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In the meantime there is a bubbling sensation, growing, worrying. Not in my body but at work. I worked for Queens Moat Houses, a large Hotel chain mainly in England but with Hotels in Europe too. Excellent Hotels, ours in particular was spectacularly well run and making pots of money. The newspapers, when it broke, ran the headline
"Second largest ever british business loss"
2.8 Billion in debt at, Queens Moat Houses. Redundancies inevitable!
I was summoned again to the hospital shortly after this, whilst there my head was wired with more than 50 cables, sandpaper used on the scalp to ensure secure glued fixings of each cables to my brainy nut. Wristlets were fixed together with straps around the ankles. Electrodes then at neck, shoulder, elbow, thigh and knee.
Laying on a bed, my makeshift wig stretching out above me (taking me well over 6 feet 5 for the first time in years) I was wheeled toward a computer where the 50, other ends, of the cables were slowly painstakingly connected to the input part of the machine. I wasn't worried, computers had taken men to the moon, surely now this one wouldn't fail and cause my hair to stand on end!!
All was set. On the bed, wires everywhere then one by one charges were sent to eah of the ankle and wristlets. It felt really odd. I found myself involuntarily giving the thumbs up sign with both hands, at the same time, simultaneously and together..!! There was nothing I could do to stop it. I did think that reastaurants might utilise this technology,
"Did you enjoy your meal sir?"
A waiters furtive grope and surreptitious poke beneath the desk, a quick press and an unwilling thumb, or two pop up affirming that the meal was super dupe whether in fact it was or not.
I digress, whilst all this was going on, a brainwave was visible on the monitor. This was kept and stored. Times were measured in terms of delay from brain instruction to move thumb to thumb actually moving. Later this information would become the most critical tool, other than the hammer and chisel, used in the surgery.
Queens Moat board of directors were all removed bar one. New team selected by goverment officials were placed in charge. BA the only former director remaining was awarded the unenviable task of sacking many Hotel General Managers. Cruelly, whence he had completed this grim deed, he too was removed. A dirty trick.
We were untouched. Michael, (the big boss and my friend, a man moving in a diferent social world to me, my boss, a tough guy, seemed to like me, we always got on well and became good friends. There is much to tell of Michael and the cruelty of fate, I have an empty space in my heart, but that is likely yet another tale for another day) explained at a meeting that he had had enough and would be moving on, he felt that others of us would be at risk too, he managed to secure a good voluntary redundancy package for me.
I left the hotel, New Years Day, 1994.
In the meantime Jenny Sycamore had been busy and had let me know that all tests were now done, counselling complete, and everything was a go. Wow.
Did I want to proceed? she asked. Of course I did. Odd for me to be so determined on a course, but in this case, the moment J K Webb said they would do it, I never waivered (well nearly never, there was that one moment!) from the pathway to surgery.
I said a sad goodbye to Michael and others at the Royal. I had enjoyed great times there, the job had put me well on to enjoying life without drink, put money in my pocket and stimulated my intellectual desires, I had loved the Royal, so left with a heavy heart, but knew that when Michael left the following month, that it would never be the same again.
I used the redundancy money to build a small workshop a the side of my house, I had a plan.
Jenny rang me in March, the date had been set....May 4th....
How odd is the formulation, the timing of life's chapters, a happy time at the Royal ending, a huge door opening toward what could be wonderful or terrible......i had a cup of tea.........the hosepipe next......