Time seems to be tumbling forward these days. I guess that’s what happens to it when you set about Changing Things. All these months of similar days slipping imperceptibly into the next, so that Time-as-we-knew-it ceased to exist, and then suddenly it feels as if someone has opened the flood gates, and all that stored up Time is pouring out of the calm lagoon of the present, and rushing headlong toward the choppy seas of an uncertain future.
And here are we, bobbing about wildly on the peaks and troughs of Life’s current in our dubious dinghy of Destiny, wondering whether we have any hope of steering it, or whether we should just hunker down and enjoy the ride.
So… what did Simon think of the house?
Following the long, slow drive up through France, he unloaded My Wise Friend and her Charming Youngest at Dover station, so they could enjoy the further delights of a late evening train journey to Derby, whilst he overnighted at his Mother’s. The next day, he loaded up the remaining space in the car with old things (a chest of drawers donated by his Mother) and new things (lawn mower, programmable thermostat) and trundled onward, arriving at the mystery house on a dull and typically English Saturday afternoon, where my son met him to assist in the reversing the big country horsebox into the awkward urban driveway, and to help unload its (amazingly well-packed and still intact) contents.
The first few phone calls from the Other Side were filled with lists of Things That Need Doing, and ‘Another-problem-I’ve-discovered’s, until I realised that I was asking the wrong question. I didn’t want to know what Simon thought about the house. I wanted to know what he felt about it. I had to be patient. I had to wait for his expectations to dance with his perceptions, until they reached a state of consonance. I had to wait for him to trudge through the disappointing sludge of All The Things That Are Wrong, before he could climb out onto that comfortable ledge of acceptance, and look into the happy distance. I had to wait until the house welcomed him home.
Over the next few days Simon set about sorting the house and his thoughts. He bought a television, installed the new programmable thermostat for the central heating system, installed some more memory in the struggling lap top, and weeded the rose garden at the front of the house. He went to a popular, noisy pub to watch Arsenal on Sky, and drink a pint of bitter. Then at half time he moved to a quieter, old man’s pub to more properly enjoy the rest of the match in peace, and come to terms with the fact that he was now an old man. He shopped in Sainsbury’s (“argh! Too full and horrible – let me out of here!”), and he shopped in Homebase (“Maybe French DIY stores aren’t as expensive as I thought!”). He wandered about in the garden, and fixed a broken fence, and wasn’t overly bothered by the distant traffic noise. He walked the paths and tracks behind the house to check out dog-walking possibilities, and he was pleased with what he saw.
And after all, and in the end, he concluded that we had made a good-enough purchase, and that it was a good-enough house, and he could, he supposed, imagine living there and being happy enough. For a while, anyway. Because, (like he has said before), this is not going to be our forever house. And I thought (like I have thought before) – nowhere ever is!