It’s my wedding anniversary today.
This time 34 years ago I was taking my dog Cassie for a walk along the prom and explaining to him that I’d be leaving home, but I’d be coming back every day to take him for a walk.
I wish I could speak to that girl now. I think I’d give her a hug.
By Christmas we’d almost killed each other – twice, a friend had been murdered and we were woken up in the middle of the night with the news that my dad had died suddenly.
I wouldn’t say any of that made me grow up. I’d already done that after the events of a couple of years before, but it changed me, changed both of us I think.
I’d started to write a novel about flying saucers, tapping away on my typewriter while our hamster Hamlet whirled round on his wheel up in our attic flat. We’d got him one of those multi storey plastic affairs with tubes and private areas. He used to eat cornflakes with us at breakfast, holding them in his little paws and watching us with his bright eyes.
We didn’t intentionally try to kill each other. Our kitchen was on the landing and he’d cooked our dinner and left the frying pan (well we were teenagers!) on the hob – the still turned-on hob!
By the time we discovered it the landing was filled with smoke. No fire at that point, just a melted frying pan. If a fire had taken hold we would never have got out of the building.
I was reminded of this last week when he set fire to the oven gloves – he’s still the boy I married bless him.
So how did I almost kill him? I cooked a roast dinner and when I carved the chicken it was all pink and watery and raw. “Why can’t you just eat it?” I said, all offended. I thought if we covered it all up with gravy it wouldn’t matter.
I’d cooked successful roasts before – at home with my mum there to guide me. I knew nothing of salmonella and the dangers of undercooked chicken. But he did. He’d been hospitalised with salmonella as a child.
This was meant to be a short post but as always I’ve gone on and on. All I was going to say was that I’m taking today off and we’re going out for a meal and a wander round!
I don’t remember crying much when Dad died. I was numb I suppose. I got on with sorting things out.
Some time in the days that followed I remember going to feed Hamlet and finding him dead in his cage and just falling apart, collapsing in floods of tears.
Once when I was about 7 I came home from school and my dad handed me my recorder and told me to play it as I walked into the front room. He’d rigged up strings all round and as I played a “snake” began to rise from the corner. Oh that’s a bit random isn’t it, but I was thrilled with it.
And I can never celebrate my anniversary without thinking about Dad.