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Sunday 30 January 2011

Foreign correspondence

" Snow again!" by Susie Mallett
Germany, January 29th, 2011

I correspond regularly with a parent and carer, of a son who was born with cerebral palsy.
She and her son spent a lot of time at the Petö Institute learning how the family could live what has turned out to be a long, successful and on-going conductive life. They were already well travelled on their chosen path before most of us had even heard of the Petö Institute and conductive pedagogy.

In our communications about all things German, Hungarian or conductive, my friend often passes me valuable snippets that I can add to my blog.

Conductive, non-conductive and those between

While reading the last of our correspondence I was encouraged to think a little bit about those families that I have met who do not feel that they are cut out for conductive living. The parents that cannot identify with the stories I tell about clients who are being brought up conductively.

My friend said she learnt too, over the past few decades, that some parents are estranged from attempting a conductive upbringing because they believe that it is something that helps others, people like my friend and her son, and not themselves.

Some families, my friend explained, feel that they are just not cut out to introduce conductive pedagogy into their lives. Some decide this when they have a good understanding of what it is about, but most decide it after receiving incorrect information.

I have met all sorts of families over the past twenty years. There are those who get hooked and “take up the gauntlet and help themselves”, as my friend puts it. There are those who get hooked only as far as wishing to send their children to “Petö” but not to live conductively twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. There are those who prefer to stay with physiotherapy once a week and a string of other therapist on the other days or the week.

It is not only parents and children who either take up the gauntlet, or come for “Petö” for a few hours, or reject it completely. Adult clients can fit into these categories too. Some of my adult clients live conductive lives, keeping contact with me for individual follow-up sessions and home- visits between our block sessions. Others forget about what we have done together as a group as soon as they walk out of the door, but they always come back for more. Then there are those who come for a few weeks and do not get hooked at all, despite the work done by the group to persuade them to stay with it.

Learning from people

I enjoy my correspondence with this long-standing conductive parent, now a friend, very much. I am not sure she realises quite how much I learn from her experiences. I use much of the information she passes on to me about her experiences in my work, especially in my work with young adults.

It really is possible to learn so much that is useful in my conductive life through email, the Internet, Skype and I get to meet new people with new experiences all the time. I write about my own experience and skills too for anyone who wishes to read and share in them.

It is because of this wealth of valuable communication that I experience through cyberspace that I think that we must not be despondent and ponder too long on nonsense out there in Cyberspace about conduction, conductive pedagogy and conductive upbringing. There is a lot of useful information being shared too, both publicly and privately.

Oh dear! Again

I know I have written a few Oh dear! blogs recently but I do try to fit the happy surprises in too.

I keep trying to tell myself that today’s alert from Google is perhaps a bit of both. It is a conversation between mums and it really is an Oh dear! and it has some Oh, oh, dear, dear moments! too. Luckily there is a mum who writes well about the Pace Centre and hopefully clears up some of the confusion.

I was alerted to this site where CE is described as a "painful therapy" that “requires the administration of paracetamol” and it is reported by a parent that “I have seen miracles happen before my eyes”. This is followed by reports on experiences at CE centres in UK. All of the conversations on this site as far as I can tell are between mothers of disabled children on a posting that begins:

Conductive Education
Title says it all really, can anyone explain it to me? How is it different from Brainwave for example?

You can read the conversation that followed here:


Of course after reading through this I took a look to find out what Brainwave is.
I discovered that it could be one of two things.

It could be a method of training yourself to be brainier in some way, maybe more clever or quicker witted or more creative than usual, by getting your brain in balance.

Balance your brain
Change your life

Brainwave Therapy or rather brainwave meditation is the simplest, most affordable way to directly tap into your higher potential and unleash your power to think, create, heal and to change. There’s no training necessary, no need to travel anywhere, or spend hundreds of dollars on complicated home training programs that take up a lot of your valuable time. Just 30 minutes a day will bring outstanding results.

It probably is not this one; it is more likely to be this:

For over 26 years Brainwave has been working with families to deliver individual home based therapies and exercises that help children with disabilities reach their full potential.

As my friend and I discussed this week in our correspondence, some parents get it and take up the gauntlet, they help themselves and often others too, but there are also those who do not. There are those who wish to understand, to have it explained to them and those who do not.

Saturday 29 January 2011

Try it like this!

Hong Kong Island from the ferry to Discovery Bay

The title of the posting is also the title (I think) of a blog that I just found: Igy probálja!

