Overnight we became a cottage industry.
Shaun said he’d seen a series of photographs, years ago, taken in the womb. So powerful they could be a lesson on abortion in themselves. If only he could find them...
Once he had, of course, had no idea how to display them.
So Serena stayed up all night, copying them onto her computer then burning them on to a CD. If the school didn’t have the technology to project these, I thought, the job is scuppered.
Ben went into Oxford for aftershave, deodorant, pampering items for his overnight stay with friends nearby.
I packed his case, just as I had for Alex when he had interviews at Cambridge. Linen shirt. Starched linen clerical collar. Fine wool suit, re-tailored. I’d got all these ready long before. For the time when, one day, he would be shortlisted.
Repacked. And packed again. Cufflinks. Wristwatch. The fountain pen that goes in the breast pocket.
He didn’t need any of this stuff, of course. But I had to do something.
It still wasn’t enough.
I promise you, I’ve never done this before or since. Never likely to do it again. I went out in the dark with a bucket of soapy water and sponge, and I washed the car... My lovely car, which our friend Jane had given me.
Cut me some slack. His first interview in four years.
It wasn’t even a job he wanted. The Chaplaincy accommodation was a three bedroom flat so we knew it was hopeless.
But we also all knew, without a word between us, that we had to show him how much we loved him. And looked to him to provide for us.
He left, much later than intended, on Thursday night.
To conduct, the next day, his first lesson in thirty years.
I am so enjoying the Bink I am talking to now. I can’t remember when she was last so funny. Or energised... Or just... normal sounding.
And now I come to relay the conversation, I realise it won’t sound funny at all...
“I’ve gotta go.”
“Ok, Bink. What are you off to? Lunch? Something fun?”
“AA?! Why are you going to an AA meeting?”
“I have one every day.”
“What on earth for?”
“How can you not know? You’re writing a blog about my treatment, and you don’t realise I have daily AA meetings! For the last few months...”
“Maybe because you’ve never told me?”
“Ah. Ok. Fair enough.”
“But you’re not an addict, surely? I mean, you’re just nuts.”
“So why did you put my into an addiction programme?”
“Because there wasn’t anything else! And you had to come off the Lorazepam, anyway.”
“How long do you have to do this for?”
“Life. Otherwise I’ll relapse. Apparently.”
Relapse... into what? Bink isn’t really an alcoholic, is she? Just completely off her tiddley little toddle.
I contemplate never being able to go to the pub with her again. Or open the bubbly to celebrate her being sane at last.
Maybe I should go to AA meetings...
“Is it helpful?”
“Mmm. Dunno. Not yet.”
“Well, you’d better go then. Don’t be late.”
Perhaps, as with anything funny, you really had to be there...
PS Given that our exchange on the page doesn’t really convey how lighthearted it made me feel, I thought I’d add an anecdote on the same topic.
You’ve probably picked up by now, Shaun was the P of Parson’s Green. We had a proper Victorian vicarage, next to the church, which in turn was next to the church hall. Opposite the White Horse aka Sloaney Pony, where we were very good friends with the landlord.
The church hall, in common with most church halls, earned itself a little harmless pocket money hiring itself out for meetings.
We got to know all the schedules: Bendy Wendy’s ballet on Tuesday afternoons; PC Jamie’s women’s self-defence on Wednesdays. Not just because we were part of a lot of them, but because punters were always getting lost and ringing the vicarage bell by mistake. Thinking we looked like the church hall.
One Monday, one thirty, stranger at the door, looking for AA.
I directed him to the church hall. But I also happened know he was half an hour early, as AA didn’t start till two.
“Never mind,” I said. “Over the road, on the corner there, is the White Horse: the beers are supposed to be very… oops. Sorry.”