Updated 15 Aug 2015

Robert Palmer's autobiography - 06

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Robert Palmer's autobiography 1990-2004

| Chapter 21 (1990-93) |
| Chapter 22 (1993-95) |
| Chapter 23 (1995-98) |
| Chapter 24 (1999-2004) |
special photos

Chapter 21

1990 to 1993

age 46-49


    Continued from 1988

    Valerie had found a house Hilltop in Comins Coch close to Aberystwyth which we bought and moved into soon after I arrived (we lived in a rented accommodation in Bridge Street, Aberystwyth for a short time). See the photos of Hilltop from the front (51) and back (139), and Valerie in the kitchen with the AGA (63).
    51 Front of Hilltop, 1990
    63 Valerie in Kitchen, 1990
    It had stunning views over the Rheidol valley with the steam railway running in the summer. When I arrived we had just had the car stolen, but it was found abandoned at Shrewsbury railway station quite quickly.
    139 Hilltop from back
    Bronglais was a bit of a shock to the system, somewhat of a sinecure after full speed ahead of Memorial. There were no juniors and seven Consultant anaesthetists, John Brooks, Ralph Mucklow both in their late 50’s, Graham Housam nearing 50, Bill Williams who was the year beneath me at St Mary’s where he had been in the rugby team and was quite left wing, Karen Phillips and Bob Henderson who was a locum. We did first on call at home but it was not busy, although we did cover the “high dependency unit” which sometimes had patients on the ventilator. There was a small maternity unit and an epidural service. We probably did on average 4 or 5 lists a week. I wanted to do some pain clinic work to make the job more worthwhile, but Karen Phillips resented that, though she did allow me to do the epidurals. After a weekend on we did the John Edwards (general surgery) list all day Monday which was not the best arrangement, but catered to those who lived a long distance from the hospital (Bill and Graham). As to me it was a part time job I found extra work by going to Talgarth psychiatric hospital once a week for ECT’s, (which was a 65 mile drive each way), and doing GP locums for Cynfab Roberts initially in Aberystwyth. I am not sure if I was really up to that, but I did garner a reputation and was used on occasion by other practices. Valerie worked as a district nurse based in Tregaron, which was a Welsh speaking area. Aberystwyth itself was fairly Welsh, but the University was primarily English speaking. Youngest Daughter went to Comins Coch primary school just down the road from Hilltop. The lessons there were in English but there were also Welsh lessons. Susannah and Carla went to the English speaking secondary school Penglais. I think they were both quite good schools. We bought a dog, Pooch, and three cats, Twpsyn, Memphis and Camelia. Meanwhile I did my usual things. I joined the squash club based at the University and played for their team. I played tennis at Aberystwyth tennis club, swam at the University and joined Aberystwyth running club and did road races. I played bridge regularly. I reactivated my Territorial Army commitment, my base being near Sandhurst. I was a captain. In January 1991 I did an anaesthetic locum in Rugby. In May 1991 I did a TA locum as an anaesthetist in the Falkland Islands for three weeks. I think I only gave about three anaesthetics, but did battlefield tours of the Falklands including Goose Green and Mount Tumbledown. I gave myself tinnitus by firing on the range without proper ear protection. It took about a year to clear up. I used to drive down to Dorset for long weekends regularly and stayed with Mum in her Churchfield Court flat.

