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Today I spoke to my sister on the phone.
I also spoke to her friend who she is staying with but I could not tell the difference between their voices. I thought it was my sister when her friend picked up and I am still not sure when the phone got switched over so I think that counts as one person.
One conversation anyway.

This will probably be the only conversation with the outside world today.
Some days, if we don’t count interaction with shop staff, I only speak to the Proles.

In the early days after Loz died this would happens a lot.
Weekends would go by without any input from other voices.
Even once I started work things were relatively quiet.
I would small talk with colleagues. We would talk about work. I would even talk at length with people we were working with on the phone.
At the end of the day I would feel like I had clocked off and gone back to my other life again.

Going to work was like swapping trains, heading in opposite directions, at fifty miles an hour, without either of them stopping.
One had very little to do with the other.

In one life I would talk to people, in the other I did not.

The only thing is I really missed with ‘small talk’ about the boys was about the little things. How they were growing, how they were getting on.
All the rubbish stuff about phases they are going through, latest tricks, funny things they said.
I missed having someone to share it all with.

I could tell family members but that is not the same as sharing, in depth, with the other parent.
There is always an edge when you are talking ‘beyond’ the family unit.
I don’t want there to be an edge.
I just wanted to share the ongoing roller coaster ride between breakfast and bedtime with someone.

There is an apparent discrepancy between wanting to talk and really, really, really not wanting to talk.

Now, let’s be clear, I do not sit alone and worry about this stuff.

I am quite happy about this state of affairs.

What I miss is asking for confirmation that what I believe about the raising of my children is true.
I particularly miss getting that confirmation.
This does not mean that I don’t lie on the sofa with a cushion over my ears listening to the telephone ringing and hissing: “Go away…go away…go away…’ at it until the ringing stops.

Since all the rules, such as they are rules about child raising, were drawn up with Loz it is inevitable that I find a ‘disconnect’ between what I think we should be doing and whatever anyone who was not there in the early stages of child raising discussions might think.

I don’t like being told I am wrong about my children.
I didn’t mind being told I am wrong about my children by Loz.

A dislike of having my frailties brought out in public is not the only reason I don’t really talk to many people but it is certainly there.

After all, if I want to interact with the outside world I can do.
I have tried this in the past, I can pick up the phone and call any number of people and they would answer.
I could invite myself round to their houses and even stay over on sofas, spare beds or floors.
I have a large number of generous and tolerant friends.

In fact the one night of the week when I force myself to interact with the outside world is for the post swimming Pizza Club at the Manager’s house. Since he and his wife are also Godparents (Or, as he insisted on being called when first asked, ‘friend-parent’) it is a very jolly weekly affair where our two families can get together.
I talk more at these evenings about stuff and nonsense and odds and ends than I do for the rest of the week put together.
Must drive them mad.

I used to have an open invitation Ukulele night round my kitchen table.
People would come from all over to sit around and play ukulele.
We were all fairly awful musicians, people who could hold a tune really stuck out, but the playing was almost the least of it, chatting and laughing were what it was all about.

I really liked listening to all the talking. I loved the banter and the small talk and the awful jokes. I was starting to dread making the small talk myself.

One week I remember staring at the door and hoping no one would turn up because I had nothing to say.
They did turn up and I did have a brilliant time but a few weeks later there was no one free so I used that as an excuse to bring it to a halt.

Every now and then I would make the effort to get a baby sitter and go out for the night.
I would spend the entire time wishing and hoping it would be over so I could go home.
It sort of didn’t matter what activity was happening, I knew I would be happier lying on the sofa at home. Probably with the cushion close by in case anyone called.
Sometimes I would get as far as getting ready, heading out, pulling up in the car outside where ever I had arranged to go and then just turning round and heading home again.

I used to tell people I went home to be with the Proles.
No one ever questioned that when the Proles were small.

The Proles have become regular shields in this new world.
There have been times when I have been unable to get a baby sitter it is true.
I once called nine people and none of them were free so I gave up. I was so relieved.
These days it has to be something pretty special for me to go looking amongst my friends for someone to take the Proles.
Most of the time I decline all invitations on the grounds that I have a family.
Oddly I am happier taking the time out for work than for myself, once the burden of small talk is gone I can unclench.
Sometimes my brilliant friends do ask me to come out to play.
I do love them but I really do have to be in the mood.
Sometimes I am in the mood.
Often I am not.
In those circumstances it can be hard to justify it, to explain why a night in with facebook and Film4 is better than being social.

Evenings off are such monumental things, less than a dozen a year, that the pressure is enormous.
I so seldom go out.
Generally I don’t look forward to it and often I don’t enjoy it as much as being at home.

I sometimes dread invitations.
I hate to say ‘no’ to people, I really do.

I have been known to agree to go out with a group of friends, buy tickets and arrange an entire night without having the slightest intention of going through with any of it, just to stop them badgering me about it.

Twenty five pounds spent on a theatre ticket is money well spent if it gets people to leave you alone, even if you never use the tickets.
The way I reason it, I get an evening doing what I really enjoy and everyone else gets to go to the theatre.
I would spend twenty five pounds on that any day.
I certainly prefer that then actually going out to an evening I won’t enjoy.
After all, I am already twenty five pounds down on the deal, there is no need to be miserable as well.

But then….

Then there are the times when I do want to come out to play.
I am, after all, human.

I still like to see old friends, sit warm by a strange fire, drink in a pub, walk down a street at night, hug someone in the rain.

I still like to wear my old life like a coat on occasion.

I just have to take it off afterwards.

I can’t make this post as cheerful as it is in my head.
I am happy at home.
I have a great love for those around me.
I am grateful for all I have.
I smile often.
At the moment, I don’t need any more.

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