“It’s normal for people to feel helpless when faced with a tragedy such as the war in Ukraine.” – Val Savage, World News


It’s tempting to turn off the news as the tragedies in Ukraine are so upsetting, but it’s vital to stay informed.

It was heartbreaking to see the suffering of the Ukrainian people. I witnessed a Russian tank driving over a car. Then people rush to rescue the driver, a white-haired elderly man. I was immediately inspired to go.

I looked up to see an elderly couple walking carefully along planks over a river. Then, I was gone. I thought of the fear I’d feel, the devastation at leaving my family home, knowing I’d find it destroyed even if I could return.

One film will be my constant companion for the rest of my life. It featured elderly ladies aged 80 to 90 with headscarves tied beneath their chins. To camouflage their fathers, brothers and grandsons who had become soldiers to defend their country, they were making green ribbons for nets.

As they worked, they began singing Ukrainian songs. I was overcome by their strength and solidarity.

All of us feel helpless. It is a great idea to donate to charities. The Queen, who is now back at work after Covid was over, displayed the Ukrainian colors of blue and yellow in the flowers and clothes she wore when she met Justin Trudeau the Canadian Prime Minister.

I know it’s not much and it changes nothing, but when sorting my clothes for my trip to the mobility shop, I pinned a daffodil to my blue anorak so I can also show my support for Ukraine.

All the usual moans suddenly seem absurd. It’s obvious that my garden needs some attention, but it doesn’t matter if hospitals in Ukraine are being bombarded.

Petrol prices are through the roof, but we can all safely get buses, which they’d love to do in Ukraine.

My parents said that war was a great leveller. I now know what they meant. That’s why, as devastating as it is, we have to keep watching the news.

Arthritis is a sign that it’s time for a new set.

I have a big decision to make and can’t avoid it any longer.

My arthritis is so bad I’ve been staying at home, scared my legs will give way when I’m trying to get in to a car, cafe or shop.

Friends and family encourage me, but I find it too painful to be out with my stick or walking stick.

Even when I have a friend holding me up on one side, I worry I’ll fall and pull my friend down with me – and they’re no spring chickens.

Until now, I’ve chosen the safe option of staying home and trying not to feel too down about missing days out and chatty lunches.

But my friends were fed up. This week, Janet visited the mobility shop and told me there were two good wheelchairs there – and I’ve agreed to go and see them.

My mom cried when she received a wheelchair. She got used to it, and we shared so many laughs with her chair.

Her little voice came from deep within the tree branches when I accidentally wheeled them into a large display of Christmas baubles. “Our Valerie! Help me!”I almost wet my pants.

But now it’s my turn I don’t feel like laughing. So I’m trying my best to talk myself into it.

My grandkids would love more of me if I could get around in a wheelchair. Although Freddie, our Robert’s youngest, would push me around in wild circles.

I’ll stick a giant L plate and go-faster stripes to my chair and get a horn to honk people out of my way.

I’ll drape fairy lights around it for a festive look, but maybe hazard warning lights will be more apt.

I love that the armrests can be used to carry around pouches of Blue Ribands and KP salted peanuts.

I’ll try to think of the wheelchair as the key to winning new independence and will imagine myself as a 17-year-old, getting my first car instead of an old lady confined to a wheelchair.

My stubbornness and memories of my mum’s sadness is standing in the way of my new wheels.

It is time to move on, just as my mum did. Janet was thrilled that I agreed to visit the mobility shop. Janet then went back to her shop and told the assistants: “Be warned.”

Cloudberry jam provides sweet relief

Even though the world is undergoing a lot of turmoil, there are small slivers of happiness that can be found in everyday things. My happiness came in the form of a potful of jam this week. My friend Donna’s husband came back from Scandinavia with a new kind of jam for me to try.

When she went into another room, I stuck my finger in the pot because I couldn’t wait. Cloudberry jam is the most delicious jam I’ve had in my life.

The minute Donna waved goodbye, I finished the jam with a spoon – there was no time to spread it on bread.

I thought as I drank Gaviscon for the remainder of the afternoon. ‘Why don’t I learn from my past mistakes?’ But was it worth it? Yes.

The jam would have tasted great on the Sheila dropped-off scones, if it had been around.

She said: “Here’s four. You can freeze them.”I thought, why not freeze them? What’s she talking about? There’s no need. Two were gone on day one. The next day, bye bye to the other two…

Andy, our ace, is generous to the point of being a tad too generous…

God bless Andy Murray who has donated all his prize money this year to children in Ukraine. He is an amazing role model and an example for sportspeople who can come up with solutions in the face to a global crisis. He would be a great steak.

Rebooted classic was a big turn-off

I taped Ipcress Files. I was so excited to finally watch it.

The first episode was over, so I had to turn it off halfway through.

I absolutely loved the Michael Caine version, but the new TV series isn’t a patch on it. I was so disappointed I couldn’t even enjoy the 60s style of fashion and furniture, which would usually make my memories soar back to when I spent my days shopping for minidresses rather than wheelchairs.

Why bother with a remake if a TV or film is in its original form?

If you’d like to contact Val, email features@mirror.co.uk or write to Val Savage, PO Box 7290, E14 5D. The Mirror makes a donation to the Alzheimer’s Society in lieu of payment.