The Good Life

I jumped from my bed at 3.am. this morning and it was not to go to work. My cat was howling like a banshee. I cursed as I fell over three pillows and then four cushions. I could almost feel Andrew’s smirk. Almost six years ago we had moved into our Cotswold village and our darling cottage. I was determined to make it as cosy as possible. This culminated in us being inundated with “ideal home” and other similar type magazines. The bedroom was to be the dream room and the bed the icing on the cake, so it was layered with pillows and then topped like an appetising desert with an abundance of colourful cushions. I cannot recall a night when Andrew had not complained about them.
‘I only need one pillow to sleep on, so why do I have three and why do we have numerous cushions as well? We need to come to bed thirty minutes earlier just to clear the bed.’
I did try to explain the aesthetics of the idea but it seemed to go over his head. Now, this particular morning I am beginning to agree with him. It took me forever to find my clothes which were nicely hugged up with all the cushions. Finally, I got downstairs and quietly called in my cat, and not for the first time silently moaned under my breath, ‘bloody village. For, the whole village would have heard his antics and in fact, if my window is not closed they can often hear mine, I imagine. Such is the way of village life. I am not a country girl at heart. I spend the mornings drowning wood lice that reside in my bath and the evening hoovering up spiders. I drive to work at 10 miles an hour so I don’t hit a pheasant with my car. I use to scream hysterically when Bendrix (the cat) first brought in mice. I have now learnt the art of scraping them up with a shovel. The live ones I do seriously run away from or grab someone in the village and do a trade.. One woman hates butterflies, so I will get them out of her house and in return she removes live mice from mine. But the rabbits, oh don’t go there. My cat seems to like the heads only. Sometimes I come home to scenes out of ‘Fatal attraction’. I leave those for Andrew. So what made a townie like me move to a village? Is village life all it is cracked up to be?
Well, there is a lot to be said for bell ringing I am sure. The Women’s institute is probably fascinating, except I have not quite built up the courage to join yet, even though they have badgered me for six years.
The local pub is useful as it is within walking distance and if you have a penchant for god, well, the church is right opposite the pub. Handy, I guess, if you should want to drown your sorrows after confession. Mind you, if you want anything else then you need a car as there are no shops for two miles but we do have a mobile library which I find rather decadent for some reason.
As to why we moved here, well, maybe that should be part two.
But country life, and country folk are a law unto themselves. I love my little village. It is pretty and people actually visit it and take photos! I don’t ever recall that happening in Romford, in that little known county of Essex. Did I feel a cringe? Yes, I am an Essex girl. We are a brand of our own. Known for dancing round our handbags and of course infamously known thanks to Jade Goody. But, not to fret. Surrey born Andrew knocked the Essex twang out of me very quickly. You would never know it now. I get more horsy sounding with each day. Talking of which, they are in abundance here, horses that is, not Essex girls. When I first arrived in the country I cooed over them. Now they drive me mad. I set off for work at an acceptable speed and then find myself forever moving at a snail’s pace so as not to frighten the numerous horse riders on my route. I may as well cycle to work the time it takes me. But all those hills stop me even considering that. There are many pleasures to living in the country after you have removed the wood lice, the spiders, the wasps, the horses and the walkers. The walkers are the worst. They walk through the village and then suddenly stop and stare through your window into your living room. So far I have never been caught naked, but you never know. I still try to make the cottage look like the rooms in ‘Shabby Chic ‘but it just doesn’t work. When it does, Andrew will come in and throw all his stuff everywhere and should I complain, I get that look followed by the same sarcastic comment.
‘Maybe we should have two homes, one to live in and one for show.’
However, I must admit it is rather nice to walk to the local letter box and stop several times to chat to my neighbours, all, of whom, I know. I even volunteered to help with the cream teas one year during the open garden season. All very middle class and all that. In fact, sometimes I think we have dropped straight out of a Jilly Cooper novel, except I can’t seem to find the scandal here. I am sure there must be some .Maybe I am not looking hard enough. I even have a milkman who delivers and I cannot smell a wiff of scandal about him. I really feel I ought to be making a bigger effort with my scone making and such like. I already feel guilty for not attending the WI on a Monday and then bell ringing on a Tuesday and I think Wednesday might be the history group. We did attempt to keep an allotment but it got so overgrown that we actually got fined. But all in all we have kept out of trouble. Oh no, I lie. One Wed evening a representative of the parish council had to visit us on the issue of my car being badly parked and that Mrs Watson, all of ninety, had some difficulty getting around it. Obviously my parking has improved dramatically since then.
Today, however, I looked at the house and decided I am becoming a compulsive house cleaner in my determination to have a cottage that resembles one out of ‘Country Life’ magazine. Worse of all I even try to hide it like a junkie might their drugs. I pretend I never clean. I give the impression I am a domestic avoider when in fact I actually vacuum as Andrew is doing his D.I.Y. No chance of sawdust hitting the floor of our ‘Country Life’ look alike cottage. By the time he had finished hanging a new back door at the weekend I was exhausted. I had been vacuuming as he sawed, wiping up varnish as he dripped it, getting out and then putting away tools as he used them. Of course, all this accompanied by heavy sighs from him the whole time. I even tried to maintain the kitchen so it looked exactly the same while he worked in it! We must have walked into each other at least a dozen times. At one point I am ashamed to admit that I even vacuumed the garden to clear up the mess. It is time to stop! I am always complaining I do not get enough time to write and study. The time has come to hang up the polish and the floor mop. I only hope my withdrawal symptoms do not last too long.

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