Although less publicised than a lunar eclipse, and certainly with fewer people staring at the sky through cardboard wondering what the hell it is they’re supposed to be admiring, the rest of the family sometimes goes away for the weekend, leaving me home alone. Like witnessing a prize fighter being knocked out in the first round, it’s hard to know what to do. There is silence.
Of course, it’s bliss, the chance to do whatever I like, which of course means being crippled by choice and doing nothing. I have the idea of getting the lads around for beers and playing vinyl, before realising I don’t know many lads, and those I do require at least 6 months notice to be away from their own families. Besides, the silence is soon exposed by the lack of anyone calling because they gave up since I settled down from all those parties every night, well at least once a month.
The first indication that a woman’s absent is my inability to find anything where I left it. This was happening long before children, but they’re not around to blame. The realisation sinks in that what has been masquerading as conversation around the house is actually sentences starting with ‘Have you seen my … ‘
It is however, the chance to enjoy a cup of tea without a toddler wanting to paddle their fingers in it, and eating crisps openly. This feels wrong; whoever knew McCoys Thai Sweet Chicken crisps taste better when eaten from behind a cushion or newspaper.
The family going away is obviously the perfect opportunity to get some sleep, (cough) I mean do DIY, and other jobs that are compromised by children squabbling about who’s to play with the matches next. Lying in bed writing a blog is an excellent place from which to see what repairs need doing; at least in the bedroom. I’m aware the kitchen table needs sanding down to varnish, but it’s downstairs. However, let’s face it, it’s really the pillows that are having break from daily plumping, as they lie where I leave them. This is freedom.
Humans are fascinating things, at least those not talking about golf. You spend your life wishing for peace, yet when the chaos leaves, you want it back. It’s a chance to do sit-ups without being jumped on, or to watch the 16 films saved on the TV, not to mention the US boxsets; the backlog of which are preventing many couples from having sex ever again.
However, frozen by the indecision of too many choices, I sit paused: half-way through a BBC4 music documentary on Iplayer, clutching a Francois Truffaut DVD I’ve been intending to watch since a girl at university admired him 20 years ago, while Fast & the Furious 6 plays out on the TV and Antony Beevor’s D-Day: The Battle for Normandy lies in my lap. It’s decadent, as though living like James Bond for a day; if his downtime includes watching James Bond films before lunchtime, and being unable to screw the lid off a tin of table varnish.
Later, it soon becomes apparent that while absence makes the heart grow fonder, it certainly makes the house untidier, and I wonder who is actually making the daily mess. I quickly close a cupboard in time to stop the avalanche of its contents spilling all over the floor.
My laptop is hung on Twitter, while more records than I can afford sit in the shopping basket of Juno records. I’m living the bachelor life, at least I am if it involved wandering into childrens’ rooms and sniffing their clothes, which it OBVIOUSLY didn’t, I hasten to add. What the hell did I do with my time before children? I guess watched more TV, which these days is celebs apparently purposefully chosen so I don’t know who they are. They’re not only enjoying holidays I’d like to, but are being paid to, while offering inane comments to the camera intended to mask their colossal hangover from the previous evening’s free drinks wit the crew.
I eat in my pants, and try to shrug off the sense that there is something I should be doing, but am not. There is lots of the wandering between rooms that is familiar to any serious writer. Yet, the most disconcerting thing is not having said anything all day, other than no longer having to decline a plastic bag in the Co-Op. This is fantastic, if only it didn’t halve my daily social interactions. I haven’t yet started waving back at cyclists putting arms out to indicate a turn, but it’s getting close. Now, where’s the kitchen table…