Caring Support Work!

The following events took place quite recently and are true with no embellishment. However, location and names have been changed because I am probably breaking some sort of rule, regulation or policy, but it was such a surreal event blah blah blah, you get the picture.

Apart from my scanty attempts at writing this blog and trying to write my first novel, I work as a ‘Care Worker slashhh support worker’. So I refer to myself as a caring support worker. I can say hand on testicles that this ‘Job’ is the most rewarding type of work I have ever done and I wish I had moved into this type of work years ago.

Anyway, now to the gritty. I had been working with the ‘Company ‘ for about 4 weeks and as such, had been learning the ropes by shadowing several colleagues to acquire the knowledge of how to look after 5 gentlemen who live in 2 adjoining houses. All 5 gentlemen are between the ages of 53 and 63, and all 5 have very severe learning disabilities. Only 2 of them can communicate verbally, but their words are very limited. One of them repeats the name of Bobby Robson, the sadly deceased football manager. However, this chap, who, for the sake of this blog, I shall call Ron, shortens Bobby Robson to Bobson. Ron has the frustrating habit of frequently refusing to walk and laying down in random places around both houses and refusing to move.

The other chap repeats the words ‘Tidied up’ over and over and over. I shall refer to him as Chris and he has an ‘Interesting’ habit that I will reveal later in this blog.

A third chap wonders aimlessly around all day and most of the night grabbing and pulling the carers around for no apparent reason other than wanting to drink 24/7. I shall call him Paddy.

A forth chap is the most capable of all five. He can’t talk but makes attempts to communicate by making horrific noises and pulling the carers around the house to show them what he wants. He has a fetish for trying to smell the feet of the female carers and has an unhealthy obsession for coffee. I shall call him Matty.

Last but by no means least is a chap about 5 feet in height. He has Downs Syndrome, is very strong and makes sounds not dissimilar to a jack hammer that are so loud the eardrums reverberate for several minutes after you have left his company. I shall refer to him as Jack.

Jack goes to a day centre from Monday too Friday to give him something to do and give everyone else some much needed eardrum respite.

It is worth saying that we, the caring support workers, do everything for the residents, you name it, we do it, so they have the best possible experience of life.

One weekday morning, whilst Jack was at the day centre, both houses were in desperate need of food, cleaning items etc. So, in the infinite wisdom of my co-workers, I was left in sole charge of the 4 residents whilst the other 2 workers went out to do the shopping.

And the fun filled nightmare began.

There was I, just 4 weeks into my ‘Shadowing ‘ experience, watching over and looking after 4 unpredictable chaps with extremely limited capabilities. I decided to cook them all a traditional Sunday roast in addition to getting all the washing done, whilst trying to make sure they were happy and comfortable.

The Benny Hill scenario began when Ron came into the kitchen and laid down on the floor in front of the fridge freezer, repeating Bobson with a cheeky toothless smile. That was fine, in fact I batted it back at him and the word Bobson reverberated around the kitchen walls. Then Matty came chuntering through the kitchen and headed straight to the coffee pot to pour himself a cup (Matty has the capability of making his own coffee)

No problem I thought, so he got on with it whilst Bobson echoed.

Next into the kitchen came Paddy, headed straight for me, grabbed my arm and pushed me towards the kettle, which Matty was by now, trying to monopolise. I bumped into Matty, who let out a low growl whilst Paddy carried on pushing my arm towards the kettle. Bobson had gained in momentum and decibels by the time ‘Kettle Gate’ was in full swing.

And then, the “Piece De Resistance” came into the kitchen in the form of Chris, accompanied by the immortal words “Tidied up”. Chris nearly fell through the door because his jogging bottoms had fallen down around his ankles. Unfortunately, Chris is double incontinent, and in his outstretched hand was a giant, softish looking poo, which he had kindly scooped from his pull-up to show me what he had accomplished!!

