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Thursday, 20 March 2008

Illa Milla

I was ill and feeling wretched and so was Lolly. We felt sorry for ourselves but deserved no pity.
Lolly, because her sickness was down to a lusty session with a rabbit, fur and claws and all with a side order of horse poo; me, because I had to have consumed half my body weight in wine.
Plus, I’m deeply unsympathetic towards illness such as this, I have no truck with it, I am harsh and unforgiving. It is boring and self-indulgent, and I don’t like being bored and I don't indulge. Not when there are real people out there with real things wrong with them. So now that it was my turn, and self-induced, I deserved no more than being ignored, despised slightly, maybe. But shown no favour or concern. A maelstrom of crossness and misery was I.

I was so bad that I had to go to bed, shaking, sobbing, throwing up. I never do that. Ever. Indeed, I’m horrid and superior about lightweights that take to their bed by day. Added to which was the self-loathing and high embarrassment factor. Cringing at my own inability to grow up, lamenting the loss of my liver, promising any bored God who might lend an ear that Never Ever Again etc.
I went all day without turning on the computer: this just does not happen in a well-ordered universe.

At some stage I staggered into the kitchen, which I hadn’t been able to focus on at breakfast, to assess the full horror of the trashed pub scene which would correspond with the way I felt. But lo, what odd sight is this, but a perfectly tidy and respectable-looking room bearing no Bacchanalian scars, no signs of dancing on tables or smashed glass. All clean and polished and thoroughly grown up. Just 3 neat empty bottles lined up ready for recycling. There had been 5 of us drinking so 3 is no shocking tally. Almost admirable, indeed, taken over several hours.

I went to collect T11 from a rugby tournament which had coincided, by some strange serendipity, with the nicest day of the year so far, a mile from the Arctic conditions promised for this weekend.
And bumped into M who had been with me the night before. She looked evil, pale and spacey, clammy and leprous. My twin.
"Where you alright today?" she said.
"No," I said, and nearly cried.
She had been sick. In the car. Had sobbed as she cleared it up. Had gone to bed, and been sick some more. We sort of nodded heads in agreement with each other, not too much, it would have hurt. M is a person who is certain about things, very high-achieving, so I listen to what she says. She is always right.
“It was a bad bottle of wine,” she said.
“Not too much wine?” I said.
“Oh, no,” she said, surprised, “we weren’t drunk at all.”
“You’ve got that bug that’s going round,” someone else remarked. Some fit, hale, hearty person with rosy cheeks, who segued then into a robust and unnecessary chat about her weekend. M and I needed something to clutch. Hunched we stood, as the presentation went on and on and on, the requirement to clap being almost more than I could manage.
Then M2 staggered over. “Fragile” was the word she used. We all wore sunglasses. I always do (think F9, think Lolly: disguise is necessary) but M and M2 don’t.

The relief was huge; to be able to blame a proper bug and not just assume the worst of my own behaviour was a new position to be in. I tend to absorb blame. There had been a note home from school about it which I had tossed in the bin, but a note home from school suddenly seemed something very important. It pointed to the validation of a legitimate illness, and not just vile self-damage and how nicely smug is that.

Am still cold and shivery now and feeling a bit dull. Starvation-induced dizziness. I have even cancelled a night out tonight which I was looking forward to, thinking: what’s nicer than a date with the rug on the sofa in front of crap telly. I plan to be in my jim-jams by eight and can barely wait.
Normal service will be resumed. I hope.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Of puddings and floods, the rest was forgot

When I couldn’t find the recipe in the book wherein I knew that it should lie, I called my father. He had been what F9 calls “most rude, how offensive” when I had spoken to him earlier. I had rattled off the contents of my morning (collect boy from party, take boy to ju-jitsu grading, take boys to Sports Relief Mile, cancelled, go home, get camera, photograph flooded field) and he had cut across me part way between “queued in the rain” and “waited an hour” to say “Christ, your life’s dull.”

So I felt that I could dispense with pleasantries, and just launch in about the sponge pudding and which book had it been in.
Which I did.
“What are you talking about?” he sighed irritably.

