Category Archives: Family Life

Luddites and Banking

Do you ever think about how long you have known some of your friends? Whizz and I have been married for 19 years, and my friendship with the couple we visited  the weekend before last, Cop and Tax, predates this by about 20 years.  In other words I have known them twice as long as I have known Whizz. Whizz recently referred to them as old friends of Lil’s, before realising that now, they are old friends of his as well. We are a couple of old gits… It happens.

The weekend with Cop and Tax , was as fabulous as ever. The couple, who many years ago, relinquished their unpopular careers in favour of self-sufficiency,  always provide a stonking dinner and a healthy country pastime. On this occasion the activity was a point to point.

Two Friends, Oil on canvas by Arthur Kurtz ‎

I will digress here to relate a tale about the last point-to-point I attended. It was with friends of Cop – some of the Hooray-Henries mentioned in this: past post. On that occasion, a rider in one of the races was known to my companions.

‘Never bet on him,’ they advised, ‘He always falls off his horse.’ (When I say bet, I’m only talking a couple of quid, probably less in those days). Needless to say, this ‘chap’ didn’t fall off, he stormed home in first place.

File:Cross country with horse and hound (1902) (14596537038).jpg

Cross Country with Horse and Hound, Peer, Frank Sherman, Published in Horse and Hound 1902

It was the memory of that first point-to-point that prompted me to attend an event of which, in truth, I disapprove in terms of its exploitation of animals. I don’t plan to do anything like that again. The occasion offered a viewing of the Grand National later on, but I’m afraid I refused at that jump. To me, the Grand National epitomises the ugly imposition of man(kind?) over its fellow sentient beings. Sorry race goers it is only my opinion and I don’t plan to throw red paint over you.

During my gambling life I have won nothing, hence, I hardly do it. If there’s a sweepstake at work or maybe a raffle, I invariably pick the option that arrives or occurs  last, or doesn’t arrive at all. The best thing I ever won was in a raffle, a bent, patent-plastic  belt. That is, until this point-to-point. For once I backed horses, to win, in three separate races, and two of them, ones with reasonable odds, passed the finish line in first place. Whoop Whoop, £7.50 profit. It may not seem  exciting to you, but it made my day.

Before we left for the races, Cop and Tax provided their usual, delicious, home-produced grub. Over lunch, Tax, at the grinning behest of Cop,  related her recent experience of banking technology.

Someone, I don’t remember whom, had given her a cheque. I imagine most readers will know that outside the Metropolis, banks are a rarity, and should you happen upon one, human cashiers are as common as elephants’ ballet shoes. Tax found herself at the mercy of a machine. She must insert her debit card and enter the amount, sort-code and account-number. This she did, and with a sense of triumph went home, confident that the total would somehow fetch up in her current account.

Days passed and the money did not appear, so she got in touch with a call centre – more buttons to press but at least she could talk to a human. The sum had not arrived, it must be assumed that it was one of those that had disappeared into the ether. Feeling justified in her mistrust of technology, Tax contacted the donor of the cheque, who checked their account to see whether it had been debited and reported back that it had definitely been through the account – in fact it had been through twice, once as a debit and again as a credit.

Poor Tax will never live down having carefully keyed into the bank machine, the account number and sort code on the cheque.

Someone else who will feel a bit silly, is the person who enabled this sign to appear across the country in a well known supermarket.

Stationary stationery!

It’s a MR E

I’ve always been forgetful and absent minded, but living with Whizz has made me more aware of my shortcomings in this area. It’s not that he ever criticises me, but he has such an amazing brain that I can’t help comparing my own to his. Lately, probably due to work overload, I have become TERRIBLE at keeping to appointments. I have an electronic diary, it bongs at me (when the sound is turned on), but somehow I still get things wrong. About three weeks ago I got home from work and was pottering around while planning dinner, when the phone rang.

‘Mrs Lil?’

‘Ye-e-es?’

It’s Tinkle Dental Surgery here.’

A pause then, ‘Oh my God. Am I supposed to be there?!!! I am aren’t I? I’m SO SORRY.’

The voice smiles, ‘Don’t worry. We can make another appointment.’

We did.

Now the problem with my dentist is that her days off coincide with mine, which means that I have to go to her after work, something I am not in the habit of doing. I made a new appointment on a Monday evening, and spent the next week terrified of forgetting it again.

