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1 - Woke around 7am feeling ok . . .another virus in my e-mail - someone from the old school is infected!! . . .everything seems ok out front, without any eggs or flour or damage thank goodness. Whole house smells of garlic! Drove Sally to the Avon at Hanham for walks and swims. Stopped off at the cheap shop to buy some strangely addictive chocolatey, orangey, Jaffa cake type things. Just missed the heavy rain . . . dissected the chicken and loaded up the freezer with five portion bags and the remaining roast potatoes. Six meals out of one large, reduced to 3.49 chicken - that's pretty good value! And enough bits and pieces left over for a decent meal for Sally this evening. :o) . . . touched base with M/D . . . PCd this . . . TVd. SO dark all day. . . fell asleep for a few hours . . . touched base with Sis1 . . . did chores . . . walked. Found a couple of stackable plastic crates dumped over the field? Ummd and ahhd and eventually ended up carrying them home!! May be useful for storing some stuff - if not I'll bin them. Difficult walk home with a dog and crates!! . . . PS popped round for chats till early. (4/10)s
2 - Walked in the rain. A pushbike (probably stolen) had been dumped over the field. SUCH a waste - had to be 99% all there and working. . . managed to muster the energy to do a little cementing. It's becoming very clear that the last lot I did, isn't drying out because of the terrible damp in that corner of the room!!! Uh oh. :o( . . .it rained and rained - and when it stopped raining it rained some more! . . . AA called to touch base from Papua New Guinea!!!!!!!!! She seems to be happy and doing fine - seems like a REAL scary part of the world to be in to me! Wasn't that Bali bomb that killed all those mostly Australian night clubers, not far from there? Funny how she's been on my mind of late - the last time I got in the sort of state I was in at the school reunion, was when a friend and I were invited over to her place for a meal. She’d cooked up an amazing spread, I shared a heavy smoke before we ate, and ended up getting SO ill I couldn’t eat a bite and just wanted to be left alone to die outside on her doorstep! MANY years ago!. . . IHB called to touch base and 'debrief' about the school reunion. As if I can remember much of it - and frankly what I can remember, embarasses me SO much I'll be happy when I soon forget! . . .BB called . . . fell alseep for a couple of hours . . . yet another awful night on TV. Phoned the cable company and had some channels put back on although had to phone them twice because they didn't appear the first time. Useless. . . walked. Rain had stopped. Loads of fireworks being let off all over the place - lots of people having their displays tonight rather than Tuesday. Experience suggests they probably will be every night for the next couple of weeks!!! Worrying walking with Sally although, with flashes and explosions all around, she doesn't seem to bat an eyelid? . Sat on the field bench in the dark having a cigarette, I became aware of what sounded like stones being thrown at either the school windows or the rugby clubhouse roof. Walking out of the field, a bunch of youths were acting all suspicious as I passed. It was OBVIOUS it was them. Only seconds after having passed them, they started once again throwing rocks at the windows!! What is one supposed to do? The Police don’t answer the phone and certainly wouldn’t consider THAT a 999 priority. Am I supposed to just ignore such stuff and walk away? I can’t – I just can’t!! Walked quickly back and saw a kid retreating from just having thrown his rock. He turned his back on me as I approached and carried on smoking his cigarette, hiding inside the pulled up hood of his jacket, pretending I didn’t exist. I grabbed the hood at the back of his neck and gave him a bit of a mouthful. I soon let him go and tried to reason with him but he said I shouldn’t have grabbed his neck and I’d hurt him and he could get someone who would knock me down!! Unbelievable arrogance!! So Dad was right when he suggested that these days such nasty out of control kids really DO know that they are absolutely untouchable no matter what they wish to do. Things calmed down a little and I tried desperately to reach his tiny mind and explain that he was too old for doing such stupid things. Sally was scared of the people! My legs were shaking loads!! :o) As I turned and walked away, thankfully all that was hurled at me was foul mouthed abuse. Stopped for sausage and chips takeway on the way home, as much to check to see if I was being followed, as anything else. . . PCd this . . . TVd/PCd till early. (4/10)ssd
3 - Woken by insistant Sally around 8am after only around 4 hours sleep!! . . . walked between showers. Couldn't help myself - had to wander over to the newly replaced school fence and have a look. At least three of the huge windows that clad the side of the sports hall have been smashed. Very depressing! :o( . . .PCd . . .slept for several hours . . . LB called enthusing over the plastering she's had done in her back bedroom. The whole room done (plastering over the existing) in a few hours and 170. Hmmm?. . heavy rain almost all day. Walked in the rain - field is very waterlogged. . .BB called . . . TVd. (4/10)as
4 - Up around 7:30am . . . walked – no rain but an absolutely waterlogged, muddy, puddle filled field. Being the busybody I have become I decided to knock on the door of a nearby house and let them know that one of their roof tiles had become dislodged. I could see the man of the house checking out the weirdo at the door from his window as I knocked, but he didn’t come to the door. Instead he went and got his wife who opened the inner door of their porch but wouldn’t open the outer door, so I ended up shouting through the glass!? She seemed thankful I’d told them – or maybe more thankful the weirdo with a dog was walking away!. . checked the forecast and no rain for some hours so decided to tend to the rainwater soak away in the front garden. The concrete of the front yard had separated from the edge of the soak away, so presumably all the rain water collected by the concrete is dumped into the gap, which must be saturating the ground around my living room wall. Cemented up the gap. The soak away is STILL full of the tiny roots of the old fir tree I cut down, and nothing I tried would shift them!!! Hmmm?. . . walked Sally up to the garage I didn’t know was there, that Sis1 had said she once used for her MOT. Found 7p along the way. The guy at the counter seemed ‘ok’ when he pointed out I didn’t want to bother with a service, until after the MOT had been successful. Made sense and gave me the confidence to book the car in – ‘what is the earliest you can do it?’ – ‘Tomorrow.’ – Wow that’ll do nicely. Walked Sally back via a nearby electrical store looking for some right angled pieces of conduit, to put on the pieces I’ve cemented in the wall for the cable and TV wires, to make sure the rain can’t seep in. Managed to get a couple (bit larger diameter but they’ll do) from the plumbing centre next door. Hmmm – maybe I should use plastic piping instead of electrical conduit – same stuff, slightly wider? . . popped into the local shop for milk. Lady behind the counter treated Sally to a large piece of best ham! She then mentioned she’d seen a German Shepherd several hours earlier that morning, up a side street on the other side of the busy main A420 road, running loose! Thank goodness I hadn’t seen it cause that would have preyed on my mind and pulled at my heart strings! Headed back towards home with Sally and milk, and lo and behold, there in the distance was a GSD running loose!!!! It saw us and ran off across the road and disappeared somehow! Wandered around looking in gardens but couldn’t see any sign of it. Dropped the milk off at home and then walked around the block and here and there but couldn’t find it. Dropped Sally off at home and jumped in the car with her lead, for a quick drive around the block, after which I thought I’d give up having done my best. Just down the road and up a side street I saw it!!! Swung the car round, parked up and leapt out. A young male and pretty skittish. It tried to run past me but I headed it off and scared it back up the street, which I knew was a cul-de-sac and would give it a better chance of not being killed by traffic. I followed and it ran into someone’s front garden and down the side of the house and disappeared into their back garden. Quickly banged on the door and hurriedly explain to whoever answered and was given permission to chase it through their garden, which they also confirmed had no way out. Excellent. Knelt down blocking the exit and talked nonsense in soothing tones for what seemed like ages and ages, trying to encourage the dog over to me! At last – at long last after several dummy runs where he got closer and closer only to run off and seek escape from the garden, he came over to me! Managed to get Sally’s lead over his head and I’d caught him!!! Couldn’t believe it. Excellent. But now what?!!!!!! He was a real youngster but seemed quite friendly despite the fact that he must have been scared and clearly someone had already taught him to fear being hit!!!! :o( Poor little woofer. Banged on the door of the house at the end of the street – the house of the woman who’d chatted to me in the street a couple of weeks back all about how she’d just got a new GSD. Could it be hers? No answer. No dog barking inside! Hmm? Persuaded the dog into the back of the car (by crawling in first!!!) and quickly drove back home and parked up. He seemed quite ok in the car, except that any sudden move of my hands, like reaching up to close the sun roof, would see him cower and shy away from me! I had to make phonecalls but didn’t want to leave him in the car just in case he decided to eat it. Shut poor old Sally out in the back garden and then retrieved the dog from the car and took him inside and introduced him to Sally’s water and food bowls! He wasn’t hungry. Felt a bit overwhelmed by the situation and didn’t feel happy about Sally being shut outside so decided to take the risk of introducing them to each other by slowly sliding the conservatory door open!!! With hindsight a stupid thing to do, but it didn’t go too badly at all. Ended up with two dogs running around the place!!!! Blimey – hardly enough room for me! Absolutely NO WAY am I gonna end up with two!! Sally was obviously ‘concerned’ and acted a bit clingy and at times stood