Down the stairs I go, it’s morning & that means coffee, into the kitchen, there in the sink is a pile of washing up. Bollocks.
Never mind, there’s always the dishwasher
I open it to find it full. Double bollocks.
O.K.calm down Boyer there you go with your first world problems, forget about it, just empty the dishwasher, clear the sink & then make your coffee – it’s really no big deal.
After giving myself this pep talk I restart with new vigour on the tasks of the day.
I start to unload the top tray of the washer and the first article I retrieve is a pan, it’s been placed on top of a bowl, the insides of the pot are coated in the remainders of its previous contents, in this case dry crusty rice. This discovery elicits my third out loud Bollocks of the day and it’s not even eight a.m.
Now this state of affairs gets right up my nose, what kind of numpty* puts one thing on top of another in a washer without rinsing anything & expects it to be cleaned?
I share the house with four twenty something year olds as a result of circumstances: my infirmity & a supportive son who has taken me in whilst I’ve been having medical treatment for arthritis.
Living with younger people is often rather good fun for an old fart like me, from time to time it’s perfectly possible to forget that I am approaching sixty & fairly decrepit, youthful housemates certainly make for an entertaining time. But, I should add by a country mile they are all brighter and better educated and talented than I could ever have claimed to be. In our house there are degrees everywhere, and not just your run of the mill degree no Sir, Red Brick degrees, Oxbridge DPhils that in turn have propelled these comparatively young people to proper jobs in law and media & even one that does something called ‘coding’ which I initially assumed was something hush hush to do with MI5 or national security, ( Cambridge was after all once a recruiting ground for the security services of more than one nation ) I’ve since learnt that Coding is something to do with computers, I can’t tell you much more than that as I nodded off when the explanation was offered, but I have it on good authority that were it not for coders the entire world would cease to exist as we know it almost immediately and humanity descend into the abyss.
So all in all I am, having left school at sixteen the thicko of the house, but despite this most rudimentary of educations I managed to climb out of the pond from which I emanated and learn basic skills, like using a dish washer. Surely the young gifted housemates must be able to navigate the usage of basic household appliances?
So incensed was I by the failure to follow basic dishwasher usage protocols that I photographed the offending articles & sent snaps via whatsapp to the house group explaining once again ( for this is not a new phenomena ) in a non confrontational and non threatening manner that things should be rinsed before being put in the dishwasher.
I also mentioned the garlic press ( though thought it overkill to send a picture ).
Somebody uses the garlic press, doesn’t clean it out and then puts it in the machine still clogged with crushed garlic skins and expects it to be cleaned? How is that going to happen?
Now the reason I am vexed is that this keeps happening, despite regular gentle reminders on a number of occasions, their levels of education and intelligence tend to suggest that they should be capable of operating basic machinery, and even if they were not at the beginning then likewise the fact that they sailed through university with flying colours must mean that they have the ability to learn and assimilate information and then to apply it.
This draws me to a rather disturbing conclusion, it’s not that they are incapable of using the machine, its that they can’t be arsed to use it properly and then the real problem, for me at least, that when its been pointed out to them they don’t take any notice. This I realise is what really pisses me off, me being ignored.
As I grapple with these weighty problems I am craving my coffee, which I still haven’t had yet & I’m getting desperate. In self analysis mode I reflect on how wound up I am about a dirty dishwasher & then wham it hits me, a bolt of clarity. There’s a whole other side to this, I am getting increasingly frantic about the dishwasher, concentrating on it means I don’t get on with the important things I need to do, God knows there are enough of them. & that’s the thing, being pissed off about the dishwasher means that I don’t need to think about all the important things that I should be doing. It’s a kind of displacement activity I’m carrying on.
Right, that’s it, time for action. I close the dishwasher door and head out of the house to a cafe for coffee, sod the dishwasher.
A morning trip out has three plus points over and beyond avoiding the dishwasher: firstly as part of my rehab a walk is good for me, secondly I need to monitor my blood pressure and the Docs has a machine in their practice reception, so I can do it on my morning out. Thirdly and most importantly there are coffee shops down the road, and they sell pastries, cinnamon buns, almond croissants, pain au raisin, what my life needs more than anything right now is a pastry and coffee.
I trundle down the road on a blustery and chilly London morning, clopping along with my stick, take a short cut across the park, the leaves have mostly fallen now & collect in a trail along the side of the footpath, like the pages of ancient books, parchment brown and crinkly, I deliberately walk through them to hear the sound of their rustle.
On the little local heigh street I find a bijou coffee house, the plaster on the walls has been artistically chipped away, stripped to bare bricks and mortar – in other times this would be a venue in need of attention but here and now it counts as chic.
The menu has a dozen types of coffee and the counter is weighted with a multitude of pastries. Unable to hold myself back I order two to go with my Ethiopian high plateau coffee then take a seat.
