Earlier today, we signed contracts on the sale of our old farmhouse. Now, we are considering our future. Or to put it another way, my husband is challenging my sudden decision to move house now, throughout the month of December, rather than wait until January, when Christmas will be over.
“Let’s think rationally about this,” he says, “I mean, there’s no rush.”
“It’s funny,” I say, “how changing your mind is the only thing that has the power to move you into a totally different dimension.”
“What change of mind?” he says, sitting up, “what dimension?”
“I mean it took me five seconds to change my mind when we were signing contracts today,” I say, “and now, because of that, we are about to catapult ourselves into a parallel universe of ease and convenience that other people know about. We are about to discover a hidden world.”
“What hidden world?” he says.
“A hidden world,” I say, “somewhere else, full of undiscovered delights.”
“What delights?” he says, “where? We’re moving into the cabin, aren’t we? While we build.”
“Town,” I say, “where there are pavements, and small houses to rent with big airing-cupboards, and no outbuildings, or wheelbarrows or mud.”
“But what about the cabin idea?”
“Town,” I say, “where houses have straight floors. Where lighting a fire is an optional extra, not a matter of life or death. For the past two decades, I’ve lived in a field. I’m not sure I want to die in one. It’s time for something different.”
“We have Christmas for 14 this year,” he says.
“A hidden world...” I say.
“Including my mother.”
“A world of soft, fluffy white towels, hot out of the press and cookers that work. No bats, lopping shears or ghosts.”
“Christmas is a time,” he says, “when anything that can go wrong usually does. A radical decision like this, at this time of year, to move into town...”
“It’s not the Emerald City of Oz,” I say, “it’s just town.”
“You know what they say about Oz,” he says, “it’s where people go, expecting their dreams to be fulfilled only to end up with broken dreams and superficial substitutes.”
“I cannot hear you,” I say, “I am, far, far away, in my different dimension.”
December 2. 10 am. A little town house has come up for rent. It is right in the centre of town, but tucked away, next to an alder tree and babbling river. It has an airing cupboard.
“The stars are aligning,” I say, “we can move in for the first of January. This is like the great harmonic convergence! You can’t argue with harmonic convergence!”
“It’d be easier to argue with harmonic convergence than you,” he says.
“I have this weird feeling,” I say, “like the cosmos is behaving as if it’s a well-ordered whole. Like the universe is on our side.”
“You really believe that?”
“I have determined to believe it.”
December 3. Extratropical cyclone “Storm Desmond” arrives.
My husband and I are unloading book-box number nine from the back of the trailer into the cabin for storage; there is no room for them in our new town house. We have 11 more boxes to go. Our feet are stuck in the mud. So are the back wheels of the trailer. My husband is shouting something at me. What with Desmond, and the dark, it’s hard to decipher but I think it might be, “MAYBE NOW YOU’LL BUY A FECKING KINDLE?”
Dec 22. Storm Eva arrives.
Fourteen of us are having Christmas dinner in a kitchen that has been denuded of all items essential to the provision of food and comfort. My husband and I are sitting on an empty boot-box with our necks stiffened to the east; we have been outside loading and unloading trailers since Desmond and now what with Eva, winds have been hitting us from the west for too long: I fear our necks may be stuck this way. My mother-in-law is sitting on a plastic collapsible chair, which she might have noticed but for Harvey’s Bristol Cream.
December 28. Our beds have gone to the new house; my husband and I wake up on a mattress on our bedroom floor, when suddenly, the front wall of the house reverberates, announcing the arrival of Storm Frank.
December 29. My husband and I are out in Frank; I’m holding one end of a vast stone urn, and my husband is holding the other. He has just lost his right shoe to the mud and is shouting something into the gale-force winds. I am downwind of him but even upwind you’d be able to make out, “STILL BELIEVE IN YOUR HARMONIC CONVERGENCE NOW?”
Jan 1. You can sod harmonic convergence — but we are in Oz.