Sometimes going on a search unearths something unexpected and perhaps more interesting than what I was originally looking for.

I do not know whether this is more interesting then what I was looking for, as I have yet to find that, but Try it like this! is worth keeping on record, passing on to others, and taking a look at now and then.

I was searching for websites mentioned over on Geek Conductor in Mauritius:

I do not mind when nothing turns up as long as during the search I come across such interesting items as this.

Friday 28 January 2011

Posting 700

I am not sure whether the rope was for keeping the warriors in,
or the customers out!
Stanley, Hong Kong, December 2010

I lost my Oh Dear List for January

The list is lost but this does not matter as I have already used most of the items on it at some time during the past few weeks and some of them have also appeared on other people's blogs, for example one turned up here:

I am sure that my list will turn up again somewhere, perhaps when I get my new computer working hard for me. Or it will reappear when I sort out the material on the ten USB sticks that I carry around with me everywhere. I am going to put all the information that they store into good order on my very sleek, 500GB Netbook Friend Christmas present. I will unearth the list somewhere soon, and it can then appear in February.

Is this another Oh Dear or not?

I just received a Google alert for a newspaper report about another £45,000 trip to the USA, for a spinal operation on a very young child:

I started this month, on January 6th to be precise, with a posting on the same operation, a dorsal spinal rhyzotomy, and received a lot of comments and emails from conductors. As I have yet to hear from Andrea Benyovszky, though, who I think has the most information on this subject, I will wait a bit longer before posting the information that I have gathered. Earlier posts on this topic, with reades comments, can be read here:

I still do not know whether the newspaper article above is another Oh Dear or not, but when I read this sentence, I did wonder:

"In the future, the operation may be available in the UK, subject to the NHS approving the procedure."

I wondered whether, before families fly off to America for this operation, the NHS makes the information available to them about why the operation has not yet been approved in the UK. From what I have read there do seem to be as many good reasons for not approving this operation as there are for approving it.

It is a very difficult decision to take, both for the NHS on whether to approve the operation and for a family as to whether or not to fly off to USA for it.

It is a decision that I would find very difficult to make. I have never been asked to advise a family who stand just before making this decision, but that does not mean the day will not come when I am asked. This is why I am trying to find out all that I can about it.

It would be nice to hear more reports from conductors who have worked with children pre- and post- the SDR op.

Posting 700

Funny title. It means that this is my 700th posting on the Conductor blog.

And don't forget that I have another blog running parallel to this one.

Susie Mallett's Conductive Upbringing and Lifestyle -

Thursday 27 January 2011

A sign of the times

"Dried eggs!" Tai-O, Hong Kong

Taking a trip on a train

I know I have written this here before, trips on trains, trams or buses give me the opportunity for sleep, writing in my note-book and reading newspapers.

In the winter my bike lives in the cellar therefore I travel daily on trains, trams and buses. Even though most of the journeys that I take are just short, thirty-minute ones, I always manage at least one of my three options.

As today’s train journey has developed into a six-hour Marathon, almost double the usual allotted time, I have managed all three.

Now on the last leg of the journey and almost at my destination, I am adding a fourth activity. I am fiddling on my net-book, writing up my notes. There is as big a chance that I will miss my stop as there is when I read the newspaper, I am now so engrossed.

The usually very fast ICE train got delayed by a broken-down goods train on the track ahead, that caused us to follow the pretty regional route where the speed restrictions added thirty minutes on what is usually a sixty-minute journey.

I do not mind being given extra time on my journeys. In fact I enjoy it, especially if it works out like it has this time, with my having several hours to sit in the warmth and comfort of German trains as I wait for them to take me onwards and home.

So on the slow ICE train I fetched myself coffee and cake, and then settled down with the Guardian Weekly, glad at last to have the time to read last week’s copy.

And what hit my eyes the moment I randomly opened it?

“German growth strongest in two decades”

Odd that, because yesterday I was walking home from the tram and I noticed yet two more shops with their shutters down. That makes seven that have closed now since I went to Hong Kong at the beginning of December.

The two Internet cafes have “To let” signs on the windows, as have the fitness studio, the chemist, and the corner pub. Now the One Euro store is shut and another that I do not remember what it was, I think a driving school.

There are not enough small affordable flats in the city for the numbers searching, perhaps the owners of these properties need to consider making conversions, then the “To let” signs may disappear more quickly.