    Meanwhile the Cage team of which I was a member won the squash league (see 140 and article).
    140 Cage win Aberystwyth squash.
    In the late summer of 1992 I saw an ad in the BMJ for a consultant anaesthetist with a special interest in obstetrical anaesthesia in Portsmouth. This was right down my street. I rang up John Moon who was head of department in Portsmouth and who had been my SR in Poole. He said I was the wrong side of 40 but nevertheless encouraged me to apply, which I did. I made several trips to Portsmouth to meet members of the department (I had worked with Peter Spreadbury and Pete Rogers at Southampton). When I talked with Bob Young who was medical director as well as being a part time consultant anaesthetist, I said I would not be there for more than 17 years as 65 was the retirement age back then. In fact I was there for nearly 22 years. After I had been short listed I met as many of the members of the the panel who would be interviewing me as possible (Andy Dewar, Anne Thornberry, John Bevan, Dick Bishop). By an enormous stroke of luck the college rep was John Kerr (I was his water polo protégé at St Mary’s). I wasn’t allowed to see him, but it wasn’t necessary as he knew me well. At the interview in October 1992 the first thing that was said when I went in was “Hello Bob” from John Kerr. He then asked me about my quality assurance activities in the USA, I couldn’t have asked for a better question. I sailed through and was ranked #1. Jane Watt Smith who I had also known at Southampton was ranked #2, so we were both appointed as there were two jobs. In a way I was a little sad to leave Aber, but it was rather out of the way and quite Welsh. We arranged for Susannah to finish her last year at Penglais school. She lodged with a friend nearby (Ros Temple). We sold Hilltop without too much difficulty. Pooch and the cats came with us. In fact I left Aber at the end of February and Valerie and the menagerie left at the end of the school term in July.

Chapter 22

1993 to 1995

age 49-51


    I started at QA on Monday 1st March 1993. I was living in York House (or was it Connaught House) in the hospital grounds. So was Sam Bhonsle. My first list was with ITA Jeffrey, orthopaedics, on that Monday afternoon. I also had regular lists maty at St Mary’s Wednesday mornings, Griffiths orthopaedics at QA Wednesday afternoons, all day maty at St Mary’s Thursdays and all day colorectal at St Mary’s with Mike Thompson on Fridays. Mike Thompson and Granville Griffiths were not easy surgeons to work with which is why I as a newcomer got their lists. Maty and Ian Jeffrey were fine. I had a wait before I was going to get into the private group so I signed up with the Anaesthetists Agency in Lymington and got extra work (could be anywhere, Andover, Alton, Salisbury, Southampton, Chichester, Guildford etc). I also sometimes went back to Aber for locums. I was accepted into the private group in September 1993 but it was over 4 years before I got full parity so I carried on with my locum work and was known as the “Martini Man” (anytime, anyplace, anywhere). It seems amazing now as a nearly 71 yo arthritic how much I rushed around. I was also in 243 Wessex Field Hospital with the TA who had a detachment in Cosham and would do weekday evenings and some weekends with them, (see photo 148, I was promoted to major and later to Lt Colonel). I joined the Rowlands Castle and Avenue Tennis Clubs and joined later Havant and Waterlooville swimming club and Clanfield Joggers running club, and Cosham bridge club. Also I was looking for a house to buy and finally Valerie and I settled on Tower Cottage (see photos 141 of Tower Cottage and 142 of the kitchen).
    141 Tower Cottage, front garden
    142 Tower Cottage, kitchen
    Valerie and the children were still in Aber but we bought the house for £225,000.00 in the summer and moved in shortly after completion which was on Monday 5th July 1993. We had a family cycling holiday in Suffolk (see photo 143).
    143 Cycling holiday in Suffolk 1993
    144 Aunt Gert on her 85th birthday, 1993
    Susannah was back to Aber for her final year at Penglais, Youngest Daughter was at St John’s Rowlands Castle primary School and Carla in the sixth form at Horndean School. Meanwhile Aunt Gert had moved to 7 Buckingham Court in Poole, (see photo 144 of her 85th birthday in September 1993), John and Rosie were of course in 29 Sutherland Avenue. I was regularly going to see and stay with Mum in Churchfield Court in Poole. She was 86 now and frail, though she had no arthritis. She had been in atrial fibrillation for a number of years. John would sit and talk with her for hours which she enjoyed, I was not so good in that respect. I went to stay overnight with her on Monday 28th January 1994. When I arrived I found out that she had been admitted to Poole Hospital that day. That evening they discharged her back to the flat. Early the next morning I heard sounds from her bedroom and when I went in she was unconscious with agonal breathing and died soon after. I called John and he came round right away.
    When I got to her flat, Mum had died, but she was still warm. The ambulance got there quickly. Robert said "Say goodbye to Mum" and I never saw her again. For years I wished I could talk to her again.
    She had ruptured a ventricle of the heart and had a haemopericardium which was not survivable. For a while after I would have bursts of crying and I had a shunt in my car. I really should have had some time off work. Of course she was a wonderful mother. See photo 145 after her funeral at Broadstone crematorium. In my diary for Saturday 29th January 1994 I have written "the worst day of my life", see photo 149.
    149 Diary for Jan 1994
    145 After Mum's funeral 1994
    Mum's ashes were taken to All Hallows Church in Twickenham, which is also where Dad's ashes are. There was a service and internment there on Sunday 15th February 1994. The urn with her ashes in is in a crypt area down some steps in the church grounds. As I recall Dad's ashes were buried in a little box near the entrance into the church 37 years before, as I was allowed to go to that.

