1 EAGLETON NOTES: March 2022



Wednesday 30 March 2022

Could Do Better

I'm not sure that I ever got those words on my report cards at school - do schools still issue report cards? - but if I didn't they would still have been very appropriate.  I never worked hard at school. I detested school. My parents were good enough to save on other things and sent me (and, later, my brother) to a small private prep school in Liverpool where I was born.  The discipline was ferocious. The preparation for the 11Plus was second to none and all but the most educationally challenged (in our parlance of the day 'the thickest') did exceptionally well in the 11Plus for the Grammar Schools or entrance exams to the many private public schools in the area (my apologies to anyone from the US who is probably totally lost in the terminology). 

I won my first choice and followed a couple of years behind the exceptionally talented and totally way-out John Lennon at Quarry Bank. Quarry (Motto: Ex hoc metall virtutem - out of this quarry came virtue) was an excellent and very small (680 pupils) Grammar School which concentrated on only one thing - getting pupils to Oxford or Cambridge. Anyone else was a failure and left to drift. I was never Oxbridge material.

My Mother had always wanted me to go to Quarry because she had gone to the partner girls school next door and had loved every minute and left with flying colours and very good academic results. 

I could have done better. But I didn't.....then. 

All that was by way of trying to say that recently my blogging record has been parlous and, although I have been reading some blogs, I'm feeling a bit out in the cold. 

So I'm going to try and do better.

This was the view from my window this morning: clouds dumping snow over The Minch and Mainland Scotland.

Friday 11 March 2022


I cannot even begin to imagine the loneliness of being in prison.  

I am staying in the Golden Jubilee Conference Centre Hotel which is attached to the Golden Jubilee Hospital in Glasgow. At the time it was opened in 1994 as a private hospital it was quite controversial but now it is Scotland's NHS specialist hospital for reducing patient waiting times. Referrals are received from across the country in the specialties and services provided. The hospital is also home to the West of Scotland Heart and Lung Centre.

In the morning I shall be having my MRI scan which will determine whether I had a TIA and whether I will be able to drive and whether the operation to replace my uretic stent will be able to go ahead next week. 

To return to my opening sentence. I am fortunate enough to be housed for the night in a large, moderately luxurious in an understated way, bedroom. Because the hospital was originally designed as a private one it had a large hotel 'built in' so to speak. I assume that the reason the bedrooms are the size they are (generous by the standard of many UK hotels) is because it was an American company that was behind the original venture. 

When I arrived last night I had every intention of spending the evening catching up with emails, letters, blogs and things I never seem to make enough time for at home.  However, all of a sudden I felt constrained, imprisoned almost, by these four walls. The view of the hills from the window had by then disappeared into the night sky. All of a sudden I wanted a glass of wine. All of a sudden I wanted to see other human beings. All of a sudden I wanted dinner. So I left my room and in under two minutes was sitting in the beautifully spacious bar with a (very indifferent) glass of sav in my paw. I ordered scallops with black pudding followed by goats cheese and beetroot risotto. The black pudding was not Stornoway black pudding and was, therefore, distinctly inferior but the scallops were done to perfection and the risotto was tasty and creamy. The malbec was distinctly better than the sav. All was well with the world.

I got back to my bedroom and opened the laptop to write this post when I realised the time and wondered about an early(ish) night in front of that large black screen on the wall. "Bangers and Cash" is on at that time of night! I don't often get to watch it. It's a great programme. Why not? So I did. Hence I'm writing this after my shower this morning. My scan is at 9.50.

So being holed up in a hotel room for the few hours I was actually awake hasn't been so bad. But I know that in a few minutes I will be walking out of the door. I won't be serving a prison sentence in a cell, I won't be incarcerated in quarantine in a hotel room because of Covid or for any other reason. I won't be spending hours and days in a bunker trying to avoid bombs and missiles. I am, for the moment, a free man. I am grateful and I am not taking it for granted. 

PS I wonder what this post would have been like if I had stayed in my room and written about 'imprisonment'. 

Tuesday 8 March 2022

A Wee Update

Life has been getting in the way of Blogland yet again. 

The Good Thing is that we have had five days of (mainly) sunny weather which has, about half the time, been free of the bitterly cold and strong wind that makes working outside in the garden a bit of a trial even when dressed up to the nines for the occasion.

It has meant that I have been getting up well before 7am and spending the vast amount of daylight in the garden and the polycarb doing hard labour. Well, that's the theory. When possible it's been the practice too. I would spend 12 hours a day in the garden if I could.

It has been helped by the fact that some of my social and other activities (like the gym) have had to be cancelled because I've been forbidden to drive until I've had an MRI scan to confirm that the incident that saw me ending up in hospital in the middle of the night, yet again, was labyrinthitis and not a TIA. 

Needless to say people have been very good and I've had lifts to town when needed.

I'm flying down to Glasgow this week for an MRI scan but it is looking uncertain as to whether I will get the hoped for resulting confirmation that I can drive in time to get down to Ayr for my delayed uretic stent replacement. This could mean another delay or very inconvenient travel arrangements on public transport.

C'est la vie.

I found some accidental potatoes left in the grounds when I emptied the potato grow bags from last spring/summer. 

Over the years I've shown some lovely sunrises from my kitchen window. This was yesterday's view