“Just a day, just an ordinary day”…as if, Miss Carlton! Today was a bit of a not so ordinary day! Well, that makes it sound exciting – far from it – it was just a bit of an odd and frustrating day really! Mixed with the teensiest bit of excitement I suppose.
So I work on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Tuesdays and Fridays I work with the speech and language therapy services of an NHS trust in south Wales and normally I’m located in the same hospital. Thursdays I’m located in a community stroke communication group in Bridgend. Anyway, as it happens today I was in a community clinic and not the hospital. Except I’d forgotten just how early I have to leave the house…until my alarm woke me at 7am.
“Sugaaaaar”, I thought to myself. “I have to catch the 8 o’clock train!” Which meant I had exactly 25 minutes to get ready in order to leave the house to walk at leisurely enough pace that I wouldn’t sweat profusely and turn up to work feeling unkempt and just generally ‘ych-a-fi’ (a lovely, almost onomatopoeic Welsh word for ‘eww/yuck/urgh’). Feeling sick for lack of sleep I must admit I allowed myself to laze in bed for five precious minutes but I could feel myself drifting back off so I forced myself out of bed. Well, I stumbled around finding a suitable pair of pants (my stripy blue CK boxer briefs today), socks and I needed to decide on a shirt and find a suitable belt (“Where had all my belts gone???!!! Aargh!”). Ordinarily I lay out my outfit the night before but typically I didn’t do that last night. Having an indecisive person picking out their outfit in the morning is *not* a good idea, I assure you! Following choosing my clothes I realized I wanted a shower but I had to compromise for lack of time. I went to the sink and quickly washed my underarms and put my head under a running tap to give my hair the slightest attention. I then hurriedly changed, went to the toilet (it was becoming an emergency…I was already performing the ‘I need a wee dance’) and ran downstairs with my breath in my fist, like a cat on the way to hell (Welsh expressions I was reminded of yesterday – first one meaning ‘in a hurry’, second one meaning ‘reaaaaaally quickly’) to gather my lunch together. Consequently I didn’t have time for a morning drink or for my breakfast. I was even looking forward to breakfast (ask my friends: that is unusual!).
I raced out of the house (I did brush my teeth too – I just noticed I didn’t mention that. I do have some standards and priorities…) and made my way to the train station. I left the house at 7:34 and arrived the station at 7:48 and 23 seconds! Needless to say I was hot upon arrival but at least I was there. I purchased my return ticket, went to the platform and awaited my train. It arrived promptly at 8 but when I boarded the train manager was sending an overhead message to inform passengers that the train would not leave Bridgend for 15 minutes due to a freight train having broken down in the Saint Fagans area. This meant I would most likely miss my connection at Cardiff Central. “Typical!”, I sighed to myself. Another announcement soon followed that those passengers going to Cardiff Central only should disembark because there was an Ebbw Vale train arriving that would take a different route. Literally 3/4 of the very busy First Great Western (FGW) train disembarked only to learn within about 5 minutes that the message was incorrect and everyone should rejoin the FGW train! There was a lot of anger I can tell you 😉 All that kafuffle lasted about 15 minutes and no sooner had I found myself a seat, the train pulled out of Bridgend and was making its way to Cardiff. We arrived Cardiff at 8:36, the exact time my connecting train was due to leave. I was disappointed but didn’t rush as I had resigned myself to the fact that I had missed my train…but as I stepped on to platform 6 the connecting train was just arriving. “Thank goodness for late trains” was my rather ironic thought!!
The rest of the journey continued with no glitches and I arrived the clinic just one minute late. A forgiveable crime I’m sure you’ll agree, given the circumstances!
But if only it ended there…!
No! I opened my emails to find an application I submitted for a job with the NHS as an SLT Assistant in the trust I work with had been rejected as I am not an internal employee. I was wondering whether that would happen as I am a volunteer and therefore not technically a paid employee…but I do work for them. For free! I was a little miffed, I must admit, as I had thought it would be a gesture of good will or some form of courtesy to accept my application. I might reply to the email to share my sentiments with them, though!
Which leads me to the final fable of the day.
There I was, sat at the desk. The sun shining in, heating my pen so that it was uncomfortable to touch, completing discharges on the database. I turned my head in order to look at the glorious weather I was missing and to undertake an imagination exercise. I was going to imagine what I would be doing if I were outside at that very point and I had planned on reminiscing on good times outdoors (the memory of cycling the Bristol-Bath route might have come to mind) when I gasped…audibly…causing my colleague to turn to see what was the matter.
“Oh my!”, she exclaimed. There was a rather impressive plume of smoke billowing beyond the wall that surrounded the clinic. Ash was dropping like snowdrops on the cars in the car park. Initially, my colleague and I were criticizing the guilty party burning the bonfire for being so inconsiderate, burning things during the day. It was such a sunny day that people in surrounding houses had washing on the line, drying away. They didn’t want to come home from work to find their clothes smelling of a tobacconists! What’s more, my colleague’s pride and joy (her motorbike) had been washed only yesterday. So she was especially angry that the ash they were creating was ruining her clean bike and she was worried the bits could corrupt the bike’s engine. Well, as we were discussing we noticed that the plume was getting thicker and thicker. Then we got a phone call from the occupational therapy department in the neighbouring wing of the clinic, expressing concern at this rather random plume. Off my colleague went to an upper floor to try and get a better view down the hill (we are in the Valleys and on hilltops) to see where exactly the fire was and whether she could see if it was under supervision… In the meantime, though, I noticed an orange coloured tongue bobbing along some nearby bushes. This wasn’t a controlled bonfire. This was a real fire…and it was spreading. It was time to call the fire brigade. And quickly!
They arrived speedily and needless to say the clinic full of women was melting over strong, manly fire fighters! (I personally didn’t see the fuss!) It was really shocking how quickly the fire spread. Granted it was a very hot day (by Welsh standards) and had been very dry which evidently allowed the fire to gain ground more quickly but just as the fire was becoming quite ferocious and potentially unruly the firemen arrived. Thank goodness. Even though fires are serious things, I must admit the incident today did cut up the day and it brought a sense of excitement to work. Of course, had the fire become seriously wild it would have been more panic and alarm for me, but as it happens they did a first class job and all was well in the Rhondda valleys.
So, Vanessa Carlton. I’m sure you’ll agree this was not so much of an ordinary day.