This was a shock, for the making of the pudding had been a seminal episode in my life. Of a sudden, my father had announced that he would do a meal a week and that I would help him. It would be called bonding these days.
(I think E said this once, too, not the bonding, God forbid, the cooking. Though whether four chicken pies over six years, with me in charge of pastry, quite counts, I’m not too sure. I’m kind enough to leave it open to debate.)

A man pudding it was, full of the use of superfluous bowls, gusts of flour, the scrape of the spoon against a non-stick pan, and endless washing up. But delicious, too. We had crowed in triumph and chomped cheerfully. It had been followed, the next weekend, by a less successful tomato soup involving a burnt wrist, temper and swearing, and then he gave up all pretence of interest in cooking, all boiled and chopped out, and deep in loathing for both syrup pudding and tomato soup. A familiar feeling to she who stirs the pot night after night.

“Don’t you remember?” I said, astounded and teetering near devastated disappointment that it featured not even as a blip on the radar of his past.
“I think we know all about your place in the reliable memory stakes,” E muttered in passing, a low blow referencing the dull creature I had found myself to be in the diaries, and not the interruption I needed. I turned my back on him.
“It took all afternoon,” I pleaded.

I have become good at sensing exasperation down the end of a phone.
“When was all this?” he asked, for politeness’ sake, while clearly doing something else like reaching for a knife to sever the connection.
“Oh, I was about 14,” I said.
“Christ, Mill, I don’t know. I’ll get Lizzie to call you.”

My mother phoned back later, she had been out walking the dog, and was fuming at the vandalism of massive redwoods sawn down in Ashton Court to Improve Accessibility for disabled people to the Amenity that had been, but by now, thanks to the Improvement, was no longer, Ashton Court. She was all but crying at the raping of the land and the brutal destruction of ancient trees in pursuit of a fine notion which didn’t need pursuing because wheelchairs on wonky hills are never going to be much of a goer. They’ve done a similar thing round here, tightened the laws to the point that the hall in question, unable to afford the required changes has had to be put up for sale. So no one can use it. The disabled group are furious because they never wanted to go upstairs anyway, “And if we do, someone will carry us,” one old chap said more than reasonably.

She remembered the sponge pudding.
I had remembered it by then, it had been a jam pudding we’d converted to syrup which was why it didn’t feature under “syrup” in the index, and I’d lost interest in it, so we talked about trees and I told her about the planned building down the road of 400 new houses.

Much of round here is in line for so much of the same, and you wonder at the shortness of memory, even worse than my father’s for a delicious pud, for this is an area which was overwhelmed by flooding just 9 months ago. In our village, and the village to which we will be horribly closer, we are all in mourning for the imminent loss of the status quo. Somehow, the developers have bypassed the normal planning niceties which cripple the rest of us wishing to extend our houses because we can’t afford to move, and skipped straight to and past appeal.
There is no hope.
The lying swine at the environmental agency claims that the field in question floods once in a thousand years. It was puddled deep in water at the weekend, as it is every time it rains, so I took some photos and now need to work out how to get them from camera to computer to whirring out on a piece of paper and thence to Hazel Blears, she of the harsh haircut, and to whom we have all been instructed to post our objectives. A sure case of the overflowing waste bin for Ms Blears and a weasely non-response thanking us for our interest from some hunched factotum.

No wonder all there is to be sure of is driving boys around. I can no longer seek refuge in meaningful moments from my past, not now that I've found that this is not shared, not as I'd hoped. Don't look back, and don't look out the window. Neither is there as you remember it.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

I'm Sorry ... I'll not read that again

It only goes to show that I was wise to fight shy of clearing the study, and not purely lazy because, now that I have started, I am shivery with the ghosts of my past.
For I have delved deep into a dusty old box, stinking of mildew, and which contains diaries and letters from my teenage years.

What very dull reading they make and what a big mistake to open any sort of trapdoor to your youth. I do not feel richer for going there.

