The second part of the journey was on a much busier coach. People are quite amazingly selfish. They put bags on the spare seats beside them, drape their coats across them, lie across them.
Excuse me, I said, is this seat free?
Barely a look.
A hunched shoulder and the sulky gathering up of belongings.
Thank-you, I said.
She wanted to get off at Cambridge, but didn’t seem to think it necessary to say anything to me. As she started to stand up, I looked at her. Do you want to get off here? Grunt. I stood. She moved past me. No thank-you, no acknowledgement of any sort. She’ll probably be Chancellor of the Exchequer in a few years.
Still, now I had a double seat.
At my destination I walked the short distance to the sheltered housing where Aunt lives. The warden, Sam, who is part-time, mornings only (a far cry from when Aunt moved here some twenty-five or more years ago when the warden lived on site and was very much a full-time fixture of the place) had given a code to get into the building. I don’t know what I did wrong, but it didn’t work.
I buzzed Rita. And that turned out to be a good thing as she told me Aunt was brighter and stronger today. We stood in the dimly lit corridor chatting and I felt my spirits rise. Yesterday, when I was talking to Aunt, I felt she wasn`t ready to die. A fighter, Rita called her, adding she didn’t know where Aunt gets the strength.
So it was with a lighter heart that I stowed the fruit juice I have brought her in the communal kitchen’s fridge, dropped my bag in the guest room and set off for the supermarket for some essential provisions.
Back at the guest room I noticed the bedside light had no bulb. No matter, there’s a little angle poise in the communal sitting room, I could borrow that. We’ll I could, but its bulb had blown. So it was a quick trot back up the road to get light bulbs to achieve a light I can read by. Hopefully Sam will refund me tomorrow, or knock it off the guest room bill.
I sat down in the one armchair. If you are imagining a cosy and comfortable room, think again. It is small and it backs on to the bins. There are twin beds with. Narrow space between them and a shared bedside table. The wardrobe is cheap but fairly spacious, and there is one of the ugliest ornaments I have ever seen on the window sill. I quite like the picture of boats, though I wouldn’t choose it myself. The bed linen has been washed too often and at too high a temperature. I brought a pillow slip with me this time. The bathroom is next door, though Sam has been trying to persuade her employers to make it en suite.
So having taken control of the lighting, I decided to move the furniture around too. First a trip back to the sitting room to borrow the plug board I had spotted there. The flex of the lamp is too short and it makes it very difficult to turn the light off when you are ready to sleep. The plugboard enabled me to tend its reach, and plug in both iPad and phone to recharge them. The lamp is too far away from the chair for comfortable reading. So I shoved the second bed up against the wardrobe, and lifted the chair over to beside the bedside table.
Everything will have to be put back again before I leave tomorrow, but for the first time I am looking at this room and wondering how it could be made more comfortable for anyone staying here.
Also for the first time the woman upstairs is not watching her television. I am suddenly wide awake and feeling more positive than I have in days. It’s not a good omen for a sound night’s sleep, but by golly it feels good.