As I was lovingly (painstakingly) creating a Shepherd’s Pie this morning and was smugly spreading the ESSENTIAL Waitrose mash over the top (the clue is in the name), I remembered that number 1 friend had confessed to me recently, that not only does she too buy packet mash, but also frozen chopped onions and garlic. I don’t think this is a secret. I have loyally kept a number of secrets over our 30 year friendship, so I’d feel bad if I fucked up now. Anyway, what a great idea, I thought. After chopping garlic I find that my fingers can smell for days – I don’t consider it a personal hygiene issue, I consider it a hazard of the job. So why wouldn’t you buy frozen? Just the wrath of your mother to deal with…well, more that, ‘I’m disappointed in you’ look, but I dealt with that over bought mash, so I feel empowered to fessing up to any short cuts now.
In fact, I consider shortcuts, in all their various forms, an essential part of living. Shortcuts and delegating. Since my shoulder op I have had to do a little more delegating than my control freakish nature would normally allow. It’s actually quite liberating – that is until you ask a teenager to do something that is of little complexity, but somehow they go about it as if they are building a house out of matchsticks. Please can you dust? (A look). Where’s the duster? In the cupboard. Which cupboard? The one under the sink. Which sink? The kitchen sink. Which duster shall I use? Any. Where’s the polish? Oh for the love of Jesus, just go and hang the washing, please. Where do I hang it? FFS!!!
This is not to say, of course, that I must stop trying to delegate jobs to the kids. It’s good for them and one day – please God I hope – they will get better. Their cooking skills are pretty good, toilet cleaning less so.
Taking a break from both delegating and persevering today, I found myself dusting. What a bloody thankless task, I thought to myself. What a waste of time! No sooner is it done, than it’s not done. Literally, you turn your back, get to the door and BOOM – another layer of bloody dust has descended on your handy work. The worst bit of all: there’s no shortcut! Even if you pay for a cleaner, you will have hardly handed them a few crisp notes and BOOM, there it is again. This is no doubt why, when the raconteur Quentin Crisp was asked why he didn’t clean his New York apartment, he replied: “Because after three years, darling, the dust doesn’t get any worse.” I don’t think it takes that long.
Mind you – done and then not done – brings me back to my Shepherd’s Pie. All that work, even with shortcuts (I still have to open the packets and add pepper) and no sooner is it sat steaming on the table to cries of: oh Mum – that looks delicious! (Don’t kid yourself love, it’ll be the usual: are there mushrooms in that? Did you leave one bit without cheese on top, ‘cos I don’t like cheese remember? Oh, you didn’t put the peas IN IT, did you? We like them separate!) Then despite all the protestations, it will be gone and I will be delegating the washing up to bickering souls. Ah life…