My girls at the Lunn Poly travel agency in Havant were wondering what had happened to their chief customer for the Autumn and Spring breaks.    Whenever I entered their branch I was always greeted with a big smile from each of the young girls.

Since deleting all my favourite short breaks trips by Wallace Arnold from their brochure, I had to replace my getting away strategy at the weekends with staying with a bridge group at the Midland Hotel, Bournemouth.   However, I did retain Harrogate, to provide an opportunity to visit Bob Wilson and family, my former friends at Teddington.   I was godfather to Sue, their daughter, and of course I could have Wilma Killean with me for an evening at the hotel!   I was not sure about the need for flowers on the table.

One other short break I had chosen to retain was the Hotel Burstin, Folkestone, where there was an indoor swimming pool and entertainment at night.    On the day’s excursion to Canterbury, I would possibly  have the opportunity to call on my early boyhood pal, Sam.

I no longer worried about the stability of Harry’s state, for he had been free of a major crisis whilst at his present address, thanks to Sylvia and to the wise council, in ensuring that all new tenants were compatible and acceptable to the present residents.    Nevertheless, there were moments when Harry would phone me, when he was in a deep anxiety state and had played his tapes, which were supposed to talk him out of this anxiety.

When this happened, I told him to contact his key psychiatrist nurse, Terry Moore, at Cavendish House.   Harry had a hate relationship with anyone connected with Light Villa, St James Hospital at the time he was a patient of this ward.  

For a short spell, he had Kay appointed to take on Terry Moore’s role, who I had met at his address when she had arranged to visit him.    She was attractively dressed, had fair hair, with a pleasant personality.   Harry had often spoken about her while in hospital, and had occasionally wanted me to meet her, as was the case in that instance.   We talked about Harry having a holiday in the New Forest, where there was a kind of retreat for patients with mental illnesses.   Other places were discussed, but his paranoia about people and his daily anxiety that he said he had each afternoon, seemed to outweigh the benefit he might receive from staying at a holiday home.

I mentioned to Kay that perhaps I could take him to the Royal British Legion rest home, Somerset House at Weston-Super-Mare, subject to their approval.   Harry thought this would suit him, but there was a two-year waiting list.   Kay’s visit was very encouraging, to know that his key psychiatrist was taking a personal interest in his welfare.

This visit was particularly important, in that his consultant at St James’ had retired, who had taken over Harry’s case after he had been discharged from St James’ and had been in the wilderness for three years.  Although Harry saw little of him, he knew that he was in the background, and had received praise from his art work from Dr Baile.

I regretted not seeing Dr Baile personally, for keeping a watchful eye on Harry for the past twenty years before he retired.   Harry had a young lady consultant to be responsible for his treatment and placement.   Harry had a dread of returning to St James’, and was very cautious that he did nothing to bring on his anxiety state.   He blamed both Thames Valley Grammar School and Light Villa, St James’, for his continued paranoia.

Throughout Harry’s life, he had always been concerned with his own living nightmare, and had very little concern for his parents.   It was noticeable when his mother was dying, that he committed harmful acts to himself, such as putting his head through windows.    Doctors thought he did this to draw attention to himself, as if to compete with his mother’s dying condition.

A change had suddenly taken place, with Harry’s concern for my welfare.   He asked if I was able to manage the house and garden.   This was music to the ear, which I think was due to my deteriorating physical condition, due to the side effects of my prostrate gland treatment.   I was dragging my feet along, and could not get up from a low chair.   Nevertheless,  he previously would not have been concerned or conscious of my poor state of health.   Whenever he stayed at home at the weekend, he ensured he confined his smoking to this bedroom or the conservatory.  He also kept his radio low in his bedroom, and took all his belongings upstairs to his room.   These actions had only taken place recently, in considering my feelings, and to me it was a sign of him becoming humanised and thoughtful.   

Sylvia had been able to delegate responsibility to Harry whenever she had to leave the house.   These were all good signs, that there were improvements in the mind, which were also reflected in the paintings that he had worked on in the kitchen, and which had been approved to hang in the main lounge.    It had only been in the recent year or two that I had been able to plan going away, without worrying about Harry’s mental state.   It was more a question of whether I would be fit enough to go away.

I was having great difficulty in putting on my socks and shoes.   Cutting my toe-nails had become almost impossible.   When attempting to cut my left big toenail, I broke the scissors, causing bleeding around the toenail.   That was the first time I felt justified in making an appointment with the chiropodist at Havant Health Centre.  

I received two surprises when attempting to make this appointment.  The title ‘Chiropody’ had been replaced with ‘Podiatry’ and that I would have to wait two months before I could be attended to.   The podiatry receptionist advised me to speak to my doctor, who could speed up this treatment, as I mentioned there was a chance of the wound going septic.