guard by me and her water bowl, but she did REAL well. Only once did she put him in his place when she was sat guarding me and he wouldn’t leave her alone and started trying to climb on top of her. I think he may have fancied her!!! Called the ‘local’ police (only on hold for about five minutes this time) and was asked to deliver the dog to the station!! Alternatively they’d give me the number of the dogs home. Rang the dogs home but got an ansaphone message from an ansaphone that doesn’t take messages!!?? Madness! Figured I’d just drive on down there. Managed to separate Sally and shut her in the kitchen while I leashed up the dog and got it into the car. Left Sally all excited and confused at home and drove off with some other dog! Briefly stopped again at the womans house down the road just in case, but still no one there. While I was out of the car the dog somehow managed to climb over and sit in the passenger seat!! Some wrestling match to get it in the back!! At the dogs home I explained the situation and gave my details so they could fill out the necessary forms (Ref. MP112). A check with the scanner confirmed the dog was not chipped. In no time at all the dog was lead away to a kennel (heart wrenching!) and Sally’s lead was returned to me. I felt REALLY guilty in case the woman at the counter thought that it was maybe my dog, and I was just getting rid of it!!! Felt SO guilty I engaged in some ridiculous conversation deliberately mentioning Sally dog, etc. Considering how easy it was to just hand over a dog like that into ‘care’, it seems all the more inexcusable when people just abandon their dogs – or worse!! No excuse AT ALL! On the way out I couldn’t help asking if they remembered the GSD called Caesar and what had become of him. They DID remember him – he’d been successfully re-homed and was happy. Excellent. :o) . . . back home, couldn’t resist apologising to Sally for having ‘worried’ her like that, and gave her as much corned beef as I had for dinner. . . touched base with M/D . . . PCd this. Wow - what an unpleasant/weird entry in my visitor book!? Just a nutcase or maybe a response to me reporting to appropriate ISPs, receipt of one of those 'abuse' type e-mails from (jimmyani7@mail.com) 'MR.JIMMY ANI, THE EASTERN DISTRICT BANK MANAGER OF UNITED BANK FOR AFRICA PLC.' where he wants to give lucky me a share of $26 million? Hmmm - maybe I could use a shower! :o) Joking aside, it does make me 'vulnerable' doing this website - I AM taking a risk. :o| . . .touched base with BB . . . walked in the fireworks. Some idiot actually putting on his own private display in the rugby field!! . . . TVd/PCd till late adding stuff to the school site. Weird day. (4/10)
5 - Fitful sleep and ended up waking up around 2:30am needing food!! Finally managed to get back to sleep around 3:30am! . . . up with the alarm around 7:15am . . .emptied the car of everything and then drove with Sally up to the garage. Dropped the car off and then walked back via the field. . . sat 'waiting' - which is of course what I am absolutely worst at - well - that and being content and happy of course!! At last the phone rang and - uh oh - the car had failed the MOT!!!!!!!!! On a rear seatbelt!???? On a bloody rear seat belt? For goodness sake!!!! That slight nick in the belt has been through at least the last four MOTs without a problem! The moment I take ownership of the car I have to fork out for a replacement!! Jeeze! Infuriating! Told them to just get one and do it all and carry on with the service. What else could I do? They said they'd call at 4:30pm to tell me the latest, so I set about sitting about waiting all day. Tried sleeping but couldn't. Sat around uptight for hours not able to do anything else. . Touched base with M/D - they were watching a squirrel sat on their fence having a go at the nuts in the birdfeeder. Cool. Dad'd had a bit of a funny lightheaded turn in bed this morning when he moved his head to one side quickly!! Sounded real familiar - I occasionaly get that when I have been 'lying down' in my chair, watching TV for ages and then leap up to go make coffee or some such. Dad was convinced that where he'd had the tumor removed, there was free play, and his brain was able to slosh around if he moved too quick!! 'Shaken Daddy Syndrome'?! :o\ . . PCd wasting time until just before 3pm. Turned all the phone ringers and ansaphone volume up high, set the alarm and eventually managed to fall asleep for an hour or so . . 4:30 came and went - waited till 5pm then called the garage asking what the score was. They said they'd been trying to get hold of me all day (not true - not since 3pm at least!) because the car was ready around midday although they'd been unable to get hold of a new seat belt, so the car had failed the MOT, although the service had been done. They said I should bring the car back in tomorrow, or better still Thursday, by which time they hoped that Ford would have come up with a seat belt for them!!! . . . angrily walked Sally up to pick up the car. Paid the 175.43 for the service and failed MOT. The seat belt will be around another 50 fitted!!!!!! And if they can't get one, in two weeks my MOT runs out and I wont be able to legally drive the car!!! Rediculous!!!!!!! Very hard not to get really angry with the service guy, but I guess he's just doin his job. God I wish I had a garage and could start doin all this stuff myself - it's just impossible parked out in the street. So much easier with a bike. . . drove home and had a quick look under the bonnet at the new spark plugs and clean looking oil on the dipstick, just in case it wasn't!! . . . walked Sally early around 6am, as the mayhem of Bonfire night flashed and exploded all around. Sally didn't seem to notice at all!? Funny how such stuff is so ok, and yet people are scary. I understand her quite a bit!! :o) Found 5p . . .touched base with BB/M/D . . . TVd the day away. Early to bed around 11pm, despite the fireworks still exploding all around! (4/10)s
6 - Up before 7:30am. Walked in the torrential rain. Unseasonably mild. Found 24p . . .SO dark again - need the lights on in the house ALL day!! Everything seems to be damp! Can't be good for Sally to be permanantly wet and muddy!! . . . balanced my battered accounts and transferred money out of my shrinking savings to cover the car bill!! . . .surfed a bit and then got completely engrossed in modifying the School site using frames and a 'borrowed' javascript drop down navigation box. Played ALL day without a break until gone 7pm!!!!!! Need food!!!!! Not sure if it'll do but it sure seems a lot better to me in terms of how it is laid out, and it corrects the damn counter being hit multiple times by each visitor! Need someone to test it all!! . . .Bb called . . . PS called saying 'tonight?' . . . walked. Found 3p. Stopped off for a kebab takeaway . . . PS popped round for chats till early. . .TVd/PCd till earlier! (4/10)sa
7 - Woken by insistant Sally after only about 4 hours sleep. Gosh - it isn't raining. . .drove to the river Avon at Hanham for walks. River was real high - towpath was underwater in places although still just passable. . . stopped off at Asda on the way home to buy mostly tins of dog food . . .Ate and then lay down to nap, but the car fiasco and the seatbelt, and the absence of a phone call from the garage preyed on my mind. Decided to have a go at removing the seatbelt, dissecting it all, cutting off the broken bit and then sewing it all back up so that it would look like a new one, only a hidden foot or so shorter on the spool. Actually all went ok and I was just tacking back on the official makers label when the phone rang. The garage calling to say the new seat belt had arrived. They said they couldn’t do anything today so I said I’d pick it up and fit it myself, assuming a quick glance by the mechanic would mean I could have my MOT. Not so fast – for some inexplicable reason (the hours lapsed since the last MOT?), the mechanic told me they would have to do another FULL test!!!???? Absolutely absurd!!! Ridiculous!!!! This couldn’t be done until at least tomorrow – they’d let me have the seat belt today and I could pay for it tomorrow when I got the MOT! Huh? I bet, I just BET they are gonna charge me for another full MOT, and there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it! . . Fumed! . . raced up and picked up the seat belt (43.37 !!!!!!!!!!!!! Drop the car in at midday tomorrow) and raced home and eventually (after at least an hour) managed to fit it, despite the awkward slightly stripped bolt I ended up with! Grrrrr! . . . lay down to try and nap and BB called to touch base . . . gave up trying to nap, TVd and ate defrosted roast chicken dinner . . . Sis1 called saying she was planning to go visit M/D again pretty soon. Some discussion about our mutual feelings of guilt about not visiting particularly often. I haven't been for over a month now - and frankly nor do I wish to - but probably will pretty soon after the car MOT fiasco is over and done with! I would have visited this week if not for all that! Strangely plunged into feeling pretty miserable after her call!?? . . . CC called to touch base . . . walked. Found 5p. I'd rather not admit this next bit - but I guess if I'm gonna be true to this journal, warts and all, I may as well! :o( . . Walking around the field there were the sounds of a car being driven like on a race track all around the area. Wheel spins, screeching of tyres, wildly revving engine at speed, etc, etc. As I was leaving the field, the car raced at speed up the street that is supposed to be no entry except for emergency vehicles, through the bollards across the path I take, and then raced wildly out of sight. Not far away I could hear screeching of tyres, handbrake turns, wheelspins, etc. before the overrevving of the engine announced it's return to where I was crossing the no entry road. Surely on the edge of control, it drove at speed through the bollards and down that road, only feet from me!! SO angered was I by being SO often subjected to this sort of thing in the area that I pulled out my camera and grabbed a photo as they passed! What was I thinking???!!!!! Bit obvious when the flash gun went off!!!Mindless idiots Inevitably the roaring of the engine and wheelspins in the distance announced the fact they they were of course returning!! They caught up with me by the chip shop and the two guys inside leapt out and came across the street, all agressive, demanding to know why I was taking a photograph of them. Discretion being the better part of valour (or was it cowardice realising how utterly foolhardy I had been in my anger and outrage), and my legs as always shaking like a leaf with the sickening surge of adrenalin, I ridiculously denied all knowledge of what they were talking about, repeatedly said they were mistaken, and told them to leave me alone, as I walked away!! Amazingly, thankfully, eventually, after a bit of threatening abuse,- they did! Guess I live to flash another day!! I 'lost it' this evening. I lost it big time. All these 'little' lawless, antisocial things I keep getting exposed to, are turning me into a nut! I loath the person I am being turned into, by it all. Once again that film 'Falling Down' springs painfully to mind - and especially that question he asks near the end -"You mean I'm the badguy?" :o( . . . PCd this . . .M/D called to touch base . . . TVd(3/10)a
