22 Mar 2017

Gordon Cormack 1947 to 2017

I first met Gordon at secondary school, I am not sure what brought us together as friends, yes we were in the same class but not similar apart from the fact that as I saw it we were not the same as lots of others,  I was the token kid with no uniform, he had what looked like scarring on his head, I was tall and thin whilst he was short and stocky.
I had had a previous best friend who sadly died in a road traffic accident, but few others in my class or at the school. Maybe it was just one of those things. All these years on its hard to rember those sorts of details.
In the second year at school we had to decide our options for the rest of our time, regarding which of range of classes we wanted to study and which to drop.

Sadly for me there was nobody at home to advise, so I chose ones I was interested in rather than those that may of helped when I left school. Previously after a meeting on a train I had decided I wanted to be a chef, so the unusual choice of subject for me instead of woodwork or metalwork,  was domestic science, where I could learn to cook. For reasons I never discovered Gordon went for the same choice and eventually the school actually agreed to this, we were only the second set of boys to of ever done it.
For many lads who were more physically mature than me, the prospect of being in a class with twenty girls would of made them very happy, but for me and at the time I thought Gordon,  it was all about the cooking, it was only fairly recently that I discovered that he also was into girls, just did not have that much success at school.
We continued to mix at school but some subjects we went along different paths, also met outside school usually at his home as it was near rather than mine that was some distance away. As time went on we saw less of each other at school ad I became one of the milk and ink monitors and helped either preparing for assembly each morning or other projects such as the school play or concerts with another boy Brian Bacon.

When we left school we continued to meet as friends but I became more interested in motorbikes and acquired another set of friends as well, I think I was seventeen or so when we had some sort of fallout, I cannot remember after all this time what it was but stopped meeting, plus I was now working strange hours at the tenpin bowl,  so we lost contact.

Over the years at times I did wonder what had happened to him, but made no effort to find him nor him me as far as I was aware and in time he went out of my mind. It was only many years later when the website Friends Reunited was created with the facility to search for former school friends that my interest in finding him again reopened. I joined it and went on there regularly and found a whole list of people I knew but no Gordon.  Eventually I noticed there had been a reunion that I missed so I asked if anyone had seen him. One person wrote back saying yrs he was there and he would passed on a message to say I was trying to get in touch an provide my details.  Sadly nothing came of this.

Time passed and occasionally I would wonder what had happened to him and others but I made no effort to search them out. Then out of the blue one day at the charity I worked for Gordons name came up on an e mail at the charity wanting to find out about training on a placement with our counselling team. I passed the request on but also e mailed back, sadly I got no response and neither did he come to work there.
Some months later I answered the phone at work and this voice announced he was Gordon,  I told him who I was and suggested we could meet up, his response was that he was to busy do that was the end of that, so I put it down to experience and decided to forget about it all.

Years passed then out of the blue in 2015, the contact person for our support group, informed me that someone wad trying to make contact with me, it turns out it was Gordon, I e mailed him and we arranged to meet in Manchester at The Moon Under The Water a pub restaurant, it was only days before we were to meet it occurred to me that we were both forty years older so maybe we would not recognise each other. So hr said he would be wearing a red anorak type coat and have a copy of a book, the name escapes me for now but that was quite serious, I on the other hand would have mt duck carrier bag.

On the day I was unsure how it would go so decided to time limit the meeting if needed and leave it, I was there early so wandered about the place not really sure who I was looking for. Eventually though I realised this short squat bearded person was he do we found a table ordered drinks and started to catch up regarding the last forty odd years.

I know I am far to open but also a chatterbox, so maybe that was part of why he learnt a lot about me whereas he was much more guarded about what had happened to him over the years. The time quickly passed and we agreed to meet again in the future.

and thats what happened ove the following months we met every so often at various venues for a chat and a meal.

One of the things he said was that he was exploring alternative religions, in particular Buddhism and alternative therapies
towards the end of last year he asked if I was willing to assist him with some training in reflexology as he was looking for people with illness or disability to work with. I was quite happy to give it a try so we did some work in preparation for this and the first session was to be at the start of this year. Unfortunately on the day I had a virus so we cancelled and arranged to meet the following week, on the day he did not arrive which was quite unusual for him so I texted him to find out if he was delayed and later tried e mailing him as he did not have a landline, but got no response. I did wonder if he had had an accident or was himself ill and I would hear from him soon. I tried again about a week to 10 days later, but again no answer.

