Friday 18th November, 2011

Essex County ASA Dinner and More Mobility


The main activity for today was the Essex County ASA Annual Dinner in North Stifford, just outside the M25 just past the Dartford Tunnel.

I did not get up until 9am. At home, I have trouble getting to sleep and then trouble getting up. I did some bits and pieces of work in the morning and we left to drive to Essex just after 12 to miss the worst of the traffic on the M25, stopping at Starbucks just South of Guildford for a light lunch. The queue for the toll at Dartford was "only" about 15 minutes so we got to the hotel around 3:30.

When I got up this morning, I felt really good with virtually none of the stiffness that I has almost every other day this week. I was very tempted to leave my crutches at home, but eventually decided to take them in the car in case I needed than at all. The crutches stayed in the car!

This turned out to be a splendid evening in every way.

(1) Physically, my illness had no effect at all. I was walking without crutches and without any problem. Our hotel room was less than 100 yards from the room where the dinner was being held. I did not really realise the luxury of walking with both hands free. It was possible to buy drinks at the bar and carry them back to the table. Before the dinner I stood up talking to people for more than an hour. I sat in comfort through dinner for more than 2 hours, then sat in comfort in the bar for more than 2 hours, making several trips back on our room. Despite having had chemo yesterday, I had enough energy to stay up until 2am.

(2) The dinner was a splendid affair. I suspect that Barry Cridland, President of Essex, spent a lot more of his own money on this dinner than I spent on mine. The room was splendidly set up, with extravagant floral decorations and incredibly complex balloon sculptures, with an aquatic theme. The food was pretty good for a mass catered dinner. While we were eating, a group of entertainers, "Spanner in the Works", wandered from table to table.

(3) Barry Cridland was also President of Essex in 2004, when Sue was President of Hampshire. At that time, all of the County Associations that made up the Southern Counties Amateur Swimming Association held annual dinners. The presidents usually attended each others dinners and a bond of friendship built up between them (and their escorts), referred to as the "2004 Chain Gang". (Fewer counties now organize dinners and there really isn't a 2011 chain gang). More than half of the 2004 chain gang came to this dinner. It was really good to catch up with them. Personally, it was amazing (and encouraging) to find out how many of the chain gang are cancer survivors.

Finally retiring to bed, I was still feeling comfortable.