8 - Up around 8am after a full eight hours sleep . . . walked in the rain. I think I have a hole in the bottom of my wellington boots - muddy sock! . . . PCd and started working on a new picture of the old school badge for the school website, just wasting time waiting for midday . . . drove with Sally to the garage. Yippee - confirmed tht the retest WOULD be free. Told to return in an hour. Walked with Sally in the pouring rain to the building society to draw out the money to pay for the seatbelt. Sat around in Kingswood shopping precinct whiling away the hour. Just my luck - got 'picked on' by a weird old woman and had to chat for ages. Really wanted her to leave me alone but couldn't be 'too' rude. Wouldn't have been quite so bad if it wasn't for the fact that she had a weird Scottish accent I couldn't understand, and seemed to talk VERY loudly. Most of the time I was just agreeing and saying yes when I couldn't understand a word she was saying. And whatever it was, she was saying, was said SO loud it echoed all around and everyone for some distance was looking!!!!!! Arrrrgggghhh! Eventually escaped and returned a bit early through the now torrential rain to the garage. All ok and ready. Paid for the seatbelt, got my MOT and was outa there. Oh what a relief that is all over for another year and I am no longer at 'someones mercy'!! Celebrated by falling asleep all afternoon! . . . walked. Everything very waterlogged but rain had stopped for a bit. The number of fireworks exploding all around seems to be calming down a bit. Kept my head down and tried to ignore everything and not get upset by anything, including the guy urinating in the field!. . PCd this . . .BB called and confirmed that she had confirmation of her flight, just after Christmas!!!!!!! She really IS gonna come visit!!! Ooooooer!!! Worry, worry, worry (and that is an understatement!) :o) . . . . TVd/PCd till early spending a ridiculous amount of time drawing up a new large high res old school badge for the school site. (3/10)a
9 - Up around 7:30am after only about four hours sleep! . . .briefly messed around on the PC trying to animate the school badge flame! Silly. . . . walked in the rain and the mud. Can't remember the last time Sally was dry and clean for any length of time - can't be good for her! . . . touched base with Sis1 and asked her to bring the old broken vaccuum I'm gonna have a look at, back from M/Ds when she comes . . .rain stopped for a good part of the day. Lots of flood warnings on TV!! . . Finally bit the bullet and managed to overcome the mental block that has been stopping me from continuing with the living room building site - the 'block' was the fact that the next stage of operations meant taking down the curtains and nets, and having to leave them down until everything is finished, which at the rate I'm going could be months! I can't live without curtains - can't stand the thought of passers by being able to look in!!!! . . chiselled off all the old cement and dusty render along almost the entire length of the wall and filled at least three sacks with rubble and dust! Chased out lots of the dust mortar and then repointed with good cement all the bricks up one side of the bay window. I figure I need to 'firm' everything up and get at least an 'average level' across everything, before I can attempt to fix any of the angle edging prior to a main rendering. Managed to keep working, not daring to stop for sleep inducing food, from 10am until around 6pm before stopping to de-dust and clean up. (Feel like I am now under a bit of pressure - I owe it to BB to try and make things 'at least' a little more habitable before she comes to stay!!! Worry, worry, worry!) Sticky taped some old woodchip wallpaper over the windows so no one can see in!! Last time I see the light of day in there for a few months, although it does let a little dim light through during the day. M/D/Sis1 called in the middle of things talking about some second hand fold up bed they'd seen advertised they thought would be ok for me in their garage when I visit!? I got a little short tempered - I thought the whole point of buying that mattress the last time I was there, was to end that folding bed obsession of theirs! . . . walked in the torrential rain . . . BB called . . .finally ate then TVd/PCd till early. Yayyy - in response to my e-mail, my website ISP has succeeded in resetting my hit counter back to something approaching reality. (4/10)as
10 - Woken late by Sally after only around 5 hours sleep . . . walked in the drizzle and mud . . .PCd this and tweaked the school site . . .ended up sitting around doing nothing all day . . . lay down to nap and M/D called to touch base and say Sis1 had just left with the vacuum and would be dropping it in on her way home, together with Dad's watch which he can no longer use. Lay down to nap and Sis1 called saying the same thing! Eventually managed to grab a quick couple of hours sleep before Sis1 arrived and woke me. She was in the usual 'uptight' state after an M/D visit and confirmed that Dad is definitely deteriorating - more 'confused' and less able to walk any distance!! . . . BB called . . . walked . . . PS popped round for chats till early.(4/10)as
11 - Woken by Sally around 8am . . .walked . . . cemented, building the window ledge back up. . .filled the car up with all the sacks of rubble/dust that I've been accumulating in the garden and set off for the council tip. The car felt really weird and heavy on the steering but I just put it down to the extra weight in the back. By the time I reached the ring road with all its fast curves and roundabaouts, and having nearly left the road at one point, I figured there was a problem with the steering!!!! Oh NO!!! Why oh why is there ALWAYS ongoing problems whenever I have to MOT a car and surrender it into the clutches of mechanics! May as well write them a blank cheque!!! . . Dumped the rubbish and drove home swerving about and gripping the steering wheel with iron fists! The problem seemed to come and go (when you least expected it!!) and seemed to be like the steering was actually 'sticking'. Let go of the steering wheel in a turn, and it wouldn't swing back to centre like it should! Returned home feeling like crying! Grabbed a coffee and then went for another test drive jus to make sure it was a permanent intermitant problem. It was. Drove back to the garage convinced that they had 'done something' during the service/MOT. My none too subtle suggestion that this was the case didn't go down too well with the garage guy and he started getting funny and telling me to leave if that was my attitude!! Managed to salvage the situation - just. He was adamant that the steering problem was nothing they had done and the timing of it was just 'a coincedence'. Funny how I ALWAYS get such coincedences whenever I have to put a car in a mechanics hands!! They said it was probably the steering column universal joint, which goes regularly on that type of car, and they could fit me in tomorrow at mid day to have a look at it!!!! Here we go again. Agreed and returned home feeling really tearful. . . had a look under the bonnet and confirmed I could get a socket set onto the clamp bolts of the UJ and could 'maybe' do the job myself but thought better of it since it was raining, it might not be that, I didn't really know anything about it, and steering is pretty important safety-wise . . .touched base with M/D and despairingly told them the news and confirmed I wont be visiting them for a while yet! . . .CC left an ansaphone message confirming she'd got copies of more photos from the school reunion and she would be e-mailing them to me later . . . sat around feeling miserable and 'at the mercy of vultures' . . . left Sally at home and carefully drove the car (wow it makes my arms and wrists ache! Wish I had powered steering. If I had powered steering how would I ever know there was such a problem - cause it would power through it wouldn't it???) down to the DIY store and stocked up with cement/sand/angle bead, etc. . . lay down to nap for a while. Woken within an hour by BB calling . . . IHB called and confirmed he'd had his photos back from the school reunion . . . walked . . . left Sally at home and drove to IHBs for a quick coffee and chats and to pick up the photos. Stopped off at Miss Millies for a chicken meal takeaway on the way home . . .PCd until gone 2am receiving e-mails/ scanning/ cropping/ enhancing/ resizing/ uploading (took about an hour on my slow dial up! !) to the school site, class of 78 reunion page. Ended up chatting on MSN to CC till gone 3am!!! . . .fitful sleep and woke around 5am needing food!!? Three bowls of cornflakes and then back to bed.(4/10)a
