2007 — 19 October: busy busy Friday

Time now (07:41) and, having photographed all the pink contrails up in the seemingly frozen sky, let's see what else the day brings. I bet Tweety-Pie was cold last night... (click the pic):

Taken at about 07:00 this morning.

It's too early to phone the hospital but not too early for a cup of tea, the crossword and an orchestral interlude from Act 4 of Berlioz's The Trojans on BBC Radio 3.

Just rang (08:12) since I very much wanted to hear Her voice. Alas, I therefore learned a) I've just managed to wake Her up (not what I wanted to do), and b) She has tummyache "just like children" (not what I wanted to hear, believe me). Damn and blast this loathsome disease. But at least She's in the best possible place for treatment and alleviation right now.
Recent update: rang again just after 10:00 when I got back. She's feeling much brighter, though they now tell Her She should have had soup last night, not a sandwich. She says She would have done, had it only been one of the menu options...
More recent update: We popped in earlier this afternoon (horrendous traffic, by the way) taking 40 minutes or so just to get there. The consultant has ordered a fresh set of X-rays to give himself (and, it seems, a surgeon) a clearer picture of why the poor girl is still obstructed (or, at least, again obstructed). From what She said, they're contemplating a repair to the repair. I've just gone numb at this point. At this stage, the two of us are almost happy1 with the idea of further surgery if that's what it's going to take. But this does seem likely to push the date of Her return home further into the distance. The GP rang to see how Christa was getting on, and I was just relaying that fact to Christa later when people arrived in Her room to cart Her away for Her internal photo-shoot. I will ring back again, of course.

Still pointless to worry, David, though entirely human!

There's a degree of rattling around banks, chemists etc I need to do have now done this morning before the wheeled meal wheels in. I need to think about calories for Junior, too, who aims to arrive by train this evening if his crisis at work permits. (He's just rung me [19:40] to say he's about to set off.) It occurs to me that he can be my co-pilot tomorrow for some fresh insights into all these driving skills. I discovered the trip computer yesterday, by the way, and can therefore report an average fuel consumption2 of 50.5mpg so far, and an average speed of around 25mph (from memory there were a few faster bits here and there). Beats walking.

Driving forecast

To distract me from more immediate medical woes, let me now try to entertain you by recounting today's set of learning experiences on the highways and byways of Hampshire.

We were vaguely thinking of Lidl in Eastleigh today. Toot! Toot! But I think we'll now finish listening (11:25) to this lovely bit3 of Emma Kirkby, ingest the sausage in onion gravy that is waiting patiently downstairs in the "hot" bag, and then (neighbour willing) head more for the Open Road(s) once again. At least it's lovely and sunny, and I'm hoping any overnight ice will have vanished before I hit it... let's make that "encounter it" shall we?

OK, time now 14:15 and we're back with another 58.5 miles, including not one, but two, trips through the very pretty village of Wherwell, which has a deliciously evil zigzag on a steep hill as you leave it. I did slightly better the second time I went up it, but not perfectly. Fun though, and I apologise to the Jaguar driver going the other way, too. Such unnecessarily big cars, aren't they?

Among other frissons from time to time my co-pilot had me pull in and stop at one point to let half a dozen or more "accumulated" vehicles pass (I'd been sticking faithfully to just a teensy bit over the speed limit, trust me). While I was fully aware that the young lady immediately behind me had been trying to push her way up my exhaust pipe for some reason, and several miles, it seems the young gentleman two cars further back still had (I'm told) been showing a potentially terrifying intention to whizz (skilfully or otherwise) past all of us on lovely twisty country roads come, as it were, what may.

Then, on nearly the home straight, Poles lane threw an idiot overtaking another one at me — they were both seemingly accelerating from around the bend that had concealed them nicely; I actually had to brake quite hard as they both bore down towards me on a nice straight bit, fully occupying both lanes. (There wasn't a third one for me to hide in, of course, which I remember striking me as a design flaw at the time.) Afterwards I was mildly criticised for not having fired a warning shot of high beam photons at them while braking but, frankly, a) I was a bit preoccupied at the time and b) I'd have much preferred a bank of photon torpedoes. And I would have used them, too.

Better yet, though, was to come when I was turning at the traffic lights from Bournemouth Road left into Chalvington Avenue and the youngster in the van immediately in front of me, also turning left, decided to exercise those telepathic crystal ball skills that I'd sometimes criticised IBM managers for wrongly assuming I possessed by doing a "U-turn" or, at least, starting a three-point turn in the junction. He glared round quite angrily at me for stopping close behind him in such a way as to make this (I assume) illegal manoeuvre just that bit trickier for him. My co-pilot said I had been right "not to stop on or across a busy traffic light junction and compound the hazard created by said OAF". (I don't know if he was an "OAF" but I strongly suspect he may have muttered one or two "oaths" even though he was being an extremely silly billy [for those of you old enough to recall dear old Denis Healey's turn of phrase].)

It's not very comforting to see quite how riskily some people drive when it's not just putting themselves in jeopardy. I have said for many years when asked why I don't drive that there are already enough idiots on the road without my adding to the total. I'm beginning to revise my views. But idiots or not, my incentive to get my licence remains as high as ever. The fact that I'm very much enjoying the process is pure added gravy. And I still find I cannot worry about Christa while I'm trying to stay alive on those byways.



1  While "happy" isn't quite le mot juste we're sort of resigned to the idea. And we both want the problem fixed if there's any mechanical fixing to be done, obviously.
2  And a remaining range of 261 miles (also from memory). Where does all the flipping petrol go, I wonder? Actually, having just been out to wipe the vehicle down and warm it up a little (on the drive only) the remaining range is already down to a reported 190 miles, which makes sense given the 68 or so I managed yesterday.
3  Handel's Cantata O Qualis de Coelo Sonus. I still don't really know what "Hallelujah" means,4 but she crams a heck of a lot of syllables and notes into this one word.
4  Well I do now — I've just looked it up here.