Friend for life

So, I made the traditional fish pie which is what I always cook for my friend Jackie, although neither of us remembers why, and went to meet her in Moreton-in-Marsh. We meet each other for 24 hours or so each year, and the conversation continues as if we had seen each other the day before. I realised last week that I first met Jackie 45 years – 45 years! How can I have known anyone that long? I think we qualify as friends for life now.

We had a lovely afternoon, strolling round Moreton and Batsford Arboretum and Bourton on the Water, all in beautiful sunshine. She helped me clear some of the stack of foliage left by my next-door neighbour who kindly shaved my shrubs to within an inch of their lives, and we ate and drank and didn’t stop talking.

I had to do a little bit of work on Tuesday morning – essential to get the Poetry on Loan postcards distributed – and we went to Cirencester museum; we’re both big fans of Roman mosaics. I took her to the station in Kemble, and that was it – all over for another year.

Fortunately my Cirencester group were great again. In the evening I did some Artlift stuff and the writeup from my kids’ group in Pershore, and got up to Friday with the emails.

On Wednesday I sent out details of the Poetry on Loan Postcard Poets event (this Saturday, 5 pm, The Door, Birmingham Repertory Theatre – 6 poets for the price of one!), and went to the final Artlift session at Stonehouse. There’s a lot going on in Artlift at the moment and it’s tricky to keep up with it all.

And I had a phone all from Barclays Bank, who have, I must say, responded extremely well to an official complaint I made to them. Excellent work!

In the afternoon I had a good session at Cheltenham Hospital, and did some invoicing and picked tomatoes from my plants. They’re not so good this year; I think It’s because I didn’t have any of my home-made compost for them.

And back indoors for my end-of-month accounts, a long call from The Daughter, emails up to Monday, the TADS meeting minutes and actions, planning the cover for my Longlevens group book, and some ironing. I seem to have had several long calls from The Daughter, The Son and The Brother this week. None of us has any problem in epxressing ourselves.

On Thursday I did some more prep for the Postcard Poets event, and had a session at Hereford Hospital, where I worked with one lovely lady but then couldn’t find anyone else; there was hardly anyone there. By the time I came home I knew that the cystitis symptoms I had had since Tuesday weren’t going to go away, so I phoned the doctor and got some antibiotics. In between retreating to bed and drinking, I did some filling around the back door frame and checked the proofs of the Poetry on Loan posters, caught up with Tuesday’s emails, did some Artlift work, and wrote up the Cirencester group and the Cheltenham hospital stuff.

I didn’t go and see my mother this week; I really had so much to catch up with. But things are moving; it’s likely that she will be in a care home today, and she has now decided that this is where she wants to stay. I’m sure this is the wrong decision, but what can I do? All I can do is tell her what I think when she asks me. Long calls with The Brother on Friday to talk about it all. I had a visit to my funny dentist and cleared some more foliage, and cut down the horrible brambles that are invading my garden. I don’t even like blackberries much. I wrote up the Hereford hospital stuff and reached Thursday’s emails (I seem to be always a day or two behind…)

And  I built a bonfire. My regular reader will know that I take a pride in my bonfires, and this was one of the best. I got rid of some of the stuff trimmed from the shrubs, and also quite a lot of the rotten old wood from my shed (not all, though; lots of it is under the remaining pile of foliage). It burned steadily and slowly, and left a small neat mound of ash with just one or two bits of unburnt wood.

I did some prep for this coming week and answered yet more emails.

On Saturday morning I collected the postcard proofs from the sorting office. Oh, they are lovely! All credit to Gregory Fisk, our wonderful designer. They were all ok, fortunately (although there is a tiny change I would have made if we had time), so I sent the go-ahead to the printers. They will be hitting libraries throughout the West Midlands later this week. I handled the snail mail, and made the changes to my latest play, Rocks off, that I’ve been planning to do for weeks.

And I backed up all my files. I’m really bad at this. I should do it every month, really, but the last time was in January, and it’s been weighing on my mind. Phew! The Bloke and I went to Cheltenham to get a sim card for my new phone, and on Sunday we went to a funny little wildlife park near Bristol. It was ok, but we probably won’t go again, basically because it doesn’t have many animals. The lemurs were cute.

And since Tuesday, Jackie has been sending me photos of places she has been visiting with her family. Soon she’ll be going home to New Zealand, and we will hardly communicate at all – but then, as friends for life, we don’t need to.

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