Mrs B has seen me coming; is already standing in the porch, in fact, with last month’s library books neatly bagged up.
“How did you enjoy them?” I ask.
“Very good. I’ve given this one five stars.”
“I was taking Entacapone … and it powered up hypersexuality. It was replaced with Tolcapone which fixed the job. I was pleased as I was nearly 60 and really could not be bothered.” (Person on PUK Forum)
Way Back When, I was lucky enough to have the chance to talk with BTMan: the first person I’d met with Parkinson’s who was neither mad nor dead nor both. Those of you who have studied my juvenilia might remember him explaining that some Parkinson’s medications cause, as an unfortunate side-effect, a reduction in impulse control. This can lead to excessive spending or gambling; or to over-eating; or to a greatly increased sex-drive, even in term-time.
It is a truth almost universally acknowledged that babies are a lot more fun when you’ve had a night’s sleep.
I’m yawning here just at the thought of those hours spent rocking the buggy, singing “my old man’s a dustman” to the tune of “girl from Ipanema.” Driving round the block in the early hours, hoping in vain that there won’t be cries as soon as the engine’s turned off. Arriving at work on autopilot only to discover that not only is YoungLochinvar still in his child seat (forgotten to drop him off at Ma’s) but also that, in the early morning rush, I’ve failed to shut the front door (concerned neighbour, police visit). How does anyone survive early parenthood? Nightmare.
Firelight flickered on their faces: yellow, amber, a hellish red. All eyes were fixed on the young Jane Marple – could this slip of a girl really have worked out the answer to the crime which had mystified the greatest minds of the Met? She put down the loom bands with which she had been making friendship bracelets to sell on EBay, and took a deep breath. As her right hand started to shake, she remembered that she’d forgotten her lunchtime Sinemet…
Dull, dull, dull.
The first day of the school year has a quality all of its own. As foretold, the miserable, rainy days of late August had vanished, packed away with the suitcases, buckets and spades. The sun now played on the distant fields of wheat: yellow, amber and a hellish red.
At half past eight – best to make an early start – Miss Read reluctantly left the school-house and made her way through the romantically named late summer flowers in her garden (note to self… check names of appropriate plants), across the playground and into the solid Victorian building which had been her domain for so long.
Entering her classroom, she was met by Mrs Pringle, brandishing her mop as her forebears had brandished their spears.
“That skylight’s been playing up again,” she growled. “And all them iPads of yours bin sitting in a pool of water.”
Sighing as she re-planned the morning in her head, Miss Read turned on her computer, only to find that it too had been washed clean by the summer rain. So, no interactive whiteboard either. If only she still had her faithful old blackboard! But the school managers had disposed of that some time ago – apparently a blackboard had no place in a modern classroom…
My New Year’s Resolution was to write a book but – and you’ll be amazed to hear this – it’s not as easy as one might think. “Write about what you know” say the How-to books. “Write the sort of book you like to read.”
So I end up with pale imitations of majestic writers; boring to write, ghastly to read. Back to the drawing board.
One thing though. When working on the (now abandoned, you’ll be pleased to hear) “Death and the Interactive Whiteboard”, I asked our site-manager how he’d commit murder on the school premises. He lead me straight to the boiler room and showed me which outlet pipe to block with a simple piece of paper, thereby filling the room with carbon monoxide. “Dead in minutes,” he told me. “Then you just remove the paper and Bob’s your uncle.”
Is it more worrying that he didn’t hesitate to answer the question or that he didn’t ask me why I wanted to know? Just to be on the safe side, if you happen to be in Thrush Woods, keep on the right side of the site-manager and stay clear of the boiler room.
New vegetable steamer for ActorLaddie, 75p from Amazon to Cure Parkinson’s, courtesy of GiveAsYouLive What’s not to like?
i) Walking into the Ladies’ Changing Room at the gym to find three giggling girls – aged about 5 – clothed only with the contents of a very large (and now, presumably, empty) jar of talcum powder. Cheerful singing from the shower cubicle. #InterestingTimeAhead.
ii) Repressurising the boiler in YoungLochinvar’s shared house with the aid of a flat head screwdriver and YouTube. What drives anyone to video themselves adjusting a boiler, goodness knows, but God Bless them everyone. Hot water and heating restored to half a dozen blokes. #IrresistableFeelingOfSmugness #OldBiddyPower
“But you’ve been selling me a National Express ticket to Birmingham every weekend for months! Why not now?”
Mrs Travel-Centre is of a certain age and traditional build. Well, that’s not exactly how YoungLochinvar later describes her, but then he was speaking with the brutality of youth: a youth, moreover, already cutting it fine to get his coach to Birmingham.
“It’s Mrs Jellywoman, isn’t it?”
I am at the gym (thanks for all the helpful hints – so far, so good), face to face with a jolly woman, probably in her mid-sixties. Though she might be ninety-eight but really, really benefiting from regular work-outs. She does look familiar but I can’t quite place her. I’m vaguely thinking Jacob’s nan; Jacob, whose suggestion for a word containing the ‘ee’ sound was “weed – like what you smoke.” Maybe, maybe not…
“It’s one thing joining a gym – it’s another actually going.” She was a wise bird, our old GP: retired now, alas. Of my pregnancy with the InfantPhenomenon, she said: “a summer baby, how lovely! You’ll be able to sit in pub gardens.” Not my first thought but she had four children so knew whereof she spake.
“If you wouldn’t mind filling in these while I prepare the injection – sorry, I know there’s some duplication, but that’s the NHS for you.”
We have the world’s loveliest pharmacist. He’s a great listener, great professional and bedrock for the community. When I walked into his shop for my first lot of Parkinson’s meds and promptly burst into tears, he was kindness personified. Plus he listens to Radio Four and can converse intelligently about The Archers. So I will fill in any amount of forms while he prepares my flu jab.