An Explanatory Statement

A Film by Frances Medley

On 13 January the inquest was held into the death of Frances Medley. The conclusion was that she had ‘ended her life at a time and in the manner of her own choosing.’ The word suicide was never mentioned. Fran would have been pleased as that was the distinction she wanted to make herself.

Fran made the decision to end her own life a long time before she carried it out in September. She prepared meticulously for what she was going to do, including making a film in which she explained the reasons behind her decision. Initially this film was intended for those who knew her but perhaps did not know her innermost thoughts – those who would want to understand ‘why?’ To that effect one of Fran’s last wishes was that the film would be shown at her funeral; and indeed it was, at her wake at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff on 7th Oct 2013, to a profoundly moved audience.

In the film Fran describes how her MS was taking away ‘the essence of who she was’ through chronic pain, increasing irrecoverable loss of mobility and progressive degeneration, all of which was ultimately leading her to need the care of others – a road which she refused to take. Added to this – and exacerbated by it – was the poor management of her health by the NHS, which she chronicled well in this blog.

Many at her funeral, as well as Fran’s family and close friends, feel this film is an extremely powerful account of what Fran and others in her position go through. It was always Fran’s wish that anything in her life and death should be useful to others, and it is with that in mind that this film is being given a larger audience now.  We hope that it will form part of a larger discussion about end of life and healthcare for those with incurable conditions. It also stands as a testament to this particular woman’s great courage, personal power and dignity

Feel free to share it.


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Guardian Tribute

A fitting tribute to the celebrated Spinster in the Guardian.

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Or this..

The funeral of the Sophisticated Spinster, Frances Medley, will be held at Thornhill Crematorium, Thornhill Road, Llanishen, Cardiff, CF4 5UA at 3pm on Monday October 7th and afterwards at Chapter Arts Centre, Market Road, Canton, Cardiff, CF5 1QE.

Family flowers only. Donations in lieu to The Blenheim Counselling Service c/o A G Adams, Ty Newydd Funeral Home, Gladstone Road, Barry, CF62 8NA


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A Sophisticated Sign Off

MK4_4914aWell dear readers the Spinster has decided to call it a day; Cruella has simply exhausted me emotionally and physically. The prospect of further rapid deterioration was both terrifying and not one I wanted to entertain. The Spinster decided to end her life in a manner and at a time of my choosing; I am very clear that, whilst the law might say otherwise, I AM NOT COMMITTING SUICIDE.

It has been just over 8 years since the Spinster was given the unwelcome gift of a chronic incurable degenerative disease; one that would destroy my life slowly at first and then in leaps and bounds. In just over 10 years this Spinster went from being a higher rate tax payer responsible for running a public body – (as an aside I believe I was the youngest woman to do this at the age of 30) – to a position last year where I didn’t earn enough to pay tax. The loss of my independence both financially and physically has been extremely difficult for me. Without the financial support of my immediate family I would have had to seek the support of the State; whilst of course I was entitled to resort to this I found the prospect humiliating.  Pride is a terrible thing; a real burden at times of need.

The Spinster fortunately peaked early on life and so I don’t leave with rafts of regrets or things I wish I’d done. Happy with my lot is perhaps an exaggeration but had the Spinster persisted my ability to do things would have been daily reduced; my potential it seems has been fulfilled. The values by which the Spinster has conducted her life are: clarity, integrity and wisdom with curiosity and creativity added in for Victorious Endeavours. These principles have served the Spinster well as I leaving this mortal coil with a clear conscience albeit with a limited bank balance! Integrity is not a road paved with gold!!

So live life as though it could be snatched away from you in a heartbeat; take managed risks avoiding recklessness; and treat your fellow travellers with tenderness and care. Hold your tongue at times when you risk blurting out judgemental potentially hurtful comments; we seldom know the full back story.

Good bye and good luck ladies (and fellow male travellers too).

The Spinster signs off with sophistication.

Post script:

The Contemporary Spinster Frances Medley was found dead at her home on 18 September 2013. Loved by many, may she rest in peace. Funeral arrangements will be posted on this site when they are known.



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Bloody Cars!

racEvery now and then something comes from left field kicking a carefully scheduled day into touch. (The football reference may not be entirely accurate given the Spinster’s limited interest into activities involving balls). Whilst away en famille my car was driven by a friend as it seemed a tad mean to leave the black beast reclining unused outside the house. Nothing unusual or untoward about this so far. The Spinster arrived back in God’s Country on Sunday driven (competently but rather swiftly) by my darling brother and the car was due back yesterday. 810 am mid hair taming session the telephone rings; anything before 9 am alarms this gal given that the Spinster requires an ever-increasing length of time to prepare to tackle the day!

