I’ve changed my meal table. Before I sat at the table nearest the kitchen, in a rather dark corner, with Malika, my Moroccan neighbour, a man of 80 who was pleasant enough but almost completely deaf, and a rather ghastly woman, older than me, who flirted all the time with the deaf man. I decided that I really had had enough of being depressed at mealtimes, though with hindsight I realise that it was as much recovering from the operation. My medication combined with the food offered meant I had no appetite. Mealtimes were an ordeal rather than a pleasure, so I needed a change and asked to be moved, hoping my former neighbours didn’t take too much offence.
Ironically I was moved to a table with two old ladies, one of whom is 94 and the other 92. You would think that would be even more depressing but they are two feisty old ladies who completely have their wits about them and make very entertaining lunchtime companions. We’ve now developed a daily habit of going to the salon afterwards for a coffee together.
The fourth person is a much younger woman called Christiane, probably in her early sixties. She comes from a mas – a farm – between Nimes and Arles where they grow vines and olives. Her husband is working flat out with the olive harvest which started mid-November and this year will go on till mid December. Christiane is a fellow shoulder patient who has had a pretty miserable year. She had a shoulder transplant, then she hadn’t abscess and had to have a second operation, and now she has had a second shoulder replacement. She has spent the best part of the year in and out of hospital and is amazingly cheerful with it.