The joys of living alone – archive, 1931

To live alone! To feel that you may
Shut up the flat
And farm out the cat
And put the char’s latchkey just under the mat
if a thrush on the window-sill tells you to go
and pick snowdrops!

Never again to have to eat when someone else is hungry; or to put out all the lights at someone else’s bedtime; or to shut an absorbing book when the Other Person wishes to converse; or to hurry home from a fascinating visit in time for the Other Person’s sacred dinner hour. To be free to “stay the night” – or any number of nights, anywhere; to be able to give a crony a shakedown and talk with her into the small hours if you want to; to go off with a suitcase at a moment’s notice to some gem of a place you have seen photographed in a newspaper.

To dare to stay in bed all day when the wind is in the east and March is in a rage. To be able to sit up all night when an idea for writing gets a hold of you, or there is something good to finish reading. To go to church without incurring surprised approval, or to a night club without ignoring silent criticism.

To sit in the only comfortable chair in the only cosy spot by the fire, and let your legs be “all over the place” without collisions and apologies. To have the Sunday paper first, and all the time. Not to have to deprecate the existence of your own relations twice a day and exalt the horn of your in-laws. To have your meals “out” just to see if eggs are tedious hen-fruit everywhere as they are at home. To change round all the furniture without suggestions or complaints, and to hang “Salisbury Cathedral” in the bathroom and put “Genesis” in its place over the fire.

This is a free country (with “laughter” in brackets) and there may seem no reason why you should not assert yourself and take a dozen suitcases to a dozen delectable lands, sit up firmly or lie prostrate when you like, stay anywhere to dinner or to bring back cronies every night.

Try it – that’s all. You might break clear away, but for two factors. One is the unhappy necessity of thinking sometimes, however reluctantly, upon a higher plane as well as gladly on a trivial one. To become selfish to the bone and the marrow of the bone is not a pretty prospect. The other factor in that a week or two of liberty will find you hopelessly, illogically, sentimentally, remorsefully, exasperatedly, idiotically homesick of the Other Person.