Thursday, March 30, 2006

It keeps me stable for days

This game is driving* me mad.

*Do you see what I did there?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I don't want no dead end job

Well, that was one of the strangest interviews I’ve ever had. A few days ago, when I was walking down to the Post Office, I spotted a notice in the vet’s window saying “STAFF WANTED. Apply within”. Ooh, that could be good, I thought, so I went in and got an application form, rushed home, completed it, stapled my CV to it as requested then took it straight back. It was for a shared job, where several people cover all the shifts, which were from 9am till 12 noon, then 3pm till 6pm Monday to Friday. Ideal! A morning’s work, home for lunch and walk the dogs, then back in the afternoon. Today I had my interview.

Which wasn’t with the actual vet, but with the other women who do the job. Their task was to make a shortlist of people they felt they could get on with and would fit in. Remember, this is a village, not a large town. One of them opened the conversation with “Is Ned in his shorts yet?”. She was ‘Dudley-the-Weimaraner-and-Harry-the-mongrel’s mum; Ned often meets her husband dog-walking. Dudley and Piglet took a while to get used to each other but they’re fine with each other now. Another was a woman whose son was at playgroup when I helped out there many years ago. It was only the third who was a stranger.

A possible fly in the ointment could be that we no longer take our dogs to this practice for a variety of reasons, not least of which was when a partner in the practice ‘reassured’ me that Clover’s spots would go black as she got older, that “They all start out that colour”. Erm, no they don’t. Do you tell yellow lab owners that their dog will turn black? I think not. We went back to the vet we’d used before we moved here, who fortuitously had relocated to the branch about 4 miles from here. Unfortunately there’s no love lost between him and my prospective employer ... Anyway, cups of tea and coffee were made and we chatted about all sorts of things as well as the job. There aren’t as many shifts on offer as I’d hoped – only two a week to start with – and the wage rate isn’t great, but it’d be better than a poke in the eye.

I should hear by Easter.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

On a clear day you can see forever

Shame it wasn’t a clear day, though! It was lovely when we left home, warm and sunny. Shall I wear a jumper? I mused. No, a light jacket’ll be fine because it’ll be breezy on the coast, thought I. No, it wasn’t breezy at all. The rain fell straight down. It was weird in Portsmouth because we were in the area where I used to live, but it’s changed somewhat since 1973 and I kept getting a visual overlay of the past to help me get my bearings. “You can see the Spinnaker Tower for miles” we were told “You can’t miss it”. You can when the clouds are as low as they were today! When I looked at the location of our destination on the map I thought it was at HMS Vernon, and I was right. It’s just that HMS Vernon isn’t there any more - it's now a retail and expensive-residential centre - and you can walk through the gateway without being challenged by armed men. We met up with Stu and Sarah and Kouros, then Elly and Claire and Sam arrived, so we went to have a coffee and get warm. Sam entertained us by showing how high he can count (114) and we were on the edges of our seats, collective breath bated, at each contemplative pause. Cheers and a round of applause greeted the successful reaching of his century.

Because Elly and Co had already been up the tower when there was a view they decided to pass an opportunity to go up and see nothing, so the remaining five of us went in, braving the lift-man with halitosis and emerged at viewing deck 1, where there’s a panel of glass floor for brave souls

to walk on. It was fascinating watching the rain falling when you were above it. The 'Crow's Nest' deck, supposedly 'open to the elements' was disappointingly enclosed by glass, but the netting roof allowed the rain to fall on us. I'd imagined a secure waist-high barrier with netting below to catch jumpers and fallers, and to be able to feel the breeze. Ho hum.

The clouds cleared briefly and I was able to see the common where I'd used to play lacrosse, and the open space behind where my old home used to stand, and the fairground where my pals and I used to hang out when we were feeling flush, and the Round Tower where we stood and waved when Ark Royal steamed into harbour, bringing my Daddy home from his year-long tour of duty ... memories, memories.

At ground level again, we met up with Mally and Maddy and went to a 'quiet pub' for a quick drink. I must run the definition of 'quiet' past Mally sometime!

Today's Tower

Friday, March 24, 2006

The morning came the morning went

Don’t you just hate it when inanimate objects start playing up? Yesterday the car behaved perfectly, ferrying me about to view that bungalow (the rooms are too small and it needs a lot of work doing to it – from plastering in the light switches upwards) and into Leamington. Today when I wanted to nip up to the farm at the top of the hill for eggs (60p a half-dozen free range – take care not to run over the chickens) because Ned wanted to bake a cake it won’t start.

