Saturday July 10, 2004
The antibiotics are cutting in now and the swelling on Graham’s face is reducing slowly but surely, with the expected reduction in pain. He’s been slooshing warm salty water about his mouth to help the healing process but I was able to get a large bottle of Retardex, which is even more effective. He has resigned himself to the fact that it’s a tooth problem, though, and will start the search for a dentist first thing Monday. So the general feeling in the house is improving steadily, and I reckong there’s a good chance we’ll be laughing again tomorrow.
Even so, I had to go out on my own for our weekend provisioning trip.
“You do understand, don’t you. I really don’t want to go out looking like this,” said Graham, clutching a warm towel to his jaw.
“Yes of course. Just so long as I can have a mega-breakfast when I get there.”
“And this is Boston’s Party in the Park weekend so I’ll have to go the long way round?
“That’s fine, too.”
Which is why I got horrifically lost in the country roads on the way to Boston, took a wrong turn, and ended up right in the centre of the town, driving past the park where they have the party. Hey ho. It is a good thing for me to keep my hand in on town driving. It’s all too easy when you live out in the sticks to choose only country roads and to become fearful of driving in towns.
My mega-breakfast was delicious. It was made more interesting than usual by the presence in the coffee shop of a bloke suffering from uncontrollable Touret’s Syndrome, barking strange sounds as he sat at one of the corner tables. He was accompanied by a carer, and was clearly on an outing. I was a little shocked by the reaction of some of the customers, gawping and making adverse comments. The carer, a competent young woman, was obviously quite accustomed to this and handled the worst offenders with patience, courtesy, and complete effectiveness.
It’s an understandable ignorance, of course. You don’t often come across Touret’s sufferers in public places. My take is that helping these folks live a normal life in the community is a darn sight better than the old way of simply locking up the poor souls in asylums and throwing the key away. I shudder to think of the number of people who’ve spent their lives like that, imprisoned not only by their illness but by society. Touret’s does not equate to simple-mindedness, nor to diminished intelligence and sensitivity. Hey ho.
Just as I was wiping up the last of the egg-juice from my plate there was a general kerfuffle, with people rushing into the supermarket for shelter from a torrential downpour. Drenched, they were. I’d have sat in the car until it passed but then I do have the luxury of all the time I need. It really was a massive rainstorm, with water falling out of the sky in great gobbets and splashing high into the air on impact.
I finished my breakfast and sauntered out along the covered walkway to sit and watch the fun. It was then that I noticed a water-spout, reaching down from the rain clouds and threatening to turn into a mini-tornado. It snaked down and wriggled about, looking for a good avenue down to the ground but, thankfully, it failed to do so. There would have been a good few damaged or missing roofs in Boston had it succeeded. I grabbed my pencam and snapped away like fury, hoping to get a shot for my records. We get a lot of mini-hurricanes here in the UK, and a few major ones, but they come along at night mostly, and it’s very rare to have an opportunity to photograph one in full daylight. Just then, my phone rang.
“How are you doing?” Graham asked.
“No problem. I got a bit lost so I’m running late, I’m afraid. How’s the rain with you?”
“Rain? What rain?”
“Ah. Our micro-climate is operating in our favour once more. I must remember to ask Harry Cat to thank the local weather gods for us. It’s bucketing down here. Water spouts and everything.”
“You don’t mean it?”
“Of course I do. Someone’s been sowing the wind, I reckon.”
“Well, be careful.”
“Oh, it’s only a bit of water.”
“Yeah. I bet that’s what Noah’s neighbours said.”
“Just so’s you know. Bye, then.”
And I sat for a while longer, watching the water spout doing its thing, and the people doing their thing, getting drenched. A few minutes later the rain slowed, and stopped. I got up, sauntered over to grab a trolley, and made my way into the store, dry as a bone.
|Reaping the whirlwind
When I got home it was to find that there had been no rain at all and the roads and pathways were completely dry.
“Oh, good,” I said. “I shall be able to get out for a bike ride when I’ve had a nap.”
“Don’t go over doing it.”
“I’ll do my best. I’m feeling pretty good as well as a little pent-up, though, so I’m not anticipating any problems.”
As I turned out of the drive and started on down the lane towards the fen road I realized that all my biking confidence is coming back. I’d got on the bike without thinking about it and, when I pulled over to wait while a car passed me, I simply put my foot down and sat comfortably and perfectly safely. I’m getting my balance back, along with greatly increased joint mobility. My muscle tone is improving, too, as is my circulation. Increasingly, when I do my morning fluid retention test to see if I need a diuretic, I find there’s nothing there needing attention from the Bumetanide. That’s good news for my long-term kidney health.
