19.03.15 (Day 451)
Just over one week in the new place and it truly is mine now: I’ve made my mark and this is where I live. I have to pay for it and the council have cocked up my housing benefit but that’s a small crease to iron out of what is otherwise a smooth life fabric.
I’m upstairs in my little bit of the pub and as I survey my surroundings, I almost allow myself a little inflective smile. I’ve spent the last few days arranging things and most of those things now have a home, just like me. I’ve spent fifteen months getting here.
This truly is a cosy, crooked place. The floors of this listed building, list. Therefore so do the walls and the furniture. But it’s all holding up. The furniture is managing to remain upright and the finishing touches are now in place: pictures are hung from the walls, ornaments are in place, I’ve got my hi-fi connected to the TV and I’ve installed red ceiling lights to give a nice, warm, pink glow. The carpets were still a bit grim, so the subdued pink haze of the light bulbs lend the place a certain cosy ambience, complimented by the soft sound from the Mordaunt Short speakers. I was denied the simple, restorative pleasure of music for months on end while I was out on the road, relief coming only from my trusted headphones whenever I had something to plug them into. Now though I have my Cambridge Audio amplifier hooked up to the speakers and I have music. I’m appreciating again why the speakers cost three hundred pounds. Each. Even sitting in the second room at my writing desk, those speakers fill the space. They don’t have to be loud. the quality of the sound is simply so rich that the music fills my surroundings.
There’s lots still to do and many things to buy for the place but the living room at least is eclectic and eccentric in its look and feel: it goes with the person who lives here.
I’ll probably pop downstairs to the bar later, just to see who’s in and to maybe shoot some pool. There’s someone down there who I want to see but who I’m a little bit afraid to see, for fear of that accidentally calling someone “baby” thing. I don’t mind going downstairs of my own accord but I do object to constantly being interrupted by people turning up without prior arrangement, only for one of the bar staff to have to come up and let me know that I have a visitor. I live upstairs: please do not disturb. Everyone is welcome in the bar but only by arrangement if it’s to see me. Pub rules dictate that upstairs is out of bounds anyway.
There are exceptions: there are permitted visitors but even they must have a pass. Some have a life pass and one of those was in today, as she often is. It was one of my daughters. I may not say which one of them it was but it doesn’t actually matter that I can’t because I’m proud of all three and love them equally: the studious one, the worrisome one and the wayward one. They all read this and no-one can stop them, just as nobody can stop those resourceful girls spending time with me. And for the benefit of the disapproving parents reading, I saw one of the girls today, spoke with another via email and the third on the phone. You won’t catch them because it was all done in secret, not that it has to be but you made it this way. You need to trust me and your daughters; my daughters.
My peace upstairs will be disturbed tonight as we host a practice night for a local band in the function room downstairs. So all of my setting up of the sound system up here will be for nothing, for tonight. There are a couple of things I may watch on TV and I’ll either crank the speakers up loud or use the headphones. Or I may get a call from downstairs behind the bar to say that it’s quiet and boring; therefore, can I pop down for some friend time. Happy to oblige but careful not to let that word slip.
I met the mother ship for lunch yesterday and without saying it in so many words, I sensed that she was proud of me. I quote, “You’ve done it.” Yes, but not without a lot of blood, sweat and tears. I truly deserve the place where I’ve ended up and I’ve even got an invite to the next family lunch, at the house I was forbidden by law to visit, in the company of my genes sister. My little sister, The Courts remains an enigma, in that I haven’t seen her but I’m here, as she knows.
It’s missing a lot for now but it is also so much that I didn’t have before. Most importantly, I’m home. Those who have followed this blog for the last fifteen months will be relieved. New readers – and I know I have new followers – will perhaps read back to before they knew me and be as surprised to learn of the person I used to be as those who have watched the transformation from then to now.
I’ve been asked by two new readers to mentor them in their own writing. I’m more than happy to help someone do something which I love so that they may gain the same pleasure which I do. It’s a privilege and an honour to asked and the enquirers have read my writing and judge me to be a good mentor. What I have I’m happy to share and always willing to help.
I started writing this two hours ago, took a break to watch a DVD but was somewhat disturbed by the music playing downstairs. The band are in. They’re good but they don’t make a good background sound to Battlestar Gallactica. Maybe we’ll book them for our planned open mic night, for which I’m booked for a stand up routine. That’s comedy. I’ve done it before and people said I couldn’t do it. Well I’m doing it again. They’re not laughing now are they? With thanks to Bob Monkhouse.
It’s coming up to closing time and the band seem to have packed up and gone. I’m listening to Leannie Kaleido on the hi-fi and remembering how good she is. We must give her a slot for a gig here.
So in less than an hour, the people I live with and who are running the bar tonight will be up. I just have to remember not to say that word. We have post-pub activities planned but I personally plan to be in bed before three in the morning.
Tomorrow I plan to write. Once all that which is on my mind is out of the way via this blog, I’m clear to get working on the second book once more. The bones are there; it just needs lots of meat.
