These days I get very few opportunities for pleasure of any kind. In fact, I’d had only one outing so far this year that was for anything other than a medical related appointment and that was to be in the Bourne Free - Bournemouth Pride Parade earlier this month. That one hour in the parade, mostly seated on a lorry, *cost* me a lot of pain & several days recuperation, but it’s a price I pay willingly to do my bit in support of gay and human rights.
No doubt, to the DWP and anyone else who thinks all us benefit claimants are scroungers, that’s already one pleasurable outing too many and one more than I am deemed to deserve, but to hell with them: it’s impossible to maintain the will to live without some pleasure.
So, foolishly, I thought I could eek another hour or so of fun out of life on Friday ... This turned out to be a wholly different story, however.
Advertised for Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Christchurch, Dorset, was a “Traditional Tunisian Souk Market.” Now, I will admit that my first mistake was to expect it to be anything like a “Traditional Tunisian Souk Market”, but I think half a dozen ordinary market stalls, one of which was selling hot dogs – not a traditional Tunisian dish that I know of – failed to come even close.
There was a large quantity of tourist quality ceramics – maybe I just saw too many of these already in Tenerife – a huge number of which were ashtrays - I mean, who smokes and uses ashtrays today? – and not much else.
Admittedly, I went only to indulge myself in a piece of Baklava and I probably shouldn’t complain, because I did (and Kataifi and Loukoumi) but the prices were so high, it might have been cheaper to go to Greece to buy some!
(Yes, I know, so much for the diet, but a) it’s not like I’m losing that much weight anyway and b) it’s only once every few years I see this stuff.)
For some reason, I keep forgetting that Britain doesn’t do enjoyment, only blatant commercialism and profit-making, related to which is the fact that, service came without a smile, but with lots of desperately exasperated suggestions for what else I could buy, making me feel pressured and as if I was seen as a mere target to be taken advantage of, which all helps take the edge off the fun and makes one wonder if it was at all worth the journey …
The bus stop is too far away for me to be able to walk to in comfort, hence I don’t usually go out any more often than is strictly necessary, but I left myself time to be able to walk slowly. Even so, as the weather was excessively humid – with solid low lying dark grey cloud – by the time I got there, I was sweating so much that it was stinging my eyes, my hair was dripping wet, sweat was running down my back and my clothes were soaked and sticking to me.
Already uncomfortable enough, not to mention the exhaustion and the pain.
The bus stop has only a narrow perch rather than a seat, which is totally unsuitable for anyone over the height of 4 foot 6 inches, the age of 35 or in any way impaired. Naturally, the buses always run late, so one is left perching longer than planned too.
My arse – despite its ample padding - still hurts from sitting on that thing!
When eventually, the bus does arrive, it goes via every back road, stopping and starting and jolting my back and neck to the point of tears.
Other than the disappointing market, I ventured into Marks & Spencers for a £1.00 sushi snack for my lunch and looked at a couple of nearby charity shops. I couldn’t have walked any further, so, with nothing else to see, I checked the time of the next bus home. It was in 15 minutes: just time to eat my sushi.
Huh! It would have been time enough to have eaten a 3-course meal.
As ever, the bus was about 25 minutes late – unless it was the next one 5 minutes early, but I really, really doubt it! I’d had a seat on the nearby benches while I was eating my lunch, but as the scheduled bus time got closer, the queue became longer and longer and I could no longer avoid getting in it. Except I can’t stand for more than 30 seconds without extreme pain in my legs and, nine times out of 10, feeling lightheaded or faint. And I did, so I went and perched my bum on the equally inadequate bar of a seat in the bus shelter.
When the bus finally came, it was already fairly full and now the world and his dog wanted to get on it too, all at once, it seemed. The system for queuing for buses, in banks, whatever, in Tenerife means that you remember who is in front of you and whoever is behind you remembers your place. Thus, if you step out of line to sit down – because you had to, because you’re ill, old, pregnant or whatever – you still get on or served in order. Of course that doesn’t happen in the UK! Step out of line and you’re now deemed to be at the very end. People push and shove like they’re about to get on the Japanese railway.
That, again, meant standing for far longer than I can cope with, being buffeted painfully in the crowd and then, by the time I got on, there was only one seat left, in the middle of those folding seats along the side of the bus that are uncomfortable and without arm or back rests. As the bus stopped and started, my weight was thrown onto my painful hip, my back felt like it was breaking and, besides, I was becoming too tired to hold myself up.
It was so painful, I was VERY, VERY close to crying out.
Once I got back, I still had that long walk back from the bus stop. By this time I was in so much pain and so exhausted, I could hardly walk at all. It was so slowly and painfully that I was having trouble staying upright and I was staggering and weaving all over the place like a drunk.
I had to lie down when I got in and wasn’t capable of doing anything else on Friday. The pain in my hip, knees, legs and feet increased to the point where I wondered if cutting them off might be the only way to stop the pain. A vein on the front of my shin was sticking up like a purple beacon. And, curiously, the skin on the big toe joint and toes of my right foot went numb.
Eventually, I got to sleep on Friday night, but yesterday morning, Saturday, the pain in my right hip and down my right leg was way off the scale; the skin on my toes was still numb; my neck and back hurt even more and I’d developed a characteristic sore throat, feverish headache and overall flu-like symptoms, as well as being utterly exhausted, so I took a powder (Beechams) and went to sleep for the afternoon. And still slept right through the night.
This morning, Sunday, instead of feeling any better, I felt much worse.
My prescription meds (Celebrex) just aren’t having any effect on reducing the level of pain in my neck, back, hip, knees, legs and feet … all still being in agony, as well as my hands and wrists being swollen, painful and too weak even to manage to lift a cup for breakfast. Then I still have all the flu-like symptoms, now with the added *bonus* of a cough that will not stop.
At the end of the day, I have to conclude that this is far too much pain for so little pleasure: that the disadvantages so outweigh the benefits as to make it not worth it and, have to accept that I am no longer able to cope with such outings, unless either a) I have to or b) the potential pleasure is huge.
And, sadly, in the UK, b) is less likely than finding rocking horse poo.