Gardener last summer
"Summat wrong here, I thought."
Gardener came by for a cup of tea yesterday. A loud knock on the back door, a shout of 'hello" and "where's the gardener, canna see her working" ( meaning me), and he's in the kitchen. Bright and cheerful. When I asked if the doctors had given him permission to drive again, he said "Didn't ask them". Of course, what was I thinking. Gardener doesn't ask questions to which he might not like the answer.
"So there I was" he said, "sawing logs on the saw bench; I had the tractor with me and the saw box on the back and sometimes I had to use the chainsaw as well; lifting the trunks on the bench and piling the logs in the box. It was a big job and I thought I'd better get it done."
"I'd been having this pain in me chest for a couple of weeks but I thought I'd just pulled a muscle or summat. Then I got this pain, and it was bad, so I rested a bit and it eased off, so I started again. Every time the pain came, I stopped and then went at it again. And then I broke into a sweat and was sick".
"Hallo", I thought", he continued, "this is not good. Summat wrong here. I knew Mr. Beresford was up the field and wouldn't be back for a twenty minute or so, so I lay on the ground. The pain was summat awful".
"When the amblance come, the chap kept asking how bad the pain was. Nought to Ten, he said. Well, I didn't know. Anyway, after he give me the morphine, I didn't have no pain no more".
"In the air amblance they only put me flat on the stretcher and I couldn't see a thing except the roof". Gardener seems genuinely aggrieved that he wasn't given a window seat.
"No windows in the roof, see. So I asked if they could take me home again by amblance; I've never been up in the air before. It would of bin nice to see everything on the ground".
Throughout his tale he interrupts himself now and then to cackle heartily and take a big gulp of tea. Beloved has given him his usual mug which holds close on twice as much as an ordinary mug.
"When we landed there were all these people round the 'elicopter. This woman bends over me and says she's Sister Margaret and how she's in charge of me. Next thing I know they got me on an hoperating table, slapping summat icy cold on my arm and I'm gone. I don't know nothing".
Clearly, he is still totally surprised by how quickly and efficiently they dealt with him. His foxy grin shows how pleased he is to be telling the tale.
He goes on: "And then I'm in the ward, no pain nor nothing, and the nurse comes and asks if I want a cup of tea. Sure, I tell her, and you can tell them amblance drivers they can fly me home again. She says, no, not yet, we'll have to keep you here for a few days".
"And they've got all these machines on me, and I've got tubes in me arm and me hand and they've got me pinned down. And they keep coming for blood all the time too. So I asks them, what they're gonna do with it all, if they're gonna sell it".
It looks like this part of the tale is coming to an end. He was indeed taken home three days later, by road. But now he goes into medical details.
"So now I've got this stent in me hartery, and they blow it up and it opens the hartery so I get enough hoxigin to me heart. They said that I had a blood clot blocking the hartery and that's where all the pain come from. That Dr. Lambert should have known summat was wrong when I went to see her".
He is right, his GP did miss the danger signals three weeks earlier; she should have known that Gardener, who never sees a doctor unless he is practically on his death bed, wasn't visiting her from boredom.
Anyway, he is feeling well, if a little scared. "How many lives have I had now", he asks wistfully. He's fallen out of trees, has had several operations on his back and limbs and isn't always careful when it comes to operating machinery or lifting heavy weights. A little of the cockiness has been knocked out of him this time, I think. Knowing him, it'll probably come back before long.
We finished the visit by taking a stroll round the garden. "I see you've had the 'edge done", he says. "Tidy job", he says. That's praise, coming from him. He's never very complimentary about other people's work. I think he is secretly very glad that he won't have to do it himself. "They got me doin' these hexercises", he says. "I must hexurt myself." This is obviously a new word in his vocabulary, he makes several false starts before he trusts himself with it. "Waste of time, if you ask me. They got me on a bike and a treadmill and when I get going properly, they tell me not so fast, take it easy. Better to start doing little bits of work, maybe an hour or two". He means it.
But he knows as well as I do, that he needs to heal first, to build up his strength and that he must be sensible and take care. He cracked one of his cheeky jokes. "When I get back, we'll have to swap. You do what I did and I'll do what you did".
I can't wait to have him back, but I'll be keeping a very close eye on him. I am, however, under absolutely no illusion that he'll listen to me.