Now then, the big news around here towards the end of last week was that Beyonce and Jay-Z were allegedly moving to these here parts. Apparently where we live is known as "The Beverly Hills of the UK" - this is news to us and obviously whichever journalist coined that phrase hasn't been to our local Weatherspoons on a Friday night in term-time, when the cream of local youth are indulging!
It was a bit surreal to see our little town on the ITV London/South-East news, interviewing people we knew and panning over the fields around the town. The last time we featured so much on the news was when Princess Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed died, as Mohammed Al-Fayed lives on the outskirts of the town - well, I say "lives" - he has a property surrounded by a massive security fence, with guard dogs prowling around the perimeter fence and doesn't spend more than 90 days in the UK per year for tax purposes. It's not as if he pops in to his neighbours on a regular basis for a cup of tea and a fondant fancy, is it?
Anyway, to get back to Beyonce. Of course, this was all nonsense. There's nowhere that would have the kind of security possible for someone of her fame and, in any case, it would completely change our little town, having loads of fans descending upon us. Let's face it, the coffee shops just wouldn't be able to cope with this extra influx of customers, although the charity shops might be quite gleeful about the possibility of getting Beyonce's cast-offs to sell :-) How did it all start? I have it on good authority (Facebook!) that this originated from a family discussion over dinner one night last week where the question was asked about how easy it would be to make people believe something quite unbelievable, using the power of social media. Cue a tweet and the next thing you know, there are tv crews descending on the town. Isn't it just incredible how a single comment can grow exponentially to become a "true story"? It turns out that we know the family where this story was born....not saying who they are, though!
What else has happened since I last posted? I've been quite busy catching up with friends. One friend came over for lunch last Tuesday - I hadn't seen him for about a year and a half, during which time he has had a hip replacement and I've had my various treatments, so we were laughing about being a couple of old crocks as he hirpled into Oxted with me and my wonky face :-) On Wednesday, I had a full day up in London, starting off with meeting an old colleague and friend for lunch, then travelling on the tube to my Institute HQ, where I caught up over tea and cake with another friend and then attended a meeting of the organising committee for summer conference. It felt really good to be involved again - I have been part of this committee for 10 years and chaired it for 8 years until I stepped down in 2010 (it's almost as if I knew I'd be out of action in 2011, isn't it? Spooky!). Last year I couldn't be very involved at all, although my lovely fellow committee members trekked out to Oxted one evening to hold a meeting at Sweeting Towers, just so I could still feel part of it all. Truly lovely, kind people. This year, I am able to take a much more active part in things and it was so refreshing to be bouncing ideas around with everyone and building on work already done. Every year, we support a charity and hold various fund-raising events, usually raising a few hundred pounds over the course of the conference. We've supported the British Paralympics Association, Macmillan, Breast Cancer Care and Diabetes UK over the past few years. One of our agenda items was to nominate and discuss charities for this year's conference. Thanks to my supportive committee friends, we have decided that this year we will support a new charity, set up last year and currently the only one in the UK specifically to support people with facial palsy: Facial Palsy UK. I feel very honoured that we have chosen to support this group, from which I direcly benefit, and also humbled at the generosity of spirit of my fellow committee members, several of whom I'm sure had charities they feel passionate about but who were happy to say immediately that we would support my suggestion. I love these guys!
After the committee meeting, some of us went for a meal, so it was a long time out for me and involved several tube journeys, all of which I coped with fine. My lovely husband asked me to text him and let him know what train I was on and when I emerged from the train at our station, there he was, waiting to walk me home - what a star!
And so to Thursday, and another lunch up in London (I am such a lady who lunches nowadays - how will I keep my social life going once I return to work? It's going to be difficult...). This time I was meeting with two friends, one of whom had come over to see me in September and the other, someone I hadn't seen for over a year. We were lunching at the Royal Thames Yacht Club in Knightsbridge (how posh is that?!) and we had a lovely time, sitting in the dining room overlooking Hyde Park, watching the runners and walkers out in the wintry sunshine. Great food and great conversation. It was really encouraging that Tony, who had seen me in September, could see a real improvement in my face and even I, trying to be objective rather than critical and pessimistic, can see that there is much more movement on the left side of my face than I had a few months ago. Of course, it's all relative and I'm still a long, long way from having a properly animated face on that side, but it's good to know that there is some nerve regeneration and that the exercises and electrode stimulation are having some effect.
Since Thursday, life has been much quieter and Oxted-centred, although I had an interview on Friday morning about doing some volunteer work at Orpheus Centre, where Amy works. I've filled in my CRB form and need to wait for an enhanced CRB check to be carried out, so I won't be able to start there for a little while yet. Apart from this, my time has been spent doing domestic stuff - shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry etc. I seem to be turning into a right little Hausfrau. Next thing I know, I will be stencilling "Kinder, Kuche, Kirche" on the kitchen wall...or maybe not! I'm still trying to keep my exercise regime going: last week I did an exercise class, zumba and gym and tonight I am off to an exercise class with Amy, with zumba tomorrow and Thursday and some gym sessions at some point. I have speech therapy on Thursday afternoon and I am hoping my speech therapist will be pleased with my progress - it feels almost like going to a school parents' evening!
This has been a mammoth post, so I shall end it with my usual thanks to everyone for your support and thoughts and, as always, with my best love to Neil, Amy and Adam.