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Sunday 23 October 2016

Alone in the house, things can get odd

Published 29/08/2016 | 02:30

Matt Damon's motor does not turn itself on, then die when it’s needed
Matt Damon's motor does not turn itself on, then die when it’s needed

We do this little experiment once a year, where they all leave me to my own devices for a while. It is ostensibly to go visiting, but I think in reality it is to focus my mind and make me appreciate them more when they come back. To show me that I need them. Also, in some weird way it is portrayed as doing me a favour, by getting out of my hair. Clearly my wife and children are the ones on holiday, but somehow I am supposed to be having a ball at home, even though, this time, as usual, I was at work every day of their absence.

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In truth, it is always a slightly weird and disjointed time for me when they go away. Because I was working all the time, I couldn't exactly go on the beer for the duration, though I did have a few one evening. I usually decide, though, that there are lots of things that I would like to be doing in the house in the evenings that they prevent me from doing, like listening to music, music I like, out loud. And watching films I want to watch, weird arthouse films and the like, the kind of thing I would watch if my wife and children didn't drag me down culturally and if I was free to be the arty bohemian I would have been if they hadn't all come into my life.

But it usually ends up with me going slightly doolally in the evenings and wishing that they were there, leaving me alone, but there anyway.

When they are there, I crave a bit of peace and quiet, some time to myself in another room. And obviously I get loads of that when they're away, but it's no good in these large doses and no good when they are not there somewhere. I want them to leave me alone, yes, but I still want that feel of them being there in the background.

I imagine too that I will be a bit more interesting regarding food while they are away, that I'll have the time to cook the things I never have the time to cook. But I end up buying a loaf of bread and some cold meat and cheese and I work my way though it, turning to toasted sandwiches after a few days when the bread goes hard.

Though that's not entirely true. I actually had curry for the first three days. Well, I had curry with my wife before she left, and then I had more of it the next day. The third day, I have to admit, I had a lamb curry sandwich with the final dregs. It was tasty, actually.

In terms of the cultural experience, I went into the TV each evening with the air of expectation of a man going to an arts festival. All this stuff between Netflix and Sky, so much choice, and I could watch whatever I wanted. But somehow I watched that romantic drama about Stephen Hawking one evening while surfing the web, and then I watched The Martian. Not a good idea. The Martian is about a guy stuck on his own in a big house on Mars who is rationing food and ends up talking to himself a lot. Far too close to the bone.

At least Matt Damon's Mars Rover was working. He could go out for a spin. My car decided to go dead as soon as the others had left. It seemed the car was turning itself on during the night, like the toys in a Disney film, and wearing down the battery. I went out the front door one evening to see what gig was on in the Aviva to discover that the loud music was actually coming from my car. The mechanic disconnected the CD box in the boot, which seemed to be sending the bad signals, and it started once or twice after that - but next morning, dead again. And it couldn't be fixed for days. The mechanic has now sent me to an electrical expert.

Basically, the mechanic is washing his hands of it. He says he could get me a newer but similar car for four grand and he objects to me spending any more money on this one. But I'm not giving up just yet. Even if it did let me down in my hour of need.

Getting up each morning to go for a swim, to find the car dead, didn't help my state of mind.

I did listen to some music out loud. Which was actually great. And I was able to think a little bit about music. I sat there mulling that for all the fuss about Frank Ocean, James Vincent McMorrow is actually the more interesting artist and is ploughing a similar furrow production-wise. Stark but warm, futuristic but organic. At one point I listened to McMorrow's new song Get Low about 20 times in a row. Just because I could.

I was almost glad they were coming back. But as my wife warns me, "We will annoy you". And that's the thing. They will. I'm used to being alone now, and I was coming to terms with it.

Sunday Indo Living

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