It’s amazing how different your life can be in only three years. Three years ago, this week would have meant a return to school and everything that went with it. My life is different in so many ways!
1. I have no longer ‘wet the bed’ – 9 o’clock is a good time to get up and the chicken ladies don’t mind too much. If Basil isn’t waking me up and the Moll is happy, then all is well. I guess it will be different when Jake’s school starts, but hey, I’m still not going to be in work by 7 o’clock every morning!
2. I no longer am suited-and-booted. You don’t need £200 Russell and Bromley mary-janes when you are on a small ‘fermette’. I could feed the chickens in them, but chicken shit can’t be good for patent leather. I don’t need a suit, either. Not only is it too hot for suits, but power dressing isn’t appreciated by the fu shnickens and the carrot patch. Hence, I don’t spend all weekend coveting Kurt Geiger and Gina, or hunting down bargain Planet suits. I’ve still got the suits in a cupboard though, so I can go and cry into them when it all goes wrong.
3. Benefit and Chanel make-up have gone out of the window. When you’re dripping with sweat, make-up tends to end up on your boobs, and it’s not such a good look. No point having varnished toe-nails – so the pedicures are no longer an essential requirement – because you’re insane to have toes on display outside, because of nettles, bird poo, fallen plums and the like. If you aren’t trying to wow 200 kids a day, you don’t need Yves St Laurent Touche Eclat.
4. No more simple sandwiches, cup a soups or canteen lunches. No more 10 minute lunches, because you’ve spent the first 10 minutes bollocking people for forgetting their homework. As a teacher, that’s always a conundrum. Do you collect it at the beginning and then risk being in a bad mood all lesson because 10 nitwits have letters from their mother, or do you collect it at the end having let them sweat it out and had a perfectly nice lesson with the 20 lovelies who’ve illustrated theirs and tied a ribbon through the pages to keep them together? I know which is my choice. However, then you spend the first ten minutes of lunch or break telling kids they’re irresponsible layabouts who’ll do nothing with their lives. Now, we have an episode of 24, sometimes some home-made poppy-seed bread rolls (which Jake loves!) and a plate of charcuterie or cheese with cornichons and salad. A full hour of bliss. Sometimes with wine! And… the good thing is, even when Jake’s at school, we’ll still be able to do this because they have super-lengthy dinnertimes!
5. No more guilty McDonald’s on the way home after a profoundly long day. Home-made stuff needs time. And, if you’re cooking for one, it’s not even worth it. I was a fan of the uber-luxury off-the-shelf Sainsbury’s pre-cooked meals. Now, I’d cry if I spent £15 (for 3) on tea. If I can’t do a three-course meal for under a tenner for three, including wine, then I’m failing in my fermette duties.
6. No more expensive (but lovely) gym memberships. Now, I don’t need to go to pound 10 shades of shit out of the punch bags, or spend an hour doing tai-chi or running on the machines because it’s too cold and wet outside. Now, a bit of digging, weeding or secateur work is more than adequate, with long blackberry picking walks in the evening sun.
7. No more Costa Coffee (though I miss those like you wouldn’t believe!) since the local coffee shops do ‘p’tit noir’, ‘grand noir’ or ‘café crème’ – and I’m much looking forward to my first large skinny latté – French coffee is far too functional.
8. No more trips to London on council or government coffers. No more getting up at the crack of dawn to catch the 6:47 from Piccadilly to Euston, getting a coffee and a paper on the platform and pretending to be business-like by working on my laptop all the way down. Laptops are for fun, these days!
9. No more Saturdays spent at the Trafford Centre looking at over-priced (but lovely) curtains and cushions in John Lewis or buying dresses from Karen Millen for Saturday night. Shopping is much less wasteful these days. I can’t remember the last time I bought something just because I wanted it, not because I needed it: books, cds, DVDs, make-up, clothes, shoes, artwork. Now it’s ‘buy because you need it, and think carefully about that!’
10. No more nights out at the Printworks or meals in Sapporo Teppenyaki, Tampopo or Pacific. Not only don’t I have anyone to take to such places, should they exist outside the big cities, but there doesn’t seem much point. I did go to the pizza place at Romefort with my dad last October. But it’s trestle tables, mismatched furniture, chipped formica, faded vinyl. But the food is good, and the company is too!
I guess a lot of these are shifts in materialism. From Margot to Barbara Good in one fell swoop!