Maybe I’m the Mystery Shopper of Life, doomed to walk the highways and byways we all tread, but with a bit of a twist, or a slight sting in the tail. Days unravel in many ways. Do you ever have a day where you feel if it was a film you could accept it more easily? A day when you could ‘harrumph’ your way through it as soon as walk down the road? A day when you are merely a player and have no control of the script?
It wasn’t just the consultant at the hospital shaking hands with me while still holding his ballpoint pen. Of course that didn’t help to start the day feeling normal. I asked him ‘Is there any significance in the way you shook my hand while still holding your ballpoint pen?’ He looked perplexed. We were there to talk about my oesophagus and he obviously thought this was a trick question. Handshake? Ballpoint pen?
In my mind I felt a surgeon who’s not aware he’s still holding a pen in his hand when he shakes mine might be just the person to leave a pair of scissors, four needles and a few clamps in my gut and look perplexed when after a few weeks of rattling around doing no good at all they show up on the x-ray. Scissors? Clamps? Needles? Who me?
From the worry of Pen-in-hand-land I drove to the warm soft seductive Sainsbury’s with its lovely offers and gleaming cleanness. I emerged unscathed with a minimum of shopping, not one item on special offer and no buy-two-for-one gimmicks. The plastic bags went in the back of the car, the coat came off and joined the shopping on the back seat, this day was warming up.
Automatic window goes down for a cooling draught, window shudders up again and then down from its own volition. Wind whistles past head building to crescendo, shopping bags and jacket on back seat lifting up from gusts. The car’s just been fixed and garage what done the deed is but a roundabout or two away. Windows go up and windows go down, all on their ownio.
Eardrum is wind blasted and all sense swept from right side of face plus right hand. Sainsbury’s bags now resembling Ha-hoos from the Night Garden. Miss my roundabout as wind-whipped face now affecting my powers of navigation. I know the garage is near Knaresborough, so why not go for a spin with the howling gales right round Knaresborough instead of taking that little turn left into the garage forecourt just before you get to the roundabout?
Windows go up and windows come down. Sometimes they glide and sometimes they shudder. Ballpoint pens jabbed into hand seem more agreeable to me at this stage than windows with a mind of their own. I finally park in front of the garage and the windows miraculously close and even when I’ve glared at them through narrowed eyes, stay shut. The garage laughs and books the car for a good talking-to on Thursday.
After a lunch of is-it-me or is there something funny about this doggone day? I tackle my broadband account. O woe is me, click-click ring-ring friendly voice we both speak English but do we? Is it me? Why is it called a helpline? After many a long click-click ring-ring round of phone calls, after an afternoon of talking to random people in this and that random department who know the right answers if only I could ask them what they know already, but I want to know what I want to know and it isn’t helpful to be transferred and start again and again and again, password place of birth date of birth post code first line of address, a saint would get tetchy let me tell you, o great helpline of all helplines!
I will try from now on to ask only questions that they can answer. It isn’t actually a helpline in the traditional sense of helping people. Not many left of those, come to think of it. They’re all pretty much the same nowadays, more like Chinese whispers, lines of technical gobbledegook and polite reassurance.
That was my yesterday and now this is my today. I sit and write and think and wonder at that doggone day. I realise there’s nothing I can do but accept with a laugh the numerical probability that unplanned events will occur in the randomly ordered plan of life.