Friday, 20 November 2015

Half term and an event

In October, which is the UK school’s half term, Grandma (TBH) gets to see her granddaughter. They do not live close, so we spend most of one day going and then most of another day returning home. The distance is not a lot compared to the journeys in other larger countries. What makes travelling around the UK much slower is the amount of traffic. Take all the cars in one American state and fit them into a couple of hundred miles of roadway and you will have a similar situation. Traffic is dense and slow, so what would be considered just under two hours of driving elsewhere becomes six hours minimum over here.

Travelling North on the M6 motorway

Half term extends over Halloween and so we had pumpkins and all the trappings on that evening, with Trick or Treaters arriving at intervals scrounging goodies, whilst The Granddaughter (TG) went out scrounging for her own from other people. I assume there is a net gain somewhere…

Haloween decorations
Whilst we were there we visited Sizergh Castle, which is a stately home, set in some landscaped grounds. Most recently owned by the Strickland family, it was gifted to the National Trust in 1950.

The trees were displaying their autumn shades, and lucky to have good weather, we were able to explore the grounds thoroughly.

It seems that there have been a couple of additions to the family and they were soon at home with their visitors on the occassion of our first meeting with them.

Our journey home was complicated by some fog and we were delayed a little but not seriously, since traffic was fairly light.

As we got closer to home, we cleared the fog, but in half a mile of home it was back once more.  So this short stretch of clear skys was only temporary.

An event
Arriving back home a number of things had cropped up and took our attention. One of those was a Diabetic Workshop we had booked, where we learned all those things one needs to understand to survive type two diabetes. This was held in a local hotel.  We arrived in good time and followed the hand written signs leading us to the worshop registration desk. This had three queues divided alphabetically and we were directed to the middle one, but one of the others emptied first and we were beckoned over. There we were handed our ‘goodie bag’ containing some leaflets, a pen and a note pad and we were then given a personalised name badge. True to modern corporate culture, these were first names only, no titles allowed here. We were then directed to the coffee and tea buffet. Here we helped ourselves to coffee from the awaiting thermos flasks. On our badge was a blue bar which it turned out is the colour of our group. We had been told to go into the first meeting room once we had our coffee which is labelled with the motivational name ‘vision’ We found a pair of empty seats and nursing our coffees we waited for the beginning of the workshop, which was supposed to be at ten o’clock but this came and went and still no start. Although the subject was new to me, the setting was all very familiar. I have lived through many events organised just like this whilst working for several different nationally based organisations.
Some were seminars on team building and other managerial events, but in later years, mostly on how to cope with change or redundancy. Redundancy became a top ten favourite during the 80s and 90s and this venue seemed all too familiar. In fact I have attended business conferences at this very hotel in a previous life. On one wall, dwarfed by the size of the conference room, was a six by six foot screen on which a presentation title was projected. At least it was when we first came in, but a little later I noticed that it only showed the Microsoft Windows logo and no slide show. This turned out to be the reason for the delay. Microsoft one, presenters nil. A more computer savvy colleague was called in and after a short typing session, it becomes one all to the presenters and Microsoft and the slide show began.
The introduction went on at some length and I was able to follow most of it, but the slide show was aimed at people with perfect hearing and tweny-twenty vision. Although, as far as I know, hearing loss is not normally one of the classic symptoms of diabetes, poor vison often is. Many of the slides were illustrated with some kind of representative image which supported the message, but often these images were so large, the text was squeezed down to something I could not read. As a result, I spent so much time squinting at the slides trying to uncover their secrets that I sometimes missed the point being made. Fortunately The Better Half (TBH) had come with me and she was able to fill me in on the bits I had missed. Even she could not hear the questions that were asked by the audience, since they had no microphones for anyone but the presenters. We then had to give responses to questions about our particular experience of diabetic treatment, followed by a session where we had to come up with the fifteen points that the presentation had just gone through. This was done in the tired old method of brainstorming the crowd and writing down responses on a flip chart and then seeing how well we did by making the answers fit the fifteen official answers. This technique is so old, I expect the Mesopotamians did it with clay tablets. Of course we then had to go through the entire fifteen things all over again.
Once this introductory session was over, we were led out of the room by a person carrying a flag, like being on a tour. Our flag carrying person had a blue flag and he took us into another room with the hand written motivational name by the door, ‘Inspiration’. In there we were divided into small teams and given a set of exercise handouts. This was going to be a workshop. However, the start was delayed because they wanted everyone to introduce themselves to the other members of the group, giving when they were first diagnosed and what kind of treatment or care they had received. This took ages and it was pointless. There were well over twenty people in the room, so by the end of this laborious session, I had no recollection of anyone’s name other than the three nearest people. We then had to look at the scenario of ‘our friend’ Margery who was not looking after her diabetes very well and we had to come up with some suggestions for her. I recall doing this kind of thing for Annie the packer and Sally the tea lady, when I was on managerial courses. Poor Annie was always trouble and you had to decide if she should be sacked or not, whilst poor Sally was breaking every health and safety regulation with her tea urn you could imagine. It was exactly the same procedure, but with health risks to your friend if you did not get Margery up to speed on her treatment. We then had lunch and went to the next session in the room encouragingly named ‘Activation’. Overall, it was worth putting up with the tired old fashioned methods and false enthusiasm and I have learned a lot more about living with diabetes, so it did the job. However, mostly because of TBH’s good note taking and the big pile of literature we took away with us. All I have to do now is put it into practice for the rest of my life.

1 comment:

  1. Is that really cows crossing the motorway! A classic photo! Your workshop experience sounds very painful. I almost expected you were going to have to introduce yourself: "Hi, my name's Pete, and I'm a diabetic."