The implant treatment was currently due, following my first one, almost three months ago.   I had had a running left eye for several weeks, so I would make a shopping list with all my ailments when visiting my family doctor for that three-monthly injection.    I could well-understand that those who had family practices had a high rate of depression and took to the bottle, since the doctor’s day consisted of listening to their clients’ ailments.

After the doctor had carried out the Zoladex injection under my stomach skin, I then referred to other items on my shopping list.   I thought he must have had a bad night, for I was told to go private as regards seeing a chiropodist.    As regards my left eye, I was required to frequently wash it in warm water and stroke the eyelids away from the surface of the eye.    He rounded off the appointment by stating that I was a very complex person.    I at once changed my family doctor in the group, no longer having any faith in him.

The doctor I returned to was Dr Pearson, who attended Gladys and did all he could to reduce her pain during the remaining weeks of her life.  When Gladys passed on she had never known to suffer from pain, as she did due to cancer growth bearing on the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the human body, running from the pelvis to the thigh.    He first mentioned this, and the relative quickness in her dying immediately on having my first appointment with my former family doctor.

Once it was discovered that we had both lived in the same Manchester district in our youth, we were now on the same wavelength.    This was particularly true after it was revealed that we had watched Lancashire Cricket Team and could name their star players, such as Tyldsly, Hallows, McDonald, and world famous stars such as Bradman, who played there.

He was interested to know that I was coached at bowling whilst at Urmston grammar school by one of their county players, Pollard.   I had no need to refer my big toe injury to my new family doctor, having received a notification of an appointment that had been made with podiatrist.  

Strange how one can benefit by reacting on a grievance, provided you have reacted wisely.   This happened in choosing the Midland Hotel, Bournemouth as the venue for weekend breaks in place of Wallace Arnold.   With the Midland Hotel picking up its weekend break clients in Havant mid-Friday morning and returning mid-Sunday afternoon, I not only saved time by not going to South Mimms on the M25 each time, but I left and returned in more sociable hours.    As I only went to Bournemouth with a bridge group, I was assured of companionship.  

The first of these three escapes to Bournemouth were with my recently trained social bridge trainees, Ted and Carole, and Graham Tucker, the former whist player who had taken on the bingo caller’s role at our local Langstone Conservative Club.    It could be claimed that whist experience could be helpful at bridge, but for bingo experience, it might prove useful to the psychic bridge player, like myself!

This hotel was so well organised that it handled over 200 weekend guests arriving around midday without any fuss, with no visible person at the helm.    My small group took advantage of the light refreshments offered to them free, as bait to keep away from the reception counter until all the bedrooms were ready for occupation.  

In the meantime, since I was their leader, having knowledge of the whereabouts of the quiet room, I was required to forestall any other potential users of this room, which was located, thankfully, away from the main building.   This I did, by placing our own table cloth on one of the two tables, for that quiet room was very sparsely furnished.   

I leaned four chairs against the table, so that there was no mistaking that someone had claimed the table unit first.   A bit like the German tourist, having towels on deck chairs by the sea or swimming pool almost before daylight, as was witnessed in Gran Canaria.     This was a very important mission, completed to enable bridge play in relative quietness.  I was able to return to my group and report that the possession of the quiet room was accomplished.   I was graciously allowed to partake of refreshments before an announcement was made that bedrooms were ready and keys could be collected.

That exercise could prove difficult to please my small party, particularly Graham, who like myself failed to get a single room with en-suite.    I had done the booking, and so had to be prepared for any complaints regarding the standard of the accommodation.   We had paid only 49 for board and transport, including excursions on Saturday and Sunday morning.   I was pleased I did not receive any, for my reply was waiting for them, “You gets what you pays for!”

One complaint which I did receive from Graham was of an unexpected nature, for which I gave him my reply, “Aren’t you lucky!”

Each of our bedroom doors encompassed a small hall, which was conveniently situated close to the entertainment floor.   A few curtains had been rigged up in this space for the artistes, of both sexes, to change their costumes.   It was only when he retired to bed that he heard their voices and activities.    It is a pity he did not open his door, he might have had a pleasant sight!   This was another case where the Midland Hotel made the maximum use of space to give maximum value for their weekend breaks.

Before we settled down to playing bridge, each member of our group wandered off to do their own thing.   Ted and Carole, the fitness fanatics, chose to walk the full length of the promenade to Boscombe Pier and back.  Graham decided to go to the shopping centre around the square and bought himself two pairs of trousers.     This was the last place for me to seek, since I had the International Centre swimming pool to enjoy a swim.

On Saturday morning, the coach from the hotel took its residents to Lymington’s ancient street market, which Graham and I found most interesting.    With stalls on both sides of the main street, stretching the whole length of the town, no vehicles were allowed to pass through.   There must have been something of everything for the average person to buy.   I  bought several pairs of socks and bulbs for the garden . .

Before returning home on Sunday afternoon, an excursion was provided in the morning to visit Poole Harbour, where passengers had time to stroll round and visit Poole Pottery.

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Alan Rayment 1998
Last revised: February 04, 2001