With the build up of domestic stresses, mainly effecting Ella, and with the traumatic experience of driving with a faulty clutch, a slowing-down in the pace of life came about.
Whenever the opportunity availed itself, I took Ella and Harry to Eastney Beach, Southsea, where Harry generally laid on the stony shore, gazing into space and chain-smoking.
Ella enjoyed sitting on a gadabout, Andrew Mclaren chair, which could be folded into a walking stick. Occasionally, she would make remarks about seagulls, or trying to guess the type of vessel in the distance.
My routine depended on the time of year we visited this spot. Once the sea had become bearable, I chose to take a quick dip and get out and do like Harry, without the smoking.
We aimed to be on the chosen spot by mid-morning, to avoid people, as is his way of life. Up to the holiday season, all we would generally see would be the occasional elderly local swimmer arriving on his bike, taking a short swim, drying off, dressing and cycling off in under half an hour. My remarks, when I saw this happen, would be, They dont make the young like that any more.
To my surprise, Harry responded, You are quite right, Dad, they dont! Ella would keep silent when such remarks were made by me, for when she was well, she would be the last to enter the water.
One time, when I had a dip and knew the sea was cold, I told my little party to time two teenage girls, how long it took them to swim. It was nearly half an hour, as they went into the sea, taking one foot forward and half a foot back, whenever a new wave approached them.
Not always did Harry come with us, if the weather was not warm, but he always appreciated us calling on him. I regarded these visits to Eastney Beach as beneficial to each of us. It enabled Ella to get out to enjoy the seaside scenery and activities and put aside her depressed state of mind when at home. For Harry, our presence was a symbol that we still cared for him, and could be relied upon as his life-line. For me, it was always refreshing to have a dip in the sea, and I, too, liked to relax on the beach and sunbathe.
The bridge section at the bowls club had reached almost the full capacity of the bowls pavilion, during the non-outdoor playing season. A number of factors had contributed to the success of this section. I was able to give lessons at the early birth of this section, using notes that Ella had when attending a bridge course at evening school. Also, Bert Corbin, the new member, who had produced a crib sheet within 3 months of joining the section, had become well known in bridge circles for this piece of paper. He had condensed masses on information adequately enough to enable a non card player to take part in bridge circles.
The section became a useful asset for the bowls club, financially. It also decorated the pavilion prior to the festive season on an annual basis. A number of players who had been reared at our club, had joined other bridge clubs and were holding their own, as well as playing social bridge. This gave me great satisfaction for this game, for each person brings a new dimension into their lives. It is a game that, once played, the individual has no desire to play any other card game. Because of the infinite variety of cards that can be dealt, seldom can a player be certain of the bid he has made. The excuse of not achieving the bid by the player is often put down to the fact that bridge is not an exact science!
Amongst our bowling bridge friends, Murial Thomas told us that she would like to bring her mother, May, who was staying with her for a few weeks, along to the next bridge session. She lived in Australia with part of her family, who had emigrated there. She was also mother to Dorothy Privett, who when joining the section provided an abundance of stationery. May, who had played whist back in Australia, had never played bridge! Her age was 90 years. After hearing this request, I recalled the adage - never attempt to teach an old dog new tricks! It would have been unkind to have quoted this saying to Murial, so I gave her the impression that we would be only too glad to take on this assignment.
May did come along and gave no indication that she was her actual age. She looked very wiry, spoke with an Australian accent and made it known that she had no intentions of staying here. Within a few weeks, we learned that she was taking part in bridge sessions at her daughters house and finally, in our Chicago drives, before returning to Australia.
News from Murial filtered through, following her return, that May was playing bridge at several bridge clubs. I think this proved it is never too late to learn, and has blown the old dog adage to pieces! This became a headline story for the local Evening News paper.
Amongst my many other converts to the game was my friend, Ernie King, who could be described as no spring chicken, being well into his 70s. But then this did not amaze me, for he was very adept at most things. Amongst Ernies other activities, besides golf, was hairdressing. He had several friends on whom he would practice his haircutting skill. He had been taught in the navy, serving on HMS Suffolk in the China trouble areas during 1930 to 1933.
