Sometimes you think of something… Something you might like… And then that thought spirals out of control to the point of absolute ridiculousness? Well I had one of those last night. And this morning I thought, hey, wouldn’t it be a good idea to write it all down for the purposes of amusement and entertainment. So I did. It’s not far fetched, it sounds quite normal but it is a bit of a fantasy. Enjoy!
A cottage, a rustic one, with white lime washed walls, a roof of Welsh slate and wooden windows that open outwards, no other building in sight. It’s not quite in the middle of nowhere but its close enough. There’s a village about a ten minute walk away and it has a post office and a shop and a pub and a bus into some nearby town that comes once every hour. To get there you either have to take a footpath across a farmer’s field or walk down a pleasant, leafy, dead end lane.
The front is surrounded by a tumbledown wall and in one corner there’s a grizzled old tree that never has any leaves, not even in summer. In winter the front garden looks a bit scabby and bare. In summer it’s all full of wild flowers and quite pretty. There’s a small pond right in the middle, directly between the gate and the front door. It’s a bit clogged up and weedy and every time there’s a new postman he almost falls in, subsequently knocking on the front door to complain that I ought to get it filled in. Around the back there’s an enclosed garden, much nicer than the front, and it has a bit of a lawn with plants around the edges and a rockery in the back corner. There’s also a vegetable patch. Overlooking this garden is a veranda which doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the architecture but it’s nice to sit on, rain or shine, and watch the sun go down with a glass of pimms or, if it’s winter, hot chocolate. Or even my afternoon coffee.
Inside the ceilings are low and the whole cottage is crammed with nooks and odd spaces and turns. The staircase is a spiral stone one, rickety and unforgiving, embedded into the back wall of a country style kitchen. It has an Aga but I can’t quite manage to figure out how to use it properly and so replace it with a conventional oven and central heating. I turn the dining room into an ultra-gothic looking library, full of monstrous carvings and packed floor to ceiling with books. There’s no modern technology in here, no television or phone or iPad, except for the lights but they’re suitably antiquated so it’s ok. The lounge is a bit more modern and upstairs there are three bedrooms- One which is super-huge and for which I build myself a massive, old fashioned four poster bed. Another of the bedrooms I turn into an office and the walls are filled with framed fan art that people have sent me, from floor to ceiling.
After a while I get lonely and buy a Jack Russell. I call him Jack Sparrow and teach him to come running whenever anybody shouts the word ‘rum.’ He spends most of his time chasing squirrels around the back garden and when I leave to go shopping or something he’ll sit on the window ledge in the library and wait for me. When he sees me coming up the path he’ll give an excited yap and run to the front door to say hello. He likes going to the vet, but only because he’s in love with her, and he likes going on the bus as well. He develops a habit for a particular seat near the back and woe betide anyone sitting there when he gets on. He’ll spend the whole time staring out of the window and people always comment on what a lovely dog he is, at which point he will give them a disdainful look before turning back to the window.
Jack gets jealous whenever I bring a lady friend home, coming to greet me but snorting and walking off in a huff. However, he eventually has to get used to not having me all to himself- She’s called Emily, she’s an art teacher, and after a couple of years she moves in with us. Eventually Emily gets pregnant and her father shotguns me into doing the honourable thing. It’s a simple, quiet wedding in the village church- Neither of us are religious but the friendly vicar agrees to bend the rules in favour of a secular ceremony. Jack Sparrow, in a little doggy tuxedo, comes along and sits on the front pew.
A few months later Dylan comes along and he gets the kind of decent childhood that I never had, I make sure of it. He eventually ends up with two brothers, Taran and Patrick and they have exactly the same. The cottage has to be extended to accommodate them, two more bedrooms and a new office. They each get taken to Disney world for their fifth birthday, though by the time it gets to Patrick’s turn Dylan thinks he’s too old for it and spends most of the week being an arse. I put a swing up on the tree in the corner of the front yard but Emily makes me take it down after Taran falls off and breaks his collar bone.
Everything is all lovely and the cottage is always full of people, especially at mealtimes when it isn’t uncommon to have ten people around the kitchen table. There are never arguments, but there are debates. The only one who ever gets really grumpy is Jack, especially when the children are winding him up by shouting ‘rum’ from different corners of the cottage. Word gets around about how pleasant everything is here and it becomes the envy of the neighbourhood.
The saddest day is when Jack Sparrow has to be put down. Everyone loves him but he can’t see or hear very well anymore, he has trouble walking and he’s got a form of cancer that’s putting him in a lot of pain. He takes one last ride on the bus, looking out of the window from his favourite seat even though he can’t see a thing, and he gives the love of his life, the vet, a goodbye kiss as well. It’s not the same without him so a replacement arrives in the form of Elizabeth, another Jack Russell. A couple of years later she disappears for three days. It turns out she eloped with a local Irish Wolfhound and she gives birth to a litter of puppies, Irish Jack-Wolves. We keep one, Dougal, and sell the rest, splitting the profits with the owners of the Wolfhound.
The children grow up, head off to distant places and universities, whilst Emily and I drift into our dotage, hand in hand on the verandah. The cottage becomes quiet again. Dylan becomes an actor whilst Taran, who hasn’t stopped singing since the age of three, becomes a swing singer. Patrick does his old pa proud by becoming a bestselling travel writer. He even gets his own documentary series. They all get married, one of them turns out to be gay but I honestly wouldn’t be able to tell you which one at this stage, and they all have children of their own. The grandchildren all come and stay every summer and for a brief moment the cottage is once again full of noise and laughter before it returns to silence.