An Unfortunate Episode

A brief account of the last 48 hours.

INTRODUCTION

I have just got back from a brief stay (less than 48 hours in total) at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, and this post describes what happened, covering the events of Sunday in some detail as a lead -up.

A GOOD SUNDAY…

Sunday morning started exceptionally well, with a shopping trip to Sainsbury’s, during which I walked around the store. I was also able to carry my own shopping from the car to the bungalow and unpack it myself. 

I then had a full Sunday lunch at my aunt’s house, stayed to watch the rugby match between Italy and Ireland (won by Ireland even though they never produced anything approaching their best) and went home still feeling well and happy.

I had my supper and was getting ready for an early night (preparatory to a women’s ODI in India) when the situation changed.

…UNTIL ABOUT 7:30PM

Changing from day clothes into my pyjamas tired me considerably, and my breathing became difficult. I returned to my armchair in the living room to give my breathing a chance to regularise itself, and about an hour later I thought it had done so, and headed back to the bedroom. Unfortunately even that short walk was enough to cause further breathing issues, and at that point I phoned my father who was staying at my aunt’s place. A short time later we were on our way to A&E.

A check not long after arrival there confirmed that it was not a false alarm – my oxygen saturation was down to 89, so I was put on extra oxygen and a bed was found for me. 

The usual gamut of scans and tests were carried out over the following 24 hours, and late yesterday evening my oxygen feed was reduced. At about 9:30 this morning I was taken off the oxygen altogether. A test at about lunchtime confirmed that my unassisted oxyegn saturation levels were just high enough for me to be safely discharged, and at about 3:30PM my father gave me a lift home, where I am now resting up.

 

Health Update

An update on my health situation…

INTRODUCTION

I have just had a visit from Louise, a therapist at Tapping House to fit a new toilet seat and frame to make it easier for me to use the toilet, and to discuss possibilities re therapy at Tapping House. This post attempts to give an overview of the situation.

MY CURRENT STATE OF HEALTH

My body appears to have responded well overall to the cancer treatments I have endured over the last few months – as I have mentioned elsewhere the tumour counts appear to be regularly falling. I am currently experiencing breathing issues which could be caused by any of several possibly linked issues:

  • One of the areas worst affected by the tumours were my lungs, and although the tumours there appear to have almost gone the current issues could still relate back to the cancer.
  • One of the drugs used in my chemotherapy is known to sometimes have an adverse effect on chests and lungs, and it is possible that this is a contributory factor.
  • I have recently had a lung infection, and currently have a mild chest infection for which I am on antibiotics, and there is no doubt that both of these have contributed to the problems.
  • Finally I have through necessity been been very inactive for some time, and this may also partially explain why such activity as I am currently capable of tends to leave me breathless.

The therapist has given me some tips on breathing and on posture when on my feet (e.g in the kitchen), and will be in contact with me again in about a week to see if I am improving, with a view if I am to starting me on physio sessions at Tapping House. She has also indicated that she could take me out in the wheelchair for sessions in which I sit for some of the time and walk for some of the time (the weather is exceptionally mild for an English February, and getting outside more would be good for me).

My confidence is starting to improve as time goes by and I do more things without falling or having other accidents. 

At some stage, when I am strong enough to go through such a procedure, there remains an operation to be endured, and that will probably entail some recovery time as well. 

For the time being I will be seeing at least one carer once per day, which remains a necessity as it ensures that someone who can presumably recognise warning signs will be seeing me daily, and one hopes will be ready to take action if needed. 

With a fair wind I could be starting therapy sessions in just over a week, and I hope to spending more time out of the bungalow and to be more physically active in the not too distant future.

PHOTOGRAPHS

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A card from my friends at NAS West Norfolk

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A couple of illustrations from George Smoot’s “Wrinkles in Time”

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Comparison between two antique maps of Norfolk – this one in my aunt’s house (four images)…

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…and this one which belonged to my grandparents is now on display in my bungalow (five images)

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England’s Impressive Start To ODI Series

An account of the 1st ODI between England and the West Indies.

INTRODUCTION

After a test match series most of which is best forgotten England last night started the ODI series against the West Indies in emphatic style. I followed the action on cricinfo, since there was no live commentary.

A RUN FEAST

Chris Gayle, playing his last international series at the age of 39, clubbed a spectacular century for the West Indies. The problem was that although he was smashing sixes like the Gayle of old he was no longer able to run at any sort of speed, and as a result his overall scoring rate was not actually that quick by modern standards as there were too many scoreless deliveries there.

