Oh my God. A massive green and yellow budgie just flew past the window. I am actually 100% serious and that was so not the way I was planning on starting this blog post. The window of this apartment looks straight out to Greenwich park in London. My cushion abundant sofa perch is literally a stones through away from the trees and a budgie just flew full pelt, out of the park and past the window. And now someone is playing the harmonica in the garden downstairs.
This is quite strange. But fitting, I think.
Today is a day of celebration, green budgies (possibly a parrot escapee?) and merry harmonica playing.
Big, deep, breathy sigh now.
Yesterday loads of stuff happened. Actually two things happened but it felt like loads. I got on the train to London and was all dum-de-dum-de-dum, roosting down for a nice little journey, when my phone rang. It was a call to say that the money I had secured to pay for half of the first Gorgeousness print run was not going to be available. I all like, “okay. That’s fine. It will be fine. I will get it sorted.” Then I switched my phone off and the alarm bells started ringing louder than an antique Victorian telephone (if you have ever heard one of those things you’ll know exactly what I mean).
Half of me was running up and down the train aisles, shrieking, “Oh shit! Oh my God! But the first thousand books are being printed right now. RIGHT NOW!”
The other half of me was squelched against the ceiling of the train in her Zen Bubble, chanting a little mantra that went, “T’will all be fine. T’will all be fine. T’will all be fine.”
I put my phone away, took a deep breath, grabbed Shrieking Bethan by the back of her jeans and yanked down the Zen Bubble, then had a very firm word with myself. “Come on. You know what is happening here,” I told Shrieky. “This is simply an Experience. A little pothole in the road. It’s a tiny bit of Gorgeousness Mission Turbulence. Pull it together.”
Shrieky Bethan nodded, gulped and nodded again.
I then turned to Zen Bethan. “Right you. Get your feet on the ground and listen. We need to raise three grand and get it into the bank by Tuesday next week. All we have here is a mobile phone and a 90 minute train ride to Waterloo. We can do this by the time we arrive. Okay? We can do this.”
Zen Bethan rubbed her eyes and looked marginally more alert.
Long story short, short journey long, the money was sorted out by the time we got to Wimbledon. Phew. Thank God. You’d think that this little blip was enough of a shake up in the day. But no. It would appear that the Universe was just waiting. It was waiting for me to stretch out in this light filled apartment with the gorgeous Fosbury Goddess, meet a lovely little boy called Ricardo and consume a large quantity of green curry and coconut rice before whamming me with the next Titanic sized trauma.
And this one was massive.
It was huge, it was chilling and it was not funny.
All evening I had been trying to get in contact with someone who I care about hugely. I called. I texted. I texted. I called. No answer. I think I must have sent over ten different texts and by the time I did the eleventh one, I was beginning to get really worried. So I called another friend and very quickly it became clear that something was wrong. The person I was calling had gone diving hours ago and they hadn’t come back to shore. The coastguards were on their way.
At that moment things became very surreal.
When I was five months pregnant with my boy, my Dad died. I’d called the house to ask what time he was coming to the garden centre and my brother said in a strange, thick voice, “are you sitting down Beth?” He then delivered the news that my lovely Daddio was dead.
Three years later, the phone rang again. This time it was ten o’clock at night and when I answered it, the phone seemed to rush with the same noise you get when you place one of those conch shells against your ear and you can imagine that it is some distant ocean. It was my mum who was calling. She told me that my brother had been killed in a street robbery.
There’s not much arguing with death. It’s like being handed a very frightening, grotesque ornament and being told you have to keep it. At first you want to drop it like a hot potato, reject it, eject it. Gradually it becomes clear that giving death back isn’t an option. You have just got to find a place for it on your mantle piece.
But I’ll tell you what, NOT knowing if someone is dead or alive is worse. I am familiar with being given bad news but not knowing either way – hanging in the balance with your mind going mental and every scenario possible rushing and crashing through your mind – is an experience that I don’t fancy having again for a long, long time.
As I put the phone down, Shrieky Bethan from earlier was mute. Zen Bethan had vanished. I paced around the apartment. The Thai Green curry was like a rock in my stomach. I felt sick. I went to the bathroom. I came out of the bathroom. I went into the bedroom and knelt on the floor by the window sill and begged to God and the Universe and the Shooting Stars for my friend to be ok. Then I threatened them. After that I was shaking so badly that I went into the living room again, sat stiffly on the sofa and put the pillow over my head. I tried my best to visualise everything being ok, moving out of this horrible experience and moving into a nice one, but all I could feel was churning, black chaos.
“Bethan, lets go for a stomp around the block. Get some fresh air,” suggested Fosbury.
“Kay.” The Thai Green Curry seemed to have congealed in my throat making it hard to speak. I picked up my phone and staggered out of the apartment and down the stairs. As I stepped outside the warm, balmy night touch my face. The smell of the pink roses in the flower bed drifted over. The door clicked shut behind me. And do you know what happened? My phone started to vibrate in my hand and it was my friend. He was ok.
Morgan’s Spice and Coke seems to be helpful in situations like this. I’m not advocating drinking to blot out feelings or anything, but when you are pumped full of adrenaline and need a little calming down, a little tipple appears to do the trick. I slept really well last night and woke up today feeling like it was the first day of the rest of my life.
So, as you can see, today is a day of goodness. A day of harmonicas and sunshine. A day of large green budgies. Or – as I have just been informed – Greenwich Parakeets.