Sunday, 17 March 2013

Chapter Sixty Nine

Linda is off to Maria's this morning to feed the animals and clean up a bit. This has given me the chance to sit down on my own and tackle the old blog once more.
Its been an amazing week as regards the weather. The sun has shone more often than not and it has been quite warm in sheltered places...but God help you if you are out in the wind. It has been blowing a vicious gale at times and it chills you right down to the bone. Couple that with rain or hailstones, and it is a torment devised to hurt.
I can only imagine what people must have thought yesterday as I walked around Harbour View at St Just. Twenty nine houses, so I leave the van and walk around with a bundle of mail and sometimes a mail bag slung around my neck as well.
Yesterday the weather had been mixed. One moment it would be bright and warm sunshine; moments later a black cloud would sweep across and it would rain for about five minutes before the sun came out again.
When I'm driving my van I never bother much with a heavy waterproof. I normally only wear the thing when I'm on 'walkabout'. I never do the zip up; simply put it on and just 'popper together' the top two poppers. I am covered then to the waist. Although my arms are in the sleeves I tend to wear it like a cape. By doing that I can hold the bundle of mail under the front of it to keep the letters dry. It may sound daft ...but it works.
I was walking along delivering, but keeping an anxious eye on the sky. A huge cloud coming across from the west was as angry and as black as any cloud I've ever seen. It got overhead...and then the heavens opened. Hail fell down in torrents and swept towards me. I saw the builders bolt for their vans, and watched two kids sprint into a house, and I, like countless other posties, pulled up my hood and kept going.
Then the pain of the hailstones stinging against my legs came into focus. It really hurt and felt I was being sandblasted. To compensate for my bare legs I crouched down a little in my oversized storm coat and carried on walking. I must have looked a bit like a postal Groucho Marks but it worked. Two minutes later, and to my total astonishment, the cloud moved on and the hailstones stopped. I straightened up and carried on walking more normally.
One of my older ladies on the other side of the road called out to me that she thought a Hobbit was doing the delivery today and then burst out laughing. Very nice I must say!!!
Last Tuesday was not a brilliant day though and I confess I got a little tetchy with Royal Mail. After a century of being allowed to change our own wheels if we should get a flat tyre...we have now been stopped from doing this. Its not so much Health and Safety; which I respect; but more 'fear of litigation'; and that I despise beyond measure.
Anyway...on pain of the full force of the conduct code we now have to get the RAC to change our wheels for us. We posties could not be more embarrassed.
It was almost three pm when I got a puncture in my mail van. Eight calls left and my tyre is like a pancake. In the normal course of events I would have changed it and been on my way in about twenty minutes. Not this time.
Ring the RAC.
Brilliant...no phone signal.
Can't walk to a farmhouse and ring from there because the RAC will want to ring you back on their phone. Besides, I doubt they would want you sitting in their house waiting. Imagine if they were going out.
Alternative...Risk rimming the tyre and ruining it by driving to a signal area.
Finally got a signal on the main road and pulled in beside the water tower.
Tyre now destroyed and I find I have no Number in this reserve van log book for the RAC.
Ring 118118 and get number. Ring number given, which wasn't Freephone, and watch money drain out of my mobile as I wait five minutes before finally speaking to someone.
RAC very helpful but can't promise me a mechanic for at least two to two and a half hours. But I am assured I am a priority because I have mail on board.
Frozen stiff now in a biting wind I get back in the van. Interior warm and then I remind myself that, for the first time in years I have forgotten both my flask and my book.
Boredom sets in and I fall asleep for an hour and a half.
I awoke frozen to the very core with my mobile ringing. It is a very kind lady from the RAC worrying about me, but delighted to tell me they have got somebody from Perranporth to come out. He will be with me very soon.
Really nice bloke, he was with me by half past five and had the tyre changed in fifteen minutes. I couldn't fault their service and I fully accepted that broken down vehicles on major roads...plus vehicles with small children in take priority over me. I'm not insensitive and I would not have had it any other way.
I finally finished my delivery at six pm.
I had no grievance with anything that happened that afternoon except for one thing.
If it had happened three weeks ago, before this new ruling came in, I could have done what posties have done since the PO started. I would have changed the wheel and been on my way with no extra cost to Royal Mail at all; there would have been no call on all these extra resources; and people would have had their mail on time.
I don't condemn Royal Mail, but I do condemn the society we live in today that allows and actively encourages people to sue someone at the drop of a hat. What a ridiculous afternoon to live through, because somebody, who wasn't born before I changed my first puncture, is deemed more qualified.
Ridiculous.
Gary next door is converting an old garage in his garden into a art studio. He is a talented man, especially with his art, and also very skilled as a handyman. I have been able to help him in putting the huge windows into place. Heavy old things but they are now all standing upright and making one wall of the studio. It looks fantastic. At least I feel like I have helped in some way.
Linda brought the guinea pigs into the house yesterday and let them have the run of the ground floor for an hour or so. They are great fun to watch and real time wasters for us both. Eventually they exhausted themselves and settled down for a rest.
They have a small sleeping nest thing each which they curl up in and rest up. All was quiet in the kitchen and I went out to check on them. Widget was curled up in hers and watching me from inside, but whiskey was not in his.
She then turned away from me and gazed over at Linda's coat which had just been chucked on the kitchen floor. She had left it there to grab and put on when she took them both back out to their hutch later. I looked around for him...and there he was...
He obviously thought this was a better option than his own little nest and so he moved in.
They really are so funny to watch.

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