Heart attack

My Heart Attack

I'm new at this. Well, there's a first time for everything, I suppose. At one time the very thought of a computer would bring me o...

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Doctor's Appointment and Poor Customer Service

Carol had an appointment at Ashfield Medical Centre at 6 o'clock this evening. So it meant our usual routine was disrupted. The idea of having it so late was to hopefully avoid being with other people who were likely to be infectious, and as she's more likely to get infected, due to being on chemotherapy, it was vital to avoid such contact, hence the later appointment time. But on arriving at Ashfield we found the waiting area was busy. She'd had a letter from the surgery asking her to make an appointment as the doctor needed to see her. As it turned out he really wanted an up-date of how the chemotherapy was progressing and gave Carol repeat prescriptions of ,cost of her medications. We could have gone to Cox and Robinson's pharmacy a few doors along from the doctor's surgery, but unfortunately I hadn't remembered to bring my wallet with me, as it contains the exemption card which means Carol doesn't have to pay for her prescriptions. So we had to return home so I could pick up the aforementioned wallet and then drive to the branch of Boots at Kingston to get these items made up. The traffic was quite heavy and we got snarled up at several of the roundabouts along Chaffron Way. We parked easily and then went into Boots and handed over the prescriptions at the pharmacy. We were told it would take at least 30 minutes for the order to be made up, so we wasted time browsing in Marks and Spencer's. I needed the toilet in the store, so we walked through. But for some unfathomable reason the toilet was locked. Also, the café was closed, with chairs up on the table. Carol wanted to buy a strawberry-flavoured milk shake and found what she wanted on the shelves. They do a really nice chocolate milk shake which has pieces of chocolate in it. A real indulgence. But on getting to the checkout there was only one member of staff on duty. A reasonably long queue so we decided to leave the store, putting what we had intended purchasing on the shelving at the rear of the checkout-area. Carol decided she needed paracetamol and ibuprofen so I went to pay and she sat near the pharmacy. The same thing as we had experienced in M and S, just one member of staff on the checkout and they were working exceedingly slowly. Well, what is the point of these stores being opened late if they don't have sufficient staff to operate the tills? Carol pointed out that, in Marks and Spencer's it would have been relatively easy to shoplift, to walk out of the store with several fairly expensive items without paying and, with virtually no staff on duty, no-one to apprehend a thief. Then, why was the toilet locked? Why don't they consider that their customers needs as regards having the toilet functioning fully? 

So we returned to the car and I drove us home, by now the traffic was a good deal easier than it had  been when we'd left home.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Changeable Weather and No Haircut

Early, when I drove off to go to church at Shenley Christian Fellowship on Sunday morning, it was very dull and over-cast, a sort of mist or fog, but nothing much to talk of. It was also snowing, a combination of snow and rain. The car wasn't frozen up, so I didn't have to scrape of any ice. It continued for most of the morning and, when I left Shenley it was still cold and the snow was beginning to get thicker and faster. By the time I'd got back home it began to fall thicker and faster still. As I write this at 2.05 p.m. the snow has turned into rain and there's no sign of any snow on the ground, fortunately.

Monday morning. It's quite warm and sunny. Well, as warm as it's going to get for late January. I had intended going to get my haircut this morning, at Essential Barbers in Monkston Park. I normally go on a Monday morning, early, because if I go during the early part of the week, I get a discount because of being over 65. There are definite advantages of being of a 'certain age.' I managed to park directly outside and assumed the barbers would be open as normal at 9.30. A staff-member usually turns up a few minutes before-hand to open up. There was another man waiting outside, waiting exactly the same as myself and we chatted for a few minutes. Actually quite a rarity to find someone not attached to there smartphone and quite eager to chat. But after ten minutes or so, there was still no sign of anyone arriving to open up.

Then a young man arrived. Where he came from I have no idea. Wherever he came from, he must have seen us standing outside the barbers to come and talk to us.He told us that Essential Barbers would not be opening up. It had been closed for a few week, most likely since just before Christmas. I have now seen a post on their Facebook page which was dated 4th January. It would appear that the owner has 'done a bunk,' although I'm not entirely sure what that means. I just feel sorry for the staff who no doubt will be without their jobs and get no sort of pay. They still have another branch at North Furzton, but as I write this I have no idea exactly where that is. As I drove away from the parking space I saw another man appear and wait, so I wound down the car window and spoke to him to tell him that Essential Barbers wouldn't be opening any time soon. I do think someone should have put a notice on the barber's shop door to tell prospective customers that they wouldn't be opening up for business. So, if I want to get my hair cut then I will have to find somewhere else.

I drove away from Monkston Park. I made my way to Kent's Hill, which isn't too far away. I was going to close our accounts at Nuffield Health. We haven't been for a swim there in a few months, since Carol's diagnosis, and it seems ridiculous to keep paying out if we're not going to use the facilities. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Reading and Watching-1

As I've mentioned in an earlier blog post, I have an interest in history. Our lounge is full of books, infact, one of the two IKEA bookshelves, which we bought from the house in Crownhill when we had to move (see earlier blog post for more information on this.) is crammed full of books and magazines, one of which is in serious need of attention as it's not fixed to the wall, and leans at a slight angle. Many of these books and magazines are on history. I'm always looking for more history books to read and such shops as The Works are always good places to find a bargain, the last one being on The Norman Conquest' and another on 'The Battle of Waterloo'. We have now managed to order a new bookshelf unit on the IKEA website. Paid for and it will be delivered next Thursday. We decided to have it delivered as it would unlikely not fit in the car, so to have it delivered means someone else will have to lift it into the house. As we have a similar unit in our bedroom it shouldn't be too difficult to assemble and it's possible to buy baskets, drawers and boxes which can be slotted into the unit to make it even more flexible.

I've been reading 'Never Had It So Good,' by Dominic Sandbrook. It's 'A History of Britain From Suez to The Beatles.' Which is about all you need to know about the subject matter. I read a later volume of his set of history books called 'Seasons In The Sun,' which takes his series up until 1979. At the time I read it, I was unaware that it was the latest in a series of books (of which 'Never Had It So Good' is the first.) So I decided I wanted to read the series from the beginning and managed to buy all the books on Amazon. As I lived through the period covered, I thought it would we worth a read, although I wasn't old enough at the time the first book covers to be aware of the incidents recorded, such things as the Suez Crisis or the Profumo Affair or the 'Night of The Long Knives.' As with any account of history, it's interesting to see how we got to where we are today, what with Harold Macmillan's attempts at negotiating a possible membership of the Common Market or 'European Economic Community,' as it was called in the late 1950's and early 1960's (now the E.U.) and how the President of France, Charles De Gaulle kept blocking our entry. Interesting when you compare it with the Brexit negotiations following the Referendum vote to leave over the last few months.The rest of the Sandbrook series are 'White Heat,' and 'State of Emergency,' which I will read in the fullness of time. Each book is very thick; the first book is some 800-900 pages long.

