2007 — 21 December: Friday's child...

...is another busy boy today. Currently scheduled is an all-day driving tuition session1 taking in loads of motorway miles. Indeed, if we can, and my poor old heart will stand it, we're heading for Birmingham. I still need the driving practice! But it's now 00:53 and time for some sleep. I will report on last night's dance performance later, but thanks Lesley — I really enjoyed it. And I'm enchanted to think that we may have set some juvenile tongues wagging!

A brand-new day?

Time is now 07:04 and it's cold, dull, misty, and there's some freezing fog about; ice too, I shouldn't wonder. There are strikes, and suicide bombs. More of a day, in fact, for curling up by the fire with a jolly good book, a mince pie and some nice music. What would Loudon Wainwright III make2 of it all, I wonder? I know one thing: I sure miss my Christa and her smile!

From the mid 1980s
Sunny smile in 1985

The world always seemed a slightly less daunting place when we could face it together. And I have to report that the new, modern, Christa-less Christmas of 2007 has lost a lot of its allure.

Come on, Mounce. Let's try on the "happy" face, shall we?! One day soon it had better fit...

Shaken and stirred... department

If you're old enough to remember TWTWTW, then all I need say is "That Was The Day That Was". Time is now shortly after 7 pm and BBC Radio 3 is soothing some of the jangled nerves. I clocked up 306.5 miles today, driving to Sutton Coldfield to pop a note through my cousin's door, then refueling at a nice pub before girding what little loins a chap has left and winging it over to Wombourne to show dear Mama I haven't entirely forgotten her.

Do you know what? I sometimes wonder — only fleetingly, of course — whether my mother suffers from the merest tad of emotional dysfunctionality: she was most reluctant to mention Christa by name, though she had managed to strike through her name in the little list of telephone numbers she keeps by her phone. She also offered not even the briefest of hugs by way of expressing any sign of sympathy at my loss. I know she likes to think she comes from a generation of Stoics to whom any display of emotion was anathema, but this is preposterous! Mind you, let's be fair: in the course of a 20-minute conversation that left my poor driving instructor [I think it's fair to say] utterly gobsmacked3 she did manage to remind me three times that her husband [my father, that is!] died over 30 years ago, and that she has been on her own4 since then.

Dear reader: if you think I sound in any way bitter at the appalling extent to which this primal relationship is broken, you have correctly interpreted my text.

Wimp that I am, we stopped the car as soon as I was out of sight to give the eyesight a chance to recover. However, apart from this sorry interlude, the day went pretty brilliantly (disregarding the ill-lit tractor/trailer doing all of 20 mph that I got boxed in behind on a fast dual carriageway) and I have fallen yet more deeply in love with the dominatrix who lives inside the satellite navigation box — she is just so masterful, if not quite always unambiguously precise!)

Deeper Joy... department

That nice Mrs Asda (née Walmart) has just written to tell me that her sale is now on. Is this a record? Meanwhile, Mrs Waitrose tells Christa that the farm that supplies their organic turkeys has been stricken by Avian Flu. And ERNIE has just sent her the £200 she has managed to win this month. Best of all, Junior has not only rung from Thailand to report their safe arrival, but has posted the "traditional" Terry's Chocolate Orange5 Christmas present to me. I found it shivering on the doorstep this evening as I arrived, quivering, from my marathon mini-adventure. Thanks, son!

When a chap's down to his last 27 miles of petrol, it behoves him to nip out and top up. So today's total is now 308 miles, and the Yaris has mysteriously managed to accumulate over 3,060 miles in toto (or, if you prefer, in the ten weeks I have been driving it). I can hear Christa saying "Good God." It's now both icy and foggy out there, so it's definitely time for that hot bath.



1  So-called "PassPlus" — it may even reduce my car insurance premiums though I already pay less than Junior and, weirdly, I "inherited" Christa's 4-year No Claims Bonus despite not having been a driver!
2  I'm thinking "Another Day on the Planet" of course.
3  Whether by her Miss Havisham-like lack of emotion or the proffered gift of a bar of chocolate (which I remember taking up to her on our last visit — and, of course, the last time she saw Christa alive) I cannot be certain.
4  Two facts that I wasn't exactly hearing for the first time, of course.
5  Yes, I know, "Terry's" is now "Kraft Foods" but it's the thought that counts, believe me.