7 – 10 January 2015
When I wrote about my Tuesday walk I mentioned that I’d paid a visit to the doctor and promised to tell you more later. Well, it’s like this. Since my stomach bug in late November, just before we went off to Paris, I’ve been suffering on and off with an intermittent stomach problem. It seems to ebb and flow like the tide with a few days of pain, burning and feeling nauseous followed by a few days of slowly feeling better before it all starts over again. Thinking it might be something I was eating I looked closely at my diet but, to be honest, half the time I didn’t really feel like eating anyway.
In the end I had to concede defeat and visit the doctor, something I don’t like doing at all. In fact this was the first time I’d had to make an appointment at the new surgery. At least the phone call to reception didn’t feel like the Spanish Inquisition and there was no problem getting an appointment which was a vast improvement on my last doctor.
Anyhow, long story short, it turns out I have gastritis, an inflamation of my innards caused by too much stomach acid. Apparently it’s a result of a virus and stress (you don’t say?) and I’ve got some pills to take for the next month. Hopefully these will put things right but, in the meantime, I have to avoid or cut back on foods that irritate my stomach including coffee and chocolate. Why couldn’t it have been something I don’t like such as tea? Anyhow, the pills are meant to make me feel worse at first so forgive me if I’m a little grouchy.
On Wednesday morning I took the first of my pills, with the doctors words “they may make it worse before they begin to make it better,” ringing in my ears. It didn’t feel as if it could be much worse. Still, outside the window the sky slowly turned pinker as the sun came up and I remineded myself that all things must pass.
The banana I ate for breakfast sat in my stomach like a brick but the burning feeling seemed a little better. Whether this was a good trade off or not I couldn’t decided but, crossing Cobden Bridge the calm river and the vestige of the early morning rosy clouds made me smile anyway.
The day seemed to take a turn for the worse when the news broke about the shootings in Paris, on streets I walked so very recently. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the publication of the satirical cartoons, the end result seems hard to justify. There will always be things to cause offence but, surely, the way to deal with these is through reasoned debate not guns. Freedom of speech, opinion and religious belief are the cornerstones of an enlightened society and I can’t believe any God would approve of murder and violence. Sadly, the people who suffer the most from these acts of terrorism are the ordinary Muslims who want to get on with life peacefully but find themselves under suspicion or the target of hatred and fear.
By the evening the brick in my stomach had gone but, after a very small dinner of pasta, most of which ended up in the bin, the burning was back. This is probably down the the effects of the morning pill wearing off but I only have to take one a day. Hopefully things will settle down over the next few days or weeks.
The weather couldn’t have been more different on Thursday morning. Darkness reigned outside my window and heavy rain was falling. It was most certainly a bus to work kind of day but, with the work on the Big Bridge in mind, I left home early. At the bus stop I watched traffic not really moving for some time. Eventually a bus did crawl to the stop and then I sat on it while it didn’t really move. The journey was painfully slow and I made it to work with seconds to spare rather wet from the walk across the boardwalk.
Occasionally I get a call that makes my job worthwhile. On Thursday afternoon I got one of those. The caller was the manager of a residential home for the elderly in a rural area. We’re talking the middle of nowhere here with one bus every few hours.
“We have a resident here called Edna,” she said, “she’s ninety and…how shall I put it…rather eccentric. She dresses in quite an odd manner and her hair is rather wild and unkempt but she’s very clean and particular, just slightly batty.”
Straight away I liked the sound of the old lady, she reminded me of someone, or what someone is going to be like if she lives to be ninety anyway.
It turns out the lady is being bullied on the bus by a group of other, slightly less old, ladies from a well to do area up the road. They have said horrible things to her and are spreading malicious rumours about her. They have accused her of exposing herself, being unclean, incontinent and other horrible things. It was, frankly, quite shocking. Even so, I wasn’t sure why she was phoning us and was worried she was going to accuse our drivers of mistreating Edna too.
I needn’t have worried. What she actually wanted was to ask if the drivers were aware of the problem or had seen anything untoward going on. She was worried that all the nastiness was going to stop Edna from going out or make her fearful.
“She so enjoys her little trips into town,” the lady said, “and it would be such a shame if she stopped going out.”
There and then I called the control office and, as it happened, I spoke to two of the drivers in question.
“She’s a little nutty,” one said, “but we like her. We make sure she’s ok and help her when she gets a bit confused. If we see her walking towards the stop we always wait for her because she’s a little slow and we know she likes to get the bus.”
Apparently she had a bit of an accident in the town a while back when the elastic in her trousers broke and they began to fall down. Maybe this is where the exposing herself rumours came from. A police officer was trying to help her because she was quite distressed and confused. She couldn’t remember where she lived. The bus driver was passing and stopped to help and tell the officer where she lived so he could take her home.
When I explained about the group of bullies the driver was quite upset. He said he would watch out for this in the future and make sure Edna sat at the front of the bus where he could keep an eye on her. This was a great relief to the manager of the home and she asked me to make sure all the drivers on this service got commendations. I was more than happy to oblige. Hopefully, if I ever get to be a batty old lady there will be kind people like that to look after me.
The Friday morning news was full of weather warnings, seventy mile an hour winds, falling trees and the like. Luckily for me most of this seemed to be happening further north. There was no rain outside my window but no sun or blue skies either, a kind of cross between Wednesday and Thursday. When I went out it was a touch on the windy side but it did seem to be blowing the clouds away and there was the merest sliver of blue here and there.
My day was spent in a rather long winded investigation that involved checking through a large number of cases going back over a year. It was actually quite interesting, if a little frustrating at times. Of course there were still phones to answer but thankfully not many. The sweary many who refused to give his name was back in the late afternoon shouting about a driver who had not stopped for him. Given his threats to smash up the bus stop and the buses I’m wondering if the poor driver had met with him before and decided not picking him up was the best course of action. Some people are their own worst enemies. Eventually he put the phone down, shouting at me to “f*** off,” as he did. Maybe one day he’ll realise he is paying for all these pointless calls.
At least the news that the men who committed the cowardly murders in Paris had been found and dealt with meant the streets of that beautiful city are a little safer now. Of course, it could hardly be called good news with so many pointless deaths. Edward Bulwer-Lytton said, ‘beneath the rule of men entirely great, the pen is mightier than the sword,’ in this case I really hope so.
Wind was the main feature of Saturday. The trees were blowing about outside the window in an alarming manner, which didn’t make me all that keen to go outside. Blustery doesn’t really cover it, I was blown along the road towards the river stopping along the way to look at flowers. The blossom on the way to Monks Walk is still hanging on despite the frost and cold we’ve had and half a gale doing its best to rip them from the branches. Weather like this makes sharp flower photography almost impossible and, of dozens of pictures, none are really in focus but I’ll include them just to show the frilly pink blooms really were there.
Further along the road the beautiful rosebuds had not fared quite as well. They never had the chance to open and now the petals are brown and withered. At least, being in a sheltered spot behind a low wall, they weren’t dancing around in the wind. On the other hand, I felt as if I was almost being lifted off my feet with each gust.
When I reached Cobden Bridge the sky seemed to be layers of colour, dark blue grey fading to palest apricot. Those gusts of winds, like panting breaths, were skimming across the top of the river cutting striations across the already choppy water. It felt as if I ought to be holding on to the parapet to stay on my feet. Somehow I made it across to the shelter of the shops and houses, buffeted but in one piece.
Finally I made it to Horsehoe Bridge, and here the blackberries I saw growing just a week or so ago have succumbed to the sudden winter cold. They’ve shriveled and dried on the stems, never to be eaten. The days come and go, the seasons pass but what a strange winter this has been.