Twenty-five years and counting – A grand day out

Twenty five years ago I met my lovely hub.  Our meeting wasn’t spectacular; I was visiting my oldest friend from college for the evening and another old friend turned up with my husband.  We talked and vaguely watched ‘Back to the Future’.  I thought he was bright, funny and rather gorgeous but too young for me.  I sent a Valentine’s card to someone else.  apparently he thought I was bright, funny and rather gorgeous but a mature woman like me wouldn’t be interested in him (I’m only five years older and he was SO wrong).

That might have been the end of it had it not been for the machinations of our two friends who were both privy to our opinions of each other.  It took another two months of plotting but we ended up back on the sofa in my friend’s house.  Our other friend had been briefed to come round on his motorbike – so that he couldn’t give me a lift home.  My hub-to-be had been instructed not to come round on his motorbike but in his car so that he COULD give me a lift home.  I was told in no uncertain terms by my friend that I had to get teabags and milk in so that I could invite my hub in for tea when he brought me home.

I don’t drink tea; it used to make me sick but now it makes my mouth swell up and even the smell makes me heave.  Still, I came off a waking night duty and walked a mile to the local shop to get tea, coffee and fresh milk in.  It was an evening of significant looks; plotting and a total lack of subtlety from everyone concerned except for me and my hub.

Anyway, the plotting worked, we got engaged two months later and married in May 1988.

Back to the present.  I have two days off  for our anniversary and Valentine’s Day but my hub is on nights and it’s half-term so College boy is home all week.  Uni boy doesn’t get a break for half-term and after not-in-any-way being involved in the fiery destruction of the chemistry labs, he and his fellow chemists are having to do extra work to make up – so our planned trip to see him today was abandoned.

I decided to arrange a day out that might suit the interests of my Dad, my hub, College boy and possibly one of his friends.  I did my homework and settled on the Imperial War Museum in Salford.  Didn’t appeal to me in the slightest; don’t like guns, or war, or any of that kind of thing but my Dad lived through the war, my hub is fascinated by it – mostly from the airplane perspective  – and College boy frequently dresses up in camouflage (SO difficult to find him in the house sometimes) especially when he is firing off rounds of BBs at the garage with one of his imitation guns.  Me, my Kindle and my Walkman were going to find a nice seat somewhere in the museum and leave them to it.

College boy’s bezzie mate couldn’t come.  Strike 1.  The delivery man bringing a parcel for College boywas due to call at lunchtime when we would be out.  Strike 2.  College boy needed food from Burger King.  Strike 3.  He also had a row with another delivery firm who wanted to charge him an extra £15 for his latest BB gun acquisition.  Strike 4.  His mother could not promise that she would not wind him up, patronise him or return him home immediately if he felt annoyed with any of us. Strike 5.

I got him out of bed, he had a bath, got dressed and agreed to go out with us for the day.  My hub arranged for a neighbour to take his delivery.  We couldn’t make any promises about Burger King because we didn’t know if there was one near to the Museum.   He was wound up by the phone call.  I wouldn’t agree to his promises unless he promised not to wind me up or patronise me, or accept that I wasn’t prepared to ruin the day for everyone else if he wanted to come home early.

So he stayed home.  We picked up my Dad, who was philosophical about College boy’s non-attendance, and we went to Salford.

There was a Burger King in the Lowry Outlet Centre – Ooops.  We ate in the Harvester – which was chilly but okay and my Dad preferred the food to Burger King anyway. We walked across the bridge to the Museum and my Dad was over the moon at being able to see the Lowry, Salford Quays and best of all – the Museum.  It is a delight to take him out with us because he is so pleased to be going out somewhere different for the day, to have company and a meal cooked by someone else.

The Museum was vast and weirdly shaped.  The staff were friendly and although it was half term and the car park was full, there was still plenty of room to look at the exhibits.  I whizzed round as I always do; then found a suitable place to sit and read my Kindle.  It was  a bit dark in there but the light from a nearby display helped – must remember to take the light next time.

The seats round the wall began to fill up and my Dad joined me.  The announcer said it was a Big Exhibition and it was.  The huge white walls became screens and we were suddenly in the middle of a audio-visual war zone.  I put the Kindle away; watching the faces of the people opposite in the fluctuating darkness.   The only people  moving were the staff, everyone else was enthralled.

My menfolk went wandering again.  I went back to my Kindle and wished that the College boy had come with us.  Grumpy and typically teenaged as he is, I love him and his brother totally.

Another exhibition about a TA nurse in Afghanistan and I’m choked.

Time to go home – via Millie’s Cookies – where we buy in stocks for all four of us and decant some for my Dad to take home with him.

When we get to his house my Dad palms me a fiver for my naughty College boy  and I promise to give it to him.  I won’t stand in the way of their relationship just because my boy’s having another off-day.

As we turn the car around, my hub reluctantly states that he has to get some shopping in for breakfast (he is particular about his bread) and for tomorrow night’s dinner.  He seems to think that I’ll groan and insist on being taken home first but I quite like the idea of going shopping now – it prolongs the day.  We actually enjoy shopping together and rarely argue.  That’s not bad after twenty-five years.

