New Bloggers: A Helping Hand

It seems that a lot of the new bloggers who have arrived on WordPress this year are keen to read about some tips and advice to help them get a start in blogging.

My three recent posts on the subject have received well over 2,300 views in a very short time.

Now we all have different ideas about what makes for good blogging, and also different views on blogging ‘etiquette’. For the new people to become part of any community will take some time of course. Meanwhile, we can all help them along the way with any useful tips and advice that might spring to mind.

I won’t be asking everyone to put up a post on the subject, don’t worry. You are all busy with your own blogs and lives, so another suggestion from me is the last thing you need.

That said, adding a comment to this post won’t take you long. It might help a new blogger, encourage them to continue to blog, and eventually grow this wonderful community that we all enjoy being a part of.

So all I am asking is that if you have any blogging rules you swear by, or some valuable tips that you have yet to share, just add them as a comment below.

The post will stay up, and hopefully be found by many of those new bloggers.

Thanks in advance, and best wishes to everyone. Pete.

How I Became a Freelance Writer

I am reblogging a second post from Nick Rossis this week, as it contains invaluable first-hand personal experience and information about working full-time as a freelance writer. If this is something you are considering doing, then please read this first.

Nicholas C. Rossis

When I wrote in my last post about the Evolution of Blogging, I didn’t expect so many people to contact me asking how I managed to become a more-or-less full-time freelance writer.

A friend even said that she knows a lot of disabled writers who would be great at it but don’t know how to start. Even worse, most were not even looking because of a rumor that getting paid to write in such a way as freelance writing is by and large not possible and that most of the paid to write jobs are nothing more than scams.

So, here’s my story.

freelance writing | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

Bark bark

My blog has generated a number of leads from online friends. But my first attempt to start writing professionally came from Bark, a UK-based online company that specializes in matching UK-based freelancers with clients.

Unfortunately, Bark came with an expensive learning curve:

  • First…

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50 Years Behind The Wheel

It just occurred to me that I have been driving for fifty years this year. I passed my driving test at the second attempt, in March 1969. At the time, I had a 1963 car, bought for me by my Dad, and I was insured on his policy. I stayed on at school just long enough to drive into the car park a few times, after a fifteen-mile commute in heavy traffic. I could buy three gallons of petrol for less than ten shillings, (50p) and finally take my girlfriend out in a car, after two years on buses and trains.

The car represented freedom to me, and I would drive anywhere, anytime, just to experience the thrill of not being dependent on timetables and bus arrivals.

Over the following decades, I drove just about anything that went on a road. Heavy trucks, vans of all types and sizes, motorcycles, mopeds, and small scooters. I owned all sorts of cars too, everything from unreliable rat-traps, to brand new luxury saloons. I towed trailers, used 4-wheel drive vehicles off road, and managed to drive a few amazing sports cars too. I was a driver, in every sense, oblivious to traffic, with an inbuilt sense of direction, and no fear of any road conditions. I drove in France, Belgium, and Greece, using hired left-hand drive vehicles, or my own right hand drive car, carried across The Channel on a car ferry. I could drive from breakfast to darkness, and think nothing of it.

I was used to ancient cars with non-syncromesh gearboxes, right up to the latest smooth-as-silk automatic transmissions. I had cars without heaters, and cars with air-conditioning. Some with sunroofs, and others with steering as heavy as a cart. I didn’t care, as long as I had access to something to drive, whether on four wheels or two. In some jobs, I was lucky to be given company cars. The latest models, changed every two years, all costs met by the company providing it for me. Going back to paying my own car bills in 1979 came as something of a shock after that.

Then I joined the Ambulance Service in London, as an EMT. I got specialist training, which I enjoyed, and very soon was out on the streets of the capital, rushing around at comparatively high speeds, with blue lights flashing, and sirens blaring. Most of the time, this was achieved on the wrong side of the road, to avoid the usually static traffic jams all over that city. I used elderly ambulances that still had electronic bells on the front, then progressed to the V8-powered vehicles that were introduced before I left, in 2001. Every other day, for almost twenty-two years, I pushed that ambulance around central London, oblivious to any personal danger, and driving as if it was second nature to me.

But driving in London can never really be described as a ‘pleasure’. As anyone who lives there can tell you, you have to learn a special way of driving there. The first thing is to become very skilled at parking. You usually have no more space than the actual size of your car to get into. And you have to be quick too, or lose the spot to someone behind. Once on the move, you must learn to be ruthless. Never hesitate at roundabouts or road junctions, or you will still be waiting to pull out at bedtime. Let anyone out, and they will be followed by a tidal flow of vehicles that leave you almost back where you started. Selfish driving is the only thing that works, in that vast city.

