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1 - Woken by Sally climbing on the bed around 8am. . . walked and found 2p . . .PCd this and then wasted loads of time starting to turn some of my diary archive around so it reads top to bottom - good grief there is loads of it!!! What a bizarre thing doing this journal is - I MUST be crazy - and yet what an extraordinary thing it is for me (with almost no memory of any of it!!?) to be able to look back upon it!!! . . . ooops - fell asleep all afternoon! . . . Uggh - more wind and rain! Forecast for 65mph gusts by the morning! . . .woke up feeling really down for some reason!! PCd looking at property and such . . .PS called saying 'tonight?' . . .walked in rubber in the torrential rain and wind - very yucky! . . . PS called to say he couldn't make it cause they had a leaking pipe and he was waiting for a plumber to arrive!! . . . BB called . . . TVd/PCd before bed around 1am. (3/10)a
2 - Up around 7:30am. Think we escaped the worst of the weather - even looks like it has't rained for several hours . . . walked. Found 2p and yet another cigarette lighter . . . cemented all day after dressing off a couple of bricks with the angle grinder! More terrible dust inhaling and layers on everything. Ate around 4pm and then needed to lie down for a bit but failed to sleep properly and was back up around 6pm vaccuuming dust. . . BB called . . . walked . . . M/D called . . . PS popped round for chats till early with a gift!? Some relative of his was giving away boxes of tinned pineapple chunks???!!!! That'll last a while! . . . PCd briefly before bed but the damn cable ISP wasn't working! (4/10)as
3 - Up late around 8:30am . . . still can't connect on the cable ISP???!! . . . not raining so drove Sally to the River Avon at Hanham for walks and squirrel chases . . .cemented until around 4pm . . . disconnected the PC and fired up the laptop to see if that one would connect. It did!!! So - yet again it isn't the ISP - it's a corrupt network connection file on MY PC!!!! Messed around setting up a new connection and deleting the old one and getting back up and running ok. Never had this trouble before Windows XP!!! . . . BB called briefly. . . walked and found a penny. Stopped off for suasage and chips takeaway on the way home. Treated myself to one of the tins of pineapple rings PS had donated - very nice and Sally likes them too (although I suspect the hard to decipher sell by date is way over). TVd till late. Felt pretty down again - definitely into my long dark days of winter moods! Bit worried about Sally too - a 'spot' on the side of her mouth seems to be turning into a 'growth' - she also seems to have developed a 'cold' (or like me is suffering from all the building dust, or passive smoking!!!) and keeps coughing and sneezing!!! Gonna wait a while to see how things develop, before heading to the vet. (3/10)as
4 - Up around 7:30am . . .needed a break from cementing and figured it was time to have another go at getting the recently received duvet cleaned. Drove with the duvet, a tupperware of washing powder, and Sally over to the laundrette and got there just before 9am. Managed to park right nearby so sat and had a smoke waiting for signs of the attendant. No sign after nine so went in to investigate - just then she appeared. Brief conversation about how I had to wait last time (she is ALWAYS there at nine she said - oh no no I said - maybe I had to go see the doctor that day she said!) Retrieved the duvet from the car, paid her the 7.60 from the pocket full of change I'd been saving, and was told to return around 11am. Jolly good. Drove round to Vassals Park for walks, swims and squirrel chases. Huge numbers of squirrels all over the place - Sally had a great time and charged all over and occasionally way out of sight for longer than I was comfortable with! Damn near caught a squirrel too as it fled up and through the chain link fence that runs along one part of the path where the slope to the river below is real steep. Squirrel chase breakWalked along to the coffee bar at Snuff Mills and unusually stopped for a break in the squirrel chasing with a 60p coffee and cigarettes. Retraced our steps and eventually back to the car around 11am. Drove back up to the laundrette but nowhere nearby to park so had to leave Sally parked in the car way down a side street and walk all the way back. Duvet was all ready in a plastic bag. The attendant seemed quite happy with how it had turned out - still a few marks on it but can't complain. She warned me that it would need airing because it was still damp around the edges. . . back at home I unpacked the duvet - it had turned out ok but was needing more than airing! Still pretty wet around one edge!! Grrrr! Can't complain - to have it all done for me like that whilst I'm giving Sally a good walk seems pretty neat. . . washed a load of the shirts that Sis1s man had donated months ago that I'd never got round to sorting out. Uh oh - dunno what the hell deoderant he uses but half the shirts went all weird around the arms as though dipped in cement!?? Binned them without even saving the buttons! . . . smashed up and binned some of the wood shelves that used to be in the front room alcove and bay . . . finally got round to making a modification to my emergency temporary wiring solution. Fixed up a couple of extension leads, linked them and plugged them in either side of the break, and effectively bridged the broken gap in my ring main. Even managed to put power to the spur in the kitchen which runs the fridge and a portable TV. Much better although I'm gonna HAVE to mark with insulation tape which plug is which cause if I unplug the wrong thing, the actual prongs of the bare plug will be live!!!! Forget and I'm Sally food! . . . by mid afternoon my headache had turned into a real bad one. Tried to sleep it off but actually woken within an hour by the pain!!! Sat around sucking annadin! . . . BB called . . . headache eased as evening wore on like usual. Walked. Found 2p - weird how I can still spot em in the dark . . . PCd this . . . received a real nice 'thank you' type feedback from the site :o) Don't feel I deserve it of course! . . . touched base with M/D . . . TVd/PCd till early. (4/10)aaaa
5 - Up around 8:30am . . . walked. Cold but clear blue sunny sky. Forcast is for much colder! Found a penny . . . spent the morning messing around doing laundry - gotta do as much as possible whilst it isn't raining and actually has a chance to dry! Spent ages polishing a couple of pairs of my walking boots that are always wet and always muddy, trying to delay the inevitable rot! Really don't feel like doing anything! . . . kept the washing machine running almost all day doing load after load! The prospect of BB visiting and having a ‘woman’ in the house has made me all paranoid about how I have rather low (no!) priorities when it comes to cleanliness! Wow – the newly cleaned duvet has really shown up how old and dirty my original duvet is!! Yuck! May have to visit the laundrette again, although it is SO dirty, that is gonna be embarrassing. Probably beyond cleaning!!! . . . left Sally at home around midday and drove to a nearby charity shop with a collection of stuff to donate. Amazingly saw two policemen on patrol by the crossing outside the school! Dropped off the stuff at the charity shop and drove back via the local DIY store. Bought a piece of plaster ‘skim bead’ that I hope to be able to use to square up a corner of the living room wall next to the front door. As I drove past the field by the school a young punk on a motorcycle without number plates/tax/insurance etc. came driving along the footpath across the field, out onto the road and then pulled up on the pavement near a bunch of the school kids!!!! Grrrrrrr! Drove up to the main road junction where I’d seen the police, fully intending to attract their attention and point them in his direction – of course they were no longer there! Typical! Carried on home and then saw a police car parked just down the road with three policemen chatting to a woman. Pulled up, leaped out, interrupted and reported the motorcycle dude. Apparently someone else had just told them about it and they were allegedly on their way to have a look (very slowly so it appeared!). I managed to resist the temptation to drive back round and do something silly – inevitably they would NOT have caught him since they wouldn’t have been able to follow him across the field . . .eventually managed to muster the energy to do a little in the living room building site. Shut Sally safely out in the kitchen, took the front door off it’s hinges, and used the angle grinder to grind off bits of the wall corner, attempting to get a ‘straighter’ edge! SO much dust in the air it was almost impossible to see the other side of the room!!! Everything absolutely COVERED in brick and plaster dust - again!!! Spent the next couple of hours vacuuming and attempting to de-dust everything – again! . . . LB called. Looks like I’ll be feeding her cats for a couple of days next week – warned her ‘no way’ around Christmas! . . . BB called . . . walked and found a penny. Cold - 2 degrees celcius . . . just sitting down to eat a pizza and Sis1 called. She seemed pretty down but I said I had to go cause my pizza was getting cold. Called her back later – both her lodgers are leaving before Christmas so she is gonna have money worries. She was also sick and tired of all the decorating she has been doing (I know the feeling!!). She was suffering guilt about feeling she should be going down to visit M/D but really didn’t want to cause she felt so exhausted. I told her not to bother and said that I’d told them I wouldn’t be visiting before Christmas. After all, Sis2 will be arriving to stay with them in a couple of weeks . . . TVd . . . early to bed around 11pm. (4/10)a
6 - Up around 7am! . . .PCd this . . .Decided to have a go at repeating Wednesday so drove with Sally and a filthy duvet over to the laundrette for 9am. The attendant arrived some time after nine, I paid my money and left her to it. Walked Sally along the river and stopped for a coffee again. Wrestling with a stick at one point Sally suddenly had a mouth full of blood!!!!!!!!! Scared me to death. Tried to look in her mouth to see what she’d done but no sign of anything and she didn’t seem at all concerned – not until her blood got on my hands. Then she was all interested and sniffing and licking me! Thankfully after sitting down on a bench for a while with a cigarette her bloody mouth cleared up so I guess she must have just bitten her tongue or some such. Later on while checking again it also appeared that she had taken the top off the little growth type thing on the side of her mouth!! Actually seems to have made it a bit better so I suspect it was just a ‘spot’ type of thing. Gonna keep an eye on it . . Back at the car and just driving out of the car park I spotted a dog ball left lying there. Reversed, leaned out the door and retrieved it for Sally. . . picked up the cleaned duvet although it still seems like a nasty colour. The attendant made light of the colour and pointed out it WAS a nice thick old one I should definitely keep. . stopped off at a drapery store looking for some sort of protective cover for the duvets like I already have on a couple of my pillows - they didn’t have any! . . . touched base with M/D . . . did a skim of cement on a corner of wall trying to straighten it up a little. Managed to overcome the strange mental block I’d developed about it, and started excavating the next bit of wall in the living room alcove, being as careful as possible not to crash through into next doors hallway!! True to form, ended up having to pour in a small amount of concrete to replace the rubble and dust the wall is made of there!! Uh oh – hard to tell with so much dust up my nose, but that gas fire isolation tap smells a bit like gas!!!!!!!!!!!! Hmmm – not enough to cause an immediate safety hazard I don’t think. If it was I’d already have blown up!!! Can’t face doing it before BB arrives but, calling in a professional and paying for safe removal of that pipe, so I can modify the fire breast and maybe even reinstate an open hearth, IS in my master plan of works. . cleaned up a little – yet more layers of dust all over. . . BB called . . . walked. As if to prove my point about how the new fence around the front of the school was a waste of money and is too low, a group of kids were easily climbing over into the school grounds as I passed.(one was so small and looked so young he must have been a vandal apprentice!) As I walked past they immediately set about trying to smash one of the school windows!!!! I stopped and stared, toyed with my mobile phone in my pocket, but eventually walked away in despair knowing if I tried calling the police it would cost me s and I would be left on hold!!!! Arrggghh!!!! . . walking around the field in the dark I spotted the silhouette of someone stood some way off in the distance watching as Sally and I approached. Still some way off he suddenly ran off across the field!!? Strange suspicious behaviour! Carried on walking our normal route as I peered through the darkness to see where the silhouette had run to. He’d run across a bit of the wet muddy field, then ‘sprinted’ REALLY quickly back, and then stopped in the middle of the field and was just stood there!!? VERY weird behaviour. Couldn’t help it – stopped and sat at the edge of the field with Sally in the shadows and had a cigarette and watched the distant silhouette. He just stood there for AGES – and then – huh??? In the deep wet mud in the dark of the night in the middle of a field he did a head stand with his legs waggling in the air!!!!!!?????? He did it two or three more times!!!???? Eventually he wandered about a bit before running off at speed towards the bottom of the field out of sight. Walked along the streets with Sally taking a gentle detour around the field hoping to pass whoever it was but I saw no further sign of him. Cutting back through the dark field with Sally on our way home, I have to admit that I was the most frightened I’ve been over there for ages and kept a close watch into the gloom about me. I assume it was someone out of their mind on drugs! Must have muddy pillows . . walked past the school and confirmed a window had been broken and then stopped off for sausage and chips takeaway on the way home feeling somewhat despairing!!!! . . . TVd till late. (4/10)s
7 - Up around 7.30am . . .PCd this . . . walked and found a penny . . . ate a bit of breakfast and ended up falling asleep again until early afternoon! . . . felt rather down and couldn't muster the energy to do anything other than sit and watch TV all day!!! . . . BB called . . . walked . . . M/D called - Sis1 had been down and they'd managed to manhandle Dad out and into a restaurant. . . ML called . . . TVd/PCd till early. (3/10)
8 - Woken by Sally around 7.30am!! . . .walked. Another stolen burned out car!!!! Every time I see something like that I am 'hurt' by it!! . . . PCd and filled in a few gaps on my record of how lawless this neighborhood has become. Is this normal? It really is quite a list and certainly doesn't include all of the 'things' I see, much of which I forget when I come to type this, because it is just so 'usual'!!!!! Pointlessly vented my frustration by submitting 'feedback' to the local beat manager from the police website! . . .mustered the energy and did some cementing and work in the living room building site for the rest of the day. Starting to get pretty worried about that potential gas leak!!!!. . . Sis1 called to touch base and 'de-brief' from yesterdays visit to M/D. She confirmed Dad is certainly becoming more confused! She also asked if I would house sit for her in a week or so when her new settee is due to be delivered - I reluctantly agreed! . . . BB called . . . walked in the freezing drizzle and found 2p . . .PS popped round for chats till late. Had an embarassing moment when I had an accident with my roll up cigarette - a piece fell off and set fire to my shirt!!!!!!!!! Eventually put myself out when I realised I was still alight, but ended up with a big hole in my shirt!! Idiot. (4/10)as
9 - Up around 7:30am again! Seem to have slipped into a routine somehow. . . walked. I don't believe it - yet another burned out car!!!! Lots of peoples christmas ruined by a mindless thug! I'm SO not a violent man but god how I'd like to see the guy responsible beaten senseless!!! How difficult can it be to piece together the details and start trying to catch the idiot who is doing this? Surely if you work out the times and places where they are stolen, when they are dumped, etc it would point to when to mount a surveillance operation!!! The firebrigade must have records of when they are called out to attend to the fires! Almost tempted to walk the dog a bit later and longer tonight, just in case!!!! :o( . . .balanced my accounts . . .Somehow managed to carelessly bash the side of my head near my eye on the bed frame above the PC! Don’t think I’ll end up with a black eye, but it is a little coloured like I’m wearing makeup!! . . . left Sally at home and drove to Asda at Longwell Green and shopped. HUGE crowds of people – lucky to find a parking spot in the full car park! Christmas madness in full swing. Stocked up on coffee sugar and mostly dog food to see me through the ‘festive’ season . . .LB called – she’d just returned from the vet where she’d had to have ‘Fester’ the polecat put to sleep because of cancer! Tried to say appropriate things – all the while probably thinking otherwise!!!! I imagine he’s glad it’s over! . . . called the number on my gas bill about my leak wanting to know what the score was, were they really expensive and would I be better off finding a qualified gasman in the phonebook. Not so fast! Apparently it is a must that the gas company are informed and it is they that have to rush out and make things safe, whether you like it or not! I guess the number of gas leak/explosion deaths over the years has kinda made them ‘sensitive’ about it! The woman on the phone had to go through her scripted procedure about not smoking, opening windows, not turning on lights etc., and even made me go outside to the gas meter and turn it off whilst she waited on the phone!!! She confirmed that all they will do is cap off the supply to any faulty appliance – I would then have to employ a tradesman () to fix the problem before reconnecting – someone would be at my door within two hours. Rushed upstairs and lifted floor boards hoping that they would be willing to cut off and seal the pipes to BOTH downstairs gas fires (living room and kitchen) which I have been planning to disconnect at some point in the future anyway. . waited – cold! . . . within the hour a guy was at the door. He confirmed with his electric sniffer probe I DID have a leak. No problem – as I requested he cut off and sealed (surprisingly with compression fittings) the supply to both fires, and was gone within half an hour after having tested the system for pressure loss, which thank god there was none. What I’d been planning and thought I’d have to spend a fortune on, was done for nothing!!!? EXCELLENT. . . touched base with M/D with a bit of good news for a change . . . left Sally at home and went shopping again in search of some duvet protectors. Drove here and there, but no joy, and eventually ended up at the Argos store in Emersons Green that I didn’t know was there until this morning, when I’d seen it listed while surfing their site. Queued for what seemed like ages amongst crowds and screaming ill controlled children, and eventually bought a double bed covers set for 14.95. . . drove in the nasty rush hour traffic to the DIY store and bought bags of sand, cement and plaster . . . back at home I couldn’t resist, and ended up quickly undoing and removing the disconnected gas fire in the living room! Played at being a chimney sweep for a while! ‘Chim chimeney, chim chimeney, chim chim cheroo, some dust will rub off, when I shakes hands wiv you‘ Hard to tell with my head up the chimney but I'm not sure what is holding that firebreast up!!!! Those bricks sound real loose!!!!!!!!! More work. . . . BB called . . . walked. The forecast was for a degree or so above freezing, but more like minus five with the wind chill – sure felt like it!!! Brrrrr!!! Council have been busy – all three burned out cars were gone. Saw a shooting star as I sat with a cigarette, but too cold to sit for long. . . sorted out a duvet and put it in the new cover. BIG mistake and a waste of money – the damn cover is a proper ‘waterproof’ one!!! Noisy and stiff with all the softness and comfort of sleeping in a freezer bag! I guess even if all that rustling noise keeps me awake, I'll still be 'fresh' in the morning! :o) Big waste of money mistake . . . TVd/PCd till early. (4/10)a
