Friday, 28 December 2007

We Three Chaps: Nativity Pantomime

At church on Christmas Eve, Trevor and I performed in a nativity pantomime, written by little old me, though I'm not sure I should own up to it!
"We Three Chaps" had a cross-dressing cast of five: three wise men, King Herod and the Angel Gabrielle. The wise men, played by women, were terribly posh business people with brief cases (one of them was awfully nice, but dim). Trevor played the Angel Gabrielle in pretty pink pyjamas. His job was to whip up the congregation into a frenzy of enthusiasm and participation, shouting "hurrah" every time Jesus' name was mentioned. I played the evil King Herod and was booed at every possible opportunity. Included in the panto was a "he's behind you!" scene including the compulsory "oh no he isn't!" etc. followed by a chase scene involving Herod and the wise chaps. The Christmas story was told through these 5 characters but there were, naturally, frequent references to Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
The congregation seemed to enjoy it.... Oh yes they did!
I hope YOU had a very happy and enjoyable Christmas.
Me as King Herod

Trevor as the Angel Gabrielle

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Blue Moon


I don’t expect that anyone is even remotely interested to hear about my buttocks.

However, my buttocks are very much on my mind today because they are hurting me. I stepped into the shower this morning, slipped and my buttocks splat hard down on to the door runner of the shower unit. I now have a horizontal striped bruise that stretches across both cheeks.

Oh well, a glass of good red wine should soothe the pain.

Cheers!

Saturday, 15 December 2007

To Beard or Not To Beard

This photo of Trevor was taken when he was 40.


Here he is at 55. The beard looks very nice but Trevor's expression worries me.....

Ah that's better. Yes, Trevor, if you want hair, wear it on your head - it looks so natural!

Thursday, 29 November 2007

To Lower Oneself.......




Trevor and I delivered another “Trust Me I’m A Patient” role-playing workshop to 120 people on Monday at the East Midlands Hilton Hotel for the NHS ‘Improvement Foundation’. Attendees were a mixture of NHS managers, frontline staff and patients.

The objective of this workshop is to help people look at change from a different perspective; seeing change through others’ eyes. In brief, the scenario is that there are proposals for 3 GP surgeries to close and be replaced by one large, modern health centre on the edge of town. The press have published the story before patients or surgery staff have been advised of the changes. The handling of the project has been a shambles, caused through a lack of communication. It is a realistic scenario.

To date we have facilitated 18 of these workshops to more than 1000 delegates. At the end of the workshop we ask participants to complete a short evaluation form; ticking boxes to give their opinion of the workshop - very poor, poor, average, good or very good. We ask them the best part of the workshop and also what could be improved. In our previous 17 workshops, I think there has only been one ‘poor’ a handful of ‘average’ and an abundance of ‘good’ or ‘very good’ ticks.

Monday told a different story. Out of the 48 evaluation forms returned we received 5 ‘very poor’, 6 ‘poor’, 11 ‘average’, 12 ‘good’ and 14 ‘very good’. 72 participants did not fill in their forms.

Trevor and I invite criticism but we are disappointed by Monday’s response. From the ‘very poor’ forms, participants wrote that our workshop was set at too low a level, ie. for staff low down in the NHS tree, not for staff of senior level. The workshop was ‘juvenile’ and we weren’t telling them anything they didn’t already know. One person wrote that if she wanted to become an actor, she would have enrolled at RADA instead of finding employment at the NHS!

As a little girl, I never ever dreamed of being an NHS role-player and facilitator, just as probably most managers in the NHS never dreamed of being chief executives or patient and public involvement managers. Sometimes our jobs occur by accident rather than by choice but we either muddle on blindly or we develop a conscience and strive to be the best we can possibly be.

