I would not normally be home in time to find the Principal licking my wife wherever he could find exposed flesh, nor to find him doing likewise with the Head of Animal Care, the Finance Director, and the Chaplain & Multi-Faith-or-None Facilitator. You may think that the fact that these are all the same person doesn’t make it any better, and the fact that the Principal is a cat called Fruitcake may not seem any improvement. It’s all quite demure though. On Thursday’s Cho goes swimming, and cats love chlorine. The way he licks her hand is frenzied, but the point is I’ve never witnessed this before.
Redundancy brings some big shocks and changes. You worry about money. You find yourself hoovering in your pyjamas at coffee time. But it’s the little changes, and the things you realise aren’t there anymore that pull you up short. For instance, yesterday I put on a shirt. I was standing where I would normally stand looking out at the garden (no changes so far). I had the collar up and did up the top button. Then I remembered I wasn’t going to put a tie on, undid the button and put the collar down. The shirt was unironed, so there’s a silver if crumpled lining: redundancy means less ironing, and no tie.
Then today I remembered someone I only ever said ‘Good morning’ to. On my way up the road at around 8.00 he would be riding his bike the other way. Over the years we went from recognition, to nod, to smile and nod, to full-blown thumbs up cheery grin and ‘Good morning.’ Being British, it took a good few years to get there. All that patient body language has gone to waste.
Another difference, a chrome lining if you like, is that there is definitely less scunge in the bathroom. You may remember the black goo monster I battled with some weeks ago. Scunge is it’s baby cousin. 'Scunge' exists in Australia, the US, and in New Zealand, though not necessarily always meaning the same. In my own mind if not in reality, there’s a connection with scum and grunge, and there is some scunge music on You Tube. At Fruitcake Miniature College, ‘scunge’ is a noun (but not a verb) meaning ‘accumulated grime, possibly crusty or slimy’. There is also the adjective ‘scungy’, and a variant spelling, favoured by the Head of Animal Care, with K rather than C.
The main thing, though, is that when you are redundant the base of the handbasin tap is less scungy. Also your unironed workshirt is unbuttoned at the neck, and the man on the bicycle is waving at the ghost of you going to work. That is, if he’s still got his job.