Housekeeper’s Diary

By Alison October 22, 2023 7 Comments 5 Min Read

The front path has gone wrong. Every so often water spouts out like a fountain and passers-by pause to stare at the latest wonder of the world and then up at the house as if to question every decision I have ever made. And who could blame them for I am a woman rather prone to terrible decision and the consuming of far too many crumpets, which frankly might just be one and the same thing.

I blame the air fryer. I was normal until I started perusing air fryer recipes and then all hell broke loose and before I knew it I was living on garlic crumpets. GARLIC?? CRUMPETS?! (Please tell me you read that in a Peter Kay voice or else all is lost). I would in fact be happy to live on crumpets full stop, indeed only today I popped a slice of black-pudding on top of a lonely crumpet and called it lunch and I was so excited about what turned out to be culinary macro-counted perfection, I had to phone my dad to report myself.

So you see it isn’t just the front path going wrong, I have turned out to be swift to follow. Because life is like that isn’t it? One day you are swimming along positively swan-like in your smugness and next you are snapping at passing trout and eating plastic bags in the midst of shark-infested waters.

Today though. I am here with the last of the crumpets and a rueful smile. Reflecting on a week that has felt challenging in the extreme. A barrage of emotion I would prefer not to have had to handle. Problems manifesting like flies. A man so much sadder than I had imagined. My own boy-man all of a fluster with the reality of life as the grown-up he wants to be. Long conversations with so many broken people, that remind me over and over again I was wise not to follow my dream of becoming a counsellor for not only does it undo people along the journey but I would be truly terrible at it because my need to fix the little birds that flock around me often undoes them too. I have to stop undoing people. I have to reign my Alison in.

So today. A lot of tea, and a serious attempt to quell the path fountain by want of giving it a good talking to. An empty house so that I feel like I’m banging about in unsympathetic walls. An empty house that could use a great big blower to come down the chimney and blow the dust and the sadness away. But damnit there is a TV where the chimney used to be, and watching one too many episodes of the frankly lovely The Great North will do nothing, nay nothing at all to blow anything beyond what I suspect might be boredom away!

Terrible thing is boredom. To me if feels almost sinful. A waste of an imagination that should glide in swan-like fashion and never allow itself to be tangled by brain-numbing weeds. So with the sun finally shining again after a week of relentless terrible rain, I pop Florence and her Machine in my ears and screech-sing throughout the house while I pull my lovely hoover around my nooks and crannies and let it be known that the dog days better be over soon before I lose my mind completely. Oh yes. My hoover is loverley. She is red and metallic. And she does her job with real aplomb. She’s my mate and I love her more than cake. So I hoover, I fold laundry and fill containers with salad and carrots, cauliflower and chunks of feta swimming in a garlicky dressing of my own devising and then I spritz the hall with a blend that smells like babies and talc and all the cosy things I can think of and for a while the boredom is stalled, for boredom cannot survive when the spirit that is purpose comes to give her, her marching orders. Nor indeed, when I open Finn’s bedroom door and sit on his bed and let myself do a little missing, for it may be true that boredom only exists to fill the vacuum created by his absence, the headspace I once donated to worrying about him when it is clear that despite all that he worries out loud about himself, he is in fact stunningly capable of managing a life of his own, so my anxiety is redundant and thus has metamorphosed into the kind of itch for heaven knows what I do not yet know how to scratch.

Lately my evenings feel almost gothic in their gloom. Blacker than I remember Autumnal evenings ever being. I keep the curtains open for as long as possible so I still feel part of the world, and jiggle the lamps around from one place to the next, until I feel like they are hugging me all over again. I drink protein 80% rich dark, hot chocolate in a huge terracotta mug and do battle with Netflix because damnit if it hasn’t decided that The Fall of the House of Usher might just push me over the edge, and thus refuses to show it without much shenanigans. And I stay up. As if the climb to bed might be the kind of crawl to a summit higher and more isolated than Everest. I stay up, wrapped in a fur blanket, reading and texting and talking and undoing people and in the process undoing myself and getting forever closer to who I need to be in order to breach the gap between today and my tomorrows. And it is wonderful and terrible and I have never before known a period in my life so defined by an atmosphere all of it’s own.

This afternoon though. An hour setting the world to rights in my stack of creamy journals. The bed re-made with sheets so fresh I want to throw myself starfish-like on my cloudy duvet and roll about in a way that could spook the decent. Then half hour in the cozy of this fragrant bedroom rolling about on my pink ball because rolling is clearly my bag today and lately I have sat for hours at a time so it is quite possible that if you picked me up by the neck I would stay chair-shaped, so stretching myself out like a piece of over-worked dough really is the only answer.

Then dark again. The straightening of the living room for the guest that is me. A baster taken at intervals to the chicken slowly roasting in lemony butter. Slipper socks pulled on as the temperature drops and a brush pulled through hair tangled by the weekend.

And still the fountain sprouts on the path. And still I sit. As if I am sitting on a volcano ready to erupt.


  1. Paula says:

    Parenting and being a parent is such an obvious orientation for life. The overarching raison d’etre. Annoyingly, it comes without a user’s manual, but still. Of course, there are other lovely orientations, and desires of the heart that call out; vintage housekeeping, giving attention to wellbeing, and showering love on other loved ones and friends, just to name a few.

    But those children. We home in on them like carrier pigeons flying for home, across vast oceans, through storms. We never lose sight or have a doubt of our orientation.

    And then they grow up. And parenting a grown up is a whole new way of living. And our life, by default of change, requires a whole new way of orienting ourselves.

    I’m a few years ahead of you on this path. And I’m still finding my way, and figuring it out in a hit and miss kind of way. Take heart, dear Alison. You are a wise woman. You keep facing forward, regardless of what you imagine or even fear might be around the next corner. I find that so admirable.

    You remind me to do the same for myself.. xx

    1. Alison says:

      But those children. We home in on them like carrier pigeons flying for home, across vast oceans, through storms. We never lose sight or have a doubt of our orientation.

      And then they grow up. And parenting a grown up is a whole new way of living. And our life, by default of change, requires a whole new way of orienting ourselves.

      This is so beautiful, and so true. I feel utterly dis-orientated…x

  2. Gillian Holter-Hovind says:

    Perhaps you should call the water board about that fountain before you get a bill for all the water running down your pathway!

    1. Alison says:

      Apparently it is do with cracks in the paving flags and not a leak of sorts Gillian: after the storm water has been trapped and is escaping wherever it can (according to my Dad!). The neighbour too has looked and agreed = so poor workmanship rather than a crisis apparently!x

    2. Rebecca Carruthers says:

      This is so important as I live on the ground floor of a block of flats and there has seemingly been a leak going on unbeknownst to me and last week, I received a water bill of £1400!!!!!

      1. Alison says:

        Oh Rebecca, what a nightmare. this though is not a leak: definitely something to do with drainage – apparently something to do with them not being laid properly.x

  3. Rebecca Carruthers says:

    I really feel this post. My two increasingly bigger and bigger boys are with their dad every other week for a week so there are times I seem to rattle around even this tiniest of flats. I also work with teenagers who are so very broken and that comes with it’s own sadness.
    Thank you for showing us that we are not alone in the visiting gloom and that there are ways to see light at the end of the tunnel.

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