Stewart, the gerbil, is very ill. Last Monday my son complained that his gerbil’s eyes weren’t as bright as they used to be. I looked at Stewart but couldn’t detect anything wrong. “He’s probably just a bit under the weather. Let’s watch him.” On Wednesday we decided to take him to the Vet.
Poor Stewart. He has lost a lot of weight. He sleeps most of the time and eats little. We now give him antibiotics with a small syringe twice a day. Every now and again I go upstairs to my son’s room and see if Stewart is still breathing. I feel sorry for the little animal and I feel sorry for my son, who will be heart-broken if his gerbil dies.
I am not an animal lover and if it had been up to me the gerbils would have never entered our house. And yet, as I sat on Saturday evening with my husband in the Queen Elisabeth Hall listening to Bach’s Trauer Ode (Ode of Grief) I thought about poor Stewart and how much I wanted him to get better.
On Sunday morning my husband and I gave Stewart his antibiotics. My son, who usually administers the medicine, spent the night at a friend’s and hadn’t come home yet. My husband sat on the bed holding Stewart while I put the syringe in his little mouth. “Come on, mate, this is for your own good.” My husband encouraged the gerbil in a soothing tone to hold still and stroked its head. I suddenly remembered how we cared for our children when they were sick as babies.
“We should get a dog.” My husband teased me at breakfast. He knows full well that I don’t want a dog. “Over my dead body.” I replied. “I am worried because of a stupid gerbil. Just imagine if the dog gets ill. I’d be in danger of neglecting Peirene.”
Peirene is already displaying signs of Attention Deficit Disorder. One of the reasons why we went to the Bach concert on Saturday was to distribute flyers to the audience after the concert. A number of Peirene books link beautifully to classical music. Boecklin’ Isle of the Dead is the major theme in Next World Novella and also in Rachmaninov’s symphonic poem with the same name. Our Finnish classic gem The Brothers matches Siblelius Finlandia perfectly and Bach’s Fugues console Margharita in Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman.
We printed Peirene flyers to highlight these links. We will distribute them after concerts. I had the flyers in my bag. But Peirene was rebelling during the concert: “I will not distribute them. This is beneath me. I hate standing there with people walking straight passed me.”
My husband saved the day. “Let’s do it.” He insisted. “It will only take 20 minutes.” And we did it. I sent the moaning Nymph home. My husband and I had a lovely meal afterwards. And when we got home we found Stewart with his snout deep in the feeding bowl - surely a promising sign.