10 - So much for my routine - woken around 8:45 by the electric meter reader guy at the door! . . .ice on the garden pond!! . walked. Jeeze it really does feel really cold!! Painful ears! . . . popped round the post office and posted a couple of birthday cards . . . sat around feeling tired and headachey and ended up falling asleep until mid afternoon! . . . did a little work on the living room building site . . . BB called . . . popped a thermometer out on the patio just for interest - one degree above zero. . . walked. Actually feels a little warmer this evening despite the occasional sleet like drizzle . . . ate and then did a little more on the living room. Covered the walls immediately either side of the bay window with the paint on, black rubberised, damp proof solution, and made a key for the plaster by throwing on sharp sand while it was still wet. Terrible messy business - whole room covered in sand! . . . to bed around midnight. Couldn't sleep and ended up getting back up and removing the noisey waterproof duvet cover!! (4/10)aaa
11 - Up around 8:30am. . . walked . . . left a text and ansaphone message for Sis1 saying happy birthday . . . spent the whole day working on the living room building site attempting to get some plaster on the walls around the bay window. Up to my ankles in plaster the phone rang - it was a policeman responding to my feedback on their website the other day!!! Had to let the ansaphone take it - not sure I can see much point in ringing him back . . Plastering is a skill I have never mastered, and frankly I made a big mess of it!! I suspect plastering on top of a waterproof layer made it all the more difficult! Very lumpy mess. :o( . . . walked. Found 1p. Stopped for sausage and chips takeaway. . . collapsed in front the TV before straight to bed around 1am. (4/10)as
12 - Up around 8am. Nasty, cold and rainy outside . . .walked . . . smashed up and removed the paving slabs I'd put down years ago, that made up the hearth to the living room fireplace. Temporarily threw down a fluffy mat to cover the unsightly area and immediately Sally decided it was a nice new place to lie down! Weird how all this sort of stuff doesn't phase her at all. Removed the old disconnected fire in the kitchen and then managed to remove the old back boiler that hasn't worked for at least ten years. A small 'flood' of water when I disconnected the pipes but soon mopped up - huge pile of soot on top of it! Amazing the fire still worked with all that clogging it up. Left Sally at home and drove to the tip to get rid of it all. Drove on to the Sainsurbys store at Emersons Green and grabbed almost the last four tins of Cadbury Roses - I don't 'do' Christmas but have a habit of giving a tin of chocolates to each arm of the family kinda, more out of feeling obliged to give at least something, rather than genuine goodwill! Last year it wasn't too successful because the selection had been altered and all the soft centre creams were taken out - this year the tins were marked "Cremes back by popular demand" - popular demand nothing. I bet their sales plummeted. Accidentally bought an extra tin for myself. :o) Every single tin on the shelf was badly dented so, cheakily I asked at the till if I got a discount, cause they were for christmas presents and such dents would ruin christmas. lol. The manager was called and lo and behold, four undented tins were eventually found in a store room, and I was given 2 discount for the other! Didn't realise until I looked at the receipt that the tins were around 10 each but if you bought two you got 5 back! So I ended up getting 12 back - not a bad deal I reckon . . .watched plaster dry! It's all a dismal grey colour but turns white as it drys out! . . . ate then fell asleep all afternoon until woken early evening by BB calling . . . walked in the damp mist . . . briefly touched base with Sis1 but she had company . . . LB called reminding me I'd agreed to feed her animals on the weekend. Humph . . . TVd/PCd till early. Not sure what I've done but the backs of my hands are raw and painful! Could be where I was washing them in white spirit over and over the other day when painting that waterproof rubber coating on the wall - the tin DID warn me to use gloves, but of course I didn't! Thank goodness I've still got that handcream left from the last time I messed my hands up - only problem is Sally seems to like the taste! (4/10)as
13 - Woken by Sally around 8:30am . . . drove Sally to the Avon at Hanham for muddy walks. Uh oh - her 'glass' stomach seems to be upset again! Too much ingested hand cream maybe?!! . . . PCd this . . .had a few Christmas cards in the mail!! Been SO busy doing all this building work, living in such a chaotic mess, desperately trying to get the place at least a little habitable for when BB comes - I've kinda forgotten all about Christmas!!! Already too late for foreign mailings!!!! Oh dear!!!!!!!! . . .not sure why it took SO long - but ended up spending the whole day getting the curtain track back up on the wall and the curtains back up at the bay window. Even washed a little bit of the grime off the windows, in and out, although all the paint splatter on the outside from when I painted the house made it difficult and time consuming. Wow - daylight! :o) Neat how the curtains cover up loads of my bad plastering. Maybe I should just drape curtains on the walls all around the room?. . . BB called . . . did chores . . . walked in the fog . . . PS popped round for chats till early. (4/10)as
14 - Up around 8:30am. Hello - my front garden gate is wide open - things afoot in the night? . . .walked - everything very damp. Found a penny. . . Filthy ferret house!fed LBs cats. She'd left her back door unlocked!! Jeeze - what a mess - now I remember why I said I never wanted to do that again! The ferret house was absolutely filthy disgusting, never mind where she feeds the cats near her bathroom door next to a stinking litter tray!! Yuccckk! . . .walked with Sally up to draw some money out of the building society. Big christmas crowds made walking with Sally a bit of a nightmare, and her scavenging everything that was in any way edible all along the way made the trip a little fraught! I shouldn't really take her in to the building society - but I do. Stood in the queue next to a family group, a small girl suddenly rushed over open armed and hugged Sally!!!!!!! Jeeze!!!! Sally was nervous but didn't snarl or growl or do anything other than pull away all ears down. Phew!! What a lucky escape. . found a penny . . .the woman from two doors down knocked on the door. Had I (because I had Sally) noticed anything last night? Her garden shed had been broken into out back and all her stuff had been stolen!!!!! Damn - that means that someone has been prowling up the lane out back in the dark looking for somewhere to break into!!!!!!! Too close for comfort!!!! Told her I'd heard and seen nothing (god how I wish I had!!) and offered commiserations and recommended she call the police (which she hadn’t yet!?). Wandered out back and had a look down the lane – signs of mud on her neighbours wall next to her fence and trodden down grass across her garden. That’s how they managed to get over her fence – surely must have been two of them to manhandle the stuff back over the fence and then to climb back over. Bastards! . . spent five minutes screwing the ‘Beware – German Shepherd on duty’ sign M/D gave me, to the back gate out in the lane! Kicked myself for not having asked several months ago if the neighbour at the bottom of the lane wouldn’t mind if I fixed an old wooden gate I found out there, to their wall as a deterrent to all and sundry walking off the street and up the lane! . . .I wasn't gonna bother calling them back but was now in the mood to do so - tried calling the number the local police beat officer had left on my ansaphone in response to my feedback about the lawlessness of the area on their website. Ended up getting an ansaphone!!!! Did not leave a message! . . . touched base with M/D . . . cemented . . .touched base with BB . . . fed LBs cats and ferrets as per instructions. She's perfected a way of getting food into the ferrets without having to actually spend any time with them!! Fill a plastic container with food - open the door a fraction - slide in the container - close the door before ferrets leap out and have to be chased!! Why bother having the poor little devils. Grrrr! . . . walked in rubber in the rain . . . TVd until early to bed around 11pm. Next doors son obviously had a friend over for the night and there was lots of noise and what appeared to be a ball being bounced against the party wall!!!!! Shouted out 'STOP IT!' before eventually managing to get to sleep. (4/10)s