Laid bare are the insipid thoughts of an idiot which should have passed straight from pen to page to bin. And possibly bypassed pen and page altogether. Just think, I could have spent even more time watching TV and washing my hair, 2 things I blink to see that I did almost to the utter neglect of anything else and which is at complete odds with the flavour which a marinade of time had falsely given my memory of childhood. Such compelling proof to the contrary is most unpleasant.

Much of it, I found with a hearty dollop of relief, is hard to read, tight scrawls within thinly spaced lines: I did not persevere. Enough is all too legible.
What emerges instead of the rather sweet, thoughtful, shy girl I fondly recall is a picture of a desperately tedious person almost willing herself to miss opportunities, to pass up the chance of a good time who, despite being asked here and there often enough, blandly failed to “bother” for no good reason beyond vacant idleness.
New experiences registered not on my radar, instead I seemed to think it worthy of remark to record that I watched the television, that I did some more patchwork, or bought some wool (“33p, half price, v g deal. V pleased.” – the creative tycoon in me alive then, kicking and fighting to get out. Goodoh.)
It strikes me that I passed my peak years knitting a jumper and the only mercy is that the details of this grim garment have been stricken from my memory by some charitable god of amnesia. Nor was there then this insatiable need, or digital ability, to photograph each and everything that happened so that hideous pully (for hideous we can safely bet it was) is one thing that can happily be consigned to the realms of the past, certainly a place where I did things differently. If I could be arsed, that is.

No wonder I’m not famous.

What sort of grounding was this endless round of buying pencils from Harold Hockey, and totting up my miserable money to the penny (“my interest came today, £29.73. I was v pleased.”) The days flooded back to reveal an introspective, petty, boring creature whose sum of each day was to list with obsessive enthusiasm what chocolate she had eaten, what homework done, how v annoying someone had been – generally my best friends, for whom continual scorn is reserved, (“L so selfish … ‘Wakey Wakey’ she shouted, ‘Zappo party.’ ZAPPO! Her word!! … She was wearing blue eyeshadow!” Clearly about as bad as it got.)
While actually at school an uneasy fixation develops as to how many “free” periods I had in a day, granting me time which I can guarantee was not wisely spent but in a flurry of disapproving inactivity.

My inability to sort chaff and wheat is exemplified by this sort of entry:
“Today is Sunday July 13” well, durr, the printed page tells me that.
Or this:
“Saw film but didn’t follow it”
Or the thrilling news that:
“I made a n.v.n. [= not very nice] apple pie”

The fuckwittery continues, “Today we bought a new puppy we’re going to call him Harry. He’s v sweet ... We don’t know what to call the puppy. v sweet. Saw TV.”

Endless stuff like this, eating up my youth, stretching over several months.
Mapping the whole of one summer is a lamentable level of interest in a waste disposal unit my parents were buying. They would feel sorry for me did they but know. I feel sorry for me now that I do. On and on about its non-arrival, and then its arrival, and its stashing by the piano, then it being moved to the hall and then, oh giddy day, fly the banners and be still my beating heart: its installation.

True, a typical 70s/80s childhood where children were kept in their place (that place being busy with shampoo in my case) did not heave with opportunity to uncover useful things to teach the world. The concept of teenager was most certainly not encouraged (at least not in our house). I think I was 23 before I realised I could have been really badly behaved – maybe skipped a hair washing? turned down a session tidying my room? Steady on now old girl.
My parents were interesting and achieving, but whatever horizons I was given, I lowered the blind further still. Not for me the sneering lip and the fag in the shed, nor the furious slamming of doors. Well, I was too busy with my patchwork. No, about as wild as I got was being asked to a disco. Which I tended not to go to as “couldn’t be bothered. V cold today.” I did at least think to note that one May 5th it snowed which is about the only episode of lasting mark that year.

Yet when something beyond “had fish and chips” happens, do I rise to the challenge? Of course not. Here I find, after turning to the date in question with trembling fingers – so upset have I remembered being – to the death of my childhood dog. Is my misery laid bare? Are tender poignant thoughts strewn across the page rich in raw adolescent pain? No. Don’t be silly. I read this: “Nan (dog) dying of cancer. V sad. My new desk arrived.”
Even when the beast finally kicked the bucket, the passion still fails to fly from the page. I am at pains instead to record that I had a scotch egg for supper.

