Crazy Tales

Short tales, usually of woe or stupidity, involving one (usually me) or more members of the Patras family.

Jeepers Creepers

SOUTH AFRICA, Sunday 14th Feb 2010

You’ve heard of something being as interesting as watching grass grow?

One Thursday evening Leon came round for supper.  While we were waiting for the roast, we decided to have a game of cards.

Waiting for him out on the patio, whilst he was buggering about with something inside, I was sitting looking at nothing in particular, when I thought I saw a slight movement – of a plant.

Now you might ask, “What’s so unusual in that?  They are not exactly solid as concrete or contained in a hermetically sealed, breeze-free tank, but grow wild and rampant in your garden.”

Ah, Yes.  BUT it was a totally windless evening.  Not the slightest hint of even a breath of wind was to be felt.

Then, you might remark “There must have been an insect or even a very small lizard crawling up it’s nether regions.”  But “No”, I would reply, “I checked all over and around it”.  There were no foreign bodies to be found lurking anywhere upon it.

It was moving entirely by itself.

SH!T, I thought, the Triffids have landed.

Actually it was the tendril of a Morning Glory plant which has chosen to infiltrate the bougainvillea bush just outside my patio.  This particular tendril had grown its way around the white, plastered pillar which supports my patio roof, so it was all on its little ownsome, and thus clearly definable.

About 30cm (or about a foot to the unmetricised) of tendril leant against the pillar.  Until it started to move – away from the pillar towards where I was seated on the patio.

I rubbed my eyes and looked again, but as I stared at it, sure as eggs is eggs and the Pope’s a Catholic, I could physically see it growing.

I thought “Sod me”, or words to that effect, and after checking it out for a few more minutes, called Leon to come and witness this amazing phenomenon, cos even surer than eggs is eggs and the Pope’s a German (at the time of the incident) Catholic, no-one would believe me if I told them about this, without having a witness.

I said to him,

“Leon, just stand perfectly still and watch that plant, and tell me if you can see anything unusual about it.”  After less than a minutes, he said “Bloody Hell, it’s MOVING”.

We continued to watch until after about seven or eight minutes the end of the tendril had moved a couple of inches away from the pillar.

I went and called Ziggy to see it too, but in his own particular idiom he told me to go away.

Leon and I were transfixed by this marvel and only when it was too dark, did we realise that we should have been videoing this close encounter with nature.  But I did manage to take a couple of photos showing its progress.

When I first saw it, the tendril was flat up against, and halfway across, the pillar, as in photo 1.  It then started to move towards me until it was eventually about six inches away from the wall (photos 2 & 3).

In the final picture it had turned and was making its way back to where it had originally come from.


Creeper 1


Creeper 2


Creeper 3


Creeper 4

By this time we had realised that it wasn’t so much ‘growing’ as moving round.  Spookyyyy.

But to watch it in action was like seeing one of those documentary programs where they speed up the film.   Albeit this was somewhat slower, but it was LIVE.

Watching grass grow definitely has nothing on watching a creeper creep!


A Day at the Dentist

Today I spent two and a half hours in the dentist’s chair. I won’t say the obvious, like “I hate going to the dentist” because that is a pretty stupid statement. I have yet to meet anyone who actually enjoys going to the dentist.

But I had been dreading this visit more than usual because of the knowledge that he was going to remove not only a molar and replace it with an implant, but he was also going to remove a wisdom tooth which had not very wisely appeared next to it.

I personally didn’t see why the wisdom tooth needed to be removed as it wasn’t giving me any trouble. On the contrary I had been using it to eat with in the absence of external structure on the other molar, which finished at gum level. Which is another reason I was unhappy about the upcoming procedure. The dentist had nothing for his pliers to grip onto to pull it out.

But I was told that these not-so-little wisdom teeth can actually become quite a nuisance as they grow bigger as they can start to take over your mouth, which is another unwise thing to do in my opinion.

