Down a snake

I have been a bit remiss in writing up my consults with Dr P, having missed the previous one (11 May). However, as has been previously remarked, the trend (rather than the quantum) of the PSA results is what matters. Unfortunately, the trend is not my friend at present. The previous number was 3.9; the most recent one (from 8 June) was 6.2. This is not doubling, but more of an increase than anyone would like. So I will be having another round of chemo.

Before that I am booked in for another CT scan on Monday, 4 July. This will reveal any new developments. I will be seeing Dr P on Wednesday, 6 June, at which time he will fill me in on the CT scan results and arrangements for the chemo. This will be my second round of this treatment, one of the “cut, burn and poison” trilogy. Fortunately, I seem to tolerate all these pretty well. As with the previous round, the chemo will be administered at Epworth in Box Hill, pretty close by. I don’t at this stage know how long it will take, the frequency of the doses, etc. Stay tuned for details.

Fortunately as well, I am feeling fine. I put this down in large part to continuing to exercise, mostly in the mens’ oncology classes at my exercise physiology practice. (I will be informing them I will be going back onto chemo so they can adjust my program if necessary.) My walking has been curtailed quite a lot by soreness in the left ankle. This has been a problem for a long time, so I think this is just an overuse injury after a lot of walks during lockdown. Before I used to just strap it up, but now even this isn’t having any effect. So I will probably get an exercise bike for an aerobic workout (the ankle isn’t bothered by that movement).

I have been occupied recently with installing a new Denon receiver in the living room. The previous one, a Harman Kardon, worked perfectly well, but was just a bit unexciting. I was initially looking for another stereo receiver, but the home theatre-type ones were actually much more reasonably priced, as well as offering more functionality. I have the Denon hooked up for 5.1, (something that took most of a weekend), and it is definitely much more punchy. It bristles with useful features like internet radio, sound modes, and numerous digital as well as analog inputs, including one for the turntable. (The HK only had analog inputs). Staying home and watching movies or TV series is a good winter activity, but the receiver works equally well for music.

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Mutatis mutandis

We had an appointment with Dr P on Wednesday. On that date the PSA was 3.6, an increase from the previous reading of 2.9. All the comments made in the post for the last appointment (“Onwards and upwards“) apply here as well. The only new information was his reply when I asked him at what PSA score he would change treatments. He said (words to this effect) when the current score has doubled relative to the previous one. I have an appointment with him every four weeks, so, obviously, the PSA would have to double over that period. At the last consult he did a quick calculation of the present doubling rate, but it is nowhere near what he would find alarming (my words, not his.)

There is fortunately no other news. The RAV4 is still great to drive, with just a few quirks emerging in its operations. It has a powered tailgate, which can be operated from the key fob, from a button on the dashboard, or a hidden switch on the tailgate. (It is accompanied in all these instances case by warning beeps like a truck reversing). The tailgate can only be operated from the key fob or the tailgate button, however, when the car doors are unlocked. Another owner pointed out that the doors can’t be locked before the tailgate has finished closing — a process that takes maybe ten seconds. So if you go food shopping while it’s raining, you return to the car with the bags, unlock the doors, open the tailgate, load up, then wait in the rain until the tailgate has closed before you can lock the car. (This assumes you have to go somewhere else before driving off.) Of course, if you park underground, there is no problem!

At least the tailgate doesn’t have that opening technology whereby you stand on one foot and swing the other one underneath the rear bumper. (I’m not making this up! It’s quite common on Euro SUVs, I think.) This calls for good balance if you are burdened with shopping bags. I’ve witnessed people in this situation swinging a foot underneath the back of their cars, fail to do it correctly, and have to have several goes at it, becoming more peeved each time. The wonders of proximity keys!

There were a few other minor things we found mildly annoying about the car. Once it has reached 20 kilometres an hour, the doors automatically lock. One unexpected disadvantage of this is, if the car is in Park with the engine running, and someone in the front or rear passenger seats wants to get out, the driver has to unlock the doors. My beloved became quite irritated when I had to release her from durance vile. (I spent about half an hour reading the manual before I could reverse this setting. Now, when I put it in Park, the front passenger door unlocks.) At the free 1,000 kilometre service we also got the dealer to switch off the speed limit warnings, which were becoming quite irritating. We kept the warnings about red light camera intersections, though! These are but minor foibles in a car that goes about its business in a quiet and calming manner.