The caller is the friend who has borrowed the car, she asks if the car has ever done anything strange and if so what did I do. Basically as the car was driven out of a junction something happened; a sound as if something had dropped and then the steering ceased leaving the car stationary in the middle of the road at rush hour! Now putting myself in the driver’s shoes the Spinster can fully appreciate the rising panic that she must have been experiencing; my brother on the other hand takes a masculine laid back approach.

The Spinster has RAC breakdown cover but of course this is for me not the person driving the car (she is insured to drive the vehicle) so in my mind I have to do two things: one phone RAC and two get meself to the car asap. The added dimension being the driver of the car is on the way to the airport! No pressure then lady. But of course the Spinster hasn’t got a car; no I am reliant on a third-party my brother who is about to drive back to the North East where he lives. Fabulous boy has just made his sister a cafetière of coffee appreciating the Spinster is best given a wide berth until sufficiently topped up with stimulants: caffeine, nicotine and Fentanyl. As an aside the Spinster is loving the unintended consequence of my brother working away; duty-free fags – how can it be right that 200 purchased in China cost the same as 20 in Barry? Hmm don’t answer that…

Hopping downstairs the Spinster goes to the kitchen to where my brother is; OK I confess I am a bit stressed at this point, the phrase ‘neurotic’ female wouldn’t have been an unfair description. BUT nevertheless the Spinster NEEDS to phone the RAC and get to Cardiff at warp speed (insert number that implies super fast). And yes I am also sufficiently self-aware to observe that the Spinster did resort to pleading my brother to get going! The image of a dear friend stuck in the middle of a busy road being roundly abused by irate drivers kept flashing through my head plus the idea of her missing her flight was frankly TOO much to bear.

On the way to Cardiff the RAC man phones and says he’ll be with me in 10-15 minutes; at this point we are stuck in traffic about 5-10 minutes away from our destination. The Spinster has not had any breakfast and the coffee remains undrunk; fear not I am chain-smoking those duty-free fags whilst simultaneously sucking Fentanyl lollies! So picture this the Spinster is half way presentable (the phone call having interrupted those essential sartorial preparations) my face is practically rigid and resembles a porcelain mask worn by Japanese theatre practitioners; pinpoint pupils flicking frantically as I attempt not to vomit expletives! Tidy look ladies!

We arrive at the car which by now has been pushed to the side of the road; my friend is remarkably calm as she explains what happened so the Spinster can ‘authoritatively’ tell the eagerly awaited RAC man! By now it’s just gone 9 am and the three of us are standing on the pavement chatting; the other two seem relatively relaxed something the Spinster hasn’t quite managed. Somehow I also manage to miss the phone call from the RAC man who has left a message saying he can’t find me; now to be honest it could have been my fault, the Spinster may have given the name of the wrong road in the frantic melee of 810 am. Either way the RAC man is only a couple of streets away thankfully.

Friend leaves for the airport in a taxi; it transpires the flight isn’t until 1140 so there was only ever a remote chance of her missing the flight – had the Spinster had the presence of mind to ask this small detail then my stress levels could possibly have been a little less stratospheric! Brother then leaves around 10 am having ascertained that his presence was no longer required; no point ruining everyone’s day! The problem has by now been diagnosed the dropping as the car had turned was the clip in the drive shaft on the front offside wheel snapping.

Over the next 2 plus hours the diminutive RAC man who amused me as he neither looked old enough or strong enough to get to grips with such a task; but the Spinster was wrong, very wrong. Before phoning the Seat garage to ask if they had the replacement part he had tried to make one out of ‘stuff’ in his van a la Ms Allsop Make do and Mend or perhaps Val Singleton (?) of Blue Peter from sticky back plastic and string. Mr RAC demonstrated an incredible degree of ingenuity and innovation but sadly nothing worked. The garage say the parts department will phone back which of course they don’t so we abandon my useless vehicle on the side of the road and drive to the garage.

Before realising the temporary solution wasn’t going to work the Spinster was to drive the car to the Garage; carefully taking every bend VERY wide to avoid the wheel falling off. The RAC man gave me a little pep talk reassuring me that he would be right behind me and would cover me (whatever that meant)! Other than the possibility of having a fag inside as opposed to on the pavement there was nothing appealing about this prospect…thankfully it never came to me having to piss off other drivers as I took each corner very wide marginally missing their stationary vehicles at the junction!

Of course the Spinster had a bunch of appointments yesterday: one friend due at 11, another with her gorgeous daughter at 2, a third at 330 and two more at 7ish! Nothing like using one’s time productively but to be honest it was always going to be a challenge and this car disaster was frankly more than a tad inconvenient. At the garage it seems to take an inordinate amount of time for the Parts Department to conclude they didn’t have the part, a clip costing 41p, in stock! RAC man returns to the van to deliver the bad news.

