Light at the End of the Tunnel

Firstly, my apologies for not blogging last week. Regular followers will know I have been frantically busy trying to finish my steampunk epic fantasy retelling of Snow White which has been consuming most of my free time lately. Added to that, my shift pattern was abruptly changed last week, and I suddenly found myself having to work Thursday, Friday, and Saturday which left no time at all to write the blog either.

I am delighted to report that I finished writing the book last Friday evening. Coming in at a whopping 148,00 words it is approximately the same length as The Forest and Chaining Daisy and is 28,000 words longer than Erinsmore. But as it is an epic fantasy the word length is appropriate for the genre. It is also a very quick read. The chapters are short, there will be over forty pages of illustrations, and I like to think it’s a real page turner, so the length of the book is not a problem. Apart from the fact that it takes longer to edit, format and upload, of course.

I think it’s good. Upon reading it all through from start to finish for the first time, I actually think it’s very good. It’s exciting and thrilling, and funny and touching, and there are some romantic moments in it that made my bones melt with the sweetness. I have spent the past week doing my own edits and now it is in the hands of my proof-reader. Initial feedback from her is very positive, which is encouraging. While it’s with her, I shall begin the Herculean task of formatting it – which is always fun – not.

I know many of you will be wondering what is happening on the lodger front. Well, I tweaked the ad yet again, uploaded some fresh photos, and relisted it last Saturday morning. Almost straight away I had a response from a young woman asking if she could come to view it on Sunday. Later that day, I had another likely sounding response from an older man asking for a viewing Tuesday evening. Then another from someone with a name I was unfamiliar with so wasn’t sure if it was male or female asking to view Wednesday at midday.

It all seemed to be going the right way at last. Sunday arrived. The young woman came to view. Initially, she seemed keen, but then I saw the exact moment she decided she didn’t want the room. It was when she discovered she didn’t get a lovely private bathroom all to herself. I honestly don’t know why people expect every house has umpteen bathrooms – enough for one each – or that the room would be as cheap as it is if you got a private bathroom as well. She left promising to let us know, but I already knew what her answer was going to be. Sure enough, Monday afternoon she messaged me. Thanks, but no thanks.

Then Tuesday morning I had a message from the man scheduled to view that evening. He’d driven by the previous evening and seen how problematic parking is, so he wasn’t even going to bother to come and view the room. So, that was that.

That left us with the person of unknown gender coming on Wednesday. Midday came, the doorbell rang. I opened the door and there stood the tallest young man I’d ever seen! Easy 6’7” possibly taller. At only 5’ I felt positively Hobbit-like. A bit concerned he would be too tall to even be able to stand upright in the basement, I took him down to look at it. Luckily, he cleared the ceiling by a scant inch, no more.

He looked around. Didn’t say much. I showed him the kitchen, the bathroom, the living space he could use. Talked a little about the house and the area, cleaning routines, etc. He seemed very nice, but shy, and oh so young. It then turned out he was only 17 and on the same animal management course at the college that Miss F is on!

A little concerned, I tactfully asked if he would be able to afford the rent – I know Miss F would never have been able to afford it and she has a reasonably well-paid part-time job. Oh yes, he replied. His parents were going to pay it. I asked where they were, expecting him to name a nearby village or town, stunned when he replied France.

I must admit, I admire his courage. To relocate to a completely new area to continue his education, to have to search for accommodation, learn his way around, and begin at a new college all without his family and all at only 17 – that does take guts.

Maybe I was an idiot, but we offered him the room. To be honest, I don’t have much choice in the matter. He is the only person after running the ad for a full three weeks to want it, he seems quiet and nice mannered, no matter what happens with Corona his parents will be paying the rent, and he has no car or even a bike for us to try to accommodate. I assume that he will be staying at least until next August when presumably he will be off to university, so it buys me some time.

He has already completed and signed the contract, and is planning on moving in on the 30th of October, so long as the rent and deposit are paid before then, which I think they will be. Although I have a feeling, I may have adopted another teenager, that’s possibly not such a bad thing. We shall see how it goes.

We have an old TV in Miss F’s office which she never uses, so I am going to put it in the basement and see if we can get it working for him. I know he is going to be looking for a part-time job, but I have the feeling he’s not one for going out and socialising much, so a TV of his own might be nice for him. It’s also a DVD player and I will tell him to help himself to our quite extensive DVD library if ever he’s bored. See, I’m already thinking of myself as a motherly figure.

