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Category Archives: domestic not very blissed


In families, everything is a false dichotomy.

You are the clever one, your brother is the caring one.

He’s the practical one while you pale at the sight of blood.

You have a butterfly mind, you take things too personally.

“You ran here? You?!”

You absolutely, definitely cannot cook.

Yes, yes and flippin’ well no to all of  it!

You become Mrs Prickle-ooh-Touchy, as you serve your four course Michelin starred gourmet meal while bandaging up the finger which got caught under the steak knife. There will be a raised eyebrow, an appreciative murmur. But you’re still a terrible cook and you still nearly fainted when you were 12.

I sulk at this. I close off. I am Mrs Touchy-pants.

But I do it back. I tease my mum about her headmistress glare, my dad about his terrible puns, my brother about his awful shorts.  I don’t like it when my mum goes into custody suites to check prisoners aren’t being mistreated – I thought she wanted to throw away the key! I thought she was campaigning to bring back the workhouse!

It’s such a huge anchor – in our family, at least – the set in stone “funny one, academic one, rebellious one”, even if only to take the opposing path (“she used to be quite shy, now she never shuts up”… I was only shy in Church when you told me to ‘shh’ when I was 5. I haven’t been shy in 30 years…)

Your family know how to press your buttons, they say, because they sewed them on.





Pippin arrived today. He started purring even before we’d let him out of  the carrier and hasn’t stopped, four hours later. He is definitely a human-friendly cat. Half an hour in, he was following us round the house, chirruping. No hiding in awkward spaces, hissing.

To help things along, I went to the library and got out two books on cats.
And one on Peter Mandelson.

On a completely different subject: I volunteer once a week as a receptionist for the Citizens Advice. I committed to the end of Feb because we might be moving (we’re not, it all fell through) and arranged to alternate with my replacement for a few weeks.

I found myself forgetting names, procedures and how to enter basic data. The house limbo, moving to sporadic freelance work instead of full-time, adjustment from central London to rural Suffolk and all the emotion-sifting and introspection that comes with doing a beginner’s creative writing course… all this has stripped me of self-confidence and left me feeling like a paranoid 16 year-old who doesn’t want to go to school.

So I was looking forward to ducking out of the CAB, even though the people I work with are very friendly and very helpful. Then my replacement was hit by back problems and won’t be taking over, meaning I’ll be there until someone else is found.

Something tells me this is a good thing: to be given the chance to overcome the life change wobbles and truly engage, especially in such an interesting and warm environment, with some intelligent and interesting people; instead of sciving off life for a week and having some duvet time (which I think is completely valid in life sometimes).

All the things I mentioned are changes (who likes those?… actually, lots of people thrive on variety, just not me!) for the good, not life’s serious problems (ill health, death, divorce etc etc). Sometimes those adaptability muscles need exercising to prevent atrophy!