There were two options: leave the car at the Seat garage or take it to a small garage opposite Fairwater Police Station; the Spinster always takes the car to the dealer something the RAC couldn’t get his head round. The small garage will do it quicker and cheaper he tells me so off we go to Fairwater where 11 am friend is waiting to pick me up to go home. There the story concludes (almost) with me getting back to Barry at 1230 over 4 hours after that initial phone call! The Spinster gets increasingly irritated when things out of my control gobble up time; you never get those hours back and the impact of all that uninvited stress no doubt does nothing for a gal’s blood pressure!

The garage phoned later that afternoon; the good news they could get the part and the bad news the magic 41p clip cannot be purchased without the whole drive shaft unit so the repair bill will be c£350! But the Spinster requires a car; when your legs don’t work the car takes their place so the car is currently in the garage. Hopefully I will get the car back today as although I wasn’t planning on going out today because I can’t I WANT to! Great for a diet ladies being house bound; no prospect of popping to the shop for ‘treats’. So if the Spinster needs a blast of additives there is a choice of cold pizza from yesterday or the Doritos my brother left behind; think I’ll give the random bottle of Badger beer a miss!

Now if only I could put me hand on the card with the garage’s telephone number on…

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Close Scrutiny

glassesThere can be few words more alarming for a sophisticated Spinster than ‘so are we doing your lip as well today?’ The context of the conversation monthly personal maintenance; shaping and tinting of ones eyebrows. Quite what one is supposed to say once such an issue has been raised? ‘Oh no let’s leave the moustache au natural today!’ Foraying into the world of the beautician tends to deliver an awareness of the ‘sins of excess body hair’; a vanity that frankly doesn’t come naturally to the Spinster!

It transpired that the Beautician had recently acquired some new hot wax that she was desperate to apply to pretty much any unsuspecting victim to cross the threshold of her emporium. So yes the Spinster allowed the substance to be smeared across her top lip, between her eyes (the mono brow is the height of facial hair crimes; Dennis Healey a lady is not) and underneath the bottom lip, the bit that is on top of the chin curve thing! Disturbingly the hot wax is stretchy; like melted sugar used to decorate posh puddings. And yes when it’s removed with little paper strips it does make a gal draw breath rather sharply; and no the moistening of the eyes is absolutely not down to tears!

Auntie, in spite of her challenging idiosyncrasies, occasionally offers advice both welcome and useful. None I hasten to add are her own ideas; this lady is influenced by the last person to whom she spoke! Auntie’s handy hints: shaping your eyebrows gives your face a lift; the genesis of this tip is lost in the annals of the Spinster’s cavernous memory, these days filled with a vacuum rendering ones thought process akin to an echo chamber! Oh the joys of a post 40 pharmaceutically addle brain! The other handy hint came from a talk given at Cameo; a ladies lunch club with a regular programme of speakers. Said speaker apparently told the gathered throng that a nude bra should be worn under white to avoid a lady’s undergarment’s been on view; this the Spinster has taken to heart as it’s absolutely spot on!

This week the Spinster is staying my parents house where rather extensive building work is being undertaken in the garden. The construction of raised beds and retaining walls to make the garden more manageable; a larger version of the Spinster safe arrangement in Wales. What is a bit weird is that the builder(s) are guys my age that the Spinster went to school with; seeing each other as proper adults for the first time. Let’s face it we are all in our 40s with 20 plus years of work experience behind us; and yet the Spinster found herself momentarily back in the school yard.

‘Do you remember me from school?’ the Spinster asked. ‘Yes and how’s your brother? the builder responded. Hmm I wonder what precisely this guy remembers; a wall flower of muted camouflage shades affording more than a degree of invisibility was the child the Spinster was 25 plus years ago. This guy I remember being attractive in a young teenager’s eyes; and now his slightly nasal camp local accent sounds, well odd. But we’ve all changed and none of us are oil paintings! But the Spinster could really have done with this guy keeping his t-shirt on; let’s face it I wasn’t about to reciprocate preferring to keep this particular flesh mound well covered! And yes ladies the Spinster does have a problem with man boobs; sorry but I do! And yet the craftsmanship with natural stone is really rather good…

On the subject of time passing the Spinster has been going to see the aforementioned beautician for over 10 years; we’ve got to know each other personally as well as professionally. The problem is we’re both of an age where close scrutiny requires assistance; glasses augment the eyeball functioning process. The first time she put her glasses on the attend to the Spinster’s eyebrows I didn’t think anything of it aside from silently noting that this gorgeous specimen’s visage was further enhanced with stylish frames. More recently the Spinster has noticed the tidying process is well not quite as tidy as it used to be; at what point does one take ones business elsewhere? Loyalty it seems comes with an element of compromise; let’s face it that’s what the Spinster’s clients have done albeit I don’t let any of them anywhere near me face with sharp implements!

