Category Archives: drama

The burglar alarm that phones you . . .

mole

August 12 2000

12 Forsythia Grove                                                                                                                                 Outer Hamlet                                                                                                                                           CORSETTSHIRE  ZY6 4GT

My Dear Ralph

It has been such a long time since we wrote, hasn’t it dear?  I have supposed it must be due to your new relationship with Thule – and recent sojourn to the chilly expanses of Greenland.  And I myself have been engaged in the planning of a “Winter Tree Walk” – and all the boning up on the subject of trees – that that involves.  Of course, the second I had my first thoughts about preparing a flyer, my little, and exactly hand-fitting, camera decided that its years of happy operation were over  – and I have had to go and buy a new one.  I have chosen the towering stem of a local Beech tree to feature on my flyer and it certainly is a most impressive image.  I am not sure whether I should purchase eight or so hard hats to equip any attendees on my tour of trees with?  This may sound slightly over the top, but I will be inviting people into the canopies of very large trees and – on windy/thundery days – one might be slightly more likely to be struck on the bonce by a falling tree or bolt of lighting!  Luckily, Beech trees – with their very thin and wettable skins – conduct electricity very rapidly down to the ground.  And so that particular tree is most unlikely to explode!  Still.  Under the canopy, one would still be under the influence of an electrical charge, and I wouldn’t want to have to perform CPR – particularly on individuals uninsured for personal injury (as they would be).  What do you think dear?

Meanwhile, I have recently been subjected to the most nosy, and intrusive, questioning concerning my actual whereabouts, by somebody who features at two of my work places and isn’t due to fly back to South Africa until September.  This personage is a total stranger and I have been feeling distinctly disinclined to answer questions concerning where I will be, when I am coming, and how long I will be there.  Mulling the whole thing over, I decided that she was either just one of those excessively nosy people or might be interested (with associate) in engaging in some form of summer burglary (burglaries do apparently peak during the school summer holidays).  And although I do reside in a most inaccessible house – in full view of a pub – I did decide to do some research on simple home alarms.  It turned out to be most interesting pet and – despite my massive phobia relating to electronics and actual button pressing – I was very tempted by the type of alarm that detects the burglar and actually phones you up to let you know about it!  (I first heard about this on the news, when it transpired that one of the presenters had had to go home because his burglar alarm had phoned him up to let him know that someone had entered his house.)

I decided to equip the device with a roaming SIM (which searches for the strongest signal on any available network) and the most aggravating aspect of the whole set up was to get this SIM card registered and activated.  The company selling the alarm had put around five videos on how to program it on to their website so, gritting my teeth with steely determination, I trotted over to the library – equipped with headphones – to go and view the instructions and take copious notes!  But actually, it was easy.  I fitted the SIM card, and the batteries, and then linked the “remote” to the alarm.  I then put the number of the roaming SIM into my phone (so I’d realize it was the alarm phoning) and typed my mobile phone number into the burglar alarm.  I did decide to turn off the howling siren effect as, should I be 15, or so, minutes away from the house, the whole street could be paralysed by the 200dB shriek emitted!  I also recorded a short phone message (six seconds long) into the alarm’s microphone – and screwed the whole ensemble high up on to the wall. I did, naturally, check that this stretch of wall was actually in receipt of a telephone signal before I did this . . .

And then I decided to find out whether my efforts had worked and that the alarm did work (I naturally assumed that it would be dead as dodo and sit, silently, on its perch on the wall!)  But actually pet, I walked into the room and the alarm’s red light immediately flashed on and, about five seconds later, my mobile phone started to ring in the room upstairs.  I ran up there and, sure enough, the alarm was phoning to give me the message that I had just dictated into its microphone.  Miraculous!  I felt exceedingly flushed with my success I can tell you!  Technology does move on and sometimes a lot of interesting learning can happen, if one can just push out the boat a little.

Love, as ever

Your Aunt Evangeline

 

 

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New endeavours . . . .

