Yesterday was one of those days. Before you spend too much time on what category of ‘those days’ it was, I am talking about when, long before it is over, you aware that the only thing you can do is just to get to its end. Yes, I am run down. I am still unable to shift the cold that I have been carrying since the week before Xmas, which has seen me off work twice and fretting about my Absence Record. And thanks to having had my Working Sunday, yesterday was also my ninth shift in ten days.
But it was also one of those days that offer no relief from the grind, from Openreach Engineers who don’t turn up when they should, to customers who demand you do things you’ve already told them are impossible to do, to Managers who are never there when their authority is needed, to systems that tell you what steps to take (and for once you agree with them) then refuse to allow you to raise that resolution, to senior technical experts who are not there to help you get round this.
All you can do is get to the end. And this was Wednesday, the day I get out at 7.00pm, not 9.00pm, when the supermarket is still open, and more importantly so is the chippy, and you eat and you try to relax, but the head doesn’t work, it can’t focus on anything for as much as ten minutes at a time, and you end up grinding through YouTube videos because they don’t last so long that you can’t last with them.
Until midnight, when, counter-intuitively, you then start to transfer e-mailed sequences into the current Working Draft, blending sequences into a continuous scene, writing brief bridges, until it’s 12.40 am, and when you turn out the light, your head won’t shut down, so you end up reading more from Ursula Le Guin’s Orsinian Tales (the expanded version of which, containing the novel, Malafrena, and all the later stories and songs, you bought off Amazon that night) until your brain twitches enough to suggest sleep.
A Working Sunday is followed by Thursday off which, when there’s enough Availability, is followed by Friday Holiday. But I had plans for today.
First, a Doctor’s Appointment about this bloody cold/cough/sore throat/whatever it may mutate into next. The problem was that, on Tuesday they told me it was 10.40 but yesterday, the text confirmation was 11.40. I phoned as soon as I woke: 11.40.
That enabled me to watch this week’s The Flash. I’d acquired it last night, but after last week’s debacle I was reluctant to watch it. But it was better than last week, and for more reasons than the return of Corinne Behrer as Prank. Ms Behrer played Prank, the henchwoman to Mark Hammill’s Trickster, in the 1990 series, looking more than fine in her multi-coloured leotard, and twenty-seven years on she still looked hot to me, and wonderfully, gigglily kooky and homicidal: she can return whenever she wants.
But not enough time for Thursday’s episode of American Gothic, not yet. The big reveal: I watch and blog one week, but the post appears the next, making sure that I never have any scheduling issues. There will be no non-post next Thursday.
Because my Doctor’s lies on the 203 bus route which is, as I have previously mentioned, the most unreliable bus service in the whole of Greater Manchester. In my paranoia about lateness, I reached the surgery at 11.20. I planned to go on from there and had put Ursula Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven in my bag to read on the bus.
My Doctor is good, very good. He doesn’t abide by the ten minute appointment slot, but gives me the time I need. He does that with everybody. It’s been getting much better recently, but today was a reversion to old times: I finally got in to see him at 1.10, having finished The Lathe of Heaven. Of course it’s frustrating, but I’m not a hypocrite, I can’t begrudge other patients receiving the level of care I get, no matter how it inconveniences me.
What I got was; anti-biotics to shift the bloody cold; an increase in dosage for one of my diabetes medication, because my bloodsugar’s up a little bit; and ibuprofen gel for the erratic muscle pain I’ve been getting in the upper back ribs this past four weeks – on both sides!
The prescription is e-mailed to the Pharmacy next door. I follow it, but the new Pharmacist is due for an appointment with the Doctor himself, meaning he has to close up, meaning nowhere for me to hang around out of the rain. So I said I’d return, walked back to the main road and got the bus into Manchester for my monthly visit to Forbidden Planet.
Usually, I would do this on a Saturday, this coming Saturday, but I was feeling impatient to get at Doomsday Clock 3, before I learned to much about it, so I could rip it to shreds in a very-shortly forthcoming blog. And I had a third stop that would, in a back-handed way, be more convenient to make on the way back from Manchester.
Before Forbidden Planet, I slipped into both the big Oxfam shop and Vinyl Exchange. In the latter, I found a 7 disc DVD box set of Victoria Wood at the BBC: all of As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques, Presents, Pat & Margaret, and stuff I’ve never seen, for £14; I get paid tomorrow. Then Planet, with the month’s titles, as the latest Astro City collection’s now in softback so I nabbed that too.
I also put in an order for a comic coming up later this year: Action comics 1,000. It’s the 1,000th Anniversary of Superman’s debut. It’s a ‘comic’ but it’s going to be published as a 384p hardback book, including a never-published Jerry Siegel/Joe Schuster story from, they reckon, 1942. It’s a landmark: the first comic to reach its 1,000th issue. Imagine that for a disposable, ephemeral things. Alright, it’s taken 80 years to get there, but that’s 80 years: 80 years of consistent publication. I figure I’d better buy it when it arrives rather than pay the inflated price eBay will no doubt exact.
And if I don’t want to keep it, why, there’s eBay!
I came home last night to a red card: my eBay acquisition of two Luck of the Legion collections undelivered because a signature was required. So from Manchester, I tool a 197 back, to get to the Collections Office in Heaton Mersey. Yes, it was a long way round, and a long ride, the 197 being one of those buses that go all round the houses and take forever to do so: it certainly stopped forever on Stockport Road, on the Longsight/Levenshulme border. But it meant not back-tracking and doubling over my tracks. And, amazingly, there was no queue: I mean, no queue. One lady, being served. No being stuck outside the office, inching forward in the rain.
That completed all my planned tasks, but it was early enough and light enough so back to the 203 I went, not to return home but to travel onwards further, to the Fir Tree and the Pharmacy and my latest prescription and then backtracking for home. From leaving the house at about 10.55 to returning at 5.20, I’d spent a bloody big proportion of that time doing nothing, in the waiting room or on the bus.
But it was so much more relaxing than yesterday, because it involved the feeling of doing something. It didn’t matter that none of these achievements were significant to anyone but myself, nor that they involved wasting vastly more periods of time tan the actual achievements, they were things that were done, that had outcomes I can see, and they were done under no pressure.
And day is done. Time for a vegetarian pizza to go into the oven, and the unwinding to go on. Yesterday and today. As different as yesterday and today. I have reading to do, and more writing. And another coffee won’t go amiss.