Z’s head is held up

It’s our fifth wedding anniversary, which has made the day immensely hard to bear. I drove home last night, stopping to eat a sandwich on the way (bought at Lidl, not at all memorable) and Wink and I had some tea when I got here. I had to explain to my wine merchant last week that he wouldn’t find me such a good customer in future.

However, I am putting on a brave face. I also bought croissants in Lidl, to continue the tradition of Croissant Friday (and a walnut and maple syrup pastry because, having wanted nothing sweet for two and a half weeks, I was so tired by yesterday afternoon, I badly needed something unhealthy for instant energy). I’ve phoned everyone except Reading Council to sort out the council tax, plus the water board which I only remembered about this morning. I’ve got to open an executor’s account with Tim’s bank, which I hope I can do online – they’ve emailed me – and then the next lot of paperwork starts. Before that, Tim’s service is the next thing because the deadline is Sunday night. I’ve met all the deadlines and the plates have been spun or taken down after the job was completed. The best way of staving off panic is to keep working on what needs to be done.

My business colleague told me today that his wife has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She’s only 55, it’s quite shattering. She can still cope with work and running the home, as long as everything is clear-cut and organised, but she struggles with other everyday things. My friend Paul – he and his wife Carolyn were Tim’s best friends since 1988 – phoned me yesterday evening and somehow the conversation turned to memory. He was quite surprised when I said I regularly test myself for cognitive function. I don’t think that I said cognitive function, he’d have been even more surprised if I had. But I check myself. I count backwards in 7s from 100 (if you hit 30 you’re correct and you should end on 2, but I haven’t memorised the numbers in between so I think it’s a genuine test) and I spell words backwards. I do some of the other tests too but those are easy when you’ve got a minute or two spare. Paul was, as I said, surprised. Is this not normal? Does no one else do this sort of thing? I also go through times tables and poetry and think through all the events of the day or the previous day. I don’t think this is either paranoid or fearful – if I were to detect the start of a problem, better to confront it early: although to be frank, I am probably wanting the “Yes!” moment of being reassured it isn’t there.

Anyway, today. The positive things.

1 I went to the hygienist, the regular 6-month appointment. Last time, she found loads of problems that I was unaware of. She gave me advice, I felt small and made a 3-month appointment, but I had to cancel it as Wink had an eye appointment at the hospital on the same day and needed me to drive her. I started by telling her that a family emergency, which I didn’t explain, meant that my teeth had been brushed but nothing more for a few weeks, so they’d probably be a mess. They weren’t. They were fine. Far better than last time, which was clearly an aberration.

2 I’ve finally picked up my new clarinet. I haven’t played it yet, though I will over the weekend. Mark the music tuner advised me to ‘break it in’ and not play for more than 20 minutes a day for the next month, because warmth and damp may cause the wood to crack otherwise. This makes perfect sense and I’ll take his advice.

3 The day I left here, the chickens dug a tunnel out of their run and four girls got out. Wink managed to get one of them back but the others were proudly taken over by Pillock the maverick cockerel. When I came back and called, two came back to the run, dear little girls. I am very pleased with them. Less so with the other, who chose to pretend that the sky was falling in. I didn’t call her Chicken Licken though, her name is Plank. I hope to get her back over the weekend, otherwise Pillock will continue to be a proud husband. I’m sorry for lonely Pillock, but it’s too late to hope for him to be accepted by the others.

4 I delegated. I firmly asked David to get in touch with the local paper for a write-up. I explained that I hate the telephone and I haven’t got time (emailing isn’t productive unless you’ve phoned first). He has problems of his own, as I said before, but he agreed and I’ve written a press release – a third one, because I’ve bought some publicity with an antiques magazine – which I find very hard to do at the best of times. Self-publicising is really not my forte.

I’m switching off tonight, I’ll look for some cheerful television that I don’t have to do anything but watch. Probably Bake Off. I only watch catch-up, I don’t want to risk a news report and hear a politician’s voice. Not doing so, unless by accident, has been my best decision over the past six years except from marrying Tim. So I’m back to where I started and I’ll spend the evening honouring and loving his memory and trying not to think about myself.

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