C'est moi

C’est moi

I have decided to wrestle with a new blog template for my next 100 episodes. And “wrestle” I certainly did, even though I chose exactly the same template (twenty twelve) as I did nearly four years ago. (I tend to try to work out the controls solo and too much eschew the reading of instructions . . .)

So my new blog resides at: http://talesfromperfect.wordpress.com

Thank you Keith Garrett (of “Man of Many Thoughts”) who has found it already.

And a request to WordPress. Please develop a “translation widget” so that the non-English peoples, world-wide, can take more part. As things stand, the readership of all our blogs appears confined mainly to speakers of the English language.

Evangeline

Mole intelligence: episode 100

Image useful for illustrating the lighter side of life

Image useful for illustrating the lighter side of life

10 Forsythia Grove
Outer Hamlet
CORSETTSHIRE ZY6 4GT

November 20 2000

10 Forsythia Grove
Outer Hamlet
CORSETTSHIRE ZY6 4GT

My Dear Ralph

Thank you for your moving expose on the nature of morality. Keep going!

I myself have departed from Especial Care Services. I did indeed feel this was necessary as I do not think they truly wished to hear any penetrating insights from me. The good news is that I have found a new position, even more out in the sticks than is usual. I have become (miraculously) an alpaca herdswoman . . . And in case you – as a convinced city dweller of the first order – have absolutely no idea what these are, I will enlighten you. Alpacas are smaller versions of the llama and, in case you are not very much the wiser, are clad in very woolly coats and disport large (and slightly exophthalmic) brown eyes.

My role involves the highly technical task of scraping their turds from off the turf; filling their water troughs/hay mangers, and placing handfuls of beef nuts in their feeding bowls (which are hung over the rails of estate fencing). I must say that these tasks do not necessitate one to be in possession of a high quantity – or quality – of intellect. But it seems that the alpacas are none too bright themselves, and only appear to be motivated by the rattling of feed inside a bright orange bucket. Honestly dear, one is practically knocked flat in the rush of animals stampeding towards their bowls.

Alpacas are, for the most part, not very chummy animals, but one exception to this is a female called “Sherbet.” Sherbet is quite inclined to sniff my hair as I extend my head towards her and allows me to stroke her long, fleecy, neck. One morning, she knelt beside me as I swept the stable floor, and the farm manager showed up.

‘However did you manage that?’ he said, gazing suspiciously at said Sherbert. ‘Did you give her sweets?’

I denied this dear, mentioning only the propensity that animals have for realizing that you intend them no harm. The other two animals with whom I have a slight relationship, are either very young or very old. I feed the underweight youngster with goat milk sucked from the teat of a lamb-feeding bottle. I sit it on my lap while it feeds and gaze at its extraordinary eyelashes and great big eyes. Its mother has mastitis and won’t let it suckle from her teats. She pushes it away and stamps her cloven feet. The old alpaca may, or may not be, blind and I notice that the bigger adults shove her away from the feeding stations. So I have started to call her by name – Meena – and feed her in a separate pen. These are the most warming aspects of my role (albeit the smallest and shortest ones).

And yet, like the gardening that I also engage in, it is a lonely place out in the fields with only the sky and trees and ‘God’ to turn to. There seem to be very few human beings around with whom I can share some small congress of the soul. And throughout my life it seems that this has almost always been the case. Even should anyone (at this late stage) show up to offer “love” – and, doubtless, immediate sex – I might eschew the “opportunity” and go on by myself.

I will write my memoirs – “The Truth versus Silence” – as, no matter the level of governmental opposition, I think the world will want to hear from a woman who has been the Chief of MI6. This was, perhaps, the thing I was born to do.

