Last Wednesday was a bit of a mad rush. Little Fish is always tired on a Wednesday, so she wasn't awake until 9. Mog all togged up and ready for school, her bus was late, so didn't leave the house until 9. Babysitter due at 9.30 for Little Fish. Our morning carer packs a bag for Mog, I have the intention of making Little Fish and I smart, and then packing a hospital kit for us both.
It is as I load the breakfast things into the dishwasher, making the load complete, that I notice a stagnant pool of water at the bottom. I do a quick investigation, but am unsure at this point whether it is striking for better pay and conditions, sulking over the special treatment accorded to the washing machine, or terminally ill. Whatever the cause, it appears to be taking great pleasure in making a loud humming noise and then doing nothing.
So the babysitter turns up and is greeted by the sight of me trying to siphon off scummy dishwater water whilst simultaneously washing up the curry plates from the night before and kicking clean socks into a hospital bag. Queen of multitasking, that's me. Little Fish meanwhile is banging her spoon on her tray, sending a fine spray of Weetabix arcing up and over the kitchen. Smashing.
I clear up the worst of it, throw a set of clothes for LF at the sitter, and hare off into the city to get to court in time. I am, inevitably, early. No cameras allowed in the court, so mine is confiscated at the door (forgot it was in my bag) and I am given a small green raffle ticket to reclaim it later. I sit and wait for my solicitor. And I sit, and I wait. And sit. And wait. I am just beginning to wonder whether I am in the right place, when Mog's social worker turns up, together with a student SW. They sit and wait for a few minutes, and then go upstairs to do some more waiting. Returning almost immediately to point out that my solicitor is also waiting upstairs. Excellent.
We do the necessary introductions, wait for the rest of the people due to attend, and it is at this point we realise that there is no mention of Little Fish on the application papers. Oops. This is remedied, Mog's other mother turns up and we eventually make it into the courtroom. We are running late at this point, and the solicitor is concerned that his parking meter will run out.
The court room itself is perhaps not quite what people might be expecting; the judge wears no wig and no gown, there is no wooden panelling nor rows of jurors, just a very large desk with seats for all of us in front of it. My solicitor speaks for approximately three minutes, the judge agrees with what he says, and the hearing is adjourned until some time in March. For this, and the paperwork leading up to this point, my solicitor charges £668. This bill includes £2 parking ticket, but does not include a parking fine. I assume therefore that he beat the traffic warden back to his car. £90 per hour, and carers in the UK are paid £46 per week. Thankfully fostercarers are not expected to pay the legal bill in this situation.
I stop for a coffee with Mog's mother, and then have to race back home to relieve our sitter. Once home, I am greeted by the sight of a big white van - Bob has returned! I now have 15 minutes to thank and pay the sitter, finish throwing clothing into a couple of bags, find some food and console Little Fish for my absence. 12.5 of this minutes are taken up by Bob, who wants to show me what he will be doing, what he has been doing, and generally needs me to admire the decking once more. I explain that we will be away until Monday, grab Little Fish and head for school to collect Mog. Thoughts of a building project finally finished tick through a largish corner of my mind - the weather is good, he's been gone long enough to have collected everything he needs, let's be hopeful.
Only slightly late collecting Mog means only a little late getting to hospital. I won't go into the hospital bit in depth; it's over and it was depressing. In summary, we were moved from the specialist ward to the general ward, dumped unnecessarily in the High Dependency Unit, finally and reluctantly accepted back on the ward, and then denied our place at the hospice thanks to comments made by the ward staff who had no idea how Little Fish was doing and hadn't thought to ask or find out before telling the hospice she was not ready for discharge.
So discharged last night, we called in to see Mog and then Little Fish was desperate to see Grandad. A quick visit catching him on his way out, then pour a tired Little Fish into bed and follow not long after. Horrible night with Little Fish's Nippy beeping regularly until it settled down for a few hours at 2AM. So we're rather tired this morning.
I walked into the sunroom and was struck by how big it appeared to be. And then I realised, Bob has collected all his tools. Excited, I went outside to take a look at my newly completed garden and building work. And realised that it is not finished. All he did on Wednesday was to finish one small piece of trim and move a pile of earth. The machinery in the garden has been collected too though. This does not bode well. I now have the same list of work needing to be finished, and a builder who has collected all his tools and disappeared.
He will be back - he will have to come back, he hasn't yet submitted his final bill. And one day, he will turn up and actually finish the job. Until then...