Stumbling again when I get up, as if drunk or very old. Tripping over on my way to the bathroom.
The room tips, when Bink’s kind hostess tells me on Wednesday evening. As if the ship is suddenly keeling in the water.
Not again. Please God not again.
Another evening gone. Lifetime gone. Another episode. Yet again.
So tired of it all.
Supper abandoned. I had thawed two wine red steaks for us.
Shaun brings me a cocktail instead. He has been in and out of the room for some ten minutes, and has of course picked up the gist.
Go and run your bath, he says after I hang up.
It is too tired in the evening to do anything now.
Do you want anything?
Roasted cashew nuts.
Do you want me to go and buy some?
Yes please. I lay my head on his arm, briefly. The comfort of skin on skin.
Go up to my father. He prays and asks for her often. Two hours before, had asked for news of her: calls her Lara because a few years ago she didn’t want to be Bink any more.
Missing, I say. His carer listens too, kindly.
Will you ring the police?
I think you should. And your lovely clergyman friend in Cambridge. It’s a big church he is part of.
Have your bath, Shaun says.
He has put a second cocktail and the cashew nuts in the bedroom, lit a candle and turned the radio on for me.
Half an hour listening to awful music on the Peterborough police line.
Last time I tried to ring the police on the non-emergency number to report dangerous driving, I gave up after fifty minutes, when we arrived at Serena’s house, and never bothered again. Then realised I should have rung 999 because it was a crime in the process.
So I give up and ring 999.
Can’t help. We’re Bedfordshire. That’s Cambridgeshire.
I can’t get through to Cambridgeshire.
I’ll get them to ring you back.
I dread them waking me. When this has happened to you this often, the one thing you need is sleep.
Ten twenty two they ring back. I give them details.
Vulnerable. Very ill. Missing.
They don’t take a description.
Half past midnight. Telephone.
I stumble through sleep and hand it to Shaun.
It’s for you.
Police. To say absolutely nothing, as far as I can understand.
Don’t you want description?
Consultation the other end.
I’ll find out and ring you back in five minutes.
Most unusually, I fall straight back asleep.
Police say nothing again.
Don’t you want description.
No. We’re not concerned.
We’ve done everything we need to.
Yes, but why aren’t you concerned.
Can’t say. Data protection.
What do you mean, data protection? We were the ones to tell you. What data can you be protecting? We’ve given you all her data.
You mean you’ve spoken to her?
Can’t tell you. Data protection. But she’s safe.
Have you spoken to her?
Data protection, sorry. She’s safe.
Bollocks, Shaun says when I hang up. Data protection means protecting someone’s data.
Well, I’m not going to challenge them because ringing back would take three weeks.
And now, of course, I really can’t sleep. Not for hours.
On the radio the next morning, Today Programme, mention of inexperienced police officers handling calls.
She rang Alex. Is indoors. Safe. And not at Gatsby’s.
Her hostess – who knows Gatsby – says he wouldn’t have her back. More likely to call the police.
He has moved on, she says. Has a new relationship.
I am very relieved.
And perversely – stupidly – a bit angry. He has had the luxury of moving on. After what he did to her. Nevertheless, moved on is a lot safer than still obsessed.
So a lot more relieved than angry.