February 28, 2012
And the winner is...
A quick word about the book title for my re-write of John Bunyan's classic: 'Pilgrim's Progress'.
I asked for help from the wonderful readers of this blog site and you gave it. Thank you to all of you who offered title ideas and we now have a winner, if that's the right word for something that wasn't a competition. It was a suggestion provided by very wise Angela Reith:
'Pippa's Progress - a pilgrim's journey to heaven.'
'Simple, intriguing, catchy' said the publishers and I agree. You'll be hearing more of that title.
So thank you, Angela. I owe you a bottle of something as well as a book credit.
Now all I have to do is write the book.
February 27, 2012
When it comes to the past, we have various avoidance mechanisms.
Some make their past better than it was to avoid awkward issues of blame. They prefer to blame and punish themselves rather than anyone else.
Others make it worse than it was in order to dwell doggedly in a paralysed world of resentment. It's not pretty but serves as a passive act of stubborn revenge.
Almost all disassociate from body memories that feel uncomfortable by rejecting their body as the keeper of these memories.
None of these are paths to lead us home.
The truth is, we can only judge the past rightly if we let go of it. If we cling to our perceptions of the past, for whatever reason, then we can't see it.
If we let go of it, then we see it.
This is how it is. We acknowledge what we know, feel what we feel, pretending nothing - but then we begin the walk to freedom. In such letting go, we become young again, in the best sense of the word: open, wondering, alive.
Spring follows winter's letting go.
And so it is with us.
February 26, 2012
Heaven or Hell? 'Wake up, Look, Notice, Listen'
The first time round
Nobody ever told me
I could be a child forever
I was led to believe
That play and discovery
Had to stop.
The message that came across
Loud and clear
'Grow up, be responsible
Be miserable and unhappy
Just like the rest of us'
The first time round
I didn't question
The voice of the grown ups
Even when their inconsistences
Left my insides churning
And my mind confused
I didn't question
But I soon learned not to trust
Fear entered my being and took control
Then the forgetting took place
And I became one of the walking dead
Life became automatic
And I took my place in Hell
With all the other zombies
Reacting to each encounter
Following my own mad programing
But not living
And still I did not question
The joy of being was lost to me
I had entered the world of small gods
Each vying for attention and place
A world where one-upmanship was the norm
Survival of the fittest
Kill or be killed
Be the best
Earn the most
Feel the least
But then something happened
And I began to hear another voice
Quiet at first
That I had to force myself to stop to hear
'Wake up, Look, Notice, Listen'
I found myself walking beside myself
Watching my own actions
The more I watched
The more I realised the unhappiness I was causing myself
And I realised
That I was passing this unhappiness on to others
Then the defining 'AH HA' moment
'Life does not need to be like this,
Life was never intended to be this difficult,
Stop fighting and allow life to lead the way,
All is well'
The quiet voice had broken through all the nonsense
I started to let go of my opinions
My learnt definitions of good and bad
This left me space to think clearly
I have the choice to live it well
I discovered I could learn from all experiences
I gained wisdom from being open to life
And transforming my own hurts
So I arrived at the second time round
Where life is simpler
Where I know nothing
That I am involved in the mystery that includes all others
And somehow this is ok
I am open to discovery
And every day is playtime
I am now tuned into the quiet voice
And I trust its counsel
I have re-found my child self
But this time round
I have no desire to play the old games
'Tit for tat', 'beat your neighbour' or 'woe is me'
Instead of reaching outside myself
I now reach inside for security
I am now ready to love and allow myself to be loved
The path of kindness and gentleness calls to me
For I recognise this is the way
I am being called to relate to others
I have no rule book
But I know
I am part of 'The dance of Life'
Wherever I go
Wherever I am
Whomever I am with
I know I stand on Holy ground
Heaven is on Earth
And it is exactly where we are standing
'Wake up, Look, Notice, Listen'
February 25, 2012
Tales from the other side
I have recently been editing a book about the departed. It's a scientific study into people's experiences of the dead. It includes many interviews with people reporting all sorts of apparitions.
Of course many do not believe in life after death and must therefore dismiss stories like these. But it's surprising how many people have had similar experiences. Perhaps you're one of them.
In this batch of interviews, all done in Iceland, the apparitions have various reasons for coming and various effects on those who see them. Sometimes they're warning of danger; sometimes they are simply unsettling; sometimes they're saying goodbye, sometimes comforting and sometimes they have no obvious meaning at all.
