Tag Archives: Shoulder to Shoulder to Day

Shoulder to Shoulder to Day: The Last Post – or is it?

This blog hop has taken us on an incredible journey; it was founded with the motive of cheering up – and cheering on – Emma Day, who blogs at Crazy With Twins, through a period of enforced isolation from her beloved family, necessitated by treatment for thyroid cancer using radioactive iodine; a period of time estimated at around 32 – 33 days.

When we all found – oh, joy! – that Emma’s enforced isolation from her family could be ended very much sooner than anyone had dared to hope, it was decided to continue with the plan, to keep raising awareness about anything to do with cancer – and treating it – and try to keep it all good fun for everyone at the same time.

Now I want to tell you a funny story: A story which, moreover, really is true! All I’m going to do is alter the names of real people. These events took place at the large manufacturing firm where I had my first job – but before I worked there. The story was narrated to me by workmates…

In this small technical department, there once worked a fellow called Paulo. Now, Paulo was, let’s say, a little unusual; indeed, a little more unusual than most. He was certainly not stupid; he spoke several languages fluently, for one thing. One day, Harry, who was telling the story, was struggling to read a foreign instruction leaflet. “Paulo” he said, “What does [such-and-such] mean?” In reply, Paulo grabbed the leaflet, a pen, and some paper. “Give me that!” he said, and, without more ado, wrote out a complete translation, the only limitation of speed being the speed at which he could write!

There were many stories about Paulo’s activities both on and off the firm. When it came to practical stuff, though, was when the picture got colourful; in the department, we often had to make smallish one-off devices to perform certain functions in the various production departments. And on Paulo’s work, there were several trade-marks which far outlived his time at the company; when you took off the lid on one of Paulo’s creations, the mains terminals would be somewhere near the front, in just the best position for delivering an electric shock, the internal wiring would share its cosmetic characteristics with a bird’s nest, and the soldering would be vaguely reminiscent of less perfect examples of early Celtic jewellery. (I could go on. I, personally, saw one or two examples.)

Now, one day, Paulo was taken ill at work. It was agreed that he would be taken home in the works ambulance. He was, however, disappointed to find that his bike could not travel with him! When he found out, he threw a chain with a  combination lock onto a bench. “Harry” he said, “You know my bike. Lock it up for me, please.” And then he was gone!

As Harry said, why Paulo thought that Harry knew what his bike looked like remains a mystery. He’d never seen Paulo’s bike in his life! Anyway, at five o’clock, Harry enlisted the help of two senior members of staff, and together they trooped down to the bike sheds. First of all, they waited until most of the bikes had been claimed, but some remained. (Some workers biked intermittently; there was no rule to stop anyone from leaving a bike in the sheds overnight.) So now, our three friends examined the residue of two-wheeled, pedal-powered conveyances. Their eyes settled on one particular example!

It had an assortment of, let’s say, non-standard accessories. It looked in a general state of disrepair. Various components were precariously secured with pieces of string. The tyres were noticeably balding.  This one just had to be Paulo’s bike. Accordingly, they fitted the lock and chain, and went home.

A couple of weeks or so later, when Paulo was back at work, he, Harry, and  several others were in the small workshop which served the metalworking needs of the department. “Harry” said Paulo, “Have you still got my bike lock?”
“I locked your bike up for you!” replied Harry.
My bike wasn’t locked.” said Paulo. At this point, Jack, the workshop supervisor, interjected. “That’s funny” he said, “The other Friday, when I was just locking my tool-box, one of the blokes from Quality Control rushed in here, breathless! “Jack” he says. “You got a hacksaw? Some b****r’s locked my bike up!”…”

Later, an inspection of the bike shed led to the recovery of Paulo’s lock and chain. A saw-cut had been made, not through the chain… oh, no… but right through the middle of the lock!

OK, so it was funny. But now, let’s think: What error, exactly, did those three fellows make?

Quite simply, they fell into a trap that often catches any of us: They stereotyped the situation. And here is our link with cancer!

How many times have we heard – or even made – statements like these?

It can’t be prostate cancer – he’s too young!

A bloke with breast cancer? Don’t make me laugh…

But she’s too old for that…

And so on. True, there are trends. But let’s not turn trends into rules. Instead, if we’re unsure, let’s see a doctor, or beg our friends to do so.

