We cracked open a bottle of co-op wine today. It carried a cautionary note on the label: 'If you drink, do not drive, operate machinery or play sports.' But curiously, there was nothing on the label advising you not to play the trombone. Who writes these warnings?
Life goes on pretty well as normal here at Hale Villas. Walls have been painted, floorboards replaced and redundant garden plants have been uprooted. There seems to be a never-ending round of tasks that need completing. When we viewed the house in 2008, I somehow managed to convince Mrs H that 'it's just cosmetic; a lick of paint here and there will do the trick.' Four years and a twenty gallon lick of paint later, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. And this time it's not an oncoming train.
Fatsia Japonica. Sometimes called the false castor oil plant, it has big, glossy leaves not unlike a fig, and a tendency to grow into a monster. And this is what it did, very quietly, in an unregarded bit of the front garden. By the time we decided it ought to go, it had grown almost out of control, with a trunk that would have done justice to a reasonably sized tree. So, I set to work, snipping, sawing and digging. And during the course of these activities, it seems I grazed my leg on the plant. I thought nothing of it until, a couple of days later, I found my leg had started to blister. And over the next couple of weeks, the blisters got bigger and nastier, eventually necessitating a trip to the local 'NHS Walk In Centre'.
Now, I don't know if you've ever been to a Walk In Centre. It does what it says on the tin. You walk in, you give the reception your name, you sit down and you wait. And wait. And wait. And after four and a half hours of waiting I was ushered into the doctor's surgery. The doctor wasn't particularly chatty. I think he'd been probably been planning a day on the golf course, but received a phone call at 7am, telling him to get into work sharpish as his colleague had gone sick. So you can understand his unwillingness to engage with yet another time wasting patient too hopeless to self medicate and too bone idle to look up the symptoms on the internet. He poked and prodded at my leg a couple of times, then said, 'And what do you want to happen?' I was rather surprised by this question. I thought for a minute, then replied, 'Actually, I'd quite like this dodgy leg thing to go away.' Eventually the doc wrote me a prescription and I toddled off. Not the best encounter I've had with the health service.
That was a few weeks ago. I'm still taking the tablets, but the scars are still there and I'm pretty sure they will be there for good. But at least I can dance again (albeit some of my fellow dancers might disagree). And I do my level best to keep a healthy distance between me and the nearest Fatsia Japonica.