My son’s 4monthly visit was due after Easter and being the dutiful man he is he came, staying for one full day and two halves either side, an improvement on his plan of driving up one day and leaving the next. I wonder if he and his wife remind each other that it's 'that time of year' again , time to go and see the old dear, see how she’s doing and if she needs any kind of assistance. I persuaded him that two half days just didn’t get anything done, particularly as I wanted to spend the middle day in the nearby county town for some much needed shopping and a number of errands which had been queuing up for a good six months.
Once upon a time I’d have been looking forward to an exciting family visit, with meals in restaurants and all sorts of walks and outings. Last week we did what we always now do on these occasions, we filled a carboot with bags of junk and garden waste for the municipal dump. Nowadays excitement comes from chucking large and small items into huge containers and mountains of general waste through a giant window. There was a time when pleasure came not from disposing of things but acquiring them; how times change.
Still, on the in-between-day I did some acquiring too, mainly smalls. (Underwear for those of you who don’t know the term) Once a year I go to a particular, well-respected and straight-laced old ladies’ store to replace knickers, camisoles, pyjamas, socks, etc., everybody goes there for their underwear, even young ladies. In days gone by replacing ordinary smalls was a boring chore, now it’s the highlight of a shopping trip. I was in need of a fairly extensive order, there hadn’t been a chance to go to Shrewsbury for a good year, so I filled a few bags. A strong man to accompany me was a really good investment, he carried all the bags and trooped from shop to shop with me like the patient and kind soul he is. By the end of the day my back was pretty sore and I was leaning forward quite painfully. My son also drove me, another wonderful circumstance, I was in pain and so tired at the end of the outing that I was enormously glad not to have to concentrate on driving for an hour. When I am well I can manage to drive myself to Shrewsbury for a shopping trip with no problem but not when I am as crook as I’ve been for a good year now.
I have seen a physiotherapist who has given me a list of exercises to do. She examined my back and exclaimed :”nothing moves at all, everything is locked in.” The exercises are fairly light for now, mustn’t cause a new spasm in the lower back, and I sincerely hope they’ll help loosen me up and get me fully upright again. Apparently these things take time, older people do not recover as easily as young ones. I think there is a small improvement already after a week. I also went back to the gym for the first time in weeks today.
I experienced a couple of cons recently, one of them during the shopping trip. Sometimes I wear Beloved’s watch, which needed a new battery. A smooth, be-suited, highly groomed and politely spoken salesman said :”Yes, Madam, we can do that. What we do is charge you £20 for which you get a ten year guarantee, for ten years we replace the battery free of charge.” On the face of it a reasonable deal, you might say. But it’s an average watch, nothing fancy, will it last another 10 years? Will the shop still be there - so many shops disappear from High Streets all over the country almost overnight. And will I remember about the guarantee from year to year? Up to now a battery replacement cost no more than £10 and less in some jewellers. But I was tired and although I recognised the con and even said “I might not live for another ten years”, I went along with it. I sincerely hope that for them it turns out to be a bad deal and that I will indeed go back once a year or so to have them replace the battery.
The other con was really much worse because it was almost fraudulent. Drivers need to renew their licences on reaching 70 years of age. I had a letter from the relevant government department telling me to do so and emphasising that it could be done quickly and easily via the internet. “Just fill in the questionnaire and we’ll send your new licence.” said the government website. Keen to save time and effort - letters need to be carried to the post office - I had duly filled in the questionnaire when I came to an abrupt stop. In enhanced capital letters across the middle of the page it read “PAY NOW” £70.”
Underneath this demand there was a very small paragraph saying that the government department has nothing whatsoever to do with the people making the demand, but that these people check over the answers and expedite the application process. UTTER RUBBISH. Applying for a new licence is free, the applicant will receive it within 2 weeks and, in any case, can continue to drive until then. A prime example of outsourcing that beats all. And it’s not even necessary! I wonder how many people fall for it, after all, it is a government department which deals with driving licences and one should trust them, shouldn’t one?