Health, happiness and commentator’s curse: 2013 Challenge #36

The Twice Brewed Inn, Twice Brewed by Ian S

The Twice Brewed Inn, Twice Brewed by Ian S

Feeling pretty terrible as a Mummy today. I have spent much of the last few days falling out with my daughter because she hasn’t been listening properly, hasn’t responded to a question repeated several times or has asked me something I’ve told her many times already.

It turns out that she has (hopefully temporarily) lost the hearing in one ear. I want to take back the crossness and tears and wrap her in cuddles.

It terrifies me when things happen to the children because it feels like, in life, when I’m happy bad things happen. I generally try not to be too happy with my lot in case it’s all taken away. Things like when I had a car accident, found out my dad had cancer, discovered my dad had died in hospital, these things all came immediately after a period of intense happiness. Like Commentator’s Curse. You know the minute a commentator says “this batsman is on fire, he can’t hit a thing wrong,” that he’s going to be out next ball.

Hadrian's Wall - Sycamore Gap - photo by Xavier de Jauréguiberry on Flickr

Hadrian’s Wall – Sycamore Gap – photo by Xavier de Jauréguiberry on Flickr

It’s a silly superstition but one that feels real from repeated experience I know bad things happen and it’s how you cope that matters. But I can’t help but feel that if I hedge my bets rather than over-counting my blessings I can somehow prevent disaster.

My husband is taking my daughter to the doctor this morning.  I am waiting for them to tell me the results and I can feel the panic rise. Being unable to communicate with my children is one of my greatest fears. I have so much admiration for parents of children with autism or other things that hinder connection.

P.S. She has an inner ear infection. Nasty but treatable. Reading back through the post I wrote this morning I was tempted to delete it as it reeks of over-reaction. But it was genuine and real at the time and I think it’s interesting to read it with hindsight and see how things viewed through guilt and sleep-deprivation can seem HUGE.


The trill of the phone rang loud in the silent lounge. Claire and Josh had the place to themselves, having got back from their walk early in the afternoon. Claire twisted in her seat so she could retrieve her phone from her back pocket, only then becoming aware of the numb patch where it had been digging into her skin.

Claire, sorry to text again. I’m not stalking you I promise. It’s just I rang AJC and they said you’d left. I hope that’s not because of what happened at New Year. I’m sorry if it was. Forgive me. Michael.

Left? How dare they? What have they been saying to my clients? Claire felt the blood heating in her veins, surging up her neck to her face. She read the message again. And why did Michael ring work anyway? I don’t care what he says, it sounds like stalking to me.

Her mind twisted like tights in a tumble dryer. She wasn’t aware that her emotions were anything other than internal until she heard a snigger from Josh. She looked and saw him watching her with a questioning look on his face.

“I’ve never heard someone actually grind their teeth before. I always thought it was one of those things you read in bad novels when the author can’t think of a way to describe irritation better.”

Claire unclenched her jaw and forced her muscles to relax. “Just some seeds from my sandwich stuck in my molars that’s all.” She watched Josh with narrow eyes, waiting to see if he would contradict her. The sandwiches had been on white. He merely gave a wink and went back to reading a tattered paperback, holding it in one hand with pages turned over.

Claire put the phone down and pulled her iPad onto her lap. She opened her blog site dashboard with a sigh. The blank page of the “New Post” dragged at her like a cliff edge. A mind that could generate award-winning one-liners for Press Ads was bereft of words when faced with the challenge of penning something entertaining about her day. The best part had been arriving back at the hostel and wrapping her hands around a mug of tea. She’d even managed to ignore the chips and cracks and the teak-colour of the brew. Eight hours trudging in a ‘bracing’ wind had erased her fastidiousness for the moment.

Damn you Josh for convincing me to do a second circular walk when we finished the first one in five hours. Yes the Sycamore Tree was pretty but I could have lived without it. Although Cuddy’s Crags and East and West Crindledykes are going to make great Tags.

She looked at the two maps of her walks with notes scribbled on, barely legible because of cold, numb fingers. It was vaguely possible she could write something about the two circular routes that hadn’t been said before but it was still lacking in heart, whatever that was.

At least I have the photos of Josh to upload. He’s fairly easy on the eye: that should win some likes. She flicked through the images on her phone, trying to find the ones with most impact. It was a bit different to working with a lightbox in an editing studio. She chose a couple that made her heart beat a bit faster and set them to upload to the Cloud.  I should probably check with him before I publish them to the world. He might be in hiding or something although if he’s writing a blog back home they must have some idea where he is.

“Hey Josh, can I put a picture of you on the blog? That one of you up to your knees in the mud would be cool.”

There was silence from the sofa in the corner and Claire wondered if Josh had fallen asleep. The book hadn’t looked particularly thrilling. She glanced over and was surprised to meet troubled eyes peering around the pages of the upheld book. The expression on Josh’s normally carefree face jolted deep in Claire’s stomach and she was conscious of a strong urge to offer comfort.

“Er, sure, if you want. Or you could use the one of me on top of the wall.”

The one where the sun is on you and your face isn’t visible? “Maybe, although I’m sure you’re not meant to climb the wall so that’s probably not a great idea. Don’t worry, I’ll find something. I think you took one of me.”

She turned her head back to the laptop as if concentrating on her post. Out of the corner of her eye she watched Josh. His face remained focussed in her direction for a few moments before he sank back into his previous pose. Only the constant movement of his twisting feet gave anything away.

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