My strange value system is further revealed in my attitude to the little girl next door who still bears the scar, I know,of the following accident, but do I care? Not terribly, it seems. “P slipped while playing and fell through a spike on railings outside Brownies. It punctured her skin – 4 stitches, but not her uniform.” Well thank God for that.

Interestingly (the word is obviously used advisedly, and this is mere grasping at straws) my diaries are a tiny bit more characterful when I was 13 or 14. But come 15 and 16 woeful dullness was well and truly entrenched.
At some stage I am forced to look beyond my teeny tiny scope and notice the doings of others, beyond which they merely impinged on me for being “v irritating.” Of exam results – and this is in an age when a clutch of 14 A*s were not de rigeurly handed out in recompense for the student happening to amble over to the exam hall – there is an occasion when I hear that my friend’s sister managed a C a D and an O for her ‘A’ levels while another scrapped 2 Cs and an E. Hardly stellar even then, and not much payback for several years’ private education, but I am surprisingly jocular, “Congratulations all round!” I boomed.
I fear that I might even have cracked open a can of Coke to mark the event.

I can only t’ank feck that I did not wear a beret, and that there are no poems. Sometimes the past should just stay in a box. If you are tempted to revisit your ghosts, I can only advise that you think again. Step away, do not look back. We mature for good reason and snipping the ties is no bad thing.
But sadly the child maketh the adult, history repeats itself and I fear that I am fundamentally exactly the same quarter of a century on. That given time all over again I would plod the same dull path - how very Ouspensky of me. The subject matter has shifted slightly, it's called responsibility, so my spotlight has merely swivelled from hair-washing to Dyson, from scotch egg to dog lampshade. Plus ca change.
How v annoying. E went out. I couldn't be bothered. Read. Watched TV. Bed.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Huffing and Puffing

“Ahh, she’d’ve made a lovely mother,” T11 said wistfully lamenting Lolly's utterly sterile status.

“Lovely pair of gloves more like,” said E in a tone that one can only describe as sour.

He was doing something male and important with the tool box (possibly stroking our filler) while Lolly skittered round the kitchen island, her galloping going nowhere since rugs and claws and wooden floors don’t go, for all the world like a moth on acid.

T11 meanwhile had his head at an admiring angle, and I wondered at his skewed view of motherhood.
He doesn’t say “You’re a lovely mother,” much to me but I hadn’t attributed this to my deficiencies in the skittering department, nor would I have said that this particular activity should sum up all that is fine and indicative of the properly maternal.

We had her lampshade taken off yesterday. We humans were rather fond of it by now since it conferred on her an unlikely bonneted dignity at strange odds with her ridiculous clattering.
After the initial fury, she had grown very patient, too, with getting blocked by it wherever she went. With all the predictability of rain on Sports’ Day she would bang into the Workmate en route out of the side door, but she didn’t tut, nor did she complain when she lay glumly obedient in its shadow in her basket.
I was quite excited on her behalf with how pleased she would be to lose it. I had expected a gleam of gratitude when it was wrenched off, a canine version of “Oh Mummy, thankyou thankyou thankyou!” and caught her eye ready for same but nothing crossed her face, her expression didn’t change. Not a jot. She didn’t even go into a massive shake, the kind she reserves, when wet, for my legs, and which I had assumed would be the very least of her reactions.
She is truly dim.
She just segued seamlessly from one state of being to the other without any reaction at all.
Really, she might as well be a dog on a trolley, with wheels for feet, for all the thinking that goes on. And it would cut down massively on the food bill.

I received my £4.70. Which was pleasing. I’d been rather tense about this for there was a cut in the bonnet over which I was prepared to go to war, like a infant school child, tearfully establishing that it was There Before We Got It. I’d been tempted to photograph it with my phone, for Petty is my middle name but had forgotten because short term memory issues are real and multiplying. In the end, although I pointed and started a half hearted mutter, the vet merely gave me an odd look and patted her pockets for change.