I didn’t panic, but I did have the thoughts ‘What the fuck should I do’? and ‘Help’ racing through my mind. Bobson was still ricocheting around the increasingly smelly kitchen, with no intention of moving. Matty was starting to guzzle coffee at an alarming rate, Paddy still had a firm grip on my wrist and Chris was beaming with pride at his tidying up adventure.

I somehow regained composure, quickly moving towards Chris, reaching for him and holding the wrist that was attached to the hand that held the poo. Miraculously, Bobson jumped up from the floor and left the kitchen, quickly followed by Paddy into the living room who had thankfully relented his grip on my wrist. I glanced over at Matty who was grinning and clapping as I carefully guided Chris out of the kitchen, trying desperately not to let his poo drop from his hand whilst praying Matty didn’t projectile vomit from all the coffee!!

Somehow, I managed to bath Chris, change him, avoid a crime scene of projectile vomit and keep them all safe, happy and well fed.

Let me tell you, it was a potential catastrophe that thankfully didn’t transform into a situation that would convince me it wasn’t the job for me.

I love helping people who have been dealt a cruel hand and at the moment, I wouldn’t swap this job for any of the other jobs I’ve worked in throughout my life so far. Not all rewards are financial although I little less poo would be nice!!

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Something completely Radom whilst preparing something at work yesterday.

Bionic Tony

My best friend when I was growing up was Tony Bennett (Not the famous warbler) Tony lived with his Grandfather 10 doors away from my house but I was never allowed to call for him because his Grandfather didn’t want anybody knocking at his door, so I didn’t!

We were inseparable between the ages of 9 and 14 and I think that our friendship was cultivated because of our combined fascination with The Six Million Dollar man. The Lee Majors eye brow became our secret greeting combined with the sound effect … duuu. Du du du du Du dudu du du… which indicated our artificial supersonic eyes were zooming in on a target several hundred miles away!!

He was 2 years my senior so whilst he was the semi-mature brains in our operation I was the gullible but fiercely loyal companion. Tony played a cunning trick on me once and it had me captivated for a couple of hours until he revealed his mystery. Tony came running onto the street one Saturday morning limping a little bit and slightly out of breath. After the aforementioned eye brow raise he held his arm out in front of him and informed me that he was losing power in his body, especially in his legs. I looked at his arm and saw 2 red and blue wires hanging from underneath his sleeve. He had already managed to convince me he was ‘Bionic’ but called the mechanical parts of his body biotronical, and I fell for it hook, line and sinker!!

So, there was I, staring at wires hanging from my best friends arm and believing he was done for!!

Bearing in mind I had never beaten him at running, you can imagine my elation when we began to run side by side after his revelation of ‘Losing power’ and I was leaving him eating my dust!! For a second I actually believed I had inherited his power until I looked behind me. He grinned at me, pulled the wires from his sleeve, threw them away and put on the afterburners! He flew past me calling me a dick-head, laughing as he said it. The Bastard!!

Even though the joke was on me, we laughed about it for a long time afterwords. However, I always extracted a little bit of revenge because I was stronger than him in the arm. So I would challenge him to an arm wrestle, which despite his red in the face efforts, I always genuinely won.

Then came the day he left. His grandfather became ill so couldn’t look after his grandson. The time came for Tony to go and live 15 miles away with a dad who he had never seen before. I watched him being driven away in his fathers car with a sinking feeling in my stomach. I never saw Tony again but on days like today I wonder what kind of man he turned out to be!

So here’s to you Tony, I hope your life has been filled with fun and frolics to rival the time when we were best friends.

I believe, as I think most people do, that everything has an opposite and everything is in relation to something else, that’s just the way it is. So what about life existing on another planet somewhere in another universe/solar system?

As a child, I would lay down on the back garden at night, away from artificial lights and look up at the stars, watching out for ‘Strange lights’ sometimes convincing myself that the single white lights I occasionally saw in the highest part of the stratosphere (Or whatever it’s called) must have been UFO’s!

