When the Ever Resourceful Tan takes down our curtains, in preparation for installing new, more silently gliding curtain rings, he comes across a veritable battalion of ladybirds doing a route march across our window frame.
When I say battalion, I am exaggerating somewhat as a battalion, according to my limited knowledge of Matters Military, numbers between 500 and 800 soldiers. There are nowhere near 500 ladybirds, trooping purposefully
across our window frame - but there's more than a few.
I did read about an invasion of ladybirds in a newspaper a few weeks back. Mr B did, indeed, find one struggling across the dining room table a while
back - but that could hardly be called an invasion. Which, it turns out, was because we were unaware of the Guerilla Ladybirds lurking in the shelter of our curtains.
I well remember what we called the Ladybird
Summer. It was in 1976 and Our Foursome were mere striplings, ranging in age from 3 to 9 years old. It was a long, hot summer and the Spotted Ones were swarming; we have photographs of us all shrinking away from the onslaught and trying desperately to dislodge
them from our hair, our clothes and from creeping down our necks. I have always loved ladybirds - but I've never viewed them with quite such Unconditional Love since the Summer of '76.
Tan interrupts my reverie
to ask what he should do about the ladybird troop, so I fetch a dustpan and brush so that he can collect them for transference into the back garden. Mr B, from his position at the dining room table, keeps a sharp eye open for those which try to get away by
opening their wings to escape the dustpan. "On the door! On the window! On the floor!" he keeps exhorting us as Tan does his utmost to round up every ladybird.
I am pleased to report that, not only are we
now free of ladybirds, but our drapes glide across the curtain poles almost silently. Tomorrow morning, if I venture downstairs to find Mr B snoozing gently in his armchair, I will be able to pull the curtains and let in the sunshine without waking him.
It's a small thing - but then small things can also be the Big Stuff. The friendly Community Resources Team have brought "raisers" to instal on Mr B's armchair so that it is easier for him to get up out of the chair.
Sitting in his raised up armchair, he now towers above me as we sit, side by side in cosy companionship. I call him M'Lord and suggest that soon he'll be charging me tuppence to talk to him.
It reminds me
of the State Opening of Parliament when Her Maj sits on a really high throne, with other members of the Royal Family relegated to lower thrones. In our living room, Mr B is Her Maj, you understand, while I am the equivalent of Prince Philip. I'd love to liken
myself to the Duchess of Cambridge but I doubt you would let me get away with that. I know my place.
Our lovely neighbours would doubtless say it was a small thing
to spend an evening watching footie with Mr B, keeping him company while I was in London with the Darling Daughters on a Jolly Girls Outing. My dear friends, Sue and Eleanor, made light of driving me to hospital for my pre-surgery assessment and waiting around
for me as I went from one examination room to another. Sue brought me flowers the next day - I expect she thought that was just a small gesture, too.
But, you know, these aren't small things at all. The raisers
on Mr B's chair should keep him safe from another fall. I couldn't have joined my Jolly Girls on our outing without knowing someone was looking out for Mr B. Coward that I am, the company of friends was much-needed reassurance on what would otherwise have
been a stressful Hospital Visit. Even the ladybirds have been released from their route march to enjoy the open air.
How lucky we are, Mr B and I. To paraphrase the Fab Four, we get by with (a lot of) help
from our friends...