Category: A bump in the Knight

Sunday serialisation – A Bump in the Knight, 9.3

In Knight & Deigh, confirmed bachelor and businessman Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

On his father’s death, Hannice inherited a global business and great wealth. Then, together with Sophie, he embarked on a series of activities designed to give him some of the excitement and the freedoms that he felt he had missed out on, by being tied to his father’s business for two decades.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and found himself drifting into a relationship with her that neither had anticipated or intended, and for which neither was fully prepared.

This book follows Hannice’s new adventures as he tries to juggle business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

But all doesn’t go quite as he had planned…

A bump in the Knight is now being published here as a serial; one part each Sunday.


A Bump in the Knight. Chapter nine, part three

Although we’d agreed that Sophie didn’t mean everything she had said that night, we accepted that there’s no smoke without fire, and even if her reaction was more extreme than it would normally have been, that she said the things she did, signalled to me that these were things that concerned her. That meant that they had to be addressed.

I spoke to Emily (you’ll remember that she is head of HR at Knight Global Trading) and let her know that I would be working exclusively from home from then on, and gave her a list of things I would need from the office to help me. Since before David was born, I had been sharing a PA with Emily, an arrangement that she didn’t feel could work if I weren’t physically there. The only use I had for a PA was to maintain my diary and act as my gatekeeper – never a full-time job anyway – so we compromised. We would have a VOIP telephone installed in my office at Knight Towers. This to be configured as an extension on the KGT switchboard (don’t ask me how, I make the decisions, bigger brains than mine figure out how to make it work), Alan, Emily’s PA, could continue to look after my diary and still act as my telephone and email gatekeeper; I didn’t think I’d need a physical gatekeeper, as Knight Towers is, compared to the central London office, somewhat remote.

We had read thoroughly, all the literature that Dr Lockhart gave to Sophie, and studied the websites. We now have a good understanding of what is happening to Sophie and why, and what steps she can take, and I can take with her, to help alleviate it. What I didn’t find, though, is any advice as to how I should deal with it, how I should react when she’s in a bad mood and taking it out on me – I know she never meant to, that it was all caused by hormone imbalance; but was I supposed to just stand there like a punching bag? Or would that have annoyed her more? Should I have fought back? Or tried reasoning with her, which hadn’t helped so far. The only thing I found that was at all helpful was the old adage, attributed to medieval Persian Sufi poets, “This, too, shall pass”. But that still didn’t tell me whether I should have taken it on the chin (and be criticised for not being a man), reasoned with her (and be criticised for patronising her), fought back (and inflamed the situation) or simply taken my leave (yeah, like that would have helped). The thing was, there was no point asking calm-Sophie what I should do because she wasn’t in control when these things struck. I decided to play it by ear, and just try to be understanding and supportive. She was going through a bad time, and all I was being asked to do was to accompany her.

I tried that for a while and eventually learned that it was easier to roll with the punches, which also had the advantage of, if not shortening, then at least not extending the length of the arguments. Ultimately, I chose to accept being pilloried as a coward, a mouse, less than a man, rather than risk getting into a slanging match worthy of a Presidential debate. It was hard, but realising that the whole business was harder for Sophie than it could ever be for me helped me to keep it in perspective. The most difficult job was explaining to a five-year-old why his Mummy keeps on getting in a bad mood with him, and convincing him that it wasn’t anybody’s fault; not mine, and certainly not his. Eventually, he accepted that, or appeared to, and put on a brave face of dealing with it with equanimity, following his father’s example. I knew for a fact, though, that the number of nights he cried himself to sleep was greater than the number of nights he didn’t – and that’s what was eating me up.

Over the following months, though, things slowly improved. Whether it was down to the changes in diet that one study recommended, to the combination of relaxation exercises and increased physical activity (who knew badminton could be such fun?), to the herbal supplements that Dr Lockhart suggested, or to a cunning mix of all three, I neither knew nor cared. From her point of view, Sophie was more at peace with herself and gradually enjoying life more; from David’s and my point of view, she was nicer and more predictable to live with, more like the old Sophie that we loved so much.

Yes, she still had mood swings, but less frequently and significantly less severe. She was also having to put up with other symptoms of this time of her life – hot flushes, night sweats, memory lapses and so on. There is something basically unfair about life, that in the middle of her life, when she should be at her most settled, a woman has to put up with all this, when a man’s mid-life crisis is often limited to the wearing of gaudy golf trousers and jumpers, and driving a red sports car. Oh yes, and some chase after younger women, but the least said about that, the better, eh?

