"Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you," said the wisest of wise men. "The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon."

('The Alchemist' Paulo Coelho)

Monday, January 08, 2018

The Piper

T.K. steps up again ...

Very moving.....

I love this story.  Lay down whatever is bothering you, breathe in the fresh air and LISTEN to this story.

Time is like a river. You cannot touch the water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of life.
 As a bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper's cemetery in the Nova Scotia back country.  As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and, being a typical man, I didn't stop for directions. I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch. I felt badly and apologised to the men for being late.

I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. I didn't know what else to do, so I started to play. The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around.  I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I've never played before, for this homeless man.

And as I played "Amazing Grace", the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together. When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head was hung low, my heart was full. As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, "I never seen anything like that before, and I've been putting in septic tanks for twenty years."

Apparently, I'm still lost … it's a man thing.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Nadolig Llawen

This year, I will let Keith wish you a happy Christmas on behalf of both of us, and look, you get to watch how he made his Christmas tree too!

Thursday, December 21, 2017


 It's a long time since I got any jokes forwarded to me from my friend T.K. but, just in time for Christmas, here's his latest ...
I just discovered my age group!  I am a Seenager. (Senior teenager)
I have everything that I wanted as a teenager, only 50-60 years later.
I don't have to go to school or work.
I get an allowance every month.
I don't have a curfew.
I have a driver's licence and my own car.
I have ID that gets me into bars and the wine store.  I like the wine store best.
The people I hang around with are not scared of getting pregnant, they aren’t scared of anything, they have been blessed to live this long, why be scared?
And I don't have acne.
Life is Good!  Also, you will feel much more intelligent after reading this, if you are a Seenager.
Brains of older people are slow because they know so much.
People do not decline mentally with age, it just takes them longer to recall facts because they have more information in their brains.
 Scientists believe this also makes you hard of hearing as it puts pressure on your inner ear.
 Also, older people often go to another room to get something and when they get there, they stand there wondering what they came for.
It is NOT a memory problem, it is nature's way of making older people do more exercise.
I have more friends I should send this to, but right now I can't remember their names.
So, please forward this to your friends; they may be my friends, too.

Thursday, November 16, 2017


For the past few weeks, I have been plagued by arthritis in my left knee. A couple of years ago, I had it in my right knee, although it did subside partly, I think, because I started taking Turmeric capsules. People may wonder about that, but all I can say is that it made an almost instantaneous difference, although when Keith tried it for his ankle, it didn't help at all.
So, fast forward to now and here I am hobbling around with a growing collection of knee supports and trying to keep it exercised as much as possible, because Elder Daughter tells me that 'knees love exercise.' I'm sure she's right, but my knee doesn't seem too grateful for it these days!

"I have a couple of bolts in the shed that you could use," said Keith helpfully, watching me strap said joint up in a knee brace.

"It's OK," I replied, "you keep those for your neck."

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Passing the buck

Dear Ms Aspin, 
Thank you for your further email of 26 September addressed to Vaughan Gething AM, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport regarding your concerns about the services provided at Pen y Maes health centre in Wrexham.  I have been asked to reply.  
I am sorry that you were disappointed to receive a response from an official rather than direct from the Cabinet Secretary.  Welsh Government Ministers receive a large volume of correspondence and cannot always respond personally.  For this reason correspondents may from time to time receive a reply on the Cabinet Secretary’s behalf from his officials.  However, the Cabinet Secretary takes a close interest in all his correspondence. 
I note your further concerns.  It was explained in our previous response that the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board took over management of the practice in October 2016 and is continuing to explore potential options for the future provision of services.   
In Wales, the Cabinet Secretary has a role to set the strategic direction for health services and hold the NHS to account.  Health boards plan how services are delivered ‘on the ground’ and regularly review these services to ensure they meet the needs of their resident population.  Therefore, the health board will be the most appropriate organisation to contact to provide the specific answers to your enquiry. 
Yours sincerely 
Paul Haynes Government Business Team Health and Social Services Group  

In reply to the second and third emails I sent to Vaughan Gething, this dropped into my inbox yesterday. No more informative and equally 'helpful' as the last reply from him. Obviously, Mr Gething, who is, remember, the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport in the Welsh Assembly, is an extremely busy fellow and hasn't got time to reply in person to the likes of me. The fact that, being Secretary for Health, means that it is his job to be interested in what's going on in the Health scene throughout Wales, seems to have passed him by, and of course, as his constituency is in south Wales, he doesn't rely on us to vote him back in when the next election rolls around.
So, once again, in spite of the fact that I did inform him previously that I have already contacted BCUHB and a great many more bodies and people besides, the official line continues to be, 'Not interested, go and ask them.'
We have now gathered a fair amount of coverage of what is happening in our Health Board and it's all grist to our mill. For example:
  • In BUCHB and doubtless in other Welsh health boards too, directly managed GP practices  get £29 per patient more than GP managed practices.
  • Although the East Area team have assured us several times that they are 'committed to GP managed practices', they also told the recent Scrutiny meeting with the Council that they 'have no intention of putting Pen y Maes out to tender again in the near future'. 
  • They are NOT 'meeting the needs of the resident population', unless you count days with no GPs and a shortage of nurses as meeting our needs.
So the bottom line is that although one of our MPs has become involved and is asking questions, even though Welsh NHS is devolved so he does not have any obligation to do so, Mr Gething, who does have a responsibility (the clue is in your title, you know!), has decided not to bother.