Here are two at the moment of death when the individual was unaware that their strange visitor had already died.
1) My name is Margaret
My wife and I had living with us a little girl about two and a half years old whom we fostered. One night I woke up and felt as though a woman were standing beside the bed. She said to me, 'My name is Margaret.' Then she vanished out the door. I looked at the clock and saw that it was exactly three thirty. The day after, or the same day, I learnt that the girl's grandmother had died at that same moment from a heart attack at a town in another part of the country. Her name was Margaret. I knew nothing about her health. I am not even sure if I knew her name. I had never seen her when she was living.
2) You were lucky
I was a Member of the Parliament for 18 years and during that time I was in contact with many men who later became good acquaintances of mine. One of them was Karl Kristjansson. We were friends and kept in touch on and off after we retired. One day in the winter I went out to the stable as I usually did after lunch. When I had been shovelling manure for a while, I suddenly felt that Karl Kristjansson standing in front of me in one of the stalls in the stable. He said something rather peculiar: 'You were lucky, you did fine,' and that was all because he then disappeared. That evening his death was announced on the radio.
While pondering the incident and trying to figure it out, I learnt that he had suffered a heart attack and been brought to the Reykjavik City Hospital where he died. I had been admitted to that hospital a year earlier after suffering a similar attack. I luckily recuperated and could go home, whereas he died. In that context I understood his words, 'You were lucky, you did fine.'
February 24, 2012
The Same Suntan
I hold my head high in the 'Hafiz fan club' for I am in very good company, he was also a favourite of Queen Victoria.
I'll end my week of contributions with one of my Top Ten
THE SAME SUNTAN
Every address for
Who has just one colour of hair,
One gender, one race'
The same suntan all the time,
One rule book,
Trust me when I say,
That man is not even
Half a god
And will only
For anyone who wants to meet this man, a great book to start with is 'The Gift' poems by HAFIZ, translations by Daniel Ladinsky.
February 23, 2012
Some more wise words from my friend Hafiz
The small man
Builds cages for everyone
While the sage,
Who has to duck his head
When the moon is low,
Keeps dropping keys all night long
February 22, 2012
Pilgrim's further progress - help!
I need your help.
I'm presently working on a 21st century version of the old classic 'Pilrim's Progress' - the 7th best selling book of all time.
It will be published by DLT later this year October
But what to call it? This is where I need your help.
The book is significantly different from the original. The only similarity - but a central one - is that it's a journey to heaven. And it does feature Pilgrim and Good Will.
One big difference, however, is that Pilgrim is a woman, called Pippa.
The working title is:
Pippa Pilgrim's Progress
A 21st century journey to heaven.
But that might well change. My own sense is that it matters that 'pilgrim' and 'progress' are in there somewhere to draw on the strength of the original. Branding, I suppose.
But maybe you disagree. In which case..?
Or perhaps you could be creative with the words:
A very progressive Pilgrim
Pippa's journey to heaven.
Or something else?
Hopefully the book is full of funny/awful/dark/beautiful characters and will be a cracking read. 'The Office' meets 'Alice in Wonderland' meets Narnia meets 'The Killing'.
But for now, a name and strap line. Do you have any ideas? There's a little Saatchi in you aching to get out, I know...
Ponder these things when you wake at 2.00am. Then please - e mail thoughts/ideas over the next 24/48 hours.
Obviously if your name or idea is used, you will be credited - and yu may go straight to heaven....whether you want to or not.
February 21, 2012
When The Violin
Since getting to know Hafiz's verses I am always discovering new favourites.
Sometimes they are ones I have read many times before and then all of a sudden their secrets open up inside me in a palpable and real way.
For me that's the excitment of being in a relationship with this man.
So now for Tuesday's Wise Words
WHEN THE VIOLIN
Can forgive the past
It starts singing.
When the violin can stop worrying
About the future
You will become
Such a drunk laughing nuisance
Will lean down
And start combing you into
When the violin can forgive
Every wound caused by
The heart starts
A dangerous method?
It's an action movie but not as we know it.
In essence, the film is little more than a series of erudite conversations. But beneath the calm and considered surface, there are earthquakes a-plenty and the rip and damage of strong pillars falling.
