Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Confessions of a Tormented Housewife

Could this be my darkest hour? The hour in which I find myself struggling to remember the best way to change a duvet cover? Or perhaps the hour in which I realise that I have been unemployed for four months? Or perhaps it is the hour in which my husband gets home and I realise that I have nothing to show for the eight hours I have been awake in the day.

Having been unceremoniously ejected from my job where I worked at director level, networked with CEOs, government ministers and various other people full of their own self importance I find myself thrust into unfamiliar territory. I have struggled to reconcile myself with the notion that I am one of the hundreds of thousands caught in the tidal wave now commonly known as “The Recession”. I have always worked, always been independent, a survivor, some one who was proud of the contribution they made to society, even if it was simply through paying the correct amount of tax. Now I spend my days aimlessly; desperately wanting to smoke menthol cigarettes behind the bike shed and eat chocolate cake but knowing that I really should be going to the gym and preparing dinner for the longanimous Husband. My greatest fear is that I should become a fat, unfit, unemployable Misery who cannot manage even the most menial of household chores.

Let us be clear here – it is not that I cannot do things. It is that I choose not to. Well, that’s what I tell myself. In secret I read the great tomes of Perfect Housewife Anthea Turner, petrified that I might be found wanting in my domestic abilities. I slavishly place lavender seeds in my linen drawers, scented soap in my bathroom, use bicarbonate of soda and vinegar as a staple cleaning agent and fold my shirts in the way first invented by some ancient Japanese T-shirt folding sensei. None of these small accomplishments seem to suppress my own feelings of inadequacy. Doubtless, there are few of my friends who can boast a colour coded cupboard and alphabeticised CD collection. Next week I plan to sort my not in-substantial book collection according to the Dewy system. This will take some research as I cant quite remember if Literary Theory belongs to 321.2 or if that’s Political theory, but I am pretty sure that my John Grisham novels fit in somewhere around the 364 mark – Criminology. But even after decoding the mysteries of the library system I don’t think I will be satisfied. I feel my brain slowly putrefying with the passing of every hour in which it is not adequately used. Likewise, my body grows used to sampling the many things I cook in order to keep myself busy. The slower the pace of my life, the slower the pace of my metabolism, the slower my cognitive functions. The slower each of these things becomes the lower my self esteem falls. I suppose if I had better MS Excel skills I could graph the decline of my self esteem in some pretty colours with an illuminating key and well labelled X and Y axis. Bit by bit I could demonstrate the impact of each insecurity as it surfaces each day. Unfortunately though I am not sure I know how to make such a graph, which is a shame as it would be an interesting occupation. For a time.

One of the challenges I set my self each day is to use the Dictionary.com “word of the day” in the correct context within a sentence which doesn’t sound completely pompous. The greatest challenge is remembering how to spell that word. And then trying to remember what it was the day it becomes “word of yesterday”. Today’s word is “burnish”. How apt. It means “to polish and make shiny”. Well, that should be easy to use for one who is obsessed with polishing – or rather burnishing – of her family heirloom silver cutlery set. Perhaps I could write a list of all the things in the house which need burnishing and assign them each with a weekly burnishing day. There that’s the word of the day used in context several times. Well done me. I might need to have a little lie down after all that mental exertion. Or perhaps just stare into space for a while. Imagine I’m watching paint dry.

For dinner this evening I intend to use some left over roast pork to create a highly original and hopefully tasty Chinese stir-fry extravaganza. Edible thrift. Husband will be pleased. Of course this means that I will have to go to the shops and purchase some key ingredients – ginger and honey spring to mind - which means I will need to change out of my rather fetching baggy tracksuit bottoms and Husband’s old blue jumper (at least 3 sizes too big). Drat. Perhaps I could just put on my enormous coat (bought in the days when I had to fit a tailored suit and blouse underneath which dictated a certain capaciousness) and hide the unsightly “home” clothes, slip into Sainsbury’s, purchase my goods and escape before anyone notices the bedraggled creature who might have eased herself out from a dark cupboard under the stairs. Oh, and I will need a woolly hat to hide the unsightly hair which I haven’t bothered to straighten. I wonder if I could sell my GHDs on e-bay and permanently forgo the pretext that I am a well maintained, immaculate woman who gives a damn? The money I raise could be put towards restocking my diminishing supply of chocolate.

Anyway, I digress. Clear evidence that my feeble mind keeps only a tenuous grasp on the thread of conversation. Dinner. Right. Pork leftovers and some pre-packed stir-fry vegetables. Served with rice and a honey/ginger/soy sauce type creation. Protein? Tick. Carbs? Tick. Fibre? Tick. Vitamins. Dubious considering that all the vitamin C will have been leached from the vegetables during the pre-packing process. Never mind. Vitamin supplements to hand? Tick. Good that’s dinner sorted then. Tomorrow perhaps I will attempt something a bit more creative and nutritious. Today I just can’t be bothered to create much more than the aforementioned edible Pork Thrift. It is locally sourced Hampshire pork if that makes a difference?

I expect to be slightly more energised tomorrow, since I have a date with the delectable Clyde. Not to be confused with my paramour (no time for that. I have ironing to do don’t you know?!), Clyde is my horse. Well not mine exactly, but I do get to spend a lot of time with him which I find most satisfying. Given that we have had some rain I expect that the tracks will be wet tomorrow, giving Clyde and me an excuse to wander along at a glacial pace whilst enjoying the scenery. During this time I will attempt to spot the first spring buds. Spring signals a change for the better – new beginnings, growth and renewed life. Just what I need. So I will enjoy looking for the signs and when I cannot see them I will take it as a portent of doom. Winter will linger for a little longer. No matter to me and Clyde. We still enjoy each other’s company. He enjoys mine because I don’t carry a whip and I feed him excessive numbers of polo mints. I enjoy his because he allows me to escape from everything else which is on my mind. Mostly because I am concentrating so hard on not falling off that there isn’t much space in my mind for anything else. Still it’s an escape – change of scene, fresh air, peace and quiet and some trees. Perfect. I might even find the energy, or rather the inclination, to make Husband’s favourite slow cooked lamb shanks for dinner. I won’t mention this to him just yet as I am equally likely to suggest an Indian take away. I will try and commit to memory as many details of my morning out as possible. Exposure to a wider scope of humanity might well provide excellent fodder for recall later in the week when I am tired of imagining paint drying.

Emboldened by thoughts of an excursion, I feel the sudden need to hang some washing, do some ironing and make a cup of strong coffee. After that I suppose I will journey off to the shops with a spring in my step. Hell, I might even change my clothes.

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