I know this is an odd title for a blog, but believe me, dear reader, my dear spouse had our lovely doctor in Scotland alternately reaching for the tranquilisers or the whisky bottle after a visit from him, at least I always imagined once the door had closed behind spouse and he was safely on his way home, that was what she would be doing. The last image of her before her surgery door closed was of a woman on the edge, holding her head in her hands. Next stop, the psychiatric ward.
I know, I can almost hear you thinking - what? That lovely, looney man upsetting a fine, upstanding member of the medical profession. Surely not. But, oh yes he did, on a regular basis. Our lovely doctor was a very kind and patient lady and very conscientious in the execution of her Hippocratic oath. Every three months spouse was summoned into her presence for his blood pressure, weight and blood cholesterol levels to be checked. Every three months? - That's a bit O.T.T. I hear you say. Ah, but. Doctor D as I will call her, had come to know spouse very well and knew that if a check was not kept on his weight and waistline, things could very easily gallop out of control. So stiffening up her sinews and summoning up the blood, she called for spouse to attend the surgery.
Cat and mouse was not in it, dear reader. Doctor D would be ready to pounce if the scales showed the poundage moving in a upward direction and spouse would always have a very convincing reason why it had - her scales were inaccurate, he had NOT put that much weight on, she needed to get them properly checked before she wasted her time checking on him. And his cholesterol levels could not possibly be that high - his wife had made him live on lettuce and lime juice for the last month. He always came away with his ears ringing from her lecture on the evils of FAT. But sadly for her, the next time he visited her den, a large poster was proudly displayed on her door listing the benefits of all the food groups. And what was the last one on the list - yes, you've guessed correctly. It was fat. Spouse joyfully pointed this one out to her. 'You see, Fat IS good for you, it says so there. Can't get away from that doc.' That was one of the head in her hands days when he left the surgery, triumphantly trumpeting the good news to all he met.
Spouse was prescribed Aspirin tablets for a while in line with contemporary medical thinking at the time. Some time after this he underwent a minor operation and was despatched from the hospital duly bandaged up with instructions to remove the dressings twenty fours later. Once home, spouse took to his bed with full-blown flu. I knew it was proper flu, as he refused all offers of food and I had to check and see if the sky had not fallen.
Twenty fours later and with his temperature still high, I set about removing the bandages from spouse's leg. My, my, not a pretty sight. It was obvious to me, a serious infection had set in. I will spare you the gory details. However, I did say to spouse that we had better set off for the doctors, tout suite if we wanted to keep his leg. Spouse's response was, 'No, it will be fine.' Knowing differently, I hauled him protestingly off to the surgery, where he was dealt with, with various potions and antibiotics and a District Nurse called daily for the next three weeks to dress his leg. So things were fairly serious.
I give you this background, as when spouse was better and went to see our lovely Doctor D, he moaned a bucketful about feeling the cold and blamed the Aspirin, she made him take. I can see her now, lovely Doctor D, looking incredulously at spouse. 'You have had influenza, surgery, a very serious blood infection and it IS winter time. Don't you think that might have something to do with why you are feeling the cold?' Spouse remained unimpressed and still blamed the Aspirin. Doctor D was last seen holding her head in her hands - again.
As you know, dear reader, we moved to this house six months ago and have registered at a new medical practice. Clean sheet, I thought, no more nonsense from him. Wrong. A blood test revealed spouse was a bit low in the potassium department and had instructions from the nurse to eat a banana a day for a fortnight and go back for another test. (You can imagine the comments in our house can't you? He is now known as 'monkey man'). But that's by the by. After a week of bananas he went to the chemist to collect a prescription and lo and behold, a bottle of potassium tablets awaited him there. A week's supply. Puzzled by this, spouse took himself off to the surgery and enquired from the Receptionists about the continued eating of the bananas, in the light of these tablets. Should he still carry on eating the bananas? God bless their hearts, they tried so hard to keep their faces straight in answer to his anxious question. If he wanted to eat bananas - if that made him happy - go on eating bananas.
I'm sure I don't need to tell you the nomenclature by which he now goes at the surgery. Correct - banana man. Everyone knows him. I only hope next time he attends the surgery they don't announce 'Banana Man for Doctor B' over the tannoy system. It could be another 'he's not with me' moment for me. Oh and by the way, dear reader, next time you visit your physician, be nice and don't try their patience to the limit - you don't want to make them ill.