The dentist had already told me during the initial consultation that the nerve was running very close to the root of the wisdom tooth. I think he was hoping I would have had forgotten that little snippet when I visited today, which was hardly likely since the x-ray of my lower gnashers, strongly featuring the route of the nerve, was displayed on a screen not 14 inches from my face.

I was assured that I need not worry, as he would be giving me several strategically placed anaesthetics to numb any pain. That was reassuring. I closed my eyes as he reached for the first needle.

To be fair, he had swabbed my gums with some numbing substance to ease the pain of giving me the pain-reliever but I could still feel the liquid emerging inside my gum. Then he started to tap and poke and scrape around, as they do. After a couple of minutes he said
“I’m afraid you will feel some discomfort during the procedure. But if you actually feel any pain, like I’ve touched the nerve, just raise your left hand.”

Too bloody right I shall, I thought, all fisted up straight into your face!

Half an hour or more had passed when he let out a sigh and said,
“I’m afraid I’m having a bit of trouble with this back one, the root seems to have fused to the bone.”


Since a circular saw wouldn’t quite fit in my mouth he resorted to an angle-grinder, at least that’s what it felt like, to separate the two elements. It wasn’t easy. Nor was it pleasant.

I think my dentist spends his leisure time on archaeological digs, because that’s what it felt like, except thinking about it, when I’ve seen those being performed on television they looked a lot more delicate.

He eventually completed his quest and then started work on the implant. I’d really had enough by now. Couldn’t he do that another day? Apparently not. So he got out a different tool box, the contents of which he spread out on the bib which covered my boobs and commenced whatever procedures one does for the installation of a metal post in my mouth. At least he tried to.

I caught sight of something which looked like an expanding bolt on the end of a small electric screwdriver, which he appeared to want to install in my gum, asking me to ‘open wide – as much as you can’. You’ll be delighted to know that I cannot describe the procedure because whatever the contraption was that he was trying to use,  it didn’t want to work. He stamped on the control pedal – nothing.

His assistant disappeared somewhere in another room but seemed unable to solve the problem. Within a few minutes we had what seemed to be half the staff of the dental clinic crammed into the room behind me trying to get this fancy piece of dental machinery working. They eventually got it to make a whirring noise, but as soon he got the screwdriver to within two inches of my gaping mouth it would stop.

The remaining half of the staff, including the cleaner, also had a shot at getting it to work but they eventually admitted defeat. The dentist said that instead of screwing in a post he would do a bone graft, at no extra charge. I had no idea what he was talking about and frankly didn’t give a toss so long as it meant that I would be out of this bloody chair as quickly as possible.

As I sat back and waited for him to finish I thought I felt a spider crawling across my face. It turned out to be the thread he was using to stitch up the gaping wound which had been opened in my gum to facilitate the extraction of the molar. I started counting as he stitched and got as far as four when I realised I could feel the needle going into one bit of flesh, then the other, before being knotted up. I hasten to add that it didn’t hurt, as such, but the fact that I could actually feel it was bad enough.  Urgh! It’s making me shudder just thinking about it!

As he moved further and further back with stitches six and seven it got more and more tender, and higher, and began to wonder if his needle was going to come out through my ear!

Having declared the job finished, he got a wad of antiseptic-soaked gauze, wedged it at the back of my mouth and told me to bite on it, softly. For an HOUR.

I was then ushered through to the reception area to be given instructions on antibiotics and pain killers, foods and drinks to avoid – I could only have soft, cold food for THREE DAYS. Yippee, an elongated Ice Cream Party.

Then I had to pay. Yes, PAY – for two and a half hours of pain and torture! Of course the receptionist continued to ask me questions, which I vainly tried to answer through closed teeth.

By the time I’d spent the rest of my allotted hour at home, trying to explain to Ziggy what had happened, I was getting so good at talking through my teeth I think I’m going to have a shot at ventriloquism as my next hobby.

The End.

The Pain of Paperless

A paperless society is fast taking over in many spheres of life, but especially in the world of Insurance.  No forms in an envelope delivered in the post.  No filling them in, taking copies then posting the originals back – in another envelope, with a stamp.  I’m all for saving trees and our planet but living in a paperless society comes at a price.  – – – – SANITY.   In this regard I do hope you will excuse the somewhat sarcastic tone which developed.

