Monthly Archives: June 2016

The other sort of swimmer . . . (episode 92)

mole

10 Forsythia Grove
Outer Hamlet
CORSETTSHIRE ZY6 4GT

June 25 2000

My Dear Ralph

I seem to be spending slightly more time repining at home than is my wont, and so it is far too tempting to dip my fountain pen into its green inkwell and pen epistles to yourself and Harriet. Do you like my note paper? It is of a weight and colour (deep lilac) designed to complement – and dignify – the ink. I have, further, invested it with a scent, the scent of lavender from my spray bottle, for I am an old-fashioned lady at heart. It is an opportunity, I feel dear, to also send some notion of my character and style.

And perhaps I have needed the uplift of the above, given the style of the correspondence received from the Bright Litton NHS hospital fracture clinic. I have been copied in to a letter that the medical personage at the clinic has sent to my GP. And quite apart from the factual inaccuracies scattered therein, there is one particularly offending sentence, which reads as follows: ‘Mrs Tankful is a self-employed gardener, who has “managed” to injure her wrist falling off a 2′ high stool.’ Beep beep dear. For a start, the medical personage is conflating two separate – and unrelated – facts. I may well be a self-employed gardener, but I sustained my injury indoors and not ‘out in the field’ so-to-speak. And, secondly, having done considerable damage to both my ribs and my shoulder – in addition to fracturing a wrist – it should be obvious to any thinking person that I did not just topple sideways into a flower bed while sitting on a stool (and wielding, for instance, garden shears). You would think – and you would hope – that this type of male would have become virtually extinct by the year 2000! The only plus point, as far as a communication of this quality goes, is that any, even slightly, decent recipient of it, would raise their eyebrows to the heavens (and give thanks that they had not been sent to see such a male themselves).

I was further dispirited by the telephone message I received from my GP surgery (that very same day) which went along the following lines: ‘Hello Mrs Tankful. This is the Empathy surgery here. We are just phoning to notify you that a letter inviting you to attend the Osteoporosis clinic will be arriving shortly.’ OSTEOPOROSIS CLINIC Ralph?! I have evidently had a slight fall indeed! At the age of only 64, I have entered the arena of OLD AGE!

The coup de gras (have I spelled that right pet?) was administered in an article written by a swimming coach that I came across in the Outer Hamlet public library. This rather excoriating piece stated that there were two types of swimmer who break their wrists. The first type, apparently, once clad in a plaster cast, never goes swimming again (perhaps this is because they are unaware that a waterproof cast is, theoretically, an option). But the other type of swimmer is undeterred! The other type of swimmer attends the pool and does ‘kicking sets’ – both above, and under, the surface of the water. So, guess what dear? I will be attending the pool, once I manage to get shot of the water-soluble plaster cast I am currently interred within. And I shall be attempting both ‘kicking sets’ and side-stroke.

Hrrrmmmph!

Your loving Aunt

Evangeline Tankful (DBE)

Inhabitant of a plaster cast . . . (episode 91)

Garden snail.  Image by Simon Howden. http:freedigitalphotos.net

Garden snail. Image by Simon Howden.
http:freedigitalphotos.net

10 Forsythia Grove
Outer Hamlet
CORSETTSHIRE ZY6 4GT

June 17 2000

My Dear Ralph

I think I must be getting slightly better pet; I am able to summon the wherewithal to adopt my usual style of address. ‘Slightly’ is, however, the word. My plaster cast is weighing, literally, on my wrist and I have had to give up – among other things – swimming (plaster casts dissolve in water), cycling and driving. And while it is certainly – if eventually – possible to extract a full bag from the indoor bin; add/remove clothes to/from my person; get in and out of the bath; wash my hair, and deal with dirty crockery – none of these activities can be accomplished with my erstwhile ease and style.

And it is not just my left wrist (my writing wrist) which is out of action. Something is the matter with my ribs, which roll over each other when I climb into bed. Getting out of bed is only accomplished (without screaming) by pivoting myself on my right elbow. Yesterday, while out of doors and operating as a three-limbed gardener, I had to clear and re-plant (having removed the grass roots from the plants themselves) a whole bed of yellow irises. In the middle of all this turning and twisting, I was suddenly riven by an extremity of pain in my left-hand rib cage. It was lucky dear, that the garden owners were on holiday, for I myself had to stand – rooted – to the spot for quite some minutes waiting for the pain to abate. Furthermore, I am not sure that it is entirely svelte to be seen walking around town with my gardening kit stashed inside an elderly person’s trolley on which ‘Grunt with Bucket dot Com’ is printed. This, in days of yore – when I was in a relatively hale state of health – seemed to have rather an amusing ring to it. However, it is not so funny when one has to toil around town for miles and hang about at bus stops devoid of seating.

I have also made my first trip to the Bright Litton NHS hospital fracture clinic. This was an experience as dispiriting as one might imagine, for it looked like those citizens with any financial status whatsoever had hoofed it over to the private WOPA premises in Marl Street – which left the rest of us. The rather grim-looking waiting room was coated in a shiny-looking shade of magnolia and we all seem to be crowded round a series of floor to ceiling structural supports, which lended a bunker-like feel to the whole experience. I was eventually called in however and the doctor did at least show me the latest set of wrist X-rays. Apparently the radius bone is fractured from one side to the other and, at 90 degrees to the fracture (and running towards the small wrist bones), is a further crack. Sigh. Apparently I can get shot of the plaster cast in another 14 days. I did not think it politic to mention pet that healing might be delayed by my somewhat over-zealous used of hand shears while engaged in some topiary last week. I think, next week, and having viewed these X-rays, that I might be confining my activities to snipping through thin green stems only.