I'm a real fan of Alan Bennett. I enjoyed the plays he wrote for the BBC in the 1960s and 1970s, in particular the very first one called 'A Day Out,' which was made in black and white and about a group of men who go on a bicycle ride in Yorkshire and set just before the First World War. Not a great deal happens, but his attention to detail, particularly his depiction of the individual characters is very detailed. It's directed by Stephen Frears who went on to make some large-scale cinema films such as 'Dangerous Liaisons' and 'The Queen.' Alan Bennett is interested in the small things in peoples' lives, the every-day, the mundane. He has also written for the stage, most notably for the National Theatre, with plays such as 'The Madness of King George III,' and 'The History Boys.' I have read most of his diaries which get published on a  regular basis, and was given the latest collection, covering the millennium, and called 'Getting On, Getting On,' and given to me as a Christmas present by Carol last year. I am about to read it.

I've watched the first episode of the new Sky drama series, "Britannia," which is on Sky Atlantic. It's set in a Celtic Britain at the time that the Roman invasion is about to take place. It's somewhat preposterous, so if you watch it don't expect an accurate history lesson. I had serious doubts about this when I first heard it was being planned, but it turned out to be a good deal better than I expected. It has David Morrissey as the Roman general (I assume he's a general) who leads his troops across the Channel and then pillages and burns the Celtic villages and murders a few in the process. It also stars Zoe Wanamaker as a sort of tribal leader. Another actor who is in it is Iain McDiarmid, who I have a connection with as he was in the company when I was working as an A.S.M. at Liverpool Playhouse in the early 1970s. I did the book for a production of Alan Ayckbourn's play 'Relatively Speaking,' which also had Thelma Barlow in the cast, who went on to play Mavis Wilton in 'Coronation Street.' It's good to see Sky producing stuff which at least has some sort of British connection, however accurate it is. I notice that all the episodes are available to view on catch-up, obviously in an attempt to follow the same principle as such on-line television services as Netflix and Amazon, where all the episodes of their shows, such as The Crown are available to view instantly. Apart from some strong language (which, frankly, adds absolutely nothing to the thing in my opinion.) it's a good rollocking yarn and will no doubt attract a young, male audience, who no doubt enjoy such shows as 'Game of Thrones,' and a good many video games. I shall watch the rest of the series with interest.

I'm glad all the episodes of 'Britannia' are available as a box-set, because you can watch all the episodes one after the other if you so wish. I've watched the second episode. I'm really hooked on this show and can't wait to see the next episode. It's got a real 'have to watch the next episode' something about it, rather like a good novel where you can't put it down. Generally I need to get through about 15-20 minutes of a new drama series to know whether I'm going to continue watching and this certainly has that 'something.' Unlike a lot of similar shows, the dialogue is convincing. They seem to have avoided the somewhat stilted dialogue that you tend to get in a lot of dramas set in a 'certain period,' and the whole thing is rather tongue-in-cheek, it doesn't take itself too seriously. It has a sense of humour as well. And they haven't made it pretentious in any way, unlike a lot of costume dramas that are precious and rather unrealistic, not that you can make a show set in 43 A.D. as nobody knows what they spoke like. It's not exactly historically accurate, but who cares? Definitely entertaining and that, in all honesty, is what one needs at the moment. The fights are convincing, too, and you get the feeling that the Romans have more than a hand-full of soldiers in their invading army, they've spent quite a lot on extras to fill out the scenery. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Clearing Bookshelves and Two Hospital Appointments

As I've mentioned in an earlier blog post, we've decided to replace the bookshelves in the lounge. They have been leaning precariously at a rather dangerous angle for quite a long time and there was a serious possibility of one or other, or both, collapsing. We have a new shelving unit on order from IKEA which was ordered on-line on Wednesday afternoon and will be delivered next Thursday, so we have to have the old shelving units cleared and dismantled before then. So lots of boxes and bags all over the floor as we take off all the clutter which has accumulated. It seems that we have used the bookshelves as a sort of dumping ground for goodness knows what sort of stuff. Daniel's mail is still coming here and really it's about time he had it re-directed. We seem to get his bank statements and a lot of other stuff. Then there's a lot of our important mail, insurance stuff and other bits and pieces which come through the mail which needs to be 'on hand' for immediate use so it's stuck in between one of the books and the side panels. It's surprising (although, thinking about it, perhaps it's not) how clearing something like bookshelves reveals items which you lost and haven't laid eyes on for ages, suddenly appear. We ought to do this sort of thing more often. Anyway, we managed to clear of the clutter from one half of the 'leaning tower of books,' and will continue slowly in the days leading up until Thursday, We will sort out those books we want to keep and those we will take to a charity shop, most likely paperbacks which we're not likely to read again.

Carol had two appointments at the hospital during the day. Unfortunately they were several hours apart. The first was at 11.20 a.m. at the Out Patients' Department near the main entrance of Milton Keynes Hospital. We got there well in time for the appointment and parked in the multi-storey carpark. This meant we couldn't get the ticket stamped to we would get free parking, but the walk to the Macmillan Unit was too far so I didn't make the effort. We were seen by one of the doctors from the colorectal department, one of the team we saw regularly when the doctors did their rounds when Carol was on Ward 22 before Christmas. He seemed very pleased with Carol's progress and as a result has signed her off. One more box to 'tick.' A very positive reaction and we left to go home and bought sandwiches in the Friends' shop at the hospital entrance. When we ate them at home later I was not over-impressed with the quality, but never mind. They seem, like every other food outlet these days, so obsessed with not putting too much salt or sugar in things, that they forget that the flavour and texture is taken away. Just bland sliced bread and the filling is mush.

So, we went home to have a break and recuperate before we returned to go back to the Macmillan Unit for an appointment with the doctor in the pain clinic. The doctor seems very pleased to see how Carol is getting on and commented on how much better she is looking. Still an issue with pain but not as intense as it has been. Carol able to sit for longer and we're more than ever convinced that the chemotherapy is doing it's job. So, at the end of the day, we're both feeling a good deal more positive about things, thank goodness.

We left the hospital, having first booked an appointment for several weeks hence.

