Category Archives: Culture

Wheelchairs Are Wonderful!

Hello, hello, hello, FFs and BBs! I know it has been a little while since I last offered you some advice to help you cope with suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or taking arms against a sea of troubles (hmm, I’m sure someone else has snaffled these words from me…), but I am back and have a GREAT DEAL of EXTREMELY VALUABLE advice on DRIVING A WHEELCHAIR! (Ha, Mr William Shakespeare – steal that for your plays, if you will!)

As many of you will know – in fact, ALL of you should know if you read my last post about Turkey; and if you didn’t read it, WHY NOT?? – DOT (Dai of Turkey, although this is no longer a strictly accurate description) has been a little under the weather and I had to go out and bring him back from the aforementioned foreign country. The use of wheelchairs has figured large in my life in the last few weeks and I now feel I can speak authoritatively on their deployment.

1. It is great fun having a wheelchair lift into the cabin of an aircraft – you can wave to the pilot and co-pilot as they complete their checks because you are lifted up right next to the cockpit, AND you are ‘loaded’ first onto the aeroplane, so this is well worth considering next time you’re thinking of flying Ryanair.

2. Take as little luggage as possible on any flights because you will find that you are dragging two suitcases along whilst your ailing companion is being whizzed along by a lithe young male on a sort of Segway with wheelchair attachment in front. When you eventually arrive at the ‘wheelchair lounge’, you are the one who will look in need of support because you are sweating profusely and breathing heavily as you have had to follow the mobile wheelchair at a steady trot, suitcases trailing behind.

3. Hiring a wheelchair is relatively easy (if not cheap), but pay close attention to the ‘opening and closing the wheelchair’ lesson – some people of close acquaintance didn’t listen carefully enough and had to return to the hire shop within half an hour of hiring to ask how to open the bl—y thing.

4. Those special dropped kerbs are not ‘dropped’ enough and you will have to perfect the technique of approaching said kerb at a slight angle and at a speed a little above walking speed if you wish to get onto the pavement without either tipping your ailing companion out of the chair or getting run over because you haven’t got off the road fast enough.

5. Pub doors should be automatic ones – at the moment, we are trying to work out the best way of getting into/out of a pub without either ailing companion getting out of the wheelchair to open the door (which rather defeats the object of a wheelchair!) or ailing companion’s companion having to abandon the ailing companion to hold the door open while trying to manoeuvre the wheelchair by dragging it from the front – by the time those in the pub have stopped laughing at your contortions and dash to your aid, it’s too late: you’re already at the bar!

6. A final point – hospital wheelchairs are best dragged backwards rather than trying to push them from behind. This allows the ailing companion to wave regally as he passes people and the ailing companion’s companion to smile benignly and smugly at other ‘drivers’ who are making a valiant attempt to steer their own ailing companions in a straight line, much like a supermarket trolley. It never works!
Happy driving!

Top Travel Tips For Turkey

International Travel

As many of you know, the Lifestyle Support Guru is an intrepid explorer, offering travel advice on such far-flung places as Huddersfield, Halifax and Hull. This evening, my advice will be about Turkey, home of delights such as…Turkish Delight!

I am here on a mercy mission because DOT (Dai of Turkey) has been taken ill and it was decided that the quickest way to help him recover was to send me out…

