Friday, 21 June 2019

On retreat

Edwin has retreated to Kathmandu to a Buddhist monastery, for ten days of contemplative silence. We also contemplate ten days of silence, but in the peace of our own home in Suffolk. The water supply in Kathmandu is reputed to be lacking any official certificate of  hygiene, and Ann cautioned him to be careful where he eats and drinks. Ann was telling MA about this general lack of hygiene in the East over lunch in Bury, when a blackbird walked in through the open door and hopped down the steps to peck a few crumbs from the floor beneath their feet. It then pooed on the floor, hopped back up and walked back into the street. "You were talking about the general lack of hygiene in the East?" asked MA. No one else in the cafe seemed to have noticed the bird, and Edwin said it was his spiritual self come to visit them.

I used to have a lovely soft Australian hat, but I have a poor habit of leaving things in restaurants, and I lost it some time ago. At the hospital today for my three monthly check up for myeloma, the dermatologist asked how long I'd had the other mark on my ear. He diagnosed actinic keratosis, a pre-cancerous skin condition also caused by too much sun. He prescribed a powerful anti-cancer cream which should reduce it; if not, they might be slicing off the top of my ear to match the bottom slice, leaving just a strange little flap in the middle.  I really must get a new large brimmed floppy hat to keep the sun off.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Father's Day

Double Rainbow over Bury
With Edwin away for the night, it has been a peaceful Father's Day. So yesterday Ann arranged a meal in Bury St Edmunds, and a film, "Sometimes Always Never", a poignant film about an older man (Bill Nighy, though really a "younger" man as he's only in his 60's) whose wife has died, following which one of his sons runs away, and for whom he spends the rest of his life searching, to the neglect of the remaining son. There is an element of The Prodigal Son here, but it certainly drives home the deep sense of loss of a child and how it affects everyone else.

On the way home was a wonderful double rainbow, which Ann insisted on chasing and photographing. I must admit the picture turned out quite good though. It put me in mind of the film we had seen, where the missing son was portrayed as a pale reflection of the strong father, now fading now strengthening, but always in the far distance no matter how hard one ran to catch it.

Today, Ann and I went to the Globe in Clare, one of my favourite watering holes. They generally have a group playing on Sunday afternoon, and today was heavy metal/rock with a lively beat from a good singer. A perfect Father's Day present.

Sunday afternoon in The Globe

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Gatecrashing Shaw's House

Stayed the night in London at Stratford Moxy following meetings. Next morning, as Ann was sipping her first coffee, the fire alarm sounded. Ann insisted she would not go down in her night attire, so I told her we would leave or die together and waited while she got dressed and found her handbag. Finally, as we were ready to join the fleeing throng, the bell stopped ringing. Later, a maid told me it was someone burning the ironing had set it off!

Outside Shaw's writing hut
On the way home today, we stopped off at Shaw's Corner, always a favourite spot. We arrived at 11:00, and noticed the sign saying "Open from 1pm-4pm", but a woman was already opening the doors and told us she was nearly ready to let us in.

"Why does the sign say "1-4pm?" I asked.

"That's when we're open to the public, but we open early for groups," she explained. We showed our cards and waited in the shop area, and three more people joined us. "Right, we'll just wait for the last one," the guide said, but looked surprised when another three people came. "Oh," she said, "they must have made a mistake with the booking. Never mind, we can manage eight as well as six," and she led us off to view the house. We said nothing, and followed as though we were part of the group. This had the big advantage that all the rooms had the safety ropes drawn back and we were allowed to tread the hallowed carpets (albeit in overshoes) and get up close to the original artefacts, in addition to a personalized running commentary.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

The death of a woodpecker

Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker
Cars were parked all along the road into Clare this afternoon, and twitchers were out in the fields with binoculars and telescopic cameras boasting huge lenses, trying to spot some rarity. Back home, I heard an almighty bang as a bird flew into my window. On the patio, I picked up a colourful bird, but it seemed already dead. I am not knowledgeable about ornithology, but the RSPB site seems to identify it as a juvenile great spotted woodpecker, due to its prominent red cap.

Birds often seem to fly into our windows. I believe the reflection must appear to them similar to the sky, but sometimes they revive after a period of recuperation in a straw-lined box. We've had pigeons galore, a thrush, a blackbird, a coal tit, and even a kingfisher which we ferried to the river at Clare once it had revived, where it shot off as a speck of iridescent blue. Woodpeckers are reputed to have tough skulls to withstand the pounding from their drumming. Alas, this one's skull was not tough enough when it crashed into my window this morning. I just hope it wasn't the bird the twitchers were waiting for, but the RSPB site says these are common birds so I guess they can continue looking in hope.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Back in the Netherlands

Here in Leiden, two hotels have a similar name: "The Golden Tulip" and "The Tulip Inn". Both share the same access, reception and bar, and booking site. Usually we book the superior Golden Tulip, but this time ended up in the lesser Inn, with only single beds and no fridge or mini-bar.

I was awoken at 6 a.m. by a great thump and the bedside light going on. Ann was lying on the floor, he legs kicking in the air and the mattress at 45 degrees under her, the other side waving high off the bed. Somehow it had slipped sideways in the night with Ann on it, until it finally tipped her out and the sliding mattress had flicked on the light switch.

Back into Astellas yesterday for a 'short' contract, collecting the computer and seeing old faces again. Not much has changed since I was here a year ago. I signed in at the desk, and was presented with the same photographed pass I had used when I worked here before, so I could pass through the security barrier without being met, unlike another man sitting with a large "Visitor" badge hanging from his suit. However, walking down the corridor to the lift, I was greeted by a woman I'd never seen before, who said she'd take me up. I asked how long she'd been here. "Oh, since 2007," she said. "I work with Regulatory". We entered the lift and she pressed the button for the 2nd floor. I said I needed the 3rd floor for Safety. "Oh!" she said, "aren't you Dr. Suzzi? I must have met the wrong person!"  and hurried back down.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

An obvious interference

Scruff keeps the chair blocked off
His illness has left Edwin to sleep a lot, for which he prefers my chair, as it is more comfortable than his own, and has an electrically operated footrest to turn it into a semi-bed. Whilst he was very ill, I had no problem with this. But now he is showing some signs of improving, he sometimes leaves the chair to do other things. Last week I came down to find his Scruff sitting in my chair, like the proverbial German blocking the sunbed with his towel. This Scruff is a well-travelled animal that has seen the world with Edwin. In his luggage coming back from Asia once, Edwin found he'd been slit open and searched for drugs!

Listening to the news from the Netherlands today, it was interesting to hear that President Trump is supporting Johnson for PM, that Britain should get on with a clean break Brexit, and proposes that Farage should be in charge of the negotiations. Ann says, never mind about Russian interference in our politics - we have enough to put up with from American interference. But at least it is overt interference - Trump does not do subtle.