There are few pleasures in getting older, but giving sage advice to the young feels good. The perfect opportunity arose chatting to a young couple moved into a rented house. Due to Covid, viewing was hasty. On moving in, problems came to light, and they were aggrieved. A big gripe was the greasy oven.
This is where experience came in useful. I recounted the time when, heavily pregnant, I moved with my ex into a tiny flat, 2-rooms with a curtained-off recess housing the “kitchen”. I set to, scrubbing like a maniac. The rush of energy should have warned me. Light was fading as I tackled the cooker. The previous tenant obviously left in a hurry, preparing dinner. I opened the oven, to find a heaving mass of fat maggots on a half-cooked leg of pork. Screaming, I went to put coins in the electric meter, and my hand touched something cold, furry - a huge dead rat.
“It was really horrible, my waters broke the next day, 2 weeks early, I am sure that caused it” I chuckled. “I can laugh about it now”. They did not say much, but I like to think it helped them get a perspective.
There are plenty of things that make me laugh now, which seemed wretched at the time.
When my son was nine, I left his father and moved into an ancient hovel in the Cotswolds. The rent was low, there were cash-in hand jobs a bus-ride away. The problem was the agents stipulated no children, no pets. Apart from my son I had 2 dogs, and a hamster. The villagers were inbred, the landlord local, in the next village. I worried sick someone would tell him and we would get evicted. I had 3 different jobs, rent paid on time.
I became friendly with a woman in a similar situation living nearby. Like me, she had no income other than her earnings. Her landlord also forbade kids and animals, so we decided to help each other when inspections arose. I got the short straw, as well as a hyper-active son, she had dogs, cats and 2 goats. She transported them in shifts to my place in her battered van, and I struggled to keep order for a few hours. Looking back, both landlords must have known what was going on. Apart from anything, the smell of goat is hard to disguise. This lasted 3 years, and I was exhausted and scared for much of that time. But guess what - I laugh about it now.
Move on a couple of years, I am in a different area, with a man in my life. I should be happy, he is good-looking, seemingly besotted with me. Only trouble is, he is a pathological liar who cannot keep his pants zipped up. Home late, with the usual excuse about work, he went to shower while I dished-up supper. I opened the door to relay a message, and was horrified to see deep fingernail scratches on his shoulder blades and neck. He insisted that he had got stuck in a loft (he was a builder) but his discarded jumper was intact.
A full and frank discussion ensued, ending with him making a run for his car, me in hot pursuit. I leapt in the road, wanting my door-keys back, but he just kept driving towards me. I fell into brambles, an undignified heap, while neighbours came to gawp.
I was distraught, mortified, wanted to crawl away and die. Oddly though, I find it hilarious looking back. I relate this to young women whose relationships are shaky. They look very doubtful when I say they will look back and laugh. “When he tries to run you over, it’s time to call it a day”. I tell them.
I know all of us here have stuff that will never be funny, no matter how many years elapse. There will be something though, so please share it, I promise I’ll laugh.
A Moodscope member.