I was surprised therefore when reading further that in the opinion of this Guardian Weekly writer, Germany is talking about a V-recovery, and not the predicted W-recovery, from the economic crisis. I am surprised that they are talking about a recovery at all but perhaps it is because the recovery is happening at the top and the crisis has just hit the High Street and its just-too-little shops at the bottom. The upward-turn if here at all has come too late for these small businesses, of which there are now far fewer in my neighbourhood.

Or are German economists boasting too early about there now being the highest number of people in employment since 1992? Surely with a 7.5% unemployment rate that is still millions who are out of work and perhaps many are the same people who are now searching for a smaller flat.

The article tells us that although the Germans are reluctant spenders they grew more confident in recent months and are buying consumer goods again. But obviously not from the veggie shop across the road or the chemist around the corner. Or, as I said, perhaps the upturn came just too late for them.

I read too that China is also doing well from Germany’s V-recovery, with China and Hong Kong receiving 5% of German exports. Will the Chinese now be reading Made in Germany on their products as I often did in England in my childhood. In Germany these days I seem to be reading more and more frequently Made in China on the products that I “consume”.

In the very last paragraph of this article it says that wages are rising in Germany so spending can now increase. Spending will have to increase because it also says that inflation is rising because of higher food and energy costs. Not much difference in what is left in our pockets at the end of the month after all, if inflation and the afore-mentioned wage increases tally.

As for conductive work...

I have been working ever-more hours over the last few years, as have many of my friends who work in the field of social-service provision. I have not been working more hours because of a steep rise in demand for our services, I do not think there has even been a steady curve. My hours have increased, just as elsewhere because of economic cuts, leaving fewer people to do the same amount of work.

What comes first the chicken or the egg? The conductor or the clients?

Perhaps this is really is a sign that Germany is making a V-recovery. A new conductor has been employed for our team and exactly what we hoped for is taking place; as of next week our larger team will be enjoying the company of two new clients.

I do so hope the recovery really continues and that the closing shops indicate only that sadly the V-recovery came too late for them, and not that it is in fact a W as many people have predicted elsewhere . We do so want to keep our new colleague and attract even more new clients.


“German growth strongest in two decades” by Julia Kollewe – Guardian Weekly, 21.01.2011

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Orlando information

Stanley, Hong Kong 2010

I received this Google alert at some time during the night:

Central Florida Conductive Education Center: Anyone have any experience with the Conductive Education Center of Orlando?

I do not know anything about this centre but maybe there is someone who reads my blog who does. As yet there has been no one able to give any information about it on the Baby Centre website.

Tuesday 25 January 2011

I am not as daft as I thought I was

Sis (left), T-the-dog, and me, 1965

I do not really think that I am daft, but sometimes it appears so when I have to deal with machines. I often think that I was born fifty years too late. The dresses in the twenties would have been just the thing for me, and no computers, just a little black book to write down the next dance in!

Another small problem with plasticity!

I have just set up my new computer so that I can write this evening's posting on it. I unpacked it yesterday and plugged it in, and sorted out a browser and an email programme with help from a friend but the rest I have done on my own. I have set up an email page and it works and I just tested Skype with my sister. Skype worked too although it was a bit fuzzy till I realized that there was still plastic over the camera! Now I am about to find out whwether I can post a posting on my blog. If you can read this then that worked too!

I think that I am going to enjoy my new friend who has a huge 17-inch screen, so my eyes are not straining quite as much as they were when I have worked on my little net-book over the past few weeks, I can see all of the page at once and not just a sentence or two!


I watched very carefully when I was in the office last evening, where I picked up my computer. I observed what my colleague was doing as closely as I do in the conductive group, and I took note of which places he was visiting while he tried to set things up for me.

Later, with the computer at home with me, I really surprised myself by doing the rest on my own. I now have the same Word programme on this computer as is also on the net-book, so I can type away at my heart’s content on my net-book, compiling my new book while travelling by train, without fear of having the same thing happening as with the first book. In each article that I wrote for that first book, depending on where I wrote it, there was German or English punctuation. In some articles, those for which I had transferred material mid-article, from one machine to another, there was a mixture of both.

It took hours of patient correcting by several patient people to get the punctuation all English, and then on the poster for Hong Kong we still got it wrong. Fortunately no one noticed, I expect that everyone thought that I was being artistic.

