I’ve been stuck indoors on my own too much lately, often in the shed until the early hours, lampworking. Until recently, my husband had been at home full time, studying, so even if the company available came in the form of a slightly irritable and distracted man, it was better than being by myself, a little loving contact every now and then through the day makes a difference – plus which, he liked to take a break and cook for us, an alien form of relaxation in my book, so it suited me fine. The study paid off and he qualified as a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, and managed to get his BSc as well, fantastic. Almost two years of stress about lack of money and concern for our home began to recede, the flat was taken off the market (thank goodness for the recession, no-one was up for buying it, despite desirable sea views) and he started working, still quite amazed that he had moved through the difficult time and we hadn’t had to sell up. We had survived taking the risk of his leaving long term full time employment to do what he had to do.
I’m aware that some people find the retirement of their partner difficult, suddenly adjusting to another person in ‘their’ space, but I do not have that concern at all, I enjoy my husband’s presence, but I’m also glad when he goes out and I get that ‘place to myself’ feeling. I wonder when he ever has that, as I rarely go out and if so, he wants to come with me (why is that?) but actually, as we have only one car, sometimes I just want to get in it and drive off on my own, because that’s what I like. My husband doesn’t appreciate my driving, he’s super anxious when I drive, this reveals far more about him than it does about my driving. I am not a perfect driver, I am glad to know this. Sometimes I join the ranks of those who know how to make a car go (they are the annoying ones who should’ve stayed home) other times I easily join the ranks of what I call ‘Drivers’.
There is a point to this.
My husband has started working, and teaching, and needs the car. I am obsessed with making glass beads, and stay in a lot, in a chill damp shed, in my ‘shed’ clothes – warm, but unflattering. I have forgotten which of my ‘tidy’ or more attractive clothes go with which, I just don’t go anywhere very often. Luckily, my passion is right here at home but the problem with that is that sometimes, the world shrinks. Well, my world shrank (shrunk?) lately, and I found myself feeling quite upset and powerless about a situation in which I had foolishly involved myself.
I needed a few groceries this afternoon, so I set out for Sainsbury’s, a very short walk away. The last few days have been quite wet and blustery, so I was pleasantly surprised by the still quality of the air, a soft light taking the edge off the icy greyness of the sea and sky, a little sun breaking through the clouds and pointing, finger like, in the direction of an impressive container ship passing Arran. Fantastic, a beautiful reminder of how big the world really is. I realised that I had no aches or pains, I felt really good. I turned the corner and saw a man stop to look back at his dog, it had decided to sit down in the middle of the road and not budge. It really made me smile, the gruff man talking to the tatty white dog, it was nice to see their partnership in action. Eventually the dog got up and moved towards the man, at first limping like a broken old dog but suddenly trotting along busily behind, as if the limp had been an act. The man had broad shoulders and walked hunched, clouds of cigarette smoke in his wake. They had understood each other, the man and the dog.
I got to Sainsbury’s and saw a mother and her two little girls get a trolley from under the shelter. The eldest might have been nine. Both girls wore short black leatherette jackets, skin tight black leggings, very revealing especially from behind, and high heeled black boots with stud decoration. As the girls clacked along importantly, unaware that they paraded the length of the fruit and veg aisle in surreal emulation of adult females out on the pull, I could see the price labels flashing white on the soles of their boots with every step.
I was reminded of my mother telling me to always remove the labels from new shoes, because prostitutes used to advertise their price by discreetly revealing it written on the soles of their footwear. I don’t know how she knew that, but that’s what she said. As I pondered the scruples of the mother of these girls, and tried not to let my expression reveal my inner thoughts, the eldest girl turned around and looked right at me, it was a little spooky. Our gaze held just a moment long enough and I said, ‘when you get home, take the labels off from under your boots’. She said, ‘ok’ then ran off to catch up with mum. What I would have liked to have said was, ‘please please don’t wear provocative clothes, just don’t, it’s just not appropriate, and while you should be safe always and forever no matter what you wear, the reality is that someone is making you vulnerable by allowing you to dress in that way and you are worth much more than that’, but I didn’t.
I heard the expression ‘Prosti-tots’ for the first time two days ago, it fills my heart with sadness.
Anyway, I tried not to keep looking at the Little Freaks Show, and did my shopping, two cartons of semi-skimmed goat’s milk, one Freedom Foods chicken for jampot soup (I do feel uncomfortable about eating animals…but I still eat them) a little chorizo to make it taste of something different, one baguette (partially baked, as I discovered when I got home) and because a friend was coming over and we needed to be a bit naughty, a cream slice each. While on the subject of cream slices, yes, too many would be Very Bad, and yes, I have now descended into the miserable world of not being able to hide from my own fat (it’s right there every time I look in the mirror, indeed, every time I look down) but the chances of dying of a heart attack from eating on my feelings are far less than a heart attack caused by a cream slice evacuating it’s packaging with a back flip and landing on the floor, because the packaging is the most insane I have ever encountered. Those of you who indulge in Cream Slice Temptation will probably know what I mean. Clearly I need much much more experience with handling the packaging. Ahem.
On the way home, I noticed that a persistent and nasty pile of wet dog poo had been thoughtfully covered with sand. It had been there a couple of days, because I’d already noticed it’s strategic positioning for an unfortunate foot on Thursday. People round here aren’t that bothered about picking up dog poo. It’s not the dogs who are inconsiderate and dirty, but you know, that’s life. Just look where you’re going is the message, all you can do is change yourself in the end, and make sure you pick up your own dog’s leavings.
The light had changed subtly since I had gone into the shop, and was still soft but cooler, the container ship had disappeared from view, there was a huge ship further up the bay (I’m a bit envious of the people who have the view of the biggest vessels waiting in line slightly further round the coast) and I felt happy in the knowledge that I was walking home and would have a happy greeting from the dogs, even though I hadn’t been out long. I was about to start making a big warming winter soup and my friend was coming over. I thought how silly I had been to coop myself up and allow my world to become so small that I was making a mountain out of a molehill. I wondered how many people there are in the UK. Internet research this evening came up with a figure of approximately 61million…61million! In 1997 I went to live in Bangladesh for three years, with my husband and son. At that time there were an estimated 120 million people living there, a country half the size of England. Still, 61million is a fair amount of souls, and I had allowed my world to get small, I really must remember to get out more.