Toasty New Year

As we all know, God not only invented the world in six days, but also invented the Venerable Bede, who in turn invented the calendar.

It is thanks to Bede, and not the Mayans, that in the West we have the method of measuring time in terms of the Christian Era, or Year of our Lord (Anno Domini). The main bone of contention in Bede’s time was how to calculate Easter, but that all got sorted out thankfully by the nice lady Abbess at Whitby, just down the road from EBL Towers. This was fortunate because otherwise how would we know when to put chocolate eggs in the shops? (The answer, by the way, is on Boxing Day. A shop in town had Easter Bunnies on its shelves when I popped in for some items on 27th December. I was unable to restrain my staire. The woman serving looked rather weary of it and I suppose she had endured the same from every other customer that morning. What I should have done, my dears, was to summon the manager and give her a quick lesson on appropriate shop display and how not to irritate the hell out of fragile post-celebratory customers.)

Come on EBL, stop blathering about Easter when it is a glorious new day in a new year!

What I really wanted to do was start this year with a lung-clearing, heart-stopping, brain-exploding rant. I know, I know, it’s not like your mild-mannered EBL to let rip in this fashion. But really – carers! What are they thinking?

Today being a Bank Holiday there were no carers available to get mother up and dressed. Not a problem, as it is a Bank Holiday, so I am home and can do it myself. It did mean I had to make sure I didn’t oversleep this morning as there was medication to administer on a strict schedule, but that was not a problem, not for good old EBL and faithful Sigoth.

We saw the New Year in down at the pub with friends and neighbours, as planned, and had a jolly nice time including counting down with Big Ben on the telly and singing Auld Lang Syne enthusiastically and tunelessly. The walk back home, all of 3 minutes, was dark and muddy, but the night was glorious as the rain had finally cleared and Orion was posing in his belt and the sky was a dark tent of diamonds and pearls sheltering us kindly. We relaxed back home with a cryptic crossword from the book of Daily Telegraph Crosswords which Santa kindly provided me in my stocking, and then slept like peaceful little lambs.

Up I jumped in the sunny rays of the 2013 morning, bright and eager (once Sigoth had provided tea to kick-start my system), and pleased the weather has finally improved. Oh my dears, it has been such a soggy Christmas, positively a catastrophe for many. Offspring Who Lives in Town has had a friend sleeping on the settee for days, having been flooded out of her flat not once, but twice, in December.

Anyway, off I went to raise mother from her bed and feed and drug her.

Mother, of course, was unaware it was New Year, but was pleased to see the sunshine this morning and got into the spirit of wishing me Happy New Year endlessly once I prompted her. It was a kind thought, but inevitably one that spun round her head with giddy abandon and no sign of stopping until replaced by something else.

I persuaded her out of her snug cocoon and started setting out the clothes for the day, including one of her new blouses. New Year wishes started to make way for how pretty the blouse is, which is also true no matter how many times she says it.  Meanwhile I rummaged for knickers in the chest of drawers, then in the wardrobe, then in the spare drawers in the spare bedroom, just in case. There were none in any drawer in any room. Even when I looked three or four times. I checked the washing machine which contained clean but wet apparel of every kind. As mother was safe upstairs, I got heated on the topic of carers who don’t think very hard about what will be required tomorrow and how long it takes to dry things in an English winter.

The only option was to shower and dress mother sans culottes which caused her some considerable anxiety. All the way down the stairs she kept telling me about it and I kept explaining that she needed to wait a few minutes while I dried something in the tumble dryer. It was a tense and stressful few minutes for both of us, but eventually she had toasty warm undies to slip into and she was happy. The consolation of dementia is that she will hopefully have forgotten it by now. The rest of her clothes are drying as I write, so tomorrow the carers will not be faced with the same problem. Whoever came yesterday was clearly not the sharpest tool in the box. Actually it’s hard to rant about them because I couldn’t do this every day for an endless stream of other people’s relatives.

It reminded me though of when I was little. Mother had a similar challenge in the winter when laundry refused to dry in the cold, dank days of November. We had a covered area outside the back door of the kitchen where there was a washing line and coal cellar and space for bikes. In the worst weather that was where we hung the essentials to dry, out of the rain but still in fresh air. November air may be fresh, although it is open to debate, but it is also cold and damp, and clothes tend not to dry even under shelter.

The next stage was then to put the really essential essentials on the airer by the boiler overnight. The kitchen had a small coal-fired boiler for heating water and allegedly to supply the radiators. My parents had a very modern house, built in the mid-1950s, with parquet floors I polished by tying dusters to my feet and skating up and down, and with real radiators for central heating. Sadly the boiler was far too small to make the radiators work, but the water was hot most of the time and the kitchen was always cosy.

No matter how warm and embracing the boiler was, sometimes it couldn’t manage to dry the essential essentials by morning. School hours wait for no parent, and faced with damp knickers and a child half-clad my mother did the only thing left to her and grilled my underwear. In the cooker. She removed the grill pan first, otherwise I would have smelled of good Danish bacon.

Toasty knickers. A great start to the day, let me tell you.


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