When I was a teenager, I thought life was about studying, making friends, being passionate about a job, having a career... I took Sundays off to go to church and see people and read and maybe take the dog for a walk...
I’m not sure quite what happened.
I was kicking myself yesterday for giving you a cheerful update on a Saturday. Leaving nothing to say in my Sunday post. Other than that Bink had decided not to go to church after all. Otherwise, nothing but a v boring bog-standard day in the life of loving someone mad.
At that moment Ben and Rose walked in from their drive to Rhodes Recovery.
“How was she?”
“No, she wasn’t.”
“No, I suppose she wasn’t really.”
“Didn’t want her violin. I forget to take it out of the car, anyway.”
A bit later, Rose said, “X sent her a text.”
You’ve haven’t met X yet. We haven’t got to X. You’ve only met all the Robins so far.
Gatsby. Jay Gatsby: X personified.
A text from Jay Gatsby, the Great thereof, would be very bad news indeed.
“I don’t know if I was supposed to tell you. She didn’t tell me not to. Don’t say anything until I’ve rung her. Please.”
Good luck with that, Rose. Bink never answers her telephone.
“If she didn’t tell you not to, Rose, she must have expected you to tell us.”
Come on, Bink: wake up! Rose is a very mature fifteen... but nonetheless a child. You don’t dump that on her. What are the rest of us for? (Thought to be fair, if she’d told Ben, he might just have gone round and punched Gatsby’s great lights out. When he was younger, he might.)
No wonder Bink had been down and low and depressed for half a week, if she’d had a text from that eternal lover and utterly unquenchable great pest, the Gatsby.
She rang, I checked she’d received the books I’d sent her, and advised her to enjoy an evening’s reading.
The four of us – Shaun, Ben, Rose and me – were due to watch a movie together.
Movie-night in our house is not only rare (I’ve never understood: how do you get supper washed up this side of ten-thirty?) but much more challenging and adventurous than in anyone else’s house. On account of Alex’s setting our cinema up, for Rose’s twelfth birthday party.
The understatement of the year was when Serena asked – our wifi was rerouting via Calcutta and all our calls to my father, upstairs; who can’t hear anything over the telephone anyway because for some reason he removes his hearing-aid to take calls, and is yet to understand how the internet is an improvement on carrier pigeon – “Do we think Alex over-engineers, sometimes?”
We don’t have a telly any more.
Alex’s system made tv obsolete. (Rather in the way that videos did: once you’d recorded your programme, you didn’t need to waste time watching it. And once you’ve tried to follow a plot via Alex’s system, you’re cured of movie-watching for the next eighteen months...)
A wide screen descends from the ceiling at the press of a button. The projector whirrs into life. You negotiate with the sound system, to see if it’s talking to any of the other systems today. Then you choose from about eight remote controls. This is such fun it can easily take half an hour.
I don’t even know how you begin to find a film or programme.
The moment of greatest excitement comes when you’ve got into the action, the hero is about to be garrotted with a cheese wire by the evil Moriarty and you’re longing to know how he escapes... and the picture cuts out. You can can still hear the blood curdling yells so you could continue like this, filling in the blanks yourself, but decide to take a tea-break and let the projector calm down... and when you come back you find the hero is in bed with the girl and you have no idea how he got there. But never mind, because they’re now surrounded by snapping crocodiles... and this time the sound cuts out. So you never learn how he talks his way out of that one. You just see the crocs shrugging and circling off.
It’s much better exercise for the little grey cells than watching a film normally. A cinematic jigsaw-cum-cryptic-puzzle.
Last night’s plot was further complicated by a continuous volley of texts from Serena, started while I was snatching a quick pre-movie bath. (Alex has set up our laptops so we can text whilst also on our telephones.)
“I’m on the phone to her now. In a bit of a state. Do you know about the text she received?”
“rose told me”
“Can anyone visit her tomorrow?”
“hang on im getting a lot of water in my laptop ive set up a visit with a lovely friend of grannys but shes nervous because shes never met her”
This correspondence, trying to sort out a sobbing Bink between us and make sure she would have company today, took up most of our respective evenings.
Poor Serena... “I’ve done a lot of hard manual (and some mental) labour today, and then had 2 of Alex’s dry martinis.”
That would knock anyone out. One, would. Let alone planting an entire hedge.
Eventually I simply told Bink that Shaun would pick her up and take her to church today. Then told Shaun. Then told Ben we needed his car. Please. And is that woman the spy and why is she shooting the fat one and who’s the baddie I don’t know what Jude Law looks like.
And finally, at ten o’clock, had to procure permission from Rhodes Recovery for Bink to go to church.
Message back from the manager. This time yes but could you give us more notice next time?
Yeah, course. Silly of us not to think of that, really. Serena and I just did all this for fun. Comforting a hysterical Bink instead of something boring like watching our respective films.
I was able to catch the last fifteen minutes. Serena wasn’t so lucky: Christian had given up and gone to bed. And Alex and the au pair resorted to Dr Who, which even after a couple of his martinis would be pretty dire.
This morning: printed off numerous maps of Rhodes and church; also of singing weekend info for Bink to see if she would like to join the community which runs these, after Rhodes. Just getting organised for departure when my father’s care provider rang. No care today. Sorry. Everyone sick.
No one to get him up, on the loo, washed, dressed, breakfasted, lunched, looed, teaed, suppered, looed again and bed.
“I can’t do that,” I said. “I just can’t. We have a daughter in hospital. I’m not a trained carer. I’m not strong enough to lift him. And we have people coming for dinner. And a daughter in hospital did I say that? This is why he pays triple… oh, never mind.”
Next two hours spent ringing round for another care provider. Interspersed with ringing Rhodes to ask someone to wake Bink. And sending a text to a friend who used to attend the church to ask if someone could welcome Bink and be friendly. And ringing another carer. And another. And telling my father he wouldn’t be got up until eleven.
Know what I did for relaxation, after I’d got the world organised?
I cleaned wax out of the carpet. From where the Christmas tree candles had dripped on it.
That was my relaxation. This is what I now do for fun. Because it’s easier than the rest of life.
I haven’t had breakfast yet. But I have now organised dinner.
All I have left to do (apart from prepare veg, find a picture for this blog, get Rose’s brunch and write 2,200 words for the Daily Mail about the utter tragedy of someone who didn’t end up as fortunate as Bink) is get hold of Shaun, to find out whether Bink wants my mother’s friend to visit this afternoon.
Time was, when Sundays were for going to church. Seeing friends. Reading a bit. Relaxing.
Plus, you never hung washing out on a Sunday. Once.
This is Ben’s washing. Hanging on a Sunday. Times have changed. (And I don’t have time to sit waiting for my little robin to allow me to photograph him on the bird table. Just as I didn’t have time to write a short post, today.)
Though to be fair, I think he put it up there on Wednesday.
So that’s all right then.
And just now, I got a text from my dear friend Mags to say she’d alerted four friends in the church to be friendly to Bink, and “YOU ARE NOT ALONE xx”
It made me cry...
(But only for a second because I didn’t have time for more.)