The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

If I’m still alive in 50 years then I suspect I’ll still be writing books about my peculiar life and all the strange characters I’ve met over the years. One day a young reader will approach me and say; “You never write about the year 2020. What happened in 2020?”

At that point I’ll pour myself a glass of Monkey 47 and just stare into the middle distance. “Nothing that’s of any concern to you.”

I think if 2020 took human form it would be like some weird old uncle who committed some heinous crime that nobody in the family wants to talk about. It’s been a really odd kind of year, hasn’t it?

Personally it’s been the worst year of my life, but it’s also been the year that’s taught me more about myself [and other people] than any other. I know some people like to say that the best moment of their life is the moment they’re currently living in, but I don’t subscribe to that at all. I’ve certainly had better – more productive – years than 2020.

Apart from the horrors of coronavirus I’ve not seen my parents [or any family members] since Christmas. One friend has ghosted me, a couple of dear friends have been battling illness, and one very good friend has died.

It’s heartbreaking to be away from your parents for so long, especially when one has Alzheimer’s – and it was always my hope that I’d be in a position to visit at least every couple of weeks. It’s also heartbreaking for everyone who’s lost a loved one, especially when they can’t hold a proper funeral.

It really has been a rubbish time for a lot of us.

On a much more positive note this lockdown has forced me to take stock of my life and think long and hard about where I want to be. And in my 46-year lifetime I’ve never considered ‘giving up’ but there have been moments where I thought, “If my dog wasn’t so dependant on me then I could quite easily just walk out of here and never come back.”

And one day, as I watched a fly crawling over a pile of dirty dishes, I thought to myself “For the sake of my own mental health I really just need to get out of here and make a fresh start.”

At the time it didn’t really matter where this fresh start would be, as long as it wasn’t here. So I told my lodger that I wanted to move on… I gave notice to my lettings agent… and I resigned from my job at the post office.

I’ve always been a bit of a ‘people pleaser’ so I dreaded all those conversations, but I’d reached a point where I *had* to think about myself and do what I thought was right for me – and my pooch.

I absolutely abhor laziness – in any form – but I hate it more when I’m the one who’s being lazy and putting things off until tomorrow. In many ways it was my own bone-idleness that contributed to losing my home in 2017. I’m sure, had I been a bit more pro-active, I could have nipped that descent in the bud before things spiralled out of control.

If lockdown has taught me one thing – apart from how much I love my dog, how much I miss my family and how much I desperately need a car – it’s also taught me that I need my own space again. My own domain. Just me and the dog. Like Tintin and Snowy – or Dastardly and Muttley.

And I mean no disrespect to my lodgers – past or present – because I’ve always been a lone wolf who thrives in his own company. Call me a borderline sociopath if you like but there’s nothing like your own company – with a dog on your lap.

A couple of people have suggested a house share – back in Hertfordshire – the only feasible way I could live back in that area – but  I desperately need my space. At least for the time being. It brings with it a special kind of quietness – one that’s conducive to website coding and creative writing. It’s not something that I expect any extroverts to understand, but, given the choice, if I had to choose between house sharing and financial hardship I’d choose the latter.

So I need to downsize – to a place that I can afford on my own. Yes, I will miss the neighbours who’ve been so kind to me over the years – and also the dog walking community in the village. Now they all know Luna, they know what breed she is, and they know she’s not going to maul their kids or shake their dog around like a rag doll. I’ll miss that sense of community spirit.

I’m not entirely sure where Luna and I will end up and, with just a month before I *have* to remove all my possessions, I’m not overly concerned. I’m so at peace about my decision to leave that I know I’ve made the right decision.

First and foremost I need a car – so that’s my focus over the coming week. Then I need to go to some house viewings. At some stage I also need a shave. I glanced in the mirror this morning and a hairy Sasquatch stared back at me.

Would I recommend moving home and trying to buy a car on a tiny budget during a global pandemic? Probably not – but I know that, with my pooch by my side, we can start having the adventures that I’d always dreamed of.

The other night I was awoken at around 4am and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I listened to a bit of Manic Street Preachers on my iPhone. They’re not a band who send me to sleep, but their music always puts me in a better frame of mind. It occurred to me that I’d not listened to them for over six months, and anyone who knows me will know that means something is terribly amiss.

One song resonated with me more than ever before, simply for the lyric;

So when you hear this autumn song
Remember the best times are yet to come.

Of that I am sure.