We arrived home, and E was staring gloomily at the ceiling. I had noticed an alarming crack a day or two before the earthquake: not a mere line we could call “settlement,” such as all the others are dubbed, but a definite bulging of brick which looked wrong, like a broken leg looks wrong sticking out at right angles from a knee. All to do with what should be where, but isn’t. He had raked it out and filled it with The Best Filler in the World, and every now and again one or other of us is to be found Daring to Look.
It occasions much huffing and puffing, and is, yet again, not the time to be considering giving up drinking. So, when F9, in the bedroom above, lands with all 14 feet in clogs from his bed we wince, glass in hand. When he stomps down his corridor like the big Billy Goat Gruff we clutch each other and eye the erstwhile crack and reach for the bottle.

The earthquake made no difference to it, however, which just goes to show how very very impressive our filler is, holding up the house all on its tiny ownsome, making me feel all but maternal towards its very competence. “Oh yes, I say airily to others –interesting conversation being very important – “we have excellent filler.” (I boast about it far more, for instance, than T11 getting into the grammar, which I took rather for granted. I must think that the filler’s superior qualities are an extension of my own.) It was the first thing I thought of when the rocking started that night.

Whereas cracks were not the concern of the friend I was standing with at one of several interminable football matches which have occupied gross chunks of this week.
She was talking about the earthquake. “Well!” she exclaimed, “I woke up and the bed was shaking, the walls were shaking, the whole house was shaking and I just said to Andy, ‘Andy,’ I said, ‘What ARE you doing!’”
We all chortled and Andy (at which point I am duty bound to say Bless Him) chortled, and looked at his feet and rocked in the mud on inappropriate shiny leather shoes, most pleased with himself, as ready to subsume all responsibility for house shaking properties as I am for filler and much as T11 ascribes skittering to motherliness. Not right, but it’ll do.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Day in Life of the Remarkably Idle Milla

(this was done, as did we all, for a thing on purplecoo, and I have transported it just because I'm slightly OCD and like all my toys together. It was done last week or so, hence the reference to dear Masterchef, for the loss of which I am already in mourning:)

My day begins hours too early, at 7.46, with a thump at the clock radio.
Having been awake all night, it is during the next 7 minutes that I have the best dreams in the world before being cruelly snatched back into the world of things to do. I have always loathed mornings and getting up but, once up, I adopt a scornful stance towards any filthy lie-a-bed who might still be wallowing in their cot. I wonder whom I can phone and stir from their slumbers.

The next hour is one of high octane adrenaline. No wonder I hate getting up when first up is dealing with Lolly’s nocturnal turds (if necessary, says hopefully). Then bustle through to kitchen to enbreakfast children and hound: Lolly last in an attempt to establish a pecking order with her right at the bottom of it. Don’t all gasp, purplecooers, it’s what The Books say: dogs come last. By now she is outside trying to grasp the concept of lavatorying 'neath the big bad sky. Her besom face, perplexed at all things to do with rules, will be held at an angle and berate me through the glass of the door: Why am I outside. I hate rain, I hate wet grass, I don’t like getting my knickers wet, I won’t squat here, there’s a perfectly serviceable carpet inside. I will glare at her. She will rise like a bear and throw clattery claws at the glass.
I toss my head and turn on the kettle. It is a little early for a true battle of wills, but I am the one with opposable thumbs who can grapple with the handle, while she is not.

Lunch preparation happens now, too, with endless little goodies piled into my offspring’s lunchboxes.
I make no apologies for being unbearably smug about these lunchboxes: they gleam with good intentions which have actually been carried through.
How rare is that.
Tiny pots of olives, raspberries, carrot, mango combine to approach their five a day without even trying and, God knows, I need to feel good about something I do. As often as not, too, the biscuit or cake is homemade although I may let the side down with a baby sausage roll rich in dodgy bits of pork knees.
Sandwiches are a bore since peanut butter is not allowed, up there with guns and knives on the prohibited list: one boy in another year “might” be allergic; one child in Reception has a kiwi allergy: therefore no children in the school are allowed kiwi fruit. I know, I know, yet again how very unsympathetic I sound: how much of a “bore” would I really feel if some child or other slipped into a coma because of a naughtily smuggled-in peanut butter sandwich made by me. But still sandwiches *are* a bore and seem to bring out the worst in us all.
I shovel in some rice cakes and oat cakes instead.

