After some delay I have news from the front, from the battle between me and nefarious Ms Nature. Over the weekend my left knee rebelled somewhat resulting in an intermittent limp. I was somewhat amused that the might of Ms Nature would choose such a weak assault for what I hoped was a last stand of sorts. Yesterday’s commute, delayed a day by St Jude, showed that there was more to this assault than I had first envisaged. The train that I arrived into London on was packed full due to other disruption and as I rose from my seat at Stratford there was little more than room for my feet.
Rotating around my left leg I felt a rather sickening weakening of the knee almost as if I was reliant on rubber bands for tendons. Thankfully the thoughtful train operator had ensured that there were far too many people on the train for me to actually collapse and instead I fell onto the lady next to me. There is then that moment, the one where you shake your leg out and try again. For me this is always accompanied by a sudden sweat as I ponder the worse result. I hate any attention and can think of few things worse than not being able to regain some form of perambulation and therefore having to be stretchered off. It is this desire to be invisible rather than some machismo that keeps me moving through pain.
I did regain traction and returned to a limping gait not perfect but, most critically, not dependent or incapacitated. This morning I awoke with the normal pain and awkwardness, struggling to lift and tilt even the small hotel kettle. This is a standard start to the day, it seems that an effect of the accident, and perhaps my age, is an increased ‘boot-up’ time. By the time that I had left the hotel room I realised that I had taken on a slight stoop to accommodate the left knee. Both of my parents were/are crippled by arthritis and I could see my father in the stooped semi shuffle that I had developed. That was enough for me, clearly bowing to the vindictive ways of Ms Nature is not the way forward. I strode the one and a half miles to the office with a deliberate and straight gait, despite the attempts of Ms Nature to distract me. It will be an interesting day, before I arrived in the office my knee had swollen to the constraints imposed by my jeans. Once again though Ms Nature has not thought through her assault, water on the knee stops you bending your knee and so forces you to walk straight.
I would also like to share a father’s thought today, I have no idea where it comes from but I bring it to you in a somewhat modified state anyway. As fathers we work hard to ensure that our children are given the opportunities and experiences to make the greatest memories, it is the cruelest of corrolary that we often become nothing more than one of them.
I fancied a snack the other day and so took a stroll to the local shop. There are times, you see, when you want a snack and not a hotel meal and to be honest I can rarely suffer hotel snacks (or their cost). I found some sort of meat product in the fridge and concluded that the addition of some form of bread roll and a packet of crisps would meet my needs. At the rear of the store I found various flat breads and chapatis (well I am in North London), loaves of bread and, finally, bread rolls. Obviously I had no use for a loaf of bread but a packet of 4 bread rolls was ideal. Having paid for my goods and wiped my hands clean of the grease transferred on my change due to the overweight storekeeper not wanting to take a break from his food,I set off to the hotel.
I should have known something was wrong when I struggled to open the bag of rolls. This was no mere plastic wrap, it was nuclear holocaust proof stuff. Gaining access was only the first half of the battle, when they pack things inside a ‘protective atmosphere’ it is not because it is fragile in fact the opposite is true. As I snapped a roll out of the four and cracked it open, yes those terms are accurate, I pondered what allows something to be called bread when it is so far from anything you would recognise. The bread had a very strange taste, it was dryer than leather and generally not a great experience. I managed a couple, they were the size of biscuits, and then gave up for fear that the ingredients were actually hazardous to my health.
What really got me thinking is the families shopping in the store. I appreciate that transport issues mean that this is more than a convenience store to many but with delivery and public transport should it be? I almost appreciated the Iceland mums when I watched young mums buying this garbage for their kids. A few days previously I had seen a mum picking up bread rolls and Bobby’s crisps for her children’s supper. What does this do to children, feeding them food that bears no resemblance to what it is supposed to be. Is this breeding a generation that wont understand what food actually is, will they go out for a meal one night in years to come and reject the bread roll because they don’t recognise it? Is this why our bakeries are struggling, because children don’t recognise what actual bread is. It is not just cheap plastic rolls it is the pink textureless, factory produced ham, the slices of yellow (who can call it cheese) this manufactured garbage is the education of these poor kids pallets. I don’t think that we need to go as far as showing children that animals are slaughtered to make dinner although, where it is convenient, I have no objection. Should we not show our children that there are supposed to be bones in ham? How about demonstrating that cheese does not come as string or as slime that will stick to a wall.
As parents it is our job to educate our children, we should introduce them to as many foods as possible but I think that we can skip the garbage group. Educate your children as to the quality so that when they are adults they will be able to cope in a restaurant and will have aspirations when cooking dinner. The thing that we don’t need to show our kids is garbage food, trust me they will find that on their own. Lets be honest, if you want grandchildren then your going to want children that are capable of taking their future partners to a restaurant, don’t rely on the state continuing to sponsor childbirth!
I have posted various things about piers recently and it got me thinking. To those of us that had childhoods around seaside towns they remain hugely symbolic. The memories that we have are more than images they are smells and emotions and the enchantment of childhood. But for some piers are not experienced in childhood and they are just decrepit structures.
Many years ago a project manager from Derby popped in to visit me. Derby is the middle of the country and as land locked as you can get on our little island. Having decided to walk along the pier we achieved the task with little drama. On surveying the sea and the coast from the end of the pier we turned to walk back. It was at this point that my friend realised that there were gaps between the boards. Wearing high heels she had negotiated the gaps without fear or failure on the outboard trip. The return was not so easy, faltering pigeon steps and shrieks about sums it up. And the loose planks were worth extra shrieks and clutching.
