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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
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Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Way out west


Horticulture. Planted 100 daff and 20 snowdrop bulbs at the weekend. Just for once my reality meshed with the fantasies of Gardeners World.  Soft fibrous ersatz earth (in tubs) instead of an inch of dirt over a fathom of builder's rubble. Index finger worked well as a dibber. Not much to see at moment.

Kindness of Strangers. Yesterday VR had a hospital appointment. In order to escape the tsunami created by our cleaning ladies we made a bolt for Waitrose (the swanky supermarket) in Abergavenny and the appointment got overlooked. VR, a former state registered nurse, gets angry with herself and (by extension) me. Rings the hospital this morning to apologise, giving it the full culpa mea. Greets me all smiles, the direct result of the hospital's comforting response.

Two Sorts Of Mobility. Our estate is bisected by the Withy Brook where I noted four supermarket trolleys. I wumphed, middle-class fashion. Then I reflected. Many of Tesco's patrons  are elderly, seemingly poverty-stricken, frequently overweight ladies with hip problems who not only collect their groceries into the trolleys but use them as mobile Zimmer frames. Leaning painfully over the handlebars. No I don't think the two phenomena are linked. My reflections don't always connect.

I Wish I Had a Brass Neck. Am paying the osteopath visits (£55/30 min) hoping he can get my neck turning again. For long periods nothing much happens; prone on his couch I watch the blades of his east-of-Suez fan rotate, drop into a doze, and wake when I start to snore. Occasionally he kneads my shoulder muscles with powerful fingers and I speculate on which sport such fingers could best be employed. Archery perhaps. I suggest this, he laughs, and I write out another cheque. Arriving at T-junctions in the car continues to worry me.


  1. Other people’s posts nearly always promote “I” stories in response, and I make no apology, it’s just good to find a place to have a rant.

    The NHS seems to swing from one extreme to another. I have had good experiences of attention which was above and beyond, but sad to say the latest is dire.

    My knee surgeon, seen on 27th Sept oordered fluid to be taken from my knee, assuring me of a prompt appointment. OnTuesday, 8th October I tried to track down appointment progress. After an hour and half on the phone I had 10 different numbers I had called, and established the referral had been sent, mistakenly from Preston to Lancaster, instead of to Kendal. I was promised it would be posted that day to Kendal. Giving it two days I tried again today. A girl, I would guess, straight from school, with less nous than an amoeba said they had not received the referral yet. Phoning back to the more helpful secretary in Lancaster I was given the name and phone number (now 12 in my collection) of somebody at Kendal who I was assured would be capable of intelligent communication tomorrow - the saga continues.

    I do wish you both well with your afflictions, and may all your bulbs come through. I (here I go again) once used my finger to smooth out floor tiling grout - I was in agony for weeks afterwards.

  2. Hope your osteo knows what he's doing and that his hands are well-trained as well as powerful.

    Are you near Abergavenny? I've actually been to the Waitrose there, during a short stay in Crickhowell not long ago. Good things can be found in Waitroses.

  3. Oh, knees. My right one locked up on me in the middle of the staircase and I almost pitched forward. Luckily, I have amazing arm strength (all of those Bierkrugs I carry) and was able to catch myself on the banister.

    Prost to a quick recovery from knee and neck ailments!

  4. Sir Hugh: I know people have suffered at the hands of the NHS. Neither of us has. This tiny episode had its own significance: the words of comfort came from one of the women working reception and one tends to think of them as jobsworths. So her sympathy was unexpected.

    I have no faith in the bulbs. Even now I'm left worrying that I may have planted some of them upside down. It's all very well Dylan Thomas writing "The force that through the green shoot drives the flower..." but will they be able to overcome this potentially dreadful start in life?

    Natalie: As I say there are long periods where nothing much happens - one of his hands rests more or less immobile on my sacrum, the other on one of my upper vertebrae. I believe that gradually the pressure increases, but I cannot be sure. He warned me about this so I cannot complain. The appointments are now fortnightly rather than weekly and he announces himself satisfied with progress. My investments may be paying off.

    We live 25 miles north-east of Waitrose, Abergavenny, so the round-trip adds a gallon of diesel (approx £6) to the cost of what is already a self-indulgent supermarket visit, especially since Tesco is a mere 10-minute walk away from our house. You may remember my comments about your nearness to the Wye in one of your earlier posts. The Wye - especially the length between Monmouth and Chepstow (past Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey) - has been one of the lovely, totally unexpected, benefits of moving from Kingston-upon-Thames to Hereford.

    RW (zS): Look after yourself dear cosmopolitan; you have turned out to be a true blogo-treasure despite your ridiculous and quite misplaced sentimentality about Buicks.

  5. Perhaps it will be a case of, "April is the cruellest month".

  6. As a fellow sufferer from a stiff neck, I often reflect on the frequent use of the term "stiff necked" in the Bible to mean stubborn as in "And the Lord said unto Moses I have seen this people and behold it is a stiffnecked people."

  7. Watched (a repeat of) that Joanna Lumley programme on Greece last night; Greco-Roman oiled wrestling could be a potential alternative use for the osteo's fingers - though where they put them quite makes the eyes water.

    Good health to you both.