Belfast Telegraph

Staying put is fine, but not two years in the toilet

By Robert McNeill

We all strive for consistency in life. Mental tramrails make things easier. We know where we're going and, on occasion, even where we are. Another top scientist has been banging on this week about the need to eat at regular times and to get up at the same time every morning. Apparently, if we don't do this, we get cancer.

Well, I'll shove regularity on the to-do list, and get round to it on my deathbed. But I suppose he has a point. It's stravaiging about willy-nilly that gets you into trouble, causing stress and upsetting your biorhythms.

I've noticed that contented people often live in the same house for a long time. It's a chicken and egg situation.

Are they contented because they live in the same house? Or do they live in the same house because they're contented?

Me? I'm never happy. Always fidgeting. Moaning. Upset about something. And my current house is my 23rd.

I flit hither and arguably thither, unable to settle. How I envy, therefore, Georgina Brown, of Hambledon, Hampshire, Great England. She's lived in the same house for 100 years.

It started off as a humble blacksmith's cottage, with an outside toilet. It's now worth £650,000. But Georgina ain't selling. She was born on 13 January, 1912, in an upstairs bedroom, the same one in which her father had been born. Just a few miles away, Southampton was getting ready to send the Titanic on her ill-fated voyage several months later.

She saw troops marching off to the First World War. Winston Churchill passed the house on his way to address troops at a nearby barracks before D-Day.

She married twice and ran the local shop. Now she says: "I am looking forward to spending my 101st birthday in this spot next year." Not going anywhere: it's the way to go.

However, while I admire Georgina's dogged determination to say put, I cannot extend the same esteem to Mee Yan Leong, of Yonder Singapore, who refused to leave her toilet for two and a half years.

I will admit that I'm fond of the loo. It can be a refuge. Which of us has not retreated thither on the first day of a new job, wishing the day would just be over?

It's a good place to flee to at parties. "Yes, and with the profits from the sale of our house, we're hoping to visit Royal Ascot this year."

"I see. Would you excuse me a moment, for I am bursting on a pooh."

But two and a half years? Mrs Leong (58) claims she "felt a force holding me down" and feared that, if she tried to leave, people would throw stones at her. Well, it's always possible, I suppose, though you'd have to think it an outside bet.

Her long-suffering husband passed food through to her until, in a moment of unaccustomed mental clarity, he thought it might be a better idea to send for the medical authorities, who prised his missus off the loo and are now treating in her hospital.

I still think the principle of staying put is sound, but only within reason.

And certainly, it helps if you live in a pretty village and not in a lavatory. Longevity is awarded to the settled.

Narrow horizons nurture the soul.

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