COVID-19 making one stay in means you start doing things you have not done for years, like planting tomatoes in a grow bag in the garden. I used to do it, went on holiday at the end of August, and by the time I got back, the slugs had held a feast so I gave up. This year no holiday. But they did not ripen so now the green tomatoes and other things are marinating in a bowl on the kitchen table beside some new Kilner jars. One thing leads to another – the weekly fruit and veg box had a huge cucumber – so next will be bread and butter pickle.
Then there is the tapestry. I took this up years ago as something to occupy myself on long dark nights in and the result is some half-dozen framed works on the wall and no room for any more. They are framed because the backs are awful.
But with another winter of discontent ahead, I have ordered one more and there it sits while I nurse the trigger finger that has suddenly appeared. I consulted my doctor on the phone about it and she arranged for me to talk to a physiotherapist − on the phone. He was very polite but told me nothing I had not learned from Google other than if it got worse to phone the doctor which, as the receptionists seem to have forgotten how to answer the phone, being so overworked because of the virus, was not advice I wanted to hear. They were pretty hard to get through to when there was no virus.
Just why I cannot see a doctor is odd. I had a flu jab in September, was ushered into the consulting room where the doctor was seated at her desk and a nurse was hovering – she was masked, the doctor wasn't. The nurse did the talking. The problem with being old, white of hair and beard, is you get treated as if you are an old dear and possibly senile. Old I may be, but nobody's old dear. Got the jab, assured the nurse I understood how to find the back door exit and would not fall off the step while the GP sat there mum. No idea why she was there other than to chaperone the nurse. Everywhere else, there seems to be plastic screens.
I am not depressed, not worried about being locked up again, although at the moment that seems unlikely to happen in London where we endure Boris rather than Nicola. I have two visits to the theatre lined up, a Derek Jarman exhibition, two invitations to lunch and discovered that for £3 I can watch performances from Covent Garden that were filmed. Carmen
, Cavalleria Rusticana
and Dances at a Gathering
have been viewed from a far better viewpoint than when I went in real life. It is a long way from amphitheatre to stalls.
Some people are having a rotten time, but so far − counting my blessings – I've found a lot out there on the net I did not know about. Get a laptop. Get a smart phone. Get busy!
This week, I started to worry that I might be losing my hearing. When traversing the capital with Daisy our family dog, I like to listen to the radio and do this not as you might imagine, through an app on my phone, but instead go older and low(er) tech in using my portable DAB. My latest model (I have owned or should say experimented with a few) does not have a built in speaker, so requires that I tune in using headphones. My DAB device is not bluetooth-enabled either so the more sophisticated, latest thing, in ear buds, are ruled out. So it is the ordinary wired earphones for me. Which leads me back to my fear about my suspected diminishing hearing.
On Sunday, I was in the process of completing my daily mileage target (not an obsession) when the sound from the radio seemed to be decreasing. It was fine when I was in the park with little competing noise, but I noticed it was a real struggle to hear above the traffic when I moved out onto the main road and at various times the sound from my earphones was almost inaudible. My suspicion was that my current set had come to the end of their useful life, and when I say suspicion, of course, I mean deeply held hope, that it was nothing more serious. Maybe it also had something to do with me having inadvertently stood on them a few days earlier, who knows?
Naturally, I headed for the leading brand store as the earphones, which I hoped were playing up (or suspected were playing down), were also the microphone and speakers for my smart phone. Problem was, I had Daisy with me, and no way was I going to tie her up and leave her on Princes Street while I entered the sho. But I had a plan.
I arrived at the shop door to be met with a stern, nay officious, young man, fully masked and clipboard in hand, who rather in a high-minded fashion, informed me that the shop was soon closing (there was a good 10 minutes of trading left. I could not enter with the dog (fair, I suppose) and they were working only on appointments. So, no, he could not retrieve the product I required. Adding I could go online or come back tomorrow. (I assumed he meant sans dog, but did not give him the opportunity to confirm as I flounced off labradoodle in tow.) I then headed round the corner and down to another outlet where I understood my purchase might be completed, but still with the dog conundrum.
On approaching the department store in question, I caught the attention of the young assistant and explained my predicament (incidentally, they also stayed open for an hour longer than the first place) only to be met with a wide smile, which I could detect even under her mask, as she informed me that dogs were quite welcome and at the same time as her three colleagues converged on, to begin making a fuss of Daisy. We made our way by the elevator to the top of the building (Daisy doesn't do escalators) where the electrical department was situated and, after receiving some expert advice, bought a new set of headphones. The irony being that on the recommendation of the staff member who expertly advised me, I decided not to buy the proprietary product as I had intended and would have purchased from the first store, but instead a cheaper, and it was suggested to me better quality, product. So the end result was 2-0 to the guys with the best Christmas advert!
I recognise mine was a first world problem and thankfully when I started using the new kit the sound was crisp and clear, confirming my hearing was fine. Also, I realise that in the end it all comes down to extracting profit, but the difference in approach and attention to customer service between the two shops was miles apart: one with a haughty, we can't
do this, and the other more generous we can
do this for you.
If you would like to contribute to the Cafe, please email your comments to email@example.com