Ireland has Katie Taylor. The Ukraine have Володи́мир Володи́мирович Кличко́ (or: Wladimir Klitschko). We have been watching Katie all week long after her winning another gold medal. More about Wladimir later.

There is a very small leak on our bathroom radiator but it will require a big job to fix it, the man who arrived here at 7am this morning. So he will have to come back. Yes, you guessed it! He will be back, tomorrow morning, 7am. He might have to change the whole radiator.

I became all German this morning and arrived bang on time, at 9:30 on Pádraig’s ward. First news was that there was a delay in the UKE, they might not take him today at all and the ambulance that was going to take him had been cancelled. But then at 10am, word got through (well, they rang) that it was a go. They ordered another ambulance. It arrived just after noon.


Just like Володи́мир Володи́мирович Кличк

Of course, Pádraig did not fit onto the stretcher and when they had finally managed to get the stretcher into the ambulance, they couldn’t close the door. I could, I really could write the script for this movie. So they lifted up his knees a bit until they managed to close the door eventually. The driver, with an Eastern European accent, asked me how tall Pádraig is. When I said: 2.04m, he answered: oh, just like Klitschko. To which I answered: yes, but Pádraig’s arms are longer than Klitschko’s. He: oh!

We took the grand tour. Even leaving the grounds of the Schön-Klinik took almost 10 minutes. And then the driver decided, in honour of Klitschko I suppose, to show us the canals, lakes, and cobble stoned streets of Hamburg. I don’t know Hamburg, but I could have done this trip without the cobble stones and in half the time.

The UKE is like a city in its own right. It has its own roads, its own power station, and a huge amount of buildings.

I had forgotten what it is like to arrive on a ward. It’s an ICU and they were getting ready to suction, that’s what they do when they hear a gargling noise. It’s like a reflex. Nurses must be born with this. We had a good talk, one surgeon after the other came in to explain the procedures, the anaesthetist went through the risks of a full blown general anaesthetic. I had to sign three forms plus one declaring that we are happy for Pádraig’s bone plate to be used to research the reasons why bone plates at times do not re-join with the skull.

Not a 10min walk home anymore, but a 23 min ride on the U1 from Kellinghusenstraße (10-15 mins walk from the UKE)

Not a 10min walk home anymore, but a 23min ride on the U1 from Kellinghusenstraße (10-15 mins walk from the UKE) – the U1 also passes by the central train station.

When I left the hospital, I didn’t want to. I wanted to stay because I know that Pádraig is so alert now that he knows that he is not in his usual place, that no-one knows him where he is now, and that they are planning this operation on him for tomorrow.

We’ll go there tomorrow morning to make sure all is ok with Pádraig. But before, I’ll pick up Pat from the train station at 1:30am (she just got into Frankfurt – the only affordable and suitable connection from Dublin this evening, and is catching a train north).

Pádraig knows that there are people all over the world thinking of him every day, and especially tonight. He knows that you are sharing your strength, your prayers, your best wishes, your hope, your energy with him. He knows that he’ll get out of this at the other end and that by the end of the week or early next week, it’ll all be a thing of the past, and he’ll feel so much better.


Is it past or is it passed? Or is it both? Past and Passed? That’s where the spelling checkers ain’t working anymore. It’d be really interesting to write (or is it “right”, or both?) a piece just about tricking the spell checker (chequer?).

UnknownIn any case – the first hurdle is passed. It’s in the past, more accurately: this morning. At 10am on the dot (well, he *is* German:) the door bell rang and the pre-inspector of our apartment got in – with his laptop and, wait, his printer! As you can imagine, we had spent all weekend shopping for all sorts of cleaning utensils and then scrubbing our knuckles off to get the place as clean as a whistle (Google also suggested: as clean as a “gold pants” or “a hound’s tooth” – not sure about either of those two:). At the end of the inspection, he had nothing to point out that had to be fixed but, nonetheless, proceeded to print out two copies of a four page report (a page a room: kitchen, bathroom, two bedrooms) stating, more or less, just that. He was carrying a big black bag which must have been full of blank sheets, in case there had been anything to be fixed in the apartment. The ‘one page a room’ report for nothing to be fixed would surely have gone up considerably in that case. I duly signed his copy, he signed mine, we exchanged them, I immediately filed it away in the special filing folder they had given me when we moved in last December (I’ll soon have to ask them for another folder if the paper work keeps coming at this rate). Anyway…

Also got a call in the afternoon to arrange an appointment to sign the contract . No time lost here. It’ll be Friday morning. Isn’t that great news!

imagesTomorrow morning: 7am appointment with a plumber to check a leak in the bathroom – it was him who proposed it, what could I do?! 9h30 check in at the Schön-Klinik for a 10am transfer to the UKE.

