Thank God, you think. After a year’s wittering about trivialities he’s finally addressing a serious question. Something worth reading. Some deep philosophical insight…
Why am I here?
Why are any of us here?
What is the purpose of our lives?
Nope. Sorry. I’m in the bathroom. It’s 4:30 in the afternoon, I’m standing by the washbasin. And I’m asking myself that very question.
Why am I here?
What am I doing in the bathroom?
Bluntly, I have no idea.
But there are a limited number of things you can do in a bathroom. It won’t take long to whizz through the checklist…
Do I want to clean my teeth? At 4:30 with red wine to drink? Not a chance.
Do I need a wee? A quick conversation with my bladder. The answer’s ‘no.’
Shower? Cut my fingernails? Whatever I think of, the answer’s the same.
What did you say? Clean the bathroom? No, that one didn’t even cross my mind.
And then a light dawns. Slowly but finally, a light bulb goes on.
I don’t want to be in the bathroom.
I’m supposed to be in the bedroom. I’d been sent for the Christmas decorations. I’d forgotten in the time it took to walk upstairs. Turned left instead of right when I reached the top.
Not the first time, sadly. When the children were at home it would occasionally happen. “Hello,” I’d say, walking confidently into the lounge. “Does anyone know why I’m here?”
But of late, it’s getting worse. Obviously, I’ve an excuse. The book needs finishing. I’m already plotting the next one.
I wandered into the lounge yesterday lunchtime. My wife was watching the news. Brexit. Covid. Experts…
“They haven’t got a clue,” I said. “They don’t know a thing.”
“Well what do you know then?”
“You want to hear what I know?”
“Yes, that’s what I just said.”
“What I know – for a fact – is…”
The sentence trailed away. I did know something. Definitely. And something that would have scored a significant point off my wife.
“What I know for a fact is…”
Ah well, it’s an isolated incident. Well, technically two isolated incidents. Nothing to worry about.
Except that I’m also trying to burn the house down.
It’s the hob. Front right. That’s where I cook my porridge. And heat up my baked beans. Both of them – in my view – require long, slow cooking. Yes, the squeamish should look away now. I let my baked beans simmer away for a while. Until my wife says they look like… Well, you might be eating your breakfast.
But as I pour the porridge into the bowl (I’m a Golden Syrup boy) or I tip the beans onto what Masterchef would describe as a ‘bed of hand-crafted, artisan toast…’ I forget something. I forget to turn the gas off.
Where’s my ready-made excuse? Don’t cook and plot your novel at the same time.
But this cuts no ice with my youngest son. He’s already noticed this behaviour and ticked the relevant box on the care home application form. That was in the summer. And by the time you read this he’ll be home for Christmas.
‘Why am I here?’ may shortly be the least of my worries.
Interestingly for medical science there’s one time of day when I don’t have a problem with my memory.
Five o’clock. Every day, reliable as clockwork.
I remember it’s time for a gin. Not for me. No, no. no. For my lovely wife.
“What’s that, darling? It sounded like ‘I don’t want to drink alone.’ Alright then. Just to keep you company…”
“Very enjoyable book. You know you’re hooked when you like or dislike the characters and actually care what happens to them.” Salt in the Wounds is available now on Amazon.
The sequel – The River Runs Deep – will be published in January