Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Monday, 8 December 2008

On events of the weekend

On Saturday, in anticipation of Harry's homecoming, I went to our local Oddbins to buy him his requested bottle of single malt. A man was standing behind several shelves of whiskeys and stuff and I asked him where the single malt was. Here, he said, indicated with a broad wave of his hand.

And so I found myself uncharacteristically walking in the shoes of a man confronted with a make-up counter, who looks at all the indistinguishable creams, unguents etc - and panics.

Eventually, I pointed to a bottle of Laphroaig and said, I've heard of that one. And this is why so many husbands arrive home from business trips abroad clutching a bottle of Chanel No 5.

Last night Harry told me that often he goes into Oddbins just to peruse the single malts and engage in learned discussion with the sales person about their properties. Just as you or I might linger at the Bobbi Brown counter swiping lipstick on our inner wrists.

I would like to be able to report that the troubles of Harry, Will and Kelly are now over, that they had a comfortable flight back from Mumbai and that Will is now resting in an NHS teaching hospital with the finest medical attention this country has to offer. However what I have to report instead is so shocking that I'll wait until these matters are drawn to wider attention.

If you return from a poor and chaotic city like Mumbai you might expect to feel grateful and even proud to be British. You'd be mistaken.

UPDATE at bloody last, Will is now properly settled in hospital and his ongoing care is commencing. The Mumbai Hospital did an excellent job, by all accounts and can we all give a big round of applause for Harry himself who has been under appalling stress trying to ensure his son is properly cared for.


Sheila said...

So pleased they are all now back home but very sorry that it sounds as though the ordeal is continuing. As a fellow Brit I am trying to guess which bit of our less than perfect system has broken down. Ihope it gets better soon.
On a happier note, I enjoy both the perfume and the single malt counters and indulge in long conversations with sales staff at both. Like perfume, single malts are very much about individual taste and mood. Guerlain Samsara and Lagavulin is probably my favourite combination.

cybill said...

That is a terrific analogy, as the owner of at least 3 bottles of Chanel, I think I get it now!
I'm so glad that Harry, Will and friend are all back. Now onto the next step of the journey, but at least you are fighting on home turf.

phyllis said...

Laphroaig eh? He likes the smoky, peaty single malts. The second part of your post reminds me of something I told my sister-in-law when her brother deployed to Iraq; my career military father had been in Vietnam, and his experience changed him forever in ways those of us who were not there just cannot understand. I had to warn my sister-in-law that the brother she knew before he deployed in many ways was gone forever, and that the damage caused by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can wreck a life just a severely as any physical injury. Early diagnosis and treatment of PTSD has a lot to do with how well a person recovers from a horrific experience.

dancingsmith said...

Smiths Glenlivet for me, every time.

So sorry to hear about the unhappy home coming, await the dreadful details, I feel with you all on this, so please update soon.

lagatta à montréal said...

I enjoyed the shopping stuff - my single-malt aficionado friends like the smoky, peaty stuff as well. It is possible to get some decent ones coming through the larger duty-frees - such as from Frankfurt. I have a list (this is for my catsitter). I know nothing about single malt or any other hard stuff, but confess I probably know a lot more about wine than perfume...

As for serious matters, that is shocking indeed. Why on earth is he not in a teaching hospital? He has several serious injuries that need delicate care, and this is a young man with his life before him. Grrrr.

phyllis, there was a lot less known about PTSD back then than there is now. Remember how many Vietnam vets became homeless drifters, or otherwise dysfunctional? One of the greatest career officers in Canada, General Roméo Dallaire, was literally driven mad by what he had seen in Rwanda and Western indifference to the genocide. He was found as a derelict on a park bench in Ottawa. Since then he has been an advocate for ex-servicepeople with PTSD, that it is not a shame or a matter of not being tough enough.

The site Linda posted a couple of days ago has useful links and draws upon the experiences of people who have survived - or the friends and familiy of those who did not - a wide range of natural and manmade disasters.

I've been involved with torture survivor networks, and there is a specific harm done to people who were deliberately singled out to be hurt and damaged, as in the Mumbai attack and other massacres or in torture centres. Healing is a long process and requires recognising the legitimacy of that harm as an injury as real as the physical ones they also live with.

Linda Grant said...

He was taken to a teaching hospital. Which didn't want to take him and kept him waiting in casualty for eight hours.

Deja Pseu said...

Chanel no. 5, indeed. I buy one bottle of single malt scotch annually, mainly to have to offer to guests around the holidays (though I enjoy the occasional swig), and I always have to ask for a recommendation. At least I have one now that I know I enjoy, so I can use that as a reference when talking with the sales person.

I'm so sorry to hear that things are not going smoothly. Hope they beat the bureaucrats into submission, or whomever is compounding their misery.

miss cavendish said...

I like Glenlivet, neat (but maybe that's redundant).

Surely the teaching hospital should have welcomed Will with open doors and arms. How frustrating.

Toby Wollin said...

Your story about the single malts reminds me of out trip to Scotland in August. My husband wanted to bring his work mates little bottles of a single malt and stood in front of the wall in Edinburgh seemingly for hours trying to decide what to do.
I have nothing I can say about Will's 'welcome'; I do not understand it at all. I can think of no excuse that would be adequate as an answer.

dana said...

I'm so shocked and sorry to hear about Will, but very glad he's back home. How horrifying this is for all of you.

Oddbins sounds like a wonderful store. Ever since the LDS or some such drove the liquor department out of Walgreens, selection has been down and price up. We're considering patronizing a local establishment to be found at some of the highway exits known as Dirt Cheap. I'll bet they know their stuff.

Sheila, I hate to say this, but I've almost quit wearing my Guerlain Samsara since reading more Buddhism and finding that samsara means worldly pain. But the name of a scent shouldn't matter, should it?

Anonymous said...

I am shocked although not really surprised to hear of poor Will's treatment at the UK university hospital. Nor of his excellent treatment in Mumbai. Having lived in Asia for 40 years, I'd much rather go to a top private hospital in a major Asian city such as Mumbai, Singapore, Bangkok etc than anywhere in UK. It's not surprising we have so many "medical tourists" in this part of the world.

Rollergirl said...

I have recently had a frustrating time in an NHS hossie. In fact, the Mumbai bombs went off on the day I was admitted and my mum told me all about them when she came to visit me (she lives in Mumbai but has been on holiday in London for a few weeks). As much as I was complaining about the lack of efficiency and communication during my stay I had to humble myself and be grateful I wasn't in an Indian hospital, never mind when there's been a terrorist attack. Hope things look up for Will very soon. I'm sure each day will bring some small improvement and that is what one must remember in one's darker moments.

kim h said...

If Harry doesnt want his Laphroig I will help him out!