And it's beginning to feel OK. I have whole days now when Beloved and Bonk just slip my mind like a shopping list left in a coat pocket. Things are becoming normal again and I'm getting ridiculous amounts of pleasure out of it: the other evening I did the ironing in front of the telly with the remote on the ironing board so I could flip from fluff to fluff. It was the first time I'd watched TV since Beloved left. No thirteenth century peasant, straight off the time machine, could have derived more pleasure from it. The colours! The moving pictures! Wow!
Even taking the kids to school in the morning is a delight, now that I don't have to grit my teeth so as not to do involuntary banshee impersonations during our five mile trip. I feel released and reprieved to such an extent that I operate a 15-minute disco and karaoke session. Once we're out of earshot of the parents whose kids I take to school with mine, in goes the tape and up goes the volume.
We're working in the four part harmony of Eternal Flame, knowing all the words to Counting Crows "Service of the Queen" and finding a way to do a reel to the "Wallbash Cannonball" while still wearing seat belts. Tootling down the lanes with the holly reflecting blue sky, the beech the colour of tangerine peel in the hedgerows and a back seat full of boogieing eight year olds is really living.
Joining in villages social life is possible again too. For the first few months any event I went to I felt conspicuously single, like the grim reaper turning up at a wedding reception (he'd be kind of in-keeping at the church ... you know sitting in a pew at the back). But people have short memories when it comes to other folks lives, and Beloved is already fading in the communal psyche. Nobody even notices my singleness anymore.
On Saturday night I went to our village charity review in the Memorial Hall. An unplanned outing on my own; would I be left standing at the back like a bad smell? Not now - the place was packed with people I knew. I giggled, flirted and nattered my way to a seat next to some mates. Then I spent two hours screaming with laughter at the bagpipes that turned into a giant inflatable pig, the attempt at the world record unicycle jump, and various spoof versions of TV programmes and films, adjusted for a community where most people have to do something with a large domestic animal for a living. We had Ready Steady Cook, Grease and the Full Monty crossed with silage, dairy farming and the sexual opportunities offered by round bales. The sketches were punctuated with shy kids and game pensioners reading humorous poems that you couldn't always hear. It was packed with in jokes that no one outside the village would understand. And it was wonderful.
Now that I've stopped staring at my boots and weeping all the time I can look up and see why it is I live here. It's the little details: seeing deer on the way to the supermarket. All the kids in the the playground waving when I drive past; knowing my neighbours' dogs' names, personalities and recent adventures; stopping the car in the middle of the lane to talk to a friend with our windows wound down. This is the stuff that makes you belong somewhere and it's sort of about feeling that you are a character in an on going soap.
I was always an Emmerdale girl, but try as he might Beloved always belonged to EastEnders. We're just both back in character.
Stevie MorganReuse content