There… And Back Again!

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Sometimes I long for the closeted private sanctuary of my own car as I travel about. But, then again, I have no confidence in my own ability to focus sufficiently to drive a car – too away with the fairies most of the time.

My abortive attempts at driving were given up after about eight lessons and a near miss… I took a wrong turn down a country lane on a foggy autumn afternoon and my instructor innocently remarked:

It’s a good job no one saw us – they’d think we were up to no good!”

This served to send me into a fit of hysterical giggling as I drove across (literally across) an unexpected roundabout and my endeavour to become a capable driver ended…

On the other hand, I would miss the weirdly prophetic bus tickets we have here – just look at some of the code words used – as good as any deck of Tarot cards! “Write” is the one that appeared when I was feeling particularly low – I took this as Universe encouragement. “Elbow” – when I was troubled by a nagging pain in, yes, my elbow which spurred me on to visit my doctor for a steroid injection which cured it. “Mouse”… I’m still waiting…

Plus the fact you hear such extraordinary snippets of conversation. My favourites from the past week or so – on the same journey, actually – involved a girl, sitting behind me, talking loudly on her mobile to a friend:

“… and I said ‘Really? It counts as one of your five a day? I didn’t even know it was a vegetable!’ She said ‘Well of course potatoes are vegetables! What did you think they were?’”

To which this girl had replied: “Oh I just thought they were these like starchy things that grew in the ground…”

I was quite glad she was sitting behind me actually, so she couldn’t see the look on my face…

The next snippet – an older lady got on the bus with her wheeled walker and noticed a friend seated over the way. They obviously hadn’t seen each other and the friend listened attentively as she ran through her catalogue of ills. Her next statement made me snort with laughter that I quickly had to disguise as a not-terribly convincing cough…

I’m not going back to that care home though! I can’t be doing with it, all that fighting!”

Her friend leaned forward:

Whatever do you mean?”

You can’t get a minute’s peace – they’re always fighting over the darts on the telly and it’s not just the men!”

That sounds dreadful,” her friend replied, clearly shocked.

Oh I know, I can’t get along with it, not when I’m having chemo as well! Ruby knocked Doris down them little steps! I’m going to ask my grand daughter if she can get me moved…”

At this point, somewhat reluctantly, I must confess, I had to get off the bus as it was my stop; but for the rest of the day I was plagued with questions in my head … did the girl get over her surprise about the nature of potatoes, or was she further traumatised when she encountered something like rhubarb… grown like a vegetable but treated like a fruit…? Should I perhaps watch darts to see if I could understand how the game could induce such rage? Was Doris ever revenged upon Ruby for tipping her down the stairs?

Would the care home in question be a possible future residence for my mother…

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My Mother … And Me.

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I was waiting for a bus with my mother after we’d been shopping and it was at that time of day when the older generation are out and about. Now. My mother is obviously a pensioner and, as such, has some of the obligatory traits – spontaneous deafness, an unerring ability to stand right in the way and a bat-like sonar system that allows her to smash her shopping trolley into my shins – I’m sure you get the picture.

However, she has always had and manages to retain an ability to flirt charmingly with the opposite sex. By her side, I feel somewhat of a galumphing idiot, in my younger days notable only to men for my ability to drink most of them under the table and my astonishing breadth and knowledge of swear words…oh the benefits of a private education…

Needless to say I am not a flirt. I have never mastered the art of blushing delicately and peeping coyly upwards through my eyelashes, fingers fluttering at my throat… Nah. I’m far more likely to sneeze and fall over.

This particular day, as we were walking towards the bus stop, my mother and I both happened to notice a smartly dressed man, dark hair, beard (just my type) talking on his mobile. As we passed him, he lifted his head from the screen, breathed in ostentatiously and said: “Ladies – somebody smells nice!”

We both turned to look – oh yes, he was even nicer close up – and my mother blushed prettily. I highly doubted it was me since I was lightly scented with my usual blend of cat food and bleach, perhaps with overtones of patchouli essential oil from where I had knocked the diffuser over and tried to mop it up with a sock that I was wearing.

Looking up at this man, head fetchingly on one side, my mother said: “Oh it’ll be me! ‘White Diamonds’,” giving him one of her dazzling smiles.