12 - Woken by Sally around 9am feeling awful!! . . . walked late between rain showers. Found 2p . . . PCd this . . .left Sally at home and dropped the car off at the garage. Drew yet more money out of the building society, shopped and walked home. Apparantly in my abscence Sally had been sleeping in my chair! COVERED in mud!!!! . . . Sat around 'waiting' and fighting real hard the desire to be asleep! Around 2:30pm the garage called and said the joint had been replaced and the car was good to be picked up. Walked Sally up to the garage. The mechanic showed me the universal joint that he said he'd taken off the car and it was definitely no good. Paid the 37.44 and then laboriously offered my apologies about my attitude yesterday and tried to explain why (the fiasco with the car and the Ford mechanics last year). All ended ok with handshakes with the boss, and him saying if I have any problems just pop right back. Drove off and stopped just down the road to have a quick look under the bonnet at the shiney new joint. Took a long diversion and drove all around the ring road on the way home to check that everything seemed ok. The steering seems heavier but maybe that'll ease as the joint wears in. Uh oh - wouldn't you know it!!!! The bloody mechanic didn't centre the steering wheel properly before fitting the joint on it's splines and now the steering wheel isn't straight when the wheels are!!! Only a cosmetic thing I guess but that's gonna irritate the hell out of me!!! Drove home and removed the steering wheel but no way will it allow the small amount of adjustment that is necessary - it needs to be done on the other end of the steering column where the universal joint is!!! Oh well - gonna just put up with it. NO WAY am I taking it back, yet again, just for that!! Why are workmen these days, frankly rubbish? Grrrrrr . . .touched base with BB . . . fell asleep at last for a couple of hours . . .walked . . . briefly popped up LBs to have a quick look at her cable TV box. Definitely broken! Checked out the plastering she'd had done in her back bedroom - nice job - plastering really is a skillfull art - but why didn't she finish all the little flaws vefore painting it all?? . . . did chores . . . TVd/PCd till early. I don't feel quite right and think I may be fighting off a virus - that or I've been smoking too much and inhaling too much cement dust/drying cement damp atmosphere!!!! . . . Updates on a few things - the old guy down the road who's phone was audible in the street via his door intercom - the one who looked SO ill I thought he wouldn't last long - he is no longer living in the house. The dog I found was NOT that of the chatty woman down the road - I saw her this evening with hers. The accident that had happened on the main road the other week WAS a fatality - apparantly a moped rider had overtaken a lorry but didn't have the power to complete the manouver, hit an oncoming vehicle, and went under the wheels of the lorry! The house that had the loose roof tile has fixed it. (4/10)a
13 - Woken by Sally around 8:45am - still feeling pretty unwell! . . . no rain so drove Sally in the car for walks along the River Frome at Snuff Mills. One thing about the wonky steering wheel I'd not thought of - it means the damn indicators don't self cancel as they should!!!! Oh NO - I can't put up with that!!!!! . . . back home, had a look at the old UJ the garage had given me to see how much hassle it would be to adjust it. Examination confirmed it'll have to be actually taken right off to adjust it!!!! Grrrrrrr!!!! Popped the steering wheel back off and put it back exactly as it had been returned to me yesterday and then, leaving Sally at home, drove back up the garage -AGAIN!!! Left the car and walked back home for a bite to eat and then a lay down to try and shift my headache. Managed a couple of hours sleep but woke feeling as bad or worse!! Around 2:45pm the garage called to say the car was ready - just as the heavens opened and TORRENTIAL rain poured!! Walked back up the garage with Sally, getting soaked. Actually stopped here and there on the way up, to kick away dams of leaves that had built up around a couple of the storm drains. Amazing amounts of water flowing down the hills like rivers!! Gonna be more floods for sure! That'll go down well with the 48 hour Firemens strike that starts tonight! Picked the car up - being the perfectionist I am, if I was the mechanic I think I would have moved the steering just another notch on the spline - although I'm now being SO sensitive to where the steering wheel is pointing, I can't really recall how accurate it was before they touched it! It'll have to do. . returned home to be a bit sick! . . PCd this. God my head/neck aches! Definitely got a bug of some sort . . .another wasted day! . . .TVd . . . started to feel a bit better as the evening wore on, as seems so often the case with me? . . .watched the local news about the firemen's strike. They were running a phone in poll about whether or not the viewing public supported the strike. I do not. Claiming a 40% pay increase in one year, no matter what you do, is outrageous and smacks of pure greed to me!! I phoned in and registered myself as one of the 70% who did NOT support it - people are bound to die!! . . . BB called . . . terrible weather forecast with floods again for the next few days!! . . . walked and miraculously seemed to end up in a bit of a lull in the weather. I guessed it was inevitable what with the firemen being on strike and the mindless idiots that seem to live round here - saw lots of smoke rising in the distance and figured it was maybe worth a look. Ignoring the idiot on a moped intent on completely destroying the rugby field by ploughing backwards and forwards across it in the deep mud with his throttle wound wide open, I detoured with Sally on the way home. What was presumably a stolen car had been crashed into a fence by the allotments near the high rise flats, and had been set on fire. The first night of the firemen's strike!What was most worrying was that it must have taken me at least ten minutes to walk there from the middle of the field, and yet there was no sign of ANY of the emergency cover army 'Green Goddess' fire appliances, and worse still, no police!!! Quite an audience of people was all around, stood huddled in the rain and in doorways and watching from living room windows!!! Felt scary - like anarchy rules!!! Snapped a couple of photos from a 'safe' distance and headed home, despairing! Weird thing was, to get home I had to pass the fire station - at least 20 or more firemen were all stood around outside with placards ("Honk if you support the strike") manning their picket line!!!!!!! I couldn't resist going over and asking a group of them, which one of them had set the car on fire only a few hundred yards down the street. From their reaction they didn't even know it was there, and the look on some of their faces clearly showed misgivings about doing nothing. Stopped off in the chip shop for sausage and chips takeaway on the way home - gotta eat and dont feel up to 'labouring' in the kitchen, not even a little bit . . . PCd this and managed a poor animation out of the pics . . .touched base with M/D . . . TVd . . . BB called . . . to bed around midnight. LOTS of rain! (3/10)aaa
14 - Up around 8:30am after a full nights sleep . . .walked in a dry spell and found 8p along the way . . .phoned the dogs home and enquired about the stray I found last week - it was claimed by someone local, the very next day. . .popped round the post office to post a card to JB/BB only to find the place closed because they were having difficulty getting hold of the money?? I know that feeling!! Walked to another. . .got chatting to the old lady down the road who's had a heart attack and who strangely asked me if I had enough towels! She has a soft spot for Sally and was in the know that big wet dog = lots of towels for wiping down after walks. I currently use two, out in the conservatory, which are ALWAYS wet and ALWAYS muddy!!! She rushed upstairs and got me two (one of which is actually better than those I use on myself, so I may have to deprive Sally of that one!). The effort made her breathless and I had visions of her having another heart attack on my account!!! She recovered and I departed after offering suitable thanks. Nice. :o) . . . briefly dabbled with a bit of wall but gave up within minutes and ended up TV/PCing the afternoon away. Still don't feel 'right' but certainly better than yesterdays worst . . . BB called . . . walked. Actually didn't rain here today and the night was part starry and quite pleasant. Quite a lot of cars passing the firestation blowing their horns in support. Ok, ok - I'm a miserable old git, but if I lived opposite the firestation and had to endure that noise all day, and night, I'd be thinking about setting fire to the firestation just to get some peace and quiet!!!! . . .touched base with M/D . . . PS popped round for chats till early. PCd till earlier! (4/10)a
15 - Woken by Sally around 8:45am! . . .'Never mind the flood - is that a squirrel?''I'll just lie down here for a bit.'actually quite nice out so thought I'd better drive Sally to the River Avon at Hanham for walks to see how high the river was - flood warnings for the Avon on the news last night! . . . it WAS high. Not the highest I've seen, but pretty close, and at least three or four times its normal width - Beeses tea gardens (which appears to be for sale) was 'as usual' partially underwater!! Couldn't walk my usual walk along the tow path, so had to explore a new higher route through the woods, occasionaly having to shout at Sally to stop her running down and swimming in the treacherous fast flowing waters. Scary stuff. . .cemented a bit more of the living room wall . . . slept for an hour or two until woken by BB calling . . . walked. Found 2p. Once again, people were messing around in the school grounds and from the sound of it trying to break something - must be an almost nightly occurance - no wonder the education authority never has enough money!! . . . spent the rest of the day just sat in front the TV, still not feeling 'right'?! Not even sure just exactly what isn't right - feel kinda mildly disorientated as though I've had a drink or something!! Weird? . . . to bed around 12:30am (4/10)a
