There’s nothing Lou Conran enjoys more than a ramble and a rant over a nice cup of tea and a biscuit. In the first of her regular dispatches from the frontline of chitchat, she wonders if living alone has driven her crackers
Illustration by Jemima Williams
I live alone, and have started talking to myself.
I believe this is standard practice for someone approaching middle age. I have full on conversations with people that don’t exist, and I can spend hours on the toilet rehearsing imaginary confrontations with real people that I know will never happen, because in real life I don’t do confrontation, and half the people I want to confront don’t actually know I exist.
I take so much pleasure in having a bath and a row with my imaginary husband because he’s been taking advantage of my good nature (not like that) but you know, what’s more important, me or football? “And for goodness’ sake, will you please pick up your wet towels; I’m not your mother.” You know, those sort of imaginary scenarios that I imagine all marrieds go through. I think the people upstairs might actually think I am in a relationship with a mute.
The other day my neighbour caught me talking to my porridge as he peered through my kitchen window. (He was putting his rubbish out. He doesn’t just stand outside my kitchen window. At least I don’t think he does.)
As a keen eater I spend a lot of time “encouraging” my food to hurry up. I’m slightly concerned that my neighbour thought I’d suddenly acquired a child or a little person that he couldn’t see. Although typing that out, it does seem a bit weird, because all he’d have heard was me going, “Now come on, just a little bit longer, you know I like you when you’re thicker.” Oh god.
Am I losing my mind? It does run in the family. My nan had Alzheimer’s and spent most of her later years referring to me as “the chubby one in the corner”. But no one warns you it can happen early.
Or is it simply that living alone will send you crackers? I love living on my own, but there are some days that I find myself having a go at the hoover, because I’ve just spent five minutes attacking the living room and it refuses to pick up chunks of HobNob that have rolled under the sofa. That’s when I have to have a word with myself. How rude of me to let that biscuit get away.
I don’t talk to myself in public anymore. Not after I fell down a hole at a firework night because I was too busy muttering to myself about how frugal the man had been with his onions when I was buying a burger. I fell straight down the hole and buggered my legs, but did I drop that burger? Of course I didn’t. I was in pain but at least I had beef to comfort me.
So I guess all I want is reassurance that it’s fine to talk to yourself. It is fine, isn’t it? Isn’t it? (I’m asking the laptop, it’s not responding.) I like to think it’s healthy. I was looking into doing a silent retreat somewhere in Bumfucknowhere, but given I spend so much time on my own already and can’t even be quiet when I am alone, then there’s not much chance of me lasting on that is there?
Anyway, Jeff’s just got in. (He’s the husband. I don’t know why I’ve called him Jeff. It was the first name that came into my head when I was shouting at him to pick up his socks.) We’ve got to plan the weekend. I need a shelf putting up and I want to slow roast a pig, but I guess I’ll end up doing both. I always do.
Lou is a comedian, writer, actor, lover of curry and cheese, and is also a giant simple child.