Month: July 2012

Times Have Changed Since the Olympics

Women playing basketball and men jumping rope, Double Dutch at that, epitomised Day 2 of the 2012 Olympics. My, how times have changed since the first modern games in 1896.

But what hasn’t changed is the enthusiasm and drive of the athletes nor has the ingenuity of human beings. You have to see it to believe it. Honestly, before the Olympic Park and Westfield Shopping Centre of course, it was just land. Land!

But do not despair over lost land. It has been put to good use for the love of country and for sport, of course. From Anish Kapoor’s Olympic sculpture, the Arclor Mittal Orbit (like or it loathe it) to the sleek Aquatics Center, the crowds, me included, ooh and aah at every vista. Not to mention the enthusiasm for the up close and personal experiences.

You should have heard the crowds roar for the women’s basketball teams. Yes! We had a top row seat inside the arena, fondly called the mattress by BBC Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbill. To continue with that metaphor, the arena, though gigantic,  was cozy and comfy.

I can’t claim to have been in that many arenas over the years, though I have been in plenty of gymnasiums, but of the two or three I have visited, I can say that the mattress matched up. So what if it didn’t have a hotdog stand for my American friend but the sound, the energy, the crowds made up for it.

So we did, but speaking of coming a long way, women athletes most certainly have. So many of them are setting new records and clenching the medals. Eyes are on Zara Phillips, the Queen’s granddaughter, today as she rides with Team GB in the equestrian event.

Other women are raising the game too, case in point: the USA Women’s basketball team. I can’t say enough about their finesse, their professionalism. No wonder they have won thirty-four consecutive games as of last night.

As I watched them play, I attempted to text every American I could get in touch with to ask, if nothing else, why so secretive? These women are a national treasure and will surely change the game of women’s basketball the world over, if they already haven’t.

See my views on women’s athletes at London 2012 in my HuffPost blog.

Meanwhile, I’m exhausted today. Still on a high, I’m already thinking about what kind of shoes I’ll wear the next time we head out to the Olympic Park. Though I have found the travel advisories to be more bark than bite, the tips on getting around the park are real.

Comfortable shoes are a must as is rain wear and a darn good jacket. Never mind that this is the last day of July.  Gone are the days when summer was summer and winter was winter and so on.

My, how times have changed.

Sixty-five years and counting poetically so

Those of you who follow both this and my HuffPost blog will know that I’ve been grappling with loss here lately. My father-in-law died back in March and just four months later, his bride of 65 years has followed, my husband’s mother.

Normally, that’s the way it happens I have been told repeatedly–one lifelong partner so mourns the loss of the other that the heart pines until it stops altogether. If I didn’t see it for myself, I’d insist that it was a historical tragedy of some sorts.

But it was not a play, it was Peta’s life, but no less dramatic, particularly her final days. The very thing that was so wrong about her suffering was the thing that was so right about it–she simply couldn’t get accustomed to life without her husband.

And why should she at 96. Never mind that those of us who cared about her did everything in our power to help her overcome, which is a good segue to the National Health Service  (NHS).

Hailing from a country that seems to pooh-pooh any healthcare package that reaches out to the masses, I’ve never fully embraced the NHS for a number of reasons (it’s often confused with Welfare, scorned for inadequate treatment, spurned for inconsistency in doctors, and so on) but having witnessed it firsthand for weeks now, I have opened my arms to it, that is so long as the communication is effective.

Admittedly, however, that is not always the case. Communications is fair at its best in the NHS. During my mother-in-law’s stay in hospital, I had to assert myself more times than not owing to inadequate communications. Still barring the frustrating times, I saw that the NHS can work, but of course, all GPs and hospitals are not equal, as is often pointed out in the news. Recently, I read of a south London hospital that failed a dehydration patient, mainly down to poor communication.

In the case of my mother-in-law, however, the NHS hospital and the surgery (doctor’s office) both succeeded but they shall remain nameless to spare them the big head. Of course, there were a few surly employees and at least one or two incompetent ones, but one or two bad apples don’t spoil the whole barrel.

When it came down to it, the NHS worked for Peta when she needed healthcare the most. When the medics thought she could be saved, they worked with us to save her. And when it became clear that she was beyond rescuing, they worked with us to make her as comfortable as possible.

Admittedly, the best part was avoiding red tape for the most part. Okay, there was some…okay a lot, but the point is there was no haggling with insurance companies, etc…And though I did miss the continuity of doctors, I saw the merit in a system that levels the playing field when it counts the most.

Though we could have opted for private care and in some instances we did, Peta, like many Britons, paid into the healthcare system via her taxes, and it paid off for her. And though the NHS is available to anyone in the country, not just those paying taxes,  it’s still different from Welfare in that it is not a government provision, rather a system implemented by the government that can and does work more often than not.

As for Peta, though we already miss her sorely, we take comfort in knowing that her ending was rather poetic, much like hers and Joe’s life together–65 years and counting. Beautiful – yes, that sums it up.