as good as it got

as good as the day got

This was not my planned retirement blog but I needed a bit of therapy. If you’ve read any of these blogs before you will know that I like the idea of taking control of life in general and retirement specifically. I am somewhere between an everyday planner and a control freak, I admit it. Always have been, probably always will be. That said, I can’t say that I’ve had complete success with planning my retirement. Not surprisingly, some things refuse to be controlled. Last Saturday being a case in point (strange phrase). The other thing you will know if you’re a regular reader is that my relationship with my mother, which has come under greater scrutiny since I retired, has not been a happy one. These two strands come together in this blog. It is not, as you might guess, a pretty story.

My mother has just been admitted to hospital for the sixth or seventh time. I lose count in fact I probably blank all these times out. It’s true to say that these periods of hospitalisation are not happy times (even in the context of more general unhappiness), for both of us. She hates hospitals and, for us, in the past, these times have meant two round trips a week, that’s 300 miles if one were counting, rather than the one a week when she is at home. I had planned to go down and see her in hospital on Friday but because the hospital did not call back as promised nor would they answer my calls, we didn’t go until Saturday. This had another ruined day written all over it.

So I decided this was not going to be the case and I would take control of the day, kind of kick into a shape such that we got some pleasure out of it. A key factor in this was that, for the first time, she was taken by the ambulance, for some reason, to Nottingham Queen’s Medical hospital rather than Derby – of all the other visits. Now Nottingham holds a place in my affections that Derby does not (other than the fact that Mrs Summerhouse was born in Derby, Chaddesden for those who know about these things) but Derby itself and the football team particularly are best avoided. But Nottingham is a different matter. I was born and brought up in a small hell hole called Heanor* or Ayna as it was pronounced by the locals – so common. The local greeting was ‘Ay up me duck, arta rate a what?’ Translation – ‘hello, are you well or is that not the case?’ Pure class, the point is that, when growing up, any sane teenager would spend as little time there as possible and, as Heanor is located about half way between Derby and Nottingham, it was a simple choice. So Nottingham is where I spent most of  my teenage years.

More astute readers of this blog will know that, as a result of this affection for Nottingham, I, for my sins, and they must be great, have supported Nottingham Forest for exactly 50 years last year. And this is where my cunning plan began to take shape. As it was now Saturday I checked the paper and, to my delight, (silly, silly) I found that Forest were playing at home, playing Millwall, a team, if there is any logic in the world  (apparently there is none), Forest would be expected to beat. Silly, silly, silly me. I would go to the game, the first in quite a long while. So the plan, built around this, was leave – Leeds about 10.30, drive to the hospital having already checked that it was OK to visit my mother outside of visiting hours. Get to mother about 12, an hour’s visit, take dogs for their usual hour’s walk, go to ground to get ticket, I watch game while Mrs SH looks after dogs, meet after game and then revisit some old stomping ground and have an excellent Nottingham curry, drive home, duty done, pleasure had. Ha.

Well you can see where this is going. That last word ‘going’ was 666 according to word count – very appropriate in that the devil was indeed in the details. The timings were so tight and the plan so complicated that I did have the foresight, before we left Leeds, to say to Mrs SH that, if today works out as planned, it would be a miracle. The day was not a miracle. Either God or the other guy said so you think you’re going to take control of today and that you’re to have some fun. It unravelled thus. First, we were a bit late getting to the hospital, not a lot but by the time I found my mother in a hospital the size of Luxembourg and with the organisation of Syria, we were later still and parking, don’t ask. It took me about the same length of time to find her as it had to drive down the M1. I found her in good health and proclaiming loudly they (the staff) are all foreign. So I didn’t take the pups for a walk which meant Mrs SH had to do this on her own. But, no matter, I got my ticket and a good seat in order to watch, and I’m sorry to say this, 90 minutes of sheer misery. Over the period of a few months Forest have gone from a team favourite for promotion to a team who, on this form, will do well to avoid relegation. In this game they played like a team with no confidence and little structure. Psycho how long can you last? Only your reputation as a local hero as a player is keeping you in your job and I’m very sorry to say this. We lost 0 – 1 giving away a goal 5 minutes from the end that would not look out of place in a Brian Rix farce. So much for having a good time. I was so pissed off that we abandoned the part of the plan to have a curry and headed back up the M1 telling ourselves we would have a curry in Leeds. Then we felt bad for the dogs (who would  have to have spent more time in the vehicle) and so we didn’t. The best I could manage was a quick pint in my local – see photo at top and that, dear readers was as good as it got for today. I would have taken a photo of the football but I left my phone in the car – typical of the day. Sometimes you just can’t get ahead and today, like the rest of my retirement, just won’t be positively organised. Hey ho.

*Mrs SH says this is unfair, it wasn’t that bad and she’s probably right. Heanor was historically a pit village and if I thought it was a hell hole then it was positively Chelsea compared with what it looks like now. ‘I hate Tesco, it’s killed Heanor,’ is a phrase often repeated by my mother. She may well be right because something certainly has, the closing of all the local pits hasn’t helped either.

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