Last week I lost a watch.
I was very fond of it but I can live without it. I had been to three shops and when the bus broke down coming home, I disembarked and waited for a second, so I thought the chances of finding it were thin. Nobody answered the centralised telephone number at John Lewis or the White Company. So I left it 36 hours till I could go in, when the JL assistant was horrified and helpful and the White Company employees did all they could. Brora, the third shop, had already answered the old fashioned telephone and drawn a blank. Transport for London now offers a sensible enquiry form.
On Wednesday Pam the Painter and I had a happy lunch for the first time in a year, at a Pizza Express where every single employee wasn’t English and was charming, and the food was good. Pam’s birthday is upcoming (a mere snippet of 60) and like so many people, we have friends who are not well.
One of her oldest pals has developed a very rare brain condition which will end in his fairly rapid demise.
Inevitably, there are those who presume to tell you how to mark your friend’s passing. I wish they’d stick to curtains. Their advice is not sought and everybody makes up their own minds. Lecturing in such unhappiness just makes the recipient miserable.
On Thursday I discovered that you can’t have what you want, you can only have what they’ve got. So I tried different shops. I wound up a couple of tube stops from home, lost my Freedom Pass (dammit) and looked at my second watch. No watch. As we used to say at school when things went wrong – “God’s gone off me.”
By now hot and cross, I sought hackney therapy.
The taxi driver listened to my woes and then told me his – his government allocated number for the payment they got during the pandemic has been hacked. He has moved, which means that successive assistants cannot match up the details without a lot of tinkering so he gets his money after every kind of negotiation (“no point in losing your temper” he said wrily) but it’s several weeks’ late.
I came home, put everything in the sink to wash and rang Wal with watch news. He was taken aback. The loss of the Freedom Pass is just inconvenient but why was I shedding watches ? “It’s meant” I said helplessly, so we moved on to what he had cooked
last night and he confessed that – most unlike him, A for organisation – he had run out of turmeric. He has two neighbours called Jane – we call them Tidy and Untidy Jane – so he rang Tidy Jane to see if he could borrow turmeric. “Of course” she said “but don’t come over. I’ve caught some sort of bug from one of the grandchildren – nothing to do with Covid – and I am hors de combat with the loo. I’ll leave it on the step.”
He expected a pinch in a packet but she left him a jar, which he brought home (next door but two), used and planned to return in the morning. Only Tidy Bunny couldn’t find the turmeric. He checked the garden table, the cupboards in the kitchen, under things, behind things, had it fallen down, rolled somewhere ? Eventually he went upstairs to the third floor to get dressed to go shopping and buy some – where he found it, on the fitment in the bathroom. And he has no memory of how it got there. “Why the bathroom ?” he exclaimed. I said I couldn’t possibly comment
and we said goodbye.
Then I walked from the living room to the bathroom – and there was my watch. Which I must have taken off when I washed my hands, before I went out for the second time of asking and never put on again, never thought about, till I dropped the Freedom Pass and looked in anguish at it – and it wasn’t there.
We all do this, lose a word or a term and have that “Eureka !” moment turning over at quarter past four, to mutter “that’s the phrase I wanted, peristaltic action !” I felt quite sentimental about good old peristaltic action, it had been gone for three weeks. Now, that was a prolonged turmeric moment …