Alex joined his Dad on Tuesday, so I took the opportunity to visit the clan up in County Durham. Meanwhile, Emma continued to fend off the rockets and shells of writing hard stuff, and of herself. County Durham seemed like a safe distance.
The Wexford siblings converged on the parental home and, as ever, I enjoyed the ferocious banter and acidic put-you-downs that we count as love.
As sister and brother discussed music festivals that did and respectively didn't interest them, I recalled something utterly inconsequential that I thought might interest them.
Shane: You know Neil Tennant?
Shane: He's got a house in County Durham.
Sister: How d' you know that?
Shane: He mentioned it in an interview that I listened to. In fact, it's an interview that's upstairs right now - on the iPod that's under my pillow.
Sister: Hold on! You've got an interview with Neil Tennant - from The Pet Shop Boys - under your pillow?
Shane: Yeah. It was from Front -
Sister: Other Brother, Shane's got an interview with Neil Tennant under his pillow!
Brother: I did wonder, like.
Shane: It was from Front Row.
Sister: Mutha, (pointing) that one's got an interview with Neil Tennant under his pillow.
Mother (distractedly): It's 2009 - each unto his own.
Shane: Hold on a minute. I just -
Sister: Fatha - Shane's got an interview with Neil Tennant under his pillow.
Dad: Who's Neil Tennant?
Sister: Never mind.
It amused me.
It was also amusing to hear that an old familiar of brother and I was currently appearing on The Apprentice. Sister crossed paths with (not so) young (any more) Phil, in Durham, at the weekend. A nice lad.
And apart from foregoing Porto versus Manchester United (0 - 1), in order to take in Durham City versus Woodley Sports (5 - 0), the only other item of note concerned maternal grandmother.
I've got used to the further extensions of frailty that the old bird exhibits - each visit presenting new expressions of vulnerability, fallibility, fading - very much reminiscent of her husband's end of life. Entering the second week of a stay at Bishop Auckland's General Hospital, the violence of grandma's Parkinson's Disease - the tics, the strains, the jolts and jerks, they seemed to show no mercy. Memory was playing tricks, too. I felt like I was talking to the echo of a person.
This morning, on the drive back to the Midlands, the subject of jolts and jerks, tics and strains returned. Would I like to join Alex and his Dad at a local theatre, to watch Thriller Live - this evening. It was one of those questions where what the boy wants to hear, is probably the best answer. So here I am, jaded of an early Thursday evening, waiting to Beat It. Meanwhile, I hear another shell fall as Emma grinds on. The theatre seems like a safe distance.