This wondrous conversation took place just before we decided to leave South Africa to live in Spain.

“Good morning.  Telcare Claims Centre, Mbali speaking, how may I assist you?”

“Good morning Mbali, I would like to make a claim against my policy, for damage to my car.”

“May I have your policy number please?”

“Yes, it’s AG718718712.”

“I now have all your personal and policy details on my screen.  What is the nature of your claim, Mrs Patras?”

“Someone scraped my car when I was parked at the international airport.”

“I need to advise you Mrs Patras, that we do not issue written claim forms, all information is taken from you telephonically.  This conversation is being recorded and you are reminded that any false information given may invalidate your claim.”

“Yes, I understand that. No problem.”

“I will need to take some particulars of the accident.  Can you tell me what happened?”

“I was parked in the short term parking lot at the airport and someone scratched my offside rear door whilst I was inside the terminal building waiting for my passenger.  I only noticed the damage after I arrived home.”

“Were you able to drive the car after the accident?”

(????)  “Yes.  That is how I got home.”

“Where did the accident happen?”

“I told you, at the international airport.   O R Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg.”

“What street it that on?”

“Given the size of the place, quite a few I would imagine.  But I don’t know offhand.  Would you like me to look it up for you in my road atlas?”

“No, I’m sure our office will have the details.  When did this occur Mrs Patras?”

“On Monday 22nd November some time between 05:25 and 07:55am.”

“But you don’t know exactly what time this happened?”

“No, I was inside the airport building.”

“What was the lighting like?”

“Fluorescent I would imagine, like in most big buildings.  It was quite nice actually.  They’ve done a really good job of improving the new International Arrivals Hall.”

“I meant outside where the accident happened Mrs Patras.”

“Well, normal daylight.  You know, like you get on a summer’s morning.”

“Was it raining?”


“Did you brake?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Did you brake when the collision occurred?”

“I told you, the car was parked.”

“Were you using indicators?”

“I wasn’t even inside the car.”

“Were there any witnesses?”

“I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t there.”

“You weren’t there?  Where were you?”

“In the International Arrivals Hall, you know, the new one with the nice lighting!”

“Was anyone injured?”

“I bloody well hope so.  I hope the bastard who scraped my car split his bloody head open on impact!”

“This conversation is being recorded.”

“Good, otherwise I doubt anyone would believe this.  I really hope someone gets to listen to it.”

“Did you report the accident to the police?”

“Why the hell should I waste my time doing that?”

“It is a requirement if anyone is injured.”

“But no-one was  injured – to the best of my knowledge.”

“But you said someone had split their head open.”

“No,  I said “I wished they had”.  And as there weren’t any half-dead people lying around when I got back to my car – and more’s the pity – I can only assume the offending party left unscathed.”

“Did you get the name of the other party?”

“No, it must have slipped his – or her – mind to leave me a nice little note with name and insurance details on it after they’d stuffed-up my car.”

“So there was more than one car involved in the accident?”

“Yes.  Mine and someone else’s.”

“But did two cars hit your car Mrs Patras?”

“I wouldn’t have thought so.  What makes you ask that?”

“Well, you said ‘they’ Mrs Patras.”

“It was a figure of speech Mbali.  I was merely referring to ‘the person’ who stuffed-up my car.”

“Do you have any other information about the accident?”

“Yes.  It was a blue vehicle that caused the damage.”

“What make was it?”

“Now let me think.   Which manufacturer makes blue cars?  Well I guess that could be just about any make – apart from possibly a Ferrari.  It wasn’t hit by a Ferrari.”

“How do you know that?”

“Well I can’t say I’ve ever seen a blue Ferrari.  Anyway, the scratch is too high up on the door.”

“But how do you know it was a blue car Mrs Patras.  You said you weren’t there.”

“Because my silver Audi didn’t have a long blue scratch on the offside rear door before I parked it.”

“Will you be making a claim from the other party?”