The carpark barrier was raised when we drove out, so all the effort to get the wretched ticket stamped was somewhat a waste of time. The machinery which lifts the barrier was making a noise, no doubt an alarm for it to be attended to by a mechanic. We drove out and then saw someone putting cash in the nearby ticket machine. It makes me annoyed to see someone putting money in the machine when they could so easily drive out of the carpark without needing to pay. Never mind. The fact that you have to pay to park at a hospital is still a hot potato with myself and quite a few other people.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Wild Wind and Sorting Prescriptions

Over the night of Wednesday and Thursday we've been experiencing some really wild wind. The noise outside has been extremely loud and there's a wonder that no roofing slates have not been blown off the roof of the house. No doubt there will be some damage across Milton Keynes and the surrounding countryside with trees torn down across roads. It's as well we don't have to go on any long journeys at the moment. As I write this (at 7.45 a.m.) things seem to have calmed down considerably.

As I've mentioned in earlier blog posts, we've been having issues with Ashfield Medical Centre with regards repeat prescriptions. Carol had another telephone call from Fittleworth about the fact that they still had not received the prescription from the surgery so they could dispatch the order for Carol. As a result of this we went to the surgery and asked at reception to speak to the practice manager. We were taken into a side office so that we would be able to discuss the problems we've been having in private. Having discussed the various issues, the two managers were very helpful and certainly quite concerned to hear that we had been having issues with repeat prescriptions. As regards the Fittleworth repeat order of the stoma bags they said that they sent a letter to them to repeat the order but that, on ringing them, the letter had not arrived. They then said that in future they will also send a fax to confirm that the order has been received. This seemed a fairly logical solution and it would hopefully prevent a repetition of the situation. Basically the problem stems from them not sending the letter out early enough and probably relying on the Second Class postal service. Makes sense really. So the problems have been sorted out and we should now get any repeat prescriptions as and when without the hassle we've had to experience. We left the surgery feeling a good deal more positive. We made an appointment for Carol to see Doctor Haye on Monday at 6 p.m., a time which is better for us because Carol can't be in contact with people who might compromise her health, due to being on chemotherapy, and evening should be better as they ought to be fewer other patients in the waiting room who are likely to be infectious.




Thursday, January 18, 2018

Macmillan Unit Appointment

On Wednesday morning we had an appointment at the Macmillan Unit at Milton Keynes Hospital with a lady from Citizens' Advice about benefits. Very positive and helpful. We have to ring a telephone number to start the process, and once that is done and the D.W.P. (Department of Work and Pensions) sends a completed application form we will have another appointment with the lady from C.A.B. to complete the application. It wasn't as bad as it might have been, having myself been through this process when I lived on my own in my flat in Bedford after my heart attack in 2006. Fortunately we managed to park the car in the regular car park. Just as well the appointment was early in the morning because, from experience, this can become very full later in the day.

When we arrived, a good deal earlier than we needed, we made use of the time by going into the Oncology Suite as Carol needed to have the P.I.C.C. line changed. Fortunately they weren't busy and a nurse did this in time before we went to the Macmillan Unit. The line has to be checked and changed to prevent any blood clots.

We picked up the stoma bags which had been left behind the reception desk and then left. As we walked out of the hospital it was bright sunshine, but earlier, when we got in the car at home, there was a smattering of what looked like snow on the car. Also, it was quite chilly and very likely there would be snow later.

Carol was determined to go out for a coffee somewhere, anywhere, so we drove to Waitrose at Oakgrove and had latte and a snack in their café. You get the coffee or tea free if you have a My Waitrose card, and we both have our own so we both get the coffee free, but you have to have something to eat it you use the café, which is reasonable enough. I had a Danish pastry and Carol had a custard tart. We then browsed the store and bought quite a bit, together with a free copy of The Guardian, as you also get a free newspaper if you spend over a certain amount, I think it's £10. They've redesigned The Guardian and changed the size from Berliner to Tabloid. I quite like the new size but I'm not sure of the new masthead. I don't think it suits a newspaper of the calibre of The Guardian somehow, but I suppose I will get to like it, with time.

Well, I think Carol enjoyed her morning out, even if it began at the hospital. We haven't been out for quite a while due to her illness. Being stuck indoors for such a long time is beginning to pall, as you can imagine, and the fact that it was bright and sunny, although cold, made all the difference.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

More Ashfield Surgery Obstructive Problems

Carol has to have a stoma bag. It's since she had the surgery when she was in hospital to remove the bowel obstruction. She has to have these bags delivered by a company called Fittleworth (love the name.) Our surgery, Ashfield Medical Centre at Beanhill, is supposed to send them a prescription for these items at least once a month. We had a telephone call from Fittleworth to tell us that they hadn't received the prescription from our surgery, so they could prepare the delivery of the bags. As a result of this, Carol was stressed as she has only five of the bags left. The lady at Fittleworth said she'd telephone our surgery to find out why they hadn't received the prescription. After a while they rang back to say that the prescription had been sent via the post but hadn't arrived at Fittleworth. Which begs the question, why didn't Ashfield Medical Centre send it via email, or at least the electronic system which they use to send prescriptions to our nominated pharmacy, Lloyd's at Sainsbury's. They would send out the delivery of the bags to our address before the end of the week. All this just underlines the obstructive way Ashfield has to deal with any prescription. Why is this? Surely it's not difficult to do what, in effect, is their job anyway. Why do they have to cause so much stress? Not just to Carol, but to myself as well. It gets to the point that even thinking about making a repeat order for medication can cause stress.

We rang the dedicated phone line at the hospital and about an hour later a nurse rang and she told us that she would put some of the bags behind the reception desk for us to pick up in the morning (today, Wednesday. Which put Carol's mind at rest.

Late this afternoon we had another telephone call from the lady at Fittleworth to be told that Ashfield Medical Centre has still not sent them a prescription so that the order could be completed and then dispatched. I'm beginning to loose all trust in our surgery. Are they totally incompetent? It makes me wonder what on earth they do all day in that place. It would appear not a lot, and certainly not sort out patients' prescriptions. This matter needs sorting out as it's causing a lot of stress for Carol and myself.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Alfie's Little Ways

Alfie, our little Yorkshire Terrier,  is flat out asleep on the sofa as I write this. He's become a bit of an attention-seeker at the moment. I think he's concerned about Carol being ill. He doesn't seem to understand why she's at home all the time as she's off work, sick. Its strange how he knows there's something not quite right.  He becomes very attached to us both, particularly me. Apparently, when I went off to church this morning, he sat and waited for me until I got home. He barks at me when I come in, as if he's telling me off for going out of the house and leaving him. If Carol is in pain and in another room in the house, for example, the bedroom, he often comes to find me and barks as if telling me to do something about it. I have no choice to go and find out what I can do, to get pain-relief medication or whatever. He also goes outside into the garden and barks for no apparent reason, possibly if there is a noise beyond the garden, someone going past on the Redway or in the road outside. 


