Can one – should one? – look for entertainment amidst imminent family grief? In the end we did. It was after all Mrs BB’s birthday and surgery deflected last year’s celebrations. Among the cards is a model of The Armillary Sphere, a gift from me.
The road north to Shrewsbury, while pretty, can irritate me with its curves and heavy traffic. This time I was more philosophical; less so on the A5 with its twelve roundabouts over twenty miles. Fantastically spelt Froncysyllte made us laugh. Then we entered the drive of Tyddyn Llan, a country house in the valley village of Llandrillo. Only the Welsh do daffodils like this, close-packed platforms, substantial enough to support a pedestrian.
The meal was self-indulgent, the burgundy even more so. We deliberately limited our conversation and let it meander as usual round the London of our youth, a backdrop more intense, more evocative the older we get. Another restaurant memory encouraged me to offer a taste of the burgundy to our waiter, a cheerful yet skilful Pole who was leaving Tyddyn Llan the following day, after six years, for Paris.
Refreshed to excess I couldn’t sleep in our gigantic bed and plotted a forthcoming novel scene told in flashback. I needed a bastard who started out likeable. Why not a vet? But do Americans call vets vets?
Humdrum events re-acclimatised us on the way back. Mrs BB needed a plain cushion on which to mount some of her tapestry work. I picked up a repaired hi-fi loudspeaker. Waiting for us were emails on medical matters, phone calls which brought back the agonised emotions we’d temporarily left behind. That evening we watched University Challenge and shouted out the answers where we could.