“The wood cabin,” I say, “is too small to accommodate the comings and goings of a family of six…”
“But ninety per cent of the time there are no comings and goings.”
“Ninety per cent of the time, I agree, it’s just us.”
“Think of compressing “just us” into one room.”
“One very big room,” he says.
“Still one room,” I say, “still compression.”
“Think of the savings,” my husband says.
“Never mind the compression or the savings,” I say, “I would like to move out of the Dark Ages and experience, for the first time in 22 years, an efficient heating system that...”
“The cabin’s got a fantastic stove,” he says.
“...that isn’t me, a bucket of coal, a pair of gloves and bad grace.”
“But that stove is absolutely…”
“I would like to move into a house where I can rescind my world title...”
“What world title?”
“...of Middle-Aged Coal-Shoveller Extraordinaire. It’s time to hang up my gloves.”
We look at a house in town. I could hang up my gloves in it.
I like it.
My husband likes it.
We decide to take it. From the first of January.
I tell my Mum.
“Thank god,” she says, “mark my words, it will make all the difference to your circulation.”
I tell Vanessa.
“When can I visit?” she says, “I’ll be able to walk to the shops. I will be able to shop for food at my leisure. You won’t be able to put me on a timer.”
I tell my siblings.
“Ha,” they say, “there’ll be no excuse for running out of milk all the time.
“And loo paper.
“You won’t be able to put us to work as farm hands every time we come.
“When can we visit?”
Then I begin mentioning in passing that we are moving into town, to people in Ireland.
There will be no holding me back, they say.
“WOOHOO!” person one says, “YOU’LL BE ABLE TO WALK HOME FROM THE PUB. THERE WILL BE NO HOLDING YOU BACK!”
“WOOHOOO!” personone says, “THERE’LL BE NO HOLDING YOU BACK NOW! STRAIGHT HOME FROM A NIGHT OUT!”
“THERE’LL BE NO HOLDING YOU BACK!” person three says, “FEW GLASSES OF THE GOOD STUFF, THEN WALK HOME!”
“WOOOHOOO!” persons six, seven, eight nine and 10 say, “THERE’LL BE NO HOLDING YOU BACK FROM THE PUBS NOW!!”
Early January – and it’s party-time:
“PARTY-TIME!” person 11 says.
“PARTY-HOUSE!” say persons 12 and 13.
“CRASH-PAD!” says person 14, “BRING IT ON!”
Mid January. There will be absolutely no stopping me:
“DANGEROUS STUFF! FIVE MINUTES FROM THE PUBS! THERE’LL BE NO STOPPING YOU,” person 15 says.
“THERE’LL BE NO STOPPING YOU!” says person 16, “IMAGINE! A GLASS OF WINE AND NO TAXI.”
“WATCH THIS SPACE! I’M TELLING YOU, THERE’LL BE ABSOLUTELY NO STOPPING YOU!” say persons 17, 18, 19 and 20.
Late January – and apparently, there will be no going back:
“THERE’LL BE NO GOING BACK! TOO HANDY ON A NIGHT OUT.”
“NO GOING BACK NOW, WITH THE PUBS JUST ROUND THE CORNER!”
“I’VE SEEN IT HAPPEN BEFORE! THERE’LL BE NO GOING BACK NOW. NOT WITH THE PUBS A STONE’S THROW AWAY. TOO EASY.”
Early February. It’s a slippery slope:
“IT’S A SLIPPERY SLOPE! I’M TELLING YOU!” “FIRST IT’S JUST THE ONE GLASS, THEN IT’S JUST THE TWO. IT’S A SLIPPERY SLOPE WHEN YOU LIVE IN TOWN!”
Late February, and I’m going to be knocking back the drink.
“YOU’RE GONNA BE KNOCKING IT BACK!”
“YOU’LL BE KNOCKING BACK THE MERLOT, TAKE MY WORD FOR IT!”
March 1. I’m going to become a ‘townie’.
“YOU’LL BE A TOWNIE!
“I CAN SEE YOU NOW STAGGERING HOME FROM THE PUB!”
“YOU’LL TAKE UP SMOKING AGAIN AND BE PROPPING UP STREET CORNERS WITH A FAG HANGING OUT OF YOUR MOUTH.”
There has been no holding me back.
There has been no stopping me: so far, I’ve joined the local library.
And managed to track down someone in town whom I think might teach me crochet.