Losing your faith on a pilgrimage to The Holy Land. That still cracks me up. There you are in the photograph, all 46 mother-of-four years of you, flanked by camel humps in those ridiculous square shades that devour your face, high up presiding over your travelling companions like The Queen of Pop-socks herself.
No spa breaks back then, just a girly week in Jerusalem with a pick ‘n’ mix of the habited and the devotional. And you. No furious ten-page follow-up message-board dissection. No outburst of empathy from strangers at the touch of a keypad, just an indelible question mark left next to your thoughts on the point of it all. And there it stays, mostly, until one of their kind gets a rise out of you obliging you to roar obscenities at the wireless and demand they “get a life”.
And still you occasionally slip into their place of worship on a Saturday night to bow your head and try to square all the question marks with the inevitabilities that befall your family, passed away and present, members of which you email occasionally when you can be bothered despite your virtuoso typist past. Google is an order you give your grandchildren.
I tell you I started this blog thing last month, as a hobby mainly, a way to relax since there’s not a hope of me losing the will to live entirely by going running, or cooking, or cleaning. I half expect you to ask if I’m coming out of writing retirement after twenty years but you’re already lost in your Sudoku. We thought you had it bad with the crossword. Remember when you flew to visit me and leaned over in the taxi with the paper wondering what I thought 5 across could be? Some addictions don’t require Wi-Fi.
Tomorrow, after we clear up, and your son-in-law cajoles your granddaughter up to bed, I’ll slouch on to the sofa reaching for the laptop. You’ll come in looking for your umbrella (“just in case”), and each of us will slide into our respective back pews to join the herd for a while, collect our thoughts, and zone out in the only way we know how.