My mother always told me that it was not good to scratch a scab, because when it itches it is a sign that it is getting better.

Well, I couldn’t reach the itch on my left ankle, and, as far I could tell, it wasn’t getting better. And it was quite a sharp itch. So I asked Jackie to investigate. She found a mosquito bite, and treated  it accordingly.

The pain in my knee doesn’t usually disturb my sleep. Last night it did. Perhaps that is why  I have been very drowsy today.

During mid-afternoon, slumped in a chair, I occasionally nodded off, failing to hold onto my book, which drew my attention as it slid to the floor.. I do apologise to Martin Amis, for being less than rapt by the last lines of  ‘Einstein’s Monsters’, his collection of short stories. Once I pulled myself together, I did appreciate his at times, muscular, at times reflective, writing. Four of the five tales had been published elsewhere before they were collected into this group in 1987. The debate about nuclear weapons that Amis, in his introduction, ‘Thinkability’, describes he enjoyed with his father, still rages today, when Kingsley’s views would seem to dominate.

Martin’s well crafted pieces span eras before and after his anticipated man-made catastrophe.

This evening, I enjoyed a second helping of Jackie’ s superb roast chicken meal with the addition of Yorkshire pudding. The Culinary Queen enjoyed a pasta dish

Scents Of The Garden

This morning I received a phone call from Lymington Hospital offering me a cancellation for laser treatment to my left eye on Friday. The ensuing conversation was entertaining. I began by explaining that I would be happy to attend if they fast forwarded my recovery time from the knee surgery.

Otherwise, my day involved unsuccessful attempts to sleep; reading; and looking out onto rather overcast skies shrouding  a damp garden. I am still trying to take it easy.

Among the blooms covering the trellis in the front garden are those of a most fragrant pink rose. Jackie has placed one in a vase on the windowsill beside my corner chair. The  photographs also contain my dosset box which, in theory, helps me to remember my medication times and dosages.


At the end of a fairly dank afternoon, we received a delivery of two chairs from ‘Handmade From The Heart’. Jackie photographed them on their decking platform.

The Rose Garden lies beyond the decking. Fearing that some of the new roses would perhaps fade before I could reach them, Jackie, who wanted me vicariously to enjoy the sweet scent of ‘Twice in a Blue Moon’, photographed that, too. This had been our witty daughter’s wedding present to us last year.

This evening, I really relished Jackie’s succulent roast chicken dinner with superb gravy from the juices of the meat; new potatoes, crisp carrots, greens and manges touts


The Age Of Wonders

In order to take it easy today I determined to stay indoors and not be tempted outside. This was not expected to be difficult because it was supposed to rain all day. Although the skies remained overcast, there was very little rain.

Helen paid us a visit this morning, and we exchanged our respective news.

Much of the rest of the day I spent dozing and reading.

Aharon Appelfeld, who died earlier this year, was an Israeli author who, as a survivor of the Holocaust, focussed on the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. His novel ‘The Age of Wonders’, which I finished reading this afternoon, is a beautifully written narrative from the perspective of a twelve year old boy. As usual, I will not reveal the story, save to say that the work offers a gradual realisation of the pre-war build-up of alienation of Austrian Jews.

The writing is simply fluid and full of excellent lyrical descriptions.

The Age of Wonders Jacket illustration

A most apt recurring motif is the family train journeys from 1937. This is reflected in Nancy Lawton’s jacket illustration for my David R Godine publication of 1981.

The beauty of Appelfeld’s prose has been successfully rendered by the translation from Dalya Bilu.

My supermarket prepared meal this evening was a rather good chicken tikka masala from Tesco

Energy-Sapping Humidity


Today was hotter, and considerably more humid than yesterday. I flopped this morning, but didn’t sleep. Perhaps that fact that I slept all yesterday evening had something to do with this. My brief trip into the garden at mid-afternoon was energy-sapping.

Correctly surmising that I might need a rest en route to my planned perch at the Westbrook Arbour, Jackie positioned Mum’s stool beside the Nottingham Castle Bench. I took a few pictures from there, then moved on. Melting, after about twenty minutes I fled back indoors.

