I write overlooking a garden I’m trying to pretend I won’t miss in the cool grey, before sun-up. I have not dared to venture out to see how the cow is yet. The vet came yesterday – a slick young African who drives a sky-blue VW beetle. ‘ECF’, he pronounced, tick-borne East Coast Fever. We’ll be lucky if we save her, despite the shots the vet administered. I’m trying not to think about how sad her calf will be if she dies; I’m trying not to think how it’ll holler when it cannot find its mother.
Instead I am focusing on packing. And moving. And the future.
Yesterday I collected the photographs I took in Outpost and showed them to the children who observed them quietly. Is that they house, they asked, scrutinizing pictures of what at present looks overgrown and unkempt. Yes, I said, that’s the Bishop’s house, that’s where we’re going to live.
The Bishop’s house, squawked Amelia in alarm.
What? We have to live with the Bishop?
What’s a Bishop, Hat interjected?
No, no, no I said, we’re only renting it from the Bishop.
What?! We’re going to push him out of his own home Amelia squawks again. (Er, excuse me, how did sudden change of tune manifest itself; we’ve gone from ‘I’m not living with him’ to ‘poor, poor man’ in less than zero to 60).
No Amelia, we’re not pushing him out of his home. He is charging us three times over the odds for the privilege of living in it.
Hattie, ever conciliatory Hattie, says quickly, ‘Is that the kitchen, mum?’
Yes, that’s the kitchen I say. And, I add, it’s nice and big and airy.
‘Oh good’, says Hat, ‘I am pleased; you’ve always wanted a big kitchen’.
I have. Partly because mine is hot and dark. But mostly because I have conned my family for years into believing that my poor culinary skills are the result of where I cook. And not how I cook. Poor Hat; she’s going to be bitterly disappointed when she discovers that despite dimensions of new kitchen, nothing much is going to change.
The children are quiet as I put the photos away. Then Amelia says firmly, ‘well I think it all looks lovely’. I don’t know if that’s because she really believes it or just because she’s relieved she’s not going to have to share her home with a Bishop. But it doesn’t matter, I’m really grateful that she said it.