I wrote a few days ago about my anxiety and how it affects what I carry in my handbag.

Yesterday we had to go to Cambridge because my daughter had a tutorial there for her OU degree. The night before my dad rang to ask when we would next be in Cambridge because he had some presents for my birthday that would likely be hard to put in the post, so we arranged to meet.

I try to see my parents whenever we can but since they live a few hours drive away, it’s not something we get to do very frequently. They live the other side of Cambridge and get free bus passes, so meeting there is convenient if we have to be there anyway. When I am working and am taking students, I often arrange to meet them for lunch.

Well, we were walking back from town to the pub we know near the college where my daughter has her tutorial, and we were about to cross the road. Another family, composed of mother and daughter and a partner that might have been father, were walking on the other side of the road, and as we came to the kerb, the mother on the other side suddenly pitched forward onto the pavement.

For a horrible split second we all feared she had had a heart attack and collapsed. But thankfully, she had only tripped on uneven paving and was being helped up by her daughter. Her face was smeared with dirt and as she straightened up, she was looking with dismay at her hand.

We came over, fast. I have to admit a fall like that ought to have fractured her wrist, but by some freak, she had simply ripped a great chunk of skin from the heel of her hand. The wound was caked with dirt and beginning to bleed copiously.

I produced wipes to clean the wound and plasters to staunch it, and the other family were overwhelmed with gratitude.

“What would we have done if you hadn’t been there?” said the daughter, holding her mum’s arm and beaming at me.

I mumbed something incoherent.

Anyway, I told them exactly where the nearest pharmacy was so they could get more plasters or other first aid stuff and we walked on.

I can’t help feeling proud I was able to help; that I had the means neccessary to help. OK, so it wasn’t life threatening but it made their day, which could have been utterly ruined that little bit better, and made them feel that sometimes strangers are kind.

I’m going to have a quiet word with one or both of my bosses to see if they would consider sending me for official first aid training. The health and safety rules in the UK mean that you are not supposed to do first aid if you don’t have a valid up-to-date certificate; I travel a great deal with students both English and foreign and while so far I haven’t needed to do any, sooner or later I will. I’ve done plenty of first aid over the years and I know what I am doing, but that said, the law says I have to have a piece of paper to prove it.

Anyway, must go and replenish my supply of wipes and plasters…

Thief of Time?




The above picture is of the new clock at  Corpus Christi college in Cambridge. I quote a new’s report to explain the clock a little:

“The masterpiece, introduced by famed cosmologist Stephen Hawking, challenges all preconceptions about telling time. It has no hands or digital numbers and it is specially designed to run in erratic fashion, slowing down and speeding up from time to time.

Inventor John Taylor used his own money to build the clock as a tribute to John Harrison, the Englishman who in 1725 invented the grasshopper escapement, a mechanical device that helps regulate a clock’s movement.

Making a visual pun on the grasshopper image, Taylor created a demonic version of the insect to top the gold-plated clock where it devours time.”

The clock was “opened” in September but I’ve not been to Cambridge since the summer.

I rather liked this clock because I couldn’t tell the time! Time ticks away and I end up feeling guilty because of the amount of it I seem to waste, just doing nothing, watching the sky, watching the flowers grow, listening to silence and the birds. Each day passes and I chide myself that I have done nothing. And then I get angry with myself for that chiding.

Time is a concept that is a modern one. Early man divided the year into seasons, and that was enough. Now we divide it into milliseconds and even that is not enough.

I want to step out of time and stop worrying: worrying about whether I am doing enough. I want to allow myself to be idle and lazy and not be angry with myself.

You see, the greatest ideas and thoughts in my life have emerged in the still moments between frenetic activity, and if I don’t slow down and cherish those idle moments, the inspirations will vanish without me ever seeing them and understanding them.

“Slow down, you move too fast, you gotta make the morning last”, is a great mantra, and I’m going to try and make it MY mantra today. What about you?