Sunday, 25 April 2010

Not a Happy Day

Today I am feeling very sad. A telephone message on my answer-phone to say that a person I've known since 1951 is in hospital in Croydon. Patricia Teare, as she was then, has broken her hip and is in pain and distress - and now she is all alone.

Her husband died of cancer in December,just before their 41st wedding anniversary.

Patricia was my first and only ballroom dancing tutor. She was around 20 years old when I first met her at Jimmy Quinn's Dance School in Purley, Surrey. She was a superb dancer and marvellous teacher of the art. I've always held her in my heart and memory and her distressed phone call to me earlier today was devastating.

Even at her advanced age she continued to teach ballroom, and to have an accident such as a broken hip will almost certainly be the end of ballroom dancing for her.

I've just arranged for some flowers by post to be delivered to her and I've called on some others who know me to pay Patricia a visit, in my behalf. I cannot get down to Croydon now as my wife, Pat, needs me at home to look after her now.

Below is a photo of Patricia with her senior dance partner, Jimmy Quinn, whom I also knew well. Poor Jimmy died a year or so after the photo was taken; brain tumour.

I'm going to write to Patricia every day whilst she is in hospital. It's the least I can do. Bye for now...

Monday, 19 April 2010

Lara Fabian - Emotion Personified

I discovered this beautiful singer, Lara Fabian, some months ago. She is now living in Canada (lucky country). I think she has also had a baby some while back.

But what a voice. What an artist. Huge vocal range and her whole being is thrust into her song - especially in this one: Je suis malade. Such a sad yet powerfully emotive song. I hope you can bear to listen to her; I find it heart-rending.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

GOSH for Children

Today I've seen one of the most heart-rending documentaries ever.

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children is renowned for its work in saving the lives of young children. This programme tonight, the first in series of three, is called 'Pushing the Boundaries' - and it is extremely difficult to watch. But having started to watch it is impossible NOT to watch.

The surgeons in this dedicated hospital are super-human. I cannot believe how they can carry on working under such pressure, from the parents and from the job itself.

Every age group in children is included. From a 2-day old baby upwards. Some marvellous successes. Some terrible heartbreaking failures too.

One very young girl had a serious vascular problem which would certainly be fatal unless operated on had eight hours on the operating table. The operation to fix her vascular problem was successful. However, her parents were devastated to learn that one of her kidneys had to be removed. Also that she was now brain damaged. And that she was blind as a result of the surgery! But she would live. Later, some weeks later, her sight returned, so it was not all doom and gloom.

A really harrowing case of a 9 year old lad who'd had a heart valve operation a few years ago was again seriously ill. The surgeons decided that a further valve repair was no longer an option. The heart specialists discussed the option of a heart transplant. With the parents and the little boy present.

They explained to the boy that they knew he did not want to have another operation but that he would be very ill if nothing was done. So would he like to have a new heart and be completely better.

"Will it hurt me when you cut my body open?" he asked. "No, it will be painless; you will not feel a thing."

"Where will you get my new heart from?" he asked. Very gently the surgeon explained that it would be given by somebody who had no more need of the heart because they had died from something else. "Well, what will happen to my heart when you take it out?" he continued to ask. Again the specialists explained that parts of his old heart could be used to help somebody else.

Eventually everything was agreed and the transplant went ahead. Two weeks later the young boy died.

The way these doctors deal with these harrowing cases astounds me. They are clearly deeply concerned for the children and parents concerned but they have to make such demanding decisions. I have great respect and admiration for them all, but I could never be strong enough to attempt a tenth of what they do.

Amazing and highly emotional stuff.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Al Martino's Tribute to Luciano Pavarotti - 2007

When I was a young, and very foolish, young chap I favoured many singers, crooners and pop stars and in my top 5 was Al Martino. His great recording of "Here in My Heart" was his most successful song and one of my favourites.

Born in 1927 he carried on working into his eighties and his voice was still as strong as ever.

At age of 80 he sang Nessum Dorma, a tribute to the late great Luciano Pavarotti, in a concert in Germany, 2007.

I could not believe that this 'pop singer' could sing this operatic aria as well as he did - and at his age.

Hope you like it.