Fast forward to 2012, and I move to Norfolk. No traffic jams, polite drivers, (in the main) and roads that are often empty, away from the tourist season. I had to learn to drive all over again, at the age of 60. I don’t have to worry about parking anymore, as our driveway has enough room for three cars. I had to learn to be patient behind slow-moving farm machinery, and to be careful on the many small roads where the speed limit is far in excess of anything you can do in London. And I no longer enjoy driving, especially at night, when the oncoming car lights leave you dazzled, on the unlit country roads.

So after those fifty years, what are my conclusions?

Get a car with an automatic gearbox. Changing gear is tiring, and boring too.
Pay into a breakdown service. It is essential, with the electronic systems in modern cars.
Never forget to have enough fuel, especially if you live over five miles from the nearest petrol station.
Unless you live in a field, 4-wheel drive is unnecessary.
If you can afford it, sell the car, and get taxis.
Even better, if you are wealthy, employ a driver to drive your own car.

I have now got to the age where I actually look forward to the day when I won’t be driving at all.

But I have never forgotten the excitement of that first car, aged just 17.

Getting old: Some more thoughts

In a few months, I will be 65 years old. According to most people, survey companies, and the UK government, that is officially old. Old enough to receive my Old Age Pension, and to qualify for Senior Citizen discounts wherever they are offered. My Mum once told me that she felt just the same, despite being old. Inside, she was the same woman she had always been; with the same thoughts, hopes, desires, and unfulfilled dreams. One day, she assured me, I would understand exactly what she meant.
However, as I approach the age she was when she imparted that knowledge, I find myself disagreeing with her. For I am not the same. Far from it.

Life has made me cynical and unimpressed. Along the way I have discovered that dreams are just that, and that belief in the innate goodness of mankind to rise above circumstances is only for films and TV shows. Most of the things I believed in when I was young did not endure a life of work and experiences; some good, many not so. On the plus side, I have started to feel more comfortable in my ever-slackening skin, and content with my lot. I am less concerned about what others think of me, and therefore more forthright in my opinions. I have (almost) reached a pivotal age, one where life turns from whatever it was before, into those later years, when everything naturally slows down.

So, as I often do, I have some advice for you.

Don’t get a tortoise as a pet.
Before too long, you will begin to recognise too many similarities between you and the reptile. The saggy neck, extending chin, a clumsier and much slower gait, and a propensity to withdraw inside a shell of your own making.

Be aware of your limitations.
That younger you inside (if it is still there) might be telling you that you can still do all the things you did ten years ago. Climb up there, lift that up, cut that, dig this, or shift those. As you do so, you might notice that they were not quite as easily done as you remembered. Two days later, and you will find it difficult to even get out of bed.

Beware of bumps, cuts, and jumps.
Things no longer seem to heal. The slightest cut on head or hand will take forever to close. A small bump against a fence or a wall will hurt much more than you ever imagined it could, and present you with a technicolour bruise, out of all proportion to the injury sustained. For the same reasons, avoid jumping off of or over anything too. You will find that your body’s natural shock absorption is all but gone.

Read things twice.
Your eyesight will no longer be what you imagine it is. Reading an important document, government letter, or even a blog post, you will unconsciously presume some of the words and phrases, even though you are unaware of doing so. This can lead to some unfortunate misunderstandings. So read them twice, and preferably in a good light too.

Allow more time.
You don’t drive as fast as you used to, and traffic seems to be worse than it was. You cannot walk as fast either, so don’t presume you will catch that bus, or make the train connection in ten minutes. Think of how much time you would have allowed ten years ago, then double it.

Avoid mirrors where possible.
Looking at yourself in a mirror is a sure path to depression. Even catching sight of yourself unexpectedly, perhaps in a shop window, or passing a mirror, can lead to that worrying “Is that me?” moment. Get dressed before looking at your body in a mirror, and if you are a man, shave quickly, then get out of the bathroom. Undue contemplation of your physical and facial decline will not help at all.

There are so many more, I could write all afternoon. But I will leave it at those five tips for now.
If you abide by them, you might just live happily for another ten years, until you are 75.

Then you will really be old.


