A man goes to his GP.
What’s the matter? asks the doc.
I’m dead, says the patient.
You don’t seem to have the usual symptoms, reassures the medical man.
Well, I’m dead nonetheless, complains the patient.
His doctor thinks about this for a moment, and then says, Dead people don’t bleed, right?
No, I suppose not, says his patient.
So the doctor produces a pin, sticks it in his patient, and says, There you are: you’re bleeding. You must be alive!
The patient stares at the glistening scarlet globule on the back of his hand for a moment.
And then says, Well, what do you know! Dead people do bleed.
One Tuesday evening in early April 2015, I cancelled going to choir to engage in this for a couple of hours.
Lara (as she now was): You realise I can’t ever get a job or marry or have my own family, because I can’t ever be independent of you.
Lara: Because you control me.
Me: Why do you believe that?
Lara: Because I tried to assert my independence, for two years, and you made my life so awful I had to come home.
Me: How did I do that?
Lara: By getting so upset that you turned my whole family against me.
Where do you go with it?
Me: Is there any way you could believe that I want you to be independent, to have your own life and not be reliant on me?
One evening at around this time, Bink said kindly to me, You seem a bit stressed.
Stressed is one of the most common words in Bink’s vocabulary. I’ve tried to avoid using it myself for many years.
Anxious. Distressed. Upset. Unhappy. Worried. Any of these, perhaps.
Not stressed. If possible.
But I was touched that she was concerned for me. I was, indeed, looking after four ill people: Bink herself; a very ill lodger; my father; Shaun.
I’ve got something that might help.
Thank you, Lara.
It’s very mild. Should enable you to relax a little. It’s a very weak sedative.
I was so touched that my daughter, who had behaved as if she hated me for several years – I didn’t really believe she did – was looking after me.
It was morning.
What did we do yesterday?
I asked Shaun. Ben.
Don’t you remember?
I cooked us all supper, Shaun said. Your favourite.
Did I eat it?
Of course you did. All of us did. Together.
I’d never experienced anything like this.
What happened? A whole chunk of my life, several hours, seemed to be missing...
You muppet, Ben said. Don’t you remember?
Remember what? I don’t seem to remember anything.
Bink gave you a pill.
A tiny thing, it was. About a quarter the size of an asperin.
Stunned doesn’t begin to describe it.
I HAD LOST AN ENTIRE EVENING OF MY LIFE.
I had no memory of it, even when told what I’d done.
And she had truckloads of this stuff being chucked down her throat for several years...
No wonder she was mad.
It would do that to anyone.
Once, she told me, she was told she wouldn’t be allowed to leave A&E until she took one.
I was amazed that was legal. And that she didn’t just hide it under her tongue or swallow salt afterwards.
Lara, I said. I’m really grateful to you for wanting to help me.
But I wouldn’t take another of those evil little things if I thought it would save my life.
And there came a time when she was taking ten or fifteen, sometimes...