Sunday, 18 September 2011

Chapter three

I sat and watched Linda doing exactly what she does best...organising. No wonder the Alzheimers Society want her. There is no compare in the world to her when something needs doing like that. Being that most model of husbands and with an inbuilt survival instinct for a sound skin; I always let her get on with it. Not that I am not organised myself. Not also that I can't do it either. Its just that my level and standard is nowhere near her's; pretty low in fact. Beside's; this is Linda's comfort zone and she loves it.

From job interview to start date for the new job we have been given five weeks. I had every intention of folding like a pack of cards but Linda had no intention of doing that. In fact...over the last five weeks she has come into her own. It has been a unique experience for me watching the "Linda Machine" in motion. Like a juggernaut she rolls inexorably on...and gets things done.

In a matter of days we were down in Cornwall for a long weekend. I clung to her hand as she hurtled through the fastest three days of my life. I don't think I drew a breath until monday evening. Linda networked, she e-mailed, she rang up, she visited, she cajoled, she badgered, and she planned. I made her cups of tea and kept my head down.

Incredibly, she turned every single hour to good use and we left Cornwall on Monday evening the proud tenants of one of the loveliest cottages you could ever find, in one of the loveliest villages you could ever find, in one of the loveliest counties you could ever find.

In no time at all, Linda had managed to get a job, a home, and a fresh purpose to her life. She was reborn.
That she would miss her family and friends was understood by us both. That she was strong enough to take that sorrow and gain a positive strength from it was also understood by us both.  That I would be the only person she would take this leap of faith with, and that because she loves me as much as I do her, was also understood, but this time by everyone.

I too have got a new home that is a delight to me; I have prospects of a job with Royal Mail; and without a doubt, I will have a fresh purpose in my life with my writing. Most important of all is that we will be together. Linda has been my rock and my support with my writing. In was her who first recognised some small talent and encouraged me to enrole in classes and improve myself. That I had the courage of her convictions has given me the chance to write. I am elated and feel on top of the world. I have been given a chance long denied and I intend grasping it with both hands. She has been one of my three greatest gifts.
And yet...surprisingly its been me who has struggled. Unlike Linda I do love the job I am leaving behind and I do love the work. That I shall miss my family, just like Linda, is as sure as the sun rising and setting every day. That I shall miss my two girls is beyond contestation. I love them deeply and have spent my whole life wanting to move and take them with me. They have, and always will be, the other two greatest gift's I could ever have. Now the chance has finally materialised, and alas, they are flown the nest, settled with their own partners, and living lives of their own. But at least family can come and stay and we can come and visit them.

There are also people I have been friends with outside of work. My friends I have known for ever, and the friends I have made through my writing. Irreplaceable people, they have helped shape me, enriched my life in a multitude of ways, laughed with me, and cried with me. They are as much the fabric of my life as the air that I breathe. I know this is the same for Linda and we understand each other up to that point.

What has caught me by surprise is just how very much I shall miss my work at Royal Mail, the friends I have made there, and my customers that I serve. 

Chapter two

It never entered my head that morning, that before the day was out, our lives would change forever. Linda switched on the computer to check her e-mails. As usual...I was hard at work reading a book. I know how to keep busy believe me. Linda's shout shattered the peace of the day and, incredibly, managed to get me to put the book down. The last time I put a book down was when somebody shouted that the Falklands had been  invaded. Even then I picked it straight back up again and carried on reading.

"Mully", Linda bellowed as she leapt up, over turning her chair as she did so and leaping around like a box of frogs, "Look".

Startled beyond measure, the old survival instinct kicked in at this point and I launched myself, book in hand, at the door. By the time I had reached the safety of the shed at the bottom of the garden, my steel hat was on my head; my rucksack was packed; and I was armed with the garden fork and ready to defend us from whatever was happening. I was still clutching my book.

I peered out from the foliage as I watched Linda shrieking and shouting as she danced jerkily down the garden.
"It's got to be some kind of gas attack, " I thought as I pulled my great grandads 1917 gas mask over my head and prepared to defend the shed.

"You idiot Mully,"

It's amazing how much of Linda's conversation to me starts with those words...truly amazing.

"You idiot Mully," she bellowed again as my heart pounded, "Guess what I just got sent to me this morning. Its a job offer for the Alzheimers Society." She paused for effect, "And its in Truro."

I stood up and looked at her. Never in my life had I seen her so animated, so excited, so determined.

"Its got my name written all over it. If I get the interview...then its mine. We can move to Cornwall, were we wanted to be, Cornwall, Mully, Cornwall."

Dropping my fork and the gasmask, plus helmet, I launched myself at her and we hugged and danced together in the damp grass of the early morning. It is hard to convey the delight we both felt at the opportunity. I've wanted to move to the coast since boyhood and Linda has always loved Cornwall.

