Proximity treats us to a full throated Adhan that fades across town like a child’s echo. For me, similar to opera, it is improved by being in an alien language, where sentimental libretto or prompt to prayer would detract. Instead like bird song, it becomes pure sound. Christian bells are just local colour now or the sound track to wedding cinematography. But the frequency of this call , interrupts shopping mall racket, social media gibberish, and summons up my devout atheist’s soul- as I close my eyes to listen.
This real cuckoo song reverses time . I close my eyes at the call to pagan prayer, that takes me back to the beginning-
Retiring at 65, you get a second wind. Your mornings are tinkering. Your afternoons are feet up watching classic 90s TV. At Aintree, your black Crombie with a flash of red shirt, draws You look cool man tributes from booted and suited lads; and your trade mark hair, splendid as a crest, has older men, smoothing bald-pates and sighing Nice cut mate.
At 59, I am winded by five months repeating revision litany to private pupils at vespers hour; bingeing in the car on Snickers for sugar spike to keep my eyes open; carrying my weight gain with the shame of a 1950s unmarried mother. At the Grand National, all I can throw together is beige shift dress, dun coat, grey hat, a pheasant hen’s dowdy plumage.
Whilst you glide on the current of such compliments, I flap behind, trying with wing-clipped confidence, to keep up with you.
Occasionally, life throws me a double six day: a birthday perhaps, that I Eeyore predicted would be bottom of the pile of everyone’s busy lives. Then become champagne giddy, at the carefully chosen words of husband’s card, that Cyrano speak for him; giggle as childhood chum sings Happy Birthday down the phone despite both being in our 50s; beam at the friend on my front door step who bares purple orchids like a giant corsage. And I continue to unwrap this day like a lingering game of pass the parcel where the music stops at me every- time. And on this day, I do not fire off one finger to the driver who cuts me up, instead a Whatever shrug. No FuckYou is detonated by the shop assistant who holds my purchase hostage until ID is shown, instead a beatific smile. Such days, however can- not be carried over like a bender, but always lapse at midnight. The following day a reckoning, as I ache with anti-climax, my mood slumping as if for a little death.,