It all started with a very small hole in our lawn. 'That's a mouse hole,' says spouse. 'Well, they've got to live somewhere,' says I. 'Not in my lawn, they haven't. It's too near the house. Winter's not far off and the next thing you know, he'll have his suitcase packed and be moving indoors.'
Never a man to let the grass grow, spouse took action and poured a bucket of the water down the hole. Out ran the mouse squeaking in protest, but run out he did. Satisfied, spouse returned to the bottom of the garden where he is preparing a base for his new mega-shed. (No, I'm not going into the ins and outs of men and their sheds, lets not get started on that one). Earlier in the season I had done my bit and gradually dismembered the old trees that were plonked right in the middle of his site and now spouse has to dig out the stumps and level the ground.
No, dear reader, I am not going off-piste again. Old tree stumps and roots are very pertinent to the subject of mice, well they are in our house anyway. Somewhere in our universe there must be a scientific law all about the ratio of efforts put into mouse catching relative to enraged digging to work off the angst of failure at all these fruitless efforts. Failed mouse catching equals frenetic site digging squared. Einstein eat your heart out There's a theory for you.
To return to the mouse. Our canny friend was not put off by his early bath. He soon took up residence again and put a mouse two fingers up at spouse by making the entrance to his home in our lawn even larger. Needless to say, spouse was not pleased on seeing this disfigurement to his swathe of green. More buckets of water were poured down, forcing poor mouse to make another quick exit. Spouse stomped off back to his tree roots and wielded his pick-axe vigorously. No mouse was going to get the better of him that day.
But mouse did. The next morning, a bigger and better hole near to the first one had appeared. Mouse had been busy creating a new and comfy residence whilst we slumbered. 'I'm not having this,' said spouse. 'I am NOT having this.' He gestured to the fields rolling away all around us. 'He's got all that lot to go at and yet he fetches up on my lawn. I think he needs to get the message he is not welcome here.' Please don't wince here, dear reader - you have been warned ... he put a whole bunch of holly leaves down the hole. Yes, I know. It's a real sharp intake of breath moment.
Once more, spouse stomped off to his mega-shed site and his tree stumps and roots. Out came the very, very large axe and the first tree stump was attacked with gusto. It was not long before the whole stump and roots were out of the ground, lying in shreds on the surface. No one messes with spouse and his lawn, certainly not a small brown mouse and gets away with it.
The next day the holly leaves were still in place, the mouse homestead had not increased in size and no new holes had appeared in the lawn. Spouse was wreathed in smiles. Mouse had obviously got the message and pushed off elsewhere. Ah, and there's the rub, dear reader, so he had. He'd taken the initiative and a bit of mouse revenge. Having been booted out of his own home, he took up residence in ours. And who can blame him?
He's up in our loft - snoozing all day and scurrying all night. Spouse is beside himself. He has put down so many mousetraps, humane and otherwise, filled with the most tempting of goodies, even I could go to the banquet up there, but our mouse-friend is having none of it. He is way to clever to fall for any of those blandishments. The more he eludes us, the more enraged spouse becomes and takes it out on his mega-shed base. The pick-axe and mega-axe have never seen so much action. The bottom of our garden now resembles a battlefield with tree stumps and roots lying everywhere.
I don't know who will give in first. Perhaps it will be me. I think it's time I paid a visit to the loft and asked mouse nicely to find other quarters for the winter. If he doesn't, I may have no garden left come springtime..........
When we moved into our home a few months ago, spouse put quite a lot of boxes up in the loft, pro tem, with a view to unpacking them after I had finished writing the book I was working on. That time has arrived and so spouse was despatched to shimmy up and down the loft ladders to retrieve the boxes.
So, what goes up safely should come down safely and without any fuss, you would think. That's a reasonable supposition is it not, dear reader? Ah, but this is my dearest spouse we are talking about and where does reason come into that equation? Absolutely nowhere, that's where. And before you brim over with righteous indignation on his behalf, yes, I did offer to be at his side to help with the operation, but was airily waved away with 'I can manage perfectly well, thank you, I don't need your assistance.' So I trotted off about my own business. As my book was finished a little R and R was on the horizon for me - lunch at a very nice restaurant with a friend.
