Author Archives: Z

Z drinks red wine and ponders

Today has been better. I didn’t sleep well and the night was a series of catnaps, but I’d arranged to go with Fiona to walk her dog down by the river. It was a lovely sunny day and it’s one of Bonnie’s favourite places and where she loves to run. We walked a brisk two or three miles and came back here for a cup of tea before she left. Everyone is being far kinder than I expected. Which I should explain.

I have this odd and unfounded reputation for being ‘strong,’ whatever that means. I also give off an air of self-reliance. That is not unfounded, but I’ve gradually come to understand that it can be off-putting. I’m aware that being too needy is also off-putting. Let people in, don’t smother them by clinging, know that there’s an end point for crying at random points because, let’s face it, if you hope to be invited to social occasions at any time, you don’t want to spoil the party. This may sound cynical but it isn’t. It’s my usual over-thinking but it’s also meant to be kind and aware. I don’t want to be selfish, but I’m finally, for once in my life, taking the view that it’s okay for it to be all about me for a week or two…though there’s a limit.

I wish I could ask for more help, in fact, but it isn’t really possible. I’m horrified at the prospect of clearing this house, it has to be done but I need to take my time. Getting in clearance people isn’t an option, of course, not before I’ve gone through everything.

While looking for the papers yesterday, I found his wedding album to Viv, all the letters of condolence when she died, a folder of cards etc from when he had a relationship with J – he gave her a different name on his blog, which I can’t remember – his 70th birthday party cards and paperwork from the party, all sorts of personal things. What to do with them? They aren’t anything to do with me, it isn’t appropriate for me even to read them. I will have to destroy them – Viv’s sister might like the photos but there’s no one else to be interested. I did email J to tell her. They parted on friendly terms and I had a friendly email back, I hadn’t given her details about Tim’s funeral and she didn’t ask, so I think we’ve both done the best thing in the circumstances.

I have felt cared for. Clare is calling round soon, just to say hello, Paul just rang and I’ve also spoken to John G (publog was his excellent and brilliantly named blog) this evening, though that was more because I wanted to support him because his aged father isn’t in great shape. I ate a Co op quiche this evening, after some canapes (I have no idea how to do accents on a pc and can’t quite be arsed to find out, because it’s one thing that Mac does so much better) with a glass of wine. This is far more than I’ve eaten at one time for the last two and a half weeks.

I phoned his house insurance company and was on the line for over 20 minutes before it was picked up, then I was put through to the bereavement department and had to wait for another 10. Turned out that it was a side branch of his car insurance – if I’d realised that, I could have done it all the other day. Still, it’s done. I tried to add my bank card to Tim’s Spotify account but there was no option to put a different name on the card. So I’ll have to save his playlists if I want them and it’ll revert to a free account in a couple of weeks. I phoned the Guardian, where a well-spoken man answered instantly, so Tim’s subscription has been stopped. I tried to deal with the gas company, but by the time I’d got his meter reading as asked, it was nearly 5 o’clock and that’s when they close. So that’s a job for tomorrow.

I’ve listened to a lot of music and not found what I’m looking for. I’ve got to make my mind up soon. Sunday is the deadline.

I count my blessings. Top of the list is good friends. Thank you.

Comfort comes in odd ways

I drove back down to Reading this morning. It was the last thing I wanted to do but I’m having to share my time between Norfolk and here for now. I have a list of things to do over the next few days – notifying all the other companies etc and changing direct debits, getting the house valued, going through music to choose tracks for Tim’s funeral and starting to sort things out. First will be his clothes, which will be put into bags, taken back and put into the Scope charity bin at the village hall. He’s got a surprising amount of clothes in the wardrobes and drawers, but they’re nearly all old because everything he wore most of the time is in Norfolk – where I’ve got to do the same job.

First, though, I had an appointment to see Tim, to say goodbye. He’d already gone, of course. I talked to him for ten minutes or so and stroked his face and his hand, then left.

