Yesterday in the dead of night I was obliged to drive for an hour and a half for a rendezvous at the M2 service station nearest the A3 turn-off at 0400 hours. The purpose of this ridiculous expedition was to lend my brother my ‘Continental legally-required’ set of self-administering breathalyser testing kits, a road triangle and a yellow jacket without which a Brit driver may be liable to exorbitant fines if caught.
My brother was on a two-pronged mission to buy 1,000 cigarettes for his chain-smoking wife in France and try to steal some earth from the battlefield of Waterloo in order to enhance our scheduled lunch with my father and an old school pal of his in London this coming Thursday (18th June, the 200th anniversary of the Battle).
Late last night my sibling reported in to announce that he’d failed in said soil-stealing enterprise (a development that I suspect privately both he and I were rather glad about).
As I indicated in my previous post, I’m actually supposed to be taking part in a sailing competition this week but so far have been prevented from doing so by the fact that my father’s boat is borderline unseaworthy … or possibly just not yet really set up to sail properly … and needs work doing upon it. In either event, I’m rather relieved about this state of affairs.
As it happens, I couldn’t have sailed yesterday anyway because – out of the blue – my father, who had been for tea with them, walked back into the house on Sunday evening to announce he’d decided to take his sister (a remarkable 92, going on 93 in December) and her carer for lunch and needed me to act as wing-man.
The occasion was the carer’s 52nd birthday. She’s a sociable, intelligent and inspiring Chilean lady who has become almost a companion for my aunt. Yesterday at the table I was interested to hear her say that, despite one of her six sisters having married one, she was generally antipathetic towards Argentinians because as a race they were uniformly arrogant.
My aunt is remarkably resilient but a little frail these days. If prompted she will talk about her central role – as a Wren officer clerk administering to the leading Allied generals – in the planning and execution of D-Day (amongst other seminal WW2 events such as Dunkirk and the North African campaign), but otherwise never mentions it, or indeed much else, in everyday conversation. Her main enjoyment these days is teasing her brother (my father), when he is in full flight with one of his taller tales of family incidents from the distant past, by chipping in with the truth.
About 4.00pm, having returned home from our lunch and made ourselves cups of tea, I then retired to bed for 45 minutes in order to recover and set myself up for the evening. My ‘nap’ rejuvenated me to such an extent that I was able to stay awake in front of the television until not far short of 9.30pm.
It was that sort of day, really.