My name is Rebecca Bonnington and I’m a workaholic. There. I’ve said it out loud in as public a place as we can get these days. This realisation hit me yesterday when I took the afternoon off. It was Friday and I had run out of things to do. My to do list was empty. This never happens. This hasn’t happened to my knowledge in at least fifteen years.
At first I was very calm. I felt I’d earned an afternoon off and would spend it dreamily in a cloud of smug satisfaction. How wrong I was. As the afternoon drew on, my Youngest Daughter and I spent quality time together. This was fun, for a while....
We took an exciting trip to Waitrose (for our US readers, this is a very posh supermarket that very middle class people attend, a bit like a place of worship with a similar amount of quiet polite reverence as you’d find in an English village church hall at a Women’s Institute bake sale). Youngest Daughter had been given the task of baking a delicious death by chocolate cake for her Uncle (my older brother) for his forthcoming 53rd birthday. We had a truck load of dark chocolate to purchase, some fresh flowers and some of that shower shine stuff that supposedly means you never have to clean your shower ever again. I spend much of my time finding ways to avoid anything remotely domesticated.
We skipped around Waitrose, studiously avoiding getting any closer to anyone than was strictly necessary - we all have a deeply ingrained concept of what two metres looks like now, and got to the checkout where we were politely asked to pay nearly £100. ‘FFS’, I thought to myself, ’what the hell have I bought that cost nearly £100? Must remember to not tell Ever Patient Husband and carefully dispose of the receipt’. Turns out, those super posh ready meals by Charlie Bingham are fucking expensive and I bought four of them for Saturday night’s tea, plus fresh flowers, five bars of posh chocolate, an art magazine for Youngest Daughter and some eco friendly shower cleaning liquid that smells of pomegranates. It had better bloody keep my shower clean and save the turtles otherwise I’m going to get very upset as it cost the GDP of a small nation.
Back in the kitchen, I asked Youngest Daughter if I could do some colouring in whilst she baked the death defying chocolate cake. She granted me permission to colour in two pages in her new art magazine and gave me clear instructions to ‘look after’ her precious felt tip colouring pens and definitely not to use up the gold gel pen because that was her favourite.
I settled into my task whilst Youngest Daughter enveloped the kitchen in a thick layer of melted chocolate and cocoa powder. Within moments I was hooked. A feeling descended upon me that was akin to those weird YouTube videos that involve whispering and towel folding (it’s a thing, not unlike knicker sniffing, but less threatening). I was deeply absorbed in a trance-like state when Youngest Daughter started interacting with me, clearly expecting some kind of quality time with her mother who was usually upstairs in her office with the door firmly closed, trying to concentrate whilst the rest of the household were screaming and shouting at each other or playing heavy rock music at full blast.
’Must pay attention.‘ I thought as I interacted with my full attention, although glancing occasionally at my colouring in wishing I could get back to it.
We had fun. We really did and I ate a lot of dark chocolate ganache, which I’ve decided is like the crack cocaine of the chocolate world because I literally had to pour washing up liquid onto it to prevent me from eating a bucket of it. The chocolate cake is magnificent. It even has 53 sitting on it made out of the homemade toffee Youngest Daughter concocted.
The more chocolate ganache I ate, the more jumpy and agitated I became until finally, I wished I could be back upstairs cocooned in my safe space with my HubSpot database, my emails and digital marketing mega world domination plan. ’What is wrong with me?’ All these mummies and daddies on Facebook telling the world how lovely it is to be spending quality time with their little cherubs and all I’ve managed is three hours with a rather independently minded eleven year old who is capable of making toffee from scratch!
Perhaps it’s because she’s my third child, perhaps it’s because, a bit like Carolyn from “Killing Eve” I‘m not good with any kind of neediness. I’ve been called the Ice Queen in my past and I can be very cold at times. One ex-boyfriend described my split from him as a ‘scorched earth’ policy. Hmmm. I love my dog. He’s not at all needy and he doesn’t ask me difficult questions like ‘what do you think of my dance mum?’ or ‘listen to this mum’ or ‘darling where’s the butter?’ That was one was my husband and he must be counted as one of the children because his attention span and eyesight is just as bad.
I love them all. I really do. I’m just not cut out to be a domesticated person. I like working and being at work and talking to people about work and reading about work and listening to things related to work because I just don’t see it as work. For me its a way of being, as natural as drinking Negroni cocktails by The Mediterranean show line, work brings me that much pleasure. Always has done (except for those times when I’ve worked for total knobs) and I’m guessing it always will.
So, dear reader, you find yourself absorbing the musings of a workaholic, cold, not very maternalistic or domesticated woman of a certain age who prefers colouring in to watching her Youngest’s Daughter‘s efforts in the kitchen and praising her every two seconds.
Is it me? Or are other women like this? Could it be my age? For I know my girlfriends who are all women of a certain age are a bit like me too.
As a child of the 1970’s, my mother didn’t know where I was around 80% of the time. I was mainly setting fire to things, nicking her fags and getting older people to buy me cider, but that didn’t seem to matter so long as I was in for my tea and home before it got dark. I suspect there’s a happy medium somewhere in which I am able to be content fashioning crafts out of used yoghurt pots (I really, really hate that kind of stuff and am thankful that building a medieval village type projects are now well and truly over with) and hold down a high powered career. Not sure where that happy medium is though.
My last confession is that I have a favourite hoover attachment. It had disappeared for a year and has suddenly turned up in the under stairs cupboard. No one in the household is admitting to having hidden it or even found it so it’s whereabouts for a twelve month period remain a mystery.
Like many people in the UK, we own a Dyson turbo charged vacuum cleaner and it comes with many, many bewildering attachments, most of which probably turn up in accident and emergency departments up people’s bottoms after having been ‘accidently’ sat on and being removed by a poker faced nurse sporting a pair of rubber gloves and some KY Jelly.
My favourite attachment has a small brush on the end. It’s useful for hoovering the dust and grime from skirting boards and hard surfaces. Only moments ago I was cheerfully sucking up at least two month’s worth of dust, grime, soil and fluff (where does fluff come from?) from our vestibule (posh porch) wondering how life had come to this. Since when was using a brushy hoover attachment a joyful experience in my life? It was a mere four months ago I could be found in a swanky private members club for women in the heart of Mayfair in London sipping cocktails and eating dinner with the Head of Legal for an international bank. A month later, I was in the audience on the twenty fifth floor of the Gherkin in London, listening to Sadiq Khan, the Major of London talking about his economic policy for the city and now I was reduced to removing unspecified fluff from a posh porch with my favourite hoover attachment.
I‘ve not even started on the poncho I’m knitting and the fact that it starts off as a small neatly knitted triangle which Ever Patient Husband suggested would make a very good fanny warmer for me or bottom warmer for the dog.
Perhaps that’s a whole new chapter to be written.