Sixteen Years at Number Two.

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No, I’m not a member of a dodgy girl/middle aged woman band who hasn’t achieved top of the chart success.

I have never had ambitions to conquer the world of music with my cat strangling vocal range. ‘Wor Cheryl I am not.

The title of this piece refers to the sixteen years that I’ve lived in this house. The house from where I’m typing these words. The house which is now under offer from a delightful couple and I’m sure number two will wrap its walls around them, envelop them with warmth and weave it’s magic into their life tapestry as much as it has mine.  The house where my husband and I set up home for the first time and the house where I’ve had some of the best sex in my entire life. Seriously, anyone who says they’re not really sexual hasn’t had an out of body orgasm, the sort of sex where you think there’s no point in living anymore, the type of sex where the bed breaks and the neighbours start hoovering to cover up the symphony of passion coming through the walls and floorboards, the sort of sex where a few days after you find yourself sweating and blushing when the flashbacks race across the mind, tantalising and inviting you to give chase for more. *

The house which saw two children grow into reasonably well adjusted adults, the house which has seen eight dogs, four rabbits, four pet rats, four little parrot things and one well stocked aquarium. All of which apart from me, John, the children and two dogs are now dead and buried in the garden. Yes some of the fish were buried because they were just too bloody big to flush away. If anyone digs up our garden they’ll think the people who lived here were either trainee taxidermists or the neighbourhood animal serial killers.

The house at number two has been the scene of parties; shit we threw some good parties here. We were picking pieces of fancy dress out of the garden for years after one particularly debauched night of fun. Then there was the bonfire night parties where so called responsible Scout leaders thought it would be a grand idea to gaffer tape three rockets together just to see what would happen. What happened was that none of the rockets took off at the same time so the contraption shot up about 6 feet in the air and made a sharp turn left over next door’s fence and exploded spectacularly about 3 foot from their guinea pigs. All we heard was a quivering “EEEEEEP”**

My favourite nights were the impromptu gatherings with a fire burning brightly and John playing his guitar until sunrise. Our garden has rocked to the sounds of Pink Floyd, Paul Weller, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Ocean Colour Scene, Peter Gabriel and many others over the years. There’s a beautiful warmth of togetherness when a group of good friends are sitting around the glow of a fire singing ‘Wish You Were Here’ at 3am. I’m not sure our neighbours would agree, fuck em, they were always invited they don’t know what they missed.

Number two isn’t just a house; it’s been so much more than that. I don’t mean that soppy cliché of ‘a house is a home’.  I see her as a changing evolving living creature. She (yes my house is a she) has changed depending on our needs as a family. At one point she was a ski slope for my adventurous daughter. As a young teenager, the daughter decided that her curfew was unacceptable. I had taken to bed early to revise for a Latin exam (don’t even go there, who the fuck takes Latin, pffft it was my pretentious phase). I heard rumblings on the roof, fearing the chimney was falling off or the aliens were finally invading I leapt out of the house just in time to see the teenage daughter in the act of sliding down the roof with roller blades around her neck and rucksack on her back. Naturally I asked the obvious question,

“What the fuck are you doing?”

Her response?

“I’m going rollerblading”

Of course. Stupid me. The escapade ended safely and she was grounded in more ways than one.

Number Two has seen a lot of tears. Tears of joy on the day John’s divorce finally came through after five years of bitterness from the other side. Tears of sadness when my daughter’s pet rat Fidget died on the night before she started school, even though we took the ratty little bastard on holiday to Scotland with us because it was sick and needed antibiotics twice a day. We drove for seven hours with that bloody rat in its box, tended it, nursed it back to health, drove seven hours home again two weeks later and the little fiend dropped down dead about a week later. Tears of anger and frustration every month for many years when income did not match our outgoings and no amount of cutting back seemed to help which led to tears of despair when we were bordering on bankruptcy, but there has been one variety of tears which this house has seen much more of and these are tears of laughter. We laugh so much. No we really do. I know I come across as an angry fierce woman at times, but I’ve tried explaining this to many people I’m not THAT angry, I’m passionate as I’ve said before I am a woman of extremes and I intend to live life extremely well. Number two has absorbed all of our tears and she has comforted us all in turn.

Where we go next is unknown in the short term, but I know that my home is wherever my husband John is. You could plop a sofa in the middle of a field and if he’s sitting there, that’s where I want to be. I know that’s a bit mushy and I make no apologies. I am pretty damn sure that if it wasn’t for him I would have self-destructed a long time ago so I will name drop him relentlessly from now until my last breath.

This little piece is by way of a thank you to Number Two, a way to remember her and celebrate her place in the lives of those who have lived colourfully and spectacularly within her walls over the last sixteen years.

* Sorry John, the world now knows that you’re a love-god.

**Yes they survived and they were unharmed physically. The emotional scars are another matter.

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