Quick vignette no. 1: Today, I’m in a foul and pestilential mood. Seriously. I’m annoyed at everything. So when Rosie threatens to change her underpants at 8:35am (ie. seriously late), having got her uniform and coat on, I am in no mood. I am NOT having it. We are NOT going on the late register and that’s it.
Ben, who has thus far been asleep on the couch, is summoned with a bark that jumps from my throat and into the living room. He is up in moments, tries to calm Rosie, then attempts to slip away to the toilet.
‘Where are you going?’ I cry, furious. I’m not having this either. How dare he attend to his bursting bladder when Rosie is about to throw a full-scale tantrum. ‘Always trying to slip away,’ I mutter. ‘You are never there when I need you.’
Ben says something under his breath – something beginning with: ‘Yeah, well you…’ and I don’t hear the rest. I wasn’t there? He’s saying I wasn’t there? Where the hell was I then? On a Polynesian beach?
One minute later, Rosie and I are gone.
Postscript: Rosie and I make it to school right on time. Ben goes back to his South London premises. He cleans the cooker hob before he goes. We are unlikely to see him for a while.
Quick vignette no. 2: Rosie is chatting to me after her shower. I’ve asked her to get up off the ground. I meant to say floor. ‘Floor is for the inside. Ground is the outside,’ she says. ‘Yes, you’re right,’ I say.
‘Mummy,’ she says, ‘drunks – you know the men who drink? – They sometimes sit on the ground outside. And it’s really dirty. Poor them. I’ve seen them. I see-ed some drunk people sitting on the ground and then they left their rubbish there and went away. But, Mummy, they are poorly and should go to the doctor. They shouldn’t sit on the ground. They need to go to the doctor. Because they’re sick.’
Postscript: I hug Rosie for being a much better person than I am. What a good, big heart she has.
Quick vignette no. 3: It’s Saturday night and Ben and I are watching Borgen, a Danish drama series about a woman prime minister, political intrigue and the struggle to maintain principles and a personal life while furthering your career. Anyway, at one point, the PM invites her ex-husband over (he became her ex after she decided to continue being PM) to see if she can convince him to resume their relationship – even though they’re divorced. She says she thinks his new girlfriend is very nice, but “have you thought about what you’re leaving?” He’s shocked. “What is this? You’re living in another world. We are divorced. I’ve moved on. You need to accept that.” (I’m paraphrasing, but that’s about the gist of it). He leaves. She’s mortified, gets drunk and shags her driver. Oh dear.
Anyway, we watch this and I feel an uncomfortable chill wash over us. Maybe I’m imagining it, but I think Ben sees himself in the ex-husband character. I ask myself, am I deluded? What are we doing here? Ben comes over every weekend, slouches about the flat, plays with Rosie, surfs the net, watches TV all night, does some cleaning and repairs, leaves. This is what we do. Time and again. There is nothing else. So, what are we really doing? How long can we keep flogging this corpse?
Postscript: Ben left on Monday (see Vignette 1 above). I was not mortified and I didn’t shag anyone.