Thursday, 23 July 2009

Staying with my parents cont....

Dad, Carpenter, August 22nd 2007

My dad’s current project is to build himself a frame upon which to mount a blind which will work on the sloping window in his bedroom so that he can see his computer screen a bit better. This really is a relative term as his field of vision is scarcely bigger than a pinhead and at 90 years old he is completely bent over - the result of a lifetime of misusing his back . He also can’t hear. These problems do not defeat him however and pride dictates that he will only ask for help as a last resort. The trick is to listen to his sighs of frustration and not say anything. An offer of help usually results in a point blank denial of need. So yesterday in extremis, I was finally asked to assist. My instructions were to take up a tiny yellow paintbrush, gleaned from a long-forgotten children’s paint box in the depths of his cupboard and to push it through the holes in the two brackets he had made so as to mark on the wall the places for the rawl bolts. My father meanwhile, balanced precariously on the steps holding up his wooden frame against the aperture. A day later it seems that the holes are in the wrong places because the frame is actually warped. Undeterred, (really happy to find an additional challenge!), dad has now taken the frame to pieces again, dipped it in water and wrapped it in a towel. He plans to bend it straight after a few days. More anon.

Manners & Courtesy, August 22nd 2007

I like riding on the top deck of buses when in London but I was appalled to see how much litter and half-eaten food is left under the seats. I was even more appalled to watch an old lady try to get out of her window seat past another lady (about 45) and this person simply would not budge so that the old lady had to literally climb over the other’s parcels and over her knees. What is the world coming to? By contrast, a great journalist and gentleman of the ‘old school’ died this week in England. His name is W.F. Deedes and the week-end Telegraph overflowed with tributes to this great but humble man. Do yourself a favour and look him up. Born in 1913, he was a journalist for no less than 76 years. A friend of Princess Diana, when she died, he drove himself up to London at 3.00 a.m., aged 84 and produced 3,000 words of copy the same night about her. His love for Africa is legendary and his exploits too many for me to enumerate. My dad wrote to him once, complaining about the meaningless use of the expression ‘living in the sticks.’ As Dad pointed out, the correct spelling is Styx and refers to the river of legend across which souls must pass after they die in order to enter the afterlife. He received a courteous letter of apology back and never saw this phrase in the newspaper again. When Lord Deedes died, aged 93, he was still writing copy from a laptop in his bed and to the last his only worry was that he might bore his readers by not being able to report first-hand any more. Apparently, he never did (bore anyone).

Dad’s Pedometer, August 21st 2007

This is only a saying as I don’t think I have a great mind like my dad but we do have things in common. I showed him my blog about ‘Mental Pedometer’ after which he disappeared off to his room, rummaged about in his cupboards for a long time and presented me with an envelope bearing the legend, Pedometer - Free Gift from Kellogs corn flakes. It transpired that since my dad has become too blind and deaf and generally frail to be allowed out, he tries to walk a certain distance a day - from the kitchen to the front door and back, doing a number of circuits which he tries to measure. I know to keep out of the way when I hear his walking stick tapping up and down. One day when he had finished he announced, “I’ve just been to the egg shop!” Further enquiry elicited the information that one of his former walks used to be to an egg farm about 200 metres up the road, He can’t actually use the pedometer himself both because it is very small and his hands are too arthritic to manoeuvre it and also if he did manage to get it onto his waistband, he has to walk bent over so that it would face vertically instead of horizontal and would not make the necessary connection with his hip. It’s no fun getting old.

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