Splitting hairs

I was a cataloguer for over 25 years. This means I am a serial quibbler, arguer of the toss, and professional pedant about stylistic and linguistic matters. Thus I enjoyed David Astle’s piece in this morning’s Age, ‘A beginner’s guide to redundant acronyms‘. Covid-inspired expressions such as “RAT test” and “face masks” (as opposed to those worn on the knee) are called out. Astle also lists common tautologies such as “clenched fist”, “minor quibble”, “past experience” and “end result”.

Pedants will all have their lists of personal irritants. Mine includes

  • local residents (as in, “local residents expressed concern about the spate of accidents at the intersection”). If those interviewed were not locals, i.e. living near the intersection, they wouldn’t have been interviewed. Hence “local” is redundant.
  • band together, join together, etc.
  • sleeveless vest
  • unfairly maligned (it’s difficult to malign someone fairly)
  • reverting back
  • ISBN number (a favourite among librarians who have forgotten that ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number)
  • very unique (qualifying an absolute)
  • very adjacent (ditto; restricted in practice to cricket commentators believing that a batter was out leg before wicket; possibly ironic by now)
  • predicting the future (what else?); and
  • long standing (or established) traditions — is there another kind?

I am a bit exercised about “small select group”. The notion of a large select group seems counterintuitive, but not impossible. Therefore I will give it the benefit of the doubt.

This is not a redundancy exactly, but has anyone noticed the increasing incidence of sentences beginning with “So”? (For example, “So, at the beginning of last century … .”) I suspect this is an Americanism. So, I’ll leave it there!

Onwards and upwards

We saw Dr Parente on Wednesday. The PSA is continuing its gentle rise: 2.9 at the last test a week before the consult, up from 2.5 previously. Dr P continued to emphasise the trajectory of the increase over the quantum of the score; the former remains low. This time he also made the following points:

  • If I were not taking Enzalutamide, the increases would be much steeper. Therefore (my words not his) it’s doing its job in damping things down.
  • I asked if I needed another scan, but he doesn’t think I need one.
  • At this rate, my doubling rate (i.e. the period of time in which the PSA score would double) is about four months. He said he would only start worrying if the doubling rate got to about four weeks.

I understand Dr P’s reasons (which he has previously explained) for wanting to get the most out of this treatment regimen before switching to another one, giving me another line of chemo, etc. Everything else is still the same, i.e. I’m feeling fine, keeping up the exercise, staying busy, and am not too worried about developments. I continue to see Dr P every four weeks. I start to get a bit anxious around the three week mark, peaking when I have the blood test about a week before the consult. After this, however, I tend to relax and think, well, I’ve done everything I can, we’ll see what he says. The effect of the anti-depressant and CBT combo helps to keep this anxiety manageable, as do the two exercise classes a week.

This week I also had my biennial consultation with my psychiatrist, Dr T. I need to touch base with him periodically so that he can renew the authority for my dexamphetamine prescription. (This last is very helpful for my ADHD.) Dr T said he had a friend with prostate cancer, who was controlling it entirely with diet and exercise. I just said “Good for him”. It’s interesting how many people know PC patients who are using complementary treatments, and who implicitly recommend these treatments to me. (Apart from medical professionals, no-one has ever recommended surgery, chemo or radiation.) I have had the odd comment here and there about the importance of maintaining a positive attitude, and so on.

