Well what do you know: miracles do happen.
To answer the question you are too polite to have asked, Bink gave me permission to say anything I liked in this blog... provided she didn’t have to do anything onerous such as read it. “I don’t want to have to correct all the rubbish you write.”
It didn’t seem very likely she would anyway, given that she can’t use a computer without washing it. Two of my laptops have been wrung out, taken to bits and put in the sun to dry. For weeks. (Don’t bother to try this at home. A computer is like a waxed jacket: it never works quite so well after the first wash.)
Yesterday evening, when she finally emerged from three days’ sleep since her midweek visit to the Priory, she said with a tint of pique, “I’ve gone and got drawn into your blog thing.”
To her surprise (and mine) there wasn’t much to correct, “Except one thing.” I braced myself. ”You are completely wrong on how much I have cost the taxpayer. It’s not six figures.”
“Well,” I admitted, “it was a bit of a guess.”
“It’s seven. I totted it up once. Easily a million.”
I was so shocked I broke a glass.
“And I haven't even been to prison, as so many do."
"It really doesn’t make economic sense," she continued. "If you don’t treat cancer patients, they die. Whereas we go on and on costing.”
I keep thinking of that first-diagnosed fifteen-year-old, and how treatment costing ten, or twenty, or thirty thousand pounds, offered immediately, might have saved the next eighteen years. Instead, the mentally ill are routinely told they’re not yet ill enough to count.
“Because it would take an initial outlay,” Bink explains. “It needs vision.”
She had another very perceptive – and far more chilling – insight into something I’d written.
But today is Sunday and a day for little miracles and encouragements, so that can wait.
A number of friends reading this have commented, “We had no idea... Bink is such good company. So interesting. Such fun...” So bright, articulate, charismatic, gifted. You're telling me? More tellingly, perhaps, “So open about her illness.”
We are invited out for lunch today. Our hostess particularly hopes Bink will come. “She won’t remember me at all, but I remember her: she shared some of her feelings and I loved her instantly.”
Unusually, Bink has agreed: she generally says she can’t commit. Last night she seemed to change her mind, and I expressed dismay.
She tussled a bit. “Will she mind how I look?”
Bink was dressed, as she has been for years, in rolled up men’s pyjamas, open sandals and a hoodie: the only clothes she can bear. Yesterday she had the added adornment of a pillowcase on her head. Cross a pirate’s bandana with a cartoon dressing and you’ve got it.
Two nights earlier she’d asked me when I’d be having my bath. So I went up early and ran a meagre couple of inches into the tub to enable her to spend the night emptying our enormous hot tank on her shower: an extremely painful process, and one she often can’t face for months. The pillowcase must mean she had bottled out, and was now embarrassed by her dirty hair.
“No Bink, I’m sure she won’t care how you look.”
“Ok then. Wake me up when you’re going.”
(And the picture? This week, for the first time since I started keeping them in my teens, my very silly garden fantails have crossed the Rubicon. They have bred more than they’ve died: raised more young than they have been sport for cats, tea for sparrowhawks or have strolled up to unwitting cars and lain down under their slowly moving wheels. They have achieved the critical mass.
Something my family said would never happen. As so many have said Bink will never be well.)