“Are you sure this conversation is being recorded?”


“And could you please spell your name?”

“M-B-A-L-I.  Why Mrs Patras?”

“Oh, I just want to make sure the person listening to this recording has ALL the information here.”

“I need to advise you Mrs Patras that your excess on this claim will be R3000.”

“Why R3000?  My policy says R2500.”

“Yes, but there is an additional R500 excess if you claim against the policy within the first year of it being issued.  And you will also lose your no-claims-bonus status.”

“Right.  I see.”

“You will need to take your car to one of our Assessors for damage authentication.”

‘Where is the nearest Assessor to Fourways?’

“Let me see.  Ah, there is one in Benoni.”

“Do you know where Benoni is in relation to Fourways Mbali?”

“No, I don’t drive.”

“Ah, I rather thought you wouldn’t.  Well Mbali, for future reference with your clients, I can tell you that Benoni is about as far away from Fourways as you could ever possibly get without leaving the vast boundaries of Johannesburg.  Do you have anywhere a little closer?  New York, Sydney, San Francisco, or Randburg perhaps?”

“I can get you an appointment in Randburg at 7:30am tomorrow.”

“That’s most kind of you.  I just love being in rush-hour traffic.  Do you possibly have any time a little later?”


“Thank you, that would be far more preferable.”

“Thank you for calling Telsure Mrs Patras, I will now process your claim.   Is there anything else at all that I can help you with today?”

“The actual physical address of the Assessor would be useful.”

“Oh, it’s 2112 Braam Fischer Avenue Mrs Patras.  Would you like me to give you directions?”

“Oh, I don’t think so Mbali.  I REALLY don’t think so.”

“Thank you Mrs Patras.  I hope you enjoy the rest of your day.”

“Thank you Mbali, I will try, but I’m sure it won’t be anywhere near as entertaining as it has been so far.  Goodbye.”

“Goodbye Mrs Patras.”

The Most Expensive Dishwasher in Spain

Thanks to this book writing business I have just acquired the most expensive dishwasher in Spain.

It is my husband’s fault, of course.

After the release of my first book I received precise and very bossy instructions from my publisher to “get stuck straight into writing the sequel”.

The previous couple of months had been spent editing and proofing, and drawing silly illustrations for Into Africa, so I was somewhat out of the groove with the actual writing bit.  I needed to concentrate, with no unnecessary distractions.

Washing dishes was a distraction.

That is not strictly true.  It was the non-washing of dishes which was the distraction.

You see Ziggy – the husband – had said,

“Don’t you worry about the washing-up, dear author-wife of mine, I’ll make that my job.”

The trouble was there being only the two of us we didn’t dirty all that many dishes, especially in summer, so not much washing-up was needed.

“Easy for him then,” you would think.  But then you wouldn’t be thinking like Ziggy.

He didn’t like to ‘waste water’, so he accumulated enough dirty dishes until it was ‘worth filling the bowl’ which, of course, took a few days.  The fact that we had a 50 gallon tank of solar powered piping-hot water sitting unused on the roof seemed to have escaped his attention.

The sight of this molehill of crockery gradually growing into a mountain every time I ventured into the kitchen became such an irritation that I couldn’t concentrate on writing at all.

So I decided to buy a dishwasher.

First of all I had to figure out where I was going to put it, as our kitchen wasn’t exactly large.

After much mumbling and measuring I decided that between the cooker and the sink would be a good idea.  Unfortunately that space housed a cupboard filled with our variety of saucepans and fry-pans.  But I figured I could transfer those to the cupboard which, up until that point, stored the jugs, sieves, colanders and other culinary equipment.  All I needed to do was find another place for those.

Simple.  I would buy a new cupboard to mount on the wall, which could easily accommodate such lightweight items as sieves, etc.  Then I thought if I purchased three units to fill the entire space available I would also be able to spread out the load of other kitchen essentials which was currently crammed into cupboards tighter than passengers in a Ryanair 737 jet.

