Tag Archives: #blogging

Our NHS 2018 – a parent’s eye view

IMG_2018-01-07_20-36-37

It’s that time of year when the news headlines at a local and national level are splattered with horror stories of extensive waiting times at A&E departments across the country and of lengthy response times from the ambulance service.
Unfortunately, over the first few days of 2018 we have had to make good use of the NHS.
I’m not writing this with the intention of seeking sympathy or attention but to highlight the experiences we have shared and to give a parent’s perspective on the issues we encountered.
There are three parts to this tale but I’ll start with a little basic background to set the scene.
My Girl Child developed an inflammatory condition called costochondritis in October 2016. Basically, its an inflammation of the cartilage between the breast bone and the ribs. It is excruciatingly painful and initially presented with symptoms representative of a heart attack. ( Here’s a link with more details – https://www.healthline.com/health/costochondritis#causes) Very scary to witness! After a few weeks, it all settled down and soon she had been pain free for a number of months – happy days!
On 30th December, out of the blue, the crushing, crippling pain hit her again.
Part One
Despite still being sore and worn out, Girl Child went to work on 31st December. Mid-afternoon, I got a call to say she had taken unwell and was suffering from chest pains. As her dad, The Big Green Gummi Bear (TBGGB) flew out the door to fetch her, I advised her colleague to keep her calm. By the time TBGGB arrived at the mall 15 minutes later she had collapsed, had been struggling to breathe and was barely conscious. An ambulance had been called. It took almost an hour for the ambulance to arrive by which time she had recovered enough to be sitting up with a drink of water. The paramedics checked her over thoroughly, concluded that the costochondritis was the most likely cause and, as her observations were all fine, they allowed her to go home with her dad. (He was now almost in need of medical attention having been totally traumatised by the whole thing.) Once home, Girl Child explained that the chest pain itself hadn’t been that severe but that she had felt as though her airway was being crushed. This was a new symptom…. and a worrying one.
Part Two
Mid-afternoon 1st January, she was sitting calmly watching TV in our study, when suddenly and without warning, she fell off the chair and collapsed on the floor out cold. Fortunately, she didn’t hit anything on the way down and after a few long minutes she began to come round. She was fairly unresponsive to basic questions for about 10 minutes. I wanted to take her straight to A&E but was convinced by her and TBGGB to call NHS24 instead to seek their advice. Girl Child explained that the pain level hadn’t spiked this time but again she had felt like someone was cutting off her airways so that she couldn’t take a breath. She compared it to standing on a hosepipe to stop the water coming out.
After being on hold for about 20 minutes, I spoke with a lovely, calming call handler at NHS24. She took all the details, conferred with the onsite clinician then advised me to take my daughter to the emergency out of hours clinic at a nearby health centre. It took about 20 minutes to get to the health centre by which time Girl Child felt OK-ish. With the absolute minimum wait, we saw a GP who again said it all still sounded like costochondritis. Surprisingly, he didn’t seem too concerned about the breathing issues. He prescribed a strong anti-inflammatory gel to complement the drugs she was already taking. It was after 5pm by this time and the local emergency pharmacy was closed. We returned home.
Part Three
Around 3.30am on 2nd January I wakened and heard a strange noise coming from Girl Child’s room. I rushed in and found her struggling to breathe. She wasn’t quite unconscious but again she was completely unresponsive to simple commands like “look at me” and “squeeze my hand”. I wakened TBGGB to help me with her and we considered dialling 999. He talked me out of it. Gradually she began to respond and about 15 minutes later she was back with us. I stayed with her until she settled then returned to my own bed. Sleep refused to come.
My instructions to TBGGB and Boy Child as I left for work a few short hours later were simple. Call 999 if this happens again.
To her credit, Girl Child hung in there all day without any major incidents.
Early evening, we sat down to watch one of the Harry Potter films. I was aware she was a little quieter than normal and was keeping an eye on her. Around 8pm things flared up again. Within a minute she was struggling to breathe, unresponsive and hot and clammy. TBGGB dialled 999 and passed me the phone. I spoke with the operator who was fantastic. She kept me calm-ish and advised me of what to do. Within 5 minutes two paramedics arrived by car. They had only just begun to attend to Girl Child when the ambulance arrived.
Within 10 minutes of dialling 999 my living room was crowded with paramedics. All four of them were brilliant.
Again, all of Girl Child’s observations were within normal limits but she was still struggling with her breathing so the ambulance crew advised that we should attend our local A&E.
After a flurry of fetching shoes, jackets and her medication, I followed as Girl Child was wheeled out to the waiting ambulance. Within minutes we were on our way to the local hospital.
The paramedic asked me to go in ahead of them and register Girl Child’s arrival.
When I walked into the A&E department, total chaos met me at the door. It was like a scene from a news report from a Third World hospital.
The waiting room was full and overflowing. The corridors were full. Every room and cubicle were full.
The information board advised the published waiting time was 6 hours.
I gave the receptionist Girl Child’s details and rushed back round to find her at the ambulance bay. She was wheeled in, transferred to a wheelchair and wrapped in a thin blanket. The paramedic gave a comprehensive handover to one of the nurses who then completed a fresh set of observations before warning us we’d have a bit of a wait to see a doctor. Somewhere in the midst of this TBGGB arrived.
My best guess at the time was around 9pm.
We were all scared. All a bit unsure about what was going on with her health. We’re neither stupid nor selfish and recognised that we were going to be in for a long wait as there were so many obviously sick people around us.
We waited. TBGGB paced. I sat on the floor beside Girl Child keeping a close eye on her.
We waited, watching the scenes unfolding around us, watching the ambulance crews return time and again with more patients.
Around 12.45am Boy Child was summoned to collect TBGGB to take him home. He felt there was no point in us both waiting and cluttering the place up.
We’d been there for roughly 4 hours at this point and, apart from the handover between the nurse and the paramedic, we hadn’t spoken to another medically trained soul. No one had even paused to check if she was ok. No one had paused to check if any of the waiting patients were ok.
Girl Child was asking for a drink of water by this time so I headed round to the nurses’ station to see if it was Ok to give her one and also to ask where to find one. There were three of them there laughing and joking and enjoying some festive treats. I was directed through the maze of short corridors to a water cooler. Not one nurse asked me if Girl Child was ok. Not one nurse asked if her breathing had settled down. I had also taken the opportunity to ask how many people there were ahead of us in the queue to be seen by the doctor and was told that there were seven.
Shortly after 2am the pain flared again and Girl Child began to get quite emotional and distressed. I ran back round to the nurses’ station to seek help. A nurse followed me back to the waiting area, repeated the observations, declared them normal but said she would try to speak with the doctor. While Girl Child struggled to get a breath, I sat holding her, willing this nightmare to end. The nurse returned with two plastic cups – one half full with water and one with some Gaviscon. She handed Girl Child two paracetamol and two ibuprofen and told her to take the lot. The pain was still increasing at this stage and breathing was obviously difficult for her. Girl Child was becoming very emotional. I asked what the Gaviscon was meant to do to help here as she was not suffering from any digestive issues. The response from the nurse was “Dr says she’s to take it.” I asked if there was anything else they could do to help me here with her and was told “No.” I asked, admittedly a little sarcastically, if I needed to wait until she collapsed again out cold on the floor before she got any help. The nurse said “Yes” and walked off.
I was stunned.
It took a while but I kept Girl Child calm and the pain settled down a little and her breathing became more regular once more.
Over the next few hours we went through a tornado of emotions. She cried. She shouted angrily at me. She sulked. She cried some more.
She’s only seventeen. She was scared. We both were.
