Priorities

Met the “new” Stroke Association co-ordinator today. Combined it with a drop-in on the ward. I use “” because she seems far from new, I think her previous role covered the north of Wiltshire, and now she covers the whole lot. Poor girl, I used to have to drive to Swindon every day and it ain’t fun. But she doesn’t know Salisbury very well, and has some interesting ideas about things like raising awareness of the Stroke Association, just making better use of our “area”.

To meet this woman, I was forced to miss the kick-off event for Age UK’s IT course. I’ll obviously need to manage these conflicts, right now I have a simple rule that the Stroke Association takes priority. But I hope it went OK for them. And, attractive as afternoon tea sounds, my sugar was high this morning.

Friends

Was really pleased this morning to open my browser (one of the tabs goes to Facebook) and see a friend request from a guy I only ever met once, who also does (or did, at the time) drop-ins at the hospital. I never knew he was there. although I must admit I never  particularly go looking. I’m generally quite happy with a small bunch of friends, people I already know anyway, so I never really feel the need to look for new people.

I only met this guy once and he too is a survivor. I remember him saying that he’d had his strokes (there were 3 of them, poor guy) 7 years ago. I remember being impressed because from his manners etc. it wasn’t at all obvious to me that he’d even had a stroke! I remember that one of his milestones was to ride motorbikes again, something which I believe he achieved. Certainly his profile on Facebook is a lovely shiny red bike. It kind of reminds me about my own miestone, to get back on a pushbike.

I think I met him just before christmas, so it’ll be good to catch up.

On a more serious note, it does kind of highlight how useful social media can be for people like me to find like-minded souls, which would be very difficult otherwise. I chat to a few survivors on FB. Meaning no disrespect to any of my other friends, who are very understanding, I can talk to them about strokey-type things, and the context is already there. No explanations necessary, because we already grasp the problem. It is very different from when I first left hospital, and felt very alone.

On more mundane matters, my wife was out all day yesterday, so I took advantage of the good weather to mow the front lawn. I got about 3/4 of the way around, before the mower decided it didn’t want to start. So it all looks a bit of a pig’s ear, although my wife says it looks ok (although she says it probably wasn’t too bright to have started hitting the mower with a spade!). Anyway, will try to finish it today – whenever this happens I always smell petrol so presumably I’d flooded the engine somehow.

Slovenly

I was thinking about things earlier. Reminiscing.

Many years ago, I ended up doing some work for the Royal Bank of Scotland, a UK bank which has subsequently hit the rocks. It wasn’t deliberate – I was doing some work for a bank called Coutts, which was then taken over by RBS. They “inherited” me!

Now, Coutts had its faults, but I was privileged to work there with some of the most intelligent people I’d ever met – and these guys were kind enough to include me in their circles. The bank itself was very prestigious and had a mantra of doing things properly – their clients were few in number but had very high expectations and lots of money to boot.

RBS took over and quickly promoted a “supermarket” culture. I remember on guy, a really switched-on bloke, who worked at director-level, was fired because he missed a deadline. I knew this guy well enough – he routinely juggled budgets worth tens of millions – to know that he’d probably had some impossible deadline imposed upon him. And the only thing anybody heard from the bank was that “so-and-so had decided to pursue his career eldewhere”. Goodness knows how many other good people this happened to. It successfully turned a culture where people were productive and successful, into one in which they feared (rightly) for their jobs. In my final months there, I was asked to investigate several technologies, to save money, and was told up-front what the conclusion should be. The last straw for me was when I was in a meeting discussing something with an RBS “strategist”, who eventually said to me “Look, who owns who here?” At that point, I gave up and just started taking the money. For the last period, I used to take my laptop up to London and basically did my own thing (learning .Net, which had just come out).

I mention this just to give some insight into my past. Even my wife doesn’t understand fully what I used to do – she’d watch me leave the house each morning and not really have much of a clue what I did all day. And of course, anybody who follows the news would also be aware that the same people who were running RBS at that time later became very publicly unstuck. And I must personally admit to never owning either an RBS, or a Coutts, bank account.