You are immediately forgiven for falling off your chair in amazement. You probably thought *I* had fallen off something, possibly the face of the earth. But it's simpler than that. I've been house-hunting.
To be absolutely honest, I've been flat-hunting. And not only was it not in my Small Village, it wasn't even in this country! After all his moaning and groaning about being permanently unemployable, the OH was offered another job. Technically, it required relocating.
"You'll love it," he told me. "And you'll soon get used to it. I mean, Japan has an amazing culture and a very active ex-pat community."
Yes, you read that correctly. Japan.
Fortunately, the firm were quite understanding, considering. I couldn't possibly move from here to Japan, and the OH really didn't want to turn the job down, so they found a compromise, bless them. A fortnight here, a month there, or thereabouts. And the OH isn't senior enough to qualify for first class travel yet, so he'll be flying economy every time, until he's earned enough airmiles to upgrade. So I've spent a large part of the last three weeks in Tokyo, trying to find a suitable flat at a suitable price, and then furnish it appropriately. All easier said than done. The good thing was it confirmed my suspicion that I do not want to exchange Small Village life for Mega City existence.
George was very encouraging. "Cool, Dad," was all he said, but for George, that's encouraging. He's already worked out when he's going to stay and even accepts that he'll have to sleep on the floor. Celeste was more on my side, identifying problems, some of which have been solved.
"But you don't speak Japanese!" was the first issue. The OH has been practising with his Rosetta pebbles ever since he put the application in, though there's no-one in the village he can practise with. And then,
"You can't leave Mum all alone like that!"
I hadn't wanted to say anything because I knew how important it was for him to take the job, but I could have kissed her for saying it for me. Her indignation was so clearly unprompted that the OH has relented on two points.
Joe is allowed to come back and work here during the day. "But he must be gone by 6 o'clock," he added. How that will make a difference, I don't know. And I haven't asked Joe yet if he wants to work here again. He's crossed the road to avoid me more than once, I'm sure, since the OH told him to go.
And I'm going to get a cat. Possibly two. "But no more than that. Place'll be like a bloody cattery otherwise. And they'd better be neutered."
I gave him a hug. He'd just made two fairly large concessions, by his standards. Verity was less generous. "And quite right too," she said, when I told her. "You deserve some company. You should think about a lodger. My Italian friend might be interested..."
That might be a step too far. After all, the OH will be at home *some* of the time.