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Mardi

August 16, 2017

Yes, I know. It’s not mardi today, it’s mercredi, but today I am writing about dernier mardi, right? So here we go.

After a fairly early and fairly sober night, we wake up at a reasonable time. Or rather I woke up at a reasonable time. Irmani had been up early the previous two mornings, what with time zone differences and all. As I lay sleeping she was out the door going for a morning walk to meet her ambitious 12,000 steps-a-day target. This she’s been doing on the roads, unaware of the wooded trails. (Including, for those familiar with the island, walking down and up Norwich.) This morning I am showing her a lovely walk through the woods – and a field of wild mint.

There used to be a trail you could take from a path around the corner that would take you in various directions: fairly straight down to Berry Point Road or looping around to connect up with the trail to the ferry or a shorter loop to come out beside my neighbour Pat’s house across the road. At some point while I was back in the UK some twat bought the land beside Pat’s house and blocked access to this lovely and very convenient trail. (Serves him right that his ambition to start a vineyard on the property failed.) I knew you could still get down to Berry Point Road along a narrow path by the fenced-in property. What I didn’t know until another neighbour told me last year was that the trail still looped around further down through the aforementioned field of mint. I checked it out with my friend Krys when she visited last year. Now it was time to introduce Irmani.

03 trail

It was the eagle-eyed Irmani who spotted the fairy door.

03 fairy door

A lovely touch of whimsy to brighten anyone’s day.

One of the branches of this now-official trail does lead back to my road, but much further down than it used to. I still resent not being able to access the trail from beside Pat’s house, although probably not as much as Pat does.

It is a beautiful trail, a lovely walk I could take any day I wanted to do so and yet I only set foot in the woods when people are visiting. So much nicer than an hour on the treadmill at the gym, yet there is something too lonely for me to take this walk alone. When Angie, Mike’s cat, died a few years ago, I did think I should consider getting a dog. A dog would force me to go for a walk every day. A dog would be a good reason to walk this trail (and many others). But I’ve never had a dog, have no idea how to train one. (And I’ve encountered enough inadequately trained dogs in my life to know this is a bad thing.) Ultimately I gave up the idea. I’m a cat lady. And so I adopted Stella, then Roxie. My friend Jane tells me cats and dogs can co-exist amicably, but I ha’e ma doots. Stella has never forgiven me for taking in Roxie. They barely tolerate one another after two years. I cannot see a dog fitting into the mix.

Anyway…

Back to the house for lunch. Oh, no wait a minute. A little side bar first.

When I was all of about two years old, my mum and I went round to Nana and Granddad’s for Sunday lunch as we often did. Later in the afternoon, Mum and Nana were having some cheese and biscuits with a cup of tea. The cheese in question was blue and I pestered Mum to let me have some. She kept telling me I wouldn’t like it. I kept pestering. Eventually Nana told her to just give me some so I would know I didn’t like it and then would leave them alone. Mum gave me a bit and much to their astonishment I loved it. I have no recollection of the events in this oft told story nor do I remember further astonishing family members by loving olives at a very early age.

Why this side bar? Well, here’s the thing. I already knew – and was baffled by the fact – that Irmani does not like olives. (She is equally baffled by my hatred of mushrooms.) The previous day I’d been reminded that she is very particular about what is – and is not – an appropriate pizza topping. I should therefore have probably expected her, when offered some gorgonzola to crumble into her curried carrot soup, to turn up her nose. Which she did. I mention this simply because I’ve always considered her to be a fairly adventurous eater. And so it puzzles me: how can an adventurous eater not like olives and blue cheese?

Anyway…

After lunch it was time to go to the pub for a game of pool with Pat. Normally I play pool with my ninety-five-year-old neighbour on a Wednesday afternoon, but he was going to be off island the next day. Mike was still alive when Pat and I first started going for our weekly game. At that point potting a ball was for me generally a happy accident. Pat used to win most of the games. In the intervening years my skill with a pool cue has improved considerably. During the same period of time Pat’s eyesight has deteriorated quite a bit. When it reached the point where I was regularly beating him 6-0 I decided I should probably throw a few games. Which is what I did with the first game last week. I was down to the eight ball shot and he still had four balls on the table. I could have avoided the cue ball following the eight ball down, but I didn’t. So, a win for Pat, who was now challenged by Irmani. I muttered something about my eight ball shot to her and, bless her, she got the hint. When it came to her own eight ball shot she deliberately bungled it four times until Pat caught up.

Back home to pick green beans in the garden and put another bottle of Irmani’s sauvignon blanc in the fridge before making Bloody Caesars to enjoy on the deck. After the first (or possibly second) Caesar, I decided to switch to a G&T. And why not? (I will be reminded why not the next morning.) After that – and before it’s too late – time to get the salmon risotto leftovers and green beans on the stove. The green beans (like the risotto) are bloody delicious. Neither Irmani nor I have ever eaten beans straight out of the garden before and neither of us can believe how much better they are than any beans we’ve ever bought in a shop. A definite garden success this year.

A funny old evening follows with much talk of loves past and present. The sort of conversation one tends not to have without beer and vodka and gin and wine. (As I will ask on Facebook the next morning: on what planet is this a good idea?) Things it’s sometimes hard to discuss sober.

Forced inside by mosquitos (who are giving me a break in favour of fresh British blood), we sit down to watch the DVD of my play, An Unhelpful Complication. Not far in, Irmani says, “You’re playing Tilly!” (Tilly being a character from my novel Unethical Practices.) I tell her we’ll discuss this afterwards.

And afterwards I acknowledge that Maggie is indeed based on Tilly. When I sat down last year determined to write a one-act play that would tempt my mate Charlie back onto the stage it did strike me immediately that I could probably dream up a Tilly story without much difficulty. And that’s what happened: Tilly versus the Tory cabinet minister. It practically wrote itself. And in the first draft the characters were called Tilly and Jack. But somehow the idea of me playing Tilly just didn’t seem right, thus the change of name for the female character to Maggie.

Whatever the characters may be called, Irmani thinks the play is great. I’m inclined to agree.

No idea what time she finally heads downstairs and I stagger off to bed.

To be continued…

PS: I will not play spider solitaire today.

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