And so, my friends, this is not ‘The Last Post’. It is ‘The Reveille’. A wake-up call about cancer. And, more cheerfully, a wake-up call about the wonderful spirit of camaraderie, caring, sharing, and generally helping others, that exists within the blogging community.

Many thanks to Emma for sharing the journey of her treatment with us, with such a valiant spirit; besides the time of her isolation, this included joining in the banter on Twitter, in the evening of the day when she underwent two general anaesthetics, then blogging using a phone, the next day, and then opening her regular blog meme, Wednesday Words, the following day, using a phone again!

A big thank-you to Vicky, whose drive, organising ability, blogging knowledge, and humour turned the merest germ of a idea into something that has worked beyond anything I imagined; and to Jaime and Sara who raised the awareness about raising awareness!

Thank you to everyone who has taken part in ‘#S2S2D’. I’m looking forward to visiting the contributions I haven’t looked at yet, though pressure of everyday affairs. (There are now over a hundred and twenty thumbnails on the blog hop!) Thank you for every post, every comment, every tweet, every retweet… every action to further the cause.

In the words of the old song (OK… “Him and his old songs” I hear some of you sigh…)

“Thank you very, very, very much.”

Shoulder to Shoulder to Day

Footnote – 2 July 2013

We should all remember that, whilst this blog-hop, which had a specific aim, is now closed, Emma’s battle is far from over; there will be further tests to be done, and a lot of anxious waiting. As I began to type this amendment, I thought I would check her blog.


Brave as she is, she will value the support of the blogging community through the days ahead. We wish her well.

Edit, 31 May 2016:
I have linked this post to #chucklemums this week.

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Shoulder to Shoulder to Day: Firefly’s First Stand – A Re-blog for Day Six

I’m republishing this post because I just want to cheer Emma on, and also give Victoria a bit of support; she has stepped in to keep Shoulder to shoulder to Day going today as the very courageous Rachel is poorly – she gives an interesting insight into her condition on her blog, not to wallow in self-pity (that wouldn’t be her) but to raise awareness. The #S2S2D team send her all the best. And then, of course, it happens to be a bank holiday. (You’ll see how that fits in as you read on!)

A few words of explanation: This post was originally published on my Posterous account, before I had this blog here. It came into being because in real life I tend to be a bit withdrawn – although maybe that is changing a little – and I wanted to imagine myself as more of an extrovert. Was it possible, I asked myself? And then I began to dream…

Well… You might get a laugh. Or a smile. Or a slight snigger…

In a theatre, the auditorium lights dim and a compère walks onto the stage and is picked out by the beam of a spotlight.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the show ‘Semi-serious Fun’. Thank you for supporting what we hope will be the first of many of these shows. As I’m sure you know, we’ve put together a wide range of acts from a great variety a performers for this evening. And as the opener for tonight we have someone who has never performed on stage before, so let’s give him the jump start he needs. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome…Firefly Phil!

Firefly walks on, to a round of applause. Compère leaves. Firefly takes a piece of paper from his pocket, unfolds it, and begins to speak, looking occasionally at the paper.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you again very much for coming tonight. I know the weather isn’t very pleasant out there and many of you have braved heavy rain, lightning, act of God, riot or civil commotion, subsidence or landslip (first £1000 of any claim)…(frowns) Hold on! Something wrong here. (turns over the paper, frowns again, then looks up)Well, that’s a bummer.

Firefly frantically rummages in his pockets. Paper hankies and supermarket receipts fly across the stage.

It’s no good. Must have filed those notes for tonight under ‘insurance’. It figures when you think about it, doesn’t it? Anyway… (reads) Without prejudice to the foregoing… (looks up) I must just say that if the two pretty, smartly dressed (well, almost dressed) young ladies on the front row were to prejudice the foregoing, it would be a shame.

At least this isn’t one of those terribly formal affairs where the men wear enough suiting to cover a decent football pitch. I was talking to a friend of mine about this and he said he thought the women were nearly as bad, although the sport was different. I asked him if he meant, let’s say, netball instead of football. He said, No, he meant Subbuteo.

And that reminds me what I really meant to talk about. You know, I was watching a video the other day about the indoctrination of women by the fashion and cosmetics industry. You can get videos on just about anything now, can’t you? Anything from ‘The structure of the earth’s crust’ to ‘How to lay laminate flooring’. Mind you, all I’d say about those two videos is that if you’ve watched either of them, you can say you’ve watched them both.

