Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Wash Day Blues

I need a solution
To my wash day blues
The door catch is broken
And I don’t know what to do

Can’t shut my washing machine
There’s no more cheery click
Ordered a new part
Hoping that would do the trick

Part arrived promptly
Landed on the mat
Just needs installing
And that will be the end of that!

No! I still need a solution
To my wash day blues
I sent for the wrong part
What am I going to do?

No longer have my man
To fix it in a trice
The washing pile it’s growing
Not smelling very nice

For a temporary solution
To my wash day blues
Took washing to my mum-in-law
She did loads one and two

Then I rang a man
He said he’s be out Monday
Only two more days to wait
I’ll have a rest on Sunday!

But Monday morning rolled around
And then I got the call
“I’m sorry love we’ve looked
But haven’t got that part at all!”

This was supposed to be my answer
The end of wash day blues
My man could have sorted this
He’d have known just what to do

One more load of washing
Was taken by a friend
Washed and ironed beautifully
When will this saga end?

Finally on Wednesday
A man came with the proper bit
Five minutes, not much more
Was all the time it took to fit.

At last a resolution
To my wash day blues
More costly than expected
But what’s a single girl to do?

It’s the little things that trip you up
That make you scream and shout
But it’s one more thing I’ve sorted
Solution - figured out!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Some dreams come true…

In the summer of 1978 I had chicken pox.  I couldn’t go to school because I was contagious but fortunately it was a mild dose and I was well enough to play outside in the sunshine hitting a tennis ball against the small area of wall between the back door and kitchen window.

It was Wimbledon fortnight and I was inspired.  Virginia Wade had won the tournament the previous year giving everyone the momentum to pick up a racquet and imagine being on centre court!

My tennis skills need an awful lot to be desired.  I count actually hitting the ball and getting it back over the net as an achievement.  Getting the ball in the required box is a bonus.

I knew I was never destined to reach the dizzy heights of playing at Wimbledon but in my teenage years I’d have given anything just to walk around the edges of the outside courts.  

Oh to be in the same vicinity and breathe the same air as my tennis idol Stefan Edberg!   Everyone else was watching Boris Becker diving around the court, but to me as a 16 year old his acrobatic antics seemed “immature”.  It was the quiet unassuming Swede who caught my attention and I stayed faithful in my affections for several years.  I even acquired a large poster of him to put on my bedroom wall. 

While on my gap year in New Zealand, I was walking through the sports department of a large store and spotted my hero.  I was a shy eighteen year old but I bravely asked an assistant what they did with the old promotional posters and could I have “that one” when they took it down?  

As they say "nothing ventured, nothing gained"!

They gave it to me there and then for free and I was prepared to pay for the life sized print!    That poster literally travelled the world with me, as I brought it back home and it hung on my wall while I was a student in Brighton. 
What happened to it after that though is anyone’s guess.  Maybe my love was fickle after all!

Going to Wimbledon has always been on my dream wish list but getting tickets is almost a work of art.  You have to be dedicated enough to queue or lucky enough to win tickets in a ballot.

This year we were the lucky ones.  As oldest son plays tennis and is a member of our local club we were able to enter their ballot for tickets and we managed to get Centre Court seats for the first Monday.

That meant a guaranteed first match featuring Rafael Nadal as defending champion and because of the newly installed roof we would be watching tennis come rain or shine!

And there on Monday I came face to face once more with my teenage crush – SIGH!

OK so he was still just a poster on a wall!  Sadly meeting Stefan Edberg wasn’t this week's dream come true!

But I will admit that there was a point where I felt overawed at the momentousness of finally being at Wimbledon after dreaming of it for so long.  I even felt a little tear in my eye as we walked, or rather I almost skipped with joy,  around the concrete structure which forms the underneath of the centre court stadium.   In some respects from this angle it perhaps resembles the stairways to a multi-storey car park, up another level and walk around to find the correct numbered exit.

Except when you walk past a doorway you catch a glimpse of the tiered seats opposite and sense the magic of the place.  And when we stepped out and looked down at the pristine grass court laid out ready for the first day of play it did take my breath away.

Our seats were right at the top under the enclosed edge of the permanent roof.  No chance of getting near enough to the players for an autograph or catch a sweat band thrown into the air at the end of the match.  But no risk of getting rained on or suffering from heat stroke either!

It was amazing just to sit there well before the match and soak up the atmosphere.  What must it be like for the players to actually walk on the hallowed lawn?

The first match was Nadal against the un-seeded Michael Russell from the U.S.A.

“He’s an old man.”  I was reliably informed by oldest son, fount of all knowledge for any sports statistics.  “He’s thirty three.”

