(aka Bike, est. 2007)
Copyright© 2017 Angharad
I fumed all the way home but fortunately the girls were too busy chattering amongst themselves, except Danielle who was sitting beside me. “You okay, Mum?” she asked quietly.
I looked at her and winked, “I’m fine.”
She looked at me as if she didn’t believe a word of it but she said nothing. When we returned home the youngsters went off to play while I made myself a cuppa before deciding what we’d have to eat for tea—not that anyone should be hungry the amount we all ate for lunch.
“I’ll make the tea for you, Mum,” offered Danielle so I nipped upstairs and changed into something more comfortable, especially to make food, or to sit around in. I came back down wearing jeans and a loose top. “So they got you going again, didn’t they?”
“Who are they, sweetheart?” I asked sipping my tea.
“Dad and Gramps, pretty obvious really.”
“What d’you mean got me going?”
“Tried to involve you in one of their schemes.”
Is this child more perceptive than I imagined or...”Talked with Monica, did you?”
“Yeah, she said they wanted you to take up some job at Cambridge so birdbrain could study up there.”
“What else did she tell you?”
“That the United Nations job could be based there and that it was vacant again.”
“So the previous incumbent didn’t last long then?”
“Think they died.”
“Oh, that’s news to me,” but then it seems that I’m less and less interested in what is going on out in the world as it involves me less and less. Political decisions are made by people who have neither the expertise nor training to make them which means we are heading further and further into a sea of troubles, to quote the bard, with little sign of better times ahead, just lots of turmoil and turbulence. It’s like whitewater rafting without the safety jackets or the boat. I see Luke Rowe from team Sky broke his leg doing whitewater rafting, silly bugger; so I must pay more attention to things than I thought I did.
“So you gonna do it?”
“Take the Cambridge job so drain brain can work with Professor Hawkin?”
“Please don’t call your sister names, she can’t help being intelligent...”
“Don’t tell me, anymore than she help being so dumb at times.”
“Why what has she done now?” Trish did have a habit of being able to tell you what the weather on Jupiter was doing but not what was happening in her own back yard.
“Nothing, why?” the blush tended to suggest she was being economical with the actuality.
“Daft I may be, stupid I’m not—what has she done?”
“How do you always know?”
“The fact that you are blushing more than a light bulb, may have something to do with it—so spill.”
“Oh all right, you’d have found out anyway.” I nodded, more as a means of encouraging her than necessarily agreeing with her. “She told Monica that she’d really like to go to Cambridge but she’d need to talk you round.”
“She’d be wasting her breath.”
“You know that and I know that, but possibly Monica doesn’t.”
“I’d have thought she would, after all she’s pretty independently minded herself.”
“Yeah but Trish reckoned she had some scheme she was putting together to convince you.”
I sighed, Trish’s schemes were worse than Henry’s. He did have some idea about manipulating people and a degree of charisma in doing so. Most people would far prefer being charmed into something than openly conned, even if they both led to the same end. Henry is a charmer, Trish has all the charisma of a ballistic missile. However, she is very bright and helped by Livvie, she might just get me going before I knew it. However, now I know of it, I can almost guarantee it won’t, unless she’s got better at people skills—which I was unaware of.
“Any idea what she has in mind?”
“No they went off together—she wouldn’t really be allowed to study under Hawkin, would she?”
“He’s a cosmologist and astrophysicist, so I doubt it, I thought she wanted to do mathematics.”
Danielle shrugged her narrow shoulders at me. I think she took hormones at exactly the right moment to completely transform her body, which was always skinny because of all the running about she does, into a totally feminine looking one. The same will happen to Trish of course, but then she was much younger and will never have started a male puberty—but then, neither did I so they suspect I’m androgen insensitive, which in some ways is fortunate but also makes me wonder if that is what caused me to be gender dysphoric in the first place.
“I dunno, do I? But I thought she was talking about him—he’s the guy in the wheelchair, looks like Eddy Redmayne?”
“He played Hawkin in the biographic film and yes he is in the wheelchair and suffers from a form of motor neurone disease.”
“I thought that killed you off pretty quick?”
“I think some forms do but obviously not him.”
“Yeah, just a brain on wheels—yuck—think I’d rather be dead than that—can’t do anything by yourself—nah, not for me.”
“I suspect he felt the same at first, but then realised that while it’s nice to experience physical things, ultimately everything happens in your brain which is where the experience is actually felt and interpreted.”
“Really? So when I’m running down the field and some defender kicks me in the shin, it doesn’t hurt my leg it just happens in my brain? That doesn’t make sense, especially as it’s my shin that swells up with a bruise, not my brain.”
“Yes but in theory, you couldn’t feel that pain or swelling without a brain.”
“Duh—I couldn’t feel it without the leg either.”
“Actually you could.”
“Don’t be daft, Mummy, how could that happen?” She shook her head to emphasise the point.
“It happens quite frequently...”
“Yeah, sure it does.”
“It does, young lady, so stop your scoffing and start listening.” She blushed and shut up. “It happens quite often in amputees and is called phantom limb syndrome.”
“I’ve heard of that, not sure what it is though.”
“I don’t think anyone does except that it happens in people who have lost all or part of a limb and they experience anything from pains to itches in the limb that is absent. The best explanation is about the grid theory where they think the brain has like a grid memory of the body and hasn’t adjusted to the shock of losing part of the body the grid is supposed to reflect, so it continues misinterpreting nerve signals from the stump of the affected limb and produces the symptoms that amputees complain about. Sometimes the way they stop it is to fool the brain into thinking the limb is still there.”
“How would that help, you can hardly scratch a wooden leg, can you?”
“I remember seeing a film of a man who’d lost his arm from below the elbow and he complained of cramp in his missing hand. They hid his missing limb behind a mirror and told him to look in the mirror and open and close his normal hand. He was seeing the image of both hands being there and working and the cramp was eased.”
“Cor, some of these doctors are pretty sneaky—you never thought about being a doctor did you, Mum?”
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