'A dangerous method', currently on release in a cinema near you, concerns the relationship between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung at the beginning of the 20th century. The young Jung - not easy to say - is trying to carve out a career in Zurich, with Freud as his hero. He's never met the great man but has read his work and now wants to start practicing Freud's new 'talking cure' - the revolution at the heart of psychoanalysis.
Into Jung's life comes the Russian Jew Sabina Spelrein. Her presenting condition is a life traumatised by hysteria, with roots in the confused soil of punishment, sex and guilt. In time, as Sabina returns to health, Freud and Jung both compete for her attentions in their different ways. (It's possible she went on to become wiser than both before being executed by the Nazis.)
It's fascinating to sit in Freud's study as psychoanalysis is invented. Freud had high hopes for Jung as a standard-bearer for the new science of the mind. But in a relationship that started as master/disciple and became father/son the seeds of rivalry soon showed.
Jung was frustrated by Freud's insistence that a sexual component underlay every human neurosis. Freud in turn feared that Jung would discredit his fragile cause by pushing past the empirical boundaries of observed truth into the realms of mysticism. Freud was well aware that his observations would not be greeted with universal applause.
There's a scene in the film when the two men travel by boat to New York. As the city comes into view, Freud asks Jung: 'Do you think they know we're on our way, bringing them the plague?'
Freud was revolutionary in his reflections on the human psyche but not ambitious for it. The extent of his healing power was simply to help people understand why they were as they were. He could return them only to 'average unhappiness'; psychoanalysis had no other brief. Jung was more ambitious for the human psyche. He wished to offer people not merely psychological explanation but beyond that, a different way of being, hence his mystical leanings.
Jung's relational boundaries collapsed more easily than Freud's. A married man, the Swiss psychoanalyst had at least two affairs with his patients, including the relationship with Sabina. 'Sometimes you have to do something unforgivable just to go on living,' he says towards the end of the film.
Jung was both open to religion and suspicious of it. He believed that the inner areas of our lives which we cannot name or face we deal with by framing ourselves inside them, through dreams, rituals and myths.
A hundred years on, we may not be Freudians or Jungians but we all practice the talking cure; though our only real client is ourselves.
February 20, 2012
If God Invited You To A Party
Today Hafiz poses us a question
How will we answer?
IF GOD INVITED YOU TO A PARTY
If God invited you to a party and said,
'Everyone in the ballroom tonight will be my special guest'
How would you then treat them when you arrived?
And Hafiz knows that there is no one in this world
who is not standing upon
His jeweled dance floor.
February 19, 2012
Each Soul Completes Me
Inspired by Mr Parke's 'Poem of the week', I thought that for the next few days I will share some of my favourite poems from one of my all time greats, Hafiz.
Hafiz was born in Persia (1320- 1389) and is considered to be one of history's greatest lyrical geniuses, although he is little known in the Western world.
A friend (Thankyou Simon Lord) gave me a book of his poetry sum 14 or so years ago and his words have inspired, challenged, comforted and at times have made me laugh out loud ever since.
All the poems I will share are translated by Daniel Ladinsky. This man has a great gift of his own and if like me your Persian is not up to scratch, his translations really bring Hafiz's words alive.
Sunday, we will start with
EACH SOUL COMPLETES ME
My Beloved said,
'My name is not complete without yours'
How could a humans worth ever be such?
And God knowing all our thoughts-
and all our thoughts are innocent steps on the path-
then addressed my heart,
a sublime truth to the world, when he sang,
'I am made whole by your life.
Each soul, each soul completes me'
February 18, 2012
I've just been with Socrates, one of my teachers.
'The psyche is cared for,' he says 'by simply destroying its
pretensions to wisdom and bringing it to the acknowledgement of its
So breathe in the big weekend air unbothered by being a wise owl with answers and solutions for everything and everyone.
We look after our psyche/soul today by relaxing.
We don't need desperately to seek out the 'This is it!' moment whether for ourselves or someone else.
A humble and happy 'This is' shall be quite enough 'til Monday comes.
February 17, 2012
Poem of the week
Poem of the week is by William Carlos Williams and called 'This is just to say'.
Here's the scene: you've come down for breakfast really looking forward to some plums.
They are not where you left them. You're irritated. You then see this note on the table. Does it melt you - or infuriate even more?