15 - Woken by Sally around 8am . . . just opening the living room curtains when I saw a guy walk across the street from a car, directly up to next doors garden wall? He leaned over and picked something up out of their garden that he obviously knew was there, returned to the car, got in the passenger seat, and off it drove!!??? VERY suspicious. Damn - couldn't make out what he'd 'stashed' or what the number of the car was! Hmm - worrying! . . .walked in the mud. Found 2p . . . fed LBs cats. Damn - the smell of pooh hits you as soon as you open the front door - eewwwww a dead mouse in the kitchen! Threw down the food and got straight out! . . . PCd this . . . touched base with M/D and thanked them for the Christmas card they'd sent together with a free Christmas music CD they'd got in some newspaper or other. Made a copy for Sis1 . . . balanced my accounts . . . touched base with Sis1 and confirmed she does want me to house sit on Wednesday! Uggh! . . .climbed into the attic and retrieved my stash of left over Christmas cards and started trying to get on with the chore of writing a few. Didn't last long before giving up and just sitting around in front the TV feeling a bit down . . . called M/D to tell them about the news reports of heavy rainfall in the Canaries - think that is where Uncle TJ is spending Christmas?! Dad answered the phone cause Mum was off doing something so I told him all about it. Half an hour or more later they (Mum) called back - Dad wasn't sure who had called and she wanted to make sure it WAS me!!!!! Jeeze - he really is starting to lose it!!! :o( . . . BB called . . . walked in the rain . . . LB called to say thanks for doing the cats and confirm she was home . . . TVd till early with a couple of glasses of red wine. (4/10)ad
16 - Up around 8am . . .walked in the mud. A group of around half a dozen kids were all stood smoking and chatting behind the rugby club, playing truant!!!! Posted a handful of cards. Found 2p. Hosed poor mud covered Sally out on the patio . . . drove to Asda and shopped a bit - bought a bunch of towels and such for when BB comes. Wouldn't be right to expect her to use the old 'rags' I use!! Filled up with petrol (27.62 ltr - 20) . . . touched base with Sis2 at her hotel to wish her good luck with her trip and such. I'm glad she's coming - makes me feel less guilty about not visiting M/D for ages . . wrote a couple more christmas cards but soon overcome by the expensive nonsense of it and ended up falling asleep for a few hours. Seems to be dark ALL day!! . . BB called . . .walked in the rain . . . PS popped round for chats till early . . . PCd till earlier - damn cable ISP is down again!!? Suspected my file was corrupt again so immediately set up a new connection but that didn't do the trick, so I guess it really IS the ISP this time? (4/10)as
17 - Up late around 9am! . . . walked. Same kids playing truant again! Mentioned it to a woman (secretary?) coming out of the school who said she'd mention it to a teacher. . . HUGE phone/cable bill in the mail - 125 for one month!!!!!!!! Also notification of the next blood giving session - Christmas Eve for goodness sake!! . . . touched base with M/D. They confirmed Sis2 had rung earlier and was in the country and probably on a coach by now on her way to M/Ds. In the short three minute conversation I had with them, Dad asked how the dog was at least three times! . . . polished off writing the rest of the christmas cards I should send and popped round the post office and got the chore done . . . spent the rest of the day trying to make some space in the chaos I'm living in by packing stuff up in plastic bags and stashing it up in the attic. . M/D/Sis2 called around 3pm to say she had safely arrived . . .eventually managed to clear enough cupboard space to move some of my clothes and stuff into the back bedroom, where I'll be sleeping when BB comes. Spent HOURS wearing my 'vacuuming shoes' scuffing up dog hair from the front bedroom carpet and starting the long process of trying to get it clean enough for a female guest! Pulled fresh bed linen out of it's under bed storage drawer only to find it had somehow discoloured in storage??!!! Oh no!! Ended up washing everything and hanging it around the house near radiators to dry!!!! Need to buy more sheets!! REALLY starting to get up tight about the prospect of having female company - even panicky at times!! Gonna spend the rest of the week cleaning I guess!!! . . . doorbell rang - two fat smirking boys leaning over the garden wall started 'singing' - "We wish you a merry christmas . ." - "Oh no you don't!" I said as I closed the door!!! . . . BB called . . .walked and found a penny. M/D/Sis2 called on my mobile as I was walking around the field and struggling with poop scooping and such. More painful 'nonsense' comments from Dad revealing his 'confusion'!!! . . . Uncle TJ called to touch base from the Canaries!! They HAVE had loads of rain! :o) . . . TVd . . . early to bed before 11pm. Sally didn't seem to be at all concerned about having changed our routine and having moved into the back bedroom to sleep, and happily slept the night away on the settee near the computer. :o) (4/10)
18 - Up with the alarm around 5:45am!!!! . . .walked. Real cold and icey! . . . Scraped the ice off the car with a cassette case! Must have got rid of my scraper when I got rid of my last car - Sis1 suggested a cassette case and it actually worked perfectly. Drove to Sis1s with Sally and a few bags of bits of wood for Sis1's open fire - bit's I'd been saving for any odd jobs but which were taking up too much space. All sorted and happily installed in Sis1s conservatory with Sally, cigarettes and coffee by 8:15 when Sis1 left for work. Just before she went, the delivery driver had phoned asking for directions so it looked like it wouldn't be a long wait. By 9am the settee had arrived and was all safely installed in her living room via the side gate and double conservatory doors. A neighbour appeared at the door getting a bit stroppy about the lorry blocking the road, because she was trying to drive her kids to school!! Thankfully the delivery guys were soon away. . . drove all over the place in search of some more flat sheets for 'BBs bed'. Weird how fitted sheets are all over the place and quite cheap, but 'normal' flat sheets seem to be either non existant or REALLY expensive!!???? Went in six different stores here and there before finding a complete bed set which included a flat sheet. Figured I had no choice but to buy a couple of them despite having already just bought two fitted sheets and pillow cases!!! Costing me a fortune but I guess I now have a reasonable linen collection!!! Stopped by at IHBs house and pushed his school photos and a Christmas card through the letterbox before driving quickly away . . . touched base with M/D/sis2 . . . more washing and cleaning and sorting out. Feels like a losing battle although I guess BBs room is about as ready as it's gonna be! I've warned her to pretend she is going camping!! . . . tried calling BB but no reply. Gotta sleep! . . .lay down to sleep but ended up getting back up after an hour, all bunged up! . . . touched base with BB and wished her happy birthday . . . Did yet more washing and chores. Soaking the shower curtain in the bath with some bleach seems to have actually worked to combat the mould quite well. Dabbled with a toothbrush and some bleach solution on some of the mould covered grout between the tiles in the bathroom - improves it a 'bit'. . . touched base with Sis1 who seemed happy with her new sofa. Asked to borrow her 'Vax' carpet cleaning vacuum cleaner for having a go at the bathroom carpet . . . Just leaving the house and saw the next door neighbour - let them know about the shed break in down the road and about the strange goings on when that guy picked up something out of their garden. Funny thing was the neighbour said he'd seen something laying in his garden that morning. How extraordinary he couldn't be bothered to actually walk the three paces and pick it up and have a look!!!??? Dunno why but the conversation made me all paranoid and convinced me that someone had been thinking about breaking in to my place that night!!? Walked in the freezing cold. Found 2p. . . drove with Sally to Sis1 to pick up the vacuum and to drop off the tins of chocolates for her and her son and daughter. Roped in to having to help her carry a sofa chair upstairs! She never seems to stop decorating and moving stuff around although I have to admit her place really does look rather spectacular, 'show home' like. Took a few photos with the digital - doesn't seem likely Dad will ever visit Bristol again so I said I'd try and take a few photos and show them her improvements on my old laptop next time I go down . . . TVd till bed around 11:30pm. Tomorrow is operation 'Bathroom Clean'! (4/10)
19 - Up around 6am all bunged up again! Either I've got a cold or the smoking/brick dust inhalation is catching up with me! . . . PCd this . . .walked in the frost and ice. Everything is white. . . took the curtains and rail down in 'BBs room' and washed them. Quickly patched up a bit of the wall beneath the window where a bit of damp had attracted Sally's attention and where she had scratched the wallpaper off! Dabbed some paint on later in the day - funny stuff woodchip wallpaper - you can do a patch like that, paint over it and you can thankfully hardly see where it was done at all. Set about trying to tidy up the bathroom a little and then had a go at the capet with the vax. As usual the vax soapy water delivery system was pretty inefective, so I ended up on with a bowl of soapy water, on my hands and knees scrubbing with a good old fashioned hand scrubbing brush! Used the vax to vacuum up the excess water, which it DID do quite well. Ended up looking just a little cleaner - it'll have to do. . . postman called at the door delivering a parcel!!? Oh no!!! A Christmas CD gift from DS&Co. via Amazon!! And I haven't sent them anything at all!!!! Guilt, guilt! Left it unopened on a shelf till Christmas day - that'll be something to open Christmas morning then . . .had a brief go at scrubbing and vaxing the 'sacrificial' conservatory carpet (where I try and wipe Sally down every day after walks) but very soon gave up - it's too far gone for cleaning. Felt exhausted and so, SO tired of doing all this cleaning work, only to see SO very little difference when it's done! Seems so pointless - that's why I normally don't bother!! . . drove to Sis1 with Sally and dropped off the vax in her porch. Figured Sally had been neglected these last few days so stopped off at Snuff Mills on the way home for a quick walk along the river. Plenty still