I send my father an email.

I do this occasionally, as we are close.

The email is mainly about the bound paper thing that I do not mention very often on my Private Secret Diary as I do not want to go on about it too much. My father and I have not talked about this thing a lot, as I am a bit bashful about the whole affair, and he is a bit like me and doesn’t quite believe it exists.

‘Anyway, people can order it on the internet now,’ I type, after the stuff about the weather. ‘It is bizarre – actually a few of them seem to be buying it.’

I sign off, diffidently. I feel a bit awkward mentioning it, but one of – if not the only – real and important reason for undertaking the project concerned was that I thought my beloved father might be pleased about it. He will be delighted, proud and amazed that I have actually achieved something in my life. I cannot wait for him to open the email and to know his reaction.

My mother calls later on in the day.

“His heart, you say?!?” I repeat, clutching the receiver in some concern. “Can I speak to the paramedic?”

I speak to the Paramedic.

“He will be fine,” she says. “We are just going to put him in the ambulance, and take him to Basildon Hospital.”

My alarm increases. “Isn’t that the one that is always on the news, where nobody ever gets out alive?”

I worked at Basildon Hospital for a very short while. And my Grandmother died there. Although I am 99% sure that the events were not related, there was a certain amount of recent media attention focusing on the fact that you go in with – say – an itch, and emerge with – say – plague.

I speak to my mother again.

“It is a bit irritating,” she says. “As I am meant to have a dentist’s appointment later on.”

I sigh deeply. One of the problems with being a nearly-famous author is that you can be called upon to attend book-related events anywhere in the UK at short notice. I leave a message for the LTLP, get in the car, and drive to Basildon.

19 Comments

  1. Hullo everybody.

    I was a bit nervous about posting this, as people I know read it and might be worried, plus also one of the wonderful things about having a leading private secret diary is that you also get the kindness and concern of complete strangers. So I should say immediately:

    a) He’s fine

    and

    b) I waited ages before writing this and publishing it. So he is really, definitely fine.

  2. Apart from the shock, of course.

  3. Blimey, Jonny,

    Basildon? Were it not father one would be muttering something about merciful release.

    Glad all is well.

  4. gently steaming yak

    damnitall jb was all ready to offer concern etc but the first comment gives me happy

  5. Perhaps this will increase the depth and strength of the relationship between you as a man of letters and your Dad? Creating a Basildon Bond so to speak…

    …sorry, obviously still a tad giddy from weekend nuptials

  6. Taxi for Justthoughtyoumight!!!

  7. Could’ve been worse. Could’ve been Basingstoke…

  8. Glad everything’s ticking over nicely.

  9. This is why I’ve never attempted to distinguish myself – for my mum’s sake. After a lifetime of lowered expectations, the shock would be just too much.

  10. Oh dear. I hope it has given you the opportunity for manly discussions about your book and that your parents have pre-ordered copies for all their friends. I’m very glad your father is all right, but I shall still worry a bit as I appear to believe that my worry has a protective effect.

  11. Hmmm… going right in to get treated for something? that’s not quite how my mother goes about things. First she has a few moans about symptoms. Then she pulls out her beloved, dog-eared diagnose-yourself-for-only-19.99 book and looks up her symptoms to see if she wants what they say she has. Then she looks up a few more things to see what sounds more interesting. Then she calls the doctor and tells him what she’s got. Recently she did NOT have divirculitis but DID have a ‘wonky tummy’ and don’t let anyone tell you different.

    V. glad your father is doing fine – just on the safe side though you might want to change your approach to announcing book-related things. What about hiding in the pachysandra and leaping out to shout ‘YA! Sold another one!’

  12. I spent my student holidays working at first a large psychiatric hospital (as a cleaner), then a small geriatric hospital (as a nursing auxillary). In Brentwood as it happens. I therefore know many valuable skills that I still use to this day; how to make a bed with hospital corners, how to polish a parquet floor with of those great big buffer machines, how to lay out a dead body…

  13. Oooh Jayne – was the former where I used to play cricket occasionally against the staff? If so, one of the patients used to come onto the pitch and stand at cover point. It was very disconcerting.

  14. Probably – I don’t think Brentwood has enough mad people to have two big psychiatric hospitals (surprisingly). Huge old Victorian pile (with miles of parquet in the corridors, hence the expertise with the buffer). Of course it’s now been converted into Quality Housing. Lovely grounds though.

    http://tinyurl.com/394gg6z

  15. I’m really happy that your papa is okay.

    One day, you will know the joys of trying to parent your parents. Heh.

    What a coincidence. You send your papa an email about the book, thinking he will be pleased, etc. and…

  16. I’m glad he’s OK, Apart from, say, Saffron Walden and environs, going to Essex on a regular basis is not something I’d not look forward to.

    Thanks also for the link, I was wondering where the visitors were trickling in from. If it’s just a con to get me to buy the book… well, yeah OK, it will probably work.

  17. Glad your father is on the mend.

    Also, the plague is no longer a disease you can get from a hospital. I do believe you can only have it by mail-order now.

    The hospital people will, however give you antibiotic-resistant super infections, though – at least according to my mother who works in a non-UK hospital.

  18. How are you mom’s teeth doing?

  19. Have you thought how you’ll handle it when you get the film and big bucks?

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