Week 95

10th October, 2010

When I was working, Sunday was dominated by the papers – usually The Sunday Times, The Observer and one red top. I would get up at 6.00 am to go out and buy them from the local garage. Delivery boys never got anywhere near us until after 9.00 am. Far too late. I would read solidly for five or six hours until lunch time. The afternoon would be set aside for school work. Many of my most enjoyable and absorbed times have been immersed in political history, and current thought. When I retire, I thought, I will have so much more time to enjoy the Sunday papers. Well I have retired and I’m enjoying them less. It must be me but the articles seem more vacuous and sterile than before. The Labour Party are drifting distinctly back to the Left. The Tories are dragging the Liberals firmly to the Right. The middle ground is classicly being neglected and left up for grabs. It ought to be a time of high excitement but I cannot feel it. The working Middle Classes are being assaulted at every turn and yet they don’t seem to have the gumption to rise up. In Greece, in Spain, in France people passionately take to the streets. Politicians think three times before attacking their population’s status quo. Not here. We meekly accept and I’m the same. I can’t get involved in the debate. For once, I am more interested in Finding somewhere to live, visiting the hospital, etc.. Today I’ve even been planning our return dates for Greece. We will leave on Tuesday, April 12th and return on Saturday, October 8th. This is exactly the statutory 180 days we are allowed out of the country.

11th October, 2010

A glorious day. We were expecting to bring Pauline’s Mum home today but, when we go to see her, we hear she has had another bit of a heart flutter and that they want to keep her in until tomorrow. It’s so nice of her to move out to give us a bit of space. We are booked in to this guest room for three weeks at £2.00 per day. With no additional costs apart from food, I’m thinking of extending it to six months every year.

12th October, 2010

Another glorious day. We set off early for Huddersfield to take our car in for service.  It is the big, four year or 48,000  service but it is still free for us. When we bought the car, we paid £500.00 up front for five years free servicing. We didn’t expect to keep it more than one year but it has really paid off. We discussed a new car with them when we went in and it looks like a new model of our car will be out this time next year. It will cost about £35,000.00 so we’ll have to do a bit of saving. Saving? What is that? The gave us a courtesy car – a brand new, sporty style Civic R-Type. It was so low to the ground, I could hardly get in it. And it was manual. Do you know how tiring that is? We drove to the hospital  to let Pauline see a Dermatology specialist about a suspicious mole but it turned out that all was well.


Pauline had made a appointment to discuss her Mum’s condition with the specialist in Oldham and then we expected to bring her home. The specialist said they were amazed by her mental and physical agility. She was challenging all of them over the side effects of her medication. She caught them out giving her too many water tablets and gave them hell. They had now controlled the heart problem with drugs but over night she had a stomach upset which she has regularly and they want to give her a CTC scan and keep her in until Friday. She’ll go mad – and she did but she knows it’s for the best.

13th October, 2010

Pauline’s Mum is in a ward with four other elderly women who have largely given up on life. One is refusing to eat at all. The others spend their time sleeping and don’t respond when their relatives come in. While Pauline was talking to the nurse and to the Specialist in one corner of the ward, they turned round to observe Mum trimming and filing her nails. Later, Pauline helped her to the toilet and as she passed the mirror, she said, Oh. My wrinkles are coming back. She ordered face cream immediately. Amongst these sleeping old women, she cares desperately about her cleanliness and appearance.

Our passports are about to run out. Ten years go I had a moustache and never dreamed I would be retired by the time it needed renewing. We had just driven to Greece for the first time after selling Slade House and buying a field in Sifnos. We were still in our forties – just. Today we have filled in renewal forms and the new passports (costing £155.00) will take us to the brink of seventy years of age. Let’s hope we get there!


14th October, 2010

We received an email from our previous next door neighbour, Jean:

Hi John and Pauleen
Hope you arrived back safely and enjoying the British weather.  It hasn’t been too bad so it’s easing you in gently.

Thought I would cut the grass last Tuesday as it was sunny in the afternoon.  The bottom didn’t look too long so I thought I would lawn rake the top as everyone’s is covered in mushrooms.  What a shock as I reached the top. The hut was absolutely flattened by a rock fall. The stones are massive and in the middle of the lawn with tree branches under which probably broke the fall and stopped them rolling. I was shaking when I saw what had happened.  Perry always said that those rocks would fall and I just thought, Perry is worrying about nothing again. I was glad your house was sold as that would have put most buyers off.  I haven’t spoken to the new neighbours yet as Joanne has just gone back to  work this week so I haven’t seen her.  Perry saw her and said she didn’t look too concerned. We have contacted the insurance as we think it is John Whitworth’s responsibility. It is going to drag out for a long time and take some sorting out.

Hope to hear from you soon.
Love Jean and Perry

To put this into context: everyone who came to Quarry Court said, Aren’t you worried about the rock face crumbling? So did Insurance Companies. Every time we would answer we answered, Of course not! Before we left, we donated our garden shed to our next door neighbours. Now it has cracked and fallen and demolished the shed as well. Poor old Jean & Perry. How fortunate are we? 

Dear Jean & Perry

This sounds awful. I always thought the place would fall apart after we’d left but even I didn’t expect it quite so quickly. Thank goodness you are alright. But the shed sounds like it’s done for and we were going to ask if we could lodge in it for a few weeks. Pauline & I never thought the quarry wall would crumble – In fact, we thought it was rock solid. The problem now is what you tell the insurance company when you come to renew your policy.

We went to Sainsburys to have our passport photos done. It’s changed in the past ten years. Now you are not allowed to smile, to wear reflective glasses, to let hair cover your ears, to look to one side or the other. The machines have improved though. You can do a test photo and then another before you print them. £5.00 each for the photos and on to the Post Office to use their ‘Check & Send’ service – £8.00 each and the passport for £77.50 so the new passports cost us over £180.00

On to the hospital to learn that Pauline’s Mum would not be released until Monday. She is undergoing more tests which will not be complete Friday evening and discharges do not take place over the weekend. She is resigned to it and has told us not to visit tonight because she wants to read her book and everyone keeps going in and disturbing her.

15th October, 2010

We went to the hospital for afternoon visiting. Pauline’s Mum had enjoyed another good night and she had been told she could go home two days early – on Saturday. We return three hours later to find her doubled up in agony in the toilet of her ward with violent stomach pains. She is screaming with the pain. She has a lump on her abdomen the size of an orange which doctors think is a hernia but Pauline thinks is blocked waste matter from her bowel. She is in so much agony that she is administered morphine. With the indelicacy of the situation and to give her more privacy, I retreat to the car at 8.00 pm. Eventually, the pain subsides and she begins to sleep. Pauline emerges half an hour after midnight and we drive off to sleep a little ourselves. Pauline has called her sister, Phyllis, to come down from London just in case. She will arrive tomorrow morning.

16th October, 2010

We got to bed at 1.30 am and were up at 6.30 am today. It almost feels like a school morning. Pauline had phoned the ward at 3.30 am last night and does so again now. Everything seems to be alright and the doctor is with her now.

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