white with frost and freezing cold with the temperature still around zero - nevertheless Sally went in the river swimming!!!!! Jeeze - doesn't she feel the cold at all?!!!! . . . absolutely exhausted, gave up cleaning and lay down to nap. Woken after only an hour or so by the phone-let the ansaphone take it but then the mobile went! Uh oh?! Leapt up and checked - missed call from M/Ds??!!!!! Called them back - it was actually Sis2 trying to touch base in M/Ds abscence - M/D were at the hospital for Dad's scheduled check up. Sis2 confirmed that Dad was pretty bad and had apparently declined yet further in the last few weeks according to Mum. He apparantly seems to 'go in and out' with his 'confusuion' being worse when he has just woken up - which of course is quite a lot of the time, what with him falling asleep frequently throughout the day. Sis2 had been out enquiring about the possibility of getting a wheel chair (I'd had that argument with M/D already but they of course refused and I gave up arguing) and somehow whoever she was enquiring from had suddenly organsied it and said they would deliver one tomorrow!! Don't see it getting much (if any!) use, what with the hills and all where they live, but with Sis2 there now to push him around - maybe useful? Bet there'll be arguments when she tells M/D what she's done - never mind the fact that she also went into town and paid a rediculously exorbitant price for an 'OVER' electric blanket for M/D which she'll give them Christmas day as a present!! (because she'd overheard Dad saying he was cold in bed at night - they can't use their normal 'under' electric blanket because of the possibility of 'accidents' and because of the waterproof cover on the matress!) Oh dear - if they'd wanted one they WOULD have got one - well - that guarantees family arguments Christmas day then! . At least Mum can have a break from her CONSTANT attention to Dad and can actually go off by herself down to the shops and such while Sis2 sits with Dad. Sis2 said she was gonna try and call the nurse or someone to try and get a feel for the likely possible time frame of Dad's demise and passing, so she can try and make a decision about whether or not she extends her stay here to help 'nurse' him, no matter what the consequences to her financial/etc. situation! She insists she does see this as her role. I never did get round to calling the nurse because whenever I said I was going to, Mum said she was off sick! That and the fact that I'll find it real difficult to make such a conversation with someone I don't know, behind M/Ds back! Broached the subject of my idea of maybe, just MAYBE, doing a Christmas day meals on wheels 'stunt'. Not sure I can face all the work and hassle! I'm REALLY not in a Christmasy mood at all - just up tight and 'waiting' - as EVER, so it seems!!!! Our conversation ended when M/D arrived back and Sis2 rushed off to help Dad back in . . . called M/D/Sis2 back. The hospital appointment had gone 'ok'. Apparantly the doctor is gonna book Dad in for another scan to see what may be going on inside his head to account for his recent 'decline'. There was apparantly some talk of possibly going in to a hospice at some point!!!! I think Mum must be near ehaustion by now and that would be maybe beneficial for her, but they both said not yet. . . BB called . . . walked and found 2p . . . PS popped round for chats till early. PCd briefly till earlier. (4/10)s
20 - Woken by Sally around 8am . . .walked. Much warmer out - the mud has thawed! Found 3p and enough parts to make up yet another working refillable cigarette lighter from my parts collection. There seems to be a purge on in the area against untaxed vehicles - passed a couple of cars that had been clamped!! Nice one. About time they got serious. Shame there isn't a 'bounty' for reporting offenders - if there was I'd have made a fair bit by now . . . PCd this . . .left Sally at home and drove out to shop. Nightmareish traffic and crowds all over the place! Made a decision and ended up buying a whole bunch of food with the intention of doing my 'meals on wheels' stunt to M/Ds around Christmas. Drove to Kingswood and parked in the multi storey car park and shopped for a couple more things. Big mistake! Took me over half an hour just to get out of the bloody car park!!!! A quick hour of shopping ended up being nearer three! Christmas - HUMBUG! . . . touched base with M/D/Sis2. Called back and asked for a word with Sis2 - told her of my meals on wheels plan so she can maybe stop Mum from cooking anything that day . . . spent most of the rest of the day trying to tidy up the kitchen a bit!! . . . walked. Sat on the seat over the field having a cigarette, I could hear a car being driven at speed with skids, hand brake turns, etc. in the distance near the entrance to the field, the way I had to walk. As I approached (with Sally safely on leash) there was a loud smash and bang followed by lots of revving of an engine as the car drove back up the street out of sight. The car was clearly stolen and had been driven into something down by the builder’s yard! As I reached the exit to the field a group of youths, several of them girls, was milling around and a girl and a boy (occupants of the car I’d heard?) were running up the road to join them. I couldn’t see where they’d dumped the car and figured it was best to keep walking so I carried on past them all. Overheard one of the youths explaining that he couldn’t drive very well in whatever the jacket was he was wearing!? (I assumed he was trying to explain why he had just crashed it?) I took a detour and walked hastily around the block to rejoin that same road at the opposite end and walk back down the entire length of it. Sure enough a stolen car was dumped half on the pavement – windows open, rear quarter window smashed, steering column broken open, hot wired, recently smashed driver side front end!! Called the local police on my mobile and unusually got straight through and was able to report what had just happened. They said they’d send someone out so I figured I may as well walk back along the road and see if the group of youths was still hanging around by the entrance to the field, so that I could send the police in their direction when they arrived. As I started walking, the group of youths (one carrying a large bottle) was all walking towards me down the road in the direction of the car – as they passed me I overheard one of the girls in a conversation something along the lines of how the other girl would be in big trouble if so and so found out about her and ‘the car’. I kept walking and headed for a seat I knew was in the shadows just inside the entrance to the field. As I sat there out of sight, I could hear the group smashing up the car! I called the local police number again (incredibly got through straight away again!) and told them what was NOW going on. I finished the call and decided to walk back down to the car. As I approached the car the group of youths had already swiftly disappeared up a side road and I could see flames inside the car!!! This time I dialled the emergency 999 number on my mobile phone and asked for the fire brigade! As I was attempting to report the incident to the emergency switchboard (no I couldn't remember the street name but check your logs - I've already told you once!), a police car arrived on scene. I told them the youths had disappeared ‘somewhere up that way’ – the police did nothing but park up with a blue light flashing and wait for the fire engine. I stood and watched for a while from a safe distance (warm) as the car burned (remarkable rapidly) and partially exploded and eventually the fire engine arrived and firemen started putting out the flames. Headed home. Just at the end of my street, the group of youths were all milling around and sat on someone’s garden wall! Safely past them I called the local police on my mobile and tried to explain the previous calls I’d made about a stolen and burned car and how the people responsible were now, right this minute, at the end of ***** road. Returned home all hot, upset and shaking! BB called – told her I’d call her back in a while. Couldn’t resist leaving Sally and getting in the car and driving round the block just to see if the police had caught them. The group was still there all milling around but there were no police. Drove round the block – drove round past where the car had been burned but the flames were out and the police had gone. Drove round and round about for a while but no police arrived. Returned home and was just going in the house when I heard lots of foul mouthed shouting and such coming up the street. That same group of youths coincidentally ended up sat around and milling about in the street right outside!!!!!! I couldn’t believe it! Ended up sat in the dark in ‘BBs bedroom’ peering unseen through the blind, keeping an eye on them (and my car!). A couple were sat for a time on the bonnet of a neighbour’s car! They were there for SO long that I actually called the local police number again (on 'hold' for in excess of ten minutes before getting through!) and told them, again, that the people who’d torched that car were right here! The guy on the phone explained that they were very busy and that in reality I would be unable to prove in a court of law that those youths had done it because I hadn’t ‘actually’ seen them do it!!!! In despair I admitted he was right (although of course under the circumstances there was not a shred of doubt) and I gave up expecting ANY police action. I stood in the dark at that window for at least half an hour. One of them attempted to break the road name sign. One of them disappeared out of sight and there was a loud bang (something had been damaged?!!) before he ran back across the road to join the crowd. One of them showed ‘undue interest’ in a neighbour’s car, but I think did nothing. At long, LONG last they milled off up the street and out of sight and earshot. I spent the rest of the evening extremely upset and sat in the cold with the window open so I could hear if they returned. . BB called and