I think these comments all come from a good place. People want to pass something onto me that they think could be helpful. I’ve no doubt that complementary therapies can be efficacious with less aggressive cancers. (Of course spontaneous remission can occur at any time.) No-one has explicitly recommended complementary therapies to me, but if they were to, I would ask them for a citation to a gold standard, double blind study, published in a high impact, peer reviewed journal. Evidence for these treatments, however, tends to be anecdotal, and involves only a single subject. The cases mentioned also seem unrepresentative, in that only the success stories are reported. No-one would boast about having abandoned their conventional treatment for complementary therapies, only to find their symptoms recurring; returning to their oncologist, they find that their cancer has become too advanced for any further medical intervention. Statistically, of course, such outcomes must occur. Complementary medicine researchers are attempting to build up a research base of properly conducted studies of these therapies. Meanwhile, I will stick to the treatment I am receiving, unless and until I have a reason to change it.

In more cheerful news, we got our new vehicle a fortnight or so ago, a Toyota RAV 4 hybrid Edge. It glides along in a beguiling way. I have clocked up about 270 kilometres in it, mostly just doing trips to the shops and exercise class. The needle in the fuel gauge is still showing 3/4 full. I gave it its first wash this morning; it was pretty clean, just rather dusty. It is noticeably higher than the Camry: I had to stand on a little step to wash the roof. Of course it towers over the GT (which has become my beloved’s car). I drove behind a GT the other day, and could see right over its roof. The extra ride height on the RAV is handy for getting in and out, although I think the GT kept me somewhat flexible. The former is the sixth Toyota that we have owned, jointly and severally.

Poco a poco

We saw Dr P on Monday, and the PSA is now measuring 2.1. I was a little unsettled at this continuing trend upwards. Dr P has been saying things like “the cancer is just grumbling along”, “scores go up and down”, and “at this rate it’ll take forever to get to 2”. I pointed out that the scores had only been moving in one direction, and I was now at 2. He said, again, that the significant thing was the rate of increase, which remains small. (He is always careful, however, not to minimise or brush aside my concerns.) he pointed out also that there is a number of treatments I can have after this one has outlived its usefulness.

One of these, about which I had heard, is lutetium . Apparently this is several thousand dollars each dose. There is another new treatment, which has only just become free, and is something for which I may be eligible. (It sounded something like alaporip.) It is only suitable for patients with a DNA target, in the same way that many breast cancer patients have the BRCA 1 and 2 genes. He asked if I would like to participate in a genetic analysis to see if I have the DNA target (to which I said “Yes”). I didn’t have to give any new samples; they will examine the pathology samples from my operation in 2017. The analysis will take a couple of months to complete. Given that my father had cancer, I think it is likely that mine has a hereditary component. Anyway, we will see how that turns out. I’m still feeling fine, and am somewhat heartened by the number of options that exist in this obviously very dynamic field of medicine. For a bit of light relief, we are off to see House of Gucci. (I saw Belfast last weekend, which I enjoyed.)

Deja vu all over again

We saw Dr P last Monday. The PSA is continuing to creep up: 1.63 is the current score. Context is, as ever, important. At 4 weekly intervals, the last 3 readings were 1.29, 1.44, and 1.63. So the increases are less than 0.2 each time. Dr P said he was “pretty happy” with me, and that’s good enough for me! I still feel fine: the sleep is pretty good, a key component in well-being for me.

Things automotive have been the flavour of the last couple of weeks. Some of you will know that I gave the GT a scrape on the passenger side of the front bumper bar a few weeks ago. I had that fixed last week (coincidentally, the day before taking it in for a service). The guy in the paint shop recognised it as a 2014 model, and said his wife had just sold hers recently. He added that a local second-hand dealer was selling a 2015 GT for about $7,000 more than I paid for mine.

OK, I thought, and checked it out. What he said was spot on. I can’t give a link to that sale, however, as it appears the car has sold, even at that crazy price. As the paint shop guy said — demand for these cars has taken off. While looking through the site, I went down a bit of a rabbit hole. The dealer also had a 2016 Mercedes C180 coupe, with pretty low mileage, at a reduced price. I have always had a fantasy about owning a Benz, so I took it for a spin.

Despite having only a 1.6 litre 4 cylinder engine, it drove very well. The cosmetic condition was pretty good, with just a few minor scratches, which partly explained the reasonable asking price — pretty much in the middle of the Red Book indicated range. The car appears to have had all its required services. (I emphasise this because Benz service histories are now, apparently, entirely digital. So no more logbooks in the glovebox to check.) The salesman gave me a list of dates and kilometres he had obtained by ringing the dealerships at which the car had been serviced, and everything seemed to check out.

