Forgive me. It has been a while since my last confession.
Eleven days. Almost two weeks. Not a huge span of time in the grand scheme of things – and there has not been too much of super-note going on anyway… Alas, no true sins to confess.
No real red letter days, either. Just real days.
Maybe they’re the same thing now?
Our growing baby is, my wife tells me and an app tells her, at roughly the size of a pepper. No word on whether that’s red, green or yellow. But whichever, we will love them just the same.
We’ve enjoyed more instalments of Grand Designs (the TV show which features unusual or ambitious house builds and renovation projects). We’ve watched a ten-year old episode focusing on a build in Bath. We took our four days of honeymoon in that beautiful city last year.
And we’ve seen one which followed a much more recent construction. An impressive modernist house secreted into a cliff just above and just along from a tiny port town. This one piqued our interest greatly, as that tucked-away town on the west coast of Scotland is a place we know well and love much.
We like to spend a day there whenever we’re staying nearby – which is at least once a year, sometimes twice. It was, in fact, four times during 2019 (and this photograph was taken on the second of those trips).
One of Kevin McCloud’s forays to this particular site was sandwiched between our own pair of summer visits last year. Him in July. Us in June and August. We missed sharing a pint at The Crown Hotel with our design and dry sarcasm hero by the merest sliver of time.
A couple of years ago we fell in love with a whitewashed stone harbour cottage – blue door, of course – which was for sale conveniently adjacent to The Crown. To be honest, for a few years now we’ve quarter-seriously talked about just buggering off to live in this little town.
What the simple, fresh and unspoiled nature of this quiet spot by the shore could bring to our child’s quality of life is greatly appealing. All that sky, all that sea….
But the cottage we saw would be a bit too small for a growing family of three… Because the sailors and fishermen of yore were never known to have children, and those that ever did all coped by living in five-bedroom detacheds, right?
Back at home below the border, in our own modest program of renovations and renewals, we’ve had our stairs sorted out by a joiner. New bannisters and spindles and so on and so on… A day of upheaval a couple of weekends ago, and hard work for three. The joiner, his mate, and the joiner’s lad as general gofer.
I overheard a wonderful exchange between father and son. “You’ve cut these bloody spacers wrong! The setting on the saw’s been changed,” said the joiner. He was annoyed at having to rip out an hour’s work and start one part of the task all over again.
“I haven’t touched it,” said the teenage dogsbody, with a defensive and slightly sullen, slightly worried, demeanour. The joiner, exasperated: “Look, I’m not saying you did. I’m saying the bloke across the road must have come over and done it”…
We’ve finally been able to lift the lockdown slightly, too. We’ve spent some time socially distant socialising with our closest friends. A garden meal with a metre between us all, last weekend.
Their sixteen-year old family dog faded and died a couple of months ago, not far short of his 17th birthday. Our friends are still in pain. This, because of lockdown, was my wife’s first visit to their house in four months. It was strange for her to have this familiar and favoured figure – and champion farter – so noticeably not there. Gone. The dear old thing.
I sometimes think about the mortality of our own animal. Our beautiful cat. I’ve had him since he was six weeks old – though perhaps it is that he has had me since he was six weeks old. Either way, we’ve loved each other from the very moment we met. He actually shares his birthday with my wife. It could be that this is why they hit it off straight away too.
He’s adoring, adored and now eight. All being well probably about half way through his life, if he lives a good one. (Note: He lives a good one). He’s an essential in our home. But it’s even more important to have him as a fixture in our family now that we’ll have our child joining it soon.
In part I hope that the cat’s companionship means that our love for animals is encouraged and will take hold in the next generation. And, domestically, his routine needs could be helpful in developing the taking-on of some day-to-day responsibilities.
But I also think and feel this way because when the cat is travelling his final stretch our child will have a chance to know what it is to lose something forever, and learn how to process the grief. What a lesson that can be.
We have a saying – “I’ve won it, haven’t I?” – in our group of friends. It stems from a drunken session at the pub many years ago.
Some of the group found that they were discussing domestic appliances in detail, so suddenly pulled themselves up short in disgust at how utterly fucking boring they were being on a grand evening out. They immediately presented themselves with the inaugural Most Boring Conversation Award.
After that it became a regular ‘thing’, which continues to this day. Hence a dawning “I’ve won it, haven’t I?” after something… Or the knowing caveat “I’m about to win it…” before something.
Or whatever variation.
And with that in mind…
During the two weeks since my previous post here we’ve also had the new dishwasher I bought plumbed in, and we’ve finally taken delivery of the ‘American’ fridge freezer I ordered last pay-day.
This monolith from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey arrived earlier this week and is now in situ. Just as if it has always been here, imposing and full of cheese since the very dawn of man.
Will the extra storage capacity this piece of cinema history provides us with translate into a metric fuck-tonne of readily to-hand Häagen-Dazs? Or might it mean a fridge replete with a bounty of much healthier salads and smoothie ingredients and the like?
I haven’t yet checked this. But I’m actually hopeful that the serial number of this absolute beast of a machine might be HAL-9000.
“I’m just getting some ice cream”.
“I’m afraid I can’t let you do that, Dave”…