My microwave needs cleaning.
My writing files are chaotic.
My desk drawers are a mess.
My enormous under stairs cupboard is possibly home to some rare creatures and cultures and curious hybrid beings since it’s impossible to penetrate the layers of coats and jackets and scarves that lie prostrate within it – let alone the packing case that still resides in there from when we moved in – over 11 years ago.
And I’ve been telling myself endlessly that one day, when I have time, I will sort all of the above. And more. One day when granted a quiet period, a lull in the relentless pace of life, I will get around to dealing with the untidiness, the lack of orderliness, the stockpiling of useless papers and unwanted paraphernalia of past years. The random objects that turn up in the wrong drawers. The single earring that long lost its partner, but lies hopelessly waiting for a reunion.
I will focus without sentiment on those boxes of photographs, telling myself that six pictures of virtually the same angle of my son at 6 months 2 weeks and 1 day are not all essential to keep. I will sift through the recipes I have cut out, stuck in a file and never cooked. I will address the drawer of Beanie Babies and tell them that their time is up, their presence in this house belonging to a pair of adults no longer relevant.
Just like I will discard clothes not worn for years. Or never, in fact, worn, even thought their purchase at the time – an absolute bargain at 50% off – seemed a sensible idea. And as for those shoes which never fitted – or if they fitted caused my back to ache so much that I could not even walk to the car in them – well, they would be sent swiftly packing.
Methodically. Cleanly. Sensibly.
When the day arrived and I had time to do all this.
Well, guess what?
I now have the time. Like vast swathes of the population, I have had the time since the third week in March. And yet – I have done none of the above.
My under stairs cupboard is still of far more potential than ever a piece of furniture in ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ suggested.
Narnia? There’s probably Hogwarts, Peter Pan’s Neverland and Alice’s Wonderland in there too.
Beanie Babies still take up precious space in the large drawer under the bed, no doubt breeding more cute cats and adorable dogs and making a play for the bears from the Bear Factory that also reside in that basement apartment.
And as for the microwave – don’t even go there.
Because the fact remains that, even with all the time in the world available now that Life is on hold, normal activities belonging to a suspended bygone era – the essential tasks around my house are not being addressed.
So what am I spending the endless hours doing?
Well, the things I want to do, of course.
Because I’ve got myself into the mood of well, if I can’t choose what I want to do – i.e. go to London, see my son, endlessly browse shops, catch Easy Jet flights to Crete, sit in cafes, have my Greek classes in person not staring at a screen – I am certainly not going to do the dull, dutiful tasks that await me. No way am I further going to suppress the enjoyment levels of the day which are already at a pretty low ebb as a result of lockdown by investing time in being sensible.
And actually, the truth is that the day still speeds by.
As always, like in ‘normal’ times, it’s possible to find the hours flying with no time even to remember about that long list of tasks to complete.
There’s all this online stuff for a start. There’s been no getting away from the fact that the summer term started this week and with it the obligation to offer just a little tuition to those adolescents who stare blankly back at me – with their fresh, unlined, perfectly startling skin – waiting to be entertained.
And of course, like any writer, there’s writing to fill the hours. Which I have. Re-drafting and re-drafting novel 3 – more of that in another blog – and shining and polishing it with the freedom of time that is so precious and usually in scant supply. Disappearing into my study first thing in the morning with the first of several large cups of coffee has become compulsory.
Then there’s The Exercise. Somehow, because we have been granted permission to go out and exercise once a day, this seems to have become an obligation – something that hangs over the day until completed. Almost as if we fear the privilege will be removed if good use is not made of it. And because phones indicate mileage, I find this has become a competitive element of my day. Of course the only participant in this competition is me – but there’s a kind of compulsion to set myself goals, improve last week’s average and this week’s record – so that the whole business is starting to become a source of stress …
So then it’s home to address something far less taxing, something kinder, something soothing –
which is certainly not a microwave waiting to be cleaned.
Or an under stairs cupboard awaiting health and safety and slum clearance tactics.
But the trouble is, of course, if not now – when?
If lockdown fails to provide the time and incentive to address these tasks perhaps I simply have to give in and admit:
It’s me. The fault lies not in the stars or anywhere else, but simply in my own skilful, well-honed, carefully developed and evolved sense of procrastination.
When it comes to things I don’t want to do.
Like address the microwave.
That under stairs cupboard.
And certainly those resident bears and beanie babies.