The Randall’s Revisited – Meryl Williams

Episode 1 –Rain stops play

“I’m bored,” announced Royston, gazing out of the window at the rain soaked streets of Glethamgetty City Centre.
“It’s an anti-climax,” said Cassie his beautiful wife, curled up on the sofa with a copy of the Mindful magazine.  “You could take all your old vinyl down to the charity shop” she suggested “after all it’s got to be done”.
“I can’t bear to part with it”, mused Royston and he looked at the boxes stacked up in a corner of their new sitting room.  “Can’t we keep them?” “No Roy, we really don’t have the space” replied Cassie, “I’ve had to part will all my antique china ornaments so fair is fair.  After all you never play them, we don’t even have a record player anymore and the charity shop can get good money for them.”  “I’’ go if it stops raining,” said Roy and he sat down grabbing the remote control.  “Rain stops play” announced the cricket commentator on the TV so Roy watched some re-runs of last year’s test matches.
“Time is marching on and Erica will be here with her new baby so couldn’t you just nip out and get rid of those boxes?” pleaded Cassie.  “Very well” Roy cried and he leapt up and began to move the boxes out into the boot of their car.
“Roy”, hailed a voice and Roy looked up narrowly missing bumping his head on the car boot door.  It was the vicar from their new church just a few minutes from their new luxury apartment on Glethamgetty’s most fashionable boulevard.
“We look forward to seeing you at the Lent lectures” called the vicar, “here is the leaflet, Dr Anthony Pratt is speaking.  He comes all the way from Outer Moraria so I thought it might interest you both.  He is looking forward to meeting you as I mentioned your visit there a few years ago.”
“I am really interested” said Roy sincerely “Cassie will be also, we found it very rewarding to visit Outer Moraria and the hospital has written to say how they have made improvements thanks to some fundraising we did.  We will really look forward to the lecture, is there coffee afterwards?”
“There is” replied the vicar “and as you’re keen we can invite you both to a meal for some parishioners to get a chance to meet Dr Pratt”.
Royston of course was a retired lawyer who took Cassie his wife to visit Outer Moraria where the chief economy was based on diamond mining.  Cassie was a busy GP and at the hospital in Octavia she met many patients affected by dust from the mines.  Royston was interested in supporting the poorer miners with their legal rights.  Their daughter Erica had been inspired to become a social worker and married Lawrence a sculptor.  The Randall’s son James married Jonathan and the two men adopted twins.

In this new series we see Roy and Cassie revisit the mining town of Octavia and continue their good work and social projects that they had been able to found.

To be continued …

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Parity of Esteem

This is what treatment for a broken leg would be like if physical health services were the same as mental health services.

Imagine that you trip and hurt your leg. You go to your GP because it seems quite bad, but you’re not sure it warrants a trip to A&E. The GP agrees that it looks bad and suggests you get further help from their new ‘Leg Injury Service’, and she gives you a number to phone. In the meantime your doctor gives you a pair of crutches, so that you can get about. You struggle home and ring the number. An appointment is made for a month’s time.

At your appointment with the Leg Injury Service, the specialist asks why you’ve come and you explain that you fell and hurt your leg. She asks you to fill in a form about how your leg injury is affecting your life. The specialist says it looks like you’ve broken your leg, and then goes on to describe how the service works. You’ll need to go on one of their leg injury prevention courses, before any intensive treatment is available.

You ask if the specialist is going to do anything about your leg, but she says that the courses are a really important part of the process and can’t be missed. She asks you to trust the process and will see you again in two weeks. She adds that if you show your commitment to getting better by going on the courses, you are more likely to get one-on-one treatment for your broken leg. At home, you look at the website and choose the ‘Avoiding trips and falls’ course and return for your next appointment.

You are asked to fill out the same form again, and the specialist says that your scores aren’t really all that bad, and you seem to be coping fine with a broken leg. You agree that you are getting quite good on your crutches and your arms are getting very strong, but your leg hurts and is healing crooked. The specialist says that you really should try the course and see how it goes. It starts in two months time – three months from your accident. As you hobble home, you decide that you can manage by yourself.