smoothed me out a bit. I explained I’d fully understand if she didn’t want to come and visit me here!!!! . . I should have stood next to the stolen car until the police arrived – that way it would not have been burned out (or would that have meant I would have been attacked?). There seems to be nothing that one can do about all this. What on earth would I have done if they had started sitting on or messing around with MY car?!!! On the news as I watched TV, there was a report that a judge had ruled that ‘first time’ (first time caught!!!) burglary offenders (only 7% are solved) should NOT be sent to prison!!!!! Also there was a report of how three guys (all of immigrant ethnic origin) had been given life sentences for having killed a guy (young guy - father of small kids) who had attempted to intervene when they were stealing a car! They’d severely beaten him, stabbed him in the head with a screwdriver, and left him to die in the middle of a road! Apparently a ‘life’ sentence these days in this country is something like a fifteen year sentence!!!!!!!!!??????? And then again there is the town where the police are going to be handing out lollipops to drunks at closing time, to give their mouths something else to do, in an attempt to stop them from shouting as they rampage around the streets late at night. I despair. I absolutely despair. My dad is soon gonna die – I can’t help but think that is just as well – it is as well that he doesn’t have to experience the way things are becoming! Less and less do I see schizoid/avoidant as a personality ‘disorder’. It seems more and more a perfectly understandable and rational response to the new (anti?)‘social norms’!!!! Blah, blah, bloody blah! GRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!(3/10)a
21 - Woken by Sally around 8am again! Headachey - I need more sleep! . . .walked and found 24p. Checked out the untaxed, council clamped car around the corner - as I'd suspected, one of the youths last night HAD damaged it. The windscreen had been smashed! . . . PCd this . . . drove to a petrol station to fill the car up. Got stuck in a big queue and slowly crept forward until some idiot came running over telling me to move because the queue was all my fault!!???? Idiot! . . . LB/M/D/Sis2/Sis1/BB called to touch base . . . walked in the mud and torrential rain . . . the sell-by date was up on the 'Belly Pork Joint with Bacon & Caramalised Onion Stuffing' that I'd rashly been tempted to buy the other day cause it seemed pretty cheap, so I ended up cooking it with a bunch of roast potatoes. Feasted around 10pm with loads left over for tomorrow. Ended the day inexplicably feeling pretty damn good - clean, warm, full of food, safe indoors . . . TVd till early watching a terribly fluffy, unashamedly tear jerky, sickly film - "Their Last Chance" - all about the US prison program where they get prisoners to train assistance dogs for the physically handicapped. The film was about a nun who had started it all up with women prisoners - and of course loads of the horrible women who'd murdered and committed horrible crimes ended up being turned into angels by the dogs! Nonsense - but couldn't help watching it all and getting a little teary eyed! . . . PCd till earlier. (4/10)aas
22 - Woken late by Sally after less than 5 hours sleep!! . . . walked in the mud . . . did yet more clearing up and vacuuming around the house - will it never end?!! . . . fell asleep for a couple of hours after a mid afternoon re-heated roast dinner . . . walked. Very mild out - not had the heating on at all today . . .BB called . . . messed around tidying the conservatory a little and then putting a socket back on the TV roof aerial lead. I should be able to check details of BBs flight next week, and which terminal to aim for, by looking it up on Teletext. Haven't surfed yet to see what is on line - apart from my journal I can hardly bring myself to touch the PC these days!? . . . TVd . . .cleared some of the dust away in the living room and plugged my stereo back in to the two remaining speakers still on the wall. Just sat quietly with a little Chopin and LB turned up with a christmas card, gift of a bottle, bearing a dish of cold meats and such, and with a friend who wanted to meet Sally!! Weird thing was, LB soon left and returned home to her other guests leaving me to chat to her friend!!!!! Actually I'd met her once before, back when I was doing LBs garden, and it turned out she had some dogs so it wasn't 'too' difficult to make conversation. At first Sally was all growly and upset but she amazingly soon calmed down and even allowed the woman to stroke her. A year of visits and PS hasn't got anywhere near that. :o) She soon left and I ended up eating LBs cold meat stuff with some bread and butter around midnight. . .TVd till around 2am. (4/10)s
23 - Woken around 8am by Sally barking as the post was delivered. . . walked. For the second time in a week, found a letter in the street for a nearby house that the postman had dropped! That's bad. Found 2p . . .PCd and sussed out the details for when I have to go to Gatwick airport to pick up BB . . . did chores and a little more tidying but developed a real nasty headache . . . slept for a couple of hours but woke with the same head! . . . Sis1 popped in with some dishes and such that I may find useful when I do my meals on wheels stunt to M/Ds. She seems to have the winter blues pretty bad - enough for some of it to rub off by the time she'd left!!! . . . BB called - ended the call feeling like I'd said some wrong things!. . . M/D/Sis2 called - ended the call feeling emotionaly drained!!!!! Seem to find it REAL hard to talk to Dad, now he talks such nonsense! :o( . . . walked between showers. Found two pennies. . . touched base with BB and felt better for it . . . TVd till late. Felt like I was losing it a bit today! (3/10)aaa
24 - Up around 8am after a 'reasonable' amount of sleep. . . walked and found 2p and a tennis ball . . .around 10am left Sally at home and walked up to give blood - found 6p and a lighter along the way. Bad news at the blood doning session - half the staff had rung in sick and there was a wait of around an hour and a half!!! I'd walked all the way there so figured I may as well wait. Found a penny outside when having a smoke. Eventually gave my pint and took my reward of a cup of coffee and a mince pie. Set out walking to S&DH to deliver my christmas card to them and went via Kingswood Park. Stuck in the branches of one of the trees near the path was a couple of dog toys! Very tempting to try and get them but they were too high - but then I found a large tree branch near the exit. Walked all the way back carrying the branch and managed to throw it up a few times and eventually dislodge the ball on a rope. Tried several more times for the other rubber toy that was up there but no way would it fall and I was getting all hot and muddy, so gave up. Reached S&DH just after midday but they appeared to still be asleep (busy time of year for a taxi driver!!) so I just posted the card and headed home - couldn't resist it - via Kingswood Park to have another go at getting that rubber toy! Found a six inch ruler! Threw and threw the branch - even tried climbing into the tree (when my thrown branch got stuck up there too) but managed to fall out and strain a muscle in my leg! Absolutely not worth the bother but by now it had become a challenge! Must have looked like a real crazy guy!! At last - at long last, I got it. Hah! :o) . . .uh oh - back at home poor old Sally had been sick by the back door! So much for my cleaned conservatory! . . . actually a hint of low sun in the sky and really quite mild out, so figured Sally deserved a decent walk. Just out of the local field and across the road onto the pavement, a car of 'young men' coming round the corner suddenly deliberately swerved towards me at speed!!!!!! There was a huge puddle in the gutter and they drove through it as close to me as they could. I (and Sally) was absolutely completely and utterly drenched in filthy water from head to foot. I shouted obscenities and made a note of their number (K643 HTW) as they drove off in obvious delight, with some young guy rolling around in the back seat laughing at me through the back window as I stood there dripping. I stood there for a while hoping that they would maybe drive back by, but they didn't. Maybe just as well - I absolutely WAS ready to do violence whatever the consequences. I'm sick of it. I am absolutely sick of being at the mercy of such selfish mindlessness. I have been made a powder keg - pity the fool that next sets me off and doesn't stand clear! I'm gonna end up being the bad guy. Can you request solitary confinement if you go to prison? . . walked Sally down to the lake in Eastville Park and then along the river and the Frome Valley Walk to Vassalls Park and back through Fishponds. Sally has an upset stomach again and was sick a bit more. Obsessed about the nasty guys in the car (and what I'd like to do to their car) for hours and hours, but of course once again there is absolutely nothing that can be done! . . back home after around three hours (found a penny) feeling exhausted! Probably shouldn't have walked like that on an empty stomach after having given blood! Showered and put all my clothes in the wash . . .Happy f****** Christmas! . . . cooked up a pizza, walked Sally a bit early, touched base with BB and then started the 'Christmas meals on wheels' cooking around 8pm. . UncleTJ called from the Canaries to touch base and say Merry Christmas and to enquire how Dad was doing and to ask if it was ok if they called again after I'd been to see him to hear how he 'really' was. . Everything went pretty well with the cooking until somewhere in the middle of boiling lots of vegetables I realised the oven wasn't working!!!!! Oh NO!!!!!! Not again!!!!!!!! How come it's been fine for months then all of a sudden when it's absolutely vital it works ok, it stops again?! Just bloody typical! Xmas 'meals on wheels' feast x 4Didn't panic too much because the small turkey joint was almost done and - well - I have some experience of recovering from such a position using the microwave and grill and such. Ended up halting the cooking and spent a half an hour or so with my head in the gas oven - which seemed pretty appropriate, the way I was feeling!!!! :o( Messed around with what I guess is the thermostat and managed to get the flames back up but they kept on cycling on/off/on/off for the rest of the cooking!!!! Bit worrying in terms of safety but managed to get the oven hot enough to eventually finish all I had to do, including nicely browning the big tray of roast potatoes high on the top shelf. By around about midnight I was in a position to actualy 'build' the plated meals that I'd finally decided was the best thing to do since Sis1s 'pasta' plates were SO big and deep - SO deep in fact that I actually ended up with two layers, the huge mass of boiled and roast potatoes buried beneath all the rest!! HUGE amount of food! Looked ok to me. Let Sally lick out all the containers, washed up and covered the meals in cling film, and managed to squeeze them into the fridge for the night. . PCd until 1am putting the photos of Sis1s newly decorated house onto the laptop so I could take them down and show M/D/Sis2 as I'd said I would. Eventually to bed but difficulty getting to sleep! (3/10)a