Monday came and I was delayed slightly at work. When I escaped, I dived into my car, parked, sprinted across the car park and up the stairs to the dentist’s reception desk gasping for breath. ‘So sorry I’m late.’ I panted, ‘ I got held up at work .’

The young and very chipper young man behind the desk, looked at me over his computer monitor and asked for my name, then he stared at the screen for a minute and looked worried.

I got that sinking feeling. ‘Have I missed it again?’

‘I don’t seem to have… Oh wait a moment, here you are… Your appointment’s next week not tonight.’

Dammit!

The following week  I managed to arrive after the poor Hygienist had gone home. ‘I hate my life,’ I moaned to the amused receptionist, and banged my head on the desk several times.

We decided that Monday evenings wouldn’t work for me, and then it transpired that I could have a weekend appointment – who knew?’

My new appointment will be on 29th December. Lovely way to spend part of the Christmas break.

Despite my mental shortcomings, Whizz and I get along pretty well, mainly because, in some areas, our interests collide, and we share the same, sad sense of humour. When we walk the dog our discussions can be quite lively as I have reported here in the past.

On a recent tromp around the quarry I remarked that historically, love songs by men about women have focused on their looks only. I didn’t quote it but in fact the worst case of this I can think of, came from a childhood  78 record called The Girl That I Marry, who, according to the lyrics, ‘…will have to be, as soft and as pink as a nursery,’ and  ”stead of flittin’ I’ll be sittin’ next to her and she’ll purr like a kitten.’ Yuck. I wonder if he found her and whether she became suicidal after a week of marriage.

Anyway, Livin’ Doll is pretty naff: ‘Got myself a cryin’ walkin’ sleepin’ talkin’ livin’ doll.’ and Poetry in Motion, walkin’ by my side,’ etc. I felt that things have changed for the better until Whizz pointed out that in modern times, women  say or rap about men in a similar way. Could they not sing about their partner’s brains for a change? I need another walk with Whizz to devise some lyrics.

(By the way, I’m not old enough to have purchased 78 records. We had a collection of 78s handed down by my grandparents. The collection shrank each time we moved house, when many were broken.)

Back to our walk. I started picking on Happy Families – you know -the card game. I realised the all the men had the jobs, and the women were their wives: Mr Bun the baker, Mrs Bun the baker’s wife, and so on.

Happy Families - Family Fun Playing Cards

Whizz and I began to explore what a modern Happy Families pack might comprise, and this kept us occupied for ages. Here are some of the cards we came up with:

  • Master Race, the Neo-Nazi
  • Miss Tified, the Quantum Physicist
  • Major Cost, the plumber
  • Mrs Singh, the choir leader
  • Dr Facts, the US President
  • Professor Doubt, the Consultant
  • Councillor Couple, the Sex Therapist
  • Pastor Sellbydate, the Health Inspector
  • Mr Call the contact Centre Operative

Then Whizz got that twinkle in his eye. ‘And not forgetting,’ he grinned, ‘ Mrs Appointments, the Author?’

Haw haw, very funny.

Tripping (not the kind that takes you up, but the one that plummets you down)

I found this post in my drafts. I’d written it a couple of months ago. I am no longer taking Warfarin, but a new drug. I am still going to the gym though and have lost 1st 3.5 lbs in weight.

Recently, through chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, I determined to change my eating karma and lose weight. This declaration of intent was partly because of a second pulmonary embolism and the subsequent need to take anti-coagulants for the rest of my life – I am now on Warfarin.

For the uninitiated, Warfarin, as well as being rat poison, makes you bleed more easily. Ridiculously, since I have been on the medication, I have tripped and fallen three times (I can’t remember anything about the first fall now). It might be true to say that the Mystic Law intervened to protect me when I had the second two falls.

Fall number 2:

Because of my tablets, and because it makes me fat, I am told to drink only in moderation – well that should apply to us all but I’ve never been a great one for listening to advice on what is best for me. To paraphrase the doctor or at least to translate to something more acceptable to me: Ideally don’t drink, but if you must drink then don’t fall over.

The occasion was a funeral wake. The deceased was a lady of nearly 101 years, and her demise was not a shock so there wasn’t an enormous amount of sadness. We all sat in the garden, and the sun shone. Children played, wine flowed and I, who was ‘trying not to drink too much’, accepted a large glass of wine. Later I agreed to a top-up, and when a second top up was not forthcoming and the alcohol had its grip on me, I decided to help myself to a third glassful from the fridge in the kitchen (hangs head in shame).