16 - Up around 8am . . .walked. Found 2p. . .masonary nailed and then cemented some of the angle bead onto the wall edges near the bay window. Feels like making progress, although not much! . . . tidied up, ate, and resisting the urge to sleep, had a look at the 'broken' vacuum cleaner that M/D had sent up for me to try and get going. Took it apart and discovered it was just a sticking nylon lever that actuates a cut off switch - cleaned it and oiled it and hey presto, all working again. Called M/D to report but no answer. Took my own vacuum apart and shook out the bits of broken plastic surround that have been making it difficult to press the on/off switch. Can't 'repair' it but it should keep working ok for the forseeable future. Called M/D again intending to leave an ansaphone message and Dad answered all in a fluster and sounding a bit confused!!? Apparantly Mum was out in the garden tidying up fallen leaves and he was napping in the living room. He'd been woken by my call and had tried to answer the phone the first time but had somehow failed and had also failed to do a 'last caller redial', as he would normally have done!!!? He sounded upset and confused!!!!! He said he'd go get Mum, so they both called me back for brief chats and 'Oh good's about the vacuum which I 'played' to them down the phone. They admitted to me that the last time Dad had walked round the local shop with Mum, he'd run out of steam on the way back because of the increasing loss of strength in his legs. A passing car even pulled over offering assistance!!!! (still decent people and a sense of 'community' in that neighborhood.) Blimey - he must have been in a bad way!!! Uncomfortable conversation with Dad being mostly quiet, but Mum agreed that he wouldn't be walking around like that any more!!! Jeeze - that makes him 'almost' housebound now!!! I mentioned wheelchairs, but of course with all the hills where they live that is out of the question! Dabbled with the idea of an electric wheelchair, but Dad's 'perception problems' make independant mobility impossible anyway!!!! There is nothing to be done. Made me feel SO guilty about how overdue a visit by me is! Gonna have to be REAL soon! . . . BB called to touch base . . . managed to muster the energy to hardly stop all day and ended up doing house chores - washed the curtains from the living room so I can put them away from all the dust in a cupboard until I finish all the works and have fitted some means of putting them back up!! Gonna be ages!!!! Poor BB doesn't know what she is letting herself in for, coming to stay with everything in such a state!! Oh dear!!!! . . .walked . . . TVd . . . M/D called (Dad sounded much better than earlier) and announced they had transfered some money into my account, as they had done Sis1, to make everything fair, because they were funding Sis2s Christmas trip home. Nice one - that takes care of all the recent car bills then, but frankly I'd rather they spent the money on themselves, and as usual, told them so!! :o\ . . . TVd . . . LB popped in briefly for drunken 'chats'! . . . TVd/PCd till ridiculously early!! (4/10)as
17 - Woken by Sally after only about four hours sleep!! Uggh! . . . walked . . . PCd this . . . ate and then fell asleep all afternoon . . . TVd/sat around, feeling really not too good. . . touched base with BB . . . walked - brrrrr! Only around 2 degrees celcius tonight - put the central heating on for a bit . . . TVd. (4/10)aa
18 - Up early around 7:30am . . . walked . . . cleaned up, sorted the car out putting all the screen wipes and such back in that I’d removed for the service etc. A package in the post? Huh? A gift wrapped birthday present from Amazon.co.uk!!???? A book, “The Other End Of The Leash” by Patricia B. McConnell, P.H.D.????? Cool :o) - but who on earth sent it?? No indication at all??? Hmmm? I suspect I know who. :o) Maybe I’ll be able to track down a reference number or something when I get on line? It’ll have to wait till I get back. . decided to take the laptop down with me and show M/D the photos from my journal of the dog I found and such. Wasted ages copying over files via floppy! Will have to reinstate the network cards at some point. . eventually loaded up the car with my stuff and the vacuum cleaner I’d fixed, and was on the road much later than I’d wanted, around midday. Actually clear and sunny out and it felt good to be on the road wearing sunglasses and away from the building site living room. A clear run down but as I headed south west towards M/Ds I descended into miserable grey under a cloudy sky. Seemed kinda metaphorical!! :o( Arrived at M/Ds around 2pm. M&D both came out just onto their drive to say hello and make a fuss of waggy tailed Sally, but it was instantly clear that Dad was VERY unstable on his feet!!! Wow – what a difference to the last time I was down – shocking despite Sis1s warnings. . settled Sally into the garage and recovered from the drive with coffee and chats. 'Half reluctantly' accepted the petrol money already laying on the table for me!! Agreed, because it was so much later than I had intended, that I’d stay the night. Mum insisted that the mattress and sleeping bag should be brought in from the garage for an airing and a drying, so at some point she and I carried it all in. Awkward when Dad kept on insisting that he would do it, because he didn’t want Mum struggling and carrying such a big awkward load - ridiculous because he couldn’t hardly even stand without assistance, let alone start walking about carrying stuff!!! . . at some point Mum put one of the dining table chairs in front of the garden window so that Dad could sit there and watch as I played a bit with Sally in the garden. He made a pathetic figure sat there!! Gulp! . . the little details of their lives still seem to have such importance for them and I had to have a look at the broken fastener on the bottom of the kitchen unit under the stove and promise to take it away and try and get a replacement! . . . eventually decided that we’d all go out for a bit of a drive (I figured they could both simply use a bit of a change of scenery) before heading somewhere for a meal. Wow – Dad really has declined in the last couple of weeks. The struggle to help him walk the few yards from the house and get into the car on the driveway made the decline painfully clear!!! He seems hardly able to walk at all!!!! Gulp! All drove with Sally down into Brixham and parked up in a no parking area to let Mum leap out and check what time the favorite restaurant closes. Uh oh – it closes within the hour and it was full of people! Usual ‘can’t make a decision’ debate about what we should do – ended up heading back to M/Ds with the intention of dumping Sally in the garage and then racing back down to the restaurant. Just pulling up outside M/Ds and Mum suggested we should drive to Paignton and try the pub/restaurant on the sea front which we hadn’t been to for a while, where we knew we could tie Sally up safely outside the window right next to where we eat. Drove to Paignton and thankfully managed to get a parking spot right next to the path that leads to the pub doorway. Left Sally in the car and with some considerable difficulty manhandled Dad the short distance down the path and into the pub. Ended up being a jolly nice meal – all had some chicken breast thing smothered in mushrooms and onions and such and all still sizzling on a red hot metal skillet plate thing! No complaints about the food being cold this time. Mum cut up all of Dads into bite sized chunks before she started on hers, and we had to ask for a dessert spoon for Dad to use. He managed ok without putting ‘too’ much on the table and his lap – he still has an appetite despite having found all of his tastes have changed since the surgery. . eventually back to let Sally out of the car – all sat on a nearby seat and Mum gave Sally the bits of chicken, mushrooms, onion rings etc she’d not eaten, that I’d sneaked out in a plastic bag wrapped in a serviette. Left M/D sat and Gave Sally a very brief run along the beach – very bouncy dog. All back in the car and headed home. Helped Mum get Dad indoors and then headed straight out with Sally to Battery Gardens for her walk. VERY pitch black and breezy. Uh oh – Sally didn’t poop!? Oh no – she must have gone on the beach without me spotting it!! Guilty! . . walked Sally back and unusually toyed with the idea of popping in the local dog friendly pub. Wouldn’t DREAM of doing such a thing near where I live but down there it is just SO much friendlier. Couldn’t make my mind up, so figured I’d let Sally decide. Sure enough, as we passed the pub she pulled on her lead to go in!!! How weird – she’s only ever been in there a couple of times, SO many months before, and yet she remembered. ‘Usual’ oohs and ahhhs at pretty Sally from a couple of people as I walked in but I resisted attempts to start a conversation – ordered a half a pint of lager and when offered different types, said to the barmaid “whatever you suggest “ (cause it all tastes pretty much the same and none too nice to me!). She offered two types, one stronger than the other. I said I’d have the weakest ‘cause I’m a lightweight’! The barmaid reached under the bar and produced a chewy thing for Sally! Dog friendly pub. :o) Sat in a quiet corner with Sally and sipped and smoked and thought about M/D. Decided to text a message on the mobile to keep Sis1 informed of things and said I was down visiting and Dad was very wobbly. Embarrassing when Sis1 replied immediately and my phone went BEEP, BEEP, BEEP attracting everyone’s attention!! Ended up calling her back and having a quick hushed conversation. Eventually back to the garage to feed Sally. Left her out there listening to the radio and joined M/D inside for coffee, chats and TV. I’d missed Sis2 calling to say hello so we all sat on different phones and all called her back. Oh dear! Oh dear, oh dear!!!!! She was in a bad way. Her house is in a derelict, unlivable, unfinished mess – a surveyor has confirmed that what the building company are doing to solve her ‘flooding’ problem is totally inappropriate – she is still having to live in a hotel room although has to return to the house from time to time to get clothes and such from her belongings that are piled up all over the place, and to try and do laundry and such – she still has to pay her mortgage on a house that is now worthless - she desperately needs to put all her belongings safely away in storage but hasn’t the time or energy to do it, what with working at her loathsome teaching job seven days (with the homework) a week – nothing seems to be getting sorted and she can’t demand anything of the building company because it is all now in the hands of the lawyer who she can’t afford to pay – she wants to return home and spend some precious time with Dad (she intends to around Christmas and may extend her time here whatever the consequences!!)