25 - Up with the alarm at 5:45am!! . . . walked Sally briefly, in the dark with birdsong . . .grabbed a hurried bowl of muesli . . .loaded the car up - put the plated meals between the layers of a folded sleeping bag on the front passenger seat, threw in a few of the tins of pineapple rings PS had given me, and was on the road just after 7am. . . A quick clear run down (sucking Annadins for my headache) with almost no one else on the road. Some spectacular views as the sun rose through the mist lying heavy on the fields. Passed a pheasant just stood in the fast lane at one point! Almost a whole nother Christmas dinner story right there! . . arrived at M/Ds after 9am. Quickly put on the Santa robe that Sis1 had loaned me (borrowed it from where she works) and opened up the garage and crept round the back and banged on Sis2s window to come and let me in the back door and take all the stuff. Unloaded everything and then went and Sat with Sally (wearing Santa hat) on the bench at the bottom of the garden so that Sis2 could go and persuade M/D to come out and see me ‘surprise’ like. All worked out ok although not sure that Dad was able to quite take it all in. He seemed REAL confused, hardly able to walk at all (even with Mum and Sis2 helping) and frankly the worst I’ve seen him!! . . left Sally loose in the garden and recovered from the trip with coffee and chats with Sis2 while Mum bathed Dad. Quickly apparent that it’ll be not much longer before Mum is no longer able to get Dad in to have his morning bath! During the ordeal, Dad brushed against the sink or something and immediately tore his paper thin skin (steroid medication affects) on one hand and ended up bleeding (again) and Mum having to rush for a plaster from their first aid box! Agreed with Sis2 that the minute Christmas is over she/Mum need to call on the McMillan nurses and get them out to discuss what is gonna have to be done when Mum can no longer cope – which frankly is about now! Oh dear - what do I say when Uncle TJ calls to ask how he is?!! . . . chats and coffee . . . drove with Sis2 and Sally for walks in the mud down ‘Pooh lane’ and back. Sis1 called to touch base on the mobile along the way . . . back to M/Ds around 1:30pm to start having a go at re-heating the meals. Mum’s little old microwave seemed to be a real low power one and after a lot of trial and error with MY plate of food we figured that each meal would have to be microwaved separately for around 10 minutes!!!! Mum’s oven was only big enough for two plates at a time so it was decided we’d do two at a time and kinda end up eating in shifts!! Actually not a bad arrangement since it meant that Sis2 could help Dad eat his while I ate mine, and then Mum and Sis2 could sit and eat theirs in peace. Of course everyone said it was all lovely and heaped praise upon me, but of course they would even if it was horrible wouldn’t they! Having said that, if I say so myself, it was an EXCELLENT meal - so maybe they meant it! Couldn’t help thinking ‘the last supper’ as I watched Sis2 help Dad eat his!!!! :o( Dad's last Christmas meal?!As should be the case with a Christmas meal, there was far too much to finish, so some of the potatoes were left for finishing off maybe tomorrow, although I actually managed to finish ALL of mine!!!!! VERY full!!! . . . soon ended up falling asleep for a couple of hours with Sally in the garage. Woke up all cramped with Sally curled up on the edge of the mattress at my feet! Kinda cute. :o) . . . BIG headache – more Annadin tablets!! . . sat around chatting and such but ended up feeling a bit ill! Think it was the heat (or too much food? OR – food poisoning??!!!!! Uh oh!!!) – that house is like a greenhouse (because Dad is always SO cold these days – watches TV wearing scarves, gloves, pullovers, blankets!!!) and I’m really not used to it at all! That or me having a look at all the photos Sis2 had taken of the building/flooding disaster going on in her house and thinking about her impossible catch 22 predicament! She is reasonably sure that, despite the consequences to her job, her mortgage, her rising debts, etc, etc, she is going to cancel her return flight early in the New Year, and stick around to help with Dad! Oh dear. I couldn’t say any of the right things cause I really don’t know what they are under such circumstances! . .Handed out the couple of presents (which we all said we weren’t gonna do – again!!) that were there, mostly from Sis1. Money from M/D. Amusing ‘picture book with captions’ from Sis2. Then Sis2 produced the electric overblanket she’d gone and bought for M/D. As predicted it turned into a big deal because Mum really didn’t want one – and actually said at one point that if they’d wanted one they would have gone and bought one! Ooooh that SO sums up how I feel about all that Christmas/Birthday present buying stuff – nevertheless I don’t know why Mum couldn’t have just pretended it was nice and then had a change of mind at some other less ‘sensitive’ time. I may have excused myself and gone to the garage for a smoke to get away from it all, but I think the predictable upshot was, that Sis2 would take it back to the shop and get a refund! . . . really didn’t have the energy for a proper evening walk, and the weather had turned wet and windy, so drove Sally to Battery Gardens for a quick once round in the pitch black, before driving her back for a feed in the garage . . . chats and coffee, some pineapple rings, chocolates, etc. . . eventually loaded the car back up and was ready to leave. Dad was really too wobbly to attempt getting up to the door to say goodbye like normal, so did my hugs goodbye and left them all sitting at the table at the window. Got the car out, locked everything up and waved goodbye from the street and was on the road around 9:30pm. . . some thick fog and slow speeds on Telegraph Hill where the clouds met the land. A little rain here and there, some sucking of Annadins, but a real quick clear drive back without incident until back in Bristol where I ended up slowing down and staying well back from a drunk driver in a sports car swerving all over the place!! Grrrr! . . . home and unloaded and drinking coffee by around 11:30pm . . .Touched base with M/D/Sis2 and BB before a bit of TV. Opened up the CDs DS had sent me - blimey, what an expensive looking set of BB King recordings - looks like - well - ALL of them!!!! Nice one. :o) Smelly soaps from Sis1 - hinting?. . PCd briefly and then to bed in the early hours, absolutely tired out. The day went ok - glad it's over and done with. HUMBUG! (4/10)aaaa
26 - Up late around 9am!! . . .walked and found a penny . . . PCd this . . . today I'm gonna do nothing but TV and sit around and smoke and eat and sleep and do NOTHING!! . . .touched base with M/D. Dad had not been very good, hadn't known if it was night or day, and hadn't been able to manage the bath routine this morning - although of course he sounded ok on the phone, like he does!! Quickly ended the call as Sis1 had just arrived down there and they had to let her in . . .actually turned the TV off (!!!!!!!) and listened to BB King CDs for a few hours!!!!! Had a bit of a tearful moment about Dad and 'stuff' - quickly pushed it back down outta the way!! Not yet, not just now. . .TVd . . . slept for a few hours . . . TVd . . .BB called . . . walked . . .Uncle TJ called to touch base . . . touched base with M/D/Sis1/Sis2 . . . TVd till late. (4/10)ss
27 - Woken with a headache by Sally before 8am . . .walked . . . left Sally at home and drove out for petrol, some flowers for BBs room and a little shopping . . . sat around feeling a bit panicy and couldn't even bear to have the noise of the TV on!?. . . touched base with M/D. Sis1/2 were out shopping. Everything 'okish'! . . . touched base with BB (up tight too - and maybe going down with something!!!) and wished her luck on her journey . . . messed around doing the odd chore and tidying up just a little more . . .LB called to touch base and started asking if I'd feed the cats around new years day!! Absolutely no way. Briefly popped up and returned a plate. . . TVd . . .walked and stopped off for sausage and chips takeaway . . . TVd keeping an eye on the clock and thinking about BB getting on planes and stuff. God I feel SO uptight about meeting her!! Not sure why I feel so, SO up tight - or why trying to present my house in a reasonable state was so important? The last thing to be cleaned was a coffee perc I never use - and me! No matter what happens - good or bad, what we've had going this last couple of years will be over! That's a bit scary . . .set a couple of alarms and PCd this around 11:30pm before bed. Not sure what the situation is gonna be with this journal - may have to be shelved for a while - and there is lots to do to start yet another new year!! Who'd have thought it would last this long!! Extraordinary!! . . Worry, worry, worry, worry, worry! Not long now - welcome to the real world! (4/10)a