My first thought was that it was sulking because it rained overnight and it was a bit damp, so I sprayed its innards with WD40, but that didn’t do any good, and started flattening the battery. So I waited till Ned got home with the dogs and we tried to jump it from the Pug. That didn’t work either so we called the RAC. The nice man spent ages tinkering with various parts of its anatomy, and finally admitted he was puzzled, because it was behaving idiosyncratically. He reckoned it was a problem with the rotor arm, the coil block or the HT leads*. None of which he had. So the car was shoved and heaved from the centre of the drive (isn’t power steering hard to work without power?) and we went to Banbury to buy a new rotor arm.

It wasn’t that. It looks like we’ll have to call the RAC back again to tow it to a garage for diagnosis and fixification. But if we try to nurse the Pug down to our planned rendezvous in Portsmouth it’ll have to wait till Monday. Bum.

*I haven’t a clue what these bits are or do.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I've roomed with fear

You may remember that my mother has, over the past few years, got into the habit of falling over, with increasingly spectacular results, so my brothers and I decided that we really must convince her that the time has come for her to move somewhere a little more convenient for her and all of us. She’s an hour’s drive from the nearest one of us (3 hours from us), in a house that’s really too big for her now and a garden she’s had to pay someone to maintain for about a decade. Despite the fact that she didn’t like the house when my father bought it over 20 years ago, and moved there under protest, she’s now taking some shifting from it. She keeps raising objections like the furniture won’t fit and the attic’s full. Hmmm. I’m sure those aren’t insurmountable problems. Then she decided that if she moved anywhere nearer to one of us we’d instantly up sticks and move away, leaving her stranded. Part of the real trouble is that since her last fall she’s developing agoraphobia. She barely leaves her house at all because she’s afraid of falling – honestly I think she’s been out of doors no more than 5 times since Christmas, not even into the garden, and the prospect of moving away completely terrifies her. Plus, of course, moving house is daunting and stressful even when you’re young and fit. She’s neither of those things.

At one time we put forward the suggestion that we adapt our house and she could live with us but that was vetoed on the grounds that her mother wasn’t happy living with my aunt (even though Mum agreed that Granny had been very happy when she lived with us. So that was vetoed. Then the other week a house across the road from my brother came onto the market, but that seems to have been snapped up, much to Mother’s relief (because it took the decision out of her hands). She keeps saying she’s feeling much stronger now and feels she could stay where she is, but it’d only take another tumbly-bump and we’d all be stymied. She keeps repeating her mantra “James always said we must never be a burden to our children” – but she can’t or won’t see that her distance from us is a burden in itself.

Tomorrow I go to view a dormer bungalow the other side of our village. My brothers and I reckon it’d be ideal if it’s suitable. She’d still have her own place and her own belongings but I could keep an eye on her easily. I bet she’ll find something wrong with it.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Down the trail the cowboy way

Specially for Jane, here’s an update on my Bro, who decamped from hospididdle yesterday and is now safely back home again. The pain-killers are pretty much doing their job, and he says he’s certainly in no more pain than he was before the op. Unfortunately they’ve had their usual side-effect, and he and his wife are awaiting with interest the result of all the figs and other lubricants he’s taken. I’ve put on a bet for 4.32pm on Monday. A chap in the ward who’d had both knees operated on got caught short in the small hours a couple of nights ago, and it took 3 nurses over half an hour to clean him, his bed and the surrounding area. Even the ceiling was stared at suspiciously in case a hose was going to be needed.

Anyway, he’s been told he must only use his bionic leg for balance for several weeks, and use two crutches to get about. He’s managing to get up- and down-stairs so he’s not too trapped. He says he gets cramp in his feet at night and can’t reach down to do anything about it which is a bugger, and his heel’s getting a little tender. I suggested resting his lower leg and foot on a pillow in bed to take some of the pressure off it, and help the fluid drain away. With a bit of luck he’ll be gambolling like a spring lamb again before too long!

Update 19th: I lost my bet. I'm told the earth moved last night, shortly after I spoke to him on the phone. Perhaps my middle name should be Senna.

Friday, March 17, 2006

How bizarre, how bizarre

A couple of weeks ago there was a brief article in one of the local papers about an outcry in a nearby market town because an ‘historic’ Wellingtonia tree had been lopped. This tree, the townsfolk said, was believed to have been planted in 1642 as part of a row to mark the route King Charles took after his ‘defeat’ at the Civil War battle of Edgehill. I couldn’t let that pass. Not only was Edgehill considered to be a draw, with neither Royalists nor Parliamentarians claiming victory, but the Wellingtonia is native to California, and the first specimens weren’t introduced into Britain until 1853. So I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and wrote* to the Editor to tell him so.

This week my letter was printed, and shortly after breakfast the phone rang, and a total stranger congratulated me on my letter! I have my first fan!

