One of those mornings when waking was like crawling out of a dark pit — but the phone was ringing, the kettle whistling, the dog clambering onto the kitchen table to show he could do it.
Dog: Why did Tensing and Hillary climb Everest? Because it was there!
And the sun was shining, the white and pink abelia bushes all in flower, pools of icy mountain water flowing across the back garden, little orange butterflies and dragon flies dancing in the warm still sunshine. The housemate is making devilled eggs to take to a festive party this evening. The crackpot landlord is flying off to France on some nefarious business deal, shouts ‘Allo! Allo!‘ and winks lasciviously at me while searching for a red neck scarf to attract rich French widows. I am supposed to give a literacy class this morning. And finish another 16 000 words of editorial.
Crawling out of the dark pit and feeling slow-witted, absurd, ungrateful, ashamed to not be coping better. The sun is like broken egg yolk.
‘Why are you weeping?’ said Bembel Rudzuk.
‘I am suffering from an attack of history,’ I said.
‘It will pass,’ said Bembel Rudzuk.
One of the newly sober women who will be here for lunch on Christmas Day calls to ask if her still-drinking ex-boyfriend can come along with her because she is afraid he will behave worse if she is not there to keep an eye on him.
‘No,’ I say promptly and with relief that I know my own mind on this at least.
‘He will just sit at the far end of the garden with his Baccardi rum and play his guitar and not cause any trouble,’ she says with that cluelessness I remember in myself at six weeks sober. Gosh, what could go wrong? How could a melancholy drunk sitting all alone with his booze and his droopy moustache, his six-stringed guitar and a tuneless rendition of My Sweet Lord spoil the lunch for everyone else?
He will, trust me, he will. Drunks have to do what they have to do.
The heat is belting up into the stratosphere. If I shave my legs, that might galvanise my sluggish body into action. Smooth egg-shell calves so I can help make retro-50s devilled eggs and go off to the festive party in capri pants, find a red polka-dot scarf for the mad landlord, get the dog off the kitchen table and wash my only decent-looking dark blue capri pants so they might dry by this evening.
If I stand still, I might be eaten alive by my own demons. Besides, I need to stop thinking about this quotation from Jeanette Winterson:
“[U]nhappy families are conspiracies of silence. The one who breaks the silence is never forgiven. He or she has to learn to forgive him or herself.”