Housekeepers Diary

By Alison May 19, 2014 8 Comments 3 Min Read

An odd day. My lane completely closed off for road re-surfacing and the clatter of lorries and chatter of workmen my music for the day. And here I am. Sliced watermelon on the desk and the cat, squashed into a shoe box on the floor beneath me, purring loudly as if the answer to bliss was made of cardboard.
I am in recovery from another busy weekend. A half hour sitting on a bench in Southport, all by myself, as the entire town went by. Old ladies in lavender macintoshes and girls in cut-offs and cowboy boots. A woman with red and yellow roses in her hair singing Edith Piaf songs. A man with his entire head bandaged up. Polish girls with babies gossiping and giggling in a foreign tongue. Eccentrics and scallywags. Kings and vagabonds. A lad in a beanie hat, a guitar strung across his lanky body, singing destination anywhere, anywhere but here (But everywhere he goes, there he will be). Pigeons and charity workers harassing passer bys. And a woman in an unlikely leopard skin dress demonstrating to her husband how much fat there is around her middle region by grabbing great chunks of flesh. All that and me. Sat absolutely still and trying to stop the world hurtling off its axis.
Finley will no longer go to stay at Daddy’s house and so he has been with me as we attended both a barbeque and a christening, where a man I once dated took the photographs and the kids risked broken necks teaching each other to do 360 degree flips on an indoor bouncy castle. And now it is Monday and there is a man on the way to discuss my new boiler and two teeny little poussins ready to be roasted for a tea in the garden. Not for me and the boiler man you understand? It wouldn’t do to get so fresh. One mustn’t invite boiler men to take poussin with you. No. Just for me and Finn. He, who has recently requested an entire chicken to himself, a chicken he can eat with his fingers, grease running down his chin and the thrilled smile of a born carnivore on his face.
Mondays. The January and September of the week. New starts promised. A fresh outlook on what is possible and what has proved to be impossible. No matter how much my  heart yearns for it. What once was shiny, now tarnished with disappointment of my own making, and though I have tried and tried, it will not be polished back to life. Life seems terribly complicated.
In the garden peach roses have blossomed and I can see them as I soak whites in lemon water trying to eradicate stains the washing machine refuses to budge. Peach roses for promises. Cranberry lemonade in a sunny, noisy garden as reward for stain busting. Just four days now until half -term. Heck these holidays come around quick. And before they arrive, a lovely wedding and a sixtieth birthday party to attend. My life a whirlwhind of laundry and parties. A jigsaw with important pieces I seem incapable of squeezing in, so there are soul shaped gaps, always. The in-between times lost to work and preparation so the gaps are barely acknowledged.
This afternoon then. Phone calls to a children’s hospital that seems to have itself in a terrible muddle. Or maybe it’s me? No. It’s them. Coffee. Almond financiers to be baked for a little boys lunch-box. A bill that must be paid with heaven knows what. An hour with Alfie (and Mum and Dad – though these poor souls have been relegated in my mind to this darling little puppies babysitters!). No time to think. No time to dwell on what has been lost. Or to worry about what a mess having a new boiler fitted is going to make.
I will make the beds up with fresh sheets. I will try to drown out the noise of tarmac being pilled on to the road. I will not look at my phone 63 times an hour (I will). I will resist temptation to take a little nap. I will not eat all the almond financiers still warm from the oven. I will remember to go the post office at some point this week. I will not think. I will dance to the sound track from Grease instead and pretend I am thirteen. I will eat beetroot flavoured kale chips, and salami and drink yogi tea and sing destination anywhere, over and over again.
I will not offer the boiler man poisson.


  1. Nicola says:

    How sad for you that Finlay won’t stay with his Daddy any more. Having my stepson stay with us is such a lovely time for us and as he approaches his teens I start to worry that friends will come before family at the weekend (I remember how I changed so much when I hit secondary school!) and we will see him less and less. I suspect from reading some of your earlier blogs I have a better relationship with him than Finlay’s stepmum. We don’t really have a mother/son relationship, more like the aunt/nephew type relationship. His dad loves it because stepson will tell me things that he feels too nervous to talk to mum or dad about and I can help him to find a way to talk it out with them.
    How do you get your Kale chips to taste nice? Mine always taste of awful, despite looking like that lovely crispy ‘seaweed’ you get with a chinese takeaway.

  2. Heather says:

    …but what if he’s Russell Brand’s doppelganger?
    Sorry about what is going on with Finley and his dad. He’s so very, very lucky to have you. Such a wonderful mom!

  3. Nicola says:

    Sorry – just realised I spelled your son’s name wrong! Bad me, I hate it when people spell Stephen’s name wrong. In my defence he has a friend who spells it with an ‘a’ and I went into auto-pilot!

  4. koma says:

    Oh sweet Alison, things will improve…they always do. Life is just about the change…up and down, and often, inside out. Sometimes too, just taking a ‘enough’ day, allowing yourself to just BE, is what is most required. I think it is the things we can not control in our days, that wreck such havoc with our emotions….and so little we can do but just ‘be’…and wait.
    I agree with Heather and Nicola, that Finn is so very fortunate to have you as his mum…his biggest ally, and his most ardent cheerleader. I hope your day fills itself with grins and giggles….and that you can get some rest … We all depend on your words here!

  5. Annette says:

    Your words are such comfort for the rest of us that have such busy, complicated lives, knowing there are others also trying to do the right things. I myself spent Monday recovering from a weekend of nightshifts, sleeping too much (actually just feeling guilty about sleeping but knowing it was necesary), feeling bad for not communicating with my son who is in the middle of exams (tired and grumpy!) and having no energy for housework/ironing/gardening.
    But I revive myself by looking out over the Northumberland hills and listening to the birds.
    Thank you for your lovely blog

  6. Ali says:

    I hope Finn’s father will make more effort to see him, despite the different arrangements. I don’t ask how or why this has come to pass. You’ve alluded to the fact that the ex’s wife and Finn aren’t, shall we say, compatible. I will leave it at that, other than to remark that I hope she displays warmer feelings for her own offspring when it arrives.
    Here’s to new boilers! And I say, if the boiler man is buff, offer him poisson. Maybe he’ll do the installation gratis. *wink, nudge, leer* ……..

    1. Brunette says:

      If the UK has ‘buff’ plumbers, I may consider a move across the pond. 😉

  7. tiffibug says:

    I would absolutely dance and sing to the Grease sound track with you!

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