The truth is, I’m just too anti-social and yet it hasn’t always been so. Like most everybody else, I spent my student and early working years sharing squalid flats and houses with other people. There was the odd mishap with weird, potentially psychopathic, flatmates but, on the whole, it was a pretty jolly affair. From the first moment of living alone though, I adapted to it like the proverbial duck to water. Other people cautioned me, before I took the plunge, that it would be too expensive and too lonely. But while I would agree that it’s expensive, the bliss of solitude is well worth any dent in my overdraft.
I recognise that solo living isn’t for everyone. I have friends who have never lived alone and the very thought is enough to give them the heebee-jeebees. After being married for forty five years, my mother hates now living alone. Despite being very active during the day, she talks about a dark gloom that envelops her once she shuts her door in the evening, and she struggles to occupy the time until the next morning. I suppose that’s why people remarry, statistics show that people who lose their partners often remarry within two years of bereavement. My mum is not the re-marrying kind, however, and instead she spends her long evenings dwelling on what she once had.
Some people might think it’s sad that I will never get to experience that kind of devotion and commitment and, since I’ve never known any different, I can’t really say. What I can say though is that, whilst my mum dreads closing her door on the world, I slam mine with perhaps a little too much enthusiasm than is dignified. I love knowing that nobody is coming to call and, if they do, well they’re not getting in. No way, no how – once I’m settled in with my pyjamas and glass of wine, I don’t care if it’s Mr Clooney himself come a calling.
So what’s so great about living alone, I hear you ask? Where do I start? Not having to talk to people, especially first thing in the morning, should never be underrated. Having my brother to stay meant that I had to fight my natural early morning surliness and present a sunny disposition. Let’s face it, it would have been pretty unforgivable to invite someone to stay and then spend the hours before 10am snapping and snarling at them like a rabid dog. Much better to avoid human contact until the early morning distemper has settled into something that can pass for amiability.
Then there’s the TV. I’m not one of life’s natural sharers and I don’t like sharing my TV guide or my remote control. In all the time I have lived alone, the only time football has graced my screen, has been by accident whilst channel hopping. Suddenly, however, fair play and good manners dictated that I had to accommodate my brother’s hopeful hums and haws whenever there happened to be an ‘important’ game on - which frankly was much more frequent than you might imagine. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, I found myself justifying my own viewing choices. Okay, I’ll admit that Gogglebox isn’t exactly highbrow but it’s funny as hell and it’s surprising what you can learn about human nature from a spot of voyeuristic people watching.
Food glorious food is another area of potential discord. I don’t cook and I eat out a lot but, when you have a house guest, you feel a certain sense of responsibility towards their food requirements. My brother is a very healthy eater, who likes to prepare proper meals whereas I’m happy to have a bowl of cereal and a biscuit or two in front of the telly. Being forced to eat meals with all the food groups at the table like a proper grown up didn’t suit me at all. It seems to me, that the amount of time it takes to prepare the food and then wash up afterwards is in no way counterbalanced by any pleasure derived from eating it, when a bowl of cornflakes will do the trick just as well.
Perhaps the worst thing about cohabiting though is that it makes it necessary to do that checking in thing. If I was out and my plans changed, I felt obliged to text my brother to let him know I would be late, just in case he thought I’d been abducted by aliens or knocked down by a bus. It wasn’t totally one sided either. When he went out with friends and wasn’t back by midnight, I find myself lying awake with thoughts of stabbings and muggings. All that fretting, that is the by product of a domestic routine, is just far too stressful for me.
So there you have it, just a few reasons why I’m sticking with living alone and we haven’t even touched upon the luxury of never having to put the hoover round. I’ll leave you to ponder on whether the economic and social benefits of cohabiting outweigh the inconvenience of having to share and, even worse, keep a smile fixed on your face while you’re about it.