With hindsight, maybe there was the occasional squeak from the direction of the loft, but everything sounds different when you're under the shower. I put it down to the plumbing. Getting dried and dressed in the bedroom, I heard a few 'oomphs' and 'ouches' and shockingly dear reader, a few more colourful words which I will not sully your ears with here. Perhaps things weren't quite going as swimmingly as anticipated. However, as my offer of help had been declined I continued preparing for my outing.
Emerging from our boudoir, prinked, powered, pressed and dressed in my best, I sashayed along the corridor only to come upon a misshapen loft ladder with spouse marooned above it, apparently nursing an injured foot. 'It all went well then,' I remarked. 'No, it did not, as you can well see,' he replied through tightly gritted teeth. 'I had to alter the angle of the ladder in order to get my head into the hatch space and get the boxes out, so when I came to climb back down, the first ladder collapsed on to the second ladder and unfortunately, my foot was in between them.' He moaned gently as he gingerly tried to wiggle his toes. 'I think I might have broken my toes. I think you'll have to strap them up.' Dear reader, I did have sympathy for him but I don't think I helped matters when I said, 'No, they'll get better on their own in time. Toes don't get strapped these days.' Gritted teeth turned into the gnashing of teeth.
I sidled past the ladders and tripped lightly down the stairs. 'I have to go. I'm running a bit late as it is, Freya will be waiting for me. Have a rest and I'll see you later.' I called out. 'But what about getting me down from here?' 'Try the ladders,' I called back, 'that's what they're for. One step at a time, you can do it. You did say you didn't need my assistance.'
Was that a roar of an enraged man I heard as I headed off to the car? Or just a man with a sore set of toes? ... I'm not sure, but I'll tell you one thing dear reader, I had a wonderful lunch with my friend. You should have been there - the cheese souffle was amazing and the chocolate pudding, along with a lovely chilled white - all just divine. But I didn't tell spouse about it when I got home, don't think he was quite in the mood for that. His ham salad in ciabatta might have seemed a tad mundane.
His foot is getting better - just don't mention a visit to the loft any time soon ....
As you know dear reader, I have recently ended my summer work in the garden and am trying to settle down to some autumn writing activities indoors and in particular, the planning of a new romantic comedy book. I have yet to meet a writer who does not indulge in as many displacement activities as possible in order to avoid facing the blank screen and if such a writer exists - well, I would like to meet him/her.
Taking a break from the creative process is all very well and good, but oh, getting back into the swing of things is very difficult. All the good habits have been broken as I have enjoyed the long dog-days of summer, spending most of my time outside trying to bring order into the chaos that Mother Nature had wrought in our neglected patch of England.
I remember from days of yore being at my desk at an early hour, beavering away like a good little beaver, whilst the day was young and I was fresh - so fresh, sometimes I never got beyond the PJ's until the flrst flush of writerly enthusiasm had waned. Trouble is, that's all a bit of a distant memory. I am all enthusiasm for my new book and once I get going on the planning I am fine - it is the getting going that is the problem.
I know this is not a problem confined to writers. An artist friend of mine compared notes with me the other day and we commiserated with each other on this phenomenon. We love our work, truly we do, so why do we employ such avoidance tactics? I do not know the answer to this one, but like opposing forces, spouse and I are playing cat and mouse at the moment in an effort to keep my seat attached to my chair in the hope that I will make some progress with the new book.
Spouse is of course the cat and a very wily, cunning old cat he is too. Who would have thought it? My gentle, funny spouse out-thinking my low-down cunning escape ideas and heading me off every time. He has kept my nose so firmly to the grindstone this week, that I am ready to scrub the kitchen floor with a toothbrush rather than face the screen again. I need to change my tactics and be a bit more subversive, to keep my head below his extremely acute radar.
A few good walks in the autumn sunshine with our guest-dog, Raffles are needed to refresh the little grey cells. No more public announcements of this activity for me - I'll tiptoe out of the back door, dog lead in hand and close it softly behind me. And then, returning refreshed, I will find my headphones and listen to my favourite music tracks. As long as I'm sitting in front of the screen he'll think I'm multi-tasking! Best of all is the 'I'm thinking about a new scene whilst preparing dinner' ruse. That one often works as food is a topic very dear to spouse's heart. I can't see him classing that one as a displacement activity - at least I hope not.
