23 Apr 2012
Hestia goes to the garden centre
Thus I found myself lying in bed staring at the ceiling at around 6am on Saturday morning. Too much staring at the ceiling isn't good for you; you start to think of all the little niggles and bothers that you have in life and before you know it, you're in a foul mood and it's not even 8am.
And so it was on Saturday.
My mother takes an inordinate amount of time to get ready to go anywhere these days. And why should she hurry? The getting ready is, when you live on your own, something that doesn't need to be hurried. It's part of the fun. 'It puts my day in,' she once told me. So I bit my tongue and put on a faceful of make-up myself, to pass the time.
By the time we were ready to hit the garden centre, the rain had come on. This meant that I would have to use my windscreen wipers which squeak like crazy. Tartarus remarked once that they sounded like a mouse being shagged by a bullock. And he was right.
So, picture the scene. I am sleep-deprived. I am in a bad mood. I am being driven mad by my windscreen wipers. I am being given driving tuition by my mother. I catch Sonshine's gaze in the rear view mirror. He looks sympathetic. Things must be REALLY bad if an 11 year-old feels sorry for you.
The garden centre was teeming with life - probably because of the rotten weather. We mooched around the plants for a bit and I suggested buying Juno some plants for her hanging baskets as her belated Mother's Day gift. I didn't forget - she was on holiday.
Clearly this was acceptable and she found herself a large basket in to which she stuffed her wares.
'Tell you what,' I said. 'Let's leave the baskets here and go and get a cup of coffee and a toasted sandwich in the cafe.'
This brightened Sonshine immediately. I had asked him to keep a smile on his face and to act interested around the plants. Unfortunately, the deal could only be sealed if I agreed to give him a fiver. The deal was done.
So it came to pass, dear reader, that I was standing in the queue to order our food, feeling sullen and murderous when someone tapped me on the shoulder. A tall, good-looking man was standing next to me, smiling.
'I knew it was you - you haven't changed a bit.' he leaned over and kissed me lightly on the cheek.
'Good. God. I haven't seen you in 30 years,' I gasped. Thank you God for make up, hair dye and the wise decision to pull on my Spanx knickers this morning.
And there he was, reader. My oldest, dearest friend - let's call him Prometheus - who held my hand in Primary school and who sat next to me in Secondary school while we struggled with Algebra and Thomas Hardy. And whom I hadn't seen since we toddled off to different universities.
And here he was, in a Garden Centre. And he was smiling at me.
I placed my order and he carried my tray over to our table where my mother and his mother were catching up.
Prometheus was always very posh. He lived in the biggest house I had ever seen. His bedroom was not a morass of lego bricks and dried-up felt tip pens. An only child, he lived in monastic silence. Or that's how it seemed to me - who lived in a permanent cloud of James Last and Neil Diamond. And who suffered the ignomy of sharing a room with her younger, noisier brother.
Prometheus was clever, well-mannered and kind and I'm sure his mother was absolutely terrified that we would end up together. I'm not quite the Right Stuff, you see. She never said that, of course, but you can feel it. If you've ever not been the Right Stuff, you know exactly what I mean. Tartarus's mother, on the other hand, was terribly grateful and relieved that I might consider him The Right Stuff. And that her daughter in law turned out not to be a Brazilian Prostitute.
'What are you doing these days? ' I asked
'I'm still a pharmacist' he grinned.
'He works freelance now, but has his own business. Very successful', added his mother. Oh yes, I was clearly never going to be the Right Stuff.
'And what do you do?' he asked.
'I...erm...build websites and...erm....blog a bit and stuff.' I spluttered. Fuck! I don't do anything. I don't have a career. I didn't ever write that book. And I bet you never read the Times Weekend Magazine the only time I ever had an article in it.
'Hestia is a Tarotist. She's very good. You should see some of the fantastic people that she works with,' interjected my mother. Proudly.
'Well....I do that too.' I stammered. Embarassed.
Prometheus looked intrigued. His mother shuddered. No. I was not the Right Stuff.
The waitress brought over our food and Prometheus turned to go.
'Are you on Facebook?' I floundered Oh you fuckwit. He's a PHARMACIST. He's not on bloody Facebook.
'No.' He reached into his jacket pocket and produced a black leather business card case. 'But I do read my e-mails. Here's my card. Let's keep in touch.'
And with that they were gone.
'Nice boy that,' said Juno approvingly as she cut into her toastie.
'Mum, I don't generally lead off in conversations that I read Tarot cards,' I sighed, looking at the business card.
'How not? Never be ashamed of what you do. Never. You work hard. You'll always get people ready to pull you down, whether you're a Tarotist or anything else. Right? So you might as well be proud.'
I nodded. Sometimes my mother astounds me.
I stuffed the business card into my pocket and carried on with my lunch.
'Don't lose that card,' she said. I glanced up at her, but her gaze was fixed firmly on her coleslaw.
Delphic utterances by Alison Cross at 17:35
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