Today is a year since I folded a double mattress into the back of an unroadworthy Ford Fiesta and drove it 5.2 miles to our new home. It was a long time coming, moving out of home but I feel I did it at a good time and I’ve learnt a lot in the year that has since passed. I’ve learnt what it truly means to feel alone. I’ve laughed and I’ve cried and on one occasion I managed both in the 107 minute running time of 2007’s blockbuster Enchanted. What a film though right?
I figured I would share some of my words of wisdom, some points to consider, some nuggets I have panned in the last year to better myself and hopefully to now better you. Wouldn’t it be nice if you were better? Here are the ten things I have found most useful in my solitude.
1. If you live alone you don’t need to get a cat.
Now I’m not saying I would never own a cat and I’m all for living a cliché. I’m sat in a cardigan with a cup of black coffee and the curtains closed. I’m a bloody shut in and I love it but in a year when I wasn’t capable of looking after myself a lot of the time I don’t think it would have been fair to drag another flea-ridden fool into it even if his whiskers were noticeably better than mine. What I do know is I’m very good at naming cats. I look forward to the day when I have a pet or a child (same thing really) because I have a league of incredible names already set up for either – Pimento, Kodiak, Ollivander, Whisky GoGo, Morrison, Rigamortis, Chism, Metaphor – all great cat names. I’ll hold off for a bit though, see what happens.
2. It is easy to see how so many pensioners freeze to death each year.
Heating is really expensive. This is why I’m all for renewable energy and jumpers, sometimes at the same time but you don’t want to get your finest knitwear caught in a wind turbine. I’m lucky in that I am hot
most of the time and also thrifty but I can see how things quickly get out of hand. I’m reminded of a New Years Eve party I once threw where, in an attempt to get the girls to take their clothes off, two friends of
mine cranked the heating up and the lot of us saw in the cool yule looking like we were gurning our way through a steam room. That little stunt probably cost someone money. Not me, because I didn’t pay for the gas but someone, most likely my old man, had to fork out for that heat. Just to stay warm you have to pay… When you break something down like that it stops making sense. For other examples, watch yourself walk. It is mental. What are your feet and what are they doing? Further example; keep saying my surname to yourself.
3. It takes a while to work out nobody is going to burst in.
For a long time after I moved in, I lived in a state of anxiety. Actually, that was happening before I got the flat, scratch that. For a long time after I moved in I was waiting for someone to drop by. People do. There’s about five of them in total I think and they’re alright really. What I mean is I have grown up living with large groups of people, most of whom it seems were keen on walking in on me masturbating.
I also worried the girl who lived here before was going to come back and demand the keys. I also worry there’s going to be a fire and all my stuff will be gone forever. Most of the time though, I’m alright.
4. You can hang anything on the wall.
I was a bit precious about filling the place up with stuff because I’m a minimalist and also because there are two flights of stairs I know I will probably have to get all this stuff back down at some point in the future. I have no plans on leaving this flat and I don’t just mean for today to go and socialise (yuck), I mean in general. It’s doing alright by me and I don’t think I can afford anything else. Who even follows house prices? They’re like the opposite of Rick Astley – they’re always going to give you up. Write that down, that’s fucking gold.
Now I have a lot of stuff hanging up on the wall. Hats and posters and guitars and things. You can take a hammer and just slam stuff into the sides of your flat and there is no comeuppance to it that I have yet experienced which doesn’t hold much weight so maybe be careful.
5. Cooking for one is balls.
Sometimes when a packet of food says it serves two people I consider it a personal challenge. The rest of the time, cooking something that isn’t going to make me want to die seems daunting. It’s a lot of effort to put in that nobody else will ever get to appreciate. It’s like trimming your pubic hair when you live on a deserted island.
My key tips to cooking for one are:
– when you do your shopping, organise your forthcoming meals by the date the food will expire. Food expires really quickly when you live alone as a constant reminder that death is coming.
– there’s nothing wrong with a bit of habit forming. I will happily eat the same thing for two or three days on the trot and if you’re the same then cook up the lot, split it into bowls and it is like coming home to a wife who no longer loves you and has put leftovers for you in the fridge.
– narrate your cooking adventures. The more you’re talking to yourself, the better you are at living alone.
6. Post is balls.
In the words of Arcade Fire, “we used to wait for letters to arrive”. I don’t, They just fucking turn up like extended family. The majority of my post is people asking me for money. It’s like living in a very bureaucratic crack den. I don’t want other people to have my money. I don’t care if I used all the electric and the gas up, I wanted a bath. You can’t have one.
Also, Amazon deliveries. Sometimes they’ll pop it through the door. Sometimes they abandon it in the hall. Sometimes I have to drag my translucent self all the way to Southend just to pick up something they claim they tried to deliver. It’s less work for all involved if you just prop it against the door mate. That three foot tall Darth Vader figure though, best left with a neighbour.
Finally, when you move, you will accidentally memorise the forwarding address for the person who lived there before you. A year in and I’m still forwarding more messages to her than I do between my parents. I also get post for the girl who lived here before that, Helen. Her post is really boring.
7. All the dinner parties you told people you were going to have are a lie
I’ve had some friends over for pizza. I think that’s about it. Before I moved I told people I would have them over all the time and that I would prepare opulent feasts. That just isn’t going to happen. For one, I only have one baking tray. For two, look how much I moaned about having to cook for one in point 5, imagine me cooking for six. No thanks.
8. A year is not a long amount of time
Apart from when you are waiting for the new Star Wars film, a year is nothing. I suppose this is entirely proportionate to life. I was going to try and work out what percentage of my life this year has been. I can’t do that. I can do it as a fraction. 1/28th. I think that’s right. Thank god I don’t work with numbers.
When I was little people told me to enjoy being young because it would soon be over. I took those people to be morons. Now most of them are dead and I’m getting old and I can’t tell them they were right and it doesn’t matter how many bags of baby spinach I buy with good intention of looking after myself, I will lose my hair and I will get crow’s feet and I will probably at some point die, hopefully nobly. A year is not a long amount of time. I have brought out zero books this year and it is May. MAY!
9. DIY is daunting.
I’ve muddled through a number of little projects this year. Who can forget the time I fixed the toilet but now the handle does a little Nazi salute or the splashes of black paint that remain across the white wall, beech chairs and laminate flooring of the lounge because I decided I needed to have a blackboard. It has been a good year and I still don’t really have any tools. I need some power tools. The closer I get to thirty the deeper my driving thirst for power tools becomes. They would make getting rid of a body much quicker.
This week I decided I was going to separate off the light in the bathroom from the extractor fan because it is hard to get into a good Lush bath-bomb infused soak when you have to listen to that fucker hum on like Matthew McConaughey in The Wolf Of Wall Street. I only needed to get electrocuted once to decide I needed to get a man in.
10. Washing up can wait.
If there’s something you need to go and do or you want to go and do but you’ve left something on the side then it won’t be the end of the world if you leave it there for an hour or a day or whatever. Worst case scenario, you can just throw it away. There are at least three other surfaces in the flat you can eat off of if you give up all your plates. Enjoy everything and chase dreams and be excellent.