I digress

28 Nov

These boots are made for walking

Picture this. I am wearing nothing but a pair of thermal socks, size 11 hiking boots, waterproof trousers, a thermal top, a fleece, a waterproof jacket and a head lamp. All of this belongs to my husband, and I don’t quite know why I am wearing it whilst sitting at the kitchen table.

I am the sexy lovechild of Berghaus, Karrimor, Craghoppers and all the other outdoorsy brands that threw up their past season or not so popular colourways onto the floor of my local TK Maxx. I’m so padded, I can barely move to type these words. If I fancied getting amorous with myself, I’m sure I could navigate my hand in and out of the various breathable flaps.

I call my husband at work.

“I’ve just dressed up in all of your hiking gear, to see if it’ll fit you.”

There is a silence. He knows that I have bought him some clothes for his Scottish walking holiday in a couple of weeks, but is probably baffled as to why I have tried it all on.

“Why? You are a few inches shorter than me, have different size feet and you have boobs.”

I point out that yes, I do have boobs, but they are small, and if you take into consideration the difference between my chest width (32) and his (38), we’re probably the same.

“I tried to take a picture of me wearing it all, but we don’t have a full length mirror. I even stood on the kitchen table to see if I could capture the important bits in the wide mirror, but alas, all you could see were the boots.”

“Why, why, why?” my husband asks, again. “I can try everything on when I get home.” Then he asks something really worrying. “Do you look sexy?”

I answer that yes, Macca Pacca would love a girlfriend like me.

The reason that I have shrouded myself in my husband’s clothes is simple: I am trying to avoid work. Well, more specifically, the chasing of work. When I’m given work to do, I do it. I usually finish it early, ahead of deadline in fact. It’s just when the work’s not there – and I am its creator – that the problems begin.

It’s the follow-up calls, and emails, and leaving messages on voicemail and texts that I can’t stand. It’s akin to speaking to boys I liked in my late teens. In the days before mobile phones, I would pluck up all my courage to call them at their house. If I was lucky, they answered. If not, I was met by the voice of a grumpy father, or a mean sibling.


(Once, my aunt was staying with us when I was fifteen and she answered the phone to a potential boyfriend of mine. His voice was in the middle of breaking. My bitch aunt, tactful as ever, shrieked with laughter across the hall.

“It’s a young man for you, though I can barely hear what he is saying because his voice is so squeaky!”)

Yup, calling people up who I barely know is a hideous task, and one I’d rather avoid at all costs.

A couple of months ago I called someone at the wrong time. She was furious. “Sorry, who?” she said when I announced myself. “I thought you were the editor. This is a REALLY bad time.” I didn’t dare ask when a good time would be.

I put the phone down, took a deep breath, and hummed. I hum when I’m nervous, or angry, or simply embarrassed. I was all of these things.

Today, I’m supposed to be chasing all of the people I contacted ages ago. Instead, I’m fit for a hike in the North Pole. I have a list of things that I can do instead.

I will tackle these tasks with ample time and thought, so as not to risk someone shouting down the phone at me “IT IS NOT A GOOD TIME TO CALL, OK?”

Varnish this collage that I started in the early hours of labour with my last baby, which was nearly two years ago:

Read this book. It seems to contain all of the things that I think about regularly:

Fix the cot, so that I can take away the milking stool (i.e. broken chair) that is currently holding the side up:

Continue to scratch away at the remains of this sticker on the kitchen window. The last owner loved dogs more than people, and left many reminders of his devotion to slobbering death-breath fart-bags all over the house. I cannot make this one disappear. If you look closely, you can still make out all of the dog’s features.

Buy the correct latch for the understairs cupboard from B&Q so that my little helpful Biro outline can finally be covered up.

I’m meeting old family friends from New York tonight. They love to talk about their children. They will show me pictures of them all. They will tell me how beautiful and talented and wonderful they are. They will tell me how kind-hearted and self-less and humble they are, and how their eldest daughter has driven an ambulance around Israel for the last three years, helping injured Palestinians despite being Jewish. They will tell me how the other has been a volunteer in a New Orleans Women’s refuge for the past year. I will tell them that all of this is incredible, and say “How happy and proud you must be.”

They will ask me what I am doing with my life at the moment. I should of course tell them that my youngest is being looked after by  a childminder for a couple of days a week now, so that I have the freedom to prance around my kitchen dressed up as a middle-aged male hiker. But I won’t.

“This and that.” I will say. I will think of Israel, and ambulances, and injured people and victims of domestic abuse. Then I will think how scared I am of editors. What a wimp.

Anyway, now that I’ve wasted sufficient time NOT chasing people for work, what will I wear for tonight’s dinner with the Epsteins? The waterproof trousers and boots, or the cocktail pants?

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