Book number two is on the way...

Yes, the main reason for investing in a new computer is that now I am getting into the swing of book-writing I want to get on with the second one in the series. Just the thought of all that unnecessary correcting again on book number two was not motivating me to get on with it. How I am ready for off.

Book number one is available now!

I hope that book number two will be at the press by Easter! Thank goodness Easter is late this year. Book number one is for sale through me. My email address for you to order a copy is at the top of the page, and you can see the book itself if you click on the picture of Mária Hári at the top right-hand side of this page.

Distracted by technology

I had sat down to write a posting about stroke clients, not about my new computer, but I have been quite carried away by being able to set it all up myself. I even know how to install a programme now!

It is actually not very difficult at all and not half as scary as I imagined that it would be. One step at a time, who knows I may end up a computer-freak one day.

The story about my stroke client and her book-writing will just have to wait.

Monday 24 January 2011

Something nice to look at and especially nice to listen to, at the end of a busy day.

"It is snowing again"

The snow has returned and it is very cold, so it was nice to get home late this evening to discover that I had forgotten to turn off the heating this morning!

The flat is cosily warm as I look into my inbox and read all the news. I found this nice read also with videos to listen too and watch. The link below I found particularily good:

Sunday 23 January 2011

Oh, for a list like this

Dried edible things at Tai O

New Zealand again

How many Education Ministries have a list, like this one, that includes conductors?

The Ministry of Education's list of approved specialists for students in the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme includes:
occupational therapist
speech language therapist
educational psychologist
Māori/cultural adviser
conductor in conductive education programme
orientation and mobility instructor
special education advisor
teacher with additional tertiary qualifications in learning, vision or hearing
music therapist (registered)
adviser on deaf children.

Saturday 22 January 2011

Aliens between the plinths

Dried shrimps in Tai O

Dinosaurs that love underpants have accompanied me on my travels and joined me conductively in my work in Norweigen. Aliens wearing underpants have saved the world with me in their conductive fashion in German.

This morning I heard that aliens in space with their love of underpants are saving the conductive day in English too.

One of my readers wrote to tell me that he has been reading my book and was glad that he had got to the part that features dinosaurs and aliens as he was inspired to use them in his group's current project on space. He also informs me that the painting of the pants is planned for next week.

Photographs please Laci!


Aliens Love Underpants, Dinosaurs Love Underpants, Aliens Save the World -
by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort
ISBN: 9781847382092
Published: 2 June 2008

Previous postings -

Oh dears and delights

Cuttle-fish drying in Tai O

Precious Time

I have been aware of the Snowdrop blog for quite some time now. I think that I have even written about it here before, although quite where and why I do not recall at the moment. I do not look at the site regularly, although I did drop in a few times when I first discovered it.

I decided a long time ago that I can only follow a certain number of websites regularly and this is not one of those that are on my list. I only choose to look at those that do not cause me too much anguish. This one and many others sometimes do.

Now and then I get distracted and, after receiving Google alerts about blogs that mention conduction, I spend an evening surfing the links from one blog that mentions CE to another. Usually, the more links I add to the chain then the less mentions there are of conduction.

Jewels in crowns

Sometimes I come up with gems, as I did when I found Little Henri’s blog. Conductive upbringing features in Henri’s life and is written about on the blog. Moving on from Henri I followed some links, as I sometimes do, and it was on this surfing journey that I went on to discover another jewel, Connie Wenks. This is another wonderful site with a section about Down’s Syndrome and a link to her blog called Kids with a Little Extra.

Little Henri, and the children and adults featured on A Little Extra, all have an extra chromosome: they have Down’s syndrome.


If you take the time to have a look at that site I am sure it will be worth your while. I think that it will make you smile. I made me smile and also made me happy in my belief, not that any kind of pedagogy or therapy can heal a brain as Snowdrop believes, but that a conductive upbringing is something positive for each and every one of us and can transform us all if we wish it too.

Wrinkled brows

On other occasions while clicking here and there I find things that make me say “Oh Dear!”. Four Google alerts have now directed me to Snowdrop and the posting telling us that the therapy that Snowdrop practices repairs the brain, whereas Conductive Education does not.

I had decided to save my time, not to look at yet more words from yet another believer that brains can be mended. I decided that I would just stick the link on to my “Oh dear!” list for January.

