It’s 5.39 a.m. and I’ve been awake since 4.24 concerned about my sanity.
I was in a dream, we were on a family skiing holiday, I was trying to make sure everyone was Ok and could get off skiing. Kate was with the kids and had everything sorted for them and off they went. I, of course, wasn’t sorted and found myself having to surmount various difficulties. Firstly I needed my ski boots so somehow I managed to get to the hotel, but we’d checked out and there was no sign of our stuff so next thing I was going up the mountain in ill fitting wellies and an old pair of skies.
Then I was alone on a nursery slope, I’d now acquired ski poles, but these were like a kiddies version, they were tied together like young children’s mittens and didn’t allow me to ski upright so I skied on my backside down the nursery slope all alone.
Suddenly I was back at the bottom of the ski lifts and trying to call Kate on my phone but kept pressing the wrong buttons and ended up on a screen I could not get out from. Paul March appeared (he’s a tall, friendly teaching assistant at Purbeck View School where I was a teacher) and he kindly offered to sort my phone. He couldn’t and handed it back to me in pieces. I tried to put it back together and failed dismally at the first stage of trying to get the arms into the right sockets, bet you didn’t know phones had arms!
Then Mike appeared and in his jocular manner tried to tell me about the weather. I couldn’t listen or talk to him, made my apologies, hurled my useless phone into the snow and stormed off to the ski lift. It was a button lift but even in my ill fitting wellies and old fashioned skis I just about managed to get on. As I was pulled up the mountain, grimly hanging on, the weather changed, as Mike had been trying to tell me, and it started to rain. Now you might think I was prepared wearing wellies, but everyone else was more prepared, they’d all been skiing successfully and were now happily going down the mountain on slides in their sliding attire. I went down the slide in my ill fitting wellies and skis.
Next I was somewhere else on the mountain and there was snow, I found Kate and was trying to talk to her and explain when Heather, my first girlfriend appeared, and she and Kate spoke. I threw a tantrum and demanded that Kate give me sole attention and listen to my woes. I threw what remained of my skiing equipment in the snow and awoke, it was 4,24.
I immediately began thinking about the all too brief conversation I’d had with my GP on the phone last night. Despite writing the telephone appointment in my diary, Kate reminding me and me thinking about it during the day I totally forgot about it. It was due at 7.15, the phone rang at 7.30, I answered and the GP said hello and my brain raced into action. She said she only had 5 minutes, so straight away I was thinking I hadn’t much time so needed to be succinct. I reminded her of our consultations a few weeks ago about my situation regarding my pension and early retirement on health grounds and how she wondered how she could help, well now she could by writing me a supportive report. I updated her about my consultant’s report and the subsequent report from the occupational health doctor and how my union caseworker thought it ‘touch and go’ as to whether Teacher’s Pensions would approve. That my union caseworker had then advised I get a report from my GP, hence this phone call.
The GP then talked about how she was not an occupational health doctor, I know, she’s a GP. She then went on to talk about if I was a deep sea diver then it would be much simpler. As might be imagined and considering time constraints which she had impressed upon me I felt an even more urgent need to impress upon her how valuable to me her report would be. She then said it would cost money, I assured her she could invoice the school or/and company. Also that it would be 2 weeks before she did it.
I then reminded her that I’d begun this process at the beginning of February, it was now June. These things take time she said. I tried to tell her the story of my experience with the local council and how a mere 7 weeks ago I’d filled in an extensive form, had subsequent email and telephone conversations and that last Saturday a favourable decision had been made that would help us in our current predicament. The point i was trying to make was that it was relatively quick and efficient. Her reply? These things take time.
And in the meantime I said how me and my family were experiencing financial problems because of the time it was taking. She said I could see the social worker, I said I had and she’d said I was doing all I could. These things take time, the GP said. I realised that she was speaking like an automaton and wasn’t listening properly to me. As I again attempted to get my points and feelings across to her she said I should focus on the positives, how I didn’t explode I don’t know.
I then asked if she’s actually received the form from the occupational health company, she said not and I explained how they’d accept no other form. I now have to check with people as to whether the form has been sent. These things take time, although if I was a fucking deep sea diver…………………..
So, my skiing based dream was a Kafkaesque metaphor for my current bureaucratic predicament. Here I am in June wearing my ill fitting wellies in my old fashioned skis because I’d begun this process in early February when it was skiing weather. I still haven’t reached stage 1, that of submitting forms to Teacher’s Pensions. They’re not long forms, I’ve long since filled my part in and have sat waiting in my wellies since. These things take time and I wish I’d been a deep sea diver.
The deep sea diver too becomes some sort of metaphor as again I’m reminded of Robert DeNiro as the renegade plumber Tuttle in Brazil and how he’s literally drowned in a sea of paper, never to be seen again.
At 4.24 this morning I was doubting my sanity, it’s now 6.34 and again the process of writing has, I think, helped me. I think I’m sane, but now my position is more Catch 22.
Keep on keeping on, love Duncan