It turns out I am a souter after all

Reuben's shoe—mid-mend
Reuben’s shoe—mid-mend

A couple of days ago I noticed that the stitching on Reuben’s shoe was coming apart. My response to this came from two places.

First, I was brought up with the attitude that we should always try to mend something first, rather than simply throwing it away. After all, there really is no ‘away’—it’s just over there, somewhere.

Second, I was brought up in Selkirk which was historically famous for its shoe makers, or in Scots: souters.

So I got my needle and thread out and re-stitched Reuben’s shoe.

Oh I am a spaceman, a song by Reuben

This afternoon Reuben (5) told me that he wanted to write a song called “Oh I am a spaceman”. Who was I to say no?

We had such fun coming up with this song and then recording this demo on my phone. The lyric ideas were mostly Reuben’s and I wish that I had recorded the writing process because I can still hear his laughter as I read through the lyrics.

We demoed this song about six times. We chose this version not because it was the most pitch-perfect but because of Reuben’s enthusiastic drumming, his joining in with the singing, and his lovely laughter.

 

OH I AM A SPACEMAN

by Reuben J M Saunders (5) and Gareth J M Saunders (42)

Oh I am a spaceman
Standing on the moon
Looking down at planet Earth
I’m glad I’ve brought my spoon

Cos back there in the spaceship
Is my best friend Bert
He’s guarding the fridge from aliens
He’s protecting my yoghurt

My favourite flavour’s strawberry
And Bert’s favourite is lime
But when I bounced back to HQ
I discovered he’d eaten mine

So I opened up the space hatch
And pulled with all my might
Bert’s floating out in space now
He’s a yoghurt-y satellite

Oh I am a spaceman
Standing on the moon
Looking down at planet Earth
I’m now sad I brought my spoon

Written on a Sunday afternoon (4 May 2014) by Reuben J M Saunders (aged 5) and Gareth J M Saunders (aged 42). Lyrical ideas from Reuben, musical ideas from Gareth.

Recorded on a Google Nexus 4 using J4T Multitracker for Android.

Walking Isaac to playgroup

Isaac in an orange jacket, carrying his monkey
“Can I get a photo of you, please, Isaac?” “Okay!”

One of my favourite things today was walking Isaac to playgroup.

We played “I spy” on the way; the colour edition.

Isaac: I spy with my little eye something the colour… red!

Me: Is it that red car in front of us?

Isaac: YES!

If you ever get to play “I spy (colour edition)” with Isaac, it’s usually a car. Or a lorry. Or a van. Or… you get the idea.

Signed off

Statement of fitness for work: You are not fit for work
Statement of fitness for work

A few months back I promised that I would write more honest blog posts this year. Last month I blogged elsewhere about mental health in web development. How about a blog post today that combines the two, in a spirit of transparency?

This morning I made a same-day appointment to see my GP as I’d had a sore mouth for a couple of weeks and it didn’t seem to be getting any better. I expected him to take a quick look, make a diagnosis, and send me packing with either a prescription or a handful of advice. Instead he signed me off for a week. (And gave me a prescription.)

I’ve only just read what he wrote: “stress related illness”. That about sums it up.

It turns out that your oral health offers clues about your overall health. And my mouth told my doctor that my general health was terrible and that I needed to be signed off. And when I say “my mouth told my doctor” I don’t mean the speaky bit of my mouth.

What has brought me here is a combination of

  • being hugely understaffed at work (two vacancies, two off on long-term sick, one secondment; leaving our potential team of seven as a team of two);
  • not having had a proper break (being off sick with a bad cold or a chest infection doesn’t constitute a proper break, does it?) since mid-October 2013;
  • the usual night-time interruptions related to having small children;
  • general (and specific!) family stresses and strains;
  • other (probably)

It all came to a focus this morning in that doctor’s surgery. And I cried.

I resisted his suggestion of time off, of course. I tried to negotiate a week’s grace to see if I needed to be signed off next week instead, as I didn’t want to let the team down. And when I say ‘team’ I am now, of course, referring to one person (!?)

I do feel bad about it. I have colleagues who have said during the last few months, “I don’t know how you keep going?” Today I acknowledged that I can’t just keep going. It also highlights very much, I hope, that our current way of working within the University web team just isn’t sustainable.

Something had to give and thankfully it was my physical health first rather than my mental health. But as the GP said it would only be a matter of time if I didn’t stop now. Without exactly saying “a stitch in time saves nine”, my GP responded by saying something along the lines of “a week off in time saves nine”.

In the end, after a thorough examination, bloods eventually coaxed from my veins, and the promise of some ‘tasty’ liquorice-flavoured medicine, I relented and agreed to a week.

Believe me, the irony is not lost on me: weeks of trying to unsuccessfully negotiate time off at work and when the GP offers it immediately and for (please choose) one or two weeks, I hesitate.

So… doctors orders are to rest. I took him at his word, returned home, made a couple of calls, had a spot of lunch and then slept until 3:00pm.

Here’s to a few days of healing.