Sunday serialisation – A Bump in the Knight, 9.2

In Knight & Deigh, confirmed bachelor and businessman Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

On his father’s death, Hannice inherited a global business and great wealth. Then, together with Sophie, he embarked on a series of activities designed to give him some of the excitement and the freedoms that he felt he had missed out on, by being tied to his father’s business for two decades.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and found himself drifting into a relationship with her that neither had anticipated or intended, and for which neither was fully prepared.

This book follows Hannice’s new adventures as he tries to juggle business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

But all doesn’t go quite as he had planned…

A bump in the Knight is now being published here as a serial; one part each Sunday.


A Bump in the Knight. Chapter nine, part two

Preparing for breakfast the next morning, Sophie was her normal self.

“Sorry I was a bitch last night,” she said. Fortunately, David hadn’t come into the kitchen; he was seated at the table, waiting for his breakfast to be brought to him.

“Don’t worry,” I said, “I probably deserved it.”

“That’s just it. You didn’t. I don’t know why I was in such a foul mood. I think if you’d brought me chocolates and roses I would have had a go at you for wasting money or buying the wrong colour roses or the wrong type of chocolates, or something. I think I’ll talk to Dr Lockhart when I go in this morning; see if he has any ideas. We can’t go on like this.”

“I can come with you if you’d like me to.”

“Okay.” She turned to the door, “Breakfast coming, David.”

David responded from the dining room, “Oh, goody!”

We took David to school together, which he loved, then went in to see Dr Lockhart. He examined Sophie and asked us both a lot of questions, and I mean a lot. Finally, he sat back in his chair, steepled then loosely interlaced his fingers and rested his hands on his rather generous midsection.

“I think, Sophie, in fact I’m fairly confident, that you are suffering from one of the more unpleasant symptoms of the perimenopause.”

“Perimenopause?” Sophie asked, “I’m not menopausal. I’m still having my monthlies.”

“The perimenopause is the time leading up to your last menstruation,” he explained, “It’s the time when the less-than-pleasant effects can come to the fore. And one of these is mood swings, sometimes extreme.”

“But does that mean I’m entering the menopause? I’m not even forty yet, and I was hoping we could have another child.”

“According to recent studies, perimenopause can start up to ten years before periods stop. Not does, can. Every woman is different and although there are many patterns that can be seen, the way your body reacts to the hormonal changes that are going on is uniquely yours.”

“So why mood changes, Doc, and is there anything I can do to help?”

“The why is easy,” he replied, “Let me read to you what it says in the textbook, ‘Among menopausal women, the primary cause of mood swings is a hormonal imbalance. Oestrogen and progesterone are important in the production of serotonin, which helps regulate mood. During menopause, imbalanced levels of oestrogen and progesterone cause serotonin levels to fluctuate, which can cause sudden and drastic mood changes’. There is a certain amount that you can do to help yourself, Sophie, and before you go home today, I’ll let you have a few pamphlets and a list of websites that you can look at. Mostly, it’s about diet, exercise and stress-removal. I’m assuming you’re not looking for hormone replacement or anti-depressants at this stage.”

“Certainly not yet, Doctor. Are you sure about this? Have I really started the menopause?”

“It is not terribly unusual for symptoms to start in your thirties, although they are typically quite mild. The drop in hormone levels tends to accelerate during the last year or two before your ovaries actually stop releasing eggs, and once you’ve gone twelve full months without ovulating, you can say you’ve been through the menopause.”

“And then all this will stop?”

“I wish I could say that for sure. By that time, your body will be accustomed to its new hormone levels and most symptoms should cease. However, this depends on the individual. Some women have reported experiencing hot flushes into their 70s.”

“But not mood swings.”

“I would hope not. But read the material I’ll give you later, and think about relaxation exercises like yoga, meditation, mindfulness and so on.”

Did we feel better after that? I suppose the most honest answer would be the politicians’ one – yes and no, with reservations on both.

Sunday serialisation – A Bump in the Knight, 9.1

In Knight & Deigh, confirmed bachelor and businessman Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

On his father’s death, Hannice inherited a global business and great wealth. Then, together with Sophie, he embarked on a series of activities designed to give him some of the excitement and the freedoms that he felt he had missed out on, by being tied to his father’s business for two decades.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and found himself drifting into a relationship with her that neither had anticipated or intended, and for which neither was fully prepared.

