This is going to be difficult to write and yet, so disrupted (I was going to write damaged but that’s probably too strong) have we been by this thing called Christmas, that I’m going to have to resort to the ‘writing as therapy’ aspect of this blog and hope that it comes out OK. Let me say that some people are going to find this blog overly-dramatic, after all, as I’ve already written, nobody died and nothing terrible has happened, at least not so far. But I will just say this in defence of my ‘this has been stressful’ theory, a couple of days  a go I got zigzaggy lines in front of my eyes which in the past has been a precursor of a migraine. I’ve taken some painkillers but my head still feels delicate although not full-blown migraine. This is unusual for me and might just indicate I’ve been under some stress.

Broadly the disruption (go back to this word) is to do with our Christmas guests and one particularly. I have to say right away that this person is entirely blameless in what I’m about to write and any shortcomings are almost entirely ours, the not-quite-so-perfect hosts. Yes, on the face of it, the guest did block the toilet, leave the tap running and empty the hot water tank and, his biggest sin, get up every morning at 4.30 am and hence be in Mrs Summerhouse’s space first thing in the morning. I’ll explain. Mrs SH gets up at 5.30 and likes to go downstairs, light a candle and engage in some invigorating / relaxing (I’m not sure which as I’m not there but either way it’s important to her) yoga. She has not been amused to find her space, routine and general well-being messed up by our guest sitting in the living room with the central light on reading. We never use the central light, we find it unpleasant, yes, it’s there for what you might call emergencies but this was not regarded as one of those.

He’s been there reading and drinking one of his many, many Espressos, he’s practically cleaned us out of Espresso capsules. God he drinks a lot of coffee. We drink one a day, as a general rule. But don’t let this come across as a meanness of spirit. Oh, it already has. Well I did warn you that we were going to  come out of this rather badly but that’s Christmas for you.

I think the general point is that we have found the presence of our several guests (who I named in the last blog and there has been one more since then) disrupting. When we worked it out we had had guests for 6 nights, we originally worked it out as 7 but then realised we had exaggerated the length of stay of our last guest which told us something in itself. There’s clearly a direct relationship between ‘easiness’ of guest and length of stay that’s acceptable / desirable. It ranges from – we can’t stand him / her and would never invite them to stay not even for one night, to – they’re easy to be with and 3 or 4 nights would be OK. On the whole though we’re one or two nights type hosts.

The other downside with medium-term stay guests is that you have to entertain them, as we have the last two days taking them / him into the city and yesterday out into the country. True, there is the positive that you can leave the decisions to them but then you have to bring their decisions to fruition so to speak. I have asked the question in one form or another whether, as one gets older, or when one retires, we get more selfish? I think the answer is – yes, we do. Generally, I at least, am less and less prepared to go out of my way for other people unless they’re in a bad way like my friend with cancer or our ex-gardener with no money for Christmas or indeed my cousin on his own at Christmas time. I’m not entirely a selfish bastard, it’s getting close though. Mrs SH says if our guest ever reads this he will never come to stay again. Hmm.

We took our longer stay guest round to some friends yesterday, kinda spread the load. They put our generosity to shame, called it into question and no question. By the time we left they had given us – 9 mince pies, an uncounted number of sausage rolls, three beers, two bottles of Stella and one bottle of Cloudy Bay. Impressive I think you will agree. And most definitely a good way to get rid of us before we positively died of embarrassment. Ooh, says Mrs SH I like your wellington holder. No for God’s sake don’t give us that.

Since we put the last of our guests on the train, damn the bloody rail strike that kept our guest here another day, we have moved from complexity to coma. As I said the last 6 days have felt like being put through an army assault course and, as I say – again, it’s all our fault, we’re just not very good with the social side of life these days and when it comes all of a rush we’re really not good. Dear Santa please bring me some peace and quiet. I do wonder how long it will be before I’m complaining about being bored, life being too quiet and dull?

Well we’ve had two days of indulgence, mostly reading and an inordinate amount of napping and I’m not bored yet. One of the days was a nice snow day but it’s all gone now sadly. To counter-balance the positiveness of these two days you will be relieved to know that I’ve been highly irritated with the technological side of this blog. Technology is a wonderful thing – mostly – even for the retired person, when it’s working, but a pain when it isn’t, mainly because I lack the skills to fix it. I mean do you know what a DNS problem is? The fact my tech guy explained this as being the problem did not help the problem one jot. Anyway it seems, fingers crossed to be working now but this is the explanation as to why Friday’s retirement blog has become Saturday’s.

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