This hasn't been the best of weeks. On Monday, over a month after our paperwork was lodged with the Diocesan Registry in London, I had a call from the Clerk to say that the Chancellor was away for a week and so we wouldn't hear about our faculty application this week: he knew it was important, however, and so would be taking it with him to work on. That was encouraging. However it was too late. Tuesday had been a deadline I'd settled with myself: no news that week, and there was no leeway for the work to be done ready for our first wedding on June 8th. So I had to go and tell the couple due to be married on that day that they couldn't be married in Swanvale Halt church. The bride used to bring her grandfather to church when he was alive, and now helps with our Junior Church despite being a Roman Catholic by upbringing. It was atrocious, and I didn't know what to do: the culmination of weeks of hoping, praying, tensely waiting. A sense of breakdown. I'm also having to negotiate between two fairground suppliers who each claim the right to attend our Spring Fair in May, and one of whom is quite nasty. Sadly he's the one who seems to have right on his side.
That meant there was no point hanging around, and so I went on my annual retreat for a couple of days to Malling Abbey. It was lovely to be quiet and non-interactive, but I suspect I was so tired I actually wasn't focusing very much. Here are a couple of photographs:
I was just about recovered from the sense of hysteria, though, and was driving back along the M25 through the sunshine when the car engine cut out. Simply stopped. Terrified I pulled over to the hard shoulder and called the AA who, thankfully, came very speedily indeed, gave the car the definite thumbs-down, and towed it back to the garage at the bottom of the hill. It turned out the cam belt had broken, and everything in the engine had smashed into everything else causing catastrophic damage. Two hours before I'd been congratulating myself on buying some particularly heavy books at a charity shop in West Malling, and now had to lug them back up the hill along with everything else.
Home to discover sixty emails, news that the retired priest in the parish is in hospital, and then almost immediately out for a meeting with the Town Clerk in Hornington about a civic service. The only relief (and an ambiguous and guilty one) was four phone messages from Mad Trevor, who I was due to meet that afternoon, and who has been sectioned. I'm not sure quite how I managed to propel myself out of the house on the bicycle to the Council offices. I caught the train to the cathedral to make my confession for Lent, but it felt a bit cursory. I couldn't either concentrate or relax.
In the evening I tried to call my mum, and got no reply. It was mid-evening, so I thought she might be babysitting at my sister's or eating there. But there was no reply there either. My mother hardly ever turns her mobile on and tonight was no exception, but my sister wasn't picking up either. It wore on past nine o'clock, nine-thirty, ten. By this time I was screaming and raving round the house. My mother, grandmother, sister, brother-in-law or nieces, or a combination of them, were in hospital I imagined and there was nothing I could do about it, stranded in Surrey with no car (and in any case piles and piles of things to do on Friday which was supposed to be a day off). It was an over-reaction, but I was running on empty: anything set me off. It wasn't until ten-thirty that my sister texted to say she'd been in a concert so didn't hear her phone: mum was indeed babysitting. Why she managed not to hear the phone in my sister's house the half-dozen times I called it over three hours I can't quite imagine.
For ages now I've woken up not wanting to face the day, sometimes whining and shrieking at the (perfectly ordinary) things I will have to do and interactions I'll have to engage in. Friday, thank God almighty, was some slight recovery. I was shaking as I made a to-do list, but gradually worked through it. I went to see a parishioner who's just had a cancer operation and her calmness and good temper was lifting; the garage called to say that, although the car probably wasn't worth repairing, they happened to have a very cheap Polo for sale which had just had an MOT test and might tide me over for a year to give me the chance to sort out something more permanent, so that was very lucky. I managed to chutney-fy the last of the 2011 apples (they haven't been prolific or up to much this year), and cooked for my lovely friends from Lamford, Caroline and John, who were as ridiculously appreciative as usual. So I've now had nearly 48 hours with nothing going wrong and nothing new coming up, and am calming down a bit. I'm not proud of myself for all this, and will have to watch my mental state.