However – in mitigation to all the above – I have been attending one or two very beautiful garden borders, which I have had a hand(!) in creating. And walking up and down the paths of cat mint, Penstemon ‘Garnet’ and Lady’s Mantle – through the hundreds of bees pollinating the flowers – has been a soul-soothing experience, of which I never tire. And, further on, down into the garden, are the lavenders and roses and Knautias planted to surround a Sweet Bay trimmed into a geometric shape. If there is a greater joy in Life than tending to sights such as this, then I have yet to find it.

Yours

Aunt Evangeline

Mole intelligence: EPISODE 90

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1A The Hole
Hope End Street
CARPOOL

June 12 2000

Hello Auntie

It is raining here at Hope End Street; I can just about see it as I gaze through the dirty net curtains – and grimy glass windows – of my bedsit. But (unusually maybe) I am not one of those who see only darkness in the rain. I find the sight and sound of it – sloshing down upon the pavements – to be comforting. I imagine it to be enfolding me in a hug. A kind hug. And it acts as a silencer of the loud and shouting world. I seem to need this Auntie, this gentling of the spirit that occurs under a low sky.

Thank you for your telephone call by the way. Yes. I am more than happy to come round and cut off your T-shirt for you. You must be getting quite hot and sweaty if your plaster cast is stopping you from disrobing and getting into a bath. Still. Those freezer bags you mention sound very useful for the purposes of keeping the cast from getting plastered in mud while gardening. Do you get much trouble from condensation inside the bag?

Your remarks about the nature of heroism reminded me of a novel by Patrick White (he won the Nobel prize for literature in 1971) called ‘Riders in the Chariot.’ I don’t know if you are familiar with it Auntie? It has four main characters, all of whom might be identified as ugly in the view of the world. One is a deranged heiress; the second is a coarse-looking washerwoman; another is a professorial Jew, and the last is a syphilitic aborigine. They are: Mary Hare, Mrs Godbold, Professor Himmelfarb, and Alf Dubbo. The remarkable thing about them though is that they all exemplify the virtues of goodness, kindness, and compassion. They are riders in the chariot of God, otherwise known as the Zaddikim. It was one of those books that can change a human life and I have always kept it, albeit getting more and more battered – and caked with dust – with every passing year. I would take it to a desert island because I would never tire of the mortifying acts of casual cruelty described and these characters’ efforts to offset them. Perhaps I, too, was a child not set in a popular mould – made ugly by shyness – and who now aspires to reach out a hand to very ill people who lie in their hospital beds. People who need me.

On the nursing front, by the way, learning methods have taken a downhill turn owing to the introduction of ‘study modules’ on the library computer.  In my opinion, remote learning has an alienating effect on the learner for, once you have completed one set of multiple choice questions, the page vanishes forever from the tangible world into a digital realm from whence it is unlikely to reappear.  All such increases in technology seem to correlate, I feel, with a loss of humanity.  I really feel quite depressed by it Auntie; nursing care on hospital wards has similarly vanished down the computer toilet in this way.

Your loving nephew

Ralph

The nature of heroism . . . (episode 89)

image by 'gameanna' http://freedigitalphotos.net

image by ‘gameanna’
http://freedigitalphotos.net

3A Hyde Park Terrace
LONDON W2 5PH

June 5 2000

Hello Mum

Thank you for your telephone call last night informing me of the radiological report on your wrist X-ray. A stress fracture of the distal ulna does, at least, sound less serious than a fracture of the distal radius. No wonder you were in such agony when changing gear in the Banger 0.9L Mk II! I was also interested to hear your remarks about the significance of the type of fall you sustained.

I remember slipping on the ice while out skiing in Val d’Isere with Austen one year. Of course, as my feet flew forwards, I fell backwards, putting my hand out to save me – and that is how I broke my own wrist. But, as you say, you fell sideways – describing what sounds like a parabola – from a standing position up on a chair. And that is how you probably landed on the ulnar side of the wrist. Why don’t they ask you these questions in a structured way when you turn up in A&E. Anyway. What happens now? Can you escape a plaster cast?

I myself have been cogitating over the nine Jesse Stone novels penned by the American writer, Robert Brown Parker. There is something terribly profound – and moving – about the characters of men (and women) who act to uphold the best interests of others, often at terrible risk to the quality of their own lives. We seem to see these acts of heroism – enacted over and over again – in the behaviour of fictional criminal detectives. But there must be people in real life who, every day, nerve themselves to act against a prevailing system, and in defence of the perceived best interests of another. How can they bear it? How can they bear the disapproval of – and indeed the invocation of punitive actions from – the system?

I also read that Robert Brown Parker had a particular penchant for dogs and so that must be how Reggie the red setter ended up featuring in the Jesse Stone novels. I think he must have had a special interest in heroism, as he has a PhD from Boston university whose subject is ‘The Violent Hero.’

I can’t quite describe the pain I feel when I read about the compassion and courage shown by such a man as Jesse Stone, in the interests of justice.

All love Mum

Harriet