Sunday, 18 October 2015

Little Beeston things

Seen on a side entrance in the centre of Beeston. How can it not bring a smile to your face. 

For the past couple of weeks I have been peeling windfalls from our three apple trees. If I don't collect them up daily, they soon go over and the freezer compartment on our fridge is close to bursting with frozen cooked apples (and plums from a month ago). Walking around Beeston, I have lost count of the number of apple trees I have seen laden with unpicked fruit. In the end, because of maggots, I end up throwing away half the apples I peel, but the delicious taste of home-cooked apples makes the effort all worth while.

Last Saturday (10 October) marked a big change in my life. From the age of sixteen in 1960, I have always been doing something; holding down a voluntary post of some kind and organising events or campaigns of some kind. Last year I gave up committees and in the past couple of months I have attended two committees as an observer of sorts. Both occasions further convinced me that I made the right decision last year when I reached seventy.

Now, back to last Saturday, when I took the lead in organising a 'historyfest' at Nottingham Central Library on Angel Row in Nottingham City Centre. Click here to see a report on the Our Nottinghamshire website. I had already made up mind that it was going to be the last thing I will ever organise. From now on I will just be a helper, supporting friends and groups I like as and when I please. After fifty-six years of continuous voluntary activity I have had enough.

I began the summer being told I had 'established fibrosis of the lungs', which cannot be treated. After lots of tests and hospital visits it got a name: Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) and I also learnt that, at some point, I will need open heart surgery because I have a dicky heart, but just to complicate things, the symptoms for both conditions are as good as identical.

Yet, despite, all this, I have had a great summer and feel, physically and mentally, better now than I have for a long time. I am doing what I have been told, avoiding crowds and I am about to abandon buses for the winter, since I am told my immune system is weak and just catching a cold or the flu can be life threatening. This kind of diagnosis is hard to take in, even less believe, but I have to believe it — I owe it to my family and those who love me.

Throughout my life I have been blessed in so many ways, even though to an outside observer, this may seem strange. Perhaps this winter I will finally begin writing a memoir of sorts for my grandchildren, if the maps and stories I want to write to do not get in the way.

Last Sunday morning I was out delivering for the Labour Party, walking up and down Beeston front paths, looking at the everyday, like those apple trees I mentioned earlier. It really was a pleasure and over the next two weeks I can look forward to a string of friends and family visiting, some staying, for a number of reasons. Life in my 'little Beeston' is never dull. The world really does come to me.

A PS...

Two of the local history groups which took part in the Historyfest  on 10 October were from Beeston and Toton:

Gill Morral and Carole White were wearing two hats - Friends of Toton Fields and Beeston & District LHS. Their display was very impressive and Gill has offered to take me on a personal guided tour of Toton. I hope to take her offer up before too long and, when I do, I will share my visit on this blog.

In 2012, Carrina Harrison and Graham Hopscroft came along on the day and were squeezed into corner. Then the Canalside Heritage Trust based at Beeston Lock was weeks old. Now they are a Lottery funded heritage project which may well be open this time next year and they had a very different story to tell at this year's fair. Before I got my diagnosis, they are a group I would have liked to help, but now I will cheer them on from the sidelines instead.

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