Yours

Aunt Evangeline

Fallot’s tetralogy . . . (episode 99)

iStock_000021621315Small

November 19 2000

1A The Hole
Hope End Street
CARPOOL C87 4AZ

Hello Auntie

I have been engaged in one of those situations (at work) which give one pause for thought. It is now my second year of study at Carpool University Hospital and I have been allocated to a 6-week-long sojourn in the Coronary Care Unit (CCU). It can be pretty scary, as I expect you can imagine, to be surrounded by potentially blue-looking people and their bleeping paraphernalia. But one man, in particular, engaged my attention. He was in his twenties and had, apparently, had a late diagnosis of a heart condition called “Fallot’s Tetralogy.” I had to go home and look this up! It means that there is a hole between the two bottom chambers (ventricles) of his heart and that the wall of the right ventricle has become thickened under the strain of trying to push blood into narrowed pulmonary veins.

But the issue more to hand, at least to me, was that he looked like he might have an intestinal obstruction. I can say this with some degree of confidence Auntie, because he was only able to manage the occasional lick of ice cream, had a hugely distended abdomen and kept vomiting up (green) bile. So as a – still lowly – student nurse, I toddled off to the nurses’ station to informing the staff nurses of Mr X’s predicament.

But, do you know, they barely gave me an uninterested flicker of the eyelids – and a bored sigh – before returning to whatever notes they were penning in patients’ documentation. I have noticed this type of attitude in the so-called “professional” nurse before; they think they are too high and mighty to engage in some actual thinking – and can’t wait to condescend to someone they perceive to be of lower status. In the absence of any interest in the information I was trying to give, I slithered off to the sluice and occupied myself in some minion-style cleaning of metal bed pans.

However, on my cycle ride home (in the pouring rain and clad in my usual black – rubberized – outfit) I had time to think the matter over. And it did seem to me Auntie that, given the opportunity, I ought to try to do something to help this patient. But what? After all, I am a man who does not even have the funds to drive a basic automobile and who, likewise, has to listen to his music from a “Walkman” strapped to his belt!

The following day, I was on a “late” shift and so arrived on the ward at around 1300 hours. During the course of listening to the staff handover, it transpired that Mr Corcoran – the cardiac consultant – was due to come and do “a round” of the patients some time during the afternoon. A “flashlight” went off in my head at that moment Auntie, and I resolved to try to hang about on the fringes of this event.

It was at around 1500 that Mr Corcoran, plus entourage, swept into the CCU. He started to attend to every patient, in their turn, while a junior doctor expatiated on what they thought was going on. Thule was among them! Eventually, some twenty minutes later, they reached the bed of the patient with Fallot’s Tetralogy and it was obvious, from what I could pick up from the sidelines, that nobody had noticed that he might be obstructed.

I felt so enraged by what appeared to be serious neglect on the part of the qualified nurses, that I found myself speaking up. ‘I have noticed,’ I said, ‘that Mr X is virtually unable to eat and he has been vomiting bile for the past three days. The vomiting is projectile in nature.’

There was somewhat of a pause at this point as Mr Corcoran looked at the qualified nurse who, in turn, glared at me. ‘Has he?’ he said. He then went over to examine the taut, drum-like, abdomen of the patient, listening to it (for interior sounds) through his stethoscope.

‘This young man’ is quite right he said. ‘This patient needs to go off to theatre immediately.’

It was gratifying Auntie to see Thule smile at me from among the group of medical students and doctors gathered around the bed. But it was even more gratifying to feel that I had had the nerve to try to do the right thing, at the right time, and that my actions might result in the saving of someone’s life.

Of course, for the rest of the week, the backs of the qualified nurses were ostentatiously turned towards me whenever I was on duty. But not only were they wrong in the first instance, they have further shown their mettle in this additional display of unkindness. They have not learned. And I wonder what further sins of omission they could commit during the course of their qualified – and “professional” – careers?

Bye now Auntie

Ralph

The handling of a microphone . . . (episode 98)

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

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

3A Hyde Park Terrace
LONDON W2 00V

November 13 2000

Hello Mum

I have had a recent success in a national poetry competition. I was awarded first prize for my poem Gran baciatore
which means “Great Kisser.” It contains much power and passion and maybe the judges liked it for its “liquid imaginings . . . ” In any event, winning meant that I had to travel up to Cottonopolis to read it to an audience of poets and other literati.

