OldmaSock has had her car confiscated. Not by the police, although that has been a worry - not so much that her driving skills have gone down the drain (even in spite of her being a tad demented), no, it was the tipple or two she takes at her lunch clubs before driving home that was horrifying me! Luckily BroSock has easily persuaded her that the tiny amount of driving she does isn't worth the expense of maintaining and insuring the car. Because she is a miser this has easily swayed the argument although pleas that she use the money saved to get taxis when needed will have fallen on deaf ears. OldmaSock has never liked spending money and it is now an OCD.
When I phone her prior to my visit she tells me that the main problem of having no car is she can no longer make her regular trips to the dump. Another of OldmaSock's many obsessions is taking stuff to the dump, amongst other things clearing the attic of all my stored childhood memories, toys, annuals, my collection of dolls dressed in the national costumes of countries we visited, but the main thing now is the endless bags of garden waste. For another of OldmaSock's obsessions is pruning - there is nothing she loves more than a good prune! An example is this beautiful acer ruined by having the side which was hanging over the path hacked off. The row of trees and shrubs at the back of the garden sawn and lopped where possible after she has climbed up onto the wall to have a go at them. She has been told countless times not to go climbing on the wall at her age but like the wilful child she has become, she doesn't take a blind bit of notice of what anyone else says and actually never has done!
So what is OldmaSock doing with all this garden waste? "Oh" she tells me over the phone "I am taking it in my wheelbarrow to that bit of waste ground down the road." "What 'bit of wasteground?" I ask, puzzled "there is no bit of wasteground". Then suddenly it dawns on me. Many years ago, when the Sock family moved to what was then a new build house, we were on the edge of the countryside - over the back wall and into fields, ponds, woods, valleys, streams a childhood paradise. And then heartbreakingly the dumpers and trucks moved in and bulldozed the beautiful trees down. Where the ponds had been full of newts, tadpoles, minnows, they were filled in with soil. Posh houses sprang up and people moved onto the land once inhabited by the hedgehogs, mice and moles we used to find so fascinating. The builders did leave some small areas of grass, trees, and a few shrubs - green spaces of parkland between the houses, maintained by the council for the community. This is where OldmaSock has been dumping her garden rubbish. I tell her this is very naughty and she mustn't do it, in the full knowledge that she is not listening to me and is already constructing a tale of lies and evasions which will justify her doing exactly what she wants. Old people can be extremely wiley.
|The "bit of wasteground" Oldma has been tipping on|
I phone BroSock "Did you know about OldMa's flytipping?". "OH GOD!" he replies as I prepare myself for his twenty minute rant about how he has told her TIME AND TIME again not to do this, has instructed her a MILLION TIMES about the special bags provided by the council for garden waste collection.... I don't know why he can't see the funny side.. I have an image of OldmaSock in her bobble hat and shabby coat, like a garden baglady pushing her wheelbarrow full of rubbish around the pavement of this very 'nice' neighbourhood with said neighbours twitching at their curtains and shrieking "Look! She's at it AGAIN!"
|The brown piles under the trees are ALL OldmaSock's garden waste!|
When I arrive at OldmaSock's I enquire as to how the fly tipping is going. "Oooh - I've had someone round from the council to tell me off.." she says quite happily. "And what did you say to them?" I ask. "I told them I was eighty-three and that I couldn't go to the dump because I no longer have a car. So they left it at that." "OK - well one of the neighbours has unsurprisingly grassed you up" I warn her "and next time they will probably put you in prison which will be a relief to us all as it will keep you out of mischief. And actually you are eighty-five although that doesn't make the fly tipping any more excusable". Oldma finds this all very amusing and laughs a lot - I am not confident that she is taking this at all seriously.
BroSock later also comes to stay - I update him on the saga and suggest we all go to take a look at exactly what Oldma has been up to. "I'm not going out with her in tow" he says "the neighbours will probably lynch us!". "Don't worry, if anyone asks we can just pretend we are social workers" I reassure him.
During my stay I give OldmaSock several more lectures and explanations about what to do with her garden rubbish and strict instructions about not clambering around on the wall at her age. I have a strong suspicion that although it is true that her short term memory is shot to pieces, she has no intention of remembering anyway! One day we walk to the nearest shops taking the cutting through a different community woodland next to the nearby school. "This is where I am bringing my garden waste now" she announces proudly, as if she is doing something very clever. "And where exactly are you putting it?" I ask. "Under that signpost there..". Sure enough under the signpost that says 'No Tipping' there is a pile of OldmaSock's garden cuttings.