I’m back from my friend’s, and the sun is shining for the fourth day in a row, and the builders are lurking in the garden with noisemaking equipment and the radio (I so wish I could impose my taste in music, or shared theirs) . All seems well with the world, so there’s a glaring “what is about to go wrong?” feeling in the back of my mind. I don’t mean small stuff, like finding out that my adored jasmine has been decapitated, of something (don’t worry: it hasn’t been, yet). More the kind of “we’ve hit a snag that means we need to scaffold immediately and rebuild the rear wall of your house and your new toilet is now going to cost £15,000” kind of a go-wrong. But maybe not. We live in hope, which is fine. It’s the holding my breath part that’s getting to me.
My friend was as much of delight as she has been for the last twenty-odd years. Her children were new, but quite as delightful as their dear mother. I’ve also decided that maybe her husband doesn’t hate me after all. Why did I think he did? Other than generic neurosis? No idea. Either way, they announced the Lions touring party to South Africa and we chewed that over for a while. Wales has supplied 13 of the 37 players, and England only 8, so I was happier than him, but I don’t think he cares quite as much. Rugby tends to mean so much more to Welsh than English supporters, largely because it’s a significant part of how we can externalize our separate national identity. We are, in this one aspect, not entirely subsumed and we can hold our own against them, a nation with a population getting on for twenty times the size (can that be right?).
And to answer a burning question: no, she is not a knitter, but yes, she is as close to perfect as a non-knitter can be. It transpired that her mother is a big knitter, and she understands. I wasn’t planning on knitting at all, but she had to deal with some telephone calls, and I was sitting in the garden (and yay, I even took my tights off!) keeping an eye on the various children. I thought I could sneak in a bit of sock time without being rude, so I did. She eventually returned and picked up the conversation without even appearing to notice the sock. After a few moments I remembered it myself, apologized, and made to put it down. “No, not at all,” said that paragon of amicable virtue, “I know it doesn’t interfere [with the conversation]. It’s like, …smoking or something.” Well, only in this one respect is it ‘like’ smoking, but the analogy amused as much as it disconcerted me, and so I pass it on. And in the event, the sock stayed out. Hooray for the Paragon.
In addition to everything else, I got to give them their wedding present, a mere matter of five or six years late. We were moving around when the wedding took place and I ddn’t want to give her some random thing, so I said I’d wait. I didn’t forget my promise, but she seemed so surprised that I think they may have. I decided ages ao i’d give them some glass, but I swore to myself that I wouldn’t do so except in person (it would have been really ridiculous to wait all this time and then send something). I chose a dish in grays and plum, and a pair of coordinating coasters. It’s hard to tell with people as pathologically polite as my friend, but I think she liked them and I suppose they are guaranteed to be better than nothing. Which reminds me of a very funny thing I came across once: a rant on the pseudoscientific graph on a cereal packet which concluded: Cheerios – better for you than starvation. We use this around the house as a visiting pet slogan.