Sunday 29 July 2012

traveling, going into Orbit at the Olympic Park....and a birthday

It's been a week of trains, boats, planes, buses and lots of walking!

I flew to the Channel Islands on Monday to chair Tribunal meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday.  In a rare opportunity to mix business with pleasure, on this occasion I was able to get the bus to a beach on the west coast of Guernsey in the early evening and fit in a round trip by boat to the neighboring island of Herm to walk to Shell Beach before flying home the next day.

Cobo Bay, Guernsey

Alderney Point, Shell Beach, Harm

Flying home over the Isle of Wight

A day of unpacking and catching up on Thursday, followed by a round trip by car to Bristol on Friday to see Steve's mum, pay a fleeting visit to son Jack, but sadly not go up in a hot air balloon (again!). 

Yesterday, we traveled to London by train, met up with daughter Katie and partner Ed at St Pancras International and caught the Javelin train to Stratford where we spend the day at the Olympic Park. A smooth journey, lots of happy helpful staff to point us in the right direction, a thorough but speedy security search and we were in the Park!  

Katie, Ed and Steve at the Olympic Park entrance

Aquatics Centre
Basket Ball Arena
Seeing it from the outside or on TV is one thing, but being there in person you really appreciate the size of the place and the atmosphere....although we didn't have tickets for any of the sporting events, we could hear the cheers of the crowds in the Aquatics Centre and Basket Ball Arena, all helping to create a good mood.

We spend the entire day walking the park, meandering along the River Lea, photographing eye catching buildings, the outdoor art works, wonderful soft landscaping of trees and wild flowers, and the groups of entertainers who were wandering about...

The entertainers
Wild flowers at the Olympic Park

Walking on the Olympic carpet!

Water Polo centre

After lunch, we found somewhere to sit and watch the Cycle Road Race on the big screen and relax in the sunshine until it was time for our visit to Orbit, the quirky observation tower designed by Anish Kapoor.  
Watching the Cycling Road Race on the Big Screen

Orbit from below

Great views over the Olympic Park, including views down in the Stadium where the flame was burning as the sets from the opening ceremony were being dismantled, out over central London and beyond, then a slow walk down the spiral staircase and time for tea!

Steve, Ed and Katie look out over London from the top of Orbit

Looking down into the Stadium and at the Olympic flame from Orbit 

Walking down to ground level

Our last walk of the day took us to the Velodrome, which is huge!  A simple, but very beautiful design.  

The Velodrome

By then, we were all pretty tired and foot sore, so caught the mobility buggy back to the Stratford Gate entrance, where we said our goodbyes to Katie and Ed before heading back on the Javelin into central London and on to Paddington to catch the train home.  One very special day!

I woke up this morning to Steve's birthday card, lots of birthday greetings from my Facebook friends all over the world.  That's pretty amazing too - thank you all for your kind wishes!  

We are out for lunch today with friends Jonathan and Sally, so I will think about my birthday wishes tomorrow.  It's been quite a week, one way or another, and another family milestone we've been able to share, over 37 months since Steve was diagnosed with mesothelioma. 

Monday 23 July 2012

A week of highs and lows

It's been a week of highs and lows of one sort or another.....



  • A phone call from our daughter to say she's coming back to Oxford for a few days to see us and meet up with some of her old school friends
  • Bradley Wiggins is leading the Tour de France!


  • Any thoughts of a relaxing Sunday afternoon go out the window as we scramble to tidy Katie's old bedroom which is littered with prints, boxes and bubble wrap from our last exhibition
  • After the wettest June since records began, the rain continues into July and it's still raining.....


  • It's lovely to see Katie again, still glowing from a week in Italy, and enjoy a family meal together
  • One of my images was selected for the 1X gallery
  • Bradley Wiggins is still in the Yellow Jersey!
  • It's still raining


  • A day out in London, visiting the Tanks (the new performance art space at Tate Modern); flying high over the river in the Emirates Airline cable car which links the Dome (sorry, 02 Arena as it's now called) on the south side of the Thames with the ExCeL centre on the north bank, now all ready ready for the Olympics; back to Bankside on the Thames Clipper and under Tower Bridge on one of those rare occasions when the bridge is raised!
  • I've had another image published on 1X
  • Bradley Wiggins still leads Le Tour
  • It's still raining


