Thursday, 29 March 2007

Warming to a duck, hard water and Jean Sprackland

Having thankfully returned to my quiet fen cul de sac and sunk into my own bed, I lay and counted my numerous blessings. No old man wandering the ward trying to climb into bed with another startled gentleman with suspected kidney problems. No Darth Vader sounds from various nebulisers, which seem unable to synchronise their rhythm. No drips making repeated alarm noises when the tube became kinked at the very moment you were about to drop to sleep. I am deemed well enough to be in my own home. I run for the door, well amble with purpose. ‘Much safer’ said one of the nurses conspiratorially, I presume she was referring to MRSA et al rather than the staff, who have been very aimiable; despite overwork, overcrowding and underpayment.

Peace at last, the quiet of an early morning in fenland wraps round me like a warm fluffy blanket, deep sigh and the blessing count reaches an all time high. Then the boiler fires up and all the radiators begin to make a resounding gurgle. I have never experienced this sound before, I know all the sounds of my own house; the clicks of the new fridge, the scrabbling of local cats defecating under the bushes under my bedroom window, the shudder of the door to the spare bedroom if I’ve left the window in there slightly open and the Beaufort Scale is above a 5. This particular central heating system noise is not in my catalogue of home generated or peripheral sounds. I phone the Housing Association (may blessing be upon those that provide social housing to the deserving poor) and a plumber phones me back. I feel secure in the knowledge that
a) he is not calling me from a call centre in India
b) I am not being charged the national debt of a small African country per minute of the call. “What’s your pressure like?” he enquires, “Blood up, water down.” I report back after consulting the dials. “It’s the hard water round here, I expect something is clogged, duck.” Such a swift diagnosis, I think, like the flying doctors over the airwaves of a poorly sheep-herder and I have warmed to his duck. Being from the Midlands, I love a duck thrust into the conversation; it takes me back, it makes me feel that my short vowels are validated in a southern world of parths, carstles and barths.
“We’ll try and get out in the next week.” I am still slightly anesthetized by the warm smell of the duck and mutter an ok. Having put down the phone and re-tuned to the gurgle and now slight clanking I realize a week is a long time in burble land.

I was on an Arvon Course when Jean Sprackland was called in to act as a temporary Centre Director and we bonded over short ‘a’ s and words like twitchel and mardy. Her poem Hard Water is too much of a gift in the circumstances to be ignored.

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