And now to bed

So, after two months of sleeping first in other people’s houses and hotels, then on my sofa bed and in my own spare room, I finally slept in my own bed last night. The frame had arrived last week, though assembly was delayed as my attempts to purchase the ‘assemble on delivery option’ were thwarted, since that is a service ‘not available in your area’. (I was righteously aggrieved at this – am I not posh enough to have John Lewis assemble my bed? But as the cheery delivery men said, ‘nah, pet, do it all the time, dunno what happened there’ – as they rushed down my front drive hastily, clearly scared I was going to implore that they do it anyway, I can only assume it was an IT glitch.)

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In the end, it worked out for the best, as my Capable Cousin Round the Corner came round and sorted it. I had already realised how much I was liking living so near to her – we’ve always got on well, but the last couple of months have reminded me how much I like her company, and since moving in, I’ve discovered just how lovely it is to have someone close by who is generally happy for you to pop round for a beer with very little notice. The fact that she is, like the rest of my family, super practical and capable has just been a bit of an added bonus.

(I am continually astonished that I – cack-handed, clumsy and with the spatial awareness and good sense of a one-winged moth with a head injury, and who lives a life arranged around how many naps I can squeeze in – am related to a bunch of practical, can-do hard-workers who can build you a shelf unit, fix your car or plaster your walls before breakfast, and then go on to do a 10 hour shift. (I blame my feckless, runaway dad. Bad genes on one side, and it’s obviously not my mum’s). (There is a long-cherished family story that one of the grandparents in my extended clan wooed his lady – who, if I recall, came from Roma stock, so wasn’t keen on moving into a terrace where you lived on top of your neighbours’ lives – by building her a house. An actual house. Not sure if this is true or not – given my family, if anything, it’s likely been toned down – but it has left me with some unrealistic standards for men, I can tell you.))

Having already assembled my sofa bed and spare bed in turn, last night my cousin came round to tackle the last of the flat: assemble the bed in the main room and the dining table in the study (since my dinner party hosting skills are as limited as my furniture assembly skills, I suspect it’ll be little used, but it’s a gorgeous table – a gift from friends when I moved into my Brighton place – so I was keen not to let it lie idle and in bits), and disassemble some clothes rails that I no longer need (because I have wardrobes, y’all! Wardrobes!) so I could store them under the spare bed and clear the last of the moving in clutter.

This she did in short order, and we had such a riot doing so we ended up joking we should do it for a living – be ‘lady fitters’ helping women assemble their furniture so they didn’t need no man. (We were getting a bit rowdy by this stage, since as well as bringing her not inconsiderable talents, she had also brought beer – take that, John Lewis, your assembly charge doesn’t include those extras!).

We mooted around a few suitable monikers and catchphrases – all, unfortunately, likely to attract the the wrong kind of call from a business card, but hey. (I think in the end the winner was Screwdriver Sisters: tagline, Sisters are Screwing it For Themselves. We’d had quite a lot of beer by that stage).

I even felt quite the sense of achievement at the end, despite the fact that my actual assistance was limited to keeping the beers filled, holding whatever I was told to hold and passing what I was told to pass, while petting her wee dog enough that he didn’t try to jump into the middle of proceedings.  Though I did help cart all the packaging around to hers for disposal in her jeep tomorrow (in years of having men assemble things, I have never had one worry about tidying up afterwards: which makes me think we might be onto something with this business idea after all…)

And so, luxuriating in more space than I have had in about 2 decades, quietly thrilled by the sight of all those wardrobes, I actually slept in my own bed. Now I’m thinking if I could just get some pictures on those walls…

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(Billy the dog – in situ at his place)

 

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Like my writing? You can support me in a whole load of ways (some of them for FREE!)

If you’re skint: RTs and shares always welcome. Reviews of anything of mine you have read on Amazon or Goodreads or any book related/social media site, no matter how short, help boost profile. Tell your friends how lovely I am (leave out the needy bit.)

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Week one in the new place

So, I have been in my new place just over a week now. It certainly feels better to have my own space, and after a slightly mend and make do week I am starting to make progress in making the place more homely.

My super practical cousin popped round last night and assembled my bed and fixed my wobbly sofa bed, though did give me a telling off for not asking for help sooner – I have to keep reminding myself I have a lot of people here more than willing to lend and hand, and I should stop feeling useless/flaky/like a burden for reaching out to them.

Bookshelves arrived on Saturday so the place feels a bit less cluttered, and I have a bunch of stuff on order from Amazon (including a multi-tool, whose ordering was inspired by said cousin, who was horrified by my lack of tools…) and have – I think – chosen the bed I want for the main bedroom and plan to order it this week.