We cling to life. As humans, we cherish it more than anything. Faced with death, we will do almost anything to get a few minutes, or even seconds, of extra life. But do we take time to examine what life really means?

A good 90% of our lives is based on routine, or habit. We get up at a certain time, eat breakfast after washing and other ablutions. For the largest part of our lives, we then set off to work, in jobs that most of us would rather not do. Mostly, we make more money for people who already have enough. They in turn make even more money, for people who will never need any more, but just like to know that it is there. A small percentage of the working population do some good. They work in fields that help others, generally for much lower pay and expectations. But they do it anyway.

Most people have children. Some do this to continue their line, others because they are too stupid to know better. A few even do it to avoid work, and to be able to enjoy their leisure time, courtesy of the benefits available. But they are few and far between. Most people struggle. They struggle to learn, to fit in, to raise families, and to earn enough to provide for them. They struggle with jobs that are beneath them, on salaries that barely meet their needs. They try to relate to family, to siblings, even to their own children, in a world that constantly fails to live up to their expectations. Most times they fail, falling at every hurdle.

We live in societies that make rules, demands, codes to live by. We often don’t understand them, but we do our best to comply. We observe the rich getting richer, their children reaping the benefits. Then we accept that as ‘the way things are.’ Lives spent working hard, doing our best, and playing the game. Avoiding criminality where we can, trying to do the decent thing, and live a quiet family life. When nothing improves, and things just get harder, and more difficult, we often blame ourselves for lack of drive, or enthusiasm. Perhaps have another child, see if that gives us something to aim for. More fodder for the deteriorating education system, someone else to work for a minimum wage, no contract hours job, in years to come.

Life is hard, but we rarely face that fact. After working all your life, you are derided as a pensioner: sidelined, of no consequence. Before you even start out on the road of work, you have mountains to climb to gain acceptance. Once employed, you are grateful to be little more than a cog in a wheel, providing services for the elite that don’t even really need them. In short, there is no golden age. Life remains the same as you grow. A struggle, rarely a joy, and something you never asked your parents for in the first place.

The truth is, like it or not, life is overrated. So why do we love it so much?

Still getting older

I have written about growing older before on this blog. Since the last time, I am of course a little older, so consider this an update. I was recently reminded by an old and close friend, that I had never expected to see sixty. After decades of shift work, stressful jobs, heavy smoking, and a bad diet, I felt sure that I would be carried off by one illness or another, by my late fifties. I imagined my sudden departure being spoken about by friends and colleagues, in the way that these things are discussed. “Did you hear about Pete?” “No, really? And he was only 57.” “Yes, that’s no age these days.” But it didn’t happen. I woke up on my sixtieth birthday, and every day since. I had to learn to cope with getting older, which came as a complete surprise, not least to me.

There are the usual things that come with age. Looking for reading glasses for ages, then discovering that they were on your head all the time. Ransacking the entire house for door-keys, only to find them hanging in the lock, an hour later. The old favourite; walking into a different room, then forgetting why you went in there in the first place, and taking just that little bit longer to remember names, faces, and places. You soon realise that you don’t need to watch the weather forecast, to know when it’s going to rain. Your joints will burn and ache for no good reason, long before the dark clouds appear. It is as if your body has become a barometer, and the falling pressure is registered in your very bones.

When you are young, you always think that it will be different for you. You won’t be like the old people of your youth, or talk or behave anything like your own parents. But you will, to some degree at least. You will hear yourself saying things that echo from the past, catching yourself momentarily, thinking you might have already said this or that before. Then the realisation sets in. It was what old people used to say, and now you are saying it. Most young people begin to seem either lazy, or impatient. Their attention span is limited, their desire to learn absent, and their ambition minimal. This cannot be true of all of them of course, it is just how you see it. But sweeping generalisations are a comfort of being older. You can state them, and leave them hanging to be challenged.

And everything was better ‘back then’. Food was tastier, families were closer, everyone felt safer, and you could walk in and out of jobs at will. Even the summers were sunnier, and it seemed that you never had to worry about anything. It’s not true of course, at least not for everyone. But your mind helps you to come to terms with the inadequacies of ageing, by reminding you that you once had it good, very good. Of course, the ‘now’ can be even better. No work to go to, time on your hands, places to explore, thoughts to dwell on, and pleasures to pursue. It seems, at least to me, that the key is to forget about the numbers, and to stop seeing age as a definition of yourself. You wake up, do what you can do, and make the most of it. Enjoy the freedom, and take advantage of the wisdom and experience.

