Nine months ago we accepted an estimate for a complete overhaul of the windows on the South side of the house, all eight of them. Ditto the back door, which has been quietly rotting away at the bottom. “Please don’t come during the week before ‘Open Garden’,” I said, "but any other time will be fine.” ‘Open Garden’ was in June.
“Well, it depends on the weather and the order book,” said Kevin the builder, a very nice chap. He’s a local contractor, all of his sub-contractors are pleasant chaps; we’ve used them all for one job or another and liked them all. Once you’ve found a good set of traders and workmen you bend over backwards not to lose them.
Three months ago, when Beloved had a small operation to remove a BCC, the surgeon said :”What’s that on your arm, that doesn’t look good to me. Better make an appointment for a biopsy.” For weeks both Beloved and his GP have been pestering the Dermatology Department at Shrewsbury Hospital for an appointment.
“We are very busy but we'll arrange for a check-up as soon as possible.”
In due course a letter arrived from the hospital with a date: “5th November.
Yesterday we had a phone call from Kevin the builder: “Okay if we come tomorrow, 5th November?”
Purely a rhetorical question, by the way.
Beloved is no longer able to drive, he can’t see well enough. The Licensing
Authority are particularly unwilling
I can see why, there is a certain kind of logic to that.
What to do? To go or to stay?Hospital or builder?
“I know, I’ll ask the Community Car People for help.” I’m nothing if not quick on my thinking feet.
“Mary (the person who runs the scheme) is away in Shrewsbury,” Keith, her husband said. "I’ll give her the message, when I pick her up. It should be no later than 3 o’clock.”
By six o’clock, when neither Keith nor Mary had got in touch, I became a bit restive. I had to make a decision one way or the other. Keith sounded awfully fuzzy when I rang back. “Mary isn’t back yet, they’ve kept her in.” Kept her in? Kept her in where? It emerged that Mary was in hospital and had made no arrangements for anyone else to take over from her. I gave up on Keith and started ringing round for the names of the volunteers who man the car service. It then emerged that Keith is no longer the man he was, a bit ‘out of it’ as you might say, but that Mary was keeping it quiet. “She doesn’t like it generally known.” Poor Mary.
A former volunteer was able to give me two names of people who might be willing to take Beloved to hospital in the morning. I rang them both. The first number died after four rings and the second number was answered by a machine. “Sorry, we’re out at the moment.”
By now it was eight o’clock and I still had no idea what to do in the morning. Because of the many calls I had made, my plight had become known. Betty said Nigel might do it. I rang Nigel. Another machine. An hour later I rang Nigel again, just to make sure I had called the right number. Still the machine. Don’t people stay at home anymore on dark and wet November nights?
Beloved and I decided that we would wait for the builders to arrive, and give them free access to the house and windows, while I took him to his appointment. We’d hurry back and would be gone for no more than between three and four hours.
At ten o’clock Nigel’s wife Joan rang. “Nigel won’t mind driving Beloved in the morning. He’s out all evening but tell me what time you want him and I’ll see that he gets to you.”
I like a determined woman, who knows her husband’s mind, don’t you?
The builders will be with us for a few days yet. I’ll be on hand to provide the tea.