Girl Child is a student nurse and the scenes around her were adding to her distress. It was going against everything she has been taught. It was breaking her heart to see not only how she was being treated but how many of the other seriously ill and frail patients were being handled around us.
One old man was brought in and parked in a bed beside us. Like we’d experienced several hours before, after the initial handover from the paramedics, no one came near him. He looked like death. No one was waiting with him. He was all alone.
We sat and watched as a woman was brought in by ambulance suffering breathing difficulties and was whisked more or less straight into a cubicle. Girl Child looked at me with both fear and anger as if to say “Why is she being treated and I’m not?”
At some point (sorry, I lost track of time a bit through fear and exhaustion) I went in search of a vending machine. Both of us were hungry and thirsty. The two machines, usually filled with juices and snacks, were empty save for a handful of dodgy looking cereal bars. The tea/coffee machine was out of order. There was nothing available.
At one point shortly after this, Girl Child needed the loo. When I helped her round to the toilet adjacent to the nurses’ station, we observed several of them again laughing and joking, as they shared a pizza. Now, I don’t grudge anyone a little light relief at their work and I’d never deny anyone sustenance but the perception that this created in the circumstances was that these healthcare professionals didn’t care about the dozens of patients and their concerned relatives filling the department, who were finding it a challenge to get so much as a drink of water.
As time dragged on, we both watched several people surrender and head home without being treated, including one patient with a leaking surgical wound.
Still no one came near us. No one came near the old man who by now had fallen asleep or lost consciousness. Who knows! At least we could see he was still breathing.
I went in search of the water cooler once more to fetch myself a drink. The route I’d taken through the plaster room was now closed as the room was in use. An auxiliary was cleaning the floor and I asked her if there was another way through. She asked where I was sitting, said not to worry myself that she’d fetch me a drink and bring it round. A rare moment of empathy and kindness that wasn’t lost on me. At last someone with people’s comfort in mind.
At 4am I asked how far up the queue we were. There still four people ahead of us.
In two hours they had worked their way through three patients….or had they? Had these poor souls actually surrendered and left? I’ll never know.
Finally, just after 4.30am we were taken round to a room. Girl Child was given a robe and told to slip it on and we were advised that the doctor wouldn’t be too long.
Then we waited….. and waited.
We watched the hands on the wall clock crawl round.
Girl Child was getting sore again and emotional.
Knowing it was pointless to seek help, I consoled her as best I could.
By 6.55am we had both reached the end of our tethers. She was sore and exhausted and had been for countless hours. She was sitting on the bed sobbing her heart out. By now I had been up for around 27 hours and was dead on my feet.
Calmly and wearily, I approached the nurses’ station in a final effort to establish how much longer we were likely to have to wait. There were four nurses hanging about- three who had been there all night and one fresh face. Through conversation I established that the doctor had lifted her file several hours beforehand but emergencies had arrived in between but that she would be seen “soon.” I commented that these repeated delays were creating the perception in Girl Child’s mind that no one gave a damn about her. Out of curiosity, I enquired how they prioritised patients, bearing in mind that Girl Child had been brought in by ambulance 10 hours earlier with breathing difficulties and chest pains. I was advised that obviously those most severely injured or ill took immediate priority followed by those who had arrived unaccompanied. I checked my understanding of what I’d just been told and asked that if I had left when TBGGB had gone home and left Girl Child on her own would she have been treated quicker?
“Yes” was the shocking answer. By staying by her side and caring for my daughter, I had delayed her receiving medical attention. That broke my heart. As a parent I was being told I should have abandoned my child to get her help quicker. I was beyond disgusted.
The nurse checked to see if she could confirm when we would finally be attended to. A young female doctor sat in an alcove to the side writing up her notes. She commented bluntly that she would be with us in a few minutes. Politely I thanked her and advised her that Girl Child was quite distressed and at the end of her patience and that she was very scared.
At 7.25am, 10 and a half hours after arriving at A&E by ambulance, the doctor came into the room. To my absolute horror, she proceeded to lecture my distraught teenage daughter in the most patronising tone of voice that they had had a very long busy night dealing with many patients who were more ill than she was and that three folk had in fact died. My daughter was sobbing her heart out throughout this lecture. She was now in a lot of pain and very frightened as well as being utterly exhausted. The doctor, in a challenging tone, asked her what she wanted to do. Girl Child sat there sobbing, “I just want to go home.” The response from the doctor, “So you want to go home and me not to treat you.” Girl Child was by now sobbing even harder and repeating “I just want to go home.”
I intervened, struggling to remain calm. How dare this doctor speak to my daughter or any other patient for that matter in such an unprofessional manner? She should be ashamed of herself!
After a cold, blunt discussion about what had been going on with Girl Child since 30th Dec, she fetched her two strong co-codamol to help with the pain then checked her over, declaring that it was most likely just a panic attack but that she would instruct an ECG to check her heart. She advised that if the heart trace was clear we could go home. I quizzed her on the panic attack comment, reminding her that this episode had started while we were relaxing watching a DVD. She was extremely dismissive of my concerns and stated it was a panic attack linked to the costochondritis.
She left.
Girl Child broke down again.
A short while later, a lovely nurse came in, helped calm Girl Child down, repeated all the basic observations, ran the heart trace which was thankfully normal, then asked if we’d been left a prescription for pain relief. I advised that we hadn’t and that I didn’t have anything strong enough at home. She said not to worry that she’d sort something out for us. A second moment of refreshing empathy and compassion.
Shortly after 8am we left the hospital.The board advising the current published waiting time was still showing 6 hours.
We had been in A&E for over 11 hours.
I was beyond relieved that they hadn’t found anything seriously wrong with my baby girl. I was beyond disgusted by the whole experience.
Having read a report in our local paper, other people have reported similar experiences that night. Knowing we’re not alone here does not help.
I’m a reasonable person. I don’t expect special or priority treatment for my daughter. We were happy to wait our turn. Ok not so happy about the length of the wait but understanding of the situation.
I was angry at the way I was spoken to when I asked for help and disgusted to be told that she’d need to be out cold on the hospital floor before they’d see her at that point in time.
I was angry at the lack of basic courtesy displayed to everyone around us for all those long hours. A quick “You still ok there? We’ll be with you as soon as we can.” goes a very long way.
I sincerely hope that the old man who lay beside us for all those long hours with no one near him wasn’t one of the three patients who sadly passed away.
I was disgusted to be made to feel that I had delayed my daughter’s treatment because I had done what any caring and concerned person would do and stayed by her side all night.
I was beyond furious by the attitude displayed by the doctor when she finally got around to attending to Girl Child. For a doctor to address anyone in that tone of voice and to use such patronising language is despicable, made worse in this instance by the fact that I had already highlighted how scared and distressed my daughter was.
I’ll not even begin to list the number of breaches of basic nursing protocol or hygiene on a professional practice level that my daughter noted. All I can say is that no wonder bugs spread like wildfire through hospitals if this is typical behaviour!
To the paramedics and ambulance crews – thank you
To the young female police officer who we spent countless hours chatting to – thank you for your company. It kept us both sane all night.
To the auxiliary who displayed simple human kindness towards me – thank you.
To the remaining medical staff whose paths crossed ours – thank you for destroying both my daughter and I’s faith in the emergency medical system.