Trevor and I are committed Christians and have speculated the idea of advancing our bible study at a theological college. When we moved to a new village in July, we decided to join an Alpha course at our local church. Alpha is designed as an introduction to the Christian faith and I was uncertain that this was the right course for us. After all, there is no hesitation about our commitment and we attended an Alpha course a couple of years ago. I couldn’t see the point in taking a step backwards. Trevor was keen to do it again so we joined and I am so pleased for his better judgement. We are ‘back to basics’ and learning things we missed last time in addition to sharing our faith with others. This is merely an analogy and I am not writing this as a bible basher or trying to convert anyone [honestly]. The point I’m making is that these NHS managers might like to think about going ‘back to basics’. The workshop is an opportunity to engage with other staff of ‘lower levels’ (to use this person’s language). Sometimes, workshops and conferences are not just about what we can learn but about what we can give. Perhaps these NHS high-level people who feel that our workshop is set at too low a level for them, would consider following Sir Richard Branson’s example. He frequently returns to the shop floor – and I suspect that he learns and gives every time.

Our workshop was never designed to find solutions to NHS improvement. The answers are already within the minds of the staff and patients.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Swimmers throw abuse at injured servicemen in pool


My blood was boiling earlier today, despite the icy temperatures.

I was deeply saddened to hear about the abuse hurled at injured servicemen, during their hydro-physiotherapy treatment at Leatherhead Leisure Centre. Many of the soldiers had lost limbs or suffered burns and the weekly swim was to boost their rehabilitation.

"One woman, believed to be in her 30s, was so incensed that the soldiers - many of them amputees having returned from conflicts in the Middle East and Asia - were using the pool that she told them that they did not deserve to be there. It is alleged that she told the men that she pays to swim there and they do not. According to witnesses she was so abusive that the soldiers' instructor pulled the groups out of the water to avoid further embarrassment," it was reported on Surrey Online

There has got to be a compromise here. I understand that some people might recoil at the horrors of physical disabilities. On the radio today I heard it reported that one mother said that it was upsetting for her children to witness amputees and victims of burns.

I should like to respond to her....

"What about these brave men who have suffered to give freedom to others? It may be upsetting for your children, but this is the reality of war!"

I don't mean to sound harsh or judgmental, but I feel so disappointed at this abuse. I wonder how this woman would feel, God forbid, if she or her children became disabled or lost limbs? How would she feel if people treated them like lepers?

Where is the compromise? To segregate injured soldiers from the general public? To build a purpose-built pool for the disabled? To allow the disfigured to swim with adults only? I don't know the answer, and call me an old fool if you want, but I just want these wonderful people to be loved and treated with respect, equality and gratitude.

See here for Daily Mirror report.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Acorn Antiques

Having recently acquired a DVD of the Acorn Antiques series, I felt highly cheered after watching it last night.

I'd forgotten how funny this plotless series is with it's wobbly scenery, lack of continuity and hilarious acting! Here's a sample of the dialogue between Babs (owner of Acorns Antiques) and Mrs Overall (the tea lady)

Babs: Here I am blabbing away about my own troubles and I never asked you about your husband's car crash.

Mrs O: Oh he's dead Miss Babs. In fact I was going to ask you if I could have a couple of hours off on Thursday for the funeral.

Babs: Of Course. Just pop back at five for the hoovering. What happened?

Mrs O: His heart stopped beating.

Babs: Oh no.

Mrs O: Yes, well, sometimes that's God's way of telling you you're dead. Not to worry, Bingo tonight.

Hehe - a few titters certainly help ease the winter blues! I've yet to see the musical version, though I do have a copy on DVD. Can't wait!

What has made YOU laugh lately?