– etc, etc, etc!!!!!!! It’s all a big disastrous catch 22 nightmare and she is SO close to a REAL nervous breakdown, it’s scary! We all talked for about an hour, going round and round and round her options but there was no way we could see any way out – except perhaps for just walking away from everything and fleeing back to England, bankrupt and broken, with nothing to show for her lifetime of pursuit of her ever elusive ‘American dream’!!!!! Dreadful situation, the anxiety and frustration of which is torturing M/D!!!!!!!! The last thing they need right now!!!! ARRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!! Eventually asked to have a word with Sis2 on my own, and I let her know how it appeared Dad had declined. That of course didn’t help at all and we said our goodbyes through her tears! . . replayed the ludicrous argument with Dad about him wanting to help, and left him sat in front the TV and struggled with Mum back out to the garage with the mattress. Set up my sleeping place (Sally thought it was comfy!) and, on our own, managed a bit of a ‘heavy’ conversation with Mum about the situation and things. She admitted it was hard and she was VERY tired. She said that Dad’s recent decline over the last couple of weeks was not only in his mobility but was also in his mental state with evidence of much greater confusion and lack of memory etc. Despite the pieces of paper she’d attached to each of the doors in the hallway labeling which room was which, she would wake in the night to find Dad attempting to find the bathroom, but wandering around lost in the living room! She agreed that despite the hardships and emotional torment, the last year of ‘borrowed time’ had been vital for her in her preparations for and acceptance of the loss which she would face – if Dad had died last year (this Thursday is the anniversary of his surgery – this time last year we were doing daily trips to Derriford Hospital!) she wouldn’t have been able to handle it at all. She admitted to my prompting, that things have now reached a point where when Dad does die, it WILL be something of a relief, to them both. (Mum dotes on Dad – she cares for his every need, his every infuriatingly irritating beck and call, 24+ hours a day!) Dad is no longer the man she has known all these years – in the future when she is able to, she said she will watch the videos I took of him around the time he retired, and remember him as he was then. She confirmed she had her own questions about how things will end, for the McMillan nurse but had been unable to ask them since whenever she speaks with the nurse Dad is present too. I said I’d take a note of the nurses phone number and try and get in touch at some point when I go home, to ask in general terms without breaching patient confidentiality, how such patients ultimately end their days. It was a ‘GOOD’ conversation which went a LONG way to making me feel much better about everything. Eventually rejoined Dad in front the TV, feeling guilty about talking behind his back for so long, but he wasn’t really aware of how long we’d been gone. Eventually returned to the cold of the garage and Sally (asleep on MY bed!) around 11pm. Real cold and windy out! (4/10)aa
19 - Up around 6:30 feeling a bit cold! Knew I should have brought down the cold weather sleeping bag!! Popped in for bathroom and coffee. Came-to in the garage with coffee, cigarettes and Annadin tablet. Walked around 7:30am and took Sally down ‘Pooh Lane’, through the woods to Churston Cove for a quick paddle. Overcast grey and breezy. On round to Fishcombe Cove for some serious stick throwing and swimming. Funny how Sally is more inclined to swim out of her depth when the stick is big enough to be worth it. Quite impressed how she swam straight out bobbing in the waves to retrieve the big two feet long 2 by 3 inch stake of wood I’d found - brave woofer. :o) On round to Battery Gardens to sit for a cigarette on the ‘favorite seat’ overlooking Torbay. Ignored Sally’s tug on the lead as she tried to head into the pub as we passed. Back at M/Ds after 9am recovering with coffee and cigarettes in the garage . . . Mum mentioned that if she had trouble getting Dad out of the bath today, I was here to help! Sat around as Mum bathed Dad, waiting just in case, and took the opportunity to write down on a piece of paper all the doctor/nurse/etc. phone numbers Mum had in a special red book by the phone. Mum eventually lead Dad back into the living room in their practiced awkward way, without any help from me, much to Dad’s embarrassed relief! Had a go at suggesting that Dad would now definitely benefit from a ‘zimmer’ walking frame, but he insisted he didn’t want one – the ridiculous excuse being, the house wasn’t big enough! Grrrrrrr! . . chats and a little breakfast followed by a quick hose down in the garden after Sally had been sick - ‘usual’ reaction to her swallowing sea water! Eventually all packed up and ready to go. Mum forced a carrier bag of unwanted tins of ham and corned beef and crisps and such into my hand as usual! . I insisted that M/D should NOT walk out into the street to wave goodbye as usual – Dad put up a fight but eventually it was agreed they should just stay in the hallway and I’d bring Sally round to say goodbye. Dad couldn’t even stay standing and Mum ended Up grabbing one of the dining chairs and sitting him on it in the hallway at the open door!!! A sad sight. Said emotional goodbyes – Dad in tears – me fighting it back for some other time! . . On the road around midday. Stopped for petrol and then a straight run home - felt absolutely exhausted and very bleary eyed!! God I need to get that eye test REAL soon! Home and unloading around 2pm. Touched base with M/D to confirm safe arrival. Ate a mass of Mums tinned ham sandwiches. Touched base with BB. Left ansaphone message for Sis1. Fell asleep all afternoon. . . woken by Sis1 popping in to hear how M/D are. Both called M/D. . . walked. Did nothing about the half a dozen ‘kids’ playing on the school roof!! Found 2p . . . TVd/PCd this but ran out of steam and started feeling really rather down and just didn’t want to have to think about any of it!! Ended up watching some nonsense Bruce Willis film, “The Last Boy Scout” on TV as an escape from thoughts. BB called. TVd till early.(3/10)aa
20 - Up around 8am . . . letter in the post from the electric company!? They need to replace my ancient electric meter and will do so on Friday 29th November!!! As if I haven’t enough disruption in my building site living room already! Shame about the timing – I’m no way ready to start working on that wall where the meter box is, but if I was then maybe I could move the meter and such slightly and make it all neater? Can’t face it – I’ll just let them in to do what they have to do, and get them back out as quick as possible. . . walked in the drizzle. The old lady down the road with the dickey heart was on her doorstep and beckoned me over. She hoped I didn’t mind her asking, but did I want an old duvet and some sheets and towels and such that her friend opposite was getting rid of. I’m not too proud to say yes please – you can never have enough duvets or towels especially with a big wet Sally around. She said she’d phone her friend and I should pop in on the way back from the field. Found a penny. Knocked on the woman’s door and there were three bin liners and a double duvet all wrapped up in her hallway awaiting collection! Blimey! Dropped Sally off at home and popped back down and after giving appropriate thanks struggled home with my haul! Duvet needs a clean but very useable. A couple of pillows clean like new, but the foam filling seems a bit lumpy – better than a couple I already have. Several old blankets and sheets and some very useable towels. Nice one – I have no problem at all with being a ‘charity case’. How come older people seem to be so much more ‘decent’? . . touched base with M/D. . . god it’s dark! Gotta have the lights on all day! Slightly lighter in the living room now after having taken down the lamp shade and brushed all the dust off it! Hadn’t realized but there was SO much dust on it that at least 50% of the light from the bulb wasn’t getting through!! . . . PCd this – what a chore - but I want to be able to remember some of this stuff! . . .had a bite to eat early afternoon and lo and behold - fell asleep again all afternoon until early evening! Always so tired! . . . touched base with BB . . . ansaphone message from Mum so called M/D. Mum had been in touch with the nurse to tell her of Dads decline, as Sis1 and I had strongly suggested she should, despite her usual 'objections', suggestions that there will be nothing they can do, not wanting to be a bother, etc!!! The nurse had got in touch with radiographers, consultants, etc, etc and at the end of the day they came back and recommended that Dad's steroid dose be trippled. His increased 'confusion' suggests there may be some ongoing swelling and the higher steroid dose (the highest he's ever been on) should assist with that! . . . touched base with Sis1 and let her know our persuasive argument with Mum had been fruitful. . .walked . . . PS popped round for chats till early. Couldn't sleep and PCd(tried to locate the company that made the broken plastic fastener fron M/Ds kitchen unit, but no trace)/TVd until even earlier and ended up eating bowls of cornflakes around 4am before bed!!(3/10)a
21 - Woken by Sally after 9am . . . walked in the torrential rain - lots more forecast again!! Found 2p . . . left Sally at home and drove off on what turned out to be a bit of a shopping frenzy! The Lidl store ‘this weeks offers leaflet’ that had been put through the door, promised some cheap shoes, so I drove to their store in Hanham. Some idiot coming towards me and pulling out around a turning vehicle onto my side of the road almost hit me!! God I hate such things – that sickening surge of adrenalin I get, when such things happen makes me feel INSTANTLY sick and shaky and makes me want to lie straight down with my eyes closed to let my body recover! Same thing happened again only a mile or two later!!!!? Drove the rest of the journey real slow with my lights on. . all the shoes in the store (which would have been worth buying several of at that price) were too small for my big feet. I have heard that their weekly offers often result in people queuing up outside on the Thursday and they are all sold out by the end of the day. Had a look at the small pocket binoculars (only a few left) which had caught my eye in the leaflet, and which were SO cheap it seemed impossible. Stood in the store focusing on the big queue of people, uncomfortably glaring back at me, at the tills in the distance. Tronic 10x25, 101m/1000m, Field 5.7, rubber grip coated, red coated optics, nylon belt pouch, etc, etc. and only 4.99!!!!!? Incredible. I couldn’t resist – yet another thing to put in my pocket when I go walking down by the river. :o) Stocked up on 6 boxes of Jaffa cake thingys and a couple of pizzas and after a LONG wait to pay, was back out on the road. Drove to the pet store for a 15kg sack of PAL complete Sally food and a dose of worming tablets. Decided to do a big detour and visit the other Lidl shop in Fishponds to see if they had any shoes left. Spotted a laundrette I’d heard was there, on the way, and stopped off to see what it was like. MUCH better and cleaner than the ‘local’ one I’ve been to before. The attendant confirmed they clean and dry duvets, as long as they were brought in before 10am, and it would cost 7something. Excellent. On to Lidels to join the scrum, searching through the piles of shoes looking for large sizes – nothing above a size eight left. Grrrr. Returned home and cooked up the weird frozen sausages LB had forced on me last time she popped down. Dunno what was in them, but they sure weren’t bad at all with a pile of bread and butter. Touched base with M/D . . .managed to avoid the desire to nap and cemented all afternoon until early evening. This next bit of wall I'm doing is all wonky in two dimensions and is gonna take forever to gradually build up with layers of render before it is square enough to fix the edging strips!!!! Uggh! . . BB called. . Cleaned up and walked Sally taking the new binoculars with me, just to see how they perform in the dark. Sat on the seat over the field in the dark, I felt like some kind of furtive pervert as I pulled them out of my pocket and started having a look around. They actually did surprisingly well in the low light which I really thought they wouldn't with such a small lense size. Resisted the strong temptation to have a quick look in the houses nearby that hadn't drawn their curtains, which seems to me like an invitation to look, although maybe not with binoculars!!! Found a brand new dog ball for Sally to play with. . .PCd/TVd . . . early to bed around 11pm.(4/10)a
