What I miss

While I’m at it I should record the things I miss most. Top of that list would be space and quiet. There’s always something going on, and there is no place of my own I can retire to and close the door.

Used to be I had a whole house to myself, but that seems an extraordinary luxury these days. I had the run of the place, could climb out of bed when I chose, could languish in a bath, leave a mess in the kitchen, or just snuggle down for an hour or two with a good book. Invariably Rigby would take the opportunity to snuggle up next to me. I really miss that more than anything – not Rigby, though, yes, I miss that quiet affection. I miss reading like I used to. I still read, but I abstain in large part from the really good stuff because I don’t want to read in compromised conditions. It’s such a dear pleasure that I want to save it for when I can really enjoy it – and so I deprive myself.

As it is I don’t even have my own room, let alone house. There have been occasions when I’ve just sat in the foyer of the shop reading because it was more peaceful there than at ‘home’. Truth is I dread going back to that place every day. If it were not for Rigby it would be just about intolerable.

The other thing I really miss is cooking. I’ve mentioned before how I’ve been barred from sharing meals with my ersatz family. They prepare themselves dinner and sit down to it without me. Early on I’d prepare my meal and sit with them, but I don’t even bother with that anymore.

My meals are very modes things. I used to take great pleasure in cooking. I love food, love eating well, enjoy cooking, and am better than most at it. Most weeks I would prepare 3-4 scrummy meals. I’d experiment often, testing myself, cooking new recipes all the time. It’s a modest, but authentic pleasure. Occasionally I would entertain friends, something I always enjoyed as much as they did.

You’d hardly describe what I do now as cooking. I can’t get into the kitchen to cook to start with, and the fridge in any case so jam-packed – things fall out as you open the door – that I can’t store the fixings. I haven’t had a home-cooked egg since I moved as I can’t eat theirs and there’s no room for any of my own.

The best I ever do is tossed together meals. There are regular TV dinners because that’s simplest. Maybe once a week I’ll prepare a meal from a pack – a humiliating admission from someone like me. I believe in fresh ingredients and combinations, and that’s half the pleasure in cooking. That’s not impossible in this environment and so I buy the meat, an onion, whatever, on the day, and throw it together with a packet.

Sometimes I’ll just cook something quick and simple – spaghetti aglio and olio for example, which is easy and delicious. But unambitious.

Lately I’ve taken to knocking off work and sitting in one of the nearby restaurants for a cheap dinner. It seems the simplest solution sometimes.

So that’s what I miss, space and time and quiet, and the things deprived by the lack of – me-time, reading, cooking, and not to forget a sense of independence.


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