We do crosswords together at suppertime. Saturday it’s The Times, Sunday The Daily Telegraph now that The Independent is kaput and weekdays it’s The Guardian and The I. It is a gentle thing we do, companionable, a gentle stirring up of our brain cells. I always want to please him, to impress him to excite a ‘well done, Poppet’. Some nights I am too foggy. Other nights I’m on a roll. He often knows what I don’t and vice versa. Sometimes we come up with the same answer simultaneously. I’m better at anagrams. I do them in my head, not on paper, moving the letters around in space, in the ether. At breakfast I do Sudoku and lunchtime Codewords. It’s a switching-off thing. A non-thinking thing. Restful. I love our life together, it is peaceful, loving and kind.
We couldn’t remember his name. We remembered Cleggie and Foggy. The Last of the Summer Wine, the character played by Bill Owen, five letters ending P something. I can see him, I say. Me too, he replies. Is there an L? Does it end in Y? G loved that programme. A silliness really. Nora Batty and her wrinkled stockings. I went there once. We sat in the café. He remembered just before bed. Compo. It’s Compo. Of course, I say.
Sunday afternoon and we are driving along Queen’s Road. The young homeless man is sitting on the Library steps. The lower half of his body is cocooned in a aquamarine-blue sleeping bag. He looks like a merman. The upper half is naked. He is sunbathing. I think he is smiling. He has all he needs. For now. The sun is all he needs.
Today the sky is a milky grey. No sun today.
Sometimes, you just have to listen and a better way, a simpler solution just comes. Listen.