I had this whole week planned:
- Monday, clear the hall, especially the corner where we think Jimmy Hoffa is buried. It’s been so long since we moved anything that it’s entirely possible there’s more than one corpse under our junk.
- Tuesday, scrub the woodwork and walls prior to painting, if by ‘scrub’ I mean ‘lightly wipe as fast as possible with a damp cloth because it’s the dullest part of decorating and if I did it more often I wouldn’t need to paint so often.’
- Wednesday, get Tory Boy to paint the ceiling because he’s taller than me and he offered.
- Thursday, paint.
- Friday, recover.
All plans are subject to change, of course; and change they must. I have to break up my day today because I am at last going to own a girlie bike – one of those things with no long bar to fall on and a basket on the front for my shopping or dogs, like the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz, but without the bad skin.
I was once complimented on my skin. I was eighteen at the time. I even know the exact date: 14th August, 1982. I was on a plane to South Africa with my Mum, and an Afrikaaner sitting next to her told her what beautiful skin I had, unlike South African girls of the same age. I was thrilled at the time but now I wonder if it wasn’t just a little bit creepy?
I am getting the bike from a woman in church; she was asking if anyone wanted it and of course I said yes because I have wanted such a bike for years. I have been bobbing along all happy at the thought of fulfilling another dream, when I suddenly realised the truth of the adage, ‘Be careful what you wish for…’ I have to ride the thing home. I have to ride a bike. I have to get on a bike and ride it. On the street, in front of people and cars and nasty dogs and with no helmet or – worse - ability: I haven’t ridden a bike in 32 years, and even when I did I wasn’t very good at it. No wonder Miss Almira Gulch was grumpy; she probably had a dream come true.
Think of me after two this afternoon, crying because I fell off my bike and bumped my head and scraped my knee and crashed into a car and fractured my leg and hit a wall and grazed my beautiful skin and broke my neck and couldn’t care for my family any more and and…
…Just had a calming cup of Earl Grey and I’m back.
As well as collecting the bike (fingers crossed I don’t fall off but then it will be harder to ride it with my fingers crossed and I might fall off; what to do? What to do?) we need to visit the launderette: this morning I am re-washing the washing that I have already washed because it smells like washing smells when it takes five days to dry, so I am going to dry it at the launderette and walk the dogs while I’m waiting. It rains a lot here in Stockport in summer. It rains a lot in winter, too, but we don’t mind so much because we are wrapped in central heating and the telly is good and our wet washing dries on the radiators. Not a good look but nobody visits in winter because they’re wrapped in their own central heating, watching telly and if they’re not, their clothes are too wet to wear and they can’t visit anyway.
That’s one day’s delay; I suspect there will be more because Tory Boy is – rather selfishly, I feel, because now I’ll have to paint the ceiling myself - ill. He started feeling unwell on Friday but he went to Birmingham on Saturday to visit a friend who is studying nursing. He got a lift there but was almost immediately put to bed because he had a temperature. At one point it reached 41° and the bevy of student nurses caring for him in the house considered calling an ambulance, but he began to cool down. He staggered back by train – how ridiculous is this? £19.45 return to Birmingham by train or £18.45 one way? No wonder we all avoid public transport if we can – and fell into bed, sleeping all day.
I came downstairs this morning to find him asleep on the couch. Having slept all day, he couldn’t sleep last night, especially when I started snoring. He came downstairs to get away from me (a common reaction, I find; and not just when I’m asleep) and finally dozed off around dawn. He has now gone back to bed. This kind of thing has been happening since he started uni and I’ll be honest: I’m a little bit frightened. This is how the Hub started, with cold sweats, hot sweats, fatigue, aching joints, fluctuating temperature. I’m scared Tory Boy may contract CFS/ME. I can just about cope with the Hub having it for the last fourteen years and probably the next fourteen, but I can’t bear the thought of my son having it, and at so young an age. At least the Hub lived a bit. A lot, actually, which is how he ended up sick in the first place.
Tory Boy, do your mother a favour: listen to your father and take it easy. More importantly, listen to your body. You don’t want to upset your mother, do you?