I have delved the depths of irrelevant middle class angst. I rant against The Big Society (doublespeak for amateurs doing the work of professionals, mostly badly, in the spare minute between the job, the volunteering, the living, the sleeping and the kid's ballet classes), but in my more selfish moments I am in a rant with self.
It's to do with comfort zones, laziness, habits dying hard, practicalities and complete disinterest in shiny and pristine if it means work that I find unnecessary. I've talked about my sluttish ways before. But now, there is a new daily challenge. We have had the top and lids of the Aga re-enamelled.
It looks shiny and new and virtuous and strokeable. But before it was hammered and friendly and easy to live with. Now I can't drop a splotch of tomato sauce or dribble of chicken juices without heading for a j-cloth. Now, I can't balance casseroles, pots or pans on the lids without fishing out a tea towel (is it clean?) to soften the blow. Before I was quick and efficient, sliding heavy pans full of roasted summat out of the oven and onto the top. No jiggery pokery required to lift the joint onto a plate keeping nice and hot before shoving the pan straight onto the hot plate to conjure up gravy. Now I am in a ferment of confusion and fear. I MUST NOT SCRATCH THE NEW TOP. I must keep cork mats and tea towels close at hand. I must learn how to hold heavy pans full of hot things in one hand whilst the other fannies about finding the equivalent of a coaster for big things. And I know I'm going to fail this test of competence.
My mind is on the cooking, not the cleaning, on the ingredients and the process, not the niceties of housekeeping. I HATE housekeeping. I will never fret on my deathbed, no sudden conversion to cleanliness and godliness, wishing I'd been a religious scrubber rather than an atheist slut.
But that altar of the kitchen that was so welcoming and full of promise has turned on me. It has expectations. It has needs. It has had money spent on it. And now I'm not as in love as once I was.
It took seventy years to get to the state where we thought it deserved a facelift. And now the bloody thing will see me out and will shinily reflect my ageing face as it beams back, younger than ever.