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Spinsterial Boy Racer

old_lady_drivnigCruella has decided she doesn’t like long distance driving; in fact she’s not that fussed on driving at all which is supremely irritating. So today the Spinster is being driven to Derbyshire by lovely kind friend. A few weeks ago I decided that the steering wheel was getting a bit slippery; the traction i.e. the roughness has worn off after 7 years of man, or rather woman, handling by the Spinster. Winter when leather gloves can be worn overcomes the slippage issue but frankly summer linen and leather is not a sophisticated sartorial combination the Spinster is prepared to entertain; safer it may be sophisticated it is not!

So the solution seemed obvious the Spinster was going to have to explore a steering wheel cover; images of 1970’s Capri drivers suddenly overwhelmed me. Lord not a leather or sheepskin number there must be other options; there are indeed other options ladies. The question is does one go to the ‘mobility’ shop or Halfords? Disabled driver or boy racer; neither role is Spinster appropriate but on balance I decided to go for boy racer. Off I toddle to Halfords in Barry Dock where the Spinster had been assured not only could I purchase a cover but the ‘boys’ would put it on; that was the clincher – the opportunity to see a ‘boy’ dressing my (steering) wheel was irresistible!

Of course it’s seldom that straightforward; oh no the Spinster was about to test Halfords customer service to its limits. Quite how this vulnerable middle aged disabled woman could do this escapes me; the menacing German crutches are apparently a wee bit scary especially to short Barry boys! Step one approach a sale assistant to ask where the steering wheel covers are located; explain the problem the Spinster is attempting to resolve. Saturday morning and the sale assistant is an endangered species in Halfords so lurking is required.

Five minutes and the prey is located. The Spinster prepares to pounce (slowly so as to avoid loosing ones balance – certainly pinning people to the ground does get the individual’s attention but possible a tad over the top on this occasion). Callow youth moves rather swiftly in response to my query; at this point the Spinster smirks to herself as I haven’t a hope in hell of keeping up with him. Eventually the sales assistant will realise he’s talking to himself!

A selection is offered and the Spinster chooses the one that seems the best fit with my criteria: purchase i.e. easy to grip. The cover is a combination of padding foam and rough plastic bits at the 10 to 2 driving position – remember that’s the one we’re taught when learning to drive! £9.99 is an acceptable price. ‘Will someone fit it for me?’I ask. ‘You need to pay for it first’ the sales assistant answers. The Spinster resists the temptation to say ‘no sh*t sherlock’!

Transaction complete I ask the cashier if someone will fit it now to which he responds ‘no we don’t fit them. It’s quite easy’. Explaining that someone has just told me Halfords would fit it the cashier tells me (again) that this service is not available. Sighing loudly the Spinster reaches for the cover (with crutch still attached to my arm I inadvertently clip the ankle of the person behind me). ‘OK I’ll give it a go’. To say the Spinster is ANNOYED is an understatement; today, as every day, my manual dexterity is rubbish. It’s akin to wearing boxing gloves and trying to thread a needle!

I get to the car, open the door and stare at the steering wheel. Silently saying ‘right you bugger let’s get you dressed’! As I am about to get into the car a young sale assistant suddenly appears ‘Did you need a hand?’.  Bemused I explain I had been told Halfords didn’t provide the kind of help I needed. ‘Are you sure he (the cashier) wasn’t joking, you know being ironic?’ ‘Oh no he was absolutely clear’ the Spinster responded going on to explain why fitting a stretching tube onto a rigid wheel was going to be difficult when I couldn’t feel my hands.

Watching the young man (admiring his rather gorgeous mop of black curly hair; only just resisting the temptation to run me fingers through it) – who tells me he’s grateful for a chance to sit down for a few minutes! Happy to help I thought! It requires a considerable amount of force to stretch the cover and get it right; there is no way the Spinster could have done it! I could envisage me getting a pair of scissors and a roll of parcel tape to get it in place! Thanks to the cute young man with common sense and compassion poor customer service was rescued but I couldn’t help but think why did it have to be so difficult….

The cover has made the driving experience rather more competent but of late Cruella has taken against it; the hyper sensitivity of the skin on my hands (the muscle tissue is now largely numb/dead) has increased! Last week the Spinster genuinely felt as if the rough plastic bits were tearing the palms/finger tips to pieces; no blood was shed but it certainly felt like it was about to at any moment!!!

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Degrees of Separation & Harpers Bazaar

Harpers BazaarYou know that seven degrees of separation thing? The number of connections between people; the number varies but as we know in Wales it tends to be less than seven. Hmm it occurs to me that the development of social media is built on this concept albeit the Spinster frequently raises an eyebrow before raising a finger and rather too enthusiastically pressing delete when receiving random friend requests (whilst silently saying ‘I don’t think so’!). I am sooo not interested in being a Facebook (or Linked In) Queen with oodles of ‘friends’ or ‘connections’; yes there are some advantages to being in those invisible middle years (where women disappear)!