But it’s not that easy, is it?

Everyday life defines you by age. Fill in a form, and you will see a place for age. I am currently in the 55-64 category. The next one up is 65+, the upper figure undefined. Concessions are given once you exceed a certain age, and you begin to wish away some precious years, waiting for that state pension that you paid into for so long, or frustratingly anticipating a bus pass that you haven’t even used. Whether you like it or not, you become very interested in age. The news seems to be full of people dying. Actors, celebrities, politicians, all mentioned for their contributions. If their age is not mentioned, I immediately look them up, to see when they were born. Quickly working out whether or not they were older than me when they died. This strange behaviour extends to the living as well. Seeing someone pop up in a film, or TV interview, I will exclaim “Are they still alive? I thought they would be dead by now.” Without hesitation, I will look up their age on the Internet, and make some pointless comment about how well they have aged, or not, as the case may be. One of the things about getting older, is that you can develop an unhealthy interest in the ages of everyone around you.

Then there is the perception of others. Something that I heard a lot in the past, especially from my Mum, was that you don’t really age inside, and still believe yourself to be young at heart. I am not so sure that’s always true, but it does come as a shock, the first time someone thinks that you are older than you are. Even if they say that they think you are younger, often by a good few years, your first instinct is to think that they are being kind. But when they add a few years, you can be shocked, and begin to wonder how they came to that conclusion. At the windmill recently, I was happily chatting to an older lady, a fellow volunteer, for a while. When the subject of pensions came up, she expressed surprise that I wasn’t yet old enough to receive my state pension. (It is paid when I am 65) I told her that I was still only 63, and asked her how old she thought I was. She casually remarked, “about 67.”
That is only four years older than I am now, but it is a huge difference in perception, at least from where I was standing!

So there are lots of things to consider about getting older; a lot more than I ever thought there would be, as I didn’t still expect to be here. I might make this an occasional series, I’m not sure. Younger readers might rightly consider that there is little of interest for them here, but I have a suggestion. Print it off, seal it in an envelope, and write ‘To be opened on… (add date of your 60th birthday).’
You can then use it like an instruction manual.


People often talk of friends. They have Facebook ‘friends’, and work friends, and usually, a best friend. But what of ‘real’ friends?

I have been blessed with an abundance of friends. I hope that this is because I have been nice to know, at least on occasion. Perhaps they stick with me despite my faults, as they have character, and I might be worth the effort. I once said, that the definition of a true friend is this. You could arrive one night, covered in blood, with no money, and no decent explanation for your condition. Nonetheless, they would take you in, feed you, give you a comfortable bed for the night, asking no questions, despite their anxieties. You might have done a murder, borne witness to a crime, or been the victim of something unspeakable. Your presence was the only explanation needed. A true friend requires no more.

Luckily, I have never had to test this qualification, though at times, I have been close. Whatever the situation, be it marriage break-up, problems at work, or medical dilemmas, I have always been well-served by my friends. The friends in my life fall into distinct categories. There are school friends, from childhood, and friends from later years, early teens, and first jobs. Then there are the later friends. made through marriage or relationships, and perhaps forged by shared experiences, at work, or elsewhere. Recently, I have added the short list of Blogging friends. Those who have stuck with my life on the blog, through bad posts, as well as good. Shared interests or opinions, or the exact opposite, their friendship has value too.

From my days at school, I can count at least five friends. Classmates, and teachers, people I have known and loved, for more than fifty years. They forgive all life’s changes, and stay with you, for the long haul. They are the platform on which I base the concept of friendship, the root of all ideas and conceptions of that word. Following on, there are the friends from my formative years. They also number less than ten, but are no less valued for that. It is never a good idea, to call too many ‘friend’. They will not prove to be so, down the line. After numerous jobs, too many to recall here, I have less than a dozen real friends from my former workplaces. In many respects, they have an extra value, as they shared things, experiences, and moments of drama, that the other friends had no access to.

Then there are my Blogging friends, perhaps ten, not many more. Those who have seen something in my writing, or have sympathetic ideas. They stick with me, through bad times, indifferent posts, and the ceaseless moans. They like, comment, read, and ruminate. Then they post themselves, delightful articles or photos, their life on a page, for all to see. They are a small group, but though they may not be aware, they mean a great deal to me.

