I walk up the hill, wondering, why did I want this experience? I am here because I wanted to be here. It is cold, dark and slightly damp. It is the main road through the town, and there is traffic, then quiet residential streets. I walk for half an hour.
I could have taken the bus home. I would not have had to walk, and I could have been warmer. I was in Swanston, and it offended my sense of tidiness to drag J out to Marsby to pick me up, when I could walk to her house, depending on myself for a moment. She could have come to pick me up where I was, but I insisted on walking, and also waiting until we had agreed to meet, so I was at the bus shelter, reading the unsolicited book S had leant me that morning, for 45 minutes. The bus left after 28. I wanted this experience, but could not think why. Walking? Being here?
J is hanging up the washing on the clothes horse, darling little tops and tights and tiny socks. She chats away as she does it. Her great-granddaughter is eight months old. She’s been so poorly, her nose is streaming and she snorts because it’s blocked and the snot was even a bit bloody- but she would always take notice if a new person came in. Ooh! New person! She’d have a big smile. Her granddaughter, H, is back working now, full time but the firm let her negotiate flexible hours. She has to work 7.30-5.00, Monday Tuesday Thursday Friday but it means she has Wednesday off. They save £200 at the nursery a month because of that! I think what I could tell her. I’m recovering from the unrequited love- I think of her every day, but not every hour now. Instead I hear of H’s new house and its appliances included and their difficulty moving.
J has two spin dryers. She could not do without a spin dryer, but the washer is so good that the spinner could not get any more water out at all. It spun round and nothing come out. H does not need it. I can’t remember the turn of the conversation, but my old spin dryer is dying. I rocked it back and forth, roughly, to get it to switch on as it didn’t when the lid closed. Water has rusted holes through it and drips down from the front and base. Sometimes I wonder, sitting on it to stop it juddering too much, if it will electrocute me. So, anyway, I now have two spin dryers. We had fish and chips in J’s car before the film, and she remarked she had not had a baby-seat and a spin-dryer in the back before, with the seatbelt round it to keep it still. She had previously given me a wooden dining table.
Had I not insisted on walking I would not have it because the subject would not have come up. But you don’t know what I missed: I could have met someone I had not seen for years on the bus, and if an angel had shown me this alternative world, I would have said, “I could have got some spin-dryer, but missed you?”