6:30 am. Husband kindly woke me with coffee and cake. He was clearly worried that I might cause him to miss his train. It was also clear that I had not been clear that my event in London started with a breakfast.
8:30am. Arrived in London. My event didn’t start until 9:30, so I followed Husband into Pret (for another breakfast).
Jubilee Line had problems, so I walked with Husband to Bank, and caught the DLR to Canary Wharf. It was very crowded. Tried hard to behave like a seasoned commuter and avoided all eye contact. At next station about 50 extra people rammed themselves onto train. I was now completely squeezed on all sides, broke commuter rule and shared a joke with the woman pressed into my right armpit. Everyone else pretended they were deaf/blind/hadn’t noticed that we were close enough to be sharing the same coat.
Arrived in Canary Wharf. Still too early, so wandered around. Lots of tall glass buildings, steel tubs of tidy flowers – no spaceships, but they wouldn’t have looked out of place. All sides of one building had signs warning that smoking there was illegal. All sides of the same building had groups of men avoiding eye contact and smoking. Thought about taking a photo – decided I might get shouted at.
9:30 am. Arrived for breakfast. Breakfast was delicious coffee and tiny pastries. Was glad I’d already eaten two breakfasts. Discussed ethics of eating more than one pastry with another guest, who assured me she didn’t want one, so I ate hers. Noticed that most of the women were better dressed than me, and very manicured. Hoped they would think scuffed trainers were a fashion statement.
Taken downstairs to a room filled with dummies. Listened to a short, sad talk, from a man whose friend had died suddenly from a heart attack. The company are now running CPR courses in memory of him.
Watched a film, which showed how to give CPR, then practised on a dummy. Noticed that several women now looked less well manicured, and several dummies were now wearing smeared lipstick.
I’ve done CPR training before, because when I was teaching, we were sent on regular first aid courses. However, this one was better, as the dummies had a device embedded which clicked when the chest was sufficiently depressed. It was quite hard to make it click – I must’ve not pressed hard enough on previous courses. Basic principle remains unchanged – add air and move it around the body – but details have altered. You now don’t bother to waste time checking for a pulse – if someone isn’t breathing, you do CPR. 30 hard pushes on centre of chest (right between the nipples) at the speed you would sing “Nellie the Elephant packed her trunk…” followed by 2 big breaths into the mouth (with nose squeezed shut and head tilted back. The patient’s, not yours). You keep doing this until help arrives (or you have a heart attack yourself, as it’s quite hard work!)
We also learned how to use a defibrillator. This was incredibly easy, because when it’s turned on a voice tells you exactly what to do. It even checks for a heart beat, and tells you when/if to zap the person, so there’s no danger you might give someone an unnecessary shock. I think I’ll suggest we buy one for lunch club – seems like a good thing to keep in a church.
Had lunch. This was a buffet, with tall round tables to stand around. I hate to stand while eating, so asked if I could take my plate to the seats in the lobby. They didn’t say no (when you’re a partner’s wife, people rarely say no). Was joined by all the other middle aged spouses who like to sit while they eat.
Coffee and chocolate brownies, then caught the train home. Less crowded thankfully. I did check all the other passengers carefully, in case anyone needed CPR, but all seemed healthy.
Thank you for reading. Have a good week.
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Anne E. Thompson is an author. She writes a regular blog and has written several novels and one non-fiction book. You can find her books in bookshops and on Amazon.