Yesterday the Spinster was, for once, happy to be stuck in traffic; had I not I would have missed the piece on Womens Hour about Harpers Bazaar republishing a short story by Virginia Woolf (originally published in 1939 (I think). The degrees of separation link, and yes for once there is a direct connection between the Spinster’s sentences, relates to the Editor in Chief at Harpers Bazaar; a woman called Justine Picardie. Some years ago I bought Before I say goodbye a book bringing together the articles written by Ruth Picardie in the Observer. Justine had commissioned her sister Ruth to write the column/series of articles about her diagnosis with, and subsequent death from, breast cancer.

The book is candid and moving as she talks about the journey of her disease; she had very young children and was only a young woman herself. When going through my book shelves recently the Spinster came across not only Ruth’s book but also the one Justine had written about the year following her sister’s death. How do you cope with the cruel premature death of a close sibling? Justine also frankly explores her anger, sadness and how she not exactly comes to terms with it but how she lives without Ruth.

white catThe Picardie sisters mother lives in Cardiff and some years ago a close friend of the Spinster lived next door to her. One day I had, for reasons that now escape me, had agreed to take on an ancient white cat from a friend of a friend who had become unwell and was having to rehomed numerous cats. Again for reasons lost in the mists of times I was unable to have the cat where I was living. So the friend, who lived next door to the Picardie sisters mother, agreed that he would look after the sorry looking beast temporarily; the only problem was the white cat got out and disappeared! The houses backed onto Pontcanna Field’s and the manky looking feline suddenly had a burst of energy and legged it. The Spinster wasn’t about to give up and went back to the house for days calling the cat’s name. One day the neighbour heard me calling in the garden and said ’you do know white cats are congenitally deaf?’ Oh did I feel stupid! And no I never found the cat…

So the circle ends with the Spinster on a mission; where could I find a copy of September’s Harpers Bazaar? After a rather unsatisfactory lunch with a friend in Pontcanna it suddenly came to me; Waitrose in Barry of course where else! And I did, along with a copy of Intelligent Life (cultural offshoot of the Economist) with an Inspiring Women feature that intrigued me (who does inspire Meryl Streep the Spinster wondered (haven’t read it yet so I can’t share it with you – top tip if you have an iPhone you can get an Intelligent Life ap free (well worth it)). I don’t know what was wrong with me yesterday as I actually ended up buying not one but two 5p carrier bags; sheer laziness perhaps? No the Spinster is absolutely not guilty of that! I just underestimated quite how fat Harpers Bazaar was going to be; it’s nearly an inch thick (with more than half being adverts for extraordinarily expensive clothes/bags).

The Spinster’s latest Cruella induced challenge necessitates 2 crutches pretty much 24/7 (yes even when popping to the loo in the wee (no pun intended) small hours). Shopping is a logistical nightmare; OK a trolley (single person variety) helps but only one supermarket has one long enough to comfortably accommodate 2 sticks! I only needed a magazine so why would I need a trolley? Well have you ever tried I balance a thick glossy publication under your arm whilst simultaneously walking with crutches? Of course you fit buggers haven’t but believe me it’s a bit of a challenge! It kept slipping down; the Spinster’s forearms simply aren’t strong enough to perform both tasks simultaneously!

So 5p for a carrier bag seemed to be the solution; only of course the magazine went right through the pathetic plastic so the cashier gave me a second one in case the tear got bigger and it actually fell out! Now common sense would say put the torn bag inside a second bag; oh no he just stuffed a spare down the side!

At £4 nearly £5 the Spinster won’t be rushing to buy Harpers Bazaar again anytime soon; having spent several hours wading through it last night I’m pretty sure I don’t fall into the target audience! Physically and financially the majority of ‘stuff’ is way out of this Spinster’s league; I’ve never seen prices listed with ‘about’ before the number! But I confess to having found more to read than just the Virginia Woolf short story…including an article by Margaret Atwood!

The  short story had been discussed as having a contemporary resonance and I can see what the Womens Hour contributors meant but Mrs Woolf still has a time consuming intricate style the average fashionista might not willing to engage with. It’s right at the end of the several hundred pages and I’m guessing the majority of readers make not get there…



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When is a surprise not a surprise?

Rose BouquetThe Spinster is cross; no livid would be a more accurate description of how one felt yesterday evening. Yesterday was my parent’s wedding anniversary; 45 years no mean feat these days. I found a brilliant card with the quaint ‘Marriage is about commitment. So is insanity’  above one of those sepia photographs of a dour face couple taken from the days of the American Midwest or pretending to be farmers – the man is holding a pitchfork, the woman well as I can’t remember anything significant about her I’m guessing she just wore an expression of resignation! Fortunately mum shares my sense of humour and said she liked the card..she could have just been being polite but one likes to think we’ve reach an age where honesty is acceptable.

