Wednesday, 17 December 2008

A letter to Santa

Dear Father Christmas,

I know you are very possibly a trifle pre-occupied at present and that I am cutting it a little fine when it comes to putting in last minute requests but I wonder if I might have a quiet word?

I was sitting here last night, minding my own business and clipping my toe nails, inadvertently harpooning a passing cat with a rogue nail in the process, when I was led to ponder upon the injustices of life and the cruel vagaries of Mother Nature and how they might be addressed.

Why for instance is it that my toe nails grow long, strong, white and elegant as flowers of the field flourish on neglect, whilst their cousins who dally on the extremities of my fingers are frail and brittle, as prone as a Jane Austin heroine to go flaky at the slightest provocation? Better suited to being imprisoned inside sturdy boots and thick socks far from the gaze of society than my toes which despite rarely getting the chance to appear out of wellingtons, carry themselves with the air of having recently been visited by an expensive french manicurist ?

It is I know self inflicted; years of thrusting my hands unwillingly into vats of vile smelling glazes, thumping clods of clay into submission and domestic drudgery have all taken their inevitable toll.

It is no unconsidered happenstance that finds Cinderella losing a glass slipper and not a ring. One look at her hands after years of shifting cinders and scrubbing floors and the Prince wouldn't have given her a second look. No doubt she wore delicate lace gloves to the ball so he wouldn't notice how stubby her nails were or how dire her digits, after all Fairy Godmothers can only perform so many miracles when given a sow's ear to work with. Her feet were, I have no doubt, her best feature.


My mother had beautiful fine elegant fingers and long perfectly behaved nails which remained polished and pampered until her death. I suspect her secret lay not in copious creams and massages, as she never visited a manicurist, but more in the judicious employment of a housekeeper and gardener, thus saving her the anxiety of her hands being placed on an at risk register. Is there an at risk register for deprived and neglected appendages do you think? If so there is, I fear, every chance my entire body might be taken into care for its own protection, the little attention I pay it.

Not for me the glossy magazine lifestyle of my forebears. As I write my entire world is shrouded in dust; it rolls, as smoke across the battlefield after some vast conflict, leaving as it passes a blanket of granite and slate particles over all I possess.

Claude the carpenter is putting in a new backdoor, which despite his careful measuring appears to be 3 sizes too small for the aperture; he has decided by dint of some bizarre French logic that the remedy is not to plane off the door but to make the hole bigger. An act of folly only outshone by his neglecting to forewarn me or cover anything with dust sheets. He has also removed the stairs in order to give himself more room to work, leaving me marooned, cut off from any possible retreat to the top floor, in the kitchen.He has now gone to lunch, abandoning me to the Armageddon that was once my drawing room and the prospect of a night spent sleeping on the sofa.

This is a big house. My mother in Law arrives on Friday, the earthly personification of all that is clean and ordered. I am all that stands between my family and the icy blast of her disapproval if all dust has not been vanquished. She is of my mother's generation, has never decorated in her life nor cared for a large family whilst running the house like clockwork and juggling her own business. Like my mother she governed from above, far away from the heat of domestic traumas and always staff to do the grotty bits. I am staring social disaster in the face. Or rather would be if I could see it through the dust...alas all the joy I had hoped for this Christmas will be peppered with well aimed shots regarding domestic goddesses and the state of my domain.

Please Santa, I have tried to be a good but with only a sick Hoover and a stiff broom to keep the detritus at bay what can one expect? If you have run out of Fairy Godmothers, could you perhaps rustle up a ferry strike for Christmas ? Failing that a bout of berry berry ?

Yours sincerely,

A most ungodly domestic.

20 comments:

KittyB said...

Oh honey, not only mother in law visit but rooms full of dust to deal with first. Good luck. And as to the hands, get a cleaner, a cook, and a lifetime's supply of goose fat.

Faith said...

If MIL comments on the dust just tell her the old saying 'Dull women have immaculate houses'

Merry Christmas UPL!

Tattie Weasle said...

Total understanding - suggest festive sherry bottle in case ferry strike is cancelled!

Frances said...

I am firmly in your corner, UPL.