By now I am onto my second cup of black coffee of the day, technically, perhaps, my fourth, since each cup takes 2 strong teaspoonfuls.
As an impoverished student, I would only drink real, now I will only drink instant, but only Costa Rican and exact almost to the point of grain count. A bad cup of coffee is so disappointing. E calls my coffee slippery muck, I jeer just as unkindly at his foul brown liquid which is mere Gold Blend and not the nectar of the Gods which is mine. Needless to say we nurse our own jars fiercely.
I don’t bother to eat, unless E hasn't gone into work nastily early but is busily getting in my way making worthy porridge and then I tut, and make a big deal of working round him in a huffy manner and ungraciously allow him to make me a baby bear bowl-ful of the stuff. No sugar, however, can’t abide porridge with sugar. Yuk. He takes my wincing at his rounded spoonful of the same as indicative of my desire to ring a divorce solicitor.
He might be right.
He tuts back.
Happy families.

Round about now I regroup with an aaaaah moment, leaning back against the walnut cupboards, upper bottom cold against the granite and enjoy a full-on love-in of the most glorious kitchen in the world.
Truly it is a dream. It is big and stylish and fan-bloody-tastic. It inspires kitchen-envy in all luckless females who come to admire, and it is mine, mine, mine, mwah ha ha.
After 20 months of squalor and grime and ancient formica belonging to another, I am now truly spoiled. But at least I know it. 30’+ long, it is 2 old rooms knocked into one plus an extension. The old dining room end, which we used to call the caravan, takes a monstrous huge charity shop sofa – a raft of a thing; also tucked in are piano; large oriental rug; bookcase; 2 sets of drawers; and view. And the wall light is quite groovy.
The middle bit, divided from the caravan by a much-used (to my surprise) “breakfast bar” is actual dream kitchen from heaven. As I gaze lovingly at my empire, a jewel in a unfinished house still ceiling-high with boxes, my 2 boys are at chomp, chatting to me or annoying each other, or reading The Beano. Thumping big island, double-doored larder, bookshelves, L-shaped units. Enough cupboards to lose a dog in – and God knows I’d like to try sometimes.
The far end has an enormous oval table in smoked oak with 8 diddy chairs, quite terrifyingly modern, planted round it, and with one of my father’s most beautiful paintings on the yellowy wall.
Have I mentioned that I love our kitchen?

This admiration session possibly accounts for the next bad-tempered few minutes when I realise, AGAIN, how late we are for although we sort of thought we had masses of time, inevitably we don’t, the promised safety net of 15 minutes to go having disappeared in a flash. Mother sets up a screech. F9 roars that he’s “doin’ somethin’” and T11 stands shiny and a little put out that he is booted and coated and bagged and teethed but that no one else is. Lolly, who has been let in by a boy eyes the front door anxiously, again lamenting her rubbish paws which won’t let her fasten her own lead and establish herself outside and ready to go. She has 2 high points of the day: 3 minutes ago which was eating breakfast, and the next hour of her main walk. Sometimes I feel sorry for her. And then she’ll run off like a delinquent teenager, and I want to turn her into gloves.

So a raggletaggle quarrelsome quad we make barging out of the door, dog like a furry bullet first (despite best attempts to keep her greasy slipperiness at the rear, where she should be, as advised by The Books) a hint of her massively irritating and incapacitating inter-leg weaving walking up the road to come. I wear my sunglasses in all weathers to avoid catching the eye of all the good parents driving away while we still have a five minute walk ahead of us. I kiss my boys, giving thanks that they have never (yet) had a problem at public displays of affection: surely that is the deal with children? Your scars, their kisses.