The advantages of youth with your life full of dreams and possibilities!

On paper the match looked very one sided.  As well as his “old” age against him Russell has a world ranking ninety points below his opponent.

However like many players before actually playing on Centre Court at Wimbledon seemed to raise Russell’s game.  You could tell he was relishing the chance to play the number one seed.  With nothing to lose he put on a sparkling performance.  This was probably the only chance he had of playing a match like this on such a stage and he wasn’t about to squander it.  Reaching further, trying that bit harder to make every shot count as this was his moment of glory. 

In the first set, he managed to get a break of serve and was winning the match for a short while.  The crowd got behind him; eager to cheer on a player obviously giving his all especially when the odds are stacked against him.  We have a yearning to see the underdog to do well.  There is a spark of excitement ignited at the thought of being a witness to a magical event.  

No doubt it is a match he will never forget.  Particularly the last point which he challenged; as it happened Nadal’s ball was out and the point was re-played.  The crowd applauded loudly at his audacity and pluck.  What a memory to cherish.

I can only guess what Michael Russell’s dreams were as a child but I’m sure Monday will have fitted in the dream come true category.   It did for me and I was only a spectator!

Once again it’s a lesson in not letting go of your dreams and never giving up. 
So I’m holding on and maybe one day I really will meet Stefan Edberg face to face…

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Message in a Bottle

On Friday night I took my oldest son to see Kings of Leon in concert at a football stadium nearby.  We’d had our tickets booked since November last year and although they are not my favourite band I was still looking forward to seeing some live music.

Thankfully the predicted heavy rain never really materialised as we were standing on the pitch with no cover.  Both support acts had been and gone, given the usual lacklustre applause reserved for bands that you haven’t come to see.  Everyone was waiting for the main event.

We hadn’t been to a football stadium concert before but had experience of a festival a couple of years ago so we were fully prepared for the half empty cups that were thrown into the audience, hopefully just spraying beer and not some other dubious cocktail!  But here people were also throwing their finished, or not even quite finished, plastic bottles into the air.

Surreptitiously everyone kicked the fallen ones with their feet as if to make the point that it wasn’t their rubbish left abandoned on the floor! 

I do wonder how many made it to the bins provided and I had also been pondering how much it would hurt to be hit by one when I was!

It arrived from straight in front of me but I wasn’t watching in that direction, something else had caught my eye in another direction.  I certainly knew about it when this one did – smack in the face, the bottom of the bottle still icy cold, evidence that it was not totally empty, connected with my eye.

I stood in shock!

At first I didn’t know if I’d been blinded, was I bleeding, or had anything been broken?

Those around me showed concern, asking if I was alright. 

I soon figured out I could open my eyes, I could see.  There was no blood from my eye or my nose.  I seemed to be OK.

But then the tears came and to be honest they had little to do with my recent injury.  

I was crying for my real loss, because I am now all alone despite being surrounded at the time by a sea of people.  At that moment I really wanted someone to take charge of the situation and once again I had to be brave and cope on my own.  All I wanted to do was curl up and be cared for.

No one in the crowd knew why I was really in so much pain and why the sudden shock was so unbearable.

After dithering for a bit, unsure whether or not to seek help I went to the medical tent to be checked over.

I didn’t explain that I was grieving.  It seemed superfluous, an event in the past that shouldn’t have a bearing on this current incident.  Besides there were no questions about marital status on the form to be answered where I could have naturally dropped it into the conversation.

I was given a clean bill of health along with a couple of paracetamol for my now throbbing headache.  My son was told his mum might end up with a black eye – although fortunately I didn’t.

We went to find somewhere to sit down as our ticket included an unreserved seat.  We ended up right at the other end of the stadium from the stage but consoled ourselves that at least we’d get a good view of the overall effects, the lights and pyrotechnics.

Maybe it was due to the bump on the head but as we sat, still waiting for the thankfully delayed Kings of Leon to arrive on stage, my mind started thinking of something completely at a tangent.

I thought of Queen Victoria and the forty years she spent in mourning for Albert.  Of the custom of wearing black as a symbol so those around you would know how fragile you were.  The black cardigan I had chosen to wear that evening gave me no extra understanding or compassion.

But would I really want to be marked out in such a way?  To wear a badge which says “I am a widow – handle with care” and don’t throw your empty bottles in my direction!!!!!

The only way to protect us from the flying missiles was to sit at the back out of the way.

But once the band had been on stage for a few songs my feet were getting itchy and I really wanted to be back in the crowd, swaying and dancing to the music.  I watched with envy as they moved as one, arms aloft in time to the flashing lights and beating drums.

