It may sound curious to be encouraged, when my daughter is in her early thirties, and:
Unemployed. Currently – in her own mind – unemployable.
Depressed. Riddled with guilt and regrets; desperately unhappy about her life and how she got here. Having spent all her adolescence, youth and prime-of-life mad, isolated and then abused.
Unable to dress in anything except a hoodie and joggers: unable to shower, clean her teeth, wash her own hair...
Et cetera and so on and so forth...
Obviously I’m sad about all the above. How could you not be?
If your son crashed his car and lost his legs, would you be sad? Or would you, rather, be deliriously happy that he lived. If he had been in hospital for twenty years and emerged... in his wheelchair, yes, but alive!
I have seen Bink more, in the last eight days – to sit down and talk to properly – than I can remember in a very, very long time.
Not just because she’s been in hospital since mid-October.
Bink looks well, my hairdresser said. (I have the best hairdresser in the world, incidentally. Bink turned up while I was there so they could wash her hair.)
Bink looks good, our friends said.
Bink’s got her sparkle back! Shaun said.
Why? She was astonished. We were sitting by a cosy fire in a far-too-expensive pub. I feel terrible. Is it because I’m off the Lorazepam?
Maybe, Bink. You’re no longer dead behind the eyes and half crazy.
(So we talked about her GP a bit. The person who put you on that stuff should be struck off, I said.
It wasn’t just one .
The surgery should be closed down then. And Bink has now re-registered with the same surgery...)
Six months ago, Bink had her hair shaved off to within a whisper of her scalp, it was so knotted and tangled and difficult for her. (This always makes me sad: Bink never looks more stunning than with golden hair down her back, as at Serena’s wedding.)
Four months ago, a fellow-patient dyed Bink’s hair aggressive bleach-blonde. And her eyebrows. Bink can carry off most looks, but for once she looked her age. Not sixteen. More like a woman in her thirties. (Like the cleaner we had when I was a child, who looked so old to me.)
Three months ago, it showed her dark blonde roots, and she looked like a recovering addict.
Now, Bink’s hair is grown out into a funky panda crop... and she looks, well, Bink. Her fine, elfin face flashes and sparks out again from inside her mad, multi-coloured hair.
She came with us to a concert on Wednesday, then to our friends’ house for half the night. Fun. Good company. Eating all the biscuits we couldn’t eat because of Lent, and glad to be with people.
Most selfishly of all, she is talking to me.
It has not always been so. When she was with Gatsby... Well, you can steal a person as you can steal jewels or a car. And far more devastatingly.
I want to prosecute, she said. All that abuse.
Bink, forget it. Not worth your life.
Write a book, instead.
I want society’s vindication. I want someone, a court of law, to say: yes. This shouldn’t have happened to you. It was wrong.
You will get vindication. Society will do that for you. Write a blog. Contribute to this one. People will support you and care.
Forget the law. It takes your life and gives nothing back.
Writing would lead to something...
We talked so long by the fire, by the time we ordered, the kitchen was shut.
Thank you, she said. For coming to see me.
Bink, I love you, I didn’t say. How could I not?
Twice, now, she has said I’ve really cheered her.
* * * * *
Now here’s a thing.
Lent, and so on...
Last night, I ordered tomato juice. It is an expensive pub, yes, but at the end of the evening Bink said, even for this pub, over six quid is a lot for a glass of tomato juice.
So I took it up with the bar, and after a lot of examining and calling of staff, it transpired they’d spiked it with vodka.
You asked for a spicy tomato juice. Most people mean a bloody Mary, they said over and over.
Well, I didn’t mean a bloody Mary. I meant what I said: a hot spicy tomato juice. Suppose I’d drunk three of them, and then driven home!
(Or suppose I was Muslim. Or recovering alcoholic...)
You tasted it and said it was fine, they said.
I tasted it, and agreed that – most unusually – you’d put in enough tabasco and Worcestershire sauce even for me. I’m not going to taste a shot of vodka under an explosion of chilli, am I?
Somewhat grudgingly, they gave me back £2.50 – totally not the point – and no apology.
This morning, we’ve just had a group check-out of our house, and they’ve done what I love houseparties doing: gifted us their left-overs.
Half a bottle of vodka is fine; it will keep till after Easter.
But look: I’ve just opened the fridge! What on earth am I going to do with my favourite pudding, now that we’ve given up carbs?
Look on the bright side. Always.
They might not have left it at all. (We’ll find a use for it.)
I got a free shot of vodka. (That I didn’t want and couldn’t taste, but still.)
Bink is alive...