Nutty November

People talk about March Madness, but for me it’s been Nutty November. In fact, it really boils down to Trying Tuesday, i.e. yesterday. It was a bit hectic.

In the morning, as usual, I had to get my elderly dad sorted out with his newspaper, make sure he’d eaten his breakfast and taken his medication. Dad is almost 90 (big birthday next week) and he has been suffering for some time from dementia. I care for him full time as well as running a couple of so-called children (19 and 22) to and from their work places, so mornings are always a bit fraught.

Yesterday, though, I also had to buy the local newspaper, the Belfast Telegraph, as Dad and I were going to be in it, apparently. There we were, a lovely feature article on page 23, but we were also on the front page, which came as a bit of a shock.

After I’d sorted Dad, and skimmed through the article, and dropped the kids off at different ends of the country, I rushed on to the Linenhall Library in central Belfast to take part in the C S Lewis Festival. Women Aloud NI had been given a session within the festival, organised by the super-efficient Gaynor Kane, and our theme was Surprised by Joy, after Lewis’s book of that name.

I’m not usually nervous about reading my work aloud, but this time I was shaking. It wasn’t the public-speaking bit that bothered me, but the nature of the piece I’d written, ‘Just an Inkling’. I’d taken a few liberties and imagined a spectral little character I called ‘an Inkling’ as it whispered into C S Lewis’s ear, encouraging him to write the first of his children’s fiction books, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Both Lewis and his great friend, JRR Tolkien, featured in the story, so I was worried in case I upset anyone who was deeply into either one of those authors. Fortunately, the audience was a kindly one, and my story was well-received. Phew!

We had poets, inspirational speakers and fiction writers, so there was a delightful variety of work to listen to, and the standard was as high as always. The audience supported us with enthusiasm, and many people sold copies of their books as well. It was an uplifting experience.

Later that day, I drove home and collected my Dad, who is always reluctant to go out on a dark, rainy evening. We had been given VIP invitations to the Christmas festivities at the Titanic Visitors’ Centre in Belfast as guests of the Alzheimer’s Society. they seem to have adopted Dad as their poster boy! We listened to carols, chatted to elves and Mrs Claus, and waited to discover if we were on the Naughty List or the Nice List (strictly confidential!). Then we nibbled mince pies, or in Patrick’s case vacuumed mince pies before we came home.

It was a fun day, but I’m glad every day isn’t quite as hectic.

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