I put off writing this blog post for a long while. Well, I didn’t exactly put it off: it slipped between my fingers, scuttled away and wriggled under the bed like the tricky thing it is. I’ve been trying to coax it out with treats.
I thought of telling an inspirational story about becoming a writer, then put the thought aside. I thought of telling an inspirational story about survival, and family, and the everyday ordinary heroics that characterise ordinary women’s lives… and put that notion aside, too.
None of my stories seemed inspirational enough. It’s not that they bored me: I am deeply grateful to the survivor in me, that little plodding character who tries to balance the budget, cook nutritionally varied meals and educate her child in the face of a soul-shredding market economy in one of the most expensive cities on earth. Good for her, top marks, bells and whistles.
But she doesn’t strike me as being an Inspirational Woman. Perhaps I’m becoming cynical in middle age. Perhaps I’m inspirationally challenged, but surely this plodding housewife character hasn’t suffered what others in her acquaintance have suffered, and survived – with style. She hasn’t been thrown in prison by corrupt government officials, with the aim of confiscating her property for bail. She hasn’t dealt with life-changing illness or seen her family wiped out by an unchecked epidemic. Nope, no Ebola in the UK, despite the immigrants. Sorry, Farage.
Look around you, I say to London housewife me. (We don’t speak much these days, we’ve had something of a spat.) You live in a country which still offers the basic democratic freedoms, however steep the price of milk. There’s a right-wing braying on the breeze but it’s drowned out by the sound of laughter. There are still decent people in the world. We’re clinging to the outer edge of sanity here, just about.
In fact you should be happy, deliriously happy, dancing down the aisles at Tesco’s because look, they stock fresh milk. You should be enthusiastic about the MP for Watford sending you his flyer about the upcoming election, for nowhere on your voting form does it yet ask you to declare your religious affiliation. You don’t risk violence every time you step outside your door because of your gender, ethnicity, something you do or do not wear, or some obscure and unliveable law dragged from the dustbin of history by a priest suffering chronic toothache. You may wonder if buying latkes at the local deli will one day result in your being blown up by a passing lunatic, but he will be just that: a lunatic.
Sad. Lost. A minority.
So this is cause for celebration, I tell housewife me. Get your glad rags out and dance, woman. Dance like there’s no tomorrow. Perhaps there will be no tomorrow. Consider Phlebas, who was once as handsome and tall as you.
Phlebas was a man, sulks London housewife me. And a Phoenician. You have no idea what you’re saying.
And so, put duly back in my place, I find myself where I started, coaxing out the story. Here, kitty, kitty, kitty.
Now, that is heroic.
Mary Victoria currently lives in London with her husband, daughter and an unusually patient cat. Or maybe it’s the husband who is unusually patient. You can find more of Mary’s writing on: http://maryvictoria.co.uk/