I get out my computer and I’m ready to continue writing my great novel ( Chapter 16 ). This is perfect. I am channeling J K Rowling, she came up with Harry Potter sitting and writing in an Edinburgh Cafe whilst unemployed & on benefits.
Maybe in years to come I will recount this very day when I was sitting in a North London Caf, broke, not working & on benefits – just like J.K. but going one better, writing my great novel whilst recovering from surgery. How do you like that Rowling.
I’m momentarily distracted by the door and a new customer entering, a mother with a baby in a pram. They sit at the next table along and I can’t help but watch the little one in the buggy, we stare at each other for a while, I pull a face to get a reaction the little human stares back and breaks into a smile.
How sweet I think.
The door goes again and another mother and baby arrive, swiftly followed by another and another.
Within ten minutes the calm of the cafe has disintegrated & is heaving with mothers and babies, a Baby Yoga class just ended up the road and all the Baby Yoga Mommies come here afterwards.
The noise is deafening, gossiping Mums, crying babies, it’s impossible to concentrate,
I bolt my pastries & down my coffee far too quickly and head up the road to the Docs.
As I head up the high street I start to hiccup, this brings my fourth out loud Bollocks. I get to the Doctors surgery and the hiccups are still going. I go up to reception desk and ask to use the Blood Pressure Machine, I can’t stop hiccuping now and my speech tends to indicate that I am suffering with some form of digestive malady which makes me sound rather ridiculous. The waiting room is full and I’m convinced everyone is watching me, I ask for a token for the BP machine ( that’s right the machine needs a slot token before you can use it ) like some kind of end of the pier guess your weight machine – what do they think? That people are just going to wander in off the street and want to check their blood pressure? That ragamuffin kids are going to be coming in and checking their blood pressure with no good reason? Anyway, this gizmo not only checks your BP but it measures your height & weight and calculates your BMI. Then spits out a printed receipt with your stats. How clever is that?
God technology is amazing. In my day a nurse used to actually check.
Anyway I step onto the machine and it begins to talk to me.
Stand Still, look at the red light, Don’t move it repeats.
Now place your arm inside the cuff.
Then a rubber sleeve fills with air and grips my wrist
Relax it tells me.
Then a little light starts flashing red and beeping, it’s in the shape of a heart.
I begin to panic, does this mean I have a heart problem?
The machine tells me to relax again, I wonder if it’s listening, I try to relax.
The sleeve lets go of my wrist and the voice tells me to collect my printout from the slot.
I survey my results, they are in centimetres and kilos, I tend to think in feet and inches & pounds.
When I get home I pull the receipt from my pocket and survey the results.
Height 178 centimetres, I dig out the calculator on my phone what’s that in imperial?
5 ft 10. No that can’t be right, I check the receipt then check my maths, no, that’s what it says, the machine measured me at 5 ft 10 inches.
But it’s wrong, I have been just over 6ft since I was sixteen, I’ve lived my entire adult life being ‘just over six foot’ how can I be five ten now?
Oh Bollocks, I am shrinking, that’s fucking it, I am shrinking. Or worse still, maybe all these years I was wrong, I was never 6ft, all these years I’ve been living a lie. Or maybe it’s the machine, is the machine wrong?
Then I look at my weight, and BMI. The receipt tells me what my BMI should be, in the range 18.5 – 24.9 kg/m2 is “normal” mine is 26.7. Bollocks I am obese.
Surely I am not that fat?
The whole point of me going was to monitor my blood pressure, but these figures I don’t even look at the Doc can take care of them, instead I am taken up with the possibility that I am shrinking & that I am obese. These problems weigh heavily on my mind and overtake my dishwasher concerns.
The following day I head back once again for the blood pressure monitoring, despite the chilliness of the day I wear a light jacket ( I don’t want to weight too much ) I collect a token from reception and follow the machines instructions, I stand extra straight and wait in anticipation for the readout.
RESULT, on Day 2 of monitoring I am now 185 centimetres, that’s 6ft and 0.83 inches YES I am over six foot, thank goodness, I wasn’t living a lie.
Then it’s my weight, I am 4 kilos lighter than the day before, now granted I didn’t have pastries on day two, but four kilos? This remarkable weight loss and my rediscovered inches bring down my BMI to 25.7, whilst I am still overweight its only by 0.8 kg per square metre, I really have no idea what that means, but I don’t think it sounds too dreadful.
I am delighted with my new stats, deciding that yesterdays must have been wrong and todays are right. There we go all is well with the World.
As I clop home with my stick and my limp I ponder the vagaries of existence and what tomorrow may bring, will I have gown as a man, will I be shorter or taller or fatter? Will my blood pressure rocket? Will that dishwasher be blocked again? And of course I see that all these petty concerns are of no concern at all, that all they do is to help me avoid the things that really matter that I haven’t started to deal with, now where do I begin…………………….
- Definition of numpty in English: numpty: noun, informal, British: A stupid or ineffectual person.