« Torn Apart | Main | 21 - Twisted In »

The Scrivener: One Leg Or Two

...Something rather unusual was sitting on his table. It was the upper part, the sheath, of his prosthetic leg. The lower part, with its foot and shoe and sock, was underneath the table...

Writer and social observer Brian Barratt is reminded that there is always someone who has greater problems than you think you have.

The weather forecast told us to expect a maximum temperature of 34 today. That's about 93 on the old-fashioned Fahrenheit scale. Hot enough indeed, but in Melbourne we're having an after-summer heatwave at present

It is the longest period for many years with daytime temperatures above 30. As it happens, while I write these words it has reached 37 (about 99 F) and I am not a happy little chap. I reserve the right to wear my Grumpy Old Sod face. But the air conditioner in the next room is working well, and keeping things reasonably cool indoors, thank goodness.
As a precaution against keeling over in the heat, I used my walking stick when I ventured out to the shops earlier than usual at nine o'clock this morning. It was only 22 at that time, which was the overnight minimum.

While I sat at a table on the footpath outside my favourite Italian coffee shop, industriously concentrating on crossword puzzles in this morning's newspaper, the background noise suddenly became much louder. Somebody somewhere had switched on a radio and was evidently enjoying the music of their choice. Nothing offensive about the music as such. It was middle-of-the-road stuff, not screaming pop or teenage heavy metal. But is was oh so loud. Everyone in the vicinity was obliged to listen to it.

My high-tech hearing aids were set to help with one-to-one conversation and to cut down background noise. I adjusted the setting (high-tech remote control, wow!), reducing the overall volume, muttering to myself about whoever was inflicting his or her music on us, the while switching on my Grumpy Old Sod face again.

My visit this morning, earlier than usual, was actually for breakfast, for a change. When I had ordered my cup of excellent strong black coffee and a fried egg and bacon toasted sandwich (don't tell my doctor about that please), I had the usual happy chat with the good ladies who run the place. I have no time for all this fancy barista nonsense or for foreign franchise coffee bars. Especially if they serve coffee in paper or plastic cups, yuk! No, the best coffee is made by one of those Italian ladies who knows how I like it and how to operate the gigantic espresso machine in exactly the right way.

John (Nonno Giovanni), the grandfather-figure of the establishment, was sitting quietly at a table indoors. That was unusual. He always sits at a table outside on the footpath. So I got chatting to him. That was difficult. He wasn't wearing his hearing aids.

Something rather unusual was sitting on his table. It was the upper part, the sheath, of his prosthetic leg. The lower part, with its foot and shoe and sock, was underneath the table. And I noticed a bit of blood on the bandage dressing on his mid-calf stump.

He told me about it. There are times when the whole thing gets too uncomfortable for him to wear. He hates it but has to use it. In this long stretch of very hot weather, his thigh swells up, he perspires, the pressure increases, making it all the more uncomfortable. Given that he could not hear or understand what I was saying, I sympathised, made a bit of small-talk, and went outside for my breakfast.

A quarter of an hour later, while I was working on the crosswords, and wondering where the loud music was coming from, I noticed someone sitting in a car nearby, with all the windows open. That was the source of the noise. And then Nonni Gemma, John's wife, came out and went straight to the car. He was the culprit. He had retired to the soft, comfortable front seat of the car, to ease his amputated leg-stump problem, and was playing the car radio at full blast simply so that he could hear it without his hearing aids. Gemma had words with him and he turned it down.

I switched off my Grumpy Old Sod face. True, I take painkillers because of knee and hip problems, but at least I have two complete legs. I can sympathise with John seeking escape and relief from discomfort and pain, especially on hot days like this, bless 'im. It's a reminder that there is always someone who has greater problems than you think you have, eh?

Copyright Brian Barratt 2013

**

To read more of Brian's life-enhancing columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/the_scrivener/

And do visit Brian's Web site
www.alphalink.com.au/~umbidas/

Categories

Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.