Love and Mess

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1995. Boy met girl. Girl was possibly borderline alcoholic but Boy didn’t mind

We made a good team and we knew it. Within a few months we were buying our first flat together. Our lives revolved around work, travel, friends and being in love

Charlotte arrived sixteen years ago and suddenly the well-oiled routine of our lives became chaotic. We hadn’t fully understood the transition from couple to family, and we did not successfully adjust our work-life balance, whatever that actually is. Around this time, vacuuming lost all priority, and we still laugh about the Saturday morning when Baz was cleaning and a 2 year old C came out of her room to ask – ‘Why are you hoovering, Daddy? Is someone coming round?’

And so our lives continued. C adopted the same slovenly habits that we had, and we have bumbled through with only the occasional exhausted freakout from me when I simply cannot cope with the mess, collapse in tears and order a clear up

There are times when our hovel looks very nice: times when we know that people are coming over, and we try to give the impression that we live effortlessly in our little home space. The truth is that I barely even know what is in the fridge most of the time.

Other than the wine in the door, of course

The hoover (it’s actually a skinny sixties-looking-throwback) is where I hang my bra when I bath. All vacuums deserve a bit of a diversion, it’s no fun for them either

People sometimes make ‘good-natured’ jokes about our lifestyle, but I pity them. It’s not that I like mess, but the alternative is to nag constantly. And nagging creates dog’s arse wrinkles, you know. I’ve seen them on the faces of people around me as they berate their spouses. I’ll stick to laughter lines, thank you. And mess

For our Christmas visitors we pulled the place together to look respectable. All of C’s art stuff was cleared away. As always I vowed that it would stay this way, and that we would ‘get on top of it’

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But several weeks later I realise that we have rather let things slip. I know this because there’s a home-mummified frog on the dining table again, next to a vase of balletic dead roses, whose petals have shrivelled to linen. Both items are in fact part of C’s current GCSE resources, but they just add to the general impression of slobbery

So, having already spent 21 years together, Boy is now borderline alcoholic as well. Perhaps a little less Boyish than he was. He and Girl are still very much in love, and to their enormous joy and constant surprise there’s a beautiful, partly feral teenager in the house

And a dusty but really very sexy vacuum cleaner in the bathroom