Daylight savings


Okay. It’s 04:15 and my son has decided its time to get up. I could scream.

Even if the clocks hadn’t just gone back, this would be early, even for him. My wife and I generally have a rule that we won’t get up before 6am. We will tell him he needs to roll over and go back to sleep. Unfortunately, that’s just not going to work today. His body clock hasn’t adjusted. I might convince him to roll over for half an hour, but that still means getting up before 5am.

I decided the only thing for it was to succumb to the inevitable and get up. At least I can look forward to a strong coffee.

07:00 – We’ve been up for what feels like a day. One of the major problems of living in a tiny house is that the noise carries very well to every room. My wife is due to work nights tonight, which means she will have a lay-in this morning. The boy and I are basically creeping around the house whispering to each other. It’s nigh on impossible to entertain a toddler in silence. I can try with an iPad, but other than that nothing will be open in town until at least 9am. Oh my god, time is dragging.

I can’t help but feel like I’ve been stitched up here. I’m on annual leave as well. I took the Saturday and Sunday off on the promise that a friend could get tickets for Norwich Vs Manchester United. Sadly, he couldn’t get the tickets and so I have the time off and nothing planned. Obviously, as I’m not doing anything then my wife has decided that she’ll work. Part of me wonders why I didn’t just cancel the leave and go to work myself. Sure, I would have been up early but I’m also sure the day would be going a damn sight quicker than it is right now. Better, I could have done my own shift on overtime. Sigh.

07:15 – I’ve come to the realisation that I have no idea why the clocks go back and forward each year…

*Opens Google. Types in ‘Why do the clocks go back each year?’*

07:30 – Fascinating. It would appear there is no clear understanding about why we change the clocks. There are opposing opinions but no concrete reason about why we do it. This bizarre practise began in the early 20th century when it was successfully argued that changing the clocks would avoid wasting time in the morning. So, the clocks roll back to what was then Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which was in place before British Summer Time. Some dude called William Willet, who loved horse riding, wished to make the most of summer mornings by making the clocks go forward an hour. Unfortunately, this cretin died in 1915 before the change came in. Therefore, he was not around to explain to his fellow man why he was such a blithering idiot intent on buggering up mornings for his mates. Incidentally, his great-great-great-grandson is Chris Martin (of Coldplay no less), and he wrote a song called Clocks in tribute to this. I’m not a fan of Coldplay anyway, but I am wondering if Gwyneth Paltrow came to realise the roots of madness within the Martin family upon experiencing this bizarre clock changing ritual. I can just imagine her raging at her estranged husband ‘this is your fucking fault’, over a morning bagel. Just so you know, Mr Willet wanted to advance the clocks by 80 minutes, in four separate moves of 20 minutes each. Thankfully, the House of Common Sense rejected the bill.

Despite the fact that the practice is clearly one for the demented and one of those odd things to have survived the past for no good reason, there are people today who still argue in favour of changing the clocks. There are arguments on both sides of course and I urge you to look these up and read them for yourself. I’m confident you’ll find that most arguments in favour are pretty weak and that the practise just doesn’t reflect our modern way of living.

08:00 – I was surprised to learn that in March 2019, the European Union agreed to end the practice of changing clocks with all states of the European Union with effect from 2021. Tell me, is there a better reason to vote Remain??

Right, I’ve ranted enough. More coffee is required.

M.

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Keep Calm & Carry On


I’m calmer today. The car saga is over for now – the dreaded engine management light has remained off and so I’m hopeful of some trouble-free motoring throughout the months ahead.

