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Phoning-in a joke

Last week I had the opportunity to visit the West Norfolk branch of the Stroke Association and meet people who have survived a stroke.

This was the first time they had been able to get together since the pandemic.

For the survivors of stroke this group allows sharing of experiences, not just for the person who had the stroke but also immediate family members who need advice.

I visited the group in my capacity as a roving reporter for the Lynn News but sadly my own father who I mention occasionally died from a stroke at the age of 66.

My plan wasn’t really to talk about my personal experience as I didn’t want to alarm anyone in the group that this is the only outcome of stroke.

The long rehab process after such a life changing experience affects the whole family and this group shows the importance of support.

It was a space full of laughter that only perhaps those who have suffered a sudden stroke are entitled to joke about.

Humour is a way of coping and of accepting that, though unfair, life has changed.

When my dad had a stroke he was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and even though he was very ill he was still able to tease the medical staff.

When they asked him who the UK Prime Minister was, in an attempt to test if he was compos mentis, he replied ‘Margaret Thatcher.’

We had to explain that this was just his sense of humour coming out.

My father was the vicar of St Stevens in Norwich and canon to the cathedral and I remember when we had three home phones in our house, long before mobile phones had ever been invented.

We had one in the dining room, one on the upstairs landing and one in Dad’s study.

He had a wicked sense of humour and there was a trick you could do by ringing the downstairs phone from the upstairs phone.

So a member of the family would answer the phone and you could pretend from upstairs to be a cold caller or such like.

These pranks were ongoing and we had each played the trick by phoning one of the phones and someone picking up the other.

So much so it was starting to become a little predictable and dare I say it, old hat.

During lunch as we all sat round the table my dad had left the dining room, the phone rang so I picked it up and shouted AAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH thinking it was a prank.

It turned out to be the Bishop of Norwich and I have never lived it down.

It’s true what they say. Never underestimate the power of humour.

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