Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Be Thankful For What You've Got, Even If It Does Make You Late For Work.

Things are going from bad to worse in Japan, and I still can't sleep - thanks to my compulsion to follow every single new development on TV.

I think it might be contagious, actually. I'm watching this morning's Breakfast News, when Josh comes into the room looking like hell. It's his day off, and he's still wearing the clothes he went out in last night,  so I've no idea what he's even doing up so early. Unless he's got such a hangover that he's on a Paracetamol hunt, of course.

"In the bathroom cupboard," I say. "Help yourself. I'm busy watching this."

I wave him away, but he doesn't take any notice. Instead, he sits down next to me, and gives me a peck on the cheek. Then we both stare in silence at the latest pictures from the Fukushima reactor.

"Mol, turn the TV off now, and go and get dressed," says Max. "Otherwise we'll be late for work."

"Does it matter?" I say. "It feels inappropriate to be carrying on as normal when such terrible things are happening in another country."

"You can't let yourself think like that and, anyway, you doing nothing isn't going to help anyone, is it?"

I know Max is right but, even so, it feels almost obscene to be putting on lipstick and brushing my hair. What does it matter what I look like, when Nature can bring everything crashing down overnight?

I walk as slowly as I can to work, trying to note and appreciate all the stuff I normally take for granted. Like roads, and shops with food in them - not to mention the fact that I'm only breathing in exhaust fumes, and (hopefully) nothing worse.

This Buddhist-style process takes so long that it makes me late, and Greg isn't at all impressed when I try to explain what I was doing. He just takes one look at my face and says,

"Still staying up half the night watching News 24? You look like shit. And I think you may be going mad. Have a coffee and get a grip."

I do as I'm told, and it works - though, by lunchtime, I've drunk so much caffeine and smoked so many cigarettes that my hands are shaking, and Greg tells me that I'm talking so fast that I sound like Steve Ellington in a manic phase.

This is a bit unnerving, to say the least - but at least I'm working, and not thinking about Japan. Not until Sue Reynolds phones, anyway.

"Molly," she says. "How are you? I just wanted to check that Mr Sinclair is still planning to attend this year's welcome back party for the children?"

"Oh," I say, as I open Andrew's diary and check the date. "Yes, Sue - it's in the diary, so he'll see you next month. I might attend again, too, if you don't mind?"

"We'd love you to!" says Sue. "Look forward to it."

She seems genuinely pleased, though there's no need at all for her to sound so grateful. Not considering that all The Boss and I ever do is to turn up, talk to incredibly inspiring children and young people, and then have a weep in the car on the way home. Well, I do.

Andrew just heads for the pub to drown his sorrows, so he maintains his dignity for once - but I'm usually at the hiccuping and snorting stage by then, so I go straight home instead. I've never mastered that dignified noiseless weeping thing.

I'm getting a bit emotional now, actually, just from thinking about it. I sniff, and start hunting through my handbag for an unused tissue. Where the hell do the damn things go?

"'Bye, then, Molly," says Sue. "See you at the party. And don't forget it's the 25th Anniversary this year."

"How could I?" I say, but she's already rung off.

"There you are," says Greg. "Told you you'd feel better if you just buckled down and did some work."

I don't answer, in case my voice wobbles, so he walks up to my desk and stares at me until I look up.

"Bloody hell. Are those tears?" he says, passing me a clean handkerchief, presumably courtesy of his mum. "Who was that on the phone, and what the hell did they want if it made you cry?"

"Sue Reynolds," I say. "From Northwick Chernobyl Children's Project."

I don't say any more than that, because I still don't trust my voice, but Greg doesn't seem to need me to spell it out. Maybe male intuition really does exist?

"Ah," he says. "Now I see. Get that mascara off your nose, and then let's go and have a drink. If you like, we'll walk through the town square on the way. The fountain's not a patch on that one in Rome, but it still might be worth a try."

When we throw our coins in to the water, my instincts tell me that Greg and I make exactly the same wish: that a Fukushima Children's Project won't be required.

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