I tried to keep an air of caution about me as Linda enthused over the chance we'd been given. I've never, ever, believed in a free lunch. Excitement building I determined to simply go with the flow and await developments. I'm good at that.

The next few days passed in something of a blur as Linda compiled her CV and answered the questions posed to her on the computer. I did my usual trick and buried my head in the sand...well a book really. I would wait and see.

There are times in your life though when you know that forces more powerful than yourself are at work. They should check the top of Mount Olympus again because somewhere, the gods are interfering in the affairs of man...especially this man.

It was with a complete understanding of fate and a complete confidence in Linda's incredible ability that I saw the offer of an interview appear a few days after the final date of the job offer. She was invited to an interview the following week at Truro. Without saying anything to each other we both knew the job was her's.

I saw Linda onto the train at Guildford and waved goodbye as it pulled out of the station. The goodbye had been difficult as we are happier in each others company. Although not joined at the hip, we have a need to be together. Seperating, even for an overnight, is uncomfortable.

Several hours later I received a call to say she was safely arrived and all set for the morning.

The following day passed in something of a whirl before I went to collect her from the station.

"I've had my interview Mully and I think it really went well. NO!!! I know it went well. I've got a good feeling about this."

That was the short version of her phonecall from Truro station as she waited to come home. The huge grin on her face as she strode along the platform at Guildford confirmed it.

"They're going to ring me tomorrow and let me know." She smiled, her face lighting up even though she looked so tired. "I think its mine I really do."

I was on delivery the following morning and had just got to Leas Cottage when my phone rung. Within a moment it was at my ear.

"They've just rung me babe. I got the job."

It was at this point that there was an almighty great crash and I fell completely out of my comfort zone.


Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Chapter One

Two weeks today we start our biggest adventure ever. We are moving to Cornwall. Is it really only four months ago that we took eight weeks off work to walk the South West coast path? It seems eons ago. It was while we were on the walk that our love of Cornwall crystalised into yearning.
That the people we met along the way could not have been more friendlier or kinder has been written by me on previous occasions. I am in the process of trying to turn that walk into a book so please watch this space.
Suffice to say that our experience then, plus our memories of holidays and visits here before, decided us to make every effort to move here permanently.
We got back to our Surrey hills and our little house on our council estate and we dreamed of moving west. The first thing to greet us as we drove back home was the sound of police sirens screaming as a patrol car hurtled up the road and away. Coincidence or not, but we never heard any at all whilst on the coast path in Cornwall.
The second thing to greet us were the sullen band of small children who were not to happy about having to stop playing in our front garden and leaving because we had returned. Scowling silent faces, registered  contempt as they left.
"I can play were I want." said the leader of the pack.
"Not in my garden you can't." I replied.
"It belongs to the council, not you." he spat back as they all moved off.
As they rounded the corner my last glimpse of them, was the all to familiar gestures being hurled in my direction that I would expect from certain adults, and am always still a little startled when issued by children aged under eight. Their language was earthy to say the least as well.
It is episode's such as these that can help and encourage your thoughts on leaving.
On the other side however, the obvious pleasure and delight of family and friends on our safe return, can encourage you to stay. With the familiar all around us, and with both of us back in the swing of things at work, for good or ill, thoughts of escape invariably take a back seat.
"Lets consider moving in three years when I retire at sixty."
That's my safe thought, my comfort zone thought, my sensible thought.
Then I see our children doing so much in their lives and enjoying what they are doing. Their argument has always been universal..."If we don't do it now Dad then tomorrow may be to late."
Little beggars the lot of them...because they're right. 
I look at contempories of mine; some have no longer got the health; some have lost the desire; some have lost the need; and other's didn't really want to in the first place. I understand all that I really do...but I'm not like that...I can't be. 
I've got an ear that only works at 20%; two eyes that only work with the aid of glasses; and a host of other useless bits that, if I was a car, would result in a failed mot. The kid's are right, tomorrow may be to late.
Fortunately for us though, Linda believes in the same thing as the kid's and will not wait for tomorrow.
"I agree with them Mully," she said after I had mentioned it, "If we don't do it now then we never will. I want us to have the chance. I want us to have our dreams. I think now is the time."
We started making enquires and we started planning. In our house we have discovered a relatively painless way of doing this and it seems to work. Linda makes lists and moves mountains while never allowing the grass to grow under her feet. She is a human hurricane and makes things happen. I firmly believe she is touched by the gods. She will do great things, but only in her own way. 
I make comments, and move molehills while allowing whole prairies of grass to grow under my feet. I am a human breeze and lets things happen. I firmly believe I am laughed at by the gods. I will do great things too...just in a different way.
Put us both together though...and incredible thing's happen.
Both of us are great believers in fate, and we both firmly believe that what will be, will be. That's why neither of us was the least bit surprised when the e-mail came. 
It changed our lives.