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Thora is now un-jammed

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Here is the weekly Ward's World column, written by John Ward...

As life gets back to the usual total chaos after two years and a bit of the coronavirus situation, I was going to see some friends we had not seen since the original lockdown kicked in, so the visit was long overdue.

The initial greetings were done and dusted as the suggestion of making a pot of tea was suggested, voted upon, agreed and carried forward and implemented within minutes.

Spalding Guardian columnist John Ward (55894386)
Spalding Guardian columnist John Ward (55894386)

We went through the now usual routine of ‘how we haven’t changed much’ in either cases although to be fair, or mild grey now, as Jeff’s hair style is now keeping pace with mine but so far nobody has referred to it as being ‘distinguished or outstanding’ like what I sometimes hear about mine – or I think that’s what is said.

It was while slooping of the tea that it was mentioned by Barb, Jeff’s wife, that due to the panwosit (pandemic) it had been difficult to get things fixed as some tradesman were frightened of entering a private dwelling – at this point I asked if there was anything in particular they were referring to.

Barbara explained the following nugget: “Our Thora is jammed halfway,” which is something you don’t hear every day, or panwosit for that matter either, so this was rather educational for me.

Her stairlift is referred to as ‘Our Thora’ after Thora Hird, the late and well known actress who at one time advertised or promoted a certain make of stairlift some years ago, but although this was not one of that particular brand, they still affectionately referred to it as being ‘Our Thora’ but it was now having teething problems.

Would I like to have a look at it? I was gently asked as it “might only be something simple or easy to fix” so out of curiosity I had a look at this whatever make and model with a ‘Proudly British’ Union Jack flag sticker on the housing under the seat.

On removing the cover it was quite informative to find the motor was made in Italy, the gearbox assembly came from Taiwan, the bearings were made in Hungary with the switchgear, or part of, made in China so a safe bet the sticker itself was possibly made – or printed – in Britain.

The chair was stuck half way up the staircase but did not respond to the control although the pilot light did illuminate to suggest that electrical power was present but regardless of whatever you did, nothing was happening as in the moving up or down or even shaking it all about, hokey-cokey or otherwise.

I asked, silly as it might sound, had they rung the ‘Totally dedicated 24/7 Help Line’ phone number near the Union Jack sticker to which they had and “spoke to a nice chap” in India – or Delhi to be precise – which is nowhere near the Essex address of the makers or as we now know, possibly stair-lift assemblers if what we have found is anything to judge by.

Jeff had spoken to somebody called Aarush who asked him how the wonderful weather is/was today before asking how he could be of help or why was he phoning today but told Jeff that the weather there was ‘normal warm’ where he was speaking from.

Jeff pointed out he was paying for the call, didn’t really ring to hear a weather report of where Aarush was but to get his stairlift sorted as he had no idea that Delhi had somehow been moved to Essex as he wanted to speak to somebody in Essex and not Delhi.

Then, after a bit of silence, not a hint again about the weather in Delhi, Aarush said it was nothing to do with a food mixer then as Jeff said they didn’t have a food mixer, certainly not one with a seat on and armrests but if it means there is a food mixer that can carry Barbara upstairs, then so be it.

After a sort of questions and answers session, Aarush told him that the name of the stairlift was ‘very similar’ to a food-mixer brand that ‘they’ (?) also provided assistance for, hence the confusion on Jeff’s part, he was told as Aarush rung off.

As he was explaining all this, their cat Webster decided to jump on the seat and take root as he sat and preened himself. I asked why his name was Webster – did he surf the internet as in the ‘web’ maybe?

He was called Webster after one of their neighbours from years ago who used to go out early in the evening and would return any time between midnight and breakfast time, much like this cat – their previous cat to Webster was called Tyrone.

However Tyrone met with an early demise but the driver did knock on their door to tell them he didn’t see him as he reversed out of his garage and offered to get another one, hence the now present Webster – you don’t get this social history type stuff on ‘Eastenders’ do you?

Back to ‘Our Thora’: Webster was getting comfy by now as with the aid of a small mirror I looked around under the seat at hard to see areas for clues as to why she was immobile. By the now the stairs were beginning to look like a surgeon’s trolley with operating tools lying about.

Then I thought I might have found it. There was a small micro-switch that looked as if it was not lined up properly or rather one of the screws was loose, so a small screwdriver was found, I took it off completely to check it over as movement was detected. No, Webster shooting off was the real sign of momentum.

What a surprise to find the switch was made in Portugal but regardless once back in and realigned, Barb is now enjoying the ups and downs of life again but if you know of a food mixer that does the same job, let me know and I will pass the word on.

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