27/04/13 The Punch Bowl

Occasionally, as a regular taker of medication, I deliberately reinterpret the word ‘contraindicated’ with ‘best served with…’

Such was the case with the lovely Mr. Hambly and his several friends called Stella the night before.

Today walking felt, well, a bit of an effort. Laying down provided me with a similar feeling. So much so that when I sat down on some nettles I thought, ‘Oh well,’ and remained unmoved.

4 miles on I arrived at The Green, a small picturesque village slightly back from the coast.

The lovely Ella was coming up today to whisk me down to Corby to prepare for my walk with a talk at the walking festival down there.

I didn’t really have anywhere to get to.

Having knocked off 4 miles I chose to reflect on the matter – I dozed off in a bus shelter with the words from an earlier encounter with a woman on the road ringing through my head…’Are you a tramp?’

I checked the opening times of the pub opposite – then dozed off again.

The pub, The Punch Bowl, opened at 6…I tentatively walked in hoping for a warm something or other.

I was roundly mocked by the gathering of 10 or so people when I asked for a hot drink – the owner of the bar gave me my second drink of choice though, orange squash hmmmm…

I told the people around me about the walk – an older man made a rapier sharp comment about my lack of weight loss…

I came back with, ‘This is a testament to the generous hospitality of the people of the UK,’

I think I got away with it.

As the evening progressed a variety of folk bobbed around (much like in a Punch Bowl) coming to talk to me with little bits of their lives…

Becca – the friendly probation worker with a broken ankle, worried about the continuing privatisation of her service – concerned about the treatment of people with mental health problems within the social work system.

Julie – the woman who’d been given peroxetene, an anti depressant, for having scary flashbacks of an incident in her recent past. She saw a programme on TV about how this medication, subsequently withdrawn from circulation, appeared to be related to a higher suicide rate in those taking it.

She stopped taking it and decided to heal herself.

Brenda (not her real name) a veritable Scarlet Pimpernel of the area. 47 now, she told me how she spent her late teens and early 20’s winding up her village policeman by driving an old Mark I Ford Cortina that could be best described as something out of Mad Max. She’d taken most of the outer shell off, replacing the seats with those she’d found from God knows where, and drove her friends around – usually to Famous 5 type adventures like swimming in the local river or climbing some trees….

After all these years the policeman never found out her true identity.

And then there was John. 6 foot 6 of ‘he’s gorgeous’ as Ella sensitively remarked later.

He’d spent his life working on heavy plant machinery, fixing and driving pretty much anything they would throw at him in the construction industry.

He had a wife and family. And then it all went wrong.

It started when he had an acrimonious break up with his wife. This effected him profoundly – he described himself as being at work, just sitting, being unable to do anything.

Then his back went. He lost 2 discs in his back, had surgery and was left in permanent pain.

All through the night he apologised for appearing rude as he got up, moved around, leant against the wall…just to alleviate the pain.

He explained how he was now living with his mum – how she had to shower him (he kept his boxers on, he told me) how he tries to help her in any way he can because of all she’s doing for him.

He’d been offered counselling years after for all that had gone in his relationship. He hadn’t realised it was time limited and, in the eighth week, just as he’d begun to get the courage to really talk, he was told the counselling was over.

He told me it took him 18 months to get over that.

The best help he ever had, he told me, was when he visited his granddad in his early teens. They’d chat about anything and everything and his Granddad would occasionally give him a roll-up of Golden Virginia.

He’d ask John what he’d had for breakfast, John might have said, ‘Bacon,’

His Granddad would say,’That doesn’t matter now, it’s in the past – you have no way of effecting that. BUT, you can take control of tomorrow and the next day because they haven’t happened yet.’

John appreciated that the past did effect the future – but the words of his Granddad have really started to help him today. Unlike the counselling.

These are just flakes of the evening. There was also a lot of laughing as we giggled about anything and everything.

Just by sitting in a pub and sharing a few stories.

Walk a Mile


This entry was posted in economy, inequality, mental health, social work, walking and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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