Friday, 8 September 2017

Living On The Edge


This cute little dog is homeless. Her name is Princess Elsa Louise, but we call her Elsa. Since 18th May when her owner, Carrie, left a violent partner, she has been living on the streets. 

I met Elsa at the Salvation Army Citadel in Gloucester last Monday. Carrie collapsed in the porch, suffering the onset of a diabetic episode. She was brought in, stabilised, and asked where she needed to go. 

So Elsa and I accompanied Carrie, who is sick, remember,  on a merry-go round of visits here and there to get some help. First stop, the Nelson Trust in Brunswick Square. A woman's charity, working hard to find Elsa a home. Carrie could be housed, but Elsa? Not proving easy. And as Elsa won't leave Carrie, that's a problem. So, no luck there. 

"Carrie's blood glucose level is over 30, I say, may we call an ambulance?"  No. "There's a walk-in clinic in Eastgate St. Take her there." OK, so Elsa and I drive Carrie to the clinic. There's a security guard on the door.

"Sorry. No dogs." Elsa rolls her eyes. Carrie  has a note from a doctor. Elsa is an alert dog. She will lick Carrie awake if she begins to slip into a coma. 

The man in uniform  can't take a doctor's word for it. "They'll send you a certificate" He says. "Well, that's not possible is it? " I ask, "Carrie has no address to send it to ..." 

"I'll ask."

"You can go in," says the security guard a few minutes later. I smile at him. He'd made an effort. "Thank you!" 

By now Carrie's blood -glucose level has been critical for more than twenty minutes. 

"I'm sorry," says the Receptionist. "You can't be seen here, you have to go to the Homeless Healthcare Team in Great Western Road."

So Elsa and I drive Carrie round to the Homeless Healthcare Team. I have known the staff who work there, for some time, as Gloucester City Mission, that I volunteer for, shares the building. These people are AMAZING.  It's lunchtime, and the clinic is closed, but Leslie checks Carrie's bloods and fetches the doctor straight away. 

"You should have sent for an ambulance immediately!" The doctor is very concerned. Next time, I'll know, I think. 

So the ambulance comes and Carrie is distraught. "Who will take Elsa??" 

And Elsa, the homeless chihuahua, comes  home with me. 

After a few more misadventures, Elsa returns to Carrie:they are  now in temporary Bed and Breakfast accommodation in the city. 

"I even have a tv!" Carrie is ecstatic. 

When I ask Carrie if the owner knows she has her dog with her, she becomes a bit vague. I have my doubts, but, fingers-crossed. To be evicted for breaking rules renders you, 'intentionally homeless" and back on the streets indefinitely. 

Please, God, no. 

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Stupid And Cheerful

Her name, I believe, was Dr Joy. 

I was half listening to a Podcast. Which may have been 'This American Life' and the narrative was about  a woman who, for many years, had consulted a radio Agony Aunt.

The caller first tapped Dr Joy for help over a boyfriend, sometime in the seventies. "Dump him." Says Dr Joy with no hesitation. Which, after a year, "Duped by a Dolt" duly did. 

There followed decades of advice-seeking:more flawed relationships, family problems, financial hitches, the usual sort of thing. What caught my attention was Dr Joy's answer to life's most intractable problems, you know the ones: a person who will never take, "No!"for an answer; the boss who  will run you into the ground and will never give you the credit you deserve;;the customer-service person who missed the memo about the customer being always right: the solution? "Stupid and Cheerful" 

It took a while to sink in.

So if ever you catch me grinning inanely at you, happily explaining how silly of me, but I am totally unable to comply with your wishes for a trivial but totally irreversible reason:"Stupid and Cheerful."  Brilliant. 

The podcast draws to a close. I am on the edge of my seat. I want to know more. Sadly the story does not have a happy ending. After decades of taking Dr Joy's advice, the caller embroils  herself in a string of dead-end affairs that she is  too  embarrassed to tell Dr Joy about. On extricating herself, she decides to call Dr Joy's show to thank her for her years of great advice,  only to learn that she has died two days earlier.

Today's lesson is two-fold. 1.Don't wait until someone dies before remembering to say thank you. 2. Everyday. Sit in front of a mirror and practise "Stupid and Cheerful" Both of these nostrums are recipes for a happier and more fulfilling life. 

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Oh, For Christ's Sake!

I am so saddened by some of the terrible things that are written in the media about the poor, mmigrants, the 'other':especially by "Christians"! You want to know what Jesus REALLY taught ? 

A Franciscan worldview: 

"Who are you God, and who am I?"