Just the two of us... again

Brat Major has flown the nest - again. She and Spoilerman have worked hard on their house and they moved in last weekend. Mrs H and I are, once again, adjusting to life at Fortress H with just the two of us.

Brat Major has flown the nest - again. She and Spoilerman have worked hard on their house and they moved in last weekend. Mrs H and I are, once again, adjusting to life at Fortress H with just the two of us.

I must say, there is a feeling of finality this time. When Brats M and M first moved out there was much sadness but somehow a feeling that it was not the end of more than one bedroom being occupied. But unless something drastic happens I can't see either of them spending more than the odd night with us.

One of the things we will miss most is a youthful perspective on life. When I got morally outraged about something such as binge-drinking or putting bobbies back on the beat, one of them would shrug and say simply: “So?” Now I will, no doubt, become a grumpy old man harrumphing about the good old days while Mrs H tells me that if I keep getting out of my tree about things I'll have a heart attack.

I must say though, that, having Brat Major back after a few months away, there was something of a change. Either she has mellowed or we have become more tolerant. There was a noticeable delay before exchanges between mother/daughter developed into an argument and towards the end she did actually wash and wipe up.

On her final night at Fortress H, there was a flash of the old Brat Major. Mrs H was cooking a wholesome meal with loads of vegetables when she arrived home. She established what was on the menu and announced that she would not be joining us. Then with much heaving and sighing she searched through the freezer for something to eat. As we prepared our food she dodged between us cooking a pizza and chips.

That reminded me of that classic occasion when she learned it was homemade tomato soup for tea, she sniffed dismissively said: “No thanks. I'll have some out of a tin.”

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It was one of the few times I have seen Mrs H stunned into silence.

But it's not as though our children are abandoning us in favour of a new life. We remain of some use, particularly in the transport department.

When Brat Major moved out Mrs and I did a Pickfords, heaving stuff downstairs and loading our car to the gills. At the other end we unloaded before taking her to a nearby supermarket to stock up. This was, of course, too much for Mrs H who, as if by magic, produced a shopping list.

Brat Major got a trolley but I wasn't falling into that trap. I grabbed another one; we were going through the checkout separately.

But probably the longest taxi run in recent times was for Brat Minor. At very short notice he fixed up to go with a mate to Grand Canaria for a week. You can imagine what this did for Mrs H. Lists were generated of things he needed to take; his wallet was filled with notes detailing his allergies and people to contact in case of emergency. He was given a lecture in looking after his passport and money.

And, of course, there was the health warning on drinking too much alcohol.

His friend was travelling from Liverpool so Brat Minor had to make his own way to the airport. He was planning to go on the coach but his ever thoughtful mother had other ideas.

“I think we should take him,” she said before adding brightly: “We could make a day out of it.” Oh great!

Fancy a day out? How about the seaside or a stroll in the country? No, I know what, let's go to Gatwick Airport.

And so there we were, hurtling round the M25 one sunny Saturday with Brat Minor and his suitcase on board. We met his pal and whiled away a jolly three hours with them at the airport.

Now there's not an awful lot to do at an airport; mostly involving spending money. It would have cost Brat Minor a little over £40 for a return ticket on the coach. Adding up the petrol, food and other odds and ends I reckon it cost me well over double that.

And that reminds me; you may recall how I used to whinge that Brats M and M would leave televisions, radios and computers on when they probably weren't even in the house. Well, the Fortress H electricity bill is paid by direct debit. Such has been the reduction in consumption since they left, I have had the monthly payment reduced by £4 and received a £200 rebate for the credit that had built up!

Mind you, my euphoria was short-lived. Just before his holiday, Brat Minor asked: “When you're in the city at lunchtime, could you get me £200 in euros please?” I am still awaiting reimbursement.

But I did draw the line on one thing.

“When does your return flight get in?” I asked.

He replied hopefully: “Ten to eight on Sunday morning.”

“Ah,” I said. “You'll be getting the coach back then.”