Monthly Archives:

February 2022


SWB tries to declutter

Last Sunday we should have been tucking into fresh croissants and hot coffee in the Royal Marine Hotel in Dún Laoghaire, prior to a dander round the town where I entertained options of bumping into Marian Keyes and being all, ‘well it’s never yerself is it?’ and she’d be like ‘It is to be sure and aren’t you gas craic, will we stop off here for a cup of tea and a bun?’

Anyway, that never happened, because Covid hit everyone in the family aside from me, and instead we hunkered down while Storm Dudley battered the windows and I said to Himself, ‘there’s nothing else for it, we may tackle the front room.’ The front room is where hope goes to die in our house. It started off life as our bedroom, because when we moved in here back in 2011 I was pregnant and so huge and buggered of back that I couldn’t climb the stairs.

Its next incarnation was guest bedroom, which worked a treat when we had guests, but in between times the bed just became a receptable for shite. It was the room where everything was pitched, often with force, when friends came for dinner and we had to do the ‘emergency tidy’. Then LSB (without so much as asking) took over the desk I used in his study, and set up two screens so he could escape to play Halo with his head-phones on and ignore us all. There I was, a nomad in my home, ousted and deskless. I demanded action. Down came the bed nobody slept on and he installed a desk for me and I up-cycled a chair I rescued from a skip with a pretty floral cover. Up went shelves onto which went a spider plant, some photos and a picture of a tree I bought on Etsy. So far so ‘Good Housekeeping.’ I think I sat at the desk about three times, and then the room filled with clutter again, as all manner of ephemera accumulated. There were papers, so many papers. An overabundance of toys. Coats I like but never wear. And so last Sunday we cleared and hoovered and dusted and between Zero Waste Freecycle and the recycling centre at Ormeau we established some order.

‘Feverish’ and ‘frenzied’ would be the adjectives which best described my mindset. It wasn’t really about the room. It was just a desperate attempt to control something. Under my breath I was singing ‘Jesus loves me this I know’ in some sort of plea that things could go back to normal. The Older Child overheard me and asked, ‘WHAT NOW?’ as usually when she hears me saying ‘Jesus’ I’m not humming a hymn, so she assumed I was cursing under my breath. Isn’t that just a terrible state of affairs?

The next morning I woke up and practised some yoga on the floor. It felt good, amazing even. On Tuesday morning I came down to see a damp patch where an animal had relieved itself. Not only that, but the dog had fished a packet of Gourmet Purina out of the bin and bits of gravy and foil lay strewn on the carpet. Out came the hoover and on went the Marigolds. I didn’t bother doing yoga that morning, and haven’t done any since, if I’m honest.

I still have three bags of stuff left to sort and tired tripping over them in the hall, I’ve shifted them back in again. I’m not sure that the universe wants me to have this room. Maybe it’s a sign to stop writing? I don’t know. But I did order a new carpet, so I’m not giving up on it yet.


SWB on Unrealistic Expectations

Working full-time. Dogs to walk, children to cart, dinners to dream up and cook. Home works to supervise, essays to mark, lunches to pack, clothes to laundry, iron and put away. Then Monday rolls round again and it starts anew. This all sprung to mind when I read the results of a survey by Warner holidays on happy relationships last week. According to 2000 couples, in order to stay healthy, every marriage needs six meaningful conversations, three long walks and sex five times a week. Yes, you read that right. FIVE. Who, pray do tell, are these people? Are they, a) still in their twenties, (and if they are, then their opinions don’t count;) b) do they sprinkle a light dusting of cocaine onto their Weetabix of a morning or c) did they just lie to make the rest of us feel bad? If they do actually exist, would they ever just fling me whatever vitamins they’re taking? And while they’re it, take the dog round the block and babysit the children, so Himself and I can take the longer route down to the pub.


