Friday, 21 September 2012

Home Truths

Middle-age is an underrated condition. Those who have yet to reach it fear it; those who have, deny it. A survey by that matchless celebration of mid-life endeavour, Saga, shows that its customers reckon they pass from youth to old age near their 70th birthdays, bypassing middle-age entirely.

I am an expert in this field. I entered middle-age in spirit in my early teens and in body a good half decade ago. It's a stage that brings many comforts - a thicker skin, maturer children, guiltless nights on the sofa and an extensive collection of cardigans. But its greatest gift is wisdom.

While the young continue their blundering pursuit of their true selves, we mid-lifers have found ours, absorbed the shock, made some necessary adjustments and resigned ourselves to what we cannot change.

And so, from this enviable perch, I'm contributing to KateTakes5's collection of Truths as divined by women. Younger readers like Kate - this list of enlightenment could save you years of stress and experimentation!

A fountain pen. This is one of the most effective weapons against stress, confusion and cosmic disorder. There are, in fact, few woes that ink cannot help soothe, whether it's taming a day of heavy deadlines by listing and ticking them off or rationalising a crisis by venting on paper. Biros don't count.

Laundry. It's a mysterious truth that the amount of dirty linen in a laundry basket increases in inverse proportion to the amount that you daily take out of it. No matter how many cycles you fit in to a day. If this sounds preposterous, answer me this: when did you last see the bottom of yours? Which brings me to...

Ironing. Millions of modern women are enslaved to it, yet of all household chores this is the least necessary. Pressed linen is only an obligation for weddings, job interviews and a visit from a bishop. Creases subside from clothes after a couple of hours of wearing and are engraved into bedlinen after half a night's sleep, so what's the point? I used to excavate my iron once a year to smooth the Christmas tablecloths; now I use bigger place mats to disguise the crumples.

Gossip. Scurrilous gossip is more invigorating than charitable smalltalk. This is a very distressing truth and one I try hard to disprove. Daily do I resolve to suppress opinions of other people's child-rearing methods/lunch box contents/wardrobe combinations/marital challenges. Daily do I resolve to air opinions on their virtues. But the fact is that dissecting folk's shortcomings over a plate of Bourbon Creams makes us feel better about our own ineptitude and there's something unaccountably exhausting about company of finer souls who abhor it.

Security. You can withstand most routine slings and arrows if you are shored up by fleecy slippers and a block of Pilgrim's Choice.

What have I left out? Add your cosmic insights here:


33 comments:

  1. I love this - you may have inspired a post of my own. But not until after my son's birthday party this afternoon when we are entertaining 20 x 9 year olds and I reacquaint myself with the truth that everything is possible with a glass of white wine to hand...

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    1. Oh my word, good luck. Luckily my 9yo who turns 10 this weekend decided to forsake a party.

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  2. I haven't owned a fountain pen for about 15 years, but now you've mentioned it I have a sudden desperation to write in one all the time. Shall put one on my Christmas list.

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    1. You won't regret it. The daftest trivia has import when penned with proper ink.

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  3. I LOVE this post! Great intro especially.
    Laundry - yes
    Ironing - YES. I don't iron.

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  4. Hallelujah - A kindred spirit when it comes to ironing - I can't remember the last time I ironed any of my clothes - its only my husbands shirts that get flattened. He once pointed out that the newly cleaned bed sheet (on the bed at the time) needed ironing - I simply raised my eyebrow and went to make a cup of tea ... Don't sweat the ironing!

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    1. You cool woman! I'd have flung the iron at his head (if I could remember where I kept it)!

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  5. I can't lay my head on an unironed pillowcase, but I will confess to leaving the tea towels when the ironing basket is really full. As a mere man, I'm not sure I am eligible to contribute my Truth. But it is this: if in doubt, wear navy.

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    1. In which case you'll have to bring your own linen when you come and stay.

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  6. Don't own and iron. Don't miss it one jot. Love the idea of Older Mum raising an eyebrow at her husband's observation that a bed sheet needed ironing. I would have made more than a cup of tea... I would have made mince meat.

    Great list.

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  7. I own a couple of fountain pens left over from the days when we had to use them in school. I also own an iron left over from the days when I had too much time on my hands. I haven't used either of them in years although I'm tempted to try the pens to see if they still work.

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    1. Do.And buy a bottle of ink with a cork in. Fine thoughts will flow effortlessly from you!

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  8. I refuse to iron unless my husband and kids start to look like homeless tramps - then I do a bit to bring them back to acceptable levels.
    Fountain pens remind me of middle school, when we had to use them and I got into trouble for flicking ink over the shirt of a boy who pi**ed me off and ended up in the deputy head's office. Just sayin'

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  9. You've just reminded me of my beautiful fountain pen that seems to be clogged up and unfixable. Must find a place to take it for loving care and attention.
    Great post.

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    1. Thank you. Oh yes, you must. Everything seems saner when written with a proper nib.

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  10. Super post, I may be one of your 'younger' readers but feel that I am already middle-aged in some ways.
    Our laundry basket has a life of its own, it sort of slopes off across the room the fuller it gets, I don't iron, love a gossip, have my slippers on now and need a fountain pen!
    The truth I have recently accepted is that 'Done is better than perfect' - works in most circumstances but need not apply to ironing ;)

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  11. I feel almost ashamed to admit I love ironing.

    Order emerges from chaos. More clothes fit into a small space. Warm clothes warm the hands (I have dreadful circulation and a cold victorian house). A smell of slightly scorched cotton and lavendar sooths and calms. I iron in love to send my familt on their different ways.

    And I can watch trashy TV, drink a glass of wine, and feel ever so slightly virtuous all at the same time.

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    1. You make it sound almost alluring. But I don't have a TV where I iron and dislike wine and get the same feeling of virtue from annihilating limescale....

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  12. Ooo fab new blog to read! I'm new here! Found you off Twitter- which is one of the main reasons I don't iron anymore. I'm far too busy tweeting about everything to actually do anything! I will now go find my fountain pen.

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    1. Thrilled you popped by. You sound like someone I should definitely cultivate!

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  13. I consider myself enlightened. Although I already knew about the ironing one - I ironed for the the first time in ages last week and not one member of the family noticed. NOT ONE. Granted, one of them is a 32 year old man with no ironing standards, and the other is a 2 year old child. But still. I won't be doing it again.

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    1. Oh my dear, youth hangs so heavy on you! I'd be glad to educate you on many other domestic tips!

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  14. Fountain pens = inky leaks all over fingers = stress, confusion and cosmic disorder.

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  15. Oh for heaven's sake, you haven't mentioned CHOCOLATE.

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    1. Iota, I've missed you! Chocolate is surely an universal necessity rather than a little-know female-divined truth. And anyway, I'd rate Extra Strong Mints ahead of it!

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