… Well, my mother said I was a bonny baby. Winkie was a beautiful baby, she added helpfully. It was fair enough, she was truthful, that’s all.
So which is Dodo and which is Winkie?
If anyone came on this site a couple of days ago – or, rather, tried to – and there was a forbidding ‘fatal error’ message, it wasn’t. I was told to upgrade and that overloaded the available bandwidth, or whatever it’s called – anyway, it crashed because it was full. Ronan has dealt with it and I’ve said that he can always delete posts from more than two years or so ago, if he likes, because they’re all still there on the old Blogger blog anyway. I won’t get rid of that. He thinks it’ll be all right, though, it’s just that it automatically backs up every so often, which means it takes up twice the space it should do.
It’s been a lovely weekend, the family all came over for tea yesterday – afternoon tea, that is, with three sorts of cake, scones with jam and clotted cream, cucumber sandwiches and little sausages so that we could pretend the children were having some protein too. Everyone arrived two or three hours before I’d been expecting them, which was lovely, and Tim rapidly rustled up some lunch for those who hadn’t had any. He also discovered how much my children talk when they get together – they all get on really well, all six of them, and they don’t see each other all that often. They brought their presents for me, since I won’t be seeing them for Christmas. I haven’t finished shopping yet though, so I’ll have to deliver mine to them. Ro and Dora are going to be with Weeza and co on the Day, so I can drop them off there rather than go all the way up to the wilds of north Norfolk.
Because the new chairman of governors is receiving post-operative treatment, he won’t be able to give a speech at prize giving tomorrow, so it’ll be up to me again. I’ve looked out the last five and reminded myself of the sort of thing I usually say. This really will be the last time.
Today, I’m on my own and will get out all the presents I’ve bought and find out that I’ve got a lot less done than I thought I had, because that’s always the way. I still can’t really cope with Christmas cards, so will only do the absolute essentials (it doesn’t help that I’ve never found the address book since Russell died. He had a rooted objection to putting it back where he found it). I’ve got a lot to do in the next week and might even make a list. I think I’m going to need something to push me along. It’ll be only too easy to sit and not do much, while thinking about our darling friend. Her funeral is two days before Christmas, I’ll send her love from each of you while I’m there. I can’t truly think that magnificent spirit isn’t about somewhere still, I’m sure she will know in some way.
I’m back on the road again, thank goodness. Yesterday, Wonderful Roses ferried me around Suffolk and Norfolk and today Lovely Tim escorted me to the car salesroom in Norwich to buy another car.
I was straightforward, explained what I wanted – which is the sort of thing that is not necessarily put on the specifications, such as a fairly high (but not too high) driver’s seat and a boot big enough for hay bales. Since I wanted an automatic, I knew the selection wouldn’t be wide and limited my requirements as far as possible, and three cars were duly put forward at fairly wildly differing prices. It so happened that I chose the middle-priced one, the whole thing took about three hours but was simply done and I came home with it.
So that’s all right.
I’ve had a message from Linda’s (Zig’s) daughters to say that she died last night. Sad as we all will be, we must not regret her death, only the awful illness that caused it. She was a wonderful woman, as all of you will know who read her blog, both in previous, happier times and more recently when she confronted her illness, hopes and fears with such bravery.
I couldn’t have done it – perhaps I could be stoical, but I couldn’t dare to hope as she did. She said to me, back in the summer, that she didn’t truly believe she was dying. It isn’t something your brain can comprehend, not really, she said. She had no religious faith but still hoped for a miracle, taking on all the medical intervention available to keep herself alive and active for as long as possible. The course of chemotherapy she started about five weeks ago was against all sensible odds, but she said that she couldn’t just lie there waiting to die. She would rather try and keep hoping, even if the medicine killed her.
Her friend Henrietta died earlier this year of the same cancer, unable to eat for the final six weeks. Effectively, she starved to death. That end was what Linda feared. She didn’t have it. In that respect, she died as she would have wanted to – except that she didn’t want to die.
The lovely people at the hospice cared for her wonderfully and her daughters are amazing. I don’t know how they have borne it all, but they gave Zig everything. They never cried, so we mustn’t either.
I’m so glad that Tim and I had lunch with her last Friday. They’ve been wanting to meet for so long, having known each other through blogging and through me – though they have both been here for a blog party, it was in different years. Linda was going to come here, complete with her whole menagerie, to spend the summer with me, but she needed another emergency operation and it was not possible. We both regretted that so much. Mig has been a wonderful friend to her and visited regularly, being an hour away. She had a lot of good friends, she was very much loved.
Darlings, I was talking online early this morning with Zig’s sister, who was at the hospice with Zig’s daughters, at her bedside. It’s not likely she will pull through this time. The kind hospice people do all they can for their patients and their families, and Zig’s spaniel, Indi, is lying on her bed. Indi is a wise and knowing little dog and understands that Ziggi is dying and it’s good for her to be there.
She could rally and wake up, but it’s more probable that she won’t and will slip away. I won’t write again until there’s news one way or the other.
With love, Zoë
I phoned the warranty people, which was fine, and then attempted to phone the garage. It’s bad enough when no one answers the telephone, but there was a recorded message saying that an answer would be had in about a minute, which was repeated indefinitely. I could not hang on forever, there were things to do and so it actually took me more than two hours before I spoke to someone. And the company, which should have been contacted by the garage, hasn’t phoned me back, so I’ve got no confidence that the message got across. Still there’s always tomorrow.
