And now the bell goes again- and it's the man from the stairlift company. That was quick. Ailz only rang them half an hour ago. She rides up and down for him demonstrating how the lift squeals like a stuck pig. It's an utterly filthy noise. The man thinks it's the rollers.
I offer to make him a brew.
We drink tea all through the morning, every morning, cup after cup after cup. Ruth gave us a big brown teapot for Christmas. Ailz likes her tea made in a teapot. Personally I can't see what difference it makes, but if she's happy it's fine by me. I load the pot with three teabags and put the kettle on. Since we acquired the teapot, we've consumed very little coffee in this house. Tea refreshes you without making you jumpy. At least, that's its effect on my metabolism. I'll drink coffee if I'm out- on the road- going round the shops- and need that extra kick. I take my coffee strong. Only expresso will really do.
The lift engineer is joined by a younger assistant. He doesn't want a brew. Good, because I've already committed to the three teabags. The hallway smells of tomcat- which is embarrassing- and not our fault. Some filthy beast must have sprayed the front door. It happens.
My Arts and Letters Daily leads with an article about how belief in God is bad for you. Apparently the happiest societies in the whole world are Denmark and Norway- which are also the least religious. I'm not surprised.
But how do you measure happiness? I mean, really!
I harbour a weak suspicion that the economic crisis may- on balance- make us happier. It depends, I suppose, on whether a change of fortune brings about a change of heart. I remember writing something to this effect in the parish mag when I was a vicar and being answered in the local paper by some guy who called me a complacent, middle-class twat and challenged me to live on benefits. Well, I took him up on it. I've been living on benefits- pretty much- for the past 15 years. It can be done. Poverty is an evil- obviously- but you don't have to be very far above the poverty line to be happy. The trick is to be content with what you've got- to grow your own cabbages and ironically tip your hat to the squire as he rides past with the weight of the world on his shoulders. I've always known that. I think I came into the world knowing that.
You don't need that new plasma TV. You don't need to go abroad for your holidays. You don't need to buy so much food from the supermarket that you end up throwing a third of it in the bin. You don't need to listen to the advertisers. You don't need to care what the neighbours think.
Jesus confirms me in this opinion- which is why I still have time for him- even though I don't believe in him.
God makes you unhappy- but only if he's the wrong sort of God.
Most people are hitched up to the wrong sort of God.
The engineers are running the lift up and down on its tracks. I'm not hearing that hideous squeal any more. "Looking good," says the chief engineer. "Looking good."
The doorbell goes again. And this time it's the in-laws. I wasn't expecting them till this afternoon. My mother in law hands me a little bag of limp lettuce for the rabbits.
And I still haven't changed out of my dressing-gown.