I wasn’t sure what to wear – bearing in mind the subject matter of my piece – but in the end decided upon an outfit combining both sense and sensuality. I wore a just-above-knee red (as in pillar box) dress; navy blue stockings (not that anyone would have known that); red high heel shoes, and a gold necklace with a sapphire at my throat.

It did occur to me beforehand that I would have to practice using a microphone, for there is nothing worse than a poet who comes on to the stage and reaches out a – visibly terrified – hand towards the stand. So I taped my kitchen mop to a table and rehearsed using it! This was time well-spent I think Mum, for – when I read my poem – you could have heard a pin drop and the audience looked mesmerized. I have been fortunate with my speaking voice; it has mellow and contralto tones and there have been times when I have aspired to become the voice of the UK’s speaking clock!

There was a reception afterwards, in a room notable for its glass ceiling and palms, in giant pots, which reached up towards it. There was also polished parquet flooring and leather sofas into which you could subside, if not sink out of view entirely. The usual array of poetry luvvies were in attendance and you could hear the occasional cry of, ‘Darling! How wonderful to see you!’ – cries which I feel may not have been totally sincere in every case. As I know myself, it is difficult to really feel thrilled for another prize winner if one has not recently one something oneself.

Anyway. At one point I was approached by a rather sad-faced man who said he was a librettist, and wondered whether he might be able to use the words in one of my poems for his latest cantata. (I have to say Mum, that I am not very sure what a cantata actually is, nor whether any of my poems might be suitable for being in one.) But at least Clive seemed scholarly and earnest and not, in any way, a similar style of man to Austen, my ex-husband, and Edgar, my ex-lover. In fact, he seemed the sort of man who might own a Bassett Hound; it was the red at the corner of his eyes and the drooping nature of his eyelids that made me think this.

I have given him my phone number (mobile) and he says that he will be in touch. I hope that he does not mean this literally, for too many men nowadays seem – and I know this is rather a change of subject matter – all too eager for sex in the first 24 hours of knowing one, while peppering their communications with strings of kisses. I have certainly come to feel – since Austen left – that it helps if one has at least met the man for dinner (at some neutral destination) and engaged in a series of actual conversations first.

Best love Mum

Your slightly successful daughter (ex- in law)

Harriet

The hunting horn . . . (episode 97)

mole

10 Forsythia Grove
Outer Hamlet
CORSETTSHIRE ZY6 4GT

November 8 2000

I had one of my more perturbing experiences whilst out gardening the other day pet. During the course of bouncing down a lonely farm track – in a particularly secluded part of Corsettshire – at 0740, when light was faintly dawning, I had occasion to bounce past a group of men clad in flat green caps, just outside a farm. I also had occasion to notice a sizeable quantity of 4×4’s, and horse boxes, parked in an adjacent field. The men stared at me and I stared back. They were still staring down the track after I went past, en route to the large stone house, at the bottom of the track. The only way forward out of this spot is, naturally, down a mud-laden lane which meanders (in the wrong direction) through an overhead tunnel of trees.

Of course, just my luck, I was motoring along in my Citroen Dyane ‘Piebald’ clad in one of those woolly Nepalese hats (complete with plaits) – which certainly did not fit into any scene featuring country pursuits. Indeed, I looked like a large advertisement for ‘Hunt Saboteurs Inc.’ There was nothing for it dear. Once I reached my destination, I had to get out and start unloading the large consignment of silver-leaf Cineraria and Bellis perennis (the double daisy) which I had brought with me and were intended for an empty, south-facing, bed of soil.

There was rather a silence coming from the track from which I had just come, so I embarked upon some slight nonchalant whistling and kept my eyes directed well away from the gate and passing track. Eventually, parties of up to five horse riders (at a time) jogged past and they too seemed to be humming, with their eyes similarly averted.

