No Price to Pay

I can’t work out how long it’s been.

Twenty years?

Twenty-five?

But it’s come to an end.

Ah, I see what you were thinking. She’s finally lost patience. Come to her senses. Can’t say he wasn’t warned…

No, you’re wrong. Although if I don’t cut the grass that could change.

I’ve left my office. Given it up. Stopped paying the rent. Joined the legion of people who’ve decided they can work from home. Who don’t need to drive into town, park the car, walk to work, make a cup of tea, discuss last night’s football and finally turn their computer on.

As I mentioned last week, it’s come at some sartorial cost. I’m wearing a green rugby shirt and red shorts today.

“Shall I buy you a yellow belt, dear? I hadn’t realised the traffic light look was the new black.”

But there’s a bigger price to pay. Yes, bigger than my wife’s sarcasm.

Storage.

Where the hell to put it all.

Right now half my stuff – and a man accumulates a lot of ‘stuff’ in 25 years – is in Dan’s bedroom. Let’s hope he doesn’t come home unexpectedly. There’d be a few hurdles between him and a good night’s sleep.

The other half? It’s in my car.

Not so much a VW Tiguan as a VW Lockup.

Clearly ‘something will have to be done.’ Maybe clear out my wardrobe. If I got rid of all the clothes that don’t fit me there’d be an office-worth of storage.

But there are compensations. Big compensations. Chauffeuring sundry boxes and files around town is not all bad news.

I’m being paid in memories.

Look what I’ve found. Some early notes. An early ancestor of these columns. The first one’s headed Monday September 3rd.

…And by some super-sleuth detective work – thanks Google – I can work out it’s the first Monday in September, 2001. Dan was 7, Ellie was 5. And little Alex? A month short of his third birthday.

Not much happened on Monday. I complained that I was turning into my dad. Couldn’t go into a room where the kids were watching TV without saying, ‘Turn it down.’

Blimey, has that wheel ever turned full circle. “Turn it up will you, love?”

“What, again?”

“Think I might be going a bit deaf…”

So what happened on Tuesday? An auspicious day: the day before the children went back to school. And here I am tucking my youngest son into bed. And after his bedtime story having ‘what’s close to our normal conversation.’

Shall we say your prayers?”

Dad, you put your hands together like this.”

I can’t twist them like that. My hands are too big.”

No, like this, Daddy.”

Come on, I’m tired. God bless Mummy.”

God bless Mummy God bless Daddy God bless Grammar and Grandpa God bless Daniel and Ellie and most of all God bless big Alex.”

Big Alex? When did you become big Alex?”

I’m starting nursery tomorrow.”

Oh, OK. Sweet dreams. Love you lots.”

And that was that. Or so I thought. I suspect I was heading for a beer. But he called me back.

Daddy!”

What, treasure?”

Remember, Daddy. It’s wrong to kick people.”

So where did that particular gem of wisdom come from? A lecture delivered to his sister quite probably.

Once again I sidle towards the door. But he calls me back again.

What now, love?”

Daddy.”

What is it?”

I forgot to give you a kiss. And tell you I love you.”

Where are the tissues? A car full of boxes? It’s no price to pay.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m feeling broody. Where’s my beloved? It may not be too late…