I’d had a bit of time at the house before that, which I used to look for documents, the one I needed being Viv’s probate certificate. The solicitor had mentioned that Tim had told her that Viv’s name had never been taken off the title deeds of the house – Viv was Tim’s late wife. So I needed proof that he was the sole owner. I looked everywhere possible in the house, with no result, so went online to order a replacement. It’s a mere £1.50 to access online and is a simple process. I had found Viv’s funeral service leaflet so knew the date. But I ran out of time to finish the order and was going to do it later.

Having arrived back, feeling even worse than I had all day, it occurred to me that Tim’s office, unused for a few years, was outside in the brick-built shed. It looks like a garage, but inside there are two rooms, the other being a toolshed, and he’d told me that he used to do all Viv’s admin when she was an Ofsted inspector, some 20 years ago. Perhaps the papers were there.

It took me a while to find the keys, but I got in there and found a filing cabinet. Neatly labelled files at the top, box files in the lower drawers. It’s all there. All his bank accounts and investments and all the papers I needed. Tim didn’t really send me there, of course, but I think I’ll choose to believe he did, because it’s some comfort at a wretched time.

I’ve rather hit the buffers now, but nice people are coming to clean the house soon, so I’ll just clear away anything in their way and then browse through music for a bit. Admin can wait until tomorrow. Lovely friends have invited me over tonight, so I won’t be alone this evening.

Thinking and writing about Tim

I finished my piece about Tim. I wrote about things that were part of him, that he cared about and that made him the person he was. Places, friends, family, books – reading and writing, food and, always with him whatever else he was doing, music. I could have written a lot more but a page of 734 words seemed to be enough. Like our wedding, either we had 30 or 250, we pared it right down or opened it up and we chose to be sparing. I’ve also got some memories that others have written.

That took me to 2 o’clock in the afternoon. I rummaged for lunch. Twiglets and red wine was all that I fancied really, but I added some cheese and a couple of crackers. Later, I fell asleep and was woken by the telephone. I didn’t know where I was or what time it was for a few moments.

I’ve completed the catalogue and can send the PDF to the printers. There were a couple of errors, where I’d put the wrong estimates and a typo or two as well. Overall, it’s pretty good for my first solo effort. I had to do a couple of short pieces for the Antiques Collector magazine website, which I found really difficult. I’d missed the deadline, I’d simply forgotten it and had to apologise. Sensibly, the actual deadline was a week later, because it’s not unusual for reminders to have to go out, but I had to get it off by last night. I managed it, though I have no confidence it’s any good. It made me stay up late, which is probably a good thing. The night before, I was in bed by 9 and asleep soon after. But I woke up well before midnight and was awake for hours. That’s probably the reason I slept so heavily yesterday afternoon.

My American friends phoned yesterday afternoon from Atlanta, Ga. Dan’s mother Sheila’s mother was Russell’s mother’s cousin. Mother had married an American and moved over there. Sheila had her 92nd birthday the other day. I must write. I’m really not the best correspondent and Sheila is, I’m always a couple of letters behind. Her health is failing, though, Dan says she is starting to tire. I wanted to visit her and nearly made it – Russell agreed to go there and to New Orleans to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. But then my mother’s terminal cancer diagnosis was made so plans were shelved and he point-blank refused any other holidays, so we never went. He should have, but that’s his responsibility. Tim and I had plans too, but we didn’t manage it either. Maybe I will, but it depends on Wink being able to manage here for two or three weeks and I can’t make plans at present.

I can make appointments, though. I’ve made one for a valuation of his house. I hate to do this but it’s necessary. It’s not disloyal, though it feels it. Simply, I need its value for probate.

The other thing I’ve done was write a post on his own blog. Sometimes, a blog ceases to be updated with no explantation – with so many bloggers having just stopped over the past ten years or so, this may have no significance. Tim himself had only written two brief posts this year. But it seems only fair to his readers (he said he didn’t have regular readers any more apart from me and his brother) to let them know.