For now, I’m still on the second floor and the pub is still open. I know this because right outside my window is the pub sign. If it’s illuminated, downstairs is open. As soon as it goes off, that’s my cue to wait for those from downstairs to come and find me. One of them has said she will, then we’ll be chilling in the flat downstairs with me being careful not to say the word.
Until then I’m doing as I please: I can do that here. I can listen to music on the hi-fi; watch whatever I want on TV. I can even plug my USB key with saved episodes of old Sky Series into the TV and watch those. I get to sleep in my own double bed. Wearing whatever I want, or don’t want. I can eat what I want, when I want: not much and infrequently as it happens.
The light outside my window has gone off. The pub is closed but life goes on above it.
Carrying on, while I may only type and record these thoughts until I get an internet connection, it’s Friday night. The one I feared accidentally calling by the wrong term of endearment is gone. It’s quiet around here and to be honest, there are few reasons to go downstairs to the bar. Sometimes someone comes along and you just click. Then they’re gone and you miss them. Apparently though the feeling is mutual.
So tonight I shall see what’s on TV and if there’s nothing on I’ll watch a DVD or two. I finally got around to sorting my DVDs and CDs into alphabetical order. I now realise how many I’m missing. Dan and I did have very similar tastes. The books can wait as there are simply too many of them and ordering books is not a simple matter of arranging them in alphabetical order.
I’ve only been upstairs for a couple of hours and only now that I’ve sorted out the CDs and DVDs am I properly free to try to chill out. I had visitors today, so that tied me to the bar. It really did because two of them are too young to bring up here.
Tomorrow my mate DJ Dave is going to attempt a repair of the Cambridge Audio CD player. Other than him visiting and attending to a couple of things downstairs, I’m free for the day. That’ll be me buried in The Guardian then. And on Sunday I have the whole day off, so that’ll see me in The Observer. I have food and drink in, so I’m sorted for a weekend of pleasing myself.
Right now, I’m off to graze on snacks and watch TV. There are two people at the front of my mind. One knows who she is and the other doesn’t. The one who knows also knows who the other one is and why my mind is wandering. My daughter is very intuitive and she spotted it today.
I’ve been booked to cater for a party of fifty people in the function room downstairs. That could be a late night, as could this. As nights often are when you live in a pub. How much do I care? Not a jot. I’m home.
I’ve seen one of the daughters today and spoken to one of the others by text. One of them is proud of me for some reason. Apparently it’s my survivor instinct. The other one is just the littlest and youngest. She is just herself. She loves me, as does her sister. The third one is quiet still. I do worry but I’m not a hands-on dad to them. I adore them all but they need to be taken out of their protective layers and allowed to live life as teenagers. That’s what teenage girls do. And more but I don’t want to think about that side of things where my girls are concerned. To the dad who asked me, what are you playing at with my fifteen-year-old daughter, I ask the same question. She sees me as more of a dad than you and I’ve offered you the chance to speak to me but you didn’t take me up on it. Instead, you grounded your daughter and took your bullying frustration out on her. You know where to find me: in exactly the same place your daughter comes to see me.
Saturday: It was pretty quiet in the bar when I was downstairs earlier, so I’ve come upstairs in the vain hope of getting some time to myself, read the Saturday Guardian and do some writing. I really must get back onto the second novel once I’m done getting everything else down.
Thanks to my mate Disco Dave my CD player is working to a fashion, so I have my full sound kit back up and running. I’m torn on what to do tonight but I plan a late one as I have the day off tomorrow. I’ll probably do my usual and flit between reading and writing whilst listening to music, then maybe some TV or a film later. Or I might see how the PS3 is for gaming.
Tomorrow I’m, invited for dinner at the old safe house. Tonight it’s curry at chez moi.
I miss my new friend. Occasionally someone walks into your life and you just click with them. Someone who whatever they do, they make you smile. Someone you can relate to and vice versa. Someone you just feel is a soul mate who makes you feel alone when you’re apart. That’s my new friend. She also happens to be very attractive.
There are other things still missing here too but so much that I didn’t have before: my own bed and being able to sleep in it whenever I want. I don’t have to feel like I’m walking on eggshells all the time. There are five toilets here, so no corking up of the backside or tying knots in the old chap. I miss the company of my best friends but they still visit here. I’m sans internet and a few TV channels via Freeview. I’m missing quite a few books, CDs and DVDs now that those I unpacked are in order but I did tell Dan to keep any which she wanted.
Like my life recently, this had all been a bit random and all over the place. But these are the thoughts of someone who has spent the last fifteen months drifting and who has now found a place. This place, with many friends and family around and daughters who are proud of me as I am them.
The hobo has been wandering, like my thoughts but I’m sure when I read these back in time, I’ll have been making more sense than at many points over that hellish period of my life. It’s been a nightmare and so have I, in love and life.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll finally settle down.