It seems that this really is a country for old men. Contrary to all expectations the favourite Uncle is now installed in a house round the corner. This will enable him to make a garden at my sisters and come round here with stale packets of biscuits and instant coffee while telling me tales about smoke alarms, fish sticks and moles.
He has been digging flints out of the Sisters’ garden in order to develop a brand new vegetable patch. In doing so he has created a superhighway for moles who have also decided to spend more time round at the Sisters enjoying the veg patch.
The challenge of the moles has now become the principle occupation of the favourite Uncle, who tells me this story on repeat. I don’t mind this and try to respond to each telling of it as if I am hearing it for the first time.
“It’s Uncle here,” he says when I pick up the phone. “I’ve got a very funny story to tell you about moles.”
I listened to the story and when he got to the end, he wondered if he had mentioned who it was that was calling me.
This morning he rang to say he was testing whether or not his phone worked by calling me. Then he told me he was popping in and had a funny story to tell me. “Good,” I said. “I could do with a good laugh because cancer is boring.”
On arrival, Favourite Uncle did a thing he never does and slapped me encouragingly on the shoulder that feels like someone took a blow torch to it, thanks to recent health adventures. I winced and explained that this was the shoulder that felt as if someone had taken a blow torch to it, so best to avoid touching it. Then he did the thing he does that’s designed to cover up the fact he didn’t hear what I just said. He laughed and for good measure he slapped me on the shoulder again, before jetting off to put the parking permit in his car.
We sat around discussing moles and drinking coffee before he said he had to go as his fish sticks were calling. I said, “Don’t touch that shoulder because it feels as if someone has taken a blow torch to it.”
“Jolly good,” he said and for luck, gave it a final wallop.
Then I received an email about the second Favourite Uncle who has been in bed since February, but periodically comes to and asks for a roast dinner. This morning he came to and ordered Sunday lunch with all the trimmings.
I called the Brother because it’s his Birthday today. He went out to lunch and on his way home, fell out of his car doing a wheelchair transfer. It took three hours to drag himself into the house. This was the moment where I was probably supposed to offer up a “Bless you,” to show a bit of compassion for his misfortune, but instead I picked a fight and told him he was an idiot for not having a car and wheelchair that were suited to his needs. I suppose you might say I slapped him in just the spot where it felt that he’d been assaulted with a blow torch.
The evening was spent listening to David Sedaris who is much funnier than moles or car transfer dramas or roast dinners. Somewhat wryly he observed that in a total death toll of nearly a million from Covid in the USA, he hadn’t chosen one of them, and none of them were related to him.