Advertisements

2018 ? So what’s the plan?……..

depositphotos_81812614-stock-photo-pen-writes-2018-goals-on

Well it’s a new year and I guess that means that there are new goals and challenges to be agreed.

As I’ve said previously on here, I’m not big on resolutions. I’m much more of a “don’t say never, cos you might; don’t say always, cos you might not” kind of person.

Did I achieve the goals I set out for 2017? (https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2017/01/05/a-new-year-means-new-goals-and-a-fresh-challenge/ )

Yes and No.

I successfully self-published Book Baby 3 aka Bonded Souls on 15 April 2017. Box ticked. Go me!

I did make steady progress with the first draft of Book Baby 4 but I didn’t quite get it finished before the stroke of midnight on 31 Dec 2017. I’m about 75% of the way there with it. However, in a change to the way I usually write and edit, the first 25000 words have been typed up so I am ahead of the game on that phase.

Am I disappointed in myself that I didn’t achieve both of my 2017 goals?

Yes!

However, I am not about to beat myself up about it.

 So, the goals for 2018…..

These are simple:

1-      Publish Book Baby 4 circa June/July 2018

2-      Bring Jake and Lori back out to play and return my focus to the Silver Lake series

3-      Keep blogging once a week

 

Life is complicated and busy enough without over-complicating the creative world I escape to. For me as an individual, my writing is meant to de-stress me not stress me out.

 

I wish each and every one of you a wonderful 2018.

Thank you for the continued love and support for not only my book babies but also for the various short stories that I have published via this blog. (Yes- the dark angel will return at some point in 2018)

 

And, as the traditional Scottish New Year blessing goes- 

lang may yer lum reek

 

 If you’ve not yet check out the Silver Lake series, it can be found on Amazon:

 Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/Coral-McCallum/e/B00VYU1SZ6/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Amazon.co.uk – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Coral-McCallum/e/B00VYU1SZ6/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1    

 

(images sourced via Google – credits to the owners)

2017…. a time to reflect

Well, it’s reaching that time of year when everyone seems to be taking stock and reflecting back on the year.