Finally one day I got a phone call from his tutor Alison to inform me he had died at home in his flat, they were not sure when or why, a neighbour had reported this, so she was ringing round to inform people she was aware of, at that time there was to be a post mortem so no date for the funeral. His brother in law was sorting everything out and hopefully he would be in touch. A few days later whilst having a break at the caravan, I noticed a missed call from Gordon and a voice mail, I checked and it was the brother in law, asking for me to contact him. Due to poor reception I texted him back to say I would ring on return home, which I did, he had little more information but did say he would tell me more when he knew. At the time it felt very odd that he had used Gordons phone but at least we would recognise the number I suppose.

I think it was a couple of weeks later before he got back in touch to inform me of the date location and time of the funeral so I said I would see him there, I also texted Alison to see if we could meet up for a chat. On the day I did worry that few people would be there as he was such a private person, so was pleasantly surprised when the church was quite full, it was a humanist funeral so no hymns or usual process. I spoke briefly to the BIL who informed me it was a brain tumour Gordon had died of, afterwards Alison had not made herself known so I texted her, but got no response, I therefore made my way home, a text arrived from her to say they were all going to the pub, but I said was so late and if she made contact maybe we could meet up somewhere, I still have not heard from her.

I still do not know why he made contact after all these years or what he did with his life, it also seems sad that he died alone and was presumably there for days before being found, but there will never be any answers to this for me. The brother in law did not seem to want to chat and in reality what did we have to talk about, his sisters are still alive but I never knew them that well all that time ago.
It has all made me think about my life and things I want to do whilst I can, but also what can sound rather morbid to arrange what I would like to happen as and when I die to me and the process.
Its a shame really as I have already said there were so many questions I would of loved to know the answer to from him, but now its to late.

2 Jan 2017

A Strange Year 2016

Good morning to you all, I just thought I would give an update on last year, and how I feel about it.

Well a good start sadly is my health, its been a roller coaster of ups and downs with a lot of money spent on physio, after the diagnosis of asthma I felt at least being treated would improve my health, but then to find out months later after taking my inhalers, that in actual fact I did not have the condition, but had serious issues with my heart and arteries, which luckily were eventually diagnosed and now treated. I am trying to do the things that will maintain my health but find it hard to dedicate the time and effort to exercise and maintain a proper diet, My back has really been an issue over the last 12 months and has required a lot of manipulation by physios to improve it to a tolerable state. I also saw a pain relief specialist but he said due to blood thinning medication for my heart, that he could not do anything other than provide medication, I prefer not to be doped up so put up with things as they are for now. More annoying is an area on my ankles that are painful and so far not responding to treatment, plus my legs these days seem to be very dry all the time if I dont use a moisturising cream.
The biggest effect on life this year has been problems with my hearing despite hearing aids. I changed from one hospital to another as I felt my local one was not listening to what I was saying, there seems to of been some improvement, plus now I am learning of other ways to make sure I can communicate. Recently I have taken up lip reading but not sure how effective that will be, I have finally acquired a phone that helps me to hear people more clearly, but when possible I use e mail to communicate a lot of the time, Sadly I have cut back on joining in groups due to problems being able to hear, in more than one to one situations

This year has been very exciting in terms of finding my family, and that there is a whole set of other relatives out there, plus I have found out a little more about my mother and grandfather on my fathers side. This started with a short message from someone who was creating their family tree on my mothers side, he had seen something at a cemetery about my grandfather, that I had never been aware of, then I found some more information about him, I really must go to the cemetery soon to check it out. He led to more relatives who now live in USA and I have managed to speak to, plus a relative of my mothers who I met over the Christmas period and I am hoping to catch up with again in the new year, who knows how many more there are out there

It has been great to have the caravan and to spend time there in pleasant surroundings as and when I want to, this is even better as at present I am struggling with going abroad due to my health and all the barriers these days with my mobility and security etc at airports. Plus have met some pleasant people on the site, maybe this year as health improves I will be getting there more often and explore further. For many years I had intended returning to a resort in Austria I first went as a child to back in the 1960s and last 10 years ago. I had hoped to go there in 2017, but sadly now find the festival of choirs that I was looking forward to no longer takes place so at present my feeling is that maybe dont return and stick with the happy memories from the past

