dorothystewartblog

about writing and life and God

Keeping up with the neighbours

on June 26, 2013

I have a fairly relaxed attitude to housework. I don’t do any. Or hardly any. When I was a child, my Mum insisted my job was to study for exams, so I did – when I wasn’t reading crime novel after adventure novel after mystery novel in my bedroom when I should have been studying.

At University, I first lived in a Hall of Residence where everything bar washing myself and my clothes was done for me. And since I married before the start of my final year, I then had a very house-trained husband, bless him, who was willing and able to aid and abet me.

Immediately on graduation I found myself in Northern Nigeria where I was told firmly by one of the senior wives that not to employ a servant was selfish because they needed the work and the money and we didn’t. So into my life came a house-and-garden angel called Ibrahim who looked after just about everything.

When we returned to the UK five years later and plunged into full-time jobs, there was always someone willing to take on the cleaning and ironing and I never got the hang of any kind of routine or system to do it myself.

Spoilt rotten, basically. (Or perhaps as my grandmother used to say ‘Born to be a lady but wasn’t wanted.’)

What I have discovered is that this singular lack in my education can be reasonably well hidden. After all inside my house is inside, and it’s up to me who gets to come and in and see what it looks like at its worst i.e. in the 24 hours before my current house-angel’s blitz.

But the garden is outside. And there’s a great big lump of it (well, quite small actually but it still presents itself  to public view loud and clear) at the front. And weeds grow. And grass. And bushes. And they do actually need tending.

Digital Image

Especially when the neighbours have tidy front patches which show mine up!

I tried. I really did but found the kit I had salvaged from my previous home did not do the job to an acceptable standard. So I got help. And now my little front patch is as neat as anyone else’s. It will cost me, of course, financially. But it’s worth it. Problem solved.

As I walked back from the shops this afternoon, feeling rather pleased with myself, I felt, now that my font garden was respectable once again, I could stop and chat with the man I’d seen cutting grass on the very tidy lawn a few doors down.

‘Oh it’s not mine,’ he demurred when I complimented him on the neatness of his patch. ‘It’s my son’s. He always asks his old Dad for help with things like this.’

And I notice some of the other younger neighbours seem to rely on parents for help with garden and car and house problems. I’ve always lived hundreds of miles away from mine but I can see the benefits of having family nearby – especially now that my husband’s health is deteriorating.

I do know parents can find their time  all but hijacked by the new duties of grand-parenting but I’d just say enjoy it while you can. It’s a privilege to be part of young lives and be able to help. Even if it means turning out to cut the grass!

 

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