10 Forsythia Grove
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.