Friday, 14 September 2018

Feathered Ambition

Doves have been special to us ever since our courtship. When we moved to our current house we were delighted to see that there were doves nesting under the solar panels opposite. (See previous blog.)

However the owners of the solar panels were less impressed and blocked the birds’ access with wire netting. Still convinced that it was their home, the doves returned for a while but soon it became rarer to see them. 

I missed them.

Then I overheard a conversation in an upmarket junk shop in Cornwall. A woman browsing amongst the stuffed owls and Formica table tops was telling her companion how she had been given three pairs of doves as a wedding gift and now had a whole flock.
My ears flapped. My mouth gaped. I looked down to see I was gripping an antique prosthetic leg.

Hastily I put it down and left to ring Nigel. "We could get our own doves!"

Nigel did some research. 

There was an obstacle. In order to feel that our garden was their home, the birds would need to be cooped up here for 6 weeks. 
"But when would we be at home all the time for six whole weeks?"

When I've had surgery on my foot. That's when.

So we are seizing the day and getting some doves. At last I will not be the only one being "cooped up" at our house.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

A foot like a root vegetable

A red letter day was looming on the calendar. I was due to get x-rayed to see if my foot operation had been a success.

Fiona texted, "You know, don't you, that your foot will come out looking like a root vegetable. Take fake tan and a razor with you."
So not just any root vegetable then: a hairy root vegetable.

Perran said "Dead skin. There'll be lots of dead skin."
I peeked at my leg just inside my cast. It did look a tad...scaly.

All was about to be revealed. I hoped it would not be so bad that Nigel (accompanying me) could never again regard me as an attractive woman.

Perhaps there is the basis for a reality TV show? 
Forgotten celebrities desperate to revive failing careers could have their legs broken (perhaps by Timmy Mallett with a golden mallet), get put in plaster, and get judged on the quantity and quality of leg-hair and dead skin they managed to produce over six weeks. 
There would certainly be a “big reveal”. Not sure how they'd fill in the other six weeks of the series though.
Perhaps they could follow the celebrities as they discover that having a broken leg doesn't entitle you to park in a disabled space.  Or as they wait for ages outside the disabled loo because it doubles as a baby change facility.

But all this speculation was just a sideshow. Due back to work on Monday, I really needed the op to have worked.

At the hospital I tried to read the face of the radiologist. She was giving nothing away.

Finally the consultant greeted me, beaming. 
The bones had knitted.
Time to move on to a plastic boot and crutches.
“Thank you thank you thank you,” I said.
“We're not home and dry yet,” he said.

But at least the plastic boot covered up my hairy, scaly leg.
Get Well card from Liz

Friday, 31 August 2018

Wheelchair Lessons

I have had five weeks now of being non-weight-bearing.  That means not setting my foot to the ground, allowing bones to knit after surgery.  Around the house, I’ve been on a knee-scooter and zimmer frame.  Outside, in a wheelchair.  
I haven’t taken any chances.

Dawn said “I think every teenager should have to spend a spell in a wheelchair as part of their education.”

It has certainly been interesting.  I don’t know quite how to react when cheery strangers look at my plaster cast and ask “What have you been doing to yourself?” 

It reminds me of those times in pregnancy when somebody says “Can I put my hand on your bump?”  I’m all ready to resent these intrusions. 

But actually, these are usually the same people who make sure I am okay.  The majority don’t intrude, but neither do they check to see if there’s a wheelchair just behind them as they let the door swing in my face.

On a personal level, I have had to juggle patience, ingenuity and risk in a whole new way.  Stuck every day in the house, small housekeeping issues catch my eye.  Can I be patient and wait until Nigel has a moment to deal with them, or can I find a safe(-ish) way to reach/clean/lift it myself?  

I have discovered that I am a one-legged acrobat and a champion nag, but not terribly patient…. Definitely an education!

Thursday, 23 August 2018

A Cure for Cabin Fever

I’m currently spending the long summer holiday with a foot in plaster.  I mustn’t put any weight on it.

Nigel has wheeled me out on several occasions and pushed me around manfully.

However, I had given up on the idea of a girls’ outing and a giggle.  And I was getting cabin fever.

But then Jennie had an idea.
She researched attractions and accessibility and recruited two other heroes – Ann and Gill.

We were going to Kew Gardens.
I am hefty and my borrowed wheelchair primitive, so I packed a novel, ready for the moment when they could push me no more.  Frankly, I was expecting to be parked.
However, we had a glorious day, trundling past a grove of giant sequoias, a shady border of toad lilies, a pond floating delicate waterlilies.

My friends helped me to get close enough to smell the roses, to stroke the pom-pom centres of echinacea. Above, we could hear the kazoo squawks of parakeets, and in between that feast for my senses, I enjoyed the chat.

