Anyone else feeling like a big bag of shite at the moment? I do hope so, just so I’m not alone. I must confess to having wilted this week, as the clouds rolled in on Monday and down it pissed, all frigging day. It would take a saint to stay up-beat these days, and as you know, I’m not inclined towards saintliness, even in normal circumstances.
But I felt so despondent yesterday that I had to stop and reflect. It went something like this: ‘Cop on, you miserable auld bastard. You have everything you have ever wanted: a family, a nice (if revoltingly messy) house, and now you even have a dog. Have a word with yourself: it’s not like I’m stuck in a refugee camp in South Sudan.’
But still. Usually this time of year we are looking forward to having a nice break to ourselves with friends. Last Halloween we headed up to the North Coast where I acquainted myself wit the boutiques in Limavady, and the year before we drank Guinness in Galway. This year, I’d be flouting the rules if I nipped down to Bangor to wave in the window at the parents. I’m fed up. I’m sick of playing ‘hunt the f**king mask’ every time I need to go to the shop. I’m tired worrying about catching Covid, because they were bleating on today on the news that even if you are under fifty and on good health it could still leave you with a rake of issues. ‘Excellent,’ I thought. As if I’m not already tired enough with every f**king thing being so f**king complicated, now there’s a chance I might die as well.
But to stop myself going completely mad, here’s a few things I’ve been doing this week that have lifted me a little.
- Baking: I keep it simple folks. We bake fairy cakes, crumbling chunks of chocolate into one batch and grating lemon into another. It was my nana’s recipe and it makes golden fluffy buns of joy. They don’t even require icing, which is great because I can never be arsed making it (plus the amount of sugar required for icing frightens me.) The Older Child found a tube of pink fondant in the cupboard, that I bought once in a moment of frivolity, then promptly forgot about. She squeezes a blob onto her bun and it seems to keep her happy. The added bonus of bun making is that everyone likes them. Thus you can dome them out round the neighbourhood, making you look magnanimous and lovely. (Little do they know that really, you only baked them to stop you disappearing down a plughole of despair when it’s shitting it down out of the heavens and there’s another week and a half to go before school starts again.)
- Listening to Podcasts. Now you know me- I fecking can’t be arsed with housework. You know it, I know it, but complaining doesn’t get the dishes done. But, as I mentioned before, I’m properly hooked on the ‘Poetry Un-bound’ podcast; and this week there was an absolute gem on a poem by the Nigerian writer Chris Abani. It was MARVELLOUS, so marvellous in fact that I ‘Googled’ him (how I f**king hate that that is now a verb) and watched his Ted-talk. It certainly distracted me from picking up pieces of toys that the dog had mutilated in the children’s bedroom. It also makes one re-evaluate their circumstances. Separating the whites from the colours seems easier to thole when you hear what someone who has been incarcerated in a Nigerian prison has had to endure. However, all of that can get a bit heavy so my third tip of the evening is to:
- Sit down on your arse and WATCH TV. Yes. I’m not ashamed to admit it, but sitting in front of the box last night, watching ‘The Bake off’ with the kids and the dog and a cat, made me feel the most content I’d been in a long time. I know you should be doing all sorts of edifying activities with your children, like making Halloween decorations from scratch booking or playing Ludo, but frequenty, I can’t be arsed. Instead we lit the fire, snuggled under the blankets and got very emotionally involved with proceedings. My girls were most indignant on Linda’s behalf when she f**ked up all her pastries and complained bitterly she was booted off. ‘She just didn’t have enough time,’ sighed the Small Child. ‘She had the same amount as everyone else,’ I told her, firmly. So there’s a lesson for you on time management. We were very taken indeed with Laura’s Key Lime Tart last night and agreed that she deserved to be Star Baker.
I know that this sounds like the most simplistic and frightfully obvious post you’ve ever read. Sorry about that. But it’s all my mangled head can cope with right now. It’s just the small things with a bit of sweetness thrown in that keep us all going at the minute.