Bored with this darlings, can’t be bothered with further explanations.
This afternoon, I’ve mostly listened to music. And this evening I seem to have committed to clarinet lessons in the new year, Since I’ve been saying I’ll do this for a long time – several years – it’s not that dramatic, yet it’s a big step towards optimism for me. Sadly, I’m a bit rubbish at present and it’ll require a lot of work, but I feel that I’m going to have the capacity for it and it’s now or never. And if it’s never, it’ll be up to me to recognise and accept it.
I’m home again. That was all a bit eventful.
Wink and I went to London on Thursday – first, we passed on a piece of china and two books that had been bought at the auction but the new owner didn’t want posting, so I’d hung on to them until I was next up. Then we visited the Ai Weiwei exhibition at the Royal Academy, had lunch and went shopping. Wink was more successful there than I was, and we agreed that we do not care for great big shops that sell lots of things you don’t want, but prefer small shops that sell a few things that you do.
On Friday, we went to visit Zig, who was out of the hospice for the day. Lovely Tim and she have been wanting to meet for so long and it just hasn’t worked out, but finally they have and – of course – they took to each other straight away, because they’re both lovely. Mig went to visit her the day before, she was busy that day, which was a pity – maybe we’ll all get together soon. Mig and Tim met when they drove up here together (she drove to his, then he brought her here) for my second blog party: Zig herself came to the third.
Zig has lost weight because she can’t eat much. None of it is great news, her health is precarious. She is as much fun as ever, always interesting and interested and her Firstborn is quite wonderful, having put her new life in Australia on hold while her mother needs her. Baby Doc, her younger daughter, is also wonderful, they are a closely supportive family. Indi, the spaniel, cold-shouldered me because she loves me and is upset when I go away. Tim got the benefit of her love instead, though she relented a bit after a while. I’ll go back down as soon as I can, but it may not be for another three weeks, unless she asks me to drop everything and go.
I postponed my return home until today, because I was coming back by train, so I joined Tim and his brother and sister-in-law for lunch yesterday. I had met them three years ago at Tim’s birthday party (if you remember, he was celebrating his birthday a few weeks after the blog party, invited me and The Sage, as well as Mig and Barney, but Russell wasn’t able to go) and they remembered me as pretty exuberant. I explained to Tim – didn’t say so to them, of course – that, when you’re going to meet a whole lot of strangers at a party and you’re on your own, you can choose who you’re going to be, and I chose fun. I did make the decision quite early on, between stopping at two glasses of wine and driving back to my hotel, or continuing to party and taking a taxi.
Today, I took the train to Paddington, then to Angel, to go round to see my flats. The pub next door is having massive renovations done, which impinges on the party wall and on my outside wall. My downstairs tenant (the upstairs one was out today) is a very nice man and we chatted while he showed me the gutted pub and the space where the wall used to be. Later, I walked round – he told me that they have been building a couple of blocks of flats round the corner at the end of the road, 35 storeys high. He looked at one, £250,000 for a flat smaller than the one he lives in (which is two rooms on the ground floor, a lobby, kitchen and bathroom in the basement), with no view whereas he has the lovely canal opposite, and decided to stay put. I toddled around Islington, had a pint and a pack of crisps, took a bus to the station as I had lots of time and buses are nicer than the Tube, had lunch and waited for my train.
A couple got on the train and told the people opposite me that they were in their reserved seats. It was pointed out that there were no reserved seats, whatever their tickets said, and then an announcement was made, explaining that the company had been obliged to hire in a train because of a fault with the original, so, with apologies, there was no hi fi and no seat reservations. The woman bitched and complained about it all the way to Ipswich, when the seats in question were vacated and she and her husband sat down together. It was … remarkable. I bet her family have a hellish life – though I don’t care for people who moan instead of just getting on with things, maybe she is charming in other ways (yeah, right). It was pretty trivial after all, not as if they couldn’t get seats and they were close together, just an aisle separating them. The seat reservation didn’t cost anything and there was an apology and explanation.
Darling Roses was waiting for me at the station and brought me home.
And that was as far as I got on Sunday night. I went to consider what to have for dinner and opened a bottle of Prosecco while I thought about it. Having decided on toasted cheese and an early night, I was grating the cheese when Roses appeared to invite me to share her chicken dinner. So it was a convivial evening and late to bed after all.
As a guest, darlings, I’m clearly trouble. Last time I visited lovely Tim, I forgot my handbag and imposed on him financially all weekend, when i had meant to take him and Wink out to lunch. This time, I remembered my bag and it’s got money and cards and everything, but my car is out of action. I persuaded it to hobble along the motorways and get me here, phoning him on the way from a service station to ask him to book it in for me at a garage, but it now transpires that there’s a major fault and I want to check my extended warranty terms before I get it mended.
Taking the view that there’s rarely any need to get worked up about this sort of thing, I’m not changing any of my plans while I’m here. I’m still going to London with Wink tomorrow and we’re still going to see Zig on Friday and have the arranged lunch on Saturday. However, my plan to drive home in the afternoon has had to change and I’m going back by train instead. So poor Lovely Tim will have to entertain me for another night’s stay, so that I have all of Sunday to return home.
Zig has been back in hospital and is in the hospice for a bit, until she’s patched up enough to return home. They found the source of her recent problem, which wasn’t the cancer, which is a relief. It’ll be wonderful to see her again. I live too far away from my friends, clearly, and they all should come and live in Norfolk.