Even in the face of uphill gradient and difficult camber, the ladies refused to park me until right at the very end, when the waterlily house was just too challenging. 

Naturally I spent the journey home complaining that I hadn’t had time to finish my novel.

A couple of palm trees that Ann found unaccountably amusing.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Like a dachshund on wheels

Three weeks ago, I had surgery on my foot.  Three joints were fused so that eventually I shall be able to walk with less pain. 
I am not allowed to put my foot to the ground for six weeks and I have just passed the midpoint of that period.

I have hired a little scooter called a stride-on which is good for whizzing round the house.  
Outdoors I’m in a wheelchair.

It means that my life has been less full of incident than usual.  The main source of excitement is the odd occasion when I reverse my scooter too fast and whack my foot on something.
I have to keep citing the research that says swearing is a good tool for reducing the severity of pain experienced.

Perran has helped by finding Youtube videos of amputee dogs who have had wheels attached to them.  Apparently that is what I look like on my scooter.
Ha, ha, ha.

I have been torn between engaging my mind to devise clever strategies for achieving everyday activities, and simply saying, “Nah! Can’t do that.  Somebody else will have to pick it up/put it away/carry it upstairs.”

I’ve also used the time to force myself to do some of the World’s Dullest Sedentary Tasks:
Tidying my hard drive,
Reorganising my paper filing system,
Investigating my various bits of cloud storage.

I desperately hope that my foot heals according to plan or there’s a very real danger I might have to tackle the chest of drawers containing all our old photos and negatives.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

House Party

“Me and Perran and Zac and Ella are going to dress up as ABBA,” announced Carenza, “For our house party. The theme’s going to be Pop.”
“Oh, that sounds fun,” I say, “When’s that going to be?”
“So we’re having a look at cheap platform boots.”

A week later and Perran is musing on the party.
“We could decorate the house as if it was under-water – I know this brilliant way of attaching streamers to umbrellas to make them look like jelly fish.”
“Great idea.  So when is this aquatic-themed Abba party going to be then?”
“Maybe not, though.  Better just to stick to the idea of Pop.”

Nigel says, “Perran and Carenza are really looking forward to this house party they’re having, aren’t they?”
“Yes, although I’m not sure when it is.  Do you know?”

It turns out that although both of us have asked, neither of us knows.
They are clearly worried that we will turn up and embarrass them.

The very idea. 
After all, it’s more than a decade ago since we traumatised them by leaving the house for an Eighties Party with Nigel dressed as “Frankie goes to Bricket Wood”.


I Whatsapp them: “Am ordering my white satin cat-suit and want to make sure it arrives on time.  When did you say your party was again?”
No reply.
“Your father’s Gary Glitter chest wig has arrived.  Could you please tell us the date of your party so we know if we need to extend the hire period.”
No reply.

Eventually, we wine them and dine them and the date just slips out.
On the evening of the party, I Whatsapp again:
“We should be with you by 6.25.  Hope that’s not too early, but we want to allow plenty of time for pre-loading.”
Then in the morning:
“We knocked for ever such a long time, but nobody let us in.  Perhaps the music was too loud?”

I turn to Nigel: “Oh well.  I’m not convinced a white satin cat suit would have looked good on me anyway.”

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Love Island

"I can't believe you watch Love island" said Ann. And she's not the first. I guess because I'm a Latin teacher people think I'm high brow. 
And up to a point I am. 
Carenza who also watches Love Island says "It's vacuous and pointless but strangely fascinating "
But I think it's more than that. I think it has a timeless, epic quality.
Imagine "A Midsummer Night's Dream", but with an infinity pool.
ON ITV2, love is confusing and deluding and rewarding but so has it always been through the millennia.
And for me as a Classics teacher, the bronzed and fabulous beings on my screen recall the Greek gods. Never more than when they are duplicitous and steal a kiss behind their partner's back.
But the main way in which they differ is in their morality. 
The love islanders display a clear idea of good behaviour and morality. Mainly it is around being open about who you are pursuing and clearing the air if you tread on somebody's toes. 
The Greek gods indulged in prolonged deceit ( the affair of Ares and Aphrodite, even though she was married to Hephaestos). They had no interest in whether a woman consented or not ( out of many, many examples, Zeus and Europa, Apollo and Daphne). And women  would seek revenge on one another like Athena on Medusa, when it was all clearly the man's fault ( Poseidons). 
Nothing I have seen on this year's Love Island has touched this level of immorality.
Jack and Dani particularly, are the undisputed King and Queen (Zeus & Hera ) of the island, but none of the other bikini- clad beauties has turned Jack's head and the gracious Dani has no need to turn vengeful unlike poor Hera.
So which is a better example for our times? Love Island or Classics? 
I say Love Island.