Before the new cupboards could be installed, however, it would be necessary to remove some water pipes from the walls which had become superfluous to requirements when we had removed the inefficient back-up electric water heater (for when there was no solar heated water after a couple of cloudy days).  I warned the plumber I would be requiring his services soon.

I measured the space which would be available after the removal of the saucepans cupboard and with my trusty tape-measure in hand, I trawled all the white-goods stores within a 20km radius of our casa to acquire the cheapest, half decent dishwasher I could find.

It transpired that the available space could only accommodate a slimline version, but that would be more than adequate for the amount of washing up we generated.  I got a good price – after I haggled – and arranged for its (free) delivery the following week.

The plumber duly arrived and cleared away all the unsightly pipage and installed a connection for the dishwasher.  I also managed to get Ziggy to contribute to the project by removing the hideous never-used-because-it-achieved-bugger-all cooker hood.  I, in turn, climbed into the sink and removed the blind fitted above the window so that it could be washed.

I climbed down, stood back and surveyed the scene.  What a bloody mess!

There were gaps in the wall tiling where the old water heater had been, as well as a row of tiles missing from where the cooker hood was removed.  What tiles were left appeared to have been installed by a one-armed blind man.

“Ziggy,” I announced, “this wall needs to be re-tiled!”  To which he agreed wholeheartedly.

So I contacted a friend, who had a friend who did building stuff and arranged for him to come and assess the job.  He was a Spanish gentleman who came highly recommended by my friend who said he worked for €80 a day, which I thought was quite reasonable.  He was free to commence the work, which he estimated would take him two days, so I hastened to buy wall tiles, adhesive and grouting mix.

We were quite impressed with the enthusiastic gusto with which he applied himself to the job, starting with removal of the old tiles using a pneumatic chisel.  Wearing a face mask and steel toecap boots, he disappeared into a cloud of brick dust which eventually settled on every surface, flat or otherwise, in the entire house.  At the end of the first day he left us with a partially tiled wall and without the use of the kitchen sink, which he’d had to remove to allow him access to the walls.  Nor could we operate the cooker which he’d temporarily relocated to almost block access into the lounge because, although plugged in, it didn’t want to work.   We assumed it had been switched off someplace we were unaware of.

Work continued fairly smoothly the following day.

He returned on the third day to finish off the grouting and I mentioned the inefficacy of the cooker.  This baffled him somewhat but after much chiselling, fiddling with wires and swearing in Spanish, after several hours he eventually got the cooker working.  As daylight began to fade he repositioned the sink and cupboards, some of which had been waiting patiently in the dining room, back to their designated spots.  He also installed the dishwasher which had been delivered during his activities.

Payment for his work was then due and I was quite surprised to find that his charges had increased by 25% to €100 a day but I accepted this, given the unexpected call on his plumbing and electrical skills.  Nonetheless, a jump from the estimated €160 to €300 did hit the wallet somewhat.

After he departed I turned to re-fill the saucepan cupboard, much of the contents of which he had stacked on the sink draining board and counter.  I had noticed a rather strong smell of cooking oil was permeating the area and soon discovered why.  I would appear that when he had moved the cupboard into the dining room he hadn’t emptied it, and on dragging it he must have caused the large chip pan, which had recently been filled with oil, to tip over.  Virtually every item that had been in the cupboard was now smeared or swamped in cooking oil.

After cleaning all the pans and re-stacking them in the cupboard – quicker to write than to do – I surveyed the remaining scene.  Despite having given him a number of old towels to protect the surfaces, he had managed to chip two holes in the counter top, but more worryingly he had irrepairably damaged two small areas where the counter met the wall when he had wrenched away an edging strip.  The counter top was going to have to be replaced!

Fortunately the company who had fitted the more recent of my kitchen cupboards was able to supply and fit the wall units I required, together with a new counter.

The washed blind was returned to the window and my new kitchen makeover looked spot on.  Furthermore, the dishwasher works like a dream.  But at what cost?

