Last night I saw Julie at her flat. She was in her dressing gown. She talked and talked, replaying conversations she'd had with this or that person, expressing anger at things people had or hadn't said. As usual, she lost me in a sea of he-saids and she-saids. I'd interject occasionally with "mmm, that's right" or "that must be hard". Sometimes she said she was at rock bottom with nothing left to lose. A friend of hers in Raumati suggested she move into a nearby flat. Julie said that would only make things worse. I then told her she'd contradicted herself because she'd said things couldn't get any worse.
Julie is in a lot of mental and physical pain, but I'm sure things would be much better if she had a family. She's got an extended family of course, and a handful of friends, but none of that comes close to having your own children. (I'm guessing here because I haven't got kids, but I have got a mum, and I've got a bond with her that I don't think you can have with anyone else.) I think of my maternal grandmother who had seven children; she was always having family popping in and was always on the end of the phone.
Last night I noticed Julie had a Sudoku book on her shelf. I picked it up - there were no marks in it. I thought it might be a good way to stimulate her, but she was too busy replaying conversations to be interested. She asked me what she should do and say the next time a particular person came over. "What would you do?" I couldn't give her a satisfactory answer. Eventually, with the Sudoku book open at page one, I said, "what I'd do is put a one in this corner." She laughed, I explained the rules, and we finished one of the easier puzzles. She was in so much pain though (her medication was overdue) that I felt under a lot of pressure to finish it as quickly as possible. And what if it went wrong? I've never done such a stressful Sudoku in my life. In fact I hardly ever do Sudoku these days (I've never been that big a fan anyway) but last night's puzzle served quite a useful purpose I think.
I spent longer at Julie's than I'd planned and ended up getting a takeaway from Golden Sun. Three doors down from the takeaway is Evil Genius (have a look at their website), a shop selling vinyl, coffee and other stuff and I'm unsure of. It was still open, and according to their site it's open till four in the morning (ish), even on weekdays. How does that work? I mean, Berhampore isn't somewhere people "hang out". Where does the money come from to allow you to stay open 20½ hours a day? I'm glad it does work, or seems to. I had a good look in the window but I didn't dare go in: I felt too old, uncool and musically clueless.
Edit: it actually closes (normally) at 4pm, not the 4am I assumed. There happened to be a special event going on when I walked by.
The world's oldest man died yesterday at the age of 116, which (as I found out this week) is the height of my work building in metres. It's also nine-eleven upside down. Talking of numbers, I found this interesting post and video on Language Log (a language-related blog) about the extensive use of numbers in Chinese puns. Because there are so many homophones and near-homophones in Chinese languages, the word for five (say) sounds similar to a bunch of other words. In my time in France I remember seeing 109 (cent neuf) standing for the identically-pronounced sang neuf, meaning "new blood". You'd also see K7 standing for "cassette" (they're pronounced the same in French). And of course in English people use 2 and 4 all the time in their texts. But it seems the Chinese do this kind of thing on a different scale entirely.
I know I need to meet new people but doing so causes me a lot of stress. It's a real catch-22 for me.