  • Debbie, one of our Meso Warrior friends has had good news - the chemo has worked and her tumour is shrinking - we are so pleased for her
  • Mr Wiggins still leads the Tour de France through the area we'll be visiting in September - it looks wonderful!
  • We say goodbye to Katie, but at least will will see her again soon
  • It's still raining


  • Bradley is still leading Le Tour
  • The weather forecast says that summer is on its way, at long last
  • Francois, another Meso Warrior, has lost his battle with cancer; it was heart-breaking to read about his last few hours via the Facebook support group - our thoughts were with his family
  • After a restless night, I woke up with a streaming cold and felt sorry for myself all day
  • It's still raining - summer hasn't arrived yet


  • The sun is breaking through the clouds at last
  • Bradley is still wearing the Yellow Jersey
  • I've finished the words for an interview in Advanced Images, a Malaysian photography magazine that might feature some of my work
  • The hot air balloon flight we were hoping to take in Bristol this evening with our son Jack is cancelled due to the threat of showers - it seems that summer hasn't arrived in the west of the country yet.  Perhaps it was for the best because... 
  • My cold continues
  • Steve had a worrying problem with his vision - a large "floater" like a big black spider suddenly appeared in his right eye while he was working on the computer. The Doctor advised to go to hospital if it was still there the following morning, as there was a risk it might be a detached retina..


  • wall to wall sunshine!
  • Wiggins easily wins the last time individual time trial in the Tour and retains the Yellow Jersey to wear into Paris for the finish tomorrow
  • The optometrist tells Steve that his retina is not detached, but wants to see him again in a fortnight, just to check all is still well
  • The cancelled hot balloon flight has been re-scheduled for August - something to look forward to...let's hope it will be fifth time lucky!
  • My cold has turned into a nasty cough and wheeze - somehow, thank goodness, Steve has not picked up the infection: it's not the sort of thing you want with a compromised lung


  • It's warm and sunny!
  • Bradley Wiggins wins the Tour de France (first Brit to do so) Chris Frome, another Brit takes second place overall and Mark Cavandish wins the final stage of the Tour in Paris - bravo boys!
  • I've finished preparing photographs for Advanced Images
  • The cough is no worse
  • Steve is a lot less worried about his spider floater - either its getting better or he's getting used to it and is editing it out
  • Nothing worth mentioning
And that brings to an end a week of personal highs and lows.....

I'm off to work in Guernsey shortly - can think of worse places to be in such beautiful weather ....maybe I'll get to see a bit of the Island between meetings this time.  I'm not so worried about leaving Steve on his own now that the floater in his eye seems to have settle down.  

Enjoy the sunshine which is warming up most of the UK at long last!

Saturday 14 July 2012

torch, tickets, travel, togetherness...

I wasn't born the last time the Olympic Games came to London. When it was announced in July 2005 that the Games would return in 2012, it seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime to be part of one of those events where the world comes together in "mutual understanding, with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play" (to quote the Olympic Charter). Keen to get experience, I volunteered to marshal the London stage of the Tour de France in 2007 and registered as a "Games Maker" for the next London Olympics. That dream came to an end when Steve was diagnosed with mesothelioma in the summer of 2009.  I couldn't see three months ahead, let alone three years into the future.  

Now the London 2012 Olympics are less than a fortnight away and, three years on, Steve is still here very much alive and well. Although sceptical of all the hype that goes hand in hand with such an event, Steve's interest was captured when the Olympic Torch relay passed through an area where he had lived as a child.  Since then we have dipped into the TV coverage from time to time, especially when the Torch Relay visits places we have connections with.  

Last Monday, it was Oxford's turn.  Although we had missed out in tickets for the main local event - a party in South Park - I couldn't resist the opportunity to see it happen live on the streets.  I've yet to discover how watch, clap and take a photo at the same time, so the pictures are not brilliant. However, the atmosphere was great - a huge number of people, but everyone in a good mood!  I'm so glad I went. 

Flag seller

Sol Samba getting everyone in the party mood

The next torch bearer waits her turn!

The Torch Relay bus 

The Torch bearer 

Torch bearers who have done their bit follow on

Crowds return home after the Torch Relay has passed on
Steve was watching the event from the comfort of home. When we looked carefully on the i-player afterwards, we managed to spot a small familiar looking blob, standing on the Victoria Fountain on the Plain in St Clements, waving a camera around in the background! 

