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Posts tagged ‘nostalgia’

What the heck was I thinking?

Those of you who have followed this adventure from the start will know the move, over 18 months ago, was close to being a disaster. This is especially true for “my” side of it as the decisions I had to make and the sheer volume of stuff I had overwhelmed me. I ended up taking 4 of the largest boxes, cramming them full and writing “TBS” on the sides. “To Be Sorted”. Well some has been but a lot hasn’t. Instead it is stacked in the back room, the guestroom. Now I have to face it all and sort, recycle, gift and abandon all over again. As I began to pick through the crates I found myself muttering, “What the heck was I thinking?”

What the heck was I thinking?

I am making progress, albeit slowly, and Jacqui has performed a minor miracle on the bed. We had 2 nice pine beds with us for spare rooms. One of them arrived with no mattress and is broken. The other has lost its fixings – the second bed the idiot movers did this to. Somehow Jacqui managed to adapt the metal bolts from one to build the other, adding corner braces for extra support. It is now up, very strong and ready to welcome our first guest next month. I was wondering if we needed to buy a new one. Hah, what the heck was I thinking?

This last week has been very busy. As Jacqui was a bit ill (not Covid) I drove the car down to town for its annual service. This is no big deal for some people but it was a familiar journey taken in reverse. As a dyspraxic I can rarely remember the way anywhere (unlike Jacqui who can navigate by the sun like a homing pigeon). I rely on a spoken/chanted series of visual clues.
“Up the bumpy road and stop, then left round the bend by the Swiss style house. Slow, slow, mad tractors all around. Slide past the pink cottage and look for the swans…” Taking the road in reverse meant my “road map” was useless and most of the landmarks invisible until I was past them. But I did it and I’m inordinately proud of myself.

The next day we headed off to Roscrea, to the dentist. I have had two very loose teeth at the back for more than 3 years, due to Covid restrictions. My appointment to have them removed in England was cancelled. So were the next 2. I developed an abscess the day before the actual move and the dentist was eager to pull them then, late in the afternoon. That was hopeless – I couldn’t have done anything for the move or been able to think the next day. I took some antibiotics and left.

Ireland has a shortage of dentists and I have been trying to join the practise of choice for 18 months. When we arrived we were locked down, then they closed for all but existing patients, then they moved. Finally I broke a tooth last week and they offered me an appointment. I am needle phobic and have had a lot of problems with my teeth so I was shaking when I got there. Now, I have had very gentle dentists before. I have had very skillful dentists before. This is the first time I’ve had one who is both.

I was expecting her to remove the broken tooth but instead she suggested the 2 at the top were more urgent. Somehow I found myself agreeing – what the heck was I thinking, I wondered as the top injections loomed. Jacqui was really startled when I appeared and told her, but it was as painless as 2 extractions can possibly be.

And so it begins

Then a big parcel arrived from Ikea. I’ve been using a hanging rail for my clothes since we moved and we decided it was time to tidy up the room. How hard could it be? I opened the instruction book and was faced with pages of obscure line drawings – what the heck??? Well, it took several days, a plethora of tools and some creative swearing but we managed it. The hardest part was lifting it up from the floor and manoeuvring it into position. They are heavy things, wardrobes. And fitting the sliding doors. They are beasts!

So there we are. We are still pushing on. The house is slowly getting tidier as we sort things and find proper places for them. Jacqui has sorted many of the tools and put them away in the grooming room. She also labelled everything so we know where to put them when we finish. “Measuring things” in one box, “Cutting things” in another and screwdrivers and Allen keys in “Lefty loosey, righty tighty”. We may add another box for “MLB”. That’s “Making life better”. It works for us and no-one else needs to rummage in our tool boxes anyway.

The Tool Tower

So there we are, still fighting the weeds but indoors bringing some semblance of order from chaos. It’s been a busy few weeks and we’ve had a weekend off to revel in nostalgia. We’ve sat watching the Tour de France roll over the border through parts of Switzerland we know very well. We have driven many of the roads they used and caught glimpses of familiar places we loved. A bittersweet pleasure but a pleasure none the less.

Back in two weeks, hope you all keep well and thank you for reading.

Living in the Past II – and my Superpower

There is a lot of nostalgia for the past floating around at the moment. Things were so much simpler, there was a stronger sense of community, we knew our place in the world… Well, I lived in this “past” and I struggle to recognise it from the discussions around me. This is the past I remember and it bears little resemblance to the comfortable, secure world described by some.

I grew up in the 50s and 60s on the fringes of Greater London. My overwhelming impression of this time was being cold. There was the “Big Freeze” of 1963 of course but every winter – and many springs and autumns – were extremely chilly too. Hardly anyone had central heating or double glazing. We woke in the morning and drew pictures on the ice inside the windows. Beds at night were often damp as well as cold and adding more heavy wool blankets didn’t help for hours. I was lucky for we had a new-build home whilst a lot of my friends lived in “pre-fabs” – prefabricated houses thrown up to alleviate the desperate housing shortage. Designed for ten years wear, some are still in use today. And they really are cold.

Most of us wore home-made clothes (even school uniform sometimes) and our mothers sewed and knitted an astonishing range of garments from anything they could get their hands on. I had a duffle coat made from old army blankets and all my hats, gloves and scarves were made by my mother. But the worst clothes ever were socks. Hand knitted wool socks. How we hated them! They itched and scratched and never stayed up so we had to use rubber bands that dug in and stopped the circulation to our feet. They just sucked up the moisture so they were always damp. But this was nothing until combined with the curse of my generation – chilblains.

For those of you unfamiliar with this ailment, chilblains are painful little lumps that erupt over toes, fingers, ears and noses when the small blood vessels get too cold and then warm up again. They are also horribly itchy and if scratched feel as if they are burning. Combine chilblains with damp wool socks and you have total misery for months on end.

Sometimes I get cranky when people eulogise the past. It had its moments but nothing was perfect. A lot of it wasn’t very nice. We were insular, tired and poor and no-one who experienced it would want to go back. So to prove my point I choose my superpower. I would like to inflict chilblains for a week. They sum up the era somehow. Try it for a few days and see how nostalgic you might be then.