I learned a great deal from him about the navy and how the Dockyard influenced the local schools training programme in Portsmouth, gearing it to the Dockyard Apprenticeship Examination. Each year, over 200 apprentices would be taken on, which were keenly contested, as there used to be very little industry in the area.
Of course, the other career let-out for a boy was to join the navy, as Ernie did after joining the Royal Navy School of Music in 1927 at the age of 14, not realising that he would be sent to the Far East three years later.
It was while on board his first ship that he learned his second role when in warfare, by being a stretcher bearer and other first aid duties, including hairdressing. He became well sought-after by members of the crew once he had become proficient at this.
While Ernie was playing bridge, or taking charge of the Friday afternoon drives on the bowling green, Mary, his wife, called round and kept Ella company. She was Scottish, as many wives in the Portsmouth area seemed to be, due no doubt to the navy visiting their ports. This was not so, however, in their case. This was revealed when chatting about the men folk. Mary had left home at the age of 16, to be a nanny in a doctors home in London. She gave that job up and went back to Scotland, but missed the London scene. Mary returned to London and took an office job at Sainsburys, where working alongside her was Ernies sister. As does happen, by this connection, Mary was taken to their home in Portsmouth, from which a romance developed. They were married on 1st April 1939, when she became wedded to a Portsmouth family and acquired six brothers and sisters-in-law.
During the war, he had served on the Resolution battleship and the Nigeria cruiser, which was bombed by the French at Dakar when the Allies were preventing the French Navy from being taken over by the Germans, in the African ports. Occasionally, he would mention the bandsmans role aboard ship, where their presence was required to play in the officers mess when foreign dignitaries were being entertained.
When he was demobbed in 1952, he held, with the rank of Bandmaster, several Star Medals - Palestine, Burma, Atlantic and the African Star. His musical career continued in civilian life, for he became a founder member of Havant Orchestra under Peter Craddock in 1963, playing lead to the second violins.
He was their librarian and, with assistance from Mary, sent music on loan to other orchestras in the United Kingdom. Many times he would tell me that he had played at the Kings Theatre the night before, as a guest violinist for a local musical society. All this took place while he worked at Sperry Vickers, from 1962, as an expediter. To fill his spare time, he played golf!
It was fortuitous for Bedhampton Bowls Club, that on his retirement from Sperry, he joined the club and was able to give his service in many ways. Ella and I were the richer for gaining their friendship. With having success with the All Change bowls drive, he and I marketed the movement cards, under the tradename, Rayking. The following is a copy of the instruction sheet, for the organiser of the drive to refer to:-
INSTANT ALL CHANGE BOWLS DRIVE INSTRUCTIONS
1. Finalise even number of players taking part.*
2. Refer to movement table and select relevant set of cards, eg, where 22 players are taking part, select the 24 set and omit cards numbered 23 and 24.
3. Tell players they will be playing rinks as specified in the table. In the above example, this would be 3 triples and 1 pair.
4. Hand out to each player a movement card and a score card.
5. Tell players the number of ends to be played for each session. eg, 6 ends for each of 3 sessions. **
6. Tell each player to record his own score at the end of each session.***
INFORMATION FOR DRIVE ORGANISER
* Drive caters for between 12 and 48 players. Where
there is an odd number of players, ask the last 2 players to arrive to share one movement
card, better still, get 2 volunteers to share card.
1. * Drive caters for between 12 and 48 players. Where there is an odd number of players, ask the last 2 players to arrive to share one movement card, better still, get 2 volunteers to share card.
2. ** Select the numbers of ends to suit the time available.
3. *** At each end 1st shot scores 3 points.
2nd shot scores 2 points.
3rd shot scores 1 point.
4. Each drive produces a player with the highest score and a player with the lowest score. Added interest is generated by making a small charge to provide a prize for the winner and the loser.
5. Further interest can be maintained by awarding a trophy to the player who has the highest score throughout the playing season.
