Birthdays and knives

“Lucky you, living by the river,” the Uber driver mumbles to me through his mask.

“You know what,” I reply – “I am. And before all this I was running around so much I barely had the chance to appreciate it. Now I often go out and watch the tide in the evenings. And on days like this I couldn’t think of a better place to live in London.”

It’s glorious again here and we know it. Everybody’s out and about in their summer clothes and matching masks letting the sun hit their skin.

Cabby is extremely talkative so my plan of getting this written on the way might fall through. He’s listing the businesses that have been hit by this. It’s a long list. I’m reflexively repeating his last word because – you know – Uber ratings… “Airlines!” “Airlines.” “Theatres!” “Theatres.”

I’m moving. I’m crossing town. Heading to Richmond. It’s Tristan’s fortieth birthday.

However many years ago Tristan showed up at my party at a pub in North London. He’d somehow managed to get hold of a Tamahagane kitchen knife. Beautiful thing and really sharp. He gave it to me, but I could feel his imagination sticking to it as he did so. He wanted that knife, and I don’t blame him. It was £200 worth of lovely slicey Japanese steel. It’s a bit blunter now, and occasionally gets put in the dishwasher when I’m not paying attention. But I try and keep it separate and use it a great deal. It needs a sharpen at last but it kept good through heavy use. The dishwasher did for it.

The pleasure and use I’ve had from my “special knife” made it easy for me to know what to get for him when he hit the forty. I counted the years ahead. “2020?” I thought. “Ah I’ll be sorted for money by then I’m sure.” If only I’d known. Still. A plan is a plan.

My bank balance is not going to send me a Christmas card but now there’s a knife in my bag as well as a couple of bottles of wine, and none of it will be coming home with me. He’s got a garden so we can socially distance and raise a glass at the same time with proto-family, and it’s a good opportunity to pretend to be normal for a bit.


It’s been lovely, and convivial, and we’ve been trying to be well behaved and stay away from one another as much as possible, but I did the shopping for Jacky just yesterday so I’m unlikely to be exposed to anyone more vulnerable than I am for a good fortnight and good God I needed a hug.

Now it’s the slower side of the early evening and I left a mouse to defrost in the sink for Hex as it’s time for another go this evening. I’ve managed to stay reasonably sober, and I’ve budgeted for an uber to get home so once it gets too cold to be outside in my shorts I’ll go and puppet mice for an anorexic snake and then, if things go according to plan, I’ll spend a large part of the weekend hucking out my flat.

Snake update! Because I know it’s why you’re all here. He took it out of my hand almost immediately… Either I’m getting better at puppeting or he was hungry!

According to Mel “once a week is a bit too frequently really. He’s more like once every ten days ”

Now she tells me. I’ve been a feeder.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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