'our creation is that guru; the duration of our lives is that guru; our trials, illnesses and calamaties is that guru. There is a guru that is nearby and a guru that is beyond the beyond. I humbly make my offering to the guru, the beautiful remover of ignorance, the enlightenment principle that is within me and surrounds me at all times.'
Guru Stotram

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

The only problem I’ve so far identified with working from home and having other people working from my home, is that I can no longer revel in the life of a domestic sloven.

I can’t leave my dirty knickers on the bathroom floor. I can’t leave last week’s supper on a plate under the sofa and I can’t not get the hoover out for six months of the year.

Yvette’s a whiz in the kitchen. I am not. Last week she was very sweetly helping me make supper for a friend I’d invited round in a moment of domestic optimism. Something bordering on the right side of edible was expected from the kitchen of Knowles. Mild consternation at the absence of a casserole dish was exacerbated by the absence of any sort of oven to table ware whatsoever.
“Not to worry,” Yvette chirps, “we can use the baking tray from the oven.”
Ah yes, good-oh. Rescued from the brink of disaster.
Then the humiliation of the politely disguised horror of another at the sight of my baking tray encrusted with a year and a half’s worth of melted cheese from my staple diet of cheese on toast - or welsh rabbit as I like to call it when I have guests! In a fit of uncharacteristic embarrassment I set to on the baking tray with the elbow grease.
“You can get something for that you know” said Yvette, “you spray it on and leave it over night and in the morning you just wipe it off.”
“oh yes” said I, rather too cheerily, “what’s that called?”
“errr, oven cleaner.”

So, what excuse for this extraordinary absence of domestic know-how? How can this monstrous abhorrence be explained? I suppose I could put it down to my own profound laziness. Or I could do what I normally do in such situations and blame it on someone else: well, you know, when you go to boarding school from the age of seven how can you be expected to know about things like oven cleaner? They don’t teach you about oven cleaner at boarding school you know. They teach you about things like crop rotation and the square of the hypotenuse. Not about oven cleaner for goodness sake.

“Not a penny wasted on that education of yours,” as my old man is fond to jest.

Goodness knows why one decides to become a domestic sloven. Turning away from something I suppose. Deciding one doesn’t want to be whatever it is one associates with domesticity. Quite limited associations probably, but then personal associations are never wrong per say, they’re just idiosyncratic. The difficulty comes in being able to see them for what they are rather than assuming them to have some sort of inherence. But once you’ve spotted one of these funny little kinks, these sometimes unhelpful idiosyncrasies that we call personality traits, what are you supposed to do then? Judge it as good or bad and then attempt to delete it or not as appropriate? Or just look at it? And if you just look at it for long enough will it eventually change all by itself? Lord knows. I’m reminded - and cheered - by a verse from the Tao.

“A truly good man is not aware of his goodness,
And is therefore good.
A foolish man tries to be good,
And is therefore not good.”

It’s all very well Michael, telling us to “make that change”, and I appreciate the sentiment, but is it, in fact, a realistic expectation? Is it possible, or even desirable, to attempt to change? Do we have quite the degree of agency we like to suppose? And if I knew the answers to all of these questions, what would I do then? And why is a tune that didn’t even make it into the top 20 in the UK in 1988 the tune we appear to have chosen to commemorate the King of Pop upon his death in 2009? Why not a more obvious choice: Billie Jean, Thriller, ABC, I Want You Back? That seems odd to me. Do you think we are all, as a nation, as a collective consciousness, in the post 9/11, post-credit crunch, post-post-modern, austerity chic noughties, finally in the mood to look in the mirror and see something other than our vintage Dior kitten heels?

Other than that it’s all going surprisingly well at knowles I greslé chez moi. I’ve decided I’m the self appointed sales (wo)man of the team. An unusual ambition I’ve long nursed is to be a sales person. Other girls wanted to get married or become accountants or doctors (not nurses at Cheltenham Ladies’ College darling, not in the 80s!), but I always wanted to be a sales person. Finally now I am one. All I do all day long is phone people up and try to get them to buy art. Then bombard them with emails. Then chase them on the phone. It’s good fun. I talk for a living. Yvette does everything else. I reckon I’m sorted.

Then on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays we immerse ourselves in the art world in order to become the fountains of knowledge it is necessary to be in order to successfully consult on the subject of contemporary art. I don’t think I’ve been to so many exhibitions in my life. It’s getting on for a dozen a week including two or three private views. And yet the more you know, the more you realise you don’t know, so it seems my increasing knowledge is only sufficing to make me more and more ignorant. In a few years time I shall know almost nothing.

And the dinner guest?
“What a glorious flat”, she said, “so you, with a hint of Holly Golightly...”
Holly Golightly was a bit of a domestic sloven wasn’t she.
How kind friends are to put a generous spin on things.

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