Instead of a handbag…

The Rusty Post Box

Well, I have voted. I am registered for a postal vote and they arrive about two weeks before the election. I could actually walk the dull, fifteen minute walk to the village hall to cast my vote among my fellow villagers but it’s just – so depressing. So, I climbed the dull, two minute climb up the hill to the Rusty Post Box to post my vote – I always return it the same day, before any cat can widdle or vomit on it, or decide to shred it for the pure catty amusement of it.

It was several years before I dared risk inserting anything into the mouth of the Rusty Post Box, assuming the Post Office had abandoned it to its fate, forever to moulder beside the overflowing, never emptied litter bin, steadily encroached upon by vicious triffid brambles from a nearby garden… I have never seen a place like this for Things Falling Apart. It’s almost artistic.

Have you ever thrown a book away?

This was a question posed in a Radio 4 broadcast yesterday. I must say – yes, and no. I recently managed a mass throw-out and taking-to-charity shops. However, a good two thirds of my book collection remained, mouldering in the garage. I only managed it by not stopping to look at what I was throwing into the bags-for-life. However, then I chickened out, and now I have a house full of the remaining books, comfortably warm and dry, but with weird gaps. One or two books missing from a run of the same author, books, like missing teeth. All that random throwing out… So of course I am having to replace them.

It made me think of The Life Of King George V. This is the worse book ever but I find myself unable to throw it out. It came in a job lot with the £2 Odhams’ Encyclopaedia, which I did want. I suspect the owner was glad to get rid of it. It is the ghastliest, grubbiest, dullest, most foxed, most sycophantically fulsome old book I have ever had the misfortune to come across, full of full page brown, smelly old pictures of Royalty in all their medals and jewels, looking unforgiving. To give you just a taste:

The next year saw the King “do his bit” in another way. He gave £100,000 out of his private fortune to the Exchequer to be used for the prosecution of war. It was a notable gesture of self-sacrifice in the common cause, and the extent to which this generous gift crippled the King’s resources was shown by the difficulties of the Royal Household after the war.

So it goes through his life, year by year, one praiseworthy Kingly deed after another. But can I throw it out? No. I find myself hovering with the filthy, dusty old thing over the waste bin. Can I let go of it? It’s managed to survive this long with nobody reading it, nobody caring about it… etc.

Instead of a handbag

Another marathon conversation with Canadian Sister last night. She worries about things, and because she always had a husband to make decisions for her she struggles to make even the smallest them now.

I have to take all of my course artwork in to the University in a suitcase later today (they’re many hours behind us in Edmonton) My tutor won’t give me a grade if I don’t, but the suitcase with all the paintings in it is so heavy I don’t know how I’m going to manage it on the train. All those steps to drag it up…

Is there a lift – sorry, elevator – at the station?

Well, I haven’t seen one.

Wouldn’t somebody be likely to help you up the steps with the case? I mean, in this country if a woman is struggling up a flight of steps with a child in a pushchair, someone will always grab the bottom of the pushchair and help her with it.

I don’t think they do that sort of thing in Canada. They’re more likely to yell at me for blocking the staircase. It’s quite narrow, you see.

But I thought Canadians were all so courteous. I mean, they’re famous for it! What about that beautiful Mountie chap from Down South? Aren’t all Canadians like him?

Someone did help me with a case once, at the airport, on my way over to England. In fact he grabbed the whole huge travel trunk and ran off with it up the stairs. I thought he had stolen it, like, instead of my handbag or something. I was in a terrible panic, but he was there waiting for me at the top of the stairs.

What about a taxi?

Oh yes, they do have taxis at the station… But what if the taxi-driver should be a rapist?

Poor Rosie

Rosie, I am afraid, is becoming incontinent. Well, she is incontinent. You probably don’t want to know this but – I’ve started so I’ll finish. Every time I sit down I have to check the end of sofa Rosie and I share – luckily a third-hand and leather(ish) sofa – for little puddles and dribbles of poo. Every time she sits on my lap I forget to grab a cushion or put something between me and her. Consequently I am washing a pair of jeans every day, in fact sometimes twice a day. Just can’t bring myself to open the door to the postman adorned in driblets of poo. Mind you, I could be wearing an orange wig and full clown make-up and it wouldn’t register with the postman.

Poor Rosie, she has been my light and salvation for eighteen years and I’m not getting rid of her now she has become a little inconvenient. If only they had the same sort of thing for cats as they have for my Mum and her fellow inmates. Maybe they do, but I wouldn’t have her suffer the indignity.

Leaks

It seems to be a leaky sort of time all round. Outside it’s a typical English October – leaks: leaks from steely rainclouds overhead; leaks from the neighbours’ guttering, beating an irregular tattoo on their new, annoying conservatory; leaks from my own guttering, landing on the back of my neck every time I open the back door; leaky politicians on the radio, dripping out the same old drivel everyday, and now – ? Leaks from my hot water bottle.

I have – well, had – a hot water bottle. It had a blue plush cover and was of German manufacture and so entirely to be trusted. But I suppose even German hot water bottles have a limited lifespan.

I’ve been unwell for the last couple of days – oh, waves of pain from something or other wrong with my innards. I long ago gave up trying to understand my innards, they are a law unto themselves. No doubt if I went to the doctor (if I could get an appointment with a doctor) he would tell me it was IBS, since I am female and too old for it to be the menopause or anything else female. If I was male, it would no doubt turn out to be something more specific and important-sounding.

And so I resorted to the hot water bottle (plus the occasional paracetamol, and patience)and went to bed clutching one to my poor hurty tummy. It makes not the slightest difference to the pain, of course. All psychological.

Waking at some ungodly hour in the morning, covered in snoring cats, I realised something was amiss. I was soaked. Much of the bed was soaked. The cats snored on, regardless. Surely, I thought, I am as yet too young for Incontinence. Please God do not let it be me who has started leaking! Visions of endless, shameful sheet-washing and visits from uniformed, patronising district nurses to ‘advise’ me on ‘products’… Oh God, please do not let it be that…

But, as you will have guessed by now, it was my no longer/trusty blue hot water bottle. Damnation, I thought, and threw it out, covering the wet patch with a folded blanket and continuing to be in pain until the morning when – guess what – I was in pain again.

Luckily I have two other trusty, Germanic hot water bottles – a cream one and a red one. We will see how long they last.

And now – just to add a little spice to life – my WordPress editor seems to have regressed into some kind of proto-editor, from back in the days of Tim Berners-Lee and the baby internet. I am now having to put in all the code stuff (like italics) by hand. I’m not risking any other code stuff. No idea when, or whether, it might decide to switch itself back to normal.

Tedious online research coming up, though I may risk another cup of coffee first.