2 October 2011

Dear Sophisticated Ladies

Curiously the 2nd October 2010 also fell on a Sunday; I note this simply as the date popped up when I saved this missive. How on earth is it already October? And a shade under 30 degrees Celsius; no wonder the poor plants in the garden are confused! When I heard on reliable Radio 4 that magnolia’s were once more in flower I immediately ‘dashed’ to the raised back bed to see if my Stellata was likewise in distress. No chance it’s taken the summer off as usual.

 This afternoon I was reading in the garden after working in Merthyr all day yesterday. The disembodied voice of my neighbour came through the tangled mixed Clematis-Honeysuckle hedge between our houses. As she talked it struck me that the encounter was a little like a confessional. We exchanged local intelligence noting that Ophelia in the house opposite had celebrated her first birthday this weekend.

 The series of parties one holds for a first birthday tend not to be repeated and the invitation list is eclectic shall we say. Attendees span the generations with older persons dressed appropriately for the occasion with ‘a (patterned) dress and jacket with matching handbag/shoes’ for her and a ‘casual’ shirt under a smart jacket for him. The curve of the male belly often sympathetically pregnant in scale; not a problem as long as the buttons are showing obvious signs of distress.

 My neighbour and I expressed pleasure that the car that had been mysteriously parked outside my neighbour’s house had finally gone. You will be pleased to know the abandoned vehicle had not encroached on ‘my’ space. Through a Miss Marple process of deduction my neighbour deduced that the owner of the shabby car (in her parking space) had returned from holiday with people who live two doors up. I added my two penneth saying I had concluded that they had been on honeymoon.How had I worked this one out I hear you ask? Well simple really as my neighbour had told me that the mother, (of the man two doors up), worked for the bank who deals with the accounts for the Dairy where my neighbour works. Are you keeping up ladies? And this being Barry i.e. somewhere secrets are seldom kept, the man’s mother had told my neighbour that her son was getting married. This was two/three weeks ago so the absence was likely to be a honeymoon cum holiday.

 No rocket science required; just a couple of brain cells able to generate friction when rubbed together! The couple two doors up have recently had a baby, a boy unless they are dressing a girl in blue for fun of course; this being Barry humour of this ilk is unlikely! But I am curious as to whom they took on holiday with them; a babysitter on ones honeymoon would be a good plan me thinks.

This week I woke up with toothache in two places. This is not in itself unusual as one of the side effects of the drugs is sensitive teeth; self diagnosis as dentist does not agree. The difference was that this time the pain didn’t subside as it usually does. Only a month or so ago I had visited the dentist for a filing and it was the same tooth this time; plus another. Fortunately my distress was mid-week and an appointment was available albeit not with my usual dentist. Frankly I didn’t care who I saw as long as they could stop the pain; toothache and earache are my bugbears! Curious for someone who spends most of her life juggling pain competently; so off I pop to Windsor Road Surgery.

 In preparation for the appointment I have tidied up my eyebrows which, given that my manual co-ordination is not exactly accurate, may not have been a good plan. I do indeed accomplish the task with only a couple of wince inducing pinches; no blood is drawn. My logic is that the dentist gets awfully close to ones face and even if they are ostensibly focussing on one’s mouth you can’t rule out that their eyes might wander!

 I am early. After 10 minutes the locum dentist calls my name; just as if I’ve been caught out doing something illicit I leap up! Then losing my balance I sit back down. Pink tunic encased Locum pauses not quite sure what to do. By now I’ve clocked the ill-fitting nature of the outfit; those uniform tops fitted with an inverted pleat flatter no one and should be banned! I’ve no idea where the Dentist I usually see is but the Locum either has hay fever or is fighting a cold (and cough). Although she is wearing a mask, and turns away from me to splutter, I’m not feeling exactly relaxed. Not seeing anything obvious she decides to X-ray the now throbbing area. I am amused by the way that the Locum and Nurse stand by the doorway when the picture is taken. Is it really safe for the patient if the practitioners have to stand by the door? The X-rays reveal nothing amiss but she decides to get the drill, trowel and grout out anyway. The injections follow and I am asked to wait in the room next door presumably so the Dentist can blow her nose and take a Lemsip. Every time I wince as she sticks the needle in she says ‘sorry’; how unnecessarily kind. Just pay more attention next time please!

 When I can no longer feel half my nose and lips the Nurse calls me in; I am just getting to the interesting bit in an article about Kate Winslet in Hollywood. Is the picture of the woman with bleached blonde hair really her? I shall never know now. A mere 40 minutes later I have two fillings and a second appointment as Locum is confident that one of the teeth will have to come out. The next appointment is in two weeks which given that Locum’s parting comment is that when the anaesthetic wears off it will hurt; a lot, seems a long time. Adding ‘you probably can’t take any more painkillers can you.’ Gee thanks lady!

 A friend has been visiting her elderly mother in hospital daily since her operation three weeks ago. Part of her bowel, a kidney and a bit of her pancreas were removed; she has had two infections one in her wound whilst in hospital. It has been a rollercoaster of good news followed by bad and yesterday the doctors asked my friend what they should do if her mother needed resuscitating. What a horrendous decision to have to take. Her mother has wavered between saying she wished they could give her an injection because she was so much trouble, to saying she didn’t want to die. Talking it over with her brother my friend said her mother should be resuscitated; and then she asks me if I think she’s made the right decision.

 What can you say? I said she was brave to have made the decision; that you can only make the decision based on what feels right now and if things changed then you think again. There is no right or wrong answer but I know you feel guilty either way. I send her a hug and say to let me know if she needs anything; anytime. Her husband and adult daughter are feeling neglected as she’s spending so much time at the hospital. I am sadly neither surprised nor speechless; my friend is a bloody unappreciated saint.

 Work is quiet although I am thankful I still have some work. What it means is that I need to attend meetings to meet people so they remember where I am when they have work. So this week I end up in a meeting about recycling theatre props and costumes; it is hilarious with people curiously cautious and open to ideas all at the same time. The woman leading the meeting works for the university and is the spokesperson on the 5p plastic bag scheme; the meeting is the day before the scheme goes live and she is a little distracted.

 Someone points out that the women are sitting on one side of the table and the men on the other. None of us know each other and lame jokes are welcome. Personally I am interested in getting involved in an initiative around recycling costumes as there is potential for a sustainable business incorporating training too.  What is the difference between vintage and second-hand I wonder? About £10 I suspect!

 As a freelancer I can ask the awkward questions and point out the obvious; I take full advantage enjoying it tremendously. No one will leave the meeting forgetting I was there especially as when they arrived I was sitting down; as we leave I reach under the table for my crutches simultaneously watching the response. It always amuses me how uncomfortable some people are with disability; as if it is infectious somehow – that’s why I make light of it to spare their blushes! They probably thought I was eccentric before then and they certainly will now! Yesterday I was facilitating an away day in Merthyr and was introduced as having a good pedigree – 57 varieties a la Heinz came to mind. A varied portfolio; eclectic guilty as charged, but pedigree mm not sure how I feel about that!

 Before the formal business of the day we were taken around the Old Town Hall; currently undergoing refurbishment and on its way to becoming an arts and creative industries centre. The highlight of the tour was the cells in the basement. Originally, before it was most recently used as a nightclub, the building had housed the Council and the Court. The single hanging cell where prisoners sentenced to death were held before being taken to Cardiff was sobering.

 I trust you have all taken advantage of the ‘Indian summer’ this weekend as I believe the normal seasonal behaviour will be reinstated by mid-week. Missed the opportunity to sell excess outfits on eBay again; or perhaps the canny shopper buys out of season?

 In sophistication as always

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