Like many others, our attempts to buy tickets for the sporting events didn't bear fruit.  However, the tickets to visit the Olympic Park and go up Orbit have now arrived and, all being well, that's where we'll be in two weeks time, along with goodness knows how many people.  If the atmosphere is anything like the Torch Relay, it will be worth it in spite of the inevitable crowds, queues and travel congestion.  Another milestone in our lives together, post-diagnosis!

Other travel plans have come together in the last week - a work trip to Guernsey for me; a family holiday in Carcassonne in September, before Steve's next scan and assessment; a day at "Glorious Goodwood" races and stopover with friends in Chichester in early August; a house party here later in August, when we will come together with friends to form "Team Finch" in support of Rob who is taking part in the Brompton (folding bike) World Championships at Blenheim Palace.  We have also worked out the logistics of getting to and from Wales in mid-August,  for a three day walk from the Brecon Beacons to Cardiff Bay. Just waiting for a break in the weather long enough to fit in a hot air balloon trip, following cancellations last August, September and again this June....a reminder of how horrible the weather has been.....

A meal with our dear friends Jon and Sally got last weekend off to a lovely start.  This weekend, we hope to come together with other locals for the West Oxford 1st Olympiad Absurd Olympics Fun Day. Amazingly, the rain has stopped and I can hear the sound of singing wafting over from the park...time to come together again and enjoy the Olympic spirit!

Friday 6 July 2012

Mesothelioma Awareness Day

Today is Mesothelioma Awareness Day in the UK.  I hope that all the events planned took place in spite of the awful weather across much of the country.

As there were no events in this part of the world, I am using this opportunity to raise awareness by reproducing an article by Laurie Kazan- Allan which documents the Female Face of Britain's Asbestos Catastrophe.  It's a real eye opener, which ends on a high with Debbie in Plymouth, one of our Meso Warriors.  Please read!

The Female Face of Britain's Asbestos Catastrophe 
by Laurie Kazan-Allen

Considering the colossal levels of asbestos exposure experienced by British workers, consumers, bystanders and community members during the 20th century, there can be no doubt that the death toll from asbestos-related diseases has been massive;1 one occupational hygienist has estimated that the country's cumulative asbestos death toll could well exceed 800,000. It is unfortunately true, however, that no one knows how many lives have been lost due to Britain's love affair with asbestos; how many families have been torn asunder by avoidable asbestos-related deaths or how many children's lives have been decimated by the early loss of a parent or the trauma of a beloved grandparent's premature death.
Nowadays, Britain has the unwelcome distinction of having the world's highest mortality rate from the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. Historically, male mesothelioma deaths have dominated the statistics with, at times, six times as many male as female fatalities. Considering the lower death rate amongst British women, it is of interest to note that so many of the landmark cases through which the national asbestos reality has been revealed relate to the tragic experiences of female victims. In factories and schools, at home and at work, British women have paid with their lives for the asbestos industry's profits.

Nellie Kershaw – The First Named Victim of Asbestos Disease, 1924

Nellie Kershaw was a factory worker in asbestos textile mills in Rochdale, an industrial town near Manchester, from 1903, when she left school aged 12, until 1922 when she became too sick to work. On July 22, 1922 Nellie was issued a National Health Insurance certificate of ill health which identified her condition as “asbestos poisoning.” As this was an occupationally-related illness, she was unable to qualify for sickness benefit from the Newbold Approved Society, a society to which she had contributed. Despite increasingly plaintive requests from her and her husband, her employer – Turner Brothers Asbestos Company (TBA) – repeatedly refused to assist the couple and she died in poverty on March 24, 1924 leaving behind a grieving widower and young son. TBA's determination to repudiate liability for Nellie's asbestos-related disease, its determination to contest the accuracy of her diagnosis and its use of legal and medical experts to fight its corner were indicative of strategies that would be relied upon by British asbestos defendants for decades to come.
This case was a rarity in that the patient had been medically diagnosed during life to be suffering from an asbestos-related disease, a fact confirmed by a post-mortem examination conducted at the coroner's request. The findings from a subsequent microscopic examination of the lungs, also ordered by the coroner, were presented at the 1924 coroner's inquest which issued a certificate stating the cause of death was “fibrosis of the lungs due to the inhalation of mineral particles.” Nellie's death was the first to be officially recognized as being due to “pulmonary asbestosis,”2 indeed the nomenclature “asbestosis” was used by Dr. W. E. Cooke in his 1924 report of her case to the British Medical Journal.3

