My mental weather is exceeding bleak at the moment, and I can’t see the point in anything. Books, music, food, getting up in the morning – I mean, why? All the world’s a stage, and the production is a tatty one. I went up north last week to my mother’s. With my customary reluctance and guilt for same, I went just once to see my dad in the nursing home. He was always active, immensely practical, a joiner and builder who made furniture, built extensions, tiled, plastered and painted – all things I’m hopeless at – and now he can’t speak or move, feed or bathe himself. I think he recognised me, but I may be wrong. I hope I am. It would comfort me in some small measure if I could be sure there was nobody home, because to be stuck immobile but conscious in that bed for however much longer is left to him, unable even to switch off the relentless twaddle of daytime telly, must be hell. It wouldn’t be so bad if he were ninety, for then we could be reasonably confident that he would not have to endure this for long. In fact, he’s only seventy-five and has the constitution of an ox. All my mother’s contemporaries are aging and ailing to some degree, and so naturally much of her conversation is devoted to who is taking this or that medication or undergoing this or that medical procedure, and there is a constant undercurrent of apprehension - who's next? Even if I get away to see a friend of my own age up there, the conversation hardly changes, as her father has had two massive strokes and so our discourse is of aging and disability, digressing occasionally but inevitably returning to it. Oh, yes, and then my sister’s partner’s mother died last Wednesday and the funeral’s on Friday. I’m going over to Suffolk on Thursday to look after my sister's menagerie while she and Pete attend it.
So, what with one thing and another, it’s been pretty damn gloomy around here this last couple of weeks. There is still no certainty of more teaching work, and so tonight I cancelled a rendezvous for dinner at the local Thai. Bloody hell fire. Things are getting bad when I start entertaining notions of thrift.
So. Reasons to be cheerful? Well, today I do believe I saw Sa’ad for the last time. Next Monday he is going for a medical. All the pilots have to get one before they leave us. I once saw the checklist, and it’s quite a going-over. I was curious as to why a helicopter pilot needed a rectal exam, but I suppose helicopters are so dangerous and accident-prone that ace sphincter-control is required. I asked the admin assistant if I could put forward some suggestions as to possible medical attentions that might be necessary. I had in mind anything terminating in ‘-ectomy’, but my request was turned down. Still, this means that his sulky, resentful presence has been removed from my life. They’ll be poking things up his bum round about lunchtime on Monday the eleventh, and I’m going to Greece on the twelfth.