      In the meantime I had two mishaps at work, the first for a number of years.
    • The first was a FLK (funny looking kid) who nearly died of malignant hyperpyrexia. She was an 11 yo girl for bilateral heel cord release in the supine position with Granville Griffiths on a Wednesday afternoon. Apart from her appearance and mild cerebral palsy there were no other issues. After cannulation I induced her with propofol, sited an LMA and gave her N2O, O2 and isoflurane. Monitoring was NIBP, capnography, pulse oximetry, ECG, and a nasopharyngeal temperature probe. Her temperature never went up. 25 minutes into the case she developed a tachyarrythmia with multiple ventricular ectopics, she desaturated alarmingly, and her pulmonary compliance decreased sharply. I called for help and Peter Spreadbury immediately came and agreed it was malignant hyperpyrexia. He got the dantrolene from recovery, reconsituted it, gave it iv, sited an arterial line and sent off bloods which showed hyperkalaemia, a sky high CPK, and metabolic acidosis. Remarkably quickly after the dantrolene was given her compliance and O2 saturation improved. She was given glucose and insulin to bring down her potassium, and transferred to ICU. She developed bilateral forearm swelling due to compartment syndrome but did not require fasciotomy and eventually after several months made a complete recovery. Undoubtedly the dantrolene saved her life (plus Peter Spreadbury).

    • The second case was some time after but did not have a happy ending. This was a teenage girl with severe cerebral palsy and severe visual and hearing impairment. She had a very severe scoliosis. She should never have been done in retrospect. Again the surgeon was Granville Griffiths on a Wednesday afternoon. The usual monitoring was in place. Without labouring the circumstances she had a major bleed at the end of the case. It was an extensive procedure on a severely compromised patient. At the end of the operation it looked reasonably dry. The incision was closed and two drains were inserted. She was transferred from the table to the trolley and the drains were unclipped. Both drainage bottles rapidly filled, but we were a little slow in seeing this as she was being moved at the time. The clips were not put back on as fast as they could have been, which had they been it may have helped tamponade the bleeding. Griff was out of theatre at this time. She arrested and could not be resuscitated. Griff and I spoke with the parents. There was a coroners case which Griff and I had to go to. The coroner handled it very well implying that she was very high risk which of course she was. I was not called to say anything but Griff was. The parents were very good about it. I think it was probably hard on them looking after her, but have no confirmation of that, and I should not necessarily presume that is the case. It shook me up for quite some time, and I did not enjoy presenting it at our M and M.

    Meanwhile on a more pleasant subject Valerie and I went to a barbecue at the Freemans in August 1995. I was down there for a water polo tournament. Standing next to the barbecue was a smallish man who I had not been introduced to and no one was talking to. I took pity on him and we engaged in conversation. He asked me what I was doing in Cornwall so I told him about the water polo. He seemed interested so I went on to say yes I had played in the past for British Universities. He seemed duly impressed. I asked him if he had played any sport. He replied that he had played rugby (rather small for that I thought). Politely I asked him who he played for and he answered Percy Park. I had heard of the club and said Oh thats in Cheshire, did you play for anyone else. Yes he replied, Gloucester. Oh I said, would that have been the second extra A team. No he replied politely, the first team. Oh I said with a sense of foreboding, did you play for anyone else. Yes he said England and the British Lions. Excuse me I said, I didn’t get your name. It was Don Rutherford the full back who played in a test for the Lions and of course I knew the name well but had not recognised him. I felt a fool but recovered a bit of lost ground by naming members of the Lions team for their tour of Australia and New Zealand in the late 60’s. See Don Rutherford on the extreme left of photo 147 on the day I met him.
    147 Don Rutherford (on extreme left), 1995
    148 Major in TA

