2008 — 31 October: Friday

A year ago today I cancelled the "Meals on wheels" service to force myself to become self-sufficient in the kitchen. It was Christa's last day in the "General" hospital before she was whisked off to the hospice for her last few days with us. It seems a long time ago, and yet somehow as if it had been just the other day. It's been quite a long day, but a pretty good one, and it's time now for tonight's picture of Christa, taken by Big Bro in 1987, and surrounded by a set of people who all thought she was mighty fine.

Our New Zealand family branch, summer 1987

That's Claire on the left, Christa and Peter (of course), Lis (in pink), Heather on her lap, Rachel (the helicopter pilot) perched on my chair, and Michelle ruining her knees on the right. But why on earth was I wearing a suit?1 I surely didn't have any customer meetings. It's a mystery.

Brrr, it's cold. G'night.

Gloriously sunny start...

... to the fresh day. It's 09:21 but has been bright for ages — well, at least the last hour plus. Still cold, though. This morning's musical accompaniment to breakfast is that 3-CD sampler I picked up yesterday. Specifically, "Big Bear Ffolly". The music is 40 years old!

Right! The next load of laundry is doing its stuff. I've collected up all the socks with holes and consigned them to Death Row. It's still (at 10:40) sunny, and I shall pop out and do my Friday thing.

Friday thing done...

... without spending anything except a virtual penny. Asides to Christa: the Ikea store looks almost ready for business. You were right, too, about the slothfulness of the telephone "advisers" at one of our banks. I've been "continuing to hold" for nearly 50 minutes to no avail so far. All I want to do is activate the replacement card Mr Postie gave me to use instead of the one that is slowly splitting into separate pieces. Very aggravating; at least they don't keep telling me how important my call is to them — perhaps, under their new management, they're all now forced to have a siesta? Success at last, though I did (again) have to fend off a crude attempt to sell me on a fraud service. I can now go out and spend, spend, spend yet again (not).

I think I'll unload the washing machine and try to catch the last of the sunshine instead. It's 14:18 but the shadows are awfully long already.

Time for... whatever I want, I guess

A lot of "things" got put on "hold" during the last months of Christa's life last autumn. While she tried to carry on "as normal" (and wanted me to do the same) I did what I could to sustain the illusion. That was probably as hard as anything else during that awful time. After 33 years together I still wanted so desperately to pack as much further laughter and joyfulness into our remaining time together as I could.

Well, my beautiful Christa's now been dead for very nearly a year. But what have Peter and I done this year? Have we achieved anything? Well, I was already starting to adapt to retirement (which I don't regret for an instant, by the way). Now, I can drive. I can keep myself fed and clothed. I can do rudimentary maintenance about the house and out in the garden. With Mike's invaluable assistance (for which I thank him) I've been managing a steady one or two walks per week that are both helpful and healthy for the pair of us. So I've almost dragged myself up to the functional level of an adult, I guess! And Peter, who was already essentially independent, has become once again fit and healthy, too.

I still miss Christa, of course, and I have little doubt I always will. As will Peter, of course. But the longer I dwell on the past (and things I cannot change), the less future remains for me. Bereavement is, indeed, another of those rites of passage... I can't say I recommend it, but I don't think anyone gets to dodge it either! Ho hum.

It's 17:29, nearly dark, and will soon be time to do something about the other gaping void in my life — the one that, although not Christa-shaped, still recurs with depressing regularity, and whose filling is steadily enriching the coffers of Waitrose. I think I fancy a cooked breakfast tonight.

Keeping my head down...

I remember having to disappoint a set of pint-sized "trick or treaters" last year. I had other things on my mind at the time, and apologised accordingly. This year, I appear to have been given a wide berth, though I did hear one firework not too far away not too long ago. Having fed myself, I'm tucked away in the study and have just finished ripping the latest set of CDs into mp3 format for my little network server. I may yet sneak down to watch "Have I got news for you?" in about 10 minutes as I believe Tom Baker is the guest chairman this week.

I'm also trying to sort out a none-too-small pile of minidiscs which have a whole host of interesting radio programmes on them, but very little by way of adequate labelling details. Again, I had other things on my mind, though I knew I'd one day wish to hear the various items.

I'm listening to Clive James and admiring a lovely typo on the associated BBC web page:

Forget super-rich baddies who seek to destroy the world with a death ray. Boring! Money is losing its cache and even failing to recycle properly leads to accusations of destroying the world, says Clive James.

Clive James on BBC web site

Some excellent old footage of Neil Young on BBC4, too. The BBC archives are (when they neglected to erase them) a rich treasure trove.

R.I.P. Studs Terkel

Another of the good guys has left the building. Nice obituary here.



1  After all, I didn't wear a suit for my initial IBM interview back in 1981 on the experimental theory that if they accepted me "smart casual" that would set the pattern, as it were.