The 15th & 16th; I didn't go through all this for nothing.
The 15th of July. I woke up at half past three to the news from Nice. Went to sleep angry about one thing, come morning I'm aghast at another. The present is really, really fucked up. What has happened to us?
I don't know if this sounds terrible, but apart from that, I have had a really great day. Waking up way before my alarm was a blessing because it meant I had plenty of time for my eyes to adjust to light and so by the time I wanted to put mascara on, I could do so without pain.
At New Street, I got my second coffee of the morning and went to wait in the assistance office. My assigned chap turned up to take me to my train a little bit closer to the wire than I would like, but then the train hadn't actually arrived at the platform yet so I was worrying for nothing. During the journey, I made friends with the guy sitting opposite me after I noticed he was looking for Pokémon, but the train was going too fast to catch any. He asked if I was a writer as I had been scribbling away about transplants/Jeremy Hunt, I explained what I was doing, and he said he was an air quality consultant which I am a fan of; I do not enjoy terrible air. Now we're following each other on Twitter. Well done Pokémon. If I hadn't been talking to him, I would've noticed a tweet from a follower who was on my train in my carriage! I do wish they'd come and said hi, I would not have minded.
At Euston, the assistance guy was there! I didn't even have to wait or anything, despite some kindly strangers asking if I needed them to get help. Amazing! I bought another coffee on the concourse, then went to get a cab to London Metropolitan University.
The driver was not 100% sure which building it was, but he knew where, and with Google's help, we got there. Plus on the way, we had a very interesting discussion about regional British accents (starting from him noticing that I very much do not have a Brummie one). He dropped me off where we thought was right (I could see a big Reception sign), and the man inside helpfully explained that the Great Hall was just a few buildings down the road. I found it and was met by Anneliese in the foyer, who took me where we needed to go.
In the hall, I was greeted by some familiar faces from Tuesday, Simon and Cassie checking that I did eventually get a taxi from Westminster, and we positioned ourselves at the front so I could get up on stage without getting breathless. I briefly met Henny, the Chief Exec, who thanked me for coming, then it began! She started by talking about the progress made this year, and the plans for the next. She was followed by an excellent video about the strategy for the next few years, and then Hannah of Finance and Resources came up to elaborate on the video we'd just watched. There was a Q & A with the senior management team, which is comprised of many people! Presented in a rather light-hearted and vastly amusing fashion by a chap who introduced us to all of the panel, then asked them some questions which had already been submitted, ranging from "How will we be affected by Brexit?" to "What would your Desert Island Disc be?" with answers that were obviously serious and some not-so.
Then it was my turn! I started off by talking a bit about my role as a Young Ambassador, then talked about my transplants. I got a little bit rambly, but it was all going well; everybody seemed to be engaged, laughing when I tried to be humourous, and then suddenly I had five minutes left. I had to move on to my hopes for the future, for the best donors and the best post-transplant care possible everywhere, not just in major cities, or we are not going to achieve our goals. To finish, I had to talk about Jeremy Hunt and the second transplant debacle. I thought I was doing okay, I was getting through my points, little bit angry but I could see that they were agreeing, they were with me, when I asked what gives Jeremy Hunt the right to decide who gets to live, and I was suddenly on the verge of tears. Henny jumped up to make sure I was okay, and I found myself on the receiving end of rapturous applause, with some people even standing up. That was pretty cool. I had to end it then, by saying that we must change this, then I climbed down and wafted my face until the tears went back in. I didn't get to tell them how much it means to me, to be able to work with them. Campaigning on one's own can get a bit lonely and feel quite ineffectual, but having their backing makes me feel like I can actually change things. Like I didn't go through all this for nothing.
Every department had made a video of presentation about what they'd done this year, and they were all really good! Really creative; one used the office dog in a silent movie style, and another was based on Pokémon like the viewer/player was battling a blood cancer. So clever!
After the last one, that was the end, and I had a rather large queue of people wanting to thank me for speaking, or to tell me that I was inspiring, or that I had them and those around them in floods of tears. I mean, that was not my intention, but I am glad what I said made an impact. Everyone was then heading off to Hampstead Heath for the annual staff summer picnic, some on the train, some in a minibus, quite a few walked, and Anneliese, Ian and I got a Hailo. We got there in good time, before the rush, so we queued up with Jess who I met on Tuesday, and we immediately bonded over hatred of prednisolone. The picnic/buffet was great - loads of sandwiches, sausage rolls, salad-y stuff, fruit, crisps, sweet things, much variety! Plus various types of booze and soft drink but I thought I should stick with my water.
We just ate on the grass and talked, people milling around, we were even visited by a baby (with her mother who everybody obviously knew). I was having such fun, and I wish I could have stayed longer, but at half past two I needed to get on my way back to Euston. I would've got a later train but the prices get stupid and yes I get reimbursed but I'm not going to take the piss. Anneliese and Jess walked with me back to my chair and made sure I got in the cab okay, but not before another person thanked me, and said I was an example, which was really sweet. I have done so much smiling.
The taxi driver back to Euston brought me back down to Earth by immediately starting a conversation about Nice. There was a worrying moment when I thought he might live up to the "offensive cabbie" stereotype, but he was actually very sensible, thankfully.
Back at the station, I bought a smoothie and a Milky Bar, then went straight to my train. The journey back was less fun, no new PokéPals. Both parents were at the station to meet me, and home we went. Happy. Exhausted.
The 16th of July.
I really need to write what will be three blog posts by the time I've finished this. I've just had no time. Tomorrow afternoon I can. I have things to do in the morning. A lady and her daughter are coming to look at the kittens (they haven't decided which one) at half ten and I don't know how long they'll be here.
This morning I finished writing about yesterday, then read the paper. I needed a break from writing; that feels like all I have been doing lately. I also went to see what the kittens were getting up to - last night we sort of forgot to shut one of the cage doors properly, so they had been out all night. Surprisingly, everything was fine, so for an experiment, we have left them out today. It has meant that when I've been in, they're tired from playing so let me stroke them and Nova, the tortoiseshell who was very hissy, even came up to my face and sniffed my nose. Progress!
After lunch, Daddy and I went to see Ghostbusters. It is fabulous. I haven't even seen the original so I made no comparisons, but knew enough to appreciate the cameos. Kate McKinnon absolutely stole the show for me, I loved her. I did also enjoy Chris Hemsworth's dance moves.
Now I have just iced some cupcakes to take to a garden party tomorrow because I apparently live in a novel, and I'm going to feed the kittens again before we have our dinner.