    In the meantime Youngest Daughter went to school at St Margaret’s in Midhurst, which was a private convent school (see photo 150 of her first day there in September 1994). Valerie became a district nurse (see photo 151 of her), starting at Midhurst in 1994. Carla finished her sixth form at Horndean in 1995, and got a place at Durham University to do biology. She didn’t actually start there until 1996 as she did a gap year in Namibia. Susannah finished her sixth form at Penglais in the summer of 1994, and got a place at Bristol Medical School, starting in 1995. Pooch the dog was happily ensconced (see photo 152 of him in the bluebell woods).
    150 Youngest Daughter Sep 1994
    151 District Nurse Valerie
    152 Pooch in bluebell wood
    49 Stubbington Green 10k, 1995
    I was still keen on road races and on 24th April 1994 I did the Poole marathon, but got a sore leg after 20 plus miles and sensibly dropped out. Photo 49 shows me in the Stubbington Green 10k in January 1995. Age was beginning to catch up with me for the first time and I had a sore right hip, but after a few months it cleared up, and still over 20 years later hasn’t returned (unlike my back and knee problems now, 2015). At work I was involved with organising our weekly educational meetings in the department and in continuing educational points for the department which I did in one form or another for about 20 years. When Mike Thompson’s list was moved from a Friday to a Thursday I was able to drop it and did gynae lists at St Mary’s instead which were much more convivial and pleasant. My private work slowly increased and I travelled to King Edward V11th, Midhurst, Nuffield, Chandlers Ford, and even Andover for private cases.

Chapter 23

1995 to 1998

age 51-54


    In September 1995 John and I went to Moscow for a holiday. Highlights were the Museum of The Great Patriotic War on the Poklonayya Hill west of Moscow; the Novadevichy Cemetery in Moscow, where Anto Chekhov, Dmitri Shostakovch, Nikoai Gogol, Sergei Eisenstein, Sergei Prokofiev, Nikita Kruschev, Andrei Gromyko, Sergei Ilyushin and Anastas Mikoyan are all buried; the Monino Airbase Museum with the remains of Gary Power’s U2 and the Museum of The Revolution. While there I gave a talk in English to anaesthetists at one of the main Moscow Hospitals. One of the trainees Victor Tregubov from Kemorovo wanted to come to the UK and he duly arrived in Portsmouth in January 1996 and I looked after him. He is still over here. See photo 153 of him with me in 1996.
    153 with Victor Mar 1996
    154 Trafalgar Square 1996
    When we flew back from Sheremetyevo Airport John made a fuss because his bag hadn’t been checked. A Russian lady who spoke English explained they only checked one bag in ten, and it wasn’t JFK airport, New York City. John said God help us all. I hid. Valerie and I had a holiday in Northern Cyprus in February 1996, and we subsequently returned more than once. Also see photos 154 of visit to Trafalgar Square in 1996 and 155 Frances visiting in 1996. Around this time Valerie bought me two ducks, Donald and Daisy for my birthday. We have had ducks, geese and chickens latterly ever since. Brian Maugham, who I met at The Avenue Tennis Club was a regular visitor as an “odd job man” and a friend. Meanwhile I was doing the usual things, work, TA, swimming, tennis etc. In the summer of 1996 I won the Otter half mile at Wargrave (see photo SB34). Carla started at Durham University in October 1996.
    155 with Frances Aug 1996
    Carla started at Durham University in October 1996. Valerie’s sister Barbara, who lived in Petersfield, had become ill in 1995. Unfortunately she was mismanaged by the NHS and died in 1999. She did receive a large settlement. I had a cycling holiday in Ireland with John in probably 1998, which was pretty much the end of his cycling days (he had twice cycled across America from west to east). We first went to SW Ireland, but subsequently got the train to Dundalk and cycled to Crossmaglen. I was supposed to notify the army authorities but didn’t. We went into a bar in Crossmaglen and bought a pint of Guiness for all the locals (about 12), and then stayed the night there. We cycled on along the border and over the Drumlins to Clones. In early 1999 Aunt Yvonne died, she was over 100. In March 1999 John and I had a holiday in Havana which was interesting. Both Carla and Susannah graduated in the summer of 1999. See photo 156 with Carla in Durham and photo 157 with Sue in Bristol. Her boyfriend Ben is on the left at the back in the photo.
    156 Carla in Durham 1999
    157 Sue in Bristol
    We also had a graduation party for Sue and Carla at Tower Cottage in the summer of 1999 (see photo 158 with Roger and Linda, Frances, Anne Hughes, and Gwen from next door).
    158 Graduation party 1999
    159 Pooch and ducklings
    Also Valerie and I had a canal boat holiday. In September of 1999 Youngest Daughter started her sixth form at Bishop Luffa. Work was progressing uneventfully with no alarms. I was hatching ducklings (see photo 159 of Pooch with ducklings). Meanwhile Youngest Daughter finished at St Margaret’s and went to Bishop Luffa school in Chichester for her sixth form, starting I think in September 1999.

