Or Lion?

On my way up to bed last night, weary after a long day’s driving, collecting my daughter from uni in the rain. On the half landing I spot a bag of rat poison which wasn’t there before. My daughter is luxuriating in a home bath. I ask my son. ‘Oh yes, we thought there were rats in the loft. Don’t worry, we put down some poison.’ This from behind his closed bedroom door.

I open his door and look at him. ‘Don’t worry?!’ He gives me a totally blank look and says nothing. Probably for the best.

My bedroom in the new house is a converted loft space in which I can barely stand, and months after moving still crack my head quite often when I make my bed. (A friend sent me a hard hat, but though it hangs there ready for use I confess I don’t don it while straightening the duvet.) Around the edges of the room are little slivers of storage space in the eaves. The previous owners, who did the work, have put small doors with rather ugly traditional door handles. Behind these we’ve crammed suitcases, boxes of papers we are calling ‘deep archive’ and other bits and pieces that have survived the quite dramatic cull of the move.  The children had been putting away some of my daughter’s stuff that she won’t need until she goes back after the summer.

So what do I do? I go to bed.

Reflecting on the fact that in the olden days I would have been insensible with fear.

A few days previously I’d got ready for bed and noticed a largish spider crawling on the wall just above my pillow. It made its way slowly toward the ceiling. It occurred to me to wake my son and ask him to get rid of it. I remembered that during my marriage I would have been frantic until my husband dealt with it. I wasn’t trying to be dramatic: I was rigid with terror. But now? Not so. I hoped for the best and went to bed.

I haven’t slept for more than two hours at a stretch since he first left over three years ago. I can usually drop off all right, but wake after an hour or so. And so on through the night, sometimes tossing and turning for ages in between. Even now, all this long time later. Worrying about paying the bills, what I am going to do, reflecting on the past, fretting over my estranged daughter, the flooded floor, the leaking roof, whatever. I listen to the rain, which is deafening on the skylights, or the foxes that cry like babies. Now everything sounds like rats. They say you are never more than a few feet from a rat in London, and it certainly feels like it now. In the olden days I might have sat up all night, eyes wide, clutching my knees and jumping with every little noise. Last night, I can’t say I slept well, but I slept as well as I usually do. My last post asked if I was scarecrow or tin man.  Not exactly as brave as a lion, but getting there. Worried that I would not have coped well had I been the one to have seen the evidence, and had my children already left home. But I have another year before my son goes to uni.  On the other hand, he is off on a three week school trip shortly. Must learn to be alone. Must grow to be as strong as any other adult, at last.

This morning I find that they have put the bag that contained my art materials in the laundry. Apparently it was full of rat poo.


PS Photo is of an enormous slug, five foot off the ground on my kitchen door.  While we’re on the subject of yucky wildlife.


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Florence Feynman

I am a middle aged, middle class woman, thinking.

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