I had efficiently found my mobile phone, charged it and set the alarm on it. What I did not do was check the clock on my phone was set at the right time. It was not; it was set an hour late. Yesterday, I had to make a whizz-bang, pop pop journey down to London. I only just made it out of the house by 6.15am for a sevenish train. Just in time for the children to wake up and cry. Real tears, that Mummy was going to London. Do they suspect I may not come back? I did not leave them alone. My husband might have been missing in action but I do have help with the children. I have enough moments where I come suspiciously close to lunacy; if I did not have help, there would be nothing suspicious about it. I would be bang to rights bonkers. I have tried doing without help; frankly, I wanted to kill myself. I have nothing but admiration for women who cope on their own at all times. I could not even pretend that is me. I keep saying to my fellow mothers up here: "Get some help. Get some help for God's sake." They just look at me. They do not seem to need help. They can cope. Everyone can cope better than me. I went to a lovely house the other day. All the carpets were beige. All of them. The woman has two boys. How does she do that? How does she keep it beige? I have only ever bought one carpet in my life. It was beige. What a mistake that was. She makes her boys take off their shoes. I tried to make mine do that. My carpet has not been beige for a long time.
The railway station is away, away along roads that cut through mist flooded fields. An Easterly wind blows the mists in from the sea. Despite spring sunshine washing over daffodil days, in the early morning and in twilight's heavy moments, the sea fret lurks in the village streets. It blocks out spaces behind the rough stone walls with its mist and North Sea mystery. At my cottage, you can stand and see it roll and lurch onwards, eating grass and lambs. Till everything, even the lighthouse, disappears in its soft, grey damp. Usually, not always, it will stop short of the row of cottages; it will stay in the field, knowing it has not been invited; fearing to come further. Sometimes, polite, I smile and walk towards and into its chill embrace. I like the sea frets. I like anything that frets.
It is a long way to London, travelling there and back took around nine hours and all for a business lunch. The lunch was good however and, bonus, at the end of the meeting, my companion handed over a box of German confectionery. The sweetmeat was called "Bethmannchen" (there should be an umlaut in there, but I have a resolutely English speaking keyboard). These Bethmannchen (do not forget that umlaut) are small baked mounds of marzipan, kept upright by three pale almond halves pushed into sugared flesh. I thought: "Bugger. I knew I should have brought pease pudding." But you can never find it gift-wrapped. The confectionery has a history. It dates from 1840; named after the four sons of Frankfurt's state councillor Simon Moritz Bethmann (Moritz, Karl, Alexander and Heinrich). Originally, there were four almonds. When Heinrich died, the confectioner cut the number of almonds to three.
So there you are. Your meeting is over. Your charming associate hands over his tasty gift and suddenly you are thinking: "Infant mortality", "Poor Heinrich" and "How old was he?". It is like finding out the currants in an Eccles cake represent the number of deaths there during the plague. As if Kendal mintcake is a monument to all those lost on ill-prepared Duke of Edinburgh trips in the Lake District. I say: "Thank you " and "How kind". I think: "I hope the children are alright." I wondered too, whether Heinrich's mother ever ate the three almonded confection, to taste between her teeth the grainy, sugared proof three sons survived.