The early lead in England’s response to the West Indies 360 was taken by Jason Roy who pretty much matched Gayle for freedom of stroke play and was also able to run properly, with the result that his strike rate was colossally impressive. Joe Root and Eoin Morgan then took over once he was out, and just before the end Root reached the third inidvidual hundred of the day, while Ben Stokes made an unbeaten 20 at the end to ensure that there would be no final wobble. Root was out at the death, caught of a dreadful full toss that was only just a legal delivery, but England’s margin was six wickets, with eight balls to spare, and at no point during the England innings did the West Indies look other than second favourites.

Although Gayle had a higher score the player of the match award went quite rightly to Jason Roy whose innings put England firmly in the driving seat, a position they never subsequently relinquished. In a match in which 724 runs were scored in 98.4 overs Ben Stokes’ bowling figures (3-37 from 8 overs) were noteworthy. Chris Gayle’s 135 came off 129 balls, so just above 100 runs per 100 balls, while Jason Roy’s 123 occupied just 85 balls – a strike rate of over 140 runs per 100 balls. A full scorecard can be viewed here.

In the early hours of tomorrow morning UK time, the England women take on India in an ODI, while the second match of the series in the West Indies gets underway later the same day.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Monday – Autism, Capita and Cancer

An account of a busy, tiring but important day in my story – yesterday.

INTRODUCTION

Yesterday was a very busy day for me, starting with a session in my home with Capita as part of processing a PIP claim and followed by various things at Addenbrookes Hospital. This post covers the days events in some detail.

THE START OF THE DAY – CAPITA

I was up and about by 7AM as I intended to be, giving myself plenty of time to prepare for the arrival of Capita. At just about 9AM somebody from Tapping House arrived to support me through the session, closely followed by my parents and Capita’s representative.

This session went fairly well, helped by the fact that the Capita representative actually had some knowledge of autism, which meant that I was being asked very direct questions, which in turn made handling them easier.

While I have as yet no expectations about the final outcome of this assessment I believe that it went about as well as it could have done, and therefore I am cautiously optimistic.

ADDENBROOKES PRELIMINARIES

The day at Addenbrookes started with a weigh-in (71.3 Kilos), and then an appointment with my oncology specialists to discuss progress in my case. My tumour markers are continuing to drop (from being in the hundreds of thousands they are now down to 36, while they need to get down to 4 for me to safe) and the overall prognosis is improved (when my treatment started I was told that there was about a 50% chance of all the cancers that were afflicting me being cleared, and I have now been told that the odds are better than that). When my lungs have cleared sufficiently for me to be considered strong enough to through such a process there will be an operation to remove the testicle that was the root cause of all my problems. There remains some uncertainty over what will ultimately be done about the four small tumours in my brain. I am due back at Addenbrookes in two weeks time, and in the intervening week I will receive an email from someone at the hospital to check up on me (I believe that this will be a regular feature for the future).

X-RAY AND BLOOD SAMPLES TAKEN

Following on from this session it was time for a chest X-Ray and then for some blood to be taken. Both went extremely smoothly, with my veins being fully co-operative for once. 

After this there remained one last thing to be done at the hospital…

AN IRON INFUSION

The iron infusion looks like liquid rust (this one is the third I have had, and may well not be the last). It takes about half an hour to run, and then one has to wait for another half hour while potential side effects are monitored. Fortunately there were none and I got away fairly swiftly at the end. This was a tiring but very satisfactory day, and one that has boosted my confidence for the future. There will still be tough times ahead, but I can also look forward with confidence to a better future. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are some pictures I took yesterday and today…

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A windmill on the way to Addenbrookes.
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The first of three pictures taken in the hospital.
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This bust is of Edward Douty.

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A pride flag in the hospital car park.

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Ely Cathedral
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The spire of St Nicholas Chapel (1st of today’s pictures)
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The clock at The Pretty Tea Shop, Norfolk Street, where I went for an NAS West Norfolk coffee morning today (first of six pics from that venue).

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An upcoming NAS West Norfolk talk.

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Tammy Beaumont and Women Playing Alongside Men

A radical suggestion for dealing with the England men’s teams top order batting woes…

INTRODUCTION

Having introduced my new series about cricketers in my last post I now move on to an opening batter who provides a springboard for plenty of other ideas.

VALE ATQUE AVE

The 2015 English cricket season started with the news of the dropping and subsequent international retirement of Charlotte Edwards after a long and illustrious career (she features later in this series). Who was going to fill the monster sized vacancy that her departure left at the top of the England women’s batting order? 

The first England women’s squad post the dropping and retirement of Edwards featured an opening pair of Tammy Beaumont and Lauren Winfield. Beaumont immediately began making big runs in her new role at the top of the order, and remarkably a fairly seamless transition from one era to the next took place.

