Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Delay Upon Delay

Doxey Marshes
It never rains but it pours. I had intended writing this summary of our UK trip a day or two after our return but… the best laid plans of mice and men… Back in the 1990s, when we travelled overseas fairly extensively, jetlag rarely reared its ugly head. It was one of those urban myths that effected only old ladies and those of a more fragile disposition. Welcome back Kotter!

When it came, it came with a vengeance. We had late Saturday afternoon and all Sunday in which to recover before we both reported back at the coalface on Monday morning, 4 October. Given previous experience it was going to be a piece of cake. Heaps of time to unpack, settle down to the old home routine and be ready for work.

I first noticed that all was not as was well as it could have been when about half way through our mid-morning English lesson. I began to repeatedly drop my chalk [or rather, whiteboard maker]. When I set the lesson’s short piece of writing I sat at my desk to catch up on some of the work the relief teacher had given the class in my absence during the last two weeks of Term 3 [when Fay and I were in the UK]. One of the students eventually tapped me gently on the shoulder and asked if I was okay as I’d been snoring for the past few minutes.

Kids can be surprisingly good that way. They could have grasped the opportunity to run riot but had instead sat quietly in their places, working, while Mr B had a snooze. They understood jetlag.

It took more or less the rest of the week to readjust to Australian Eastern Standard Time – and of course in that week the rest of the eastern seaboard put their clocks back an hour while Queensland [ever fearful that milking cows may cause their curtains to fade] remained on standard time. We found ourselves wide awake at 0200 hours and knackered by 1800 hours. Driving back and forth was a nightmare. Thank God for I-pods and Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.”

By the end of our first week back home I felt fit enough to grapple with the “Trip Reflections” blog. Had the first couple of paragraphs sketched out and decided to test them for visuals on Microsoft Word. Looked promising. I tapped out a few more words, extended some of the sentences, switched a few paragraphs around, dotted a couple of “i’s”, crossed a “t” here and there and then sat back. Time for a drop of the Barossa’s finest red.

Shortly thereafter the computer crashed. Cables and leads were hastily unplugged and the moribund machine taken to the local technician. His wife, a whiz with computers, smiled, suggested it was probably dust on the terminals [or some such disease these technological contraptions suffer from]. She did unspeakable things to the machine, blew here and there, tweaked this, poked that, squeezed a little and sure enough the machine came back to life. Another resurrection to set the Evangelists abuzzing.

The less than heartening prognosis was, however, that my computer was so outdated that should I ever be in need of replacement parts it would be neigh on impossible to find any anywhere this side of Cyber Heaven [where all good electrical appliances go when the last amp leaves their battery].

And yes, you’ve guessed it, that weekend [the weekend before last] the computer crashed again, only it was obviously a mite more serious this time. Last rites were administered; a Requiem Mass celebrated and where possible data rescued. The old desktop was no more.

Long live the desktop!

It took a few days to put together the new computer: Windows 7; Office 2010; cordless keyboard and mouse; new external speakers and that curious pale pink button, bottom left, which, once fully understood, will pour me a glass of wine on demand!

In the meanwhile I kept myself from fretting by backing-up trip pix onto CDs [via the Government-issued laptop].

And all this in a background of rampant fleas. That was a side issue that made sitting still in any one spot not only uncomfortable but also very irritating. Whenever Fay and/or I sat in the “office” for any length of time, the lower half of our legs became covered in fleas! I am assured that it has something to do with the excessively wet conditions while we were away –the rain gauge registered in excess of 100mm of rain. One of life’s little ironies really. During those last few days in the UK, when there had been some drizzle, kith and kin, and the occasional oddball, would come up and say something to the effect that they were sure we would be glad to be back in sunny Queensland.

The thing with excessively wet weather is that it drives the humble house mouse Mus musculus indoors seeking shelter. The thing about mice indoors is that they tend to nibble here and there and occasionally that “here’ is a computer cable, the “there” a wad of important bird notes and so to prevent these calamities, as much as we both dislike the practice, we leave poison baits lying around in strategic spots [under the settee, on the lowest bookshelf, etc.]. The thing about dead mice is that the fleas they hosted leave to seek fresher pastures. The thing about homeless fleas is that they remain hidden in minute dust mounds awaiting some unsuspecting warm-blooded creature to attach themselves onto.

Having a huge English Mastiff die of old age did little to deter the influx of fleas under the house – and of course some inevitably found their way upstairs into the main living quarters.

And so here we are, where we should have been almost a fortnight ago.

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