Housekeeper’s Diary

By Alison September 21, 2023 5 Comments 5 Min Read

Flow. I think I have spent my life in pursuit of flow, and it has alluded me always. Perhaps because that which we will have will not be ours if we are too persistent in its pursuit? Or perhaps because my mind is simply unwilling to commit too deeply to that which would sustain me, instead always seeking the new over the familiar, that never ending quest for more, too quick to cast aside flow in favour of variety.

Right now, my days are so predictable I almost want to jump out of my skin and run away from she who gets up in the morning so eager for her frothy coffee and rosy cups full of baked oats. That woman who sets an alarm on her phone so she doesn’t forget to put the bins out. It’s not that I am bored, more that I am in many ways, always working against my natural instincts to make life up as I go along. And I think it may have always been so, I think I may have always been forcing myself to do what has to be done. Quietly resenting routine and bribing myself with ritual, and forever resisting the urge to improvise and innovate as I navigate the labyrinth of what IS flow.

Do you to too trace the oxymoron hiding between the lines in what I have said so far? A statement of desire for what already is. Me too, Me too, Me too. I’m driving myself insane. I have taken up eating a lunch of sweet potato stuffed with tuna and mixed beans, declaring it balanced and rather adoring its predictable macros while hating myself for becoming one of those people. The earnest kind. The ones who seem to approach life as it were not abundant with possibility! Is this what happens when age starts creating a trellis out of our skin? Do we become earnest? And yet the truth is I cannot be trusted to exist in any other way: I need the routines and rigid commitment to flow, or else, left to my own devices, I wouldn’t eat until eight in the evening and even then indulge in a buttered cracker. So rules it is!

Today then. The woman in the cottage across the lane is sitting typing at her dining room table in a hat and scarf, the backdrop that is her gallery of framed French travel posters at curious odds with her Wintery get-up. The man who came to read my meter at silly o’clock this morning told me with an intense stare that he hates his job. And the lady who pops a purple anorak on day in and day out to walk her dog at 8.15am each morning, stomped out of her house today, and headed out sans dog, into the pouring rain in a pair of fluorescent orange shorts. All the world is a stage and on this one people seem curiously out of sorts, not quite themselves, in far too many ways to count.

Here though, out of sorts is probably my permanent state of being and I have no doubt that she across the road told her partner I was to be found standing on the front path in a white lacey gowny thing and tweedy slipper socks staring at a fountain that has sprouted up between the paving flags. That I spend inordinate amounts of time fighting a losing battle with next door’s gravel and sometime wear red lipstick to pull up the relentless weeds lining the walls of the house before going inside to watch cartoons and light an abundance of candles. I am, she surely says, not quite normal. For isn’t it odd how we both see and are seen? And from what we see we form opinion dressed in wild speculation and thrust character traits they do not possess upon the unsuspecting?

Today. September to finish with my clari-tea. A house to ready for a visitor this evening. (A state of affairs that can consume the entire day, though it is quite possible that at the end of my efforts no one but me could tell the difference!), A dash to the farm for milk and cheese. Another dash to procure a duvet for it seems Finley has taken them ALL with him. And then the vacuuming of every nook and cranny for I am latterly inundated with scrawny see-through spiders, hanging out mostly inside the cupboard under the sink and scooting over my arm whenever I reach for the white vinegar, and thus find myself on web patrol more often than I would like to be.

I have been working like something possessed lately and it feels odd to force a day off upon myself. But it is necessary if I’m going to save myself from completely drowning. For I have been hiding in my work. Avoiding those who love me because I feel so awfully guilty about inflicting my fright and misery upon them. Scared that in the gloom I do not know how to climb out of I will exhaust them, Or worse bore them. Its one thing to bore myself, but quite another to bore everyone else!

So yes, a day of standing life back on it’s feet! A day of polishing and preening and behaving like all is well for it is in the pretending that we discover progress isn’t it? Rather than treading water, we must behave as if, instead of allowing ourselves to be swallowed up by what is. For if nothing else, there will at least be the suspending of destructive navel-gazing and fun and conversation to be had instead. Because this is what I want you to know: sometimes we can do nothing other than preen and polish when the very foundations of our homes are wobbly. Sometimes we have to put faith in the universe to set up the scaffolds we need to survive and put effort only into trying to control all that which is actually in our remit. To allow life to flow in the way it sees fit and to do everything we can to find something to smile about in the meantime.

Things to smile about today then? A house that will glow by this afternoon. Finn so very much enjoying the life he is creating for himself. Bao buns. I love bao buns. Sock weather. A stack of fragrant, freshly laundered towels. Rain. I love rain. A perfectly round ball of mozzarella in the fridge for lunch (away with you sweet potato!). Company. Meep. Flow. Gogglebox et al.

And all shall be well, and all shall be well, and oh please, all shall be well.


  1. Paula says:

    I started taking melatonin last week so no more alcohol. I am getting some sleep though. Television to myself tonight for once.
    Lunch out for Will’s 21st tomorrow.

    1. Alison says:

      I hope the melatonin is helping Paula… not sleeping is the very worst of things.x

  2. Susan says:

    It’s hard for me to trust that if I take time to go to book group, play bridge one evening, take my horseback riding lesson, whatever I’m doing for myself, that my daily efforts to finish all the started projects and do the fall work outside and maintain the routine chores will ultimately leave me with everything done. It’s easier to not do the things for myself and keep plugging away at all the bigger things that cannot possibly be finished in the course of a day. This is where I get the wigglies. Take the time to meditate or walk a dog? But I could do some mowing or process some tomatoes or vacuum!! Still, I am continuing to do what I want to do as well as what I need to do and trusting by cold weather, what needs to be done will be done and I will have had some adventures as well.

  3. Karen says:

    All manner of things SHALL be well, dear Alison. I just found out Sarah Ban Breathnach will have a new book coming out sometime next year!

  4. Sandra says:

    And here I am in the middle of the world’s longest move. It’s our downsizing, happily ever after move, and even after throwing away, giving away, and selling, we still have way too much stuff. So asking myself what I really need, and want, and love, I am trying to be ruthless. And all shall be well.

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