On turning 38


Bontempi (Photo credit: Jacob Whittaker)

The last thing you need on a post-birthday hangover are the strains of a child’s Bontempi organ bouncing off your eardrums.

However this morning my daughter has rediscovered the cursed instrument which has hitherto been hidden in a cupboard for months.

It has been in the cupboard for reasons other than her inability to play a note. There is a demo tune on it which takes me whirling back to a moment in time that I’m trying hard to forget – specifically, six days after M died.

The woman from The Humanist Society had just arrived to talk to us about M’s funeral service. Did we have any stories we wanted to include? What sort of man was my husband? Their son? Her brother?

My daughter, still high on the constant stream of visitors and piles of placatory sweets from the past six days, was corralled in the living room with my sister and the Bontempi. They spent the half an hour or so making up a daft dance to the demo that she is playing now, on a loop, downstairs. When we had finished with The Humanist we emerged from the kitchen, wrung out and catatonic, and had to sit and watch the dance. Over and over again.

I’m tired of this. Tired of the reminders of what I have lost and the traumas I have had to face. I spend my time finding distractions, but I am tired of waking up without Him, not remembering going to bed.

I’ve just turned thirty-eight. I shouldn’t be this weary.

Kevin McCloud’s Secret to Anti-Ageing

In idle moments, I have wondered how Kevin McCloud from Grand Designs manages not to age.


Kevin McCloud, aged 97
(photo credit: http://www.swindonweb.com)

His bald patch seems to have miraculously maintained the same circumference, and years of raising eyebrows at crackpot projects appear to have had a negligible effect on his forehead.

I realised the other night how he does it. By appearing in repeats.

M used to love Grand Designs, hence why I have studiously avoided it since He died. However, my daughter and I ended up watching it while we waited for The Apprentice to come on. (Go, sultry doctor, go!)

Again I marvelled at McCloud’s age-dodging prowess, until the date of the project was revealed. May 2006.

It was the year M and I married. May would have been around the time I was ready to combust with the pressure of choosing napkins for the tables.

It struck me how much has changed in the seven short years since Tim from Cirencester started his Grand Design, and M and I said ‘I do’. How little was foreseen of life in its current form.

In that time, I gave birth. We moved house four times. M fell ill. I became frightened of the world. M died. I faced off the world. I bought a house and a dog. I started a PhD.

And unlike Kevin, I aged. Not only physically, but mentally. I became well-versed in the workings of the blood pressure monitor, in Warfarin and in cardiac rehabilitation. Then I had to watch Him die, and face the reality of a life without Him. As a single, widowed parent.

Can I hit the stop button and appear in a repeat too?