Guess I better join in….

Here’s my year in photos

2017 part 12017 part 22017 part 3

And in musical terms…. here’s my take on 2017

2017 music 12017 music 22017 music 3

Picking just 24 photos out of the hundreds…. ok thousands.. I’ve shot this year was nigh on impossible LOL.

These really are just a flavour of the year gone by.

And not to forget my biggest achievement of 2017 …. book baby 3 🙂

Bonded Souls 6x9draft fv

Huge thanks for all your love and support and encouragement this year.

I wish each and every one of you all the very best for 2018.

 

A Pre-Christmas Coffee Catch Up With……Jake Power

coffee catch up

It was a chilly Saturday afternoon when I finally managed to catch up with Jake Power, front man with Silver Lake.  The band were in Glasgow a day early for the final show of their hugely successful Bonded Souls tour. Many of the arena shows in the UK have been sold out weeks in advance and Sunday’s show in the SSE Hydro is no exception. (I bought my ticket pre-sale over six months ago)

As we sat in a city centre coffee shop, I asked Jake how the recent run of shows had gone.

“They’ve been incredible! British audiences are so much more passionate than American crowds. And louder! You guys really know how to rock!” he enthused. “I don’t mean any disrespect to our American fan base but shows at home tend to be in smaller venues, security can be strict and things seem a little more reserved. In these 10 000 seater arenas here, we’ve seen mosh pits every night.”

Before reaching the UK, Silver Lake toured through mainland Europe so I asked how those shows had measured up.

“They were all great. Some countries are more passionate than others. Italy was insane. We played shows in Milan and Rome. Those crowds were crazy! Cologne in Germany was a good show too. We played in Amsterdam just before we came over here. That one didn’t pan out so well. There were a few glitches. The fire alarm went off and we had to evacuate the venue twenty minutes into our set. I feel we owe those fans another show. We only had time to play three or four songs after they let us back into the building.”

With three critically acclaimed albums under their belts, I asked Jake what the Scottish fans could expect for the final show of the tour.

“A full two hour set, that’s for sure,” was Jake’s immediate reply. I was rewarded with one of those “Power” smiles! “We were talking about the set at lunch earlier. Grey has it written on the back of a napkin. I think we were up to nineteen or twenty songs. If we can work them all in before the curfew then we’ll play them.”

“Jake, you’ve been on the road for the last six weeks and have already commented on stage that it’s the longest that you’ve been away from your wife. How tough has that been?”

“Very,” admitted Jake, running his hand through his long blonde hair. “Usually Lori would travel with us for part of a tour. We had planned that she’d come over and spend a week or so here and travel back home with us but, when we really thought it through, it just wasn’t going to be practical. Both of us felt it would be too much for Miss Melody and would trash her routine.”

This is a rare mention by Jake of his baby daughter and seizing the moment I asked how she was.

“She’s incredible. I can’t wait to get home to my girls. Melody’s at the stage she’s changing every day. I’ve missed so much in six weeks. Her personality is developing. If only she slept a bit better at night!”

Almost shyly, Jake showed me a photo on his phone of his wife Lori holding their baby girl. So far, they’ve shielded their daughter from the media but trust me, she’s adorable.

Now that the Bonded Souls tour cycle is winding up, I asked Jake about his and Silver Lake’s plans for the coming year.

“We’re all taking a break over the holidays then I head into the studio late January with Weigh Station. Those guys plan to have a new album out in the spring and to do a few of the summer festivals. Maybe a few side shows too. My diary has a few dates both here in Europe and in the US pencilled in from May through till August. Silver Lake are planning to hit the studio again in the fall. The schedule is filling up for next year and the year after. There’s talk of a full Weigh Station tour and a Silver Lake tour.”

“So, what’s first on your agenda when you get home, Jake?”

“Laundry! I’m running out of clean shorts,” laughed the charismatic front man, his hazel brown eyes twinkling with mischief. “No, seriously, laundry and some quality time with my li’l ladies. A quiet family Christmas.”

“At the beach?”

“No. Actually we’re heading off to the Poconos on Dec 23rd. Lori and I spent a short honeymoon there last Christmas, thanks to our manager Jethro. We stayed in an amazing log cabin near a huge frozen lake. It was so quiet. So peaceful. Both of us loved it so much we decided to go back this year. We’ll head back to New York for New Year’s then home to Rehoboth a few days later. Both of us have some business commitments in the city the first week in January. We’ll bring in the New Year with Maddy, our manager. She throws these huge New Year’s parties every year at her apartment. I’m under strict orders to be there with my guitars.”

As Jake stretched out his long denim clad legs and settled back in his seat, we ordered another coffee then I asked if he found it hard to slip back into “normal” life after a tour.

“It takes a few days to adjust,” he confessed. “On tour we are ruled by the clock constantly. Jethro and Maddy run a tight ship. We stick to the published itinerary. Doing as the boss tells us..well, most of the time.” He paused then continued. “The first day or so, Lori usually gives me a bit of space to do my own thing. Come down time. Time to go for a couple of long runs. Time to sort out my guitars after the tour. Time to do my laundry! I suspect things might be a little different this time. It’s the first time I’ve been away from my daughter for so long.  I just want to spend time with her and with Lori. Family time. That has to come first.”

As our coffees arrived, I asked Jake how his bandmates chilled out after a tour. He laughed then revealed, “They’ll kill me for saying this. Grey needs to get his hands dirty. He’s a mechanic and his yard is full of “projects”. He’ll be under the hood of one of his wreckers before the jet lag hits him.  Paul needs a day to go fishing. He also needs to get past Maddison and that can be a challenge. She’s a scary lady! I’d put money on it though that Paul has a boat trip booked for the end of next week already. Rich is the only one who takes a proper vacation every time. He heads to Florida to his sister and her family. I guess he likes to thaw out in the sun after this cold winter weather. He’ll be back in Rehoboth mid-January as we have teaching workshops booked in.”