That is what I did, but even so on the way home from work at ten-thirty at night I found myself with note book in hand penning what you have just read above. I was too tired when I got into my flat to type it up, but still awake enough to notice that in the inbox of my emails there were a few more mentions of Snowdrop.

I have just got back from work again. This time I had been at the annual general meeting with the election of a new board of trustees. It was interesting and successful but also tiring . It went on as always too long.

With this posting still not finished, although I did have the computer on the tram and had made a start on the typing while sitting on the edge of a wobbly seat, I decided to see what Snowdrop was doing.

There were a couple more alerts directing me to the website but more interesting were those directing me into the CE blogosphere, with Facebook also getting its say.

I have still decided just to add this alert to the Oh Dears for January list and direct you to what the others have to say on the subject.

I am off in search for another a blog that makes me smile.


Little Henri

Connie Wenks -

More bloggers on Snowdrop -

Thursday 20 January 2011

The need for soothing each other's souls

"Does he work magic too?"
Wanchai, Hong Kong, December 2010

I have been thoroughly enjoying working with my new, young colleague Évi and also delighted that, when I am working elsewhere, or hopping on a plane to Hong Kong, the work in my home town does not have to stop.

Évi is doing a wonderful job

Évi is doing such a wonderful job with her individual sessions for little ones, while working alongside me with the no-longer-little ones and with the adults, as well as lending a hand over in the Kindergarten whenever needed, that I often forget that she is young and not as experienced as I am. Sometimes she needs some help and that is what I am there for.

We had a week or two of difficult days, with lots of new experiences for us all and not a lot of time to speak about them or to care for our conductive souls. I often went home with thoughts whizzing around my head, and so did Évi.

We eventually found an hour to spare between children and adult clients, to talk about it all. Then today, when all of a sudden we had a group of one, Évi was able to sit down with her notebook to watch me at work.

She had lots of questions for me and Little Princess and it was really good for us to answer them together.

Little Princess had questions of her own

“Why is Évi sitting watching us?” was one of them.

I explained that it is similar to if she would go to watch the fifteen-year-olds at school. She would learn a lot from them just by observing their lessons or even their break-times. I told her this is what Évi was doing. I explained that as Évi has not worked with children for as long as I have that it is important for her to watch me work so she could learn and ask us questions along the way. It is easier to do this when there is not so much going on, when we have a little bit more time for her and her questions. I explained that I needed Little Princess to help me to teach Évi lots of new things.

Little Princess nodded her knowing nod and continued to worked her hardest so that our Évi had a lot to think about.

I loved it as much as Little Princess did. It is like starting my blog all over again.

In my newly published little book I wrote that through writing my blog, and consequently my book, I have gained better understanding of my work. Well, this is also exactly how it is when I am teaching young conductors like Évi too, and this is the greatest benefit for me in having Évi working beside me.

It is great to be questioned and then to search for the answers, or to find the answers together. It is a great experience for us all when our clients, however young or old they are, try to answer Évi’s questions too.

It has been a hard start to the year but today was wonderful. A morning when the team-work worked, with all three conductors working together like clockwork, even if sometimes a fast clock, and then Little Princess and I learning from Évi’s observations this afternoon.

Oh yes, there was also that magic twist of a screw in the splints that allowed for the six steps to be stepped. We must not forget that!

Six steps, is it magic?

"Chinese packaging?", The Peak, Hong Kong

Sometimes it feels like magic

That is what one of my clients has often said to me over the past thirteen years. He said it as a seven-year old and he is still saying it today as a twenty-year old when, all of a sudden, after lots of practice, something works for him that has never worked before. However often this happens the look on his face is always the same, one of astonishment followed by a happy smile.

I think that this situation happens more often in my work with my athetoid clients, children and adults, than with any of the others. I do not know why. Perhaps it is that they are so happy suddenly to have control over a never-still hand or a jerky arm. I can imagine that the feeling when a muscle stops twitching for a moment really is like magic.

It is hard to know the reason why they are always so astonished, my clients cannot really explain it themselves either, other than to say that it is special, a bit like magic.

The magic worked again today, and I got that same look of astonishment and happiness from Little Princess.

Little Princess got some new splints before I went to Hong Kong. That is two months ago now and they have been going backwards and forwards to the shoemaker ever since. That is two months without being able to take proper, pain-free and steady steps. That is a long time for a Little Princess who usually walks home from school on her own.

Yesterday the shoemaker came to us and at last he cracked it.

