Saturday, 18 April 2009

Down and gout in Isleworth

Incapacitation is seldom to be welcomed but this week, having of necessity cancelled a number of meetings, it did at least give me an opportunity to catch up on some private work from home.

Said incapacitation mainly took the form of an excruciatingly painful attack of "gout" in my right foot. I write "gout" because it has never been diagnosed as such with any certainty. My doctor, and his colleagues who work alongside him at his surgery, seem obsessed with measuring my blood pressure even though they concede there is nothing actually wrong with it, and any other malady that I complain of is usually discussed only superficially, and inconclusively, before the subject is changed and the strap is tightened once again with an almost manic enthusiasm around my arm.

Unusually, this week's "gout" attack appeared on Monday, subsided a little on Tuesday, then mysteriously returned with a vengeance on Wednesday. To complicate matters my left foot was simultaneously assailed by plantar fasciitis, a condition probably brought about by a combination of too much walking and leafleting, and having small feet.

Whatever the causes of my woes earlier in the week I was able to hobble along yesterday (Friday), penguin-style, to the Thai Restaurant at the Bridge Inn in Isleworth where our departing Principal Community Cohesion officer Sabin Malik (right) was enjoying her last afternoon with some of her colleagues before moving on to her new job at the Home Office.

Sabin will be hugely missed by her friends and colleagues at Hounslow, both on a personal and
a professional level. She was not just a Community Cohesion Officer, her expertise in the field was a massive asset to us as we set about our ultimately successful bid to win Beacon Status for Cohesive and Resilient Communities. She possessed a sound knowledge of Islamic theology which enabled her to challenge some of the myths peddled by minority elements within Islam who would threaten cohesion in our society, and to do so from a position of knowledge and authority. She was also something of a champion for Muslim women through her work with the National Muslim Women's Advisory Group.

Sabin's recruitment by the Home Office or suchlike was always an unfortunate inevitability. Working with Sabin was for me like being the manager of Brentford FC and having a Brazilian international playing in the team (without any disrespect intended either to her fellow officers at Hounslow or to the Bees, whose promotion to League One will hopefully be confirmed this afty). There was always going to be a Ferguson or a Benitez lurking somewhere in the stands.

I wish Sabin all the very best at her new job - she will without doubt be a tremendous asset to her new employers - and I know she'll keep in touch with all her many friends and former colleagues in Hounslow.

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