“Workshops?”

Jake nodded. “We’re both music teachers at heart still. Every chance we get, we run a workshop or two at the high school where we both taught. As we’re home for a few weeks, Rich has worked out a four week course. Grey and Paul are involved here too this time. I think it’s two workshops per week after school and two all-day Saturday sessions. The aim is to pull a band or maybe even two bands together in time for the Valentine’s Day Ball.”

It struck me that home really is at the heart of Silver Lake. All four members live in and around the same small town, Rehoboth, Delaware, and all seem keen to give something back to their local community.

“We owe a lot to the local fans,” Jake acknowledged. “They’ve been behind us for a long time and it’s a pity we don’t get to play more shows closer to home. The closest we get to Rehoboth is either Baltimore or Philly. We talked about doing some small local shows like we used to. You know, Friday night set in a local bar. Something impromptu and low key. Hopefully we’ll make it happen in the spring next year.”

I asked Jake if he had any plans for any solo shows.

“No but never say never,” he replied with a grin. “I’ve only ever done one. That was couple of years back at the air force base in Dover. My brothers are both air force. Peter called in a favour at the last minute. The band he had booked to play had missed their flight or something and were stuck in Canada. I only had a few hours’ notice but I didn’t want to let him down. It’s the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done! I felt like I was stripped naked in front of two hundred airmen.”

Now, there’s a thought, ladies….

I pointed out that Jake had appeared half naked several times with Weigh Station, prompting a fit of laughter.

“You can blame the late Dan Crow for that,” said Jake grinning. “And before you ask, I intend to keep all my clothes on in the Hydro tomorrow night. Too damn cold here to do anything else!”

Checking the time, Jake apologised that he would need to go, explaining that he had a call to make back at his hotel. I had time to squeeze in one last quick question so, as Christmas is only a couple of weeks off, I asked what he hoped Santa Claus would bring him this year.

“Actually, I’m hoping for a new laptop,” Jake said as he reached for his leather jacket. “I dropped mine in London the other night. It fell off the table in the dressing room. Smashed the screen. Split the casing. I haven’t confessed this to my wife yet though. I only got it just before we left for this tour. Maybe I’ll be on the naughty list for that and end up getting underwear and socks on Christmas morning.”

As I watched Jake leave the coffee  shop, flashing a smile at the waitresses behind the counter, I couldn’t help but wonder if he’ll get that laptop or not….

 

 

The Silver Lake series is available via Amazon both in  Kindle and paperback formats

Amazon.com link   https://www.amazon.com/Coral-McCallum/e/B00VYU1SZ6/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Amazon.co.uk link    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Coral-McCallum/e/B00VYU1SZ6/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Book 4 in the series is planned for  2019

 

(image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

 

 

 

 

 

Tis The Season To Write Lists

keep-calm-and-write-a-list-3

It’s rapidly approaching that time of year when lists take over……

I like to think I’m a  reasonably organised person  in my real world, my work world and in my creative world. (OK, I can be a bit OCD about my lists)

Even on an average day, my world is “post it” driven as I work my way from one reminder to the next.

My laptop frequently has several “post its” stuck to it to remind of anything from a trip to the dentist to promo event reminders associated with my book babies. (There’s 3 on there as I type)

However,  as the festive season approaches all too rapidly, longer lists start to over take the small square “post its”.

There’s:

gift lists

festive food lists

Christmas card and calendar lists

 

You get the picture!

There,there’s the 2018 Gig List to be added to the 2018 Calendar on 1 January. (It’s unlucky to hang the next year’s calendar before the year has begun so the dates need to wait on my list till then)

22 Feb – Brian Fallon

1Apr – Greta Van Fleet

16 Apr- The White Buffalo

This list is likely to grow considerably…….. 😉

Earlier today, I paused to take stock of the “Creative To Do” list for this week:

1- write more  of book baby 4

2- promote the Silver Lake series ( https://www.amazon.co.uk/Coral-McCallum/e/B00VYU1SZ6/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_4?qid=1510864732&sr=8-4 )

3- promote my Good Reads giveaway – its running till 3 Dec.(https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/261202-bonded-souls )

4- type up book baby 4 – target to reach 15k words

5- write and post blog

6- prep interview for blog (watch this space!)

I’ll not embarrass myself by confessing to how few have been ticked off……

Then, there’s a second, until now, unwritten list…. “The Waiting To Be Written” list:

1- book baby 4 ( ok, it’s nearly there!)

2- book 4 in the Silver Lake series ( write 2018/publish 2019)

3- next part to Silently Watching short story series ( I have half a plan for this!)

4- next part to The Soul Searcher short story series( eh….no clue what’s going to happen next)

5-next part to the Still As A Statue short story series ( maybe a bit of a clue where this one will end…)

6-next part of The Imp – remember him? (I do know where I am going with it…honest!)

EEEEKK!

Maybe I should start with a wish list…

Dear Santa

I’ve been a really good girl this year (well, most of the time). Can I please have a Time Turner like Hermione’s from Harry Potter so I can conjure up enough hours in every day to get through my To Do list.

Hope you like the milk and mince pie.

Love   Coral x

 

(Image sourced from Google- credits to the owner)

 

 

 

Today You Have Memories With…..

Sometimes I forget how long it is since I ventured into the weird world of social media but Facebook very kindly reminds me on a daily basis with its “You have memories with…. to look back on today”

I don’t always check these out. I’ll be honest, it sometimes depends on who it says I have memories to share with.

