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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

An Unlikely Cure For Sciatica - Falling Out Of A Skip

I had been suffering from sciatica for years. The pain, emanating from my lower back and travelling down my right leg, invariably occurred when I mowed the lawn. It must have been something to do with the way I stood and bent slightly. Sometimes the pain was severe and sometimes it was not there at all. 

I am continuing my stories of my painting and decorating days.  My first two stories described two very unusual and weird characters and I am pleased they seem to have amused you. Last week I said I would write about my first encounter with Miss C.  I will do so next time but to have a break from her today another amusing story springs to mind. 

Chris and I were asked to remove a large hedge and erect a fence.  We were 'Jacks Of All Trades' so we did not mind doing something a little different from Painting and Decorating.  In fact the previous year for these customers we converted a flat garage roof to a pitched tiled roof.  Our customers were delighted with the roof, I am pleased to say.

This time we had to remove a large amount of vegetation so we hired a large skip and because their house was at the end of a Cull-De-Sac we asked the driver to unload the skip right at the end as near to the pavement as possible.  The problem was that there was rampant vegetation from another overgrown hedge in 'no-man's land' and this almost obliterated our view of the curb.  Looking closer through the vegetation the skip was about a foot from the curb which was OK so it was unloaded there.

That's my boy!! Park it by the bushes at the end of the Cull-De-Sac. 
(Actually our skip was much bigger than this one.)

 Hey, and Mr Skip! Listen! Whatever you do, don't do this!!!

Chris and I started work and the hedge was soon half demolished and we started to load the skip. We had to condense the branches as much as possible thus making the most of the volume available to us, and we did this by climbing into the skip and jumping up and down on the hedge cuttings.  Things were proceeding quite nicely - we managed to compress the branches a lot, so it looked as though we would get it all in the skip.

Then the daughter arrived in her RAVA car, an expensive 4x4, and boy, she was 'Rava' nice herself - I suppose she might have been about 30 and both Chris and I could tell she 'turned heads' LOL. Like her car we had imagined she might be rather expensive 'to run' and we imagined she would not be satisfied with half a pint of  chandy.  We had met Mrs Lush, as I shall call her, several times and she always made us a nice cup of tea.  Well on this occasion I was distracted because I was having a 'little peep' at her while I was jumping up and down, and boy, I was suddenly aware that it was taking much longer than I expected to make contact with the hedge cuttings.  I was then aware of falling into a hedge and making a hard landing on the pavement curb stone.  I had landed on my coccyx with a resounding "bump".  Newton's Law can be quite unkind sometimes, paticularly since I am a fairly big chap and weigh about 15 stones (210 lbs).  I know, I know, I should be on a diet but it is all these wonderful foodie blogs I visit - I stand no chance! Anyway, back to the story,  I was aware of the daughter shouting to Chris with concern in her voice, "Quick Chris, Eddie's disappeared into the bushes and suddenly vanished! He was jumping up and down in the skip and now he's gone!"  (I'm roaring with laughter as I write this - she must have thought I was a complete 'nutter'. LOL). "Get on with the story, Eddie!" "ok"

Surprisingly I did not feel too bad, considering I must have fallen at least 3-4 feet and landed very hard on my . . . er . . . . posterior. Really I should by rights have sustained a nasty injury, but I was extremely lucky.  Chris and the mother rushed over to investigate where I was - they could not see me at this stage!!  Eventually they found me and asked if I was alright. I could move my legs, I felt a bit bruised but managed to crawl out sideways on my hands and knees.  The mother said, "You look as though you have been pulled through a hedge backwards!" and, being a qualified nurse, she insisted I pulled my trousers down so she could see the extent of my injuries. She pronounced that I had a few cuts, which she cleaned and plastered.  I was bruised as well but fortunately managed to stand up and walk about normally. She asked me what had happened and, laughing, I said I was admiring her daughter and missed the front of the skip and landed on my backside!  "That will learn you!", she said, wagging her finger at me. We were all laughing our heads of, including Mrs Lush when she found out I was OK and promptly made me a cup of tea.  I said, "Thank you! The lengths I have to go to to get a cup of tea!" She fell about laughing when she learned the full extent of the story and then. . . . she winked at me!

Well, this will confound all medical theory because from that day to this I have NEVER had a re-occurrence of sciatica.  I guess I was lucky - it must have knocked something back in place thus relieving compression on the sciatic nerve - a sort of mega chiropractor treatment.  I think I might have got the injury years before when I was cross country running.  I jumped over a gate but my leading right foot caught the top and I crashed to the ground.  The jarring might have knocked something out of place. However, I would not recommend going to all these lengths of falling out of a skip as a cure LOL.

