Tea, in bed. Who could wish for more? One of us usually has to get up earlier than the other so the rule is, Up first, you make the tea. Himself often gets up at 5.45am to go for a run, then back to do kungfu training in the garden and then make tea. Over the winter, this has lapsed a little. Weather has been severely unkind and so running has been sporadic.
Today, the sun shines. I drink tea, go and turn on my pc, still nightclad and towsled. I need to see my emails, check the blog, almost before I wake. The cats mumble around us, wanting cuddles before settling down in the ruins of our rumpled duvet. I seldom get a chance to make the bed before they’re asleep and inviolate.
The dog emerges, looking sheepish and slightly embarrassed like a party guest who has woken to find they have outslept their host and the cunning plan to slip away unremarked has failed. I don’t know why she looks like this, but she does.
We drink coffee in my study. The study is the tiny third bedroom, that serves as occasional guest room. You have to like books and not feel oppressed by the sheer weight of them on every wall to sleep well in this room. We discuss the day, laugh and then bid farewell as his lift to work arrives.
I head for the shower, and emerge a few minutes later, hair in a towel and get dressed. I can dress casual today as I am just supervising sports this afternoon and not teaching. Jeans, then, t-shirt that looks vaguely French. It’s the blue and white stripes, I guess; all I need is a beret and a string of onions.
Now downstairs. The living room smells of jasmine from the flowering plant that opens starry blooms and pours out sensual sweetness. I let the dog out and pause. I light a little incense with my brief blind morning prayer that is without words and wait for the dog to scratch to come in again.
I need a stamp; there’s a letter to post. I trip out to the row of shops a few dozen yards from my front door, hair dripping and no mascara yet. The locals know me, I don’t have to pretend. I buy a stamp, post the letter and the odour from the baker’s shop lures me in to buy. He’s a clever chap, our baker; he gives me samples of new cakes he’s devised or is experimenting with and asks my opinion. I buy cake to go with my second coffee.
Home: the dog wants her breakfast. I feed her while I make more coffee and take my cofee and cake upstairs to the computer. The cake is still sitting on the top of my printer, waiting for me to eat it. I chose farmhouse fruit cake, kidding myself it’s at least got fruit in.
I’m procrastinating, I know this. I’m putting off the moment when I open my documents and begin from where I made myself stop last night. I made a decision late last night to stop writing and go to bed. I knew there was a point where if I continued to write, I simply would not sleep at all and at about 11.15, I wasn’t sure if I had passed that point. I promised my husband that I would get up and start again if I stayed awake past a certin point. I fell asleep about an hour after I went to bed.
When I am like this, I exclude everything around me. I don’t hear things or notice anything in the house. I do the basic tasks at the core of running a home and I do them in automatic pilot. When I have finished a book, whether it takes three weeks or three months, I wake up from the dream I have been dipping in and out of and see what I have not done. I am lucky, in many ways because my family seem to take up the slack and do the vital tasks that I tune out, like feed the animals and water plants, but the finer things, like tidying and dusting…well, no.
I come home to Briar Rose’s castle at least in my mind; hung with cobwebs and with ivy sneaking through window panes and the mice playing on the hearth, made fearless by my absence. It’s only my guilt that notices the things I didn’t do. Many I don’t do anyway. I gave up ironing years ago as it is such a waste of time and energy.
I put off the final moment when I sit and return to what I enjoy best, because I am so scared that one day I will start and I won’t be able to stop when external reality calls for me to stop. I tell myself I am honing my ability to multi-task, to compartmentalise. I’m not. I’m deferring becoming enslaved to my addiction.
Time to eat that cake. The coffee has gone cold.