5am, Bernard sits up like a meerkat. I’ve only been asleep for a small handful of hours, and he’s not allowed out of the bedroom until after Stepdad has got up and settled into his chair for the day. He snuggles into my bed. It’s like snuggling a bag of eels with an old man’s morning cough. I kick him out and he reads books as noisily as possible for the next hour.
Our plans today start with shopping. Armpit has an outlet village, which is crap, like everything else in Armpit. Its only saving grace is the Clarks shop: crowded and understaffed, but I can get £10 off a pair of kids’ shoes, and trust me, non-parents, spending more on children’s shoes than on your own can really grate. Bernard’s feet have expanded 1.5 sizes since his last measurement, as the assistant informs me disapprovingly. Bernard wins two pairs of shoes.
After lunch we visit Wassand Hall, which wasn’t open to the public when I lived here (though the tree-lined driveway was a well-known lovers’ lane). Mum (broken toe) and I (sprained ankle) push Stepdad’s wheelchair up the gravel drive and across the grass of the field where the vintage car rally is being held. His infirmities are such that he is unable to walk to the kitchen to make himself a cup of tea, but if we go out for the day, he insists on driving. I don’t really get vintage cars. They’re old, they’re shiny, they all have shabby teddy bear mascots on their shabby leather seats. They don’t race or crash or talk. We look at them, and then we leave.
I make pitta breads for our tea. Mum has two packets of yeast, both best before 2010. The pittas don’t rise but everyone is polite about them. Bernard is bouncing off the walls in his tiredness but still manages to be almost entirely well-behaved and polite. We finish reading The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and I retire into a glass of wine.