2007 — 28 October: back to GMT (can winter be so near?)

Time now (09:11) and breakfast is down, Mama has been rung1 and the chariot will shortly be fired up for an adverse weather2 conditions trip out to the hospice ahead of tomorrow's transfer there to sniff out the lie of the land. Avoiding the natural motorway route, of course. (How silly not to let learner drivers on to motorways...)

Had my first call to Her and (after an initial glitch caused by Her phone being out of reach — leading to a surreal conversation with a nurse) am yet again delighted and relieved to hear Her cheerful self reporting another "wonderful" night. She heartily approves of the morning's proposal for a scouting adventure.

My own night ended much earlier than Hers, though I dozed reasonably peacefully on and off for several hours. There is so much to do, so much to say, and so very, very much to think3 about. Far more than I ever contended with in the unreal world of work, it seems to me. I thought us grey panthers were supposed to have such peaceful lives, too! (Or am I a silver surfer? I forget.)

Time now 13:30 or so — I've spoken to Her — She sounded fine just a few minutes ago, though has had visitors and phone calls to field, it seems. Her relatives back in Germany are obviously banging some of the jungle drums. Plus, the inner man has been fed, too, after getting back from just over 50 miles of horrible, wet, leaf-blown motoring taking in two separate trips to the hospice to assess both directions of approach. The place itself looks beautifully peaceful and I have my fingers and toes crossed for a smooth transfer there from the General for Her tomorrow (time currently still unknown). As I've mentioned, visiting hours are a lot more flexible than at the General. I hope phone calls are a bit cheaper, too! Let alone parking.

Also boosted the petrol tank by another £22 worth in Baddesley as we pootled around the more local highways and byways to squeeze as much practice in as I could before hunger, nerves, emotions, and shakiness set in. They set in with a vengeance, but I've now dealt with it. Focus, Mounce.

And for the afternoon?

Same as yesterday, please. A little light traffic on the way to the General. Nothing too complex. Better remember to switch on the lights, though.

Time now 16:45 and I'm back at home with the day's total at 63 miles, and (over 12 days of rubber on the road) a petrol bill of £65 (give or take) with a total mileage just over 500. Not too shabby for a beginner, I hope. I'm happy to report She looked fabulous, and we had a giggle or two during the visit. I left when She was getting tired, and hit dusk rather than night. Still don't know about the logistics of tomorrow's transfer.

Now it's dark

Unable to speak to Her at 18:50 as She currently needs Her tum aspirated, poor girl. I shall try again later, but I really don't want to risk disturbing Her as She settles for the night, of course. She's still being aspirated at 19:25 so we kept our chat very brief. Now I'm to phone a cousin in Germany who, She assures me, "is nice and speaks good English." But I get her answerphone. Deep Joy. At the risk of repeating myself... Loathsome, revolting disease. Poor poorly Christa — this is all so horrible and rotten. I just wonder numbly how much longer She has to suffer. Let alone why. My sister-in-law earlier today commented: "I don't know where you are getting your strength from as you deny having a "faith" ... but keep it up"

Well, as far as "faith" is concerned, my own feelings are as uncertain as ever. If "this is all there is" then it seems a terrible waste of an awe-inspiring universe, let alone this single, tiny, lonely planet. I cannot believe that a "creator" would lovingly expose us to such sorrow and pain so I grant you that my mind is completely unable to grasp the bigger picture of such a being. I am not the dimmest of people, so I do wonder how people of faith (and in particular the leaders of those faiths) can be so cheerfully confident that they possess answers to questions that completely baffle me. On second thought, perhaps I am the dimmest of people!



1  'Fess up! Who told her about my driving lessons?!
2  All together now: Only a fool breaks the four-second rule (in the wet).
3  For example, I am in awe of her bravery. She, in turn, rejoices and takes unconcealed pleasure in my driving and is happy and relieved at the thought of the freedom and independence she knows it will bring me in the future. Many trips to the seaside, for example, which was always one of our greatest delights, with or without Junior. This is, in a real sense, one of her final gifts to me, and it's magnificent. Blow your nose, Mounce. Big boys don't cry. (Oh yes they do!)