'I have eaten
that were in
the ice box
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold'
February 15, 2012
John Suddards remembered
Bit of a shock today as I made a sandwich to the lunch time news on the radio.
They were talking about a vicar who had been murdered, and I was only half listening - until they gave his name as 'John Suddards'.
Now they had my attention for I was John's spiritual director and he was due to come and see me tomorrow morning.
I will remember a brave man who in his late fifties came to me because he was desperate to find out why he was as he was.
It takes courage to face yourself and your past and he did both, brushing nothing beneath the lazy carpet of avoidance. Respect, my friend.
The last line of the last e mail he wrote to me a few days ago, said this: 'When we next meet, I deserve a hug.'
This is true.
John, you deserve an enormous hug.
February 14, 2012
A wondrous melting
I had a piece published in the Daily Mail yesterday which was about the wonder of the early morning; but acknowledging how hard it is to get there sometimes.
Along the way, I quoted the excellent Benjamin Franklin but erroneously called him the '6th President of the United States', which of course he wasn't. It didn't effect the substance of the piece. But it's embarrassing and both me and the sub editor at the Mail regret not checking that fact because I like to be accurate.
What was interesting, however, was quite how many people were happy to ignore the meditative thrust of the piece to seize on this one error. But then perhaps you're not that surprised...
Anyway, I thought I'd offer you a verbatim e mail exchange I had on the issue. The only word changed is the name of the correspondent. Here's how it went.
Stephanie's 1st e mail:
Just saw your column in today's Mail.
Ben Franklin was the greatest man who was never President of the US (John Quincy Adams was the sixth). Calls everything else you said into question...
The Mail's editor should have caught it, too.
(NO SIGN OFF)
My reply to Stephanie's e mail:
Good afternoon, Stephanie
And good to hear from you.
Yes, you're absolutely right, I should have double-checked the 'President' information as should the Mail's sub-editor and we both regret not doing so. I like to be accurate and failed on this occasion.
But failure is gift if through it our ego dies and we discover the kindness of others.
So I wish you well and hope the day is kind to you.
With best wishes,
Stephanie's reply to my reply:
I have learned today...
February 13, 2012
Whatever you give a woman...
I enjoyed this blog on a 'Second half of life' website:
'Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her sperm, she'll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she'll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she'll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she'll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her. So, if you give her any crap, be ready to receive a ton of shit.'
February 08, 2012
Take it to the limit
Some wonderful blogs from Russell and Shelliz recently.
Substantial pieces that beg me to be brief, because I can't compete.
But I was sitting with Meister Eckhart this morning. I never read books I've written but I make an exception in the case of 'Conversations with Meister Eckhart' because it's really all about Eckhart.
He was talking about being free from our gifts. This is not for anyone under 40 to read because until then, you allow your gifts to take you as far as they can. And all strength to your elbow!
But after the age of 40, we begin to let go of our cleverness and our gifts - and discover, slowly, that we exist beyond them.
We say 'I am' as opposed to 'I am my gift'.
This is not easy, because it's our gifts which bring the applause. But once past 40, and into the second half of life, though we continue to use them and even occasionally receive praise, we cease imagining that our gift is who we are.
As Eckhart says, we exist beyond them, have identity beyond them - and for him, there is no real identity other than being lost in the gift of God.
As I say, however, this is only for those over 40. Until then, we push our gifts to the fucking limit.
So be it in heaven, so be it on earth.
February 06, 2012
I've met the Queen.
She kindly - and surprisingly - came to open a new Prayer Chapel when I worked as a priest in an unglamorous corner of London's West End.
Like all good leaders, she offers sharp-eyed friendliness - but not friendship.
The two are different and necessarily so.
Mind the Gap
Recently I have been working alongside three family support workers in our Children's Center Outreach Office. I hear both their phone calls and their frustration. Their job is to work with our most vunerable families.
They do a brilliant job supporting parents and helping them access services that will enable the whole family to have a better quality of life. They offer support with things like parenting skills, healthy eating, welfare advice and education and work skills advice.
They also go with parents to meetings and children's clinics and help with charity applications for household goods.
And they do make a difference. Parents who engage and work with the family support staff often manage to turn their lives around. These are people who have grown up without positive guidence and they often blossom in the care of a person who helps them to learn basic life skill tasks such as managing bills or putting routines in place to help their children feel secure.
So what's the problem?
