We have a chirpy, delighted blackbird nestling in the camellia at the back of the conservatory. Each morning now that the sun is shining again, we sit on the sofa, sipping tea and watching as Mrs Blackbird dives in and out of the tangle of branches decorating the brick wall behind us, singing at the top of her voice and dragging all manner of nesty somethings in with her, in the same manner as I did yesterday, gloriously triumphant after my first short wander around Homesense this year, returning laden with books and pretty, flower sprinkled journals, propolis toothpaste, body wash, candles and and a Bach Essence atomiser filled with something called Conflict Treating Spray, because ain’t nobody got time for that.

While Mother Nature (and TK MAXX) may be the gifts that keep on giving, what is not quite so welcome here are the gang of very naughty mice trying to establish mousey territory somewhere between the kitchen drains and the cupboard under the sink. Though there is much to be celebrated in nature (happy birds, Russell Brand), the kind of little somethings that decide to try squatting among my unguents are decidedly not welcome, though Finn, who has seen them sitting on the drain covers just beneath the kitchen window, assures me they are very cute as if cute is any excuse for high treason against my sanity. For make no mistake – mice send me off my trolley. In fact it is the stuff of a legend: a story passed down from Father (Mark) to son (Finn), that the presence of mice in my first flat, turned me into a short term alcoholic, because to Mark’s mirth I couldn’t sleep without knocking myself out with gin. And so for three weeks I drank it like water and indulged in regular rants about how it SURELY WASNT POSSIBLE FOR MICE TO CLIMB STAIRS. Which was of course nonsensical but one likes a dose of nonsense with one’s hungover breakfast don’t you know?

So today. Plans and arguments about mousey eviction. For Ste is nature’s best mate and isn’t keen on extermination. But humane traps to catch them and deliver them back to the field strike me as a rather futile endeavour, wouldn’t you agree? A migraine that will soon require the application of ” the flowery cold thing” slapped across my forehead. A search of my whole person for the period missing in action for two months and a peculiar new ailment driving me nuts: the front inside of my nose weeping – but not dripping – blood (Ste has got the exact same thing, and has got some cream from the doctor, so we are presuming the air is too dry in here or Finn is slowly poisoning us via his rather excellent tea) and constant sneezes that mean I am giving Mr Sneezy next door a real run for his money. We do so like a competition through the wall, me and Peter. Or at least I do. Sometimes when he sings, I join in, just because it makes me giggle. I shouldn’t and I mustn’t. But I do. Though bless his cotton socks he probably has no idea we are competing in Burscough’s Got Talent.

Avocado toast sprinkled with seeds. Fresh orange juice which is of course the stuff of sin these days but something I still adore. A clutch full of vitamins so I can restore myself back to working order because a person must not dwell on what cannot be fixed but must instead do everything in her power to live well regardless. The removal of the many, many coats cluttering up the cupboard under the stairs in case mousey mates are living in their pockets. A series of men likely to attend the garden via the back gate because Ste is selling his bike and apparently holding a viewing. New books. This one and this one and oooh, yes please, this one too because even at first glance it looks like a hoot and I’m rather in the mood for a hoot! No children (pretend you didn’t see my happy dance there). Both safe with their other families, Liverpool way. And of course a funeral. For we are a nation in mourning and even in the midst of family conflict (I’ve got a spray for that if you need it William: you could spritz Harry from head to toe!), and the rigours of a pandemic, great men must be celebrated.

Now. Time to dead-head and trim-down the daffodils and re-seed the lawn. The fence needs touching up, there is one more bed to be cleared and against all my feng-shui advice to the contrary, there is STILL a huge bucket swimming with murky water down the side of the brick outhouse that I must insist Ste deals with henceforth. Then, the endless battle with the pebbles from next door’s drive on the front path, weeding, and some early spring bedding plants to add a little cheer. Later, a Zoom call with family sure to put a smile on my smacked-gob face, and a film with Ste.

I’m ok. I know you have all been worried, but I am ok. while my brain doesn’t yet seem to be fully functioning and I wandered around Marks and Spencer’s food hall yesterday without a mask and didn’t notice until the stench of their rather vile hand gel tickled my (bleeding) nostrils and I clamped my hands to my face in germy fright, I have long had the capacity to come to terms with what is after a period of mourning for what should be, and each day now, helped by those who have been kind enough to carry me at my most distressed, I find myself seeing what has happened and more pertinently, why, with more clarity and that in itself is soothing. Next week I will begin counselling to show me how to establish the kind of boundaries I have always resisted and further to teach me how to use the resilience that has long been my armour to shore against my own ruin in the face of other people’s issues.

I am ok. The sun is shining, and me, Peter next door, and Mrs. Blackbird are singing. While a funeral we will attend en masse as a country has got me dwelling on what it truly means to treasure those we love while we still can, I am coming to terms with the fact that we cannot force our love upon those determined to declare themselves willing to miss it for the rest of their lives, when life as we all know is so terribly short and we cannot make our apologies when we are gone. Nor press kisses on the heads of those who will go on living without us. I am ok. Though it takes me time and I can often seem rather dramatic in the midst of it, I have enormous capacity to emerge from the cocoon I make in the face of trauma, stronger and more determined than ever.

I am after all a women in possession of a bottle of Conflict Spray.

Right now: another cup of tea, with feet tucked high upon the sofa because I’m rather convinced mice like toes. Are you picturing me now making my way around the house, hopping from one piece of furniture to the next like so many stepping stones? I hope it’s made you smile.

I’m ok. Have a truly, lovely weekend won’t you?x

P.S: Yes, Mr Matthews, that was an order to get that murky bucket moved. Jump to it!


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