Tiger and I tried out the informalness of his patienthood
We asked the nurse if we could leave the hospital for a cup of tea in a local cafe. The nurse described several places we could go, gave us directions, made sure Tiger had the ward’s phone number and then unlocked each of the 3 sets of doors to let us out. The nurse couldn’t have been more supportive, it was wonderful
Once outside Tiger held my arm. The Co-operative funeral care service across the road made me smile – for all your funerial needs, on the hospital doorstep
Tea and honey in a small atmospheric, indenpendent, cafe was all very pleasant. Tiger was also very pleasant company, albeit with the aid of antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs
5 days after arriving at the Maudsley Tiger was discharged into community care. He happily moved back to his peaceful home and has started coding again…
Rummaging around in the history of Reading town one theme keeps cropping-up, Friendly societies, Societies of Friends (Quakers), and their contribution to the quality of life of local citizens. Here’ s an example from the History of Unison website:
By the 1630’s weavers, many of them refugees from Catholic France, were leaving London in search of work and coming to Reading. This was part of the early system of organised labour based on the principle of the search for work being sustained by fellow craftsmen who gradually organised themselves into ‘Friendly Societies.’ In 1841 the Friendly Society of Iron Moulders, with twenty-two members in Reading, gave assistance to 275 ‘tramps,’ (see note 1.) By 1847 these twenty-two men had, themselves, been forced to go in search of work but their branch, kept in being by the landlord of their public house, enabled 1038 members of the union to be given relief as they ‘trampled through the town.’….
…From early meetings of supporters of Robert Owen, the Co-operative Movement was established in Reading, the first shop at 14 Caversham Road being opened soon after the formation of the society in 1860. Not only shops but a diary, bakery, jam factory, printing works, nursery, and even a footwear repairing factory, made the Reading Co-operative Society one of the best organised and strongest in Britain…
…in the area of music and drama the Labour movement also made a contribution. In the mid-nineteen thirties the Workers Drama Association was established with a performance of ‘The Six Men Of Dorset’ a play about the Tolpuddle Martyrs. Today the W.D.A. has become the Progress Theatre…
The subtle differences in the way the companies are can be seen in the promotional designs for their current campaigns. The Natwest prmotion is neat and tidy with photographs of brochures, big old buildings and staff wearing a uniform and name tag. By contrast the Co-op promotion includes an imitation of hand-written text corrections, a childs plastic toy, the colloquial word ‘dump’, and anthropomophises the Bank by refering to it as ‘someone’.
Moving from being treated as a sales opportunity to being recognised as a person feels really good. The Natwest customer charter, to become the most helpful bank is definitiely an admirable goal that shows they are aware of one of their key shortcomings. They have a long way to go, helpfulness is not something I’d noticed in their recent everyday service. By contrast, the staff at the Co-op actually
listened to me
asked me sensible questions that I could understand
made fun little observations that made me smile and demonstrated the lack of corporate dehumanising of their staff, and
provided understandable advice.
While in the Reading Co-op branch I overheard someone comment on the recruitment poster in the branch suggesting that people dump their old bank :
I’m on a roll with the making of changes. I’ve moved my current and credit accounts to the Co-op bank. Hoorah! I love their values and helpful staff. I leave NatWest with a fabulous sense of relief and freedom.
In 1982 a girl I’d been to school with opened my Natwest Bank account in my local village. As one of the less than 10% of people that went to University I was a valued customer, a potential high earner. They promised me a free £5 for opening an account with them. One third of the cost of a pair of Levi 501s (£14.99).
In the 1980′s Natwest was small and friendly, my whole family and most of the village either banked or worked there. Natwest saw me through my BSc, PhD, my first job, first car, and first mortgage. Some bumps, but generally they were supportive and I stuck with them. In 1992 I lost my job. I wrote to Natwest to let them know (a condition of the mortgage). They told me that they were going to put my house on the market and charge me for a valuation and sales services. I had not defaulted on my mortgage. I had sufficient savings to live on and pay my mortgage for months and they could see that by looking at my accounts. This was an outragoeusly insensitive and unsupportive act. Also, they were not legally allowed to do this, this was bullying! I replied telling them that they did not have my permission to spend my money on selling my home when I had not broken the conditions of the mortgage agreement. I got a job, changed cities, changed home, changed mortage provider.
Things really spiralled downhill in the naughties. After they were purchased by RBS the service standard nose-dove into corporate solelessness and ignorant, if cheerful, front of house staff. Luckily I missed experiencing the gradual decay because I was living and primarily banking in the USA. Since returning to the UK they’ve actualy reduced me to tears twice, by aggressively trying to sell me services.
Today they treated me with their normal intrusive and condescending rudeness. AaarggGHH. The last straw. I calmly asked the informations desk for advice on the most efficient and effective way close all my acounts with them. It felt good to stride out of the shop upright, hanky still in my pocket, knowing that I wont be going back.
Each of us introduced ourselves by name and house number, I became ‘Wendy at n(a)’. My introduction received one of two common reactions:
Oh, the cute one that isn’t really on the street! We knew Marion who lived there before you.
Where is that? We know [name] at n+1, n, and the empty new house n(b), there is no house between them.
Uncommonly, the Wendy House doesn’t have a frontage on the Street. It is hidden behind n+1 with the pathway approach unintuitively placed between n+1 and n(b) rather than intuitively between n and n(b). I discovered that a prior resident of this Wendy House, Marion:
moved in soon after the stable was converted to a house, mid to late 1960′s.
moved out in 2002.
died in 2005.
was a kept woman, no-one knew who her patron was. My deeds show the house was owned by Brian during her time here.
would stand at the gateway and chat to passers-by.
My plan to become the wierd lady with the hats was generally well recieved. One neighbour may give me an old set of oak gates from a local house currently stored in his stables which haven’t been converted into a residence for a working woman.