Monday, 7 November 2011

Chapter Twelve

Here we are, back home at last and once more in our little cottage. It is 03-00 in the morning and Linda is up in bed asleep. It would be lovely to suggest the sound of her snores are reverberating throughout the house and keeping me awake...but it would not be true. All is quiet and all is peaceful. She is laying curled up under the duvet and dreaming the dreamless sleep of the child-like.
Up until ten minutes ago I was laying beside her, curled up under the duvet and wishing more than anything that I could fall asleep. The urgent summons to the bathroom an hour before had awoken me and since then I have just lain and looked at the clock. Eventually the excitement of watching the seconds of my life tick away into the night proved to much, so I got up.
That in itself can be complicated as certain criteria have to apply... criteria mainly consisting of self preservation. This involves trying to get downstairs without waking Linda up.
Me, I could sleep through World War Three if I had too. Years ago when my children were toddlers, we had a two week powercut in the depths of a freezing cold winter. The four of us decamped into the sitting room and kitchen area downstairs to sit it out.
The kitchen had a working gas stove and the living room an open fire place; the bathroom and toilet beyond relied on any heat from these two rooms to keep functioning.
With a good fire blazing; hot water and food from the gas stove; batteries to keep the radio and torches working; and a mattress, pillows, blankets and quilts to cover us when asleep ... we survived.
But for part of that time I was doing a night shift as well which meant I had to sleep during the day.
I was able to sleep soundly for six or seven hours; on the floor; in a room being shared with two hyperactive toddlers playing; with a radio permanently on...and I never heard a thing. Once I'm asleep only two thing's will awaken me; my alarm clock, or the distressed cry of a child. Everything else I sleep through. It's even worse now I'm deaf in one ear. If the deaf ear is aimed upwards and away from the pillow, then I could probably sleep through armageddon.
Linda, on the other hand, has ears like a bat. She can hear a mole scratching itself under the lawn; can hear a squirrel turn over in its drey; and I bet she could even hear a sparrow fart in its nest. I really think she hears me dreaming. She walks like a cat; sees like a rat; and hears like a bat. She can even irritate like a gnat...and that's that.
Imagine my astonishment then, when I smoothly rolled to one side and slid out onto the floor, and I discovered she hadn't been disturbed at all. I checked she was still alive and breathing, and to my relief found that she was. Holding my breath I blindly gathered up my empty coffee cup, my diary and notebooks, and my glasses, and slipped out onto the landing.
I hadn't put anything on upstairs and thought I would do all that once down stairs. Moving like a naked shadow, and avoiding the creaking stair, I ventured downstairs and into the kitchen. I put several things on then as it felt fairly safe to make the odd sound. I put on the light; I put on the kettle; I put on the computer; and I put on the dirty clothes I had taken off the evening before and dumped into the washing basket.
I then settled down, put on my writing head, and returned to our story.
We have just spent the weekend away from home and back up in Surrey. Linda was very tired on Thurday evening and so I drove up while she slept. It is only a four hour trip and is easily done. By 20-00 we were settled into our Travelodge; we had one hot drink each; and by 21-00 we were both asleep.
Friday dawned bright and clear before settling into cloudy and dull. One 'full English' later we headed into Farnham and started visiting. Linda had the car (it is her's after all so I didn't argue) and she dropped me off near the town centre. I started visiting and it was good to see everyone although, one at least didn't want to see me.
I was chatting happily to some of my mates when the 'poisoned dwarf ' ignored his way past me, spoke to the other's, before returning from whence he came. Ah well, not everyone likes everyone. It was good to see and catch up with old friends though and I enjoyed myself. Sadly I missed a couple of them but I will hopefully see them at another time.
Derek seemed genuinely pleased to see me after the debacle with the biscuits when he visited us the other day, because when he squeezed my jaw in his 'vice-like' paws, he didn't dislocate it this time. He must have mellowed in his old age. I was able to speak quite clearly again within the hour so that was nice.
The weekend turned into one long round of visiting family and friends and was great fun. Linda and I divided our time between our own children to give ourselves a chance of seeing everyone but in future we will see them together. It gives us all a bit more quality time to catch up in if we do.
I met both my girls on the beginning of the weekend with Lucy coming down from London to spend bonfire night in Farnham with Fiona.
I hope both of them and their partners enjoyed the display because we never saw a bit of it. We were so busy visiting by the time we remembered about bonfire night it was all over.
Many years ago I once took both my girls down to Portsmouth on the off chance of seeing some sort of display down there. We stood on top of the round tower, in total darkness, and peered all around. There was nothing, not a firework to be seen, not even a sparkler.
Eventually, over the Isle of Wight, a lone spark of light silently curled into the air before showering red and green sparks at the world and vanishing. That was the sum total of that lonely November the fifth all those years ago. That rocket that evening proved to be more than we saw this Saturday.
