This morning about half-past-six the door to the bedroom where I am sleeping swings open and there is my olde dad. You have to take me to the hospital, he says. I am unfazed because I know this scenario. What’s up? I say. Everything, he says. Have a cup of tea nad we’ll see how it’s going, I say. This should work; it usually does. When I come down it’s 7.25 by the clock. What time is it? he says. Seven o’clock, I say, irritated. Seven o’clock in the morning in this house is like four in the morning in most houses. The day stretches out long and barren ahead. Dad talks me through what happened. I thought I’ll have a cup of tea. See how I feel. If that’s how you want to think about it, fine, I think. A few minutes later he says, did you say have a cup of tea? Who else? I laugh. Ther’s nobody else here. It’s just you and me.
The cup of tea is a leitmofif that holds the day together. Are you having a cup of tea? he says whenever he has one. I’m having coffee, I say. I don’t drink tea in the morning. It is now nine o’clock. I have said this ten times already. Still, it is a theme to embroider around. You’re having a mug this time, I say. I couldn’t find the cup, he says. I see the cup and saucer sitting forlornly on the kitchen top. You didn’t look very far. It’s here, I say. I like a pot, he says. Pot means mug, not teapot. This is in direct contradiction to what he usually says. It’s good to articulate this so I say, you always say you like a proper cup. Go way, he says. Go way means rubbish. After a few minutes I sit in the extension bit of downstairs. I hear him clapping. He has taken to clapping loudly. At first I thought it was for attention. He told me it was because his hands went numb. I said he should take up boxing. Go way, he says. It’s for attention too, I’m sure. When you get older you get ignored more, so you do what toddlers do for attention: Clap and want to see authorities like hospitals and doctors, and the nextdoor neighbour Paul, but I’ll tell you about him another time.