Just found my online diary? really?........... seriously? you should surf more. Your a bit late comming to the party as this ones over. ie, the fat lady has sung. But feel free to have a nose around.
Monday 20th April 2015
First week back, a financial disaster. Second week, my car gets hijacked and held for ransom. Surely this week wasn't going to hold any surprises? Well I got that wrong.
I got asked two odd questions this week. One humorous, the other far from it.
We'd popped into Specsavers and got fitted for new specs. The first part of the eye examination consisted of answering general health questions asked by a young lady.
“Do you have any hobbies?' She asked as she scribbled away. I didn't answer right away, not because I've none, but I wondered where this line of questioning was going to lead. Why would she want to know I'm a beer mat collector? Not that I am. I suspected that if I answered 'no', she might launch into a sales spiel about Specsavers now branching out into 'hobby event weekends' and would I like to sign up for a few.
Just as an aside: Have you noticed, when you get railroaded in those situations, there's always an offer on. 'You can can save yourself 20% if you sigh up today they'll say, conveniently glossing over the fact you could save yourself the whole 100% by not signing up at all.
Anyway, she must have taken my hesitancy in answering as a sign I didn't understand the question so she tried to clarify it by saying, “Hobbies you use your eyes for?” Now that sounded plain daft. I wanted to ask her what hobbies did she know of where sight wasn't required because, apart from a blindfolded circus knife throwing act, I couldn't think of any. This prompted me to reply with, “Well there's none I do with my eyes shut if that's what you're asking. I thought it was a witty retort. She clearly didn't. Young people can be such a tough audience.
The week wore on.
On Thursday it all got turned upside down. I found myself having a near political debate at four in the morning, with three men, in my bedroom while Hazel was in bed. Sounds completely implausible I know, but absolutely true.
Let me say before I tell you how this came about, Hazel is fine. But in the early hours of Thursday morning she collapsed and I had to call an ambulance. She'd complained of feeling unwell and went to bed early -it transpired she'd managed to catch a particularly virulent form of bronchitis- Her already very low blood pressure dropped off the chart which caused her to collapse while making her way to the bathroom. Her normal blood pressure is only marginally higher than that of a sloth's, so when it does drop, so does she. At the time I wasn't to know any of this.
The ambulance turned up and an emergency paramedic was not far behind. He couldn't quite believe the readings he was getting when taking her blood pressure and clouted his machine in much in the same way you once had to clout old valve TV sets to get a decent picture.
“Right” he said. “Now I could try and get an out of hours doctor but that isn't going to be easy”. He then went into a long convoluted explanation as to why that was so. There have been cuts in services. Political manoeuvrings. Reluctance of some GP's to work out-of-hours. He could, he explained, ring the hospital but they were likely to say 'bring her in', so it's a bit of a dilemma. After all, no one wants to go into hospital? So what would you like me to do?”.
That struck me as daft a question as the one asked of me at specsavers, after all, I'm not a medical expert, if I was I wouldn't have called an ambulance in the first place. Now, at four in the morning, I'm being asked queer questions. Questions, that for all I knew, might have life and death consequences.
Anyhoo an hour later we found ourselves in casualty. And after a few tests they hooked her up to a drip and decided to keep her in for two days observation and IV antibiotics.
I'd like to say that never having cause to visit a casualty department in the early hours of the morning before, what struck me was the number of old people filling it up. Most had fallen over while taking a whiz or just fallen out of bed. A&E was awash with old codgers with black eyes, bloody noses, bandaged heads. Of course I could be totally wrong. It could have all just kicked off at the local retirement home after an overly enthusiastic game of early morning bingo.
What do I know?
Monday 13th April 2015.
So okay, last week was a bit shite, what with the windscreen going, the drains needing unblocking etc. but I had high hopes for this week. It started well enough, I listed the motor-home on eBay and within 72 hours she had a new owner. I shouldn't be surprised, after all, I did write a small guide book entitled 'How to sell on eBay'. -Drop me a line if you want a copy-
Later in the week we visited friends in Scotland and over the weekend we popped into Glasgow. We parked in the city centre, bought a parking ticket, which cost a mere £1.20 for the afternoon, and set off.
We visited the wonderful Kelvin-grove museum and Rennie Mackintosh's home, both free. In fact the majority of museums and art galleries in Scotland are free. We then had lunch amongst the young and trendy in the inexpensive University dining hall, which is open to the public. Glasgow had turned out to be a pretty cheap day out. How many cities can you say that about? None I fancy.