Next time we return to our first encounter with Miss C.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Decorating For A Very Weird Miss - Have To Read It To Believe It

 I haven't got a photo of me 'tearing my hair out', which would be entirely appropriate for this post, so I am using this to illustrate my Painting and Decorating stories. I am working on the photo LOL.

Welcome to part two of Down Memory Lane.
Last time I started recalling some of my hilarious Painting and Decorating experiences. Very frustrating at the time but they always get a laugh and Chris and I shall always remember them. Last week we met a very weird regional bank manager who was seeking perfection in this very imperfect world.  Since that post a flood of other experiences have surfaced from my aging memory banks of my cerebellum, so I thought I had better chronicle them before I lose many more grey matter cells.  For those who missed last week if you want a laugh have a look see, but come back to this after because this character is something else. LOL

This time I am introducing a lady who was in her mid 70s when we worked for her on three occasions. She is a rather small and fragile lady, very intelligent and she possesses some very strange mannerisms. She speaks with a very pronounced and rather posh British accent, so you can imagine what she sounds like when you get to the dialogue. She was a typical boffin and worked for some sort of government office and had a very good job we imagined plus a good pension. She is still alive and I see her sometimes in my local travels but I always try to avoid her if I can because, boy, she just talks the hind legs off a donkey and once she 'grabs' you  it is VERY difficult to get away from her.  I suppose she must be 85 now.  I shall call her Miss C. She is a spinster and a retired scientific geographer . . . . . and she is absolutely weird . . . . it is totally understandable why she was and always has been . . . .  a Miss. She is quite a character and deserves two posts I think.  First, I am recalling our last job Chris and I did for her about 10 years ago.  I shall post our first encounter next time.

By this time we knew Miss C quite well and were used to her rather strange behaviour. This time our objective was to decorate her lounge/diner and, boy, what a logistics operation that turned out to be. Our initial brief was to paint her windows, comprising two outward openers and a vent opener with the specific request NOT to open the windows and to use paint which had no odour whatsoever, since her sinuses might be affected adversely. LOL.  I looked at Chris and we tried hard not to laugh.  I said this might present a problem because not all the window surfaces would be painted if we did as she asked.  She replied that she NEVER opened the windows since she did not like fresh air as it adversely affected her lungs and it would be OK if we painted round the surfaces.  Chris said the windows might become stuck if we did that to which she replied that this did not matter as they would NEVER be opened again. We told her that modern day paints were relatively odour free and we usually did an undercoat and a top coat. "Oh don't do that!", she said, "I could not bear the smell of paint for two days instead of one! Wait until I go out to the shops and could one of you paint using one coat gloss while the other follows with my hair drier to make it dry quicker?"  We knew from past experience it was futile to argue with her and much as we detested using that awful one coat gloss paint since it is absolutely no good at all, we agreed. The net curtains were dreadful.  I think they had been there unwashed since she moved in sometime during the1970s.

Now to part 2 of the brief!!  She requested that since there was so many books and belongings in both rooms, could we decorate in two halves so it would be easier to move things about.  We had to wallpaper as well as paint the woodwork and we could see it was going to be a logistical nightmare. We looked around and thought, what a load of junk!!  In fact there were books and scientific papers scattered all over the place, including a huge print out of raw data she used for her Ph.D in the 60's. This was dated from the early days of main frame computers.  Boy, it was still there on the floor, two foot high and gathering dust. I bet she never even looks at it.

We started in the dining area and managed to clear all the books and the dust was dreadful. We thoroughly cleaned everything and washed it all down and when it had dried we started rubbing down the woodwork, as we normally do, to provide a good 'key' for the paint. "What ARE you doing? You are creating loads of dust which is affecting my sinuses!". We answered that we were just giving it a light rub down and we would vacuum it as soon as we have finished. "Kindly STOP this NOW! I cannot breathe!".  I pointed out that we had dealt with a vast amount of dust when cleaning the books and book case.  "That is different!", she said, "that is MY dust which is OK but I cannot tolerate YOUR dust!".

I whispered to Chris, "Boy, what the hell have we got here!"
He said, "Put the kettle on Miss C and while you are doing it we shall vacuum up and the dust will be gone."

"Boy, what the heck do we do now?" we thought.

We asked her if she had any shopping to do and she said, "Yes". We said, "Why don't you do it NOW so we can get this over and done with?"   She said, "Yes, on the proviso that one of you uses my hair drier to make that invasive odour dry more quickly!  It is repugnant and irritating to my eyes, nose and throat.  I shall have to dose myself with throat lozenges."

"Should I open the window to let some more air in? That might dilute the smell for you . . . . and while we are at it we could paint all the window surfaces for you! They should be dry by morning!", I said.

"I am declining your suggestion on two counts", she replied, " First there would be a security problem with windows being open all night, and second as I mentioned before I do not like fresh air!"

