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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