Later we returned to the car. On route we had to cross a busy road. As I waited for the pedestrian lights to change a recovery vehicle zoomed past. It carried a car with it's lights flashing and horn blaring out. It was obviously in a state of panic, it was being hijacked. There was something familiar about it. I'd seen the car before. It took a few seconds for the penny to drop....... fuck it was mine!. My car! There was nothing I could do but stand opened mouthed and watch it disappear into the maze of traffic, protesting it's innocence.
We made our way down to our parking spot which was now empty. Two policeman walked by. I explained I'd just seen my car on the back of a flat bed lorry.
“Aye, it'll be towed away I reckon”. He said wisely.
“But I had a valid parking ticket displayed in the window” I said not so wisely.
“Aye, but you'd maybe parked in a residents spot. There's a wee sign”.
I looked. He was right, there was a wee, quite ambiguous, sign. I deciphered it.
There were four parking bays Two for the public and two for residents. Of the four, all empty when I arrived, I'd unwittingly chosen a residents space. There was nothing on the ground denoting it was any different to the other two public ones.
The cop gave me the address of the car pound. We hailed a cab and raced across town. The driver took us to a decidedly less than desirable part of Glasgow. The kinda place, I'd guess, you'd not venture out at night unless you were tooled up. I found my car in the pound, behind barbed wire, looking as though she'd been interfered with. Inside the blast proof shed that passed for an office I was told I needed to pay £200 release fee. - why they don't simply call it a ransom I don't know- I knew it would've been pointless explaining my innocent error and plead for mercy, besides, the guy behind the inch thick perspex screen looked more like a boxer than someone with a soft spot for a sassanach.
Later I noted the ransom fee was subject to VAT, so even the GBH has profited by my misfortune. I read the appeals notice in the vain hope I might have grounds to appeal but there were no exceptions that covered making a genuine mistake, you're punished as if you are guilty.
Next week has just gotta perk up surely.
Home. 6th April 2016
It's true, shite comes in three's
Had a couple of emails asking me how my first week back is working out? That's an easy one, it's not.
It started to go pear shaped the minute we landed. Leaving Dover we were disappointed to see the amount of detritus, much of it chucked out of car windows, along the motorway. Plastic bags, caught on bushes, fluttered in the breeze like so much bunting welcoming us home. Occasionally, the shredded snakelike skin of a lorry tyre lay discarded. Bottles, cans, fag packets, bits of car, dead animals, fast food packaging all decorated the verges and meridian.
Now you're probably going to take me to task and say come on Phil! it ain't quite that bad! But it is. You're just use to it. What arriving tourists make of this mess I shudder to think. Europe is way tidier (generally). It's a known fact that in Germany an empty crisp packet can cause traffic congestion as bewildered drivers slow down to check it out.
“Vot ist das Fritz?”
“Mine goot, ist abandoned crisp packet, Helmut”.
“ Abandoned..... really!. Nein, must be somevon lost it”.
“Yah. Zis must be zar rezon, Helmut."
Granted, there's maybe no more crap now than four years ago when we left, but coming back from mainland Europe you certainly notice it. -I once read that collectively, councils in Britain spend £150 million just removing gum from our pavements- While I was calmly telling Hazel that motorists who litter should be dragged from their cars and have their heads shaved, a sports car flew past. A stone, the size of an exocet missile, was ejected from his tyre, hit our windscreen and cracked it from top to bottom. Suffice it to say this somewhat took my mind off the roadside litter.
We nursed Betsy home. I fell into a mild depression.
Stamford in Lincs, so old it makes me feel young.
We walked into our home for the first time in four years. Very odd feeling. It felt strange. If fact, it even smelt strange. Very strange. Five minutes later I discovered why, the drains were blocked solid. We called a drain unblocker chappie who proudly boasted in his ad, 'within the hour'. Stephan, from Poland, turned up twenty six hours later full of apologies. I was tempted to ask if he'd driven from Warsaw? Less than a hour later, job done, he handed me a bill for a staggering £234! Clearly it would've actually paid him to drive from fucking Warsaw! I decided then and there, if I am wrong, and there is life after death, I want to come back as a drain unblocker. Who needs a sound education? Stephan certainly didn't, just a good calculator and no sense of smell.
Whilst watching him at work my attention was drawn to the garden. It had, during our time away, reverted back to some kind of primeval jungle state. I half expected to see a Japanese soldier emerge from the undergrowth unaware the war was over.
The once small ivy bush, which Hazel used to keep in-check, has now become a habitat in it's own right. It has been allowed to grow the entire length of the garden wall. I called a gardener who wants £150 to cut it down and haul it away. As I was mulling that over I received a phone call from a windscreen repair guy who wants £170 for replacing my windscreen.
I've been home a week, a quick calculation tells me I've already shelled out £212 in just tax (VAT) alone.
Welcome back the the real world.
MEANING: Its illegal to copy any of this down and pretend to your mates you thought of first.