Tuesday 20th March 2012
A spontaneous party
ONLY a family as wilful as the Walkers could do it.
“Let’s have a party,” suggested Jenny, over breakfast.
“Yes let’s! Oh thank you, Mummy!” chortled Emily.
“When?” queried Tom.
Only a scrounger as skilled as Tom could procure – at short notice and from the limited resources of a small resort – balloons and streamers, a made-to-order chocolate cake, two bottles of organic lemonade, bowls of fresh fruit, an animal costume, and a musician.
And only a girl as giggly as Emily could embrace the nonsense of it all without once sighing or crying, despite her knowing, as did everyone present, that this would be the last time she would enjoy such a celebration.
When the game called ‘pass the parcel’ was over – the accordion player, Brendan, having stopped playing long enough for Emily to tear the flimsy wrapper from the prize of three Rhetan feathers – Tom left the room, stating that he had to change, it being too hot for him to be able to stay in the monkey suit one minute longer.
Arthur made small gestures to the remaining guests and offered to accompany the more elderly residents back to their own rooms.
Jenny persuaded Emily it was time to lie down and close her eyes.
Brendan stayed a while longer, having been asked to play a lullaby, to which Jenny and I hummed along as well as we were able, until Emily, aided by a measure of medicine given to her by a nurse, drifted away into the land of shapeless shadows.
“She should sleep for hours now,” Jenny told me. “Find my handbag, would you? Take thirty quid out of the purse and pay the piper. He was very good, I thought.”
Consequently I found myself accompanying the curly-haired minstrel along the corridor. On reaching the metal door, I stopped and, as Tom had done, pressed the button on the wall.
“I was going to be taking the stairs,” Brendan informed me in an unusual accent. “But if it’s the lift you’re wanting, I might as well come along for the ride.”
The door to the moving chamber opened.