Chapter 24

1999 to 2004

age 55-60


    99 My year at St Mary's taken at a later reunion.
    back L to R Gordon Horner, Eric Taylor, ---, ---, Richard Pearson, RJP, Roger Pearce, Pin Seah, Phil Watts.
    middle L to R Brian Carr, John Simpson, Hassenbochus, John Isserlin, Chris Hutter, ---, Mike Mills, Mike Bishop, John Fox.
    Front L to R Corrie Van Den Bosch, Margaret Davies, Di Smith, Sandy Siddons, Monica Spring, Janet Kean, -, Gill Carrington.
    In my year and not in this photo were: Nick Walker, Cliff Bailey, Ian Brown, Alan DelMar, Roger Evans, Tom Fletcher, Don Forster, Jacqui Freeman, Bob Jones, Hugh O'Donnell, Graham Orr, Richard Perryman, Ray Rault, Ian Rennie, Angela Jeffs, Andrew Simmonds, Wynne Weston-Davies, Arthur Wightman, Dave Goldstein, Alan Greenwood, Susan Tegwyn-Davies, Andrew Hay, Brian Hopkins, Sally Hughes, Patrick Jeffrey, Huw Penry, Wynne Griffiths, Roselle Hewlett, John England.
    As of February 2015 those no longer with us are: John England, Roselle Hewlett, Wynne Griffiths, Roger Pearce, Huw Penry, Graham Orr, Nick Walker, Tom Fletcher, Bob Davies, which is 9 out of 47".