One caught my eye about a week or so ago. It was a memory from 2010 from a school friend. 

“Don’t know why I remember this so clearly but you wrote a book in school with a character called Maggie or Megan, didn’t you? Did you keep up the writing thing?” 

A short conversation followed this post: 

Friend – I think I just remember being really impressed at the time.

Me – I tried writing short stories for a few years but never got anything published. Tried again a few years later with children’s stuff but no luck. Still scribble for my own amusement. Really touched that you remember. Thanks x

Friend – Hey – look at JK Rowling! Should give it another go. Was it Megan or Maggie?

Me- Megan x 

I was, and still am, very touched that she remembered my early literary efforts.

And to be honest, she wasn’t the first school friend to quiz me years after the fact out of the blue.

A few years earlier, I met another old school friend when our daughters both went to the same dance class. She too remembered my teenage “story” and I recall flushing scarlet as she told the other mothers present that she got her sex education from my story! EEKKK!!!!

(Yes, even at fifteen and sixteen I wrote romantic fiction…..) 

The Facebook memory got me thinking….reflecting… 

I was fourteen when I started that “story”. My reporter notebook and pen went everywhere with me for about three years, maybe four.

The story itself was a family saga spanning three generations of women – Terri, Bethan and Megan. I would love to have shared a little bit of it here but ,despite an extensive search earlier today, I can’t find the box in the loft that has the sixteen reporter notebooks in it. I still have it….somewhere! 

There are a lot of parallels between then and now as to why I write. 

Basically, it’s an escape from my own reality for a while. 

Back then it was an escape from the school bullies and was a way to cope with secondary school. I would sit in a corner at lunchtimes and write. After school, I would walk into town to meet my mum from work. Many an hour was spent sitting writing in her office as I waited on her finishing for the day. I also wrote at night, alone, listening to my music. (I’m still listening to some of the same music to this day!)

Now, it’s a means to relax after a long day and, yes, it’s still an escape from my reality. Yes, it’s still a coping mechanism. If I haven’t written for a few days, I can tell! Those who are close to me can also tell. Occasionally, I will spend a wet lunch hour writing at my desk instead of venturing out for a walk. Mainly, I write at night, alone, listening to my music.

Once I find those reporter notebooks (I wonder where they are hiding?) will anything ever come of the “story”? Highly unlikely but never say never. The first incarnation of Jake Power is actually written in “Megan’s” part of the story. ( I told you he’d been in my head for a very long time….almost thirty years in fact! EEEKK!)

Has my approach to how I write changed since the mid-1980’s? Eh……………..no.

I still write everything long hand in crazy colours of ink. I still need a new notebook and a new pen every time I start a new “long story” or “book baby”.

Now I buy A4 notebooks and tend to buy four or five the same to ensure that each book baby has its own identity. (Book Baby 4 is blue)

20171105_214716

I’ll confess…. I’ve already bought the notebooks for Book Baby 5, which will be a Silver Lake tale, too. They’re purple.

20171105_214801

If I rounded them up, I’ve probably got enough pens to start a shop! I love pens! Love multi-coloured ink. Even at work in the salt mine I use a Bic pen that has four colour options. No, not blue, black, red and green. Mine has pink, blue, purple and green ink….trademark pen! Lol

20171105_214637

Back then, I wrote primarily with a green Berol pen ( I’ve just realised that I’ve picked up a green pen to write the first draft of this blog…some things never change.)

20171105_214526

As a teenager, I let very few people read what I wrote. I guess I was terrified that folk would laugh at my story. That instilled a deep rooted fear in me of sharing my words with people. It’s one I still struggle with. Its taken a long time for me to feel even remotely comfortable with sharing my work. A crippling fear for a storyteller.

When I had that Facebook conversation with my old school friend back in October 2010, reflecting back on whether it was Maggie or Megan, little did I know the path I would venture down three short years later.

So, here I am, sitting here reflecting (and procrastinating a tad) on my stories.

If there are any of you reading this who are debating whether to write that book you’ve always dreamed of writing, I have one simple piece of advice. Go for it!

A friend posted a motivational quote on his Facebook wall a few years ago that has always stuck with me, become my mantra almost.

dreams

Now pick up that pen ( it doesn’t matter what colour the ink is) and tell your story to the world.

 

 

RnFnR Me Time…. yes, I escaped unchaperoned!

A wet lunch hour and a couple of breezy showery ones were obviously sent to help me get this blog post written.

The past ten days or so have been a whirlwind of rock’n’roll shows, work and home all wrapped up in a million precious memories to last a lifetime. Apologies for the lack of a proper blog post on here last week but I was up to my eyes in photo editing and gig reviews and, if I’m honest, was still reflecting on how to structure this blog.

After months of anticipation, the 5th of October finally arrived- the start of my RnFnR weekend. This is a blog of two halves.

 

Part One – Thursday   

With my overnight bag slung over my shoulder, I headed into the local station to start my rail journey to Edinburgh. Safely tucked away in my bag was my concert ticket for the Alter Bridge show at the Usher Hall.

You can imagine my horror at being greeted by a sign saying “All trains cancelled”! Cue panic! This was 11.13am. Quickly I asked at the ticket office “How am I meant to get to Glasgow to catch the train to Edinburgh?” Reply “There’s a bus at 11.15”

Apologies to any locals who witnessed my Usain Bolt impersonation as I flew out of the station and across the car park to the bus stop. I caught the bus by the skin of my teeth!

I don’t travel smoothly on buses and, ninety minutes later when it finally reached Glasgow, I was quietly turning 50 shades of green. At the earliest opportunity, I got off and walked the rest of the way to Queen St station.

