|Gooseneck - The Venue|
We were having an overnight at The Mill Inn at Condor Green, just outside Lancaster (very nice it was too - on the banks of a little canal with walks along the tow-path where bad-tempered swans could nip your calves and ducks could quack their distain at your rubbish bread-throwing skills).
On opening the boot on our arrival, I was perturbed to see that the box side featuring Jim's name was on prominent display. After much eye-rolling and animated hissing on my part, Tartarus twigged what the problem was and he turned Jim's name into the depths of the car so that Sonshine couldn't catch sight of it.
And there Jim remained for the entire holiday.
He came with us absolutely everywhere, albeit in the bowels of the car and eventually Thursday rolled around. It was deemed The Night to do The Thing With The Ashes.
The Manx accommodation was very nice, with a little square of decking affording us an evening perch on which to relax with a glass of *cough* ginger beer until the sun dipped beneath the treetops and the chill of evening drove us back indoors.
So, we're sitting on Thursday evening with a tin of cider and a ginger beer, talking about our favourite Jim stories as Sonshine played Minecraft on the laptop in the lounge, blissfully out of earshot.
There was much giggling from Tartarus and I as we recalled various memories of our slightly unhinged friend (our favourite one I shall retell for you here in full in a couple of days for your edification and delight).
Suddenly, the empty cider can started rattling on its base on the table. Tartarus and I looked at each other.
'Do you think that's him?' asked hubby, sipping his glass of Magners.
I nodded. 'Course it is - we've provided the light by talking about him and so he's here, having a listen. And probably a spliff. Or it might just be the wind. Probably the wind, eh?'
And so we chatted a bit more. Jim's name was mentioned and the cider can shivered again. We shot each other a slightly more unnerved glance.
'Right,' I announced,' Jim - we know you're here and we get the message - tonight's the night, my friend. Now, if it's REALLY you, can you stop piddling around by rattling the can and just make it bloody fall over?'
Tartarus tittered and headed off to the kitchen to bring me another Crabbies Ginger Beer.
The cider can rattled and fell tinnily onto the table.
'Taaaaartaruuuuuuus!' I called, the hairs starting to stand up on the back of my neck....
'Did that can just fall over?' he called from the kitchen.
I stood the can back up and spoke to the ether. 'How are you doing, old friend?'
In my mind's eye, I conjured Jim up at the end of the table, smoking a fag and nodding.
'It's ok,' I called back to Tartarus who was emerging with a new tray of drinks and nibbles,' he seems quite mellow.'
Now, let me assure you, reader, I am not in the habit of striking up conversation with the dead and you must believe me when I tell you that Tartarus is even less prone to chatting with the departed.
'OK' said Tartarus to the evening breeze, 'Let's go, Jim.'
Sonshine and I stayed behind (in the end we thought it might freak him out to think that Jim had been in the boot the whole holiday, so Tartarus went alone. I'd already been out to the Venue and taken some nice pix for a memento for his friends of the view).
An hour later, Tartarus returned.
'All OK?' I asked cryptically over the top of the laptop as I facebooked.
'Yep. Went for a lap of the TT circuit, then on for a pint and then did The Thing at the Venue.
We'd spotted a hawthorne tree at the Venue earlier in the week, with a wild honeysuckle growing through it. I had suggested it as a sprinkling spot. And lo, that was exactly what Tartarus did.
We settled down on the sofa to watch an episode of Blackadder Goes Forth with a still-totally-unawares Sonshine and as I breathed in the slightly sweaty scent of my son's head I thanked whatever powers that be that I was still here, still breathing and still throwing the winning dice that meant I woke up every morning.
And that, dear reader, is how we said goodbye to Jim.