Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Because They're Worth It

I had a slightly surreal day yesterday.

Firstly I visited a friend’s elderly mother in the same hospital ward my Mum was in last year.  Bad memories came flooding back as I once again saw the good, the bad and the ugly of the NHS, the hideousness of growing old and the way some members of the caring profession choose to treat the elderly.

From there I took my mum to say goodbye to her hairdresser of forty-five years - the end of an era as she retires.

Picture this … a tiny, slightly tired and dated hair salon which caters to the blue rinse and curly perm brigade - to the ladies of a certain age who like to be coiffed to within an inch of their lives and then attacked with a full tin of hairspray to keep their set in place for the week ahead.  A place where equally tiny and tired great grandmothers go to have their morale boosted as they are made to feel glam again.

As I sat, sipping my dry sherry in a 1920’s glass, I witnessed another side of caring.  My mother’s hairdresser is 72, sprightly and finishing a job she clearly adored.  She treated every lady with the same love and compassion.  As did the lovely and incredibly camp 60 year old shampooist as he shimmied and sashayed his way around the rollers and the 1950’s driers, a camouflaged man bag strapped diagonally across his chest.

I watched them manoeuvre a client of approximately 110 (!) in her wheelchair to the sink and then to the mirror to set her approximately 3 (!) yellow hairs on her head as her orange make-up and clogged mascara dripped down her tiny bird-like face.  They joked with her as her husband (also 110!) sat beside her wearing his wife’s string of pearls around his grubby blazer to keep them safe.  She giggled at their banter like a little girl, her voice sounding like she’d sucked all the helium out of a Minnie Mouse balloon.  She was being made to feel important, fussed over and, in her eyes, she would leave that salon looking like Marilyn Monroe.

I could have sat and watched forever.  She was clearly once a young vibrant woman, attractive in her day, and I began to weave stories of her past life in my head.

But it was the joy of watching people who care so much about what they do and the people they do it for.

I left the salon feeling saddened that my mother has had to say goodbye to her weekly confidante, but buoyed by seeing people doing a job they truly love.

Getting old is a horrible thing but, if we’re fortunate enough, we all go through it.  The nursing staff who don’t do their jobs with love in their hearts would do well to remember that and to take a leaf out of my mother’s hairdresser’s book.  OK, wiping bottoms isn’t as glamorous as titivating someone’s hair but it was the job they chose.

Happy 2015 to all those who care - and to those who don’t, your time will come.

Monday, 15 December 2014

2014 -The Year that I ...

I've been tagged by my writer buddy Jamie Dougan and been asked to share the highlights of my year.  You can read Jamie's blog here

Here goes ...

2014, the year that ...

*  I realised that I can live independently and survive without my husband.  But I didn't like it one bit!

*  I hit 50 and survived!

*  I got an eternity ring after 20 happy years of marriage.

*  I felt I could truly call myself an author as sales began to hit figures I'd only ever dreamed of.

* I saw my son turn in to a fine young man, holding down a job he loves and heading off to gigs that strike the fear of God into me!

*  My Canadian cousin and her husband visited and we had a blast.  I'm hoping 2015 sees them heading this way again.

*  I started a 'tin of good things' and every time we had a stroke of luck or something nice happened we scribbled it on a piece of paper and popped it in.  It's quite full now and we're looking forward to opening it on New Year's day and reflecting on our good fortune rather than focusing on the negatives.

So, there you go.  My year and its best bits.

Here's to 2015 and whatever it may bring.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Every Little Helps ...

What a funny old place Twitter can be.  I've made friends (who I've gone on to meet in real life), chatted, promoted my books, been taken for a ride by a lunatic and been given various promo gifts including chocolates, books, lightbulbs and a picture frame.

But this blog is about a totally unexpected Twitter twist which has left me grinning like a Cheshire cat all day.

Yesterday I tweeted that we'd lost one of the teen's Christmas presents.  It has since materialised but in the the meantime @Tesco tweeted me and asked if they could help in any way.  As this particular present was not something that Tesco stock, I knew that this was unlikely.

However they continued to DM me as their policy is to #Make_Christmas and they wanted to help make mine a happy one.

I'd just happened to see a coat in one of their stores and, as I really don't need another coat, decided to exercise some restraint, put it back on the rack and walk away.  Once I got home though, I realised how much I liked it and decided that if I could find an online discount code for it, I'd treat myself.

When I found that all the codes had expired, I DMd @Tesco again to see if they knew of any current discounts that I could use.  Imagine my surprise when they messaged me this:

What size and colour were you looking for? We're buying this for you for Christmas :-) What's your address?

My reply - after reading three times!- was 'What?  Buying?!'

And was then told by the lovely David:

Yes, a present from us to you.

After a few more exchanges - where we discovered that there were no coats in my size available online as it's popularity has been huge after it featured in the press - I set off to my local Tesco in the hope that the one I'd looked at was still there.

I am now the proud owner of a double breasted boyfriend coat and it didn't cost me a penny.

David from @Tesco really did #Make_Christmas for me and all because of a random Tweet about a misplaced present.

So ... a huge thank you to Tesco.  This is the way to do customer service and I will wear my coat with pride.