Alfie, modelling the blanket that Carol made for him

There are some things that Alfie doesn't particularly like, particularly when he's on the sofa. He seems to dislike cushions, and if they're in the way, he will push them off with his nose. He has a couple of blankets which he likes to arrange into a bed. Carol has croched him one of his own (see the above photograph.) and if it's folded across the back of the sofa, he will attempt to pull if off by clawing at it until it falls off.

I usually check emails just before I go to bed, or watch something on television. He has his dinner at virtually the same time every evening. If Carol has gone upstairs, he will stay with me in the lounge. If I'm on the laptop, I end what I'm doing and he knows that I'm about to go upstairs and immediately barks. Sharp little dog, has worked out that as soon as I shut down the laptop I'll go upstairs. So he barks to remind me, or so I assume.

He'll ask to be let out into the garden and usually goes outside, but there are other times when he gets you to open the sliding patio door and then just pokes his head outside, as if to see whether it's raining, but doesn't go out. Other times, and this seems to be a terrier trait, he will just sit in the opened space in the door and just stare out at the garden. Our dog, Poppy, who died last February, did the same. Another typical terrier trait is sitting on the back of the sofa. My parent's little Jack Russel terrier used to sit in a similar manner on the armchairs or even the back of the seats in the cars we had when I was growing up. Also, Alfie likes to lay on the floor, flat on his stomach, with his back legs stretched out. Seems that this is also a terrier trait.

Alfie is quite good at asking whenever he wants something. He gives you eye-contact . He loves the Comic Relief ball (which I've mentioned in earlier blog posts.) If he wants to play with it, he will usually sit directly in front of you, usually whenever we're watching television, and stare at the ball where it's placed up on the bookshelf. Then, if I pick it up and throw it on the floor, (it has to be hard enough to set the thing 'laughing.') he goes into his backing routine, throwing back his head and yowling (not sure that's the right word.) and also barking until the thing stops it sound. The thing has been running down for the past year or two, so Carol had to do an operation on an older one and transferred to the newer one. I just wish they'd bring out a new version as these things are difficult to replace.

Generally, Alfie is quiet and makes very little noise, apart from the occasional bark. We don't have a door-bell, but what makes us laugh is when we're watching television and during the action a doorbell rings and he barks. How does he associate that with our front door, someone being there or that it requires him to bark for whatever reason? I have described on many occasions on here how, if he realises that we're going out, for a walk, or he's going to go with us in the car, he becomes a completely different little dog, going into what we call 'Tasmanian Devil-Mode,' growling, barking and even getting hold of his lead  with his teeth and not letting go and also becoming quite aggressive and even attempting to bite if you get your hand in his way or scratching with his claws, which can be quite painful.

Alfie is very playful. He has this little game he has with things like dog biscuit or any treats he is given. Usually if you give him a treat, one of those chunky treats for example, he will eat it immediately, but he also does this thing where he will sit and watch whatever it is, then barks, then gets up and does a sort of spin around, pokes it with his nose and spins around again. When Poppy was alive, he used to shoot off upstairs when he was given a treat because Poppy would often pinch them off him. He is somewhat schizophrenic as I've described in his 'Tasmanian Devil mode. Considering that, when we lived at the house in Crownhill and the house was invaded by rats (read the earlier blog post for full details of all this.) Alfie caught and eventually managed to kill a huge rat, it just goes to show how a little dog of his size could manage to kill something so large. It goes to show how plucky a Yorkie can be when confronted by such a thing as a rat.

Alfie has become very concerned if he's done something wrong, for example, that he's done a wee on the floor. These little accidents do happen, particularly if he can't get outside if it's raining or we don't get to open the door for him on time. He knows perfectly well when he's done something wrong. You can generally tell when he's upset because his ears are laid back against his head. They're a good sign of how he's feeling. If you say 'bad' he knows he's done something wrong, but of late he puts on this act of being pathetic, as if he thinks he's done something wrong, when it's clear to us that he hasn't. He's a very sensitive little dog, one of the charms of Alfie. He picks up any emotions we have, particularly at present with Carol ill and at home.

Alfie can be very picky about what he eats. It's no use changing what he's given to eat as he's not likely to eat it. He's usually fed at around 7-7.30 each evening. He gets mixer and canned dog food, usually meat in jelly or gravy. If we're eating he will often come and sit in front of us and try and get something from us, scraps of food, but we don't encourage this too much. But if he's offered anything he can sometimes sniff at it or lick it and then not eat it. I know dogs should never eat of our plates, but he does finish off whatever we leave on our plates. He is somewhat addicted to tea, and if we're having a cup of tea he gets to finish the dregs at the bottom of our cups or mugs. Poppy used to be very tea-orientated and I think the habit of letting her have the dregs passed on to Alfie when we first got him as a puppy.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Weekend Shopping and Completion Of Third Chemo Cycle

I've been out extra early this morning to do some shopping. I went all the way over to Westcroft to go to Aldi. Last week I went into the main shopping centre to buy Carol a diary as well as a calendar to mark in all her hospital appointments. I then went to Aldi at Bradwell Common and got there too later, so the place was heaving with customers and it was all but impossible to move around the store. Not entirely helped by the fact that there were no end of pallets and boxes being used to stock the place. All this was why I decided to go so early this morning and it worth worth it as I was in and out within about half an hour. We'd made a list which also helped. The one thing we like about Aldi, apart from everything being a good deal cheaper (around a third, I reckon.) their stores are smaller than the average supermarket so you can get around quicker and there's less to choose from. Why have so many versions of the same product, such as tomato ketchup? Just confusing and makes choosing more difficult. Mind you, we don't particularly like their tomato ketchup, so we have to go to Sainsbury's for Heinz ketchup. There are some products which you can't compromise on, such as tea (has to be P.G. Tips every time) as well as toothpaste (Has to be Colgate.) But Aldi's meat fruit and vegetables can't be bettered. They have a faster system at the checkout. You make sure your trolley is in place and they whizz your shopping through the scanner and then you have to pack it on the shelf which saves time.  They've managed to place the bar codes on the packaging in such a way that  the operator doesn't have to search for them and they're large enough, unlike on most products where you spend time looking for the bar code so it can be scanned, so wasting time and energy. It was relatively easy to park as well and it's not far to push the trolley when the shopping is done.