The problem is this: this service is voluntary. Parents can choose to use it or not use it. So where do the parents who find it difficult to engage with such help go? And who helps the little lives that are held in their hands? When parents refuse help, it's the child who suffers.
We have a gap: a gap between the refusal of help from the family support service and crisis intervention from the social services. And it's a gap which many of our families live in.
Let me explain by looking at two of our families, names changed of course.
Jane is a single mum with one child. Noone ever looked after Jane or helped her when she was growing up. Her partner is in prison and she has no other support from her family. She has low self-esteem, is always complaining of poor health, has no qualifications and little chance of getting off of benefits.
It's not surprising her parenting skills are poor. She loves her child but has no control over him. She complains about his behaviour but is unable to do anything about it.
Jane was offered family support. She was given a two day nursery place so she could engage with the services offered. Parenting classes were arranged and she says she wants help but she does not attend. She wanted to do some voluntary work in nursery; this was arranged but on the day she was due to help, there was a reason why she could not come. Literacy classes were also arranged at her request - but again she did not attend.
Jane just does not have the ability to engage. She is not a bad person, she wants to do the things she feels will help her to get on in life, but she is unable to sustain and see anything through. When young, Jane did not receive the type of parenting that would help her to become a good parent herself. It is so terribly sad but without help these patterns of behaviour that blight Jane's life will carry on for her child.
Jane - and her child - fall into the gap. She hasn't the skills to access the help offered but does not fall within Social Services remit for intervention. Her child is being fed and clothed and kept clean and he is not in physical danger.
Now meet Souila. She came to England as a refugee. We don't know her whole story, but she has mental health problems - and two small children. She calls other children unpleasant names if they come near her child - she called one such child, behaving quite harmlessly, a 'dog'. She also has some choice names for staff especially white staff.
Once when her child was helping at tidy up time - something all children do - she started ranting about white people treating her as a servant.
As I say, I do not know what her experiences have been, but I imagine that they have been quite unpleasant. Staff feel so uncomfortable with her that we make sure that we are not alone with her; when she is in the classroom we always make sure there is a witness. Family support staff also visit her in twos.
Souila is mentally unwell but she is not unintelligent. She is quite able to use family support to help her with certain things she needs for her home. She is unwilling, however, to see that her behaviour in front of her children has an effect on their emotional health.
But again, she stands outside the reach of care. Souila takes her children for their health check ups and looks after their physical needs and so she too does not show up on social services radar.
In our area the thresehold for social services intervention is so high that this gap is becoming a chasm.
Social Services, financially savaged by cuts, are so overwhelmed in preventing another Baby P scandal, that children like Jane's son and Souila's children fall in the gap. Their Emotional health is being damaged and in turn they will most likely grow up to damage or be victims of others, probably both. But unless a child is in imminent physical danger Social Sevices do not have the resources to become involved.
So the gap gets wider, many families families fall into it and all we at the children's centre can do is hope that the little time we spend with their children will help them to grow up to believe that some people are kind and will respond to their emotional needs.
We hope the care that we can give will make a difference.
For some reason, being a parent seems to give people a licence to start offering you advice. Since my child was born, whether I have asked for it or not, people have given me advice about various things.
Initially when I was rather pissed off with all the uninvited advice coming my way , a friend said (not verbatim but more or less) 'the advice you are given that is helpful, remember, however the advice that is not, say thank you and let it go out the other ear'. This was very helpful advice.
From my experience in the past few months, there are two types of advice.
Firstly, when it is advice about say how best to get your child to sleep through the night or how best to wash them, this is general advice that the person has learnt through their own experience. This advice is generally not given with any judgement or malice. It is given by those who have experienced the problem before and are trying to be helpful. These people I am able to tolerate and feel more warm towards.
What I watch out for however is how these people react when I do not do as they did. Sometimes they get rather angry and feel I 'should' be doing as they say. At this point, I stick to my guns and go on my instinct as opposed to letting them control me.
The second type of advice carries on down this negative path and comes from people who give stupid advice that makes you wonder, where did that come from? Or they are angry at what they see you doing and feel they have the right to say how it should be done.
Here are a couple of examples I have experienced. Firstly when my child was three weeks old, I was sitting in a cafe with my brother. A woman came by and smiling at my daughter asked how old she was. When I told her, she then said with another smile, 'oh make sure you don't forget these early weeks!'.
