In a World Gone Mad: 1 July 2020...1
Wednesday 1 July 2020
I have found some time to write—it will probably be about five minutes before Max comes back from dropping Andy off at this mates and he’ll yell me out of the office, but let’s see how we get on.
I’ve been flat out, I missed the sunshine completely and didn’t work through the awful storms this week—We had our own storms to deal with.
Max resents anything I do. And I admit, while I’ve been flinging these books out and trying to meet deadlines I have let everything else slip.
We have a system that I do the housework and shopping and Max does the shopping and cooking. It works well. He controls the money and is a better cook than me and I have OCD and have to have things done around the house a certain way—though recently I lock myself away in the office because my house is a depositary for all Arthur’s junk. I’ve let Max cope on his own.
Max has taken on pretty much everything and he resents it. And I don’t blame him. It came to a head last week. He’s been getting lax with the dog, she’s not getting enough exercise and is frustrated. Max sleeps until one every afternoon after being up all night. He’s seven nights a week nocturnal now. This last two weeks it has gone from one in the afternoon to up to three o’clock before he comes downstairs. I have to see to his dad and the dog.
Because she missed her long run a couple of days on the trot, she was agitated. Her character has changed because she’s not getting out and getting rid of her energy. By day three she was pulling like hell on the lead. And by day five she displayed a new symptom, she has started barking at everybody and every dog she sees. She’s always been a good dog, and this is out of character for her and so unlike her. Max decided she’d had too much freedom. That combined with some kind of allergy that we think may be grass and pollen related meant that he made a new ruling. She was not allowed off the lead to run. I get it. She’s barking at people and as she’s a big dog we can’t risk letting her off to run free. We tried the extender lead to give her some freedom, but she took off to play with another dog, ran to the full extent of the lead and just kept running. She literally tore the muscle across my shoulder blade, and I’ve been in agony. The next day I had her in my other hand and she did the same thing across my chest. The muscle didn’t tear because I was more prepared for her and managed to get the locking mechanism on the lead, but not before she had dragged me down a hill and pulled my chest muscle. My hands are burned from holding her back on the lead.
Over the next two weeks she got worse. Max flatly refused to let me run her. We have a responsibility to keep her and other people and pets safe. She’s not aggressive but she takes off and runs to people and jumps up at them. Because she was frustrated and couldn’t say hello to them, she’s in a state of high energy on the lead. As soon as she sees somebody, especially if they have a dog with them, she goes crazy to get to them.
We had no choice but to muzzle her. Again, I get it, but I’m dead against it. Her frustration has gone from bad to through the roof. We bought her an anti-pull lead that attaches to her muzzle and restricts her movements. It’s made her easier to manage but still difficult and she’s an embarrassment. At least she isn’t pulling my muscles, but she still leaps and cavorts, and I struggle to control her.
Two weeks ago, we met up with friends Jane and Dan and their two dogs. I was worried about letting her off because her behaviour has been so bad. But she ran herself out with Moss and Jürgen, two German Pointers. We walked for miles over heath and on the beach. They swam in freshwater ponds and again in the sea. It was amazing and so good to see our friends after all these weeks. Best of all I had my Teagan back. She was as good as gold and so well behaved that she was a joy again
But the next day we were back to normal. Teagan got her five minutes twice a day on the lead. I hate walking her with the muzzle and with her restricted to the lead, so I used the excuse that I was working to avoid it. I miss taking her for her run, it was our only escape from Arthur.
Teagan will not use either the front or back garden. I had her that she would use the front once a day and had to let weeds grow because she will only go on greenery. She stopped and after a week of not doing anything, I was glad to get rid of the weeds.
One day last week, Max got up at two in the afternoon. From the minute he got up he never stopped. He emptied and refilled the dishwasher. He put washing on the line. He hoovered an ocean of Teagan’s hair—she’s in full moult—from the house. He coped with Arthur and did the kitchen.
I stopped work at about three for a break. Teagan hadn’t been walked. I was furious. Max had worked hard, and the house was clean—but the dog hadn’t been walked.
‘Has the dog been out?’
‘Not yet, I’m going to do her in a bit.’
‘Max it’s three o’clock and she hasn’t been out yet.’
‘What? How dare you. I can’t believe you’re having a go.’
‘All I’m saying is, you don’t get up until lunchtime and the dog should be priority, everything else can wait.’
‘Well, you know what, Sarah, if she’s such a priority, I suggest you stop fannying about in the office and take her yourself.’
At this point, it was only a couple of days since I’d ripped a muscle one day and pulled one the next. I couldn’t hold her.
‘Not a problem, Max. I’ll do it immediately. In fact, don’t bother yourself with her again, I’ll walk her every damned day because she’s neglected.’
I stormed out with the dog. The first thing she did as I opened our gate was saw a pug across the road and dragged me halfway across the street to get to it. The owner, a young woman, was terrified and screamed. Teagan said hello to the dog did some tail wagging and I was able to pull her back, no harm done.
By the time I got home, I’d fought with her the whole time to stop her pulling and both of my arms were in agony. Neither of us enjoyed it. I had to take pain killers for the pain. I was ready to go.
