My life in their hands – and not safely

I should have guessed.   Directions to a black door set between two shops should have alerted me to the fact that this was a bit of a back-street dive.   Clearly an old over-shop accommodation that had been rather badly converted into business premises up precipitous, winding stairs.

Those premises were equally unprepossessing with uneven floors and unexpected steps up and down.

Most I was there for some further treatment following the accident and, most depressing, was that the therapist was asking my (male) taxi driver where he would like to have the consultation.   I had thought that my (female) name on the appointment would have been a clue.   She was clearly convinced that I’d be happy to go through all my medical details and history in the public surrounding of the reception space.   Thankfully, driver John has been around me long enough to reject all attempts to talk with him rather than me.   I began to wonder if she had ever noticed or talked to anyone with a white cane.

Through more difficult passageways to the consulting room where I was plonked on an uncomfortable couch.   She rattled through a long list of clearly unfamiliar medical conditions and was stumped by some clearly contradictory legalistic statements.   I wondered if anyone else had ever properly read all this verbiage.   I kept asking for details of their contractual terms and conditions, insurance cover, health and safety information without success.   I asked the therapist about her own qualifications and an add-on to Level 3, whatever that means, wasn’t very reassuring.

She was absolutely trying to do her best but had clearly never been trained to interact with anyone with a disability (20% of the population/market) by the doctors running the service.   If they could manage an operation that was so blatantly failing to comply with equality legislation, what other safeguarding laws were being broken too?

The final devastating and decisive realisation came as John collected me later: she hadn’t even been wearing her face mask properly, I had no idea as to how long it had just been covering her mouth and chin when, in close proximity, she’d been exposing me to risk of Covid or other infection.   This wasn’t just discrimination but high risk.   Even my local hairdresser has far higher professional standards.

Alternative arrangements with a different therapy organisation are going to be needed in the future.   How could anyone contemplate charging money for such an amateur service?






Now for something completely different

Time to catch your breath too.   I’m sitting in the cool winter sun, enjoying the scents of hyacinths and freshly baked bread, knowing that its too late to post any more Christmas cards and that any forgotten presents are hereby relegated to obscurity.  The interminable list is fully ticked up-to-date and there’s nothing to do until the turkey makes its entrance.

In case you’ve moved on from roast potatoes, mountains of sprouts and stuffing balls, here’s a little recipe that I used to entertain friends last weekend.

We were all carefully Covid-safe, even lunching outside courtesy of an outdoor heater resembling a rocket.   Just handing out warm bowls of spicy but not too hot lamb curry was a good way of being hospitable without putting people at risk.   It sounds like a lot of ingredients, but this is mainly just the normal spices which I have handy in tins.  Easy to cook as, after the initial browning, the curry can just sit on the hob and gently glug away for a few hours without any further help.   This is a perfect dish to make a day or two ahead, chill well and then reheat for the non-party.   With a rice cooker filled to the brim, the whole meal fed at least 20 hungry people.

about 100g lentils.

10 pieces cinnamon

3 heaped teaspoons coriander seeds

3 heaped teaspoons cumin seeds

12 green cardamom pods

15 cloves

3 teaspoons mustard seeds

4-6 tablespoons oil.

7 onions, peeled and diced

8 portions GGG*

2.5kg lamb, diced.

5 heaped teaspoons garam masala

2.5 flat teaspoons chilli powder

2.5 flat teaspoons paprika

2.5 flat teaspoons ground black pepper

2.5 heaped teaspoons cumin powder

2.5 heaped teaspoons ground coriander

2.5 teaspoons turmeric

2 heaped teaspoons fenugreek leaves

6 carrots, peeled and diced

5 courgettes, diced

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced.

4 tins coconut milk, plus 1 tin water from washing them out

tamarind paste and/or lemon juice.


Place the lentils in a bowl and fill with cold water.   Set aside for at least 30 minutes.

Dry roast the whole spices and set aside.

Heat the oil and cook the onion until at least golden brown or even darker.

Add the GGG and lamb in handfuls, searing each until coloured on each side.

Add the ground spices and allow to cook a little.   They may stick to the bottom of the pan.

Add the whole spices, carrots, courgettes and sweet potatoes, coconut milk and water and scrape the bottom of the pan clean.

Bring to a very gentle bubble, add the lentils and cook for at least 2 hours.

Adjust the seasoning by adding tamarind paste and/or lemon juice to balance the sweetness of the coconut and add a little salt to taste.

*(GGG is 4 parts fresh root ginger: 2 parts garlic: 1-part green chilli blitzed together in a food processor and then divided into 1 heaped teaspoon portions before freezing.   Defrost as many portions as needed.)

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