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Forever blowing bubbles

November 5, 2020

The good news is: it’s not me that’s going gaga, it’s the rest of you.

Anybody of my age or more has some reason to fear losing their faculties. The machinery and the wiring aren’t meant to last forever and sure enough they don’t. I’ve noticed over the past several years that I can find that I’ve already completed routine tasks around the house and when I look back I have no recollection of doing them at all. My mind… awa’ wi’ the fairies or more likely on some deeply important topic in stuff I’ve been reading lately.

(A chorus arises from my acquaintances who say I’ve been like that for years. I ignore them.)

Yesterday morning I got up to discover that rather than doing something and then forgetting, I’d not got around to putting the washing I did on Tuesday into the drier but I went and found a dry towel that hadn’t been in the wash and got myself showered, dressed and wrapped myself around a basic breakfast before going out.

I had risen early because I needed to go up to Amersham Hospital for an appointment with, well not Destiny but routine medical support.

Those of you of a sensitive disposition may care to look away as I reveal one of my Hidden Disabilities.

For the past twenty years, ever since I scraped my right calf across the mudguards of a bicycle that I was storing in my tiny bedsit (1) and the calf swelled up and had to be operated on for varicose veins I have worn elasticated support hose. Provided by a German company to the NHS they have kept my calves and their swelling, their creaky veins and all, under some control and I fear that I can no longer do without them: I feel horribly uncomfortable without them on.

But the fact that the NHS will only supply me with two pairs to last six months tries my patience every time. They don’t last that long and have runs and holes long before the six months is up. (2) And this time, the delays in getting new ones were made worse by the fact that the section that orders and dispenses them is down to one part-time worker who is a little overwhelmed.

Still, on Tuesday she rang me and said: Good news! Your stockings are in. Can you come and pick them up? No, we can’t deliver them to Wycombe General the way we normally do because COVID. (She didn’t put it that way, not being a Flash Young Person but a lady of respectable age.)

Well, I don’t have a car but there’s a bus from near Wycombe Station to right outside the hospital in Amersham Old Town so I said yes, anticipating the pleasure of my new stockings and not wanting them to go astray in the post.

I got on the bus, popped my bus pass on the scanner and then went and sat down. I got out my iPad and started to read my latest acquisition, a digital copy of Ken Hite’s SUPRESSED TRANSMISSION Volume 1. I was deep into his weird and sarcastic footnotes (about the tendency of the Earth’s poles to wander about, about whether some parts of the Egyptian dynasties were purely imaginary, about any connection between Dr John Dee and the disappearances at Roanoke) but I kept a weather eye out for my stop, knowing that there was a big roundabout the bus had to do a 180 turn at just before the road to the hospital.

When I found myself on the far side of Amersham, a mile from the hospital I decided that it must be me going gaga at last. I didn’t panic too much outwardly but I was very upset inside and worrying about what this absentmindedness might mean about my future use of public transport. I crossed to the other side of the road and stood there in the sunshine for twenty minutes waiting for a bus to come heading the other way. I rang the lady at the appliances department (3) to let her know I’d be late.

My left knee and hip began to complain. My right heel grumbled. They’re the reason I didn’t just set off on foot back to the hospital. I have limits on the amount of time I can stand or walk on them: I was to push those before the end of the day.

I got on the bus when it came and it strikes me now that the disadvantage of my bus pass is that I don’t have to tell the driver where I want to get to. So he doesn’t get to hear about my unreasonable expectation of him following the route that this bus always has followed in the past.

So I watch carefully for my stop and the next thing I know is I’m on the other side of Amersham at the stop by the crematorium and the driver’s telling me that no, they don’t stop at the Hospital. They haven’t stopped at the hospital for six months or more due to the works for the High Speed 2 link.

I need to go back to the far side of the road and get back to the Amersham Tesco roundabout and get the ‘feeder bus’ to Old Amersham and the hospital.

The worst thing about the whole day was, I think, the fact that his tone was saying “Why you pathetic old git, how can you possibly be ignorant of something that I know so well?”

People live in bubbles. I’ve been hearing it for a long time and it was never clearer to me than that moment. We live in our comfortable little bubbles and never think that the walls are mere shimmering illusions that will burst at the least pressure.

But God (in His Infinite Mercy) and Saints Turing and Flowers and Berners-Lee have given us a tool to burst the bubbles and spread our Good News to all nations, even we heathens who live in High Wycombe. We get the Internet in the jewel of South Buckinghamshire, you know, and I had in fact looked up the time table of the bus service before departing and bugger all word there was of any change in stopping places to be found there.

(I mentioned my reasonable expectation of up to date information to the members of my Wednesday night gaming group and they made mock of me, pointing out that I was lucky I didn’t find timetables from companies who no longer ran the service since it’s no-one’s job to make sure that things on the Internet are clear, informative and accurate.)

Now when he dropped me off at the Crematorium, I didn’t instantly believe him when he told me the best way to get to the hospital was to retrace my route. I could see where the hospital was geographically with relation to my current location on my phone and I set out to find a path. Doing this only caused me more delay and greater pain. The only direct route was now covered with workmen from HS2 and I quailed at trying to persuade me to go through their terribly important facilities.

I could get to the road bridge over the road where the hospital was and look down on the hospital and the bus stop I’d be at if the service was running normally. But any foot path was either blocked or would take ages to walk, most of it on unpaved verges.

So back to the bus stop by the crematorium where I couldn’t even sit down because the bus shelter was set back from the road and any bus would hurtle by before I was even aware it was approaching. Another twenty minutes to wait with not only growing pain in my foot, knee and hip but also the awareness that I would need a loo before journeying home.

I had a whole blogpost composed about my day while I was standing there. It took the shape of a letter from me to Almighty God complaining about the shoddy workmanship displayed by his product Homo Sapiens Sapiens and recommending better support if not an entire product recall.

But then there was a kind driver on the bus to the Tescos who ensured that I met with the kind driver of the ‘feeder bus’ who not returned during his break to pick me up after I’d got hold of my packages containing new stockings and had a chance to use the loos at the hospital. As I returned home I wasn’t exactly content but I wasn’t in the blazing fury that I had been while standing at the bus-stop by the crematorium.

This morning I got up late, I had a shower, I got ready to put on my nice new tight stockings. It’s one of the small sensuous pleasures left in my life and I try to make the most of them.

They were the wrong damn stockings.

They were black rather than the nasty beige colour I was expecting. They were the wrong model, lacking the rubberised grip at the top to keep them up. And most important of all they were three sizes too small.

The Teutonic efficiency of the manufacturers had failed for the first damn time in 20 years.

Speak not to me in apologetic tones of the effects of a worldwide pandemic. Your assurances that I will have the right stockings by the end of next week ring hollow as I fish the worn out ones from the waste bin.

I just want you to know that whatever the evidence may seem to show, I am one of the few people left with all their marbles and any problems you may be having are Somebody Else’s Fault. Clear?

(1) I blame my mother for this, God rest her. She worried that if I left the bike out in the hallway or locked up outside the building it would be stolen. Dutiful son that I was I listened to her fears. But the flat wasn’t big enough for me and the bike at least when I was stumbling from my bed to the loo and my right calf paid the price.

(2) For simplicity’s sake I leave out the saga of my attempts to buy extra stocking outside the NHS proviion.

(3) Well, alright to give it’s proper name the Orthotics department. How many of you knew that word before today. Hmm, quite a few is my guess given the age group my readership seems to tilt towards.

From → Getting Old, Health, Rants

  1. Chorlton Voice permalink

    I think this could be an entry to one of the Moth story evenings, should you have such things down there, and they still go on in these sad times….

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