He turned a tiny screw in the ankle joint of each splint, just half a turn, and today Bob's-your-uncle - six steps stepped all alone!

Those six steps are what Little Princess had decided that she wanted to take home with her for Christmas. With hurty splints there was not much walking being done so she could not practise, so she did not take those steps. It was no big problem for her as we practised hard so that she had plenty of other things to take home for Christmas!

We walked on knees carrying the toys from the shelf to the mat in a basket, and practised turning the feet outwards while playing football sitting and lying. She rolled about in the deep snow in her garden then asked us to teach her how to make snow-angels on the slippery mat in our room. Then she went outside to make real ones.

She was happy despite not taking those six steps home for Christmas. She could now make snow-angels to her heart's content.

Little Princess was happy today too. Not only did she at last take those six steps home with her but she had also had her Grandmother there to see her take them. Both faces had looked astonished before breaking out into huge smiles.

The Grandmother who just today got home from a long holiday could not believe how much Little Princess has learnt since she last saw her.

It is always rather nice when a special family member just happens to be there on a "magic" occasion.

American magic

There is more magic happening on the other side of the Atlantic:

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Having the courage to speak out

"Let the sun shine", Tai-O, Lantau Island, Hong Kong

Class-representative: runner up

I have just received some lovely news from the classroom assistant of one of the children from the “Petö group", who attends mainstream school.

The whole team are proud of our successes in mainstream schools and we often send emails to children and colleagues, whenever there is something to smile about. Stories about ice-skating for the first time, or walking to the bakers alone, or being crowned the mathematics king or queen of the week, they all get told via emails or personally.

Today we heard via an email about elections for class-representatives. I expect that I will hear the same story tomorrow, from the horse's mouth.

It is a story about a little princess who features often in my blog. She has such difficulties sometimes getting her words out but on other occasions we hear her loud and clear. It depends a lot on what she is doing and who she is talking too.

She was obviously being heard loud and clear in this story, as she was going after what she clearly wanted. Here is how the story goes, translated of course:

Hello all

Here is a little episode from the lessons in Felicia’s class, Class Two.

Last week the first class-representatives were to be elected. A boy and a girl. The teacher talked about qualities and skills that the representative would need to have, e.g:

the ability to feel responsible
to have the courage to be able to speak for others
the ability to be fair
to be trustworthy

Then the children could put themselves forward as candidates. They had to explain which of the qualities they thought that they had from the list discussed.

Twelve from nineteen children put their names forward as candidates. Amongst them Felicia, who said amongst other things "I have the courage to speak out for others.”

Then all the class were asked to write two names on a paper.

After the first round of voting five children, including Felicia, had five votes each, the others had less.

At the count, after the second round of voting, Felicia cheered each time that her name was called out.

At the end she had the second most votes of all the female candidates.

It really was fantastic.

Yes, this certainly sound like it was fantastic. One of those occasions when we all wish we had been a fly on the wall.

Tomorrow we shall celebrate by decorating the table extra specially for lunch!

All sorts, from round the world

"I can see the sea" , Hong Kong 2010

My mail boxes, both real and virtual, were full of information when I got home this evening .

First some of the virtual news, a newsletter from March of Dimes :

Then in the real mail was snail mail from America that contained information about ACENA and the National Conductive Education Day that will be on February 24th 2011.

Acena’s Annual conference will be held in August, this year in California. Young conductors working in isolation all over America will, I am sure, be looking forward very much to linking up with their colleagues.

I hope that they are given more time in the programme to speak informally with each other than is usually available when the conductors working in Germany get together for our annual conferences.

This was also something that was lacking in Hong Kong too. There seemed to be just no time at all to meet and talk to anyone who you did not already know.

Last but not least there in my email in-box, as requested on my blog yesterday, were the photographs of the little girl whose grandmother writes to me from the US.

The photographs show the child playing with her dolly in a hammock strung up in the funny piece of furniture, as featured in a posting on her Grandma's blog and on Facebook:

Thank you for them.

Monday 17 January 2011

Michael J.Fox and the Botanical Gardens

"Waiting for the tram"



" Green idyll"

"Museum of Tea"

Botanical Gardens, Hong Kong, 16th December 2010

16th December 2010
On the plane home

I wrote the following posting on the plane home from Hong Kong. It is one of many that I am slowly unearthing.

