Everything is going wrong.
Benevolent gods keeping home and hearth safe, the kindly spirits supposed to look after our animals, and the guardian angels we thought we could personally rely on, all have forsaken us. We have been abandoned and left to fend for ourselves in the teeth of bitter winds blowing through the threadbare fabric of our house, exposing us to the whims and wiles of builders and plumbers, veterinary surgeons and medical practitioners.
Where to start? At the beginning, when the dark clouds gathered above us - concentrating most unkindly on my innocent head and sending me into my old familiar black hole - I ignored the signs. Depression does that, it allows you to feel miserable in peace, whatever else is happening around you is of secondary importance next to your own overwhelming melancholia and inertia. But then the dog, who had been breathing hard and coughing for a while, became worse. "Hayfever", said I and the vet agreed. But antihistamines didn't work. "He needs steroids," said the vet.
The house too had been sending out distress signals for a while. Mainly the aroma of damp and mould. Kelly came, rummaged in the broom cupboard to extricate the vacuum cleaner from the narrow space and asked, "Have you noticed the wet patch on the wall in here?" I try to use the broom cupboard as little as I can, that's her job, but yes, there was a large wet patch, and to judge by the marks, it had been growing for a few weeks. "Talking of wet patches", Kelly continued, ever keen to be of use, "the bit in the cupboard under the eaves is growing too. You should have it checked out with all the rain we've had."
"Rain damage?" Beloved's ears pricked up. Although his hearing is not what it was, the possibility of insurance cover miraculously restored it - only temporarily, of course; he still holds an imaginary trumpet to his ear every time I address him with a polite request for a small favour. Alas, the insurance company sent their assessor who turned us down flat. "This leak is of long-standing", he said, (or should that be 'long-running'?), not our responsibility". Builders called and sucked in their breath through their teeth, hard. "It'll cost you", they said. "And have you noticed how rotten the window frames on this side of the house are?" Nothing if not helpful, these builders. Yes, we had noticed, but we'd been hoping that the problem might go away if we didn't examine it too closely. After all, there's more to life than studying the frames of eight large windows, which might, or might not, need mending or replacing.
Benno got sicker. Was it the effect of taking steroids? He is the cleanest dog imaginable, but desperate to get from upstairs to a door to the outside, he dribbled diarrhoea all down the stairs and finally abandoned all attempts at civilised toilet habits on the oriental rug in the downstairs hall. He was so very ill and unhappy, he broke my heart. The stairs have been cleaned, the rug was hosed off in the garden and is now awaiting the sun gods to dry it. Benno is still very poorly, his breathing is rough and he still has the runs. Even a diet of boiled rice, chicken breast fillet and boiled eggs hasn't had any effect. Tomorrow morning he is off to the vet's for x-rays and tests under anaesthetic. Naturally I've consulted Google for possible ailments, laryngeal paralysis is the most obvious candidate for a labrador of his age. I am not happy. I've already spent an hour howling and it hasn't even happened yet.
The good news story is by no means over, my GP (doctor) demanded my presence at the surgery. "I don't like the result of your kidney tests much", she said. (SHE doesn't like them, what about me?) Twenty five years ago I had kidney failure, but have been in remission, without any problems, for about twenty years. "I think we'll keep an eye on the protein in your pee" (only she said urine, being a doctor); which means, that to supply her with a regular sample, I have to pee into a jug and siphon off a dribble into a tiny vial provided for the purpose. At least I get a short walk in, taking the vial to the surgery. The woman also complained that I wasn't getting enough exercise now, what with the dog being old, Beloved crippled with arthritis and my computer duties having taken the place of regular, healthy, outdoor activity. That is, when I'm not stuck down that black hole ignoring the computer.
I tell you, fellow bloggers and dear readers, there's never a dull moment in this house. In all the excitement I've even dragged myself out of that black hole, but I'm only just sitting on the edge and it'll take no more than a slight shifting of the buttocks to slip right back in.