Nothing wrong with a happy grockle

Tuesday October 24, 2006

“There,” he said. “All fixed.”

“Gosh. Thanks. Another step forward. What times will it come on?”

“Seven until eleven, then three until eleven.”

“Great. That’ll do nicely.”

And what was it that was fixed? The tiny little electronic box with its miniscule buttons and normal eyesight defying LED display on the wall in the kitchen, supposed to perform the function of controlling the central heating and hot water, switching it on and off at predetermined during the day. A noble function. One that is highly desirable. Except the darn thing is too small for me to see, let alone operate. I’ve been managing so far by pressing the button on the bottom right corner that turns the heating on for one hour but as for programming it to operate for longer periods, fitting my day, and necessary now that the weather has cooled, I’d need a pencil with an eraser tip and a large magnifying glass.

Who exactly do they design these things for? Eagle-eyed, needle-fingered electronics experts? Mayhap. Not for me, that’s for certain.

So I’ve been doing the best I can, pressing the one-hour button when I feel the need and then, two or three hours later when I come to realize that I’m chilly again, pressing it once more. Graham fixed it, of course. Took him no more than a couple of minutes, though even he needed to don his reading spectacles to see the display.

“That will have to go,” I said. “I need something I can see.”

“They’re all much of a muchness,” Graham said. “But if you can find one with a sensible display and larger buttons we’ll replace this piece of junk.”

“It’s a deal. I shall start looking tomorrow.”

Except we shall not, of course. There’s always something more important to do. So I shall struggle on cursing the darn thing, and appealing to Graham to adjust the timings and the settings as the seasons roll around. Eventually I’ll grow tired of it and persuade Graham to set the thing to ‘always on’. Then I’ll be able to control it by means of the thermostat dial on the middle landing. This is a lovely, well-insulated house that’s warm in winter and cool in summer. Needs only a very small amount of heating to be comfortable. Why they had to spoil it with such a poorly designed controller I don’t know unless the fact is that they couldn’t find a good one, either. Or just didn’t think. Sadly, I suspect it’s the latter.

And then we went off to keep Graham’s final dental appointment. They removed the stitches, gave the great hole a thorough inspection, prounounced it fit, well, and healing properly, and shoved another wad of foul-tasting antiseptic wadding in as a fare-you-well gesture. He’s done now with dentistry until January 2nd, when he has an appointment at the Bridgwater community hospital to determine the best course of action needed to handle his wisdom teeth. And then, blessings be, a routine checkup back at the dentist’s somewhere around Easter next year.

I go back on the 31st of this month for an impression, and three times during November to have my new partial denture fitted. Then, fit for polite society once more, and able to smile properly again, I’ll be done until my next routine checkup.

The depth of the relief we feel that we’re fixed up with a proper dental service again after all these years in the wilderness is probably hard to understand for those who carry the necessary insurance to secure reliable treatment. Many of our friends and acquantances in the UK, who don’t, and who live in areas where there simply isn’t any NHS dental service except in dire emergencies understand it only too well. At least one of them is seriously considering moving to Bridgwater.

We made the most of our bonus day together, with a nice sustaining lunch and a good afternoon siesta. Then, with surprisingly light hearts, we faced up to and undertook the trip to St Audries to get Graham back in time to pick up his duties at six o’clock.

“You’re smiling,” Graham said as we motored along the coast road. “What are you smiling for?”

“Oh, the thought that you’re over the nasties, that the week is almost half-way through and you’ll be home properly on Sunday. The Prozac probably helps, too.”

“Well, that’s all good stuff. Just make more of an effort to cover the gap when you smile, though, there’s a dear.”

“Ooops. Sorry,” I said, and pulled my moustache and my upper lip down over my mouth in the most frightful grimace.

Graham laughed out loud, and I joined him, the two of us laughing uproariously, a spectacle to behold. A passing motorist, coming the other way and all glum at the end of his working day, treated us to a full, disapproving glare.

“Oh dear,” I said. “I wonder what was wrong with him?”

“Probably thought we were happy grockles.”

“Ah. Well, I suppose we are, in a way. That’s not so bad. Nothing wrong with a happy grockle.”

And so we motored on, about our business, happy and content to have something to laugh about once more.


Wanted: One eagle-eyed, needle-fingered electronics expert



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