Saturday 24 March 2012
I drive to Cathedral City and spend the afternoon at the house of Mr & Mrs AR, with Dr & Dr LA, and Mrs SG and her partner Mr NT. Mr & Mrs VM are scheduled to join us, but have to cancel. Mrs VM’s mother, who is aged 88, is unwell — she may not have long to live.
Strictly speaking, Mr & Mrs AR do not live in Cathedral City. They live in a newish suburb a few miles from Cathedral City. Mr & Mrs AR moved to their house in August 2005.
I take a slightly different route from the one that I have taken in the past.
The weather is warm, so we sit at a table in the garden to drink coffee, and then to eat crudités and houmous and olives. We stay at the same table for lunch.
Mrs SG’s daughter has given birth to a daughter, T. She is Mrs SG’s first grandchild.
Dr LA(f) has been suffering with AK (actinic keratosis).
Mr AR gives private maths tuition. He tells us that some of his pupils, to his surprise, smell bad. I suggest that perhaps they are stressed by the encounter with his formidable intellect. (Mr AR is an extremely clever man, but very humble about that fact.)
There are startling and identical revelations about the leisure activities of Mrs SG’s late father, Mr VM’s late parents, and a midwife who works with Dr LA(f).
Mrs AR is flying to San Pedro to see her daughter and son-in-law, who are awaiting the birth of their third child. Mr AR is staying at Cathedral City, to keep his father company. Mr AR’s father is 92, and lives in a nursing home.
After lunch, we all go for a walk in the country.
Dr LA(m)’s brother’s wife is from south-east Asia. According to Dr LA(f), Dr LA(m)’s aunt N has described the two sons of that marriage as having ”a touch of the t*rbr*sh”.
I tell my friends about my fears, which turned out to be groundless, of what disorder I would find in my cousin Naomi’s house. The house of Dr LA(m)’s aunt N was in fact, says Dr LA(f), like something out of How clean is your house?
Dr LA(f)’s mother is still in sheltered accommodation. Her memory does not seem to have deteriorated much during the past year.
Our walk ends at a pub, the Todmorden Tavern (on the pavement opposite, I suddenly realise that Mr NT and Mrs SG and I have parked thereabouts on a previous visit to Mr & Mrs AR), where we sit in the garden and have one round of drinks. At a table on the other side of the garden, there is a young couple with a baby girl who is sitting on the table-top, facing her father. Then she starts crying, and her father parades her to the far end of the garden, in a partially successful attempt to quieten her. The father, with the daughter in his arms, is still standing with another adult at the far end of the pub garden when we leave to retrace our steps to the house.
It is getting cool as we walk back.
Mr AR tells me that at one of the churches he and Mrs AR attend, there is so little Christian content to the services that the church, minister and congregation might as well be Hindu.
We have a light tea indoors.
Mr & Mrs AR have recently bought two new sofas, both upholstered in red. One is a three-seater, the other a two-seater. Together they cost about £1000.
Driving home, I am surprised by the amount of traffic at 18:45 on a Saturday.
[Original posting 24 March 2013]