Didn’t need much twisting

Thursday June 8, 2006

Another day, another degree or two hotter. I’m managing the heat quite well, sailing along like a chubby little schooner, but I could truly do with a bit more breathable air to keep me completely happy. At times during the day today it’s felt rather as if the oxygen has gone off to Germany to envigorate the World Cup. Certainly there hasn’t seemed to be enough of the stuff to save me from the huffing and puffing I dislike so much. Makes me feel my years, does the huffing and puffing.

In the Sainsbury’s coffee shop today there was a poor old guy who was really suffering, hot, flushed, and puffing like a steam engine. It’s difficult to determine comparative ages when people get beyond their mid-sixties—it’s a factor of genes, wear and tear, and social history. This bloke looked as if he’d had a poor deal on all three. The effect was to make me feel fortunate, and younger, beside him. It didn’t help that he’d escaped the dressing down process that’s made life so much easier for those of us who’ve gone along with the flow. He wore a suit, under-vest, shirt and tie. I was flopping in a loose t-shirt and trousers and not a lot else. Where I was reasonably happy, tucking into fish’n’chips for my lunch, laughing and chatting with Graham, and fanning myself langourously with a large menu, he looked shrunken and miserable, suffering the heat dreadfully.

One of the last things I did before leaving the little house by the Lincolnshire fens was to hand over all my old suits to the Salvation Army for re-use. It felt a good, charitable thing to do at the time but I can’t help wondering today if it would not have been better to slip them a few pounds towards t-shirts and chinos and a little dress re-orientation for the poor old guys who swelter under the worsted in this weather.

On the way there we drove past our new house, to find distinct signs that the sellers are packing and moving stuff out already. I wondered how on earth they were going to manage a move in the three or four days they’ve requested between exchange and completion but it looks as though they’ve got it sorted to their satisfaction. By my recollection, they didn’t really have much in the way of furniture, and they’d already packed the small bedroom full of boxes when we viewed.

Not, of course, that it’s my problem. It’s my job to concentrate on getting our side of the business done. The immediately crucial tasks are complete; the cheque for the deposit has cleared my bank and is now sitting in the solicitor’s account as cleared funds ready for exchange and I’ve secured a very good insurance quote ready to start at a moment’s notice. I’d expected the house to be cheaper to insure than the bungalow but a full two hundred quid a year exceeds my wildest hopes. The difference will be swallowed up by the higher rate of council tax, I suspect, but that will leave me free to enjoy the greatly reduced cost of heating and transport.

The only thing I’m lacking still is the list of utility suppliers so that I’ll be able to get cracking on Monday or Tuesday next week, immediately after exchange. I know that it’ll turn up in time, but I’d really, really like to have it in my grubby little fist well in advance.

When we’d finished in Sainsbury’s, we drove past the house again on our way back to the caravan, wanting to see how the estate looks when the kids are out of school and the evening inrush of residents has started. It was all fine. Very few kids to be seen, and the cars we noted were mostly decent, respectable vehicles, parked responsibly. Some people had started coming out into their front gardens to tend to their plantings. I suspect that this will be the year of the gardens on the estate, greening the place up and relieving the expanses of brick and gravel. We noted that one house, similar to ours, had started a Virginia Creeper growing up the front, softening the appearance already. In a year or two the whole place will be greened up and maturing nicely. I’ve witnessed this process a number of times over the years and I’m looking forward to observing it all over again.

Back in the caravan I finished off my lunch with a small bowl of fresh fruit salad and then stretched out on the sofa to snooze the worst of the heat away. As the sun disappeared into the sea Dolly and I sat companionably on the step outside, enjoying the cool of the evening. I shall be thoroughly relieved when she has access to the new catio and can go out as it suits her but I have to say she’s remarkably content living in the caravan so far, even in the heat, and shows no sign of the cabin fever that could so easily afflict all three of us and, touch wood, has yet to do so.

My evening pint of ice-cold Australian beer was as welcome as you’d expect, and went down almost without touching the sides.

“Cripes,” said Graham. “You made short work of that. Fancy a second?”

“Thanks, but no thanks. One is enough for me. I’m booked in for a full blood test tomorrow and I don’t want to dilute the red stuff too much.”

“Is it a fasting test?”

“No. Not this time.”

“Well, have a half-pint then. No way that’s going to make a difference and you look as though you could do with it.”

“Oh, alright, go on. You’ve twisted my arm.”

“Didn’t need much twisting.”



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