Did you know that [counter] people have been having a skeg at my little autonomous region?


Beryl Beryl


I always find myself in a state that can only be described as glum to crap on the first day back in the old routine after returning from one of my trips. This happens no matter where I have been. I can even remember plummeting into an abyss of depression upon arriving home from a wet bank holiday Monday in Weston super Mare. On second thoughts, it may have been arriving in Weston super Mare in the first place that darkened my mood but nevertheless, despite being lucky enough to have a nice home and lucrative, fun filled job, I’d much rather be away from it all.

When I get home from one of my bigger trips the feeling of being in anti-climax land is greater than ever. Thinking back over all the wonderful places I have visited, the people I have met, the food I have eaten and the emotions I have been through as I struggle with a touch of jet lag and a fortnight’s worth of hangover, gives me a dose of the post-holiday blues that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Robert Johnson dirge.

Well I woke up this mornin’ and I found I was at home.

I said I woke up this mornin’ and I found I was at home.

Yeah I woke up this mornin’ and felt the need to moan ‘n’ groan.

I’m already pretty confident that my forthcoming trip to Indo China is going to be nothing short of pretty damned fabulous, so I’ve been worrying about how to cope with the melancholy mood that will no doubt flood my mind like a monsoon swollen Mekong sweeping through a delta.

But there is good news afoot as the day on which I touch a foot on a commercial basis for the first time in two and a half weeks also turns out to be the day on which David Bowie’s new album The Next Day is to be released. Fantastic, eh? I strongly believe that our David, aware that I have been a massive fan of his since 1972, has planned this deliberately to cheer me up on my difficult day. I’ve got it pre-ordered on Amazon and I’m relying heavily on the postman doing his bit before I set off back to work on Monday 11th March. I would hate to have to wait until the next day to listen to The Next Day.

David Bowie has touched my life in so many ways, the most recent seeming to be a couple of weeks ago when I was providing one of my elderly customers with foot health treatment in her room high up in a tower in a care home for the elderly far, far away in a beautiful land called Chippenham. The way this all fitted into place seemed quite incredible as the twenty minutes I spent with this dear old lady just about became a manifestation of a Bowie lyric. Manifestation to Manifestation, shall we say? The lady in question was called Beryl, in her age related mixed up muddled up mind she was in a blind panic about a small hole in her skirt and her feet were in a terrible state.

I couldn’t help but sing out loud:

Beryl Beryl, you’ve torn your dress.

Beryl Beryl, your feet are a mess.

Beryl Beryl, how could they know?

Hot tramp, I love you so!

On hearing my enchanting voice she sighed like Twig the Wonder Kid and turned her face away.

Years earlier, in the very same care home, in a room not far from Beryl’s, I was dealing with the pedal extremities of a lady called Dorothy. Here I had great difficulty administering the treatment as the poor woman was unable to keep her lower limbs still on account of her being a stroke victim.

She recognised the problems I was having and very apologetically spilled out the words, “I just can’t control my feet.” I simply told her not to blame it on the moonlight and so on but to blame it on the boogie, which seemed to calm her and she returned to her conversation about her mother scolding her for losing her hanky in the air raid shelter the previous evening.

So there you have it. Two amazing facts . . . care homes for the elderly can be steeped in pop culture and, thanks to our national treasure David Bowie, Britain is sometimes worth returning to. In fact, to be quite honest, I can’t wait to get back from Vietnam to ask Beryl what she thinks of his new album.

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