Fortunately, trains between Glasgow and Edinburgh run frequently and I was soon settled on the express train with my kindle, a sandwich and a most welcome coffee. I loved the ticket collector’s sense of humour too. He punched a love heart out of my ticket. Wonder if he’s secretly hoping for a job on the Polar Express?

20171005_131842.jpg

I was booked into a hotel near the venue and finally arrived there around 2pm- still plenty of time to get to the Usher Hall for 3pm. Someone was definitely having a laugh at my fears and anxieties about travelling alone as I checked into the hotel’s Room 101!

Finding the Usher Hall in the bright warm afternoon sunshine proved to be easier than I expected. The Usher Hall truly is a stunning building.

1.jpg

I had upgraded my humble standing ticket for the show to the whole VIP Meet and Greet package, hence the early arrival at the venue.

There’s a close-knit Facebook community of Alter Bridge fans and I was relieved to see a few familiar faces already basking in the sun on the steps.

By 2.35 it was more like a family reunion than a queue for a rock show. I hadn’t seen some of these people since last December. Others hadn’t seen each other for twenty four or forty eight hours. Others had never actually met face to face. The warmth being shown to all was incredible to see. Everyone, myself included, was made to feel so welcome.

I was especially delighted to meet my friend Miss M from Brazil. We caught up with each other’s news while we queued in the sun.

The VIP Meet and Greet package gets you entry for the band’s soundcheck, a signing session  where you meet the band and get tickets/cds etc autographed and have the opportunity to pass over any gifts you may have brought for the band then you queue up for a second time to get a souvenir photo taken before being shown back out into the sun to queue again for early entry to the show itself.

I could wax lyrical for hours over this band but I’ll spare you that. (PHEW I hear you cry!)

Suffice to say, hearing the band soundcheck and watching them work to prepare for the show was fantastic. For me it was a great research opportunity for future book babies. 😉

I’ve met these guys before but was still a tad tongue tied and nervous about meeting them. There was no need to be. They are all so sweet and skilled at putting fans at their ease. I passed over some small gifts, got my cd insert and ticket signed and wished them all the best for the show. (Sorry, not sharing details of actual conversations) The photo opportunity is a high speed whirlwind but the end result wasn’t too scary. It’s a little fuzzy but I’m happy with it.

20171009_182721

Time to queue again for the actual show. If you’ve never experienced this kind of event, be prepared to be on your feet for hours and hours and hours!

We queued outside for a couple of hours in the late afternoon sun, happily chatting together and making new friends. It was truly an international AB family gathering. I was the only Scottish fan in this group. There were fans from the USA, France, Belgium, Austria, Japan, Brazil, England and Russia and many more. People of all ages and from all walks of life made up the queue.

Soon it was show time and we were allowed to re-enter the venue to take up our positions on the rail to enjoy the show.

Some four hours later, after finally making a trip to the loo, we all found ourselves back outside the Usher Hall, smiles on our faces and music ringing in our ears. It had been an incredible show and Alter Bridge were in fine form. (If you want to read my gig review , here’s the link https://the525toglasgow.wordpress.com/2017/10/11/alter-bridge-at-the-usher-hall-edinburgh-05-oct-17/ )

While most of the audience headed off into the night and others headed to the nearest pub, a handful of us decided to wait on the band coming out to their bus.

I had never done this before…..honest!

Fortunately for us they didn’t keep us waiting for too long. The area outside was a hive of activity as the support act, As Lions, packed the last of their gear into their van and departed. The Alter Bridge truck was loaded up and departed then some of their crew hung about with us, happily chatting, while we waiting on the bus to return to pick the guys up.

It was all very relaxed and friendly. It almost seemed normal! When the band finally came out to board the bus, they happily posed for photos and signed autographs.

AB EDIN

 

At the Meet and Greet earlier, Myles hadn’t signed my ticket. I think I distracted him by asking him a question so I was delighted to steal a couple of minutes of his time to get it signed.

20171006_080550.jpg

I think it was the band’s drummer, Scott Phillips, who asked, “How many of you are we seeing in Dublin on Saturday?”

All of us was the reply.

 

Part Two – Saturday  

 

With my overnight bag re-packed and flung in the back of the car, I headed off for Glasgow airport to catch an early morning flight to Dublin.

Safely tucked away in my bag this time was my Alter Bridge ticket for the Olympia Theatre, Dublin.

After weeks of worry over whether my flight would actually take off I arrived to discover all was on time. Happy days!

It’s a hop, skip and a jump flight to Dublin. I’m sure I stood for longer in the queue to board the plane than the plane spent in the air!

I’d arranged to meet a fellow Alter Bridge fan at Dublin airport to share a taxi into the city. Only minor snag was that we had never met face to face before! After a quick exchange of messages, I determined I was looking for a lady in blue jeans and black boots with a red suitcase. I loved her message to me “Am I looking for a pair of Converse on you by any chance?”  But of course! – my purple gig shoes no less! The zebra print overnight bag may also have been an identifying feature.

The taxi dropped Miss N at her hotel then dropped me at mine just after 10am – too early to check into my room. Having left my bag at reception, I set off to explore a bit and prayed that I wouldn’t get lost!

I’d only ever passed through Dublin twice  nineteen years ago when we visited Ireland to see the Tour de France and I’d never been in the city centre before. Camera in hand I explored Christchurch Cathedral. Well, it was straight across the street from my hotel, then wandered off in search of the Olympia Theatre. It was closer to the hotel than I’d thought and just as quaint from the outside as I’d expected.

P1010369.JPG

With plenty of time to spare, I kept walking and eventually found myself at Trinity College. My rough plan had been to visit it on Sunday morning before heading back to the airport but as I was already there I wandered through the entrance and into the quadrangle.