Thursday, 15 November 2007

'Constant Changes'


This photo was taken in February 2006 and bloggers may wonder about this class of pensioners (apart from me at the back, 2nd left!)
In truth, I joined this wonderful 'Poetry & Prose in Performance' class in September 1988 when my son was just 3 months old (he's 19 now and lives in London!) and I was the baby in a class of 'mature' students. Sadly, many of the original 'team' from those early days have died and indeed, 2 of the students from this photo passed away this year. One has left due to severe depression, one has had a leg amputated and the lady in the middle, front, is 91 and has had to give up due to progressive deafness.
Bernard, the only man in the group still attends (and gives me my weekly hug) and so does Vera, the teacher, front left. The 2 ladies at the rear, right are still in the class.
In the last 19 years, I have married, had a 2nd child, divorced, had a 9-year soul-destroying relationship with someone else (and escaped, thank God) and met and married my knight in shining armour, my wonderful Trevor who I love so very deeply.
Still, the poetry & prose in performance class continues, and I owe so much to this group, who have known me with 3 different surnames. They have seen me young, expectant, desolate, near-suicidal and now, middle-aged and contented, no, gloriously happy and filled with faith and the love of God. They have supported my professional acting work and been a willing audience when practising for my numerous exam medals, with the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art ('Acting' and 'The Speaking of Verse & Prose'). Those surviving members who have put up with me for nearly 2 decades deserve medals themselves!
Is there a constant in YOUR ever-changing world?

Friday, 9 November 2007

Wear Your Poppy With Pride (Inside)

Trevor and I spent this afternoon in prison - as visitors, I hasten to add.

We went through vigorous security checks, lasting for more than an hour. We each took 2 forms of ID, we went through an infra-red machine, were searched thoroughly and Trevor had his thumb-print photographed (required for male visitors only as it was a prison for men). We had our mouths inspected on 3 separate occasions and were checked by sniffer dogs for drugs. Our hands were brushed with some kind of invisible liquid, which showed up on an ultraviolet machine, which served as a permit to exit the prison after our visit. Trevor also had his thumb-print verified on 4 occasions. We had a book, a mouth spray and some tissue temporarily confiscated as NOTHING was allowed in.

All this security and no-one happened to notice the large safety pin I was wearing to attach a poppy to my jacket. It makes you think doesn't it? It's a stringent procedure to prevent drugs entering the prison, which I'm totally in favour of, but sharp dangerous objects? I must admit, I didn't even give it a thought until we were leaving the prison and obviously neither did anyone else.

Safety pins aside, this was our first prison visit and the staff were commendable. They were helpful and efficient and we were impressed.



Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Halloween Mischief

video

This is probably the worst rendition of The Witches Chant from Macbeth you will have ever seen. You can tell there was no rehearsal! Trevor does well as my assistant witch, but then he didn't have to do much, other than stir up a few body parts. TURN THE VOLUME DOWN (or even OFF) - I was too close to the mic.

Shakespeare is probably turning in his grave.

Have a hideous Halloween.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

TGIF (well nearly)


I realise, with dismay, that I seem to have lost my passion for blogging. I hope that it is only a temporary condition. A year ago, I used to post mindless stuff frequently, but now I only feel the urge to post mindless stuff once in a blue moon. Possibly it is because Facebook has taken over my entire social life. Help, is there such a thing as Sweet FA (Facebook Anonymous) ? I want to sign up immediately!

Right, what's been happening this week? Well, today was rather good if truth be told. Trevor and I provided a 'TRUST ME I'M A PATIENT' workshop at the Barking and Dagenham Primary Care Trust (East London). No doubt you are dying to know all about our workshops. Probably not, but I'll tell you anyway. The workshop is designed to help people within the NHS to deal with change and to look at it from another perspective. It involves roleplay and delegates of our workshop are presented with a scenario and given characters to play, ie. patients, doctors, receptionists, nurses, finance directors, chief executives, councillors, dentists, pharmacists... oh the list goes on.

Providing the 'acting' element to the workshop, I get the ball rolling by playing a disgrunted GP Practice Receptionist, followed by an 85-year-old patient and then an arrogant GP. I am always on stand-by to play any one of the 120 characters that we have created, in case our delegates are a little shy to role-play.

Today's workshop was as smooth as a Swish curtain rail; every delegate gave a good performance and hopefully learnt something. Trevor was brilliant, as always, as the facilitator of the event.