After I had cleared up the kitchen I had asked Ziggy to take the old towels, now on the floor, and put them in the washing machine in the laundry.  After they were washed I loaded the machine with some normal laundry.  On going to peg out both loads of washing on the line to dry I noticed a distinct smell of oil.  The towels all felt tacky and reeked of oil, as did one casual dress, three t-shirts, two pairs of shorts, a sweater and assorted underwear!  Unbeknown to me, the bloody builder must have used the towels to wipe the floor of all evidence of his oil spillage.

I threw the towels away but a second washing made little difference to the clothes and I soon realised that the inside of our washing machine must be coated in a thick layer of oil.  Running it three times on empty, with lots of soap on the hottest possible setting eventually cleared the oil slick.  The clothes, alas, were a lost cause.

So let us now tally up the damage.

Dishwasher                                        €235.00

Plumber                                              €  70.00

Materials for tiling                           €187.58

Labour for tiling                               €300.00

Cupboards and new counter         €434.00

Wrecked clothes, approx                €130.00


So the total cost of getting a dishwasher was –  €1,356.58

I think I’d better get stuck into writing that sequel.   PLEASE will you buy a copy – I need the money!


That’s When the Big Fight Started.

I wrote this a few years ago and posted it on a Writers’ website I belonged to at the time.    A thread on my favourite Facebook Group – We Love Memoirs – brought it back to mind today, so I thought I’d share it with you until I get around to posting something ‘proper’.  

As you might imagine I have been incredibly busy of late, with the release of Into Africa.  HAVE YOU BOUGHT YOUR COPY YET?

Anyway, here’s my little ditty.




Here is a story to be told, it happened to our Mummy.

She’s still quite cross about it all, but we thought it was funny.


Our Daddy had an accident, he nearly burnt the fryer

He put the pan outside to cool, but should have put it higher.


Next morning our dog King got up and thought it was his birthday

From head-in-pan his fur stuck up, like Mummy’s real bad-hair-day.


You see, he’d licked the pan all out and cos it was so greasy

His head and shoulders got oiled up – it wouldn’t come off easy.


Mum thought she’d better bath the dog but he was dead against it.

He leapt right out, jumped on her bed, and absolutely drenched it.


And then he ran into the yard and jumped amongst the flowers

Whilst Mummy stayed inside to clean  – she said it took her hours.


My brother said “Let’s go and play.” So off we went to Peter’s

His Mum was buying ice-cream cones and said that she would treat us.


I didn’t know my brother Tim had left our gate wide open

The dog came out to track us down, well that’s what he was hopin’.


‘Twas only some time later on, we noticed King was missing

Our neighbour said he’d seen him trotting past, when he was fishing.


With everyone out calling him, on bikes, in cars and trucks

We found him by the pig-farm road, all covered up in muck.


But by the time we all got home the day had turned to night.

When we walked in our Mum just screamed “My goodness, what a sight.”


What happened next was quite a scene, now Daddy’s broken hearted.

He said that Mum must bath the dog.  That’s when the big fight started.

Fried Fish and Sympathy

This little real-life tale emanates from when we lived in Fourways, a northern suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa several years ago.

I blamed the man with the weedkiller.

He had been to our house the day before to treat our lawn for an infestation of weeds and said that after 24 hours I should give the grass a good soaking in order for the muti (African = medicine) to do its work.

For once, the customary-for-the-season afternoon rain was like a policeman – never around when needed, so I’d had to put on the sprinkler.  A while later I went out to join my friends for a sun-downer at the pub.

I’d prepared supper before I went out as there was a program on tv later, a film based on one of my favourite books and I was looking forward to watching it. I returned home in time to finish off supper – except I didn’t fry hubbies fish because he wasn’t ready to eat.  As I sat avidly in front of the tv I could hear my old man bitching and moaning in the kitchen about having to fry off his own fish.  It wasn’t my fault he hadn’t wanted to eat at the same time as me, and it’s not as if he couldn’t cook.

But it clearly wasn’t my day.  Within the first fifteen minutes I realised that the film was totally unrecognisable as the book I had read.  I was dead peed off that they could bastardise my favourite book so.