So, anyway, off I set, wind in my hair. Not that I have a lot of hair these days but you know what I mean. I felt I could cycle for hours and hours but I know that’s not possible yet. So I took a left just past the hump-back bridge and wandered off along a road I’ve not travelled before, figuring that it would grid back and allow me to reconnect with the road I normally take, adding perhaps a mile to the trip. I was quite prepared to stop at any time I felt I’d gone far enough and turn back the way I’d come, but that proved not to be necessary.
The new road follows the line of the West Keal Drain, a wide-ish waterway, running straight as a die for the most part, and filled with wild waterlillies, small counter parts of the garden varieties, and peppered generously with small yellow flowers. The dredging machines will be along shortly to root them all out, but they’ll be back next year. Lovely sight, but there’s no way adequately to photograph them unless you can get really close and there’s no way I can manage that.
The road passes a few houses and cottages, all of them looking old and interesting. The light at that point was dim, so I took note for a future photography session. One house I passed was more of an impromptu hamlet, with a clutter of old caravans and outhouses surrounding a goose green heavily populated with geese, ducks and chickens, all pecking away happily. There seemed to be an inordinate number of children out playing, too, and I felt good for them. Growing up in such an out of the way place must be a wonderful thing. There was a speckle of sunshine just as I passed and I was tempted to stop and get the pencam out. The sight of a tribe of large black dogs, all of them lifting their heads and watching me, put an end to that idea. I’ll try a how-de-do with on of the adult inhabitants before I stop and have a good look. In my experience it pays to be properly introduced to a tribe of large black dogs by one of their friendly humans.
Soon enough, that road came to an end and I turned right onto a long, straight road heading out towards the open fenland, running parallel with my normal outward route. The countryside opened out either side of me, and the sun came out, pale but interesting, and urged me on. I took the first right again after about half a mile, and pedalled happily along enjoying the view, heading towards a cluster of trees around a house I thought I recognised, albeit from the other side, and, once I’d passed it I saw the small ranch fence guarding the drain at the crossroads where I’ve been in the habit of resting before turning back home. Isn’t it good when navigation instincts work out like that? Mind you, I’m convinced that navigation on a bicycle is easier than in a car—you’re far more in touch with the direction of the light and the wind and so better able to know your bearings.
I stopped then, snacked on a couple of small oranges, tucked the peel in the little rubbish bag I keep on the back pannier, and sauntered over to look out over the country that’ll be my next place to explore. I’ll consult the map on that one first, though, and it may be time for me to start taking the large-scale map with me as I move out into uncharted territory. Very Swallows and Amazons.
There was a single wild poppy growing among the long grasses by the un-named narrow drain that heads out in the direction I want to go next. And, with a patch of sun-bright cloud reflecting nicely in the water, I reckoned there might be a landscape snippet there, just waiting to be photographed. Trouble was that it needed a very low view-point and I’m not up to crouching just yet. So I held the pencam down as low as I could without bending dangerously, and rattled off a couple of shots, working blind and hoping that I was getting the picture I knew was there for the taking. It must look comical, this plump old bloke, clad in sweater and baggy shorts, stooping over with a little plastic camera in hand. Whatever, I’m getting to be quite good at this kind of blind shooting, and one of the snaps works really quite well. The trick is to align the forefinger over the top of the camera, in line with the lens, and simply point at what you want to photograph. The human eye-hand coordination is darned accurate if you let instinct guide you, and will yield a very good horizontal position. Vertical alignment is not so easy. You just have to make your best guess and hope you’re not taking a photograph of the sky, or a blurry closeup of the ground immediately in front of you.
Just as I was straightening up and making ready to walk back across the road to my bike an SUV-type vehicle came whizzing along, so I stayed on the verge out of the way until it had passed. To my complete astonishment the middle-aged woman passenger in the front seat gave me the straight finger. I’ve heard it called ‘flipping the bird’ in some parts, though I prefer the ‘sit on that and spin’ description myself. At least, that’s what’s in my mind when, rarely, I resort to such an uncouth gesture.
I was quite taken aback. Couldn’t for the life of me see what there was about me, the situation or the locality that warranged such behaviour. Ah well. It takes all sorts. So I gave my best village idiot smile and waved happily as they drove past.
It’s a funny old world, ennit, and probably best tolerated with a smile and a wave. Though, reluctantly, I have to observe that women like that give ladies a bad name. Not to worry. Folks like that generally reap what they sow.
So, off home I went, unshaken, and happy as a sand boy. I seem to have added an extra one and a half miles onto my distance, and nearly doubled my trip time. All in all it was a completely satisfactory outing, and it has left me with the feeling that I’m doing very well.
|Along the drain