On leaving Hong Kong I was not as tired as I had been on leaving Germany two weeks previously, when I had fallen asleep as soon as I got into the plane, to awake refreshed just a couple of hours before landing.

My final day in Hong Kong I had spent visiting the Botanical Gardens. I had discovered this very small idyll in the middle of the business centre of the island.

While there I heard bird song for the first time since I had been in Hong Kong, I saw white and green parrots flying in front of the mirrored glass of skyscrapers, I watched a heron sleeping high in a tree, and I was mesmerized by huge fish swimming in the ornamental ponds full of beautiful flower arrangements and reflexions of the skyline.

I had walked up white marbled steps where cascading water was framed by beautiful red and white poinsettias, I wandered into the Tea Museum where I bought a few last-minute Christmas presents, and I rested my feet in a beautiful rosewood tea room where a beautifully dressed young girl with immaculately manicured nails poured my jasmine tea for me, and at the same time showed me how to perform the ceremony myself.

I finished off a perfect day with a final ride on the hundred-year-old tram, Back at the hotel to collect my suitcase and jump on the bus to the airport, I was completely relaxed and the exhaustion from the previous weeks of book-writing and work and the hectic days of the congress had left me.

Talking book

On this the return trip on the plane I was still wide awake when the food and drinks came round and after the meal I decided to take a look at what the entertainment system had to offer.

I am not much of a film-buff and certainly not at such close range. All those flashing images play havoc with my eyes, so I decided to take a look at what the talking books had on offer.

I found the latest by Michael J Fox which was a nice surprise and even nicer was that it was also read by Michael J fox. That was a treat as it sounded as though he was there beside me, telling me his story just as I tell stories in my blog.

I listened for several hours to the second installment of his account of life with Parkinson’s disease, dozing off and waking several times.

This was just the right thing for a flight home after such an interesting time at the Congress in Hong Kong.

I was not in the mood to listen to a thriller or watch a comedy film or a love story. I had read through the Congress’s abstract book while I waited for the plane, and for the food on the plane, and I did not want to write postings all night long. I thought that it would be quite nice to shut my eyes and listen to a story, so a talking book with the lovely voice of Michael J Fox was just perfect, especially as I learnt so much through his story that will help me when I work with my clients.


Michael J Fox -

Lucky Man: A Memoir

Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future: Twists and Turns and Lessons Learned

Sunday 16 January 2011

I found a piece of furniture

" Do-it-yourself "
Hardware shop, Hong Kong, December 2010


I was just about to post a story about a family with whom I have been talking to this week, by email. At the very moment that I was opening up my blog I received a Google Alert, sending me off to look at this:

The latest posting here “Hailey, I believe in you”, tells a lot of the story that I was about to relate.

There is not much left for me to say now really, except a little bit about a photograph that I was sent in an email at the beginning of the week. The accompanying letter had said:

“ I found this piece of furniture, do you think I can use it to help my grand-daughter to stand up or to walk.”

I replied:

"Why don’t you give it a go, and at the same time remove the straps from her chair and see if she can sit on the same chair holding on to your piece of furniture".

It seems to work!

That is the very same piece of furniture in the photograph on the blog posting in the link above, and the very same grand-daughter.

What a lovely surprise and what a brave and brilliant Grandma and a really proud Hailey, who is sitting alone for the very first time!

Just one question

Whatever is that piece of furniture? Is it a towel rail? Whatever it is, it did the trick.

A couple of years ago I listened to a conference presentation about the importance of the plinth. Afterwards I felt that I wanted to make sure that the audience understood that what has become known as "CE" or "Petö furniture" is just a means of facilitation that conductors use in group and individual sessions, when appropriate, and that maybe in our own homes we have something else to facilitate the activity that we want to achieve.

We do not always need to go off and buy "Petö furniture" if we can utilise what we already have for the purpose required.

This family certainly seem to have got the knack of adapting what they find and giving it a go.

I wonder whether the next photograph will show Hailey rocking her baby-doll to sleep in a hammock swung between those bars!

Congratulations Hailey.

Not too old fashioned or tomboyish?

" Memories"

" Chocolate?"

"A village church"

The efficiency of the German Post

A friend posted a Christmas present to me, on 16th December. I am pleased to say that it arrived yesterday, having crossed the English Channel three times!

German Post had stuck a customs label over half of the number of my house, then, as there is no number two in my street (two being the only number that remained visible), the parcel was returned to sender with another sticker on it, this time probably applied by the postman, indicating that there is no number two in my road.