Anyway, I researched this and similar models for sale in Melbourne. C class Benzes are actually quite numerous, being Mercedes’ best seller in Australia. So there was a number of other examples for sale in a similar price range. Sense prevailed, however, when it occurred to me that a Benz that I could afford wasn’t one that I ought to be thinking about buying. Mercedes reliability has been extremely variable for the last several years. Fantasies are one thing, but the reality of buying a seven year old Euro car stuffed to the gills with expensive high tech gadgets was likely to be a lot less fun. I could have bought an extended warranty from the dealer, but I felt it was better to avoid trouble. The GT has had absolutely zip go wrong with it in the three years in which I’ve owned it — and it’s fun to drive. As the paint shop guy said — you can’t go wrong with Toyota.

Strange things are happening in the car market. I’m very glad that we paid a deposit in November for a Toyota RAV4 hybrid. At that time we were quoted a waiting period of 3 to 4 months. Had we gone for a Cruiser, which is the model underneath ours, we would have had a 10 month wait. Someone ordering a RAV4 now is being quoted delivery around Easter, 2023. Toyota has paused production at several of its Japanese factories. The one which produces RAV4s has, at this stage, only been paused for a couple of days. All these delays will obviously push out wait times, already pretty decent.

What’s going on here? Household savings have jumped under lockdown. One of the few things that people could spend their spare cash on was a new car in which to go travelling around their state (whenever they could actually do this). The crazy wait times for new cars have pushed up the prices of second hand ones. Specifically too, the RAV4 is a car that is in high demand. The reasons for this are apparent to everyone who takes one for a drive. It is just the right size — less hulking than a Land Cruiser, less poky than a C-HR. Its being available in a hybrid makes it even more attractive.

Apparently, also, there is a world-wide shortage of semiconductors, of which modern cars have an increasing number. Intel is building a couple of new factories to supply this demand, but they will take a couple of years to come on stream. Meanwhile, most semiconductors are manufactured in PRC. Someone posting to a discussion list muttered darkly that MG, now under Chinese ownership, doesn’t seem to be affected by this shortage. Conspiracy theorists take note –today your garage, tomorrow the world!

Strike a light!

We saw Dr P on Monday. The blood test I had had last week showed that my PSA has risen from the preceding test four weeks ago, but only slightly — 1.44 from 1.29. Dr P was at pains to say that this didn’t worry him. If the PSA keeps increasing at this rate, it would take a fair while to reach 2.0. I mentioned that I wanted to take off a few Covid kilos. He thought the weight gain was a good thing; it was much better for a cancer patient to be putting on weight than losing it, and this showed the disease was well under control. (I said he deserved to be doctor of the year for finding a positive side to being a bit fat around the middle!) He thought I also looked very well, as, fortunately, I feel. I’m sure that my continuing with exercise classes is keeping me in as good a space as can be.

About a week before this appointment I bought a new kitchen radio, from an outfit called Australian Digital Radio in Geelong. They make very high class reproductions of 1940s era mantel radios, but with extra features for the digital age. The model I bought, called the Retro, has DAB+ as well as FM, Bluetooth, and a USB socket from which one can either play music or change one’s phone. A 20 watt RMS amplifier and a twin cone speaker means that it sounds excellent — as good as the Bose Wave Radio, at a fraction of the price. For anyone who likes the look of 1940s bakelite radios, as I do, I think it looks really dope, as the young folk say nowadays.

The Retro arrived the day of my appointment with Phillip. It was very professionally and securely packaged; Ron, the manufacturer, had previously SMS’d me a copy of the package label, and included his mobile number with the enclosed documentation. The latter was fortunate because the user interface isn’t the greatest feature of the Retro: even after reading the manual, I had to contact Ron to work out how to tune in the stations. He was very helpful, however, and I am now really enjoying listening to ABC Classic and 3MBS-FM. The tuner has very good sensitivity — 3MBS is usually quite difficult to receive clearly on the FM band, but the Retro pulls it in extremely well. The sound is quite rich and a bit rolled-off on top, obviously modelled on the mantel valve radios predecessors, but without the hum and hiss. There are five sound modes (Normal, Classic, Pop, Jazz, and Rock) which can be selected. The dial displays an analog clock when in standby mode (albeit a smallish one), so you get a kitchen clock as well.

