I AM not in a home.
That is to say, I am not in the kind of home where someone else wipes your bum and they ask your relatives if you take sugar in your tea.
I am in my home. It feels good. Life feels good. I am thinking of connecting the fence to the mains power and padlocking the gates, so I can never get out again.
You may recall my wife and I have been living apart for some months. A short while back I invited her to dinner in the pitiful garret I have inhabited since.
I contrived to wreck the entire evening, starting with the dinner, to convince her I was a danger to myself if left alone.
She came over last week and suggested I move home.
With all the survival instincts of a lemming I said: “No.”
Can you believe that?
I couldn’t. What I meant to say was: “Yes.” But it came out all wrong.
It came out as: “It’s no good you coming over here and being magnanimous. I am not even going to consider it until you apologise.”
Or, in short: “No.”
“But you’re not safe on your own. You’ll kill yourself sooner or later.”
“That’s not a good enough reason.”
“I can’t think of another one.”
“Well – because you can’t manage without me would be a good starting point!”
“I can manage without you… but I suppose I’d rather not.”
“But I don’t want you having me back just because you feel sorry for me.”
“Mmmm. Good point. Forget I brought it up.”
“What? What! Hang on… just now you said–”
“Yes, but I can see you have too much pride for that.”
“Yes. No! I can learn to deal with it. Maybe I should come back. I mean, I spend most of my time over there anyway. Mowing lawns, cutting wood, fixing stuff.”
“Fixing stuff? What have you fixed!”
“Well, the lawn mower for a start.”
“But we’ve been apart for two months. You broke the lawn mower last week. Over here!”
“Great Scott, you’ve been here five minutes and you’re nitpicking already!”
“I’m nitpicking! You conniving, devious, manipulative oaf! I came to offer you the olive branch. I ought to shove it up your backside instead!”
“That’s a sudden change of heart. Five minutes ago you were suggesting I should move home!”
“Not home, you idiot! A home. There’s a difference.”
“You have no mercy!”
“And you don’t deserve any. Now listen to me. Very carefully. You are a difficult man to live with. You are untidy and undisciplined and far too opinionated on things about which you know very little. Including, apparently, me.
“However, it’s no fun walking The Strand on one’s own; I am not interested in joining any clubs and if you think I’m taking a lover who has no idea what I looked like when I was 30, you are mistaken.
“I miss you. I will overlook the way you strew the weekend newspapers everywhere. I will even tidy them up without complaint. In return, you will empty the kitchen bin into the garbage without complaining that I always leave it till it’s overflowing with empty cartons and tins.
“It’s late. I’m tired. I should be in bed and you should be in there with me. Think very carefully before you answer this: what are you going to do?”
“Erm… I’ll get my stuff.”
Did I tell you my wife has twinkly eyes?
She smiled at me. She stepped up close. She kissed me. She has twinkly lips, too.
“I would have you put a home – but all the others turned you down.”
Good. This one’s the only one where I fit.
But I may have to buy a bigger bin for the kitchen.