Yesterday I thought I might use my continued sluggishness to renege on my agreement to go to Camden with John but I was soon moving fast. I don’t like going to places for their own sake. I require an ulterior motive, a party, an exhibition, and John’s suspected motive of acquiring weed and have me subsidise the acquisition wasn’t mine. I don’t like smoking.
I did the library, where I internet, and shopping. It was after eleven. Maybe he wasn’t coming.
He came. “I don’t want to go to Camden. We could visit Diana,” his idea I’d resisted. “Visit Diana first and then go to Camden.”
I went to a ticket booth, choosing the second one manned by a woman, to ask about a train to Tolworth. She said I could get a bus there from Clapham Junction. I inferred Tolworth didn‘t have a station. John had put money on his oyster. “As well you didn’t buy a ticket,” I said, as I’d assumed he was doing from an automatic dispenser. I knew there’d be a 281 from Twickenham and a train going there in three minutes. The bus was at the stop outside the station.
We went upstairs. The front inside seat was vacated. “I’m an adult,” I said. “I don’t need to sit at the front.” “I’m still a child,” John said and we moved seats. The bus went roond the hooses. John harped on about my poor navigational skills, citing the time we’d gone to Dulwich Art Gallery, arriving fifteen minutes before it closed. “Twenty,” I thought. “It saved me money.” He only realised on the way back, passing Bermondsey, we could’ve got there in plenty time via Clapham Junction instead of the way I’d taken. “I’m never going to hear the end of this.” He took a snooze, with his feet up until his legs strained, my gloved hand on his thigh. He exaggerated the length of time we’d been on the bus to two hours which, by citing the time we’d caught the train at 12:41, the few minutes the train took to reach the next stop and the time it was by his watch now, twenty to two, I substantially reduced the time spent to thirty-five minutes, actually about an hour. “Look out for a hospital. There’s a sign. Let’s get off here. I think we must go up that road.” I walked back from the bench to the sign which had directions on this side too. “No, it’s that road.” John insisted on continuing to sit while he rolled a cigarette which, he said, he could do handcuffed. There was quite a walk.
I read a board and we went through Cedars, Lilacs before finding her in Jasmines – without an apostrophe – ward behind swing doors before other swing doors opening on to a high fenced garden into which she’d thrown her butts from a wheelchair. She’d broken her hip. She was overjoyed to see us, putting on tears and drying them up with equal facility. A man pushed in and was told to get out. John attended to his mumbling while Diana recounted her latest misfortunes, having little regard for the insertion of a communal tv socket in her flatlet that’d facilitate her having a set she could buy with the accumulated benefit money. She did ask about her plants I’d put farther out to catch the rain. She returned to the expulsion of the obtrusive man, pushing him out with the door but concerned he shouldn’t thereby hurt his arm. He was replaced by a fat woman with a stick accompanying a taller, thinner patient. The fat one objected to the butts, hinting if she could bend down she’d pick them up, a suggestion I curbed my response to on account of its manipulative intent. The more agreeable John went off and came back saying he was told it was a job for domestic staff. He nonetheless put all the many butts into an improvised ashtray I was tempted to tip with my foot and Diana ignored, flinging her doups carelessly out as before. I lit her cigarettes by inserting them in a hole outside the door and pressing a red button. The female pair returned from their garden walk and the fat one returned to the attack on the grounds smoking was disgusting to those who didn’t, namely her. “You said that already,” the thin one commented drily. They were replaced by another little old woman who wanted the way out though she must’ve known this wasn’t it. She called Diana a ‘wom’ twice before making all comprehensible by inserting the r. She asserted I was a wrong ‘un or dodgy and that she had a stick to use on me, at which dodgy John smiled that I was targeted and he not, whereupon he was, “and you’re no better.” Time to go! though, with Diana clasping my hand through the doors out to the door out, and Pat – the name picked up from her restrainers – seeking to seize the opportunity to escape, our going was not without difficulty. We had to sign out as well as in.
I asked an ignorant man where the station was and we went looking, deciding it couldn’t be beyond a big roundabout, so took a bus to Kingston where John betted he could get back before me by bus. The train was delayed twice. “I’m buffeting you,” John declared, from behind on the steps up at Richmond station, making me think he’d won and had been waiting in ambush but in fact he’d seen me from a 371 bus and jumped off to take the train too.