In my conversation with Ron I said that, although I really liked the Retro, I found it looked possibly a bit big for the shelf on which I had put it in the kitchen. Australian Digital Radio also makes a slightly smaller model called the Lil Lottie, and I asked whether I could return the Retro and exchange it for one of the former. Ron offered to send me a Lil Lottie to try out, at no charge, to allow me to see which worked better in our kitchen! I think this was outstanding customer service, and only gives me further reasons to recommend either model to anyone who would like a great sounding and looking kitchen and/or bedside radio, designed and manufactured in Australia! (For those thinking of ordering a Lil Lottie, Ron supplied the dimensions — 23 cm W, 15 H, 15 D. These are a few centimetres smaller all round than the Retro. I have no connection with Australian Digital Radio other than as a customer.)

As part of the packing around the radio, Ron included an issue of Australian Radio and Hobbies from December, 1947. As well as numerous articles and advertisements for radios, valves and so on (the transistor was yet to be developed), the issue contained an article, ‘Fire making through the years’, the title of which is fairly self explanatory. (The link points to my scan of the article in my Google Drive. The copyright holder, Silicon Chip Magazine, has kindly agreed to my publishing this link.) The author of the article, Calvin Walters, was described in an article in Wireless Weekly, May 31, 1935, as a “well-known experimenter” — the latter link points to a Trove page. If you have ever wondered how the safety match came into being, or what people did beforehand, look no further! The illustration, dated references to “primitive people” and “the natives”, and a few grammatical howlers, remind us that Australia was a different place 85 years ago. These solecisms aside, this is actually a pretty interesting piece, and transports us back to a time when radio hobbyists also took an interest in most scientific topics. (A burning question, if I may so put it — was it supposed to be unlucky to light three cigarettes at once?)

To finish off the GT repair saga, I finally received the monies from the transport company’s insurance company about a week ago. So the car has an entirely new bonnet and repaired front guard at no cost to me, apart from the week when I couldn’t drive it. It’s heartening to report that there are some honest operators, and ingenious and reasonable folk in general, out there.

New wheels

Yesterday we went to the local Toyota dealer and put down a deposit for a RAV 4 Edge hybrid .

A replacement for our faithful 2004 Camry had been mooted for quite some time, especially as bits kept on having to be replaced, and a kind of intermittent groan from the passenger side under the dashboard became more frequent. Our garage had been able to fix this when it first became apparent. Unfortunately it un-fixed itself, and became quite distracting. A proper fix would have involved taking off the dashboard, and would have cost $2,000-odd. Anyway, the old girl gave us sterling service for 16 years, and still drives well. A new set of tyres is unfortunately required, the old ones being unroadworthy, but at least we won’t have to re-register it — the rego only expires in May, 2022.

This actually fits in (fingers crossed) with the availability of the new car, which we won’t get our hands on until March or April. RAV 4s have been extreme popular of late, with hybrids especially requiring long wait times. According to one report, the Cruiser (previously the top model) has a waiting time of up to 14 months. (The local dealership quoted us eight months to get hold of one, against three for the Edge.) Why the delay? Apparently there is a worldwide shortage of semiconductors, with which modern cars are replete. Covid has apparently also gummed up supply chains in various ways. Demand really took off as well during the various lockdowns; when international travel became impossible (and remains problematic), people decided to travel within Victoria. All this, and a desire to get it done, meant we were ready to sign on the dotted line for one of the new model. Time is money!