This year is a special birthday and I hoped like the last one it would be easy to arrange, unfortunately the venue I had used previously has been demolished as has the local civic hall and I am struggling to find a suitable venue at present as I would like to invite friends with mobility issues so need ground floor access also am thinking of making it a theme on the forties so need somewhere that lends to this. I had hoped to sort out a date before Christmas but this has not happened, friends have suggested that I have a smaller simpler event but I am not really interested in that, at least at this time

Last year one of my grandchildren had a little boy who is so much fun I feel very proud and my other grand daughter has announced her wedding plans for two years time, so now have something else to look forward to

So life is still throwing up all sorts of surprises, last year one of my schoolboy friends made contact and we are now meeting on a regular basis, I wonder what else this year will bring

Thanks for reading this and I hope you enjoy it

12 Sep 2016

At long last an answer to some of my health issues September 2016

Hello folks, a few people well at least one or two have asked about my recent health issues and what I have had done and why, to create my recent hospital admission

Well over the years I have slowly added to the number of things wrong with me as they have been diagnosed by various medical professionals, sadly I was recently reminded this is a sign of a well used body over the years.  Then last year I seemed to become more breathless for no apparent reason, initially I thought it it was just a chest infection or my ME playing up, but it got worse as the weather got colder,  that much so that when I tried to cross a road I was getting more breathless and had pain across my chest.

I went to see a GP and was referred to see a cardiac consultant at Fairfield hospital,  certain tests were carried out then I eventually saw him, after a series of questions he informed me that in his opinion I now had asthma and was prescribed inhalers and discharged.  Initially they seemed to help but slowly everything seemed to get worse and I was more tired as well. Thr gp tried a range of medication to help relieve the symptoms,  but with no improvement.

The gp next referred me back to the cardiologist,  after some delay I got a letter for me to arrange an appointment through the internet website, it seemed there were none available for the foreseeable future, so I went for one at Salford which was the first that fitted my other appointments. I looked a number of times for other ones locally but still there were none.

One the day of my appointment, firstly they did a comprehensive test, then I saw the consultant,  her first question was why was I  there I explained because of the nhs computer,  she explained that because I had sern a cardiac specialist within the last 12 months that I should of been fast tracked back there within 2 weeks,  so much for how things should of been. She took my history and did a physical examination,  at the end she referred me to another consultant for more comprehensive tests.

The appointment came through quickly so I returned to the hospital for the next test.  After various processes the consultant asked me more about the history of these latest symptoms and what made them better and worse,after explaining these to him and the results his opinion was that I did not have asthma but that it was my angina creating the breathlessness and he was referring me for another angiogram and possibly stents as he felt I had a  blockage of an artery. I was agreeable to this.

Quite quickly I had the next appointment so off to another hospital, luckily I was second on the list and having had the proceedure before was not that worried. All went well until the consultant explained to me that one of the main arteries as well as two others were blocked and he would attempt to clear them and insert stents if not then he would have to stop and bring me back for a heart bypass, luckily he eventually succeeded,  by then I had been in for 2 hours, all had gone well, I then had to stay to be monitored in bed for two hours, then allowed to dress but stay on the ward,  in toral it was over 6 hours and Jane had patiently waited for me first outside then on the ward.  Eventually the ward sister explained what I now needed to do and also if I had problems. My friend came to drive us home and I was pleased it was all over.

I do worry now about the totally wrong diagnosis by the first consult and what would of happened if I had not been referred to the other hospital,  I also odd though it sounds wonder why I seem to be so light hearted about what after all was a very serious condition and presumably has not been totally cured,  but I suppose its better than putting life on hold in case. I will nit be able to fly for a month and wonder how long before my travel insurance will cover me for any trips particularly abroad, so coukd be as well I now have the caravan to give me a break from home. I will try this time to watch my diet more carefully and try to exercise to keep heart working and weight down

30 Jul 2016

Me and my Bum Bags July 2016

I dont remember when I first used bum bags as well or instead of coat and trousers pockets to store possessions in but it must of been many years ago. I still continued to keep money in a wallet and keys in in a trousers pocket, I think initially it was useful to use one on holiday for tickets etc in a fairly safe place.

On odd thing is the name bum bags, because many including myself actually have had the pockets pouch at the front, I seem to recall the Americans call them fanny bags, not sure if the name would attract me to them.

As time went on the ones I used became bigger and I stored more in them when travelling, the only downside I heard was that thieves would use a razor blade to cut through the strap in busy places and people would end up with their possessions gone.

