Wednesday, 17 October 2007

All shook up

I’ve been to see Katie – I couldn’t put it off any longer but I had a damn good try. Her pleading phone calls have increased to three times a day (she’s still ringing me after Jeremy Kyle and once she’s stuck into the vodka but is now also ringing at ten to ten to wail about “going to bed alone – again”. She was fairly cheerful on my arrival – Robert is giving her a monthly allowance (“even though it’s less than we used to spend in Sainsburys every month”) as long as she doesn’t make a fuss and agrees to a quickie divorce. He’s also dangling the carrot of her looking after a business associate’s mews house in Bromley while he goes off round the world for six months to “find himself”.

“I can’t eat, I hardly go out, I’m all alone!” she wailed after I’d found mugs, washed them up, made coffee and found biscuits. My suggestion that she had a bit of a spruce up (she does look a bit insipid) and took a wander down to Surrey Quays for some decent food (there was an alarming amount of Pot Noodles in the cupboards) was met with disdain. She has no energy, apparently, to do anything other than get up, eat junk and watch TV. I pushed the point further: “If you whipped down to Tescos and got some fresh fruit and veg and stuff, you’d soon get your energy back.” I was aware that I was sounding like my mother. “I can’t!” she hissed, scrabbling for her cigarettes. “No” I responded tartly “but you can go down to the offy for twenty B&H quick enough”. Transformation complete, hello mother.

She can’t have any of her friends over because “well, I live in Rotherhithe, none of them would know how to get here” and she’s got no friends on the estate because “well, they’re all, well, not really that nice. The man next door has got ferrets”. She whispered this because, I’d noticed, the walls are very thin. “He’s got a bad cough as well” I pointed out. The lady the other side, according to Katie, plays Elvis “day and night”. I strained to hear murmurings from The King. “She must be out” she said sulkily, switching the TV over for a Trisha re-run.

I then gave her a pep talk – full of cheerful gems such as “you feel as good as you look” and “a healthy body is a healthy mind” (this after she said she’s been watching Eastenders and feels suicidal afterwards – I’ve assured her she’s not alone in feeling like this) and “luck doesn’t find you, you have to find luck”. I’m not sure it’s helped much, she did seem to go into a trance at one point but it was only because she was having a flashback to the day before.

“I’d just lit a cigarette and the doorbell rang” she said shakily. “I couldn’t be bothered to get up so I yelled through ‘oh go away, I’m having a fag’ cos it was bound to be someone wanting me to change my gas supply”. She closed her eyes at this point. “So, then, I turned on UK Gold and Harry Enfield was on. This….woman….in a rancid purple tracksuit had just been asked to do something by her lout of a husband. And…..she said…..”. She covered her face with bitten to the quick nails “And she said…..’I. Am. Aving. A. Fag.”

I have since mistakenly repeated this conversation to Janey who couldn’t speak for laughing and had to go because, well, she had to go. I’ve promised Katie that I’ll pick her up tomorrow and take her to Tescos – Janey’s coming with me and “Waynetta”.


Gwen said...

I really do feel for her but she needs to stop watching television. I have a feeling that it simply isn't helping matters.

Mary said...

My sympathies for your friend.
I was distracted when reading this, because in American that phrase is not something you'd hear on television, or even in the raunchiest of gay bath houses.

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Nunhead, London, United Kingdom
I'm a mum of one, wife of one and owner to several dogs, a variety of breeds and sizes. I live in the up and coming area (or so they say) of Nunhead and have mad neighbours, strange friends and certifiable relatives. I shop locally, although I do defect to Sainsburys once a week - shoot me now local shopkeepers.