Sunday 10 August 2008

The Last Chance Saloon

14st 3lb (so I was not wrong about that barbecue, then, and I don’t suppose yesterday’s lunch exactly helped, either); 5.0 units of alcohol yesterday; 1,274; M62.

Usually one does not realize that one has lost something beautiful and precious until after it has gone. That sounds curiously familiar, does it not?

Ironically, after shortening the life of the planet by several nanoseconds by hammering a gas-guzzling car all the way back from Cheshire to Northumberland, I could not sleep when I got back home, either. At first I struggled to ignore the sound of truly torrential rain battering down on my bedroom skylight. Then I kept waking up, troubled by a deep sense of loss. In the blackness of the early hours I heard a crow cawing loudly, maybe half a dozen times. I looked at my clock radio and noted that it was precisely 2.59 a.m. I suppose it was predictable enough that an internet search this morning should have revealed that, in traditional Chinese folklore, hearing a crow between 3 and 7 a.m. means that one is to receive gifts. The meaning of receiving the message a minute too early was not revealed, but I sensed that it portended nothing good.

I sat down in my conservatory, feeling tired and miserable, and wrote a comprehensive, point by point analysis of why it had been much the best idea for both the LTCB and myself for us to split up. Then I rang her up and begged forgiveness which, rather to my surprise, seemed to be on offer that day. So I loaded up the car under the by now completely disbelieving eye of the dog and drove us back to Cheshire again, more than half conscious that I might only have been allowed back so that the LTCB could administer the slap I so richly deserved yesterday. We spent the afternoon on a long walk by the River Dee, having the sort of conversation that is best avoided in any relationship and which, it was made very clear to me, we would never be having again.

I think I have learned my lesson. I hope so, at any rate. What I can say with confidence is that I have been on such good behaviour that I did not even nudge her to complain when the LTCB fell asleep and began making a wheezing noise which sounded oddly like the Tardis dematerializing. I just lay awake, grateful that she was still breathing in my company, faintly expecting the BBC Radiophonics Workshop to kick in with their musical contribution and feeling more grateful than I can ever recall feeling before for having been given an undeserved Second Chance.

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