Tuesday, 13 December 2016

from the gaga clinic to the magical land

I took my parents this morning to what my father caustically refers to as the Gaga Clinic, or Colchester General Hospital's Geriatric Medicine department.  Since the hospital extended the car park you can actually park there, which helps, though there isn't anywhere obvious to drop off elderly patients outside the geriatric unit without feeling as though you might be in the way of an ambulance. The scans they took several weeks ago didn't show anything, which was rather what we expected since if they had revealed anything definite he would probably have been called in to discuss them sooner instead of leaving it until his next routine appointment.  From what I gathered the doctors had decided in the absence of any more definite information about why he felt so grotty to alter two or possibly three of his medications.  As my mother (who is a retired statistician) observed it was not a well designed experiment to change so many variables at once. The hospital pharmacy was busy and we had to wait an hour for the prescription to be dispensed, though we did have a lively conversation about cats with a retired district nurse while we waited for our pink ticket to come up and she waited for the bus to take her back to Harwich.  I got to pat an amiable and amazingly silky dog who was just being taken home after a morning shift spent cheering patients up.  My father refrained.  He does not like dogs.

In the afternoon I met a friend for a snatched coffee in between her many hospital visits with her father, who is rather more urgently ill and had immunotherapy a couple of weeks ago with a colonoscopy to look forward to in the break between Christmas and the New Year, while life just to show that it retains a sense of humour has given him cataracts as well as cancer.  We met at Acorn Village so that we could visit this year's Magical Land in their creative craft centre, since we enjoyed last year's Enchanted Forest so much.  The theme this year is Peter Pan, and the residents have made the children's bedroom at one end of the room, complete with papier mache Nana, and Neverland at the other, with pirate ship, Captain Hook and a very sparkly Tinkerbell.  Arctic elements had crept into Neverland, with a polar bear and some penguins which I'm sure don't feature in the book, but never mind.

The whole thing is really well done.  Whoever makes the papier mache figures has got genuine talent, the Newfoundland dog bulk of Nana looking really doggy and the penguins poking their necks and heads forward in absolute essence of penguin.  And the whole installation works visually under subdued lighting, when it must have been painted in something akin to more normal studio conditions since I don't suppose they lit their creative craft centre by fairy lights for six months while keeping the blinds down.  Apparently it takes the residents that long to make everything.  I think it is what would in artspeak be termed Outsider Art, art made by people who are not artists, and you can tell that it is a real labour of love.  It has a very tender and warm atmosphere.  Next year they should invite Grayson Perry to open it, as he is an Essex man and practically local.  He would enjoy it to judge from what I've seen of him on the telly, the residents could meet a bona fide Turner Prize winning artist, and they could get a puff for their creation in the news.

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