Family day with granny

Ro and co came over today. Astonishingly, because he saw so little of me for months on end, Rufus loves me very much. He also loves my house and wants to live here. His mother enquired delicately whether he wanted to live here with me and Wink or with mummy and daddy. Granny and Auntie Wink, he said. And Perdita.

His parents are sorely tempted. I pointed out to him that it’s too far from his school and he likes school. Yes, but he likes weekends better…

I still think it’s the house that is the main attraction. It’s the size and the space outside – not that their house is small. Anyway, I made cheese soufflé for lunch, which children usually like and, because I was rather late getting started, did a rapid starter of smoked salmon sandwiches and cucumber, to stave off starvation in small children and their elders. Rufus had helped fetch the eggs from the henhouse and he and his sister fed the chickens their daily treat of mealworms. Later, he picked blackberries and I fetched some apples from the tree. i was going to give them to him to take home, but he wanted me to make a crumble, so we had pudding sometime after 3 in the afternoon. I had some local Jersey ice cream to go with it. I don’t normally eat anything sweet, but sometimes I had a couple of spoonfuls when Tim was away.

Ronan is going to check the catalogue to see if the formatting can be improved. He was quite impressed by how well I’d done, as am I. There are still a few things that I’d like changed but have tried and failed to do, so he’ll have a look. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t done. I know that few people will notice and it really does look fine as it is – still, it’s a satisfaction to get it as good as it can be.

I spent a while this morning cleaning the kitchen. It was a mess. In fact, it is again because I was so busy getting lunch ready that I couldn’t clear up as I went, then we went to the playground in the village so I had all the dirty dishes waiting for me afterwards. They didn’t all fit in the dishwasher and I left out those that needed soaking, so they’ll be dealt with in the morning. Anyway, that meant it wasn’t until after 11 when I sat down at the computer again and I plunged into writing about Tim. You know my informal style and that’s what I used. I hadn’t finished the first draft when the family arrived, but I printed it out and passed it round. That’s so unlike the Z I was a couple of decades ago. I’d have needed to perfect it before anyone saw it. Now, I know that isn’t necessary. Some helpful feedback was received and I’ll do more tomorrow.

The day didn’t start well….

When I arrived home on Thursday night, I noticed a funky smell in the porch. Couldn’t think what it was, but several things had been delivered, mostly cat food (I have to buy it in bulk for the outside cats) and I’d put the big crate that Tembo the elephant was packed in there too. It was late and I was too tired to think about it. So I was the next day too. Yesterday, I cleared all the stuff out but this morning it still ponged. It didn’t smell dead but I wondered if Eloise cat had stashed a mouse and searched.

Not a mouse, she’d forgotten her house training, or maybe was punishing me, and there was a substantial poo in the corner. Luckily it’s a tiled floor but she’d managed to get it a bit up the rendered wall. She must have done it the day I left, I’d have recognised the whiff if it had been fresh. I cleared it up, sprayed with cleaner, wiped again and then, in the absence of air freshener, sprayed a bit of Febreze around. It seems to be all right now. Eloise graciously shared my breakfast egg, so she didn’t still hold a grudge.

This afternoon, I’ve managed to deal with some admin. I started this morning and was half way through the ‘tell us once’ process, whereby official bodies – pensions, car tax and so on – are notified, when the Rector called round. Of course, I left it and took up an hour or so of his time, so was timed out of the website and started again.

Everyone is really very helpful. One sometimes reads that official bodies aren’t and that must be awful when one is affected, but it’s never been my experience. There’s still a lot to do, but at least I’ve begun the process. Two insurances and Tim’s mobile have been transferred to me and the bank has been told and will send me a list of Tim’s regular incoming and outgoing payments.

