By Alfie Hardman
Chubby kid bobbing in the water gets a lifeline.
7 Ashlyn Grove was my address for two years. The friends that were brave enough to skip past the stray cats that patrolled the area often referred it to as ‘the granny house’. Unfortunately for us it was the only unoccupied squalor in the whole of Manchester.
Nonetheless we proudly claimed it and kept it befitting with the local area. We crowned the place with overflowing ashtrays, managing to hastily pass them off as ‘art installations’ whenever one of the property agents dropped in. We waged war against the tyranny of black mold that occupied the bathroom ceiling, (often fighting in cold, wet… and naked conditions.) We even gave back to the local community! When our haggard laptops, broken speakers and beloved box-shaped TV were stolen one cold October night, the cats refused to comment.
Then there’s ‘home, home’ which doesn’t feel like mine anymore. Once more moving out is a long, long, long way off. Having now graduated I’m now back with the original rents. I’m a tad different from the last tenant there a few years ago, me. The last one worshipped Queens Park Rangers, their (or “our”… I don’t even know anymore) 2003 squad hangs above the bed. As for the present tenant, also me, he now sleeps under it. This is after a long day in retail where the protocol is you have to agree with people’s leading questions or worse; lie so blatantly that you shudder at the thought of forcing out another. More briefly, it felt like I’d worked three years to then be back at the same old sandpit except this time the sundial had flopped.
Maybe I’m just pathetically oversensitive to what’s around me but I have definably noticed that as a result of enthusiastically agreeing with so many peculiar customers I’m now agreeing to the most extraordinary things… as a result of having to agree the whole agreeable time… which is now all the time. Take it from me this turns into a nasty little combo when you’re living with your parents. I should add this thought crossed my mind as I bewilderedly strode outside into the garden to clean last years sausages of Dads’ BBQ.
It’s why the good news from SCA has already made a difference; I’m scared again. Before it was like I was that immobile kid in the water with swollen little arms in swollen little armbands wanting to dive and explore but still wobbling up to the surface bobbing along monotonously through early adult life. As stable and comforting, as this image might seem it was dull.
Before I’ve even started the course I’ve realized the importance of something. Like dodging those hissing stray cats in Ashlyn Grove, it’s the pang-ish thrill of being scared again. But it’s a better fear. It’s not the same as seeing a fat-rich man squeeze into a thick polo shirt and then take it off and discard it on the floor on a 30-degree day.