Seriously, I think surveys like this are just designed to make you feel shite about yourself. The couples also suggest having two ‘barn-storming rows’ a fortnight. Do these happen before, during or after all the shagging? Surely all the deep and meaningful chats should obviate the need for huge fall-outs, which in my mind, only happen after resentment has built up and festered for a while, or, if your husband has run a half marathon before drinking 6 pints, having only had a bowl of soup for lunch and falls asleep on the stairs on a Sunday evening. (Yes, on. Not at the bottom, or the top, just on). That day didn’t end well for anyone. Especially him.


Relationships though. Tricky. As a working mum I feel I am constantly letting someone down: the kids when I heave them oven chips and chicken nuggets; the pupils when my lesson is dry as crackers; myself, when I drink half a bottle of shiraz on a Tuesday. And your relationship just sort of bumbles along in the background. I feel bad when Himself sees me go out to work all dolled up with funky shoes and a nice skirt, then I come in and immediately change into troggy old leggings with long exhalations of  relief, because fuck me, aren’t tights really uncomfortable?


But this is all while I actually like Valentine’s Day, even it is only buying the M&S meal deal. It’s just about recognising that you, as a couple, deserve space and that it’s not bad to take it. We don’t buy crap cards or red roses flown in from Kenya at extortionate prices. But I do raise a glass and feel very, grateful that I met LSB. He straightens my hair before work and makes me my coffee. He encourages me to meet my friends and still buys me ridiculous dresses from God-only-knows-where on the Internet, but they remind me that he doesn’t see me as a knackered, 42 year old mother, but the twenty something who was bopping about in the Duke of York that he met many years ago. And that makes me very happy.


SWB is Home Alone

So, I was upstairs doing a few sit ups when Himself took the kids to the track last week. (Don’t laugh- I have serious stomach issues to address and if I take action now, as opposed to mid-June when I usually start, I may feel better about the form I’m trying to wrestle into a swimsuit.)

I was about to hop into the shower when I had the terrible thought that the front door was open, and how dreadful it would be if someone was to boldly walk in and murder me. How stupid would I look then, to be so daft as to take a shower in my own home, without taking the necessary safety precautions, at ten to six of a Wednesday evening?

On went the dressing gown and down the stairs I went, clickety-clicking all the locks; the front door, the back door, and the side door too, just in case the hypothetical assailant decided to chance their arm and do a thorough recce of the property.

As I waited for the water to heat, (diligently catching it all in the little glass teapot I reserve for the purpose,) I sighed deeply. Minutes before, I had been merrily crunching my abs as directed by Adrienne on her You tube channel, and now I was picturing the horror of my husband and children returning home to my naked, blood-stained corpse. That’s the thing, as if being murdered isn’t enough, you then have the prospect of becoming part of the crime scene and have to lie there, dead and unable to pull in your tummy, while loads of strangers look on.  I mean, dear God, could you imagine the indignity of it, and me nowhere near reaching my desired weight goal?

And isn’t it just a fecking disgrace, that you can’t look forward to your evening without these hellish scenarios creeping, unbidden, into your head?  Because until women stop being strangled when they go for a run, or bludgeoned or knifed to death by ex-boyfriends, we simply can’t ever, properly feel safe. I have never been an excessive locker of doors or checker of windows, and I’m raging that now, in my forties, I have to become that person, because apparently, it’s just how life is.

A friend shared these horrifying statistics: since Sarah Everard’s murder, 78 women have been killed by men or died in suspicious circumstances in England. Closer to home, the PSNI received 32,000 calls for assistance from women in 2020 and reckon that on average, 32 instances of verbal or physical aggression have passed before they call.

Reassuring, that, isn’t it? I don’t want my girls to see my fear; clenching my phone and looking over my shoulder in underground carparks, but ultimately, I have to keep them, and myself safe. Right now they’re still quite little, but pretty soon they’re going to be nudging at the boundaries we’ve set, and we’ll have some deeply unsettling truths to break to them. Except like all young people, or most of us, I suppose, they’ll think it won’t ever happen to them. We can only just hope to God it doesn’t.