OPENING WOES IN THE MENS TEAM

Meanwhile in the ranks of the England men’s team a gaping hole was emerging at the top of the batting order. Alastair Cook, so long an absolute rock in that position, seemed to have gone into irreversible decline and none of those selected to partner him looked remotely good enough. Mark Stoneman went after a sequence of test matches that brought him four 5o plus scores but never saw him get as far as 60 (and he had several lives in the course of his top score of 59). He was replaced by Keaton Jennings who has scored two test hundreds but who is also looking at an average of 25.86 after 16 test matches (at least 15 runs per innings light for a specialist batter at that level). 

When Cook announced that he was retiring from international cricket the problem became greater still. Rory Burns of Surrey was an obvious candidate for one slot at the top of the order, having scored far more runs than anyone else in the English season. For the the other England faced a difficult decision between the following:

  1. Stick with the underachieving Jennings and hope for miracles.
  2. Revert to Stoneman with even less chance of success
  3. Bring in a second brand new opener and hope that (at least) one of the newbies hits their straps right from the start.
  4. Faced with an assortment of unappealing options as listed above go for someone who has been making stacks of international runs at the top of the order and give Tammy Beaumont her chance to play alongside the men.

In the event England took option one, and one big score for him in Sri Lanka apart it has not worked out either for them or for Jennings. In the test match currently under way at St Lucia England are doing well, but they have not had many top order runs to work with, although Burns batted a long time in the first innings. In the first two tests of this series England were roundly defeated, and the less said about their batting efforts, the better. 

COULD A WOMAN PLAY ALONGSIDE THE MEN?

The short answer is yes. I would not expect a female fast bowler to be able to hold their own as power is so important in this department, but in batting, fielding, wicketkeeping and slow bowling, where there is less of a premium on pure power I see no reason why a female could not hold their own with the men, and my suggestion relates specifically to an opening batter. 

If some new opener makes a succession of centuries in the early part of the English season , thereby forcing themselves on the selectors my current thinking may be modified, but at the moment I remain convinced that the best solution to the England Mens team’s opening woes is to give Beaumont her chance and see what happens.

THOMAS SQUAD FOR 1ST ASHES MATCH

I have misgivings about someone who is almost 33 starting a test career from fresh, but Joe Denly’s 69 in St Lucia would seem to have earned him an extended run, so it is on that basis that he features in my squad for the first Ashes Match. I will list the names, and then append some explanations:

  1. I Beaumont
  2. Rory Burns
  3. Joe Denly
  4. Joe Root*
  5. Joss Buttler
  6. Ben Foakes+
  7. Ben Stokes
  8. Sam Curran
  9. Adil Rashid
  10. Jack Leach
  11. Mark Wood
  12. James Anderson
  13. Olly Stone

I have named 13 because the exact make up the bowling unit will depend on the nature of the pitch and the conditions. I regard Anderson, Wood and Stone as essential for the seam attack (two outright quicks, and England’s all-time leading wicket taker), with Leach and Rashid in that order of precedence as spin options should conditions warrant it, and Curran as a fourth front-line seamer (possibly batting at 7 in place of Stokes) should conditions warrant that option. Bairstow at no 3, as a specialist batter, is also an option but would seem shockingly inconsistent given the Denly has produced a significant score in St Lucia, which is why he is not there in my list.

PHOTOGRAPHS

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A recent acquisition, which has also featured on my London Transport themed website.

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A 100 Cricketers 1: Introduction and First XI

The start of a new series which will be appearing regularly in this blog…

INTRODUCTION

This is the first in what I envisage being a long series of posts, and will set the scene for the entire series.

A NOTE ON THE DESIGNATION ‘ELEVENS’

Although I have divided my cricketers into elevens, that being the number the usually comprises a team I am not implying that these elevens are in any particular order. There are many ways to pick an 11 person team out of the players I have chosen and you may well have ideas of your own by the end of the series of what your elevens would be. All of my elevens could definitely function as teams, and all are of mixed sex. Within each 11 I have further subidivided into categories based on the types of players in the team. 

SOME BASIC CRITERIA

All the players I shall cover are players who have been active during my lifetime, and specifically players who I have witnessed either live, on TV or via radio commentaries (my favourite way of following cricket so long as the commentators are up to the job). All the players featured would be worth a place for one particular specialism, even if they are also excellent at other aspects of the game – a genuine all-rounder if you have such a thing is wonderful news, someone not quite up to the job with either bat or ball is a waste of space. Being English and having come to cricket during the 1980s I witnessed the dread decade of the 1990s when desperation to fill the void created by the decline and eventual retirement of Ian Botham led to a succession of medium pacers who were also respectable lower order batters being pushed as the magic bullet. At one time it seemed that a quick 50 and a three-for somewhere would be enough for the ‘all-rounder’ sign to be draped round the neck.

