Right up yer kilt!

Today is the last full day for a while when I can sit on the old bog-seat in the garden, smoking my wotsits off. It may also be the last day for a while that I ride Nikita the folding bike. So here are some celebratory photos.

Bruce lighting a fag in the garden

lighting up

Bruce enjoying a fag in the garden

smoking the world away

the toilet-seat and Nikita the folding bike

the bog-seat and Nikita the folding bike

Hence some questions, mostly for my Napier and community council colleagues:

  • Should I bring Nikita back to Scotland with me?
  • Should I keep on wearing kilts in Scotland?
    •  If so, with or without tent-slippers?

RIP Lena Elisabeth Ryan (née Kessler)

Today was mum’s funeral. She was cremated at Wyre Forest Crematorium, after a service wonderfully led by Reverend Dr David Southall. Click either graphic to see the order of service at full-size (PDF).

front and back of LER order of service inside of LER order of service

The photo on the front is from my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding. The photo on the back is from when we arranged for mum to drive a coach for one of her birthdays. She had let slip that she had always wanted to try this when taking her pupils on school trips.

Thanks to lockdown, there were only 10 mourners: Ian and Pamela (my brother and sister-in-law), Susan (my sister), Elly (my wife) and I, two very close neighbours, two other family friends and Stephanie Senter of Worcester Scout Active Support. We all look forward to a post-lockdown celebration of mum’s life, to which we can invite her friends from all around the world. Continue reading

Family misfortunes encore une fois! (redacted version)

A follow-on from ‘Family misfortunes encore’ and ‘My bug-out kit’ …

In the second week of March, my mother was transferred from the Alexandra hospital in Redditch to Worcester City Hospital on 13 March. This was apparently a ‘rehab’ hospital: her medical issues were under sufficient control for her to be moved on from a general medical ward. By this time I was back in Edinburgh, to keep my cold away from mum and to try to get back to normality, whatever that is.

Continue reading

My bug-out kit

As some of you know, I may need to go to the parental abode with very little notice. So here’s what I have with me almost all the time.

In my pouch/bumbag

In my pannier or rucksack

  • tobacco, cigarette papers and at least one lighter
  • passport
  • iPhone with attached short USB to lighting cable
  • wallet
  • regular medications
    • fast-acting insulin
    • long-lasting insulin
    • glucose tablets
    • amitriptyline
    • aspirin
    • atorvastatin
    • sertraline
  • irregular medicines
    • nicotine patches
    • e-cigarette
    • ibuprofen
  • pens
  • spork
  • tooth-brush
  • Napier ID and business cards
  • waterproofs
  • laptop and power-cable
  • paper notebook
  • electronica pouch
    • laser-pointer [1]
    • USB 2/3 to ethernet adaptor
    • miniDisplayPort to VGA, HDMI, DVI adaptor
    • USB-C to USB-2/3, VGA, HDMI adaptor [2]
    • two USB-C to USB 2/3 adaptors
    • USB 2/3 power plug
    • HDMI cable
    • car cigarette-lighter to USB2/3 power adaptor
    • two pairs of Bluetooth headphones
    • high-capacity USB battery
    • bluetooth mouse
    • 2-meter USB to lightning cable
    • UK to EU, Australia, US power adaptor [3]

Before you ask, I have spare clothes at the parental abode.

[1] because I’m an academic, not necessarily to aid bug-out

[2] because a visiting lecturer once needed such an adaptor to connect his laptop to a Napier projector

[3] mostly because it also has 4 USB 2/3 power-ports

A boy and his new bicycle!

This post is to say why I’ve been more or less off-line for a while, to thank people for their support and most importantly to thank my family for a fabulous birthday present.

Thank you!

As some of my reader might know, I’ve been in Worcester since late January, because my mother is in hospital and so she and my sister need support. It’s not been fun, but it has been made much easier by my ever-wonderful wife, eleanor.scot (aka @corrieshore). Huge thanks are also due to my colleagues at Edinburgh Napier University’s Centre for Social Informatics, LeithChooses, Leith Central CC, Leith Harbour & Newhaven CC and New Town & Broughton CC for their patience and support – thank you all!

Travel woes

I’ve been quite dependent on public transport to visit my mum. Journeys take a minimum of 90 minutes: bus to Worcester city centre, then an hour by bus directly to the hospital – or over an hour by train (with two changes) to Redditch, then another bus to the hospital. Coming back is complicated – and made more expensive – by direct buses not running after 4pm and buses from Worcester city centre to the house not running after 6:30pm. (They don’t run at all on Sundays!) And of course it’s all been made much less fun by the flooding.