As the Spinster’s brother is currently working outside the UK and isn’t minded to remember marking such occasions I took it upon myself to arrange for flowers to be sent from both of us. Darling Dad – he of the hedge trimming this weekend (not hair cutting as someone thought – in a shop yesterday the Spinster was discussing parental matters with the woman serving me. ‘Oh yes Dad was 85 yesterday (21 August) but he still managed to cut the hedge in 3 hours‘ to which she responded ‘well he did a good job. Was that was he used to do?’  I looked bemused and she continued ‘its a good cut, it look’s nice’ what she thought I’d said was ‘hair cut’! I had indeed had my hair cut by the midwife earlier that week! Note to self speak more clearly; communication is key – heaven knows what people have thought Cruella has been doing to me!) So for Dad’s birthday I’d sent a case of wine.

When I hadn’t heard from them by late afternoon it suddenly occurred to me that the delivery had gone awry; again. It’s all the matter of one little word; lane not street. The family have lived in the same house since it was built around 1970 and ever since then post has been delivered to the wrong house. But the Spinster had gone with a reliable trustworthy retailer; no I haven’t quite gone the whole hog, I’ve not yet used the clan default John Lewis (I am more my mother’s daughter than my auntie’s niece thankfully but there’s time yet!). Marks and Spencer can usually be relied upon to deliver good quality flowers as long as you steer clear of the Monthly Bouquet that is too often found to feature colours that clash (in my opinion of course; all a matter of personal taste). 

WineAt 7ish (post the Archers – OK yes the Spinster admits to listening to that soap especially when there’s a salacious storyline which there is at the moment; simulated sex scenes of the radio are causing much tutting on Feedback (get over yerselves people how do you think the farmers survive? The pigs, sheep, cows are at it like blinking bunnies so it’s a lot to expect that the humans don’t want their own piece of the action..even if they are about as discriminating as farm animals.. this listener could do with a bit more background description not less!) Anyway I digress; again. So I phoned home and asked casually ‘did you get anything today?’ for that read the subtext ‘anything you might like to say THANKYOU for?’. ‘You must be psychic I was about to phone you’ answers mother. ‘We had a bottle this evening’ I refrain from saying ‘what a whole bottle?’!  ‘Anything else?’ I ask to which mum says no. So now the proverbial pussy has popped out of the metaphorical bag; the surprise is no longer a surprise. It then gets ‘better’. Brace yerself the next bit is all about the details; the fine details. For clarity Ma and Pa live at number 16 Church Lane. The man who lives opposite number 16  Church Street saw Parcelforce draw up and knowing the lady who lives there was out signs for the case of wine. Noticing the address label says 16 Church Lane he drives to my parental home to say there’s a parcel for them; for some reason (probably his age) he didn’t take the parcel with him. 

So my poor Mother has to drive to Church Street, put the case of wine in the car, drive home and carry it into the house. What’s the problem I hear you cry – aside from the fact the Spinster has paid a delivery charge? Close yer ears Ma (she is a reader of this blog). Mum will be 70 in October and has chronic rheumatoid arthritis; her hands are horrible deformed rendering lifting/carrying difficult. So suddenly the nice surprise becomes a bit of a burden; no wonder she opened a bottle that evening! The flowers are nowhere to be seen at this point. The Spinster is more than a bit annoyed at this point; I decided a pithy little terse email rather than a full on potentially rude telephone call was prudent. So I spent 20 minutes crafting a suitable response; once I could find somewhere to send one. What is wrong with a nice big button on the website that says ‘complaints’ or ‘have we inadvertently fallen short of your expectations’ i.e. have we royally pissed you off! What is the point of sat nav I wondered if Parcelforce driver’s don’t use it? Or perhaps literacy is not a requirement for the job of driver?

The thing is once a birthday or anniversary present or in this case both doesn’t arrive on time then it’s all a bit late. What precisely can a Company do to make it better? So in the circumstances the Spinster felt there was nothing to lose; my brother (in his absence) would doubtless agree! I asked for a full refund for both items and a redelivery of the flowers. This morning Mum phoned to say that the lady who lives at 16 Church Street had turned up with a battered box of flowers; the roses were still lovely although showing signs of being left in an unknown outside location.

As the Spinster is currently being phoned 7 plus times a day by O2 harassing me about my eligibility for an upgrade – when ask how much I was paying currently I thought it perfectly reasonable to say ‘if you’re phoning from O2 you should already know that’ – I had put my phone on silent to avoid having yet another pointless conversation I’m frankly not ready to have right now! So I missed the phone call from Marks and Spencer’s  only realising I should turn it back on when in the Tesco car park around 345. By this time an email had been sent so I checked that too. Well ladies all I can say is if you’re not happy tell them as not only had the full cost of both items been refunded replacement flowers will be sent along with a second case of wine for Dad! 

