Tuesday, 27th October, 2020

[Day 225]

This morning our car was returned good and sound having sailed through its latest service and MOT. What was so innovative (for me) was that I received a video with the car mechanic having video-ed each of the tyres with the amount of tread chalked on, the suspension, the exhaust and other bits of the car’s underside (rather like an endoscopy for cars) All of this is no doubt enabled by the ease of taking a video clip complete with running commentary and putting on the web for owners to view, but it certainly is a worthwhile innovation as reassurance for car-owners. Do all the modern, well-equipped garages do this nowadays, I wonder?

The major news of the day, however, was the news that arrived overnight in our email that the wife of one of our closest friends in Hampshire had passed away earlier on in the day. This was not unexpected but nonetheless it always comes as quite a trauma to the grieving partner when the inevitable happens. I wrote what words of comfort I could but on these occasions I find it difficult not to sound trite. I made the suggestion that perhaps we could a have a memorial meal or a similar social gathering some time in the summer when we might all be able to travel to be with each other and commemorate the the life of our friend. Another Hampshire friend had emailed during the night suggesting that we Skype at 9.00 this morning, but when the appointed time came along, so an email arrived saying my friends could not access Skype as the internet was down (and his wife was not well either, manifesting the line from Shakespeare that ‘troubles come not singly like spies but in battalions’). So we will have to Skype and chat on another occasion when the time is a bit more propitious.

Our trip to the park was conducted through rather blustery and rainy conditions. We had to wipe our park bench down with the tea towel which we keep inner rucksack for such a purpose – needless to say, nobody else was actually sitting down as we were.On the way home. we had a rather strange encounter with a man who was visiting Bromsgrove who was visiting his brother who he had not seen for twenty-five years. We were informed, though, that this man’s ADHD was probably the result of his mother’s Narcissism which had itself manifested itself by his mother taking off with another man the day after his father died (you DO meet some people in the park!) On our way up the hill, we were pleased to have a pleasant snatched conversation with one of our friends who we had not seen for several days and we made commiserations with other as to how strange Christmas was going to be this year when particularly extended families could not get together as they normally did. As the weather was inclement, we were pleased to get home and to have the prospect of a good long post-prandial read before our next social interaction.

In the late afternoon, we Skyped another of our Hampshire friends and his wife, with whom we all share some Manchester affiliations. I regaled them with one or two of our Manchester University memories.One of these was my encounter with the Professor of Surgery at Manchester University, long since dead so I can refer to him as Professor Boyd. I had discovered a little lump in my neck and somehow (to this day I do not know how) I finished up in his office requesting that he remove the offending tissue. He readily agreed to this but his post-graduate students seemed to be in a state of some panic as I had not been properly prepped before the operation. I woke up an hour later and was discharged from hospital the following day, only to discover when the swelling had gone down that the good Professor had missed taking up my lump about an inch and a half. I went back to see him and he looked me straight in the eye and said ‘Just don’t worry about it – I’ve had a lump in my axilla for decades and it hasn’t caused any harm‘ So I did just as he suggested until we happened to meet again as he turned up on my ‘patch;’ when I was a Census enumerator of the 1971 census. The good professor used to throw some exotic dinner parties, all seated round the large dining table he had in his living room. These dinners were fabled, not least because Professor Boyd possessed a pet monkey who lived to swing from the chandeliers and regularly used to urinate in a line across the dinner table just as the guests were sitting down to their soup. I heard this story from several old hands who, when they complained to the Professor (‘Excuse me, Professor, but your monkey’s just pissed in my soup’) would be informed ‘Don’t worry – its well filtered and should be biologically pure!” Now have I heard the ‘Don’t worry about it’ epithet somewhere before, I wonder?