Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Oh dear, I really am letting things go. Bad Tempestua! Believe me, I know. I tried to warn Ocky that any appearance I might give of capability was merely the kind of illusion they used to teach you at finishing school. And see? I have let another two days go by without a single post, and even now I don't have the time to make a proper start on what I had been meaning to tell you about. And then tomorrow Ocky will be back, and poor little Tempestua will have blown her chance to do some good for once. At least by now I'm used to it. In fact, I have never been under any illusions about myself, which is why I never had children. It's not that I wouldn't have loved them, it's that I'd have woken up very early one morning, like this morning, briefly confused, and then wondering at the magical ability of gin to eradicate whole days, but instead of now, when at least the limit of my sin is allowing Ocky's blog to drift past its best-before date, I would find some tiny thing, starving and screaming. Even Harry, I hope, is not as starved on my account.

No doubt, though, the brief and thrilling friendship which Harry and I have enjoyed, our shared little firework display, will fade away when he realises how little I really have to offer; and Ocky, too, understandably let down upon her return, may drop round at funny hours less often than before. But then I seem to be shedding friends quite vigorously at the moment. Witness delicate little Jasmine and our adventure on the tube. I'm very fond of Jasmine, really, but the tiny creature is a nervous wreck, and last week, when our bridge game was interrupted, as usual, by George's quite bizarre version of narcolepsy, she began to tell me how, in the current circumstances, she had been avoiding the tube. Unfortunately for Jasmine, whose father was a most tedious roué and left her nothing but debts, avoiding the tube is not really an option: not only can she not afford taxis, but she most certainly can't afford taxis to Pinner. Of course, I brightly offered to go the first few stops with her to give her confidence, which was gratefully accepted, and off we went. At the station entrance was one of those gnarled individuals selling the Evening Standard, who told us it contained all sorts of detail on new and unimagined terror threats, and thinking we might need some distraction I bought a copy. For some reason it came with a free bottle of water, and as we descended in the station lift I offered it to Jasmine, for her nerves, which she politely refused. Now, exactly what about that exchange I should have found so amusing is beyond me, but the fact remains I was most taken with it, and while I managed to avoid actually smirking, I couldn't resist repeating myself. So as we waited on the platform for the train I asked her: 'Are you sure you wouldn't like the water? For your nerves?', to which she simply shook her head, and, a few stops later, after some discussion of the fashion these days for multiple, discrete terror cells, when it was time for me to leave her, I kissed her goodbye and bid her luck, and added, 'Jasmine dear, really, why not take the water? It might help with your nerves, you know,' -- to which she looked suddenly tearful and muttered very quietly, but believe me, utterly uncharacteristically: 'Oh fuck off Tempestua.' Which, with a look of surprise that was not a little manufactured, I did.

Do I suffer from a failure of empathy? What made me torment little Jasmine so? I don't like to think of myself as a cruel person, but from time to time, I catch myself behaving in ways that I can't easily otherwise describe. I'm sure Jasmine and I will patch it up -- at her age, let alone mine, one tends to hold on to friendships, friends being an increasingly endangered species -- but I wonder, now, what the point of all that was. Perhaps I made her sufficienly angry to distract her from her nervousness: if so, is it an excuse?

This I do know: friends, and even whole days, may disappear, but gin endures.

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