WineBless my darling Dad not only did he appear to have not registered he’d received a case of wine nor did he remember having drunk the wine (less than an hour before the conversation)! So he can now been unsurprised all over again! He’s an eccentric old bugger but still a devil with the manual shears; pity treating the privet mean does indeed make it keen as it just encourages more growth! When he was staying at the weekend he fixated on having forgotten the cream the doctor had given him for eczema on his back. Knowing I had some hydro cortisone in the bathroom I offered to apply some which he was happy with. Next evening he asked me to apply the cream again; only the Spinster had forgotten where it was. Confidently I told my mother where it was, where I thought it was at least only it wasn’t there. I confess I should have been a tad more patient but I was having a cigarette downstairs and was rather keen to finish it! Mean daughter! So I ‘stomped’ upstairs limping from side to side and into the bathroom. The cream was nowhere to be seen and Dad was getting ‘annoyed’. Hmm I thought what do I do now knowing this was not going to end well unless the cream could be applied.

So the Spinster did something a little bit sneaky; I spied my moisturiser and knowing he’d never know the difference I squirted a bit out (it’s expensive! I did momentarily consider using a cheap one but that felt tooo mean) and rubbed it on his back. Peace returned immediately and Dad trotted off to bed. When downstairs with Ma who was watching Harry Potter I had to confess what I’d done; we shared a conspiratorial smile, no words were needed….

PS In case your were worrying when the Rat Man came the box was empty; the delicious wax blocks had not even been nibbled…so my new best friend will come again next week. The Spinster saw the van pull up and saw the Rat Man get out and amble across the road rather slowly; I wondered if he was thinking ‘oh it’s the disabled woman; she likes to chat…

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The Midwife is Marvellous!

As the week has progressed the Spinster has been overwhelmed with the whiff of testosterone; all disturbing, albeit not entirely unwelcome, within the confines of Chez Moi. Cruella continues to display bored behaviour to the extent the Spinster wonders if the minx has ADHD; perhaps this is why I can corral i.e. temporarily control her with the brain enhancing pills purchased over the internet. I confess to not entirely understanding why a stimulant would help an already overactive brain; probably getting the neurons to all do the same thing rather than a million things simultaneously. Hmm frankly they help so the Spinster doesn’t care!

mixedAfter managing to cut through my left index finger tip whilst doing something with scissors; probably cutting the mass of flowers purchased from the reduced box in Morrisons. The Spinster adores cut flowers; the pink antirrhinums (snapdragons to me and you) 2 bunches 79p each went perfectly with the baby’s breath 1 bunch 59p creating a lovely cottage garden feel although every time the Spinster walks passed I am drawn to tweaking the blooms as the dinky white flowers seem to overwhelm and silence the usually chatty dragons!

rosesThe salmon pink roses 1 bunch 79p placed in the ‘study’ by the back door look OK but the ratio of the height of the stems to the height of the vase isn’t quite right! The Spinster has been chronically enabled (and disabled) by that evening class in flower arranging my ma did decades ago! Finally the lilies reduced to £1.99 (and yes they are something one would normally purchase); when the Spinster picked the lilies out I was struck by the fact the stems seem to have undergone some form of prolapsed! When the lilies were unwrapped; laid bare as it were the ‘kink’ half way up was obvious; but fear not I thought the solution is simple a shorter vase. Which is fine until the blessed things open when one expects to come down one morning to find floral civil war has erupted; a risk this Spinster is prepared to take!lillies

The bleeding finger tip was an ongoing challenge; Sunday the blood was soaked in left over dental gauze (the kind that makes a gal gag when stuffed in ones mouth when driving); Monday morning the plaster came off in the shower after swimming the blood just kept pouring out only to be stemmed by the donation (from me mate) of the odd sock she had been using on account of having forgotten her ‘puff’; and Tuesday morning the muslin cloth (leftover from the Liz Earle facial wash box set given to the Spinster by my big Godson!). How could one little cut cause so many problems?

Later on Sunday evening the Spinster found water standing in the bottom of the dishwasher; an essential appliance when one is a manually incompetent as I am! Why do you always find out these problems when you’ve just made food; hot food which by the time the problem is resolved is at best lukewarm  the least palliative temperature one finds? Having tackled the scum build up on the filter the Spinster stood and starred at the empty machine; and the pile of dirty dishes in the ceramic Belfast sink. Hmm what the ??? am I going to do now? Obviously one can’t go to bed with a sink of dirty dishes; someone might see (there is always the risk that Cruella has an aggressive fit of the vapours overnight rendering the Spinster bedridden requiring the assistance of a third party) and the last thing one wants to do is to give the impression one is not coping! Besides which dirty dishes look even dirtier in the 6am pre swim gloom.