I’ve learned (or perhaps relearned) two important things these past few days:

  1. Do not send emails, post to your blog or update your social status when angry.

Now, nothing I have posted or sent has caused any upset and I’m not regretting anything in particular, but I can see how things could have got out of hand rather easily. I wrote a blog post called Apples & Lemons in a fit of rage and fired it off into internet space with barely a second thought. Nothing in that post was derogatory or inflammatory in any way. It could have been though. My rage carried me through fully half an hour of anger-fueled typing. I can’t even recall looking up from the keyboard much. Thinking back, I could easily have fired that same content off in an email to Mercedes, or maybe raw straight onto a few social media platforms. Though I’m confident that at the time I may have thought this righteous and it probably would have made me feel better, it would also have been a terrible idea. Instead, by restraining myself, I managed only to publish a blog post riddled with more grammatical errors and punctuation buggery to have made my five-year-olds work look like a best seller. 

2. Be nice!

If you upset the person you are complaining too, either directly or indirectly, then you can be certain they will not be particularly inclined to rectify the issue. They may, as in Mercedes case, have some corporate responsibility to help me the customer, but the individual with whom you are dealing may have the arse with you and therefore not assist you to level he or she is capable of. Most people have worked in some kind of customer-facing capacity in a former job. If this is the case for you then you also know that when it comes to solving problems for customers you have two standards – the company line which asks you to smile, fix the problem if possible and make the customer happier, or the personal touch. The personal touch is the company line plus the extra mile. 

When I arrived at Mercedes for the second time, I could have done so under a dark cloud. The customer representative may well have been aware of my rage inspired slandering of Mercedes. I may also have thrown in a few choice words to describe the individuals work ethic and how helpful I found him to be. Thankfully, I didn’t. Instead, I walked in with a smile and shook his hand. We spoke briefly about how unfair the world is sometimes and agreed that sometimes ‘shit happens’. He then led me to the customer waiting area, told me to help myself to coffee and biscuits, then told me straight that he was personally going to get this problem sorted immediately. My car wasn’t booked in. I had no appointment, but he knew what an ordeal I’d had already and you know what else? I’d been nice about it. Sure I’d perhaps shown signs of exasperation the day before, but I wasn’t giving him a hard time. I know he didn’t wake up that morning and think, ‘You know what? I’m going fuck up Mr Thompson’s day today.’ Nobody does that and so I couldn’t blame him. Instead, he gave me ‘the personal touch.’ No need for raised eyebrows. I can assure you this personal touch did not occur beneath the table or in some pokey toilet cubicle. No. He took my keys and had my car moved straight into the garage to have the repair done. I take my hat off to him for that. Within an hour I was back on the road and happy once more.

So, remember this. If someone pisses you off, ask yourself this: Did this person get up this morning with a clear intention of fucking up your day? Or is it maybe just one of those things that couldn’t have been predicted? Take some time to relax, have a think about the order of things and the complications of living on this planet, and then maybe consider how you can sort things out in the nicest possible way. 

 

Apples & Lemons


I am a little upset today. My Mercedes is playing silly buggers with a reoccurring fault. Actually, its a reoccurring EML (Engine Management Light) which thus far has proved to be three separate sensor failures. I’ve decided to blog about this to help me make sense of it and hope that some cathartic magic happens.

I bought the car in November last year and for the first six months, everything was rosy. Then I experienced my first EML. I called Mercedes in a panic but they calmly said that if the light is yellow and the vehicle has experienced no loss of power, then it should be fine. I was only mildly reassured when they finished the conversation with ‘but if you could get it to us at your earliest convenience.’ This is easier said than done and when I think back, this was probably the first major rift in my love affair with Mercedes. My local dealership is twenty miles away. It’s no simple thing for me to just book it in. I either have to hang around for what can be an undetermined amount of time, or I can accept a courtesy car to continue my day. You’re probably thinking courtesy car, right? Well, the problem there is that they often don’t have one available for several weeks. For example, upon first reporting my EML problem to my local dealership, the earliest they could supply me with a courtesy car was nearly three weeks later. When you are already anxious about the EML, then three weeks is a long time. What would happen if something catastrophic occurred in the engine? Would I be blamed for continuing to drive it? The other issue is that in driving off with the courtesy car I am accepting that I will be driving back with it to the dealership in the near future. This means more time wasted travelling between work or home and the dealership.

