Squealer’s Wheels

I was twenty minutes late for work this morning. When I knew I was destined to be late, I was only ten minutes late. But fate conspired against me and made me later still.

And, on top of that, when we eventually got into Leeds I really wanted a sandwich for breakfast because I was on the unhappy side of hungry, only to find the entire complex where I would purchase said foodstuff had been evacuated due to a fire alarm.

The cosmos was not on my side this morning. And its main tool of destruction? Squeaky Steering.

Which apparently is a thing.

A thing which can instill fear into the heart of probably one of the wettest bus drivers I’ve ever had the pleasure to encounter. He was certainly no Man-Who-Looks-Like-Whoopi-Goldberg-In-Jumping-Jack-Flash, that is for sure.

So, yes, squeaky steering. Basically, as I heard the driver explaining on the phone during one of the many stops we made due to panic, the bus was ok when it was being driven, it was just when he went to turn corners that the steering wheel squeaked.

From the time I got on the bus to the time I got off in Leeds, we had stopped to further worry about this squeak 6 times. On five of those occasions we had listened to the driver call it in to base and express his worry, and on one occassion a driver from an adjacent bus came to give a second opinion. At one point we left Dewsbury Bus Station to head to Leeds, only to immediately turn off and come back into Dewsbury Bus Station from a different direction because there was definitely something wrong with the bus.

“I’m just wondering,” said the driver at one point, “if there’s something I should have pressed, a switch or something that I’ve forgotten and that’s why this is happening.”

This made me think two things. One, that the driver didn’t really know what he was doing and at best could have been described as winging it. And two, that “squeaky steering” has some kind of toggle switch so you can have it turned on or off depending on the journey – like you can with a passenger airbag when you have a baby seat in the front of your car.

Having been on a bus that basically exploded out from under us, I think a bit of a squeak was nothing to worry about. What it did serve to do was unite an entire bus full of strangers into chanting expletives like some sort of cult every time we pulled over for an unscheduled stop and a further maintenance-based phone call.

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Expecto Launderettus

We were supposed to get a text last night. A text which would tell us what time the washer was being delivered or, more vaguely, what four hour window the delivery was beibg thrown at.

We didn’t get a text. We got one from the vets telling us that Pumpkin has an appointment on Monday that neither of us made. Seemingly three hundred and twenty Great British Pounds isn’t quite enough, and they’d like to wring every last penny from us while they still can.

Incidentally, we’ve paid just short of forty quid less for Pumps than we have for the washer. And Pumpkin is no where near as good at getting your pants clean.

So, to recap, no text. No idea what time the delivery may be, just the knowledge that delivery starts at 7am.

Meanwhile, we’d also put new – hand-crafted by Carole – linings on the bedroom curtain to stop the light from the streetlight outside the window beaming directly in like an army searchlight.

I was awake at 5.30. They’re remarkably effective. But I was still awake at 5.30. Still, at least I’d be ready for the washer, I thought. As if thinking that the cosmic balance would be such that we’d be top of the delivery list.

Still, if I’d not been awake I would never have seen the text that came at seven and advised delivery between ten past one and ten past five. I’d have not got to have the fun of experiencing one of the longest Sunday mornings ever. When you wake up at 5.30 it becomes staggeringly clear how long it actually takes to get to anywhere close to, say, nine. A time when you could start legitimately making noises that would be frowned upon any earlier.

It also becomes apparent that waiting for a washing machine is very, very dull. We contemplated starting things that would be awkward to stop just because doing so would guarantee the arrival of the machine.

In the end, starting a crucial game of Quirkle spurred them on. And, I think, ruined my concentration causing me to lose the game.

Well, that or the fact that by that time eleven hours had passed since I woke up…

Tossing For Washing

During a portion of the endless waiting for Pumpkin yersterday, somewhere towards late afternoon where we were about an hour and a half too early to pick her up, we used the proximity of the vets to a branch of Currys to kill two birds with one stone – collect the cat and order a new washing machine.

