Showing posts from March, 2015

A Life of Decorum

The Church, I always thought, is a bastion of dignity and decorum. It was logical to assume, therefore, that when I married in to it, some of these qualities would rub off on me. I am not alone in that delusion. The eyes of strangers remain lifeless when I am introduced by name. But when that qualifying epithet 'the Vicar's wife' is added, as it always is, they gaze with new interest and respect. They see, I suspect, someone who starches her underhose and spends Saturday nights pulsing over box sets of Songs of Praise . Behind closed doors, however, vicarage life has been a disappointment. Dignity and decorum, precariously simulated through my twenties, fled the moment I took my vows and neither has been seen since. It's not just the fact that, when I am mid way through an Adele impression, an archdeacon is liable to emerge from the Vicar's study, or that I'm required to host total strangers in my polar bear dressing gown when the Vicar runs late for a meeting


It was 10am on Sunday. I had done the laundry, served the breakfast, baked a cake, washed up, prepared a stew, riddled the fire and laid out squash and biscuits for the cubs and scouts in church. When, I thought, does Mothering Sunday begin? 2pm on Sunday. I had attended church, served squash and biscuits to the cubs and scouts, sat through the Annual Parochial Church Meeting, cooked the lunch, washed up and mopped the kitchen and bathroom floors. When, I thought, does Mothering Sunday begin? 7pm on Sunday. I had sorted the under-stairs cupboard, changed the sheets, crashed out of a Monopoly game with the children, made their tea, washed up, fetched in the coal, unblocked a drain and performed an emergency dash to Co-op. And it began to dawn on me… …I had relished every minute of it all. I don't usually find the vigour to bake after breakfast. The bed sheets had at least another month of wear left in them. The kitchen floor hasn't been washed since our tabby vomited


In a remote part of the cemetery is a small stone urn, dwarfed by the tombstones around it. Inscribed on the sides is simply 'Mum' and 'Dad' and the year of their deaths in the 1960s. There's no headstone or kerb, nothing to show it's there except, this last December, the glow of coloured lights from a miniature Christmas tree placed beside it. Such a tiny testament to such huge love. Fifty years after their deaths, someone somewhere can't imagine Christmas without their parents a part of it. Fifty years on, that aged someone marks Mothering Sunday with lily-of-the-valley and a spray of pink rosebuds. I am awed by the enduring power of human relations and daunted by the expectations it implies of parenthood. That devotedly tended urn exposes the void that is left when parents pass on. And it shows me the impact we have, for good or bad, on our children. This Mothering Sunday I shall overlook the wash load that my 12-year-old forgot to hang up, the ma

I Love You

I am not always affirming with my children. I assume my love shows in my painstaking plucking of burnt bits off the suppers I cook them and in the hours I spend hanging round in New Look. Maybe, though, this is not enough. 'Do you luuurve me?' asks the 10-year-old on the walk home from school. 'You know the answer to that,' I say absently. He ponders. 'If I was a bench would you love me?' 'Eh?' 'If I was a gas pipe and you were a gutter would you love me?' 'Um…' 'If you were a washing line and I was clothes would you dry me?' 'I…' 'If I was a sign post and you were a lamp would you light me?' 'Well, I….' 'If I was a bin and you were a recycling bin would you sit with me.' 'How long can you keep this up?' 'If I was a lavatory and you were a p….' 'YES!' I interject hastily. 'I LOVE you!'


I like to keep my intellect in good repair. Whenever the Vicar finishes a chick-lit novel I bag it for my bedside table. I'm serious about my looks. Every six months or so, when my hair can no longer be restrained by my bath hat, I pour a friend a gin and she shears it for me. I have, though, never given much thought to my fitness. It came as a shock, when I hit 40, to realise I could no longer do a forward roll, but I found other evening pastimes that respected my unbending joints. When my back began protesting at tasks I used to take for granted, I was regretful... …but I failed to heed the warning signs. It was only when I struggled to heave myself off our sagging  sofa that I decided I must face what the other school-gate mums embraced routinely and embark on a fitness regime. They all subscribe to David Lloyd, but I reckon no gym can beat The Vicarage with its state-of the-art facilities and 24/7 opportunities for body-honing. My daily workout has made a new matro