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SWB on the curse of Wordle

Some things are sent to try us. Children. Pets. Wordle. Wordle started off for me as an enjoyable diversion from the woes of the day. It was Fi Glover, (of the ‘Fortunately’ podcast with Jane Garvey) got me on to it. It’s one of the highlights of her day, she says. Up she gets, pours a cup of coffee and climbs under the covers until she’s cracked it. It may seem sad that one of the best bits of her day happens before eight am, but given the state of the world, that may be the case for most of us.

 

However, what turned out as ‘a bit of fun’ for me, has inevitably, morphed into a  torment. Oh, the gloom which descends when I struggle to find the solution, because increasingly, these words can be strange and elusive. Don’t start me on the American spelling of humour from a few weeks ago, that nearly turned me off Wordle altogether. But it didn’t, because now I’m hooked and sadly for me, LSB is too. He’s also irritatingly good at things, and he’ll mildly trill, ‘Got the Wordle on the second go!’ while I generally take four or five. I no longer associate the word ‘great’ with any success. Surely it should be ‘mediocre’, if you’re only one step away from ‘phew’.

 

It is also ill-advised to attempt the Wordle of the day at seven thirty, as I did on Saturday, when I was mildly hungover and tender of tummy, since the night before, a friend and I had dined in General Merchants on the Ormeau. It has resumed its evening service after a long hiatus and I’m delighted, having always loved the cosy, candlelit warmth therein. The chef excelled himself with a creamy, caramelly, baked custard, topped with a fig and strawberry glaze. I’m still thinking about it. We had no more need for a cheese board, but ordered it anyway; a foolish move as I horsed a slab of blue cheese into me that would have felled a donkey. Anne Patchett recently decluttered her home, a task made more difficult because of her habit of anthropomorphising the things of which she wanted rid. I take this sort of madness even further, imagining the slab of blue sitting there on the platter, (looking like my veiny ankles after I’ve stood too long on a warm day), all sad and overshadowed by the brie and the fancy cheddar flavoured with stout. In order to preserve its feelings, I ate it up, resulting in twisted tormented dreams. I woke up agitated and cross, turning to the Wordle for comfort.

 

Well, it didn’t soothe me, not one bit. There I was, propped up upon my pillows, peering at my screen like a wretched crone, when in trots LSB. ‘It’s a hard one today,’ he says, ‘Took me four goes to get it.’ Hadn’t he only gone and solved it while he sat upon the loo, and then came in to gloat. Have you ever heard worse?  THEN, as if he hadn’t annoyed me enough, he sat there playing the ‘Heardle’ over and over until he got it too. I would never have got the Wordle had he not given me a hint, and even now, I’m not too sure what ‘epoxy’ is. Far too niche and not at all suitable for a weekend when one may have imbibed too much the night before.

He sent me a jolly little text when I was at work today, saying he got it on his first try. Given that it seems all the rage to dish out a good slap should the mood take you, he may start watching himself. If you’re not hooked already, my advice would be the avoid Wordle, and all its other variations. Just drink your coffee in peace and have one less thing to fight with your other half about.

 

 

 

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SWB Dances in the Dark

Did you know, that if you dance (with mild to moderate exuberance) to Arcade Fire’s ‘Here comes the Night Time’, that you can accrue 750 steps on your Fitbit, AND feel much sprightlier than you do before? Well, you know now, and if there’s ever been a time to boost the endorphins then this might be it. I’ll tell you how I came by this statistic. In the dark gloom of December, I trotted into Kaffe O for a latte and spoke to my favourite barista. She’s always smiley, radiating bonhomie, even when there’s a long queue. She manages this without ever being annoying, which is how I find most excessively positive people. ‘Tell me,’ I asked her. ‘How do you stay so upbeat?’ She puts it down to starting the day with yoga followed by a spot of dancing. Every. Single. Morning. I found this astounding, especially since she often has to wake at 5.30 if she has to open the shop. The very thought of that gives me the dry bokes. Dawn, in winter. I’d say there’s not a bit of need for it but then we all need coffee. ‘I’m going to take to the dancing,’ I told her, but if course I didn’t.