We only drove a couple of cars yesterday. The first was a hybrid Camry, which felt very smooth and quiet. Then we hopped in a RAV 4 Cruiser, really just to compare and contrast. We both liked it a lot. It is a very easy car to sit in and figure out what does what — something that all the tests I have read say. It is a medium size SUV, with the increased height giving a better view of the traffic. RAV 4s have a very similar drivetrain to the Camry, being both mild hybrids. As drivers of these vehicles know, the switching between the electric motor and the petrol engine is very unobtrusive. The RAV 4 is actually a shorter car than the Camry, which is now approaching 5 metres in length. But the SUV body allows you to chuck a fair bit more gear in the back. The Edge is also AWD, which wasn’t on our list, but will give driving in rain more secure feeling. This feature is doubtless the majority of the price increase over the Cruiser. The rest goes on a new front bumper, and what could be a rather busy trim, featuring an orange stripe. (We only saw this on the large screen at the dealership, and in a brochure — none of our model has landed in Australia yet.) Apart from an extra 3KW of grunt, the Edge is basically the same vehicle as the one we drove, which had plenty of urge. All those people chasing one can’t be wrong!

The mild hybrid was a bit of a compromise from a plug-in hybrid or a full EV. The last we rejected on grounds of range anxiety. A recent trip to Daylesford revealed only one charger in the main drag — being hogged by a Tesla both times we passed. OK, the infrastructure is improving, but what do we do in the meantime? Also, Toyota doesn’t make a plug-in hybrid or an EV, and that was the make we were inclined towards. To date, we have, jointly and severally, owned five Toyotas — one each of the Camry, Celica, Corolla, Crown, and the GT. These have all been extremely reliable. The local dealer is also only a tram ride away, a consideration for getting the thing serviced. The cost of dealer servicing is generally usurious, but the RAV 4 only needs servicing every 12 months, and the first five services will cost $200 each. If services are carried out at a dealer, the five year warranty becomes extended to seven years. (This is nice to have, but I don’t expect we will need it. When I bought the GT I shelled out for a three year extended warranty, which I’m happy to say was a complete waste of money.)

The damage to the GT has been fixed for quite a while now (the repairer replaced the bonnet, and resprayed the driver’s side front guard). I still haven’t been reimbursed for the the excess I paid on my comprehensive insurance to have these repairs done. However, someone from our insurance company rang me on Friday and told me that they had obtained the monies from the transport company’s insurer. I will believe it when I see it, but it is definitely looking hopeful.

Staying in the lane

We saw Dr P on Monday (22 November). The PSA was 1.29, which he described as a “very minor increase” on the previous figure of 1.01. The good doctor added that

  • Enzalutamide is known to give such increases, so this one was “not unexpected”
  • the PSA could come down
  • he thought the PSA was “just grumbling along”.

Most importantly, I still feel fine. After the consultation I walked up to Epworth Eastern to have my Zolodex implant, which was delivered as usual.

The preceding week we had finally gotten away for our mini-break in Daylesford (two nights in a self-contained villa near the lake). We had booked this originally in August for September, I think, and it was deferred three times with various lockdowns. The holiday was lovely, but its conclusion was a tad stressful. On the morning of Friday 19th, while I was getting all our stuff together before checking out of the villa, I got an SMS alerting me that we had a message on our landline. (We seldom use this number, and consequently don’t often check the message bank attached to it.) I thought I could play back these messages remotely, and found out how to do so after a bit of Googling. The message directed me to call Epworth Eastern, where I was booked in to have the Zolodex the following Monday.

I rang the number that had been left on the message, and got through to the day oncology ward at Epworth Eastern. I had to have a Covid-19 test before I could have the implant on Monday. (They apologised for the short notice — apparently this is a new hospital policy.) I didn’t have to get the results back in order to have the implant — I just had to have had the test.

My beloved was taking the waters at the Hepburn Springs bath house at the time, and had the car. I tried to figure out what to do. Should I try to have the Covid test in Daylesford? Or should we cancel our lunch booking and drive straight back to Melbourne? I decided we should go to lunch as planned and drive straight home. I would then have a Covid test at a drive-in centre at Deakin University a short distance away. If I could get the result back in time, well and good; if not, it wouldn’t matter. This all worked out as anticipated. I had the test on Friday afternoon, and got the result the next morning via SMS — no Covid discovered. I just showed the SMS to the oncology centre when I booked in on Monday. (I also asked them to remove our landline number from their records.) It looks as if I will have to have this test at three monthly intervals, before every Zolodex implant, or before any other hospital admission. Touch wood there won’t be too many of the latter!

