Mathew was fretting over his customary pot of steaming hot tea. He says I’m very kind as he always has a large pot of tea, a pot which is technically our pot for two persons, but I only ever charge him for a single small pot. I’m climbing the stairs to beatitude, honest to God I am, but it can be such a tricky route, beset with potholes and pratfalls.
Only yesterday I had to eject a smelly Dutch derelict from the shop. He kept coming in with a handful of pristine pro-life postcards which I refused to take or display, and every time I asked if I could help him, being a helpful and attentive shopkeeper like what I am, he told me that he was there to help me, and the only way that I could be helped would be if I were to refrain from killing children, now and into eternity I guess. I asked him politely to leave but was reluctant to eject him bodily as he smelled like an abandoned farmyard and there was a thick dark patina of grease upon him. I don’t wish to be unnecessarily polluted. He wears a large hand carved wooden cross around his grimed neck, hanging reluctantly close to him on a shiny leather cord.
Luckily my mate Geoff came in. Geoff smells rather like a semi-abandoned farmyard himself by the end of the day, mostly because of his job but as I never see him on a Sunday it might be because he’s not the world’s most fastidious ablutionist himself. But he’s a good lad. Chunky, too. Using Geoff somewhat in the manner of a human shield, I enlisted his admittedly superior physical presence to kick out the anti-abortionist tramp. And gave him a coffee, as that was what he wanted.
Mathew today was fretting. “I don’t know if it will survive. It’s in a bucket in my garage where I put it this summer when it started to turn brown”, he worried. I worried too, as my attention had drifted at some previous point when he was bewailing his cat’s cystitis.
“Your cat’s in a bucket turning brown in the garage?” I said, shocked. He looked at me as though I should be a candidate for vagazzlement.
“No, Graham. The Christmas tree. I told you. There are two large elderberry trees on the bank near part of my garden. I’m thinking of chopping one down and the soil there has some clay in it, so if I plant the Christmas tree there from last year which I put in my garage in the summer when it was hot but it’s started to turn brown now, it might help bring it back to life. It might help it. It would be such a waste if it died. There is still a small part of it which is green.” He said more in hope than certainty. Mould, probably. Or algae. One never knows.
“Yes, Mathew, and if it recovers you can call it Lazarus, can’t you?” He plays the organ in a couple of small village churches hereabout. He knew what I was saying. He winced and returned to his tea, looking all worried and fretful.
My next door neighbour died in January. She left everything to her grandson who is French and lives in France. So the house lies mostly empty, apart from when French persons random and various come to stay for a week or so now and again. The neighbour’s daughter, who was my sweetheart for a few months when we were teenagers, has asked me to keep her informed when particular people come to the house. But sometimes I forget. I don’t want to be a snoop. I don’t want to get in the habit of texting or phoning her too often. Is that so wrong.
I’m learning the Greek language at the moment, so thought it would be a helpful thing to add a Greek keyboard to my phone in order to do the exercises and lessons required by the app. Fuck me, but have you ever tried to revert a phone which has completely gone Greek back to English? It took me a clammy and sweatful thirty five minutes of panic and despair, but it speaks English again now. All is well.