    At Bishop Luffa Youngest Daughter studied biology, psychology and Spanish. In 2000 Valerie had a 50th birthday party (see photo 160).
    160 Valerie's 50th birthday
    In 1999 our department took over Haslar Hospital and we started going there. We also did call there for which we were well paid for not doing very much, though it did have its moments. I remember a young man with terminal alcoholic liver failure whose life I tried to save to no avail (there was reluctance to treat him all round). My regular day at Haslar became all day Monday Ian Jeffrey. It continued until Haslar closed in 2009. I was still doing maty Wednesday mornings, Griffiths Wednesday afternoons, maty on Thursdays and gynae on Fridays. Tuesdays was my day at BUPA hospital. I remember doing an on call maty the night of December 31st (I am not sure which year) and being on television with an epidural around midnight. Susannah was starting junior hospital jobs in the southwest region. I seem to remember Carla worked for the GAP organisation in Reading. She had met Wesley when she was at Durham University and was still seeing him. She did a postgraduate degree in physiotherapy at Glasgow University. It was a two year course if I remember right. Wesley meantime was working for Standard Life in Edinburgh, and after graduating from Glasgow University Carla worked as a physiotherapist in Livingstone. In September 2000 Valerie and I went to New England for an anaesthetic meeting and met up with the Groves, Dunns and Malcolm Dunkley while we were over there. Back in the UK I went to Old Masonians meetings, both at The Gun in London and Wessex OM’s meetings at various locations. Around this time I had a cycle with Mike Freeman (see photo 161)
    161 Cycling with Mike Freeman
    and also see photo 162 of supper with the Northmore’s and Taylor’s.
    162 Valerie's 50th birthday
    I was playing tennis regularly, swimming. We had our short open air pool in our front garden which got a lot of use over the years. I played bridge at Drayton on a Wednesday evening with Frank Cochran. We had a Burmese lady, Kik Kin Wynn, who turned up out of the blue one day to join the department. Getting out of Burma was not easy, and she had left her husband and children there in the hope that they could join her later. We put her up for the first few nights (see her graduation photo 163 and the note on the back 164 dated 2001).
    163 Kin Kin Wynn
    164 Back of KKW's photo

    On the swimming front I was selected to swim for Hampshire (see photo SB35 and SB36 in scrapbook), and in 2001 did the Otter mile at Windsor (see photo 36B in scrapbook) and in 2002 came second in the Otter half mile at Henley (see photo 34B in scrapbook with Roger Sharpley). My left knee became symptomatic around 1999 or 2000. Not good news. In 2001 Valerie and I had a holiday in Bruges (though we stayed in a “travel lodge” type acommodation which was not a good idea on my part though of course it had a swimming pool). In the summer of 2001 we had a flotilla holiday in Greece with the Desgrands (see photo 165).

    166 Guernsey 2002
    165 Desgrande, Greece
    167 Paris cycling 2005

    I also think I had a cycling holiday in Ireland with Roger. Susannah and David Lewis went to Australia and New Zealand for a year. They both worked in Sydney. The TA camp in 2001 was in Edinburgh. In early 2002 I went to an anesthesiology meeting in Florida. While there I stayed with the Dunkleys in Naples and the Fletchers in Lake Helen. Somewhat ill advisedly I bought some land in Lake Helen, which like my subsequent acquisition of the chalet in Wilmington, Vermont, became a millstone round my neck. I managed to sell it for around the same sum I had bought it for a few years later (as also happened with the Vermont property). In spring 2002 we went to the Guernsey swim meet (see photo 166). Shortly after this I had a cycle holiday with Nick Barnes and his mates (see photo 167 of me in Paris). Then in the summer I went with Roger to Chamonix where he had a chalet. We did a lot of walking which I remember was starting to be problematical, especially going downhill. It seems as if I was having non stop holidays, but of course I was working fairly hard also, and doing the PAG rota which was quite a lot of extra work. Nothing of note happened clinically. I was also meeting up with John Garland and Ian Carey.

    In September 2002 I won the open mens doubles tennis with Peter McDowell at Rowlands Castle tennis club for the second year running (see photo 175). Between 1994 and 2013 I won 10 tennis doubles titles in all at Rowlands Castle tennis club.
    175 Doubles win

    In November 2002 John and I bought the acreage along the Stour at an auction in Blandford. I was the only bidder (it had flooded just before the auction and the horsey types who were prospective buyers all backed off). It was £70,000.00 I paid and then John bought his future oak plantation from me (it was part of the acreage at the auction). It was a Godsend for John and Rosemary, and they have done a monumental job in planting the 240 oaks, clearing the millstream so it can flow again, and turning my portion of the land into a nature reserve with many boards outlining the history of the land. We also subsequently bought a Shepherds Hut (more to follow). In late 2002 I went to the over 50’s water polo tournament in London and damaged my right shoulder. It was my last game of water polo. I got a frozen shoulder which took 2 years to clear up and was very debilitating, though I managed with difficulty to carry on at work.
    In January 2003 Aunt Gert died (of old age I think, she was 94). See the photo 168 of us at her funeral. She had far outlived the rest of her family (her father died at 53, her mother at 49, her brothers at 45 and 51 and her sister at 70).