I’d forgotten that moving house is both tedious and exhausting (so many companies to contact! So much to unpack), not to mention incredibly expensive, and I am still slightly surprised by how emotional it’s making me feel. But at least with the fairy lights and all the housewarming cards the living room is looking a lot more welcoming…

The Kindness of Geordies

I have written before about kindness, and it’s a topic I find myself returning to frequently. In part this is because my life is such that I have often found myself at the mercy of others’ generosity, sometimes by accident (homelessness, penury), sometimes by design (holidays spent on strange sofas).

I’m fascinated by kindness, because what should be so simple – what is a basic human instinct – gets so very complicated. I’ve written before about the difficulty of asking for help, and why I think it’s important to build a muscle of trust: to not just ask for help, but to get into the habit of it. To ask without feeling you are a burden, that you are weak, that it is embarrassing not to be able to handle whatever you are going through – a financial shortfall, an emotional crisis – alone and unaided.

And likewise, to be bold enough to give. We are so often constrained from our natural instinct to generosity because we fear that we look pushy, interfering, presumptuous. As if we are storing up favours or expectation in return, as if someone will look at our gift and wonder at our motives.

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The truth is, though, there is pleasure and rewards to be had on both sides of the equation. Giving with an open hand is delightful – is there anything better than presenting someone with a gift they truly love? Offering a helping hand when you know you can make a real difference? And likewise, the enormous relief of relaxing into someone else’s aid: of having a hand help you keep afloat, even for a minute, even just long enough for you to catch your breath and start swimming again.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since my return since I have, by necessity, again been dependent on others’ hospitality. Although I had anticipated having to stay with friends and family for a while, it’s taken longer than I hoped, and my plan to spread myself so thinly as to not be too much of a burden (see? I write about this shit and still do it) has fallen through due to not everywhere I was counting on being available. But it’s also been a bit of an unforeseen gift. I’ve been splitting my time between one of my oldest friends and my cousin, and being able to catch up properly with them – as opposed to ticking them off a list as I hare around trying to cram everyone into a weekend visit – has been an unmitigated joy.

It’s also been useful and eye-opening: all my initial plans for my move involved city centre apartments or luxury flats with balconies overlooking the river, a fantasy that is more manageable in a much cheaper city. But staying in very different neighbourhoods has broadened my perspective, and the place I ended up renting is located in an area I hadn’t even initially considered. It has encouraged me to face up to my own issues about accepting without angst – for example, setting up a Ko-fi account was an exercise in asking. (HUGE thanks to everyone who has donated – I get an email every time someone does, which adds a nice little buzz to a day).

Having been the subject of generosity from all over the country (indeed, the globe), I don’t think one region, place or culture has a monopoly on kindness. But I have noticed a difference since I moved back North. In large part, it’s a matter of attention.

In London, as in New York, we train ourselves to look away. Perhaps this is its own form of generosity: in a city where we are living on top of one another, giving someone privacy is a gift of its own. But it does mean that many things go unnoticed. In exceptional circumstances, both Londoners and New Yorkers have proven themselves capable of extraordinary kindnesses – but on an average day, you’re lifting your own suitcase up those stairs, matey.

In Newcastle, we seem more programmed to look towards one another. I’ve mentioned the whole ‘smiling on the subway’ thing, which continues to freak me out. But I had two experiences this week alone where strangers ran to my aid, unasked, and I wondered – how the hell did you even notice that? The other day, I was buzzing into my aunt’s building when I realised that, laden with bags as I was, I was on the wrong side of a barrier: so actually managing to hold open the door, cross the stairs and get inside before the whole thing slammed closed again was impossible – and a young couple literally sprinted across the street to hold it open for me. A few days later, when I was locking up at my cousin’s, and doing my usual ‘paranoid I haven’t locked someone else’s door properly, so I have to check 45 times’ routine, I faffed about so long that a builder from the construction site across the road came over to check that I was OK. ‘You alright, pet? Locked yourself out?’ Neither action was earth-shattering, but each spoke to a level of casual observation I have rarely encountered down south.

Of course, feeling people are paying attention isn’t always a good thing. I could have done with some London indifference the other day when, sitting on a crowded Metro, I went to reapply my lipbalm and only realised, as I put it to my mouth, that I had actually pulled a loose tampon from my bag…

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Like my writing? You can support me in a whole load of ways (some of them for FREE!)

If you’re skint: RTs and shares always welcome. Reviews of anything of mine you have read on Amazon or Goodreads or any book related/social media site, no matter how short, help boost profile. Tell your friends how lovely I am (leave out the needy bit.)

Donate to my Ko-fi. All the cool kids have one. (I am not cool, obviously, but have been assured this is true).

Buy my books: Some are available for as little as a quid! Not these two, mind, but others.

Rom-com with a dash of Northern charm: The Bridesmaid Blues

Paranormal adventure with snark and sexiness: Dark Dates: Cassandra Bick Chronicles: Volume 1

Want some swag? Buy a bag or a tee. And be sure to send me a picture! I’m on Instagram (@traceysinclair23) or Twitter (@thriftygal)

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