6. Your club adoption of this instant All Change Bowls Drive will prove to be an investment for the promotion of good relations between club members.
A RAYKING Product
To give publicity to our venture, an advert was placed in the World of Bowls, from which a number of enquiries were received. In most cases they were not followed up, due to elderly bowlers holding office, who were reluctant to try something new, being of the mind that what has been used before should not be changed.
However, we had a Mr Kelly, from Braunton, Devon, who seemed very enterprising, and had devised a similar drive. Eventually, he purchased a set of movement cards and found them to be very successful. Later, we were to meet him at Ilfracombe, Devon, when on a short break there. I was surprised to learn that their club had two greens and sometimes our cards could not cope with the large numbers they had taking part. I suggested that he should buy another set of All Change cards and run two drives at the same time. All that this did was to bring a smile, for my slick salesmanship.
Another interesting enquiry came from a Don Spencer, who taught bowls at a leisure centre at Leicester. He found the scheme attractive in that it automatically enabled his pupils to change their position in the team, so that they had experience in playing at lead, second, third and skip. We had the pleasure of meeting Don at the Southsea Annual Bowls Tournament, where he took purchase of a set of movement cards.
On Page 181 is a copy of the letter I received from the secretary of the English Bowling Association when the All Change Bowls Drive came into use for the first time. I met David at his Worthing headquarters and he did point out that this was his opinion, and he was not expressing the committees point of view. He kindly showed me around their museum, where many photos of former great personalities in the game were on display. The great cricketer, W G Grace, had too been a President of the English Bowling Association.
In the past, the Bedhampton Bowls Club had sent both bowlers and bridge players on Friday nights, to play against the lifers in Kingston Prison. A lady prison governor became in charge and these visits were stopped on grounds of economy, for extra wardens were required to be on duty while we were inside the prison gates.
A special case was made by their educational head to be allowed to have a prisoner be taught the violin by Ernie, who received letters of thanks from the lifers parents. It was Mary who divulged that Ernie had coached his pupil through various levels of certificates, until he gained a higher award. That was another case where Ernie was involved in giving a service to others, without letting the world know about it.
Occasionally, Ernie would have a moan to me about Havant Council not providing a concert hall. During a Friday afternoon, whilst sitting watching bowls play, he suddenly produced the Havant Orchestras programme of annual concerts and said, Alan, look at this. Its heading is A Season of Classics in Fareham - Havant Orchestra. Ive told my conductor, Peter Craddock, many times to have a go at the council to provide a hall to play in Havant. I had always praised Havant for the general amenities it makes available to the ratepayers, but in this case, I had to reply, Yes, I quite agree with you, for your orchestra is known nationally, as are Havants hockey and rugby clubs. Your bursaries award to bright young musicians leaving schools of music to play with the Havant Symphony Orchestra has made many become well known, such as Nigel Kennedy.
It was interesting to note, when reading through this programme, that Mrs Mary King was listed among the honorary vice-presidents in recognition of her involvement with Ernie in running the orchestras library section. This demanded their presence at each concert to collect all the musical scores from the musicians taking part.
During the summer months, Ernie had been complaining of stomach pains. His doctor arranged, through the consultant to have a series of X-rays, which took place at Queen Alexandra Hospital, on the 25th October at 11 am. I was only too pleased to take both Ernie and Mary along to the hospital to keep this appointment. Little was said en route, hoping of course that the X-rays would not reveal any serious symptoms. He was thankful that they had sent for him, as the pain relieving drugs had not worked, and he had lost a lot of sleep.
Returning home, I found Ella very distressed. In her distressed mental state, she was very sensitive to any worrying news.
Prior to Ellas stroke, George Bowbrick had built us a conservatory at the rear of the house, adjoining the French sliding doors. This 6 feet by 12 feet structure, made of brick and hard wood, with a heat-resistant polycarbonate roof, proved a real asset for Ella, who was virtually house-bound. The large windows facing the garden still allowed the garden to be seen from indoors, which was a major feature of its design.
