memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

Posts tagged ‘zimmer frames’

A room with a view

I have just spent most my morning  admiring the sporadic flocks of migrating birds on their way north in the early spring (while at the same time catching up on Radio 4 podcasts of The News Quiz).

The birds winter in North Africa (lucky them) and then rendezvous in the environs of Algeciras in Morocco to await to their turn for streaming funnel of avian life crossing the Dire Straits to Gibraltar and beyond. My particular contingent then wheel west along the Algarve coast until they reach the Cape of Sagres before turning north and eventually crossing in front my bedroom window – left to right using the narrow corridor of pine and eucalyptus forest between the village and the ocean.

later they will build their nests in the bosky fields of Hampshire (lucky them).

A miraculous cycle of nature, a spectacle laid on just for me. The message is clear – relax and be in harmony with nature. Go with the flow.

The view from my bed in the morning

After lunch (stewed chicken with pasta – a culinary mésalliance in my opinion) I return to my room for a nap/siesta/snooze/40 winks from I wake 30 minutes later. I then dutifully carry out my physiotherapeutic exercises. First an isometric routine for beginners (even I, handicapped as I am) can do them in my chair followed by a lurch/stomp/stumble on my walker/Zimmer frame down the corridor outside my room.

Up the corridor to the right is a bathroom into which I enter/slip/pop to lean back against the radiator for my straighten-the-back-to-improve-my-posture exercise (with some deep breathing thrown in). After a while I get tired/bored with the straighten-the-back-to-improve-my-posture exercise and put my hand into my pocket where I encounter my mobile phone (not a «smart» phone but-pretty-intelligent-for-the-price) and take a rather eery picture of myself, taking a rather eery picture of myself, taking a rather eery – OH JUST SHUT UP WILL YOU!



I return back down the corridor to the end and turn right to admire the fine view of our local church (I don’t mean that the church per se is particularly fine – just the view of it).

After tea (the old dears can’t be doing without their tea, you know – it’s a lifetime habit, useful survival skill as well in case they starve to death between the twin fueling stations of lunch and early dinner. They dunk (good word) their bread or biscuits into heavy outsize cups of tea or milky coffee made from turnips (you have to be a weightlifter to be able to raise them to your lips) instead they crouch devotionally in front of the heavy cups and spoon the resultant pap into their mouths) so after tea, I spend time in my atélier working on my lastest painting.



Back in my room I’m beginning to run of steam.

«… Fragments, that I have shored up against my ruin»

And at the end of the day the sun sets at the orbiting rim of our world.


St. Edmund's College - AMBULACRUM

St. Edmund’s College – AMBULACRUM

Here is an old picture of The Ambulacrum at my old school (from the Latin ambulare: to walk) where people would amble, saunter or stroll before mealtimes or during breaks between lessons. There was an obscure protocol concerning who could avail themselves of this privilege and when and why, the details of which have long since fled from my mind, I’m glad to say.

Walking (also known as ambulation) is one of the main methods of locomotion among legged animals and is typically slower than running and other gaits. Walking is defined by an inverted pendulum gait in which the body vaults over the stiff limb or limbs with each step. Although walking speeds can vary greatly depending on factors such as height, weight, age, terrain, surface, load, culture, effort, and fitness, the average human walking speed is about 5 kilometres per hour.

Let me just jump in here as someone who has observed walking from both points of view (can and can’t).

I can testify that walking suits people.

Locomotion makes people dynamic, whether the upright graceful carriage of an athlete or the haunchy waddle of the villager, walking makes you look good.


Not so much fun however is sitting round all day in a wheelchair watching other people walk.

To my chagrin I haven’t greatly improved the quality or speed of my walking on my frame. Always at the back of my mind is one of the (unwritten) maxims of this place: to stop is to die. Goaded on by this thought, in spite of the inherent indolence of my nature, I continue to doggedly sway across halls and lurch down corridors, sweating and stubborn … while I am thus ambulating, my mind sometimes stretches across the universe to grasp at some elusive truth … other times I focus on the matter in hand – to continue defying gravity for just one more step.

But we make progress my masters; courage my friends; keep on going for just one more step.

Don’t give up!

I leave you with a spot of oriental wisdom:

What the caterpillar thinks of as the end of the world, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.




I visit my flat

On Sunday I visited my apartment; big deal? Well, actually yes.

To visit my apartment I need are the following:

  • Two kind and patient friends from Funchal, Madeira, Adam and Jane, who are taking an extended weekend on the mainland driving around visiting places and friends;
  • Their car;
  • My collapsible walking frame;
  • A light medium-sized suit-case (for the loot);
  • My digital camera;
  • Keys of the apartment;
  • Remote-control thingy for the garage door;
  • Sun glasses and cap;
  • And a lot of energy.

What happens is this; in the morning, instead going down on my number one walker, (light, high and almost up to my height – only dwarfish creatures seem to need Zimmer-frames in this region, rather like, I imagine, living a remote Welch valley), I use my number two walker (lower, heavier, sturdier but collapsible). Meanwhile my wheelchair is waiting me at my table. After lunch (rice with roast unspecified pig meat) at about two-ish my friends show up and we’re all ready for the off – they know the routine as well as me – first they push me in reverse out of the door (this Home, for all its spacious amenities inside, is not particularly wheelchair-user-friendly when it comes to exiting – there is a small oh-so-near-but-oh-so-far gap in the lintel), to the strategically-parked car where I hoist myself up onto my feet and, holding on the opened door, swivel my backside onto the front seat while lowering my head to avoid cracking it on the door-jamb, a bit like a duck about to give birth – not a dignified manoeuvre.

Leaving the wheelchair behind, we drive along the sunny road for about five minutes down to the sunlit sea where my flat is situated.


And eventually, after a stressful tussle with the too-high step connecting the floor of the underground garage with the lift door, I step into the hall of my humble abode. Back in my comfort zone.  I peer into my kitchen,


then pass through into the living room where I sit resting and looking around appreciatively at all my books; my feelings are bitter-sweet.


Memories come flooding back … I could have been perfectly happy here were it not for illness and affliction; I remember the silence and the fresh sea-air; I remember the pine trees outside the window:

I look at more of my books.

But enough wool gathering, we have work to do stuff to sort out. We pass through the hall again to a small inner-hall off which there is a bathroom (all in black marble tiles!) and two bedrooms; there should three technically but the people I bought the flat from chose one large master bedroom with bathroom – I’m glad they did. This is my bedroom.

The inner-hall is lined with book-shelves and decorated with the piece of faience and bric-a-brac.

This a Quimper St. Anne with Portuguese tiles in the background

And this a Quimper bowl on an early Victorian maple-wood card-table

Here is a closer view of the bowl

And finally here is a plate of Dante.

After two hours the suitcase is bulging, Adam and Jane have chosen two books each and I am all flatted out, I’ve run out of steam but I’m pleased with myself.

(I’m all blogged out too)

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