About 10 years ago I had become quite dependant on these bags partly because it was easier to carry stuff in one bag than remember which coat etc I had left, keys money and credit cards as well as now a mobile phone, so when I was planning a couple of long trips I started to look for a better design of bag that would also be resistant to the average thief. I came across a company called Pacsafe who specialise in this sort of bag. Theirs have steel cable in the strap and all accessible parts of the bag to stop thieves as well as zipped and net sections inside to avoid pickpockets, even better is all zips and belt can be locked to improve safety. Well of course I had to have one and found I used it more and more even when at home, the only issue was I had put weight on and it was tight to wear and at times uosetting my bladder and bowel,  so I got in the habit of wearing it over my shoulder.

This as where the adventure began, because as time went on and my short term memory got worse, so did my ability to remember to pick it up when away from home whether visiting friends family, travelling, both at home or abroad. Well the good news was that however many times I left it on the back of a chair or on the floor,  people were very honest and it was either where I had left when I returned or kind people had handed it in for safety to organisations for safe keeping.

One of the best examples I can give was at Orlando some years ago at the end of the holiday we got the car hire company shuttle bus to the airport and I left it there,  only to realise when I reached the airport,  contacted the company and there it was waiting when I travelled back.

More recently when returning from Ireland with Ryanair I had left it under the seat and again only remembered after disembarking, by then I was outside the airport.  I went to the information desk and they phoned to ask if it had been found, one concern was that the flight may of takem off so it could of been a couple of days before it got back to me. Well again fortune and good luck were on my side and half an hour later it turned up at Ryanair desk, which was just as well as my phone money tickets were all in there.

Over the years I eventually decided I needed a replacement for the origional one but found out they had changed the design and that the new one did not meet my needs, luckily I searched and eventually found another model made by the same comoany that was a little larger and slightly different design that worked, but I needed to rethink what to put in and where as now the size of my mobile phone had grown, I carried a range of tablets, a bus pass and a diary and on occassion this tablet computer. Well it all seems to fit, I bought a larger Man Bag but found although it had more space it was not so conveniant to carry and was much larger most of the time. Well I am still using it but no way could I fasten it round my waist now, its getting worn so maybe soon I will start looking for its successor.  Possibly if I could trust either the tablet or phone some of the things I carry could be reduced particularly when travelling on holiday.

But what to do about losing it even more these days, is it time to start carrying items in my pockets again but then there is the greater risk of pickpockets or forgetting I have changed clothes and going out without important items, do I need to get an extension strap and start wearing it again, because actually, I realise its easier to get into when worn when trying to find things. Should I have a lightweight strap that attaches to it so even if I put it down I would be aware when I tried to leave without it. Maybe a high tech device could be used that would alert me when I moved more than a certain distance away from it. It is a dilemma after all this time and these days the items in it are quite important and would cause great inconvenience if lost, maybe they have brought out some new device to solve the problems.

But I do wish I could say, big Thank you to all the kind people who have put themselves out to reunite me and the bag over the last few years, thanks for your honesty and kindness and I will try harder in the future to look after my trusty bag, if I find a better solution I will try to remember to come back on here and inform you all.

Our last day and a trip to Ripon 29 July 2016

I had stayed up late last night to watch the first episode of Celebrity Big Brother,  unfortunately it was not particularly interesting but at the same time did not help me to get a good nights sleep. As far as I had remembered I could either leave my case outside the door to be collected or take it to the coach before departure.  I felt it was easier to do myself, so got up 7ish had a shower, packed then prepared to go for breakfast.  Then was told I should of taken my case to coach earlier so then had to return to room before going for breakfast.

As usual breakfast was pleasant,  then I returned to room to be disturbed and informed my bum bag yet again had been left behind and handed in( I intend doing a blog on its history and adventures soon ) I finished off in room then joined others waiting to board the coach,  promptly on time we set off to Ripon our final stop on the trip, I feel this was to fill in time so we would not arrive to early at the interchange for our feeder coach home.

Ripon seemed a pleasant place with lots of quaint buildings and streets. We decided as it looked like rain that we would visit the cathedral look round, take some photos and maybe if they had a cafe a drink. Unfortunately on artival I was told I needed a licence to take photos, which seemed odd in a church and there had been no such rule in Newcastle, nthere was also a funeral taking place and no cafe so we quickly left.  Andy and I discussed the difference in attitude and the effect on ourselves and other visitors being made to feel welcome. We again found a lovrly small cafe for a drink and me to try out yet another piece of very delicious carrot cake and Brian to sample their scones. We then explored the town square and some of the shops before boarding the coach back.