The Earth Is So Unyielding . . .

Garden I took up the invitation (which actually felt more like a ‘thrown down gauntlet’ challenge) to me and spent the night under canvas.  Please notice, I didn’t use the word ‘slept’!  Thought it might be nice to experience something new on a muggy, breezy evening.  Huh!  Now, I don’t ‘do’ camping, nearest I ever came was a night in a sodden field in a trailer tent one October . . . bit of a light bulb moment going on here, I bet that’s why I’ve never repeated the experience.  Why have I never made the connection before?  Was told the next day the condensation dripping on me was because poor light had stopped the erection of the inner lining which, in turn, would have stopped the condensation!  But surely that makes the inner skin ESSENTIAL??  Been watching too much cricket, poor light, whatever next . . .

Embarking on my mission with zest and enthusiasm, at 11.30pm I made my way into the tent.  Pleasantly surprised by height of the apex, was expecting something akin to the MRI scanner tunnel which I found deeply disturbing.  So far, so good.  Now, the prospect of me camping in the garden caused uncontrollable mirth among the teenagers present.  Daughter had transported my pillows to tent Cushions and laid out cotton double sleeping bag (can’t be doing with restriction in the night).  Bent double I landed on my side of the 2-man tent.  Blimey, the ground was solid under the layers of mats, quilts, etc assembled there.  Lay down.  Pleasant breeze but compression numbness setting in already.  Thought I needed a new mattress on the bed until this moment.  Revised thinking . . . oh, if only I was lying on the faithful old thing now!

Decide can’t bear another moment so request for cushions off sofa issued.  Daughter disgusted having just camped in the woods on nothing but a thin ground mat.  Son takes pity . . . more likely anticipated I was about to flee to my bed.  Strategically placed cushions ease my pain.  There’s a pleasant breeze and I ‘chill’ for a few moments, alone with my thoughts of the vastness of the Universe (interrupted by reminders that the earth is very firm).

Something touched my arm.  Jump up (as best one can when locked into an unnatural shape), ticker racing.  Realise a gust of wind caused the thin nylon inner to touch my arm.  But, for a moment, I was transported back to an event which terrified me.  It’s both amazing and worrying how events are stored away, seemingly forgotten, which are so readily jettisoned into the consciousness following years of storage.  I’ll tell you what happened back then . . .

I was once a nurse.  In those days we had the starched aprons, none of the plastic rip-off disposable stuff of today.  I was very young and very new and, I admit, terrified of death.  Somebody died.  As my first ward was for acute surgical cases, this wouldn’t seem surprising to the logical mind.  Curtains were drawn around the bed where the person lay in peace, covered by a crisp, clean cotton sheet.  I went nowhere near, busying myself with other tasks for fear I may be asked to do something to assist.  Oh no, not ready for that.  Then, when I thought I was ‘safe’, the ward sister asked me to take someone’s Bp1 blood pressure.  Again, in those days, a robot-on-wheels wasn’t wheeled to the bedside to calculate everything from oxygen sats to shoe size (OK, perhaps I exaggerate).  There was a box with a gauge and a stethoscope.  Blind panic set in as Sister told me she had left the device on the window ledge behind the curtains where the person was resting in peace.  What to do?  Should I reveal my fear?  Decided against it.  Stood outside the curtained off bed and drew every ounce of strength I had.  Proceeded behind curtain and was just approaching the window ledge to grab the equipment when there was a great rustling at the side of me.  So many thoughts passed through my mind as adrenalin pumped through my body.  This person was getting up!  I heard the rustling of the sheet.  It had all been a big mistake.  Kelly Holmes (who probably wasn’t even born then, but you know what I mean) had nothing on me as I fled to the safety of the main ward.  When I calmed down, I realised what had happened.  My starched apron had rustled on the crisp white sheet.  Of course, no ‘body’ moved but as I moved, the rustling continued.  Now I thought I’d forgotten that as it was 30 years ago!  But, in the touch of my arm as the wind moved through the trees, I was right back there . . .

Anyway, back to the nylon womb.  Must have dropped off at some point because I kept waking up (there is logic in there, isn’t there?).  At 6.30am was ready to move to my bed.  Move?  You must be joking!  Was fixed in some strange position.  Desperate for cup of tea.  Husband had said he wouldn’t wake me when he left for work.  Tried telepathy.  Realised I hadn’t connected as i heard car drive away.  Didn’t Tea2  want to wake son.  Thought standing may require a block and tackle.  Sun beating down on my side of tent.  Overheating horribly.  Finally make a move and unzip entry (and therefore exit).  Wonderful breeze.  Put on kettle.  Make cup of life-giving tea.  Go upstairs and lie on bed.  Heaven.  Phone starts ringing.  Client needs some spreadsheets emailing.  Proceed downstairs to computer, switch on . . . and I’m still here.

Going to the cinema later, with daughter, to see Mamma Mia.  After the Maltesers, might just snooze a-while.  A girl needs her sleep!

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