Carol had to go into the hospital to have the pump disconnected. We had to go to ward 22, which is over the Endoscopy department, and not the Oncology Suite. Fortunately I knew where it was as I noticed the signage for it when I walked through the hospital the other day. The chemotherapy makes Carol feel really awful, mostly dizzy. It was quite difficult for her to walk from the car into the hospital.

We didn't have to wait long when we eventually reached Ward 22. Carol was taken into a side-room and a nurse removed the pump. Unfortunately Carol was even more dizzy when she came out and sat on a chair in the corridor. We began to walk out, but the dizziness got worse, so she had to sit down again. A nurse rang for a porter to come with a wheelchair. I couldn't push a wheelchair because of my heart condition. After about 20 minutes or so the porter arrived with the wheelchair and we began the journey back to the entrance at Cardiology, where we had come into the hospital. The porter couldn't wheel Carol outside, so I was left with Carol to slowly return to the car. Fortunately, when we drove out of the carpark, the barrier was raised, so we didn't have to pay. At the weekend you have to pay and can't get your ticket stamped at Macmillan's unit as it's closed, so it was a relief to find we didn't have to pay.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Third Chemotherapy Cycle (and a Load of Pure Waffle)

Well, how else do I entitle this post? Most of it is waffle, let's be perfectly honest. Sometimes it's inevitable, because I have to put SOMETHING in a post, even if it's just trivial stuff, to pad the thing out.

It's a calm and mild morning.  But overcast and really depressing again. It's more like early evening rather than morning. But life goes on. We'll have a second attempt at visiting the Oncology Suite this morning.

We had to be at the Oncology Suite for 12 noon. We left in good time. Really no excuse to be late as it's only a short drive from home. We drove into the hospital campus and drove round the inner ring road as we always do, towards the Oncology Suite and went into the carpark. Unfortunately we couldn't find a vacant space, and there other cars also looking. So we had no choice but to park as we had yesterday, so we drove out of the carpark, and fortunately the barrier was raised so we didn't have to use the ticket to leave. We drove around the inner ringroad and arrived at Carpark A. We drove in and took a ticket from the machine and then couldn't find a vacant space to park. We drove out (the barrier was raised. Do these things ever work? Probably just as well they don't.) There was no alternative but to park in the multi-storey. There was no way that Carol was going to walk all the way from the multi-storey carpark to the Oncology Suite, so I drove back round towards the Oncology Suite and dropped her off near the Cardiology Department, which is where we usually enter the hospital. Conveniently just across the corridor from Oncology. It must have been where I come when I had my stress test a few years ago after I had my heart attack. So, I drove around the inner ring-road back to the multi-storey car park (this is becoming a theme of this blog post, it seems, a real sense of deja vu about it, but never mind.) There was quite a queue of vehicles entering the carpark where you take your tickets. Then an even longer queue to wait to park within the carpark. I then drove around and couldn't see a space immediately and then I decided to break all the rules and went through an area which said 'no entry.' (There are definitely times when you definitely have to break the rules and go against the grain or swim against the current, to use two really useful metaphors.) It was either that or leave the carpark and go somewhere else, which I didn't intend doing. As a result, and no doubt upsetting quite a few other drivers, I did manage to find a space. I left the carpark and walked through the hospital and back to the Oncology Department and found Carol hiding round the corner of the unit. Not many other people in the unit, a lot of empty seats. She was soon set up with her usual drips and laying on the bed they had reserved for her. At least I now now the short cut from the multi-storey carpark which avoids having to walk along those seemingly endless corridors which I had to endure when Carol was in hospital for three weeks a few months ago.

The session has gone relatively stress-free. Not a lot of waiting to have Carol's chemo set up as was the case the other week. There aren't that many other people in the unit and it seems far quieter than it has been for the last two sessions. Carol is currently crocheting which is keeping her occupied. I have been reading 'Cold Comfort Farm' which has to be one of my favourite novels. I love reading out loud and apart from anything it's a way of passing the time. I think the session will be over soon, by which time I will have to walk back to the multi-storey carpark to collect the car and drive back to pick up Carol from near the Cardiology Department entrance. I just hope the weather doesn't suddenly change and we get pouring rain. Now just the alarm-sounds of the pumps going off (when they malfunction or the bags of drip run out.). Writing this blog post keeping me occupied for the rest of the session, by which time I will have run out of things to say and at which point I will press 'publish' and the whole thing goes 'live.'

Virtually all of this post has been composed whilst sitting with Carol in the Oncology Suite at Milton Keynes University Hospital, thanks to the fact that there is free wi-fi in all areas of the hospital. (Although this bit at the end was written after we got home.) How come we are now allowed to use our mobiles in N.H.S. properties? At one time you weren't allowed to use a mobile in any hospital or other N.H.S. place because for some reason they were supposed to interfere with some of the equipment. What has changed?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Yet Another Trip To Hospital

Tuesday. It's a very dull, grey and over-cast day. Somewhat depressing. We had to go to the Oncology Suite at 11.30 this morning as Carol had a blood test. Fortunately we managed to get the one and only parking space in the carpark. Always a problem when we have an appointment at the hospital so much later in the day.

We arrived in the Oncology Suite and it was extremely busy. The nurses work incredibly hard in this department. They never seem to stop. Probably dealing with more than one patient at a time. We sat and waited around a table as we usually do when we arrive. There was a lady in a wheelchair who went off to be set up with her chemotherapy session and I was left with Carol and an elderly man who was being very chatty. Carol went off with one of the nurses to a different area of the suite. The elderly man was telling me about the lady in the wheelchair. Apparently she was 94 and had been asked what was the secret of keeping so young and active. She responded with 'a glass of whisky every day!' We began to discuss the car parking at the hospital, and had the same thoughts about the morality of having to pay to park your car at  hospital and how much it cost. I was shocked to learn that a private company ran these carparks and kept the profits for itself, which is appalling when you think of the financial difficulties the N.H.S. finds itself in.

I went to join Carol the other side of the suite. She had to have a blood test, which is how the chemotherapy treatment begins each time, so we have got used to the procedure. The nurses are extremely efficient and everything is done quickly, so we were out of the unit within about 45 minutes. Well, it has to be run like this, as there are so many people in the unit, arriving and leaving all the time during the day. It couldn't be run any other way as there isn't space for all the patients to sit and have their treatment at the same time otherwise.

Having had the parking ticket clipped in the Macmillan unit after we arrived, we then found, when we got back to the carpark and were about to leave, that the barrier was raised so we didn't need the ticket to raise the barrier. It must be very annoying to those patients who can't have free car parking to then find the barrier raised when they've already paid at the machine. I trust they get a refund. I don't expect they would, unfortunately.

Wednesday. It's a very wet morning. Had to put the pink recycling bags out along with the black bin bags. Probably not such a good idea to go out in night-wear, but it has to be done. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the bin-men didn't come until late last week, basically because of the Bank Holiday. Are we allowed to call them 'bin-men'? Do we have to call them 'bin-persons' or 'refuse operatives or something, just to keep things politically correct? I've no idea, but there are one or two person's of the opposite persuasion on board the Council-run wagons. Not probably on our collection, but no doubt elsewhere within Milton Keynes. Perhaps we can't say 'black bin-bags' to keep things PC and maybe even 'pink bin-bags' is going to upset someone or other. But let's be realistic, do people get their tights in a tangle over such things, or is it some bureaucrat somewhere who has to come up with such stupidity? No racial slur or homophobic suggestion in the slightest. They are just bin-bags, after all.

After all the fuss when Woughton Community Council left those notices as regarding fly-tipping when people put their bin bags out too early (me included), I notice that there is a lot of broken furniture, such as bits of what look like broken kitchen units, doors and drawers, as well as a rolled-up mattress and odd bits and pieces of furniture, including a worn out sofa, left around the estate. No doubt most is there for someone to collect, such as the Council (you have to organise this in advance, and pay to have it removed.) But who gets fined for 'fly-tipping'? Just a thought, 'Woughton' is actually pronounced 'Woof-ton.' If that's the case, why is Loughton (another village within the Milton Keynes area.) is pronounced 'Low-ton,' so why not 'Luff-ton,'? Weird or what? Just shows how strange our language is.

Later. We went to the hospital for 11.30 but couldn't find a space where we usually park. We had to drive around the hospital campus and park in Car park A and then walk round to Oncology, quite a long walk.  Unfortunately we got things wrong. When we arrived in the Oncology Suite, the staff on reception couldn't find Carol on the system. It would appear we were 24 hours too early as Carol wasn't booked in until tomorrow morning. They could have fitted her in but on checking, they didn't have the prescribed material necessary for her chemotherapy treatment. So we left to go home and will return tomorrow at the same time.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Watching Television

If you read my blog posts regularly, you will have discovered by interest in history. So I'm glad that the good old BBC has decided to make yet another of the Great Railway Journeys on BBC2 at 6.30 throughout the week. What I like is not just the railway journeys that Michael Portillo makes, but the interesting bits of history and information he puts in. This series is built around the Bradshaw's timetable and in particular the Edwardian period and he visits places along the way that are connected with King Edward VII. It begins in Cromer and goes through Cambridge, into London and on south towards the coast and along towards Bournmouth and Poole.

Michael Portillo makes a good presenter and doesn't shirk when there is an activity to get involved in, although I'm not so sure about his excessively garish clothing, bright pink trousers and green jackets. As I'm watching this show when writing this, he is now wearing a mauve jacket and custard-yellow trousers. Where on earth does he buy these outfits, and how many sets of these jackets and trousers are there in his wardrobe? Must be fun to film this series, all that travelling on trains all over the country and looking at all those interesting things and visiting such fascinating places along the way. I bet the British tourist industry love him to bits as he shows off all those places that you've probably never heard of and would love to visit.

The BBC is doing a lot of good factual television at the moment. Makes a change from so-called 'reality.' We watched a fascinating documentary last night presented by Sir David Attenborough about dinosaurs. Anything that Attenbrough does is always worth a look. We thoroughly enjoyed the  natural history documentary series 'Blue Planet II,' which featured some of the most amazing photography featuring fish and other sea creatures. It's good that we don't have to endure endless game shows and stupid soaps. Just as well that the BBC is still eager to continue it's public service remit to 'educate, inform and entertain.'

We love a bit of television drama. Who doesn't? Carol was keen on watching the new Kay Mellor series on ITV called 'Girlfriends.' I don't think it's aimed at a male audience, but I gave it a go. A good idea, but it wasn't engaging enough to invest a lot of time and effort on a whole 6 hours of television time. I love Miranda Richardson and Zoe Wanamaker as well as Philis Logan (last seen as the housekeeper in 'Downton Abbey.' Unfortunately, this first episode had far too many characters and plot lines to make it worth watching. Just confusing, who was whom and what was what and why? It seemed as if it was an early draft of something better.

Sky did a one-off drama over the Christmas period called 'Ratburger,' based on a David Williams book. He played the central villain character and Sheridan Smith played the mother of the little boy who has a pet rat which can dance. Good old fashioned family entertainment. No doubt, if you haven't seen it, it will be on catch-up. Meanwhile, on BBC1, there was another David Williams adaptation, this time called 'Grandpa's Great Escape.' His books are extremely popular and sell extremely well. He seems to have taken on the mantle of Roald Dahl, as they have the same sort of style and flavour of his books.  It seems we watch most television on catch-up and not as it is broadcast. Well, it does mean you can watch whenever you want and not be tied to the schedules.The BBC's adaptation of 'Howard's End' was worth a look. Bearing in mind that it had a great deal to live up to, comparing it to the 1993 film adaptation which starred Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. It did mean that they could explore the story in greater detail as they had more hours of screen time than you would have with a film.


Saturday, January 06, 2018

Outing and a 'Little Bump' with The Car

Carol was determined to get out of the house. I couldn't blame her, as she hasn't been out for quite some time, except to go for hospital appointments, such as to the Oncology Suite and doctor's visits. We had to go somewhere which wouldn't compromise Carol's health as she can't get infected because of being on chemotherapy, so it wasn't a good idea to go somewhere which would mean she was likely to catch something nasty from someone or other. We headed off down the A5 and could have gone to Dobbie's at Bletchley, but when we got to the roundabout we decided to go the opposite way and headed for Woburn Sands and either Frost's or Wyevale garden centres. Carol has been looking for a diary so she can keep a track of her appointments, one with a page for each day. I had been into the city centre this morning and didn't find a decent diary for her in any of the shops but got a calendar in The Works. Generally a good place to browse in for not just books but also calendars and a wide range of odds and ends. We went into Wyevale first and had a good browse amongst the different stores within the garden centre and went into The Works (for me, again, although a different branch to this morning) and we found the ideal diary for Carol. She then had a desire to have cake (as you do) so we had a look round but found nothing, not so much as a crumb, unfortunately. So we left and went to Frost's only a few hundred yards back towards the centre of Woburn Sands. Not much room to park the car, but we did manage to eventually find a place and then went into the food hall. We wanted custard, and we found some in the food-hall, but we then discovered that it cost over £3. I hadn't noticed, but Carol pointed the cost out to me before we got to the till. I decided to put it back on the shelf. We could easily find ready-made or at least custard powder and make our own if we visited another shop. We couldn't find cake of any description, going into the restaurant in the main building of the garden centre. At more than £3  slice, we decided it was somewhat over-priced. Probably very nice, but you could find a whole Victoria sponge for less than that elsewhere. At which point we decided to leave.