I jumped from my garden chair and hastened to the doorway, whereupon I tripped on the threshold and pitched head first onto the kitchen floor. My glass shattered and everyone rushed to my assistance as I lay, winded and prone (prone to accidents, ha ha).

Be Careful What you Wish For
What else would I use as an image for spilt wine than my book cover? Click on it to buy it

 

This fall  was clearly intended by the Universe, to help in my quest to cut down on my drink. It did. I had the only big glass in the  house so I had to move on to a smaller one (boom, boom).  Also, I had forgotten to take my Warfarin the evening before so bleeding was not such a danger.

Fall number 3:

Since that fall and not because of it, I have joined Mince Monde. If you read this blog regularly you will know that I have run the gauntlet of diet writers and organisations since I was about 16, so I’m not going to reiterate my much repeated determination that this time it is for life. Anyway, my membership of the slimming organisation is free, thanks to my local NHS authority, who want to help the overweight for, I assume, preventative reasons. Not only have I received 12 weeks free at Mince Monde but am entitled to 3 free sessions with a personal trainer and reduced rates, at a local gym – also for 12 weeks.

determination.jpg
Tried to find the source of this image. Thanks to this website https://www.nationoflights.com/the-shift-blog-2017/2017/11/20/ohhh-the-rat-race-i-am-in-and-the-greater-understandings-thru-it and also this video maker https://veblr.com/watch/361d909a7938/rat-gym-workout-most-funny-video?lang=mr. Many thanks to its creator.

The gym was the scene of my next tumble. I started my exercise session on the cross trainer. After the recommended 5 minutes, and breathing a little more heavily,  I dismounted and headed for the weights. Sadly, I failed to notice a small step down from the area where the cross trainers and treadmills sat, and crashed to the floor. There was more concerned rushing to help, with suggestions that I sit for a while and drink water. ‘I’m absolutely fine,’ I insisted, oh my ego, and scuttled off towards the location of my next activity, round the corner, to examine the damage.

I had bashed my knee, and my shin had landed painfully on the edge of the step, but I was still standing. I did worry a bit about the potential size of the bruise, and the impact on my already over-worked knee. Amazingly, when tested the following day, my INR (clotting rate) had dropped to 1.8, too low. I had been protected again.

The most ignominious part of the above tale is that the following day, when my knee felt as though I should be a bit careful, I went to the pharmacy to buy a tubular support bandage. They had many sizes, the largest of which, was XL. I rolled it over the damaged joint and pulled down my trouser leg to cover it. Through the fabric could be seen the deep channel encircling my lower thigh, where the top of the bandage dug into the fat and, it has to be said, it was bl**dy uncomfortable. Many thanks to the staff at Windmill Pharmacy for letting me try it on then refunding my money. Oh well, this time next year Rodney…

I hadn’t made the connection before but I started falling over in November 2015, see this post. I think this was about the time when I had my varifocals upgraded because my eyesight had become significantly worse (sigh).

I insist that alcohol and age were not factors.

Child Quote 15

I suppose, really, that Mavis should no longer be called a child, now that she is 18, however she is still my child and this is my blog so I’m continuing the Child Quote theme.

We are in the Easter holidays; both of us at home. This is a rare opportunity for me to have some quality time with Mavis – when she gets up, and doesn’t have her nose pressed to her phone. Today we went out for lunch and then to see The Greatest Showman. The film was not my favourite, but it entertained me enough to keep me awake, and Mavis enjoyed it, which is enough for me.

It was while dining that conversation led to my proposal that, as there was a bit of time, perhaps we could browse around a couple of clothes shops. ‘I feel like a change of look. Give myself a bit of style,’ I said.

‘You already have a style,’ Mavis replied. Aah, was this daughter of mine about to pay me a compliment?

‘Do I?’

‘Yeah, Batty Old Teacher style.’

I paused, thinking that I rather liked the idea of looking a bit batty. ‘I don’t mind looking like a batty teacher,’ I said. ‘Like Mrs Slopes?

‘No,’ Mavis corrected, ‘A batty old teacher. Mrs Slopes looked like a batty teacher, but you look like the kind of teacher that makes the kids wonder if you’re a witch.’