I took a cooling break before uploading the pictures. This was extended by a very welcome visit from Shelly and Ron, for which I was most grateful.

My choice of Supermarket prepared meals this evening was fish pie to which Jacke added crisp carrots. leeks, and mange-touts, which added fresh flavour.

“I’m Sure I Can’t Allow That”


I dozed through the early parts of the day. At 4. p.m. Jackie set me up on Mum’s perching stool at a vantage point beside the bricked-in well, and I emerged, blinking, into strong sunlight to the sweet, sonorous, symphonies of vibrant birdsong.

While she continued to labour away in the sweltering heat, I perched and photographed what met my eye. When she caught me standing unaided and shifting the stool to give me a better angle down the Brick Path, she exclaimed: “I’m sure I can’t allow that.”

My choice of this evening’s ready prepared meals was suitably bland cod mornay with mashed potato and peas.

A Glimpse Of What’s Been Happening


A combination of my own slumbering stupor and a hot, humid, largely overcast, day presaging the predicted thunderstorm caused me to doze the day away.

Jackie, however, prepared Mum’s perching stool, and bolstered one of the wooden chairs, so that, first from the perch, and then from the chair, I would have an opportunity of focussing, to some extent, on that little corner.

My choice of the selection of supermarket ready meals Jackie has kept in stock for these crucial days, was tasty cannelloni. This was followed by vanilla ice cream.

Keep Calm And Carrion

I won’t dwell on the agonies of transferring myself, stiffened after an hour’s drive, from the car to our living room; adjusting to the different seating levels, and manoeuvring myself around the home yesterday evening. Two examples will suffice.

While Jackie was in the kitchen preparing wonderful scrambled egg on toast, I decided to rise from the old worn out Chesterfield sofa which was my favourite TV seat. When Jackie returned after twenty minutes she had to put the tray down and haul me up to the arm of the furniture. I was dripping with sweat, but that didn’t stop me relishing all my dinner.

The most frightening challenge had been ascending the stairs to bed. Having eventually summoned up the courage to give it a go, I surmounted these with comparative ease. Our bedroom is part of an extension added in the 1970s. There is a further step down into it, twice the depth of those on the stairs. Still using crutches, I fell down it, tottered forward and came to a standstill, realising that my replacement knee had twice taken all the weight, with no adverse effects.

This morning, we pondered how we might insert an intermediate step. Having provided me with coffee, Jackie wandered around the garden. Soon I was greeted by her smiling face beside a slab of concrete resting on her shoulder. Would that I could have snapped the moment. I was soon able to step on it and descend the stairs.

Concrete step

We will have to be satisfied with a photograph that the Maintenance Department produced later.

Derrick after knee op

Having given me a personal cleaning service Jackie felt I was really home once ensconced in my corner chair. Note that I am wearing my more familiar slippers.

I slept through most of the afternoon. Later, I really looked forward to my dinner of fish pie, carrots, peas, and green beans. It was eaten with considerable relish.

“I Done It, Mummy”

In hospital life’s true  importances are pared down to the bare essentials. The result of blood-tests fade into insignificance when compared with the ability to get out of bed; to put one foot in front of the other; to preserve your dignity in hospital gowns designed to expose your backside; to make your way to the loo on crutches; and to perform evacuation and ablution without falling over.

Well, this morning, I enjoyed my breakfast, managed a poo in the right place, and wiped my own bum. I had memories of infancy and proudly calling: “I DONE IT, MUMMY”

Oh, and the blood tests revealed no problems; the physio took me for a walk, and Mr Kask pronounced “home today”.  But you must admit, I have my priorities right.

Jackie had been asked to collect me at 1 p.m. She arrived at 12.45, just ahead of my lunch. This was appetisingly moist, well filled, tomato omelette, new potatoes, and fresh salad, accompanied by tangy orange juice. I made a little headway, then needed an urgent trip to the loo. I managed to get there without tripping over anything, poo in the right place,  and wipe my own bum without gathering too much excreta in my finger nails. When I returned to the ward, wanting to cry “I DONE IT AGAIN, MUMMY’  ……’ve guessed………

Nurse Vanessa gave us a very clear explanation of the discharge pack, and Hanah wheeled me to the car and prised me into it. Jackie then drove me home in the pouring rain.


