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Sunday, 4 May 2014

Pooped on the Sofa. And a Moment of Peace.

This sunny Sunday afternoon I am, quite suddenly, alone.  I dare not breathe in case it ends, and I hear someone else in my house.  I can feel the air itself whoop for joy, I can feel the house expand, and most of all, I can breathe.  It has been busy.  My house has been like Paddy's market.  From last weekend, we had a count down to yesterday, when my lodger in the annex moved out giving a subliminal signal to all the other lodgers to move rooms, taking with them all their worldly belongings, to set up home in a different part of the house.  My annex lodger had been here well over a year.  Within seconds of announcing he was leaving to go back home to Sri Lanka, the lady who lives in one of the rooms upstairs had announced that she was having the annex.  The lady in one of the other rooms bagged her room and the new Polish man decided to move into the second lady's room.  A room, the smallest room in the house, ended up being vacant.  Into this moves a lady who lived here before a year ago, who wants to come back.  Fine, I said.  All is well.  Let the action, at ten in the morning on Saturday, begin.

It was like the starting line in the Disney film "Cars," with revving engines and wheelies in the air.  The first lady from upstairs, who does not like to wait for anything she wants, was more or less camped out at first light in the kitchen of the main house, from where one enters the annex.  I had said to her to let annex man leave first before she moved in, but such was her determination, I wasn't sure that she was going to be able.  "He is sensitive," I told her,"let him leave before you bring your new kettle, microwave, toaster, bed, wardrobe and bubble bath collection into his space."  And so, ever helpful, Lady 1 camped out in the kitchen here, her nose squashed against the glass panes of the annex door, and tried to find things to do until the annex lodger left to catch his plane.  Lady 2, who was the opposite, came in from night duty on the day of the big move, and fell asleep at the kitchen  table.  We were all curious about how she was going to move the stuff from her big room, so much stuff that you couldn't open her door, across the landing to Lady 1's old room.  We also wondered how she would then get it all through the door and manage to get in herself.  Amongst ourselves, we expected that she would sleep through the whole move.  She did wake up though, and move everything but quite a lot of it is still in boxes on the landing.  I took a car load of things she didn't want to the tip, and we all believe her when she says she can actually get in to her new room over the top of all the bags and boxes and bin liners full of clothes.

Polish man had to wait for everyone else to move first.  Unconcerned, capable and with a serious face, he cleaned not only his own room out from top to bottom (ready for the lady who used to live here to come back in), he cleaned Lady 2's room for her.  Now, all the lodgers are finding new lives in different parts of the house, and reinventing themselves to suit their upgraded status.

I on the other hand, am spent.  For a while, it was like four refugees moving their households across my landing to and fro, up and down stairs, with piles of unwanted furniture and bedding growing in the garden as old things were discarded to make way for the new.  As landlady, I am sorry but I went out.  I came back when I thought it was all done, and so it was.  I have taken all the old junk piled up in the garden to the dump, I have cleaned up the trails of debris and I have even changed my sheets.  Peace is nearly reigning, as everyone gets used to their new bit of the house.

As I sat down to write this afternoon I heard the front door close, and realised with a surge of joy, that everyone had finally gone out and that quite suddenly, I was alone in the house.  The joy of it took me by surprise.  Today, I have been up since dawn helping out at a fun event on the Bognor seafront, and yesterday, I spent the afternoon with a friend helping her with her Open Studios.  Last week, apart from having the new A Graceful Death exhibitions in Southampton and Brighton to arrange, apart from talking to a Friends of Sussex Hospices Ladies Luncheon Club about AGD, I cleared out half of the garage and took it to the tip.  Then I tidied up what was left so that if I really wanted to, and had no scruples, I could rent out the garage as an abundantly over furnished living space with no windows, so tidy and neat it is. I also began my new painting, a commissioned double portrait of an older couple sitting in their garden.  So today, the day after my house was turned upside down by much heaving and pushing and pulling of beds and televisions and suitcases, by hoovering and cleaning with supermarket own brand squirty cleaning stuffs and hot soapy water, I feel like I have been run over by a truck and it is all that I can do to make myself a huge lunch and eat it alone and gleeful on the sofa.

But!  I had better get myself back in the upright position.  Any minute now, my Polish lady who used to live here is coming back.  Her knock on the door will mean that this unexpected time of peace and quiet has ended, and I will have to get off the sofa and rejoin my household.  I will decide then whether or not to bustle about again, having benefited from this afternoon of unexpected peace and quiet or whether to give up and go to bed.  I think I will go to bed.  I will talk to everyone again tomorrow.

In the kitchen yesterday watching all the comings and goings with nervous eating of a corn on the cob. Taken by Giant Boy and told to smile and act natural.