By Kate McDonnell, Bath Mind Chair

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A Charter for all – Meryl Williams

The well loved, noble, good Queen Vic
Reigned long years upon the English throne
But here is Wales I’ve hoiked my pick
Hewn coal, breathed iron and then traipsed home.

My fellow men we gather here
We sing a song and raise a cheer
But it’s a grim and cursed life
That’s never free from endless strife.

It was to be the day of days
A march for freedom just for Wales
Us Chartists overthrow the throne
And make the government our own.

Alas, alack a wretch has told
For Megan will not with me grow old
We’re all arrested, no longer free
Transportation for life or hang on tree.

Will we the brave remembered be?
Who fought that night for the Big Country
A mural painted on the wall
Is all that’s left of Chartist’s fall.

They say the pen can mightier be
Than sword or spear or violent melee
So here’s a draft to simply say
Remember those who left this way.

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Meryl Williams – Aunt Meryl’s Autobiography

I’m a complex yet homespun girl
Not a bit the social whirl
I love best a cup of tea
Good humour and good company.

If your problems you relate
You may find I can equate
But if solutions you reject
Then I’m afraid you’ve had your bets.

Once my sought goodwill is lost
You will find eternal frost
Say the thing that hurts my heart
I won’t forget and we will part.

Loving kindness I will show
Always learning, keen to grow
No, a word less on my lips
But for some, a point they’ve had their chips.

So if you read this awful tale
Crossed out by Meryl’s grumps again
I will say don’t push too far
Your luck is over I’m overparr.

Finally I need to say
That every dog will have her day
Soon I will be superseded
But until then I’m unexceeded.

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Come As You Are Blog

Recently Your Voice was asked to feature a  piece from the Come As You Are Blog, an anonymous blog with underlying themes of mental health. Created by the young for the young, Come As You Are Blog is a safe platform for young people to share their experiences relating to mental health. Everyone who has contributed to the blog just wants to talk about what they have experienced and prove that they’re all very similar.

Continue reading

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New Chair at Bath Mind

Hello – I’m KOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAate McDonnell and I’m the new chair of Bath Mind.

I want to start by paying a tribute to my predecessor, Richard Ellis. He has been a trustee and chair of Bath Mind for many years, contributing ideas, leadership, ensuring rigorous governance. So, a huge thanks from all of us to him – and I’m delighted to say he’s going to carry on with us as a trustee.

I’ve been a trustee since 2014. Like everyone here though – my connection with Bath Mind is personal. I’ve self-harmed for nearly 30 years, but thought that the pain I felt was my fault. It turns out that I had bipolar disorder, which was only diagnosed a couple of years ago. I naturally became very interested in mental health and came to Bath Mind to volunteer as a designer. And what I found here was an amazing, dedicated group of people who support people just like me.

For mental health, to paraphrase Charles Dickens, this is the best of times and the worst of times. The best – because mental health has the highest political and social profile it has had in years. It’s been the anti-Europe issue if you will – and united the political parties! Norman Lamb, Alan Milburn and Stephen Dorrell came together a few weeks ago to state that mental health needs greater support and priority, to no longer be the Cinderella of health services.

In terms of media and the cultural sphere – we are finally getting to a place where celebrities, athletes and others – are openly speaking about their mental health issues. This is a HUGE leap forward from a few years ago, when anything to do with mental health was considered taboo, and to be brushed under the carpet. Getting the message that mental health is not something you need to be ashamed of – and can receive support for – is a hugely important message – especially for younger people and vulnerable groups.

As part of Bath Mind, we are all responsible for helping change the profile and attitudes towards mental health. It’s organisations like ours that have helped to challenge prejudice, support people’s needs, increase public understanding about mental health. Well done us!

But the challenges. Whilst we’re small but mighty, we have to prioritise what we do. We now know what we’re going to do over the next five years with the launch of our new strategic plan. It’s not news that the funding situation out there is tough, and these are going to be challenging financial times for all small organisations. We’re all going to be working hard to find new sources of income so that we can achieve our goals.