I must say, dear, I breathed a sigh of relief when the last hunter (as in horse) had gone past and I began to embark on planting my double daisies in their stations. I also let the house Labrador out as he is one of those who is particularly prone to barking at even non-existent intruders. I was thinking that it would be such a pest if I had to get my old set of garotting cables out the car in order to defend myself against any huntsman who thought I might be a hunt informer. (I would have had to get up on a chair – given the virtually non-existent phone signal in this spot – in order to let anyone at all know that God knows what activity was being enacted in the locale of Deserted Wooded Valley.)

About half-an-hour elapsed (with no persons viewed anywhere about the house and garden) when I distinctly heard the sound of a hunting horn emanating from a large wooded copse about one mile off in the distance. And this was followed by the sound of yelping dogs . . . Oh dear. I thought. I hope I am going to be able to get out of here (intact). And, indeed, leaving was a slightly more demanding pursuit than usual owing to metal hurdles having been placed across the track and groups of land rovers being dotted over the hillside. However, I have to say that the metal hurdles were politely removed, as I approached, by the farmer and we both waved and said, ‘Cheerio.’ (I had, by this time, removed my woolly hat.)

The next time I saw the house and garden owner, I was feeling that perhaps I should address the situation in some way.

I said, “Do you know in advance when ‘sporting pursuits’ are being carried out in the immediate vicinity of the house?” I fancy the lady looked a mite uncomfortable when I said this, for she hastily assured me that such events only occur once a year and, hopefully, next year, I will be somewhere else!

Yours, recently escaped from the jaws of controversy,

Aunt Evangeline

Mole intelligence: EPISODE 95

Completely irrelevant image of penguin from zoo

Completely irrelevant image of penguin from zoo

10 Forsythia Grove
Outer Hamlet
CORSETTSHIRE ZY6 4GT

July 10 2000

My Dear Harriet

Thank you for your enthralling epistle on the subject of chicken care. I am relieved not to have any chickens – and especially cockerels – in my own life. And please don’t – ever – put yourself down. You are becoming exceptional, and that is life’s largest skill of all.

It is Sunday morning here in Outer Hamlet and I have risen early with the purpose of attending the swimming pool. As my feet – clad in white plimsolls – padded along the pavement, I became conscious of that rather sweet smell redolent of warmth and rain and the slow composting of organic material which has fallen to the ground. A faint mist of rain was falling and the world was as quiet as any human being could wish for.

As I trekked across the recreation ground – and all the beheaded white clovers – I thought of how different swimming pools have become since the war. If you recall, Harriet, I was but nine years old when the war ended and, by then, had only experienced the occasional immersion in freezing cold municipal baths (for they were baths then). It is only since the Great War – when male recruits were deemed to be lacking physical fitness – that the emphasis has shifted from keeping clean to keeping fit. And indeed, before then, swimming baths were thought to be positively dangerous places harbouring the organism thought to cause polio. My own experience, as a child aged eight or so, was that the swimming baths were likely to be closed owing to the impossibility of obtaining an essential part – customarily made by men then fighting in the navy, air force, or army.

This morning, however, I have pushed and pulled my way through heavy doors, decked myself out in a rather appealing-looking turquoise swimming costume, and headed for the water. I have enjoyed my recent experiences of kicking through the water on my back, kicking through the water on my front, and treading water. It has also been most wonderful to exhale air at the ‘deep’ end, exhaling bubbles, and kick back up to the surface from the bottom. But something has been lost, I feel, from the ambience of the modern day swimming pool compared with that of earlier times. Depth for a start. It now would seem virtually impossible to drown in a contemporary pool as the water is so shallow and the pool dimensions so short and narrow. And do you remember the time when it was possible to actually dive into – the really deep – end from a spring board or a gradually ascending height of boards? But most of all I think I miss the blue, or green, ceramic tiles which lined the pool itself and the walls of the great buildings which housed them.

With love as ever

Mum

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