ups and downs

“Oh” said Pam the Painter with feeling “ British Telecom !   Just seeing one of those Openreach vans  is enough to give me a  spasm !”    But I had to start somewhere

because the batteries in the landline device are dying in the key and volume of Florence Foster Jenkins, John Lewis is closed and I feel like a trapped rabbit looks.

The number on the box was answered by a man who said good morning as if he meant it so I told the truth.  “ I am the silliest woman you will speak to today” I said “but I need your help.”  He listened and he gave me another number .   The man who answered the second number was just as forthcoming so I told him my tale of woe, what a fool I was about these things and besought his patience.   Laughing, he diagnosed the difficulty, said he’d send batteries

and somewhere in there, aware of an intonation with which I was familiar, I asked where he was calling from.  “The north east” he said.  “Yes” I said “ I figured that, but where ?”  “Newton Aycliffe” he said.  I know Newton Aycliffe.  We laughed, I thanked him and left unreasonably comforted.  Voices do that to me.  (Up)

Of course my hands are weakened with age and arthritis (fade in violins) and I am scared of breaking something so I haven’t been able so far to do what was advised and will need help. (Down)  Rescued by a neighbour in HazMat. (Up)

One morning I came out of the house at 7.00 into the snow – I love snow – and a foot from me, on the step, was a robin.

(Up)  I always speak to animals.  With respect.  And then I retreated as fast and as quietly as I could to the kitchen where I had recently decanted pre fabricated breadcrumbs.  The  robin looked at me with pity before hopping off to look for something edible.  Not even a squirrel will eat those breadcrumbs.  I’ve just thrown them all away, nothing to do with bread. (Down)

I asked my gardening neighbour whether she thought I should cut back the arums which have grown great foliage completely out of season – and this was before the storms settled in for a run.  She thought not, just let them be.  They now look very  battered by snow and frost and sleet but may pick up as the weather warms.  And this morning, beyond half a dozen blossoms on the winter broom, I noticed an arum in bud, which is definitely an Up.

It is just as well that I cannot properly locate the unhappy yapper, a small dog at the back of the house.    If I could, I would be calling the overworked RSPCA  – but then it may just be an ugly bark – there are enough ugly voices around.  (So that’s a Down)

While 15 years ago I interviewed a woman who had drawn from her own life in cartoon how an abusive relationship is made and maintained,

exceptionally useful to people who aren’t going to read a tome.  And I liked her.  So we have stayed in touch, the odd card and email , her next and terrific book about her parents (They Gave Us Everything published by Penguin )and around Christmas she sent me a sweet picture of her son and his wife  and their new baby.       

Today was cold and grey in London when the letterbox flapped with a small cantaloupe coloured envelope which contained another picture of her lovely granddaughter.  “I feel so grateful you came into my life all those years ago” she wrote.    Me too.  (Up)

And then a little later there was a big bossy bang on the door and I went to open it where stood the tall young man from the building site opposite of whom I had asked advice about the hole that comes and goes in the garden front of the flat (rats ? water ? subsidence ? disturbance to the underpinnings of the city ?).  He recommended more pea shale , I had asked where I could buy it, he’d said, don’t try – it’s heavy.  “I’ll try to remember to bring some.”   And bring it he did so I bet I am the only woman you know who was given pea shale for Valentine’s (Up). 

One response to “ups and downs

  1. Marie Causey Soence

    Good afternoon! I loved this post. The last bit made me tear up a little. Just home from taking my husband for cancer biopsy. Leaving the car park I told him I was going to tell the attendant to keep the change…charge was $5 and I was giving her a $20, He said why would you do that.. I said because she is sitting out here in the cold doing a job that probably doesn’t pay much and I appreciate her and I can. So I did….she was shocked and appreciate and I could still hear her cooing as we drove away. I only wish it could have been $100. Sending you hugs from Atlanta, GA, USA. Marie

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