On this first occurrence of the dreaded EML, it just so happened to coincide with the car’s service. I wasn’t prepared to wait for a courtesy car and so I was presented with some other options:

  1. Mercedes would pay a taxi to take me anywhere I would like to go. I could go home (which would be a forty-mile round trip) if I wanted to.
  2. I could sit and wait for an undermined amount of time. They knew how long the service would be (2 hours if you’re wondering), but at this point, they did not know the cause of the EML. It was suspected to be a sensor problem though and the nice and friendly customer service man further suspected that it could be fixed/replaced while the service was being carried out.

I opted for option 1. A taxi duly arrived and took me into town where I gorged on a fry-up and did a little shopping. Once the car was finished being serviced (and hopefully repaired), the nice customer service man called me on my mobile and asked me where I would like to be collected by the taxi. I must admit, I thought this was terrific and I arrived back at the dealership fully believing that I had been well looked after.

What’s more, the EML was no longer illuminated. Oh, the EML was due to a failure of the Mass Air flow Sensor and was replaced. Win! To add a little sugar on top I am happy to report that it was also all covered under my warranty and service plan. I had nothing further to pay whatsoever.

I drove off into the sunset happy that Mercedes was the brand for me and grateful for having ditched BMW for them.

However, the dreaded EML returned within a matter of weeks. I can’t describe enough how much this pissed me off. Already I was envisaging the palaver I would have to endure in identifying a day in which I could get back down to Mercedes. Word to the wise, before you call, identify the dates you can do beforehand. There is nothing more irritating (presumably for both parties) than when you come to actually book a date and you spend several minutes scrolling through your phone’s calendar while the other side is on hold. I have the added stress that my wife likes to control our family calendar. If something appears within that she has not pre-authorised, then I can be confident that within minutes of adding the event to the dairy, my phone will ring. I’ll have to explain why I have allocated some of my time to something I have given no notice for. Sigh.

Anyway, the day before I was due back at Mercedes, wouldn’t you just know it, the bloody EML switched itself off. I called up and spoke with Mercedes to ask if I still needed to attend and was informed that no, providing there is no degradation in performance then I could continue with my day.

The day of the cancelled appointment came and went. The very next day, guess what? Yep, the fucking EML came back on.

Back on the phone to Mercedes. Yes, of course, they will see me again. No, a courtesy car is not available for the next few weeks.

I contacted another dealership, this time in Norwich. It is pretty much equidistant, just the opposite direction to most other aspects of my life. Sigh. They can, at least, supply a courtesy car in a few days time. Okay then, at least some positive news there. I book and drop the car off at the appointed time. They have the car for most of the day and discover that firstly my air filter is blocked with what looks like half a hedge and that my NOX sensor has failed as a result. The sensor is replaced under warranty, but I am made to pay for the new air filter. £45… poof. Gone. I won’t mention the fact that the car had only recently had a service and so you’d think the air filter should be fine?

Anyway, I drive home again with everything seemingly fixed.

The very next day the fucking EML is back again. An angry phone call to Mercedes follows and the car is once again booked into Mercedes Norwich.

Upon arriving at Mercedes I am struck dumb by an indifferent customer representative telling me that no courtesy car is available for me, despite my having booked one. I am shown to the waiting area with assurances that my car will be seen at once. Why don’t I help myself to some complimentary coffee and a biscuit? It just so happens that I had brought my laptop with me. Whether this was a premonition I honestly can’t say, but I sat in the waiting room of Mercedes Norwich, slurping coffee and finger smashing the keyboard drafting this blog post. I was mad, believe me. I still am, but that’s because I am armed with the knowledge of what happened next.

Indifferent man approached to say that they have identified the problem. This time its an oxygen sensor failure and would you believe it, they don’t have any in stock. They can get one in tomorrow apparently. So, guess what I’m doing tomorrow? Frothing at the mouth as I sit in Mercedes Norwich waiting room I suspect.