So the Spinster did a spot of domestic juggling having squirted TOO much fairy into the sink; and now I know how those chips in the ceramic sink got there! The plastic washing up bowl having been used for compost months ago when the Spinster had a functioning dishwasher! And what is it about new tea towels; the cheap bundle variety that look so appealing but have the absorbency of seaweed? £5 for 12 is not a bargain at this point no matter how decorative they might be!!

Bugger this for a game of cards I think the dishes can dry themselves off in the cupboard; leaving them to dry on the worktop will simply result in the Spinster finding herself with a dust pan and brush at 3am – whilst one seldom falls when wandering in the early hours my spacial awareness seems to disappear altogether! But hey on the bright side the ‘sleep disturbance’ inducing drugs do mute the pain (some of the time)!

Next morning having arrived back from swimming with a soggy sock wrapped around the bleeding left hand – of course gripping a crutch handle sufficiently tight enough to balance just makes the bleeding more profuse! The Spinster prioritises finding someone to sort the dishwasher out; the web is wonderful I can highly recommend Assured Electrical Solutions: place phone number in box, within seconds phone rings and woman answers! OK it’s 930 am and the Spinster has apparently interrupted something as having answered the phone I hear ‘can you hang on a minute, have you got a pen and paper, OK let me take your details and someone will phone you back within an hour. I’m out at the moment’.  Oh lord I think who have I called. But within an hour a man calls back and within 2 ½ hours there a man at me door!

Now it seems prudent for the Spinster to answer the door on two crutches; OK I don’t have much choice at the moment and one to anxious not to give the wrong impression by inadvertently toppling into the arms of random male callers! The Assured engineer doesn’t exactly reassure the Spinster as he has a noticeable absence of tools and the fresh faced appearance of an apprentice! But no no no one mustn’t judge and the Spinster metaphorically slaps herself whilst simultaneously (albeit silently) shouting ‘don’t behave like Auntie!’

So having ascertained the problem he returns to his van (complete with logo so seems official). Diagnosis not having been assisted by the fact that the Spinster had spent 20 minutes on me hands and knees decanting the scummy water out of the dishwasher with a small jug i.e. there is no longer any water standing in the appliance. Don’t even think of asking when this frankly pointless task seemed a good idea; but one is pleased that this strange man does not have to see the scum on the filter – please one doesn’t actually want the world to know ones inner appliance hygiene is someone lacking!

Deciding it was a good idea to locate myself in a position where discrete surveillance was possible i.e. so the Spinster can watch him to see what he’s doing I sit checking emails in the study. For study read the tiny space at the back of the kitchen where a desk has been built into the alcove; excellent use of limited space!

After about 20 minutes during which the Spinster ‘bombards’ the guy with enquiries I look into the kitchen. Curiously he is lying on the floor blowing into one of the hoses at the back of the machine! Swallowing a snigger – how often can I gal say for £55 she got her pipes blown in her own kitchen; cheap joke I admit! As the Spinster ends up coughing – swallowing a laugh seems to constitute multitasking these days god Cruella is such a kill joy!!

Poor bloke renders himself breathless and red in the face; please don’t pass out the Spinster thinks whilst momentarily panicking! Sitting himself up he says ‘that should have got rid of the blockage’; bless you young man you have absolutely NO idea how reassuringly understated those words are!!

Yesterday the Midwife came; another young man with the power to raise the Spinster’s spirits! For some reason a friend of mine thinks the guy who cuts my hair looks like a midwife; a profession he has never considered he told me when I passed on this random observation. This morning impatient to be in a state of readiness for the Rat Man who is coming sometime between 830 and 1 pm to check the black box he put in the garden a week ago; at 1025 am the Spinster is still in a state of unfulfilled readiness!

ratThe question is do I ask to see the contents of the black box or not? Given that last night’s Fentanyl induced ‘sleep disturbance’ involved the Spinster encountering a rodent nibbling away at VERY CLOSE quarters I should probably decline the offer should it be made. The disturbing part about the ‘dream’ was this Spinster wasn’t frightened until I looked at its teeth; the rodent dentition was annoying clean and robust unlike my own choppers!!!

Ha just been lulled into almost throwing meself into the arms of a man wanting to tell me about the relevance of the bible; please don’t be offended but right now unless it can offer tips of rodent control or how to make the printer work this Spinster is BUSY! It was on the tip of me tongue to tell them that the door they had just been knocking on over the road belong to the eccentric lady who sadly died two days ago but thought I’d keep my counsel on this occasion; it made me smile reflecting on how the late Mrs H would have loved to give them the run around and then write a pithy little letter to the Barry Gem (she had a double barrelled name used for just this purpose).

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