Then, as if by magic to feed my imagination, Close Encounters of the Third Kind swept across the cinemas. Even though I didn’t like mashed potatoes, I’d try to replicate the iconic mountain scene, which mum didn’t seem to appreciate.

For years I’d be fascinated with the possibility of life far, far away, but soon discovered life on planet earth was at times, pretty alien and equally fascinating.

Fast forward to the present and the super powers have spent billions of trillions on the exploration of space for reasons that are partially shared through the media and reasons that remain shrouded in secrecy.

The bottom line is, regarding the possibility of life existing on another planet, is that opinions and beliefs are split. Some people believe there must be some kind of intelligent life in the millions of galaxies that had been discovered so far, whilst some people don’t believe that it’s possible for the stars to align so perfectly and fortuitously to support intelligent life elsewhere.

Walking through towns and cities, people watching as I do, I occasionally wonder if I am walking past an alien,  or walking past a person who has an alternative view on life elsewhere. Did these people who walk past me lay gazing up at the stars when they were children looking out for UFOs. I really hope so because I wouldn’t like to think I was alone in believing there must be something else out there.

 

 

Reality or not for Sammy the Goldfish?

When I was a little boy, a very little boy of 6 or 7 years of age, the family had a Goldfish which we named Sammy. Every day, Sammy would participate in the water slide game. This game consisted of filling the kitchen sink with water, placing him in the sink, taking the plug out and watching him go down the plug hole in a clockwise direction. Little did poor Sammy know, but someone would be strategically placed outside, holding his Goldfish bowl, filled with water, underneath the end of the water pipe, catching him ‘Safely’ in his bowl. Sammy’s adventure would then be repeated another 2 or 3 times.

It wasn’t my idea to ‘Entertain’ Sammy, and I am in no way passing the blame, but I participated, and considered for quite a long time that I would one day, go to hell. Remarkably, Sammy lived for 5 years, which apparently, is a very long time for a Goldfish to live in a bowl. Sammy’s little water-slide made my sister, brother and parents laugh, but I can’t remember laughing, maybe I did, I don’t know.

My sister was and still is 4 years older, my brother 6 years older, but I participated by watching his ‘Adventure’ and occasionally catching him in his bowl. Did Sammy enjoy it? Who can fucking say, only Sammy, only he could say, If he had developed the ability to talk! I can only imagine Sammy was terrified. Or maybe he wasn’t, who can say!

Did Sammy have faith in the people who kept him as a pet? Did Sammy think “Fuck, this is brilliant”?  Or “Fuck, not again”! Did Sammy think? Which leads me to the point of this jumbled up blog.

Faith is the act of letting go and trusting that the outcome will be inevitable and  hopefully favourable. In reality,  whether the result is good, bad or indifferent, whatever the outcome is, it just is. Survival was Sammy’s terrifying water-slide outcome.

So Sammy’s reality was part of his existence, but in reality, if Sammy had died, I’m almost sure another Goldfish would have been won on a Hook-A-Duck the next time a fair had rolled into town. The point is, in my view, reality is only relative when it directly affects a person or people on a personal level. I’m not being cold, callous or uncaring,  i’m just trying to see things from a realistic point of view.

If we, as individuals are part of reality, then reality is only relative to what we as individuals experience through sight, touch, taste, hear and feel emotionally. However, in theory, everything outside of our personal experience is not reality. For instance, you or I could be enjoying a coffee with several friends in a cafe adjacent to a beach during a warm late afternoon, watching the sea gently break on the sand. At the exact same moment, in different parts of the world, someone is dying a horrible death or suffering a terrible tragedy or witnessing a violent act. Unless you/we are personally invested or effected by happy or terrible events that happen elsewhere, then a show of empathy or sympathy is futile and therefore, not a tangible part of your reality. Do you agree, or disagree?

But the real question is, what is reality?

