Housekeepers Diary


I wake up to air thick with the split pea and smoked bacon soup I have left to simmer in the slow cooker over night and the crazed tinkle of wind chimes gone berserk. The house is in fact making a racket. Outside my green front door, Hurricane Gonzalo is failing to live up to expectations but is still managing to bring the lane alive with the swirl of leaves battered down from the branches forming a roof over the wet road, and do bad things to what little phone reception there is to be had in Chez Brocante.

Inside, Finley is taking time out from his busy life as a child and has taken to his bed, not in a fit of pith but with the kind of sore throat that has got him feeling very sorry for himself and requires the frequent administrations of a Mummy who has had to run up and down the stairs enough times to take a good few inches off her wonky hips, fetching and carrying and kowtowing to the demands of a boy so taken with tea he almost needs it on intravenous drip.

Downstairs this Mummy reflects on what it is to serve. To care for. To cosset. And to nurse. I am in fact very bad at it. While some women seem to come into their own whenever demands are made of them, I seethe quietly with resentment and struggle to contain my impatience. It doesn’t do to say it out loud of course. It doesn’t do to say I would rather be reading. And so I barely admit it, even to myself and thrust upon my instinctive need for solitude, the kind of spiky, cosy obligation even I am not immune to. And we laugh. I annoy him by expressing a desire for a pink light sabre and he annoys me by holding my head pointing to the television so that I can truly appreciate the nonsense that is a cartoon character called Gumball.

I light candles. Stoke a pretend flame in a pretend wood-burning stove. Pick up the mail from a doormat that welcomes me home. Feel demented by the urge to tidy up, inspired by a woman who says only that which brings joy should be in your home. (Though I feel hard pressed to work up a lot of joy for either the mop bucket or the damned picture light with the bulbs that pop every other day. Once exploding rather spectacularly only inches away from Finn’s head.) I nibble on rosemary sprinkled almonds, sip on warming chai, and  pray for silence.

The phone doesn’t ring and the wind continues to howl.  The dog is restless waiting to be walked and the bacon in the soup has gone a shade of flesh that strikes me as almost rude. I have forgotten to put onions in it. Though a soup without onions is no soup at all, I don’t suppose it is to late to chop a few in for last minute flavour. I don’t suppose it is too late for anything: onions, or dreams. Though all too often now I tell myself I am past this, too old for that. Too far gone for ambition, or security. Too child like to be all grown up. I am 42 not 92.

It is not to late to add onions.

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6 comments on “Housekeepers Diary

  1. Marylene on said:

    I’d really like to read your comments about Marie Kondo’s book. It seems very inspiring… but is the method realistic? By the way… it’s never too late to add onions! 🙂

  2. Margaret on said:

    It’s definitely not too late to add onions or “anything” else for that matter. I’m 63, married for 42 years, and stil find my life evolving on an almost daily basis, so there is hope for everyone 🙂 chin up lovey a new opportunity begins every new day to “add onions” I hope Finn feels better soon.

  3. Elaine P on said:

    It’s that restless time of year before the clocks change. Nothing worse than being trapped inside when a walk outside to settle your thoughts would help more. I’m going to look at that book.
    Today I started to sort out our (huge) cluttered bedroom and now it has a bit of an echo going on.

    Add chopped spring onions and Marigold bouillion to your soup – it makes everything better. Hope your young tea-belly boy is feeling better – take care of you too xx

  4. Alison how I LOLd at this. I am a rubbish sick nurse too. I wasn’t in the early days of motherhood. In those days I always had the cupboards stocked up with calpol and calamine and was ready to mop a brow or hold the sick bucket, with a smile and a cuddle. Now I’m afraid I’m much more businesslike about the whole thing. While I love my little angels dearly, sick children can be terribly tiresome. I too would rather be reading! And don’t get me started on Gumball.
    I am 41. No it is not too late for onions. We are on the home straight now. Bring on the onions!

  5. Lynn Dirk on said:

    This is four days later, but I do hope Finn is feeling better by now. I hadn’t realized how much we had in common until this post. I am a great nurse to my family, but inside I really am over it after five minutes. Just let me read the interwebs, people! When I say “Get well soon” I really mean it! Your soup sounded delish even with green bacon 😉

  6. Karla Neese on said:

    Dear Alison, when you have the time, would you be willing to share your Split Pea & Smoked Bacon soup recipe? It sounds delightful!