22 - Up before 8am after a long sleep . . . wrapped up the recently aquired duvet and set off for the laundrette around 8:45am in the car with Sally. Arrived before 9am and stood waiting for the attendant to appear until 9:30am before I gave up in disgust! The minute I have to involve anyone else in anything I do, I am let down!!!!! Really angry. Asked advice of someone who was there who seemed familiar with all the equipment and figured I may as well return some other time when I have the washing powder and change for the machines and just do it all myself. . drove with Sally just down the road and parked up in Vassals Park and walked her in the heavy showers all down the river and back. Tested the binoculars on a squirrel in a tree over the river - they really aren't bad at all. :o) Just wish I didn't always shake so much! I'd love to have a test and see if my suspicion, that my adrenalin levels are constantly elevated through always being so up tight, is accurate! . . . PCd this . . .PCd/TVd the day away . . .walked and stopped for sausage and chips takeaway on the way home . . . BB called . . .TVd. (3/10)as
23 - Woken just before 6am by someone noisily getting in their car slamming doors and such right outside before driving away!! . . .walked in the rain. Found a penny . . . managed to mix some cement between torrential showers with lightning, and added some more to the wall. Left the TV on as I worked and ended up compelled to watch hours of 'Celebrity Big Brother' drivel all day . . . ate and gave Sally some worming tablets wrapped in some of my corned beef . . .did house chores . . . touched base with BB . . . fell asleep for a couple of hours . . .TVd . . . walked in the rain . . . touched base with M/D. Apparantly the increased steroid dose has made no difference - in fact M/D want to reduce the dose back down because Dad's condition is not as bad as the nurse/doctors may have got the impression it was!! Made me feel guilty I'd applied so much pressure for Mum to get in touch with them and tell them of Dad's recent decline - but I guess I can't be blamed for Mum's poor communication of status!!! Humph. :o( . . .TVd . . earlyish to bed before midnight.(4/10)a
24 - Woken by a cold wet nose in my face before 8am! . . . walked between showers, but as usual Sally 'wallowed' in a huge pond like puddle and came home soaking wet and COVERED in mud!!! Started the long, gentle, 'bathroom familiarisation training' with the idea of at some time in the distant future getting Sally used to the idea of being lifted into the bath for a wash! Succeeded in covering the bathroom carpet with mud!!! That carpet will have to be replaced with lino before BB arrives!!! Weighed myself on the bathroom scales and then managed (with difficulty) to pick up Sally and weigh both of us!! Not sure those scales are totally accurate but - I seem to have lost weight again and am back to a rakish 65kg (143lbs) while Sally has put on weight again up to 40kg (88lbs)!!!!!! No wonder picking her up and holding her back from chasing cats is hard work. I guess in the cold, wet, dark, muddy months of winter I don't walk her as much. Gonna have to cut out sharing my Jaffa cakes! . . . set out to balance my accounts but ended up wasting time being silly taking photos of Sally - she is SOOooo cute and forgiving. :o) . . .eventually balanced my accounts after having had to make a couple of phone calls to figure out a misbalance in my favour!? Turned out to be the RAC breakdown cover annual subscription - I'd forgotten all about the 10+ credit transferred to my account from Dad's, when I cancelled his cover last year. Touched base with M/D and told them, to please them . . .TVd . . .ML called to touch base . . . walked. A car with two guys inside was parked in the dark, down the ‘Emergency Vehicles Only’ road, next to the field. Weird place to be parked. Another car came racing down the road at speed and pulled up behind facing the opposite way and then reversed so that the trunks of both cars were only a couple of feet apart. All three people leap out of the cars and opened the trunks and quickly transferred large cardboard boxes from one to the other. Although some unseen distance away, I thought I could make out the sound of either metal or glass rattling inside the boxes. As I walked towards the exit of the field the guy receiving the boxes handed over something wrapped in a plastic carrier bag. By the time I reached the exit to the field one car had turned around and they had both sped off and were gone. What with where they were, how they were acting, body language, etc. - no way in this world was THAT anything legal!!!!! I need a digital camera with a zoom lens that doesn’t need a flash in the dark! . . .M/D called after having spoken with Sis2. No (good) news her end as yet!!!!!? They suggested that since Sis2 will be with them when BB is coming to visit, I could leave Sally in their care for a day or so when I drive to London to pick BB up from the airport. Nice offer, which probably makes lots of sense – but I just couldn’t. . . BB called to touch base . . . PS popped round for chats till early. Poor chap had to sit through Celebrity Big Brother on TV as the first person was evicted – spending so many hours in its company while cementing, I’ve actually kinda got into it, and really, really wanted the guy I INSTANTLY disliked, to be evicted. He was. :o) . . Straight to bed the minute PS had gone. (4/10)as
25 - Up around 8am. Misty out. . . drove Sally for walks along the Avon at Hanham. HUGE amounts of condensation in that poor car from Sally’s wet duvet!! River is still kinda high but not over the path which has been turned to deep mud by walkers! The mist seems to make everything feel colder. Played with my binoculars a little, because I could. Sally got absolutely covered in mud and covered in those nasty big spiky, stick to fur, seed things!! Returned home and had to hose poor Sally down out on the patio – she just HATES that hose pipe and will flee from the garden now if I go anywhere near it! Spent some time trying to remove all those nasty seed things from all over her! After she’d dried off a bit I encouraged her into the bathroom (small bathroom - BIG dog!!!) and actually managed to pick her up and put her in the dry bath without panicing her, while of course giving her LOADS of praise. She even hopped out on her own when I encouraged her to! Brilliant – chocolate treat rewards all round. We’ll be showering together yet! :o) . . . cemented. Added another edging strip to one bit of the wall only to reveal that the wall is wildly out of alignment with the others!! Gonna mean several days more work trying to build up the wall to suit, and that’ll mean a couple of inches difference in the width of one bit of the bay window ledge as compared to the opposite side!! Arrrgh! Got rather down about the constant mess I’m in and how I WILL fail to make the place presentable before BB gets here. :o( . . . grabbed a sandwhich late afternoon and resisting my overwhelming tiredness, walked with Sally up to the building society to draw out some cash. Waste of time- it closed at 4pm!!! Found a penny. Left Sally tied up and dashed in the supermarket for bread and sugar. Dropped into ‘Specsavers’ and booked an eye test – Saturday afternoon!!! Popped into the vet and was allowed to quickly weigh Sally on the proper scales. 39.8kg (87.7 lbs) – she has put on weight and my weighing of her on my bathroom scales is pretty accurate. The mist thickened to more like fog on the way home. I like it – makes everything seem more quiet . . . TVd . . .walked. Loads of tire tracks all over the muddy field and then - lo and behold yet another stolen burned out car, this time torched in the rugby club car park. Firemen are still on strike, so I guess the army was called out to deal with it some time last night! Amazing how quickly cars rust after a good burn . . . PCd this . . . BB called . . . ended the day feeling ok, eating pizza and watching most of 'Terminator-2' yet again - I do like that film. . . PCd till early. (4/10)as
26 - Woken by Sally just after 8am after not enough sleep . . .walked. Found an as-new peaked hat in a puddle - 'Jordans' logo whatever that is. Took it home - after a wash either I'll keep it or dispose of it in a charity shop. .Took a photo of the burned out car . . . walked with Sally up to the building society and drew out some money. Tied Sally up outside a couple of shops and dashed in and grabbed supplies of potatoes and pizzas. Sally really has got very much more relaxed when waiting like that - still worrying though, when people insist on going over to talk to her in my abscence - I get very uptight watching through the store window in the distance, while stuck in the agonisingly slow till queue. People in front of me get all nervous about why I am moving around behind them trying to see over their shoulder - I often feel so guilty I actually explain what I'm doing!! . . .PCd this. . .fell asleep for a couple of hours. Woke feeling awful and headachey. . . TVd . . . walked . . . getting a bit worried about how I feel some of the time and had a quick look in the doctors book, looking up blood pressure, but nothing very enlightening. Pretty sure I've no problem in that area - they'd tell me when I give blood I'm sure. I rather suspect I am starting to reap the rewards of unhealthy and intermitant eating, poor sleep patterns, constant chain smoking, breathing cement/brick dust all the time , etc, etc, etc!!! Oh well . . . BB called . . . TVd the night away. To bed around 2am. (4/10)a
