In which I come to terms with housework

Like most people, I tend to do the housework once a week. I’m fairly clean and tidy so I keep on top of it as I go, but chores like dusting and vacuuming only happen on a weekly basis. But over the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to find more time for me to do things I like doing versus those I think I should be doing. As a result, the cleaning hasn’t been as thorough as it could have been.

Now, I love it when I’ve just cleaned the house and can look around in satisfaction at my gleaming surfaces and extra tidy rooms. But usually, within the next 10 minutes, a wet cat comes in and leaves paw prints on the floor or fur on the carpet, or I start cooking something in the kitchen. My lovely, pristine environment doesn’t stay that way for long. Ideally, the kitchen would look like no one ever uses it. Except, I do use it. Particularly at weekends.

I don’t like housework, but it has to be done. I’ve already revised my approach once by switching my thinking from ‘Oh my god, it’s the weekend and I’ve got all those chores to do’, to ‘These 3 activities will only take an hour,’ but I’m still chasing an impossible scenario.

So I’ve decided to stop. Instead of aiming for once-a-week-short-lived-perfection, I’m aiming for ongoing okayness. This could turn into a gradual decline towards squalor, but I don’t think so. If I don’t have the mindset that ‘I’ll sort that out at the weekend’, then I should do micro-tasks more often. So that there’s less to do at the weekend, and an overall better standard during the week.

Greece is the way I’m feeling

I will be co-leading a programme of workshops this year, which will help women set and achieve some goals, in a supportive and accountable context. I went to a BOLD Goals workshop in Oxford the year that my life imploded and it really helped me identify some important areas of my life that were just not right. Mostly it was work and location, and the workshop made me think about what I did want instead. Eight months later and I had jumped ship from my horrible, toxic job and moved north to the house I bought. During the session itself, I hadn’t see a way forward. But I was readier to seize the opportunity that came along because I’d already put some effort in to visualise what I did want.

So kick off for the workshops is Monday, and I’m looking forward to it. However, I did realise that I probs need some goals of my own to take to the party.

First up has to be getting through my Greek GCSE in May/June this year. I started Greek in October with a self-imposed stretch target of hitting GCSE within the year, because I just can’t see how it could possibly take two years. I’m on track but it’s going to take some effort. So that’s my top priority and Wednesday evenings are sacrosanct to my hour with my tutor.

Next up is the perennial ‘what am I going to do to get my arse off the sofa?’ Heavy sigh. To counter my own laziness, I’ve registered for a MacMillan 26 mile sponsored walk in the Peak District in July. This means I’ll have to get out to the Peaks for training walks, because (a) I can’t walk 26 miles without training and (b) there’s no point training not in the Peaks or the topography will break me on the day. And, of course, registering and having to get sponsorship money means I can’t back out, so I have neatly trapped myself with that one. I’m a genius. I hate me.

That seems like quite enough for the first half of the year, given that the thought of regularly losing entire weekend days to not being in the house provokes slight panic. But what of the second half?

I have a half-formed thought about a structured reading programme. I’ve read a bit of and about Greek philosophy recently, and I’ve also just started listening to the Philosophize This podcast. So far, it’s scampered from the Pre-Socratics to Aristotle, and really, it’s beyond time I read Plato and made sense of it. I’ve joined the Hellenic Society, which gets me a library card for UCL’s Classics Library and access to JSTOR. Even better, it’s a lending library (up yours, Bodleian).

All the pieces of the puzzle are there. Usually, it’s the self-discipline that’s lacking. Maybe I can channel a bit of Aristotle and add some purpose to my life?

 

 

 

Where the gargoyles play

It is a dear friend’s 40th birthday celebrations this weekend. I know. 40. She’s barely out of short trousers. An evening of conviviality is planned, after which a group will be retiring to an Airbnb. I will be retiring to a one-woman tent, because there’s a limit to my appreciation of conviviality and it’s about four hours. Which I think will be stretched to six this evening but I already settled my get away plan because I shall drive. This seems a better idea than clip-clopping around Oxford on my own in search of a cab, and I don’t Uber because, well, that company is dodgy as fuck.

I did have my own Airbnb booked (see how Airbnb has become the brand name for B&Bs, like Bic used to be for pens?), in a nice little canal boat somewhere in Jericho. They suffered an arson attack so had to cancel my reservation, which is the least of the concerns in that scenario. Who sets fire to a boat? Bastards. Anyway, I don’t know if you have checked the price of accommodation in Oxford during the summer, but it’s ridiculous. I mean, the Malmaison, which I think we can agree you might go to £150 on for a special occasion and if it was a particularly nice Mal, charges £400. Pull the other one, mate, it’s got tourists on.

Hence, I am camping, for £20 a night. My friend’s horror at this prospect is matched only by my horror at the thought of sharing a 3-bed house with 9 people. We have tacitly agreed to disagree, each confirmed in their own conviction that the other is a bit nuts. But we love them anyway.

I thought I’d get down early, get the tent set up and spend a few tranquil hours wandering the ole dreamin’ spires and hoping for a sighting of Peter Whimsey. Then I remembered. I don’t miss Oxford. Ms Just Turning 40 and I had this conversation, because both of us lived there for years and moved away, and really only remember the horrible inconveniences. The city is undoubtedly beautiful but only at dead of night or very early in the morning, when the gargoyles climb down to play and before all the bloody tourists wake the poor spires from their only-too-rare opportunities to dream. One day, they will set the gargoyles on the tourists and then we’ll see a proper Dr Who Christmas Special.

Now, I do have to go to Blackwells. Genuinely, because the new Mick Herron is out and he did a signing and I couldn’t make it and tweeted my sadness and Blackwells said they could get me a signed copy and keep it for me. And they did, because a bookseller’s word is his ‘Have you seen this new edition of Bond?’ Admittedly, that is only Baby Blackwells in Westgate but it’s also only a hop and skip to the mothership. And I have 6 inches of space on the TBR shelf (add own joke here about the most pleasure a woman can get from 6 inches), if we don’t count the three books that arrived from Blackwells yesterday, which we don’t. Because… we don’t want to.

So my plan is basically to yomp through town, collect books, retire to my tent with my preciouses, and NOT start reading the Herron or I’ll be late for dinner. At some point I have to squidge into a dress and heels and chuck mascara at my face, but that’s all of 10 minutes.

Right then. I’m off to pack the cafetière.