Ronan and family are coming over tomorrow. So blessings are being counted. Also, I found a bowl with a plate over it in the fridge yesterday. I didn’t know what it was, investigate cautiously for fear it was ancient, and discovered it to be leftover mushroom risotto that I’d made when Wink and Rose came for dinner. So that will be my dinner tonight. Just as well, because it’s not easy to be motivated to cook. I was glad to discover some bread in the freezer, I can’t be bothered to make any at present. I did make some sourdough crackers the other night, which is incredibly easy if you’ve got rye sourdough starter, and Wink and I ate some of them, but I gave the rest to the chickens in the morning. I’m eating adequately but I’m never hungry, so have to remember to eat.

Z has a feeling of satisfaction because Microsoft tried and failed to thwart her

I’ve spent the last couple of days working on the auction catalogue. Weeza used to prepare it for Russell and, since she was really too busy but couldn’t say no to her father, after the first year, Tim used to do it for me. Luckily, Publisher became unworkable (really, Microsoft products are disgracefully poor), he transferred, with much difficulty, to Word, which meant I have been able to take it on (Publisher isn’t licensed for Macs). The formatting was a pig. It took me ages to start to understand it, but I found workarounds and solved problems. So, after a difficult time yesterday, it finally came together today. Taking a photograph for the front cover was another problem, because there were some pieces I wanted there that didn’t go that well together, but no problem of that sort is insurmountable. Plenty of problems are, but this is one of the trivial ones.

Over the weekend, I must go carefully through the lot descriptions and the estimates. Otherwise, I think I’m done and I can send a PDF to the printers.

In addition, I have to listen to a lot of music. I don’t want to listen to music, especially Tim’s, I’m not ready. But it’s necessary. I also have to write something for the ‘celebrant’ – I’d prefer officiant, it’s more neutral – who’s taking Tim’s funeral.

Think of me and Tim and our families on the 4th October, please. 1 o’clock at Reading crematorium. I have arranged for people to be here all day, and at Tim’s house – never left unoccupied, as I’ve said – and I’m not ready to think about it, yet I must. I will go down to Reading again next week and I will visit Tim and see him for the last time. Not because I want to see him that way, but from love, respect and a great grief that I wasn’t with him when he died.

As an aside, when did “passing away” become ‘passing”? I don’t object to either term, not in the least, but the one seems to have superseded the other.

I must have told you about when my mother’s dog Khan died. I was in India at the time, with Wink. I was, with great difficulty, sending emails to the family regularly – it was before the days of wifi and I had to go to internet cafés, searching them out on our tours. I never had any replies and it was really quite hurtful and upsetting. Finally, once we were back at the MCC (Madras Cricket Club, it’s as prestigious as it sounds), Wink suggested using her mobile to phone home. I didn’t yet have a mobile. I rang Russell and asked how everyone was? “We’ve lost Khan,” he said, dolefully. “Oh no, did you find him?” Yes. Is he all right. No, we’ve lost him. You get the picture. Khan had gone missing with Tilly, who eventually turned up, afraid and distressed. They found Khan the greyhound next day. The dogs never normally wandered and we thought he must have been looking for me. He’d been hit by a car and dragged into the hedge – no one phoned, he had our number on his collar and it wasn’t the driver’s fault, we were responsible. Still. I explained to Russell, a lost dog is a lost dog. If the dog has died, you need to say so. We lost Auntie Mary, you understand what has happened, as long as she isn’t in the habit of wandering, but a domestic pet can get out and vanish. Anyway, I never was inclined to euphemisms and this sealed it. So die, pass, pass away or on, whatever feels right to you, but only lost if it’s unambiguous.

Jill the celebrant is phoning on Monday afternoon and I have to have something ready by then. Friends and family are joining in with memories. There. I can’t write more tonight. Thanks for lovely messages and emails. I’ll reply when I can.

