14 September I’ve been late for everything this week; oversleeping twice and generally underestimating the amount of time I have to get ready which has made me panicky – dropping contact lenses, sticking mascara brushes in my eye, putting bread in the toaster and forgetting to push the lever down, only being able to find one shoe in the morning, no ironed clothes to wear… The reason for this perpetual lateness, I can only assume, is that I’ve lost half an hour somewhere along the way. But where is this half hour? Will it suddenly appear, inconveniently and when I least expect it? Will it arrive when I’m in a really boring meeting, or waiting for the kettle to boil, or in the queue at the post office? Maybe it will just be tacked on to the very end of my life, so that just when I’ve said my last words and gasped my last dramatic gasp, there’ll be a long and awkward pause and the loving relatives gathered about my bed have to shuffle their feet and surreptitiously look at their watches for thirty minutes.
This evening, swept along by the current zeitgeist, I go and see One Day with Mrs V and our daughters, Lucy and Ellie. Despite our conviction that by the end, we’ll all be weeping so much that we’ll have to cling to each other and blindly grope our way out of the cinema, instead we find ourselves dry-eyed and vaguely disappointed. “Well, that was a bit of a let-down,” says Mrs V. “Do you know, I even grabbed a handful of tissues on my way here.” I didn’t. I grabbed an extra jumper because the Showcase is very cold these days. Next time I might take a blanket and a thermos. Mrs V reminds me of the afternoon back in 1997 when we went to watch Titanic, smuggling in sandwiches and a hip flask of gin. We cried for hours afterwards. (Admittedly, the gin probably helped a bit.) “Ah, those were the days,” she says nostalgically.
Still feeling slightly cheated, Lucy and I go home and watch an hour of Joan Rivers being bitchy and mean about glamorous and gorgeous film stars – Gwyneth Paltrow’s Prada, the size of Kate Winslet’s bottom and the tackiness of Nicole Scherzinger’s dress. Now that’s entertainment for you.
15 September Book club night! What a maelstrom of social activity my life is, these days. (I don’t want to say whirlwind of activity because that is a cliche, and I’ve decided to avoid cliches wherever possible. It may lead to some clumsy wording, but then if a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Blast! Fell at the first hurdle. Blast! Did it again.) This time, we’ve had to read The Bookseller of Kabul. It’s been very hard-going, but I feel much more intellectual. I don’t contribute much as my mouth is full most of the time, either with those little crunchy spicy things and carrot sticks with hummus, or with chilled Sauvignon Blanc, but I think my frequent insightful nods are probably enough to get me through. At any rate, I haven’t been asked to leave the group yet, which must surely be a good sign.
My friend Mrs L#2 is also a member of the group (she is #2 because I know more than one Mrs L; as I’ve said before, a few of my friends have surnames that begin with the same letter. I could weed a few of them out, and seek out more conveniently alphabetical friends instead, but it seems a bit harsh. Anyway, I’d hate to deprive anyone of my company).
She’s just returned from Las Vegas where she and Mr L#2 renewed their wedding vows; the service was carried out by Elvis, and they had the Hunk of Burning Love package. Mrs L#2 was dressed as a saloon girl, and Mr L#2 was a cowboy. She sent me the link so we could watch it live; there was quite a long pause before she arrived, so Mr L#2 spent the time practising to be the Fastest Draw in the West (I wrote Drawer originally, but obviously that would make no sense at all. Just think what a nuisance that would be when you’re getting your socks out in the morning, catching you unawares and hitting you in the chest at high speed.) From the look of things, it’s going to be a while before Mr L#2 gets to Fastest Draw status, so I think he was quite relieved when Mrs L#2, resplendent in red satin and an ostrich feather hairpiece, burst through the double doors, with Elvis bringing up the rear.
I’m quite taken with the whole idea and am wondering if Mr Young and I should do the same. Personally, I’d go for the Duelling Elvis Package; you get two Elvis’s – a young Elvis in gold lame and the 70’s Elvis in his jumpsuit. And you don’t have to go for the Wild West look; the bride and groom have the option of dressing up as Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara instead. I go to bed and have some very peculiar dreams. Mr Young gives me a pointed look the next morning. Apparently, I had a very restless night.
16 September The plumber is due to come at eight o’clock; I am Mr Youngless this morning as he’s gone to Kettering to see someone about washing machines (no reason for mentioning this other than it is the polar opposite of dressing up as Gone with the Wind characters and dancing with a duo of Elvis’s in Las Vegas) so while I wait, I wonder if I should ask the plumber for his credentials, just to be on the safe side.
Then it occurs to me that this would sound like the beginning of a very bad porn movie. Fortunately, he isn’t in dungarees, and doesn’t have a large moustache and a toolbelt. Just a white van and a craving for a cup of tea with one sugar. I’m expecting him to take an hour to service the boiler, but he’s finished in thirty minutes, so I find myself with an extra half an hour on my hands. So that’s where my missing minutes are, I think. I’d like to say that I’m spending them doing something fruitful. Truth is, I’m just daydreaming about Mr Young with a Clark Gable moustache.
And a toolbelt.