27 - Up around 8am. Forced down a glass of orange juice from the out of date long life carton I've had unopened in the fridge for around a year!. . . walked. Eeewwww - a great big dog poop right outside my gate!! Bloomin cheek!! Bet people will think it was Sally who did it! . Found a penny - it was actually in an awkward position next to a traffic island in the middle of the road so I ignored it until we'd walked round the field and then picked it up on the way back!! Wow - they are putting up new railings all around the school, no doubt trying to stop the nightly vandalism. The new eight foot railings with pointy tops that they put up at the back of the school field a couple of weeks ago are excellent and will do the job nicely (apart from by some large gates where I watched a young truanting kid flat on his back squeezing underneath after having thrown his school bag through first, like some escaping prisoner). But at the front of the school they are only putting up some semi ornate rounded top rails on top of the existing wall which only makes about five feet in total and is just perfect for climbing over!!!!? What idiotic planner passed that - it won't stop anyone (except for maybe the guy I saw one night climbing over complete with his pushbike after having smashed something!)!!!! What a waste of money and effort! . . . Took a few buckets of water out the front and tried to wash the poop from the pavement but not very successfuly and eventually gave up!! Grrrrr - damn irresponsible dog owners! . . . high time I started trying to eat healthier so unusually had some breakfast - a bowl of muesli . . . cemented until early afternoon. At last got round to adding a bit of 'plaster edge' to the bottom of the bay window wall making sure with the huge spirit level that it sits in a vertical plane with the one above - now I have edges to aim for as I build up the wall with render. Only problem is, the wall is SO wonky that all the electric sockets I've built in, are actually recessed more than they should be!!!!!! If I can't get some longer mounting bolts for the actual sockets I'm in BIG, BIG trouble!!!! Damn. Can't do much else until I go to the DIY store for supplies - horrible windy rainy outside and just couldn't face driving down . . .BB called . . . grabbed a sandwhich then sat around and ended up going to sleep until around 6pm . . .walked and found 2p. . . TVd till early. (4/10)as
28 - Woken by Sally around 7:30am!!! . . .walked and found 2p. One of a group of schoolgirls hanging around outside the post office asked me if I would go in and buy her some cigarettes (cause she was too young)!! NO! . . .left Sally at home and drove to the DIY store for more sand, plaster edging, some drill bits, some long bolts for the sockets and a tub of liquid waterproof membrane stuff that'll eventually go on the walls before I plaster. Costing me a fortune! Spent the rest of the day till early evening fixing more edging strips around the bay window and cementing them in place. . touched base with BB early afternoon. It's 'Thanksgiving apparantly' . . . felt strangely unusually 'active' and hardly stopped all day and felt I'd made some progress on the building site living room - even did a few house chores! Must be that orange juice and three meals a day. :o) . . . walked and found 5p. . .spent a while cleaning out the electric meter cupboard and vacuuming some of the thick layers of dust away - wouldn't be fair to expect the electric man to have to work through all that mess tomorrow. Ended up vacuuming all round the room and kitchen and stairs and was still vacuuming around 10:30pm!! . . . TVd/PCd a little before bed around 1:30am. Wow - dunno where todays energy came from - I sure could do with a few more days like that. (4+/10)a
29 - Up with the alarm at 6:50am - just a hint of light in the eastern sky! . . . walked and found a penny. Managed to get back to the house at exactly eight o'clock. The elctric guy is supposed to be here anywhere between eight and midday so I'm gonna have to just sit around I guess - daren't start any cementing or such!!! . . . unplugged all the PC gear just to be safe. Made a note of the old meter reading (cause there's bound to be a dispute over the next bill!!!) . . tidied up a bit and ended up doing several loads of washing. Messed around with the collection of found lighters I've ended up with, after picking up lots when out walking. Most were disposable - some out of gas, some out of flint. Hate such waste, so sorted them all out and managed to perfect a method of dismantling and removing the flints from the empty ones and inserting them into in those that needed them (fiddley! Definitely not designed to be 'refilled'!) - threw the rest away. . . M/D called to tell me there was a TV show on which was gonna show how to do plastering!!! Right then the electric guy turned up, at around 10:15am. Shut Sally in the kitchen and turned off the washing machine mid cycle! Half an hour later he was done and I had a new but identical electric meter in place of the old. The old one has been there since around 1979 so I guess I'll not have to have that done again this lifetime! Asked a few questions and confirmed that if I do ever get round to fitting a new fuse box I WILL have to call them in to do the final hook up - he insisted it was all part of the service and I wouldn't be charged!!? I bet!! . Bit suspicious that the new meter already had 6 units showing on it?!! Thankfully the washing machine happily carried on from mid cycle after the power was back on. . popped round the shop and bought a new gas lighter refill canister. Found a penny. . . walked up to Kingswood with Sally and a rucsac on my back, intending to get supplies of orange juice and muesli. That damn shop (Sainsbury) - never has what I want when I want it! They seem to have used the excuse of 'rebranding' to remove all their cheap stuff, which is what I always buy! Ended up trying another store and having to buy much more expensive muesli! . . . fell asleep for a few hours . . . BB called suffering from prolonged 'family exposure'. . .walked. Uneasy feeling walking in the dark as the police helicopter circled overhead. Sounds in the distance like someone was throwing stuff at windows - some old 'kids' running suspiciously across the field - none of which was the helicopters interest!! . . .TVd till early. So much for yesterdays short lived burst of energy! (<4/10)as
30 - Up before 8am with a headache . . .walked and found 4p. Took a photo of the abandoned car I squeeze by every day - it had been sat there quite happily for about a week now with no tax disk and a flat tyre, parked on the pavement, and I'd been toying with the idea of reporting it to the council for removal. The other day as I stopped to make a note of the licence plate, it appeared someone had already reported it and the police had affixed a notice to the windscreen saying 'Police Aware'. Rather silly of the police I thought! Of course that was like a red flag to a bull for the idiots that live round here - lo and behold within hours all the windows and windscreen had been smashed!!!! I can kinda understand nasty people stealing stuff - but just smashing stuff up like that? Madness!!!! I guess it is kinda surprising they didn't set fire to it really! :o( . . .PCd this . . . wasted time waiting til my eye test. Did some house chores. Sorted out a few of the enormous numbers of collared shirts I have and actually managed to persuade myself to throw some away (after cutting off all the buttons and adding them to my sewing box collection of course). Never seen anyone with SO many shirts (although really several are a size too small) - much to do with M/Ds charity shop/car boot sale successes of course. Bit of a shame really cause I never wear any of them any more - not since 'work'! Trouble is the ironing - I wear all soft stuff these days BECAUSE it doesn't need ironing . . .got clean and non dog smelling, left Sally at home and walked up to the optician around 3:30pm. Enough time to look in several charity shops on the way but nothing caught my eye. Quick cigarette feeling all nervous outside before going in for my 4 o'clock appointment. Old man gets an eye test!The young guy who ‘did’ me was actually quite ok and very chatty. Very chatty – at one point he thought he recognised me and asked if my mother went in there?! I said no and joked asking if she had long hair and a beard! He went on to say that he thought I looked just like some relative of this woman who apparently works in a circus!!!!!! Uhuh – so now I look like someone who works in a circus!!!!!!! :o) Played around with reading eye charts and wearing different lenses, asked some silly questions, had the rest of the tests where he looks through some handlebars into my eyes looking for signs of nasty things, and then it was all done. A very slight prescription for close up stuff but not yet bad enough to warrant rushing out and buying glasses. Yippppeeeee. Paid the 15.95 test fee and was outta-there for a much needed cigarette! So - my headaches (I've always had loads) are nothing to do with my eyes - I'm sure it's just a bad back/hard matress/stress/uptight/diet, etc. thing . . . shopped a little on the way home. . .PCd this . . .BB called . . . touched base with M/D . . . walked. Unusually all of a sudden over the field, Sally ran off into the dark chasing something! I had my usual nightmares about her not coming back but eventually she did. On the way home it became apparent what she had probably be chasing – another stray dog!! Some small butch looking thing. Horrible to watch as it stood some distance away in the middle of the road, eyeing up Sally, oblivious to the car that was approaching! I started waving my arms to try and slow the car down but just then the dog ran off into a garden, so I was left looking stupid since I don’t think the car driver saw the dog at all. . . . TVd/PCd till early. (4/10)as