"But you have been outside sitting in it for 2 hours this afternoon", I said, "Remember, you actually returned to say you felt better!"

"Now look - I like fresh air when I want and I also dislike fresh air when I want - kindly acceded to my wishes and directives!"

We thought, "Why doesn't she talk properly?" . . . . and, "Which century does she spring from?". . . . . but I still managed to reply, "Yes Miss C. We shall always strive to acquiesce!" (There! I know a few big words too! you silly bovine creature! LOL)

All through the job it was like banging our heads against a brick wall. This type of conversation continued, on and off, for days and the job actually took us three times as long as it should have to complete.  She wasn't cantankerous all the time, but she did waste a lot of our time as well because she just loved debating issues of the day, particularly scientific ones, and several times she kept us from our work for hours.  Honest we thought sometimes it would be quicker to read "The decline and fall of the Roman Empire" than to have coffee with her. She invited us to call her Hilary, which we did, but we had to be firm with her a few times about getting back to work.  Deep down she was quite a likeable person who always said she wanted to be invited onto the captain's table when she was on her twice yearly Mediterranean Cruises.  She never succeeded - I wonder why.

All things considered we were very pleased when the job was finished . . . . and yes, the windows were painted with the windows shut!  Oh! who cares!! I am sure no-one will ever know!  A new inhabitant would have them 'whipped out' and fit new UPVc double glazed replacements - hopefully buying through me!  Yes, I am an agent for a local company.

I'll explain some more of her funny antics and hang ups next time.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Down Memory Lane - My Painting and Decorating Days

Hi folks!!

A typical balancing act on a ladder!!

I ran my own Painting & Decorating business for 15 years and met quite a number of weird customers and consequently I have some funny stories. I keep saying I will chronicle some Ambulance stories from my later experiences . . . . and I will! . . . . but these will follow later.  Talking about following, I welcome all my new followers from various Blog Hops . . . and of course I also welcome my existing friends.  Talking of friends I stumbled on a very funny door mat when I was delivering my son's papers the other day - he sometimes is not able to do it!! . . . or won't LOL.  The doormat said, well it didn't actually say it, but it read,

Friends always welcome. Relations by appointment only

Well, it has a ring of truth in it, doesn't it?  But Eddie, you might be thinking, stop digressing and get on with the story!!!!

OK.  I worked with my friend Chris for the 15 years, on most jobs and on this particular occasion we started working for a Regional Bank Manager (Did I hear some "Boooos"?).  This job was a recommendation by a humble Branch Manager, one of his subordinates, who was highly pleased with the work we did for him and his wife.  Mr X, as I shall call him, was something else. (Funny all Mr X's seem a bit weird in my experience.) Anyway, the job was to decorate his landing, hall and stairwell, plus his front room.  He took us to one side right at the start and said he expected perfection and rarely got it, and would we guarantee that he would be 100% satisfied.. A bit of a tall order we thought but we suggested he would be pleased because we worked to a high standard. He said, "Come and look at this!", and highlighted a new wooden conservatory which he had recent had installed.  He said he was very dissatisfied with the installation and pointed at a roof beam, remarking that the joints were not very good and that he could see two pieces of wood instead of one.  I looked at Chris and he raised his eyebrows in unison with mine.  I could not help replying that there were actually two pieces of wood in that joint and it looked perfect to me.  Chris nodded in agreement. Disgruntled he said, "Well, it's not good enough!".

Anyway we proceeded to decorate the landing and he seemed satisfied with the standard of our preparation of the woodwork, the undercoating and gloss work, which took us a couple of days.

Next day we started papering and completed the first two quite complicated drops, involving ladders and scaffolding planks. Guess who worked aloft? You've got it!  We heard him cough behind us and he said, "Oh! dear, oh! dear, that will not do at all!".

We asked why.

He replied that he could see the join in the paper. Now we are pretty good wallpaper hangers and it looked OK to us but we obliged by adjusting it slightly.  Fortunately we were able to slide one drop a little to the left - ever so slightly and carefully.  

"I suppose that had better do!", he said, and seemed reluctantly satisfied with the remainder of our wall papering.

When we got to the lounge we had a lot of problems with him criticising our papering.  Honestly, it was a good job but this "psycho" seemed to belong on a different planet.  The fireplace wall was large, 30 feet by 8 feet high.  He said, "There are joins in the paper and I expected not to see any!  I wanted to see the pattern uninterrupted across the entire wall!".

I said the wall is very large and unfortunately we were unable to find ONE piece of paper large enough to do the entire wall . . . . and had we been able to, how did he suggest we might paste it and hang it!".

"Well, I want perfection!  I have a new house and what do I find?  No-one can do their job properly!  The plasterers made a real mess of things because some cracks appeared in the wall when it dried out.  Those idiots installing the conservatory were totally incompetent and . . . . . now you seem incapable of hanging paper to my satisfaction.  I expect perfection!"

