Page 36 - TalkCare_Issue5_Online.qxp_OACP Talking Care Issue 4 July 2017
P. 36

REAL LIVES|SUE’S STORY|GENTLER DAYS
    “Some of the clients wheedle their way right into your heart and I always look forward to going to see them! Driving gives you a sense of freedom even though you have a particular place to go, and the countryside is beautiful.”
  Sue’s story: Gentler Days
The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder by Sarah J. Harris
A literary Northern Lights spectacle: A quirky murder mystery written in a rainbow palette
It’s nearly fifteen
years since Mark
Haddon’s The Curious
Incident of The Dog in
the Night­Time was
published and gave a
general readership an
intriguing, accessible
and funny yet moving
insight into the world
of a young man living
with autism. This
book is equally
intriguing, accessible
and funny yet moving and gives an equally fascinating insight into the way a person whose brain functions in an unusual way sees the world.
The story is narrated by thirteen year old Jasper who has autistic tendencies, face blindness (the inability to recognise faces) and synaesthesia – a condition in which words, concepts and every sound he hears he ‘sees’ in colour. Thursday, for example, is apple green, Jasper’s Mum was a very special cobalt blue while he identifies his dad by his ochre voice and the colour of his jeans. Jasper paints what he experiences as abstract shapes, smooth or jagged, soft circles or hard rectangle, in the hues that represent his experiences, the sounds he hears and the emotions he experiences. He is also a keen record­keeper and documents the movements of people (or their clothes and accessories at least) and parakeets on his street in his orderly notebooks, when there’s a murder next door, you would think he’d be key to solving the crime.
Bee Larkham moved in to the street sky­blue, bold, blonde and unapologetic. Jasper is transfixed – and then she disappears. Through Jasper’s own quirky and colourful retelling of the events and occurrences that have taken place the truth is slowly unravelled. It’s a great premise for a murder mystery. It’s the colours that make this novel a wonderful read. For a book that is only black words on white pages, it’s incredibly visually stimulating as the descriptions of vibrant colours and tones and dynamic hues and shapes jostle in the mind brightening a more linear narrative. Jealousy is ‘a wishy­washy shade of onion’ whilst the cries of the beautiful parakeets are ‘deep cornflower blue with yellow hiccups’ and the descriptions of music are magical and make me wish I could experience what a synaesthete experiences.
But for Jasper life is not easy, and he is troubled, misunderstood and manipulated. After the death of his mum, he lives with his dad for whom life isn’t easy either, and they’re a moving duo, adding a pathos to this book’s palette as the story twists and turns like an ever shifting kaleidoscope. And you won’t be able to put it down. It’s a wonderful read!
To learn more visit: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0008256373/
You know it’s important for individuals and communities, but have you ever really stopped to think about care work and the benefits it brings to both the elderly or vulnerable people receiving that extra helping hand and to the people who offer that support to those who need it? Are you big­ hearted enough to bring sunshine to others, to offer an ear and a smile and make a real contribution to people’s lives and to the society?
Sue has been working for Day and Nightcare Assistance (DANA) for thirteen years, in the Witney team. “I always think ‘Oh, it must be about five years’ and then I work it out and the time has gone so quickly,” she smiles.
“When I started working with DANA
I already had a full time job as an administrator in a probation hostel locally but my circumstances changed and I needed some extra money so I began caring as well.”
“I took to it straight away. As a child I’d wanted to be a nurse but my mum discouraged me – she said I was too soft! Then I had a foster daughter who became very ill with cancer in her early twenties and I visited her in the Churchill hospital every day. Although it was very sad that she was ill, I found I didn’t mind the environment at all, and I didn’t mind rolling up my sleeves. I just enjoyed helping her and so that’s when I decided to give social care a go.”
“Day and Nightcare were very flexible and I could work part­time close to home, in Witney, which suited me really well. They had been well thought of as a care provider here
foralongtimeandsoIwasproudtobepart of their team. I still am. I stopped working at the hostel and started caring for four days a week. It’s a lovely job. I like people you see, I like the variety, and I am a good listener. I see about fifteen different people on a very regular basis and it’s interesting to slowly find out about their previous lives. One lady was a seamstress when she was younger, for example, and enjoys talking about her time in London. It’s important for her to be able to remember back to those days.”
“I’m also a bit OCD about keeping things clean and tidy so I love to leave the clients’ houses absolutely spick and span with their laundry folded perfectly, and I love to colour coordinate outfits for the clients too!”
“Some of the clients wheedle their way right into your heart and I always look forward to going to see them! A client sometimes may not remember my name but will recognise my face and light up when they see me arrive. That’s a good feeling. And it is lovely to leave them relaxed and happy at the end of a visit.”
“In the hostel there were about eighteen offenders with a range of backgrounds – some quite difficult – working in care is very different. My days are gentler with gentler people and that’s something I really appreciate.”
“Driving gives you a sense of freedom even though you have a particular place to go, and the countryside is beautiful in the summer when it’s all green. I go to some very pretty places, although the yellow rapeseed in North Leigh gives me hayfever!”
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