Chaos to Cosmos
The path from chaos to cosmos was discovered by telling one's life story

Friday, 24 October 2008

It was on a Tuesday morning ...

Recently, British Gas sent my mother a letter offering her £300 off a new boiler. So she brings it to me all excited, like she'd won the lottery and was going to get a new boiler for nothing, or pretty close to it. 

After stifling a guffaw, I suggested it would cost at least £2,000 (even after the "gift" was deducted), but no, she wouldn't believe that. Of course, I must be wrong. There was only one way to deal with this ... get confirmation. So I rang to get them to come round and tell her how much a new boiler really costs, even with money off. In writing.

Which they did, on Tuesday morning and, lo and behold, the first verbal figure the man came up with, was exactly £2,000. Yes, I had to say it! By the time he'd done his sums, added VAT, and printed it off, it was nearer £3,000.

Now, I know she has absolutely no intention of changing the boiler (heck, she wouldn't even change the settings on the washing machine), but she was talking about it beforehand, saying, "depending on what they say" (on price) ... then saying she did not want credit. Once she told the man her date of birth, she was told she absolutely wouldn't get credit either, which, funnily enough, is exactly what I'd said beforehand too. Not that I was believed, of course. Suddenly, this became a problem and a "Where am I going to get the money from?"

Ah, you're thinking, well, she would say that in front of the bloke to wheedle out of ordering. And you'd be wrong. She did um and ah a bit, but she left him with the impression that she might have the cash if she had to (and she does.)

And she'd HAVE to find it from somewhere, if the boiler went wrong and, when it does come to the end of its useful life, which is probably right about now.

No, it was after he'd gone that she started having her tantrums, which, once more, ended up with her screaming at me and telling me to get out and go back to Tenerife ... All because I offered the "grown up" observation that, if she wasn't going to be selling the house any time soon (we'll get back to that), then she has absolutely no other choice but to maintain it.

That £3,000, over an estimated 15 years of the life of a boiler (The Telegraph, apparently reckons you should budget for a replacement every decade), works out to be £200 a year (£4 a week), which is about the same as the cost of the annual service contract. My dad used to put away sums like that to cover replacements and they must be considered as part of heating costs in Britain.

The current boiler still works, just, but there are problems, because it's already 16 years old; there's reduced efficiency, of course, and there "may" be problems finding parts for it (I don't know how much of a problem that is yet) and, it's the old open flue type that often has blow backs that have since been declared dangerous. (In council properties, their removal is now compulsory.)

The bloke said he wasn't hard selling, then tried to "put the fear of god up us" with scare-mongering stories of how, if anything goes wrong with it, they'd just slap a label on it and cap the gas off. It just so happens that I worked for British Gas for several years, way back, so I know they did do that when there's a dangerous gas escape. They might condemn it, but didn't do that for a broken boiler and that sort of selling is the first thing that would send me scurrying to the competition.

But, it also happens that my mother knows a bloke who worked in the gas leaks department at North Thames - on the same floor where I worked - so I told her to talk to him. "What can he do? He can't give me £3,000", she snaps, nastily. No, but he can help us make a more intelligent educated guess over whether there really is a need to be proactive and change the boiler before it goes wrong; how likely parts would be unavailable, where to find out, etc.

In other words, I know she won't listen to a damn word I say, so ...

She picks up her phone, she appears to dial, then, with barely time for it to have rung and been picked up on the other end, quickly rushes into a vague diatribe about needing help with "something". Her tone and delivery sounded to me like she was reciting into an answering machine, but she was purporting to be having a conversation with a human. If anyone was on the other end, they didn't have much chance to ask what she wanted (she didn't say), reply, chat, greet, nothing. Immediately she hung up, she recapped that it was done, he'd be round in a day or two. The call was so fast and so strange, I reckon she might have rung "nobody" and acted, hoping I'd drop the subject. Which isn't very grown up.

Nothing has been done. Either way, the man has never showed - yet, strangely, he's supposed to be a really good friend who would drop anything to help her.

What happens when we really do need to get something done?

Attacked and slandered for being ill

Not the actual neighbourhood, for illustrative purposes only.

Several weeks ago in August (it's taken me this long to be able to deal with this), one of the neighbours in this street, a woman, decided to attack and slander me in the middle of the street, accusing me of being lazy and of sponging, delivering an uninvited and unwarranted lecture about how my mother "doesn't have to" help me and going on about how I should get a job and a flat and move out ... 
She was prattling on about how her parents would never help her (probably the crux of the matter, which is hardly my problem) and how they locked the door at a set curfew time ... The point of which, I cannot even imagine, except that it very adequately describes the sort of people they must be: the sort that would leave daughters out in the street in real danger, rather than protect them and, who probably think "trouble" only happens after a certain time of night. Don't know what you call people with ideas like that, but I call them ignorant.

