A time and a place

20 Mar

This morning I looked in hope at the clock. I play guess the time quite a lot. Almost as much as I play guess my bank balance, which again, I do with hope in my heart. I want the clock to give me extra time, and I want my bank balance to forget several heavy transactions.

I’m late. I was born early, but save a couple of years in my late teens where I fake tanned regularly, wore acrylic false nails and dressed like Ginger Spice (obvious signs of momentry abnormal personality disorder), I have regularly failed to be on time. As a small child I spent most days tiptoeing into assembly, late because my parents were more interested in lying in than dropping me off at the school gates on time. My mother had usually tied up my hair in a wonky ponytail, with a non-school regulation neon hairband. Six years of my life were spent wearing a uniform in various shades of shit and piss, and I’ve never been able to wear anything brown or yellow since.

My primary school teachers pulled me up on everything. I tried to please and I tried to be good, but I failed at the first step. My uselessness at Latin (I couldn’t translate a sentence that described many girls adorning a table with roses while Sextus, in hortilius, looked on) was reason enough for the headmistresses to hate me. I wanted to be good but I was always lagging behind. The ten minutes I missed out on at the front end of the day, were, I thought, to blame for everything. In the end, I decided that all my failings were down to my parents’ inability to be punctual.

At home, I was pulled up on nothing. Some weekends I would smoke unlit cigarette butts for breakfast, abandoned in ashtrays from my parents’ dinner parties. Their friends turned up, ate something my mother had accidently dropped into the sink and rinsed before serving, then moved onto more booze and the chain smoking of Silk Cuts. Their parties never ended on time. They were always late.

As my parents continued to flex their liberal muscle, I became more and more conservative. I dreamt of pony club every weekend and Volvo estates and a mother who wore linen dresses cut on the bias. “When I have children,” I used to say to myself “I will make sure that I am on time for everything.”

They grew tired of my moaning and I still hadn’t grasped Latin. Their solution was to send me to a secondary boarding school where they only had to drop me off and pick me up a handful of times every term. They still managed to be late when they collected me for an exeat. For once though, I was rarely late, because as a boarder you follow the horde.

I was a hungry teen, so was on time for every meal: breakfast, lunch and dinner were always served on the dot. There was never a shortage of bread, milk, biscuits or cigarettes bought with a generous allowance, in ‘free’ time, that again, was scheduled neatly into every day. More than the around the clock friends and sponge pudding after every meal, I liked the routine. For five years I was looked after and told where I had to be, and I loved every minute of sensible predictability.

Now I’m a parent myself, my children know that they’re going to be fed three times a day, but don’t necessarily know when. Somewhere along the way, my standards slipped and my desire to be better than my mother at good time keeping was lost. I’m probably as bad, if not worse, than she ever was. Thankfully my children go to a school where the teachers are kind and don’t make them learn Latin. They aren’t really bothered if they’re late for first lesson. I’m bothered though. When friends see me walking through the park in the morning, they usually start shouting at their children to hurry up, thinking if they’ve run into me and my lot on their way to school then they must be seriously late.

Now in my crazy belief that I simply have to wish hard enough for something to happen and it comes true (my middle son is obsessed with Wizard of Oz) I have started craving serious order in my life. I’m not asking for a miracle. Just a decent sized wall planner from Rymans, or failing that my husband’s work stationary cupboard. Last year we slapped some blackboard paint on a substantial area of our kitchen wall, in the vain hope that it would make us more organised. I dreamt of up-to-date daily meal plans, our kids’ spelling lists, and neatly  ticked off ‘to do’ lists. What we’re now faced with is a badly smeared ‘grey’ area, sometimes decorated with an abnormally large cock and balls sketch, a kind contribution from my husband. If my daughter is feeling particularly narked off, she might scrawl something horrible for me to read as I’m making my morning cup of coffee. On paper, she’s a girl of few words. This morning I was greeted with “U R a cow.” The blackboard has failed and is certainly more public loo door than smug ‘look at my beautiful ordered life’ weekly planner.

But I can dream. And I can be more realistic about my plans. While I may be prone to lateness – and any future employer reading this must realise that for some amazing reason, work is the only exception where I’m punctual, so hire me – I can try to be a better planner.

I won’t suddenly start synching my gmail calender with my husband, and it will probably take me at least another month to actually back up my phone information should I lose it. But I will start to actually write things down, or pin them up so that I can tell myself, my husband and our children what the vague plan is from day to day. I’ve proved to myself that when I know what’s going on, I’m a far happier person. My children would certainly benefit from a bit of old fashioned organisation.

So tonight I’m wiping down the cock and balls and scrubbing out the two-month-old dinner suggestions. I’m starting with a clean slate. And first on my list is to ask my husband to steal a wallplanner from work. I’ve even found enough space on our wall to hang it. I’m also making a rule that the only person that gets to write on it is me. No doodles, no mildly abusive messages: just notes that carry some hope for order.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: