I GET NO KICK FROM CHAMPAGNE…

Apart from the Big Bad Nasties – cigarettes, heroin, and alcohol – what are you addicted to? Apparently we’re all addicted to something.

I was trying to think what mine are. It’s actually difficult to make a list. There’s something about addictions that makes you not want to make a list, as if they’re actually willing you not to look at them, even conspiring with one another. Omertà, a conspiracy of silence. Just gloss over me, one murmurs. Me? Little old me? Whispers another. Haven’t you got more important things to think about? queries a third.

Need a definition here, since we tend bandy words about like tennis balls. For instance I could say I’m addicted to Jimmy Choo shoes and mean all sorts of things. I could mean, I really, really like these beautiful shoes and if I had the money I would buy lots and lots and lots of them. I could mean, or at least be intending to convey, Unlike you, I’m rich! What I probably don’t mean is If I can’t buy another pair of Jimmy Choo shoes within the next hour I am going to die. I will do anything to obtain another pair of Jimmy Choo shoes, whether it involves stealing, lying…

Addiction: the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.

Hmm… severe trauma. On this basis, maybe I’m not truly addicted to anything. As I have become older and older I have also become poorer and poorer. This is in part misfortune, in part my inadequacy as a human being lacking in any sort of money-making gene/instinct. So, over the years I have been cutting down and cutting out – as you do. Nowadays when some desirable item appears on TV, say, or in a magazine, I no longer desire it, simply because there is no point in desiring it. Jimmy Choo… who? I haven’t smoked since my early twenties, and never used drugs. I used to like the odd glass of wine, and even bought the odd bottle of wine. At Christmas I might have treated myself to a bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream, more for sweet, seductive the taste than the alcohol content. Nowadays Bailey’s, like make-up, hairdos, handbags, new shoes and new clothes is but a distant dream.

But apart from that, is there anything, the loss of which might provoke a fit of the screaming ab-dabs? (I have no idea what ab-dabs are, by the way – equivalent to throwing the toys out of the pram or throwing a monstrous wobbly – it would be interesting to compile a worldwide list of these expressions.)

My central heating just packed up. I can’t actually afford to get it fixed but I will because the cats mustn’t be allowed to get chilly. Outside my window it’s dank and foggy…and muddy…and murky. However, stiff-upper-lip, call the plumber, put on another jumper. Could be January or February, but it’s only November. I don’t suppose I’ll freeze to death before this evening. No, physical comfort is not one of my addictions.

Then there’s the computer. I do rely on this a lot, and have become quite fond of it. For someone living in a remote area it’s a lifeline. Without it I would have to drive for miles and spend hours trailing round supermarkets, then cart the whole lot back and unload it. Supermarket shopping seems to get heavier and heavier as I get older. But then everything does. But it’s the cats, you see – they must have a good stock of food in case of blizzards, floods and whatever – and those giant boxes of Felix weigh a ton. And then there are the biscuits – giant green ‘cattery-sized’ bags from the farm shop. And the litter – 30 litre sacks. Ordered online it’s expensive but at least someone else does the lifting. Wait a few days, a courier of some kind turns up, groaning under the weight of them. All I have to do is sign the little plastic gadget and lug them round the back in the wheelbarrow. Still just about up to that.

A few days ago my computer went away to the Magic Shop to have Windows 10 installed on it. I certainly did miss it. I missed being able to check my emails and get into my blog, for a start. All those ‘likes’ I might be receiving. All those comments people might be making. It could have been my biggest two days ever for viewings (it wasn’t, but it might have been) and I wouldn’t have known. If the computer had just been taken away from me, never to return – yes, I would find it very inconvenient. I would have to reorganise my life. Apart from anything else I’m not going to be able to drive forever, and living this far from civilisation without either a car or a computer would be all but impossible.

I suppose eventually either my little car will become frail and bewildered, or I will, but at the moment we’re each other’s biggest allies. Come on, my dear I whisper, patting her steering-wheel as we tackle a particularly steep hill, you can do it. If in some wistful daydream I find myself replacing her with a capacious van or an all-terrain vehicle (the best options round here) I gasp, and apologise unreservedly. Don’t worry – we’re going to look after each other, we’ll see each other out. She reads my thoughts, you see, and it wouldn’t do to hurt her feelings. It’s true I would be lost without a car but I’d manage. I’d set about moving house for a start. To somewhere with a train station. Hate buses. But it would have to be big enough for the cats. If it was just me, a flat would do. But there’s the cats. And what if one of them needed to go to the vet? You can’t take a cat to the vet on a bus nowadays – at least I don’t think so. And they’d be bound to pee or poo or something, and everyone would give us those sideways, snotty-nosed looks… And what if the little furry darling were to die on the bus because it took so long to get there?

There’s books, of course. I suppose I might be a book-addict – or at least might have been. I keep telling myself not to order them, especially now my eyes aren’t so good, especially now my house is so full of books I can hardly move for the things – but cardboard packages and brown-paper parcels still occasionally land with a thud on the doormat. Opening them, I think Did I really order this? Why? But if it was a choice between books and cats… if I had to give up just one of my cats to save a lifetime’s collection of paperback books – out would come the cardboard boxes and in would go the books, every last one of them.

Being anxious, and overwrought in the imagination department, I frequently find myself playing out in gory detail a scenario where a violent intruder has broken into my house. There he is, parading around my living room with his black mask and stripy shirt and a bag marked ‘Swag’. He also has a long, sharp knife, and is about to murder one of my cats. Without a moment’s hesitation I grab the nearest heavy object and murder him right back, most likely several times over. I know I have it in me. I would risk my life for any one of my moggies. I would go to prison, for any one of them. I would cheerfully put their little furry lives above that of any manky old human burglar – any manky old human being, come to that.

But addicted to anything?

No, don’t think so.

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