Monday, 25 April 2016

Sipho's Year in Detention

"Someone hanged himself in the bathroom.  I found him before he lost his life and raised the alarm....I've already dealt with one death in detention.  Pls pls do something, thanks."

If you join our visitors group for The Verne, you too could have the excitement of getting a text like this in the middle of the night.  This former prison was turned into a Detention Removal Centre two years ago.

The man I visit got anonymous death threats on his phone in his home country.  He had been asking the police questions about how his brother was killed.  When he went back to the  police to report the death threats, they checked the phone out of sight, then told him that he had given them a phone without a simcard.

Sipho (not his real name) got a passport, in a false name so his country's border control wouldn't know he had left, and came back to the UK to ask for asylum.  He had lived in the UK for twenty years and has children and a grandchild here.

That was over a year ago.  Since then he has been locked up in detention centres.

The Home Office wants him to go home as they say his country is safe.  He has been refused bail twice and kept in prison although he is not a criminal and carries the scars of torture on his body.

There are rules in this country that people who have been tortured should not be kept in detention.  He has a certificate signed by a doctor to prove this but it has not got him out of detention so far.

The Home Office ignores their own rules and I don't know how they get away with it.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Mothering Sunday in The Home

Mothering Sunday.  Flags out for Mother’s Day in the sitting room of The Home.  We sit beside Mum just as the show starts.  The singer bounds in wearing a khaki uniform.
“This is an ATS uniform, which the Queen wore during the War,” she tells us, and she dances around the room, doing higher leg kicks than the Queen ever did. 
“Mammy, mammy, I’d walk a million miles for one of your smiles.....”
She shares her microphone with all of us in turn, using lots of eye contact to get us to sing.
Mum knows the words of songs I’ve never heard of, like “Red Sails in the Sunset” and her eyes are bright as she sings.
“Hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line....”
Even Stuart, who can hardly speak any longer, belts out the words and the singer stays with him, flirting.
“You’re like Stewart Grainger, you are....”

Later that afternoon when the sitting room is back to being more of a sleeping room, Stuart’s grandson visits.
“Have you done any singing lately, Grandad”
“Stuart!  Barely an hour ago you were blasting songs into a microphone,” Jamie says.
“Sorry to turn him in lad, but you need to know.  He was one of the stars of the show.”
“So were you,” Stuart says, “This man’s got a lovely voice.”
“So you do remember?”
“It’s coming back to me,” Stuart mumbles, in his usual voice.

“Where did we go today?”Mum asks.  “We went somewhere....” 

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Mum's wallet

Mum's wallet was in her handbag for months before it vanished.  I kept checking and it had the thirty pounds she took to the home with her in March.  When it disappeared I assumed she'd lost it in one of her hospital visits and told the manager about it.

You'll be amazed where they turn up, she said.

Then it turned out that the manager herself had been helping herself to the residents' money. She threw away her record of Mum's loss.

She'd worked there for twenty years.

I didn't tell Mum.  She would forget anyway.  The new manager gave us her money back and apologised.

The old manager had a talent for choosing caring staff, so we keep her at the home.  But the cosiness and wholesomeness of the place has been depleted.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Portland is dementia friendly

I'm glad to say that Portland has joined an Alliance devoted to making the island dementia friendly.

Jackson's Gallery owner, Mark Jackson, went to the meeting where it was adopted and spoke about his father, Harry, who used to go to Singing for the Brain with my mother.

"My father had it for three years before he died so I know how severe it can be"

Mark said he just wanted coming into his cafe to be a nice experience for somebody with dementia.

"We should all support the Alliance,"  he said.

And so we should.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Where's Mum?

On Thursday when I visited my Mum in hospital, she asked where Mum was.

"Do you mean your Mum?"


"You're 90 now, Mum, so if your Mum was still alive, she would be 120."

"Has she died?"

"A long time ago.  When she was 94.  Don't you remember?"


This is the worst part of dealing with dementia,  when you  have to tell somebody about a death that happened years ago.  I had to tell her about my father, who died 23 years ago and her sisters, but I wasn't expecting to have to tell  her about her mother.  Even the older memories are going now.

She may forget it again by this afternoon.

Still, she's losing her ability to worry and is starting to live more and more in the moment.  That's the good part of dementia.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Once in a lifetime storm

Not long after my last post, that storm turned into a once in a lifetime storm.

On Wednesday February 5th a couple of giant waves came over the sea defences and over the Cove House itself, throwing pebbles at the shutters and sending water through the upstairs windows where they didn't have any shutters.

We also saw a boat being flung over the sea wall and floating in the street.  It was a lot more exciting than Singing for the Brain where I usually spend Wednesday mornings.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Deadman's Cove on Storm Alert

Chesil Beach has been on storm alert.  The siren for evacuating the area went off on January 7th and The Cove House Inn had to clear out all the customers and go upstairs.  Jackie was on national TV the next day, reporting on the adventure.
In the event, nothing much happened.  The sea almost topped the beach, threw a few stones over but then retreated.  The cove itself was cleared of all its pebbles that night and we had a sandy beach, much lower than usual, but the stones were all back in place the next day.  The flood defences all did their job.
The most unusual sights have been the things that have been swept into the sea and shown up at Chesil Cove.  Its other name is Deadman's Cove for obvious reasons - but there weren't any men in the detritus this storm.  We saw a dead dolphin and a cow and some people said there had been a drowned bull but we didn't see it.