Keeping Up Appearances

By Alison October 13, 2014 15 Comments 3 Min Read

You are beside yourself again. Looking out. Looking in. The pads of your fingers astonished to be typing once more. Eager to tell the truth. To dole out advice. To provide inspiration. To say that Alice wandered home on Saturday morning. Thin and purring.
On your bed there is a new rose sprinkled flannelette duvet and sheets. It strikes you as too personal to share with another body. Suddenly your bedroom is the warm hug you need at the end of the day. Autumn linens, not yet adorned by the piles of patchwork quilts the winter requires in a room where condensation constantly clouds your view of the world outside your window. This house is falling down.
Your friends have called in: one after the other. One crying for what she has lost. Another astonished by what has come to pass. You talk and drink tea and fight with a wayward puppy and wonder how the skirting boards came to be so chipped. Life seems so messy. On the way to school the dog throws up down the side of the passenger seat, and you pass an old lady standing in her garden in her petticoat, apparently bewildered. This then is what you should dread: bewilderment. The mystery that descends upon the old and disillusioned.
But it is necessary to keep up appearances. You have mopped the porch with hydrangea scented disinfectant strong enough to assault the senses of every visitor and you have dead-headed the roses growing in the basket attached to the pale blue bicycle on your path. This then will reassure those who knock that all is well. That the cat is purring in the window again, prone on a spotty blanket and that the house is scented by the kind of chocolate cake only those who never wish to have thin thighs will take piping hot from the oven and serve with Chantilly cream on an old plate. Though there are those, of course, who will not be fooled.
Kath is on her way. The house must be some semblance of neat, for she is nothing if not neatness personified. You will talk to her about bliss and Blackpool lights. You will light candles and talk about the weekend. About extremes of emotion and late night pizza. About all the things that are keeping you awake at night. About the film you watched last night. A cacophony of beautiful feminist diatribe. About plans to go to Selfridges and buy perfume. Her day and you always so very much, night. About the toothbrush you have just noticed Alfie has chewed to bristly pieces. About your plans for all your tomorrows. You will talk and talk and talk and you will make her tea with sugar that she does not have and she will question why it tastes so good. You love her so.
You are hot. On the way to school the little girl you take insists that she will die of cold if you do not shut the window. But you can’t. First thing in the morning, medication makes you temporarily combust and you want to stick your head out the window like a dog, panting for air and freedom and contentment. But middle aged ladies panting cannot be a good look and so you resist and cook inside your fuzzy red jumper, telling Freya she will survive and worrying you will instead give her pneumonia.
Now you brush the kitchen floor. You avoid blinking at your phone every five seconds and play Amy Winehouse so loud it is sure to drive the neighbours already halfway to distraction, on a fast route to rage. They will be issuing you with an ASBO next. You brush the floor and wipe up the persistent slug trails decorating your kitchen tiles. You change Finley’s bedlinen and arrange his pillows just the way he likes them. You think bad thoughts. Worry. Eat a stick of Pepperami and a slice of Edam and call it an early lunch. Wonder why it feels so good to be sharing this with a world of strangers who cannot know you but sometimes understand you better than you are capable of understanding yourself.
Your ear hurts. It is time to walk the dog. To keep up appearances and carry on regardless.


  1. Mimi xx says:

    I am so pleased Alice is home again, sending you soothing thoughts and wishing that sorely ear well again x

  2. Keri says:

    I wish I could hug you so hard right now.

  3. Dawn Gilmore says:

    Yay! Alice is back home, safe and sound.
    Oddly enough, I first read your second-to-last sentence as “Your HEART hurts”. You have seemed rather down lately or perhaps discontent. I hope everything will work itself out and that you feel better.
    Maybe you are coming down with something. Go snuggle up nice and cozy in your bed with a hot water bottle against your ear and a warm purry kitty on your tummy.

  4. Gillian says:

    So happy to read of Alice’s safe return!
    Cat purrs are meant to have restorative properties, so you could try having Alice purr your ear better… Love and purrs to you all xx

  5. Amanda says:

    Happy to hear your kitty is home. Sad to hear you’re not quite well. It was such a perfectly , stunningly beautiful fall day here yesterday that today’s grayish, blustery chilly day is being ignored while I regale anyone who will listen about the charms of yesterday. Sometimes that’s how I cope. Forget temporarily about the less of today and remember the more of yesterday until tomorrow shows up all bright and sparkly to make me blissful once again. Hope your tomorrow is shinier than your today. Amanda

  6. Alison C says:

    So glad that Alice is home safe. My tiny kitten Hetty is off her food so I am full of worry and trying to tempt her with all manner of tasty morsels while my other kitten Henry literally hoovers up all the food he can find (including the flower heads from my cape primroses) I am trying to delay the pleasure that is my duvet cover. Hope you feel better soon . Alison C

  7. Alison C says:

    Sorry. Meant to stay “Flannelett” duvet cover!!

  8. Elaine P says:

    Hope the discombobulation passes and peace is restored soon sweetheart. Raw times are bad enough without nomad kitties ignoring you 🙂 The what the f-ness and meloncholy will swirl away – just keep hold of the bannister. Everything will be OK xx

  9. Jen says:

    I love you!

  10. jademichele says:

    i think we are all just a bit concerned about you.there are times-usually after all of the stress has calmed down,at least a bit-that a ‘lost’ feeling follows-i know that feeling,it’s unpleasant and kind of scary,but,it too will eventually pass,just never soon enough.hope things are better for you and your sweet boy glad kitty returned!!

  11. Lynn Dirk says:

    So glad your sweet, naughty, kitty is home. She needs a small tag with her name and phone number. Etsy has some really cute ones. I send you warm thoughts and good vibes from my prairie home. Feel well soon. And, faking it until you make it is a tried and true method. I use it daily! Oh and I bet your front steps are heady! I would love to smell that.

  12. Alison C says:

    Would that be Hydrangea scented Zoflora by a any chance? I have a large bottle of their Winter Spice scented put away ready for my kitchen floor and porch at Christmas.

    1. brocantehome says:

      It is Alison, I love it… I’m absolutely addicted to it… and yes I’ve got a bottle of winter spice stashed away too. Great minds..!x

  13. Elaine P says:

    Another Zoflora addict here 🙂 I’m hoarding hyancinth … anyone tried Twilight Garden? I can’t believe I’m talking about this lol!!

  14. Alison C says:

    I went to visit a friend yesterday and we got talking about zoflora (as you do!) and she had Twilight garden in a dish on her radiator to scent the air!

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