I said, "Now look Mr X, I am afraid you will not get perfection this side of the grave  . . . . . but please rest assured the standard of our work is exceptional and that is why we obtain so many recommendations from satisfied customers."

This seemed to rock him a bit and he made a beeline for Chris and said, "You are not upset are you? I hope not . . . . . look into my eyes . . . . . look into my eyes . . . . . oh! I can see you are upset! . . . look into my eyes!"

The "weirdo", we thought in unison and tried hard to stop laughing.  We imagined him making people redundant at the bank and saying, "You are not upset are you? . . . . . look into my eyes! . . . look into my eyes"".  In fact if he wore a glass eye we might be tempted to look into that because, as the old bank manager jokes say, there may be a modicum of humanity in that one, unlike his natural one.

Anyway, eventually he seemed fairly pleased with it.  His wife was delighted and said to us when he was out, "Take no notice of him, he is a silly old fart!  He just loves to pick fault. It makes him happy!"

He paid us on the dot but we were very relieved to have him out of our hair.  We have never forgotten this experience and still have a laugh about it . . . . . often we say, "Look into my eyes! . . . you are not upset are you?".

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Blood Donation No 92!! Phew

It was time for me to visit Dracula's Castle again, as I do three times a year - this time for my 92nd blood donation.  I always say, "If  I make 100 then I will have a transfusion for a change." 

Up to that point the day had been quite uneventful - nothing to inspire a chapter in one's memoirs and I did all the preliminary things like answering the usual questions like, "If you are a man have you ever had sex with a man with or without a condom!" This question always elicits the same response of sheer revulsion every time I answer it, along with similar questions.  I can think of nothing in the whole universe I would hate to do more than this . . . but we all know the National Blood Transfusion Service have to ask these questions because of the tight controls necessary on HIV and trying to prevent spread of AIDS.  Similarly the questionnaire asked if I have ever had, or am descended from anyone who suffered from, CJD or "Mad Cow's Decease".  This unfortunate disease was rife 15 or so years ago in UK and for a while no-one dared eat beef.. The French in particular boycotted all our meat, including Lamb for ages and it affected our entire economy for years. Quite a number of unfortunate people contracted the decease which is not at all pleasant and invariably fatal.  Anyway,  with me declaring a definite no to all of these questions I was summoned into a room for an interview with a nurse who went through the questionnaire and proceeded to test my blood by pricking it with a needle and squeezing a drop into a green solution designed to test the iron content of my blood.  I have had only one failure during my donating life when the globulule floated but this time I watched it sink quite quickly to the bottom.  "OK! you're fine to donate!".

Another nurse escorted me to the donating area and I lay on the bed awaiting Count Dracula.  He was not there but the countess in the disguise of a doctor prepared my left arm for the dreaded needle after applying blood pressure to my upper arm.  When the needle is inserted in a vein it sometimes hurts a little, but more often than not all I ever experience is just a bit more than a prick. Some of my friends, all strapping great chaps, are terrified of needles, and have not the courage to come with me to donate blood. Anyway on this particular occasion she was very gentle with me - all I experienced was a slight prick and I said, "You can do it next time!", which elicited a smile.

Prior to this something new happened.  I was handed a card advising that to assist blood flow during donation it is recommended that we should crimp our buttocks on and off for the entire period.  I laughed myself silly at this and so did the nurse who said it always caused amusement.  As a joke I proceeded to ask, "Which ones, Gluteus Maximus, Gletueus Medius or Gluteus Minimus?" and continued that I had not the foggiest idea how to voluntarily control either of them!".  She howled with laughter.  Oh dear, Eddie strike again!  She said "Forget it, just pump your hand as normal!".

During the donation I noticed a lady next to me and a gent on the other side, all donating.  She looked at me and laughed and asked, "Forgive me for asking but I am wondering, can you do it? "No, haven't a clue!", I said and laughed out loud. "Neither can I, but I'm trying", said the chap in the next bed and he must have tried too hard because he promptly broke wind.  We were in hysterics. The nurse remarked that she regretted the day that this ridiculous card was issued as it invariably was responsible for causing a great deal of embarrassment.  I can see her point. Oh well, I suppose it gave us something to laugh about . . . . and material for my blog.  As a parting shot I did ask her if there was anything else I should practice before my next donation.  Good job she had a good sense of humour.

Normality returned, the donation was completed and a nice cup of hot coffee and biscuits were my reward.  I do it all again in September. Until then, my friends at the transfusion service.  You all do a great job.

Oh and by the way . . . . . can ayone out there do it?

"Do what?"

"Err . . . . . you hnow!" LOL