Afternoon all. Well what a week! As usual my post has some sort of theme. As I intimated last week, there has been a delay in posting my weekly diary. But why?

No, not because of the UK General Election. However, if I had released my post on Friday it might have got lost in the media scrum, so it’s a valid excuse! It’s now Sunday, and calm has been restored (haha).

But the real reason is that back in October last year, Jean and I were lucky enough to acquire some tickets to see the Legend, Phil Collins, at the Albert Hall last Thursday. I don’t need to say, but 8 months is a long time in my world, and to be absolutely honest I didn’t know if I would make it. In addition, for those of you who follow the wonderful Sir Phil (he should be a Sir, come on ma’m) will know that he has not been in the best of health over the last three years.

We were both prepared, hotel booked, train tickets, and plans all made (No. 76 – Be prepared). The only small issue was that we had booked our tickets for the 8th June at the Albert Hall. Yes the Election Day! So we were going to be spending election night in London?! How exciting. There was no way we were not going to travel.

Off we went, the dogs in doggie hotel and my rollator packed. We started our adventure with a trip to the train station, having pre-purchased Bragg Class tickets using my disabled railcard. Yes, yet another benefit of being less than able! Make sure you get one. 1/3 off for you and a companion (No. 98 – Get the best deal)

Lord Bragg reminded me that all those travelling with Bragg Class tickets purchased under the disabled railcard scheme must travel with the card, and say the following words to the ticket inspector when he/she checks your tickets…..

Oh yes Bragg Class, simply a better way to travel

If you do not say this exact retort in full earshot of the other travellers you will be required to purchase new tickets at an increased cost of 200%! What a guy!

After a minor issue with the parking ticket machine, it didn’t sodding work (No. 44 – Arrive early) we paid online (modern technology) and settled down in the lovely vicinity of the vandalised toilets in the station shop. The handy sign indicating that toilets were available on the other platform! Fortunately I had gone before we left home.

Ring Ring!

Our son was calling Jean.

“Phil’s in hospital, concert cancelled”  (No. 20 – Plans change) Oh dear. He had fallen in his hotel the night before. Phil has had issues walking over the last 2 years following spinal surgery that had intended to treat a leg and arm problem that he had put down to drumming for over 50 years. He had been performing all week in London from a sitting position, and had by all reports had been singing and performing a fine set. He has drop foot, which people with MND know all about.

Apparently he tripped in the hotel bathroom and hit his head badly receiving a nasty gash.

Best wishes Phil, and I hope we can make the rearranged concert in November, and of course we hope you will be well enough to return.

But there was NO way we were not going to London. The hotel was booked, and we simply adapted plans on the train. Our meal planned for 5pm was rearranged and our son and daughter in law, who were also coming to the concert, decided to still come into London for a meal later than planned.

When we arrived at Waterloo station we were treated to No. 37 – Moaning London Cab drivers. I have discussed the subject before in Take a little trip back.

This time

….activating my London taxi accent…

“hi geezer”

“Hi mate, just round da corner to the hotel then Sir? It’s a bit Mork and Mindy”

“I know mate, but at least the Sun’s out. What’s all this traffic?”

“Ah mate, a load of barney rubble, they are building a cycle lane. With this and Uber they doing as much as possible to destroy my business”

“Jeesh look at the raspberry ripples on that lady!”

Jean could not see any ice creams, so did not know what he was talking about.

After handing over a tenner for less than 5 minutes work, I let the desperately underpaid taxi driver go on his way. But to him and all other taxi drivers, I send my thanks, as they did provide a lot of help to us.

We had a great dinner, and returned to the hotel bar afterwards and watched the election results overlooking Big Ben and Westminster bridge.

In the morning, we walked (yes walked) with my rollator over Westminster Bridge.

Of course, most tourists were respectful, but a good group of people are truly gormless (No. 27 – Being gormless) unable to see that I am very precarious. I would not now attempt such a walk without Jean or a friend. But those of you in the same condition as me just do it. Yes it was tough, but my confidence increased during the crossing. It was a glorious sunny day. Jean walks strategically with me, behind, in front, or alongside looking for potential perpetrators. She also carries my walking stick as a clearing implement! It was not fast, but I made it with stops, avoiding the Brazilian school children and their leaders with their flags.

When your walking is compromised you see everything, or notice things that fully able people don’t bat an eyelid at. As I am not using a wheelchair yet, a ramp is not needed on trains. However, the step up/down to train doors at Waterloo is huge. Have a look next time. Mind the gap, more like Mind the crevasse to hell fire and lava flow (No. 8 – Understated dangers)

Lord Bragg was on the platform at the time, and noticed my rather ungainly clamber onto the train. The last I saw of him as the train left the station was him shaking hands on the sale of 5 million litres of Bragg’s floor levelling cement to the station master. Apparently it’s quick drying!

Whilst out with my rollator, we stopped at a Starbucks. I grabbed two seats  and parked up whilst Jean went to get the coffees. I managed to keep new customers away when asked “Is this seat free?” with a highly intelligible scary verbal response!

During the wait for Jean to return, a lady did come and sit on the table next to me, and I was certain I knew her. However, we neither acknowledged each other. I occasionally looked up. You know that look? You peek and suddenly stare away when caught! I checked google and was pretty sure I used to work with her. Plucking up the courage (No.35 – Have courage) I said “Is your name Mandy?”

Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes!!!! I know it was exactly the wrong question (No. 27 – Being gormless again) and I should have started with “I am sure I know you…”  Worrying that she could reply with “I can be anyone you like, love“, imagine my relief when I was proved right and all was spot on when I said Mandy x! Phew! We had a laugh and chatted about the old days.

After our return from London we had arranged a curry with Stuart and his wife Sue. Stuart has MND like I do and is about he same age. We both continue to live life and take each challenge as it comes. We were all booked for 7.30pm and it was a 15 minute drive to Bosham. ALERT!! It’s 7.15pm and we haven’t left! Come on Jean, there’s only one disabled parking spot and I can’t let Stuart get it! Screech, spinning tyres, donuts in the village square and a perfect exit out the east entrance of the village. Da da da da da, Batman (RIP), overtaking cyclists, we reached warp speed. Damn, traffic lights!  Come on, come on! Green, head into headrest, “Don’t bother with lipstick just yet, Jean” and we spin into the car park. Too late!! Stuart had the spot and was safely in the restaurant!

Stuart and Sue mirror our life now. Stuart has stopped work and spends a lot of time at home whilst Sue works just like Jean. Where we both are with MND it is vital that as much normal life continues. I don’t think we stopped talking all night. Like Jean and I they have their typical marital stressful times, and Stuart described the issue that often when Sue comes home he has been caught watching television. Fool! After a bit of advice Stuart will now rearrange his day and ensure that the ironing and dishwashing are done near the end of the day! (No. 65 – Being smug). The evening was full of laughs, and has provided me with loads of new inspiration for my blog. One highlight was when Sue asked Jean whether she has been cleaning smears/marks off of walls/door frames/sills etc due to my holding on to things moving around the house!

It was a great night and we were the very last people in the restaurant. So much so that we had to be encouraged to leave! They would regret “chucking” us out, as Stuart and I smeared the ornamental elephants, and fake Taj Mahal with the remains of curry sauce on our fingers!

Finally with all the terrorist worries, whilst sitting at the station on my rollator waiting for our train in London, I heard the tannoy announcer say “If you spot anything suspicious please report it immediately“, I noticed this guy, and alerted the authorities (No. 56 – Being vigilant!) I saw him being escorted to Bragg’s security checks!  What did he expect? Welly boots, bright shirt and flowers etc. Apparently he was going to the Isle of Wight festival. An unlikely story!

Same time next week readers!