I can’t describe how hacked off I am right now. I’m about ready to hand them the keys and walk away, but that won’t help. I’m tied into a finance agreement so really they’ve got me by the balls. That said, here is a list of possible actions I am actively considering right now:

  1. Pay off the outstanding finance, sell the car privately and switch brands.
  2. Sell the car to a company who buy cars under finance. I’ll take an almighty hit in the pocket as they won’t give me a shadow of what it’s worth, but it’ll be gone and I can burn the Mercedes emblem in a bin in my garden.
  3. Pay off half the finance and hand the keys back. (I think this is possible but requires a little more investigation.) I won’t owe anything more, but I won’t have a car either or any money to buy another one with.
  4. Do nothing. Suck it up, wait and see. It’s entirely possible that the replacement oxygen sensor will do the job and I could have a few years happy motoring ahead of me.
  5. Kick-off and demand compensation. The car is after all under warranty and really, I shouldn’t be experiencing these problems. This is a definite contender and if I was possessed with the kind of fighting spirit I anticipate will be required (because I doubt Mercedes will accept this anything other than normal) I might go for it. Alas, can I afford to spend weeks battling with Mercedes over this? Do I want to go to court over it? Would I win if I did? A quick read through the Consumer Rights Act suggests the power will be in their hands. I would have to prove problems existed from day one, which they didn’t. They have to be seen to be attempting to fix the problems, which they are. I can’t, in all honesty, contemplate court just because I’m angry. An angry claimant is a poor claimant in my view.

Chances are I’ll do nothing, except that the way of the world is sometimes plain unfair and quietly move on once this agreement is over. At this point in time, I believe my love affair with Mercedes has come to an end. Divorce proceedings are on the horizon. It just remains to be seen how messy it’s going to be.

This is a test blog post thing.


Testing testing bla bla bla.

Apologies, I am literally testing to see if I can link this blog to my Goodreads profile.

If I’ve wasted your time… me’h.

No, I’m not making any grand gestures to get back into blogging or writing. I’ve done that maybe ten times and life always gets in the way. So, let’s just see what happens.

Whatever it is you have planned to to do today, let me wish you well and hope it goes well for you.

Adieu.

M.

Perspective


April! That was the last time I posted about anything and you know what? I’m really not surprised.

I hold a full time job as a paramedic (Although I work as an on-call police medic), I live on a working farm and my wife is thirty weeks pregnant with our first born. Oh, and we have a fourteen week old puppy.

That’s a lot isn’t it? I read that all back to myself and I think it’s bloody loads. Too much maybe for one person to deal with but you just have to suck it up and soldier on. My wife and I always busy. Always. It never used to be this way. It used to be that she was always busy. I was never busy. My free time used to involve playing xbox or PC games. I may have watched the odd movie or perhaps even had an odd afternoon to spend doing nothing more than abusing myself in which ever way I saw fit. Not now. I don’t blame the wife. She’s just a worker, a hard worker… and she she makes me feel lazy if I’m not working too.

Oh, one more thing. Being as I live on a working farm, there is one more little thing I forgot that may actually take up a little of my time…

Harvest is coming.

 

Image

 

I small disclaimer. I don’t grow pumpkins, but I thought this was funny and illustrated my point nicely.

Okay, so we’ve established that life is busy. That’s fine. I’m not miserable. No bloody time to be! So what do I actually do with my spare time? Well, I write. I have a few pieces I’m working on that I hope will impress a few editors but you know what, that’s no easy task. Neither is typing while drinking whiskey. I do hope you’ll forgive my grammar and any other mistakes. If not, have a whiskey and you’ll understand my drivel fine.

You know what? I digress a lot. I meant to explain something insightful and in truth, I’ve completely forgotten what I meant to say. It was probably something unimportant like how things change when a baby is on the way. Something about how before I’d waste my days playing games and abusing myself but now… well things have changed. I have to prepare for First Born’s arrival. I must work, set an example, provide.