But we're not going away. We're going to keep on keeping on!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Still doing battle

After two missives to Vaughn Gething, our Health Secretary, I received an off the peg reply from one of his minions who, like all the others, had perfected the art of saying nothing very comprehensively, so this afternoon, I sat down with Classic FM for inspiration and composed this:

Dear Mr Gething,
Thank you for the response to my letter, sent by a member of your team. It seems as if the organisation of your response network is geared to siphoning people off to other organisations who may or may not be able to help them. I'm afraid that in this case, this response is not helpful.

We have already contacted the CHC, BCUHB itself and the CEO, Mr Gary Doherty, to no avail. We are not being given anything helpful in regard to how the parlous situation at Pen y Maes health centre can be resolved and seem to be continually shooed away and told that 'it's OK folks, your concerns are unfounded/ we have it all in hand / we know what we are doing (delete as required).

Unfortunately, no-one seems able to tell us 
a) why salaried GPs do not seem to want to work for the East Area team of BCUHB
b) why this is not being invstigated
c) why Dr Sankey, erstwhile clinical lead, who was willing and eager to take on the practice as a GMS        with a full team of medical staff, was turned down
d) why BCUHB seem hell bent on directly managing our and other similarly placed practices           themselves, irrespective of whether it's the right solution or not
e) why the Board thinks it acceptable to pay considerable sums of money employing locums when item c) was available.

I’m sure you are aware that directly managed practices cost around a third more to run than GMS practices. Between April and August BCUHB overspent by three million pounds on just six directly managed practices, five of which are under the East Area team and of those, four  in Wrexham, Pen y Maes, Beechley and Hillcrest, as well as Ruabon. The first three have all lost their clinical leads due to resignation.

I was hoping that you, as Secretary for Health in Wales would also have an interest in this problem and given your position, could endeavour to obtain the answers to the above. I remain ever hopeful and would greatly appreciate an answer that deals specifically with the points I have raised here.

Sincerely, etc

Dreaming - and shouting

Often at night, I dream and the dreaming is, on occasion, accompanied by some shouting. Sometimes the sound of my shouting wakes me up but generally, it falls to Keith to wake me up and inform me that I was shouting. After that, I usually manage to get out of the dream cycle and go back to normal sleep, or what passes for normal for me anyway.

In the morning, I have a vague recollection of having been talking or shouting and if I don’t, Keith is more than happy to remind me, but he never remembers what I have said and in the bright light of morning, I have forgotten what was bothering me so much, but I do seem to spend a lot of my dream time arguing and fighting with people.

Last night, it appears that I shouted again, just one word, ‘Bastard!’ I’m quite sure this was not directed at Keith and actually, you’ll be relieved to hear, it’s not part of my regular vocabulary, but this morning I did have a vague recollection of being extremely angry and frustrated with someone.

Of course, it could be the effect of all this protesting.

Which is a shame as there is still plenty of that to do yet!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Protesting in the rain

Well, we gathered in the pouring rain and had a brief question and answer session before the BCUHB executive meeting, with the same answers to the same questions, but at least they have been made more aware of the depth of feeling and some of the media have covered our protest. 
What happens now? Who knows!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

More protesting?

This week seems to be one for protesting about what is or is not being done that should or should not be being done - if you follow my drift.
After a brief seguė into ringing the council to point out that, once again, the playing field has not been mown once since late spring and when are they going to do something about it, I went back to my Welsh class.

Remember this, about the reduction of choices available?
Well, now that the local FE college has responsibility for delivering Welsh courses locally, the cost has doubled and there are no concessions as there were with Prifysgol Bangor and there are fewer course venues available.

We have more or less finished our course started under Bangor but there was a problem on the horizon. It seemed that Coleg Cambria had won the contract knowing full well that they did not currently have a Uwch course, which should be where my group goes next. Fast forward to the present. As the courses are now developed nationally, it was decided that the new Uwch course would be trialled in south Wales this year, so yes, you've guessed it, no course for us!

Not that that deterred Coleg Cambria from taking our money under the guise of enrolling us on the Uwch course (Yes, that's right, the one that's not yet available).

Fortunately, our current tutor is a star and is 'getting round the problem', so he will be providing us with .... something, but I'm not allowed to say more!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


This is part of our protest against the Health Board here in North Wales, who are failing us day after day. On Thursday, I and I hope, many other patients, will be at Glyndwr University to register our protest at the Board's Executive meeting. Wish us luck!


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