Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Leaving Morning

I am chilled out, literally. Claire' dining room, downstairs and next to a big window, feels like an enormous refrigerator. I have a blanket over the bottom half of me, and am wearing one of my new tartan button-up hoodies from Primark, and am drinking a great deal of hot tea, but am shivering anyway. I write a Mendel Illness. I respond to friends’ responses to my comments on Facebook. I shiver and shiver.

Richmond Bridge. ©2015 by John Mendelssohn.
We walk Jessie, her rescue greyhound. It might be even chillier outside than in the dining room. We traipse down to the bridge on whose opposite side lies Teddington, where we first lived together in the UK, in a building whose most famous resident was the rhythm guitarist of Status Quo. We would drink with him and his wife at the posh restaurant between our common block of flats and the Thames, or would go up to their flat overlooking the river. Rick would usually be full of vodka, and smoking in spite of his heart problems. He would embrace me and tell me, sometimes tearfully, how much he loved me. I always thought it was the vodka talking. 

I wonder if I should go back down to Kingston and buy a pair of shoes from Primark, as I have been sorely dissatisfied with the very stylish-looking, very poorly made ones I recently ordered from Korea. I stay home in the end, and persuade Claire to let me make dinner again, cooking having sort of replaced sports for me. When I was a kid, I was an implacably avid, irredeemably mediocre player of sports, the first kid to arrive on the ball field pounding his mitt excitedly, the last to be chosen for a team. Now I love cooking and am awful at it, but the Canarian-style red pepper sauce I made the other day was edible, and it’s hard to make halloumi anything but delectable. 

For the second time in 72 hours, I make for dinner chips (French fries) with the red pepper dipping sauce and grilled halloumi pita sandwiches, with garlic mayonnaise and rocket (arugula) inside. We watch the (taped) season finale of Too Ugly for Love?, in which, for instance, a poor devil with a ghastly condition, pyoderma gangrenosum, that reduces the bottom halves of his legs to hideous running sores tries to find a soulmate, a life partner, a copilot. Then, unable to stand sitting too long in front of a TV, I spend half an hour afterward to hectoring people to read my blog while the missus watches The Dog Whisperer

I return to the sofa to watch the Derek Xmas special. I continue to regard it as a work of sublime genius. It quite nearly makes me burst into tears, or are the tears exclusively about my imminent separation from my own beloved copilot?

Another Facebook break, and then we savor small portions of Tesco’s Finest chocolate ice cream, which I have come to believe may be the most delicious I have ever tasted (and I’ve tasted Black & Green), while watching a program about a Mormon woman who sounds as though she’s just ingested helium, and, by virtue of having been born with caudal regression syndrome, essentially lacks a bottom half. She too is looking for love. She is no more successful than Mr. Pyoderma Gangrenosum, but her voice and Mormonism have conspired to make her far less sympathetic to me. 

Whatever I felt myself catching back in Tenerife several days ago is no longer content to lurk in the shadows. I have been sneezing and sniffling all day, and am afraid I will keep the missus awake, but I fall asleep instantly, and don’t sneeze once, even when I wake up worrying about leaving in the morning. I’ve been terrifyingly absentminded lately. 

Claire returns home from walking Jessie and drives me to Richmond station, opposite which we cry in each other’s hair as we prepare to part again for two months. I stand there on Platform 2 freezing at considerable length before the train that will transport me to Clapham Junction arrives. As I wait, I realize I’ve forgotten the smoked salmon sandwiches it has become traditional for Claire to make me on Leaving Morning. It breaks my heart, and reminds me of that time when I was a hyperneurotic 8-year-old scaredy-cat and my mother left me a nice lunch in our first apartment in Westchester. Afraid that the Great Unseen Evil I’d grown up dreading would kidnap me if I stayed too long in the apartment, I dashed in and grabbed my lunch, in the process failing to see the loving note Mom had left me.


  1. That's the viseral part, the sandwiches left behind. Your love for Claire radiates through the net.

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