Last weekend I visited my mother in Ipswich and because my sister and her husband were away for the weekend all the little jobs that they normally do for her fell to Faith and I.
Firstly we had to wheel her around Sainsbury’s for a couple of hours (and you KNOW how I feel about shopping!) in her wheelchair to stock her food supplies up for the coming week. She had one of those clip-on shopping trolleys attached to the front of the wheelchair and I was in charge of pushing this increasingly weighty and unwieldy combination.
This gave me two big problems!
No.1 – The twerps behind the other trolleys who somehow always managed genuinely to believe that Mum and I were MORE able to manoeuvre out the way of their nearly empty trolleys than vice versa! As is usual in any supermarket, anywhere, I found myself having to do all the other shoppers’ thinking for them! Inconsiderate, moronic bastards!
No.2 – The height of the handles on Mum’s wheelchair! If I stand upright and up close behind the back of the chair with my arms relaxed by my sides my hands are in a position about 6 inches ABOVE the handles by which it is both propelled and steered!
Therefore, in order to do those things I need to step back and lean forwards which results in a not inconsiderable part of my not inconsiderable weight passing through the palms of my hands to the grooved rubber handgrips. After a couple of hours this becomes extremely painful and I swear I could still take a plaster cast of my hands and reproduce the pattern of those grips perfectly!
The other tasks awaiting me were MUCH easier. The moss that had fallen from the tiled roof of the house onto the glass one of the conservatory was deftly removed with the aid of a yard broom and a step ladder, while checking next years Tax Coding notice was still a piece of cake even though I have been out of the tax business for 12 ½ years now.
Similarly, Mum’s worries about the Census form were speedily resolved by my taking it away to fill in for her online on “Census Day”.
There will be more about the decennial Senseless (Sorry, CENSUS) form in a forthcoming post.
And after all that was done I still had most of a bright, sunny, early Spring Saturday afternoon to sit in my late Father’s armchair and gaze out of the front window while we all chatted about this and that.
While doing that it occurred to me that when I first stared out of that window the world was rather different!
U.S. President John F. Kennedy had been dead almost exactly 3 months; Doctor Who had existed on UK television for the same length of time less one day; The Beatles were entering their 2nd full year of super-stardom and I was still a little over 7 months short of starting at Copleston Secondary Modern School for Boys where I was to meet (amongst others) my friends, correspondents and loyal readers, Hank and Vincent.
It has to be said that the very first time I gazed out of that window when we moved into this newly built property in late January 1964, I could see absolutely NOTHING! On moving day and for several days afterwards a thick fog lay over the whole of Ipswich and I don’t think either that the old neighbours knew we’d gone or the new ones that we’d arrived until about a week later.
The view, when it did appear wasn’t anything to enthuse about – we faced an enormous compound surrounded by chain link fencing, lockable gates and possibly even barbed wire. It resembled nothing so much as a Prisoner of War Camp for builders and had huts for the site offices along with stockpiles of bricks, timber and anything else needed to build a housing estate (or maybe an escape tunnel)!
It didn’t stay like that I’m pleased to say. In time the compound was relocated to the centre of the next phase of building and a row of shops with flats over them and a small supermarket appeared in its place.
The first shop to open was a Newsagent at the far end of the row and I was one of the first two paperboys employed for delivering to the customers doormats the morning national daily and evening local papers.
Unfortunately the manager of the shop was a lazy bugger who SHOULD have been up and marking up the papers when we arrived at 6.30 a.m. but was frequently still asleep! We then had to get around the back of the shop, climb up onto his garage roof and chuck handfuls of gravel at his bedroom window until his little dog started yapping and woke him up. It may not have mattered much to HIM but WE still had to do the deliveries, get home, get changed, have breakfast AND get to school by 9 a.m.!
I lived in that house from 1964 to 1974 and have visited it at least a dozen times each year since.
The shops have altered over the years; the supermarket has gone from privately owned to a “Co-op” and there’s an Indian Restaurant where there used to be a Baker’s shop. There are also a LOT more cars in evidence today – while I watched the car park was permanently full and when someone left there was always one waiting for the space.
But leaving those relatively minor changes aside the thing that really struck me about the scene I was observing was that despite the passage of over 45 years it was, essentially, STILL THE SAME!
I think that having a view from a window that encompasses that many years of memories at one go is a wonderful thing to have. I wonder how I’ll deal with NOT having it as and when Mum goes off to find out what Dad’s immaterial essence has been up to since 2006!