So, I am rich indeed. I have friends from my youth, others from my teens, and many who have endured through my entire life. There are those I have worked with, and shared experiences, often unspeakable, and too extreme to recall here. I have some who were once neighbours, one who started as a paying guest, and at least two who speak another language. There are some, a few, who no longer live in the UK, and many that I have not seen for more than ten years, but I am still content to call friend. There are some of the opposite sex, proving that we can be friends, without sexual encounters, or entanglements. I relish the thought of these friendships, each one unique, in its own way. Whatever else has happened in my life, they are the constant; the theme to my existence as a human, and my proof that there is something beyond comment, appearance, or supposition.

We may not agree on things, and we may have differing experiences; or partners who we cannot get on with. But we endure, we value, and we cherish. This is what human existence is all about, and I applaud it. I am indeed fortunate.

I feel that I should add, for those of you with good memories, that I posted a very similar piece, ‘Friends and Contacts’, about fifteen months ago. I just added this, for the new readers, after reflecting on the subject once more. Apologies for what may appear to be a duplication; it isn’t really, more like a reminder.

Ambulance stories (40)

The incontinent old lady.

Incontinence is a curse for the elderly. Whether it is incontinence of urine, or faeces, it is uncomfortable, embarrassing, and often painful. It is very common of course, so no surprise to discover someone suffering from it, when you work in health care. There are many causes of this condition, and though some are minor, and easily treated, others may require surgery, and even be life-threatening. Doctors called to elderly people at home, will often send them into hospital, for a diagnostic referral by a surgeon, or further investigations; perhaps scans, or barium x-rays.

One day shift, we were called to the home of an elderly lady, in the Shepherd’s Bush area of West London. She had been experiencing stomach pains, and some incontinence of faeces for a few weeks, and had finally called in her G.P. He suspected that she might have an obstruction in the intestines, and arranged for an ambulance to take her to the nearby hospital, leaving a letter behind with a home carer, and asking us to attend within an hour, as a non-emergency. At the time, I was comparatively new in the job, though on that day, I was working with one of the most experienced men in the area.

Entering the house, it was obvious that this was the home of someone who found it difficult to cope. The whole place looked shabby, and felt unloved; many years had passed since any improvements had been attempted, and the carpets appeared to be approaching their first century. As was often the case, the elderly resident, in her mid 80’s, lived in just one room of this three bedroom house, never venturing outside of the small parlour that had become her entire world. She spent all her time on a single bed under the window, with a commode chair nearby for convenience. An ancient dressing table dominated the opposite wall, with a small, dusty television resting precariously on its edge. What clothes she ever intended to wear again, were on hangers behind the door, and a small bedside table was groaning under the weight of the assembled medications. It was unlikely that the window had been opened for years, and the carer was only tasked to give the lady a cursory wash, and prepare a small meal, before leaving the unfortunate woman to a long, lonely night. So, no housework was ever done, no clothes washed or ironed, and the lady had to fend for herself, as best as she could, for most of the time.

Approaching the bed, I could see that the patient was a tiny lady, no more than four and a half feet in height. Her once larger frame had been reduced, by years of poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and osteoporosis compressing her bones. Her lank white hair had been brushed until she concluded it was acceptably smart, and she was wearing a clean nightie, at least the cleanest she had available. Her skeletal fingers clutched the doctor’s letter, which she was determined to hand to us herself. I knelt by the bed, smiling and chatting to her, soon realising that she was also very deaf, so had little idea what I was on about. My colleague left, to fetch a small stretcher from the ambulance, and I explained, very loudly, what we were going to do. Once she had handed over the letter, she was happy to place herself in our hands, and the carer also left, to go to help others on her ever-growing list.

When my partner returned with the stretcher, he had to place it outside, as access to the room was impossible. I advised him that I would just pick the lady up from the bed, and bring her to him. After all, she was incredibly light, and small enough to allow me to make the turn at the door. He said that we should wrap her in a blanket first, then use a two-man lift as normal. I thought that he was adding unnecessary work, and repeated that I would just pick her up. As she was not wearing underwear, I pulled down her nightie for modesty purposes, and placed one arm under her legs behind the knees, and the other around her back, and under her left arm. She was as light as I had suspected, and no harder to lift than a child.  I gathered her up into my arms, and turned from the bed towards the door. I noticed that my fellow crewman had retreated into the hallway, and I presumed that this was to allow me room to place her onto the folding chair. My presumption was incorrect, it was years of experience that had prompted his move.