I don’t think i am a philosophiser but I find the subject fascinating, especially when I think about what Sammy was thinking or feeling. Arguably,  philosophy is the discussion of mostly  trivial matters, and when people verbalise philosophical ideas, they/we  essentially talk about things, hypothesise  and look for answers when there is no definitive answer. So, when a question is formed from a discussion based around trivial questions, finding an answer that seems to make sense and then verbally communicating the answer, results in a person speaking nonsense, as I have just done.

However, the question of reality regarding my dearly departed Sammy, was relative to his reality, and as such, because I saw him as a small, or big part of the family, was also part of my reality.

Sorry for this, just thought I’d put it out there.

 

Who’s to say what matters? Well, Fun matters, doesn’t it ?

As I’ve alluded to countless times throughout my reflections on my life so far (Well, maybe 2 or 3 times) isn’t life ultimately about having fun and doing what ever makes you feel alive, as long as you don’t hurt anybody?

Well, when I go on holiday, more than at any other time, I trust in the great roller-coaster that controls all life to take a hold of my holiday time and throw me a fun filled curve ball (American) or Googly (English) just to make sure everything that happens on holiday is authentic.

One of these googlies- curve-balls, sort of happened about 5 years ago when the cruise ship we were on moored up at Barcelona. We, me and Angie, the wife, had met a fun couple on board the ship and instantly hit it off. Her name was Karen (Bobby) and she was Welsh. His name was Deano and he was an authentic, quintessential Aussie (all he needed was a straw hat with corks swinging around) and we laughed and laughed. It seemed the most natural thing in the world to talk and laugh with them, we were so alike as couples that the inevitability of us becoming good friends seemed preordained.

We drank gallons of beer, wine and cocktails together, ate all of our meals together and smoked together, completely relaxed in each other’s company.

So, you get the picture, now to Barcelona.

The ship moored up at about 8am and after a hearty, cholesterol infested British breakfast, all four of us descended four decks and walked across the gangway, flashed our passports to the customs officers and strolled to the outskirts of Barcelona like four amigos, without any itinerary in place, just a carefree attitude as our trusty guide.

We decided amongst ourselves to catch a hop on-hop off bus, which would give us the opportunity to see the sights from the alfresco top deck, allowing us to choose where we wanted to get off. Anyway, we saw a red bus in the distance so had to run to catch it. In the process of running I tripped up and nearly head butted the very clean Spanish pavement, which made everyone laugh, Bobby and Deano called me a “Fuck wit”. I believed at the time it was a term of endearment, and strangely, ‘Fuck wit’ is indeed an insulting compliment!

On-board the bus we were given complementary red earphones for translation purposes. I still have those earphones. From our elevated position we travelled up into the hills, overlooking the city, eventually driving very close to the Olympic Stadium, which looked absolutely incredible. However, when Barcelona’s world famous Nou Camp came into view we hopped off the bus so myself and Crocodile Dundee could buy stadium tour tickets to take a look around this footballing behemoth.

The sheer scale of it was magnificent and whilst we took the tour the 2 women enjoyed some therapeutic shopping (They found a bar) After the tour, all four of us met up outside the stadium and found a nice little bar that served authentic Spanish food (We had a chicken kebab, I think)  After a couple of ice cold San Miguel’s each, we took another wander and came across the Basilica, and by golly, it was/is an impressive structure. Incredibly, they started to build the Basilica in 1882, and yet it’s not due to be finished until 2026. I wonder if the local council have the contract?) Anyway, it is a truly beautiful structure. Maybe, if time and destiny are on my side, I will go back to gaze on the finished article.

