When Asked by friends and relatives how she is, Melanie invariably replies, "Very busy," "Up to my neck in it" or, with a mock-exasperated shrug of her shoulders, "Whizzing about all over the shop." Pressed for details about the unusually rapid pace at which life seems to move here on the outer reaches of Godalming, Surrey, she will happily itemise the catalogue of pressing demands on her time: the urgent request from Cassandra to ferry home her belongings from uni; the 11 people expected for lunch on Sunday; the petition against a windfarm she volunteered to get her neighbours to sign. It is no wonder she is "utterly exhausted" and that Gavin, her husband, "thinks she ought to take it easy".
Mr Eydall is an overworked GP who leaves the house at an early hour and returns to it at seven. How does his wife occupy her day in his absence? Well, there is Nick, the only one of their four children still at home, to roust out of his bedroom, and the Today programme to listen to, not to mention – in summer at any rate – the swimming-pool surround to check for cracks. By this time, Angela the daily help will have arrived, which means coffee to make and conversation to attend to, not to mention the twice-weekly advent of the gardeners, with whom Melanie has very serious and lengthy conversations about the deadheading of roses and the magnolia's chronic droop.
If mornings are simply "a whirl of activity", afternoons, too, are crammed with strength-sapping engagements. There is, for example, her book club (just now they are reading
Gone Girl, which Melanie finds "a tiny bit unrealistic"), which is great fun – although it would be nice if everyone could read the volumes under discussion all the way through, something Melanie feels it her duty to do, even if it means missing Game of Thrones.
Then, of course, there is the supper to prepare (Gavin "doesn't mind what he eats", but loyal Mel likes to have something "really nice" from Waitrose awaiting his return from the surgery) and Nick's homework to supervise, after which her mother will very likely call from her retirement home in Purley.
If there is any consolation in this ceaseless round of employee-chivvying and coffee-brewing, it lies in her husband's esteem. Gavin, as he admiringly tells their acquaintances, "doesn't know how she does it".Reuse content