But I still needed shoes for the wedding. I got the dress and hat weeks ago, also a floaty cream wrap. I was still missing a necklace, earrings, shoes and a tiny clutch bag.
I didn't hold out much hope of finding anything suitable in Bangor, which despite having a cathedral and thus being (by one definition at least) a city, is a bit dismal for shopping. But after dropping Graham off in the Department of Arid Zone Studies (yes, really) and making arrangements for lunch, I wandered up one street, looking for shoes and instantly spotted the perfect necklace. Silver and green amber. Perfect match for the green dress I'll be wearing. Price not too horrendous, and besides, this is something I'll wear again and again.
Back down the street and into Debenhams. No shoes. Into Littlewoods. Some shoes that will possibly do if I can't find anything better and then... Sitting on a shelf was just what I was looking for: classic sling-back court shoe in different shades of cream and fawn. And they were my size! And they fitted!!! At this point, had I been a bit further on with Lost in a Good Book (Jasper Fforde), I would have been shaking my entroposcope. (A simple device consisting of a mixture of rice and lentils in a small jar. If you shake it and the grains start to separate back into two layers, you know something fishy's happening to probability.) Particularly when I saw the price tag was a mere 10 quid. This was too good to be true.
So it only seemed like balancing good fortune with bad to come home and find that Florence the rat was lying very still in the bottom of the cage. Rosie, her sister was cuddled up beside her looking uneasy. When I checked, poor Florence was dead. It wasn't really a surprise. The rats are 2½, which is a good age for a rat, and we thought we were going to lose Florence at Easter as she was very ill, then recovered, then was ill, then recovered again. There was no time to organise a tiny funeral on Friday as it was already well into the evening and our daughter and her fiancé were expected at any moment, so I whipped up a cardboard coffin and put the little body to lie in state in the garden shed overnight.
I buried her yesterday. I had to mow the grass on the lower terrace first, then dug a hole, finally smuggling the little body out past the neighbour who was sitting in the sun by her back door. I just couldn't have coped with the, "You have a pet rat? Ewww! You're joking, aren't you?" conversation just then.
When I'd filled in the tiny grave, marked with a stone so that in due course I can bury Florence's sister beside her, I read the Heart Sutra (though I used a slightly different translation from a book) and the following verse:
I rejoice with delight
In the good done by all beings,
Through which they obtain rest
With the end of suffering.
May those who have suffered be happy!
I rejoice in the release of beings
From the sufferings of the rounds of existence;
I rejoice in the nature of the Bodhisattva
And the Buddha,
Who are Protectors.
I rejoice in the arising of the Will to Enlightenment,
And the Teaching:
Those Oceans which bring happiness to all beings,
And are the abode of welfare of all beings.