It was very noticeable that, for both of us, most of the daytime was spent sat on sun-loungers in the conservatory. This brought us nearer to the garden, where we could look upon the fishpond and see the koi and fantail fish doodling about. Of the dozen fish put into the pond at the time it was constructed, we had lost only two, the remainder had now trebled their size, with the koi being around nine inches long, which could be likened to a flag-ship of their fish fleet.
What gave great satisfaction, was the fact that George had told me that the stepped patio that I had constructed had become the base for the conservatory. He had found it to be both flat and of the correct gradient for drainage, 1 in 3 feet, although that did not matter, it being enclosed. All he had to do was to put a layer of screed over the surface. So my patio, which my next-door neighbour, Bill Dracket, had referred to as a rocket launching pad extending outside the conservatory, measured three feet before it stepped down four inches to the garden level, embracing the fish pond and wrought metal tea table and chairs. This enabled a 2 feet wide seat to be positioned outside, under the conservatory windows, where one could be seated overlooking the length of the garden.
No matter from what the angle the garden was viewed, one shrub stood above all others. This was the spruce coniferous tree, planted in the centre lawn bed. Its dense silver grey foliage gave it a distinctive conical shape, which I would refer to sometimes as the monkey tree. This spruce was one of a job lot that we had bought from the local nursery, Keydales, for less than £10. This job lot of trees and shrubs, as they matured, became the main attraction of the garden, for the rest of the prostrate type shrubs planted in the old rose bed, grew more branches horizontally than upright, giving ground coverage, preventing weeds from growing.
Many of those that did call on us, admired Ellas garden and the peaceful setting, for there was seldom a noise of any kind to be heard at our end of Wigan Crescent, where mostly retired people lived and remained, when they became widows or widowers. All this helped Ella to come to terms with her physical condition, making her house-bound state more tolerable.
An Ordnance Survey plan from the HM Land Registry showed a Roman road having passed through our land during the Roman occupation. Bill Dracket discussed with me about hiring an excavator to search for Roman treasures. This, however, did not go down well with our wives, but, nevertheless, our digs in our gardens suddenly became more frequent.
At the start of the Workers Educational Courses in Emsworth, for the winter season, I joined the Creative Writing course. It was made up of around a dozen ladies, of all ages, with a few men, one of whom was David Bowen, a member of our bowls club. From the start, I did not feel as though I was on the same wavelength, as each read out pieces of their romantic sketches. The experiences of the soldier at war, that I read out to them, seemed to have little attraction. I was told that I had fallen between two stools. It was neither a historical account nor a fictional story. David had been a member of the group of ladies attending, and had met at their homes, discussing their latest writings. I did not complete the course, probably because I was never meant to be a writer!
My first love, bridge, was still giving me satisfaction, for my partner, Alan Wagg and I had won the duplicate pairs for 1992 at the Emsworth Bridge Club. This was their most sought-after trophy, which it gave me great pleasure to show off to my friends, and of course, Ella.
With my many weekly activities, bowls, stroke clubs, bridge, visiting Harry, time passed by quickly, so that Christmas was soon upon us. Harry was continuing to be stable and came home at 11am Christmas Eve, returning to Outram Road, Southsea at 2.30 pm on Christmas Day. It was a relief to know that he was keen to return to his abode, where he made it obvious that this was his adopted home - thanks to Sylvia!
As one reaches old age, few escape the effects of wear and tear during lifes span. When younger, individuals have to make some of their most important decisions, effecting the rest of their lives. It seems that after childhood, not many escape the stresses of everyday life, and later, illness of some kind.
The less fortunate of mankind have disabilities from birth, with parents having to reshape their lives to care for their offspring. Harrys parents had to some degree come into this category. It was almost a novelty to look ahead and be able to plan some kind of break for Ella and myself with the knowledge that Harry was settled at Outram Road - thanks to Sylvia!
I looked for some kind of rest home where we could have accommodation and meals prepared for us. Through the sponsorship of the Royal British Legion, we were booked in at Somerset House, Weston Super Mare, for the 9th June. We were pleased with the convalescent home, for according to the details given to us, this home was geared to semi-handicapped people. It had a lift and overlooked the Weston Bay, but more important to us was that Barbara could visit us, being only a relative few miles away at Dunster. For me, I could not get away quickly enough from household chores.
Whilst on steward duties at the desk at the Havant Indoor Bowls Centre between 10 am and 12 noon, which the secretary, Bernard James, had introduced on a rota basis, I had a request from Tom Snape. He was the organiser of the 1993 Southsea Open Bowls Tournament and would like the loan of a set of All Change Drive movement cards to use at the tournament. It was hoped to stage this event on a spare green for players who had been knocked out of the tournament, with their supporters also taking part. I told him that Les Jones, of Leigh Park Bowling Club and myself would run the drive for him. Les and his wife ran the weekly drive at his club, like Ernie at Bedhampton. This suited Tom Snape fine. I regarded this event at the tournament as an opportunity to promote the sales of our movement cards.
This event did take place and we had many enquiries from those taking part, but little came of them from their clubs, when they returned. This resistance by bowling clubs to try out something new if it involved a small expenditure was common amongst most of the clubs.
When playing on a Friday afternoon, many times I was asked how I devised these movement cards. I told them that it was on the banks of the Adriatic Sea, near Split, before civil war broke out in Yugoslavia. Many of these players had been with other bowls clubs and had never seen anything to compare with this type of game, which gave me much self-satisfaction.
Sadly, Ernie Kings health had deteriorated, causing him to have numerous visits to the hospital. Very little was said about his actual stomach treatment, when I took him and Mary to hospital. He did refer to the pain in his backside, which kept him awake at night. I did not want to hear any more, for it had recalled memories of Gladys shouting out at night with pains in a similar place, Go away pain! Go away pain!
David Bowen, who was a regular Friday afternoon bowls player and took part in the Works Education courses at Emsworth, revealed that he produced the quarterly journal for Dorset, Hants and Wiltshire of the Spiritual Healers Association. I told him I would write him a short article. David joked tome about the fact that I had now had an article published and would have to continue submitting manuscripts for each of his quarterly editions.
This was a landmark in my life, for I had never had any of my writing published, no matter how short. It did my ego a lot of good to have various people tell me that they had read all about Sylvia. I had yet to learn the meaning of meeting the deadline date!
MEET - SYLVIA - CARING
FOR THE MENTALLY ILL
BY ALAN RAYMENT
What is the height of misery? The voice on the phone asked. It was the same voice on the phone yesterday. Are you having fun? he enquired. Previously, these questions would have been preceded by bleeps from a public call box, which prepared me to expect questions of this kind. Now a digital phone has been installed at my sons half-way house and no early warning signals are transmitted. In all cases, the phone calls from Harry, my son, provide an indication of his mental stability; more important to him, the phone link with his parents provides a life line calling for support either in words, or, as in this case today, a visit to him.
When my wife and I later called on Harry, the housekeeper, Sylvia, greeted us at the door with a smile and invited us in. She then introduced us to Sid, a new member of the household, who recognised me from the many visits I had made to the local mental hospital. So Sid had joined Harry, together with Fred, a Second World War veteran now suffering the effects of head wounds. Then there was Mary, suffering the after effects of early childhood sexual abuse and Bill, who like Harry, has had a long history of mental disorder.
We spoke to our son who told us he was due to visit the doctor and did not know what to say to him. He then immediately stated that he wanted plastic surgery to eliminate the scars he had inflicted on himself during a two year spell of head and face bashing against walls and windows whilst in hospital. This plastic surgery had been put in motion and was then cancelled by Harry - such is the mental confusion of the schizophrenic patient.
Sylvia announced that their dinners were about to be served, so we said our goodbyes and departed.
Harry was transferred from hospital to community care three years ago. His first placement provided medical staff support throughout 24 hours of the day. A programme of rehabilitation was carried out to enable the patients to learn to care for themselves in such areas as washing clothes, cooking and shopping. You would say my son graduated, 12 months ago, to his present residence where patients are required to be self supporting, apart from the main meal and the upkeep of the home, provided by Sylvia.
The improved stability of Harry and the other patients who have been placed in community residence is the result of the care and love given by a whole team of devoted staff. This includes the hospital consultants, nurses, social workers and the personnel of the special projects provided by the local Housing Association. Little publicity is given to the role of the Housing Association in the support of the mentally ill. The Associations Annual Report provides information on the finance and accommodation details. However, it would appear to avoid divulging the location of the mentally ill residences or make reference to their staff who maintain the housekeeping functions. Should the general public wish to acquaint themselves with the achievements of the half-way houses they would meet with some surprises.
Behind the scenes much teamwork has been necessary, involving a Steering Committee comprising the Local Housing Association, County Social Services, the local Health Authority and a number of voluntary groups. The rate of humanising institutionalised mental patients by this body is not only co-related to the cash made available by Government bodies but also on the acceptance of community care by the public. The true facts are that once a property has been earmarked by the local authority for accommodating mentally ill patients, the local residents lodge complaints with the District Planning Officer. Does this care count for nothing to all who are party to this action? Or does it? Could it not be that one of their relatives or even THEIR own son, daughter or parent is struck down with mental illness. The record shows that this illness is no respector of age, sex, class or colour.
It is not surprising with this prevailing attitude of the public towards community care that the Housing Association does not disclose its half-way houses. Under the heading of bed units at hostels is hidden the unsung housekeeper, such as Sylvia. They are probably the least-paid in the whole organisation, but, having the greatest influence on the lives of their families. Sylvia confessed to my wife and me that she could kill them for their anti-social behaviour, but, nevertheless, she regarded them as her family and she loved them all.
I refrained from identifying the true names of the patients and the area in which they live. However, I could not resist using the housekeepers real name, Sylvia, for she shines like a beacon in the application of Community Care.
Before I was accepted by the Royal British Legion as a worthy case to be given accommodation at Somerset House, we had to attend two interviews with a Mrs Brush of the welfare section of the Legions Branch, Havant. It was necessary for them to know that Ella did not require special nursing attention, for Somerset House was not a nursing home.
Ella was apprehensive about the problems she might encounter, particularly as regards steps at railway stations. This was an area I could not speak about, for we had not travelled by rail for a number of years. I was relieved when the railway voucher to us stated assistance en route to be given at each station.
It was a revelation on mounting the train at Havant, to witness the changes that had taken place, both in the design of the carriages and the personal touch one generally received when travelling by rail. Our guard ensured that help was available before we arrived at each station where we had to change, which were Bristol and Weston-Super-Mare.
Our taxi driver had no problem finding his way to our residence, for he told us he had done dozens of trips to Somerset House in the centre of a terrace of hotels, positioned on the north side of the resort, on the cliff overlooking the Bristol Channel. Somerset Legion House was purchased by the people of Somerset in 1948, not only as a tribute to the dead, but a home of benefit to all ex-servicemen and women in need of convalescence. This information was given to us by a smart member of the staff, with every appearance of a former drill sergeant, when we were directed to our rooms after we had signed in.
Each day before commencing breakfast, all present stood up to listen to the RBL Tribute, recited each day by a visiting guest in memory of the fallen during both world wars:
They Shall Not Grow Old,
As We That Are Left Grow Old;
Age Shall Not Weary Them,
Nor The Years Condemn;
At the Going Down of the Sun
And in the Morning, We Will Remember Them.
The food was brought to us at the table. It was generally a set meal, simple and adequate. Sat with us was an ex-servicemans wife, who had arthritis in most of her joints and had continuous pain. She reminded me of my mother, who suffered terribly from this cruel illness. Most meals, we cut the food on her plate, for she had difficulty in holding her utensils.
An occasional trip was laid on, but when this did not occur, we would do a morning stroll towards the centre of the town along the promenade. The afternoons were mainly spent sitting on the seats overlooking the Bristol Channel, with views of Exmoor to the South, and Wales to the West. We had a full programme of events in the evenings, where bingo appeared each night to remind most ex-servicemen of their army days, playing housey housey.
