Sunday April 23, 2006
3 days to M-day
“Right, Dolly,” I said as soon as I’d gathered my wits and scribbled my words this morning. “We’ve got twelve hours to get this joint half-way respectable before Graham gets home.”
I put her breakfast down, left her munching obligingly while I went off to strip the bed and start work in the bedroom. By the time I’d started the washer and hauled out the vacuum she’d finished, done the lick and promise thing, and taken herself off to her favourite corner in the dining room for a snooze.
“Good thinking, Dolly,” I said when I came back for a short sit and sip at my coffee mug. “I’ll do the other end of the house first and then, when I’m ready to move up here you can go snuggle down in your armchair, quiet and safe.
And that’s the way it went through the day. One room, a coffee break, and on to the next room. I took a short, timed siesta after an early lunch and continued, one step at a time, getting the job done.
When Graham phoned one last time shortly after six in the evening, to tell me he was embarked on the last of his three-train journey, I had no more than the bathroom porcelain to do and was able to sit down to watch the funniest bits of Last of the Summer Wine before setting off for Boston and the train station.
At 19:46, precisely on time, the train pulled into the station. I had a mad impulse to run along and shake the driver by the hand, thanking him for a job well done. A functioning, punctual railway system is a mark of a civilized post-industrial society and it does begin to look as if, after a long period of decline, the British Rail network is well on the way to a full recovery. Even if it’s not called British Rail anymore.
I didn’t go off to thank the driver, though. Instead I stood, hopping impatiently from one foot to the other, waiting for Graham to cross the bridge and walk down to me. Half an hour later we were back and he was greeting a very happy Mega-cat, who was delighted to see him. Beside herself, she was. As was I.
“What’s for dinner?” he asked.
“Battered and fried chicken, chips and beans.”
“Sounds good. How about desert?”
“Yummy. I see you’ve got a bottle of Jacob’s Creek in the fridge. I’ll crack it now and then we can have dinner and an early night. Lot’s of stuff to get done tomorrow.”
“It shall be as you wish. I need you to take charge for these last couple of days.”
“Quite right, too. I’ll get it done, never fear. Just keep the tea flowing.”
“You gottit. Speaking of beverages, I can only have this one glass this evening.”
“Good. All the more for me.”
So, then, picture it. An elderly poet, sipping carefully at one small glass of a decent wine, a considerably younger non-poet slurping the same wine with a much more manly appetite, and one middle-aged Mega-cat, upside down, flopped across the lap of the younger bloke and purring madly.
“It doesn’t get much better than this,” I observed.