Oh, I’ll remember that!” he replied and walked on, with a smile of his own.

My mother grinned to herself, serene in the knowledge that she still had “it” while I inelegantly hauled her shopping trolley onto the bus, managing to tread on my own foot in the process. The man (of course) got on the same bus as us and winked at Mum as he sauntered down the bus to a seat, while I was attempting to stuff a frozen pizza in a shopping bag and swearing as the cat treats emptied themselves with malice aforethought into my handbag…

The man settled himself into a seat just in my eyeline and the bus set off – the journey itself is worthy of a separate post – and when we reached her stop, Mum got off in a ladylike fashion as the man waved at her…

Oh well. Clutching my cat food, pizzas and a packet of lily of the valley bulbs that had burst and was shedding its powdery compost gently over me, I lurched out of my seat and stumbled off the bus, only to sneeze and fall over…

Apology:

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Right. Have you stopped messing about?

Yes. I think so.

Are you going to write again, properly, and just get over yourself?

Well… I’ll try.

Good. Apologise to your friends and readers for messing them about and get on.

Sorry. Sorry everybody. It’s been – difficult. But I think I’m back now.

Only in Nottingham

I have a love/hate relationship with the city where I live. It holds some particularly unpleasant memories for me, but also some reasonable ones. I am always pleased to go somewhere else, but if I’m away too long, I start to get anxious.

Home” for me is definitely the North, where I’m from, where I lived when I was younger, where my ancestors are from, where my great (x4) grandfather, Michael Pallister was born in 1664 and married Isabel in 1712.

But Nottingham is where I live. It’s a funny place, and the people are… unique. I witnessed some examples personally a few weeks ago as it was Alex’s father’s birthday and he wanted to go out for dinner and then have a “few beers” afterwards.

I didn’t much fancy going out to be honest, I had my usual spring chest infection and was on antibiotics, so I couldn’t really “drink”, but Alex and his boyfriend came over and I really felt I ought to make the effort.

Dinner was pleasant, “Son Of Steak”, does a nice meal at a reasonable price, although I find the name oddly disquieting, as I do the large, blue painted cow outside. I managed to drop a chip, obligingly covered in tomato sauce, all the way down myself and onto my clean linen trousers, where it mashed itself against my thigh so it looked as if I had been stabbed there…

Then we moved on to pubs. Usually I drink vodka, but obviously being on antibiotics it’s not advisable to consume alcohol – you can vomit and I am extremely emetophobic – and arachnophobic – worst nightmare, being trapped in a room full of vomiting spiders… but I thought I would have a white wine spritzer just to be companionable and make things bearable.

The first pub (not my choice) was, bizarrely, playing Motown music and inhabited by blonde women dressed in Seventies style, complete with Farrah Fawcett hairdos. Alex and his boyfriend were soon bopping away on the dancefloor to Stevie Wonder, his father was haranguing me about Brexit (and drinking my spritzer as well as his beer) while I gazed morosely at the crowd of revellers and coughed.

Next pub (also not my choice) was packed full of hipsters. I didn’t realise they were quite so much ‘a thing’ till I had this opportunity to observe them in their natural environment… pushing past the beards, egos and eco-friendly outfits I crawled onto an absurdly high barstool at an uninhabited table and coughed a bit…

Alex’s father harangued me about Brexit… Alex and his boyfriend discussed the merits of the tonic water flavour they had chosen, cucumber versus elderflower (really? Bleuchh -) and I gazed absently out of the window. Several groups of people passed, dressed variously in neon lycra camouflage, tutus and deely boppers, and comic animal costumes…

I watched as one girl dropped something out of her handbag, then deliberately turned it upside down and emptied the entire contents of it out onto the floor. Then she lay down on top of them.

Right outside the window where I was sitting, an elderly man wearing a child’s stetson, took a cucumber from his pocket and shot a lad who was walking past him. The lad obligingly staggered backwards, clutching his chest, before carrying on with his mates.

After a couple more pubs (none of which were my choice) we caught the last bus home (my choice) and I was finally able to retire to my bed, surrounded by cats, crystals and butterflies, reflecting on the oddity of where I live.

Downstairs, I could hear Theresa May’s voice pleading, while Alex’s father ate toast.