The many and various ways I pass the time now has a new addition. Usually it involves drinking coffee whilst sitting at a computer keeping in touch with chums, or sipping wine sitting on our tiny terrace catching the sun, and wondering what else I can do to avoid any cleaning or tidying or putting away of stuff and things that aren't even MINE. And now I am going to type this blog. Provided that doesn't become a chore as well, in which case...

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Going the Way of All Flesh

Today is the completion day on Our Ma’s house sale.  I keep checking her bank account on-line to see if the money has arrived there or not, but I guess it will be the afternoon before it shows up.  I remember that when I bought my house in mid-Wales I had to ring the solicitor, half way over there in convoy with the furniture van, to check that the mortgage money had been transferred from the building society and that I could collect the house keys from the estate agents. 

The Husband seemed unmoved when we went to check that the house clearance was finished adequately on Tuesday.  He even said out loud “Goodbye and Good Riddance” which made me think that for years he has secretly regarded the house as a millstone around Our Ma’s neck that she couldn’t cope with, being too big, too unwieldy, and too invested with sentimental attachments.  Latterly, for fifteen years or more she always needed paid help with the garden and much of the housework, which was often not done as well as one might have liked to see it done, as the cleaner was only paid for two hours a week. 

I think this experience could be a warning to us all to downsize as ruthlessly as possible as one gets older.  Why have so much equity tied up in a house that is too large and cluttered with useless and worthless objects?  She could have managed easily in a one or two bedroom flat after her husband died in 1995, and had some considerable cash in the bank for more holidays or treats.  This is a sad thought, now everything she was hanging onto (along with what she perceived as being her independence and dignity) has been sold off, in the case of the bricks and mortar, or mostly discarded and thrown away, in the case of 90% of the contents.  We hope as much as this as possible will be used profitably by the recycling centre where it was delivered, but land fill will be the ultimate destination of quite a lot of it.

Crazy, isn't it, to pay for years for something to be dusted or vacuumed round only for it to be discarded and buried at the end?

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Moving Out and Moving On

I suppose I can type this now, without fear of reprisals from The Fates.  We have sold Our Ma's house.

Contracts were exchanged this morning, and the completion date is set for the 30 June.  The Family will move out of the house that they - and only they - have occupied since it was built in 1956. We (the three remaining fit and filthy Family Members living hereabouts) will have to go though all the stuff and things amassed there since the family took occupancy fifty-five years ago, acquiring the keys off the council when my sister-in-law was not even yet walking and The Husband's arrival was imminent.  There are only fourteen months between Our Ma's babies, her Pigeon Pair.  Both still live locally, which is a boon at such a time.  We will be sifting through objets d'art, papers, photos, clothes, knick-knacks, tools, playthings, and sundry detritus from not only the past fifty-five years, but family articles inherited and acquired from earlier generations as well.  Everything from pots and pans to furs and family silver, with a hundred types of item in between.

Once we have taken away anything of lasting or sentimental value the professional house-clearing company will be called upon to do the rest, leaving the house empty of the family identity, but for decorative style and built-in shelves and such, ready for the next owners to take possession and do with it what they see fit.

The house was bought for cash in the early eighties when Thatcherism deemed the country needed far more owner-occupiers and fewer council tenants, not long after legislation was introduced to make such changes of ownership possible.  I suspect this was achieved with a mixture of savings and family money either given or inherited, so there was never a mortgage.  Our Ma and her husband went from being council tenants to outright owners overnight.  And now Our Ma goes from being owner-occupier to care home resident, so she is again renting, as it were.

And the babies she fed in the kitchen, dandled in the sitting room and soothed to sleep in the bedrooms will be responsible for all this while she has her every need attended to elsewhere, because that's how it is when child and parent swap places.  It's a gradual tipping of the balance of life, the most natural thing one can imagine, when one has a family member in her nineties.  Some middle-aged people find it very hard, and resent it, when the onus falls on them, but I think The Husband feels it is a privilege to do so much for one of the people who once did so much for him.

