I have been doing the night watch. I have not slept more than perhaps a couple of hours and even then I didn’t really go under. Sleep disturbance is so much a part of the M.E. picture that it’s no surprise. One can never have it quite in the way one needs it and nights like these can leave you jet-lagged for several days. It comes at an inconvenient time this Easter weekend as there are things planned that need a measure of my strength. The sun has already lit the garden and the sky is pure powder blue. The blossoms that were in such trouble after the hail a short while back seem to have recovered themselves. It looks like a wedding out there. Sometimes details like this do not make me feel particularly cheerful. Today, though, I’m glad of them. Glad also of the home-made hot cross buns made by my vegan neighbour who lives in the cottage attached to ours.
Each Good Friday a number of us pile into her small kitchen to eat a quantity of buns and drink too much coffee and when we leave she gives us a bag of them to take home. She gets up in the small hours to make them all, criss-crossing each one with shortcrust pastry and painting them with sugar glaze when they are baked to make them shine. She has always, since I’ve known her, lived on a shoestring budget, the floors in her house are bare boards – not the posh kind – because she has never had enough for decent carpets, her kitchen and living room are furnished with things found in skips and jumble sales, and somehow everything looks beautiful. It isn’t just the flair she has with flowers, candles and crimson tulip fairy lights (a string of them on the mirror over the fireplace), although it is that too. It’s something to do with the place that everything is given, the gleaming metal teapot with the dent in its side and the oven that has never quite worked but always does when she leans over and says, come on. There is no crap, it’s all good and she has a ready and renewable source of good will which doesn’t announce itself but is allowed to move out and become peripheral. All the people who gather for buns, even the ones who usually irritate or who you discreetly avoid for much of the year, look good, grounded and merry. We like who we are. The feeling lasts long after we have left with our brown paper bags of buns.
This is just as well because today I go to see my mother who lives with her partner in the next village, not far from me. How she comes to be there is a story in itself. We have a complicated relationship and do each other no good. Her partner is not well-disposed to me or my sister and meetings are always tense, but on we go because I love her, as Cordelia might say, according to my bond. My neighbour gave me a bag of six buns of which there are three left and I am taking them round. Hoping that they might succeed where I have failed.