    168 Aunt Gert's funeral, 2004
    169 Diary Entry

    In February 2003 Valerie and I went to Sharm el Sheikh for a holiday, though I was unable to swim because of my frozen shoulder). In March 2003 Youngest Daughter and I went to Massachusetts and Vermont. This is when I bought the chalet at Wilmington as I mentioned earlier.

    In early 2003 I was called up to the second gulf war. I was due to report to Strensall which was the camp near York where we were got ready for deployment. I was horrified. I couldn’t stand Tony Blair who I always thought was a bit deranged, and I could see no justification for the war apart from supporting the Americans, and Al Gore should have been president as he really won Florida I always thought, and the Democrats would not have gone to war. I did not believe there were any weapons of mass destruction, or any connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda; and the 45 minutes to destruction claim by Tony Blair was absurd (I was later proved right on all counts). I also considered it illegal in international law. I applied for revocation based on the fact that a number of Portsmouth Consultant Anaesthetists were full time military and consequently had been called up which meant as a DGH we had exceeded our quota, and therefore I should never have been called up in the first place. A couple of my colleagues (Damian Timms and David Desgrand) effectively accused me of cowardice which was not the case (I had volunteered for the Falklands War in 1982 which I considered just when I was in the USA, but I was not taken up. Anyway I was packed to go to Strensall when 36 hours before departure I was granted revocation. All the Iraq invasion has achieved is destabilising the country which is now infiltrated with ISIL, and turning the Islamic people in the Middle East against us. We had a locum from Baghdad a couple of years later who said that he didn’t like Sadam, but he and his family were safe under him; but after the invasion some 20 of his consultant colleagues had been killed, and he and his family had therefore left. Meanwhile Tony Blair is a multimillionaire and peace envoy in the Middle East.

    In the summer of 2003 Carla graduated with distinction in physiology from Glasgow Caledonian University (see photo 174).
    174 Carla's graduation

    In November 2003, Valerie did a Clementine Churchill and went by herself to the antipodes for 6 months. She did some “woofing” in New Zealand.

    On New Years Eve 2003 Roger and Linda were killed in a road traffic accident in South Africa. Roger had just turned 60 and Linda had bought them a top of the range walking holiday in the Drakensburg mountains.They were travelling in a Mercedes minibus. In the front were the driver and the tour guide, both wearing seatbelts. There were 11 clients in the back of the minibus which had viewing windows but no seat belts. A black man ran in front of the minibus (which was pulling a trailer carrying everyone's bags). The driver veered off and the trailer jacknifed and hit the side of the minibus which rolled over and over. 8 of the people in the back including Roger and Linda were thrown out of the vehicle through the broken windows, and all 8 died (5 quickly including Roger and Linda and 3 died on the way to hospital). The black man was killed but the driver and tour guide were unhurt and the three in the back who weren’t thrown out only had minor injuries. See my diary entry 169 “one of the worst days of my life”.

    In January 2004 I went up to the Isle of Lewis to join John and Rosie. Towards the end of the few days John asked me if I had noticed anything. I said not really. He then showed me his left hand and I noticed the ring on his left ring finger. The penny eventually dropped, they had been married a few days before coming up to the Isle of Lewis. Later in 2004 I went on a cycle trip to Normandy, see photo 170 left to right of Nick, Gary and Jonathan.

    170 Normandy 2004

    In the summer of 2004 I had my 60th birthday party at Tower Cottage. In the photo 171, Brian Maugham is in the foreground on the left. Sadly he died of Ca bronchus about 2 years later.
    171 60th birthday

    Also I went to the Vermont chalet.

    Continued in 2005

Conceived, written and copyright © 2014, Robert PALMER, All Rights Reserved.

Compiled, formatted, hyperlinked, and hand-coded 2014 by John PALMER, .