Friday

MY sleep is full of holes from fretful bullets. So I guess you could say that I am not yet relaxed.

When certain calamities arise, well-meaning people dig out rusty old phrases. The lovelorn will be told that there are plenty more fish in the sea – an old-fashioned piece of advice that should probably now be ditched due to over-fishing, EU quotas and the rest. “There are hardly any more fish in the sea, but never mind, she wasn’t worth it.”

A different refrain greets the recently redundant. It goes something like this: “Best thing that ever happened to me.”

People who have emerged from the other side tell you this with enthusiasm, although they do add a rider. This is that the experience was awful at the time, but beneficial in the long run.

At present the long run seems a way off. Frankly the long run is a mystery and a thriller rolled into one ball of worry. Not having to go to work is normally a pleasure, so two weeks in the experience is a little like being on holiday, only without the sun-tan and with a rumble of anxiety over the horizon. Then again, I have managed to sit in the sunshine this week, a little to the annoyance of my work-bound wife.

For now there is money and words keep me busy. Words are good for that. Pushing them around, checking them, feeling their weight and rhythm ­ – all of that is a mechanical task that can bring a sense of achievement. Hopefully those worker-ant words will bring money soon.

Being able to work on a novel in long stretches of three or four thousand words a day is different from getting up early before work and dashing off a page or so on a good day, before heading to the office to push different words around.

Do I still miss the office and the job? Oh, yes. But life changes and you have to change with it. This week I registered for an internet B&B service. The day after putting our house up there, we returned from playing badminton and I checked the emails. Someone wanted to stay for the next two nights, which is to say tonight and tomorrow.

A lot of cleaning and sorting ensued. Have you noticed how other people’s houses always seem clean and tidy? That’s because you have just arrived and they have been cleaning. In another context this is known as the Queen Smells New Paint Syndrome. Anyway, this evening our first guest will turn up. This isn’t a job, just something extra, a bit of pocket money and a chance to meet new people. But it is something different.

One friend made redundant in the past phoned this week with different advice. She wished she had enjoyed her time off work more. Instead she worried herself stupid. She has another job now, and she is back in the routine.

I like that advice, and will try to act on it. But at night those fretful bullets still ricochet around my head.

Troubling footnote: last night I lost a tooth. In the space of two weeks I have lost a job and now a bit of mouth ivory. The dentist will be able to sort out one, but not the other.

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