By the way – have you emailed you family and friends about Amhrán do Pádraig / Song for Pádraig? Have you put it up on your FB? Have you tweeted about it? No? – Tonight it had 866 views on youtube! Tell everybody: family, friends, journalists, DJs, everybody – and join the 122 already signed up friends who will be at the launch of the year on 03 December, 8p, Grand Social, Dublin!

Pádraig was good today with our usual routine of getting out of bed, going for a walk on the roof terrace, getting a bite to eat, some exercise and back into bed.

Keep thinking about Pat’s cousin, his wife and his family. His body is still in Nepal awaiting an autopsy. It’ll apparently be about two weeks before his family can bring him home.


imagesMonday. A new week. Wohnungsvorabnahmeprüfungstermin tomorrow, 10am. Ride in an ambulance to Universitätskrankenhaus Eppendorf (UKE) on Wednesday morning. Operation on Thursday. Then fingers crossed that nothing happens over the weekend. Back to the Schön-Klinik some time next week.

I can’t say I’m looking forward to the UKE. I have a bit of a ‘hangover’ from that place and, to be honest, it is the wrong time of the year. Pádraig went there last year, just a few weeks later. All routine stuff, they said. I hope nobody will mention the word ‘routine’ ever again. It sends shivers down my spine.

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 14.06.40On the bright side: Dreamboat is being watched all over the world and people are in awe of Pádraig’s friends. And they are right. If anyone ever wondered about ‘the meaning of life’, show them this video. And then give them the CD as a present. And finally, make them join the launch of the Amhrán do Pádraig / Song for Pádraig album on 03 Dec, 8 pm, in Dublin’s Grand Social. It’ll be an amazing and inspiring night!

There are things that we worry about. ‘Important’ stuff that grabs our attention and doesn’t let go. Fashion. Beauty. Headlines. Wars. Money. Jobs. Take your pick. Go down into the supermarket and wonder what on earth people are going to do with all this ‘stuff’. Check out any of the clothing shops and wonder how many trousers or skirts one can wear. So many reduced bargains shouting at you: buy me, buy me, buy me.

None of this matters.

UnknownWhat matters are the people you care about. Those that have the ‘time of their life’ with you. Those you dance with, sing with, laugh with, relax with. Those that will do whatever it takes to help you when you need them most. Those that you will help no matter what ‘important business’ you’re involved in at the moment.

That is the meaning of life.

This afternoon, we heard that one of Pat’s cousins passed away today suddenly and completely unexpected. He had gone to Nepal for kayaking and trekking. We’re not sure exactly what happened but it seems that he fell ill and did not recover from whatever it was that eventually brought him down. He was my age. He was active, adventurous, full of life, witty, and funny. He really enjoyed life with his family and friends. None of us can believe that he won’t be any longer with us. From one moment to the next he is gone. My thoughts are with his wife, children, brothers, sister, and his mother. May he rest in peace. And, we won’t forget him. Ever. He’ll live in our memory and be with us. Forever.



Just read a report by someone saying that he woke up this morning at 6h24 am, having slept 7 hours and 39 minutes, interrupted by two being-awake periods of 14 minutes in total, with a blood pressure of 120/80 and a heartbeat of 74.

He had burnt up 2,347 calories over the previous 24-hour period and taken in 1,949 calories, 44% of which were carbs, 37% fat, 19% protein.

He is one of those 4.5m people who during the first half of this year started to wear one of those bracelets that are not bracelets but fitness-trackers.


When I read his account, I thought about what they are doing with Pádraig in the hospital. His vital signs are measured non-stop. Numbers. There is no nurse in his room. They stick their head in from time to time to administer medicines or check on water and liquid food. They also turn him to make sure he doesn’t get any bed sores. The only other time they come in is when his heartbeat goes up over a set level, or his oxygen levels go down beyond a set level – and the alarms go off left, right, and centre.