P1000900.JPG

I had hoped to visit the Book of Kells exhibit in the college library and was a little disappointed to discover not only a huge queue waiting to get in but also two signs, one saying “temporarily closed” and the other confirming the restricted opening hours for Sunday. I wondered if it was closed for a VIP tour? (A VIP AB tour perhaps judging by some of the photos on Instagram later that day) Who knows?  I just knew I wasn’t going to get to see it this time round.

P1000914.JPG

I spoke nicely to the security guard and asked if it was possible to access the gift shop. If I couldn’t see the exhibition then at least I could purchase the guide book and read up about the history.

Souvenir shopping complete, I wandered back towards the hotel, pausing to pick up a sandwich, some iced tea and a bar of chocolate for lunch plus a large bottle of water for later, and then detoured round Dublin Castle.

P1000939.JPG

After finally checking into the hotel (no Room 101 this time – 410 instead) I relaxed in my room with its cathedral view while I ate my lunch and read my guide book. (Did you know the Book of Kells may date back before 890 AD?) then having freshened up, headed back out to the venue.

Again, I was doing the VIP soundcheck and Meet and Greet so I was on the look out for some familiar faces. It didn’t take me long to find the ladies that I had last seen on Thursday night in Edinburgh.

Instead of queueing up outside the front of the theatre, we were advised to wait by a back door in a small courtyard that was accessed down an alleyway to the side of theatre.

Soundcheck was a more relaxed affair than in Edinburgh. All members of the band were in a  playful mood. Myles even treated us to a little Led Zeppelin as he played a snatch of Stairway To Heaven and Brian Marshall needed little encouragement to demonstrate his dancing prowess – well, from the waist up!

The Meet and Greet and photo slot were over way too quick but for once I didn’t feel quite so tongue tied in front of them.

Screenshot_20171010-060744

All too soon we were re-assembled back out in the courtyard to wait for the show. No sun this time. It was decidedly chilly out there after a couple of hours. The time passed swiftly though as we all chatted and got to know each other a little better. Miss M wasn’t part of the Meet and Greet group this time but she did pop round briefly before returning to the front of the building and the main body of the queue of fans.  Again, I was the sole Scot amongst the group at the head of the queue. There were some new faces from other countries including a few ladies from England and a guy from America that I hadn’t met in Edinburgh. You really do meet some very sweet and interesting people at these events, although there were a couple of die hard fans who were slightly less friendly than others. Well, it takes all sorts. 

Eventually, the witching hour was upon us -show time! Entry into the venue was less well organised than in Edinburgh. A bottle neck in the doorway, not helped by the security guy half blocking the door, led to a fair amount of unnecessary pushing and shoving. However, we all got inside in one piece and I happily took up my rail spot off to the left (Myles’ side) of the stage.

The show itself was fantastic! Probably the best Alter Bridge show that I’ve been to so far. (You can read all about it here – https://the525toglasgow.wordpress.com/2017/10/14/alter-bridge-at-the-olympia-theatre-dublin-07-oct-2017/ )

Watching Myles perform Watch Over You for his folks was a magical moment, one that will live with me for a long time to come. You couldn’t miss the look of pride on his face and the glint in his eye.

Four hours on the rail disappeared in the blink of an eye.

As the fans trooped off into Temple Bar, I joined the group of die hard fans waiting down the side of the theatre for the bus to arrive to take the band to their next destination.

Further down the narrow cobbled lane where we were waiting was a nightclub called Sin. Our entertainment while we waited on the band was some of the best people watching I’ve ever done! I’ve never seen so many scantily- clad , drunk teenage girls in impossibly high heels teetering about on cobbles before in my life. It was hilarious! Shout out of the night goes to one friend (who will remain nameless here) who commented loudly as one young lady in a particularly tight skimpy dress staggered past, “Do they not sell that in her size?” Priceless!

While we waited Myles’ parents left and his step dad thanked us all enthusiastically for supporting the boys. He was just oozing pride and looked as though he had thoroughly enjoyed the show.

The band didn’t keep us waiting for too long and after an hour or so, once the bus had reversed down this tiny alley, they began to exit the theatre. Again, the atmosphere was relaxed and unhurried as we each got a moment with the various band members to steal a hug and pose for a photo or two. Precious memories.

727374

Again we were asked, I think it was by Myles this time, if we’d all be in Belfast the next night. Sadly Miss M and I shook our heads. He wished us safe travels home.

I arrived back at my hotel around 1.30am absolutely knackered (I’d been up since 4.45am) and ,if I’m being totally honest, more than a little dehydrated. The sandwich and iced tea for lunch had been the last sustenance for eleven hours, apart from the obligatory rock’n’roll polo mints (You can do anything on a polo mint according to my mum). The large bottle of water that I’d bought earlier awaited me and was most welcome!

Sleep, however, eluded me thanks to the cathedral bells that rang every thirty minutes all night! Trust me, at 3.30am I was thinking some truly unholy thoughts about those f**king bells! It gave whole new meaning to having ringing ears the morning after a gig!

20171008_062345

After a much needed breakfast of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon washed down with a strong cup of coffee, I set off for a walk along the Liffey Boardwalk. I didn’t stray too far as I was dead on my feet but I wandered across Grattan Bridge then crossed back over via the Ha’penny Bridge then meandered through a largely deserted Temple Bar area, past the sleeping theatre and back to my hotel in time to check out.

Dublin

As I walked I reflected back on the past few days. I’d had the time of my life! I’d met some fantastic people. I’d been on the rail for two incredible shows. Oh and a hug or two from some of the nicest rock stars you could ever hope to meet.

 Till next time, AB family.