Obviously the old one died on Wednesday in a cacophony of screams and plumes of smoke and smells of things melting and the sound of things falling apart. It was the second scariest equipment malfunction since the time the steam cleaner blew up with such force that I felt something whizz past my face.

But I remained calm in the face of adversity.

I unplugged the damn thing, opened all the doors and windows and, most importantly, said “Shit!” an awful lot in a variety of different ways. And then I hopped straight onto the internet and started looking at new machines.

Which, co-incidentally, is almost what happened as I was on the way home from work (or not work, I suppose) yesterday when I found myself thinking that Pickle was a really good name for a kitten.

But anyway, so we went for a new washing machine. We looked at each and every one in Currys. We instantly discounted any that said “last one” on them – because who wants a machine that’s ex-display and has been poked and prodded by every member of the great unwashed in the Huddersfield area. Exactly. We’ve been stung by that before, when we bought – for a very short time – the last one from Direct Discounts where everything you buy is covered in sellotape marks, muck, scuffs and who-knows-what-else.

In the end, we had it down to two choices. One, which I preferred, and one which Carole preferred. So we did what any sane couple would do making a big decision like that – we let the store assistant decide for us by tossing a coin. Carole’s one won, and we stuck with it. Primarily because, the one I chose – despite having a longer warranty – was blessed, like the Alpha Male from a council estate, with a chavvy knob.

So it’s coming tomorrow. On Sunday, the day we can lie in and enjoy the morning in peace… or we could, until we remembered that the washing machine is coming tomorrow. And that the old one hasn’t been moved yet. Or drained of any excess water.

So we’ve got an alarm set for 6.30 in the morning, to disconnect the old one and move it out of the way so we can just slide the new one in and get one with things.

I didn’t even know there was a 6.30 on a Sunday…

Pumpkin Panic

I won’t lie to you, today has been absolutely awful.

I went all the way to work this morning. Only to essentially turn right around and come all the way home because, sometimes, you have to put life before work. Even if it is the life of your ailing cat. But there was no question I had to be there with Carole. If only to make sure that at least one of us could form sentences the vet could hear over the sounds of crying.

We had to take Pumps to the vets. A trip which we didn’t think she was coming home from. I’d already planned tonight’s blog. It was three words. it would have just read “Pumpkin died today.” That would have been it. As it happens, she didn’t die today. Instead she drained £157 from us for the cat equivalent of some Lemsips and a stay at the vets for the day.

But it’s been awful. When you combine the fact that we know that her kidneys will, at some point, pack up, with the fact that she’s been off her food for the last few days – following the cat sick incident – it’s all been a tad worrying, to be honest. More than a tad worrying. Carole was beside herself this morning, and I felt like an absolute dick for going to work, instead of just diving off the bus and heading straight back home to phone work later. In my head I’d reasoned it would be easier to talk to my boss face-to-face than to leave a phone message. In actuality I nearly cried when talking to my boss – but not for Pumpkin, but for the absolute devastation that this was bringing to Carole. Maybe, in hindsight, a phone message would have been better.

A day that starts of quite frantic, with having to get her to the vets (once I made it back from Leeds) and then turns into a day of sitting around and waiting on the off-chance they need to ring us and we have to make *the* decision because she’s not improving on the fluids as they thought she might or whatever. And there was a lot of waiting. An awful lot of waiting. Even when we’d arranged to collect her there was till waiting. Lots and lots of waiting.

And waiting is awful.

But she’s home now. She’s asleep on the bed, with a day-glo green bandage hiding the catheter that’s still in her leg, just in case. She’s under house arrest. And we keep stopping what we’re doing to listen to her breathing. But at least she’s eating. And she’s not dead. And Carole’s not crying – either because she’s genuinely okay at the moment, or because she’s dessicated herself this morning.

So it’s all good.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings.