SECRETS Part 1
That day started like any other.
I was woken up by the trouble and strife stomping about none too quietly round my bedroom like she does most days – just to annoy me, I reckon. I didn’t rise to the bait like I do sometimes when my pain is particularly bad and I’ve not had much sleep; I just took my morning pills with a slurp of water, and stayed in bed till they began to take effect. Which, co-incidentally, happened to be just after she-who-must-be obeyed went downstairs.
It takes me a while to get going once I’m up. My condition – which-must-not-be-mentioned (but which is often referred to as BMD) means I have difficulty (an understatement!) with normal stuff like walking, climbing stairs, and holding things. I had the diagnosis some twenty years ago, though it had been coming on years before; as far back as school days I reckon, when I always had trouble keeping up with my mates, and was rubbish at sport. I can’t count the number of times I got the slipper for coming last at the cross country running. Yep, shipmates, every blooming time. Funny enough I remember when I was a kid my Dad remarked to Mum ‘that boy’s going to have trouble with his legs!’ At the time I thought ‘What does he know (silly old sod)’, but now I think ‘What DID he know?’
Anyway my muscles have got weaker since I was forced to retire a few years back, falling about all over the place and not even drunk! This means sometimes especially in the mornings after a good night’s sleep (or even a bad night’s sleep), she-who-will-remain-nameless has to help me get up, wash, and into my wheelchair, though mostly I manage to stay more or less on my feet for the day.
We did think about moving to a smaller house, maybe a bungalow if such a thing can still be found; but this is our family home where we’ve lived for most of our getting on towards 50 years of married life, brought up 2 girls here, and now with one little granddaughter and another on the way, the larger house and garden seems best for the extended family, so here we stay for the moment.
We moved here to the fens from SE London in 1976; it was easy to get a 3 bed council house, almost impossible to get back in The Smoke, and with 2 small daughters, and a couple of mates already living there and willing to help with the move, the decision was a no-brainer. We missed our family at friends back home, still do really, but the place had already changed so much even then, and now when we visit it’s like a foreign country.
Anyway, I’ve let my mind wander – another symptom of The Condition.
It’s been more than 15 years now since I had to give up work. Once the blasted Condition took hold, I was beginning to have dizzy spells and balance problems as well as the old jelly legs – and once the pains started to cloud my judgement – well, none of that is much of an asset for a bus driver.
Yep folks, I used to be a bus driver. Funny enough, that paid better than my old job as a Clerk in the Stock Exchange. I bet that’s not the case these days! Just think, I could have ended up one of the rich Bankers (with a W) who robbed and cheated the population of the country and got away with it! Sorry folks I didn’t mean to get political. But I’m not bitter; as I say that was the situation at the time, and I loved my job. Loved the passengers (one of them I actually DID love in my teenage years); and all the chit chat, the different vehicles, the clippies…. I really enjoyed the one-mans when they came in.
I’ve driven just about everything in my time; double decker London buses, single deckers, coaches, lorries, vans, cars - including a racing car. Not forgetting my lovely scooters back in my Mod days in the 60s. You should’ve seen all those long chrome mirrors shining in the sunlight as we rode round the smoke in our fur trimmed parkas on our way to fun and games at Brighton of a weekend! Them was the days. Shit hot it was. But that’s all in the history books now. And Quadraphenia. And I’m driving a different sort of scooter these days – along the pavement!
At first I managed to fill the days nicely; did up the house and kept the garden nice. I did (and still do) keep falling over; ‘er indoors did help me up at first, but she’s not so well herself these days and usually leaves me to it. She’s often out too, so there’s often no-one here for me to call for help. Except the dog. Our little dog Sheena became my best mate, accompanied me on walks over the fields and to the library. I think my Sheena saved my sanity and definitely helped my mobility, as I had to make them legs work for their living as she had to be exercised. She became something to get up for each day, someone to love; no strings. In fact she was something to go to sleep with eventually too, when the single adjustable hospital bed became necessary, and she-who-knows-all decided to move into the spare room, because my nightly tossing and turning as the-illness-which-shall-not be-named got worse kept her awake, she said.
I could still drive my car at first, and meet mates down the pub for a proper pint, or in Costas for a decent coffee; but over the years I have been trusting myself over shorter and easier distances as time went on, and I rely a lot on my good friends and family nowadays if I want to get anywhere.
So I have been spending a lot of time these last few years in my Man Cave as the girls call it; my own space with my music and my books, and most important of all, my computer. What a marvellous invention my pooter is! Hours of pleasure with not too much cost, and not a lot of interruptions from She-who-don’t-do-technology. If I do say so myself I have become a bit of a computer whizz since I’ve become less mobile, and though my painful stiffening fingers can make it hard and slow to type messages, I have joined various chat room and websites (not that sort - you’ve got dirty minds), and have re-acquainted myself with many old friends from my London days through the social media, as well as keeping up with the old chinas from my childhood even, who I have never lost touch with. I’ve even got a little fridge in there so I can have a cold one when the fancy takes me. Shouldn’t do it really with all my meds but sometimes needs must. Like when the Palace are up for the FA cup.
It was actually my relationship with my pooter that changed my life that remarkable day.