Well, I’ve finished this week absolutely exhausted; not physically, but emotionally. I suppose that all the last few weeks have just caught up with me, and I just feel really drained. It’s only that bit of Sainsbury’s chocolateTiffinthat I’ve just had that keeps me going! Yes I know that I shouldn’t have had it, and I must go to WeightWatchers tomorrow, but the will to resist was very weak……
Had to go to the local hospital today for a pre-operative assessment. No, nothing drastic and nothing related to our Quest, but at my last eyesight test they used the field test, where you have to click a button every time you see a light on the screen, and apparently my eyelids are blocking the top half of my vision and peripheral vision, so they’re going to reduce them.
It’s happened so gradually over the years that I only noticed it in photographs, but the last year or so I must say that it has been more noticeable and it feels as though I’m peering out from under a visor.
So I got to the hospital at 8am and went to the display board to see where the Clinic was. The newspaper seller in the foyer pounced on me; “and where do you want to go, young lady?” (young!) he asked. I told him but said not to worry as I was quite happy looking at the board, I had plenty of time. “It’s down there,” he waved his right arm, and I thanked him and trotted off.
I found the “Pre-admissions” Clinic but not the Pre-operative one. R had thought that it would be in the Eye Clinic part but I didn’t think it could be, as the letter hadn’t specified, so I assumed that it would be a general one for everybody, but maybe he was right and I should go upstairs. A cleaner spotted me about to go away, and called me over, asking whether I was lost. I showed him my letter and he nodded wisely. “You’re in the right place here”, he said, “there are two, and no end of people go to the wrong one, but this is the one for you”.
So I parked myself on a chair outside the door, and pretty soon was chatting to a new arrival, a man who was recovering from a broken shoulder and had come for physio. He was called in, and a new chap arrived; he’d come to make a delivery to the Pharmacy, and we exchanged a few pleasantries about coming early to avoid the traffic etc. My appointment was for 8.30 and by 8.15 nobody had come to open up or join me in the queue, and I was beginning to doubt that I was in the right place.
Tentatively I tried the door handle to see whether or not I should be waiting on the other side, and it was empty exdcept for a young nurse; very friendly and helpful. I showed her my letter and she told me that I was indeed in the wrong place – I needed to be upstairs in the Eye Clinic, just where R had thought I should be! She started to walk with me and glanced at the letter again, and gasped in surprise.
“You live in my Mum and Dad’s old house!” she said, and we were both amazed. How’s that for coincidence?!
She had moved up north with them, and then come back down here more recently, and often passes the house and always looks at the garden. She said that it still looked the same; I agreed but didn’t say that it was because it was so crammed full of huge spreading fir trees and heather on top of practically impenetrable clay and subsoil that it was likely to stay as it was for a long time to come! Though I have made some changes at the top, planting the forsythia we brought from home at Staplehurst and also the laurel that my Dad had grown from one of the flower displays at our wedding. I’ve also planted a little lavender border at the top as well, near the front door.
And I didn’t tell her about our two cats; her Mum had a horror of cats, and I know that she’d have hated to know that there are now two of them sprawling about on her carpets and sitting on her windowsills.
Then back to work, and wished that I hadn’t. I’ve submitted forms for approval of some subscription renewals, and have been asked to justify them all. I’ve been asked to say how many students use one of them, and been told to say which are “essential, necessary and nice to have!!” I very very rarely get angry but I was so annoyed that I was spitting feathers. Luckily while I was on my own! I have been doing that job for 13 years; every year I evaluate what I buy or renew based on whether or not it has proved its worth. I have saved thousands of pounds over the years by cancelling things that I do not think are used often enough, or give value for money. But, foolish me that I am, I have never made a song and dance about it. I don’t send reports to Finance telling them that I’ve cancelled this and that, or negotiated a better price for something; I’ve just done it.
So of course they are probably under the impression that I’m still ordering the same things year after year without giving any thought to whether or not they are used. I mean, I’m in a portacabin – I have no room for essentials, let alone “nice to have” items! They’ve asked me to go to a meeting to discuss it. I have a feeling that I am going to lose some of my most valuable updates – they have the absolute power to refuse. But, I might be able to save part of them with a compromise. I’ll let you know.
Then came home for a quick tea and shopping. Coming home we passed a funfair, and I really wished that we had been there. I said to turn the car into it so that we could join in, but R was worried about his ice lollies melting in the boot! When my brother and I were little we would always go to our local fair with great excitement. It was in the park that our Dad looked after (at school I used to boast that my Daddy owned the park, because I truly thought that he did!) We’d walk down to it past the bit houses with bay windows that I always wanted to live in one day. We’d hear the sounds of the fair long before we could see it, and then all the lights would appear twinkling through the trees and we could hear shrieks of joy and smell toffee and candyfloss.
I always thought that the candyfloss machine was magic, making that big pink cloud appear on the stick from a few little strands of sugar in that big metal bowl! In fact, if the truth be told, I still do think that it’s magic – I mean, just how DO they do that?!
It was too late to turn into it tonight; we’d gone past the gate and could just glimpse the children running and the Mums and Dads waving to their little tots on the ride for toddlers, and see the couples walking hand in hand, and then we had gone past.
Gone, with our boot full of shopping, homeward bound. Unpack it, put it in the fridge and freezer, make a cup of tea, domestic chores. When and how does that happen? Gradually, bit by bit, so slowly that you hardly notice.
We used to have fun, R and I! Well, if the truth be told we did last Saturday, on his birthday; it was so good being out and about with him and enjoying the day away from the domestic stuff and bathroom floor tiles etc. In that moment, as we passed those people tonight, I resolved to ensure that we do something once a month that takes us away from home, away from the allotment, and the archaeological dig, and paperwork etc. and gives us time for ourselves.
Otherwise we’ll find that our lives have vanished in a whirl of things but somehow we will have lost so many opportunities to just be us, ourselves, whether that ‘ourselves’ is R and me on our own, or R and me as Mum and Dad with a child/children of our own, a family.
And we came home, with the sun a big ball of orange floating on the horizon in front of us, as if it was reluctant to go to bed just yet and wanted to stay dipping in and out of the far hills.
Eventually, though, it was time to go, and it disappeared bit by bit, sinking into a nice soft-looking fluffy grey blanket of cloud until there was one tiny bright blip left – and then it was gone, and dusk descended as we turned off the main road and climbed the hill towards home.