Thursday, 20 April 2006

grace of god

It is quite cold, but that is because I am wireless blogging on the bench outside the back door.

Some things have happened.

Firstly, it was clearly a fantastically correct decision not to visit Ma and Pa. Pa has been unwell for the last three days - in bed with some kind of water infection. He was very weak yesterday and couldn't walk; this is partly because he has a very bad ulcerated leg that doesn't really heal (to the extent that the ulcer specialist has suggested he might be better off without the leg) and an arthritic knee that is only held together by the truss he puts on it when he gets up. So moving around is a big thing for him and any additional issues obviously impact on that.

He's not really a people person at the best of times and while he would have undoubtedly been pleased to see us in a popping-in-for-a-cup-of-tea kind of way, a whole forty eight hours of us on his doorstep would have been a bit much. He was much better when I spoke to Ma last night and had come downstairs to sit in his chair and grumble about the television being on, which is pretty much a return to normal programming.

I said I'd post him the New Scientists we'd saved for him. His concentration isn't up to whole articles, but he likes the short news items and is fascinated with space. No-one else I know used to have family discussions about the possibility of extra-terrestial intelligence around the tea table at the age of eight.

Now. Ma.

Oh god.

I finally go my act together enough to phone her last night and ask how Pa was. B had phoned her mid-morning and said we weren't going down because I wasn't very well. So her first question was 'how are you?'.

I said I was okay, but quite hormonal and was having quite bad abdominal twinges* so had felt it was best not to come down.

And then, she said: "Well, it's probably a good thing you didn't come, anyway. I've not had a very good day today".

I was surprised, because she was unusually chipper.

I was going to make this in to a 'conversations with my mother' post, but I can't.

She lost concentration on a winding lane out towards Monksilver on her way to deliver some flowers to someone's grave.

And the van hit a lamp post, bounced off it and ended up in a lake, airbags and all.

She had the two young dogs with her and had to get them out of the van and push them up the bank through the brambles. The engine was smoking so she thought she'd better do it quickly.

Then the local gamekeeper came and helped her and took her down to the estate office where they gave her cups of tea and let her use the phone to ring the breakdown people for a low loader as they thought that the van was pretty much a write off. Then they took her home.

However.

She went back with my sister Natalie, an hour or so later to get the flowers out of the back of the van and deliver them. (Photos therefore courtesy of Natalie, but I've photoshopped the logo off the side of the van).

Ma: They looked a bit battered dear, and it was like the end of the Italian Job getting them out of the back, because as you crawled down to get them, the van slid further in to the water. I put them on the graves, but I'll have to go and titivate them tomorrow.
Me: Have you been to hospital?
Ma: No, no, I don't think I need to. I've got a scratch on my face that I can't remember getting, but I think it must have been when I was lifting the dogs up through the brambles. And I hurt my thumb in the door when I went back to get the flowers.
Me: [subvocalising] Ggnnngghh.
Ma: And it was really a good job that your father was ill, because he might have been with me and I'd never have been able to pull him out.

She's seventy in June.

My hands are so cold that I can't type any more and it's white when I breathe out. I am going to have my breakfast.

I have a garden, compost and general 'moving to the country' post for tomorrow.


* I am wondering if I might actually have caught, but clearly the last four years demonstrate that it's very unlikely and so I am trying not to think about it

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