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Days Are Where We Live

There are a few blogs that I always read and one of them is ‘Fragments of a Writer’s Life’, which can be found at SueHepworth.com. I’ll declare an interest – she is a good friend – but she is also one of the funniest people writing today. Sue has put together a selection of her posts spanning a decade and here is one of them. I can’t read it without laughing.

He called my bluff

‘No sooner had I finished writing an article on my longings for an empty nest than my 18-year-old called my bluff. He cares nothing for the current trend of young adults living forever at home. A friend had phoned and asked if he’d like to share a house with her. His eyes lit up. My eyes lit up. It was hard to know who was the more excited.

He went to his room to pack but then returned to say that his duvet needed washing before he went. The laundrette has just closed down in our local town and now the nearest is 15 miles away, so I rang Sketchley, who quoted me £15.99 and two weeks to wash the duvet.

“£15.99 ?” said my husband, horrified. He’d just been checking our dwindling Isas and decided we should combine the boy’s leaving with an economy drive which would begin with the easy cuts of (1) cancelling Kerrang, and (2) shunning supermarkets, now we won’t need to buy junk food.

Then he had an idea: “I’ll wash the duvet. That will save money.”

“But it’s a double one,” I said. “It won’t fit in our machine.”

“I’ll do it by hand in the fun tub.” (A fun tub, dear reader, is a huge plastic tub – three feet high and three feet across – in which builders put rubble, and which my husband uses for his DIY.) But the fun tub was languishing in the shed stuffed with used plastic cartons, which would one day “come in useful,” so he decided to use the bath, which is more commodious and also has (of course) running hot water.

He swung the duvet into the bath and started to run the taps, but the duvet behaved like a giant sponge and soaked up every drop of water. He couldn’t swish it around to make a washing motion, and had to bend right over and pummel the thing. It was like wrestling with an alligator, with my husband looking less like Paul Hogan and more like an also-ran in a wet T shirt competition.

Even when rinsed and squeezed it was so heavy that my husband – a strapping chap who is as strong as a pair of Charlie Dimmocks – found it hard to pick up. He had to bundle it up and clutch it to his chest like one of the contestants in The Strongest Man in the World competition in that event where they stagger for a hundred metres carrying a boulder as big as a buffalo.

The plan was to go down the stairs with it, through the open front door, and outside to the washing line.  But he slipped just two steps from the bottom, lurched forwards and squeezed the duvet between himself and the wall, depositing three gallons of water on the hall floor.

And to think I’d been harbouring a fear that life might be a tad dull when my son left home.

Eventually he got the duvet outside and edged it bit by bit over the washing line, which then swooped grasswards in a giant parabola, though miraculously the trees to which it was tied remained rooted. It only took three days to dry.

With the duvet sorted everything else was simple. My son has been moving his stuff in bits and bats, and last night after tea he took himself. We drove three miles through the fog and the dripping wetness of the October night and I left him at the bus stop for his ride into town and his new house.

The empty nest is a strange place. I cannot think of another life event which combines such wildly conflicting emotions. Unaccustomed feelings of lightness and liberation sweep in, only to be edged aside by drifts of haunting wistfulness at the thought of the baby of the family growing up and leaving.

I gave him the biggest hug of his life in the hall before we left, because there wouldn’t be room in the car for a proper one, while the duvet-washer ( aka his Dad)  stood with his arms folded and said: “A whole new exciting stage of life.”

“Aren’t you going to say ‘Good luck with your new exciting stage of life’?” I asked.

“I was thinking about me,” said his Dad.’

You can buy Days Are Where We Live herehttps://www.amazon.co.uk/DAYS-ARE-WHERE-WE-LIVE-ebook/dp/B086HPVPJB

6 Comments

  1. Helen Townshend
    May 12, 2020

    Hilarious! I’ll be picturing it and chuckling for days. Talking of remembering and chuckling, I’ve just woken up for the second night in succession giggling over that bit in Still Crazy (the Bill Nighy film) where a pre-diet Timothy Spall is running after the bus and Billy Connolly leans out and shouts ‘Harpoon that Whale’; and then there’s that episode of the West Wing where C.J.’s had root canal and gets hot under the collar about something only for Toby (gorgeous Toby! major crush, I’m afraid) to say ‘I swear to God, C.J., if you say ‘bweef’ or ‘pwesident’ one more time…
    I’m a simple soul….

    Reply
    • Christine Poulson
      May 12, 2020

      Hi Helen, glad to have given you something to laugh about in these dark days! I have not seen Still Crazy – perhaps I should . . .

      Reply
  2. Margot Kinberg
    May 12, 2020

    I really like her writing style, Christine. That’s a great duvet story, and I like her mix of wit and commentary.

    Reply
  3. Moira@Clothes in Books
    May 17, 2020

    Wonderful! And I always love anything about hanging out the washing.
    I have Sue’s new book lined up on my Kindle, looking forward to it even more now.

    Reply

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