Spring is here, I know this because on my perfunctory perambulations in the local park I am greeted by daffodils & croci poking their heads up through the grass, all stalks bending in the march wind & flowers straining towards the warmth of the sun. I do likewise, sitting on an old park bench my face soaking up the first decent spell of sunshine this year.

I close my eyes and remain there for a few minutes, Vitamin D, that’s what I need. 

If I were to imagine myself as an animal right now it would be a kind of Bear, shaggy, somewhat tetchy, definitely not in his prime & having emerged out of his cave after a long winter. My arthritis is omnipresent, rarely does my body let me forget, my joints ache & once simple tasks feel like great endeavours, but I plod on. 

I do my best not to go along with the temptation to berate the fates & ask why me?  It seems a waste of energy (& as my condition means I possess precious little of that) instead I try to put it down to being just one of those things – the unwanted gift of genes and history and leave it at that.

Some things improve my demeanour, a warm morning shower, a little fresh air and a walk in the park & most of all that beautiful sunshine, the best of tonics for dissipating dark thoughts. 

The other day I just sat on a bench and watched the clouds roll by and the sun peeping out and silly though it may sound it was bloody lovely, my head lost in the clouds.

I watch the joggers zoom by in lycra, the cyclists who ignore the no cycling signs, the dog walkers with mutts of every description, the diligent dog owners with poo bags at the ready, the large old lady who does circuits of the park on a mobility scooter the size of a small car, behind her she drags a dog on a rope, unwillingly getting some exercise.

Park walks in the afternoon have the added advantage of enabling me to watch the sunsets, they have of late been unfailingly gorgeous, I often take a photo or two on the lead up to sunset, I think I imagine myself looking back on them a while from now, and reminding myself of that time before my arthritis was fixed. 

The thing is though, that the timings have meant that I often sit for a while on a park bench close by the local primary school to take my photos. I’ve realised that this could be a bit problematic. An old bloke on his own hanging around primary school gates taking photos?

I decide that my next walk will be in one of the other parks close by my house of which there are three.

The following afternoon in park No.2, its a gloriously warm afternoon with bright warm sunshine and I’m walking again. Actually when I say walking that’s a rather generous term, it’s more a concerted stumble & shuffle with a stick accompanied by the occasional grunt, but I still think of it as a kind of walking.

As I plod I wonder how long I will continue like this – with the stick – with my dodgy knee and feet, Will my condition improve? Of course I hope so, but then what if? 

Just as I begin to feel just a little miserable for myself, I hear a familiar sound behind me – the clatter of walking sticks on the tarmac path, a Doberman pads past me and behind the beast is a young chap, in his twenties or early thirties on crutches, he only has one leg, the other is missing. He literally flies past me like Usain Bolt on speed.

I really hate the concept of life giving a person lessons, people that believe life is full of lessons given by a greater power really get on my tits, but I have to admit that undeniably it does have a habit of offering you some pointers along the way.

The uni-dexter darts off the path ahead and onto the grass of the playing field, he throws a ball for the Doberman to chase, I am astounded at how nimble the chap is. As I cogitate I realise that there are two ways of taking what I have just witnessed:-

  1. You are doomed. Give up all hope, even a one legged man gets around better than you.
  2. It’s not so bad, you’ve one more leg than he does, so don’t whinge.

I try to focus on the positive, which lasts all the way out of the park and as far as my local corner shop where a scaffolders lorry pulls up ahead and double parks on the corner blocking my way.

To get past it I have to step down from the curb and into the main road, my view of the junction is obscured and I narrowly miss being knocked over by a passing car.

The scaffolder climbs down from his cab and our paths meet at the doorway of the corner shop, 

I shake my head and tut at him.

Whats your problem he says.

Your parking I reply. You’re parked on double yellow lines.

What business is it of yours he retorts.

Mild mannered man that I am I blow my top.

You fucking parked on double yellow lines you moron.

I’m disabled and its bloody dangerous having to go around your fucking lorry.

For added emphasis I wave my stick at him in a threatening manner.

The scaffolder clearly not expecting a raving nut waving a metal stick and cursing him turns instantly meek, apologises and says he’s going to be quick. I am dead chuffed at his reaction.

The lovely staff of the corner shop who I always chat to politely each day are hushed into silence at my outburst. I apologise to them for my foul language and ranting.

They smile, uncomfortably.

I buy myself two packets of eccles cakes imagining that these and a nice cup of tea will restore my equilibrium.

As I head home I reflect on my little afternoon escapade, I feel rather happy to have vented, it’s good to let off steam, but then my satisfaction turns dark and I realise what I’ve done. 

Not the cursing, I couldn’t give a toss about that, but something else – for the first time ever I have used the word disabled to describe myself and saying it out loud makes me hate myself, it’s as if saying the word out loud makes it real for the first time, even if thats been the case for a while.

Later on having consumed the eccles cakes and feeling duly fortified I decide that its time for a relaunch, that I need to get out and about more, going to the park isn’t enough, tomorrow I’m going into town, sod the arthritis, it’s time for a little adventure, I’m not ready to be disabled just yet. 

P.S. Eccles cakes:-

Recipe https://www.daringgourmet.com/eccles-cakes/

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