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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Pain in the Neck

Granny is in London for the next two weeks.. She has celebrated by putting her neck out. This involves either a) living with the problem, which is therefore bound to get worse: excruciating pain when she tries to turn her head will extend - not gradually enough - across her shoulder, down her arm, etc: or b) visiting friendly and effictive chiropractor who unfortunately, for historical reasons, lives some way away in Oxfordahire. (Why not go to another nearer chiropractor then? Excuse me, if you have found a chiropractor who cures these problems without paralysing you - this can happen with neck manipulation - you stick with him/her. Believe me.) Given such a choice, Granny opts for the latter with all its inconvenience. Not least it involves the use of a car. She doesn't have a car. At least not currently available. She calls on oldest friend who does have one, will lend it; only problem it's insured just for herself. This leads to protracted conversations with insurance company, who will only take instructions from oldest friend, who does not have details of Granny's driving licence and its fixed penalty endorsement for speeding: insurance company insists on having code for offence. Insurance company will also not take instructions from oldest friend for payment on Granny's account, as she is not the cardholder. Etc Etc. As Granny is in West London and oldest friend at work in North London, this is all a problem to negotiate. There are a lot of those kinds of phonecalls which involve keying in 1 2 3 or 4 many times over, listening to unwelcome music, and negotiating the way through a series of not necessarily intelligent operatives who may or may not disclaim knowledge of all or any previous negotiations. Tiresome.

Car achieved. Car driven down motorway, through country roads to isolated equestrian centre where for some reason chiropracter hangs out. (Does it relate to frequent needs of riders for her services? Possibly. Granny has never enquired.)

Chiropractor goes click click around Granny's person. Instant relief. Granny hands out her £30, gets into car, heads back for London. While still on narrow country road, without verges, in a stream of traffic, there is a hideous grinding sound. Oldest friend's car has had a puncture.

Granny rings friend. Does she have AA cover? Indeed she does. Granny rings AA. No the membership applies to the person, not the car, could oldest friend pop down to sort this out? Granny takes deep breath, explains it's unlikely her friend can 'pop down' from her work desk in Islington to darkest Oxfordshire. She is a woman on her own in a country road. Could AA at least give her the number of a local garage? Of course they cannot. All they can do is offer her immediate membership. Granny is about to explain she does not own a car herself etc etc, when her mobile runs out of juice. Granny starts walking back down narrow, vergeless coutry road with stream of traffic coming and going. Passes on left side place claiming to offer second-hand furniture. There is an empty chair sitting there to prove it. Also an empty tractor and empty -of -people, if not furniture barn. She walks on. Passes on her right side ancestral pile, similarly lifeless. Walks on some more, and happens on a nursery garden, called Acorn Nurseries. OPEN it claims. Shed is empty apart from trays of plants and some machinary. But in the distance is a solitary man digging. Granny thinks of Bate's Motel as she approaches. She even works out the camera moves - high long shot, figure of self advancing on digger via rows of small plants; zoom in to close up. Fortunately man does not turn out to be homocidal maniac - or not so that you would notice. Even so he does not appear altogether willing as he offers Granny the use of his phone and even a cup of tea. Unwillingness somewhat explained subsequently, when man unbends a little and tells Granny that he performs such services on average four or four or five times a month. He is always, it seems, the only person in sight. Digging. If ever he felt like turning into a homocidal maniac, he might have a good excuse. Fortunately for Granny this point has not yet been reached. A breakdown company is contacted, promises to appear in return for the divulgence - again - of Granny's credit card details. She sets back trudging along the road, trying to avoid trucks thundering towards her - the hedge seems a better option from time to time. It starts to rain.

Breakdown man appears plus belly, plus information about his four strapping sons, all able to change tyres, no problem - he has told his wife not to bother to learn. Does she keep one strapping son on hand in the back of her car, Granny wonders? Maybe she'd lend him to Granny any time Granny goes driving. More usefully, the father of four removes punctured tyre, extracts spare car from boot full of kites, dolls, baby gear bags of assorted junk-shop type junk - dear friend is not only a grandmother, once, long ago, she ran a junk shop- and puts it on car. Granny drives back to London very slowly, owing to puny nature of spare tyre, and then has tiresome session in black-tyred, black-oiled, black-attended Kwiksave. It doesn't save her time, money, it is definitely not KWIK - if very friendly. Tyre of course is unsaveable and has to be replaced by new one. Granny's is credit card called on for the third time. Bugger it.

And so at last back home. Only problem is that after all the pulling and pushing, her neck seems to be out of place again. She fears she may, next week, have to go once again to friendly chiropractor. Can anyone lend her a fail-save car. PLEASE. (No virtual offers accepted.) Actually on yesterday's experience it might be much cheaper to rent one.

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