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   Norman was in hospital mid October for a hernia repair. The whole process went most smoothly, thanks to Janet and Susan’s taxi service, brilliantly attentive nurses, an impressive anaesthetist, a jolly physiotherapist, a most inspired cook - Norman raved about the omelette - and magnificent surgeon..

  ‘The Paddocks’ is certainly worth the money - no superbug in sight - but Jean was disappointed at its failure to live up to Holby City standards. She noticed no wild sexual encounters between doctors and nurses in medicine cupboards, heard no one  bellowing “Crash!”, saw no drunken yobs on the rampage, overturning trolleys, and no cute sick children reconciling warring parents. There also seemed to be little scope for her barging her way into the operating theatre crying out, “What’s going on?”

 But she can bear the disappointment. Norman is making an amazingly fast and cheerful recovery.


   The day after the Brands’ latest wave of visitors left, the builders moved in to do things to the chimney stack and guttering and install a pull down ladder to the loft.

    “Let’s go out,” said Norman. “We can trust them,” and in a devil-may-care mood Jean agreed, whipped up her bag and climbed into the car.

   In leisurely style they explored Chinnor Garden Centre, drove back to Thame, pottered about the shops and began a slow saunter round Waitrose.

    It was when she reached the fruit and vegetable section that Jean remembered she had put a big saucepan of apple and billberries on to boil just before they left.

   White faced, listening out for the fire engines, they raced back.

   All was well. The builder had smelt a pleasant toffee aroma, then a burnt toffee aroma, then gone to investigate, turned off the gas, found a fresh saucepan for the unburnt fruit, put the suffering saucepan and hob grid in the sink to soak, cleaned down the wall where the juice had spurted and gone round the house closing all doors to keep out the smell. You can’t beat country workmen!