Greetings to you all from the GuestHouse, we are all still missing you!

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Just so you know we have not forgotten you and are looking  forward to better times when we can gather again, the GuestHouse Storytellers offers you this brief newsletter.

The Hillcrest Centre has reopened but we are yet to work out how the storytelling can resume.  In the meantime,  Committee Member and Professional Storyteller, Jamie Crawford shares a story from earlier in the year, when the world started to change in ways we probably never imagined!

IT  was a boys’ thing to keep us going until my wife got back from a couple of nights
away, a board-game bonanza that my ten year old and I had devised to pass a wet
February weekend. He had even drawn up a scoring chart and started pencilling in
the results. We were mid-way through a round of Ticket to Ride when the phone
‘Hello. This is Dr Nachi from Public Health England. Would you mind
answering a few questions, please?’ Here we go, I thought, another cold call. Scam
probably. I always give these people a few seconds to justify their intrusion upon my
time, just in case, before politely but firmly hanging up.
‘OK,’ I said, ‘even though it’s a Sunday afternoon. But go ahead.’
‘Am I speaking to Jamie Crawford?’

He then mentioned a storytelling event I had been to the week before. Woah!
This guy knew about me. Almost definitely not a scam… the penny began to drop. Dr
Nachi told me that someone who’d been at the event had just been diagnosed with
Coronavirus and that consequently I would have to self-isolate for two weeks. He
reassured me that as my contact with the infected person had been brief, it was
unlikely I had the virus. I told him I did have a pre-existing cold and he said that
unless my symptoms changed there was no need for me to get tested. He was calm,
informative and polite throughout. I was glad I hadn’t hung up on him!

My son was quite upset when I told him the news. The worst part was that his
mother was away and I couldn’t give him a comforting hug. But he’s a resilient boy
and soon rallied.

At that early period of the disease’s arrival in the UK I was advised that other
members of my household did not have to self-isolate so at least my son and wife
were able to carry on their lives as normal. As for me, I was a little concerned
because I knew the virus could be nasty but as the days passed without any
symptoms I carried on my life more or less as normal: I work a lot from home, many
of the things I enjoy in life don’t require me to set foot outside my door and I was
even able to do a version of my daily walk by going round and round the garden!

It’s curious to look back on that time now with hindsight. As the symptoms of
my cold changed very slightly I did end up getting tested. The big thing in the news
then was the terrible flooding in many parts of the country and, in an email I wrote at
the time, I describe my car as ‘almost aquaplaning along the coast road’ on my way
to the Sussex County Hospital. The whole process of testing was in its infancy so
everything was rather improvised. When I’d asked for directions to the right part of
the hospital on the phone the nurse had told me she’d come out and flag down my
car and that she was wearing a white onesie with brown spots – I forget why! She
directed me to park in a tiny loading bay and told me to wait a few minutes. About
half an hour later I saw a bizarre astronaut-like figure wandering up and down the
pavement with a clipboard, the face dehumanised by the plastic visor and the pipe
leading from her mask to a filter machine on her back: my first encounter with a
medic in full PPE. She led me into a ‘pod’ very like the inside of a lift and took my
temperature and a swab. It was a bit like being in an episode of Dr Who!

A slightly unreal vibe also informed the process of getting the result. Not
having heard back after several days I phoned the hospital, who told me to call my
GP surgery. The GP surgery told me to call the hospital! When I protested, the
receptionist did eventually manage to find the path lab report and told me it simply
had the word ‘undetected’ at the bottom. The odd thing was that neither she nor her
clinical practitioner were confident about confirming what it seemed to mean! I’m not
a doctor but even I realised that ‘undetected’ was a scientist’s typically cautious way
of interpreting data: i.e. it meant: virus not found though potentially present in tiny
amounts that could just possibly manifest symptoms later on. Fortunately that didn’t
happen. So I was free! Allowed to go out again and see people and tell stories…
until the whole country went into Lockdown a few weeks later!

And that was my brush with covid. Seems a long time ago now but it has
served as a reminder of just how quickly events can sneak up and overtake you. I
know that without the reassuring presence of the NHS just a phone call away the
uncertainty and strangeness of my self-isolation would have been far scarier. Even
though the newness of the virus meant they were kind of having to make it up as
they went along, the health professionals I dealt with were diligent and helpful, and
that made all the difference. Thank you, dear keyworkers!

I’m also well aware that, this far at least, I’ve been very lucky compared to all
those poor souls whose health, well-being or livelihood has been seriously affected
this year. Indeed everyone at the storytelling event was lucky. The infected person I
had contact with was asymptomatic; one other person did get ill but not seriously. So
this little story at least has a happy ending.



1st October Katy Cawkwell tell Rhiannon
Hillcrest Road, Bay Vue Road, Newhaven BN9 9LH
Free parking. Disabled access.

Café opens 6.30pm
 serving organic meals, snacks and cakes and a very warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Stories  7.30 – 9.30 pm on the second Tuesday of the month.

£7 in advance, £9 on the door


Bay Vue Rd, Newhaven BN9 9LH
Free parking. Disabled access.
Where: The Hillcrest Centre, Bay Vue Road, Newhaven, BN9 9LH(Map).
Free parking and disabled access.

See our next event here or contact us 

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