Shoulder to Shoulder to Day: The Last Post – or is it?

This blog hop has taken us on an incredible journey; it was founded with the motive of cheering up – and cheering on – Emma Day, who blogs at Crazy With Twins, through a period of enforced isolation from her beloved family, necessitated by treatment for thyroid cancer using radioactive iodine; a period of time estimated at around 32 – 33 days.

When we all found – oh, joy! – that Emma’s enforced isolation from her family could be ended very much sooner than anyone had dared to hope, it was decided to continue with the plan, to keep raising awareness about anything to do with cancer – and treating it – and try to keep it all good fun for everyone at the same time.

Now I want to tell you a funny story: A story which, moreover, really is true! All I’m going to do is alter the names of real people. These events took place at the large manufacturing firm where I had my first job – but before I worked there. The story was narrated to me by workmates…

In this small technical department, there once worked a fellow called Paulo. now, Paulo was, let’s say, a little unusual; indeed, a little more unusual than most. He was certainly not stupid; he spoke several languages fluently, for one thing. One day, Harry, who was telling the story, was struggling to read a foreign instruction leaflet. “Paulo” he said, “What does [such-and-such] mean?” In reply, Paulo grabbed the leaflet, a pen, and some paper. “Give me that!” he said, and, without more ado, wrote out a complete translation, the only limitation of speed being the speed at which he could write!

There were many stories about Paulo’s activities both on and off the firm. When it came to practical stuff, though, was when the picture got colourful; in the department, we often had to make smallish one-off devices to perform certain functions in the various production departments. And on Paulo’s work, there were several trade-marks which far outlived his time at the company; when you took off the lid on one of Paulo’s creations, the mains terminals would be somewhere near the front, in just the best position for delivering an electric shock, the internal wiring would share its cosmetic characteristics with a bird’s nest, and the soldering would be vaguely reminiscent of less perfect examples of early Celtic jewellery. (I could go on. I, personally, saw one or two examples.)

Now, one day, Paulo was taken ill at work. It was agreed that he would be taken home in the works ambulance. He was, however, disappointed to find that his bike could not travel with him! When he found out, he threw a chain with a  combination lock onto a bench. “Harry” he said, “You know my bike. Lock it up for me, please.” And then he was gone!

As Harry said, why Paulo thought that Harry knew what his bike looked like remains a mystery. He’d never seen Paulo’s bike in his life! Anyway, at five o’clock, Harry enlisted the help of two senior members of staff, and together they trooped down to the bike sheds. First of all, they waited until most of the bikes had been claimed, but some remained. (Some workers biked intermittently; there was no rule to stop anyone from leaving a bike in the sheds overnight.) So now, our three friends examined the residue of two-wheeled, pedal-powered conveyances. Their eyes settled on one particular example!

It had an assortment of, let’s say, non-standard accessories. It looked in a general state of disrepair. Various components were precariously secured with pieces of string. The tyres were noticeably balding.  This one just had to be Paulo’s bike. Accordingly, they fitted the lock and chain, and went home.

A couple of weeks or so later, when Paulo was back at work, he, Harry, and  several others were in the small workshop which served the metalworking needs of the department. “Harry” said Paulo, “Have you still got my bike lock?”
“I locked your bike up for you!” replied Harry.
My bike wasn’t locked.” said Paulo. At this point, Jack, the workshop supervisor, interjected. “That’s funny” he said, “The other Friday, when I was just locking my tool-box, one of the blokes from Quality Control rushed in here, breathless! “Jack” he says. “You got a hacksaw? Some b****r’s locked my bike up!”…”

Later, an inspection of the bike shed led to the recovery of Paulo’s lock and chain. A saw-cut had been made, not through the chain… oh, no… but right through the middle of the lock!

OK, so it was funny. But now, let’s think: What error, exactly, did those three fellows make?

Quite simply, they fell into a trap that often catches any of us: They stereotyped the situation. And here is our link with cancer!

How many times have we heard – or even made – statements like these?

It can’t be prostate cancer – he’s too young!

A bloke with breast cancer? Don’t make me laugh…

But she’s too old for that…

And so on. True, there are trends. But let’s not turn trends into rules. Instead, if we’re unsure, let’s see a doctor, or beg our friends to do so.

And so, my friends, this is not ‘The Last Post’. It is ‘The Reveille’. A wake-up call about cancer. And, more cheerfully, a wake-up call about the wonderful spirit of camaraderie, caring, sharing, and generally helping others, that exists within the blogging community.

Many thanks to Emma for sharing the journey of her treatment with us, with such a valiant spirit; besides the time of her isolation, this included joining in the banter on Twitter, in the evening of the day when she underwent two general anaesthetics, then blogging using a phone, the next day, and then opening her regular blog meme, Wednesday Words, the following day, using a phone again!

A big thank-you to Vicky, whose drive, organising ability, blogging knowledge, and humour turned the merest germ of a idea into something that has worked beyond anything I imagined; and to Jaime and Sara who raised the awareness about raising awareness!

Thank you to everyone who has taken part in ‘#S2S2D’. I’m looking forward to visiting the contributions I haven’t looked at yet, though pressure of everyday affairs. (There are now over a hundred and twenty thumbnails on the blog hop!) Thank you for every post, every comment, every tweet, every retweet… every action to further the cause.

In the words of the old song (OK… “Him and his old songs” I hear some of you sigh…)

“Thank you very, very, very much.”

Shoulder to Shoulder to Day

Footnote – 2 July 2013

We should all remember that, whilst this blog-hop, which had a specific aim, is now closed, Emma’s battle is far from over; there will be further tests to be done, and a lot of anxious waiting. As I began to type this amendment, I thought I would check her blog.


Brave as she is, she will value the support of the blogging community through the days ahead. We wish her well.

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8 Responses to Shoulder to Shoulder to Day: The Last Post – or is it?

  1. What a lovely post! Love the bike story! I hope you’re really proud of your contribution also x

  2. sarahmo3w says:

    What a great last post! Thank you for coming up with such an amazing idea. Very happy to support it and be a part of it.

  3. A wonderful post, a great reminder that whilst we may stereotype cancer does not.

  4. Tisdayilove says:

    A really wonderful post and the song is now stuck in my head just before bed

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