Hang on though; I've just remembered; somebody did try to involve us in the world of fireworks on Saturday. We were all stood outside Farnham railway station at midday when somebody sent a rocket up into the air. I'm not sure who the numpty was but they obviously had more money than sense. Its sole contribution to the day was to crackle across the sky. Most people looked up on hearing the noise but nobody saw a thing. Its not sensible really to fire pyrotechnics into a midday sky... unless its midday... in winter... in Scandinavia.
Sunday proved a very busy day with a walk with Roxanne over the common with her dogs before lunch. She is Linda's youngest daughter and is just starting up her own business. Her life has always revolved around dogs and horses and now she is putting all that to good use.
If you need your horses looked after or exercised; or if you need your dogs walked or 'house sitted' then she is the person for you. ACTI-DOG is the name of her company so look out for it.
The afternoon was taken up with the first birthday party of Oscar. Linda's eldest daughter had a baby boy which has given Linda and I the new names of Grandpa and Grandma. He is a lovely little boy; we bought him a bike.
Its a little wooden four wheeled thing...not a mountain bike or a touring bike. In fact its more like a post office push bike. It has no brakes or pedals or chain. He simply sits on it and pushes himself around the floor. Hours of fun there.
Monday we came home and a miracle happened. Linda thought I might like to stop at a couple of garden centres and see their Christmas displays and asked if I would like to go. They always say beware Greeks bearing gifts or Greeks borrowing money. Never mind the flaming Greeks I say, beware the Lindas offering visits to Christmas displays is what I say.
I rushed out to check the car for damage but it was alright; I dived at the 'hole in the wall' and checked the account and that was alright; I even rushed to A&E for a full and complete medical checkup and I was alright.
I didn't have to pester, or nag, or hold my breath, or stamp my feet, as is my usual tactics so I don't know why or where or what the offer was all about. I'm still nervous 24 hours later of whatever sting in the tail awaits me.
However, with great delight, I dashed into the first garden centre and launched myself at the displays. On every side stood Christmas trees covered with baubles and lights. Colours glowed everywhere as I stood entranced in a world of my own and gazed about me. Linda left me playing happily with the other children while she went off and did some shopping. I wrote my letter to Father Christmas and posted it before turning and skipping out of the door and back in amongst the gift displays.
In front of me was a display of signs; one of which read...'Kissing under the mistletoe---practice here'.
I grabbed it and picked it up. I spun around and saw Linda standing about 20 feet away with her mum and Chris as they were watching me. Grinning at her, I held the sign over my head, closed my eyes, and puckered up to start the practice.
Nothing happened; Linda never hurtled across the floor and threw herself onto my lips; so I opened my eyes to see why not.
One thought hurtled through my stunned brain as my eyes opened and focused on the coach party of old ladies that stood between me and Linda,
"Where the bloody hell did they come from?"
Most of them looked at me in a bemused sort of way but some seemed to be anchoring the false teeth firmly in their mouths as they began to pucker up themselves. With what shreds of dignity I had remaining (and it wasn't much), I dropped the sign and dashed over and hid behind Linda.
She called me a pillock; I agreed.
Later, after we had escaped and driven as far as Devon, we popped into 'Otter's Garden Centre' and had a look at their displays. It was fantastic and once more I was turned back into a child as we wandered around. I didn't pick up any signs this time because Linda insisted on holding my hand as we walked around. She gets embarassed easily I think.
By the way, I think I may have good news for the farmers; the government; and anybody else interested in the culling of badgers. I have taken no sides in the argument because I really don't know enough about it. I don't like the idea of killing things any more than anyone else and I really wish there was an alternative solution to stopping the spread of 'bovine TB'.
Would laying out food for the badgers with some sort of agent in it to destroy the TB help? I know its not practical to inject each one but an oral solution may work. It's just a thought anyway.
I digress; the reason I mentioned badgers is because of the amount of dead ones we saw on the side of the M3, A303, and A30. Can there be any left in the entire south and south west of England. We didn't see one or two...we saw dozens. There must have been another dead badger at least every three miles or so, all the way home.
It must be carnage out there for them. They'll be extinct by Christmas at this rate. Pretty soon they wont need culling; they'll be up there with the Great Panda, the Elusive Tiger, even the Caring Postman; they'll be another endangered species we could lose.
I just needed to say that. 
It wasn't very long before we got home after that and we settled in for the evening. We both agreed it was good to be home. The evening quickly passed and we were in bed by 22-00. Worn out we were both asleep in moments and dead to the world.
Its now almost 06-00 and Linda is still sleeping like the dead. She gets up in half an hour. I've been awake for four hours and up for three. I get up in half an hour officially as well and I seem now to be awake like the dead. I'm ready for bed now and its time to get up...DOH!!! 

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