My children have developed a new, and most annoying habit. When they lose sight of us, for hmmm, all of 20 seconds, it begins. ‘Where’s Daddy?’ chirps one, ‘Where’s he gone?’ demands an other. ‘What’s he doing?’
I’ve started not replying, and taking deep fortifying breaths instead. ‘But Mummy, is Daddy lost?’ Daddy is usually not far away, since he is a man of routine. If, for example, it is eight-twenty of a morning, daddy is ensconced upon the toilet, where he is pontificating, as he does every morning, trying to shoehorn in an extra few minutes of peace before the onslaught of the day begins. They are constantly searching, my children, and I wonder if they are simply curious as to our whereabouts or whether this constant need for reassurance is indicative of a deep-seated terror that we will disappear.
I have you see, returned to work, and while not a long-term arrangement, it is a period of adjustment for us all. I wonder have the children taken it ill, and has this manifested itself in making them nervy and agitated, for they are certainly most irksome.
There is a certain, let’s say, level of intensity, when you work full time and then, of an evening, have to ferry about off-spring and keep a home which doesn’t resemble a squat. And people, I feel bad, ALL THE TIME. I feel bad because I should have been at the climate strike on Friday but my new and temporary place of work declared it was ‘business as usual’ and I didn’t want to ask out and cause a rumpus. ‘You’re alright,’ I comforted myself. ‘You sign petitions and you recycle and you buy second hand.’ But it’s not enough is it? I spend my whole life feeling bad for being so shite.
For example, we run two cars and I simply can’t countenance the notion of taking my bicycle and arriving at work a sweaty mess; or the alternative, of being wiped out and killed, which is a very real possibility, because I wouldn’t be the most adept, on two wheeled modes of transport. I also still eat meat. Can you call yourself an environmentalist and still eat meat? I have, in the past, attempted to replace it with more vegetables and pulses but my unforgiving innards revolt and my stomach swells and there is both pain, and flatulence. I assure you that it’s most unagreeable. Last night though, I bought tofu, for a vegetarian take on ‘beef and black bean sauce.’ We were out ‘enriching ourselves culturally’ at both Culture day AND night in the town. LSB had himself a big burrito for lunch on Saturday and we all sampled the delights of the food vans, so I felt we had eaten well, and indulgently. But when he inquired, ‘What’s for dinner?’ in a tone which suggested that really, meal preparations should have been well underway, at 8-15 of a Saturday night, my reply that we were having tofu caused great consternation. Most indignant he was, almost tearful.
‘You’re kidding me?’ he said, astounded. ‘TOFU For dinner? On a Saturday?’ I swear to God, it was like the scene out of Shirley Valentine, except I didn’t end up with a plate of eggs and chips in my lap.
‘Think of the forests!’ I said. ‘The Amazon’s AFLAME because of all the meat we eat! We need to eat more tofu or we are all seriously, FUCKED!’ He nodded at this, albeit sadly. ‘It’s just,’ he said dolefully, ‘that I think of tofu as more of a mid-week meal.’
‘Weekend nights thus, from now on in, will have to be Michelin style affairs. I’ll work on that.’ I said, my tone somewhat caustic. (Incidentally, I thought the omission of meat did no harm at all to the dish, and I rather liked my nod to the East with the addition of water chestnuts.)
There is a litany of things about which I feel bad, and I shall keep you informed in the coming weeks. Presently though, I feel bad that I have laundry to which I must tend, and a further backlog of tasks, after a weekend of frivolity. Left undone, these will render Monday morning utterly unbearable, and a stressed and shouty affair. I don’t need to feel worse than normal on a Monday, so I shall skedaddle for now, and go about my business, bleak as it is.