Neither up nor down.

“Hello, Jane. Fancy meeting you here. How are you?”

“George! It’s so good to see you. I’m fine, thanks. Just going up to have a look at the caves.”




“Yes, obviously. I haven’t been up there yet and you’re on the way down.”


“You said ‘beat you’ and I said obviously.”

“I said ‘Batu’, Jane. It’s the name of the caves.”

“I told Jason it was a false economy, but he wouldn’t listen.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about. What was a false economy?”

“Well. I was talking with the nice man who does the hearing aids at the optician’s—”

“Opticians do hearing aids?”

“This one does. Didn’t you know that?”

“I’ve seen the TV adverts, but I stopped believing them ages ago.”

“Well, they do. As I was saying, I was talking to the man—”

“At the optician’s—”

“At the optician’s, and he told me I needed hearing support.”


“Not funny, George. So he ran some tests and gave me a prescription and a quote for supply and fitting of digital hearing aids.”

“Is this story going anywhere?”

“It will be if you’ll stop interrupting. So I took the paperwork back to Jason and he, well, I don’t need to tell you what Jason’s like, do I?”

“No, but I rather suspect you’re going to anyway.”

“As you know, Jason has always been an inveterate internet shopper. As soon as it started to be available, he was hooked, and since then he has resented paying shop prices for anything.”

“I am familiar with your husband’s many proclivities.”

“Ooh. Don’t get me started on that.”

“On what?”

“His profanities.”

“I didn’t say profanities, I said… oh, never mind. Go on with your story.”

“So he goes on eBay and… guess what?”

“He found some cheaper?”

“I should say. The optician’s quote was for good quality, mid-range aids at £895 a pair”

“That’s a lot of money.”

“That’s what Jason said.”

“And eBay?”

“Less than a tenth of that. And free shipping.”


“No, plastic.”

“Are they from the country China, not are they made of the stuff.”

“Oh, yeah, China. They took about three weeks to arrive, whereas the optician’s ones would have been next day, but a saving of more than eight hundred quid’s not to be sneezed at.”


“Put it this way, George. Now you’re close, speaking clearly, and I can see your lips move, they’re fine.”


“Not good.”

“Not good as in…?”

“Not good as in I sometimes think I may be better off without them.”

“Take them out, and we’ll see.”

“Okay… they’re out.”

“Can you see my lips moving okay?”


“How many steps do they say there are here?”

“Have you?”

“What did I say?”

“You said, ‘I been stopped this through our hair’. Don’t know what that means, but I’m sure you’ll explain it to me.”

“Hearing aids back in, Jane.”




“I said – ‘how many steps do they say there are here?’”

“Ah. Got it wrong didn’t I? Perhaps they do help a bit. Two hundred and seventy-two, by the way.”

“You’d better push on then. You’re less than a third of the way up so far.”

“Fancy coming up with me?”

“Hmm. How can I best put this? No.”

“Why not?”

“Already been up there and seen it all.”

“Wouldn’t you like the company? Save me being all on my own.”

“Ordinarily, I’d jump at it, Jane, but Mary and the girls are waiting for me at the bottom. I’ve left them too long as it is.”

“When will I see you again, George?”

“We’re going to have lunch in the restaurant at the bottom. We’ll probably still be there when you get back down.”

“Will you wait for me? I don’t really like travelling alone.”

“Where is Jason? Why didn’t he come?”

“Oh, didn’t I tell you? He died a fortnight ago. I wouldn’t have come myself, only Jason didn’t think travel insurance was worth the money, so we didn’t get any. I couldn’t get a refund, and I knew that if I didn’t come, after it had been paid for, he would have been livid.”

“Oh my God. I don’t know what to say. Poor Jane. Of course we’ll wait for you.”

“Thanks, George. It’ll be nice to see Mary and the girls, too.”

I wrote this in response to Kreative Kue 181, issued on this site earlier this week. Feel free to join in; just follow the link.


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