Okay, enough’s enough. I’ve often found that long posts discourage readers. Something about attention span I think, I can’t really remember because I wasn’t paying attention that day at school.

Right then, cheerio!

M 🙂

Thieves, robbers and mechanics.


By God I was in a fluster the other day although to be honest it was my own fault. A victim of my own inability to organise my life. I did what many do, I assume, and put off checking when my actual MOT was due. I must have glanced at last years certificate at some earlier point, probably when I bought the car, and just forgot when it was due. I got the month right, this month, but my guess was out by about two weeks.

The bugger expires in a few days time. It’s not the end of the world though. I have a motorbike I could take but a quick check of the weather reveals its going to be a  dreary, wet and blustery few days over the weekend. I love my bike, but I don’t like being cold and wet.

Anyway, after a frantic fart, a bit of hopping up and down and half hour of apoplectic emptiness I finally got up off my arse and decided to ring around to try to book an MOT. I didn’t have to spend too long on the phone however. Fortunately the first garage had a vacancy for that very afternoon. I thanked them, perhaps prematurely now I come to think of it, hung up and jumped in the car.

The garage is quite literally ten minutes away from my home and so I was pulling up outside their premises before the lady who took my booking had even finished her cup of tea.

The chief spanner appeared from behind the desk as if from nowhere and took my keys.

‘Anything wrong with her that you know of?’ he asked.

I resisted the urge to look over my shoulder, unsure if I had accidentally brought my wife with me.

‘Nothing at all. Should be straight in and out I imagine,’ I said.

He gave an odd smile that was more of a sneer as I remember it and a wink that didn’t include him actually winking, as though he was going to but thought better of it. I suspect he is one of those poor unfortunates whose face contorts to reflect every emotion that passes through the owner, if only for a millisecond at a time. I find individuals such as this disturbing. It’s like they are changing their mind before your very eyes and are too brazen to hide it like normal people.

‘Take a seat over there. I take it your waiting?’

I nodded and waved the book I had brought with me. ‘Brought a book, though I doubt I’ll get much read.’

‘May as well have a coffee too then while you wait.’

I admit, all was going swimmingly well at this point and if it hadn’t been for my earlier near rage induced stroke I might have had a truly uneventful day up until that point. Alas, fate is ever-present and looking back I can see now the almighty boot being cocked back ready for delivering a kick to my anus that would both hurt deep within and spill my wallet’s contents straight into the chief spanner’s coffers.

Alarm bells began to ring, mildly at first, when I had been sitting waiting for nearly forty minutes. I could see no other cars being worked upon and so stood up to take a look through a kind of internal window. Have you ever been to a restaurant wherein you can be seated and see the kitchen staff at work preparing your meal? I can only assume that someone in the automotive industry thinks this is a good idea because this garage had installed a clear partition that allowed those waiting to watch the spanners at work.

I shouldn’t have stood up to watch really. I could have saved my sphincter it’s initial quiver of expectant rogering had I stayed put and read my book.

In the garage MOT bay I could see my car and in front of it was chief spanner pointing at two minion spanners and then back at my car. The two minions were also pointing at the car and occasionally scratching a head or an arse. Then, almost as one, they all turned and looked at me. Chief spanner waved, that odd half wink, laugh sneer expression appearing once more.

I could think of nothing else to do and so in a moment of awkwardness I waved back and then went and sat down again, a bead of sweat squeezing itself out upon my brow.

Chief spanner appeared a short while later. It’s easy for me to say this in retrospect but I swear there was a kind of victory in those cold dead eyes of his.

‘Bad news I’m afraid, Mr. Thompson.’

‘Oh really? You’ve not the right tool to perform your tests?’

He laughed, I laughed, trying not to mutter ‘bastard’ between my clenched teeth.

‘Your near-side headlight washer is kaput for a start and so that’s an automatic failure right there.’

‘You’re kidding!’

