Someone other guided me to act Deep inside my voice had been unlocked I sang the psalms and then a lullaby Not aware in thought that you would die.
I fed you with a teaspoon the mashed fish From a plate as good as one might wish Like a little child you tried your best You smiled at me and gazed like one who’s blessed
You sat up with a brighter face at last Then lay back and God knows all the rest
Oh, don’t go yet ,my darling,I am here The floor of heaven came down amidst my tears Made of sumptuous satin, gold,revered For a little moment it hung low Then it rose and took you in its glow I saw your soul like that of a wild bird Taken by the Power who spoke the Word
A sheet of tears fell down from my closed eyes It’s hard ,so hard when those you love must die
Mary went to the hospital to see the rheumatologist.The entire hospital had been re-built and half the site wasnow full of so called “Executive Homes” She and Annie took a cab as it was raining hard.Although Mary was wearing her new green raincoat, she did not like to get it wet. Where did you buy your mac,Annie enquired jauntily? Cotton Traders,Mary admitted nervously.It looked lighter than it is and Stan liked me in green You already have two trenchoats and a nylon mac,Annie told her. And Stan is no longer here What’s it to you? you want me to give all my money to the poor? Well, some of it,Annie responded anxiously.You need to pay your utilities.
My utilities!That sounds like something sexual that cannot be openly named,Mary cried You are confusing it with urethra, Annie laughed What is my ethra? whispered Mary No, the urethra is a little tube for the bladder to empty itself through Isn’t the human body amazing? Mary acknowledged using a cliche for better effect Definitely, said Annie and I love wearing beautiful clothes like velvet Where do we draw the line though, between looking good and giving money to the poor, tortured or victimised,Mary pondered
It is hard now because we can see what the rich have and we want it.Annie shouted calmly Or in your case you can see all those philosophy books on Amazon and buy them with one click she continued. Mary could see in her mind’s eye her living room piled high with books but if she were rich like Michael Frayn she could have a huge house full of shelves and desks. Adam Phillips,’ room looked more full than Mary’s and he must want it like that as he is well off.
In the waiting room Mary looked at Wittgenstein’s biography by Ray Monk on her kindle while Annie read The Sun. Soon Mary was called in Hello, said Doctor Morse.How are you? In the pink , she cried shyly. I don’t understand that, he said in his kindly way It’s an old English saying.It means I feel fine, but I don’t really that’s why I am here He looked at her left hand. and said there was no cartilege between the the thumb and wrist. Where has it gone,Mary asked but he remained silent Then he said,I think steroid injections will help.Would you turn your chair round by 180 degrees so you can put your arm on my desk? Mary turned round and felt a bit dizzy It’s hard getting older isn’t it, the doctor said in a tone rather artificially kind like a bad actor on stage and afraid of forgetting his lines or whether he was in King Lear or a Comedy Mary burst out laughing, to her surprise. You are a weird person, the told her thoughtfully with his green eyes shining like the sun over Lake Windermere in October. Well, we can’t all be exactly the same ,she told him logically Then she had to turn her chair round again. despite her poor hands Why don’t you have swivelling chairs ,she asked pointedly They won’t give me enough money, they doctor said, even though I a Consultant and I have published lots of papers Can’t you buy a second hand chair? Mary wondered No, it has to pass Health and Safety,Dr Morse whispered cautiously I see.Well don’t blame it all on the EU. I love the EU, he told her.I hope Brexit evaporates Me too she croaked sweetly They sat in companionable silence for a few minutes until his next patient arrived I will see you in September, he told her optimistically his smile making her giggle inside so her body shivered with suppressed laughter or terror.
Miaow, cried Emile from Mary’s designer handbag What in Gd’s name is that, the doctor asked nervously
Don’t worry doctor.I forgot to leave Emile in the Waiting Room Emile stuck out his head and smiled at Dr Morse Good morning, he said graciously.Is Dave the paramedic here? No, they are not here they have their own Ambulance Station down the road Emile began to sob as he liked to get his own way by any means he could Mary apologised as she shook hands with the doctor. Thank you for helping me, she murmured.I feel better already And so say all of
The weather in Knittingham was rather hot.Mary was away giving a lecture on Dirac’s thoughts in Oxford and Stan felt lonely.He rang Annie but she was out.
So he said to Emile
I am going to bed early.Have you had enough to eat?
Definitely,cried Emile,who had just licked all the cream off two meringues in the larder.So Stan went upstairs.He took off all his clothes and admired his thin body in the mirror.
Not bad for 97,he muttered.
Now what shall I put on?
He found his pyjamas too hot so on an impulse he opened Mary’s wardrobe and found a cotton nightdress.It was a bit big for him but definitely cooler than his pyjamas.He cleaned his teeth and washed himself before falling into bed with,The Other Ariel a book about Sylvia Plath’s poetry and how Ted Hughes had altered the order of her poems and even removed some from the book .Ariel,which made her name.The doorbell rang.Each time it played a different tune out of the 90 in its repertoire.
He ran downstairs and opened the door.There stood two policemen.
They stared a the handsome old man with elegant hands
Hello.Sir.I hope we have not interrupted you?
No,I am just reading in bed. on my own
Do you always wear a nightgown?
This is the first time,he told them humorously.
I felt very hot so I decided to wear my wife’s gown.
And just where is your wife?
What’s it got to do with you,he enquired unceremoniously.
Just tell us,the older policeman said brusquely
She’s at a conference in Oxford giving a talk.About Dirac or Riemann or another nitwit.
Can we come in? the policeman said.
May we come in,Stan corrected him;not a good idea on the whole,especially in the USA where the police have guns.Luckily all our police have here are rubber gloves in case people ask them to wash up after having a cup of tea.
What is wrong? said Stan.
We have found a naked woman walking in the High Street.She says a man stole her clothes.For various reasons we think it might be you.
But if she was in the High Street she’d be in proper clothes not a nightdress,surely ,Stan murmured.
But you like women’s clothes….. we can see.
No,I don’t, the old man shouted.
I told you I was too hot.And in my own home I can wear anything I like.
Sometimes I wear a prayer shawl
Are you Jewish? they asked.
Only a little, but I inherited it from a great grandfather who married out.
Out of what? the police asked
He married out of his faith.He was longing for a bacon sandwich.
Surely marrying just to eat a bacon sandwich is a bit over the top.
Well,that was his story.Maybe he was tired of obeying the Ten Commandments so he broke most of them.
He committed adultery once when his wife had a nervous breakdown ; he lost his head and went to bed with his neighbour’s wife.
And where was his neighbour?
At the psychiatric unit visiting my great grandmother.Stan admitted uneasily.
Well,at such times we all do odd things,the older policeman advised him.
Thank you for your frankness,Sir.I can see you are not a criminal.
Thank the Lord,said Stan as he went into the kitchen and put the kettle on to make a cup of tea to save ringing 999
I am lucky not to be in a cell and Mary would have had to come home.She would have been cross, he told Emile.Anyway monks wear habits.
But who had stolen the clothes off the woman in town? A mystery to be studied with Annie when she got home.
At last Stan relaxed and went back to bed with his books
This is the last time I ever wear a nightdress he whispered to Emile who was by his side.
And so hope all of us.