As it should be

Saturday June 24, 2006

I finished scrubbing the kitchen counters and top cabinets today and started on the base cabinets even though I didn’t have my kneeler with me. Silly. Half way through the first of them my knees started protesting. No harm done, except to my pride, and I stopped immediately to prevent any damage. I’ll buy a new kneeler before I continue with that task.

It’s hard, sometimes, to have to admit you can’t just do the things you used to do without thinking about it. Generally speaking I’m pretty good about mobility and endurance problems, working in short spells and taking frequent breaks. Just now, though, I’m wanting to get the job done and am feeling some impatience with my body’s reluctance to keep up.

Hey ho. It’s a case of the spirit being willing while the flesh freaks, I suppose.

I enjoyed the chance to be in the house alone, though. There’s more to taking over a new place than cleaning and painting. I need to get the feel of it, to learn the boundaries, the sounds and the silences and to come to terms with them.

Graham has been concerned that I’ll find noises from the neighbours a burden. Not so, thankfully. Sitting by the open french doors with my sandwich lunch the Saturday afternoon I could hear the kids in one or two houses playing in their gardens, and someone was playing a radio by an open window. I found that my mindset switched instantly and effortlessly back to the way I operated when I lived in London, filtering it all out and following a live and let live pattern.

I honestly don’t think I’m going to find it a problem and, when I reported back to Graham, I said so.

“Mind you,” I said. “I was sitting there in complete silence. Normally I’d be playing something soft and Mozarty to keep me company, or listening to a radio play or something. You just have to take town living on its own terms.”

“You’re full of surprises sometimes and you’re right, of course. Country noises are at least as intrusive, what with tractors, farm machinery and petrol mowers and all. You can take this radio over with you when you go tomorrow, though, for a bit of company.”

There’s more than a little about the house and its location that reminds me of London living. The dark wooden staircase reaching all the way to the top of the house takes me back to my bedsit and small apartment days when I lived in very similar though much larger Victorian town houses. The difference here is that instead of just one room and use of a shared bathroom I have the whole house to myself. I’m finding myself feeling more and more at home there, and looking forward to living there permanently.

We’ll not really know how permanent the initial feeling of permanence will be until we’ve lived there together for a while. I’m not daunted by the prospect either of living there for a long, long time, or moving on again after a couple of years. Just so long as we stay in Somerset, and we’re both fiercely determined not to move away from Somerset at least while Graham is working. When he comes to retire that may change. Financially, it looks already as if we’ve chosen well. I looked through the property pages of the local newspaper when I got back to the caravan and it’s clear that, cleaned, painted and furnished, and with a bit of work on the gardens, we could make a gross profit of between thirty and forty thousand quid on the house right now. Even allowing for the expenses of selling and buying property, that’s a handsome return by anyone’s reckoning.

Not that that’s going to happen. I want a good long period with my things about me and lots of outings to learn my way around the town and the surrounding countryside. On one side of us we have the Quantock Hills and on the other the Somerset Levels, stretching out fen-style for miles and miles. Somewhere close by, out of sight and sound, the sea waits to be discovered, too, with long stretchs of salt marsh to explore.

I’m not proposing to do much if any work at all when I go over to the house tomorrow. I shall air the place through, off-loading some more of the clinging odour of air fresheners, and play some quiet classical music on the radio while taking a coffee and a sandwich. There’s a bit of paper work to be done, including signing the official transfer form that registers the house in our names and authorizes the release of the deeds from our solicitor into our safe keeping. It’s a funny thing, but in a few weeks, when we’re established and my daily routines begin to work themselves out, all of this will fade away. Which is as it should be.

Sitting quietly in a corner of the bar this evening I was shaken out of a mild reverie when one of the staff bellowed his beery hello right into my ear. I’d been mungering over the trigger line of a new poem and, as it disappeared, I could have murdered the intrusive blighter there and then. The poem is lost, of course. In consolation I count the continued presence of poetry in my life a blessing even if some clumsy person from Porlock did cause this instance of it to be aborted. Some writers can produce poems in bars. I can’t. I need my own private space and my own things about me when I work. Which, again, is as it should be.



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