‘Fraid not, Sir. Headlight washers came in to the test in April. Lots of people fail on this one so I wouldn’t be too concerned,’ he grinned.

‘Well I am concerned. I need my car for Saturday. Can this washer thing be fixed?’

‘Fixed? No, not fixed. It must be replaced.’

‘Well, can you replace it?’

He sucked in though his teeth with a slow shake of his head. ‘We can yes, trouble is we don’t stock that part. I’ll have to order it in.

I said nothing, just blinked.

‘While we wait for that we can work on the other problem though,’ he added.

More blinking,

‘Your plates are illegal.’

‘My license plates?’

‘Are illegal, yes, fortunately we can make some up here.’

‘Those plates were put on in 2008. They’ve been on for every MOT for the past five years and no one has ever said a word about them. Why now?’

‘Well, my lads are exacting. I demand it of them. They’re completely up to date with VOSA regs. Could be the previous garages you took it too didn’t have our same standards.’

More blinking.

‘How long have you owned the vehicle, Sir?’ he asked.

‘About five months or so,’ I said, resigned to fact that my wallet was about to be raped.

‘Ah, could be then that the previous owner had some other plates that he put on for the MOT. Yours says TT at the end doesn’t it?’

I nodded.

‘Yeah, see that’s not allowed. Bit poncy too. You don’t want that do you? No, let us change it here. It’ll be legal then and look half decent.’

Slow blinking now. Twinges in the corner of my right eye signal the arrival of my rage tick.

‘Can you please fix my car,’ I say simply.

‘Oh sure. Sure we can.’

‘By Saturday?’

That awful sound of air being sucked in between his pursed lips signal to me that he’s really enjoying himself. My violent fist clenches. Seriously, in comparison to my other fist, my right always clenches when I’m angry so I refer to it as the violent one.

‘Could be, could be. Depends if I can get the part in. Then there’s the time it takes to fit too.’ He looked out through the internal window at my car. ‘Takes a while to get at the area too. Taking the bumper of an Audi takes nearly an hour on its own.’

My mind is screaming I think you’re full of shit, but I say nothing, blink and simply nod.

So, I drove home in a bit of a state I have to say, twitching, my violent fist clenching the steering wheel to make that rubbery juddering sound.

I had the car back in early the next day. It turns out they could get the part in, thank God, but it wouldn’t be until late morning and so they provided me with a courtesy car. A bloody knackered Ford KA with about as much presence as a sun-baked turd. I drove it away from the garage convinced I could hear chief spanner sniggering even when I was a mile away.

I didn’t get much change from £200 in the end and was once again nearly rendered apoplectic, if such a condition can still be said to exist in this day and age, when they handed me the bill.

Were it not for my calming mantra, I feel sure an ambulance may have been called.

My mantra, which I run though my mind whenever I am angry goes something like this.

Can you do anything about this situation you have found yourself in? Yes? Then why are you worried?

No? Then why are you worried? If there is nothing that can be done then what is the point of the worry?

I do believe this infallible and excellent logic is attributed to the fourteenth Dalai-Lama, (Tenzin Gyatso?) who must surely be a touched with some degree of inner peace that can only come with knowing something of a grander design. Oh well, that is one for pondering another day.

Until next time,

M 🙂

All work and no play…


So you’ll recall me saying that today is a work day? I have been on call since 6am this morning and do you know how many calls I received asking for my services?

None.

I have sat on my fat arse counting my teeth with my tongue for most of the day.

Okay no. That’s not strictly true. Today I have:

Done the dishes.

Swept the floors.

Cut the grass.

Watched the Bourne Legacy (Pretty good but preferred the previous three).

Watched two episodes of Game of Thrones season 2.

Made a lasagne. (Not microwaved. I actually made it.)

Ate a lasagne. (Interestingly WordPress spells Lasagne with an ‘a’ on the end instead of an ‘e’.)

Took the cat to the vets.

Bought a motorcycle. (If you’re interested it’s a Triumph Bonneville T100. In black.)

