Friday, 9 October 2015

Who Do You Think You Are?

I'm nosy. I think you are too. You're reading this, aren't you? I think it's because I'm nosy that I like Who Do You Think You Are? It might be my favourite television programme. Did you see it last week? It was about Anita Rani and it had everything: an exotic location, a charismatic, attractive presenter (she's stunning), a family mystery that took place during one of the most tragic of historical circumstances - Partition. It was harrowing, moving, interesting and entertaining. What more could you want? 

People are endlessly fascinating. It's why I love reading columns in newspapers in which journalists write about themselves and their families, why I love reading biographies and autobiographies, why I love fly-on-the-wall TV, why I love stories and plays and drama of all types. I think most of us do because most of us are nosy. We'd all like a sneaky peak into the lives of others, a look behind that closed front door, a glimpse beyond those net curtains, a view over our garden fence...

I'm not good at remembering numbers or dates or facts, but tell me something interesting about you or your family and I'll likely remember it forever. Sometimes I regurgitate stuff back, and watch the look of surprise on someone's face, which always surprises me. "How do you know that?" they ask. 

"Because you told me," I say. "Remember? Your sister's new husband? He's that guy who gave her that amazing orgasm in the tent and that was when she realised she loved him." (Mind you I challenge anyone to forget that story.) 

"Your mum? She taught at your school. You used to give her a lift in your mini when you were in the 6th form." 

"Your dad? He still has the suit he was married in, and he still wears it." 

I store stuff away, useless information that I find intriguing. And of course I give a lot of my own stuff away too, here, and when chatting to friends, who pretty much know every solitary thing about me, whether they want to or not. I tend not to get on with secretive people. What makes them think they're so special? I don't understand them.

Families particularly interest me, how they work, what makes them tick, what's their dynamic, their habits? Who shops? Who cooks? Do they all sit round the table to eat meals together? Do they have TV suppers? What time do they go to bed? What programmes do they watch? What do they read, believe, think? What do they argue about? (I'm very suspicious of people who say they don't argue.) We all gather this information about one another by osmosis, often not realising we're doing it, and then we band together with families like our own.

When mothers make new friends at the school gate, which they invariably do, they're subconsciously looking for common ground. I remember being delighted to find a friend who cooked one meal for her family in the evening so they all sat down together to eat, as we did (do). This was unusual at the time in a world of children's tea, followed by adult supper, and it turned out we were both following the pattern set by our own families, and we were able to do this because we were at home full-time.

So here are a few more of our/my habits, which you may or may not find fascinating. Feel free to tell me some of your own, just don't expect me to ever forget them.

Morning - I hate getting out of bed. I'm not a lark. I would say I'm an owl but I'm not that either because I love getting in it.

Tea - We listen to Radio 4 first thing. Husband brings me a cup of tea in bed. I only drink Earl Grey. 

Breakfast - The family has it together on school days. The boys have homemade pancakes. Husband and I have porridge. I always read the TV review while eating.

Post - I'm allergic to it. I hate opening it. I can't defend or rationalise this position, except to say that there might be nasty things lurking inside it. It stacks up on the kitchen island unopened for days.

Voice mail - ditto with voice mail. I don't play it back. I have no idea why. If you want me, try again, or text. I love a text.

Filing - I don't do it. I have a lot of guilt attached to this. In fact I have a lot of guilt per se. I should have been Catholic.

Religion - I come from a long line of atheists, I see it as my duty to pass this on.

Clean washing - I rarely put it away, what's the point? People just get it out and wear it again. 

Newspapers - we get two every day. They are delivered. It's my guilty pleasure (more guilt). I read them both cover to cover at lunchtime when I'm in.

Politics - I'm not as left wing as I used to be. My grandfather told me this would happen. I've always said I'd never sleep with a Tory though, and I still hold to that. Since Husband started reading The Telegraph online every morning I've worried that I might have to become celibate. He says he only reads it for the hilarious comments at the bottom. But then he would, wouldn't he.

Telly - I love it, I watch as much as possible.

Alcohol - we try not to drink in the week. Usually we fail in this endeavour. (You guessed it, guilt again.)

Supper - we eat at seven pm most days. I cook from scratch. My favourite thing is to look in the fridge and see what we have and then throw something together. It's on the table when Husband comes in from work. I am both proud and ashamed of this.

The dishwasher - Husband's domain, he drives everyone mad re-stacking whatever we stuff in it, so now we just leave it to him. If he goes away or is out for the evening I delight in throwing things in willy-nilly… and then I feel guilty.

Wet towels - no one picks them up but me. I've given up nagging. I go upstairs and pick them all up and hang the them on the towel rails every day.

Tidy - despite the filing and the post and the washing thing, I keep a tidy house. I go round clearing up all the time. Over the years I've discovered that the best way to tidy up is to throw stuff away, especially if you don't know what it is. Sometimes this gets me in trouble.

Gardening - I do it all.

Money - no one manages this, it's total chaos.

Holidays - I book them, and the weight of this responsibility sits heavy on my shoulders. I'm always terrified it might be a crap holiday and it will be my fault. The others would never leave the house if it wasn't for me.

Food shopping - I do it, but Husband goes to the local farmers market on his bike on Saturday mornings to supplement.

Exercise - We do quite a lot but not the same thing. Husband cycles and runs. I row and swim and walk and do pilates. The kids do fencing and tennis.

Clearing up - We try to get the boys to help clear up, at the very least they have to put their own things in the dishwasher, but often after this they scarper back upstairs when we're not looking and we can't be bothered to drag them back down.

Going out - if I'm going out I leave a meal for the family first, only occasionally it's pizza out of a box because pizza out of a box is not a proper meal. Husband said this to me once and I went ballistic, we had a huge row about it, but secretly I agree. 

Music - We tend not to like the same. I miss Eldest because he used to play things I like: Simon and Garfunkel, Police, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Bowie, The Kinks, Stones, ELO, to name a few. 

Bed - we go to bed as early as possible because we're always knackered. I sleep on the left. That's as much as I'm saying.

Love E x


P.S. I'm in A & E at the moment, at St George's Hospital. Youngest broke his collar bone. Again. So that's next week's blog sorted.

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