Work has been incredibly quiet this week. So far, I have worked Monday and Tuesday and both days were utterly dead. I am next in today, Sunday, 9:30am to 3:30pm. The first hour of that is training and the shop won’t even be open, so I have an enormous target to meet in just five hours!

Then I have Monday and Tuesday off, which will be completely taken up with formatting the book, then back to work Wednesday and Thursday – usually the two quietest days of the week – Friday off, and then I’m working on Halloween.

Is anyone bothering with Halloween this year? I am in the UK and it’s never much of a deal here anyway, but this year I’m expecting it will be even less of one. If Miss F was still of an age where she liked to be taken trick or treating, I really don’t think I would want her receiving candy from the homes of total strangers in the middle of a pandemic. That being said, we do have a lovely American family at the top of our road with young children. Maybe we should carve a pumpkin and get some individually wrapped candy just for them.

Likewise, Christmas is looming. As I’ve said in previous blogs, I am not a Christmas person at all. I find it boring, stressful, and generally an expensive waste of time. This year I don’t think we’re even going to bother with a tree. Maybe I will feel differently as we get closer to the festive season, but I honestly don’t think I will. A quiet and low-cost Christmas this year sounds like such a blessed relief.

All around us, areas of the UK are going into lockdown. Scotland, Wales, and Ireland are all having “circuit breaker” lockdowns of varying lengths and severity, and the North is lost altogether. To be honest, I am surprised our government hasn’t announced a general mini lockdown for us all, although I suppose they are trying to balance peoples lives with the damage to the economy – never an easy thing to do.

If we go into lockdown I am prepared. For the past month I have been squirreling away extra provisions every time I do a weekly shop. We could survive a couple of weeks, maybe even longer, without having to leave the house. I just wish they’d get on with it and make a decision one way or the other. All this uncertainly is taking its toll on everyone.

On Monday, when things were so quiet, we were simply sitting there looking at each other, we were teasing one of my male colleagues – who is a little bit on the hairy side – that he needed a good haircut. Another male colleague suggested he get a “crack, back, and sack” wax while he was at it, and then I added that he might as well go the whole hog, and get them to do an anal bleach while they were down there.

Jaws dropped as they swivelled to stare at me.

“That’s a thing?!”

“You’re making it up! What the heck is anal bleaching?!”

“Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like, they bleach your anus.”

In disbelief, they googled it and gawped in horror at what they found. Faces paling at the thought, they loudly speculated as to why ANYONE would want to have that done to such a … tender … part of the body. From that, the conversation veered onto other disgusting things that people did to their bodies, and then onto the gross TV programme “The Pimple Doctor.”

And that, my friends, is what working with men is like. Although to be fair, I would rather have conversations like that than endless discussions about what happened in last night’s soaps.

I’m afraid it’s a shorter blog this week. I am up against the clock with the book and every spare moment I have, I am working away on it. It’s lucky that we change the clocks tonight, so I get an extra hour to work on it tomorrow morning.

Hopefully, next week I will be about to report that young Mr M moved in successfully and we’re back on an even keel. I don’t think there will be an issue. If I were his parents, I would be very happy to know that he’s moving into an actual home with someone he’s at college with and a responsible (well, responsible-ish) adult in the house to deal with all the grown up stuff that needs to be done to keep a home running, such as boiler maintenance and insurance. I did take the precaution of asking him to supply me with contact details for his parents though – just in case. Don’t want the unpleasant situation of him being seriously ill or injured and no way to contact them.

I hope you all have a great week, and if you’re still going to celebrate Halloween that it goes safely and smoothly for you.

Take care.

Julia Blake

One thought on “Light at the End of the Tunnel

  1. Shorter but not boring. Glad you have a lodger now, the young Mr. M. It’s a small world with his being in the same course at college as your daughter. My is he tall! So funny that it is a basement apartment. But he fits and he will be cozy. Nice for him to have the tv in his room.

    What a crazy conversation with your male co-workers. 🤣🤣 But to be fair you did bate them this time.

    We’re doing a Halloween hunt for my granddaughters. Some treats and toys like plastic spiders and stickers in bags hidden around the yard or inside depending on weather. As you know it’s big here with the kids and at 4 they are already hooked on it. Kind of you to think of the American family up the street. 😍

    Hope you don’t have to have another lockdown. The uncertainty is unnerving. We’re in a kind of halfway life here with about half of everything closed … but not a full lockdown either. And lot of how it will be handled depends on our election coming up.

    Looking forward to the reveal today. Have a good one and a productive Monday and Tuesday.
    All my best!

    Liked by 1 person

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