The flight is at midday but they need to be there three hours before. His two friends stay at our house. We all get up at seven. We make pancakes for them. Husband drives. We chat and laugh in the car for a while, until we reach Hammersmith and the turn for the motorway. Then Eldest says put some music on.
There's a random assortment on my iPhone. I play Gary Newman, Cars, Elton John, Love Lies Bleeding, The Teardrop Explodes, Reward, Eagles, Hotel California. Hotel California is just finishing as we reach the edge of Heathrow. Now it's quiet in the car. No one is chatting. A huge Jumbo flies over. I look round at Eldest and smile. I don't really feel like smiling.
I take some photographs at the entrance: the three of them standing beneath the departures board. I hug and kiss Eldest but not too much. His friends are there.
When we get home I mow the lawn as Husband sits on the decking and reads the papers and then his book. At five to twelve I say, "it's five to twelve."
"So?" says Husband.
We have a message via Middle One, on Facebook. Eldest can't access his email. He has arrived in Hanoi. He didn't sleep once the whole trip. It's incredibly hot. He walks a few steps and he's drenched in sweat. It's mad. The roads are crowded with cyclists and mopeds. The locals say if you close your eyes and walk across they will all avoid you. He doesn't fancy testing this out. His cash card doesn't work. He's hoping to sort this in the morning. Maybe they will stay here two nights and then go to Halong Bay. He loves us all very much. He actually writes this, to his brother.
In the evening I go with some friends to see Death of a Salesman. We sit in the stalls. A tall man with an enormous head sits directly in front of me. I scrunch to the left in my seat to get a view of the stage and he moves his enormous head to the left. I scrunch to the right and he moves his enormous head to the right. He spends the first half of the play moving his enormous head rapidly from left to right.
In the interval I get up and go to the bar with a friend. "I'm going to get a gin and tonic," I say. "Good idea," she says. I order a gin and tonic. "One measure or two?" says the girl behind the bar. "Half," I say, "I'd rather not have a full measure, please." "I have to serve you a full measure," she says, "it's the law," and she pours me a full measure. I ask for a second glass and as she stands and watches I pour half the measure back into it and hand it to her. "Thank you," I say, although really I am thanking her for nothing.
I go back to my seat. The man with the enormous head sways even more but some of the action has moved left of stage so I have a better view, for a while. Then the action resumes centre stage and his enormous head is in the way again. I drink my gin and tonic and pretend the play is on the radio.
It's very hot.
"Bad news, I'm afraid," says Youngest, when I open the front door to let him in after school.
"What?" I say.
"I put my blazer down in the playground at lunchtime and when I went back to get it it was gone. It's not my fault."
"Right," I say. "That's not bad news. I sewed your name in it. It will turn up."
"It has my glasses in the pocket," he says.
"Okay," I say. "Come and have your eye drops."
He needs eye drops because he has bad hay fever and rubbed his eyes so much that one became infected.
He lies on the low bench in the kitchen as I prepare to squeeze the drops into his eyes. "I hate this with a passion," he says.
Later we go to his parents' evening at school. It's incredibly hot. We have to queue to see his subject teachers. I count how many sets of parents are in front of us to see the English teacher. Nine. When we get to the front she tells us she's not worried about him anymore because he met his target.
I'm going to the Luna Cinema screening of Zoolander on the common with some friends. Before I go I check my email. Again. And I ask Middle One if he has heard anything more from Facebook. Again. He hasn't. But I do have a message from one of the other mothers, "Have you heard anything?" it says.
We watch Zoolander. I've seen it a few times before. It's a silly film but I like Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. Actually I really like Owen Wilson, and there's some good music in it.
It's a warm evening with a huge yellow moon low in the sky. People all over the world are able to see that exact same huge yellow moon, I think. What time will it be in Vietnam? Four am? Something like that. I imagine that huge yellow moon looking down on Halong Bay, where Eldest is asleep on a boat, somewhere. Maybe. I hope.
The blazer turned up.
Love E x
On Facebook too -