Sunday, 17 August 2008

Home Sweet Home Five

I cannot remember why I chose to give up the tenancy of the house adjoining the Eagle Club. I was not ejected so I probably left willingly. So began a hectic four years or so of frequent moves than would have been anathema to someone more domesticated.
In truth the job tended to take over my existence in the main but life also revolved around drinking in local pubs, joyful ownership of a Mini Cooper S and sundry friendships with various young ladies wherever possible. A typically selfish existence of a single young male but harmless in the main. My domestic situation was often fraught but passed over my head, so to speak; probably a good thing in the circumstances.
I lived for a while with a widow and her two daughters. (The aunt of a good friend, Stuart.) I only vaguely remember the daughters, honest if not the aunt, but it was good of them to provide me with lodgings. I lived also for a spell with a church curate and his wife, moving in for days and staying weeks. Similarly I moved in with a fellow youth leader, John, who already had a wife and four children at home. This time the stay became months rather than weeks. If there were other arrangements I have forgotten them, except for the strangest move of all.
For several months I lived in a loft come room virtually above the toilet in the youth club. Entered via a loft ladder and a hinged trapdoor, the room measured approximately seven by seven feet, plus the ceiling sloped making standing up difficult. I only slept in there, having the run of the rest of the club outside opening hours. This arrangement lasted several months, was free of rent and my presence was unknown to most.
Many a mid morning the phone would ring and the septuagenarian part time caretaker would inform my 'boss' in the town hall that I had just popped to the shop for a newspaper, his bellowing up the ladder, "your boss wants you" signalling it was time to leave the sleeping bag I had installed in my cosy retreat. My whereabouts were even unknown to the church committee to whom I reported on a monthly basis. The club had of course all that I needed for a basic existence, showers, toilets and cookers, a veritable palace for a single man.
I had one other abode during my spell as a single man in Chesterfield. I lived as a paid lodger with a Mrs Sherwood, a widowed professional lady, a pleasant if formal arrangement. What I did not know at the time was that Mrs Sherwood was the grandmother of a young lady who would put paid to my existence as a mobile, fancy free bachelor.