Fast forward three months and f**k me, but if I ever needed cheering up it’s been March 22. Everyone had Covid, bar me, so I still had to go to work. School was relentless. I had writing deadlines due, and then the cat started taking a shite in the living room again, just for kicks. Yep, I was floundering.

Inevitably, I wasn’t looking after myself either, rushing hither and thither, fuelled on caffeine and caramel squares, lashing the merlot into myself of an evening when all was dank and bleak. My work clothes were becoming as strained as my temper. I finally thought the barista might be onto something, and I roused my groggy self to get up early and cavort about a bit. Turns out, if the tunes are good enough, you can get into it rightly. It felt like a small win to be heading to work with over 1000 steps done, and the cheery thought that for four and a half minutes I had shut everything else out and danced in the kitchen. In an effort to improve my saggy arms I even danced with a 400g tin of butter beans in one hand and tinned pear halves in the other. LSB wondered if I was planning an odd sort of breakfast when he came down to put the coffee on. ‘Nope,’ says I, ‘it was just for the dancing.’ He nodded and said nothing, (sometimes that’s for the best).

Dancing isn’t going to solve the war in Ukraine, or help you wade mark coursework. It won’t magic away your anxiety, but it will give you a boost. But even in the midst of upheaval it you can find fleeting moments of joy. Recently I turned to Anne Lamott again, as I do when I need encouragement. I also reached out to a very wise and kind friends. Their advice was the same; havng a genuine interest in helping others, whether by making donations or volunteering will help you grapple your way out of the mire. That all sounds very righteous, and I don’t mean it to. But you can’t help anyone or be there for your family if you feel rotten.

Courtney Barnett sings, I’m having trouble breathing in,’ which sounds like the anthem of our times. But if you starve yourself of joy, as I was doing, it does no one any good. LSB was sick looking at me going about, with all the zest and vigour of a constipated goat. He did, in a fit of optimism, reference a certain survey I was talking about with Frank a couple of weeks ago, that suggested ‘getting intimate’ five times a week in a bit to keep stress levels down and relationships afloat. Bless him; it’s good to dream.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

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SWB one the tyranny of abs

So, do you know what annoyed me last night? I came home from work and instantly migrated to the sofa, kicking off my shoes and reaching for a Guardian weekend magazine which had been mocking me from about October, as all I’d managed to do so far was skim read the ‘Experience’ section and complete three crossword clues. There’s nothing like a crossword to make me feel howlingly dense, and horrifyingly provincial. For example. I have no more notion about the names of Former Soviet states. I tried to commit them to memory, only for them to be re-named some years later. I’m similarly oblivious to English cities, counties and rivers. Case in point, Had it not been for Martin Freedman’s perfect Scouser tones, I’d never have known where ‘The Responder’ was set. Damn good show, by the way.

 

There I was, cup of tea in one hand and a triple chocolate tiffin from M&S (the third bun of the day, alas) in the other, and I thought to myself, things are looking up, for as Hump Days went, Wednesday was living up to its name. Then I turned to Jess Carter Morley’s column. I’ve always been a fan of Jess, and thought of her as a woman not unlike myself, with a decent enough hold on reality.

 

But what was she on about only toned abs, and what one should wearing to show them off. Imagine, the pure cheek of it, mentioning sculpted abs after the collective trauma of the last two years. I wasn’t pleased, and firmly believe that now is not the time to be discussing the rigidity of one’s core. I know I’ve had my nose in the trough too much of late, and too often sought the solace only found at the bottom of a glass of Malbec, but I don’t need to attention drawn to the fact, thanks very much.

She also suggested, and I’m raging about this, that abs are in and boobs are out. It is bad now, apparently to draw attention to one’s breasts, but not to one’s abs. I mean, hell no. By drawing attention to my upper region in an outfit I hope to detract a little for the catastrophe that is my stomach after two caesarean sections and an inordinate number of Magnums.

 

But, as LSB told me emphatically, because he was tired listening to me whinge, we have just lived through a pandemic; it has been hard to summon the energy to work out, and especially to the level one would need to tone one’s mid-drift thus. Frankly, anyone with well-defined abs right now must neither have children nor any craic at all of a weekend. As a colleague in work wryly noted, nobody stares into a coffin and says ‘nice abs’. She hastened to add, though, that if by some miracle she does boast a six pack when she’s laid out, she’d like an open casket.

 

But instead of lying on sofa I roused myself, and while the wee ones did their session at the Mary Peter’s Track, LSB and I took the dog for a walk. It was windy, but not cold; in fact it was unseasonably mild. As we went along, I mellowed a bit, and felt slightly less aggrieved at the world and the travails of teaching and parenting and the feeling that I ought to be thinner. I think a flat stomach will always evade me, but I don’t really care. What I do know, is that I miss being outside and the boost it gives my wilting spirit. Lately I’ve been too stressed to do my yoga or my stretches or runs, and I’ve felt ratty and out of sorts, (the family will testify to this). So maybe I should say thanks to Jess for rabbiting on about sit-ups, as it did shake me out of my stupor, and I went to bed happily with over 13 000 steps done. I’m taking that as a win.

 

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SWB hosts a Book Club (via bloody Zoom, obviously, cos that’s where we’re still at)

Hello good people. I hope you are all well, and not overwhelmed by the prospect of Blue Monday, and thinking of spending the day in bed, a-sipping at a bottle of Blue Nun to keep with the theme.

On Wednesday evening I am delighted to have been asked to host January’s book club with the Irish Secretariat. Unsurprisingly my choice of book has an environmental theme and if you haven’t read Dara McNulty’s ‘Diary of a Young Naturalist’ then I can thoroughly recommend it. I can barely tell an oak from an ash or a jay from a jackdaw (ok, I’m exaggerating there) but I do wish I knew more, and this is a great place to start. What I am committed to is taking small steps to addressing the havoc generations before us have wrecked upon the planet, and I’m quite in awe of this young chap’s passion and encyclopaedic knowledge.

Should you wish to join in, pop me a DM and I’ll get you the link on Wednesday.

 

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SWB makes rest a doing word

The French have a great word ‘coincée’ (pronounced ‘quant-sayed’) which has popped into my head often these holidays. The best way to sum it up in English, is, I think, ‘stymied at every turn’ which sums up more or less how I’ve felt, from approximately March 2020 but with particular intensity this last month. Almost every opportunity for space and frivolity has been curtailed in some way and of course I’m very good at coincé-ing myself, filling my house with children and animals, all of which compete for my attention.

I LONGED to go abroad this Christmas, but watched as each option slipped through my fingers. Making any kind of trip into a reality seemed to necessitate a fair bit of good luck and a side order of fairy dust.  I spent hours on the net, but aside from the price hike of any trip during the school holidays, there were whatever restrictions to consider, with possible ramifications for my work if our PCRS weren’t clear. I admire people who can be flexible about switching flights and changing plans; who can just let them go if it doesn’t work out. Letting go in general isn’t my strong point.

My brother lives in Ras Al Kaimah in the UAE. We haven’t seen him since 2019, and we miss him, especially my wee girls. But luckily, we didn’t venture out to see him after all, given that he ended up with Covid and in bed all of Christmas Day. However, regardless, of any of the practicalities, I’m not sure I could have made the trip anyway. My body has just refused to play ball. I have been rendered listless with lethargy; felled by fatigue; toppled by tiredness.

On Christmas Eve I felt perkier and said, with great enthusiasm to my friend, ‘let’s do a day trip to the Mournes! Just ourselves, no children! Oh, the joy. By the following evening I was thinking longingly of my pyjamas by the time the Queen’s Speech was due to air. The Mournes trip never materialised. Nor have windswept beach walks, cold-water swims or New Year runs.

My Facebook feed is awash with photos of people engaged in wholesome activities; embracing the outdoors regardless of the elements. I, meanwhile, had to ask LSB to slow down when we walked the dog along the embankment. ‘Can I just get a taxi home?’ I asked at one point, but we sat down to rest for a few minutes on a wall instead before shuffling on.

I’ve taken more lateral flows than the government is recommending given the shortages, and I’m apparently covid-less but symptom full.

And all this has made me feel cross and resentful and angry as term starts again for me tomorrow. I feel as though I’m standing below an avalanche and I’m bracing myself for the onslaught. But today, in an unusual bout of positive introspection, I took a moment to focus less on what others have got up to, and reflected a little on myself.

