It was actually quite a good day……

I can’t say that I often think of a day of medical intervention on one’s body as normally a cause for celebration, of hilarity, or even pleasure.

A nagging pain, and the insistence of ‘Lady of the House’ meant a visit to my GP some time ago. A subsequent uncomfortable, and personal, examination at Stobhill Hospital, near Glasgow, discovered no under-lying life-threatening situation…. so relief was unbounded. However…… the pain was still around, and a visit to another practice GP showed that there were now TWO seats of pain to be investigated…..ugh! An appointment with a surgeon decided that knife-cutting was to be the answer.

We had a family cruise organised and knew that it was unlikely that a surgical team would meet us in Santorini, or Dubrovnik, to perform an operation, due to sensible, not-unexpected, budgetary constraints within the NHS. However the waiting list involved (which was within the guidelines) meant that no such options/decisions had to be made!

I slept better the night before the op than usual, and the alarm gently woke me. Daughter and wife saw me safely into the arms of the Receptionist, medics, and nursing staff, and I was swiftly re-clothed in the double front/back- tied surgical clothing. Strangely, it was printed all over with…. ‘Only to be Worn by Hospital Patients’……as if any non-hospital-patient person would be seen dead in it!

Then the re-questioning began…….again and again. Every member of staff who came near had to ensure themselves that I was who I was. Maybe a label attached to me like Paddington Bear, with all the details, might be more sensible…or is that what they do in a morgue?

The amount of technical information pumped-into ones brain, by the surgeon, anaesthetists (yes, I had two!), and ward staff, before the procedure, is astonishing… if one were able to retain it, and if necessary act on it under anaesthetic! On the trolley, going to the theatre, the chat is pretty trivial, enlivened only by me seeing a trolley coming the other way, and it looked as if we were in a race for the same theatre!

For me, the worst part of surgery is the holes they make in you, for blood samples, plasma drips, different anaesthetics, and nerve blocks in various parts of the anatomy….It’s a bit like the Tony Hancock comedy ‘The Blood Donor’ (You-Tube it). They can be painful, and you might well wish to call the whole thing off, before they get the real cutting implements out. But by then the numbing chemicals have taken effect, and no amount of complaining will come from your mouth!

Surgery started at about 9.15, and I wakened in the recovery room just after 11. Professional but very kindly faces asked on a regular basis, how I felt. This I was to indicate, on an index of pain. Since presumably everyone has a different threshold, it has little absolute meaning, but comparatively it gives an indication of improvement level. I like to work on the basis of ‘How would I accept having this for the rest of my life’, and it seems to work for me. I have to admit that I was not a happy bunny for some little time, (after all, they had worked on two parts of my anatomy!) and pain-relief protocols were discussed and applied. This all happened within a framework of daft jokes, laughter, and good-hearted banter. The anaesthetists came to see me and gave their professional advice.

I then had the cheek to ask if I could get up to go to the loo, (‘Permission refused, Mr Monroe, as protocol does not allow it just yet!’). A bladder scan suggested to them that it would not be necessary. Gentle persuasion and discussion of the consequences, allowed a compromise, and my bladder proved it WAS necessary…technology isn’t always right!

Alternating episodes of inactivity, brief walks, and coffee, hot choc, and numerous biscuits passed the afternoon with everyone in a jovial frame of mind (it was Friday afternoon after all!) Lady, and my Daughter arrived to take me home and I was discharged at 4pm. On return home, they indulged in a chilli con carni, whilst I made do with a bowl of cereal, apple pie and custard.

…………..and thanks to a lot of people, it had been a good day!


……..another 25 things you might not need to know about me

A while ago I did some self -analysis, and this is just the first follow-up…….

51 We are now retired but I took a long time to get used to it

52 We now have a lovely daughter-in-law

53 We seem to be as busy as when we were working

54 The weeds in my garden seem to be as prolific as before, even although I do some weeding every day

55 I still can’t do the Rubik’s Cube

56 I rarely get a chance to have an afternoon nap.

57 I have kept a daily diary since 1958

58 Jobs DO expand to fill the time available

59 My hair now looks less like my father’s…..

60 …….and more like my grandfather’s

61 I am more tired than I was when younger….yet I sleep less

62 Lady of the House and I have both had our 70th birthdays, but neither looks our age

63 Am confirmed in my belief that Nationalism and Patriotism have no place in today’s civilised world

64 Enjoy having young people around; it makes me feel very wise

65 Enjoy having much older folk around; it makes me feel youthful

66 Enjoy having people the same age around; it allows me to see if they have mellowed better than me

67 I am beginning to forget how to tie a tie

68 I am not interested in installing Windows 10…..Windows 8.1 is confusing enough

69 I am now reading some of the books I got as presents over the years

70 I now have more ‘old togs’ than ‘good clothes’, which is fine

71 I enjoy the old comedy sitcoms and panel game-shows much better than the modern foul-mouthed ones

72 Love our Quirky Nissan Juke

73 Use my tablet computer more than my laptop, except when doing lots of typing

74 When younger, Could never imagine what 70 would be like… I can’t imaging what 80 will be like…..hopefully

75 Still enjoy a good blether and a laugh with friends….the best tonic you can have





Last year, ‘The Daily Dish’ posted a note about her husband’s facial hair. She obviously was very happy with the ‘teddy bear’ on his face. For those with beards/moustaches/excessive sideburns (remember those?) she did raise the question of why and when we started the process.

In my mind this brought up a different question….is it a negative action (stopping shaving) or a positive action (designing and cultivating some facial architecture) ?

I remember In our final year at High School, in the early ’60’s, the boys all started trying to grow ‘something’. It was all so soft and downy that it could only be seen at close range! Whether it was to impress the girls, who were experimenting with make-up, I don’t know,

The act of allowing a beard and moustache to grow is probably some kind of transition to manhood for boys, but the hacking away at it with a piece of protected metal eventually became a real pain, in more than one sense!

Then came the work in a laboratory, when we all had horn-rimmed glasses, wore white coats, had beards or moustaches, and smoked the pipe. It was in this condition that I courted my wife-to-be. She says that I was clean-shaven when we met, but after 50 years, who am I to argue!

And so it has been all through our married life, …..sideburns, full beard, trimmed short or long, all sorts of variations, until relatively-recently that is. Moustache and sideburns all disappeared, leaving only a small, short, pure white, beard covering my chin.  I imagined that at least our children would have noticed the change, but no word has been forthcoming from that or any other direction, so I can presume that no-one ever really noticed it enough to comment on its demise. So was the changing facial architecture something of interest to society?…….

I don’t think so and frankly, at my age, it doesn’t really matter!

…………but I don’t like designer stubble!

50 things you don’t really need to know about me!

open book

It seems to be the ‘in’ thing nowadays, to self-analyse oneself and then present a open-book…but these are not in any particular order of importance!

  1. Born near Lisburn, Northern Ireland in 1945….yes, a baby-boomer!
  2. My High School was the house which belonged to Sir Richard Wallace
  3. An ancestor of mine, (we share the same name, was hanged in the town square where I was born
  4. Some of my teachers told me I would end up the same, if I didn’t behave!
  5. I’ve worn glasses since about 14….and still hate wearing them!
  6. I started growing a beard in my late teens and it has never left me.
  7. Came to Scotland in 1962, when my father was transferred from BBC Belfast to BBC Glasgow
  8. Met my wife-to-be, a Scots lassie, on the street, when her father’s car had a puncture.
  9. Joyfully married to her for almost 42 years.
  10. Have two marvellous, caring, grown-up children.
  11. I used to smoke the pipe, but gave it up on the request of my young son, who said he ‘did not like the smell’.
  12. Have never fallen-out with our neighbours of over 30 years.
  13. We live in the shadow of the beautiful Campsie Fells.
  14. I cannot do the Rubik’s Cube.
  15. I am right-handed but my ‘grip on a cricket bat, golf club, or hockey stich, is left handed.
  16. I can play tennis with my left hand…but no better than with my right hand!
  17. I used to enjoy cycling but I now have to start practising again, for my retirement
  18. Enjoy Sudoku and cryptic, and skeleton crosswords.
  19. Grew up in the country so love all things rural.
  20. I adore the smell of newly-cut  grass and new-mown hay.
  21. Cannot stand crowds and shopping!
  22. I adore languages…favourite is Italian.
  23. I once tried to learn Esperanto, but found no-one else who spoke it!
  24. Music is a great love…organ, piano, composing and choirs.
  25. Making music along with other people is best.
  26. I was taught the clarinet by a retired Band-Master of the Gurkhas…Major Ben Bently….he failed!
  27. Favourite classical composer for orchestra….probably Beethoven, or Mozart.
  28. Favourite modern composer for orchestra…..not yet sure, maybe Ravel or Stravinsky.
  29. Favourite classical composer for choral works…….too many!
  30. Favourite modern composer for choral works….John Rutter…definitely!
  31. Most emotional musical…..Les Miserables
  32. Favourite food is probably pasta.
  33. Favourite country is Italy….followed closely by Croatia.
  34. Most memorable sight….sailing into Venice one sunny morning.
  35. Saddest view………………sailing out of Venice that evening
  36. Most spectacular countryside view…..overlooking Wolfgangsee from the Mozart Blick, in Austria.
  37. Favourite author, when I get the chance to read…Bill Bryson.
  38. Worst regret is that I did not practise harder at piano and organ.
  39. First played the piano in public at the age of 11… was a little time before I was asked again!
  40. Enjoyed studying Pure and Applied Physics.
  41. I still occasionally see the Lecturer who taught me everything I’ve forgotten about thermo-dynamics!
  42. Designed sound and inductive loop systems for literally hundreds of buildings, including Dunblane Cathedral, Iona Abbey, and the Queen’s Church at Crathie.
  43. Went on to study and qualify in hearing aid audiology
  44. Have had our own family businness since 1984
  45. Have fitted hearing aids to some famous politicians and entertainers
  46. I like company and going out for meals….
  47. ……………because I CANNOT COOK!
  48. Prefer good strong East European red wines to almost any white wines.
  49. ……..but beginning to like Chardonnay!
  50. Unachieved ambition….to visit Petra….’a rose-red city, half as old as time’.

