It's my friend Connie's birthday tomorrow: she'll be eighty-eight. She's the mother of the first friend I made when I went to university, many moons ago, and I've met her for lunch about once a fortnight for about twenty-five years.
She's doing pretty well for eighty-eight - she's still got all her chairs at home, to use her own phrase to mean she's still completely with-it mentally. But she's a bit slow. And she can't see very well, but won't admit this, even to herself.
So, since I'll be working on her birthday of course, Stephen and I thought we'd take her out to lunch today, and take my mother too.
Last weekend, of course, was Mother's Day and I wasn't really able to do anything about it as it was the actors' agency monthly meeting. I was slightly miffed when several of the actors didn't come to the meeting because they were taking their mothers out for Mother's Day - - er, what about my
mother? I asked in tones of petulance.
So we scooped up my mother and took her for lunch today too, having plied them both with lots of M and S flowers, which they did seem to like.
We went to the Wellington pub, which has become a favourite haunt of ours since I finally - and stupidly belatedly - got round to checking out Silverback
's recommendation and found that we really liked it.
There's a carvery, which I like, Stephen likes and both my mother and Connie like: Connie because she likes the food and it's excellent value and my mother because she likes the food and it's excellent value even for my mother, who eats about as much as the average tadpole.
But you have to watch these oldies. Life is one long booby-trap for them, even though they're both remarkably fit. Steps to fall up or down. My mother can't hear. Connie can't see. They both get easily confused by anything at all new. So you have to keep track of them every inch of the way as they get their food.
They really enjoyed it but they both eat very slowly. I eat very fast. I probably always have done but I think my excessive speed really dates from when Emily was a baby and didn't find adults eating a very exciting thing to witness.
So I've finished my first course and by that time they've just got on to their second piece of carrot and I hate hanging around waiting. I just hate it. I know it's a flaw in me, but make me wait two minutes for anything and I've got my emergency book out of my bag and am buried in it. Can't do that in these circumstances though!
And it's daft. It's Sunday. I wasn't rushing to get back to work or anything. But even so there's a little clock ticking in me going "Hurry up and finish your food!" Though it's a pleasure to see them enjoying the trip out so much.
So afterwards Connie wanted to visit The Communist, which was nice of her, and I know it's nearly impossible for her to get there by bus. So I drove to the bike shop, left Stephen there so he could collect his bike which was being mended and then cycle home, and took Mum and Connie to The Communist's nursing home.
Now then, I'll tell you two things about old people: firstly, they can't work seat belts, and secondly, they always think everything's gone missing and that someone else has moved it.
When they get in the car they make no attempt to put their seat belt on and you always have to remind them and then they say "Oh, we never used to bother with these things" and then they can't do it anyway and you have to lean across them and they try to help and it's all very tricky.
And then at the nursing home they get involved in a long discussion about missing socks. Three of The Communist's socks are, apparently, missing. Where could the missing socks be? Who could have taken them? Are they in this drawer? Or in that cupboard? Or in the wardrobe? Every drawer is emptied and pored over. I keep saying, doggedly, "Perhaps they've gone to be washed."
Finally they've searched every possible place and a few highly unlikely ones.
"Perhaps they've gone to be washed," says Connie and Mum swiftly agrees.
"Unless someone's taken them, of course," adds Mum. A conversation about possible Nursing-Home Sock Thieves ensues. Finally we all agree that we will Wait and See before calling Interpol.
And Connie has brought some tulips and these have to go into a vase but the only vase in existence is occupied by clinging-to-life daffodils which are claiming squatters' rights. I'd've just chucked them merrily in the bin but oh, no, a new vase had to be found and the elderly daffodils had to have their stalks trimmed and be generally rescued.
Finally I round Connie and Mum up, and get them both in the car, and have the Ceremony of the Seat Belts, and take Connie home, and then drive home.
A very pleasant lunch out. And I'm totally exhausted. Don't get me wrong, I love them all: but sometimes I find work to be easier than leisure.