This book follows Hannice’s new adventures as he tries to juggle business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

But all doesn’t go quite as he had planned…

A bump in the Knight is now being published here as a serial; one part each Sunday.


A Bump in the Knight. Chapter nine, part one

There is a general belief that the natural progression of things is from order to disorder. Some call it the law of universal entropy, others claim it as the logical outworking of Newton’s second law of thermodynamics. Perhaps Paul Simon summed it up best when he penned, “Everything put together, sooner or later falls apart.”

So it was with the cosy arrangement Sophie and I had worked out. I could work as normal, while Sophie would take David to school, go to the clinic to do her job, which eventually settled down to four days each week; Tuesday to Friday; and be back in time to pick him up from school. School holidays were a potential issue, but that’s where grandparents come in; Eddie and Martha came to stay during full and half-term holidays. It all went rather well. Until, that is, David was taken poorly at school. The school secretary phoned Sophie, but she was out on a call with a patient whom she couldn’t leave for almost an hour. The secretary called me. I was at a meeting in London and couldn’t get there for almost two hours. In the end, they called Dr Lockhart, who sent an orderly to collect him. No-one at the school knew the orderly, so they wouldn’t release David into his care until they had verified that the orderly was, indeed, who he said he was. David, by this time, was becoming quite agitated and rather fractious. Everything worked out okay in the end; David was fine after a little medication, Sophie stopped after she’d finished with the patient she was on, and the clinic rearranged her other calls.

When I finally made it home, Sophie wasn’t angry, she was upset, she was sad. Sad that David had been taken poorly in school and there was no-one to pick him up and look after him; sad that she couldn’t get there straight away; sad, and perhaps a little peeved that I couldn’t get there, and sad that the orderly who went for him had to be put through an identification issue, though grateful to the school’s vigilance and concern, too.

“This can’t go on,” she said.

“But this was a one-off, and it all turned out okay in the end.”

“What if it had been serious? What if, instead of a minor tummy upset, it had been an illness or accident that affected him really badly?”

“What do you suggest we do? You don’t want to give up your job, do you?”

“No. Not at all. But you managed to work full-time from home when you had to; why can’t you do it now?”

“For the most part, I suppose I can, but I need to attend meetings at Head office sometimes.”

“Skype.”

“And I need to go to overseas meetings sometimes.”

“Again, Skype.”

“Well, I can Skype to the offices easy enough, but sometimes I have to go to customers’, suppliers’ or government offices. Can’t Skype them all.”

“I don’t understand why you need to go to those sorts of meetings anyway. What do you have Regional Directors for?”

“Come on, love. They do most of it, but sometimes the presence of the figurehead is enough to seal a deal that might not otherwise have seen the light of day.”

“So you’re expecting me to give up my job, then. Is that what this is?”

“No, I’m not. I know you love your work. All I’m saying is, yes – I can work from home mostly; I have good people in London and in the regions, and I probably get more hands-on than I absolutely need to, but I don’t need to tell you what it’s like being at home all the time with nothing to do. I can cut down on what I do for the firm, but I’d need something else to take its place; and sitting here all day twiddling my thumbs on the off-chance that David will be ill or hurt just wouldn’t cut it – for either of us.”

“So what can we do? We can’t leave things as they are.”

“Here’s a suggestion to take away and think about. I will reduce my time in London and overseas as much as I possibly can, but you’ll need to accept that I can’t cut it out altogether.”

“And?”

“And, provided I have enough notice, which I almost invariably do, when I have to travel, you arrange your work so that, for the time I’m away, you are able to get to the school fairly quickly.”

“So I have to re-arrange my life to suit your travel arrangements?”

“Only after I have re-arranged mine so I’m almost always here. Come on, that’s a fair compromise, you have to admit.”

“I’m going to bed. I have an early start tomorrow. A patient who needs me. You get that? Who needs me.”

That meant another night in the spare room for me. I was beginning to despair. Something was going wrong, seriously wrong, and as far as I could see, I was powerless to make it right. Hell, I didn’t even know what was wrong and what had happened to bring it on; how could I hope to find a solution?

I gave up trying to sleep just after two in the morning. I put the TV on. That only lasted a very short while. I think most of the rubbish that’s put on at that time is aimed at insomniacs. It didn’t work for me that night, but I could see how it would drive you to sleep. I had an internal struggle not to reach for a drink!