Mapping out the pressureless complexity of summer life

Of all the relationships in this Venn diagram thing that make up our little family, Mark’s and Dad’s is the most complicated. I don’t think they particularly like each other, but keep an icy toleration going for the peace of all.

It was therefore amusing to see how the two of them reached a curious arrangement where Dad will give us a lot of money in order for us to upgrade our kitchen with new shelves and cupboards, and a new oven fridge and freezer.

On the surface, it seems such a dispassionate and cold calculation: we need to do this to maintain the value of the house, and as the oven and the fridge and the freezer are ten years old they need to be replaced.

We manage to forget that Dad owns the place, most of the time, and that he’ll be looking to sell it once we decide to move out of here. We still think of it as “Mark’s parents house”, or even, sometimes, “our house”.

At least Mark has grown out of the phase where he flatly rejects any help or dealings with dad in our lives. It seems my man can be not only obstinately prideful, but also calculatingly pragmatic. Maybe he’s grown up too?

***

We have been away for weeks, and have only been back for a couple of days. Most of that time we had a lovely time swapping houses with Mark’s parents. They came to stay here in our house for two weeks, and we went to stay in theirs for two weeks. Together with Auntie, Mark’s mum have ‘done’ West End and London, while us boys have sampled original Scrumpy and tried not to think too much that we’ve led a Wurzels’ life.

Of course, when we came home we found sawdust in the cellar, next to the tenancy flat. Mark’s dad have gone over the boiler thoroughly and have made sure it’s up to snuff. He’s also open some canals to dig out wires that needed replacement. He’s also done work in the tenancy, because it’s empty and has been for over a year. We haven’t ordered Auntie to find a new lodger, and Dad hasn’t seen to it either. So, that part of the house stands empty – which is a shame. I’ll have to talk to Mark about it, one day.

There was a receipt on the kitchen table when we came home from an electrician, and I’m not even going to attempt to read the crow’s feet there. It was for a couple of hundred pounds, so it can’t have been extensive work.

Not only does my dad decide to foist a kitchen redecoration on us, but Mark’s dad does a house check without asking. Maybe the two sets of parents aren’t so different after all. And then there’s little but still important cues, like when we arrived home and everything smelled differently.

***

The time in Wiltshire was lovely. We didn’t have internet, apart from that which we could reach on our phones. No socket in the wall with internet goodies. I remember thinking: what person in this day and age can live without internet? Apparently Mark’s parents can, because they don’t have it.

I mean, they’re not old. Touching the upper reaches of their forties. I don’t know anyone in that generation which isn’t as addicted to the net as us millennials. In fact, it’s that generation which still has a romantic ideal about the internet, and it’s that generation which perceives it as some kind of utopia of learning and freedom of speech.

But the lack of internet means that I’ve neglected this blog terribly. But then, I say that often, don’t I? I go away, feel guilty for not posting for ages, and then come back with a mea culpa about the blog. Truth be told, I don’t feel any pressure to perform. Not now. I just want this summer to be pressureless. I want this summer to be quiet before everything changes in September when I’m off on my work-placement.

***

We’re coming up on our second anniversary soon. August 16th it will be two years ago since we married. I don’t have any big idea, or big plan. Talking to Mark, neither of us thinks it’s a big deal.

Except, it is. And isn’t. At the same time. We’re queer folk, and I say that not in the LGBT sense. We’re the odd couple. We haven’t managed to fuck it up yet.

I’m writing again. I felt the urge to start a story while we were wihtout internet in Wiltshire. I started one morning with a simple paragraph that came into my head. In the spirit of pressurelessness I just went with it; didn’t try to outline; didn’t try to plan; didn’t try to guess where it was going. I’m twenty thousand words in, and enjoying the process.

The film in my head is playing, and I have no idea how it’s going to end. I feel strangely liberated by that. But my raw text looks terrible, and my inner editor is muttering and gargling and howling somewhere down at the bottom of my spine. I’ll gag him and lock him into the cage where he should be.

Unexpected parental visits, with undesired lack of skiving because of it

This is the world in which I had hoped to spend some time. My mother had other ideas.

This is the world in which I had hoped to spend some time. My mother had other ideas.

It is like being fifteen again, and not this advanced age that I am now. My mother has arrived for an extended visit, and she has come at this inopportune time when I’m seeking reasons to avoid doing any school work. So, I’m back to having a critical and un-deceivable hawk on my shoulder.

This week I had planned to have some mental relief for at least a day, when I was going to drop everything about school and just play a computer game and be utterly lazy. I have a grip of my subject, and I have a road map (with added margins) that should see my work finished at a comfortable time. I know myself well enough to think my plan is reasonable.

That was, however, before my mother rang. She announced that she was coming back to England and would stay for two weeks. Her reasons, which I will not go into because it’s none of anyone’s business but hers, are legacy issues from her last employer up in Coventry. She has to spend some time in London, tying up loose ends of that.

Naturally, she hadn’t told me until she was nearly on my door-step. Actually, that’s a bit unfair. My parents usually tell me far in advance of things. The problem with them is more that they keep zealously reminding me in the time between announcement and execution. This time, though, the time between announcement and execution was two days.

Now, instead of skiving off my school work, I have my mother staying with my auntie, and together they come over regularly to ask about the effort I put into that school work, and to drill me about the upcoming tests and the paper. Like I said, it’s like being fifteen again, on the day before a big test. I may have moved out years ago, married, had pets, and have a continent between us – but some things never change.

I have suggested to Mark that we trade parents. He can have mine, and I’ll have his. They’re much more hands-off. They treat Mark like an adult. They don’t constantly ring to pressure him to do this or that. Mark took one look at me, scoffed, and said “Your parents are weird”. Speaking of his parents, they’re coming over this weekend to eat dinner with Mark and me, auntie, mum, and our cousins. It will be like a clan-meeting. Our Scottish cousin can play the pipes and serve the haggis.

The game I hope to play is Witcher 3. I’m itching to get stuck into it, because it looks to be quite a treat. I have watched ALL the video reviews, and the common theme among all is the amount of slobbering drool on the reviers’ chins. What I need most of all, to enjoy it, is time. Time which I don’t have. And time I’m not likely to have thanks to my mother’s visit.

Give me strength.