So that’s that.
It’s all over and done.
Yesterday was the day of my kid sister’s funeral. At age 55 she has returned to the body of matter and energy that is our universe. An emotionally draining day to say the least.
I had to divert myself from howling with anguish by taking note of the more humorous events through the funeral. The curtains closed and I thought, ‘That was quick! I got away without blubbing.’
The curtains then opened again and I thought, ‘Spoke too soon…’
My nephew, my niece and my sister (their mother) pretty much carried the service themselves and did a fine job. My niece had even written a song which she sang whilst playing on her guitar. This was very well done. A lovely piece.
In time I will write up a piece about my family but that is for another day.
The journey down south, to the north west was enough to piss anyone off. We left in a storm. We drove through flood and tempest and when we arrived at our hotel it was as though our planet’s end-time had come. The atmospheric ‘shit’ hit the fan and battered us as we tried to get our luggage into the building.
Inside things seemed to get worse. Our four star hotel was a disaster. The room we booked as having disabled access was a joke and smelled musty. The lighting was dire and at least one light failed to work. The bathroom was ordinary except for the inclusion of a wide door for wheelchairs, which I don’t use. However, the walk-in shower that we had been led to believe would be there, turned out to be a bath. I can’t get into a bath without a team of highly trained fork lift truck drivers to hand and once I have sat down I need a Saturn5 rocket to get me back up again. Decency forbids any further information on my bath exit strategy.
We complained and were awarded the ‘Executive Suite’ in exchange. The Executive Suite had a walk-in shower. This sounded good, two rooms for the price of one. But the buckets outside in the corridor catching the drips from the roof did not bode well.
Beloved and I ate a frugal meal (in my opinion) of humous, tzatziki and olive bread accompanied by some ready cooked chicken (sausages and chips were notably absent!) ‘Meal’ finished, we retired to bed.
The fire alarm triggered during the night but was quickly stifled by a member of staff who must have just as quickly stubbed out his cigarette. The next morning things looked very different. I had noticed that in certain places on the lower floors and indeed on the corridor that led to our room, there were signs of water ingress from outwith the building. Rivulets had been running down the structural supports all over the blooming place. On our third floor corridor, a section of carpet had been removed. In this three storey building, the water had gotten right down to the first floor. This is not good if one requires that the weather stays outside. It did, however, answer the question of where the musty smell was coming from.
With the aid of daylight I could easily see damp patches on the walls in our room and the chocolate brown carpet was an utter disgrace. To make things even worse, if that were possible, there was no hot water! As one would expect, the fire alarm was interlocked with the boilers and the boiler feeding our wing of the building had not fired up again after the brief alarm during the night. We phoned reception and the drones that work for the hotel scrambled and assured us that the hot water would be back on again in 20 minutes. When we left shortly after midday there was still no hot water.
My friends, if you ever need to stay in a hotel, do not stay at the Mercure St Helens. Needless to say, words were said and complaints are being filed!
The journey home was fraught with difficulty. We had snow on all high ground north of Kendal. The M74 was closed in two places after the flooding that we experienced the day before. In one flood below a bridge, we saw a small yellow car on its side stuck on top of a three level high armco crash barrier whilst the emergency services waded thigh deep through the freezing waters, looking for something with their flashlights. I hope that it wasn’t the driver or the passenger but I fear that it was.
The M8 was restricted down to one lane of standing traffic so I tried the Clyde Tunnel, thinking that I might take the Great Northern Road, to bypass the M8 and wave as we passed the Erskine Bridge further north. I was thwarted as they had shut the Clyde Tunnel too. Perhaps it was flooded and the drainage pumps had been overwhelmed. Who knows, because they weren’t telling?
A snow plough lurked at the bottom of the ‘Rest And Be Thankful’ mountain pass so we had a slow climb up the hill in an inch of snow. This was no problem for our 4×4 Volvo but other people had huge problems as their wheels broke traction. Still, these things make the journey more interesting.
Next, as we drove around Loch Fyne, two Sika deer appeared at the roadside and looked at our headlights as we approached at 50mph. At least I think that they were Sika, they may have been Moose for all I know. One of them decided to see if the anti-lock brakes on our car were as good as Volvo say they are. ‘Stupid’ sprang out into our path and did what deer do: he froze in the beam of the headlights. I know his name was Stupid because his mate was wearing a hat on which was printed, *I’m With Stupid*.
I stamped on the brake and the car slowed rapidly, the anti-lock system kicking in with panache to prevent the wheels from locking on the wet surface. The car came to a controlled stop two inches too late to avoid Stupid being tapped by the front end of the car. The deer was knocked gently and fell over. He got to his feet instantly, shook his coat in an irritated way, gave me a look that could fry sausages and swaggered off into the woods. Mrs Stupid crossed at the same time, flashing us a look of exasperated apology and then proceeded into the woods, scolding Stupid as she went. Both looked to be fine. We stopped at Inveraray and I braved the drizzle to inspect the car with a torch. There was no damage, not a scratch, so my guess is that Stupid will live to be stupid for another day. Thank God we were not driving a laden log truck!
We got home at around 2am, glad to be alive. And I’m spending today at rest with occasional bursts of relaxation.