And I have yet another reason to love him.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

An almost unbroken silence... about to be interrupted.

It is more almost six weeks since my last confession.  I am in a state of disgrace when it comes to this blogging malarkey, and I can't even raise a smidgen of guilt, a scintilla of shame about that.  I guess if the mood isn't upon one and the muse is absent then we are marked out as the amateur writers and feeble self-publicists we genuinely are, we non-posting bloggers.  "See her?" they say "She can't even keep a blog.  Couldn't write her way out of a paper bag with a sharp pencil.  She's useless, she is..."

Can't even claim domestic rectitude has taken over and I have been too busy looking after other things and other people to put finger to key.  Nor have I been ill, beyond a day or three of sinusitis, ooh, ages ago.  Nor have we been away.

But I have had a birthday, and that day was also our wedding anniversary.  That took care of 31 May, and the two weekends either side of it.  When I told her in an e-mail, after she'd asked, that I was now 54 an old friend as near as dammit accused me of making it up and that she was sure I'd been 54 before, but I have never lied about my age in that direction.  In my teens (to get served in pubs and buy a ticket for an 18 at the flicks) I recalculated upwards, but I've never skimmed a day off my age.  I seem to remember the friend in question back in the 1980s admitting to taking four whole years off her date of birth when she met a nice chap who was two years younger than her.  To the extent of, when she found herself actually married to him, changing her passport (in those days it was filled in by fountain pen, by the issuing clerks, you don't believe me, you young ones, do you?) to cover her taradiddled tracks.  My How I Laughed!  But I didn't remind her.  She's been divorced and remarried since and the second husband is a little older than she is, so fibbing wasn't called for that time, and maybe she has forgotten that it was done in the past.  So when I received her teasing accusation I was doctoring the facts, I put that down to a spot of psychological projection and let it go.

I let a lot of things "go" these days.  I just can't be arsed to make an issue out of this fatiguing business of living life any more, so the sixth-form student firebrand I was in the mid-1970s simply wouldn't know me now.  However, I still get a bit cross about flagrant unfairness, potty extremism and wilful blind ignorance, if I bump hard up against an example and bark my shin on it.  But only instances in my direct personal experience, at the time, when I am there, and I will sometimes admonish the perpetrator and take them on in an argument if they want one.  I can't remember when I last harrumphed at a newspaper, though, or shouted at Radio Four.  Actually, I gave up Radio Four for Radio Two about twenty years ago, so that last example of crotchety intolerance is a bit out of date, but you know to what I refer - the blustering what? what? bloody what? stuff that happens in kitchens the country over on the hour every hour, on our being acquainted by the BBC about some gross ineptitude or heartless cruelty or other. 

That doesn't mean I have stopped valuing in the things I once cared about, I just don't get so strung out about them anymore.  Since letting "go" of such stuff I have found a sweet serenity in my life, that sits well with a loving husband, a daft and affectionate dog, and the just generally pottering about trying to keep out of mischief which has replaced what I once laughingly used to refer to as "my career".  You know, paid work.  Going off every day to fight monsters and bring back the bacon.  The Husband still earns our daily crust, and he describes his job as a lot of "colouring in without going over the lines and not being cheeky to teacher" as though there is a natural extension between how one learns to behave at primary school and one's working life.  Which of course there is.  Only the spending money is a bit more impressive later on.

I have often said a thing I heard many years ago, that grown-ups are just children with money.  We have some money, and time to spend it, now Our Ma is ensconced in the Bide-a-wee Home For the Baffled, and The Husband has been taking me, with a delicious frequency and insouciant regularity, out for drinks and meals at a charming local hostelry, and we have met new people, and they have asked us out for drinks, and to celebrations, and then there is the little matter of the once-a-month quiz night, and half-price champagne on Thursdays, so there you have it, gradually, eventually - my full confession.

I haven't blogged because I have been too busy enjoying myself.  In the PUB, and if you've missed me, TOUGH, because we are most probably going there tonight, for me to drink half-price champagne - again.  Live with it!