Harry Houdini was the greatest ever escape artist. I think a little study of his methods might be in order - but there again - I have a book to plan - but on the other hand, the sun is shining and the autumn colours are very beautiful just now and the dog needs a walk ... Out of the corner of my eye I can see spouse hovering in the doorway, checking that my derriere is still attached to the chair. Oh my, dear reader, it's not Harry Houdini I need, I think it's Scottie - beam me up out of here and oh, whilst you're at it, don't forget the dog ...
'I think my love affair with the supermarkets is finally over. Like most people who lead busy lives these days the supermarket was the place to go for 'an everything under one roof' brisk trot round, the goods purchased at a sensible price and home again before you could say - well - what ever you like to say, in my case probably 'Jack Robinson, although who ever he was I couldn't tell you. No doubt someone will soon though.
A visit to the supermarket is a very mixed blessing these days. There are a huge variety of goods stocked to bedazzle and bemuse me as I drift up and down the aisles trying to decipher my shopping list. What do 'two bats and 'one nun' mean? I have no idea and plough on, at least butter and milk are easy items. It is only later and exasperated spouse interprets for me and wants to know why I have not come home with the required 'batteries' and bottle of 'Blue Nun'. Sorry dear reader, I am digressing again. The point is, that part of the shopping is fairly O.K., but then, as a metaphor for life - there is a reckoning to be made - the dreaded check-out experience.
Sex is no guarantee of a good check-out experience. Be it a male or female lurking behind the check-out conveyor belt, they are equally ruthless in running your purchases past their scanner and hurling it down the runway to the collecting area, a sadistic gleam lurking at the back of their eye as the dispassionately watch you frantically trying to keep up and get the goods into your bags. The problem arises because it only takes a nanosecond for the check-out staff to scan your goods, but it's a nanosecond times ten to retrieve them and get them into a bag. The starting conversation went 'would you like some help with your packing?' 'No thank you,' I reply, 'providing you don't go too fast.' I think they like a challenge like that and the operation becomes more manic than usual. I leave the supermarket hot, flustered and angry, vowing never to return.
However, a week or two passes and my cupboards are bare. What to do? I devise a plan. I will do my usual shop and at the check-out when the ask, 'would you like some help with your packing?' I will say 'yes please' and stand back and let them get on with it. So, I whizz lightheartedly up and down the aisles, filling my trolley with the the usual goods and a few treats as my buoyant mood rockets. Finally, at the check-out - this time a bearded late-middle aged man asks me the question, 'would I like help with my packing?' I smile radiantly and say, 'yes please'. I hand him my assortment of carrier bags and stand back. My bags will be nicely packed and I will leave the supermarket unfrazzled. Well, my dear reader, of course you know that is not the case at all. My check-out man was rather surprised to find he was left to get on with it and maybe not too overjoyed at the prospect of all that packing. So instead of running my purchases through the magic eye and hurling them down the runway at me, he hurled them willy-nilly into my bags instead. Once again I leave the supermarket vowing never to return.
Time passes and we eat the cupboards bare again. It is time to shop. I have been musing on the situation and have decided to cirumnavigate the check-out problem by using the self check-outs. Genius. Why didn't I think of it before? I can pack at my own pace and everything will be placed to my liking. Once more I trip around the emporium, shopping with gay abandon. Spouse will eat like a king this week. At the self check-out terminal I offload my goods on to the belt and begin to pass them over the scanner and carefully place them in my opened shopping bags in the trolley. It's a slow process as I am not used to it, but at least I am not getting hot, frazzled and flustered by check-out staff. That is until a Supervisor comes along to 'assist' me. It appears I'm not going fast enough and she needs to get me though more quickly!!!!!!! The 'beeps' get faster and the shopping bags are rapidly filled - in no particular order as you can imagine.
So, Plan B failed. I leave the supermarket in my usual state of rage, shaking my fist and shouting 'they should all get their money back.' Where from? Charm School. Grrrrr.....