During the fortnight, Barbara paid us a visit with Sarah. This was a tonic for Ella, who continually had a far-away look and gave the impression that she had Laura on her mind.
Our return home on the railway, with help being provided at each station, made the whole journey worthwhile, to have had this stay at Somerset Legion House, Weston-Super-Mare.
Again, the seasons passed quickly, from summer to winter and vice-versa, with bowls and bridge never ending. Although my performance on the green had reduced, somehow I managed to win the Mens Pair Trophy, whilst my bridge performance, with my partner, Alan Wagg, remained unimpaired, for we won both the League and the Team trophies. One reason for our bridge success, I believe, was due to playing the Club Precision System, which enabled a player to get into a game contract by the quickest bidding route.
Barbara paid us an unexpected visit from Dunster in mid-November. Her daughter, Sarah, had a most unusual deformity which had become evident during her teens. This had to be operated on at a specialist hospital in London, requiring Barbara to make several visits with Sarah during the year. Of course, this was only adding more worries to Ellas world, making her more depressed.
Seeing Barbara at the door with no warning of her visit, caused some surprise, when she uttered, Mother, Ive pipped, Ive pipped. Barbara had always regarded me as a new Dad, and had shown this whenever it was my birthday or at Christmas times by the expensive presents she bought me. It did not seem possible that a person as good-looking and healthy as Barbara, who had kept physically fit with swimming, badminton, squash and walking, should have a mental breakdown.
Her words were jumbled and both Ella and myself had difficulty in understanding her, apart from the need to obtain tranquillisers. I made a cup of tea, which always seemed to be acceptable, no matter how stressful the situation might be to those in distress.
While the cup of tea was doing its soothing task, I made an appointment for Barbara at the Havant Health Centre, with the duty doctor, Dr Maclean, for 5 pm. He insisted that I be present to give him a background to Barbaras health history, should he need it.
Although he was in my medical group, I had no previous dealings with him, so I was a little apprehensive about seeing him. He sponsored a short beard and was not dress conscious, and about in his mid-forties. The main questions he addressed to Barbara concerned her treatment with her doctor back in Dunster. When asked if she had something worrying her, she came forth about another woman working in her own security group at Hinckley Point.
I was greatly impressed with the dedication that Dr Maclean showed in trying to sort out Barbaras mental stress. He concluded that she was suffering from deep anxiety, related to the presence of a new female member of security staff that had joined her section. He would prescribe tranquillisers to cover her stay with us. Before we left his surgery, he made it clear that I should inform him of her progress once she had returned to Dunster.
Dr Maclean made a permanent impression on me as a very caring doctor, and I would have no hesitation in adopting him as my registered doctor.
Barbara expanded on the lady who had joined her section and that she had a close relationship with a senior member of the security staff. This, Barbara revealed in the car as we returned from the surgery. She had reasons to believe that she was telling tales to her top staff.
I am sure that Ella was pleased to have Barbara with us, but was not in any fit condition to sort out her mentally stressed state. As I was the only one of three to be in a reasonably stable state, I took it upon myself to take Barbara for walks on Hayling beach, where I dwelt on her achievements, such as a delightful house and gardens, which she had well maintained and given a home to Andrew and Sarah. This was in addition to the full time job that she did at Hinckley Point.
There was another matter that she brought forth for the first time after she had stayed with us for a few days. She did not want a recent affair she had been having with Terry to come to an end through her mental state. Not knowing who Terry was, and being aware of a number of unfortunate relationships that she had experience, my counselling came to an abrupt end. Barbara continued with her praises for Terry, as if this was her first love in her life.
All this was indeed a daughter confiding in her adopted father about her affairs of the heart. So there were two prime factors causing anxiety, one of which she had kept from the doctor. These strolls on Hayling Island beach had all the setting for the subject of romance, as the sea waves, with seagulls flying overhead collapsed on the islolated beach, to break the silence, as did the gulls.
© Alan Rayment 1998
Last revised: January 20, 2001