FOUR FINGERS AND THIRTEEN TOES – HOLIDAY PLEASURE DELIVERS CHINESE SURPRISE
So, the holiday season is about half way through, the weather has not been great but we can console ourselves with the knowledge that Christmas is about 19 weeks away – what a thought!
Generally, holidays allow you to look forward to spending some time with your family, and doing things together that you don’t usually have time for at other more hectic times of the year. And for our family it is no different.
Our holiday destination this year was agreed as being Jersey in the Channel Islands. So, having packed and left instructions for family members looking after the house, we set off on our annual sojourn for 12 nights of domestic bliss!!
Our journey was pretty stress-free, we got the car onto the catamaran without loosing the exhaust, the lift from the car deck to the passenger deck was working and I entertained myself with some duty-free shopping to pass the four hour journey in search of that illusive yellow ball that we sometimes see in the skies above the UK.
Jersey holds really good holiday memories for me. I went there on numerous occasions when I was a teenager and later as a wannabe independent young adult. When James was born, we took him to the Island for his first proper “bucket and spade” holiday and he had a ball.
Over the years the Island has changed, and is now far more ‘user friendly’ for disabled people. All of the attractions and places of interest that we visited were fully accessible, and as we all have an interest in history, and particularly the second world war, we learnt a great deal about the historic aspects of our destination that sometimes you can overlook when you go on holiday.
We also enjoy the opportunity to spend some time reading, but Stephen forgot his book. As a trip to Waterstones was planned anyway for me to do some book marketing, Stephen and James browsed the fiction shelves whilst I had a meeting with the Manager. I’m pleased to say that the availability of “Four Fingers and Thirteen Toes” now extends to Jersey.
Being the parent of a teenager presents its own particular challenges in the vein of holiday entertainment. What you do has to hold the attention of an apprentice “Kevin”. It was also James’s pending fourteenth birthday, which just happened to fall about midway through our break. James was obviously excited … “I don’t want anyone to know it’s my birthday … Grandma hasn’t arranged a birthday cake at breakfast has she? … And “don’t you dare sing happy birthday to me within earshot of anyone.”
OK, it was hard, my ‘baby boy’ is growing up; but this proud Mum wanted everyone to know it was his birthday. So we rounded James’s day off with a visit to the Noble House Chinese Restaurant just outside St. Helier.
The last time we were in Jersey, we had dined at the restaurant and it had ample space for two wheelchair users, and so when Steve booked the table, he didn’t even think to mention the fact. Needless to say when we arrived at the restaurant, the Maitre D’ was rather surprised. It transpired that there were a number of educational and corporate seminars taking place on the Island during our stay, and one such group had a booking for around twenty five people. The problem was that the restaurant had recently undergone renovations and was partly divided into small booths that were no good for us.
However, a table was laid for us in an inconspicuous corner of the main dining area, and we had a lovely evening tucking into some of the finest Chinese food that we have tasted for a long time.
Now, have you ever been in a room and you just can’t help but overhear the conversations that are going on around you? Sometimes it’s idle curiosity, and sometimes you just connect with certain words and phrases that those in the room are using. As I love to watch people, I quickly gleaned that the party in the restaurant were midwives on the Island for a midwifery convention. I could hear a couple of welsh voices in the group, and not being one to let an opportunity slip away, I decided that this may well be a captive audience who might be interested in my book.
Having finished our meal, James and Steve left me to my own devices. Armed with a few business cards promoting “Four Fingers and Thirteen Toes” I approached the table. In circumstances like this, you never really know whether you will be greeted with indifference or genuine interest. I am pleased to say I was greeted with a real genuine interest that filled the time for these midwives between hors d’oeuvres and main course.
On chatting to them, it was clear that the age range around the table was considerable – from those experienced midwives to those just starting out on a promising and worthwhile career. We talked about the inevitable impact of Thalidomide and on how those in the medical profession help disabled people in their quest to have children, and then came a quite astonishing coincidence.
The lady who was in charge of organising the evening indicated that she had practiced in Manchester and had delivered the first baby to be born to one of the most severely disabled Thalidomide impaired people. The mother in question was none other than one of my oldest and closest friends Janette Cooke (nee Mottley). For those of you who have read my book, you will recall that Janette passed away shortly after her 40th birthday, but Janette’s successful delivery of her baby Kelly-Ann was in so many ways the catalyst for others, including me, to be given the chance of motherhood.
So with the holiday over, all the laundry done, and a mountain of work to catch up on, I’m now back at my desk, and of all the 100’s of emails in my inbox there was one that caught my eye. It was promoting the TV appearance of another good Thalidomide impaired friend of mine – Mat Fraser.
For those of you reading this blog and having an interest in TV medical drama, can I recommend some viewing for you this week. Watch out for Holby City on BBC1 this coming Tuesday, 25th August at 8pm. It is running a storyline about a Thalidomide man who has cancer. Nothing special about the cancer story line, but the irony in this story is that the patient is asked to consider taking Thalidomide to prolong his life. I hold strong views on the continued use of Thalidomide which can be found in “Four Fingers and Thirteen Toes”.
I don’t know how the Holby storyline progresses, but it will be interesting to see how this contentious issue is dealt with during prime time TV. Let’s hope that it balances fairly the rights and wrongs of using the drug, and it allows the viewer to make up their own mind on whether the benefit of using Thalidomide is outweighed by the risk of exposure. We shall just have to wait and see.