Anyhow, you’re probably wondering how I came to be watching this video about women and fashion and what not. Why should it bother me, you might well ask. Well, that’s a very interesting story. Would you like me to tell you? (enthusiastic nodding from audience) That’s a shame, really, because I can’t remember it properly. Only that it all started when I was browsing the web to find out about vacuum cleaners, and then I somehow found this video. And, you see, in this video, the presenter was talking about the cosmetics industry’s idea of the perfect woman. I’ll just quote: “She has no scars, she has no blemishes, she has no pores.” Now that set me thinking. You know, you get these magazine articles where some new young lady journalist interviews an even younger, even newer up-and-coming songbird who hasn’t had the time, or the money, to get a drink or drugs problem yet, never mind go through rehab, and so she’s really full of life and everything (I mean the songbird, not the journalist.) Anyway, the aforesaid songbird is always described as ‘oozing vitality and zest for life through every pore’. Right then, back to Miss Perfect Woman. She, poor dear, has no pores. So what’s she going to ooze vitality and zest for life through, eh? Answer me that. (raises eyebrows and forefinger) Gentleman at the back…sorry, sir…no, I really don’t think the show can accept answers on a postcard this time. Nor e-mails, I’m afraid.

But that brings me nicely onto my other subject for this evening – and I’ll try to keep this brief – by the way, have you ever noticed how people say “I’ll try to keep this brief” and then ramble on for half an hour? I won’t do that, I promise you – but I just wanted to talk for a few moments about how some people use computers. Now, obviously, a great many people use computers sometimes, either at work, or at home, or both. But what I just don’t understand is this: there are people, supposedly of sound mind, who, of their own free will, will sit down by the hour at a computer to play at shooting and killing other people before getting killed themselves. Now, I ask you: just have a quick think about the international news and current affairs. If you need to, there are lots of news websites to look at. Now, is there not enough war in the world, (pause) enough fighting, (pause) enough brutality,(pause) enough mindless killing (pause) so we have to pretend to do some more? HOW SAD IS THAT? Well, I’d better stop before I get high blood pressure, but I can see the lady at the end of the fourth row, who’s wearing the most delightful see-through… (turns and coughs) Excuse me. Now where was I? Oh, yes, the lady with the delightful see-through glasses, is agreeing with me. Well, not all specs are see-through, you know. Not from the outside, anyhow. Just think of all those gangsters.

Well, the little man in the box up there’s waving now so that means time’s nearly up, but the organisers asked me if I would introduce the next act. I said I would count it an honour. After all that semi-serious thinking, I’m sure you’re ready for some music. So, coming on any second now, we’ve got a terrific young man with an amazing voice, backed by three lovely young lady songbird-instrumentalists who are – yes, you’ve guessed it – oozing vitality and zest for life through every pore. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome HANK BOLIDAY AND THE DAYS OFF!

The four walk on, to thunderous applause, and Firefly stands aside.

Well, before I leave you to enjoy some really great songs, thank you all very much indeed for listening to me tonight. I can honestly say that it’s been a pleasure. And the pleasure’s been all yours.

Shoulder to Shoulder to Day

Best wishes again to Emma and family, who seem to be getting a fair bit of limelight of their own. Emma, the twins are lovely film-stars already! Thanks to all of you for supporting #S2S2D on the blog hop and Twitter, and for reading now!

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Shoulder to Shoulder to Day: Day One – The Other Side of the Line

Today (May 22) marks the beginning of a new phase of treatment for our friend Emma Day, who blogs at Crazy With Twins and tweets as @crazywithtwins . A further strike against cancer (she has already had surgery – see her blog) involves the internal  use of radioactive iodine. This in turn means that she will be emitting radiation from her body that is dangerous to others, especially small children. As a result, she will be, as it were, on ‘the wrong side of the line’ from her family – and unable to reach out and cuddle her beloved baby girl twins for over thirty days!

A series of blog posts from those of us who know Emma – and her husband and family – via the blogging community will accompany Emma on this journey, under the general heading ‘Shoulder to Shoulder to Day’. I have the honour to open this, along with Victoria at Verily, Victoria Vocalises.