Back to Norfolk for a few days

I really want to go home, but I need to wait awhile because it’s nearly six pm and the traffic will still be heavy. I’ve got a lot of work done on the catalogue but I’m finding the photos really annoying – try to move the position of something slightly and it may, once in a while, leap to the other side of the page. Not the next column, but apparently randomly. I will have to RTFM, but not now.

It’s been a quiet day, other than a long phone chat with Tim’s sister this morning. When I was tired of typing, I looked in a few cupboards and drawers that I’d not opened before – I could have, over the last five years, but I never needed to and I’m incurious by nature. The enormity of all the sorting out is depressing. Like me, Tim has a lot of kitchen paraphenalia. A lot of it will just have to be disposed of – and I should take the opportunity to try to turn out some of my own excess, especially if there’s any of Tim’s equipment that I want to keep.

Fortunately, there’s not much furniture that he especially valued. One smallish bureau, though I’m not sure I’ve anywhere to put it, plus a few small pieces I like. An awful lot of crockery, a few hundred books – he’d had a few turn-outs himself and tended to give away books that he wasn’t likely to read again. His music, instruments, photo albums, ornaments, pictures – it’s the more personal things that are the hardest, always. All the music he wrote is in a lot of notebooks – not as notes on a stave but the notes and times themselves, along with the words of the songs. We had such little time together. I want to capture and hold his essence. I fear, as time goes by, starting to feel as if it had been a dream or forgetting the fun we had until he became unwell. I have become a worrier and I’ve been, in private, quite tearful and anxious this summer. I hoped I was overreacting, all the same.

I’m home now and the journey was quick and uneventful until the last hour. It should have been the last three quarters of an hour, but ludicrously bad diversion signage caused the problem. As I left Bury St Edmunds on the A143, there was a sign saying “road closed.” At the next few roundabouts, the same thing. It didn’t say where. Eventually, there was a diversion sign to the left, so I took it. No more diversion signs and I couldn’t follow the satnav because it kept trying to take me back to the road I’d left. I daresay there was a sign and I didn’t see it because hardly anyone bothered to dip their headlights and I was blinded repeatedly. But I ended up in Diss, whence you go back on to the A143.

On the A143 where it bypasses Diss, there are two roundabouts, one on the A140 Ipswich/Norwich road and one about a mile down, towards Bury. I headed for that one. It turned out that the road blockage was within that mile, between the two roundabouts. A quick five-minute diversion was all I needed, on a road I knew, and if the closure signs had said where the block was, all would have been well. I wished I’d just kept on driving until I wasn’t allowed through any more.

Anyway, no harm done except to my emotion and temper. I have an answerphone message to say that my new clarinet is finally arriving tomorrow in Norwich. I’ve lost all enthusiasm for playing of course, but I guess it’ll give me something to work on over the winter.

Z is purposeful

Ronan was able to unlock Tim’s computer. So I drove straight over to pick it up. That meant that I wasn’t able to do the work I’d planned yesterday evening, so got up early this morning to do it. But I’m jumping ahead. I was nearly home when the warning came up on the car, to check my tyre pressures. I was not happy. I couldn’t remember what the pressures should be and I wasn’t in a mood to find out. So I left a few minutes early to call in at the petrol station this morning and do it there, possibly accosting a friendly man who’d do the job for me.

However, as I drove out, it occurred to me that the local tyre place would, so I called round there. The owner did, but he was really grumpy and not nearly as nice as his employees. Still, embarrassing as it was, the job was done. I got here with a half hour to spare, unpacked the car, took two bites of an apple for lunch and scuttled out to the undertaker.

It was about time something went my way. My chosen date was 4th October and preferred time was sometime between 1 and 2 pm. The undertaker asked if there were dates I needed to avoid? With a hollow laugh, I said that there were only two possible days that suited everyone and one was far better than the other for me. And it needed to be in the middle of the day. So she left to make the phone call and came back with a 4th October 1pm offer. As they say, ker-ching. Booked it at once, made the other decisions and now have a funeral to plan.