As I hefted her higher, for her legs to clear the door frame, she gave a small cry, and a fountain of diarrhoea exploded from her bottom. This came out with the pressure of a garden hose, and was watery in consistency, like a hot chocolate drink. It was everywhere, splashing between her body and mine, and continuing to pump out, seemingly from a limitless source. I could not put her down on the floor, and I had no time to return her to the bed. I just had to stand still, until the episode subsided. When I eventually got her onto the folding chair, conscious of the uncontrollable laughter of my colleague, I was covered from breastbone to knees in the foul liquid; it had got inside my trousers, and emanated a terrible stench. The lady apologised profusely. She had been unaware of any desire to go to the toilet, and blamed it on being ‘pulled about’. I could find little to help me in her sparse kitchen, and had to make do with using paper towels in the ambulance, to clean up as best as I could.

I had to spend almost the next hour in this awful state, as we drove her to hospital, then handed her over to the nurses, who were all hysterical with laughter at my condition. I eventually got back and showered; I had to change all my uniform, and complete the last part of the shift without underwear. But I did learn a valuable lesson.

When someone a lot more experienced suggests that you do something his way, take that advice.

Ambulance stories (21)

Coming clean

This is not a story about an ambulance call. It is time to come clean, and tell it how it was, for me at least, in those seemingly far-off days.

You may have noticed references, and comments, about what I was like in those days; how I was perceived, and how I presented myself to others. So, here is some background about how I dealt with it all, the type of person that I was, and more importantly, the type of person that I wanted others to believe that I was.

When I joined the London Ambulance Service, I was 28 years old. That was older than the average at the time, although there were older people in my class at Training School. I had been around long enough, to know to keep a little quiet at first, feel the atmosphere, get the lie of the land. It was important to stand up for yourself though, it was a tough job, and you could not be seen to be weak. Luckily for me, I had many factors in my favour. I came from a well-known working class area of London, which had a reputation for tough people. I had a strong London accent, easily roused to harshness, to the uninitiated ear. I was also far from pretty. Receding, close-cropped hair, stocky build, and weathered face, all said, ‘keep off’, to the wary. I would have probably survived quite well, in a maximum security prison.

I did not suffer fools gladly, but I was conscious of being a ‘rookie’, and ready to sit back, and learn the ropes from others, without comment, or criticism. By the time I had completed my probationary period, I was ready to take the gloves off, metaphorically speaking, and get on with it. I soon became involved with the Unions. Later on, this could better be described as ‘heavily involved’. I had the necessary Left-Wing leanings, and a traditional distrust, not to say dislike, of all management. I saw many people come and go. There were others who stayed the course, for very different reasons. Some couldn’t do anything else, some craved the excitement, or perceived status, and a few of us stuck it out, with a view to changing the system.

It would be nice to write that this is exactly what I did. Unfortunately, that would not be the truth. I made a place for myself, and those like me, and I clung to it tenaciouly. Working in the very small world of an ambulance station, it is hard if you are not with like-minded individuals. I was not, so I had to do my best, with what was available. I became the Union representative; challenging authority at every turn, working for better conditions, and not tolerating those who thought otherwise. I had my own ‘special chair’, as well as a list of acceptable behaviour, and treated the confines of the workplace as a second home, all combined with a fierce loyalty, both to my colleagues, and to the particular place where I worked. If there was an ‘Ambulance Mafia’, then I suppose that I must have personified it. The ‘Tony Soprano’ of the LAS, or similar, you get the idea.

Just so as not to blacken my good name completely, I should add, that during all this time, I always tried to do my best for the patients, whenever I could; and I think that I enjoyed a good reputation at the local hospitals, as well as with at least some of my fellow ambulance workers. But I cannot deny that I had other agendas. This was at a dark time for the UK, politically speaking. Mrs Thatcher was the new Prime minister, and together with her Right-Wing Government, she was intent on destroying all Union power in Britain, as well as destroying the NHS. I felt that I had to do my bit to protest about this, and I like to think that I did more than a bit.

None of it ended well. After a damaging (yet inspirational) strike, the staff were left no better off than before; much worse, to be exact. The new staff, arriving rapidly, considered themselves above the teachings and influence of the ‘old guard’, and went their own way, rejecting the Unions, and the existing, well-proven methods. Pretty soon, people like me were little more than museum pieces, laughable anachronisms from a former time, not worthy of respect, or attention. The name, soon adopted for us, was Dinosaur, with all the connotations of an undesirable species, long extinct.

All I can say, is that I did my best, and that I knew when it was time to go. History will judge the rest.