My ‘To Do’ list today included jobs that would be more difficult after an operation, like cleaning out the chickens. I put if off until the sun came out mid-morning, then scraped out the old litter, sprinkled liberal amounts of diatomaceous earth around the houses, caught and powdered Daisy, a pretty orange Friesian hen, who was dropping some feathers last night, and spread a new layer of hemp bedding on the floors and in the nest boxes. I also cleaned and refilled their drinkers and added some extra hardwood chippings to areas of the night run that were looking rather bare. All quite satisfying really. I took down Christmas cards that instead of sitting in a pile on the kitchen table for weeks I had actually strung up along the wall. The tree came down, decorations carefully put away for next year. I didn’t try a crib this year. Or last year come to that. I love cribs, and bought several, as they kept getting damaged. I used to try to get the children to help me set them up, as I’d enjoyed doing it as a child. I gave up a few years back when Jo took hold of baby Jesus and delightedly flung the fragile plaster figure down the stairs with a cry of ‘Yo Jesus!’ Or perhaps it was ‘Go Jesus!’ Either way, the effect was the same. I got the message and the crib has stayed in the attic ever since. I even managed to hang the holly wreath back on its hook on the far wall of the shed, which involved some precarious balancing on assorted piles of children’s toys and chicken equipment. I had noted when getting it out that the Styrofoam painted apples appeared to be going mouldy. I tried wiping the mould off, but the paint came off too, reminding me of a weeping Madonna statue. Hopefully an airing will have done it some good. I managed to finish clearing the attic rooms where Edgar and Isaac had been sleeping, ready for a good clean. The loo was completely blocked, again, although neither of them had thought to tell me. If bleach and repeated flushing doesn’t fix it I’ll call the plumber. We have had good value from our Homecare insurance, unblocking that loo alone. Just Jo’s room left to tidy and clean. At the moment all her clothes seem to be heaped on the floor, almost completely hiding the carpet.
About 4pm the hospital rang to tell me that my operation on Friday has been cancelled. I had anticipated this, as it was announced yesterday on the national news that the hospital had declared a state of emergency over Accident and Emergency admissions. This generally results in all non-urgent operations being cancelled. It has been rescheduled for the following week, but I won’t hold my breath. Something as simple as a day visit to hospital being rescheduled is like a stone being thrown into a still pond. The ripples are the many people affected by a change of plans. Work commitments that I had anticipated at the end of the month will need to be cancelled or changed, people lined up to help with animals and transport stood down. Each of them will have made arrangements to be here and those changes will also have repercussions. I need to remember my New Year’s resolution, that Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place. I decided to break my self-imposed tea-total de-tox, which had seemed sensible before a general anaesthetic. I was very pleased with myself for going three days without a drink, but another ten days of abstinence is a bit over the top. Tony and I trotted down to one of our local pubs for a beer and some food to celebrate our wedding anniversary and his birthday, which fall at the end of the week. We had assumed that celebrations would have to be put on hold.
When members of the British Government announce, as they have done recently, that our public services are holding up under their austerity cuts, I do wonder which ones they have been trying to access. It is years since we managed to find an NHS dentist. I waited about 18 months for a cataract operation, and after that time received a letter telling me that the service couldn’t cope and there was no likelihood of even getting an initial appointment with the ophthalmologist in the foreseeable future. By that time I’d had to get it done privately or I would no longer be able to drive. Same story when Billy needed a knee operation. The waiting list was so long we paid up as two years in a child’s life is a very long time. Tony has just paid to see an osteopath in a private clinic for his hip, as it takes three weeks to get a GP appointment, and then he would need to wait for the referral. The adolescent mental health services are in such a state of crisis that when we did get a referral the poor woman I saw was in tears. She said she was taking early retirement, as she was so dispirited. They could no longer offer a service to the children who needed it, and even the most desperate and urgent cases were not receiving a proper service. We did manage to get both children a therapist, but they have been signed off again. The education welfare officers have gone. Life at the sharp end is certainly getting harder. I wanted to end on a positive note – but perhaps it is not what happens but how we deal with it that matters. This little dog’s face just about sums it up. Keep smiling!