We got back to the car, got in and I began to reverse out. A difficult enough manoeuvre at the best of times. You have to be sharp as there are always people walking past as well as other cars reversing and turning. I moved extremely slowly and, unfortunately, seemed to hit the car behind. The driver shouted that I'd hit his car. He wasn't going to let me go without making a scene. I got out of the car and spoke to him. I apologised and he asked me if I wanted to pay 'in cash' or claim 'on your insurance.' No possibility that he'd made an error with his driving? He had his iPhone out and was taking pictures with it of the damage to the rear of his car. Hardly a scratch. Also, taking shots of the rear of our car. Thinking about it now, I think he may just have been taking photos of the registration number. Only a slight scratch, if even that. I gave him my phone number and my name. There was something a bit odd about all this. How come he had his mobile out so quickly and taking shots only mere seconds after the 'crash'? You could hardly call it that. I was moving extremely slowly. I didn't hear any sound when the car ran into the other car. Neither did Carol. The other thing was, his wife was quickly on the scene with a note pad and pencil, taking down my name and phone number. Handy if she had a notebook and pencil so readily to hand.  I would contact our insurance company, Swinton, and they would deal with the claim, if indeed there was a claim. The other man said that he'd ring round to get a quote to have his car repaired. It was hardly worth bothering, to be honest. If I had been driving at speed, it would have made a far bigger dent in his car. What I saw on his car was hardly a dent, more like a tiny scratch, if that. Why couldn't he just accept that it was a minor accident and drive away without making any fuss? I reckon he'll get a quote and then hike up the amount and pocket the difference. There are people 'out there' who are quite determined to make money out of insurance claims, even staging car accidents deliberately just so they can claim on either their insurance or the other driver's. I reckon that driver could easily 'ring round' for a quote and then hike it and get me to 'pay in cash,' regardless of the actual quote he would be given. All these things adding up to be rather suspicious. It makes me wonder how many innocent drivers he's tried this sort of scam on.

On the way home we stopped at the Co-op in Broughton. This is a newly-opened estate which is growing fast. It's really incredible how much Milton Keynes has grown in the little over ten years that I've lived here. Out at Crownhill, where we lived when we were first married in 2007, the open fields going out along Watling Street towards Stony Stratford are now developed into more housing estates. The road into Milton Keynes from Junction 13 of the M1 has been extensively developed as a duel carriage way and a whole expanse of warehouses has grown up, mostly belonging to Waitrose and John Lewis. Anyway, we managed to find some suitable cake in the Co-op for Carol and also, when we got to the till to pay, the young man operating the checkout was a former pupil of Carol's which was nice for her. She was pleased to see him settled into a job and making a life for himself.

We'd been home a couple of hours when the telephone rang and the driver of the car spoke to me, asking for my insurance policy number. Well, I wasn't likely to have it immediately to hand, now was I? I hadn't bothered to look for it and had really no intention of doing so. I gave him my full name and told him that Swinton would deal with the matter. It was then that Carol was a bit suspicious. Was this man trying to make a claim which was really not much of a claim? It was odd that he had his mobile out so quickly and was taking photos of the 'damage', if you could call it that, to his precious car. I began to wonder if he wasn't trying to make a false claim on my insurance. Carol said to ring Swinton on Monday morning and tell them that this so-called claim seemed a bit suspicious, particularly as the damage, if you could even call it that, was so minimal, not even that, barely a scratch. We'll have to see what they had to say and let them decide. I have driven for very nearly 50 years and in all that time I think I've only had to claim on my insurance no more than half-a-dozen times. We watch daytime television programmes about such things as false insurance claims, or at least, some which are very suspicious. I have an idea that this person makes a habit of such things and would do anything to get money out of a car driver, when the damage is so minimal it can hardly be described as such. No more than what you'd expect if you were to brush against a branch of a tree or bush when you parked or if a cat or dog scratched it with it's paw. I imagine that the insurance company would send someone out to have a look the damage for themselves before they payed out to have the car repaired. We'll have to see what happens.

Alfie Has A Bath and Other Matters

I'm stuck for something to write in my blog post. Goodness, you say, how come? You always manage to come up with something, even if it's a load of gibberish. But here goes, a blank screen and I am at least typing something. 

As soon as I lay finger to keyboard, the letterbox rattles and the sound of something heavy lands on the doormat. I rush to see what it is. A photography magazine which I thought I'd cancelled arrives. Carol has a letter and I get two envelopes which look inviting. One from Radio Times trying to tempt me to buy several copies for £26 and the other about PPI. The fact is, I have never had PPI. These people are trying every avenue they can think of to get you to sign up. Not content with bludgeoning you to death (almost) with radio and television advertising as well as keeping on telephoning to tell you to 'check whether you've ever had a loan' or whatever (I haven't so why bother?). They just won't let go of this. I even had someone ring on my mobile while I was waiting at the hospital when Carol went to have her Pic line put in at the beginning of her chemotherapy treatment. This young man (well, I assume he was young) just would not let go. Quite aggressive, in fact. I don't know how they got hold of my mobile number. I rarely give it out, basically because I can never remember it. I know our landline number. It really is an infringement of my privacy to have these phone calls which are totally uninvited. Then you get those crazy telephone calls which, when you pick up the receiver, are nothing. No voice comes on the line. Just a sort of burrrrrrrrrrrr sound. Empty space. Silence. What on earth is the point of them? Is someone on the other end? It's, frankly, quite scary. A machine, a computer, ringing people, using a sort of database of telephone numbers, on the off-chance that someone will answer and give over some more information, get you to sign up to whatever it is they're offering or claiming to offer.  Could be an alien from outer space. Fanciful, but who knows.?What percentage of the cash you are promised will they make out of this? Makes you wonder.

A good deal less windy today. A few intervals of sunshine, but now, as I write this, it's gone over-cast and I reckon quite chilly outside.

I'll write this by adding something as I think of what to write as the day progresses. Then I'll post it when there's sufficient to make it worth finishing.

Carol had a bath and I helped her have a hair wash. We didn't let the bath water out, so we plonked Alfie in as he has been in need of a good wash for some time. Not when it was cold when the weather was bad, with snow and ice. He was a good boy and let me put shampoo on and give him a good lathering-up. He must have rolled in something exceptionally smelly because he's niffed quite considerably since well before Christmas. Getting him out of the bath, after I'd rinsed him well, was quite a problems as I get myself wet when he shakes, but after some while I managed to brush his coat and then he began charging around the house. He now looks a bit like one of those bottle brushes, with is coast all fluffed up, but it should dry completely as the afternoon progresses. I'm glad we managed the operation without too much trouble. He still has a nasty knotted bit underneath which can only be removed with a pair of scissors, but the worst has been removed. The bath-water turned a dark and dingy colour as I washed him, so it must have removed most of the dirt from his coat.

Alfie doesn't like being brushed. But he will sit on my knee and let me do it. He makes a real fuss, growling and making a silly noise. He's a real contradiction, because he still stays on my knee. If he didn't like it, why doesn't he jump off? It's some time since he had his bath and he's virtually dry, and certainly smelling sweeter.

Carol had an appointment at the pain clinic within the Macmillan Unit at Milton Keynes Hospital at 2.30 this afternoon (Friday.) The doctor had prescribed a patch which has replaced two of her pain management medications. She has to change it every three days. It is taking some time for it to kick in. If necessary the strength can be increased and the doctor has managed (!) to get our surgery to add it to Carol's repeat prescription list so these patches should be easier to re-order (fingers crossed, some hope etc etc. Let's just wait and see what happens when I have to do a repeat order.

Unfortunately Carol missed an appointment yesterday to have her PICC line checked. The oncology department rang yesterday afternoon to tell her that she had missed this, but they managed to re-arrange it to coincide with this afternoon's appointment. It was written in the book she has which has all her appointments written but this  was shown in some sort of secret code (I'm being a little bit ironic here, of course.) so I wouldn't have known what the appointment was for so we would neither of us have been any the wiser, so couldn't remind Carol that it was coming up. But things were checked when we got to the Macmillan Unit and there were no problems. 

Thursday, January 04, 2018

EastEnders Does Joe Orton

We thought we'd watch EastEnders last night, just to see what on earth was going on. I had accidentally strayed into soap land the other evening when I was sitting and working on my laptop. The television was on and I wasn't watching as my concentration was elsewhere. Then EastEnders came on. (See earlier post where I discuss this.) So I was somewhat fascinated to see how things were developing, hence what follows.  As I've mentioned in an earlier post, Christmas in soap-land is always fraught with drama and excitement. Possibly this will be the only episode we'll bother to see for the rest of 2018, but who knows? We have a television set in our bedroom, so if it's too awful we could always just fall asleep, due to the boredom. So, what on earth IS going on in Walford?  Possibly not boring. Someone is in intensive care. I assume they are. I couldn't work out if the 'someone' was male or female. Carol insists it's female. This is a soap stand-by. Have someone or other involved in an accident of some sort, traffic, house-fire, shot or whatever, so they end up in hospital, in intensive care, miles of tubes, things stuffed in their mouth, bleeping monitor at bedside, and family members come in and stand or sit at their bedside, tears running down faces, gloomy, not sure if they'll pull through (the patient, that is, not the family.) Usually this is done when an actor wants to leave the show, or hasn't decided to sign contract to remain, so the producers do this to their character. They die if they don't sign the contract, or they live if they do. They can remain on life-support for endless episodes. Harrowing and dramatic, but probably incomprehensible if you're not a regular viewer of the show (as we are.) Who is this character? Why are they in intensive care?

Then we had another plot, involving a coffin, Billy Mitchell as a funeral director, and a whole gang of 'hard' men, including Mr 'Potato head' Phil Mitchell grunting and scowling (as he always does.) in a scene which was more a cross between Joe Orton's play 'Loot' and a piece by Harold Pinter than your average EastEnders storyline. Had they hidden some ill-gotten cash inside the coffin of someone's dead mother? Or whose corpse was it anyway? (Good name for another play, methinks, a farce perhaps, or even another television show of some sort.) It did smack of Orton, as I know the play well and worked on a production at Colchester Rep when I was an A.S.M. in the early 1970's. Anyway, I just hope the Orton estate doesn't sue the producers of EastEnders for plagiarism or something. It was all a real muddle, particularly as we weren't sure what was going on, or who was who (or whom.) Was someone pretending to be a priest, or at least a man of the cloth, or a vicar?  This character began to speak a load of gibberish, sort of stage Latin. Was he supposed to be attempting to say the Last Rites? More laughable than anything. Then they decided to take the lid off the coffin and I assume put the loot inside and, for some unaccountable reason, the corpse fell out. I don't think it was necessary, but I think they got complaints from some viewers as a result, or I expect they would. Who on earth would want Billy Mitchell as a funeral director? He's fairly incompetent at the best of times, but the thought of him organising a funeral leaves much to be desired. Not exactly realistic. I felt sorry for the person who had to be the corpse. I assume it was a real person and not a dummy. They would have had to remain still and not breath for a long time, although there were no shots of the corpse, except very brief glimpses. Had they got the wrong coffin? I assume that what was going on. Billy Mitchell selecting the wrong one, no doubt.

Are we to assume that the stolen cash is put in a different coffin and Billy buries the wrong one? In the play 'Loot,' the hearse taking the coffin to the cemetery is involved in an accident and later the coffin and a casket, which contains the hidden money from a robbery, gets burnt and returns to the home of the deceased wife of the central character, so it'll be interesting to see if they pinch this plot idea from the Orton play. I don't think I can be bothered to watch to find out. The whole thing is too absurd and not worth the effort to watch, but never mind. They have had gangsters in earlier episodes of EastEnders and it got ridiculous and unrealistic. People with guns and things in a soap is going too far if you ask me. Not just in EastEnders, but I see to remember something similar in Brookside and we know what happened to that particular soap opera. It got cancelled. Just a good way to loose viewers when things get unrealistic and crazy.

One assumes the cash has been stolen in some sort of robbery. I didn't discover where it had come from. If you're a regular viewer you would obviously have learnt all these details, so watching one episode it does take a while to fathom out what is going on. No context for any of the current goings-on. A bit like picking up a novel, probably quite a long one at that, and just opening at a random page and reading and expecting to understand the plot and characters from only reading a couple of pages. New characters have been introduced since I last watched EastEnders. Some have left, and old characters have reappeared.