8 June 2018
When Princess Di married Prince Charles we had a monster jig-saw of St Paul’s Cathedral, 2,000 pieces no less. Five of us bent over the dining room table puzzling it out, with the TV coverage of the wedding playing in the background. The screen was actually smaller than the finished jig-saw. Every now and then someone would shout:
“Stop everybody! She’s getting out of the carriage!” or “There’s Barbara Cartland’s daughter, Di’s stepmother!”
If you spend too long on a jig-saw (and once started they are difficult to leave) you end up seeing everything puzzle-shaped. Little nobs and hollows; straights and corners.
After I stopped crying on the way home from Lithuania, I realised that my head was as if I had been working on a jig-saw puzzle for too long. Or that my skull had filled with a soup, claggy with pasta shapes. Impressions jumbled against each other; faces, scenes, colours and sounds knocked about, nothing was straight. There was too much to take in.
Between bouts of unpacking, answering telephone calls and making strong coffee there were frequent sinkings onto the sofa. A day later extreme lethargy overtook me. Actors suffer this way after the “high” of a long and successful run; something to do with adrenaline I’m told.
People kindly asked how my trip had gone, there were even welcome home cards. I couldn’t tell them it was all of a jig-saw puzzle; all I could manage was that it was like leaving BH all over again. So stupid and irrational – I know he isn’t actually in a beautifully restored crypt in a lovely baroque church in the middle of the countryside 40 miles from Vilnius.
Lithuania gave so many things that are integral to my jig-saw. Hot sunny days, clean streets (and sheets), the kind thoughtfulness of old friends, heaps of flowers, singing and fabulous food and some terrific sculpture. Here is my favourite the monument of Grand Duke Gediminas in the Cathedral Square, created by the Lithuanian American Vytautas Kašuba and Mindaugas Šnipas in 1996:
I daresay there will be more views and news from BH’s homeland as the weeks go by and my head unravels. No mention of the serious side: politics, the Papal visit later this year and wretched Brexit.
Knowing well that time flies I have booked in for three weeks next May, a real act of faith in my GP and the Almighty.
I now remember that there was actually one little piece missing from that monster puzzle of St Paul’s.
Nothing is perfect.