Then I chat with the other mothers about nothing for 20 minutes but still we laugh, and then walk Lolly in the fields with another mother and her dog who is most sub-standard dog. For she won’t play with Lolly being obsessed instead with impressive ball chasing which also involves hogging 2 sticks as well as stuffing rancid tennis ball in mouth too. How greedy. She shames, too, by being horribly good at coming back when called, compared with my mad bag of insolent fur who ignores me being far too busy bustling up, all swaggery bum and flying fur, to any random dog going. These invariably yap and hiss back which drives her to seek refuge instead rummaging unpleasantly in hedges. A girly girl my Lolly, I call her hedge work “shopping”.
Other mother talks the entire time about her various sporting prowess or boasts about her dog, underlining the line which cannot be crossed in obedience terms. So I switch off and pray for a thunderbolt from heaven to catapult her and her mutt into the stream on the bottom field.
It is Lolly, though, on whom all the children from school fall, carolling “Lollllllleeeeeee!” in delight, so that, perhaps, is my reward. Other mother probably hates me.

Once home it’s time for a necessary cup of coffee and a check of the post and any phone messages. A good day is none of either. I hate post and messages, truly the worst thing, up there with laundry. Goodness, it might mean that I have to respond to something.
The next hour should be spent in routine dullness. You know the sort of thing, desultory tidying, resentful hoovering, Putting Things Away, plumping sofas. Whistle while you work stuff which sears my soul, but instead I find myself lured by the computer and Just Checking A Few Sites. I will have to lie to E about this later. I intersperse this self-indulgence with showing a polite interest in the washing machine and dabbing the brush at high-maintenance Lolly who, like every member of the family, inwardly cries out for staff.
The enormous elephant in the day of this life is that I possibly need a job. I used to work for The Biggest Advertising Agency, and then for The Only Radio. It seems a lifetime ago. Strange thing, jobs, though, and how little actual work you have to do while there. Truly just turning up and being in the building tended to be enough for most of us. But I don’t want to do that anymore. And I reckon I'm unemployable by now anyway.
At some stage into young children, I was press ganged by a virtual criminal into designing and creating his garden, and then his wife’s, and then into looking after them. It was terribly well paid, but I was never comfortable with the strange comings and goings, nor his attempts to shove his tongue in my mouth, although the smart wine he routinely gave me slipped down a treat and few gardeners, maybe, get given Laurent Perrier champagne when knee-deep in mud. I was naughty and just stopped going. Besides, my back hurt too much by then.
And I’ve done some half-hearted editing of the most spleen-crushingly boring reports for a woman who thought she couldn’t write. She could write well enough, but of a strangled, committee-speak sort that did your head. Eye-blinkingly painful for a wannabe-purist like me who squeals at a split infinitive and flinches at the word “situation.”
Recently I’ve had to be sort of project managing here (chokes at the notion of such self-importance) but, with the end in sight, I need to get real and get a job, but of the kind that doesn’t exis:. 10-2.30, well-paid and term-time only and able to take a day off at the drop of a hat to look after the children. Or if I need a little lie-down.

This is long and have only reached 11ses so will resort to phrases for the rest:
Pfaff around, time disappears, feel busy, achieve nothing.
Another day looks set to drift by without having filed my life in filing cabinets. Paperwork is the carpet.
Maybe I’ll garden, if it’s nice.
Collect children at 3.15. Maybe a friend back, maybe not. Maybe they go to the park and play, or to piano, or ju jitsu, or rugby or not. Chat, to whoever will have me.
Wince at badly-written letters home from school, hand poised, again on phone to ask headmaster if he wants help in sentence construction. Resist. Wisely.
Make supper. At least I cook. That’s something in my favour.
All eat together at about half past six. Work on the house. We all sit watching Masterchef, roaring “Cooking Doesn’t Get Tougher Than This” en masse at the TV. After which children are despatched quickly to bed and disappear upstairs in a crosspatch of teeth-brushing and blame.
If in, watch rubbish on TV. But virtuously knit or sew or read at the same time and look up occasionally, irritating E by asking “which one is that …?” or “Is he the one who …?”
Go to bed.
F9 will still be up. This will be the fault, it seems, of the deep-in-dreams T11.
Tomorrow is another day.