Top International Travel Tips

So, what advice can I offer you, my Faithful Followers (FFS for short)? Follow these Top Travel Tips and you will not go far wrong:
1. Do not assume that Turkey will be hot and sunny – this is what you will be told when you check the long-range weather forecast, but this is simply to lull you into a false sense of security so that you only equip yourself with light clothing, a pair of sandals and no raincoat. (I am a little cross that youngest sibling didn’t force me to take at least one jacket – what’s the point of a youngest sibling who doesn’t tell you to cover all eventualities?) When the downpour starts, as it does most days – but not at the same time every day, just to fool you further – you will find that the only protection from the rain that you have is a toffee-coloured mini-umbrella with a pattern of cute cartoon cats all over it, found at the back of a cupboard in sick sibling’s apartment (no, I haven’t asked). Much as I love cats, I do not necessarily wish to be seen carrying an umbrella covered in them!
2. Travel in the capital of Turkey is easy – as long as you are not easily frightened. Taxi drivers (of which there are many) have two speeds – 100 mph and ‘BRAKE’!!! You will also find that, on the whole, seat belts are there purely for decoration – I think I have found only one taxi so far where you could actually clip the belt in securely. I have developed a technique of using one hand to hold the seat belt across my body – which would serve no purpose at all in an accident – whilst clinging on to the handle above the window with my other hand. Not pretty, but it makes me feel better!
3. Learn a little Turkish (and believe me, when I say ‘a little’, I mean ‘a little’ – you would need a lifetime to get past the basics, fascinating though it is to listen to the language). A little goes a long way and I have particularly impressed local people with my mastery of ‘Thank you very much’ – Teşekkűr ederim, pronounced something like ‘teshkweredereem’. (Do not try this at home unless you are closely supervised.) It has brought a big smile to people’s faces whenever I’ve used it (in fact, the cleaner nearly collapsed laughing when I first tried it), although I am a little concerned that I may be putting the emphasis in the wrong place and I am actually telling people, ‘I am leaving you all my money when I die.’

I think that’s enough for the first lesson, but look out for ‘the tale of the confused taxi driver’ and ‘making friends with the hospital lift attendant’, along with ‘guided tours of the hospital departments a speciality’. That’s all still to come!

Party Animal Aces It!

Party Party

As Lifestyle Support Guru followers know, I was invited to a pre-wedding party and I could well have made a complete and utter fool of myself by turning up at the wrong time, believing it to be an evening ‘soirée’ before finding out it was an afternoon do. As it was, the LSG achieved perfect symmetry by arriving at an acceptable time – a fashionable 20 minutes late – and leaving at 7.30 pm, the time originally planned for arrival. The only sad point was having to leave half a glass of wine because the taxi to take me home turned up unusually early.

Surprise

The afternoon went well, if you discount the bride-to-be – who has known me for several years, including two as her French teacher – introducing me at one point as Ian. I explained that I had not had any gender-reassignment surgery since I had last seen her and she seemed quite satisfied with that, so I shall simply put it down to one glass too many of French wine (which flowed copiously).

Conversations

It was lovely to see so many people whom I hadn’t seen for many years, including the delightful Mark who made so many French language classes a joy to teach, and it was even fun to sit on the ‘sad settee’ with two other women as we discussed Trump, Assad and North Korea while all around us others were reminiscing about the joys of organising school trips before Elf’n’Safety reared its ugly head. I also had a good conversation with the (Irish) husband-to-be about the likely team choices for the forthcoming Lions rugby tour. This may not have been everyone’s idea of a fun afternoon, but I was having the time of my life!

Airport – WHERE?

I think one of my enduring conversational memories (apart from the sex-change operation) will be talking to a friend and ex-colleague about my plans for a visit to Turkey in the near future, flying from Humberside because, as I said, ‘It’s such a small and friendly airport.’ ‘Oh,’ she replied, ‘I didn’t even know they had an airport there, especially for international flights.’ Her husband gave her what can only be termed ‘an old-fashioned look’ and asked me to repeat the name of the airport. ‘Humberside,’ I said. ‘Oh,’ she responded, ‘I thought you said Ambleside.’ Ambleside is a small village in the Lake District!

Under Lock and Key

I was most impressed when the bride-to-be’s father, when I asked for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, produced a set of keys and said, ‘I’ll fetch you one.’ ‘Wow!’ I thought, ‘This must be something special to be under lock and key, especially since they’d been telling me about the bargain they’d got for 2 euros 10.’ It turned out that it was only under lock and key because it was a party-size box that they had to keep in the garage because it wouldn’t fit in the fridge!

It was a wonderful afternoon and the party was still in full flow when I left, so I could easily have turned up at 7.30 pm and still had a good time! Not a sign of cocoa, slippers or ‘Casualty’!

Thank you, one and all, for a joyous afternoon – may your wedding be peaceful, happy and bright, whether you are the bride, the groom, the parents or just friends!

Gin Cheesecake

PS The gin cheesecake was delicious! (= Cheesecake made with gin and lime)