But you know what… I’m confident about our future. And my confidence is down to the dedication, support and hard work of all of you. Everyone at Bath Mind has made a positive difference to mental health. I’m quite overwhelmed when I think about the team at the office, the supporters, volunteers, donors, trustees – everyone who gives their time, support, dedication, inspiration, creativity… to Bath Mind. Thank you so much – together we help create better mental health for people in Bath & North East Somerset.


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End of the Advocacy and Mentoring Service?

Now, this is  on a much more serious note. The Mentoring and Advocacy Department of
Bath Mind including the much valued befriending service will cease to be on the
31st of March 2015*. They have had to manage without funding from the council
for the last 2 years. A sorry state of affairs when B.A.N.E.S. Council itself
admit that Bath has the lowest level of care in the South West and it’s getting
worse. Various governments over the years have promised improvements but I have
yet to see the evidence. It appears that Mental Health sufferers can take a
back seat and get quietly ignored when grants are given out to various “more
important” concerns … Bath Mind should be considered an asset to Bath and not
simply another expensive handout! I wonder if our badly done by M.P’s would
consider foregoing their subsidised dinners and other privileges at the House of
Commons? That might help organisations like Mind even if only a little bit.
Perhaps we could write to our M.P’s in Parliament and badger them like the giant
corporations do to get what they want and usually get! There are lots of ways
they could help if the genuine concern was there. I can only wish Bath Mind the
very best for the future and hope beyond hope someone’s conscience get pricked
and something gets pulled out of the bag at the last minute. Very, very good wishes
for the future, Bath Mind.
Alan Cupit (a.k.a Mr (VERY) Angry)

* Editors Note: The Advocacy department did close last March but the befriending service still continues supported by donations.


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The Art of Conversation

On the news our PM says
He’ll bulldoze where I live today
But remember iron Mrs T
The Right to Buy her particularity

We spoke of where to house my friends
As social housing never ends
Then talked of keeping houses clean
With classy streets that don’t look mean

It suddenly brought back a gem
Of a poem by an ancient Master
About a dark and dingy house
Inhabited by a spider and his spouse.

So why don’t children read this now?
Queried the nurse against the way
Of always playing computer games
Glued to the TV whenever it rains

It’s coming back I cry with glee
It’s not entirely history
My friend’s grandchildren learnt at school
How to pen meter, rhyme and rule.

How did we reach this happy ending?
Well that’s the lost art of letter sending
It takes a little time it’s true
But must be more fun than texting you.

Meryl Williams

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Friend or Foe?

Effervescent from the ground
The water rises, soaking sound
It trickles during summer heat
Depleted yet never lost to us

The Autumn rains bring flooding despair
All life seems compromised, our homes declare
Emergency on harrowing scale
Again and again from too much rain.

We never could control the weather
Affecting every human endeavour
The River Ouse has burst its banks
We’re mopping up and clearing out.

Grow rice on Somerset’s level plain
But pray for cessation to the rain
British as the weather comes
Too much as bad as none at all.

One thing we know when snow is here
It only lasts for a fraction of the year
So please spare a thought for those
Who keep our roads from being closed.

Should you a bobby or fireman be
Or paramedic working for me
Accept our thanks, our grateful prayer
For most of us would never dare
Tackle this inclement season
With the voice of caring, professional reason.

Meryl Williams

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Yellow Blighters

The weather in deepest, darkest Jan
Is suddenly cold whilst I am pale and wan
But December was warm and overly wet
The dandelions are in bloom, the season is set.

Daffodils are out in time with catkins
Cel endings come and the birds join wild things
The flowers are all about and out of sync
The old year ended, New Year came in a blink.

What hopes have you as days grow longer?
To beat the purge, to feel as stronger
As the blossoms early on the bough
While magpies chatter and robins sigh.

I sit for moments at a time
In this our peaceful garden penning rhymes
And every poem that I draw
Denies the quest to search for more.

I’m thinking of my first old muse
How yellow Blighters he did persue
Attempting every year they came
To dig them up again and again.

They said they make you wet your bed
So darling muse just use your head
Oh be a friend to the dandelion
He’s bright and sunny in our garden.

By Meryl Williams

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