Some of my selections never got international call-ups – when I cover these players I will explain why I selected them, and there is one who I have named in anticipation of a moment that surely cannot be long delayed.

THE FIRST XI IN BATTING ORDER

My first eleven is as follows:

  1. Tammy Beaumont
  2. Alastair Cook
  3. *Ellyse Perry
  4. Kevin Pietersen
  5. David Gower
  6. Andrew Flintoff
  7. +Ben Foakes
  8. Kathryn Brunt
  9. Jack Leach
  10. James Anderson
  11. Olly Stone

I will be covering this selection in four posts:

  • A stand alone post about Tammy Beaumont in which I shall expand on women in cricket and on the possibilities of women playing alongside the men.
  • A piece featuring Cook, Gower and Pietersen, the other specialist batters
  • A piece on the all-rounders (including Foakes in that category, as a wicketkeeping all-rounder) – Perry, Flintoff, Foakes and Brunt
  • A piece on the bowlers – Leach, Anderson and Stone

PHOTOGRAPHS

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A special issue 50p (three images)

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A Stockholm Archipelago winter scene (from postcard)

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A gull

 

 

Receiving My Bronze Level Art Award

An account of how I gained an Arts Award (Bronze Level).

INTRODUCTION

Today was the day I and three other people picked up Arts Awards (Bronze Level) from Trinity College, London, for work done at Musical Keys sessions in King’s Lynn run for autistic people. 

THE WORK

There were four elements to the work that had to be done to earn this award:

  1. Creating music during the sessions.
  2. Demonstrating knowledge and understanding of how to create that music and being able to share with the group what one was doing.
  3. Providing a record of an arts related event that one had attended.
  4. Providing some information about one particular artist from whom you have taken inspiration.

I am now going to give you access to each of these four areas.

CREATING THE MUSIC/ SHARING HOW THIS IS DONE

My creative work was done using Scratch and Reaper on the computers. I do not have this work available to share at present, but here is a link to an old post which describes the process.

This one shows Scratch:

Here are some extra pictures set into a word document:

Photos from MK

A RECORD OF AN ARTS EVENT

I interpreted this a trifle loosely so that I could use something for which I not only had a record but for which mine was the only photographic record – the time when Number 2 Hampton Court, Nelson Street, King’s Lynn was turned into an exhibition for Heritage Open Day. 

This is what the document I submitted looks like:

2 Hampton Court

MY CHOSEN ARTIST

I selected Maurits Cornelis Escher as my featured artist. Before producing my own offering about him, including three sample pictures I give you a variation on one of his pictures from Anna, titled “Never Ending Blogger

Never ending blogger

Maurits Cornelis Escher has been a favourite artist of mine for a very long time. His mathematical pictures and impossible constructions particularly appeal to me because I enjoy mathematics, and unpicking optical illusions myself.

https://www.mcescher.com/about/biography/

Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972) is one of the world’s most famous graphic artists. His art is enjoyed by millions of people all over the world, as can be seen on the many web sites on the internet.

He is most famous for his so-called impossible constructions, such as Ascending and Descending, Relativity, his Transformation Prints, such as Metamorphosis I, Metamorphosis II and Metamorphosis III, Sky & Water I or Reptiles.

But he also made some wonderful, more realistic work during the time he lived and traveled in Italy.

Castrovalva for example, where one already can see Escher’s fascination for high and low, close by and far away. The lithograph Atrani, a small town on the Amalfi Coast was made in 1931, but comes back for example, in his masterpiece Metamorphosis I and II.

M.C. Escher, during his lifetime, made 448 lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings and over 2000 drawings and sketches. Like some of his famous predecessors, – Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Dürer and Holbein-, M.C. Escher was left-handed.

Apart from being a graphic artist, M.C. Escher illustrated books, designed tapestries, postage stamps and murals. He was born in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, as the fourth and youngest son of a civil engineer. After 5 years the family moved to Arnhem where Escher spent most of his youth. After failing his high school exams, Maurits ultimately was enrolled in the School for Architecture and Decorative Arts in Haarlem.

Here are the three pictures I selected to show along with this:

Relativity
“Relativity”, a personal favourite
Monks Large
“The Monks”
Waterfall Large
“The Waterfall”

TODAY’S PRESENTATION

I had been worried that my health might prevent me from being present to collect my certificate, but fortunately I improved sufficiently to be discharged from hospital AND a care plan was put in place ready for said discharge, and in the event, although I found the experience quite tiring I was able to attend and collect my certificate in person. Here are some photos from today:

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Me with my certificate, with Oliver from Musical Keys next to me (the black beanie covers the most visible effect of the intensive chemo)
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A group shot
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A close-up of the certificate.