I text the College boy and tell him we’re going shopping and does he want anything?  He texts back a list of requests but the word ‘please’ is there – so it’s okay.

A slight hiccup when we get home and can’t get in because the key is in the door.  We phone him and hear the thunder of size 11 feet as he hurries down the stairs.  We managed to buy the right things so he is mellow, and he expresses a nonchalant interest in where we’ve been.  I get a big hug and he almost says sorry.

It’s been a grand day out. xx


Looks like I picked the wrong week to ……

Most weeks are busy but some are busier than others, and whilst it seems obscene to grumble about work when there are so many people unemployed, well you have to let off steam somewhere, my husband and sons get quite enough as it is and the cat – though sympathetic especially when being cuddled – is deaf as a post  and doesn’t always wipe his feet after he’s been in the litter tray.  Time to change my clothes again. Sorry blog – you get the full benefit of my rant.

It’s been a week of meeting after meeting – but hey – that’s my daytime job.  The main issue is that constantly writing at tables that are the wrong height and chairs that are bum-numbing and immoveable, has taken its toll on various parts of my body.  I wish I could get people to understand that I am more than just a commodity and if they are allowed time to eat a biscuit or stretch their legs – so am I.

I already have a back problem – which goes by the somewhat dodgy name of lumbar lordosis.

For those who may not have stumbled across it,  lordosis is not only a term used to describe a back condition where the spine curves inwards (in animals they call it ‘swayback’) but it also describes the behaviour of animals who are letting their partner know that they are ready to mate – ooh er.  In the office I have a special chair and a curved desk that enables me to work in comfort.  At home I have decent office chairs up and down, and an ergonomic keyboard that is a joy to type on. I also have a wonderful physio.

Just to complicate matters further, I have an old whiplash injury in my neck, caused by bouncing over-enthusiastically on a trampoline when I was sixteen – ‘I’m on the top of the world’ by the Carpenters was playing as my head snapped back onto the unforgiving canvas.  I spent six weeks wearing a surgical collar and looking over my left shoulder – crossing roads took a long time.  It’s  a lot better thanks to my physio but nevertheless, but when it flares up the pain is that kind of constant nausea-causing ache.

I’ve started using a laptop to take notes at meetings now; set up on a cheap plastic writing slope from the famous Swedish furniture store, it does at least mean that the strain is taken evenly by both hands typing rather than lop-sided on one arm from writing.

Buoyed up by a sense of self-confidence I set up a day of meetings in our conference room; not even thinking about the environmental implications for me.  I should have planned it better.  I know how uncomfortable those chairs are; even a hour-long meeting or a training course split up with comfort breaks can result in temporary paralysis.  I was in that room for six hours and five of them were spent in thrall to the laptop.

I had half an hour’s respite before getting home and signing on for my other job.  Fortunately I work from home and when I’m not dealing with calls and writing them up, I get to lounge on the bed.  It wasn’t a busy shift fortunately but by the time I went to sleep I could feel an iron band closing around my lower back and another one pressing down on my neck and shoulders.  In a rare moment of common sense I’d taken the next day off.  Just as well; I was the one whingeing my way round the house with a bad back and a king sized pain in the neck ( a phrase my younger son often uses to describe me.)

It took two days of being strapped up to a TENS machine and going very carefully but things are improving and this afternoon we are off to the gym for a very gentle workout and a blissful soak in the hydrotherapy pool.  It’s just as well that I go to the physio for  my aches and pains because I’m still sulking with the health centre and no, I haven’t written my Mrs Angry letter to the practice manager yet.

Despite the painful bits; this week has also been one of small but significant pleasures.

Hearing from old friends, helping my neighbour next door install some books on his Kindle, working from home on Thursday afternoon and listening to Sarah Millican’s ‘Support Group’ on my Kindle whilst I’m typing, taking time to cuddle my deaf and smelly cat, getting good hugs from my huge teenager and having a silly but wonderful conversation  with my Uni-boy(after he’d been at pains to reassure me that it wasn’t him that set fire to the chemistry block). As always, my lovely man is there; ferrying me too and fro, fastening the TENS pads to my aching back, bringing me sherry when I get home from work and listening to my grumbles.

This morning I had to do my least favourite job – unstacking the dishwasher – but courtesy of Twitter I noticed that the Rev Richard Coles was on Radio 4 at nine o’clock, with Mitch Benn as one of his guests.  Listening to Mitch Benn sing, I laughed and didn’t even notice that by the time he’d finished I’d put all the clean crockery and cutlery away and was now filling up the sink to wash up the sharp knives and the dreaded mouli-grater.  Thank you chaps.

My breath of fresh air visited me too, to borrow the cat carrier for the sick bunny –  hope he gets better soon – you brightened up my Saturday morning anyway.

I’ve done my to-do list for today and at least half the times are ticked off already –  oh and someone just proposed to their girlfriend live on ‘Saturday Kitchen’ and she said ‘Yes’.  Aaaaah.

So, I have studying to do – cognitive psychology for the next nine  months – hopefully I learn enough about learning processes to actually remember enough to pass the exam at the end.

Time now to have a cuddle for the carolling cat – he deserves some time and whilst I’m cuddling him I can take five for myself.  Oooh and now it’s snowing.