As I switched off the tv I suddenly remembered the sprinkler.  I had forgotten to switch it off.  The ground must be well and truly soaked by now.

The tap to which the sprinkler hosepipe was attached stood against a wall just by the foot of our patio.  You could walk the long way round via some steps to access it, or climb down the three foot drop to the lower level flower(less) bed.  Months ago a stack of bricks had been put there to make the decent a little easier.  I felt in no mood for a hike around the garden, so decided on the quick route.

I knew something was wrong when I caught sight of my right knee at eye level whilst my left foot was still treading air. At that point gravity took over and the rest of me disappeared off the edge of the patio.  The trouble was it was dark.  And the stack of bricks weren’t exactly where I thought they were.  (Some bastard must have moved them when I wasn’t looking.)

The section of garden I was about to land in was only about three feet wide before it dropped away another few feet.  I decided to try and avoid descending to the next level, so put out my arm to break the fall.  I broke the fall alright.  I also broke my arm.

“Oh dear me, that hurts.” I said, or words to that effect.

I dusted myself down (with the good arm), turned off the sodding hosepipe and climbed back up the previously elusive bricks before making my way to the kitchen and him indoors.

As I walked towards him with tears in my eyes I extended my wobbly arm.

“I think there’s something wrong with this, don’t you?”

“Oh, you poor thing. What happened? Let me help.” OR NOT!  The sympathetic husband I had been hoping for turned his back on me and continued frying his fish.

‘Well.’  I thought.  ‘WELL !!’

“Well **** you too,” I said and stormed out.

I grabbed the newspaper, my cell phone and my handbag and went off in search of help.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to drive myself to the hospital so with the newspaper rolled up to form a splint to support my wrist, I phoned for an ambulance.

I stood outside my front gate for absolutely ages.   I could hear sirens wailing down the main road, several, intermittently in fact, but I thought ‘that won’t be for me’, ‘nor that’, ‘or that’. After half an hour one sounded particularly close and sure enough mine arrived, lights flashing and sirens wah-wahing.

“Which hospital would you like to go to, ma’am?” I was asked.  (We lived roughly half way between two large private hospitals.)

“Whichever one you would go to in similar circumstances.” I responded. With the blue lights and sirens back on, which I thought was a bit of overkill to be honest, they whisked me away to Sunninghill hospital, complimenting me on my makeshift splint before replacing it with an oversized toilet-roll middle.

I was quickly admitted into the amazingly quiet A&E and then after an interminable time was dispatched for Xrays, where they discovered I had fractured two bones in my wrist.

As I sat on a trolley, waiting for someone to come and fix my broken bits, I tried to phone home to let my dear husband know where I was, but there was no answer.  Neither was there a response when I called my son, who lived in the flat attached to our house.  My best friend – also nothing, she must have gone to bed early.

Eventually an orderly strolled up,

“We’re just trying to find a ward with bedspace for you my dear.” She said kindly.

“What do you mean, ‘bed space’?” I asked. “I can’t stay here all night, no-one knows where I am!  Just stick it in a cast and I’ll catch a taxi home.”

“Oh we can’t do that,” called out an intern studying my Xrays “your fractures need setting by an orthopaedic surgeon.”

I told them that I couldn’t stay.  My husband didn’t know where I was.  He’d be beside himself with worry if he woke in the morning and found that I wasn’t there.

But they wouldn’t listen

I tried yet again to phone home to explain my absence to my ever-loving but still got no reply.  Then my phone went dead. The battery was flat.

Supported by my toilet roll I abandoned the trolley and went in search of a cell phone charger.  I eventually tracked one down at the maternity reception desk, where they kindly put my Nokia on charge for me.  I then took a seat in the waiting area and tried to read a magazine. After half an hour (and two requests by nurses to go check into my ward)  I heard my phone ring.  Before I could make it to the desk, a nurse had answered it

“Sunninghill Maternity Unit, how can I help you?”

Realising what she’d done she quickly handed the phone to me.  It was my son.

“Mother, I know you’ve done some weird things in your time, but why are you in a Maternity Unit at this time of the night, excuse me, morning?”

