Houston…we have a

“I have a problem”

A statement that spells doom for us as The OM stands at the threshold to the kitchen as we wait for the follow up narrative.

TOM likes to speak in headlines.

With the rest of the article…..

Following….

Later.

One has plenty of time to try to guess the nature of issue, but it is not an easy task.  If it is a Tuesday afternoon it is likely to be a problem that involves a surfeit of sponge cake after the elderly ladies’ (and Keith’s) tennis four have played and left their tea unfinished.  In general I would liken “too much cake” to “too many cricket victories over Australia”: you cannot have a glut of either.  But in this case it is possible to have too much under risen cake – especially if it is coffee walnut: to me an abominable destruction of a Victoria sponge, or worse still the beetroot and chocolate monstrosity that was proffered as an alternative to a traditional conservative tea.

Too much cake, though,  is not an insurmountable “problem”.  If you can’t eat it, recycle it.  That’s why we have hens.

But the announcement of a problem can involve many unpredictable factors.  In the past couple of years he has had more than his fair share of medical concerns with heart and other issues for which we have been on hand to assist and support.

One gets used to it, but what one cannot get used to or anticipate is whether the nature of the challenge will match up to the bold headline that has preceded it.  So, the context of the announcement that he has “a problem” can include anything from “I can’t get the photos off my camera”, “It might freeze tonight”, or “I think I might be having a cardiac arrest”.

Solutions range from turning off the water to the lean-to, connecting the camera to the laptop, putting the kettle on and stuffing my face with Victoria sponge or phoning for an ambulance and a defibulator – though perhaps not necessarily in that order.  It keeps one on one’s toes.

The Christmas Day “problem” was a genuine one: his Alpha cooker had “locked out” and he did not know how to re-set it.  Thereby jeopardising his and Gill’s roast bird (this year a Guinea Fowl).  Fortunately this did no present a too great a challenge to us:  we are used to just pressing the button marked re-set and seeing the recalcitrant stove fire up like the Quattro in Life on Mars.  Presto duly hayed.

More recently there have been fewer problems, although the other morning after Mrs B and I had had an unusually long lie-in – it was perhaps later than 8 a.m. when we came down for breakfast –  I saw the OM standing in the drive gesticulating at me through the kitchen window.  He appeared to be waving towards the gate so I went to the door to see if there was delivery.  I reckoned I could stand at the door and sign for it.  But there was no one there and I was greeted by the request – nay demand – from TOM “Can you get the gate?  I’m just going out”.

I was gobsmacked.  “I did not realise I am gatekeeper now as well” was my stunned response.

“Saves me” was the reply as I opened the gate.

“Saves me?  SAVES ME?!  Save yourself – walk a few more paces every day, get the old ticker, with or without by-passes, working and get those lungs cleared with more fresh air” was the retort that I never dared say within his earshot.

I think there is a bigger problem than we thought.  And I think it might be mine.

(Midlife Gardener is currently spending too much time in the school boarding house.  Gardening items will resume shortly).

About midlifegardener

Being a PE teacher in an Independent School is increasingly pressurised with collleagues and parents alike offering opinions on how you should be doing your job. So time spent in the garden is essential in maintaining one's persepctive on life, as other skew theirs.
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