This advice was not invited, was not relevent to me and was not welcomed. It came not from a kind place but from a negative and judgemental one.
Similarly, when I was standing outside yesterday with my child to show them their first snow, a woman (often is women by the way) walked passed and said 'oh you won't want to fall with that precious cargo!'.
This advice was given by a woman who considered it wrong that I had taken my child out in the snow and felt I should be told. Despite the smile and jovial tone in which she told me though, she could not hide what she really felt and neither could I so I ignored her.
Funnily enough, as someone whose job it is to give advice in times of need and risk, my experiences are helping me to understand that advice is a fragile thing and should only be given when it is required in times of risk or invited. It also needs to be individually tuned so that the person receiving can understand it and it can be helpful. If it is not helpful, there really is no point in giving it.
It also is good if it is given without judgement, malice or with the aim of controlling someone. A more difficult one that as we are not always aware of what we are doing. We do however keep trying.
'The advice you are given that is helpful, remember, however the advice that is not, say thank you and let it go out the other ear'.
Armed with this advice when my day feels like a battle, I become more able to filter all that I absorb and let it pass through me.
February 03, 2012
In our final visit to the psychiatric ward, we today read the case notes of Peter.
Episode 5) Famous musician or unhappy young man?
Peter has had had a difficult life, but then who hasn't in here?
Peter suffered particularly in his early years, when the damage is done, as his mother also suffers from schizophrenia. They're often admitted to the hospital at the same time as he lives near her still and they frequently see each other.
When Peter is unwell he is very grandiose and believes he is a famous musician and has millions in the bank. He also claims to know famous people and describes a very exciting life outside of hospital.
But it seems that when he is more well, he is a very unhappy young man who didn't really have a chance when young and apart from a council flat, has nothing and no one to care for him.
He gets involved with drugs a lot in the community which doesn't help his state of mind. In hospital, however, he is generally pleasant and likes to be liked. It is his second home and one where he is cared for.
When told he may be in for a while longer, however, he can get very angry and abusive towards staff and he will often try to go AWOL if he sees an opportunity.
Although he gets on everybody's nerves, the staff all feel sorry for him and humour him as much as possible while also trying not to collude with his delusions.
February 02, 2012
Marjorie's advice to the fat
Another visit to a psychiatric ward somewhere in England.
Episode 4) Marjorie and the importance of being slim
Marjorie suffers from schizophrenia. She has spent time in both the hospital and the community where for long periods he has functioned relatively well.
She's very slim and looks a lot younger than her years. This is partly because she always dresses very smartly.
However though her clothes are smart they're not clean. Marjorie rarely washes her clothes or herself.
Her slim frame is unusual on the ward. The medication and lifestyle of the patients makes the waif-like look difficult.
She does smoke a lot and can generally be found sitting outside, cigarette in hand. She talks mostly to herself, responding to 'internal stimuli'.
She's a small lady, very feisty and getting her to do something she doesn't like - such as washing herself - is a battle.
But while she won't hear a word spoken against her personal hygiene, finding it insulting, she has no qualms about telling people, staff and patients if they are overweight:
'You need to go to the gym, you fat man,' she said to a nurse the other day.
February 01, 2012
A day on the ward...and shopping lists
As we meet various patients - or is it clients? - in our psychiatric unit this week, I thought it might be good to have a little background on the nature of the day on the ward.
There are four regular meal times in the day and tea, coffee and biscuits are available also.
Medication time is also four times a day. Some of the patients come immediately while others have to be repeatedly called.
It can often be a difficult time. There are often arguments when a patient sees different pills or doesn't like certain ones because of the effect they have. (Medication time always makes me think of the film 'One flew over the cuckoo's nest.' Remember Nurse Ratchett?)
Things can kick off. The staff are all trained in the arts of restraint - but its also good to have a few big male members of staff to hand.
Some patients are allowed to leave the ward. There are different levels of this privilege depending on how well they are and whether they can be trusted and the staff accompany them on these trips out.
For those who can't go out, the staff go to the shops for them to get things like cigarettes, drinks and chocolate. These are trips the staff tend to enjoy - a chance for some fresh air.
Once a patient asked a female member of staff to get him a Playboy magazine. She said that she wouldn't be able to buy that but could get him something like an FHM.
After thinking about it for a moment he said 'No, don't worry, I will just have a Radio Times'.