“It’s a long story Leon.” I said

“Nine months long perchance?” he quipped.

“Don’t be cheaky!  You’re not too old you know….”*                                    *(to get a smack)

“No, but you are!” (te he he he)


“Sorry mother.  So tell me, mummy-dear, what are you doing there?

I told him.

“OK,” he said “that explains a lot. I fell asleep listening to music on my headphones.  Only just woke up and saw the missed call, so I went to the house to find out what you wanted but all the lights were off and it was locked up.  Good job I phoned you though.”

After a short discussion we arranged for him to collect me the next morning.

As I was discharged the hospital staff insisted in delivering me to the ‘patient loading area’ in a wheelchair, despite my protests that it was my arm which was broken, not my bloody legs.  I got some really strange looks from people as I then ran out to get into Leon’s car.

When we reached home at 11:30am I walked in to a somewhat surprised husband.  He hadn’t even noticed I was missing – he said he’d assumed I was sleeping in the spare room!!

I explained to the love of my life of some 28 years what had happened to me, and was over­whelmed by his sympathetic response.

“Pissed as usual I suppose,” was his only comment.  I wasn’t sure if he was referring to  himself or me!  So much for being “beside himself with worry”!

Malicious Clothing Stores

I decided to buy myself a pair of shorts.  Not short shorts, like the ones which show the edge of your knickers or half your bum, but short trousers.   Though not the sort that chain fashion stores call ‘pedal pushers’.  I can’t stand those.  They look like they’ve shrunk in the wash, or that you’ve inherited them from a short cousin.   I mean the ones which look like long trousers cut off at the knee, or just below the knee and you fold them up a bit so they don’t strangle your kneecaps when you sit down.  Let’s call them middles rather.

So one sunny, nearly Spring day in March I went shopping for a pair of middles.  I already had several pairs of middles, but unfortunately I think they recently all shrunk in the wash (oddly enough, only around the waist), leaving me with just two wearable pairs, a beige pair and an aquamarine pair.  Both very nice (I think) but when I wear the aquamarine pair I feel obliged to apply some rather stunning matching nail polish.  “That’s nice,” you may say.  And indeed it is, but rather distinctive, so I have to wear other clothes in aquamarine for the following few days until I can get around to changing my nail polish colour.  And I don’t have that many other clothes in aquamarine.

So commenced the search for an additional pair of middles in a different colour.  I thought a nice bright blue or even lilac, as I have lots of tops and things – and nail polish – in those colours.

Off I trotted into town to invade the clothing stores.  A stroll around the ladies’ section of the first store revealed a couple of racks of middles.

What is it about clothes stores these days that makes them think ladies have the arms of an orang utan?  They place rails so high that in order to reach whatever’s hanging from them, you need a stepladder or a spring board, neither of which are readily available.

By relieving a more convenient coat-hanger of its garment I managed to jab at the higher rail, bringing almost its entire stock tumbling onto my head.  The only pair of blue middles left on the rail looked like they would be better placed in the camping section of the nearby Great Outdoors store.   Draping the surplus stock across a convenient shelf of t-shirts, I took a pair of the middles which were in my size, as well as the next size up to be on the safe side, and made my way to the fitting rooms.

I examined the first pair of middles.  They were minute.  I must have inadvertently picked up the wrong ones so moved onto the second pair.  Clearly the wrong label-size had been sewn into these.  No way could they have been a size 16, they were at least 4 inches too small for my waist. I collected all my bits and pieces and went back to the pile of middles still sitting on top of the t-shirts.  I concluded the store had a problem with their supplier, because all the size 16s I looked at appeared to be similarly undersized.  The only alternative was the Bell Tent pair of middles stubbornly hanging on the high rail, bearing a long strip of sticky tape with SIZE 20 emblazened all the way down the front of the left leg.

I decided I really didn’t care for that shade of blue anyway, so left the shop empty handed.

Alas, several stores later I was still empty handed. The only thing I acquired during my shopping trip, was the realisation that I seriously needed to go on a diet!