I did a full circle recently and returned home to live with my ex husband. After eleven years apart and a divorce, ten of them ago, I was very grateful for his continued friendship, love and understanding having just left a pretty unhappy relationship. I was proper down and needy of some stability in my life but ohhhhh – now I have been here four months, I recall only too powerfully some of the reasons why I made the decision to leave just over a decade ago.
There are so many peculiar collections of his in and around the house I wonder if my ex has OCD, or autism perhaps? Actually I think most of my ex partners have lain somewhere on the autistic spectrum, I think I spot them a mile off and rubbing my hands together subconciously think, `that`s the one for me!` Lord knows why…..
Take the wood in the back garden as an idiosyncratic example. The wood is being hoarded with the intention of building a shed to keep all the other collections in. The wood takes up a huge chunk of what was once our garden and lies peacefully enough, a warm and dry home now for a multitude of insects and creepy crawlies. It`ll still be there when I am seventy, the wood.
Then there`s the marble. The marble collection goes back at least twenty years. It has been laboriously hauled up from a skip at the stonemasons by Yardley cemetery, piece by heavy piece and fills an outhouse where it has remained ever since. I never did get to the bottom of what the marble was for.
Upstairs in the box bedroom is a collection of artists` canvases. Dozens of them. My ex husband is a very talented painter and when he gets to painting he produces wonderful watercolour landscapes and such realisitic portraits they are like photographs. Unfortunately he doesn`t get to painting all that often and so the canvases languish, blankly leaning against a bedroom wall.
The video collection numbers in the hundreds. When I moved back I did persuade him to allow me to stack most of them in a large wardrobe where they will sit. In reel silence. Forever.
Since my return the books are also now neatly stacked in a proper bookcase. Hundreds of them. It will probably not surprise you to know that by far the majority of the books focus on only one subject which is World Wars, especially World War 2. I understand having an interest in a subject but to the exclusion of almost any other, now I find that hard to comprehend. He could possibly win the next season of Mastermind though, `and what is your chosen specialist subject?` `Books on World War 2 please John…..`
Oh and the bikes! I cannot forget the bikes. The back garden is like a bike part graveyard. They were initially in the house but I have managed to banish most of them to where they lean against the back fence peeping at me, laughing, mocking me from beneath their plastic sheet. `You`ll never get rid of us!` I hear them chortle.
Upstairs is a cider press and many, many bottles of the ancient variety, brown beer bottles with white stoppers. Proper bottles I call them however they do take up a lot of space, especially when they are stacked in the bath, waiting to be cleaned. I have also witnessed the bath full of apples being soaked ready for pressing so many times, I can`t bear the mess. It`s a different kind of chaos and it`s driving me doolally!
So I`ve got me onto a housing association list and God willing, sometime in the not too distant future I will have my own place. My own little home. No mess, no collections, just me, the dog and my Kindle. I will be happy as Larry.
When I mention my old home to the male colleagues in my office and I say with complaint in my voice, `it`s full of bikes and cider and World War 2 videos,` they look at me with puzzled expressions, as though there is something wrong with me. Rising from their chairs, placing down their pens, they ask, ` Where does he live?`