I didn’t do yoga everyday as planned, but I have slathered myself in cream my friend has made from flowers she has grown from seed and distilled in oil and melded into body butter.

I have cuddled under blankets watching sitcoms with the girls, warmed from the glow of the wood burner.

I washed dishes while listening to the words of Katherine May’s ‘Wintering’, and thought how she might just have it sussed.

I have bashed biscuits to make tiffin from left over selection box chocolate and dunked it in tea.

I have grilled cheese on hot toast and set it down to old friends.

And this morning, I tuned in to a poetry workshop and sat, propped up in bed like an imperious queen, asking LSB for a refill of coffee and a chocolate digestive. He brought me not one but three and a freshly brewed coffee in my new mug. This time, it’s not the word ‘coincée’ but instead the phrase ‘my cup overfloweth’ that springs to mind. Well, I’m unlikely to be thinking this tomorrow, but learning to rejoice in the moment, perhaps that’s one resolution I can try and keep in 2022. And yesterday morning, we finally made it to Murlough for a short walk. Glorious it was too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SWB feels befuddled

So we’ve hit ‘Twixt-mas’, that irksome period where nothing makes much sense, after a couple of years which haven’t made much sense either. It’s not much wonder we’re feeling more discombobulated than usual.

The children serve as a pleasant distraction on one level, while ramping up the crazy on the other. The older one landed down for her lunch yesterday with bubble wrap wound tightly around her arm, fastened with a white hair bobble. It was somewhat distracting, trying to eat my leftover turkey and ham with her opposite me looking like she’d just returned from the burn’s unit of the Royal. Later it lay discarded on the carpet, looking disconcertingly like a used condom.

One wonders idly what to do with the long drizzly days. In the ‘Before Times,’ LSB and I would have been donning matching elf outfits and trainers as we zoomed down to Castlewellan for the annual Christmas Cracker Race. Eight miles over mountain trails we ran, with the air taking on various hues of blue as I puffed out expletives with every excruciating step as we neared the finish line. And yet, this never seemed out of the ordinary for me; it was a delightful antidote to the peculiarity that is endless lounging coupled with fizzing adrenalin which characterises ‘Twixt-mas’.

Since this year I have all the energy of a semi-deflated balloon, I batted away all thoughts of fell-running, and yesterday I was that person, the one still wearing their pyjamas at four pm, Googling recipes for what to make with all the Snickers languishing at the bottom of the boxes of Celebrations. I used to enjoy a Snickers, but now I find all the peanutty pieces get lodged between my molars. I did however, read almost all of a Jo Jo Moyle’s novel, while the tree lights twinkled and the warm scent of the fig and winter berry candle almost concealed the wet dog smell emanating from the snoozing greyhound beside me.

At least LSB and I have plans for tomorrow night as it’s our anniversary (11 years- wow!) so out to dinner we shall skip, and I shall divest myself of the pjs and may even don a frock.

He really is a good sort, all things considered, tholing all my neurosis, which in recent times have been many and varied. How he hasn’t sought a divorce after this omnishambles of a year I don’t know. His patience with all the animals, which I insisted on getting, has been remarkable, especially when I complain about the smell of piss that still lingers on the rug we had professionally cleaned (twice) and the cat hair which tickles my nose when we go to bed and keeps me, and thus him, awake. He walks the dog in the rain and picks up not only her poop, but other mounds of shite left by other less conscientious owners* on the street.

My increasingly obsessive recycling habits don’t seem to have struck him as bizarre. He holds the door when I come home from school burdened with cans and papers and bottles, and obligingly jumps in the blue bin to make room for all the excess. He doesn’t mind when I stop in the street to pick up cans; in fact he now keeps a plastic bag in his pocket for the purpose. I’m full of fun facts these days, chuntering on about how aluminium is infinitely recyclable. Funny how one’s goals change. We used to talk about Personal Bests, but now I say things like: ‘I got five cans between Forestside and the house!’ and he’ll comment: ‘That’s a bumper loot!’

