About The Author
Simon Oakes took up writing in his later years after being diagnosed with a health problem that prevented him continuing his career in senior management in the Construction Industry. Closely following, was the death of his eldest son, Simon, at the age of thirty-eight years. His books are in memory of his son.
Simon deeply researches his topics, endeavouring to provide his readers with an educational experience as well as enjoying the varied protagonists and storylines. Topics are diverse and range from “A Celtic Queen” (AD450), “A Norman Invasion” (AD 1066), life as a resistance fighter (AD1945) in the Arthur Cornish Trilogy: “More Than This”, “Heritage” and “Ties That Bind”. Simon has also written two anecdotal books concerning growing old: “I Can’t Grow Old Gracefully” and “Mellow With Age”. Simon has written and published ten books to date and currently lives with his wife in Sydney, Australia. You can follow Simon on Facebook.
Many readers asked me if there was going to be a follow up to to “I Can’t Grow Old Gracefully”? At the time, I couldn’t see one, but events have overtaken me and life kept throwing up little gems, so I have started the sequel.
Much has changed in my life since “Gracefully” but my outlook has stayed the same: every circumstance I find myself in, throws up something to laugh about and rejoice. Sometimes, it’s after the event, but often, it’s there and then. The dog has died, the daughter has left home, my wife and I have downsized our home and I’ve been in hospital again, but I still consider myself lucky.
So, here I am, ready to share some of these joys with you. There is a new word that has come into my life, and that is contentment. I am truly content, and even though, as you will see through this book, society and some aspects of it in particular, have tried their best to make life difficult, my good humour has prevailed and I have forgiven them of all their sins.
Live and let live is my motto. But there still seems to be a faction of our human race that has difficulty with me sometimes. Can’t understand it. I am a simple fellow who interprets life simply, taking it at its word, and doing my best to annoy as many in the shortest possible time. Each new day is another opportunity to me. So let’s bring it on.
Another hospital visit, another set of adventures. Hernias this time. The wife dropped me at the door, to save paying for parking, and I found my way to where I was told to go. I checked into admission and was asked to sit down in the waiting area. The television was near. As they’d forgotten to put the subtitles on and the sound was so low, I couldn’t hear anything.
I tried to make sense of what was showing. All I could come up with was that some woman had a dog that she couldn’t control properly and it had messed with a cat next door and got its nose scratched. Then the woman who owned the dog set about the woman who owned the cat and the police were called. They arrived and were taking statements when somebody big sat in front of me. You know the sort you dread coming at you down the aisle of the plane. They should have taken their hat off. They didn’t.
At six twenty in the morning the room was packed. My turn came and a nice nurse called me through, weighed me, checked my details yet again and took me through to a room with a bed.
“Your procedure today requires a full strip I’m afraid. That means no undies. That was a huge assumption on her part. Put this gown on, open at the back and someone will be along shortly.”
I dressed in the gown and couldn’t get the image of Jack Nicolson out of my mind. You know the scene in “Something’s Gotta Give”. I’d spotted a white towelling dressing gown and I put that on as well. Then I got into bed and waited.
My first visitor was the anaesthetist. He was lovely.
“Looking at all you have had go wrong with you,” he said reading my thick file. “I’m surprised to find you so cheerful.”
“Oh, I try to look on the bright side,” I said with a trace of modesty. He was making me feel good about myself.
“It would be so easy to give up. Yet, here you are again with something else, and it doesn’t seem to be worrying you.”
“No,” I said. “I’m sure you won’t let anything happen to me.” That’s when he spoiled it all.
“Do you mind settling my account before you go in?”
What did he know that I didn’t know? Talk about letting a bloke down. He didn’t just stick a pin in my balloon, he stuck in a Celtic battle sword. I handed over my credit card and he processed the invoice.
I had this thought that he controlled how much pain I would be in afterwards, so I was nice to him right through the interview. On the subject of pain, the most frequent question I get is “did/does it hurt?”
Hernia pain is so hard to describe accurately. So I say.
“Imagine an evil woman has your scrotum in her hand.”
Now you are wondering why I used the term scrotum and not balls or ball bag or nuts or even bollocks. What about testicles or little green apples, you may well ask? I’ll explain later.
He left smiling, I tried to smile back. I couldn’t hold my black mood for long, however, because Michelle was my next visitor. She was my prep nurse. Young, slim, extremely good looking and long fingers on beautiful olive hands. She sat down beside the bed. I wouldn’t have minded if she’d asked to get in it with me. These days I’m all huff and puff and no substance.
On that point, why do old men think they are irresistible to young women? I see them pruning themselves and pulling their guts in, whenever a beauty goes by. Extraordinary.
Michelle had a voice to match her disposition. Quiet. I’m a bit hard of hearing, so I have to concentrate really hard, trying not to say pardon too many times. Anyway, somehow we got through all of the paperwork. Then she said.
“They.” Just who ‘they’ are I’d no idea. I guessed something unpalatable was coming so ‘they’ had to be blamed for it.
“They want you shaved from under your chest to your groin including your scrotum.”
Am I hearing this right? Did she say scrotum? I really didn’t want to say pardon again, so tried to think what else it could have been. She then told me I shouldn’t have put the dressing gown on, so I got off the bed and took it off like a scolded child. Climbing back on the bed, which was not as easy as a twenty something would find it, I tried to hold together and smooth my Jack Nicholson gown. I was wasting my time.
Michelle left me to go to her table and I thought if she comes back with a cutthroat razor, I’m of of here. Lovely girl or not, there are limits. She came back with clippers.
