A work day.... First I had an appointment at St Nicks with a group of 50 French 17 year olds, who are on a week's study tour of Yorkshire, and arrived in Hull this morning. I had got myself ready for the rest of the day when Ivana rang up and said the coach had arrived slightly early and could I come in... My role was to talk to half the group about Local Agenda 21 and some more recent sustainability groups (Rotters and CRAG), whilst the other half went to the Council EcoDepot for a tour there. Then they swapped over and Ivana and I had the second lot and did it all over again. It seemed like a successful day, and I left swiftly afterwards to go for the station to go to a Fiddlesticks gig near Harrogate.
Somehow I arrived early and was able to sit and write my diary (I don't get time to write this much now, and this blog has sort of replaced it to some extent) but time zoomed by and eventually my hostess arrived with her very talkative little boy in the back of the car, a 7yr old with Downs Syndrome. He was having a birthday party, and had invited quite a crowd, a mixed age group, several other Downs kiddies and his little sister and the baby, and other family members and adult friends. The perfect party... went perfectly! Did both my shows, managed to engineer it that the birthday boy had a go on the 'four wheel unicycle' at the end, and his Mum commented that she hadn't seen him so engrossed in the activities ever before, and she hadn't expected him to sit still(ish!) for that long. But I have heard this so often, I know that the show is just as exciting as a computer game or telly programme... and it's a bit more interactive too!
It was over all too soon and I was driven back to the station for the 6pm train. I didn't have time to get changed nor did I bother when on the train. This meant that when I got to York, my bike lock keys were in my rucksack in my trouser pocket, and as I was unpacking everything to find them, I was greeted by an old friend, who I recognised immediately even though we haven't met for over 5 years. I asked how he was and his story wasn't good to hear.
He and his wife had adopted some children and had put a huge amount of effort into bringing them up, and seemed delighted to have a family. Not being able to have children and then going through the adoption procedure is quite a journey, as I am friends with another couple who have done this too. However, last Autumn, she suffered several strokes which left her unable to cope and in a vulnerable state, and her domineering sisters who had volunteered to look after her and the children, had 'got to' her whilst away from him and, without warning, he recieved a letter petitioning for divorce. His world crumbled around him and he was unable to do anything to prevent this state of affairs continuing. I only heard his side of the story, and it might very well be more complex, but it was very moving and upsetting to hear this. I got his phone number and will contact him soon and hope to give him some support.
Got home and was very tired, too tired to finish off my paid blog that I was unable to finish last night.