........and now something completely different. Have you seen the film, "Arsenic and Old Lace" filmed in 1941 and starring Cary Grant? I watched it on Sky the other day and howled at Cary Grant's comic part. Loved it!

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Our 1st Wedding Anniversary

Trevor and I are delighted to be celebrating our 1st Wedding Anniversary today. I can't believe that it has been a year already!!! It's been the happiest year of my entire life.

Our wedding photos can be viewed by clicking here

Earlier today Trevor and I participated in a 10K (6.2 miles) run at Althorp, Northamptonshire. We surprised ourselves by running with ease and completed the course in 1 hour 9 minutes. OK it wasn't a world record but for a couple of middle-aged, overweight, ex-smokers, we could have done a lot worse!

What have YOU been up to recently? I'd love to hear your news.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Our Visitors

This baby grass snake paid us a visit yesterday......
He came in the house but I shoved him outside - sssssorry Sid.
I found this little beauty (house spider) on the toilet floor.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

The Left-Handy Man

Trevor continues to keep himself busy in our new home...... fitting important things like toilet roll holders - [note that this one is on the left; Trev is the only left-handed member of our family]

Trevor and Lucy assemble the barbecue...... for use by left-handed people I expect. Ah, well. I'm not complaining... Trev's welcome to the position of Head Chef.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Web Crash 2007

This is a spoof news report on the day the internet died. It made me laugh :-)


Sunday, 22 July 2007

Something Beginning with 'H'

We moved house on Tuesday to a picturesque village in Warwickshire.



Trevor found it all a bit too much and decided to hang himself......

Eric, my dad, tells Trevor not to to do it......

"I've changed my mind," says Trevor, coming down the ladder, feeling a little less stressed "Let's play 'I Spy' instead, Eric. I spy with my little eye, something beginning with H..."

"Heil Hitler!" yells Eric. "Well, would you believe it?" asks Trevor, "He isn't dead after all, he's been hiding in the loft all these years!"
"Don't be daft," says the logical university student behind Eric, "the house was only built 18 months ago"

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Race For Life - The 8-Team

We did it last night - raced for life, that is, at Cannon Hill Park in Birmingham, in aid of Cancer Research UK.


Eight women from our church (The Lyndon Ladies) participated along with 2000 other women. From our group, three of us ran the course, four walked and one combined both.

Here are the Lyndon Ladies before the race

Here's me with the two other two runners from our group, Liz and Hazel.


So far, I have raised £135.00 ($270 approx) but would be very happy to add to that total. My fundraising page will be open for donations for another 13 days!


http://www.raceforlifesponsorme.org/anniegay

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Race For Life Countdown... 1 day to go!


This photo was taken after last year's Race For Life, as I ran to raise money for Cancer Research UK. Well I'll be running for the 3rd year... um... running on 20th June -TOMORROW!
If you happen to have a bit of spare cash, please sponsor me - just a few pounds/dollars would be fantastic! Click here to go to my fundraising page.
Thank yoooooooooo - I love you xxxxx

Friday, 15 June 2007

Headway



Sorry to repeat this picture, taken in 1963, of me and my cousin David. He was cremated today and I thought it would be appropriate to publish the photo again with captions. David would have really laughed at this! Just click on the arrow to activate the Bubblesnap.

He was a member of the
Herefordshire Headway, an organisation for brain injured adults. See 3rd June post below.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Bog Roll

INconvenience at Snow Hill Train Station, Birmingham


Tell me pray, how are ladies (or men having a no. 2) supposed to reach the toilet roll?

Obviously we have to be contortionists.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

My Cousin David


This photo of me and my cousin David was taken in 1963, when we were both just 3.
David died of pneumonia on Friday, aged nearly 47. He has suffered from physical disabilities since his first brain tumour was removed at the age of 10.
Initially saddened by David's departure from this life, I now thank God for releasing him and pray that my delightful cousin is in perfect physical condition in Heaven.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Knowle Fun Run



Trevor and I ran in the 5-mile (8 Km) Knowle Fun Run today.

There were approximately 1800 participants and we completed the course looking liked drowned rats - it absolutely BUCKETED with rain!

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Bank Holiday in Birmingham

In England, we come to expect grey skies and rain on Bank Holiday Monday and yesterday was no exception. Happily though, in Birmingham, our rainfall wasn't much more than a spit.

We're the adventurous type, travelling as far afield as the city of Birmingham. Gosh, it's at least 7 miles from our home in Solihull!

Here's me in Victoria Square, with the immortialised Queen Victoria watching the hustle and bustle of this great city. The building behind is the newly restored Town Hall. A few years ago, it was a crumbling danger-zone.


This photo of the Town Hall was taken from Birmingham's Central Library in Chamberlain Square. It's magnificent don't you think? I can't help thinking that the huge TV screen doesn't quite match the architecture!

Just a short walk away is Brindley Place - this is the heart of Birmingham. Did you know that there are more canals here than in Venice? Here is Trevor, eager to get to the Handmade Burger Co. on the other side of the canal. DON'T STEP BACK TREVOR!


Here he is again, in the burger restaurant. Oh look, he wants to tell you his age....


Back in Victoria Square on our way home, quite a crowd has gathered. Birmingham City football fans are celebrating their team's promotion to the Premier Division next season. WELL DONE BLUES!

Monday, 30 April 2007

A Day Trip to London

My 16-year-old daughter, with her dance school, performed at Her Majesty's Theatre in London's West End last night. Trevor and I were part of a coach load of supporters and we spent the day in London before seeing the evening show.

Here's me hanging around outside Buckingham Palace. We had hoped that the Queen would invite us in for tea and cucumber sandwiches, but she was out with her corgis. The weather was glorious - phew! - that guard must have sweated buckets.


Later we sat and watched a Sikh festival in Trafalgar Square. Note the statue of Alison Lapper in the distance.


Alisan Lapper was born without arms and shortened legs. Click here to enter her website. She is my ex-husband's girlfriend's sister, though I've never met Alison.


Hey, what perfect timing!!! This London bus drove past just as Trevor and I were having our pic taken.


We met up with an old friend of mine, Dee, who is a professional, very talented actress and wonderful singer. We worked together once in a production of 'Aladdin' a hundred years ago. She was the Slave of the Ring and I was So Shy, handmaiden to the Princess Jasmine. Those were the days ......

Note the poster of Dame Maggie Smith in the background - it is an advert for 'The Lady From Dubuque'

My daughter's show was fantastic and I left London a very proud mum.....

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Hungry Trees

I took this photo in Dublin about 18 months ago. Fascinating don't you think, how the tree has lifted the metal bench? Such strength.


This was taken about 6 months ago, a little closer to home in Shirley Road, Acocks Green, Birmingham. It's just amazing how the gate has become embedded into the tree!

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

More Fun in Lincolnshire

I couldn't resist publishing these photos of Trevor, taken during our weekend in Lincolnshire....


Ready to roll......


Wahay... this is fun ......

Oh heck.... that hasn't done my hernia any good.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Wedding in Lincolnshire

Trevor and I attended his nephew's wedding on Sunday at the Petwood Hotel a beautiful period house in Lincolnshire. The weather was glorious and whilst the other guests were roasting outside, we decided to take a good look inside. As much as we tried, we couldn't behave sensibly. Ah well........

"Ooooh, is this the nutcracker suite?"

"I feel quite faint, but I'll smile for the photo - cheese"

"When I'm calling you-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo...."

Butterfly

I took this photo on Sunday in Lincolnshire.

Can someone please confirm that this is a Red Admiral? The colour indicates that it is but I'm not sure about the markings.

Friday 20th April: It is a PEACOCK butterfly... see comments. Thanks Andrew!



Monday, 9 April 2007

Photo Fun

Here are a couple of photos of Trevor. This imaging software has given Trev a lovely head of hair!


Punch and Judo


The magic touch