*No, I didn’t sign it ‘Pedantic of Warwickshire’

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Little things that you do

Interviews are like exams, and the same rule applies when you come out of one: do not relive it. In the case of exams don’t rush to your books to see if you got the answers right, and with interviews don’t kick yourself thinking of the things you should have said, the questions you should have asked (like the salary!) or start wondering if you checked that final figure in the test – did you deduct that £100 or not? When it’s over it’s over, and there’s nothing you can do to change it so it’s best put right out of your mind. (I still think I left that 100 in, though. Poo. I won’t go and buy suitable shoes tomorrow then.)

The Boy has an interview tomorrow, as a landscaper’s labourer. It seems such as waste for a bright boy but it might help him gather his thoughts on his future. Having his car tax reminder in the post has helped concentrate his mind on doing something. He’s also aware that his hair might be a handicap in the interview stakes because people are usually judged on first appearances, and he said that it might be sooner rather than later that I’ll be allowed to remove the dreads!

*Claps hands and jumps up and down in delight before going to hunt out the clippers*

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

My stethoscope is bobbing to the throbbing of your heart

There's nothing like being told that your blood pressure has rocketed to add a teensy bit more stress to your day and leave you with a pounding headache.

Tomorrow I have an interview.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Time waits for nobody

You realise you're getting old when your brother goes into hospital for a hip replacement. Good luck, Andrew.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Times they are a-changing

I collected most of the Boy's belongings from Uni today, tomorrow being the end of term. I'd have done that even if he'd been returning after the break because all the students have to empty their rooms every holiday. But he won't be returning for the summer.

I do wish things had been different. I wish he'd enjoyed not only Uni life (which he did) but also the course. He tells me that if he'd wanted a career as a civil engineer he'd have gritted his teeth at the difficult bits and got on with it, but as he'd realised that it wasn't the future for him changing was the sensible thing to do. After all, this isn't a dress rehearsal for Life; as far as we know this is It, so settling for dutiful unhappiness would be foolish.

That's all very sensible and logical, but it doesn't stop me worrying what he's going to do with his life. Once again we're in limbo.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Timing is everything in life

When applying for a cracking-sounding job that you have all the right qualifications for it’s best to complete the application form before the closing date. Especially when it’s a job requiring accuracy and punctuality. Whoops!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Have a banana, have a whole bunch

I'm not usually a particularly hungry person, although I can't go for hours without eating something; even if it's only a cup of tea it's important that I don't go for too long without something in my tummy. But for the past few days I've been almost perpetually ravenous, and I fear I may be about to balloon. Sandwiches, peanuts, buns, chocolate, fruit, yogurt, cheese, cold meat - I'm not fussed what it is, but I must eat. Mind you, Abernethy biscuits with a Best Before date of 30th May 04 aren't my favourite - but they're better than nothing. Now, where did I see those waffer-theen meents?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Going underground

The drain from the downstairs loo needs rodding again.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ring ring, why don’t you give me a call?

Actually please don’t just at the moment – at least not on the mobile. The company we’re with contacted us to say that our mobile handset is so terribly dated (I think it’s the only one still being used) that they’re switching off the equipment that it makes it work, so in a few days’ time it’ll die. Because we’re so lovely they’ve sent us a ‘free’ replacement of something more recent; we’re not at all impressed. Not only are the buttons tiny and make my arthritis flare when I try to use it, and Ned’s fingers are a bit big, all the controls are in different places.

The instruction book starts “It’s probably not your first mobile phone, so you might want to skip this bit” (no, I don’t actually. I want to know how you turn it on). By enlisting the help of chums on another site I’ve found where the punctuation is (with the ‘1’ button, not the ‘0’) and how to leave a space in text (with the ‘0’ button, not the sideways arrow. There isn’t a sideways arrow). What I have managed to do is not only turn off predictive text (I’ve no idea how I managed to turn it on in the first place) but also add a lovely new ring-tone which I spent all yesterday evening installing. (The theme from the 1960s TV series of Robinson Crusoe, if you're interested. Shame my tinny version sounds as though it's played on a stylophone, rather than the marvellous full-bodied orchestral number. That just blows me away!)

If we’d wanted to change our mobile I wouldn’t be bothered about the hassle – but we were perfectly happy with the old one. It made phonecalls, which is all we wanted. It also sent texts, which was occasionally useful, although sometimes they took hours to be received at the other end. Now we have to faff about putting yet more credit on the damn thing to activate it and get the remaining credit from the old phone transferred over. Then we’ll need to ring ourselves to find out what you press to answer a call – it doesn’t have a lovely safe green ‘Go’ button like the old one, with a corresponding red ‘Stop’ button to finish. I know that with mobiles if you don’t hang up properly the other person can’t get a clear line to make other calls – all they get is you still. So how do you do this? The handbook doesn’t say. And ‘free’? I don’t suppose they’ll send us a new in-car charger to replace the one we’ve bought and is soon to be totally useless.