There are any number of things that I'm quite good at.
OK. I accept that was a little ambitious. I'll try again.
There are some things I'm quite good at.
Still too much? I'll try again.
There are one or two things I'm quite good at. But there is something new I need to add to the burgeoning 'Not Very Good at This' pile. I would make a lousy hermit.
On the face of it, being a hermit sounds quite reasonable. You get plenty of time to yourself. It's nice and quiet. You don't tend to get people calling you up about PPI reclaiming. In many ways, hermiting has a lot going for it.
Yes, that's a word. Because I said so, alright?
But I'm not cut out to be a hermit. Mainly because I'm not very good spending prolonged time on my own. And as far as I'm aware, you can't be a hermit that goes and mixes with people during working hours. That won't do. That's not hermiting.
My inability at spending time by myself has been brought home to me this weekend. She Who Must Be Obeyed has been away since Friday morning, visiting relatives in Southampton.
(I need to digress here for a second. I mentioned to someone last week that Katie was going to Southampton. "Lovely," they said. "Have you ever been?" I asked. "Well, no, I haven't," they said brightly, "but I've been to Northampton." True story.)
Anyway. My wife will have been out of town for three whole nights before she returns tomorrow. I am in the house on my own. And at first it sounded like it could have been a blast. I could have drunk beer and eaten unhealthy food, for instance. This apparent freedom is only lessened by the fact that we do that when she's here anyway, so no change there, then.
I had a disgustingly long lie-in yesterday morning. But we tend to have long lie-ins at the weekend in any case. I lounged on the sofa for a significant proportion of the day. Again, nothing new there.
But I was beginning to notice the difference. I went hours without speaking. And telling the cat off for bringing in another bumble bee from the garden doesn't count. It's not a particularly memorable conversation; the cat doesn't really go in for snappy comebacks.
I'll tell you this. Our house is scarily quiet when there's just me there. After I'd derided the cat for another insectoid murder, we settled down. Eric scuttled off to his radiator-hammock-bed device, doubtless wondering why the smellier of the two humans he owned was alone. I tried to read a thrilling article on the internet about World War 2 artillery shells. I have no particular interest in the subject, but I thought I should try and do something different. But the silence was overwhelming. Really oppressive, and ever so slightly unnerving.
I went out. I came back in. I find it best to do those two activities in that order. If you try to come in before you go out, you're essentially circling yourself in the hallway of your home. And that way lies madness. I came back in to a silent, forbidding house. I never realised the sound the central heating boiler made when it comes on. When the fridge-freezer kicked in I almost jumped.
Tomorrow evening, Katie will be home. She'll be talking to me about her weekend, and checking the house to see whether I've managed to break anything. There will be Something Wrong that is my fault, and she will remind me of this fact. Whether it is my fault or not, she will, of course, be right.
Good. Because I think my short hermitage is sending me slightly mad.