Thursday, 16 November 2017

Recalling the Late Night Ladies.

I worked out tonight how many people have been in my house after about eight o’clock at night during the 11½ years of my tenancy. It didn’t take long. I remember Mel staying overnight once for some reason or other, and then there was the weekend of my first autumn here when her friend Leila fancied getting away from her internship at a London teaching hospital. (I remember she very much liked my home made soup.) So there’s the answer: two.

And do you know what one of my life’s greatest thrills was? It was the night when Zoe from somewhere-near-Philadelphia said she wanted to get away from her mother, her home, and even America, and could she come over here and live with me for a while. I said something like: ‘May I look forward to late night discussions on deep and meaningful things over a few scotches?’ and she replied ‘Yes yes, you may.’ I went to bed in a rippling haze of contented anticipation that night, but I realised eventually that it wouldn’t work. Having an attractive young American woman living in the house would have been quite an emotional pressure – if you see what I mean – which is why my disappointment was mixed with relief when she announced that she’d got a position in New York instead.

And do you know what one of my most gut-wrenching moments was? It was the time when I got an email one night from the Lady B after she had reluctantly attended an event at the village hall. It said: ‘I kept anticipating your arrival, but somehow I knew you wouldn’t turn up.’ I felt as though I’d just accidentally dropped the cute little puppy onto a bed of sharp nails. (The Lady B never did set foot in my house, by the way, even in the days when we were getting on.)

And the result of such musings leads me to wonder whether I really am quite the misanthropic, reclusive curmudgeon I think I am, or whether life has just pushed me in that direction and I’ve come to believe my own publicity. I don’t suppose I’ll ever know.

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