Domesticity – don’t you just love it? Here’s my personal top ten least favourite tasks, in no particular order:
- Scrubbing urban seagull shit off the front window.
- Swabbing all kitchen surfaces after Beloved’s weekend cooking extravaganza.
- Wiping down every single white surface in the house. (Who – exactly – invented white surfaces? Any why?)
- Disinfecting the toilet. (No. Flushing water does not do it.)
- Hoovering the plants. (Yes, there’s an art, and hoovering isn’t recommended. But it’s much quicker. Sorry plants!)
- High speed dusting – complete with hoover attachments.
- Cleaning the ‘self-cleaning’ oven. (Really? Yes. Some Nameless Numpty forgot to include the metal racks.)
- Disposal of soured milk. Especially when you are dairy-free.
- Bouncing cold mailshot letters. Ignore at your peril, they multiply exponentially.
- Pest removal – including ants, bees, wasps, moths, flies, rats and mice. Not forgetting the occasional deceased squab/baby seagull.
‘So hang on, you say you have social anxiety, but you perform, sing and do spoken word, and go to events to make contacts?’
Well now. Here’s how I put my game face on.
- Have an aim. If I have to, once I’ve tried to achieve, or achieved it, I can leave.
- Get close to the beginning of the line up if possible. Once I’ve done my ‘bit’, I can relax.
- I don’t drink alcohol if it’s a work thing.
- I don’t eat garlic for three days before the event.
- I leave myself extra time to sort out my hair (I could conquer the world if I thought my hair looked good).
- I recognise and accept the presence of ‘anxiety sweat.’ It smells different from exercise sweat.
- I check my teeth in the mirror.
- I (never) have tissues.
- I floss.
I had a normal-sized life, albeit with a tendency to uncomfortable swellings, until recently. In the months after my memoir was published, though, it became tiny.
There’s only five-foot-one of me, so I’ve never taken up much space. Tiny is my natural state, and as I was past middle age with no notable features, I was perfectly placed to reduce this life to near-invisibility. In producing a book, I had written it large – or in 12-point Times New Roman at least – and ventured way beyond my comfort zone. It was exhilarating and I loved it, but playing it tiny felt much more me.
But life won’t be played like that, and comfort zones won’t contain it. The tiny life whispers increasingly, incessantly, that it too, deserves to be written. So here I am, at the keyboard, ready to begin again.
Don’t judge me for shopping for school shoes three weeks after our term started.
OK, judge me if you like!
But I just had to share – especially after the whole dolly-babe nonsense – that we had the best surprise when we went to Clarks yesterday.
I was all for going to JD or Schuh, but it turns out my children are creatures of habit. So in we went, to the shop we’ve gone to since my oldest was getting their first walking shoe. They have gravitated to the ‘girls’ side since they could toddle.
Yesterday, I looked at the ‘girls’ side. And there was no girls side.
Clarks at Fort Kinnaird have mixed their shoes – they’ve got a trainer wall, and the smarter shoes are on the right.
To some people this would mean nothing. To me it means so much.
I spent last week in Inverness with around a hundred young people from England, Scotland, Malta and Chicago who congregated at the National Theatre of Scotland’s Exchange Festival.
Casting myself as an anthropologist, I observed the use of the ubiquitous mobile phone – how it was integrated seamlessly into conversations and performances, the quick fact checking, the intimacy of capturing and sharing images, how texts shoaled individuals like fish into the next workshop, the next show, a place to share food and thoughts, a prop for breaking the ice.
Mobiles as tools for inclusion.
And the shows these young people made – experimental, moving, funny and savvy about human emotions; willing to tackle some of the BIG stuff, mental health, migration and sexuality to name a few. This is the future of theatre making in Scotland. I came home excited. It’s contagious.
‘Ug I hate that phrase. It’s so sexist.’
‘Bang for your buck. It’s clearly a reference to sex workers.’
‘Dunno. I thought it was about fireworks.’
‘You know, if there was a way to check…’
‘… you mean like a magical encyclopedia on your phone? OK. Let’s see…
“Bang for the (or one’s) buck, which means ‘value for one’s money’, was originally a political one. Its first use was quite literal: With bang referring to ‘firepower’ or ‘weaponry’, it really did mean ‘bombs for one’s money’. The alliteration of bang and buck helps to make the phrase memorable. (Random House, via Wikipedia)”
‘There, you see. Isn’t education a wonderful thing?’
‘You’re just delighted I was wrong.’
‘Not delighted. I’m pleased for you. You’re growing.’
‘At least I can admit when I’m wrong…’
Thanks so much for all the views, follows, likes and comments this year. I’ve really hit my stride with this blog and for that I have you to thank.
I’ll be back with more posts in September – I hope you all have a peaceful, restful summer. We have a couple of weeks camping booked in Norfolk this year, and some time in Glasgow while the kids take part in a Drama Course. I’m also hoping to start eating mindfully, and finally get round to starting ‘The Artist’s Way.’
If there’s anything you think would be a good topic for #atinylife in 2018/19 please do comment below, I’d love to hear from you.
Also, if anyone out there would like to write a guest post – I’d love that too! Here are the guidelines.
Keep life tiny!
Stella Hervey Birrell x