Tinkered with the broken boiler.

Contacted heating engineer to complain about broken boiler.

Went for a 3k run.

Its gone 6pm now so I’m officially off duty. To celebrate I thought I’d try the beverage Port. Never had it before but I’ve heard its awesome.

Right then. I best go and open that bottle and have a lay down. Its been a long hard day after all.

M 🙂

Life on call


I work full time, although if you asked my friends (or even my wife) they would scoff at the mention of the word “work”. Particularly if it’s uttered from my mouth.

I’m a paramedic but I don’t work on an ambulance. I used to though. I did that for ten years until the call for a change grew too strong and I was compelled to answer.

I now work for a private company that offers forensic and medical services to the police. Basically, everyone is entitled to see a medical professional in police custody. That’s where I come in. They call, I answer and I make my way down the custody suite, assess, medicate, refer if need be and then I leave. I work a four-on, four-off pattern with each shift lasting twelve hours and yes nights are included.

The thing that grips most people’s shit about my job is that I respond from home. I live about thirty miles away from the nearest custody. I don’t have to be there at the start of my shift either. I just need to be near a phone and within one hour’s commuting distance. This means that when I finally get called, even if it’s dead on 6am, I will spend the first hour of my shift driving to work. Not bad eh? Only eleven hours to go. It takes me anywhere between half and hour and one hour to assess a single patient so if they only have one for me to see then I might only be in the custody suite for that period of time after which I am free to leave. Where do I go? I can go wherever I want, providing of course that I remain in contact and within one hour’s driving distance.

Yesterday I spent an hour test riding a motorcycle and another three quarters of an hour browsing their clothing lines.

This morning I have been up since six am, have consumed about six mugs of tea, had breakfast and watched the Bourne Legacy. My phone is set to divert so the house phone will ring if I get a call so I’m free to wander around the house without constantly checking my mobile for missed calls or to see if I have signal.

But… it’s not all good.

Mine is a lonely existence. Being the only medic on call at any one time, I don’t see anyone. Sure I see the police, but they live in their world and I am acutely aware of the fact that I am not part of it. I am a resource to be called in, nothing more. I speak with plenty of people on the phone during medical consultations or note sharing with other agencies but I never really see anyone. If I’m home then all is well. I spend my time writing, watching movies or wasting time on the internet. Once I leave the house though it’s a different story. I know I’m driving into a kind of void. A world full of people but absent of human interaction. I’ll stop by my parents house from time to time, even tried my brothers once but they work regular hours so they are rarely in.

Anyway, that’s enough of that. I’ve just remembered the other perk of this on-call life. Well, my wife sees it as a perk (I don’t).

She: ‘If you’re not called out and you’re at home, why don’t you do the house work?’

Me: ‘Really? I’m at work though. Kind of.’

She: ‘You can still do it! It’ll be like getting paid to clean.’

*sigh*

So, I have a mountain of dishes to climb, a few rooms to sweep or vacuum and anything else my beloved has put on my ‘list of things to get done when I’m skiving’. Nice.

Best I get to it then.

M J

Ups and Downs


This has been a truly bizarre month. Emotionally speaking I’ve been all over the place. This is what happens when you spend a lot of time pondering your place in the grand scheme of things or, where you would like that place to be.

For the last ten years I have been working with the ambulance service and have been qualified as a paramedic for around six or seven. The job has changed immensely to the point that I no longer recognize my role anymore. If you ask Joe on the street what a paramedic does he’ll probably tell you a paramedic saves lives. A paramedic goes to nasty car crashes to un-mangle people or appears out of the blue to resuscitate a dying loved one. I used to believe all that too and although these things do happen, it’s not very often and on the odd occasion I do get called to things like this there is rarely anything that can be done. Here we come to the heart of the matter. I find I’m asking myself ‘What good am I actually doing?’ more and more often. Sure, plenty of people are pleased to see me when I roll up to their house after they called 999 but, why wouldn’t they be? I get there super fast, listen with sympathy to their plight and then proceed to offer any help I can. Broadly speaking, I can categorize virtually any callout I go to and pigeon hole it into one of three automated responses. These are:

  1. I pick someone up off the floor that wouldn’t otherwise have been able to get up themselves. Chances are there is a big strapping relative nearby who could have done this himself but won’t. People are too afraid of moving someone for fear of aggravating any perceived injury. In reality it takes me just five seconds to assess if injury is present. I do this using a very sophisticated method of assessment that goes something like this. ‘Hi, so have you got any pain?’ If they’re not injured, I lift them. If they are and it needs more than a plaster, it’s off to hospital.
  2. I arrive to find the patient does not need an ambulance, never did and is either bemused as to why I am there or, more likely, is over the moon that someone has rushed to their aid for such a trivial thing. I will spend the next hour trying to refer this patient to the correct service.
  3. The patient/relative deliberately called 999 because the problem needs immediate attention. This type of call equates to about one in four. More often than not, we cannot treat this patient’s condition at home and so transport them to hospital. Rarely, the patient is very unwell/dying and there’s not a not a lot we can do anyway. Why not? Well, there are two reasons for that too.
  • The patient has been involved in a traumatic accident. Invariably, their survival depends on the degree of injury and has nothing to do with the skill of the paramedic. We might buy time, but that’s about it. Fate is inexorable.
  • They are unwell/dying because of the culmination of a lifetime of poor decision making. The morbidly obese, the sedentary sloth, the lifelong smoker, alcoholic, drug abuser etc. Included in this group are those who never had the opportunity to make poor decisions – those born with chronic conditions, or their genetic predisposition renders them a ticking time bomb.

This is a generalization of course but for the most part I believe it hold true. My point is that there is rarely a day when I feel I am making a difference because quite simply, fate or the patient’s life up until that point, won’t let me.

So, that’s why I’m leaving. I’m going to remain on bank and maintain my registration but it’s time to call it a day. Life is too short to spend a chunk of it miserable. Anyone who has ever had depression can tell you that. Sometimes you have to do what makes you happy. Money is not everything so long as you have enough to keep the wolf from the door.

Think of it this way. There will come a time when you look back at your life and examine what you’ve achieved. What do you want to look back on? Will it be the life of a man/woman who spent a significant chunk of their life miserable? Or will be one where you smile at those decisions that took you somewhere else and allowed you to live a more enjoyable life?

And remember, if you did take the leap and try something else, what is the absolute worst that can happen? Ask yourself that, and make your decision. I hope you’ll find that even if the worst were to happen, it won’t compare to a life half lived.

The last bastion of youth.


I’ve just had some rather upsetting news. A friend of mine has just put his motorbike up for sale on eBay. He tells me he’s going to use the money to buy a people carrier or some other shed on wheels. I can’t think of anything else more tragic. But then this is life isn’t it? He has two very young children now and can’t see any opportunity in the future to be able to make the most of a bike. Its just going to sit there getting dusty for next three or four years which is such a shame and so it has to go. When he told me I had to sit down, genuinely upset both for him and myself. I’d hoped to get out and go for a blast together somewhere this summer but that will never happen now. He’s made the sensible decision to do what’s right for his family and sacrificed his pride and joy. I do admire him for that, but it’s so sad.

This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered this issue. About a year ago I was on shift with a colleague who had been through the same thing. I found him late in the night browsing a website of classic cars. He told me all about the car he used to own, going into immense detail and becoming very briefly animated as his excitement grew. But that excitement died visibly as he relived the day it was sold and it’s new owner drove off in it. With the money he bought a people carrier. So sad.

I hope I never have to make a decision like this. I don’t want to look as forlorn as my friend did earlier. I think something has changed within him and it’s probably the realisation that one for the last bastions of his youth has finally fallen, soon to be replaced with a shed on wheels.

Tragic.