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Lorna Hoey: absence makes the heart pound faster…

July 13, 2010

My 88-year old mother had a hospital appointment this morning. Long-awaited, much planned for, this visit to the consultant would hopefully alleviate fears, explain the necessary and would ‘sort out her wee problem’, which is actually quite a big problem, which she won’t discuss. I phoned, but  no reply. The route my brother was to take was through the Ardoyne  and across to the Falls Road. Obviously they would have left early. I phoned my brother’s mobile, but – nothing.

At times like these you wish you weren’t nearly 300 miles from home. The lunchtime news was all about last night’s ‘recreational rioting’ but didn’t say what was happening at that moment. I phoned again. No reply. I tried my brother’s phone again. It seemed to be switched off. I tried the Irish news websites. Apparently the main roads were still closed. A picture showed a burnt-out car smouldering at a street junction, just around the corner from where I used to teach. I phoned again. Nothing. Left another message on my brother’s phone.

I started flicking around the radio channels and found BBC Radio 7 – and found something which managed to nearly distract me for the next hour (which was pretty good, considering) : Big Toe Books. Episodes from several books are read each weekday from 4 p.m.  The stories are aimed at readers aged 6-12, and if you miss a bit the latest episodes are on the webpage every day at 5 p.m. The stories stay on the site for a week after they have been broadcast on the radio.

At the end of an hour I phoned again. My mother answered her landline immediately. No, no problem, they’d been trying to get to the hospital, hadn’t they? Had I forgotten she had an appointment today? Oh, and my brother hadn’t taken his mobile with him – out of charge, or something. Yes, police cordons and barriers had prevented them from reaching the hospital until very late but a nice wee girl had re-scheduled her appointment for next week. What are you doing now? I croaked. Oh, just sunning myself in the porch with a G and T, reading a book, the evening paper’s too depressing…I put the phone down with a shaking hand. Must tell her, I thought, scheduled is ‘shh’ not ‘skk’.

Anyway the day wasn’t entirely wasted. I’d discovered Big Toe Books.

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 15, 2010 10:25 am

    I, too, am finding it hard to let my ‘skk’ schedules go.

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