Do Young Men Listen to Spinsters?

How often do you listen to someone else’s opinion to the extent that you change your behaviour? Are you influenced by party political broadcasts or are you a little like me and listen to them to snort with derision – uttering ‘you’re having a laugh’ or ‘oh yer right’ or possibly ‘do you think the public is stupid!’ . Recently a well-meaning relative asked if I had contacted the MS Society in Cardiff, to clarify this message was conveyed via another relative who began the conversation by saying ‘ now don’t shoot the messenger but’.  In response to the question I asked ‘what for?’ to which she said ‘you’re probably not the only person going through what you’re going through’. Quick as a flash, admittedly without pausing to draw breath (no mean feat for a dedicated nicotine addict), ‘I’m not interested’. The relative said ‘I thought you’d say that. So what have you been up to in the garden?’ We are professional at moving swiftly along; probing further would be impolite after all!

I know that some people do find chat rooms, or should I say forums, helpful; just not me. Perhaps I have a dismissive character flaw or possibly I am just not interested in pouring out my problems, oops personal challenges, to random strangers. Pretty much the same view I take of my friend’s obsession with a certain social network where she has found so many new chums who she regularly ‘cams’ with.  Sharing live images of myself ‘relaxing’ with persons similarly ‘dressed’ fills me with horror; frankly it would be cruel in the extreme! I caught my reflection in the mirror when getting out of the shower (note to self do not let your eyes be draw to the light) and seriously I momentarily considered whether equity release could fund liposuction on my fulsome thighs!

So when I received an email from a journalist yesterday I was curious. You may or may not (I did not) know that Jack Osbourne (son of Sharon and Ozzy) has been diagnosed with MS. I think he’s 26 and as I was diagnosed in my 30s she wondered if I would do an interview about how I’d coped. Well what she actually asked was could she talk to me. The interview became obvious when she said it was for a piece this weekend and finally when she asked if I minded if she brought a photographer!

What can I say that might be helpful to a young man in his late 20s who has a somewhat different background to the Spinster? I did write a column for the Western Mail some years ago called The Patient Experience but I’m guessing my light-hearted comments on the handsome consultant or the importance of one’s appearance might not resonate with someone already in the public eye. I have resisted becoming a ‘disability poster girl’ he may not have this choice. So what will I say? I might just start with what happened earlier today as it is instructive and in his position he is likely to be able to resolve this one by throwing cash (that I don’t have) at the problem.

I have previously written about the dental consequence of the pain killing drugs I take, specifically the recommended 18 (or was it 16) fillings needed as a result of gum damage (something else rapidly retreating from the Spinster!). Hence this morning I rose early (6 am) to make sure I was ready (perfectly attired, made up and coiffured) to leave the house by 9 am for a 1030 am appointment at the Dental Hospital Restorative Dentistry Clinic (or should that be module as it is a teaching hospital). I managed to get ready but did not have time for breakfast (replaced with Lucozade and cigarettes in the car – yes I know this doesn’t constitute a balanced meal although I do smoke menthol fags which is practically medicinal on account of the green mint, isn’t it?).

The traffic is with me and I arrive at the University Hospital around 940 am. I drive around for over half an hour exploring all parking options; even the disabled site is full. The only option is the one furthest from the dental hospital and frankly I can’t walk that far. I would have struggled from the nearest one only requiring a couple of hundred yards jaunt. The uncoordinated octopus has returned with vengeance and it’s stretching it to use the term walking based on the wooden tiny steps I can manage. A toddler is more competent that the Spinster at present; hmm perhaps toddling is a better description of what I am current capable of.

So I pragmatically conclude that I am not going to be able to keep the appointment. I phone to explain and rearrange the appointment. The woman answering the phone is a bit too matter of fact for my liking so I ask which time I am most likely to be able to park. Oh there isn’t a good time she tells me! Deep joy! My rearranged appointment is the 27 July at exactly the same time. I may decide I can’t be bothered or resort to a taxi or take up the offer of a friend who lives nearby to drop me in.

In response to this two things occur to me: one why does the NHS need to go to the trouble of rationing routine operations when they just have to allocate appointments that the afflicted won’t be able to take up! Result achieved; awkward patients offered appointments that they don’t take up, (on account of the lack of parking and no money for a taxi), you can’t help some people! I have already not pursued physiotherapy at Llandough Hospital because of the parking problems during the redevelopment but hey that will be finished by 2014 or is it 2015. By then I will be beyond the reach of this particular physiotherapy regime hence saving the hospital cash. The other thing that occurred to me was that young Mr Osbourne can avoid all this hassle by (a) going private and or (b) hiring a driver to ferry him around (he probably has one already). And why shouldn’t he do this I ask myself.

Anyway back to the really important things in (my) life (for clarification I am being ironic)! As standards cannot be allowed to slip I am relieved to have until 11 to prepare for the interview tomorrow but knowing my luck I will spend hours titivating to find the journalist has decided to use the photo I sent her! To be fair I did say it was up to her but that I’d had my haircut since the photo was taken (more recent than the 2006 version the paper has on file – that would be the one taken when I was leading the Arts Council and it looked like they’d put a 12-year-old in charge!). So basically I was angling for a more up to date representation to  be published this weekend although I doubt many people will actually make their way to the well-being pages of this regional newspaper! Please do not rush to buy it as the publisher in question did sack me from my role as weekly columnist (OK some years ago and it was only £25 a week for 300ish words). When I say sack I mean I was replaced by another feature called Culture Vulture where Welsh celebrities were interviewed about what was on their ipod. My favourite was the time when said celebrity said ‘I don’t have an ipod!’



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Filed under Musings of a Contemporary Spinster

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