Nora Dockerty The First Successful British Asbestos Claimant, 1952

Like Nellie Kershaw, Nora Dockerty (née Kelly) worked for TBA, starting at the Rochdale asbestos factory after leaving school aged 15 in 1933. When her contract of employment was terminated due to illness in November 1948, she had given thirteen and a half years of service initially as a machine assistant in TBA's Carding and Spinning Department. At her death in 1950, Nora was only 31 years old, two years younger than Nellie Kershaw had been when she died.4 Whereas Mr Kershaw survived Nellie and was able to look after their daughter, Nora's husband had pre-deceased her leaving her father to pursue TBA for compensation on his granddaughter's behalf. An autopsy of lung tissue conducted by Dr Manning at the Rochdale Mortuary enabled the coroner to confirm the cause of death as “Generalised Tuberculosis accelerated by the presence of Asbestosis” on February 23, 1950. A subsequent report by the Pneumoconiosis Medical Panel in Manchester concluded that the cause of death was “Pneumoconiosis (Asbestosis) accompanied by Tuberculosis”.
The coroner's verdict provided the impetus for the Kelly family to begin legal proceedings. Having spoken to an official at the National Union of General and Municipal Workers, Mr Kelly, Nora's father, began the process of gathering the evidence which would be needed if a lawsuit was to succeed. The information collected was passed to the union which then instructed the law firm of Messrs John Whittle, Robinson & Bailey to act for the family. After protracted negotiations and extensive legal jostling, the case was finally settled in January 1952 when Turner & Newall, TBA's parent company, paid the sum of £375 with costs. Commenting on the significance of the case brought for the death of Nora Dockerty, Professor Nick Wikeley wrote: “The story of Kelly v. Turner & Newall Ltd represents a microcosm of the balance struck in the asbestos industry between workers' health and company profitability: between 1931 and 1948, £87,938 was paid out to 140 asbestosis victims under the Asbestosis Scheme; in the same period, nearly £7 million was distributed to shareholders.”5

Nancy Tait – Founder of the World's First Asbestos Victims' Group, 1978

Unlike the other ladies named in this article, Nancy Tait did not die of an asbestos-related disease. She was, nonetheless, a victim as her husband Bill died of pleural mesothelioma in 1968. As a telephone engineer, Bill had been exposed to asbestos at work on a routine basis, a fact that his employer continued to deny. It was four years after Bill's death that Nancy finally forced the authorities to admit liability for his disease; the paltry offer they made to settle the claim, £4,000, was refused. The tragedy of her husband's early death was the event which dominated the rest of Nancy's life, a life spent helping others to overcome the medical, legal and social barriers which prevented victims from accessing the treatment they needed and the compensation they deserved. That she was successful at helping others to navigate government bureaucracy and extract compensation from negligent employers at a time when the cards were very clearly stacked against working people is testament to her tremendous commitment, persistence, phenomenal memory and civil service training.
The Society for the Prevention of Asbestosis and Industrial Diseases (SPAID) that Nancy established in 1978 was the first group anywhere in the world to lobby for the needs of asbestos victims. SPAID was a registered charity which offered free advice and support to victims and family members. Nancy did not keep office hours or “do weekends.” She was available on the phone and in person to those in need when they needed her. Widows facing the daunting prospect of a coroner's inquest were comforted by the presence of this white-haired, innocuous looking English lady with sensible shoes and a matronly demeanour. That demeanour belied a mind like a steel trap – woe betides any official, expert or witness who underestimated her. It was common for Nancy to find herself in a coroner's court pitted against the best experts the employers' money could buy. She confronted them in formal settings, at parliamentary hearings, occupational health conferences and inquest proceedings. Her opponents tried to dismiss her as an amateur and attempts were made to discredit her, all of which failed. Nancy died on February 13, 2009, at age 89, having devoted the 41 years of her life since Bill's death to helping others. She left a legacy of compassion and achievement of which anyone would be proud.

