He fell. Just now, just as he was getting up from the breakfast table. It happens in a blur, too fast and yet slow too. I wanted to catch him. I was at the sink washing up and saw him slide and then tumble over onto his back. I wanted to catch him. Are you alright? Such an inane thing to say but we all say it. Are you alright? He is shaky, breaking into a sweat once he gets up. He sits down again. A turn. He’s had a turn. How terribly strange to be seventy, sang Simon and Garfunkel. Yes. His arm is sore. I pull back his dressing gown and there is a mighty bruise. I fetch Arnica cream and put a squirt of Rescue Remedy spray on his tongue. He acquiesces without demur. I felt the soreness for him, with him, my stomach aching. I make him a hot water bottle and he goes back to bed.
The wind is creating chaos. I remember our horses used to go wild, cantering around the perimeters of their field madly, manes flying and whinnying as they galloped. Something in the wind got to them. They wanted to push at the boundaries. The students, it appeared this morning, were the same. The wind fired them up. The clubs were still open when I walked. A security guard was tying up the last of the heaving metal railings they use to marshal the queues. Music still throbbed through the upstairs windows of Pier Pressure as the final leavers pushed their way through the gusts up Pier Street in search of pizza and KFC. Walking along North Prom I watched a figure run down to beach towards the sea. It was a girl with bare legs. A man was running after her. He grabbed her pulling her from the water. She seemed to crumple, falling like an unstringed marionette onto the sand. It was like a dance. A modern dance. A wordless dance.
They’re promising 40 mile winds, he said last night. I thought I’d have to forgo the Prom but I managed as far as the Castle, till it got too much. I turned into the Castle keep only to see a lad running behind me clutching what looked like some kind of food carton into the wind. Does running into it make it easier, is that the trick? I get lost in the Castle ruins. Always. Me too, he said at breakfast when I told him how I’d shouted ‘Where am I supposed to go NOW!?’. I’ve lived here all my life, he said, and I still don’t know where the paths will take me. Up and down, and then out into the full force of the wind. Hopeless. I turned one corner, thinking whether I’d try the running trick, when I saw a young man lying face down in the grass and sobbing. What do I do? Do I ask if he is alright? Knowing full well that he clearly isn’t? Or do I let him be? I had no choice in the end as the wind pushed and buffeted me down the hill. Best leave it, he said. Best not get involved. I remember standing next to a girl on a corner of The Strand, years ago, and she was weeping profusely. I touched her arm, is there anything I can do? She shook her head and offered a weak smile. The difficulty was, no is, mine. I wanted to make it alright. I wanted there to be peace, no grief, no pain. Just stand with them. Just be with them, in silence.
They wear so little clothes. The girls especially. All décolletage. Cleavage burgeoning. I glimpsed a tattoo on a thigh, a huge dragon encircling the flesh. Another girl walked ahead of me with a male friend, red-leather mini-skirted she wore tights that mimicked stockings. She was chattering away in Polish.
Its being re-decorated. We close for January to give us time to decorate and make repairs, she said. I followed her through the tiny, hallowed rooms, where all the furniture was draped in white conservation tissue, down some flagged steps into a basement room. It went well. I forgot some words, crinoline and link, and didn’t boost some pieces up the way I’d planned but it went well. She understood. She got it. Wait and see. Something will come. Something will come. I did it. I made it happen. That is enough.
I’m having the living room redecorated, she said. Everything is under dust sheets, we will have to sit in the kitchen. And it was fine. I like the emptiness of rooms that are being re-painted. An opportunity for some sloughing-off.
I’d been so agitated. Too much to put in place. And that water. We’d heard the gushing and it was still gushing when we return from the supermarket. It has stopped now though the outside lights aren’t working. A reminder that all, really, is chaos. Order is an illusion. Why seek it?
You write to create order. To put things in place. To understand.
I am dog-tired. Pushing into the wind was hard-going. It rattles the windows now, and rain lashes. Ah, winter. They say that catkins are coming out now, he says, reading from The Times’s Nature’s Diary. They’re also called Lambkins. Or was it Lamb’s Tails?