Last Saturday started off so well. I had just finished reading Owen McCafferty’s version of J.P. Miller’s Days of Wine and Roses. What a great play! Not only a great play, but an inspirational one too. I have had this idea for a character buzzing around in my head for some time now. This character is fully formed. She has a distinct personality, a past and a future. She even has somewhere to live. What she doesn’t (or didn’t) have is a purpose. She had no direction or destiny. She just wandered around my mind from time to time bugging me to do something with her. “Go away!” I’d mutter, “I really don’t know what to do with you.” But now I did. Now, everything had become clear thanks to reading this play. And I was itching, itching, itching to start writing but I couldn’t – not just yet anyway.
The reason I couldn’t start hammering away on the keyboard immediately was that the house was a tip. Not your average ‘I haven’t tidied up for a few days’ tip, but a complete and utter council rubbish tip one. The sort that sends you ducking for cover with every knock on the door just in case it is one of those very prim and proper cleaning ladies from one of those ‘God, you are a total slattern how dare you even show your face in public?’ reality TV shows. I should have tidied up during the week but I knew my girls were going to stay at my parents’ on Saturday night so decided that I might as well leave all the cleaning until then and blitz the house. But now I wanted to write. And now leaving the cleaning didn’t seem such a good idea. I really didn’t want to clean but, at the risk of having Environmental Health knocking down my door in a dawn raid, I thought it best I did.
As much as I hate cleaning and as much as I wanted to write, I have to admit to feeling an enormous amount of satisfaction and pride at my finished results. The house sparkled and gleamed in the manner of a cleaning products advert. The same could not be said for me. It’s funny how the women in cleaning products adverts never seem to do the housework in old bleached stained trackie-bottoms and t-shirts. However, a shower in my pristine bathroom put paid to all that. But I couldn’t write just yet. Because tonight my husband and I were kid free, tonight we were young and carefree again, and tonight we were going out.
We decided to go for a couple of drinks and to a new Mexican restaurant that has opened not too far from where we live. We had a fantastic night. The food was amazing, and we reminisced about life before the kids (a parental must on the rare occasions you are without your beloved offspring) and the old Mexican restaurant that had stood on the same spot many, many years before. We had no problems getting a taxi home and were just settling down to watch about of TV before heading to bed when my mum rang. One of my daughters was ill and she wanted to come home. My other daughter was sound asleep and so my parents left her with my brother and brought number one daughter home.
Number one daughter was not very happy. Number one daughter wanted to stay at my parents’ but she also wanted her mum and dad. Number one daughter didn’t want to go to bed, she wanted to stay up and watch some old Vietnam War film that we were watching. When number one daughter finally decided she was tired and wanted to go to bed, she wanted to sleep with us as it was too lonely in her bedroom without her twin. Number one daughter then preceded to wiggle and jiggle, and cough and sneeze all night.
The following morning my mum rang again to say number two daughter was also ill. She too was bundled up in her pyjamas and carried into the house coughing and sneezing and sniffing and with a temperature. My husband was at work so I spent the day mopping brows and taking temperatures and spooning Calpol into their poorly little bodies. Obviously no writing could be done but, never mind, there was always Monday. They weren’t going to be able to go to school but I should have been able to grab a few quite moments to make a start, because the itch hadn’t gone away. It was getting stronger.
I woke on Monday feeling hot and achy and sniffley and coughy. I woke on Monday feeling like complete and utter shit. So bad, in fact, my husband had to take a day off work to look after his three poorly girls. But never mind, there was always Tuesday to start writing. Accept, there wasn’t because whatever bug the girls had picked up from school (God, these places breed germs don’t they?) it was a nasty, vicious bugger and it wasn’t intending to leave its hosts anytime soon.
This meant no writing Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday. It took me all the time to make it out of bed let alone to a keyboard. In fact, most of the time I either curled up on the sofa and slept or crawled off back to bed with my two girls in tow. We’ve watched an awful lot of C Beebies, Disney Junior and Nick Junior this week; much more than would normally be humanly possible for me to stomach. You know you’ve had kids TV on too long when the suddenly realise this is the second time you’ve seen this episode of Mr. Bloom or Doc McStuffins today. However, I was too ill to find the children something more constructive to do, and they were too ill to do anything other than watch TV and sleep. That and watch the unseasonable snow swirl past our windows. At least we didn’t have to go out in that.
Then today, just when I was beginning to think this loathsome bug was here to stay for good, we all started to feel a little bit better. Not a lot, but there is definitely a small chink of light appearing now at the end of this snotty, coughy tunnel. Today, for the first time in nearly a week, I began to think about writing again. My inspirational itch is not back yet. I think I need to be fully recovered and fighting fit before that returns. At least, I hope so. I hope it’s not disappeared into the bin along with the hundreds of discarded tissues. Oh please don’t let it have gone. The last thing I need is my character starting to bug me again. Not in my present state anyway.