The little family visited today, to take in the fun fair at Sprucecourt School across the street. But it was very hot and the lines for the bouncy castles were very long, so we didn’t last long. And I made a terrible faux pas while we were there. We ran into a schoolmate of Anna’s, F., whom we had not seen in a long time. 20 years ago, he was a funny, interesting boy with a very neglectful mother who fed him little but Coke and sweets, and by the time he was 18 his teeth had rotted, making him look like a bum. I thought it was a shame such a nice young man would be handicapped in life by looking so terrible and got a bright idea: I persuaded a very wealthy friend to pay my Quaker dentist to remake F.’s mouth.
Me on my white horse – Lady Beth the Good. Sigh.
The dentist tried to teach a boy who had never brushed his teeth dental hygiene, fixed what he could and gave him implants. But it took so long my rich friend got impatient and refused to pay the second half of the huge bill. So when I could, years later, I paid my dentist back. I had not seen F. since. And now here he was, by the bouncy castle, with his children. I asked to see his teeth and exclaimed in disappointment that the whole top row were missing again. Anna was furious, saying I’d humiliated him in front of his kids. I wasn’t thinking and was sorry, but still. An expensive philanthropic project was for naught.
I am a deeply flawed person. Should I even be telling you this story?
Okay, as Anna would say. Let it go.
It’s 9.30 p.m. and there’s that smell – I never know if it’s skunk or my neighbours smoking weed. Tonight it’s the latter. I as usual am sitting, sitting, sitting cloistered with reading and editing work. There’s a deadline: the manuscript goes to my editor in 2 weeks. And there are 3 library books on the go: the new Paul McCartney biography by Philip Norman, which I’m ashamed to say I’m reading cover to cover; a great book called “New Order: a decluttering handbook for creative folks,” which just might change my life; and the intimidatingly huge “The four seasons farm gardener’s cookbook” which shows you how to lay out a vegetable garden. As you can see, I am not reading the great literature of the world. Not right now, anyway.
Here’s the good news, from a serious study. Go for it, I say.