Alice Jefferson The Focus of Landmark TV Documentary, 1982

At age 17, Alice Jefferson (born 1935) went to work at the Cape Asbestos factory in Acre Mill, Yorkshire; the three months she spent working in clouds of asbestos dust were all that were needed to cause the mesothelioma which took her life three decades later. Like Nellie Kershaw and Nora Dockerty she died way before her time leaving behind her son Paul 15 and daughter Patsy 5, her husband and grieving family members. In 1982 Alice was the focus of a landmark documentary that was broadcast on prime time mainstream TV; it was watched by nearly 6 million viewers. Explaining the contribution made by Alice to the program, industrial historian Geoffrey Tweedale wrote:
“much of the documentary's impact was due to its unrelenting focus on Alice, who demonstrated enormous fortitude in the face of a pitiless disease. Her physician described her as a 'typical West Yorkshire lass. She's tough and realistic and you can't kid this lady. This lady knows exactly what the score is.' Alice's reaction was to fight, especially for her husband and young son and daughter. As she explained: 'You can't give in, can you? You owe it to yourself and your family to keep fighting, don't you. And when you get knocked down, get up and stand there again…'”6
The ninety minute program, entitled Alice – A Fight for Life, marked a watershed in Britain's attitude to asbestos and led to questions being asked in Parliament and action being taken; ten days after Alice was screened, the government reduced the legal limit for occupational asbestos exposures. The adverse publicity generated by the program impacted on British asbestos companies with Turner & Newall, the country's “asbestos giant,” losing £60 million in its share value. All of this came too late for Alice; she died a month after filming ended and four months before the documentary was broadcast.

June Hancock – The First Successful Environmental Claimant, 1995

June Hancock (born 1936) grew up in the shadow of an asbestos factory in the town of Armley, West Yorkshire. After losing her mother Maie Gelder to mesothelioma in 1982, June came face to face with the nightmare once more when she too was diagnosed with mesothelioma (1993). Neither she nor her mother had worked with asbestos.7June knew how the disease would progress; she knew that everyday tasks would become increasingly arduous and simple pleasures unobtainable; she chose to fight back. Her opponent, J. W. Roberts Ltd. (JWR), had been operating from the Armley site since 1895. In 1920, it had become a subsidiary of Turner & Newall (T&N) Limited. So, by suing JWR, June was in reality suing T&N. In 1995, T&N's 40,000 employees generated a £2 billion turnover at two hundred installations in twenty-four countries; the company wasn't about to give in easily. Undaunted, June instructed a solicitor shortly after she was diagnosed; a writ was issued on September 5, 1994.
It was a test case; never before had anyone succeeded in getting compensation for environmental asbestos exposure from an English company. June's case was combined with that of Evelyn Margereson, the widow of a mesothelioma victim who had, like June, lived near the Roberts' textile factory. In the sixty-six page ruling handed down on October 27, 1995, Justice Holland awarded both claimants full compensation paying a “warm tribute to her (June's) dignity and courage.” The appeal lodged by the defendants was dismissed on April 2, 1996 and permission to appeal to the House of Lords was refused. And so it ended: June Hancock received £65,000, Evelyn Margereson £50,000. Not much for two lives. But what a victory – June, her family and her legal team were jubilant. June's words were quoted nationally: “It proves however small you are you can fight and however big you can lose.” After the verdict, other mesothelioma victims from Armley and Washington, the location of another T&N subsidiary, received out-of-court settlements. June was right; her fight had made it “easier for others.” June was 61 years old when she died on July 19, 1997, her daughter Kimberley and sons Russell and Tommy by her side. Considering that her dad lived till he was 86, there is no way of knowing how many years were stolen from her by the asbestos contagion permeating the air, water and streets of Armley.

