Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The Universe, or at least Radio 4, Hates Me

At 5.30 the alarm goes off and I haul myself out of the deep pool of sleep in which I have been wallowing. I lie staring at the dark ceiling, stunned and then, before my eyes close again I get out of bed.

An hour later I leave the still-silent house. Helen will get the girls up and dressed and off to school before heading off to do a 12 hour shift in Glasgow which she will not get home from until after midnight.

I arrive at work at 7 and after two hours in which I get a lot done, I am smothered under a blanket of back-to-back meetings in which I feel I manage to do absolutely nothing. I try to leave work at 2.30 but my way is blocked by a queue of colleagues who want to ask me many, many questions. I try again at 2.40 and by dint of feigning ignorance of everything, I succeed.

I'm late to pick up the girls from school so I cycle like never before and arrive in the playground just as the bell rings. I am a ragged, speechless, sweating mess but I have, at least, brought chocolate hobnobs and not - shudders - oatcakes and apples. Sorrel permits me to live.

We wait for Lulu to get out at 3.20 and then I string their various bags onto my handlebars and we walk home.

When we get there they want to watch TV. I want them to do their homework. There is a brief battle of wills that I - unusually - win. I help them both with their work and then, whilst they watch telly, I cook the evening meal.

We eat together at the kitchen table and have a nice chat about their days: what lessons they had; who they played with and what games were played; who said what and to whom and why it was knicker-wettingly funny at the time.

As it's Wednesday they both have swimming lessons so they get changed out of school uniform and put swimming costumes on under their clothes. I pack knickers and towels and goggles and armbands and ear plugs and snacks into two bags and we head back to school.

I sit in the stifling environment of the high-school swimming pool for an hour and a half; showering both girls as their lessons end and then overseeing them getting dressed. Both of them have plenty of friends in their swimming classes so this bit of the evening is a bit mental. If, after a days work, you feed me a nice meal and then take me for a swim in a very warm pool, I will become drowsy and compliant. If you do the same to my children they act as though they have been mainlining sugar and yellow food colouring for the best part of the preceding 48 hours. I ponder the wisdom of the law that forbids shooting them with a tranquilliser gun.

Back at home I gently coax them down from their post-swimming high with some toast and get them ready for bed. I read them stories all curled up together on mine and Helen's bed. It's the best bit of the whole day for me.

Once they are in bed I go downstairs and clear away the tea things. The dishwasher is full of clean dishes when I come to fill it. This discovery never fails to give me a profound feeling of ennui. There should be a special word for it. I sigh heavily and empty it before refilling it again with the dirty plates.

There is a load of dry washing on the rack so I take that down and fold it and then put out the wet load that I set off this morning before leaving the house at 6.30. I put the swimming stuff in the now empty machine and set it off.

Next I make the girl's (and my) packed lunches for tomorrow. And then I clean their shoes.

Finally, I can stop. It is 10.30. I pour myself a beer before bed and switch the radio on.

I press the button and hear this: "...men don't pull their weight domestically..."

I switch it off again.

Fuck you, universe. And fuck you, Radio 4.

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