Is there any sadder time? The last day of the summer holidays, and no matter what you do, what exciting outings you plan, the air is heavy with dull resignation.
I have mixed feelings about the summer holidays; the bliss of a slow wake up, with no need to endure the tightly-screwed on stress of a school morning; no nightly tussles over early bedtimes; no breathless conversations with a highly-strung husband on the lines of ‘but you said you were picking them up from badminton club’ and freedom from the tyranny of the ironing board – no-one needs any bloody white shirts ironing. But the downside – I have to spend ALL DAY with my children.
My children are extraordinarily bright, excellent company and actually very amusing, obviously, but they insist on being fed three times a day – plus snacks – and they leave bits on the carpet. All this means extra work for me, which is a Bad Thing. Extra drudgery means no time to do any writing, no head time to even think about doing any writing. A friend described being prevented from practising your artistic thing as being ‘creatively constipated’, and while I am too classy to use that term, that is EXACTLY how it feels. All those hours of elaborate plot constructions and snappy dialogue, all dissolved and washed away forever in the constant incoming tide of the six-week break.
So much sand, so many picnics
I have been writing properly (ie: feverishly), as opposed to arsing about with diaries and anguished paragraphs, for coming up to five years now, and the holidays have always killed it dead. This year I embraced the inevitable, and went with the roller-coaster of ice creams, Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Pizza Hut, beach picnics and spicy memes.
Tomorrow the routine begins again, and today has a heavy grey pall hanging over it. School bags will need to be dragged out from under beds, bus passes retrieved from behind dusty, unread set texts and new uniforms (the cost of which could pay off some countries’ national debts) shaken out of their cardboard creases. And tonight will be the most dreaded of things: An Early Night.
Tomorrow the weather will turn; it always does. No matter how mild and pleasant the days before have been, First Day Back At School signals the start of Autumn. The radiators will judder and wheeze into life, sandals will start to gather dust, I’ll begin leaving cardigans at strategic points throughout the house and start forgetting to ring the coalman. At no other time of year do the seasons pivot so dramatically.
Yes, it’s bloody miserable; but it is more of a New Year’s Eve than New Year’s Eve is. A time of fun and feasting draws to a close and we all settle back (with half a sigh of relief) into timetables and routines, all feeling a little bit wiser as we put on new clothes and zip up new pencil cases. This year I have a new pen (a green one with a feather!) and half a head full of ideas. Endings and beginnings.
Too big for a pencil case