Still wondering if you got my emails, but not over-wondering, if you know what I mean. Our lives are quite full, each day, in every way.

Somewhere, we find that magic shoehorn (Cinders again) that helps us fit in the bits that we really love, along with those bits that continue to demand attention.

New paragraph. My fingernails were at their best when I was studying etching and using lots of oils to clean the copper plates. Second best time has been any time that I was able to do my oil painting. Oil...the answer, or the replacement to having lots of folks to whom one might delegate all those chores that do wear down the precious delicate hands.

xo

Pondside said...

I vote for the ferry strike as your best option at this point in time. Failing that, you'll just have to invite a whole lot more people to stay so that dear MIL won't be able to see the dust for the bodies. Chaos has always worked for me!

Sally's Chateau said...

I can so believe that dear Claude is making the hole larger, French logic you see. As for your plea to Father Christmas I do so hope it reaches him in time for I fear he may be rather laden with similiar requests from other distressed ladies.

Hannah Velten said...

Love the French logic - rather obvious really! And I wouldn't bother too much with MIL's disapproval - life is too short, and anyway, after 30 mins of her arriving and all the family at home it's sure to be a mess again anyway. Who wants to be a domestic goddess anyway??? Mootia x

lampworkbeader said...

Good luck with the MIL. I'd give up. No matter what you do it will never be good enough, so fling caution to the wind and greet the dear lady with a nice drop of pernod, and start as you mean to....

Crystal Jigsaw said...

If I had a MIL perhaps I would be the same. Unfortunately, my own mother is just as bad which turns me into a domestic freak for the hours before her visits. However, she still searches out the dusters, dons the marigolds and finshes what I started.

Do have a lovely Christmas.

CJ xx

Milla said...

you're even slacker than me on the blogging front, Un Peu. Dusters are never tempting, and so Forth Bridge. GOod luck with the icy disdain. Think Gin, or, preferably Drink Gin. It's teh only thing, glide through it all on a cloud of haze. Bonne Chance though.

Wooly Works said...

Could I borrow your letter or send Santa a big "Ditto UPL"? In a sick sort of way, it's comforting to know that I'm not alone in my frustrations.

Mrs ElderBerry said...

Oh my poor gal, perhaps you could resort to false nails, you know the ones, talons painted red and stuck on with super glue?

Grouse said...

We have moved home twice on Xmas eve......

We have, in the past, incredibley, pulled off Xmas in extereme circumstances and have always had one unfailing tradition at our Xmas dinner: Not Grace or even a prayer- but just a short word of acknowledgment and gratitude that for this Xmas we were together and healthy and safe. Stuff the dust.

Fennie said...

I think you are confusing Santa. You can have nails or munchkins but not both. Or as you have recognised yourself nails and dust but not nails and no dust. The trick perhaps is to wear rubber gloves and tread the clay with your feet and maybe raid the piggy bank for some temporary domestic help. I know you have had a problem with your last governess, but I happen to know someone who would be delighted to gain work experience in your business in return for some light dusting but not, I suppose, before Christmas and MIL's visit.
Still if all else fails you could try hauteur and the marvellous line "I don't mind you noticing the dust, but please don't write your name in it." Mrs Thatcher apparently used to stand on a chair and inspect the tops of the pictures to check that the cleaners had done a proper job. Whether that is the sort of behaviour one expects from a prime minister (or anybody, come to that) is something that you and your Mother in Law could no doubt spend happy hours debating.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

"berry berry" - love it - that has to be the most festive illness going!

What's 'dust'?

I hope you have a great Christmas.

K.Imaginelli said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Hope your 2009 is off to a good start. :)

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

And a Happy New Year!

Flowerpot said...

have a great new year, with love from another ungodly domestic. (WHen i first typed it, it came out as undogly - very freudian slip there)!!

Debs said...

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas (presuming there wasn't a ferry strike to save you from MIL) and all the best for 2009.

CAMILLA said...

Sorry I am late Un Peu, hope you had a wonderful Christmas. As for domestic.... I need to show HL where broom and marigolds are an untidy one if ever I saw it.

HAPPY NEW 2009 Un PEU.!!

XX