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Saturday, 2 January 2010

Life and Death

Within seconds, the house is silent and its one of the saddest things I have ever experienced. Some would say its just the contrast but as soon as our New Year's guests leave, a deep quiet, an active quiet, floods the house, no contrast this - sometimes an abscence is active. RHB has also left, albeit temporarily, headed into town with an energy I find impossible to muster to hunt a new kettle and a gift for Shazzer who's birthday is tomorrow, so I wander through the house, trying to keep a promise to tidy up. I start at the top, helped by two cats who, as distrustful of "other" as any human racist, have mostly been hidden for the past few days. They are revelling in the abscence of people, and joyfully fight over, through and underneath the duvet covers and laundry as I prepare it for storage or washing. But right here at the top of the house, it is now incredibly quiet. And I find that while feng shui is deeply, deeply rooted in bollocks, I cant get over the feeling that Large Mansions has itself tried really hard, to help what has been a brilliant holiday period. The house, undecorated as it is, empty of pictures, mirrors and still unfinished, should feel thread bare, unfinished and cold, but over the last few days of visitors, it has conducted itself perfectly, creaking in just all the right places. Last night we all watched the special Christmas edition of Doctor Who in our unfinished front room and it was as if the house changed shape to allow everyone enough space to flop all over the couches, cushions and floor. Then back to the kitchen for a meal of pasta and pesto, and the cavernous kitchen became cozy, intimate and rustic. I wander round gathering towels, but very reluctantly.

And while the guys were visiting the house even changed time - a simple meal started at eight somehow finishes at eleven. This, I think, is a great place, the third we've lived in, not just a bunch of rooms but our place. I immediately want to leave so I can have fun remembering. I had been thinking of decorating, finishing the firelace for example, completing the second bathroom, patching a few holes, but now I dont think I should - I should just let the place collect its own impressions - decorating would impose me on the place. I'm indulging this teenage lachrimony, this half baked misunderstoanding of Russian philosophy, when I find a plastic bag containing a copy of a magazine, small bottle of red wine and some travel snacks in the living room where we had watched television - Doctor Who, Bladerunner, Jordan's life story - and a second, different, wave hits me. Suddenly, I feel that everything must go because its not fair that the holidays should ever end, and all the debris of a seven day party is just a reminder of what I'm now missing. I have to obliterate every single sign that they were ever here. I'm in a fury - vaucuuming the whole house, cleaning the bathroom where an hour ago six different toothpastes - Sensitive teeth, whitening, organic apple and sorgum, and 'kids only' lived together happily. On the kitchen table the little brown teapot has the audacity to still be warm so it gets thrown into the sink, thoroughly rinsed, washed, cleaned, stuck in the dishwasher then thrown in the back of a high, high unaccessible cabinet, hopefully to gather dust for ever.

An couple of hours later, the house is clean and empty again. The cats have fully resumed their existence, no longer restricted to sneaking round the house at night sitting next to beds and staring at the strangers sleeping there, and no longer fearful that if they leave a preferred sleeping spot on a couch, a human will have claimed it when they decide to return. I look at the fireplace that's been bugging me ever since, for a laugh, I decided to deliberately leave its shelves 'wonky'. Next week I'm going to fix those shelves.


My kidneys sigh a huge relief as Sue's car drives away. Wine, beer, cheese, champagne, whiskey and tea have aged those internal organs responsible for the removal of toxins from my body to such an extent that I immediately Google "kidney failure" as the car slides off down the road. Google, and wikipedia tell me that I have renal failure, pancreatis, a damaged liver and toxic shock. I decide I will give up the drink for good. Also, my vocal chords hurt from talking and laughing. I resolve not to laugh at anything for at least six weeks, which, given imminent exams, the weather in the UK right now, and Liverpool's current form is an easy ask. I am also glad that I no longer have to attempt a bad pretence at articulacy in the prescence of so many members of RHB's family and relatives, and I am glad not to be confronted by a group of people most of whom's lifeway I wish I had followed. In truth it goes further than this in that I practically wish I was most of the people I like because everyone else just knows so much. At least, as with when all visitors leave, and RHB has gone to work, and its just me and the cats, I can lay valid claim to being the most knowledgeable entity in the house.

The next day is much, much better. Maudlin, that cousin of Puberty, has gone. The holidays were a great success. And almost un-noticed over the last seven days, the light has changed. The evil equinox is almost two weeks in the past. I dont care if Spring doesnt arrive because its getting lighter. I permit an anthropological thought - perhaps this was what it was like in the caves? Perhaps we used to do this - hunker down somewhere warm, kill a few deer and just eat and tell stories till the weather got better. You could even form theories about the origins of human culture around gatherings like this. But a final thought occurs - why bother? I make a note to myself to no longer write about, or even particularly think about, all the stuff that happens, just to enjoy it. That is the real point. "That's it!" I resolve "No more blog. No more theories. Just doing." It is my New Years Resolution. Happy with my decision, I sit in front of the computer for a whole three minutes. Then, a small sigh. "Screw it " I think as the screen comes to life " I may as well finish off the whiskey as well while I'm at it".

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