Starting under my boobs she took every hair off me, using a roller thing afterwards to pick up the loose hairs. You know the one I mean. You use it to scoop loose hairs off garments. It’s a roller with sticky tape. Working her way down, I closed my eyes. She was now in the sensitive area.
“Spread your legs please?” She asked demurely. Any other time, I might have got a bit excited and replied. “What about you spreading yours?” That’s when I knew I’d heard her correctly and what was coming next.
Holding my old man deftly between two fingers and pulling it here and there to get every last skerrick of hair, it should have been more enjoyable. I resisted telling her to be careful, she might break her wrist, because I wasn’t feeling comical. One of those rare occasions.
Eventually, she was finished. We didn’t have a conversation whilst she was working. Well, what would you talk about? Plus, I didn’t want to break her concentration. To break the silence that now prevailed, I asked her if she was going to push the bed to the operating theatre.
“No, a wardsman will come,” she said.
“You wouldn’t trust me to push your bed would you?” She asked coyly.
“After what you’ve just done, I trust you implicitly.” She actually smiled at that.
My pubic hairs have started to grow back and I’m almost normal down there. I’m going back in two months for a hip replacement. If I remember correctly, they took half my pubes away when I had the right one done. I wonder if I’ll get Michelle again?
The hernia operation went according to plan, and my surgeon actually rang my wife to say I was okay. We both thought that was going beyond the call of duty and were duly impressed. My wife said she missed me and pigged out on chocolate and biscuits to such an extent she was sick as a dog that night.
I phoned her at 8:30am to say I could be picked up at 10:00am. She didn’t sound very perky on the phone. Didn’t look crash hot when I saw her either. The nurses looked at her suspiciously, wondering if they should put her in an isolation ward or something.
She was there at ten on the dot and we left the hospital. I must say I had a jaunty spring in my step and she couldn’t get over how well I was coping. It was because I was still filled with drugs. It wore off in the afternoon and I found out what pain was. Oh, I was going to describe it to you.
Imagine your scrotum is in the palm of the hand of an evil woman. Not a slender fingered dusky maiden with the touch of velvet but a gnarled old crone with a grip of steel. Every now and then, without warning, she gives them a squeeze, crushing them together in an excruciating union. If you men reading this have got tears in your eyes, then you get what I mean.
We walked to the end of the corridor and looked out of the window to get our bearings. There, far below us, was the car park. I didn’t know how long we’d wasted with our tour of the hospital so far. I did wonder if we could get down there within the twenty minutes allotted. I had visions of being stuck at the exit, a queue of cars behind us, sitting staring at the immovable barrier, waiting for the honking to start.
I helped my wife to our car. Now, I’m drugged up, happy, and disorientated.
“Do you know where we’re going, my little cherub?” I innocently ask.
“Of course I do,” she mumbled, threatening me not to offer any more help. We found a pay station so she put the ticket in. ‘No charge’.
“There’s no charge,” she said. Just then a hospital looking person came along.
“We’ve just put our parking ticket in and there was no charge,” she said.
Looking directly at me, he said. “That’s right sir. You get twenty minutes to pick up a patient. You are in the pick up zone are you?”
“That’s right,” I replied, not wishing to complicate matters by telling him the grey, sickly looking person next to me wasn’t the patient.
I needn’t have worried, my wife navigated us safely and we got out and drove home. I told her to sit down and I would make her a cup of tea. When I turned back to look at her she was asleep on the lounge. About mid afternoon when my joy pills had worn off, I started to feel uncomfortable. My wife, bless her, rallied round and, despite her own malaise, looked after me.
“It was your fault anyway.”
I normally ‘yes dear’ my way out of situations like this. On this occasion I was intrigued.
“Why’s that dear?”
“I only binged because I was missing you.”
The events of the day weren’t over yet. As I say, by mid afternoon the crone was putting the squeeze on me and I was in a bit of a state.
“I think I’ll go and lie down. It seems easier when I’m horizontal.”
“Just shout if you need anything,” my wife called to her ‘now centre of attention’.
I took some happy pills and was lying there starting to feel better when an electric storm started up. It was a cracker. Put twenty thousand homes out of power. It did something else too. It set off the fire alarms in our complex – all of them. What a din! I couldn’t jump up, I couldn’t move. My wife looked out of our front door and all our neighbours were doing the same. They conferred about this and conferred about that. No one had any sensible solution. The village management wasn’t around at this time.
My wife, bless her, is not one to stand around when something is not right. She forgot all about her own delicate situation and worked the phone until I’m sure I smelled smoke coming from near it somewhere. Two hours it took her. But she got it fixed.
That was it. Although we’d planned an early night her blood was up by now so she stayed up and watched television whilst I stayed in bed. She watched “Escape to the Country.” I’ve seen it a few times. It reminds me of that other TV show ‘Pointless” where the contestants have to score the least number of points to win. Let me explain.
The potential purchasers give a list of requirement they want in their new house in the country. Things like ‘high ceilings, as my husband is six feet three inches tall. A double garage for his vintage car. Land, so we can be self sufficient. Large double bedrooms’. This is how they ‘tick the boxes’.
They get shown cottages with low ceilings, husband has to permanently duck or he will crack his head open on ugly beams. No garage, no driveway even, only street parking. A bedroom with a single bed pushed hard up against a wall. How do you make the thing? No storage whatsoever. An outside courtyard big enough for a pot of mint. When confronted with just how useless this property is, the comment is.
“This is all about compromise!”
I feel the house buyers have been instructed to say something positive about the house as a condition of allowing the crew to film it. On occasions I can tell they’re struggling.
Anyway, the wife likes it, so that’s what she watched