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2023 - April - The Pre New Orleans Trip Catch Up

The quality of this blog is not strained it dropeth like a gentle blog from heaven.

During this break in our trips I have been making a concerted effort in trying to clear out the loft inspired by having to clear out 25 years of accumulated ‘stuff’ from Karen’s Mum’s. We didn’t want anyone else to have to do the same for us.

Karen is a hoarder. There I have said it. She is always reluctant to throw away anything ever. Maybe an odd sock very occasionally and then only with regret. I like to keep things of sentimental value and some things I have consciously collected. But I don’t keep things for the sake of it.

The opening quote relates to one of the few quotes I can remember from English Literature at school. One of the boxes I cleared was full of both of our school books from Senior school. I only had about a quarter of the number that Karen had. Mine were not interesting apart from really highlighting the subjects I bothered about and those in which I had no interest whatsoever. I pity my poor History teacher as I obviously never made little effort at any time. I also had my chemistry and physics books. Those subjects I remember trying to make an effort but never really understanding and it showed. Now maths and computer studies were a different story. My books showed that I just got these subjects. There was rarely anything wrong and looking at the quadratic and simultaneous equations I understood them. Nevertheless, I decided there was nothing there I needed to keep or would be of interest to future generations and so they all went into the recycling bin.

One of the few I did keep was my first exercise book I completed in Russian. At that time all schools in Norwich taught Russian presumably just in case we were ever invaded. Because of the Cyrillic alphabet I saw it almost as a code to learn and did so with relish and ease. That is until I realised all my new ‘friends’ were hopeless at it and were going to be put down a class and I stay with them. So, when it came to the grading tests at the end of the first half term, I deliberately got 90% of the grammar questions wrong. The teacher however kept me in the top group after the work I had done previously. I was not happy.

In the end I only took Russian for another 6 weeks until I had my road accident which meant I then missed a whole year of schooling. When I went back, I had to catch up on my own at the back of each class but was allowed to drop any subjects I didn’t want to pursue to examination level. Russian was top of my list (French & History being the others). My accident was a sliding door moment for many things as who knows where being a Russian fluent speaker may have taken me (I dread to think).

One of my biggest regrets from school is that I didn’t throw myself into school life at all. When the bell rang, I just wanted to be out of there. I thought those who joined the clubs or any extracurricular activities were just weird. I was wrong and when I now look back at what I missed I am annoyed with myself. Not just the sporting teams (although the school would not let me do any contact sport after my accident for fear of making my injuries worse) but things like Drama and Quiz teams I could and should have been part of. I kept the school handbooks I had in my pile of books and cannot believe what opportunities I missed. More fool me.

Anyhow I just retained a couple of my school books whereas Karen is still thinking which of her very large pile she wants to keep.

The boys will be happy once I have stopped getting things out of the loft and giving it to them to put in their lofts or bins.

The overriding thing in our house since our Lanzarote return has been the health of Karen’s Mum. Karen was just about feeling happier once her Mum was discharged with her broken ankle and had settled back into the care home, when she was rushed back in again this time with pneumonia. Fortunately, they caught it early and she was in less than a week but all very distressing again. Poor Karen feels as though the whole shoulder of responsibility for care falls upon her all the time. She visits most days to ensure that the care her Mum is receiving is to the standard that it needs to be. Hence there have been meetings with the care home where that has not been met. None of this is helped by the fact that her Mum gets even more confused and agitated whenever she is off colour or has an infection.

Amidst all this gloom and doom, we have tried to do some nicer things. We have seen shows at the Playhouse at least once a week as well as some great days outs with friends.

My golf has not been great since we returned but I still really enjoy the walk and the company.

The less said about the football the better. It has been poor and we are just a bang average team with many players who can only just hold their own at this level but no more. We were lucky enough to have received invites to the corporate box twice. Both times City lost although the second time my wine glass was constantly being refilled so I didn’t mind so much.

Karen has had the offers of work coming out of her ears. She admits she took some of the offers as it stopped her fretting about her Mum during the day.

With the help of Graham, we removed the large conifer in what is now Neil’s front garden and also Graham spent a day doing some electrical work in the bungalow for him.

And so now we find ourselves on a trip to New Orleans, then the Florida Panhandle and then a week in a villa in Kissimmee. A road trip with a bit of relaxation at the end. I have been I think three times before to New Orleans with work but Karen has never been.

One time IBM paid for me to go to speak at one of their conferences. I recall vividly my IBM host (mention no names - Tim Robertson) getting blind drunk the night before. Halfway through that evening we went to the House of Blues and saw Maria Muldaur (Midnight at the Oasis) perform. I am not sure how it happened but when she was on stage packing up with her band, Tim dragged me on stage to meet her. What she must have thought I don’t know but she was polite enough I recall. He then insisted she must a photo taken with me. Some months later Tim turned that photo into a CD album cover for her latest release that he sent to me. I still have that and it is still in the cellophane he managed to package around it to make it look real.

That evening then continued in another bar and before I knew it the time was 2am. I was due to present the next day at 9am. I said to Tim we should go back so I could get some sleep. But he was all for staying out. He suggested no one would mind if I didn’t turn up for my guest speaker’s spot. I kind of disagreed and thought my employers would not be impressed either. So, I made my own way back to the Hotel. I was not too surprised when I didn’t see him in breakfast the next morning as arranged. To his credit he did make my presentation albeit still in the same clothes from the night before and had his head on the table all the way through. I do remember that the feedback people attending had to complete after session was quite positive despite all this.

I’m not expecting this trip to be anywhere near as ruckus instead something more befitting people of our more mature age.

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