The real drama, no, the only drama we had was when we looked at the time. We had under 1 hour to get back to the ship and judging by the rush hour traffic in Barcelona, the traffic moved very, very, very slowly! We caught the first red bus we could find, sat down, and waited to move closer to the port. And waited. And waited. Still waiting! Time ticked by alarmingly and  we had literally 15 minutes to board ship or we would have been stranded in Barcelona, if it’s possible to be “Stranded” in such a beautiful city.  It was at the 15 minute mark that I had one of my executive decision moments. I suggested we get off the bus and flag a taxi down, which conveniently for us, was dropping someone off very near to the bus. We dived off the bus and got into the taxi. The taxi driver, after learning of our predicament, swerved in and out of the traffic with Euro signs undoubtedly flying before his eyes!

We arrived at the entrance to the port at 6pm. We were late and everybody had been advised not to be late because of the port fines incurred by the ships who were late departing the port. Both of the women immediately started to run towards the ship, a couple of carrier bags flapping behind them. I started to trot after watching them panic running for 20 seconds, but my friend Croc Dundee said “Fuck it John, lets have a fag” in the most authentic Australian drawl you could every wish to hear. He produced 2 cigarettes, we stopped to light up and then strolled towards the ship happily puffing away as several hundred passengers were leaning on the handrails watching myself and croc ambling towards the ship.

One of the officers watched us walk over the gangplank after finishing our smokes and looked non to happy, but fuck it, we required a cigarette!

All four of us went straight up to the top deck to get beers, find a seat, light a cigarette and watch the ship leave Barcelona. It’s a beautiful, cosmopolitan city, but by Christ, it’s busy during rush hour!

Explosive !!

I went through a phase of going for long walks with my best friend after he had been made redundant from a job he had done for 25 years. He had worked in the same factory as myself, but I had left 4 years prior to redundancies because of ill health. Anyway, at the time he was made redundant, I was, shall we say, between jobs, so when I wasn’t searching for my next job, we would go on long, long, long walks into the Peak District in Derbyshire, close to where we live.

We would go through the same preparatory ritual the night before: Sandwiches, Drinks, waterproof coats and cigarettes in our backpacks. Our walks would often turn into 20 + mile hikes at a strolling pace, which would regularly take us about 7 or 8 hours.

On one particular occasion, the night before a hike, we had consumed lots and lots of beer, which in retrospect, was not the best idea! Anyhow, we met up the next morning at around 8am on the corner of a street that separated our houses and set off, not sure which route to take, just walking, talking and putting the world to rights. Every couple of miles we would find a place to rest our weary arses and enjoy a drink, a bite to eat and  a smoke (Ironic that we were doing something healthy and complementing it with something unhealthy) The further we walking into the countryside, over fences, over stiles, over virgin fields, through unmarked farm yards,  the more my stomach ached and my stinker twitched!

We were about 10 miles from home when, after fighting off  several windy explosions, I couldn’t hold back anymore, so trusting that it would just be wind, let it go! I stopped it escaping almost instantly as I could feel a lump in the wind. Luckily, we were deep in a forest, so, explaining to my friend Stuart what was about to go down, and come out, whether I liked it or not, started to frantically search for a little bit of seclusion, all the time clenching and moaning in desperation!

I spotted a dip in amongst the brambles and fern just behind a large, rickety old gate and made a dash for it, shouting to Stuart “Won’t be long”. I could hear him laughing as I positioned myself out of sight before ripping the jeans down and squatting. I can tell you now, it was over in a second. Oh, the relief! However, I was then faced with the problem of NO toilet paper! So, thinking on my feet, or thinking in a semi squatting position, I made the executive decision to take my jeans fully off, take my pants off, and use the pants as toilet paper! After I had struggled to keep my balance whilst keeping a sharp eye out for the remote danger of a stranger passing by, I stood up with jeans on, but pantless, and glanced behind me at my enforced production (Sorry, I was just an instinctive reaction!)  and witnessed a million flies descend onto a pile that a cow would have been proud of.

Strangely, I felt liberated but slightly dirty as I caught up with Stuart, who was still laughing at my emergency procedure. The moral of this true story is, don’t leave the house without spare pants or emergency toilet paper, especially after a night on the booze.