It was worth the wait

My friend was kind enough to pay the postage again, even more this time as there has been a rise in postage costs since Christmas, and there was the package awaiting me on the stairs on Saturday morning.

Scissors in hand, so I could unwrap very carefully in order to save the outer and inner wrapping to show when I go to the post office to tell the story on Monday, I started peeling off the layers.

On top of some beautifully wrapped parcels was a card with some old aircraft on the front. Written in this: "I hope not too tomboyish or old fashioned for you!"

What was inside to make this remark relevant?

There was a model plane to put together myself, a war-time model from the Hungarian air-force, then I found a nineteen-sixties packaging jigsaw-puzzle in an amazing tin, and last-but-not-at-all-least, the weirdest present that I have ever had, a bar of Marmite-flavoured chocolate.

Oh yes, I must not forget there was also a Tina Turner CD, given away with one of the British daily newspapers. I suppose that these days one could say that Tina T is also a little bit old- fashioned, but she is still a delight, as are all the other presents.

Getting down to business

My model plane got built immediately and I placed it with my collection, which includes a Battle of Britain Spitfire of the type my Mum used to work on.

The Tina Turner CD got put aside to be taken with me next time I go to work fellow TT fan and artist, Laddo, in northern Germany.

The jigsaw had to wait. My sister phoned at this point and she was amazed to see (we were on Skype) that, as we spoke, I began to build a cardboard village church, before her very eyes. The church had been one of my other tomboyish Christmas presents. It was finished by the time that we said goodnight.

With the phone-call over the church got spray-varnished and placed amongst the other N-gauge buildings, then the jigsaw puzzle got opened.


I think that Sis would have loved to have got her hands on the puzzle. She did ask me to save her a piece of the Marmite chocolate but also said that I should not worry about bringing the puzzle home because, at only two-hundred-and-fifty pieces, it was rather small! She is a big puzzle expert.

We grew up in a jigsaw-puzzle family, our Dad used to make them for us with his hand-fretsaw. I have written about that here before. We still have the puzzles that he made for us from our favourite pictures.

As a child I learnt to turn all the pieces upwards, sort them and then start on the straight bits first, but that strategy went by the wayside with this puzzle.

I had been studying the picture on the outside of the tin all the time that I had been talking to Sis, asking her whether she remembered the first time that we had eaten Vesta Curry and Birds Eye Mousse, and whether she remembered how we decided together which Angel Delight flavour we would whip up for Sunday tea-time.

So by the time I got to doing the puzzle I knew exactly where each piece fitted in the picture so I just started building it, willy-nilly.

I became fascinated by the memories that flooded my thoughts

In the picture there is Mum’s favourite coffee, Gold Blend. It was much more expensive that the runny stuff in a bottle, but she sometimes bought a jar and hid it at the back of the cupboard for special occasions like on Sunday morning while cooking the roast dinner.

Just next to the coffee is the jar of Marmite, and the Paxo stuffing is on the jigsaw too, the sort that Mum used on Sundays, while drinking her coffee, to stuff the chicken.

Then there are all the packages that Sis and I saw only when we were out visiting our friends: Twiglets, Fanta and Nesquik.

There is a Lux soapflakes box, one of which still stands in the cupboard under the sink at my Dad’s house, and there are the J-cloths that for some reason-or-other we all thought were fantastic. There are even tins of Sun-Pat peanuts like those that my Grandfather sold in his pub and presented us with once a year, if we were lucky, in our Christmas stocking.

There is even a Cow & Gate tin of baby milk. I recognized the tin because it was in these that we stored the wonderful puzzles that Dad made.

Accompanied by all those memories my puzzle was finished in no time, and it will live on my work desk, covered by a sheet of glass, so that I can enjoy all those memories for a while longer.
No, my late Christmas present was not too tomboyish, not to old-fashioned, it was perfect. A parcel full of memories.

The chocolate, that even on its own packet is described as “Very peculiar”, has not yet been opened, the packet is too nice. I have to look at it for a while longer. I may even decide to keep it and take it to eat with my sister next time I am in England, so that I can share that peculiar moment of tasting Marmite chocolate for the first time with her.

Many thanks

Thank-you German Post for spreading Christmas out a bit longer and making it possible for me to do tomboyish things a second weekend running.

Thank-you friend for a lovely tomboyish and old-fashioned present.