Gina Lees – A Symbol of Britain's Third Wave of Asbestos Deaths, 2000

Studies of the global impact of asbestos have identified three waves of deaths: the first was amongst those people who worked directly with asbestos such as Nellie Kershaw, Nora Dockerty and Alice Jefferson, the second affected workers like Bill Tait who used asbestos products whilst the third is associated with exposure to asbestos in situ such as that experienced by plumbers, electricians, carpenters and refurbishment workers.8 In 2000, at age 51, Gina Lees died of asbestos cancer, a mere three months after her condition had been diagnosed. Gina had never worked with asbestos, nor lived near an asbestos factory; none of her relatives had worked in an industrial setting where they were exposed to asbestos. When she was diagnosed with the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma, neither she nor her husband could comprehend how a primary schoolteacher could contract an industrial disease. So began a personal quest by her husband Michael for an explanation.
As Michael pored through government records, witness statements and archival material, he put together a dossier which revealed appalling behaviour by successive governments determined to ignore the deadly problem posed by asbestos in schools. Michael discovered that most of the 25 schools in which Gina had worked during her teaching career contained asbestos products which were often in a damaged and dangerous condition, a fact which was unknown to the schools' head teachers, governors and staff. When Michael raised his concerns with the authorities, he was “dismayed” by their indifference. During the course of his research activities, Michael made contact with asbestos victims, scientific experts, trade unionists and public health campaigners, as a result of which a network to tackle the “national scandal” of asbestos in UK schools was born. Gina Lees was not the first schoolteacher to die of hazardous workplace exposure and she won't be the last but her case was the catalyst for the unprecedented mobilization on asbestos in schools which has taken place in recent years.

Debbie Brewer – 21st Century Warrior, 2012

Debbie Brewer, born in 1959, was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in November 2006. Her asbestos exposure was a result of her father's employment from 1963 to 1966 in Plymouth; as a lagger he removed asbestos insulation from pipework for the Ministry of Defence (MoD). He returned home at the end of the day with asbestos on his work clothes. He died of lung cancer in August 2006, three months before his daughter's cancer was diagnosed. Debbie's case, one of the first to hold the MoD to account for its negligence, was settled at the end of 2007 with the payment of a six figure sum. A single mother of three children, the youngest of whom was ten years old when she was diagnosed, Debbie was determined to explore all the options, including alternative therapies, that could prolong her life. Having been in touch with mesothelioma sufferer Anthony Webb and his wife Patricia, Debbie decided to travel to Frankfurt for chemoembolization, a course of action she did not disclose at the time to her Plymouth oncologist who had warned her of “internet sharks.” After three treatments in Germany, each of which cost €4,000, a CT scan showed a significant reduction in the size of her tumour. It was at that point that Debbie informed her oncologist of the treatment she had had. Although surprised by the apparent efficacy of this alternative therapy, she reports, he was responsive to the evidence in front of his eyes.
Debbie, a natural communicator, had been on TV and in newspapers by the time she discovered that Facebook and other social media sites could be used to help spread awareness of the options open to mesothelioma sufferers as well as build an online community in which those with mesothelioma, their family and friends could come together for mutual support. This was the ethos behind the founding of the Mesothelioma Warriors Facebook page which provides comfort as well as answers from one sufferer to another. “No matter what time of day, someone somewhere will respond to a post by one of our members. If you are having a down day, you can speak openly on our site, without fear of upsetting your family. Our anger group enables people to cope.”
Concluding Thoughts
Over more than one hundred years, a public health disaster has unfolded in Britain which has claimed more lives than any other occupational epidemic. This humanitarian catastrophe was caused by industry's use of asbestos, a substance imported from abroad. Corporate executives as well as government ministers, civil servants and elected representatives were responsible for unleashing a ferocious onslaught on ordinary men and women who were powerless in the face of this deadly carcinogen. The same excuses advanced to prolong the use of asbestos in Britain are still being promoted by vested interests in countries where asbestos use remains legal. The dimensions and severity of the British asbestos experience should be more than enough to convince a reasonable person that humanity has a right to live in an asbestos-free atmosphere. The tragedies in other countries which are also documented in the special edition of Women & Environments International Magazine,9 for which this article was written, provide corroboration, if it were even needed, that asbestos should be banned the world over.
2 Selikoff I J, Greenberg M. A Landmark Case in Asbestosis. J.A.M.A. 1991;265:898-901.
3 Cooke WE. Fibrosis of the lungs due to the inhalation of asbestos dust. BMJ. 1924;2:147.
4 In the period 1933-1948, Mrs. Dockerty had also worked for a year at a munitions factory and had five months off work due to illness.
5 Wikeley N. The First Common Law Claim for Asbestosis: Kelly v. Turner & Newall Ltd (1950). [1991] J.P.I.L. Issue 3/98; 197-210.
6 Tweedale G. Alice: A Fight for Life – The Legacy. British Asbestos Newsletter. Issue 67, Summer 2007, pages 2-3.
7 Kazan-Allen L. Remembering June Hancock. British Asbestos Newsletter. Issue 67, Summer 2007, pages 4-5.
8 In addition, para-occupational exposure experienced by relatives of workers who took home asbestos-contaminated work clothes resulted in a significant number of victims amongst wives, children and grandchildren.
9 Women and Environments International Magazine. Spring/Summer 2012; No. 90/91

