoyed a picnic lunch, as by now the sun my high in the sky. We were looking up at the Eye and took photographs of it. We were booked to go up on it at 4.30 pm. My friends had also booked tickets to visit the nearby Aquarium, where we spent some time viewing the fish from very tiny ones you can hardly see with the naked eye to great be sharks and whales.
The huge glass tanks with very thick glass separated us from them which you could not see but only touch to prove it was there, one thought they were swimming straight at you with their huge jaws and teeth. These were divided up like this to show which fish swam where in the seas and oceans with so much information near the tanks telling you about the fish you were watching. Interesting, but glad that I wasn’t born a fish to live in captivity.
After this treat, we were walking by the Eye deciding what to do next as we had two hours to go for a walk before boarding the Eye as we thought. When, one of the young fellows came across to us and asked if we were waiting to board. He said we could go right now, as this was the best time of the day. We were told to follow him and passing thousands of others who were queuing to board it, they pushed me in my wheelchair straight into the pod as it is called. It was a fantastic experience from beginning to end which we all enjoyed.
The flight lasts about 45 minute’s. The wheel itself doesn’t stop but gradually moves. As each pods reaches the bottom there is time enough for one lot of passengers to get off and others to get on. But when a wheelchair is involved, a piece of wood is placed across the entrance to hold it still just long enough to get the chair on and off.
We had picked just the right day and weather to do this, as the views were very clear right across London and beyond. The wheel moves very slowly, one hardly notice it is moving until you are looking down on the river Thames when it is way, way down below and people in the street look like little tiny ants.
It was so easy to pick out the main places and buildings throughout the City. It was very interesting with so much to see. I wish it had lasted longer as it all over before one can take it all in. I would certainly love to do it all over again.
Afterwards, we went for our walk back over the bridge looking at Big Ben, which was having its face washed, we watched the little men on ropes cleaning it and took photographs of them. We went through Horse Guards parade where the Trooping of the Colour takes place.
Then around the back of Downing Street, where all its security could be seen, no one allowed through the black gates now, we went towards the House of Parliament again and back to the station. We were leaving Westminster Underground Station at just 4.30 pm when we should have been going up and around the Eye. The journey home was just as easy and as interesting, we were back home where I was left eating fish ‘n’ chips, at the end of a really perfect day.
I have my weeks well organised with every day something different as well as the unexpected that happens. As well as help indoors with every day things. Steve my gardener/handyman turns up every few weeks, he has revolutionized my garden in front of the kitchen window, taken the grass away, replacing it with slabs as a patio which I can drive myself out and sit in the sun amongst the many flowers out there all year through.
Early this year I joined other elderly folk but I am the only disabled one. We are transported there and back in cars by voluntary drivers. Who take us to various homes, where we are given a nice tea from people who have offered to entertain us, after an article about Contact appeared in the local newspaper.
This takes place the second Sunday after in the month; each host invites us once a year. There are usually eight of us; I find it a bit difficult with squashy sandwiches and sticky cakes amongst strangers but the offer to help me. Here sat at my own table I am able to manage anything and mope up afterwards.
Every Sunday morning, I get on my scooter and go around a car-boot sale and enjoy myself, this is the only time I use my scooter and go out alone for a couple of hours, I enjoy the country ride away from all traffic on our wonderful unique redways which runs throughout the city.
All through the summer I do this, this year I kept my eye on some blackberries just round the corner from here, they were big and beautiful but I could not reach them or pick them myself. I asked my carer to come out with me to pick some and was able to have a few blackberry and apple tarts in the end. The blackberries seem to have been especially good around here this year.
In August I joined a group of other men and women who use scooters for a ramble through some of our beautiful parks to a pub for lunch and back again. It was a really lovely morning for such a ride. When I heard about it, I thought that it would be a splendid opportunity of getting to know others scooter users in Milton Keynes (there are so many around) and maybe arrange to do this on a regular basis.
When I got there by taxi, I saw about 12/15 other scooters gathered there. I was so pleased, until I found out that all but four of us had come by cars from miles away for a ride in Milton Keynes and had invited us to join them; but it seemed that not many had heard about it. Which was disappointing.
A few weeks ago, my friend Anne took me out for an afternoon, to a local Farm Museum and ‘How we used to Live’. It brought back so many, many childhood memory’s to me, I even found two of my tricycles amongst the Transport exhibition, we are going again next year and take photos of them and me, wish I could dare get on them, but I must not risk hurting my hip, but it was fun.
The old kitchen range is there with all the utensils, pots and pans we were brought up with. The shop, chemist, blacksmith as well as telephones through the ages. We both enjoyed ourselves. Since our London trip, Anne has taken me a National Trust House and Gardens at Aylesbury, Waddesham House, again a lovely afternoon going around the gardens etc.
This years challenged was for me to give a talk at the Open University on Dec 5th about my life and achievements (all in 30 minutes) I had written it out and it was read for me by Sheena who works at the O.U. To save time, this was illustrated with old and new photographs taken of me as a child and today which was shown on the Over Head Projector followed by question time. Afterwards I could have sold 100 copies of my book if it had been printed. So I am definitely going to do something about getting it published next year. Hopeful the O.U will help and advise me.
I am feeling as if I have taken yet another step forward in my long life. As my half hour of fame, I managed to pay a ‘tribute to Mum’ about how we won through all the odds together through sixty odd years. From mother being told that I was the ‘proverbial cabbage’ and the best thing for us all was to put me in a Home and just forget that she had given birth to ‘this imbecile’. How she bought me my first tricycle, went to an ordinary village school, to being able to live here on my own today. As independently as possible with the minimum of daily help that I will always need,
The Open University are now planning a Website next year, which will show this kind of work they have under taken about Learning Difficulties as it is called now. I do not think that I really come under this heading. On the day before the Conference, some of the speakers went along to the recording studio to make a video of themselves.
Wow! I’ve made it, my little bit came out well and I was congratulated, this is to be used on the Internet Website, and I have been told my whole story of 130 pages or so will be there. I gather that I will be involved in this. After this sessions, about 26 of us were invited out for an evening meal at a local pub. What a week to remember and to end this year on.
The following evening, 6th December, I was hoping to take part in sketches about disability with my fellow Drama Group friends, as part of a show for the International Disability Day, but we did not get the chance in the end, but we all went and enjoyed the show and we hope to take part next year and in other events as they come along.
We meet every Thursday afternoon following the Play Reading session in the morning. Then I attend the Centre again on Friday mornings for English Literature to try to improve my writing as I am still trying to get my dots, commas etc. in the right places and still make a mess of it as this was something I could not catch up with at school.
I still enjoy the monthly Trefoil Meetings, our Guild is into its 13th year now and we have met every month throughout, there are about ten regulars most of us started the Guild, others have come and gone but we are a happy band, once a Guide always a guide is our motto. We usually hold our Christmas Party and the January meetings here, it is warmer and I don’t have to go out.
As you can see I have become clever with my computer scanner, I am able to scan pictures and photographs, and then make them into Christmas cards to show you some of the things which I got up to this year in my beloved Milton Keynes with some of my friends who help me in various ways to live on my own, so happy and contented. If there are any problems, there is always someone at the end of the phone. I just have nothing to worry about now and have just spent a lovely, relaxing Christmas Day with Marion and her family who all made me feel so welcome to share it all with them. So here’s to next year whatever it may bring. I am looking forward to it and a few more challenges I hope.
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