I’ve had a lovely evening with Clare next door. She invited me in for dinner and I’ve been there for nearly five hours. Whoops. I had a few jobs to do when I got back this afternoon and then had a long nap on the sofa. I woke and couldn’t move for a bit, I’d slept long enough to feel zonked. With that and visiting Clare, i’ve done very little on the computer. And, since BT is playing up, I had a lot of faffing about to do, to get online. So now it’s 11 o’clock and I’m going to bed. I miss Tim so dreadfully, it’s hard to cope with or to put into words. But I don’t need to, it goes without saying.

A week since

I spent yesterday afternoon and night with Weeza and co. Though I mostly kept things light, I did say to the children – Zerlina and Gus, that is – how very much Tim had enjoyed knowing them. We took them on holiday to the caravan in Pembrokeshire several times. Gus was still four the first time, much the same age as Tim’s earliest memories of the same beach. He and his sister were immediately entranced. Scrambling on rocks (my heart in my mouth, but they weren’t careless and no accidents happened), Gus stood and held out his arms “I can see the whole world, I can see the sea, I can see everything.”

I thought I’d have to explain the magic of this place, said Tim. But they get it. He was so thrilled to see it again through a child’s eyes, who got it.

So I reminded them of that and Gus laughed a bit bashfully. And I thanked them and then said I’d not bang on about it any more.

I will visit Wisemans Bridge again, if only for a valediction. But perhaps more. Tim’s late wife’s sister and her husband have recently moved back to a family home in Narberth, which is only a few miles away. They’d love to use it and would be happy to take it on, with my carte blanche to visit or family to do so, any time. But I may keep it in my name, with similar freedom for them. I take it that Tim’s family and Viv’s family remain part of my family. Until it’s sold, which will have to happen, they are welcome to use Tim’s Reading house. Alan’s very old mother still lives in Reading and they’ll need to come back regularly. We’d been looking forward to taking Ronan’s two to Pembrokeshire and maybe that’ll happen.

I feel disorientated at present. I did a lot of work with the photos yesterday and need to start on the catalogue itself. First, I have to move the pictures to a file on the desktop and label them with the lot numbers. I have to print off lot numbers, put them on the china and lock it away in my Fort Knox-like strongroom. Russell was allowed by the police to keep his guns in there without a cabinet, it’s that secure. The house is never unoccupied, I’ve taken on Russell’s obsessive carefulness about it (and, for obvious reasons, am not giving details).

It’s only a week since Tim died; like last Sunday, I was awake (by coincidence, I’m generally awake around 3.30) at the time he called for help. Last week, yesterday, a year ago, I’ve lost all sense of time. Seven years ago today, it was Ronan and Dora’s wedding day. I read a poem – actually, I’d learnt it but I had it printed out too, in case I dried. Dora had asked me to choose a poem, I found a selection (all short enough to learn by heart) and they chose this one. Invitation to Love, by Paul Laurance Dunbar.

I have a lot to do in the next week, but I can’t make lists more than a day or two ahead yet. Today, I’ll email round the family (all three extended families) and start on the catalogue. I’ll choose clothes for Tim. Casual shirt and trousers, he wouldn’t thank me for a suit. He only had one, he disposed of all his suits when Viv died and just had one, which he bought for her funeral and wore for all formal occasions since, including our wedding (which was fine, I am matter-of-fact too). Wink has done my ironing, yay Wink. Tomorrow, the funeral arrangements, further admin on Tuesday, then home, solicitor on Wednesday. All catalogue stuff on Google Drive, so that if I have a meltdown, I can ask Ronan to take over.

Eh. If you have been, thanks for listening.

Z looks back and doesn’t like it

I talked about putting things in boxes, a few weeks ago – mental ones, that is. Blanking off a strong emotion so that you don’t have to cope with it and just letting a chink out once in a while, then slamming it shut again when it feels too much to handle.

