Apparently they have never got on. I don’t know why. Is it always the fault of the parenting? Who knows? The funeral is over and the fighting returns. They’ve his flat to clear out and all those things to divide or scrap over. One of them calls him. I can hear her weeping all the way upstairs. He doesn’t want to take sides, is fond of them both. He has always been this substitute Dad – a kind face, a good listener, gentle and funny. He gave all his friends’ children his time. And they remember him for it.
The flowers were still there by the bar, in tact. I wish them peace and an acceptance of what is. Amen to that.
Wherever we have lived garlic has seemed to filter through the walls from our neighbours cooking with it. Living here it is no different. Yesterday it was almost overpowering. Well for me anyway. He calls it a curse, my sense of smell that is. I catch the smell of strangers as I walk, just after they have passed by, it may be a trace of perfume, a smoked cigarette, sweat or like this morning TCP. We always blame our neighbours below for the garlic and sometimes the fried bacon or sweet dumplings, perhaps we are wrong.
It was his funeral yesterday. We watched it on his bed on the iPad. It was a pathetic affair with hardly any people (an effect of Covid not his popularity). His daughters spoke movingly and from the heart. And it was a delight to see his little grandson darting about. The emcee was a little verbose and repetitive with nothing but platitudes to share for he had not known him. I went to see if his flowers that they’d placed by the ‘kicking bar’ on the Prom were still there this morning. They were.
I dreamt I had gone downstairs to a gym which had turned out to be a rehearsal studio. I was invited to take part in a play that someone hummed the tune to (and pleased to be so). I didn’t know it. Annette Crosbie was one of my fellow actors (we’d done her birthday the other day at breakfast when I guess the ages of the great and the good) as were a few other notable men who I couldn’t place. They would carry me through wouldn’t they? The play was to start the following week. My fear was OK I thought when I woke, it didn’t paralyse me.
Is it getting better? I think so. He certainly does. It’s a little scratchy still under the lid. Whatever it is it’s lasted. It’s been over a week now. I have to go and see him again today. Will he still be grumpy?
I think about doing an online course about Austen. There’s no face-to-face just a kind of forum thing. Is it for me? I’m not so sure.
The pain eases. She just forgot and I have been imagining all sorts of things. And I could never tell her. Could I?
It looks like a bite, said the optician. Is there any discharge? No, I said, thinking he meant, pus or ooze or liquid. He looked in close using that machine that shines bright lights and makes you blink. Yes, he said, its huge with a big head on it and there’s loads of discharge. He seemed grumpy. He was sharp. So you haven’t seen this before? I asked, responding to his uncertainty as to the cause (it might have been a spider in the night). Of course, I have, he said.
You should’ve told him you’re my wife, he said when I got back into the car. I’ll come in with you next time. You can’t, I told him, they’ll only let a certain amount of people in the store.
I like being me, unrecognisable in this town, unknown and unimportant. He called my name out. I’ve seen him several times but he never remembers. That is OK. And I can cope with his sharpness and grumpiness.
Is it a bite? I think it’s about the grief that still continues. No word. But I can’t tell him that – he’s a scientist, a realist. I’m with the witches. I believe in all sorts of illogical things. What am I not seeing, or not being willing to see? The loss of her, perhaps? I’m scared of it.
A young lad came out in his dressing gown and baseball boots and socks as I returned home along Llanbadarn Road. He was putting something in the bin. It’s bin day. The wind had hurled the rubbish along the pavement on North Parade, mostly litter from Kentucky Fried Chicken. Boneless fillets one scrap of paper read. Tin cans rolled and clattered. But it was 40 mph more like 12 or 15. Nor did it rain.
What are they doing those seemingly restless souls that are out at 3 or 4 in the morning? They are not striding like me but shuffling, ambling slow. They have no purpose. Is it insomnia? Or homelessness? Or something worse? This morning there was a man in a huge hairy hat snuffling about in a dustbin. And then later I saw an elderly couple walking together down Llanbadarn Road towards town. She was all muffled up, but elegantly so. She was tall and stately with a grey bob. He was more bent, wore and anorak and carried a small overnight bag. Were they going to the station? Surely not, there’s no train till 5.30 am. They too walked slowly, and apart.
I watched the van from No 21 the florists on Chalybeate Street drive up to one of our neighbour’s houses yesterday afternoon. The driver dashed out with a large bouquet in his hand. A nice gesture. I would’ve thought it of him. Is is a sign that they are still in love after all these years – what is it 30?
I woke from a dream at about 1.00 am. I’d been sitting in the back of Terry Wogan’s car listening to him interview Yoko Ono. His steering wheel was on the left rather than the right, and I thought I must tell ‘him’ that he’d bought it in France. We were driving very slowly through a suburban district and the sun shone. Again, I remember thinking in my dream that he drove rather like my Dad.
We have a running joke about deafness, he and I. It’s mostly a way of deflecting my irritation at having to repeat myself sometime three or four times. I have a quiet voice, apparently. Anyway, as I woke the voices came in again. I told him of it at breakfast. One said: ‘Mushrooms?’ and the other replied: ‘No, Saturday.’
It’s still there. He says that he thinks it is getting better. I’m not so sure. The radio doctor, Sarah Jarvis, says it could last 6 months. So be it. It will teach me much. Nevertheless, he has booked me an appointment with Specsavers. G. is to be trusted. And it will put both our minds at rest. And besides, I need to know should I use a cold or a hot compress? Old knowledge, eh, we’ve forgotten so much. And one website suggested cider vinegar. Really?
He tells me how he greets his old friends as he walks through the graveyard every morning. Morning, Kyff, he says.
I woke up thinking that it may have dissipated. It hasn’t. And now he reads that it could last up to six months. Heigh ho. A good chance for me to practice my stoicism. It doesn’t hurt but it is uncomfortable and unsightly. I look like I’ve done a few rounds in the ring and lost. I can’t help connecting with the grief. Will that too last six months?
The wind is bitterly cold. And someone’s coming to check our gas appliances today. Why now? Again – be stoic. Let it be.
I’m still immersed in Austen. Will I ever come out? I have other library books awaiting my attention, Joyce, Calvino and Chandler to name but a few – but I am too entranced to extricate myself from the 19th century for now. I’ve just finished re-reading Persuasion at the back of which was the original Chapter 10 that she had discarded. How would she have felt at it being read? I wonder.
I dreamt of DH. I often do. There was some sexual frisson between us. His wife knew and I was uncomfortable. He showed me his work. We were in a huge art room. But we had to separate. I felt the pain of it, did he? Would he touch me?
Onward. I began the piece yesterday but clumsily. Today I must focus. Let the words come. Let them come.
It is the site of some grief yesterday, so much so that I thought my crying had brought it on. He thinks not. Perhaps, I said at breakfast, the infection has come from you since more recently you have taken to kissing me there. He doesn’t take offence, thankfully. I can be blunt, I know this. But where else could I have caught anything? There is only us two. Then I thought it could’ve been the wind, it had been sharp and my eye smarted when it caught me from just behind the harbour. Who knows? I suppose we are at the mercy of all sorts of bacteria, day in day out. I will have to be patient, though I look like a boxer the day after a fight.
In My Life Lyn Hejinian writes series’ of seemingly disconnected sentences. They are often very beautiful – pristinely-kept and closely-held memories of colours, smells, sights and feelings. I read a bit each night but they slip through my fingers, they are not mine.
A day of hard work. She was a delight to interview. Now I must write it.