Sunday, 22 September 2013

O(a)kay

I’m trying to persuade my husband to be as enthusiastic about our impending new home as me and Eleanor.  In an effort to instil a sense of excitement, I took him along to see how the house was progressing.  As we drove through the electric gates (well, they will be when the electricians do their magic), I felt a thrill ripple through me.  I sneaked a sideways glance at my husband.  His mouth was set in a grim line.
          ‘Doesn’t the setting look fab!’ I trilled.
          No response.
          I parked the car, and had barely opened the driver’s door when Mr V was out and striding off, head rotating 360 degrees as he took in the surroundings.  A ferocious looking builder with a Polish accent materialised from nowhere and demanded to know what we wanted.
          ‘Um, we’re buying Plot 129,’ I said nervously.  ‘Any chance of looking inside?’
          The builder was instantly all smiles.  ‘In you go,’ he gestured with one hand, ‘and ignore mess.  Soon it be perfect.  No worries.’
          ‘I’m sure it will be,’ I gushed, resisting an urge to bow and scrape.  After all, I didn’t want him doing a dodgy job on the place.  No wonky light switches or leaking showers thank you very much.
          Mr V stepped over the threshold, into a hallway littered with paint pots and strode straight through to the lounge.  A pile of workmen’s paraphernalia was positioned where I was roughly envisaging a coffee table.
          ‘It’s certainly coming along,’ I said and gave my husband an encouraging smile. His mouth remained in the same grim line.  ‘And look at the kitchen!’ I waved a hand expansively at bubble wrapped units.  ‘Quartz worktops!  And a built-in microwave.  And a fridge where the door shuts properly.  And a decent sized freezer, and–’
          But I’d lost my audience.  My husband was taking the bare wooden stairs two at a time.  I scampered after him.  On the first floor a sink was in my son’s future bedroom.  In the master bedroom lay the emersion heater.  I poked my head around the en-suite bathroom.
          ‘Tiling looks beautiful,’ I purred.  But Mr V was off again up the next flight of stairs and ducking under a precariously placed ladder.  The loft room will be ours.  The skylights look out upon nearby Grade II listed buildings, recently renovated and displaying a skyline of chimney pots, roof terraces, wrought iron balconies and gables.  ‘When I’ve finished revamping my bureau, it’s going to be placed just here so I can look out on all that,’ I gestured, ‘while writing.’
          Mr V gazed at me, his face expressionless.  Suddenly he was off again, clattering down the two flights of stairs and out into the newly landscaped grounds.  Dismayed, I dawdled after him.  My husband has been the same every time we’ve moved house.  Even when moving to our current house – a move he was more enthusiastic about than me – when it came to The Big Day he was having the jitters.  ‘Are we doing the right thing, Debbie?  Have we made a financial bind for ourselves?  What if it’s all a monumental mistake?’
          When my husband moves into a house, he’s like a sapling putting down roots.  And when it’s time to move on, it’s like trying to fell an oak.  I caught up with him and, together, we got into the car.
          ‘You really don’t want to move here, do you?’ I gazed ahead at all the beautiful mews houses behind an avenue of freshly planted trees.  Trees that, even as I stared, were no doubt putting down their roots.  Finding their new home.
          My husband gave a huge sigh.  ‘I’m moving here for you.’
          ‘It’s a stop gap,’ I shrugged.  ‘Two or three years.  As soon as Eleanor has flown the nest, and then we’ll move again.  To your beloved Penshurst.’
          Mr V nodded.  ‘Come on.  Let’s drive to John Lewis.  We’ll look at house stuff.’
          I put the key in the ignition and started the engine up.  I have no doubt that when the time comes to move to Penshurst my husband will be resisting all over again.  Oak trees are difficult to shift.
          Which reminds me, what’s the difference between an oak tree and a tight shoe?  One makes acorns, the other makes corns ache...       

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