Friends of ours called in this evening to look at the china for the next auction. She has severe rheumatoid arthritis and can't get about easily, although she is younger than me, so it is helpful for her not to have to rely on being well enough to come to the sale. The first time they came, they had never handled a piece of L'stoft before, so I sat them down and took them everything, a piece or two at a time. The best way to learn about china is to handle it and look at it, and now they know a great deal.
"The Sage says that you had a bad fall?" I said sympathetically. She started to tell me about it "...of course, this was while we were still living away as our house was being repaired..." "whoa, I don't know about this," I interrupted.
Now, if you or I ever complain about a run of bad luck, compare with this before feeling hard-done-by.
In November, cracks appeared in the walls - in one bedroom, the ceiling and the wall parted company, so that the roof was not really being held up by anything at all. Subsidence was blamed and the insurance company sent the builders in. Our friends thought the large willow tree on the other side of the road, on council-owned land, might be to blame, but the insurance company reckoned it was the shrubs, dwarf conifers and escallonia, euonymous and that sort of thing, none above 8' high, in the garden and required them all to be removed.
While the work was being done and pile-drivers were being used, the vibrations made a ceiling fall down. At the time that the house was built, Artex ceilings contained asbestos, so they were told they would have to vacate the property until the work was finished. They had to have their furniture put in store and move out. A water pipe was also cracked by the vibration, so the parquet floor was also damaged.
They moved into a house by the river near Norwich. They have stayed there before, the Christmas before last, and like it very much and were able to book it for three months. Unfortunately, within a few days A, the husband, slipped as he came out of the door. One leg shot sideways and the other forward and he landed heavily on his knee. He hadn't broken anything but it was severely strained and (he is a teacher) he had to have the last fortnight of term off.
In January, D, the wife, came out of the house to drive to her appointment with her rheumatologist, and slipped on a piece of wood that keeps the door from opening too wide. Just like A, her fall was broken by railings, but unfortunately it was her face that met them. She severely bruised her cheek and broke three front teeth, as well as badly bruising her legs.
When they went back to their own house, they found that the storage company, chosen by the insurance company, had damaged most of the furntiture, with lost bits of veneer, scratches and the like. It's all antique and can't simply be replaced.
His knee is better, but still not right.
She still has a strapped right wrist, a bruised and painful right cheekbone and her teeth are loose. If she needs dental surgery, it will cost several thousand pounds and she will have to sue the owners of the holiday house - they're insured, but it's embarrassing.
This week, their vacuum cleaner broke down, so their cleaner offered to bring in her Dyson. Within moments, it had torn a banana-shaped and sized piece out of the carpet. Dyson is quibbling and is sending someone round to check the machine, interrogate the cleaner, look at the contents of the Dyson and see if there's any possible way of blaming anyone or anything but the machine (I've nothing against Dyson, I'm just reporting).
A and D are remarkably cheerful under the circumstances.