She doesn't actually know the facts, so it was merely her opinion, and, it's none of her bloody business anyway, but not only that, she launched into this slanderous and defamatory lecture while I was talking to another neighbour, which made it extremely stressful to have my character assassinated in public.

(Oh yeah, I might add that I was on my way out for a 2-3 mile walk, on a rare day when the weather permitted, in an attempt to do what I can to get some exercise, improve my circulation, keep my ankles from swelling and most of the rest of me from ceasing up. If I really were lazy, would I do this, especially considering that I usually can't move for days afterwards? Right! It's bloody obvious, isn't it?)

Despite all that, I agree totally that my mother "doesn't have to" help me, but irrespective of my health situation (whether you believe there's a problem or not), irrespective of what parents should or shouldn't do for their offspring, I've made sure that mother, not me, confirmed in advance her intention to "help." It's a matter for debate, whether you call it "help", with the considerable abuse I have to put up with to get it, but that distinction notwithstanding that's the end of the matter and whatever anyone else wants to think, it's none of their business.

Not that the woman had any right to know, but I felt I had a right and a good reason to defend myself against groundless criticism. I attempted to explain some of the facts, mainly in the hope that the other neighbour would be left in no doubt, but from subsequent comments from her - proffering more unwanted advice in a tone I can only describe as "snotty" - it's clear the damage is done.

Where could this woman have got her wild ideas, I wonder? From someone who has said something to give her the wrong impression, maybe? And, since I only know one person here and have only one relative it's patently obvious.

When I got home, I went ballistic (I think, anyone would). Mother seemed shocked and looked worried (although, that doesn't necessarily confirm she felt that way) and immediately agreed that the neighbour had no right to do such a thing

It wasn't until a week or so later I got any further on the issue though, when my mother went to see this neighbour - just for a chat, as if nothing had happened. Apparently, the matter was never mentioned. Once again, I seriously questioned my mother's sanity to her face, utilizing a few of the choicer adjectives - given the gravity of this I feel that I am justifiably angry - if she could casually "pass the time of day" with someone who had verbally attacked her daughter in public.

In the end, with some more probing, I was finally able to determine from my mother that she had told the neighbour that she "did not believe" there was anything wrong with me. Of course we know "did not believe" is not the same as "there is nothing" wrong, but what is the neighbour going to hear?

Mother can't / won't take her own daughter's word that she has pretty much all of these symptoms, that I'm in pain and have been for years. She knows I was chucked out of a job because I was deemed unable to cope with it 11 years ago. 

Despite all that, since I don't yet have a proper diagnosis [since been confirmed], with a diagnosis of "nothing," "nothing" must be what I have then, to her. 

Of course, it isn't! But she has therefore convinced herself that I must therefore be lying. Someone who lies all the time, I've come to realise, expects everyone else to lie like they do. And my mother, resolutely refuses to accept that the manner in which she's said this has had the exact same effect as telling people that I'm a liar, which is clearly why they have formed this wrong opinion of me.

NOTE: You'll notice that AT NO POINT do I identify the neighbour in question who verbally attacked me. However, I discover that they follow every word of this blog - and then pass information on to others who also have no right to interfere in my business - and decide to add to the abuse by then accusing me of libel. No it's not, because, what I've said is true. It wouldn't be even if I had publicly called the woman by name. Whereas, what she said about me in public is slander.

Phuking with Physics

Or the tail of two teapots

Two teapots, different shapes, but I think you can see that the yellow teapot on the left (mother's) is at least as big as the white one (mine). Actually, her yellow pot holds a little bit more, I know, because I've tested them.

My little pot on the right, is just big enough to hold two mugs' worth, while my mother swears that her teapot is only big enough for a mug and a half and when I pointed out that this was a load of old bollocks, she started to argue, saying the mugs were different sizes. They're not, but that's irrelevant.

Logic and scientific laws out the window: Mary Poppins' carpet bag and Dr. Who's Tardis, obviously, determine the rules of physics here!

Of course, I should merely accept without question my mother's unscientific fantasy imaginings, call in the men in white coats (for both of us) and leave it at that. :) And, of course, you know there was no way I would do that, so I wasted my time today while she was out, testing them both "scientifically"; filling each pot with water, then pouring that water into a measuring jug.

Using this scientific method, my findings indicated that:
  • My white pot holds a mere 3/4 pint.
  • Her yellow pot holds 1 pint exactly.

Theory proven, I think! Yes, I know, this is a complete and utter, total waste of water, time and energy; yours, mine, hers. It's also so absolutely 'effin pathetic it defies description. Why the hell does anyone need to come up with fantasy untruths, even over such pointless, insignificant matters as this?

And why do we have to have two teapots in the first place?

Well, of course, I have to be the awkward cuss, because I don't like "ordinary" tea (never have done, which should be no surprise, because for the 16 years she visited me in Spain, she bought her own teabags with her, because she knew I wouldn't have any), but I'll drink Earl Grey and other unusual teas.