I need to thank eleanor.scot and my brother for many lifts, especially when the hospital called me and him in at 1am one morning. Hairy in several ways!

But there is a point to this post!

eleanor.scot understood that I need an easy way to travel in Worcester that doesn’t involve bringing Lev Davidovitch Bikestein here. His home is Edinburgh, although he does love European jaunts and he has been known to take me from Birmingham New St station to Worcester. Add to that it’s just a PITA to book bike-spaces on trains. So ever-wonderful eleanor.scot has bought me a folding bike for my birthday! Accessories are from my mother, sister and brother.

‘Nikita’ is a Raleigh Evo-2 with 20″ wheels and 7 derailleur gears. (He gets his name because Mr Kruschev folded under pressure from Mr Kennedy.) Here are photos of unboxing to final assembled beast, and a video of our first ride.

The box

undo first layer

contents

contents unboxed

the bike bits

beware – small parts

nearly there

checking gear-changes

decorated

with lock and cary-bag

first ride! (movie)

second ride (movie)

Family misfortunes encore

Some of my reader might know that my mother has been in hospital. She was taken into Worcester Royal hospital on Friday 24 January due to severe abdominal pain, and had some procedures on Friday 31 January. These had to be delayed while various routine medications were still active. She was then transferred to the Alexandra hospital in Redditch. The Alex is the home of the specialist unit in Worcestershire that is best placed to handle my mother’s conditions.

I’ve been in Worcester since the afternoon of Monday 27 January. I’ve had to leave a lot of work in the very capable hands of colleagues at Napier, £eithChooses, Leith Central Community Council, Leith Harbour & Newhaven Community Council, New Town & Broughton Community Council and Community Councils Together on Trams. (I am doing some CC work remotely as I get snippets of time.) Huge thanks to all concerned! Continue reading

What has Bruce been up to this weekend?

I’m not quite sure why I wanted to record this. Perhaps it’s to assuage some of my guilt at not being in the peoples’ vote/anti-brexit march yesterday. Anyway, this has been a relaxing weekend so far.

My reward for all of this is nut roast with roasted potatoes, onions, sprouts and carrots. You have been warned!

Saturday morning

  • Spinning at LifesCycle. We cheated slightly by travelling by bus, due to the rain. I usually prefer to cycle there and back, as warm-up and cool-down from the lovely madness. (Elly and I are on the front-left bikes of that Facebook video.)

Saturday afternoon

  • much-needed coffee and lunch
  • catching up with personal and family finances, sadly neglected for a couple of weeks due to work-pressures
  • washing our manky spinning gear. That’s the only downside!
  • tidying my desk area after weeks of needing to let rubbish build up

Saturday evening

  • avoiding watching Strictly Come Dancing
  • writing a presentation on a project I’m about to finish, so I can demonstrate the outcomes to a high-powered audience. (I think I should not say what the project is just now, but I will blow my own trumpet as hard as I can when the work goes live.)

Sunday morning

  • proofreading and commenting on a tender written by my ever-wonderful better half.
  • much-needed coffee and lunch

Sunday afternoon

Family fortunes?

You may remember my list of moans about the DWP and my sister’s claim for personal independence payments (PIP). You may remember that on 25 October of this year, 13 months after she was refused PIP, a tribunal set aside that decision.

On 4 December, HMRC restarted paying my sister working tax credits. (She qualifies for these because of her disabilities and because she works part-time. When PIP was refused, HMRC had to take the view that she was no longer disabled, even though her conditions are congenital and hence incurable.) HMRC’s letter to my sister was along the lines of ‘we now understand we need to start paying you tax credits, and make up for the time when we didn’t’. It almost felt like an apology. A few days later, the standard ‘this is what we will pay you’ letters arrived. Also on 4 December, HMRC sent my sister a certificate exempting her form NHS charges.

DWP didn’t get around to paying my sister PIP until 14 December, over 7 weeks after they were notified of the tribunal’s decision. There was not even a hint of an apology in their communication.

I’m still scared to think what would have become of my sister without support from me and other family and friends, and especially from Worcester Citizens’ Advice Bureau. And I’m bloody angry too, for the people who don’t have such support.