From another prayer-email-round-robin, that early summer of healing:
‘Bink has just been to a concert. Initially, she opted out because she couldn’t afford it. This was not because we hadn’t given her money. We had. Plenty. In truth, it is impossible to give Bink enough though, for luxuries like concerts, or pretty clothes, or simply enjoying herself with friends, because she never knows how much she might need for necessities. She lives in too much fear.
‘Suppose she spent money going out for the evening, and then tomorrow needed more wet wipes, loo paper, mouth wash... it would be like spending on lipstick and then watching your children starve. This is why she has never had a bank account or even an allowance. She always said it would be meaningless, because if she ran out she would have to ask us for more anyway.
‘So Bink said she wouldn’t be able to go. But her therapist said the outing would be of therapeutic value and ensured she had a ticket. Kindnesses like this mean a great deal to her.’
[It was much later that we discovered such expenses were part of her treatment, would have been funded as such, and she need never have worried about it.]
‘There they were then, three inmates – patients, freaks, what you will – trying to cross London together to reach the concert. Andrew and John (real names disguised, obviously)... and Bink.
‘“You know what it's like,” Bink said, “going out anywhere with me. I have to avoid litter bins. And dogs. And bits of the pavement. And I'm dodging all over the place trying not to let people get near me.
‘“Imagine three of us doing that, but all with different phobias...”
‘John is scared of buildings. Including the hospital they are staying in. So he has an issue with going into them.
‘But of course three loonies going out together were bound to forget all sorts of things they absolutely couldn’t leave without, so they had to keep going back... And every time they came out of the building again, John had to enact all his rituals all over again, to get over having gone into the building again. (We never discovered why he didn’t stay outside while the other two fetched things for him...)
‘Andrew, however, has performances that involve going round lampposts.
‘So every lamppost they passed was a major operation. Round and round and round, while the other two waited patiently, knowing there but for the grace of God...
‘Bink, meanwhile, is carrying her rucksack full of loo rolls.
‘(On her actual 21st birthday some previous, Serena and Alex took her out partying all night in Cambridge. At three a.m. she forgot her bag in a bar when they went on to a club, so some opportunistic thief, having noticed how carefully she nursed her treasure full of valuables, thought he’d hit the jackpot... until he got home, emptied it greedily and found it contained nothing but 24 rolls of Andrex-with-Aloe-Vera. He must be puzzling over it even now. Who knows, perhaps still there, in his thieves’ den, tearing open every square of loo roll looking for the crack cocaine which he’s convinced must be hidden in there for Bink to have stuck to it so carefully all evening... Gradually going mad himself.)
‘Naturally, they also had to find a route that avoided King’s Cross, because John (or Andrew) has a thing about King’s Cross, allegedly because of the bomb.
‘So their progress – avoiding buildings, alternately giving a wide berth to lampposts or circling endlessly around them, carrying industrial quantities of loo rolls and having to take an eccentric route three-quarters of the way around the wrong bits of London so they wouldn’t have to transverse King’s Cross – was not only circuitous but pretty tortured.
‘“Weren’t you terribly late?” Serena asked, somewhat naïvely.
‘“That didn’t matter. The person we were meeting also has OCD, so he was even later.”
‘(And of course, once they got there, because Bink can't use loos, every time she needed the loo Andrew, or possibly John, had to accompany her outside to help find a patch of grass’ while John, or possibly, kept guard so she wasn’t overlooked...)
‘Bunch of nutters.