Monday, 17 October 2011
Accidents will happen......
Something terrible's happened. Really, really awful.
My friend died of cancer in April. She is the closest friend I have lost. So far. I think about it a lot. It's a shock. I am shocked that she's not here. She was married to a French guy. I've known him for 20 years but I don't really know him. They have 2 daughters, 13 and 14. So it's been a tough time. For everyone. For those of us who were her single friends and don't have kids the same age as hers, we are having to find our new place in our dead friend's family's life; for those with a husband who can still chat to him over the BBQ or kids who can hang out with the girls, it's easier, they still do Sunday lunches, Saturday suppers, long weekends and weeks by the sea. But for those of us who mainly hung out with her, we're auditioning for a new position.
So, when I rang to see how the girls were getting on back at school, I was delighted when the eldest asked if I would help her dye a pair of grey shoes, black. This was my new place, I thought. I dye shoes, bags, clothes. I change things, make things, this is what I did with my dead friend when we were teenagers. This is what I would do with her kids now they were teenagers. We fixed an evening, the first time I'd been there without any other friends since the death. Just like when I used to go for supper when my friend was alive. It felt weired. I felt emotional. But it felt good to go. I had found a place in their life. The girls were on their own when I arrived, there is an hour or so between the help leaving and their Dad getting home. We chatted about the summer, their holiday, they were on good form. They are quite remarkable kids.
Their Dad came home, he is obviously very stressed. My friend and he ran their own interior design business: very high end, very high spec. She ran their business, ran their home and raised their kids, he never even saw a phone bill before. Their home was completely renovated and redecorated before my friend died. Working in interior design, they'd never got it sorted. It was something she wanted to do before she was done. We got the shoes. He said don't do it in here, do it outside. We said it'll be fine, it's dark outside, we'll do it here. Don't worry. I dyed the shoes, the girls went to lay the table for supper, I knocked over the black dye on the super-super-bespoke, high-end, ordinary-people-can't-buy-this-floor floor. I ran to get a cloth, my friend's daughter grabbed a pan scourer. She rubbed off the surface of the super-super-bespoke, high-end, ordinary-people-can't-buy-this-floor floor. The French guy went mental. He was screaming at her. I was screaming at him. We were all nearly in tears. I wanted to run out the door and never come back but I couldn't. I'd come to help, to make things better and now it was so much worse. I told him I would contact the floor people and do what ever it took to fix it. Everyone calmed down. And then we had to eat supper. I felt sick.
That was three weeks ago. The floor is of course created by Pygmy-elves in a forest somewhere undiscovered by the modern world and carried through the night only on full-moon before being laid in one deft movement and then all the elves commit ceremonial suicide so this process can never, ever be recreated again. But, for an incredibly high price and Aussie bloke will come round and try to fix it. He sanded it. He applied the stain and it proved a perfect match. Finally I began to breath again. The next day I returned to oversee the finishing oil. The boards did look a little darker but the family was in Paris for the weekend so plenty of time for it to dry. Today I got a call, apparently it's too dark and the offending patch, which was the size of my fist, undetectable unless pointed out and easily concealable beneath the table where it was, now covers half a dozen boards, spread right across the room, because even the tiniest speck had meant a whole board was sanded down. He says it looks terrible. He wants them to come back, they might have to lay new boards. Now I never want to go back again.
Top tip: go see Midnight In Paris....... Woody nails nostalgia and makes us laugh out loud!!