I’m sure you must get sick of all this,’ I said to him the other night, as I stood on the Ormeau emptying half a tin of White Lightning into the gutter. ‘To have and to hold, to collect and to crush,’ was his reply. Readers, I think I got a good one.

* (or will be just call them what they are, selfish, lazy bastards.)

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And just like that- we’re at Christmas and finding ways to smile

I’m back and still plenty sour, after being smited with a flu-like malaise which had me feeling as rough as a badger’s arse. I don’t know whether nasal linings are more tender from the constant blowing of nose or from shoving so many swabs up there. I remain Covid -free, and I’m starting think that it’s just karma at play as retribution for my lack of sympathy for LSB when he got his eye’s lasered at the start of December. What a pain in the backside that was, as I ran the youngsters hither and thither while he lay up there soaking his pillow through with eye secretions. I thought it was only on TV sitcoms that men lay convalescing amid mounds of crumple tissues, but apparently that happens IRL too, despite my having left the bin at his elbow for convenience. (He would like it on record that he couldn’t actually see anything, never mind the bin.)

 

I have thus been rendered testier than usual and I’ve found it hard to dispel the gloom. But, after a particularly long moan on the phone to the Mothership, she told me to buck up and stop being such a grouch. I have forced myself to think of a few things which have made me smile. (Trust me, the mood that I’ve been in, this required serious effort.) But I’m starting today with Sex and the City, and I’ll try and think of another few things before the week is out.

‘Sex and the City’/’And just like that’

I accept, it’s not what it was first time round, but then again, what is? ‘The Guardian’, my paper of choice, have been mighty, or even crushingly cruel about it’s relaunch.  And they probably have a point. As the acerbic Lucy Mangan witheringly noted, it was excruciating at times. But did it still warm me just a little? Indeed it did. Like old friends, I longed for a catch up with these girls, and not in a super-budget movie sort of a fashion. I wanted a dollop of real life; knowing full-well that real life by SATC standards differs greatly from my own. I went through a lot with these ladies. One winter when I was in my twenties, living in my wee two-up-two-down, I used to snuggle under a blanket and watch a two or three of episodes each evening. Felled by fatigue on the run up to Christmas, it was just what I needed. It was pure, unadulterated escapism. I don’t wear heels, never mind Manolo Blaniks, but that didn’t stop me ogling Carries collection and her impossibly slender ankles. I shed tears when Miranda proposed to Steve outside the subway or when Big showed up to woo Carrie in Paris. I thought it showcased how mercurial we can be when it comes to matters of the heart. Who didn’t want to slap the face off Burger’s moody bake, and how I fumed when The Russian manipulated Carrie out of her party with fans in a Left Bank bistro. Slimey wee weasel.

Yes, it was nonsense but nonsense with a great big New York heart. I loved it. But as with all our great loves, it can irritate the hell out of us at times. It’s irritating that Charlotte is still a total princess and even more loaded than before. Miranda can’t stop mentioning that she’s fifty-five every three seconds. Nor can Carrie- we get it, we’re getting older- enough already. Do you know what I want? I want them ordering egg white omelettes and suggesting how to stoke the fires of passion when your idea of a romantic evening has become sharing a bottle of shiraz and inhaling a bar of Tony Chocaloney in front of ‘The Sopranos’. That’s the real life I’m after, not allusions to Covid, or whether we owe it to ourselves to keep covering up the grey, or to just embrace it as Miranda has. It also feels that the modus operandi is to re-educate. I could live without the lesson on political correctness; I don’t come to SATC to discuss gender fluidity and choice of pronouns. This series seems dedicated to addressing the wrongs from the six seasons before, tackling issues it failed to adequately deal with in the past.

Do you know what though? Although it can feel heavy handed, or as The Mothership would say, uses ‘a sledge-hammer to crack a nut,’ I quite applaud the fact that there’s still room for froth and highly impractical outfits, while they have troubling and deeply uncomfortable conversations about the issues which affect us all. Grieving. Loneliness. The fact that during the pandemic we’ve half-drunk ourselves to death.

Life rattles on, even without our Samanthas and Mr Bigs, and very tragically, our Stanfords. But with good friends and the ability too keep talking, and laughing, we can still find the joy.