My poor man has the flu. I'd like to say he has the man flu, but this seems pretty bad: high fever, aching bones, sore head, horrible cough. I am feeding him paracetamol and advil to keep the fever down, and bringing him apple juice and tea and water with lemon. He sleeps in his LL Bean pajamas, with a fleece underneath and his Philadelphia Eagles bobble hat, wrapped in most of the duvet and the Hudson Bay blanket. Periodically he reaches for his phone to check sports scores or says things like "Don't worry about me. I'll struggle on."
The Frenchie, who has been in a cone of shame since Boxing Day, for an ulcerated cornea, has been temporarily freed. The cone is battered and torn, and she is now sitting on the carpet cleaning herself, and all those parts other beers can't reach, elated.
On some of the coldest days of the year, the house has decided to turn off the radiators in the middle of the night, so we're woken (I'm woken) to a deathly chill, and have to pad downstairs in my bare feet to fiddle with the knobs on the thermostat as if I know what I'm doing. (I don't.)
"Are they having a laugh?" asked the nice man who came in to fix the extractor fan in the bathroom. "What do you mean, kind sir?" I said, like Lady Bracknell. "Not many people would take this place, you know" he said, "with the walls crumbling and all. I mean, I suppose it 'as its charm." "Oh I like it!" I said firmly. "Especially in the summer." "You must be a writer" the fine man continues. "I noticed the New Yorker in the bathroom. You writers like the romance of a place like this, don't you?" He smiled kindly. I know he feels sorry for me.
Speaking of romance, the cuckoo clock my son gave me is the most charming thing. Not only does it serve a purpose, but it does so with such elegance. William Morris would approve. It ticks two boxes of his criteria for objects to have in one's house. It serves another purpose: it tells you exactly how much time you're wasting. While I'm faffing around, trying to get out of the house, I notice the cuckoo of the half hour strike, which hastens me. I'm rather paying attention more to time, being our most important commodity and all that. Too late into the new year I am realizing that change must come and that it isn't okay to allow things to remain as they are. One must be brave, one must reach out for the things one wants to do, one must be bold and brave and not give a damn what anyone else thinks, even the man who installs the extractor fan. Even him.
And this house is awfully lovely in the summer. Did I tell you that we've made mirabelle gin from the tiny plums in the garden? I gave a bottle to the postman and promised him I wasn't trying to poison him (it's all a bit Midsummer Murders around here - you can't be too careful) and when I bumped into him on Shire Lane on the horse, he confirmed that he'd loved it, although he had imbibed rather too much all round over Christmas. Let me be clear: I was on the horse; he was in his rather fetching red postal van.
I know when the house is warm enough. Because the dogs, who've had a propensity for jumping in the bed at any provocation, are cozily snuggled in their nice green tweed dog beda underneath the radiator. When it's warm, they don't wake up. Rather like me.
Oh I know this reads like an episode of the Archers. I haven't even gotten in to the man who likes teenage girls and gives them teddy bear necklaces to join the "teddy bear club". That will be another installment. And no doubt Shona will have something to say. We take the sunshine when we can get it, for minutes or hours. Probably a good way to look at life, no?