Room at the top but none on the bus

The attic is now cleared.  I never thought I would be able to say that.  So I’ll say it again.  The attic is now cleared. Unfortunately there were no Chinese vases.

The small amount which remains is largely sentimental stuff which some future generation may value.  Or not.   But it has been sorted and put in boxes around the edges.   A good bit of what is left is either childhood memorabilia or rubbish.  Not my decision.

It all involved 7 trips to the tip and 2 to the charity shop.  There are also 3 floor-to-ceiling piles of empty boxes in the hall ready to be taken away, filled with personal possessions …………….. and brought back to be stored in the now-empty attic.  Ho hum!  At least the kids will get to sort their own stuff and not mine and Enfys’s when I pop my clogs, though I have left a couple of small boxes of family photos and memorabilia.  And a few things which will make them scratch their heads and agonise over.  After all, why should they get off scot free?  I have just lost a week of my life.

And the mice which triggered this whole process?  I had to buy new mouse-traps, the mice having eaten most of the old one.  All that remained of it were some bits of wire coat-hanger and increasing amounts of Duck Tape.  I couldn’t get humane traps as I suspect that they are nolonger available either because they were totally useless or because the warehouse where they were stored was probably invaded by mice which ate the lot.  They were so humane that they should really have been sold as mouse-food.  Instead I used a modern version of the traditional snap-trap which I’m sure is made of the same edible plastic as the humane ones but doesn’t give the mouse the opportunity to ed them.  I have caught three so far.  (update Friday morning, tally now 4)

End of a small saga.

I celebrated the end of the process by going down to Cardiff to do my Christmas shopping.  With the exception of food-shopping which is a kind of reflex action necessary for survival, I hate shopping.  Enfys always bought Christmas presents when she saw something suitable, usually on a sale, throughout the year.  She would see something and it would trigger a thought – “that would be good for so-and-so”.

My contribution was always to go down to Cardiff after work on the last Thursday before Christmas on the basis that the proximity of the dreaded deadline would focus the mind.  Not that it was panic buying, sometimes I would have a reasonable idea of what I was looking for.  I always made a point of buying at least one good present each for the kids to complement what Enfys had bought.  And I always bought presents for Enfys, I never, ever resorted to the typical bloke’s let-out of letting her buy her own present and then paying for it.  It was always a surprise.

There was a drawerful of nice things which Enfys had bought for the family and which tided me over last Christmas, with a few additions.  Now that has all gone.  Because I’m going away mid-December I knew that I would need to get my act together considerably earlier than ever before.  So having escaped from the attic I went down to Cardiff on the bus.

I find it helps to have something to focus the mind and I had arranged to meet friends for lunch to achieve that.  It was looking good, the bus being pretty punctual arriving at the stop at the end of the  street and there being no major traffic queues going into the city centre, unlike last time when it took 30 minutes to do the last mile.

I usually try to sit close to the front of the bus so I can make a quick exit.  I’m off the bus and going where I’m going like a demented thing, growling and grumbling if dawdlers get in my way.  The bus stops at 3 points around the town centre before reaching the terminus and believe me, given the self-imposed deadline I was getting a bit twitchy when at the first of the stops nearly everyone on the bus decided to get off.  That must have been about 30 people.

A little sideways ramble.  The best thing, if not the only worthwhile thing, which the Welsh Assembly has done is to issue free bus passes to everyone over 60 who wants one.  England was at least a year later.  In the words of the authors of ‘1066 and All That’, it was a Very Good Thing.   It meant that elderly people who had hitherto been stuck at home unable to travel because of the cost of fares came blinking out into the sunlight and never looked back.  They now travel regularly to different towns to do bits of shopping, have a cup of coffee, meet friends.  On market day in towns such as Abergavenny the buses are crowded, an extra bus service runs on market day.

This vast increase in the travelling elderly public must save on the National Health Service because people go out and meet each other rather than going to the GP with some minor ailment just in order to have social contact.  I suspect that there is less call on Social Services, home–helps and the like.  People are more motivated and alive. It’s brilliant.  It would be a brave Government indeed which withdrew the free bus pass. They would lose the grey vote overnight.  On any day of the week the number of people with free passes far exceeds the numbers who are paying.

But therein lies the rub.  The bus service to Cardiff is an express coach, pretty quick and comfortable but accessed by 3 steep steps.  When 30 elderly people all decide to get off at one stop it takes about 10-15 minutes as they manoeuvre zimmer frames, walking sticks, arthritic hips, handbags and shopping bags down the aisle and totter down the steps to the pavement far below.  There may well be a case for bringing back conductors on buses on certain days, funded by Social Services, to make sure that the considerable numbers of elderly and infirm get off safely.  In fact in terms of statistical probability it is now more likely that more people will be taken ill and die on buses simply because there are vastly larger numbers in vulnerable age groups spending so much time on them rather than watching TV at home.  Perhaps some buses should also carry a qualified nurse or first-aider and a resuscitation kit.

I eventually got off the bus at the stop I needed only 15 minutes late, leaving the remaining 2 passengers, a young couple snogging at the back, to continue to the terminus.  I’m pleased to say that a combination of the tight deadline, the frustration at delay, and a determination to show that though I am officially an old fogey with a free bus pass I haven’t yet slowed up, meant that I accomplished all my Christmas shopping in an hour and met my friends only 5 minutes after the time agreed.

A good result.

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