I am preparing my house to be “viewed”. Having previously imagined it as a faithful wife long past her prime, I now feel she is a girl I am trying to prepare for the marriage market. People will soon be coming to assess her suitability as future wife. That she is too thin they will already understand from the measurements provided by the “go-between.” But they, being of modest means, will be realistic. They will look for her good qualities. What can I say? She is disobedient, untidy, unpredictable and hums to herself in unseemly fashion. But she makes people smile and how airily she looks over the tops of trees and houses. In her garden there are apples, cherries and cobnuts and the fine limb of a studio that is without spot or blemish. Two friends came today in order to help prepare for her coming out. The clutter is stashed in boxes. She holds her breath. I have not yet found a house to replace her.
I already feel houseless, or only half here. But perhaps that is also the excarnating after-effect of trying to show willing and be sociable at a Sunday lunch party of more than 40 loud people at the top of a restaurant where we were all instructed to “circulate.” No sooner had one established the ground for some form of tolerable mutual exchange than it was time to move on and begin again with someone else. I wonder how I would manage with speed dating. At one point I interrupted someone in full flow to say that I had to go outside. I told her I had M.E. and could no longer understand what was being said to me. This is unlike me. She is not someone I know or am likely to meet again so there was no need to volunteer this information. I could have professed an urgent need to go to the loo or done something or other - what anyone else does at parties when they want to extricate themselves. Perhaps this is the M.E. equivalent of becoming old and wearing purple. Or it is the beginning of the kind of incontinence manifested by the Ancient Mariner who felt compelled to tell his tale.
Oh dear, said the woman, I didn’t know, have you tried cutting out yeast, I once knew someone who –
Certainly it is easier to hold someone with a glittering eye and tell one’s tale than to listen. I went outside. I saw my daughter smoking a Marlborough. I asked her for a drag. It was good. I went back inside. I drank an Americano in one and had cake. I got second wind. I looked at the faces of my two children, my son up for the day from university. All manner of things will be well. If only one were still smoking cigarettes.
My kingdom for a Camel.