<Beep> <Beep> <Beep>
My alarm? But it’s dark! It’s pitch bloody black, in fact.
I pull my eyelids open, like rope pulling a creaking boat to shore (yes, my similes are nautic – I was in Jersey this Christmas). But I might as well keep my eyes closed, for I cannot see. And I’m not allowed to turn a light on for risk of waking up the rest of the family.
It’s 6:00am on Tuesday 3rd January 2017 – the day the Christmas bubble burst and officially ruined our lives.
I’ve not been awake this early in what feels like weeks. The only alarm we’ve had this past fortnight has been the kids jumping on our bed to fetch the dog (for the dog sleeps on the bed, alas).
I lie there. ‘I really should get up’. Then I hear the refuse collection truck up the road. ‘Shit, I didn’t put the glass bucket out last night! I really must get up!’
Up I jump, quickly throwing on tracksuit bottoms and hoodie. “Of course I’m up – I planned to take the glass bucket out to the refuse collectors personally when they arrived outside my house’.
A quick glance up the street. ‘Have we drank more than the neighbours?’ Almost certainly, yes.
I head back to the kitchen for breakfast. No croissants and champagne today – oh no. Today it’s bog-standard sultana bran and a cup of tea. I open the fridge to retrieve the milk, and there gazing back at me is the left overs from New Years Day, and the remnants of our cheese board.
‘None of this for you today, Tommy-boy!’ the food-stuffs scoff back at me, I imagine. Today I will be eating ham and cheese sandwiches followed by an apple and a banana. The Lindls will have to stay put. It’s like I’m being taunted by inanimate objects now!
I walk the dogs. It is still pitch black! WTF!! I guess where each footstep should go on the rocky terrain of our local woods. At least I shouldn’t see anyone here that I know. The last thing I need on Tuesday 3rd of bloody January is a conversation with some random on a dog walk. ‘Ooh, Jojo’s Daddy is a bit stressed today!’ A jolly bystander says. ‘Firstly, I’m not actually his dad – he’s a dog… oh just forget it.’
I go home. Maria and the kids are up now. The news is on. 39 dead in Turkey. Islamic State. Horrific. Those poor people. And there was me thinking 2017 might just be a better year.
I get dressed and say my goodbyes to the family. The kids have done my head in all Christmas, but now I’m leaving them I figure I’ll miss them when I’m at work. ‘I must be a better Dad,’ I think. I do my best.
Into the car. The windscreen is frozen. Of course it is – it’s the coldest January day ever, probably. Had to be today.
I reverse out of my drive – as I’ve done every morning for the past fortnight. Only today the quiet, tranquil roads have been replaced by a gridlocked mesh of cars, filled with stressed and miserable drivers just like me.
‘Let me out, FFS!’ I mutter to myself. Pointless shouting in your own car – no one’s going to hear you. All they’ll see is some madman miming.
Finally there’s a break in the traffic and I pull out. I look at the petrol gauge. Empty! Jesus actually wept. A trip to the garage? ‘But I’m already late!’ Nightmare first day back to work, and I’m not even there yet.
I flick the radio on. They’re reviewing 2016. Everyone died. Prince, Bowie, George Michael. Everyone. I keep thinking, ‘yeah, but special people die every year – just because they’re not all famous, doesn’t mean their loss is any less,’ but I lose my train of thought as Club Tropicana blares across the airwaves.
I arrive at work. The canteen is shut! But I need my special coffee – a large latte, in case you’re wondering. I just can’t work without it! ‘Jesus Christ, this is going to be a long day.’ I notice I’m using the Lords name in vein a lot. ‘But I’m not even religious!’ What is happening to me?!
My mind is exhausted, frazzled, and it’s only 9:10. I’m at work, but my mind is still on the couch, with the kids, playing Misfits. Or singing Karaoke. How am I going to ‘talk shop’ with my boss when all I’ve done is sing YMCA with my daughter, very badly (me, not her) for the past two weeks?
The day drags. ‘What would I be doing at this time, if I was at home?’ I wonder. Something brilliant, no doubt. ‘Really?’ a voice of reason inside me asks. ‘Shut up,’ I tell said voice of reason.
The day ends and I race home. The kids are feral and my wife is knackered – her day, obviously, even worse than mine.
Still, at least there’s the left over roast dinner and cheese board to eat tonight. Nope, the fridge broke down and all the food is now off. Actually no, it wasn’t off, but my wife decided it didn’t smell right, so she gave it to the dogs.
‘That was literally the only thing that kept me going today,’ I despair. Tears are close, but I can’t cry about food, can I? There’s a juicy piece of pork to the left of of Jojo’s bowl. That area looks untouched – I could just – no, I couldn’t. Hmm…no, I really couldn’t.
We manage to get the kids to bed. I’m not sure who’s more tired, but we get them off nonetheless. It’s 8:30pm and next up is the small and insignificant task of cooking, tidying up and getting ready for the next day. I won’t even have time to watch another Harry Potter film, or an episode of Mrs Browns Boys – I just didn’t get enough of them this last fortnight.
I go to bed. Thoroughly miserable. Although for the first time in two weeks I’m not bloated like one of Richard Branson’s old hot air balloons, and tomorrow is Wednesday so we’re half way through the week already. Hashtag boom.
Yup, the Christmas bubble has burst and now it’s all back to reality. Still, a quick look in my local grocery store tells me Easter isn’t far away…