A need to adjust

Saturday July 15, 2006

I’m going to have to change my working schedule. It’s the heat, you see. Crept up on me, it has.

Today, full of good intention, I turned up at the house at about 11:30 and, after coffee and a chocolate Jaffa Cake ‘muffin’, pitched into the job of finishing the living room. I got that done, taking longer than I’d thought, shifted my cleaning gear up one flight of stairs into the second bedroom, all sugared almond pink and lilac, cleaned up the mess from the living room, and went back to the dining nook on the ground floor to take my lunch at about 13:00.

A very nice lunch it was, too, consisting of a Sainsbury’s Brunch Triple Sandwich—one half-round each of sausage and brown sauce, egg and bacon, and BLT—followed by a small strawberry and berries fresh fruit salad. Then, I wilted. It wasn’t so very hot, but it was far too hot to think about starting cleaning another set of walls.

So, about 14:00, I sent Graham a text message to tell him I was packing up for the day, closed the house up, bade it a reluctant farewell, and hopped into the car to drive back to the caravan.

It’s a funny thing, but as I said my farewell to the newly prepared living room, with its scrubbed walls all prepared and waiting for paint, I came to realise that the house has tipped over from being a place from which the previous occupants have just moved out to a place that’s getting clean and ready for us to move in. If it were sensible to think in terms of repainting the walls of the dreadfully over-coloured rooms with furniture already installed, we could move in tomorrow. Tempting, but I shall be good, and sensible, and boring, and continue with the project until those awful colours are a thing of the past.

When I got back, Graham was just finishing his lunch so, after a cheerful exchange, off he popped for his well-earned siesta and, shortly after, I flopped on the sofa for mine. Dolly chose Graham for her afternoon nap companion. Can’t say I blame her. The sofa is a cosy place for a siesta but it’s too narrow for napping of a hot afternoon snuggled up with an elderly poet.

Next thing I knew it was 17:30 and Graham had leapt out to remonstrate with some kids who were trying to force their way through the hedge by the caravan from the adjoining holiday site. Off they went, meek and mild, and I was obliged to reflect that, if I were faced by Graham in fierce mode, I’d probably retire from the scene of conflict, meek and mild, and slightly frightened.

Perception is a strange thing. With his shaven head and lean, mean image, he is probably a frightening image to the innocent. To me, he’s Graham. Just Graham. Not meek, and not entirely mild, but still, to me, an odd mix between the youngster with whom I first became engaged and the strong, dependable and comforting man he’s become. I claim no special credit for the transformation, but I do confess to a little pride in my part of the process, and the result.

Before I leave this untypically frank glimpse of our personal life, I pay credit, too, for the part which it has played in forming my own nature in my mature years. Before Graham came on the scene, close on thirty years back now, I was a lonely, isolated man. I thought I was complete, living in my poetry and my music, and my career, but I wasn’t.

On my drive back from the house to the caravan I fell to thinking about my history. In many ways, my life began when Graham entered it. If there were a way to take a sharp knife to that point, and discard all that went before, I’d not do it. But… it would be a temptation.

Hmmm. Where was I? Oh, yes. Changing my schedule. It got too hot for me this afternoon, and the forecast for the next few days is that it’s going to get progressively hotter. I think the best thing for me to do if I’m not to simply fold my hands and give in is to shift the physical work part of my day to the morning rather than the early afternoon. This way I can keep the project going at about the same pace regardless of the temperature. The house doesn’t get overly warm in the fierce sunshine until the afternoon and early evening [given blinds and shades, it’ll be different, but that’s a condition that’ll not obtain until after we’ve moved in] but, in the morning, it’s perfectly cool and conducive to the kind of job I have to do.

So, the intention is that I’ll do just that, getting off to the house earlier in the morning, doing what I can, and returning to the caravan for lunch and my siesta when things get too hot. Tomorrow, having already shopped for a rest day, I shall go over to Bridgwater to put in a couple of hours scrubbing the pink and lilac walls, then return to the caravan via PC World in Taunton, where I plan to obtain a cable with which to connect the laptop to the telephone for a dial-up service. On Monday, with Graham in tow, I’ll do what I can prior to lunch and then, while Graham’s finishing up his day’s work, sit down to the computer to establish a dial-up connection. Thereafter, throughout the week, I shall work in the mornings, take my lunch when I begin to melt, and then put in an hour or so getting the computer/website problem sorted.

When the weather threatens to put a stop to your plans, you need to adjust.



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