I was made redundant in August 2009 and, although this event was potentially the best thing ever to have happened, I seem to have carried around a feeling of being 'unhomed' ever since, a bit like Morgan Freeman in 'Shawshank Redemption' after he gets released and sort of wanders about being fitful and moody before finally seeing sense and going off to claim that massive wad of brick-bound wonga (sorry if you haven't seen it).
Anyway, the truth has gradually dawned. I've been institutionalised. Somewhere between 1979 and 2009, in offices old and new with colleagues young and mature, by bus, train, car and (unmemorably) bicycle, I strayed into waters of mediocrity and dropped anchor. It's easy to see things as they are when you're not aboard any more, staring into those murky depths and wondering if there's anything worth fishing for or whether you should just carry on basking, with just the need for an occasional steadying hand on the tiller. Becalmed, I think, is the word. But in a nice, sleepwalky way that allows you to still watch the kids grow up and visit Disneyworld.
But quite a few things about being a citizen of home are to be savoured. The daytime dogs, for instance, first heard when walking to the shop for a newspaper the other day. A forlorn bark, rising on a querulous note, the doggy equivalent of 'why hast thou forsaken me?' It was soon answered by another. In a different house, another dog wailed 'woe is me'. And so this contest of misery played out to the empty streets. I imagined spinsters and retirees behind closed doors, as unmindful to this caterwauling as the residents of suburban Heathrow to theirs. I wondered what it would take for them to notice. Maybe if cats and other pets were encouraged to join in and give a revolutionary voice to their abandonment?
"I could help those dogs. Wait, I have time now - I want a dog," was my first thought. "Maybe I'll write a poem about it instead," was my second. Naturally I haven't done either.