Arthritis is a bugger.
I'm waiting for a hip replacement, agreed in May, surgery date still unknown, but pre-op set for next Thursday. In the meantime I exist on painkillers which put up my blood pressure and make my ankles swell, and blood pressure medication which makes me faint if I stand up too fast. At night I sleep for an hour, wake, turn over, stifle a yelp and try to sleep for another hour, until after five hours I can't stick it any longer and go downstairs to resume the painkillers and try to sleep in an armchair.
I've snoozed through some extraordinary television in the small hours recently, but this sleeping (correction, non-sleeping) pattern does not make for a sharp and lively brain. I am irritable. Chattering noises become unbearable, whether caused by Classic FM ads at the distant end of the house or unidentified objects in the front footwell of the Honda. A few days ago with this in mind I dug around under the front seat and seized on the locking wheel-nut socket and the spare nuts which were in a rattly moulded-plastic pack and seemed to be the likely culprits. I put them on top of a box in the car shed.
I've managed despite the brain fog to keep on top of my (mostly voluntary) jobs. One of these was to re-write bits of the Fell Pony Society's Display Team script ready for 4 displays over 2 days at Lowther Show this coming weekend. So with the event in mind - and the rainy weather - I decided I'd take the car up to Harold's Tyres and have the front tyres swopped to the back and vice versa for more grip in the inevitable Lowther mud.
It didn't go well.
Mid afternoon on a Wednesday shouldn't look like a busy period on the road, should it? I was quite relaxed following Mark Broadbent's 'Fenix' articulated horsebox down from the motorway to Shap; I knew it was on its way to pitch camp at Lowther, as indeed were many of the big driving-trial competitors. I stopped off at the doctor's surgery to pick up a fresh supply of the prescribed drugs, and so I didn't see the Fenix wagon again. I did however catch up with a tail of traffic behind a tractor and loaded silage trailer, with which I chugged along between second and third gears for several miles until we all reached Bessy Gill and could overtake. At Clifton I caught up with a second slow tractor. And at Gilwilly Industrial Estate, a third.
By this time I was operating on autopilot and kept thinking I had missed my way. I hadn't, fortunately; I reached Harold's to find it conveniently only half full. I drove into an empty bay, and reassured the helpful chap in charge of it that I hadn't "brocken" anything. I explained that I had checked all the tyre tread depths were legal, but I wanted the front tyres exchanged for the less worn back ones and vice versa.
He cast a professional glance over the Honda's alloys and asked me for the locking nut tool.
I searched my memory, discovered the picture of the locking nut socket lying in its packet in the shed, twenty-five minutes away down the motorway; swore; and departed.
On the way home the niggly rattle resumed. I was feeling savage by now. I stopped on the car park of Go Outdoors and stomped through the rain to open the passenger door, wrench out the underseat drawer and leave it in the footwell. When I drove back onto the motorway, I was moderately soothed to find the niggly rattle had disappeared. Pretty much the first good thing that had happened all afternoon.
I was going uphill somewhere around Hackthorpe when I saw a group of three HGVs ahead. I shifted into the middle lane to overtake them, but when I got level with the second wagon's tail, it began to indicate to pull out. I couldn't get out of its way into the outer lane - my mirror showed me a white Transit pickup barrelling up it far too fast and too close for me to risk moving over - but at that point the wagon began to move into mine, the driver evidently determined to keep up his revs and thinking I was just being obstinate.
The middle lane is not meant to contain a Honda CR-V and a 35-tonne artic. Not side by side at the same time. I braked. Hard. Luckily I've just had the back brakes "done" and despite the rain and the speed, they held and the car stayed in a straight line.
The wagon filled the middle lane ahead of me, the Transit whooshed on by. I had time and space a minute later to overtake safely in the third lane. But I will be replaying that gap narrowing in front of me for the rest of the evening.
And all that, ladies and gents, is why I've got sweet F.A. done this afternoon.
I took my car to our local do-it-all garage man this morning. A former rally driver who was once badly injured as a passenger in someone else's car and so possesses more rebuilt joints than I do, Chris is one of the bright spots of the village. "I don't have a cold. I don't have hay fever. I do have a runny nose." Blows nose on garage cleanup paper. "I am just generally delicate."
When I proffered the locking nut socket in its packet he ignored it. "Your wheels don't have any locking nuts."
Enough said about all participants.