The Doppler Effect

Despite my best efforts, my meals today were somewhat interrupted.

Following instructions I walked with crutches to the loo after breakfast. The expression ‘taken short’ developed new layers of meaning as I closed the door and deposited a goodly amount of blood, urine, and excreta in a trail on the way to the lavatory seat. There was nothing for it but to summon help to clean myself and the room. I had made a start on my lunch which had been removed when I retuned to the ward. I had no more interest in it anyway.

The results of the blood tests taken yesterday, show no real cause for concern, but a Doppler ultrasound scan has been ordered today to ensure that I don’t have a deep vein thrombosis. Just as dinner was being served, I was summoned fo the scan.


I have always heard about the Doppler effect, but  not the scan. Although the attached YouTube video might suggest otherwise, I can now definitely state that the Doppler effect is to keep a man from his food. The scan appeared to show no problems.

Mr Doppler, however, was thwarted this evening, for Jade produced the first meal I have been able to relish in this establishment: a fresh, moist, egg and cress salad served with a suitably tangy vinaigrette, followed by flavoursome vanilla ice cream and accompanied by zesty orange juice. This Jade was not the young lady who had helped with the scan.  I know this because the caterer sported no visible tattoos.

P.S. It just goes to show that I am not really up to scratch yet. Until I read the contented crafter’s comment below I had forgotten that the physios had wheeled me along to the stairs, decanted me onto crutches, and guided me up and down a flight of six steps.

“That’s Quite A Bunch”

This is my post for yesterday, 22nd May. I seem to have forgotten to send it until now.

Just as I was beginning to regret not having ordered breakfast, Nurse Lucy asked me if I would like some coffee. I would. She brought me a large mug. I drank it all. Soon afterwards the breakfast lady came with more coffee, and asked me if I was sure I didn’t want breakfast. I wasn’t. She brought me twice the usual ration of toast. I scoffed it.

I also had a little accident. I began pouring the coffee into the full jug of milk, with the consequences that would be expected. Now, Mrs Knight, do not mark this down as me getting back to normal.

Soon after 9 a.m. it was Nurse Jing’s turn to put me through agony. This was in order get me out of bed through the customary machinations, when she was sure I was comfortable perched on a stool in front of the wash basin she left me to my ablutions, with instructions to use the alarm cord if necessary. That was probably the moment I blew it. Up until now, I had still been unable to open my bowels. I had a go at sitting on the loo. This, you realise involved the usual painful motions. Not those I was hoping for. My bowels remained firmly closed.

By this time, I was a clammy mess and summoned help. Whilst Alisha was doing her best to get me decent, Mr Kask, paid a visit, brusquely prescribed suppositories and an attempt at the stairs. I don’t think he was offering an easy way out. When Alisha offered me a choice of chair or bed, I opted for the bed, into which I collapsed.

Less than half an our later, Alex came to get me out of bed and transferred to another ward. Starting with the frame, we decanted to the crutches in the corridor.  I managed half the rest, in a wheelchair.

Soon afterwards, I was given liquid morphine. I was encouraged  to stay in the chair. That didn’t last long.

Eventually, with assistance, I returned to bed. Alex returned with Connor, and said immediately that we would not be doing the stairs today. I told him that that had given me great relief.

Later, I enjoyed conversation with Ted, a very friendly man who now shares my four bay ward.

After lunch, Jackie drew the attention of the medics to the excessive swelling on my affected knee. This had become most worrying to her., Dr Veselina was worried enough to consult with Mr Kask on the telephone and bring another consultant see it. A blood test was ordered. Dr Veselina G. administered this this evening I asked her what it was for. It was for haemoglobin levels and various other ingredients. I said that was “quite a bunch”, and was called upon to translate the phrase. Ted chipped in quite helpfully. The relationship between me and the Bulgarian doctor is good enough for such an exchange. Later, it was Marcus’s turn to take the routine evening blood test. I ate no dinner. Having secured my comfort, Jackie returned home.