Now, I know Emma has a fascination with history – when it comes alive in true stories from times past. So, for encouragement to her – and to us all – I’m going to recount an occasion when somebody else – well, two people, in fact – found themselves on ‘the wrong side of the line’ in another sense, and how it resulted in a wonderful outcome – just as we’re all hoping for a great success from this medically and psychologically gruelling treatment that Emma is undergoing!

The year was 1814. The Anglo-American War of 1812 had been going for – yes, you’ve got it right – two years. (And a bit.) And on the evening of September 13, several British ships lay at anchor in Chesapeake Bay, just off the Atlantic Ocean, under the command of Admiral Cochrane. Shortly before, a noted resident of Upper Marlborough, Maryland, a Dr William Beanes, had been taken prisoner by the British, and sent to the flagship.

Meantime, in Baltimore, a young lawyer, Francis Scott Key, the son of an American officer and a friend of the old doctor, heard about the imprisonment. Bravely, he went to the admiral to plead the cause of his friend. Evidently he was received honourably, but the British were about to attack Fort McHenry, and so the pair were not immediately allowed to go!

Now comes the exciting part! All through the night, the British kept up a bombardment of rockets and fire-bombs, such as there were in those days. The light of each explosion briefly lit up the scene, showing the flag flying over the fort. And then in the morning, as the Sun rose from across the Atlantic, the scene was incredible. For there, above the fort, unfurling gently in the morning breeze, just where it had been on the previous evening, so sublimely indifferent to the night’s conflict, still in place, was the flag now known the world over as the ‘Stars and Stripes’. The British must have been hard put not to be awe-stricken!

Now, I don’t always agree with everything said and done by ‘Uncle Sam’ – and of course, had I been there as an Englishman, all those years ago, I would have been among the enemy! But, had I been young Francis Key, I think, at that moment, I would have been proud to be an American! For that young lawyer, the sight inspired the words of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ – afterwards set to music and finally adopted as the national anthem of the USA in 1931. He gave the genre of national anthems something special – but he did something else; he inspired those around him – as Emma has done, too.

The Star-Spangled Banner

O say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Francis Scott Key (1779 – 1843)

Set to music already well-known (written by an Englishman!)

John Stafford Smith (1750 -1836)

Here is a link to a video of this song being sung.

To Emma, we salute you and wish you well. And to all of you, thank you for reading.
Victoria and I now happily pass the baton to Suzanne at 3 Children and It for Day Two.

Shoulder to Shoulder to Day
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It only remains to say that no-one is excluded from giving support; please leave comments on any of the host blogs as they appear, and feel free to write your own post, too. Grab the code (above) for the pretty badge, and link up by clicking on the link below, or at Victoria’s blog.  Thanks again!

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I am also linking this post to Emma’s meme ‘Wednesday Words’ as I find the words of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ so powerful and moving.

Wednesday Words
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Shoulder to Shoulder to Day

Today, I’m taking the liberty of using the Magic Moments blog hop, hosted here at The Oliver’s Madhouse, to shout out a call for others to help provide some encouragement, and maybe some ‘magic moments’, for another blogger.

As many of you already know, Emma Day, who blogs with great intensity of feeling, over at Crazy With Twins, is fighting hard against thyroid cancer. And the next stage will be especially gruelling, because internal radiation therapy will mean that, for around 33 days, she will not be able to have contact with her baby girl twins. Imagine, if you can, the impact of this requirement on a mum for whom her family mean so much. ‘Agony’ doesn’t begin to cut it. Emma’s own blog post giving more details is here, and Vicky, over at Verily, Victoria Vocalises, has also written about it here.

What Vicky and I would like to do is to put together a series of blog posts on successive days, to show our solidarity with Emma through this time of anguish, starting from the first day Emma will spend in Hospital. Such a post could be anything offering interest, humour, or inspiration… You name it.

If you’d like to contribute a post, then, as they say in the competitions, here’s all you have to do: Leave your name and any comment in the reply box on Vicky’s post. She will then allocate dates to contributors. If the number of offers is higher than around thirty, then we can run extra posts on some – or all – of the days. You can, of course, prepare your post in advance, and hold it as a draft until your turn comes round, then just publish and link on the day.

Oh, and an important note: Don’t worry about the technical stuff! Victoria will host the linky and organise the rota. The rest of us just need to link up as required!

Thank you for reading. We’re looking forward to hearing from you. And we hope for a truly ‘magic’ outcome for Emma.

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