Behind Bars

07.03.15 (Day 439)

11.42

I thought this blog may make 500 days, it being a record of my struggle to find a new life. But it won’t last that long because I’m going inside: inside my new home. As it happens, I’m moving my things into the new place next Tuesday, which will be day 442. There’s that number again: 42.

The flat within a flat is coming together nicely: the painting is about half done, the double doorway between the two rooms is being put in upstairs, while I sit downstairs in the pub and my rugs have arrived. All I need to do now is move me and my old life in there and make it my new life. As I watch the place taking shape and picture my world in situ, I just know that it is going to be me and mine. If I were to show anyone photos of the finished home and ask them who might live in a place like it, I’ll wager they’d describe me.

I’ll be living and working in a pub: that’s just me, isn’t it? Well it’s how many would imagine me living. It’s also a situation which will raise eyebrows in certain quarters. A year – even six months – ago, some would be forgiven for thinking that me living above a pub could be a recipe for disaster or a red rag to a bull but the truth is, I have changed and I have witnesses around me who will testify to this being the truth.

I no longer drink in the way that I did. I’ve deliberately kept this off of the blog for a few weeks because I wanted to make sure I’d actually done it. Well I have. Last Saturday when I was with the kids, I didn’t drink at all. Even though I spend most of my daytimes downstairs in the pub while I’m waiting for my rooms to be finished upstairs, in the course of a whole day, I will drink one or two pints. I’m drinking socially, as I hoped I would be able to and as CRI recognised I could. I’ve realised that I don’t like being drunk and I don’t like myself when I am. The trouble was, I couldn’t see it and was always convinced that I was right when I was under the influence. But how can so many other people be wrong? The people who abandoned me were right to do so. I was an arse.

I’m better now, both in health and as a person. I’m sorting life out with the help of those who believed in me around me. In three days time, I’ll be moved into my new place and looking forward to the life ahead. This is the end of a chapter. I’m still me; still a character but not an objectionable one and very much looking forward to living the new life in a pub.

If proof were needed of how I’ve changed, I’d refer any doubters to a situation which arose on Wednesday: the landlord was in London and the landlady was running the pub. She had to go to the bank and therefore leave the pub unattended for an hour. So she left me in charge. An alcoholic and a former thief, left alone with a full bar and till right in front of me. Well, I helped myself to a drink and put my fingers in the till. I helped myself to a drink because I’m allowed to: I’m permitted behind the bar to serve when there is no-one else. It’s not paid work; it’s me helping friends as they’ve helped me. I went into the till because I paid for the drink I’d helped myself to. As recently as six months ago, I may not have conducted myself in the same way.

I’m trusted here. This is a place where trust doesn’t need to be earned but it’s given and maintained until betrayed. I will not betray the trust which has been placed in me. I’m seen as responsible and I have personal responsibilities. Among these is controlling the members of the teenage fan club who still sometimes visit. They may only do so in limited numbers, whilst accompanied by an adult and if they pay their way. This is not somewhere which may be used simply to visit me. It is a pub and therefore it is a business. I live here but my home is upstairs. Sometimes I wish to avail of the public area downstairs but I’m still entitled to my own space and that needs to be respected, as do other rules. Like not bringing food or drink in from off the premises. Anyone reading this who is tempted to visit, please take note. By all means enter a public house but do so prepared to abide by the rules which are in place in any pub. Once my flat is finished upstairs, there may be visitors but only by invite from me. Visitors may not simply walk through the pub to come up and see me. They must meet me in the public area and then come upstairs as my guests.

We bid farewell to a very dear friend this week when my little friend Jake – the family dog – had to be put to sleep. I penned an ode in his memory:

Farewell our fluffy white cloud
with the big dark eyes
Fourteen twenty fifth of Decembers
Only thirteen fourth of Julys

Our funny old man
A family helper and friend
Fertilising the garden
with your non-barking end

Always obeying orders:
“Get in, you little shit.”
A little man with attitude
A bigoted, racist old git

Reluctant walker; happier asleep
Always barking and growling at this and that
Now an empty space on the sofa
where you once sat

We all move on and the little cloud had to, as am I. I will keep the blog going though, for my own benefit and for the benefit of the many loyal followers I’ve picked up over the last fourteen months. One in particular who I know reads this is the one I used to refer to as The Wife. I referred to her as such because we were so close. We still are but we don’t see as much of each other as we did. Sometimes we still may as well be married though because we still argue. She’s not so much the clingy thingy any more but still a sparky little thing and rebellious as ever. Hard to help sometimes but I hope that she knows that whoever she’s with, she’ll always still be with me in my capacity as adopted father, confidante and helper. You’ll make mistakes little thing and you’ll learn from them. I won’t stop loving you and even though we’re separated,  I’ll always be here to pick up the pieces if things go wrong.

I’m not moving far but I’ll be a little more distant where I am. You know where to find me though.

I miss you.

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