1 EAGLETON NOTES: December 2023



Sunday 10 December 2023

The Elephant in The Room

A number of people in Blogland and also in my personal life have recently been commenting on the fact that we are all getting older and some of us are getting to the stage when there is one helluva lot more behind us than we can look forward to.

Although few of us mention it, many of my friends deep down wonder not so much how long we are going to live but how much longer we are going to function effectively physically, and in many ways far more importantly, mentally. As more and more people I know succumb to dementia of one type or another it is the condition that we all dread but all pretend is something that happens to other people. It is the untalked about elephant in the room.

My Dad was born in 1907 on 11 December so this would be his 116th birthday (and if I have the maths wrong I'm sure someone will tell me). He died at the age of 94.

I've blogged about him on a few occasions because he was a wonderful father and a lovely person.

Today's post is a little story from the last week or so of his life when he had been admitted to a nursing home as an emergency patient with chronic heart failure which meant that he was unable even to raise his hand to his mouth to give himself a drink.

On being told of his admission I drove down from the Hebrides to Liverpool and went straight to the nursing home.

Just after I arrived a Social Worker also arrived and was shown into the room. She introduced herself and said that she had come to assess my father for his suitability for the facility. 

She then started  with the usual questions "Do you know where you are and what time it is?" and so on. At that point I interjected and pointed out that this was a bizarre line of questioning for someone who was virtually blind, had no access to a clock, a radio or anything else and could not read a newspaper even if he had one and that I, who did but who had just driven from the Hebrides couldn't tell her the date, time or even what day it was.  

After she and I had exchanged a few more sentences Dad interjected:

"For heaven's sake you two!" "The date is...the day is... We had lunch about an hour ago. They presumably serve it around 1230. So it's probably about 1.30. The date is X (I never did know how on earth he knew that), and you are probably going to ask me who is on the throne and who the Prime Minister is etc etc." He then went on to answer the questions he had presumed would be asked. 

At the end of all that the Social Worker turned to me and said "Well that is you and I truly put in our place", put down her papers and started have a proper conversation with Dad and I. 

I keep clinging to the hope that as both my parents at the age of 94 and 93 had all their mental faculties there may be hope for me now that I've entered my eightieth year. 

(OK How many of you - apart from Bob if he read this - checked my maths?)

Friday 8 December 2023

Dr Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Zephaniah has never played a large part in my life although I do know of him and some of his poetry. A large part of his persona known to me was his delivery of his poetry. 

He was also a truly amazing representative of the Human Race. If one wants to read about the overcoming of adversity from leaving school illiterate to having many doctorates then I would recommend the Wikipedia entry.

Like almost everyone in the piece of land called 'Great Britain' he was British but.....

And here I was going to quote in support of a favorite theme of mine a poem of his entitled 'The British'. It's not a poem that I could quote so I Googled it and discovered that YP had already written a post about him and included the relevant poem. So I am not going to repeat it but include a link  to YP's post.

I have always avoided political and, on the whole, controversial subjects on this blog because there are other forums for arguments. However, if ever there was a person who overcame every single adversity with which he was born then Benjamin Zephaniah was one of the most shining example of which I can think.

Perhaps one of his most amusing poems is Talking Turkeys:

Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas
Cos’ turkeys just wanna hav fun
Turkeys are cool, turkeys are wicked
An every turkey has a Mum.
Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas,
Don’t eat it, keep it alive,
It could be yu mate, an not on your plate
Say, Yo! Turkey I’m on your side.
I got lots of friends who are turkeys
An all of dem fear christmas time,
Dey wanna enjoy it, dey say humans destroyed it
An humans are out of dere mind,
Yeah, I got lots of friends who are turkeys
Dey all hav a right to a life,
Not to be caged up an genetically made up
By any farmer an his wife.

Turkeys just wanna play reggae
Turkeys just wanna hip-hop
Can yu imagine a nice young turkey saying,
‘I cannot wait for de chop’,
Turkeys like getting presents, dey wanna watch christmas TV,
Turkeys hav brains an turkeys feel pain
In many ways like yu an me.

I once knew a turkey called…Turkey
He said “Benji explain to me please,
Who put de turkey in christmas
An what happens to christmas trees?”,
I said “I am not too sure turkey
But itÕs nothing to do wid Christ Mass
Humans get greedy an waste more dan need be
An business men mek loadsa cash’.

Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas
Invite dem indoors fe sum greens
Let dem eat cake an let dem partake
In a plate of organic grown beans,
Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas
An spare dem de cut of de knife,
Join Turkeys United an dey’ll be delighted
An yu will mek new friends ‘FOR LIFE’.