Had to remind her yet again that I don't like "normal" tea (I also avoid it for health reasons), which she reacted to with a tantrum and snarky comments, as if I'd personally attacked her, so I'm certain this was willful "revenge".

Before I bought my teapot, I'd make a cup of Earl Grey (not the cheapest) and to eek another cup out of the teabag (I'm poor), I'd lay the teabag in a spoon, neatly, on the chopping board, near the kettle, just for a few minutes. This is EXACTLY what my mother does (only she leaves hers anywhere on the worktop), when she often can't be bothered to make tea in the pot.

But when I go back to make my second cup of tea, I find that the teabag is gone, the spoon is gone, having been washed up; everything's wiped down, put away, cleared up. Time, after time, after time ... because she's thrown the teabag in the bin, because she says she thinks it's rubbish.

These teabags were something I'd bought with my own very meagre money. Can you imagine the massive deal she'd make of it if I threw out something of hers?

Given that she does this herself, you'd think she would be capable of working it out or realise that if it were trash I'd know where the trash can is and how to place items in it. Do I need to spell this out? It's deliberate provocation.

When the men in white coats do come for me and when I do finally and totally lose it, hopefully, these posts will show how much provocation I had! No, of course, it isn't just the annoyance with the tea, it's that something of this kind, something she must disagree with and causes me stress and requires me to explain and justify myself (for no good reason), happens every single day.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Stuck on transmit

Know-it-alls are bombastic, opinionated and bad at listening.

Plans for a cooked lunch today had to be quickly abandoned in favour of a quick snack, because mother only gave me short notice of the time she was scheduled to go out. We discuss what it will be: something that would be eaten on your lap. What she knows is that she's going out. What she wants is just to eat NOW. She doesn't think about the logic of the timescale, nor listen to a word that's said. She sets the table for lunch; knives, forks the lot.

She comes to the kitchen for juice. As I already had something to drink, I tell her, very clearly, that I didn't need juice. She pours 2 glasses of juice.

These are entirely typical of her and could be describing any number of small things that happen on any given day. And it's clear it's because her receive channel is switched off and she is permanently set on transmit, unable and unwilling to hear over the noise of her own self-important voice or thinking.

It is so frustrating and infuriating to waste perfectly good breath on her!

There is nothing about it that suggests dementia or senility.

Time-travel thinking ...

Having made and frozen her meals for next week (as I won't be here), I begin explaining them to her and mention that I'll make another fish pie later, from which portions can be frozen too and begin a sentence, "They may not be ..."

But she just could not stop to listen to the rest of what I was going to say and, simply had to interrupt in her know-it-all manner saying that, if the portions are not very big, she can always have them for lunch.

Well, we had, finally (usually), got it round to having our main, largest meal at lunch time, as this is recommended, not only from the point of view of weight control, but also for the immune system, I read. So the small portion for lunch logic doesn't stack and, you know she hasn't forgotten: look at what she did with the setting the table business, not 2 minutes before!

And I didn't say that, did I? I wasn't even going to say that ...
The portion sizes, frozen or not, will still be the exact same as they have been every other time - (same ingredients) and she has to know that they have to be equal, since she now only has ONE SIZE of dish to make it in (after she's thrown nearly everything useful in the house away: another long story.)

What I was about to comment, was that the fish pie portions may not be ... quite as successful (taste / texture wise) frozen and then defrosted and reheated, as say, something like the soups and stews.

That's all.

But no, as usual, she knows everything, including what you're thinking and what you're going to say, even before you do and interrupts all the time.

She does this to try to appear "smart". You and I know it makes her look like a totally ignorant, blithering idiot and, what's worse is she refuses to grasp the fact that, if she actually LISTENED sometimes, she might NOT always be wrong and therefore needing (she thinks) to try even harder still to appear right.

If she listened, she might learn something and then actually BE right!

All know-it-alls suffer from a lack of self-esteem, and what they seek, through their tireless attempts to impress, is usually approval and validation.

Now I know we all suffer from this to some degree. And we don't always listen when we should. We don't all FAIL relentlessly for 84 years though! That takes real stupidity of determination or determination of stupidity. :)

Blaming the tools

Some people are obsessed with blaming anything but themselves. Recently, my mother has been complaining about numb fingers and a lack of grip in her hands.

This wouldn't be because I've been suffering with such bad pain in my hands and wrists, for which I've had them supported, because I was also losing power and grip and am concerned about developing carpal tunnel syndrome, could it? 

You know the type ... If I have a headache, she has a brain tumour ...

Anyway, she buys some new cloths for use in the kitchen. A different type than the old ones, because she says, they haven't been wiping up very well lately. You don't think maybe there's nothing whatsoever wrong with the cloths and it's just probably that she (and I) can't wring them out as well as we used to?

You watch, these new cloths will be "no better"! :-)