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1878

Due to the circumstances I am about to describe, the yellow bicycle has been removed from her usual place by the fire (when not in travel mode she forms a means of drying clothes) and now stands on my balcony at the mercy of the elements.

As I sit writing I can see her gazing dolefully across at sugar loaf, whilst also managing to cast baleful glances through the window at me.

Why is she being so dramatic?

Bicycles are outdoor creatures!

Its not as though she can catch her death of cold.

I have mollycoddled her too much.

I draw the curtain so that I can write in peace.

Who moved my coffee!

A while ago I wrote a piece about what happens when I get too involved with my daughters lives.

Moving in teabag by teabag ( Here’s your bicycle and what’s your hurry)

Now the shoe is on the other foot

My eldest daughter and her husband are extending their house.

It is nearly Christmas and the build has run into a few delays.

At first the plan was that they would be able to live in the house except for a day or two when the new floors were being laid as they would both be at work during the week.

But a few days before the job is due to finish they realise how dangerously dusty it has become and they set about looking for somewhere to stay in the interim.

I come up with a solution

There are three of them and a dog.

There is only one of me.

It makes more sense that I move out and stay somewhere and let them have my small one bed-roomed abode.

After all it is only for a few days.

They arrive with a lot of stuff.

Not their fault.

A working couple need their office clothes and leisure clothes, night wear, hygiene stuff. laptops, phone chargers.

A child need toys and clothes and nappies and baby wipes,

A dog needs her bed and food bowl ( if I stand on that water bowl once more!)

Did I mention my apartment is small?  Did I mention they were staying for a few days only?

Time marches on. Another building delay. The few days turns into a week and another week and they are still here.

I really don’t mind.

That much.

Its just ….

Well the yellow bicycle hasn’t a hope of returning to her place by the fire before Christmas.

and someone keeps moving my coffee.

The tidy scoring system

I am a tidy person.

on a tidy scale of one to ten I would probably score a six.

This might not seem such a high score for my profession as a nurse.

But anything over a four is high in our family.

In saying that, I do have a daughter who scores an eight.

She could score a ten except that she has a black Labrador who sheds a lot.

And if you should meet that daughter she is most likely to have a sweeping brush in hand. (Been caught with accoutrements of tidiness can lower your score because it does not give an accurate reading.)

But I wasn’t always tidy

To be perfectly Honest

Growing up I shared a bedroom with my sister.

Now the bedrooms in our house were utilitarian. My father, an architect, was ahead of his time where interior decor was involved.

So while my friends bedrooms sported fake velvet headboards, chintzy bedspreads, dizzymaking carpets of multicoloured floral patterns and those kidney shaped dressing table with a three sided mirror, (Not encouraged to gaze at ourselves we had no mirror in bedroom) ours consisted of homemade bunk beds designed to leave as much floor space free as possible, a sleek built in wardrobe and ….

well that was it!

A bed and a wardrobe on (you guessed it ) a floor of wooden boards.

So ashamed was I of my minimalist room, that whenever I had a friend over, I would haul one of the beautiful mahogany bespoke chairs down from the open plan dining room and place it beside my bed to give the semblance of extra furniture.

I didn’t realise until years later that my friends considered my bedroom amazing. and looking back it was.

The wooden floors were solid oak. the sliding wardrobes the best mahogany and the beds handcrafted.

As clean and crisp a room as you would find these days on Pinterest.

Any way my sister was as tidy as I was untidy so, to prevent friction, we drew a line across the floor,(Did I mention we were allowed, encouraged even to draw on anything that didn’t move)And from then on her side of the room remained ultra tidy with clothes folded neatly (On the floor?) while my side remained strewn with abandoned garments.

Now though as handy as it might seem to just step out of ones clothes there was a downside.

As I lay awake in the semi dark (did we even have curtains?) dreaming of boys, the folds of clothes on the floor began to take the shape of faces.

Evil faces.

The more I stared the eviler they became until at last, unable to bear them any longer, I would creep from under my warm covers into the cold (why would you even consider that we might have central heating) and move them around.

Facing those Demons

I like a clean bed as much as the next.

Maybe even more than the next.

One of my favourite pleasures in life is a deep bath followed by a climb into a soft bed bedecked with fresh sheets.

Nothing wrong with that you say, but the problem was I would feel so languorous after my bath (others might call this lazy) I didn’t bother removing the old sheet.

Instead I would just lay a clean one on top.

None of the rest of my family noticed or at least no one complained.

Maybe they didn’t bath or change their sheets as frequently and I carried on this habit for quite some time.

Until my sisters wedding,

It all comes out in the wash in the end

My sister is getting married.

And with some of her friends planning to stay at our house, she sets about making up spare beds for them.

And quickly runs out of clean sheets

‘Nonsense’ exclaims my mother. ‘there are plenty of fresh sheets in the linen press’

I overhear this conversation while munching on toast and marmalade from the depths of my (very soft) bed.

As my sisters footsteps gets louder (oh those bare floorboards) I slide slowly and guiltily, lowering my self under the warmth of my blankets, creasing the many layers of sheets as I do so.

At last only the top of my head is visible.

But I continue eating, frantically munching on my warm safe toast (did i mention I eat when I’m stressed)

”STEPHANIE”

Before I get a chance to reply she rips the covers off me and the evidence is exposed.

Not only is my plate of crusts and crumb covered top sheet visible to the public but the twenty something under sheets as well.

The truth is out and the shame.

‘You are not only lazy but untidy too’ My sister shouts.

She spots the heaps of clothes on my floor.

‘How can you BEAR to live in such a mess! And what am I suppose to do now? ‘

‘Quickly quickly, wash the sheets?’ I hear you say

Ah! normally that would be a good idea, but you see we had no washing machine.

We can blame that on my mother.

On going out to buy one, she passed an art gallery and popped inside (just for a quick look she told us later).

She emerged after a while and nestled in her purse where the washing machine money should have been, was a receipt for an original Gerard Dillon or it may have been the T P Flanagan, to be delivered to the house the next day.

So mostly she washed by hand (no doubt gazing lovingly at her purchase) and every once in a while she would send one of us down with a bag of larger items to the locally washateria.

This bag being too heavy to carry was placed on a pram and I cried bitterly when it was my turn (my childhood shame was never ending)

Oh how I would have gladly cast aside my shame and willingly pushed the pram of sheets down that day.

But the wedding was now imminent and the guests arriving soon so there was no time for even that.

I cannot remember what the final outcome was.

To allay my shame and possibly have an insight into my continued martyred approach to life I like to think I spent my sisters wedding, Cinderella-like, washing sheets while everyone else was having fun.

But the reality was my used sheets were probably reused.

Maybe if you were one of those guests you could throw a light on this?

or I could ask my sister but I’d rather not remind her……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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