That’s all very well if you can manage it and I’m struggling to now. Looking back, I realise that I never let grieving for Russell take its time. Ronan’s wedding was only eight days after Russell’s funeral. I led by example; I said that we had to look forward, not to allow our sadness to spoil the joy, and we just about managed it. It was a joyous day, and happiness was our focus. It helped that I knew, only too well, how awful the end stage of cancer can be and I was relieved that Russell had been spared it.

A few days after the wedding, I flew to Amsterdam, then went by train to Maastricht, to visit Irene. Her blog was called, I think, Green Stone Woman and we’d become friends, though not yet met. Earlier in the year she’d been diagnosed with lung cancer and I went to spend a week with her while it was possible. We actually had a great time. She said I’d given her strength and let her forget her illness. She died just before Christmas, by choice – while she could still laughingly drink a toast to wonderful morphine on Facebook and, afterwards, have her life ended with her family around her. The Dutch are practical people and she timed it so that the funeral could be held and her daughter and ex-husband fly back to America without having to take any extra holiday time.

After that, I was determined to have a happy Christmas. And then I started to visit Linda, or Ziggy if that’s how you remember her from her blog. Going back and forth to Wiltshire, in between clearing out barns, then holding my first auction, re-meeting Tim, Linda dying – that was 2015. I’ve never really stopped and let myself acknowledge feelings if I could smother them. I don’t see what else I could have done. And, as I said before, nothing actually goes away. But I’m not the same Z that I was seven years ago. I’m much more open and willing to acknowledge my weakness. Not the right word. Fragility, perhaps.

Enough of that.

The pandemic has accelerated change so much – online banking, cashlessness and even chequelessness, doing things online or by telephone. One can register a death by telephone now. I know some people find using the phone is an ordeal and so do I, to an extent (making phone calls, I’m okay receiving them) but then it does spare one from difficult meetings. Tim told me where to find all his passwords but he didn’t realise I didn’t know how to unlock his laptop and he hadn’t saved many passwords on his phone. So I’ve got various anxieties about knowing what bills that he paid by direct debit, so that I can take them over. Not just because of going into debt – all you have to do is explain – but having services cancelled before I’ve taken all the information I need. I don’t want his phone contract cancelled, his Spotify payments to cease, anything like that. But I trust that the bank will help with information. I can’t do anything until I have Tim’s death certificate, which I dread getting but which I need.

In the meantime, I’m going to visit the undertaker on Monday afternoon to deal with things. I know the best date, that everyone in the family can manage and I have a backup date. I have a flexible plan. I have little planning in mind for the format of the funeral itself. A church/religious funeral has a format to work within and Tim’s secular crematorium funeral won’t have that.

Rose came over yesterday and spent the night here, then Indigo Roth, officially kindest man in the world, drove two or more hours to take us out to lunch. Then he took all the photos for the catalogue for me. 96 pictures, that is, not including a few deletions. He is truly wonderful.

The elephant arrived yesterday, in a seriously heavy crate, fastened by 8 long screws. My electric screwdriver had to be recharged, it wasn’t up to the job on half battery. I removed 3 screws by hand and couldn’t quite face the rest. But Wince finished the job this morning and Tembo the elephant is currently standing in the hearth, to keep her safe from falling. I know where she’s to go, but a more sturdy hook is needed as she is surprisingly heavy. She is also beautiful. I’d been going to give her to Tim. I only gave him a few books for his birthday as I’d commissioned a painting for him, which was supposed to arrive five or six weeks ago. The artist is a friend and I won’t mention it, but I am disappointed not to have heard anything since late June. At least Tim saw a photo of Tembo and had something to look forward to.

I’m going to bed. Only half past nine, but I didn’t sleep much. I woke at 7.15 with a migraine, which I staved off with pills, but it’ll return if I don’t rest. Goodnight, dear friends and thank you for your emails and messages. It’s helped.