I thought three packs of over-the-counter cystitis relief and a gallon of tea had sorted the cystitis but I had not bargained for the effect of a two hour walk in the biting cold.
I am no longer surprised to hear of old people keeling over with the cold in the winter; they walk so slowly. My mother was utterly insistent that she take her constitutional, and, as it has taken me four months to persuade her that a daily walk is not a cruelty but a necessity for someone with a history of diverticular problems and the early stages of vascular dementia, so was I.
So in my warmest underwear and my long linings, off we set, up the hill. For the first time my mother had remembered to take her stick. This is the necessary third leg commemorated in the riddle of the sphinx. Scarcely had I started admiring the steadiness the stick gave to her gait than she found a new use for it.
If you are the sort of person who has produced utterances throughout your life such as: I ran him the length of my tongue; I would make sure they suffered for it; I gave her a piece of my mind; do you take me for a fool? and similar things, it is only a question of how soon they give you the stick.
Poke poke poke.
All the way up the school wall. The school wall is seven feet high and made of irregularly shaped, mortared, buff coloured Cotswold stone. As it’s beside a busy road, petrol fumes and a bit of acid rain have worn the stones away. Some have been replaced, slightly irregularly and not utterly flush with the others, in character, any happy person would think, with the general build of the wall.
But not if you have an individual disposition and a stick.
‘That stone! Look at that stone, Jane!’ Poke poke poke.
‘It’s a disgrace!’ Poke poke. ‘And that one! It’s appalling.’
‘It’s just a stone.’
‘Look at it! Look at it! I have a good mind to write to someone. Look at that one. Look!’ Poke poke.
‘It’s just a wall.’
‘How can you say that! It is no such thing! It’s a hazard to pedestrians! It will fall on someone. Look at that one (poke poke) there is actual moss growing on it. It’s a disgrace. Do they never clean it? I’m appalled. Look at that (poke poke) someone should be notified!’
Well there were about thirty courses in the forty foot long wall, which could have kept her happily poking for many hours until we found the dropped soft sunglasses case.
‘Look at this! Just look at this! Lying on the ground on the public pavement! What can it be?’ Poke poke, lift with stick, squint at in disgust, drop on ground, poke poke.
There was a good ten minutes of case poking and verbal estimation of the character and personality of the miscreant who would do such a wicked thing as drop their sunglasses case before we moved on, up the wall again. In fact we’d got into quite a good rhythm of lurch, poke, verbally assault and were making slow progress up the hill, I think (it was hard to tell, I’d stopped feeling my feet), when we found them.
A pair of knickers.
Violet, high leg cotton with stretch and diamanté sprinkles and a little frill of lace round the hip.
Could have been the entire Folies Bergere, in the nude, with the armies of several small countries going at it like knives accompanied by louche accordion players, had you kept your eye on the reaction rather than the article. It nearly provoked a coronary of indignation right there on the polite pavement of the ‘best area of town, for suitable residents.’
‘How! How! How!’ Bright red with rage.
I’d been wondering myself. It wasn’t the weather, you know?
‘Why? Why? Why?’
They were clean apart from the fairy cycle tracks, so it was either sudden lust or the most massive trapped fart in history.
Interestingly, she didn’t poke them or even get her stick (with the pretty flowers, should have been huge thorns) anywhere near them. But after that the stones in the wall went unremarked, as they did on the way down the hill, when we met the knickers again. This time she drew herself up to her full height, aided by the stick and provided a scorching diatribe which she had obviously been rehearsing in the coffee shop. It just as well the original owner of the knickers was elsewhere. Her ears would have melted.
By the time we got back I was so thoroughly chilled I could feel the bugs multiplying. Back home the following day, Saturday, when my temperature climbed like indignation up a stick I went to the hospital to be given the antibiotics that I took an allergy to that had me vomiting yellow bile by Sunday, when I had to get out of bed, bizarrely, to go back to the hospital again for a different prescription.
On the plus side they now have a list of my allergies in the hospital and I don’t have to go back to my mother’s until Thursday and she’s only rung three times so far, the worst being the Saturday night ten thirty post wine worry about her investments.
Is this progress? I have no idea. Poke it with your stick and find out.
JaneLaverick.com – in a sticky position.