Blue Van Man Saves The Day – and Mends the Cooker

Moving down here, I’ve got so much to do and to sort out, life’s been a continual headache – and then, a few days ago – mum’s electric cooker blew up. Solving the problem felt like one bridge too far, but I couldn’t ignore it. We couldn’t manage with just a microwave and a toaster.
I knew nothing about buying cookers. Feeling very sorry for myself I went online, researching how to buy one – and how to get it delivered and wired in – and the old one taken away. Then my brother came and said: it’s just the fuse! And indeed, once he mended the fuse, the hotplates and grill worked again but the oven was still kaput. In brother’s opinion, the element had blown. All I needed to do was get a new one. Easier said than done.
As a newcomer to the area, I don’t have that invaluable list of recommended trades people. Mum’s neighbours suggested I went to a shop in town that sells white goods. What good advice. The shop wasn’t a big, cavernous superstore out in some retail park. It was a regular high street shop, run by two friendly chaps who, without any fuss at all, said: You need Blue Van Man. He’s efficient and he’s honest. If the appliance can’t be repaired, he’ll tell you.
Feeling hopeful, I rang the number. Amazingly, Blue Van Man happened to be on a job just round the corner. Within an hour he was in our kitchen. He said the element had indeed blown – ‘must have been quite a bang!’ – and the thermostat had also blown. He asked if I wanted to repair it? So my internet researches came in handy after all, because I knew the price he quoted me for a repair was a quarter of the price of a new oven – with all the attendant installation costs. And at mum’s age, she really doesn’t need to buy a new cooker. I asked him to repair it and, within 30 minutes, we had a functioning oven which, fingers crossed, will last for another couple of years. What a relief.
I felt like a character in a Fairy Tale, where someone is presented with an impossible task which they somehow manage to accomplish with a bit of magic, and some friendly helpers – such as my new hero, Blue Van Man!!

Conflict of Lifelines!

I managed to pack up my flat and move all my things down here without too much hassle. It seemed like it would be hard but it all went without a hitch. The only casualty was a bottle of soy sauce that lost its cap and spilt in the removal van. Most of my stuff had to be stored in the garage – it all fitted in easily. My furniture fitted into the spaces where I hoped it would fit. Everything went smoothly – until I tried to connect my broadband.
As I made my plans to move in with mum, I thought I’d be able to cope just as long as I had the internet. I planned a virtual existence, an e-life that would give me a connection to the outside world – and help keep me sane. But – when I plugged in my broadband hub, nothing happened. No internet. I phoned BT. After hanging on for 20 minutes I spoke to someone who suggested I check a few things. I did those checks but – still no internet. I began to worry. I phoned BT again and spoke to someone who suggested some other checks. Still no joy. I started to get a bit panicky. I phoned BT again and after another long wait – it was third time lucky! A young woman asked me a series of questions and – bingo – the mystery was solved – though not resolved. Mum’s emergency button, which works through the phone line, was blocking my broadband.
Our lifelines were in conflict! Mum needs that button. She’s had several falls recently and if she has another one when I’m not there, she can summon help even if she’s stuck on the floor far from the phone. But I need the internet. I rang the emergency button people in hysterics. They were quite unfazed. Oh yes, they said, it happens all the time. You just need to plug the ADSL lead into a different socket.
The next morning, at 9 am a car pulled up outside the house. A young woman came bounding in, threw herself down on the floor by the plug, pulled one thing out, put one thing in and – hey presto – everything worked perfectly, no problem at all.
I was so exhausted by this crisis that I couldn’t switch my computer on again for days!

Without a backward glance

My first day at school I did not cry and cling to my mother’s skirts like other children. I ran away across the playground without a backward glance. Over the years, my mother would often retell this story. At the end she would repeat, in a doleful voice  ‘without a backward glance’,

Yet, a lifetime later, I’m about to move back home to live with her. No one made me, but I felt I had no choice. She’s 94 and can’t cope with the world alone anymore.

Would it be easier if she went into a care home? She’s not ready for that and besides, I can’t imagine a home where she would settle. She’s not the easiest of women. And I’m used to suiting myself. Let’s see how it goes.