Level pegging

Updates to this post are minor, made only for clarity.

My beloved and I went to see Dr P on Wednesday, October 27th. The PSA is very slightly elevated — 1.01, up from 0.94 at the previous test. However, Dr P. said this is within the measurement error of the machine. So we weren’t to worry. He emphasised that he was still happy with where I was at. I am to see him next on 22 November, on which date I will also be having another Zolodex implant.

I am a bit late posting this because the consult came at mid-way of an extremely busy week. On Monday I parked the GT at the back of the IGA supermarket on Maling Road, Caterbury. I noticed a truck unloading in a right-of-way next to my parking space. I went to four places on Maling Road, at all of which I checked in, using the Service Victoria QR code reader and digital vax certificate. When I got back from the last stop (the IGA supermarket, as it happened), the truck had gone, but I noticed a bit of damage on the car bonnet and driver’s side guard. (There wasn’t a note on the car acknowledging responsibility.)

I whizzed back to the supermarket and asked if they had had a delivery that morning. (I’d chosen not to get a receipt for the items I’d bought, but, via the Service Victoria app, was able to show them that I had been in the store within the last half-hour.) They were very helpful and gave me a copy of the receipt that they had received from the delivery driver. The latter wasn’t an employee of IGA, but was working for a transport company. The invoice gave me his name and other useful information.

When I got home I wasn’t sure whether to call the transport company or my insurance company. I hadn’t seen how the damage occurred — I was only inferring that that it had been caused by the truck driver who’d made the delivery to IGA. So I rang my insurance company (Apia) and explained what had happened. They agreed that there was only circumstantial evidence that a third party was involved, charged me my excess (which I paid over the phone by credit card), and set an assessment and repair appointment in train.

After this I rang the transport company. They were unexpectedly sympathetic and said they would speak to the driver, and that someone would call me back. I didn’t have great hopes from this. However, I was pleasantly surprised to hear from the company the next day. They had indeed spoken to the driver, who said he hadn’t had any traffic accidents on his run. However, they had looked at footage from a video camera mounted on the back of the truck. This showed a pole, called a pogo stick, which the driver used in unloading the truck. The driver had leant the pogo stick against the truck, causing it to fall onto the bonnet of the GT as the truck reversed out of the right-of-way. So they acknowledged responsibility for the damage. (I thought this very decent of the company to put their hand up for this, and said so.)

To cut a long story short, after exchanging a few SMSs and emails, I received an indemnity form to fill in and send back. According to this the company said they would pay the amount of my insurance excess, if I, my heirs and descendants and so on, undertook to make no further claim on them in this matter. Rightio, I said, and filled it out and returned it to them forthwith. (What is this mysterious company’s name? I haven’t received the money yet, dear readers, so I am keeping schtum until I do. However, I expect the amount to be forthcoming.)

In the same week

  • I had two in-person exercise classes at the exercise physiology practice;
  • via Zoom, had a German lesson (for which I hadn’t done much hausaufgabe);
  • also by Zoom, had an appointment with my psychologist;
  • hooked up our barbecue (which had been sitting out in the garage for eighteen months or so after having been gifted to us by a former neighbour), in preparation for a Cup Day get-together with friends;
  • drove the GT out to Blackburn to the damage assessor/body shop place, where it resides until Friday (Apia shouted me an Uber back home); and
  • baked two sourdough loaves.

The loaves turned out well, the BBQ works fine (although I have to clean the grill plate soon), and I have been adapting well to only having one car between us. Actually, my beloved and I got by perfectly well with one car between us for twenty years. It is only in the last seven years that we have had a car each. As far as I am concerned, I would be happy to trade both the Toyotas in on an EV.

I can’t preview this post as I used to be able to, so I am just going to post it as is.