Sometimes I think the future has arrived when I see people being transformed into numbers that are used to capture what and who they are, when it seems that measurable vital signs have replaced the immeasurable complexity of a human being.

images6699 were Pádraig’s signs today: 66 heart beat, 99 oxygen level. These are not just really solid figures, but also interesting ones: you can turn them upside down and they’re still the same.

It was great to have some visitors in over the weekend. Pádraig really and visibly enjoyed the chat in his room and when an old pal rang, Pádraig made such a big effort to talk. No measurements captured this, no amount of numbers could describe what this meant to all of us in the room and on the other side of the telephone line back in Ireland. Even if Pádraig’s efforts were not yet as successful as he (and us) would have liked, it was the effort that counted. The rest will just come one day.

Pádraig will be transferred to the UKE on Wednesday to have an operation on Thursday replacing his bone plate with an artificial one which doctors hope to be able to join much better with his skull. He’ll be there for a week, that is the plan at least, and then get back to the Schön-Klinik for a bit over another month then.

I keep listening to the Dreamboat. Please post the Dreamboat on FB and keep tweeting about it!


Last night, I didn’t sleep much. What really surprised me was that I was not on my own. Around the world, there were people doing what I was doing: watching the Dreamboat video Pádraig’s friends had put together.

Pádraig was good today. He is really so much more alert these days. He had two visitors over and we all agreed that he looked like he was really enjoying the chat.

It has been a long day and a short night last night. Can just about finish this blog…

Keep watching the Dreamboat!

Good night.



, , ,

UnknownWhat did I do first thing this morning? – You guessed it. I called my Genossen. It took a while to get through to them, they are busy, even in the early morning. But then the phone rang and on the other end of the line was the person responsible for letting me know that – YES, we got the apartment. Well, it’s 99%. Next week, there will be a “Vorabnahme”. They’ll check that we didn’t destroy the apartment and if the inspector signs off, we’ll be ok to sign the new rental agreement. (Let’s just hope it won’t be the condensation-on-the-window inspector:).

There were two really interesting bits of German news today. Both pretty unbelievable.

imagesThe first one was that one of the big German banks will make large corporations pay (!) if they want to deposit their money with them. Just to make sure you get this: the corporation is putting money into the bank, presumably large amount, and rather than gaining interest from that deposit, the corporation will have to pay the bank a fee for the privilege to accept its money. – Would that be a nice little business for the Irish Government? Charge large German corporations for depositing their money with them? Wouldn’t that solve everybody’s problems? The German corporations would save money, and the Irish Government would get huge amounts of cash at 0% interest to pay for hospitals and neuro rehab, for example. Michael Noonan – do you know about this? It could save us millions!

Unknown2The second one really surprised me – I had heard about this but didn’t think it would still work. It’s a judgement by the German Federal Constitutional Court in favour of a Catholic Hospital that had dismissed a consultant (Chefarzt, no less). What’s surprising or strange about this, you might ask? Surely, doctors get dismissed all the time and there are plenty of reasons for that, as we all know: criminal behaviour, malpractice, and many other reasons. Well, in this case the hospital had dismissed the doctor because… well, because the man got married, though that wasn’t the problem either. The problem was that he had got married the second time! Imagine that. He got married a second time and because of that he lost his job in the hospital because the hospital decided that people getting married a second time should not be allowed to work in a catholic hospital. And the German Federal Constitutional Court decided that the owners of the hospital had a right to expect from their employees to adhere to the its catholic ethos. – I was thinking how lucky that hospital is that they had the spare time and resources to bring this case up to the Federal Constitutional Court to get rid of this doctor because he had got married a second time. Most hospitals I got to know over the past 16 months are struggling to get the basics right. Und überhaupt, wenn das jeder machen würde – wo würden wir denn da hinkommen?

Pádraig had a busy day today. I went to his double physio session around lunch time. They sat him up on the bedside which was brilliant to see. I had asked before whether they could try to transfer him from the bed to the wheelchair without the lift. And today we took the first step in trying. As I was the tallest in the room, they let me have a go too. I think that with a bit of practice, I’ll eventually manage. It’ll be very useful to be able to do that, especially in circumstances when we won’t have access to a lifter, like when we’ll be travelling. (There is a long list of trips, from Connemara, to Georgia, to Alaska.)