28 - Up with the second alarm (the first didn't go off?!!) around 5:15am . . . quickly walked Sally. . . checked the teletext on TV to confirm that BBs flight was in the air and expected to land when due. Rolled a supply of cigarettes for the journey . . .in the car with Sally and away (after returning home for a bottle of drinking water I'd forgotten) around 7am. Stopped off at the petrol station and bought some flowers, although they all seemed past their best and probably sat there since before Christmas! Headed for the motorway and the long drive towards London. Didn't get very far before having to stop at some services to use the bathroom! Nerves. . . Relatively clear run up and was parked up in a car park at Gatwick around 9:15am. Left Sally in the car and walked into the airport and sorted out where the international arrivals gate was and checked on the screens for her flight arrival time. Blimey - due to land some twenty minutes early!? Still plenty of time so walked all the way back to the car and let Sally out (uh oh - she'd been sick on her duvet in the back of the car!! Travel sick?) for a very quick walk around on leash on the nearest grass verge. BB's plane landingRealised I could actually see the incoming planes from where we were stood so watched and waited until - sure enough, BBs plane flew by and landed. Quickly walked Sally back to the car and left her there and headed back in to the arrivals area clutching my bunch of dying flowers! Hmmm - only one in the whole airport with flowers!!! Sat and waited (nervous and shaking) amongst the crowd watching the screens and waiting for them to announce that the flight was in the customs hall and therefor soon to appear. Moved to the barrier keeping the waiting people back and managed to work myself to the front, and was able to lean on the barrier which helped in keeping my shaking legs from losing it completely! Some guy stood next to me, waiting with a piece of paper with someones name on it decided he wanted to chat about how long he'd been waiting and this and that - I wasn't in the mood and wished I'd brought a piece of paper with BBs name on it. I've seen her photos but every one looks completely different and I knew I had NO chance at all of recognising her - it was her job to spot me! Wasn't long before I regretted standing where I was - the barrier there had a gap in it through which arriving people kept on squeezing. Every time someone headed for that gap I thought it was BB!!!! That was a bit of a roller coaster - some were cute, some were very much NOT! At last somone came out and caught my eye, which was difficult, cause by now I was practicing 'poker face' after having smiled at so many worried looking women that were NOT BB! I think I mouthed her name as she came over, and she acknowledged it WAS her, and shaking like a leaf, offering my bunch of dead flowers - well - at last we'd met - for real. :o) . . .got out of the crowds (some with dogs! - looked as though I could probably have taken Sally in with me!) and outside as soon as possible (both of us desperate for a smoke of course) with BBs mass of 'I packed light!' luggage, after having paid the 4.20ish parking fee. Introduced BB to Sally - went ok, which of course it was bound to considering half BBs baggage seemed to be chewy dog treets! :o) . .loaded the car up with bags and Sally and started heading out of the car park. Just then BB said that something was missing from her bag!!!? Pulled over and let her have a look and it turned out the bag she'd picked up wasn't hers!!!!!! OH NO!!!!!!! Rushed the car straight back into the car park and rushed in and managed at length to find the Continental Airlines desk and explained to the guy there. He made a couple of phone calls and thankfully BBs luggage was waiting somewhere for her and he would take her to collect it. Thank goodness! . .Made my way back to the arrivals gate and soon enough met back up with BB and HER bag. Wow - could have been SO much worse! Could have ended up back at home without noticing!!! Phew! . . Made our way back to the car via a car park information desk - no problems about having paid and then gone back in. Reported to the car park desk at the exit like we were told to and thankfully the ticket we had was still good so we simply drove out without any further payment necessary. .ended up stuck in real heavy traffic on the M25 - some stationary! . . .busy roads but a quick run towards home chatting. Stopped off briefly at a services for coffee and bathrooms and then carried on home. BB settled in ok . . . walked. (-/10)aaas
29 - Disturbed sleep! Gave up trying to sleep and ended up walking Sally early in the pouring rain! .....sat around and chatted . . . walked . . .
30 - Left BB sleeping and walked . . .walked up Kingswood and shopped with BB. Changed up some dollars in the travel agent - terrible exchange rate of near 1.7 dollars to the pound!! . . Found 2x2p. Shopping for something or other in Boots Chemist BB had a bit of trouble sorting out what change to give the assistant behind the counter. Leaning in to help, as BB held her purse open, I pointed at appropriate coins and suggested what she should hand over. The assistant’s manner changed to being all helpful and when the change was handed back looked at me instead of BB? Suddenly occurred to me that the assistant probably thought that BB was someone with ‘learning difficulties’ and I was her helper!!! lololol Made a note to make sure people knew she was an American tourist in any other shops we went in!. . .drove around Bristol in the rain . . . BB made me soup for tea!! Felt a bit weird and stressful having someone else running around in my kitchen, especially with the dodgy cooker with a mind all of its own! Also felt wrong that she should be out there cooking for me whilst I sat with my feet up in front of the TV especially when it was her holiday! The ‘soup’ turned out to be far more like a heavy stew and was really rather a success – for several days, such was the amount she ended up producing!! Apparently she is used to cooking for several – and American portions at that! . . .M/D/Sis2 called to touch base . . .walked . . . worried about the car and the alternator - the red light has been staying on for longer than usual at startup on a couple of occasions!!?. . . Uncle TJ called . . .Popped over Sis1s until late and also met my nephew and his lady. No doubt stressful for BB but seemed to go ok. I appreciated it. . VERY tired.
31 - Up real early again!! . . . left BB asleep and walked. Carried on out of the top of the field and walked with Sally up to the car accessories place in Kingswood looking to buy a 'Haynes' DIY service manual for the car. Got one for a little over 12 and then enquired about alternators. They had one in stock-it was pretty much a 'bolt on' deal and would cost around 55 if I traded in the old one!!!! Ouch! Decided I'd better take the manual and read up on it and have a look under the bonnet before committing to replacing it. Walked on home with Sally and couldn't believe my luck when I found a 20 note and a 2p coin on the way! Yay. :o) . . . a quick coffee whilst reading the car manual and then raced around with socket set and tools and such under the bonnet of the car out in the street. Slackened off the 'fan belt' and spun the end of the alternator only to find that it seemed to be happily free running and didn't make the worn squeaky crunchy noise I was expecting?? Figured it was worth just tightening the tension on the belt (as per the instructions in the manual because it DID appear to be a bit loose) and seeing what happened. A bit fiddly but eventually managed to get it all fixed up tighter than it had been. Could it be? It seemed to do the trick and sound SO much better (weird – the sound it HAD been making was NOT that of just a slipping belt – or so I thought!). . cleaned up, found a space in the fridge for the big container of left over soup, grabbed some breakfast and then headed off in the car with BB and Sally to do some ‘proper’ sight seeing touristy stuff. . . parked up at Castle Combe and had a quick wander around the quaint picturesque touristy village (which I think was used in the making of the Doctor Doolittle film, as a fishing village (???!!) with appropriate film makers magic). BB seemed quite enamoured with the old church, which I thought she probably would be – sadly there was no longer a visitors book inside for her to leave her mark in – I waited in the graveyard with Sally on a tight ‘no digging!’ leash while BB wandered around inside. Stopped in a shop for postcards, looked at the manor house (now a hotel) and then headed back to the car. Cold grey drizzly miserable weather! . . . back on the road I headed for the stone circle at Avebury. Uh oh – took a wrong turn and ended up getting all lost somewhere out on Salisbury Plain!! Stopped and checked the map a few times and eventually figured I was so close, I may as well head for Stonehenge. Got even colder, greyer and drizzlier! . . .eventually came upon the bustling cars and people at Stonehenge. Parked up and paid the 4.40 each to enter. I got immediately annoyed at the ticket office because we were told that we weren’t allowed to actually walk the circular walk that went around the stones because the grass was very wet and slippery and they’d closed the walk on safety grounds - and no we couldn’t get some money off because of that. Outrageous! Couldn't get anywhere 'near' the stones - BIG disappointment and anti climax. . . got lost on the way back and ended up doing a huge detour in the dark drizzle all around Somerset!!!!!. Nasty drive home - BIG headache. . . BB re-heated soup for tea in minutes thank god . . . PS called to touch base . . . walked in the rain . . . TVd with a glass or two of wine and watched Big Ben chime in the new year on TV. SO very tired - both to bed pretty soon after midnight. (-/10)aaas