‘You resent everything I do.’
‘Yes, because you do it to the exclusion of everything else. Can’t you see how busy I’ve been this morning and you come out and the first thing you do is have a go at me about the dog.’
‘The housework can wait, it’s not important—she is. You know I can’t walk her at the moment. She could have caused an accident out there and I can’t control her with two sore arms.’
‘I’ll take her out later.’
‘Don’t bother, I’ll do it, I can’t trust you to take her out.’
‘Well it’s about time you got out of that office and did something.’
Go on bastard, keep going and hang yourself.
‘Yes, you lock yourself away in there pissing about with those books and you don’t do anything to help.’
‘You arsehole. When was the last time you fed the dog? When was the last time you fed the cat? When did you clean the snake out, or give him freshwater? When did you change the cat litter or feed the iguana. When was the last time you cleaned around the toilet where your dad’s pissed on the floor? I bleach it five times a day. I’ll tell you the answer to all of those. Never.’
‘I’m sorry, that was unfair. I know you do a lot.’
‘How dare you say I do nothing. I am the only person in this household who is working.’
‘You call that work?’
‘Yes, I do. I know it doesn’t pay much, but it’s still a job that I do, and I have to work to deadlines. Okay, Max, let’s go back to what I do. When was the last time you were out of bed to give your dad his breakfast, or his lunch, or his medication? I cope with him and his crazy every damned morning while you’re sleeping. And at night, when you’re up doing whatever you do, it’s still me that has to see to him upstairs. I’ll tell you what, I’ll leave shall I? You find another woman who’ll take on your junkie son, your neurotic daughter, who has your granddaughter without being asked and with no notice, and your demented father. You find another fucking woman who’ll take on that lot, because I’ll tell you something Max, it’s not what I signed up for.’
‘Oh, fuck off. I’m going to send this book back right now and tell the Boss that I’ve quit.’
‘Don’t be so ridiculous. Now you’re overreacting.’
‘What by giving up something that you have no respect for the hours that I work? You seem to think I can fling back a book in a couple of days. You try editing a full novel in a week—or better yet, edit eleven of them in nine weeks and see how fast you can get through them. I’m telling the Boss that I’m done because I’ve got a controlling bastard of a boyfriend who won’t let me do any damned thing.’
‘You don’t have to quit, we need that money coming in.’
‘Oh, you need it now, do you? But I just piss about in the office all day and I don’t do anything else. Too late, I’m quitting.’
‘What do you mean, again. I’ve had this job for six years, I’d hardly call that again and throwing the coach company at me is unfair because you told me to do it. And I didn’t really quit, I was pushed into a position of constructive dismissal when they reduced my hours.’
The panic on his face was a picture when he realised we’d lose the money that’s been keeping us afloat. He’d backed me into a corner, and I would have cut off my nose to spite my face to make a point. The more he backtracked, the more I stuck to my guns and told him I was sending the book back unfinished.
‘Look, all I’m saying is that you fling yourself into it and we never see you.’
‘Don’t you understand, I’m working to deadline. I’m supposed to have them done in a week but because of your constant pulling me away, it’s taking nearer two weeks to complete a book. You don’t seem to get that I have to meet deadline’
‘Well I think that’s more to do with you and your OCD tendencies than anything else. You could ask for an extension.’
‘I’ve never done that and never will. I’d rather quit.’
‘I just want us to have some time together and for you to help more around the house, that’s all.’
‘Bollocks, you just resent anything I have in my life that excludes you. You got in a huff because you caught me checking the prices on my Magic cards yesterday.
‘You said you were working on the book and when I came in, you were playing with your Magic.’
‘I’d worked nine hours without stopping once—not once. I was literally taking five minute to see if the price had gone up. Let’s be done with them too, shall we. I’ll collect them up right now and throw the lot in the bin. I never get to increase my collection anyway because every penny I make goes back into the household bills. Oh, but it’s okay for you to spend five grand on music gear last year because it needed updating—and then this year to con your dad out of three grand to buy a new guitar to add to your collection.’
‘You’d better stop right there. Because I told you to walk the dog yourself, you’re going to throw everything I’ve ever done in the last three years back in my face?’
And my parting shot as I stormed back in my office…
‘Oh, go and wank over some young girls.’
Since that day, I’ve walked Teagan as soon as I get up, which is usually nine at the latest. Max does her at night. I’ve stopped working on the editing after about six at night, which means I’m flat out during the day to cram into fewer hours what I was doing until later in the evening. I love my pathetic little job—that isn’t a real job—it’s only pocket money, but it’s paid over half of the rent the last three months. I’m still the only one in the house working while they sit in the garden all afternoon. And by teatime I get anxious about Teagan. She hasn’t been out since nine that morning and sometimes it’s ten o’clock before Max gets up to take her out for her road walk. She hasn’t ben off her lead for nearly a fortnight, I know we have a duty to keep people safe, but it’s a vicious circle. If she gets off we have the risk of her one day hurting somebody or another dog. If we don’t let her off, she’s not getting enough exercise and is so frustrated that if she ever does get off again, she’s likely to go crazy.