My wife and child have been on holiday this week which gave me six nights to rediscover life as a bachelor in London. I was determined to make something of the opportunity. Not just because they were on holiday, because I was back from our holiday, or because I’d come back to do a piece of work which didn’t happen. But also because I was a pretty bad bachelor.
I’ve lived in London since I was a student. And because I worked at least 30 hours a week as a student, when I graduated there was little difference in my lifestyle. And basically, from what I remember, I either went out after work, or watched TV. The weekends were fashioned out of the Sky Sports schedules and I would only emerge from the house if the fridge let me down.
Since the pattern was established, I’d spend most nights at home, waiting for my wife to come back from her evening meetings and now, babysitting whilst waiting for the same meetings (probably discussing the same things) to end. But Feeling positive and refreshed after my holiday, I was determined to not just watch TV (particularly given the absence of Sky Sports from my life).
Sunday was fairly easy – I worked. In a Turkish café for brunch, at home during the derby and down the pub afterwards. Stupidly, I then watched TV. It’s so unfulfilling without Sky Sports – I can’t even remember what I watched and so got to bed well after midnight.
Monday was all geared up to be more positive. I would go to the cinema. Ok, that’s a bit like watching TV but I haven’t been for a year or more. Only I called Alun. Not making it to the cinema was still quite good fun. I made a mental note to remember to tell my wife that the barmaid chatted me up (so that she would think I was still desirable despite my advancing years) and then convinced myself that the pretty brunette opposite me on the bus was desperate for me and she would have asked for my number, if only I hadn’t had bad hiccoughs.
Tuesday was more simple. Liverpool reserves were playing at 7pm so I’d watch the game and then go out for dinner. It was a good game, even though we didn’t win but unfortunately I was hungry so I ate what was left in the house. A packet of crackers, an inch of cheese, two snickers ice creams and two slices of cheap white bread and jam later, I was feeling too like the hungry caterpillar to go out so ended up watching endless TV.
By Wednesday, it was clear that this could not continue so I booked a ticket to go to the opera. Ok, so it may have been in a pub – and it wasn’t proper opera – but it was the best night of the week. The concept was fantastic (the backroom of a pub, 5 actors and a pianist). The opera was slapstick, but done well (The Barber of Salisbury) and to cap it all, I sat next to an interesting couple who talked to me – and bought me a drink at half time. The theme continued as I went home via the Shakespeare so I could eat the pizza from next door (an Arrabiata – bit odd but I’d recommend it highly) and drink real ale.
Thursday was never going to be as good: Liverpool were playing. I watched the game at home, suspecting the misery it might cause and took my work to the local caffe (Dishes) at the end of the road where I had a decent burger and caught the end of the Man City game.
I had expected to be too drunk from lunch on Friday to have much of a night out, but when that was cancelled, it was now a big event. It didn’t disappoint. I accomplished a number of local firsts: the Dalston Superstore, the Rio in Dalston and the Marquis of Sailsbury not to watch football. Naturally I raised the totty quota in the Superstore but spent most of the time worried I’d be ask for ID for being too old. At the Rio I watched The Social Network which was good enough and then finished off with a pint with my remaining coins in the Marquis – which looked like a properly functioning pub by night.
Saturday was planned meticulously – and I kept to it! I went out for breakfast to Olive then went to volunteer for 4 hours at the People’s Supermarket – despite having had an hour long conversation with myself about what I’d really learn, contribute and what obligations I had to the venture. In the end it was entertaining enough, and the retail skills I honed at WH Smith at the age of 17 (I worked for 3 weeks before an unfortunate argument with the manager) standing me in good stead. After tidying the house, I went out for a curry before heading to the airport to pick up the family.
I won’t miss the single life – and I certainly couldn’t afford to live like that for another week. But it was sufficiently enjoyable that I will do well not to be a bit cranky tomorrow morning when my daughter wakes me up at 7am and my wife pretends that she is asleep.