The Year of Saying ‘Yes’

Here’s the thing I don’t want to do: carry on living my life exactly as it was before, but with the sense that something is missing. Like – oh, I don’t know … let’s say, for example, a husband.

That’s what I’m not going to do – go on the same but with a husband-shaped hole.

Because, to be honest, that would be a ridiculous waste of time and endow the absent one with far too much significance. Whereas, quite obviously, the important one here is me. And the important two is my children. And the important three is me and my children. So, it’s a new life for me.
Brave words, eh? And, strangely, it didn’t take me too long to come to this momentous decision, but carrying out my resolve is going to take some thinking. (All suggestions gratefully received, btw.)
One reason it’s going to take some thinking is because, after 28 of marriage, I’m not really used to thinking about what want. Like most women of my age, I’ve felt, for some time, like the jam in the sandwich, being slowly but surely squeezed on all sides until I’m spread so thin. I’m virtually invisible. I know what I am to other people – a lift, a meal, a pile of clean laundry, a secretary, a bank, a counsellor, a personal shopper. But what I am to myself is more of a mystery. 
So here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to try to change my habits. I’m going to alter my thinking. I’m going to try to work out what my instincts are, and follow them.
I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to go about this, but the first thing I’m going to do is say, ‘Yes!’ and see where it leads. I’m not even sure yet what I’m going to say Yes to, but I’m saying Yes to that too. I’m going to say Yes for a whole year, even when I don’t feel like it, and I’m going to write about it here.
Yes, I am.
Feel free to join me. 

The Sorrow and the Pity

A couple of days ago, a woman I like immensely but rarely see got in touch out of the blue and, after a very few texts, we’d arranged to meet for brunch. Lovely. Then I went all paranoidy and started wondering if she knew, somehow, about my situation and was only asking me because she felt sorry for me.

This has become something of a habitual thought pattern for me over the last couple of months, since I found out about my husband’s affair. Anyone who was particularly nice, anyone who said, ‘How are you?’ in way one reserves for the particularly unfortunate, anyone who appeared to look at me with concern, I immediately assumed they knew and it would throw me into a spin. My major concern, at that point, was preventing my children finding out and, of course, the more people that knew, the greater the risk that it would get back to them. That was part of the reason it bothered me – and that sounds rather laudable and unselfish, doesn’t it? But that was only part of  it.

I hate – absolutely HATE – feeling like the object of pity. Maybe everyone does. I don’t know. To be honest, I’ve ever asked anyone. Maybe I should. And I think my freakishly calm reaction to this whole being-dumped-after-so-many-years-of-marriage thing has been conditioned by that sentiment. I’m all, ‘I’ll be fine. Of course it’s very sad, but I’ll be absolutely fine. Don’t you worry about me!’. Pride, you see. It’s the original Original Sin. And it comes before a fall, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s why I’ve ended up in this situation.

Anyway, it’s almost time to come out in the open about my situation, and anyone who doesn’t know, will know. And there’ll be plenty of ‘How are you?’s. Plenty of kindness and concerned looks and invitations out of the blue for brunch. I’ll be an object of pity. Of course I will. I’m the betrayed wife. The one they made a fool of. What could be more pitiable? But I’m learning … I hope. I’m going to shift my point of view and park that stupid pride for a bit.

Because how lucky am I, in the midst of all this mess and heartache and sorrow, to have people around me who care enough to pity me? Who care enough to invite me for brunch, to ask the awkward question, to text me just to check how I am, to see past my stupid glib assurances and my pretended strength.

Very lucky. Very lucky indeed.

Thank heaven for the internet!

The other day I had to buy a dozen double damask dinner napkins. Don’t ask why. I just did. Sometimes you simply have to do these things.

Anyway, thanks to the internet I was able simply to click in the appropriate place on the John Lewis website and didn’t have to go and actually ask for them. Who knows what might have happened otherwise!

tonguetwister.jpg

I am literally pinned down by a washing machine!

Don’t you love it when people say ‘literally’ when they literally mean ‘metaphorically’ or even ‘figuratively’? One of  my all time faves is ‘They’ve literally got us over a barrel’. I’m literally imagining old-fashioned hoisting equipment, complete with clanking chains and huge oily cogs, and our hapless victim dangling from a large hook.

Anyway, this is literally me, today, between the hours of 9.15 and 1.15. And if there is any problem, Dixons will feel the full force of my wrath, because I’ve been prevented from seeing some someones I very much want to see! Grrrr.

Of course, once it arrives (see what a ‘washing machine half full’ kind of person I literally am), I’ll be able to have washing machine parties, and I’ll invite all my many positively vetted friends. Figuratively speaking. 

The hard, hard life of a writer

Yes, it’s most awfully tough. So much so that, sometimes, when the kids are safely at school, and sensible people are at the office, I just HAVE to go out for a walk with my friend, Marie. In the Cotswolds. On our own. In all that countryside.

It’s hell.

Particularly the path between Stanton and Stanway. Gruelling, just gruelling.

 It gets even tougher when you finally reach Stanway House.

 

And it’s not sunny vistas the whole way, y’know. You have to go through woods carpeted with wild garlic. 

Well someone’s got to do it. Those hills won’t walk themselves.

Les Fleurs du Mall

I don’t believe Baudelaire wrote much about shopping. More’s the pity. But I bet his ennui and degout would have been in full flow if he’d spent this Saturday in Birmingham at the Bullring shopping mall (is that an adequate word to describe this temple to enlightenment through shopping? I fear not), queueing to get into a queue to get onto a escalator to join another queue to get into Selfridges to join a queue to part with his hard earned cash. 

Think I might go a write a slim volume of exquisite yet degenerate verse.

Fork ‘andles

Anyone unfortunate enough not to be British had better watch this clip of Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett before reading any further or none of this will make any sense at all (okay – even less than usual):

Right! Are we sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin….

A friend of mine makes a bit of extra dosh by letting out rooms to language students coming to learn to speak the Eeeeenglish in lovely Stratford on Avon. So, a while ago she had a Spanish chap come to stay and very nice he was too. I think what particularly endeared him was the fact that he came bearing gifts. It always works with me too. So, he presented her with a little package (about the size of a video) and said (now do his bit in your head in a reeeeeaaally strong Spanish accent, okay?)

Spanish chap: ‘I have gift for you. Eees traditional Espanish. Turrones. You know?’

My friend: ‘The Two Ronnies? Yes! Of course. I love them.’

SC: ‘Oh! You know turrones? Eees etypical in Espain. You like?’

MF: ‘No – they’re English. The Two Ronnies. Definitely English. They’re on telly at Christmas every year.’

SM: ‘Yes, ees good for Christmas. Ma … Eeenglish? No – I theenk ees turrones etypical Espanish. Eees very good.’

MF: ‘Yes! Very good. Very funny! But I’m amazed – you really have the Two Ronnies in  Spain at Christmas too? No way!’

SM: ‘Yes, turrones eees traditional in Espain for long time.

MF: Yeah – the Two Ronnies’ve been going for years! I had no idea they were popular in Spain though …

…. and so it went on.

How amazingly appropriate!

Now, just so we’re clear:

Turrones – tasty Spanish nougat full of almonds:

Two Ronnies – UK comedy duo famed for ingenious wordplay:

Newsflash! According to Ister, turrones tastes of earwax. That’s the turrones and NOT the Two Ronnies who, I’m sure, would have been delicious.