Please read the post below, ‘the first part of my yesterday’ first as this is a continuation. Merci.
When I answered the door I was fully expecting nobody to be there again. But somebody most defiantly was. It was my neighbour, Mr. A, and he was not in a good way. He was shaking like a leaf and had tears streaming down his face and he was, rather surreally, holding my yard broom. I asked him what the matter was but he couldn’t seem to answer. I the asked him if he needed some help, to which he replied ‘yes’. I asked him what he needed me to do and wasn’t quite prepared for his reply of “I need you to take me to England”.
I told him as gently as I could that it wasn’t possible for me to do that right now, but if he would like to come in and have a sit down and a cup of tea, he was more than welcome. How very British.
He stumbled in through the door and sat in the living room, by which point Moo was now halfway down the stairs curious as to what was going on. I told her that Mr. A was here and he wasn’t feeling very well, and could she pop back upstairs for 5 minutes to finish off playing with Dr. Dave and the gang. She paused for a moment and asked in all sincerity if she could go and tell him that the cat had died last night. All things considered I wasn’t entirely sure that would be the best news for him to hear right now, so I promised Moo that if she went upstairs now for a little while she could tell him later. This seemed to appease her and she trotted off.
With a deep breath I turned and headed back to the living room.
The tears and shaking had given way to a gentle rocking as he stared into the distance. I didn’t really know what to do next, so I fetched him a glass of water, and sat down in the other armchair. I spoke to him very gently and told him that he was welcome to sit here for as long as he needed to, but Moo was upstairs and she had to come down and have her lunch before going back to school. I don’t know if he understood what I was I was saying, but maybe it was just the sound of someone speaking to him that seemed to pull his focus a little and slow down the rocking. I took a moment to call his girlfriend but was left telling an answer phone, in as delicate terms as I could, the events of the morning. I went to get Moo and tried to explain that Mr. A needed us to be a bit calm and quiet, and we really shouldn’t mention the cat yet. Moo was wonderfully compliant and we went downstairs. I asked Mr. A if he was hungry and he looked at me with such a strange expression on his face and asked me a simple and very sad question, “What am I doing in your house, and why am I holding your broom?”. I told him I would explain as much as I could when lunch was done and I had taken Moo back to school. This seemed to satisfy and it was time for a slightly uncomfortable lunch of cheese toasties all round.
It was then that Hubs rang. Moo told him that she now knew about the cat, and they had a nice little chat. Much as I wanted to I couldn’t really tell him the going’s on of the morning as Mr. A was sitting right next to the phone, but I promised to speak to him later,and hung up.
Although there were still 25 minutes of lunchtime left I felt that Moo being back at school a bit early today would be no bad thing. As I took her back she was full of questions about both the cat and Mr. A and I tried as best as I could to answer them all. She is a very thoughtful and perceptive child and summed it up rather well. ‘So Chimney’s gone to heaven, and sometimes Mr. A has days when he’s a bit like Mr. Muddle’. Exactly.
I dashed into school and explained to Maitress Marion that the cat had sadly passed away, so Moo might be a bit sad this afternoon, and she assured me she would do her best to keep Moo cheerful. Sorted.
I returned to the the news that Mrs. A was on her way and would be here very soon. To say I was relieved was an understatement. It was only a few minutes before she arrived so I left them inside to talk, and headed out to the garden to finally lay my poor cat to rest.
The only problem was that I couldn’t find my spade, and although the shed was full of stuff, very little of it was stuff that belonged to me. It turns out that during his to-ing and fro-ing this morning Mr. A had decided to swap the contents of my shed with the contents of his garage. I don’t know why, I don’t think I will ever know why and I’m fairly certain that he does not know why either. It took a little while to re re-arrange our things, but quickly it was done and everything and everyone was back where they should be.
I set about my grim task. It didn’t take too long, and soon I was covering her box with soil and tears. Her grave is marked with stones and a small wooden cross fashioned from tree branches and twine, and in a fit of emotion I planted the top soil with violet and pansy seeds. I sat for a while in the afternoon sunshine just having a think.
Mrs. A came into the garden and asked me if I would mind if Mr. A came back to sit in the house while she went back to work to collect her things and organise some time off, and also arrange a clinic appointment for Mr. A.
He came in, sat on the sofa and said nothing. I went to collect Moo and we went out into the garden to see Chimneys resting place, thankfully it got the Moo seal of approval, then came in and made tea, listened to music, and I finished making a suit for one of her bears. And all the while Mr. A just sat there in silence. Despite the gravity of his situation I had to supress a giggle as I suddenly got a glimpse of my life in the future with a sulky teen-ager in the house, still at least I have had some practice now.
When Mrs. A returned she thanked me profusely, but was obviously extremely distressed and confused as to what she should do next. Rather sadly for all concerned I think they will carry on as they are, and hope for the best. His treatment is quite clearly not working and I can’t help but think that a small French village, that is quite isolated, is not the best place for him to recover. The French, in general, have very intolerant view of mental illness, and whilst I love this village and it’s people, they are not very understanding or forgiving when someone has a ‘probleme de la tete’, add to that the fact he is a foreigner, and it makes life extremely difficult for them in what are already trying circumstances.
Closing the door last night brought such a sense of welcome release, I can barely explain it.
The perfect end to a truly strange day came, rather appropriately, in a strange form. Moo decided that we should go upstairs get into our pyjamas and watch a video. Her choice of viewing came out of the blue as it is not something that has seen the light of day for a long time, but couldn’t have been more spot on. As we lay together we watched the gentle adventures of Aunt Flo, P.C. Copper, Farmer Barleymow, Frank the Postie and ,of course, Bod. For those of you unfamiliar with the UK children’s cartoon, BOD, I can thoroughly recommend it as a perfect way to unwind form the stresses of a very stressful day. Let’s hope I don’t need to watch it again tomorrow.