I think I prefer her when she’s ignoring me.

Some funny things have happened at last, involving Christmas

I know it’s a bit late for a Christmas theme but this post has been rumbling round  in my head since that time. Thanks to a watery, chesty virus keeping me from work,  I have the opportunity to put finger to keyboard. It’s a ill wind and all that.

This Christmas was a weird one for my family. We all spent it in ways never experienced before. My sister went to her ‘in laws’, my brother went to his, the only ones he has ever had, as he was married for the first time this summer.

My esteemed parents stayed home alone and indulged, allegedly cheerfully, in roast beef and alcohol.

By the author

Their aloneness (I think I have made up this word) made me a little uneasy.

Someone else who added to my unease was Mavis, who was contracted to work on Boxing Day. This would not have been such a bad thing had Whizz and I not agreed to go to Horace’s, in Canalshire (work it out), for the festive season.

During the run up to Christmas, we all hoped that the Pharmaceutical chain for whom Mavis works, let’s call them ‘Wellies’,  would be able to swing it so she could have the Boxing Day off, but at the last minute, several people who were also working the same shift, handed in their notices and that was that. Mavis was home alone too.

Henny how, on  to some post-Christmas entertainment.

First: I was recruited by my school to take on the task of  being Santa for the littlies (another made up word). I was presented with a beautiful and thankfully elasticated, scarlet velour outfit, and a wig and beard of the bristly, curly variety. I adopted a voice that Whizz, when I tried it out on him, said sounded more like Winston Churchill than Santa, but since I don’t think he has ever conversed with the latter, I took the remark as approbation, and assumed it in my role.

I was led by the head (duh, not my head, the head teacher), to the Foundation class, where I was introduced, amid childish gasps, to about 50 wee ones. I then settled into a side room and the children were called, one at a time 50 of them – to come and tell me what they would like me to bring them on my sleigh. A teacher attended to take photos.

Wow, did I get into role.  I was magnificent with my, ‘Hello little boy and ‘Have you been good?’ and ‘Make sure you leave me a mince pie.’

Unfortunately the combination of Churchill’s voice and a tickly beard became too much for my throat after the thirtieth child. I began to cough. My eyes watered and my nose ran into the pristine moustache, until a teacher had to intervene and suggest I took a comfort break. Poor little kids looked really worried but none seemed to notice that on my return, my voice had become less Churchillian and more Barbara Woodhouse.

Second: At the same time as I was dressed as F.C., Mavis was bemoaning the fact that she was expected to dress as a Pixie for her work as a sales assistant in ‘Wellies’ (No, she didn’t wear wellies, that is the name of the shop. I did tell you before).

On the few days before the big day, she went on the bus – in normal clothes, refusing to draw attention to herself, even though she would be wearing a coat.

During the course of one day, a small but articulate child accosted her.

‘Why aren’t you in the North Pole helping Santa?’ she demanded, clutching her father’s hand.

‘Well,’ replied Mavis, ‘I’m doing a bit of shopping for him.’

‘The child looked puzzled. ‘But you make all the presents…’

‘Ah,’ replied Mavis with lightning wit, ‘He has to buy some because of copyright.’

The father collapsed into guffaws.

I was rather proud of Mavis for this quick thinking.

Third: Nothing to do with my Christmas, but one of our bed and breakfast guests shared this experience over a beer one evening.

He had tickets for the World  Darts Championship – the semi-finals I think. It seems that it is de rigueur to dress up for these occasions and so he wore his faithful Santa hat. This was no ordinary hat, it was remote controlled. At the touch of a button, the top wagged from side to side in time to a Christmas tune. Over the years the tune had worn a bit thin so he had disconnected the sound, but the hat still flopped to left and right at his ‘digital’ command.

It seems that he and his son, took up a position near to a speaker. Every time the commentator yelled, ‘One hundred and eighteeee’, the vibration set off his hat so that it wagged from side to side in excitement. This guy is an engineer, not given to excitable outbursts, but clearly his alter-ego hat had other ideas.

Ooh, here’s the other funny thing: I received a tea towel from my brother and sister in law. I know, not that exciting but it’s very funny. If you don’t think it’s funny you are either too young or you should not be here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.simondrew.co.uk/

Simon Drew picked up a pencil. Simon Drew.