Well, I’d had a bad feeling in my bones that 2015 was going to be a stinker, but even at my gloomiest I never thought it would be quite this bad. For your information, I’m writing this on the day after the election. You’ve all had a week (or two weeks, if you’re reading this online) to learn how to deal or cope with the news; I’m still in bed with a pounding headache after taking the unwise decision to self-medicate rather heavily after the polls closed.
I crashed at about 3am, woke up briefly and checked results at 9.30, and then cocooned myself under the duvet for another three hours. Then again, you’ve had one or two weeks trying to avert your gaze from pictures of Cameron and his gang looking smug. I have that pleasure to come.
At least, I thought, there’s some relief on the immediate horizon: a trip to Gothenburg to look forward to. Loyal readers of this column will recall that when I go to Gothenburg it is not to savour its cuisine or Renaissance architecture (although I do like the cinnamon buns, and there’s a building by the docks which looks like it was made out of Lego, but in a strangely pleasing way). It does, however, have other attractions, one in particular, and as soon as I got paid last month I bought a ticket out there for the 13th and a ticket back here for the 20th, the idea being that I would spend my birthday out in Gothenburg, enjoy a Swedish holiday on Monday, and put a good deal of distance between myself and this unhappy land. I’ve been doing a fair amount of fretting over the parents, too, as you might recall, Father and then Mother having only just got out of hospital and being on the severer slopes of frailty. I could do with a break, I thought.
Well, 2015 being the year that just keeps on handing me the lemon, I’ve recently fielded a call in which it turns out that I am not going to be going to Gothenburg on those dates after all.
I remember the time (it must be about eight or nine years ago now, for I was still living with my wife and children) when Jaffa, our cat, got hit by a van. I didn’t see this but a neighbour did. Apparently it was a full-on blow, not a glancing one; yet the cat survived. She had a nosebleed and was dizzy and cross-eyed for a few days. The word “stunned” seemed to cover her behaviour neatly. I now know more or less how that cat felt. There comes a point when the shit piles so high on top of you that there’s no point in even trying to struggle. A sort of calm descends once you’ve got over the reeling from the blow.
There is also the knowledge that things could be worse. This is one of the strange things misfortune teaches us: that things could be so much worse. Getting closer to the edge of what can be borne gives us a better view of how big the drop is. And at least it appears that the trip is not so much cancelled as postponed, although right now I cannot face going to the British Airways website and changing things. The thought of doing so under the best of circumstances – say, a clear head and a left-wing government – is enough to make me weep; right now I think the best thing to do is to stay away from stressful tasks.
The problem is that right now, “getting out of bed” falls squarely into the category of stressful tasks, and unless I get out of bed I will not be able to make myself a cup – and by “cup” I mean “enormous mug” – of tea, which is about the only thing I can think of that will do me any good at all right now, and it always is the case, practically by definition, that it is only when there is no one there to bring you a cup of tea that you most need someone to bring you a cup of tea.
And there, I think, lies my problem. The last person to bring me a cup of tea was my daughter, and that was a month or so ago. (She makes tea very well, too.) The person I was planning on visiting in Gothenburg has also brought me cups of tea, but Gothenburg is 600 miles away as the Airbus flies and the tea would be cold by the time it got here. Reader: if you have someone around who can, when life has left you feeling like a cat hit by a van, bring you a cup of tea, be grateful.
Also, she says, things are “up in the air”. What of it? I replied. Everything is up in the air. Our lives, our hopes, our dreams, God’s little green apples are up in the air. Stretch a point and the world itself could be said to be up in the air. And my plane will be up in the air for a while, until it lands. Well, I thought it was rather clever at the time.