People are strange
WAKE up on the morning that Americans are voting for the next leader of the Western World with a raging toothache. When I ring the dentist, I’m told by the receptionist, with whom I’m on first-name terms, that our dentist, with whom I’m also on first-name terms, has left. Forever.
I’m rather hurt by this news, because I took one of the children to see her not that long ago and she never mentioned her impending departure. ‘She didn’t like telling her old patients,’ says the receptionist, soothingly.
I board a train and settle down at a table seat. Although I’ve never seen him before, I know the full name of the man opposite, because my phone has just asked if I’d like to log onto his phone. I wouldn’t. I don’t want this piece of information at all. It feels like trespassing—on a person. Perhaps his phone has asked him the same thing in reverse and he knows I’m called Lucy. We may, therefore, be on first-name terms. I could lean over and say ‘Morning, Owen’.
The evening before, I had supper with Will in London. He persuaded me to watch a darts match on television, which, and I still don’t understand how this happened, I did watch—for over an hour. I watched pairs of men throw darts for over an hour as they tried to get from 501 down to zero in as few darts as possible.
‘You have to end on a double,’ Will explained. ‘You’ve got to admit they’re super-skilled. And genius at maths.’
‘Well, they’re not showing the skill levels of, say, Andy Murray, are they?’
‘I dunno actually,’ he considered. ‘If you served 100 tennis balls, you’d get more in vaguely the right place than if you threw 100 darts.’
And then he settled back to watch Michael Van Gerwen, a bald Dutchman who, according to the internet, has earned more than £2 million in the past couple of years.
‘That’s just the prize money,’ Will said knowingly. ‘And go on Mum,’ he continued, ‘you add up triple 20, double nine, triple 13.’
I was still counting on my fingers when he admitted that he has an app that tells him, if he’s in reach of zero, what he needs to throw. I begin to view our son differently. Who on Earth is he?
‘I went to see a talk by Phil,’ he said, ‘at the student union.’ ‘Phil who?’ ‘Phil The Power Taylor, Britain’s greatest living sportsman.’ Apparently, Phil is very keen on money and, when asked when he might retire, he quoted his agent and his three favourite words: ‘Ten. Million. Pounds.’
While sitting opposite Owen, I text Will’s godmother, who I think needs to know all about how her godson is shaping up. I ask her if she’s staying up to watch the US elections, because I definitely am. And she replies that she might, but she’s quite busy with her new hobby— vegetarian taxidermy.
On further questioning, I discover that this means all the animals must have been victims of roadkill. She attaches a photograph of a very flat mole from which she has scooped the innards ‘like an aubergine’ and then blasted with a hairdryer before stuffing. She hopes to turn it into a keyring.
When I get home, I find Zam photographing a loaf of rye sourdough that’s proving in a tea towel. He explains it’s his only way to check if it’s getting bigger and scrolls through the photographs to show me. Yes, we agree, it’s definitely increasing in size. I tell him about our dentist and Owen and the mole ‘and I think I heard The Donald is doing well in Nevada’.
‘People are so weird,’ he says, while taking another picture of his loaf.
‘She attaches a photograph of a very flat mole, which she hopes to turn into a keyring