Tuesday, 17th October, 2023

[Day 1310]

Today being a Tuesday, we always look forward to meeting with our ‘Tuesday club’ of friends in the Waitrose cafeteria. Today one of our number, who is herself disabled, turned up with a real tale of woe. She was feeling a little sorry for herself and with good reason. Her husband who is quite some years older and has dementia seems, by all accounts, to be quite a handful for whom to care. Our friend was looking forward to a week’s respite whilst her husband went into residential accommodation. However he had tested positive for Covid, given to him presumably by one of his carers as he doesn’t get out at all. So the residential home refused to take him and so the week’s respite care was de facto cancelled. In addition, our friend had herself had a fall and some aches and pains as a result of it and had run out of some her medication. To cut a long story short,she was glad to get out of the house and seek out our company for a bit of a chat. It did make Meg and I realise that however badly off you think you are, there is always someone much worse off than you. We gave our friend whatever words of solace and comfort we could muster and resolved to meet with each other again next Saturday. I had to resort to taking Meg into the cafeteria by wheelchair today but I availed myself the opportunity whilst Meg was in the car to dash into town for some bars of soap. We hd a supply which seemed to last for ages but eventually suppplies run out and need to be replenished. I bought three different varieties which ought to last for a month or so. Incidentally, I seem to have heard or read somewhere that sales of soap are absolutely booming- in these straightened times, I think that people have realised that shower gels and cremes are actually pretty expensive to consume and good old fashioned soap is a much cheaper alternative, despite the scum that is left behind. The most innovative use of soap in my experience came from washing dishes at the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate at which I started to work part-time when I was about 14 or 15. All of the regular dishes went into the dishwashing machine in which you inserted a plate between two revolving brushes and used your fingers to let you know whether all of the residues (egg being the worst) had been safely removed. Having been washed and put into wooden racks, the dishes were lowered into a huge vat of water kept almost at boiling point by virtue of a steam tht was bubbled in at the bottom. After about ten or twenty seconds or so of this,then the woooden rack was removed and the plates being so hot, dried themselves within a few seconds. But irregular items such as vegetable dishes had to be washed in huge deep wooden sinks. The detergent used in this case was large blocks of green soap (plentiful in the 1950’s I assure you) inserted into a large fruit can that had several holes puctured in the bottom and which was hung over the hot water tap with a piece of string. This was a surprising effective and cheap system and seemed to have been tried and tested over the years. Incidentally, our rate of pay in spring, 1960 when I started, was 2s 6d an hour (12.5 pence) – our wages were actually cut to 2s 3d an hour and we all came out on strike (most unprecedented for hotel workers in Harrogate in that time period) but were promptly put back to 2s 6d within an hour or so. Whilst in Waitrose, one of the members of staff who knows Meg well (we are their oldest ccustomers at this store) gave Meg a beautiful bunch of red roses to help us on our way. When we got home, I spent a few mintues of time watching the Politics programme covering the SNP conference in Scotland before I started coking our normal Tuesday lunch of fishcakes and quickly microwaved steam-in-the-bag vegetables.

It was a beautiful afternoon and I thought that this was a good opportunity to get the lawns cut because the weather forecast is not good for the next day or so and the grass is getting longer and longer. I now divide the cutting of the large green communal area into two 20 minutes tranches and this worked out fine. I installed Meg in front of the TV and a repeat of an episode of ‘Outnumbered’ and this covered the first 20 minute tranche successfully. I then came in and had a quick cup of tea and found on YouTube (or rather it was selected for us) a peace concert given by Daniel Barenboim and his West-Eastern Divan orchestra. The aim of the West–Eastern Divan Orchestra is to promote understanding between Israelis and Palestinians and pave the way for a peaceful and fair solution of the Arab–Israeli conflict. This particular concert was broadcast from Geneva and in at least one of the pieces, Barenboim is both playing a Beethoven piano concerto and conducting the orchestra from the piano (not uncommon in the fairly distant past) Meg really enjoyed this concert and I would have dearly liked to have listened to it if I had been engaged in grass-cutting duties.