…Down Which of Late I Cannot Help But Fall*’
Now don’t get me wrong. This isn’t going to be some kind of ‘Woe is me’ whinge. I have a house to be trapped in. It is warm and it is dry – if annoying at times. I can still do the three things that I like most in the world: I can listen to music, I can read and I can write this twaddle, but Lord knows, it’s hard enough to find something new to say sometimes even when you’re not trapped at home all day, doing the same things, in the same order, day after day, and working on the theory that you are not too interested in my toilet habits, my tooth-cleaning regime, nor the order in which I put on and take off my clothes each day, I must admit that even this – my thrice weekly psyche-shredding – has become something of a challenge. This last week has been filled with floundering attempts at finding something new to say about porridge, daytime TV (with special consideration to ‘Loose Women’) and the vagaries of the bin collection. If they were successful in any way, it was merely in teaching me that I have nothing amusing to say about any of them. I even tried to cut and paste pieces of them together, but I wound up sounding like David Icke on crack. There is only so much neurosis it is seemly to cram into a thousand words.
Of course, there are two of us in this house, circling around one another like all-in wrestlers waiting for the bell to go. We have been married for forty years now: there’s not much new that we can find that’s grating about one another. But we’re both trying. I, for instance, have been on this earth for sixty two years without once, until this point, realising that I talk too much, eat too much, drink too much and, quite frankly, breathe too much. We are currently both considering self-isolation – from one another. Not because we have any of the symptoms of Covid, but because it saves us having to be civil all the time. We have developed our own entirely new method of communication based solely on the grunt. Why waste precious syllables when different types of guttural expectoration will serve just as well?
I don’t watch a lot of TV, but my wife does – usually involving people being patched up, cut up, giving birth, or occasionally all three. Sometimes, whenever she decides to watch something that is not dripping in blood and pain, I join her in front of the telly screen, but I think, if I’m completely honest, my presence is not entirely welcome. She doesn’t really like me there. I ask too many questions. I have to be honest, if left to my own devices I would watch little other than old sit-coms and Columbo. I’m not good with the concentration required by TV programmes. How on earth am I supposed to remember the name of the detective’s third cousin by the time that part two comes around and there has been an advert for chocolate between it and part one? I had no idea that I am so annoying: I had no idea my wife would be so good at telling me just how annoying I am. I wouldn’t mind, but she’s got some really bad habits herself – I just can never bring them to mind when I need them. The mid-row, ‘Well you…you…you…’ is normal for me. All my carefully rehearsed rejoinders cast, stuttering, onto the breeze. All my irrefutable facts refuted…
It’s like cabin fever. Three hundred years ago, we would probably have murdered one another by now; be using the other person’s scooped-out cranium as a candle holder. It is Friday deciding exactly how he could fricassee Crusoe – the house is our desert island (although with running water, flushing loos and a distinct lack of coconut and swamp rat in our diet): it is Lord of the Flies with a cast of two; it is a recording session for Let It Be. We both cringe every time our partner reaches for the carving knife. I insist on pouring my own drinks. I have just checked whether it is possible to be poisoned with vitamin D**.
I get out of the house to run, it gives me space and air, and it saves me from going completely stir crazy. I have asked my wife if she would like to run with me. To give you an extremely truncated version of her reply, the answer was ‘No’. There were many reasons – principle amongst them, apparently, the lack of a sports bra. Obviously an excuse. I manage perfectly well without one. My wife walks instead. Unfortunately for her, I too like to walk and I generally go with her. Once again, I fear that my company is not always fully appreciated. I get my coat and hat and she gives me the kind of look that normally accompanies the realisation that your sixteen year old daughter is having a bra fitting carried out by Jimmy Savile. Surely she could try to pretend. We get on really in the fresh air: barely a bicker. Just a sixty year old couple out for a stroll – nothing much to write home about. And yes, that is where we came in, nothing much to write a blog about. If only one of us could fall and break a bone of some kind. Nothing essential, you understand. Nothing too debilitating. I’m pretty sure I could manage without the use of one of the fingers on my left hand for a little while. I could manage the inconvenience I think, if not the pain – my pain threshold occupies the same kind of space as Donald trump’s humility – long enough to write a post about it at least. It would give my wife the opportunity to roll her eyes at me. With any luck, that might be considered as a second period of exercise and we would both wind up in a police cell. That’s bound to be good for a couple of hundred words isn’t it?
*Elbow – Grounds for Divorce
** Exceedingly fair skin means that the sun and I are extremely uneasy bedfellows, so, unable to absorb it in the normal way without assuming the colour of a ripe raspberry, I have taken a vitamin D supplement for many years. It is the only vitamin I take that is not a constituent part of either chocolate or whisky and the only thing I can find about the house that might be snuck into my food without me noticing.