My son wouldn’t venture back with me out of concern, worried I may get hit again but being away from the action was hard.  I couldn’t stand where we were as no one else was and being a considerate person I didn’t want to block the view for the people behind us!

Finally I had to stand, the concert was nearly over and “Use Somebody” is one of my favourites.  I don’t think many people were still sitting by this point.  It was acceptable to get on your feet.

But it wasn’t the same as standing down on the pitch and next time that’s where I’ll be.  I decided that you can’t hide away forever in fear of what might happen.

It’s true of concerts and it’s true of life.

Yes I am a widow and it is an awful thing to lose a husband.  But I refuse to sit down and wear black and declare my life is over.   I don't want to watch from the sidelines.

I am thankful that widows no longer have such limiting restrictions placed upon them.  I am thankful I don’t have to observe Victorian style mourning etiquette out of respect.

Hopefully it’s a healthy sign and another step in the right direction on my journey of re-building my life.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

And the answer is? I don’t even understand the question!

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve written.  I’ve been developing other ideas, enjoying starting something new.  I do have some wonderful things to share with you….soon.

The trouble is I’m not good at finishing things.  I always long for a change and some excitement.

But someone told me the other day to keep writing as I unravel.  

Well I’ve unravelled so much that it feels like even my words don’t make sense anymore.  If I was clever enough I would end this post now with the words coming undone, unwinding and languidly dropping to the bottom of the page like squiggly spaghetti! 

I’ve just got off the phone from our internet, TV and phone provider.  It was some survey or other as I am "technically" a new customer.

I love the internet, email and my blog but I hate all the technology behind it because it is incomprehensible.

Now THEY… (I won’t name and shame for I fear all such providers of services are just as bad as each other and I do make it a policy NOT to name people on here so I will afford THEM the same courtesy.  A wise move if this ever gets published I could do without being taken to court – haha!  Although as this is ALL true….)

…THEY rang ME but still wanted me to answer all THEIR security questions before THEY would discuss my complaint.

Do THEY seriously think someone else is sitting in my home just waiting for THEM to ring?  Intent on slagging off THEIR company and giving me a reputation of being a moaning minny!

Now I know I am blonde but I do like to think I have some intelligence.  However I couldn’t answer any of THEIR questions and I had valid reasons for every one. 

I have no idea what speed of broadband we have – that was Andrew’s department!  It works and is fast enough for me, so why do I need to know the speed?

I don’t know when, “with our package”, we get free calls – Andrew set up a second internet line we use for outgoing calls and I have no idea how that works either, all I know is I successfully set up paypal to keep paying them (lower case) and they have never rang me for a customer satisfaction survey.

I don’t even know which method of payment I use!  It was direct debit but when THEY changed the last digit of the account and put it in my name THEY cancelled the mandate.

When I was in America last month my friend suggested I check my email.

“But I can’t.  Andrew set it up so my emails just come to my computer.”

“No you can check email anywhere.  You just have to log in.”

Armed with this superior knowledge I set about getting into my account.

I needed a password.  Now I know this - I gave THEM a password when I changed the account into my name.  This was going to be a doddle!


Not only was my password NOT accepted but on the screen came a message to check with ANDREW for access!

Not wanting to be beaten I tried his account with all the usual passwords he used to be confronted with MORE security questions!

I gave up.

This is where I am at the moment.  Some things are sorted, lots of things are sorted really.

But it is these last details that I am struggling with and if I am honest I am getting bored with them (lower case) and THEM (upper case)!

I want to start something NEW not tie up the loose ends I don’t understand and because of the way Andrew did things I don’t think anyone else can help either.

I am stuck in a rut which makes those blasted hurdles ever higher to climb over!

Andrew would have fixed this.  He would know.  He understood the “dark arts” of computing and could speak in techno babble. 
But he couldn’t work the washing machine, or cook a meal, or iron a shirt.  Sometimes I wonder how he would have survived if things had been the other way around.

It’s not a productive thought really.  Even the suggestion that I am coping better than he would doesn’t ease the pain.  OK I get some sense of pride but it is fleeting.

We were a team.  We did things together, balancing each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

“I can’t use the washing machine but I can mend it!” said Andrew with a grin.  I have a bolt holding the washing machine door on to prove it!

We were very traditional in our marriage.  I stayed at home and did “girl” stuff while Andrew went out to work and did the “boy” stuff.

But then other "stuff" is so unconventional, like an extra phone line and a door bell that is linked to the phone.  A lawnmower that has a piece of wood to hold the grass box in place and so many pieces of paper with passwords and numbers on for our complicated computer set up.  A house that is far from ordinary with all its associated issues!

There is so much still to unravel and before I can work on the answers there are some questions that still need some serious untangling!