Old?…not me!

Yesterday I reached the age of ‘thrice-21’, which sounds less old than 63. I got lovely simple presents, such as a pair of posh blue walking boots from Daughter (will I ever wear them out at my age?), a modern shirt and after-shave from Son (to try to keep me trendy?), and from Young Lady of the House, a six-CD collection of Scottish comedy and two books of humour (to try to keep me sweet?).

We didn’t go out for a meal, but had a glorious Indian carry-out (good typical Scottish food, then?) and a blether. We are seeing more of both of them just now, and it is great sitting down as four adults without having to tell them to ‘take their elbows off the table’, or ‘don’t gulp your food’, or ‘eat your greens’.

I feel for those with young ones at the table, who have to be fed, or who insist on feeding themselves (or the dog), or who can effectively put food on walls, floor, even ceiling, with a well-placed fist into the middle of a dinner-plate.

Never mind, they do get better….I suppose the next thing is when I become cantankerous and may well end-up emulating the above-mentioned children!

Until then I will try to behave at table and act like a grown-up…..which I suppose I am!

Compose yourself, boyo!

I’ve never understood the composing process! The idea of constructing a tune, and then developing it into an interesting, challenging, and (importantly) original piece of music is still daunting. I was brought up in a household where music was part of the furniture, and I have played, listened to, and sung music since a child. So my brain was always full of tunes and harmonies. This is probably the greatest legacy I received from my parents and the rest of the family.

So what has this to do with understanding composition? Well, I loved whistling or humming tunes when walking or working, and I was sometimes not sure if the tune was original or one from ‘way back’. The problem got worse as I learned more music!

I wrote my first piano piece at about 13, and am still proud of it! Writing for organ came later, and was followed by choral writing. The opportunity of hearing pieces performed only came much later and was quite interesting with performers being involved, and adding their skill to the overall performance.

One problem is that it is easy to continually want to change the details of a piece, after every performance, but it’s not really practical, one has to be realistic, and leave it alone. 

I enjoy writing a piece with no real idea of where it may end, but am much happier writing for a reason. This is especially-important where words have been specially-produced, and I am just now working on a choral setting of wonderful original words just recently written by a good friend, F.C.

But whence cometh the theme I do not know, how interesting it is I must leave to the performers, and how much of it is original I must leave to those who listen.

Hello world!

My first blog, so please excuse any idiocy, as I embrace yet another area of life. The blogname tells you a little about me. Born a long time ago in the Northern Ireland town of Lisburn, but now living in one of the ‘leafy suburbs’ north of Glasgow. have still maintained some of my Irish accent, despite being married 40 years to Young Lady, a wonderful Scottish Lass, and having two great children.

Brought up in the Methodist tradition, came over to Episcopacy on marriage, and happily attending St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow. Love my music, and our long-established business helping deaf and hard-of-hearing people.