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 ?
A most ungodly domestic.