I realised that this is the same thing that enchants us as children. The broken gnarly pieces of wood like thin bony fingers rising from the sea to support us. The loose boards, broken railings and the gaps that allow us to see the ocean beneath us. No pier is complete without rotting supports and what must once have been temporary repairs. To a small child wobbling a plank that is all that stands between them and the ocean is amazing. Even in earlier enlightened times it was probably one of the rare occasions when you experienced risk and danger with your parents rather than being scolded later.
For those that don’t have the memories look at the shot below of my local pier. This broken arrangement pushes half a mile out to sea. The damaged, ageing construction survives the raw power of the North Sea as she fights to remove such man made violations. For those that have the memories, remember.
From walking crowded streets, stations and shopping malls I offer the following thoughts, to parents. Your children should be educated to remain close to you before you enter such public areas. I know its controversial but really its been happening for generations, some would argue that it’s how you keep them safe. I know that children are inquisitive and curious but as a parent you have to keep them under control. Little Johnny may want to run across my legs but, as his parent, you wont let him. Your children may want to walk 4 abreast along the pavement but you will shepherd them together so as to allow others to pass.
For clarification the god awful reigns that are all the rage are a way of keeping track of your children. They are not, listen closely High St Mom from the weekend, a retractable lead, they are for dogs. When your child decides to walk at the maximum distance behind you reigns are not intended to offer you the ability to drag them through the crowd. Dragging your child through a crowd blindly is like a ship dragging an anchor. You will throw people left and right and drag the reigns across their paths. Be warned, the next time this happens to me and I don’t have my hands full I will start a tug of war and you won’t win. I am not asking for children to be seen and not heard or anything so archaic, just keep them under some form of control. When your on public transport with three children, I will help you out here, you need 4 seats. You don’t need a carriage, it is not a play zone, the other people travelling are not child minders or entertainers.
In other news can somebody please explain why we spend so much money on advertisements for perfume? Are they aimed at clueless men who are gift hunting or do they entice women to test scents? For me this is the epitomy of marketing, I want you to purchase an expensive bottle of scent so I show you what it looks like. The amazing thing is that it works, hence the advertising spend. Ok I get that we can’t smell shampoo or taste drinks but their advertising is targeted differently. You buy a shampoo because of its action, the scent is incidental. Or perhaps you, lime me, buy it out of bewilderment and feeling trapped in the isle in the store. But perfume is sold purely on psychology, imagery and emotive scenes cause you to purchase something for which scent is the only purpose.
Finally for today I would like to answer any that have questioned my medical knowledge. I have followed my strict program of ignoring lefty and continuing to exercise as normal. Contrary to some opinions Lefty is improving and the pain episodes are reducing again. Once again the theory of ignoring a petulant Ms Nature and her attention seeking has served me well. I am sure that she will have another attempt in due course but for now we are heading back to the straight and narrow
It is funny how little things install themselves into our subconscious mind as we grow up, like spyware or viruses on computers they slip in when we are not looking and remain a part of our ‘operating system’ forever. We all know that it is good practice to run antivirus on our computer to remove these unwanted programs but what can we do to delete the unwanted and unneeded secret codes that run in our subconscious?
As an example of the oddity of these seemingly innocuous snippets or practices that we carry with us I give you the teaspoon. When I exit my hotel room in the morning I always make sure that I have tidied the room, left it presentable, opened the curtains and turned down the HVAC whilst this is not a particularly rock star approach years of living in hotels has taught me the benefits of befriending the staff. As I tidied my room this morning I happened upon a teaspoon perched on the table, immediately I moved it back to the little hospitality tray after all what would they think if they found a spoon elsewhere in my room? With ten minutes to spare I considered this question with my more conscious mind, why would a teaspoon out-of-place be such a matter of shame? Why is it that I associate the errant teaspoon with some dark nefarious activity that I would not wish to be associated with? It is all down to my mother who, you see, was not someone who kept up to date with the ways of the youth but she was absolutely paranoid about the use of illegal drugs. This was a woman who grew up with dire warnings of heroin being given to schoolchildren with candy in an effort to draw them into a life of addiction.
Having read a couple of autobiographies, Bob Geldof being one that stands out, my mother had convinced herself that the key to all illicit drugs was the teaspoon. God help anyone that lost a teaspoon in our house, which was a clear admission of a drug habit. I distinctly remember that when my younger sister had some troublesome years as a young teenager my mother could clearly account for this in missing teaspoons. This logic was impenetrable to me as a child how could I defeat it? Sure I could argue that there were far more common place recreational drugs that did not require the use of a teaspoon but that would show knowledge that, in my mother’s world, I should not have had. I could argue that the effects of the more fragrant cigarettes readily available to all were not as life destroying or obvious as heroin. I could probably have presented a logical argument that the fact that she had gained this knowledge from an autobiography meant that the situation may not have been as bad as the media made out. My mother was an intelligent woman but this was not a subject where she gave much ground to logic, arguing was not a path along which one would find enlightenment, more likely physical pain.
I looked at the spoon this morning and understood that there was no logical reason for me not to leave it where it had been, I considered placing back in the previous location. I could not quite beat the nagging sensation that this would cause somebody cleaning my room later to conclude that I was in a bad way. I gave up smoking 14 years ago, sheer stubbornness got me through it and this is a personality trait that my phyisoterroist will attest to so why can’t I beat the unwanted code in my subconscious?
I never moved the spoon back (thanks mum) but having considered it I will now be working on my own virus scan to clean out some of the subconscious rubbish that we all carry around. I may even defrag and free up some useable space but most importantly I will overcome the shame of a missing teaspoon.