Remember? – “The accumulated clutter of day-to-day existence—the lapses of conscience, the unpaid bills, the bungled opportunities, the dust under the couch, the inescapable prison of your genes—all of it is temporarily forgotten, crowded from your thoughts by an overpowering clarity of purpose and by the seriousness of the task at hand.”



Tonight will have to be a short update, I’m afraid. For some reason this was one of those days when work just did not stop. Being alone in the apartment doesn’t help. There’s no one here to make sure that certain things stop and others begin. Balance is what it is all about.

At 4:02 pm this afternoon, I realised that I had received a message on my German mobile this morning. For some reason, it had decided to switch itself off during the day – and it wasn’t even the battery. Not sure whether you remember the KitKat ad on the TV, or whether it even ran in your country. It’s worth checking it out here. Because what happened to that poor photographer was exactly what happened to me today, except that the photographer only waited maybe an hour until he took the break and missed the ‘shot’ he had been waiting for; in my case, I had been waiting for this call almost three weeks – until my phone decided to take a break and I missed it.

At 4:03 I rang the number and heard the voice of a nice lady telling me that she was delighted to hear that I had called but that, unfortunately, I was calling outside of their normal business hours, which is 7:30 am to 4:00 pm.

So, I’ll be getting up early tomorrow morning to call the Genossenschaft and to find out what the news are about this apartment we applied for – because that was what the call was all about.

Pádraig and I had some time for a long chat, we went out onto the roof garden (in the cold, bbbrrrrr), we went through the mouth hygiene routine, and I tried out my hot towel shaving skills (no cuts this time). At the end of it all, the nurse remarked about how nice he was smelling (and he did). I am sure that when I left Pádraig said “Gute Nacht” and I hope that this is what he is going to have tonight.


You know, sometimes someone asks me ‘what did you write about last night?’ The truth is, in most cases, that I don’t remember. I don’t think it’s old age, but can’t exactly say why it is that almost the moment I finish writing this, it’s gone, disappeared from my memory. It’s like a half dream (remember the early morning half dream?), but a late night half dream. They are even more difficult to hang on to and to remember.

A few things happened today. We got the papers ready to register An Saol as a nonprofit charity. With a bit of luck, the paperwork should be filed with the CRO this Friday. Didn’t hear about the apartment yet.

On the corridor today, Pádraig’s doctor told me that he will be transferred tomorrow week to the UKE and be operated on Thursday. It’s good to have a bit of notice. It’s also good to get this done before December. Hopefully, this will be his last big operation, and the New Year will truly be a year of new beginnings.

Just thought about the idea of ‘good news’. Although sometimes I wonder whether the world isn’t just one big disaster with seriously limited people on the helm – by how many trillion did the G20 announce will they grow the world economy, already functioning mostly on loans and borrowing? – I have realised that every day, there are good news all around us. It’s the stuff that those songs are all about, trying to give you hope, trying to keep you upbeat, trying to make you see the ordinary things every day that are so incredibly beautiful: nature, the sun and the moon, and, first and foremost, people.

And it does not matter whether they are healthy or whether they are sick. Whether they are independent or wether they need our help.



IMG_9539Shopping at Lidl is always an adventure. Some of the stuff is to similar to what they say in Ireland. Some of the stuff is really different – like the “Irländer”!

We listen to the early RTÉ morning radio, then Morning Ireland, and the news most mornings. This morning I thought that there was one murder, one raid, one bomb disposal after the other. The German news are really tame in comparison. As if nothing really news-worthy was happening. What the Irish news are missing in ‘good’ stories, the Germans are missing in ‘interesting’ stories.

We had hoped to have heard about the apartment by now. We had hoped to have heard about the move to the UKE for the operation by now. Neither of it did happen. We’ll have to be patient.

Pádraig has been really alert and awake over the past days, including today. He is getting really stable again now, and will have plenty of time to demonstrate to everybody how he is getting not just stable, but better.

Wednesday, 03 December is the official launch of the Dreamboat, the Amhrán do Phadráig, in Dublin, in The Grand Social. Be there!


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