Saturday, April 9, 2011

Writing versus Men's 'real' Work

A sense of Déjà vu, as my dear one yet again needed to use the Laptop urgently. I left him to send his important mails and went upstairs to use the big old PC. Even if it is old and cranky now; I thought I would use the opportunity to look at my new Blog on a huge screen. I was pleased with the progress, the pages looked fine and I felt my pictures added something really nice to the whole effect. Not a bad effort at all. I was making notes of what my next piece could be and choosing a picture to go with it; I intended to start the very moment my loved one was finished on the Laptop.

I wondered if the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs heralded the probable end to my musings. I was correct. “I’ve finished now” he said. “Look, since you’re up here, not really doing anything, let’s put these protective sticky pads under the legs of the bed now; it will make it so much easier to move.”

I asked if he could see that I was working. He had a quick look at the screen, saw a photograph that meant nothing to him and promptly brushed aside my protests with “well, you’re not really doing anything that important, are you? Anyway, this will only take a minute.”

Job done. Back downstairs I decided to make a mug of green tea, bring it into my den and there begin the next stage of the Blog. “Will you pass me the long handled brush” a voice said behind me. I heard a heavy sound and when I turned around our huge fridge was being hauled out from its corner. “Let’s clean out behind this now, while we’re at it.” I left my mug down, got the brush, passed it over and turned back to my Zen tea making.

But the work was just beginning. “This glue that stuck to the floor when we were trapping the mice, I know exactly what will remove it. Run downstairs and get that firewater Eau de Vie from the cave.” I went and found the bottle of the stuff that some of our neighbours actually drink. It was poured on the glue. He hunkered down and tried and failed, despite much fierce rubbing and grunting, to remove the stuff.

“Right! Petrol, that’s what we need. Is the small fire in the lounge turned on yet?”
“Ok, grand.”

In he ran and came back carrying the small tank from the electric fire we use to boost the temperature in Maugham room. Yes. We call our lounge, with its ancient wooden balcony overlooking the hills, a room with some interesting pieces of furniture, small Buddhas, many candles and wall hangings, the Maugham room. It sounds calm, doesn’t it?

The frantic activity continued. He unscrewed the tiny top, held it delicately between two fingers and handing me the tank, said, “Fill this up.” It was ridiculous. I tried, very unsteadily, to fill the tiny item and of course it spilled down the side and onto the floor. Large sighs.

“Can we hold it over the bin, or pour in directly onto the floor?” I asked. We did and it sort of worked. I tried to mop up the overspill on the floor, but not before he went striding across the kitchen, leaving petrol footsteps. Standing in front of the fire he suddenly jumped and shrieked “Oh no! My bloody toe has gone funny from squatting down!”

I made my tea and wiped up the petrol marks as best I could; difficult with two people still walking around the space. I intended to add salt to the dishwasher and I had left it ready on the floor. But before I could begin the operation, my buddy suddenly rushed over and began to grab down utensils from the hooks to begin cooking, and in the ensuing rush, he sent the dishwasher salt and its grey funnel flying, the tiny salt particles adhering nicely to the many wet areas of petrol and bleach. It seemed an awfully long time since I had been asked to vacate my desk and let him send a few important messages.

I abandoned the green tea, took up a larger than usual glass and poured myself a huge Pineau des Charentes.


  1. Well, somebody needs to take the time from writing her own masterpieces to comment on this, which is, of course, like my personal diary with the wrong idioms (my husband and I hail from northeastern US). Oh, I don't just mean "petrol" for gasoline, and I actually have the stuff to remove virtually any gunk from any surface, I mean the gentle oblivion of a non-writer spouse. Love it!

  2. Joan,
    Thank you so much for commenting, and for introducing a new name for my husband; a "non-writer spouse"....Love it!

  3. Good piece Jane. Plenty of food for thought. And I agree with Joan's acute observation and what a lovely way JLC put it too: "...the gentle oblivion of a non-writer spouse".

    Well said. Both of you!

    Mary S -

  4. That was hilarious, more distractions and confusion than my 3 year old presents!

  5. You know, this sounds awfully familiar! My first novel will be published very soon and my husband still calls my writing 'a little hobby' while I play housewife and pander to his many dramas. Men!

  6. Loved this....Something as indefinable and unquantifiable as writing always takes a back seat I am afraid to say. The only way to write in peace is to hide....that's what I do! xv