Stress …

Harry Watson
4 min readNov 18, 2022

Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it

Jane Wagner

It’s said that three of the most stressful times in life involve separation or divorce, death and a house move. Well, I’ve experienced all three in the last few months, and I still have another of the last ones to do again.

At least Sarah and I have not allowed our separation to degenerate into some internecine warfare. Yes, there have been occasional waves of sadness on both sides. Still, we’ve moved ahead to our parting in a constructive and forward-looking manner. While love may have cooled, a deep friendship remains and will always do so. Our formal break may only be around a fortnight away when I move to my new home near Newcastle. So, we took the opportunity to enjoy a relaxed dinner and eat some flavoursome food together in a well-regarded Indian restaurant a short distance from Sarah’s new house. A separation celebration if you like. Sarah kindly paid for our meal, offering that it was only fitting, given I picked up the bill for our first meal together.

Sarah and I may have few opportunities in the future to dine out together. However, I will be back at her place over Christmas for some cat-sitting while Sarah visits with her family in Wiltshire. Yes, that may well have you scratching your head, but our separation is not that of other people. And I’m looking forward to Christmas Day in the company of two felines. Not that I suspect they will be tremendous company for me. Cats can be comforting creatures at times but live their own lives. It was Hemingway, a known cat lover, who wrote.

“A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reasoner another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.”

We could live less stressful lives if we adopt the emotional attitude of a cat.

You will have guessed that the first house move has happened. Sarah is now settling into her new home where I’m the ‘lodger’ for a couple of weeks. As house moves go, this one went smoothly. Our movers chose to move us over two days. ‘Completion’ was on a Friday, so they picked up ‘non-essential’ items on Thursday and stored those for delivery on Saturday. The ‘essential’ items were picked up early Friday morning. The movers then left Sarah and me to clean the now echoing house we were leaving, ready for its new occupants. Then off we went. Not entirely as the old music hall song goes,” off went the van with me home packed in it, while I followed on with my old cock linnet”. In our case, we followed on with two cats. One peacefully slept the journey away. The other proved Hemingway correct as she vocally shared her unhappiness with us while cooped up in a cat-box for what was far too long a car journey to her.

The money for the sale and purchase went through as we travelled, and our movers picked up the keys to Sarah’s house. So, by the time we arrived, half of what they had moved was already in the place.

I’m pleased to report that both cats have settled into their new abode nicely. And so they should, as Sarah’s ‘new’ house is cosy. Made twice as cosy as my stuff is also occupying some of it. Sarah will have more room to breathe once those items go north to Newcastle. The house is in a quiet area too. Not remote, though. In my brief time here, I’ve sampled the delights of a buzzy local hostelry and brunched very nicely at a coffee bar/restaurant. There’s also a large area of woodland/park close by that offers a boating lake, a fishing lake, and a wide variety of trees, too numerous to mention. It was charming for Sarah and me to stroll through only a tiny yet striking part of it on a chilly November day. So come the spring, I suspect it will offer a magnificent place to visit and relax.

I’ve written before about my sister Judith’s death, a few weeks ago. And of the influence she had on my life. Her funeral was not an overly sad affair. There were tears in place, but few funerals end with the mourners singing along to ‘Hey Jude’. The title of that song was very apt as Judith was universally known as Jude by family and friends. Of course, the song’s words were also in keeping with the event, “take a sad song and make it better”. Many people attended to offer their farewell and pay final respects to Jude, and the closing ‘chorus’ of Na Na Nanana filled the place.

And so, to the last stressful event, I mentioned in my opening sentence. My move to the Northeast. I’m not never going to worry about something. Regular readers might recall my piece earlier this year on that subject. I worry when I’m not worried. But my sense of stress is very much on the low side. The ‘legal’ bit of the purchase is moving nicely. All the searches are done with nothing major found. The money for the purchase is with the solicitor, ready for Exchange and Completion. Bar a few queries my solicitor has raised, the house purchase seems close to an agreement (I write that while holding a large piece of wood tightly!). My movers have pencilled in a date for the move of the first week of December. So, I’m spending the time making lists of things I need to check (where the meters are etc.), the things I need to buy, people I need to tell of my address change and services I need to set up. It’s helpful that I like lists!