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Family, friends, art and sport.......and work

If you follow the blog, you will know that we are reluctant to make plans beyond the date of Steve's next assessment, not wishing to go back on commitments if the news is bad.  As a result, the first few weeks of the next three months of our lives tend to be rather low key in terms of activity as we slowly get back up to speed deciding what to do and making arrangements.  It's been rather different this time round, with some delightful, largely unplanned events!

The first weekend following Steve's last assessment, we had a long day out in London with our daughter Katie and her partner, Ed. After eventually finding each other among the crowds at Kings Cross/St Pancras, we headed off for the nearby Dog Eared Gallery to see a photography exhibition "We British" before lunch.  The early part of the afternoon was spent on a fascinating history tour of St Pancras Renaissance Hotel (the former Midland Grand Railway Hotel designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott) before traveling on to tea at Tate Modern, a visit to the Damien Hurst exhibition then back up to the Members Room for a glass of wine and more food to keep us going for the journey home!

We were off again for another family get together later in the week, this time in Bristol to see our son Jack and call in on Steve's mum to deliver a card and present for her birthday a few days later.  On the way we passed the most amazing poppy field. Couldn't resist it!

More socialising on Friday following an unexpected invitation to lunch with our friends Ian and Ruth, their daughter Em and partner Nick, before Ian departed for another stint of work overseas. Not only was the food great, but it was also a chance to meet up with other friends, Anne and Colin visiting from Chichester.  

A passing remark about the "Osney Olympics" and plans for the following Saturday afternoon were quickly sorted out. For those of you who don't know Oxford, Osney is an island very close to where we live, connected to the rest of West Oxford by a single bridge over a side stream of the Thames. Traditionally it holds an annual round-the-island race of home made rafts crewed by brave (mad?) people in fancy dress.  

This year, the event turned into the Diamond Jubilee Olympics, with a mile run three times round the island; plastic duck racing on the weir; race events and competitions for all ages - skate board slalom, hobby horse dressage, egg throwing, slow bicycle race (where the winner comes last....) as well as synchronised swimming - a bit weird with only one swimmer - and synchronised walking, which was hilarious to watch.  Sadly the raft race was abandoned due to high/fast water in the Thames, but the tug of war along the tow path made up for it!  

Over tea and cakes back at our house, as we dried off after a torrential downpour, we started hatching plans for our next get together in August - something to look forward to if it comes off!

In between all this social activity, we have managed to fit in some work.  The front hedge is now cut and we can see out of the window.  We've started clearing the jungle in the back garden so at least we can reach to clean the windows at the back of the house, if the gaps between showers allow us.  

I've finished a private planning consultancy job for friends, and after a meeting with the Council on Monday it looks like peace has broken out, I'm delighted to say. More planning work is lined up in Guernsey the week after next, then I shall be happy to take a break for a while. September in France, here we come - all being well!

In the meantime, as well as the Osney Olympics, we have watched England go out of Euro 2012 and Andy Murray get through to the quarter finals at Wimbledon.  He's playing David Ferrer as I write, or rather the rain has stopped play....again.  Happy July everyone!  Still waiting for the Olympic Park tickets to arrive.  Soon I hope, otherwise we won't be able to go up the Orbit!

Thinking about our plans for the summer brings home to me once more how lucky we are at present, especially when others are having a tough time with pain, chemo and difficult decisions to make about mesothelioma treatment, or have recently lost the battle, like Larry Davis in the USA who was diagnosed in July 2006 and has been an inspiration for many, raising money running "Miles for Meso".  I don't think I can run miles any more, but I may do a sponsored walk.  Watch this space :-)

Post script:  the rain stopped, tennis resumed at Wimbledon and Murray is through to the semi-final!