I’ve been having a long-overdue spring clean of my Queensland room and passing on some of the toys, books etc which I no longer need, and putting out stuff for the Council clean-up. I was surprised to see how many daddy long legs spiders had established webs. They must be voracious eaters. What a mess! A dozen surprised arachnids were carried outdoors, screaming for mercy, saying this was their home. I told them it was time to move on and not come back. Cruel? Perhaps, but they weren’t even paying rent.
My new, super polish, I thought, would make the cork tiles sparkle as never before. The one I had used for yonks worked well; you washed the floor, let it dry, then spread the liquid polish with a soft broom. Perfection! That brand doesn’t exist anymore, so I had to find an alternative.
Things didn’t work out as expected. Instead of sparkle, I was dismayed to find the dry cork tiles dull and sticky underfoot. Then I read the instructions. Oops! One capful to a bucket. I’d sprinkled it on pure. Back to the mop and bucket to get most of the damn stuff off. Oh, the soapsuds, oh the litres of water. My poor, dry plants in the garden, which hadn’t seen decent rain in months, kept calling me back, ‘More, please.’
As you might gather, I’ve no desire to have engraved on my tombstone the World’s Greatest Housewife. Does anybody still believe that cleanliness is next to Godliness? It makes me shudder to think of such a fate. Not for me to be remembered with a duster in one hand and a glass of bubbly in the other. Well, maybe, the glass of bubbly.
I’d far prefer my children to recall my going to Peru, or climbing to the top of Uluru ( not that I’d do that again, since I’ve learnt it’s disrespectful to the indigenous people who regard it as a sacred site. There is a very spirituel quality to the place.) My greatest pleasure is to imagine one of my gt gt gt Grandchildren reading my books on family history, or enjoying my poetry.
Of course, it wasn’t so long ago that the management of a household, teaching and sewing were meant to be a woman’s principal concerns. In 1837, ( with thanks to Mrs Gaskell in the Life of Charlotte Bronte) the Poet Laureate, Southey, upbraided Charlotte Bronte, for asking guidance on writing poetry. He thundered, Literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life and it ought not to be.
Charlotte responded that she had always tried to follow her Victorian father’s advice, to fulfill all the duties a woman ought to fulfill to be deeply interested in them…I don’t always succeed. She admitted there were moments when she’d prefer to be reading or writing, adding: if I live to be an old woman, I shall remember it thirty years hence as a bright dream.
As you probably know, when Charlotte Bronte, with her sisters, Emily and Anne, published a selection of their poems they felt it necessary to use pseudonyms, Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. Her novel, Jane Eyre was first published under the name Currer Bell. Only later, was her true identity revealed. It’s wonderful to think that, despite so much discouragement, Charlotte clung to her dream, to become the acclaimed author we know and love.
Happily, nowadays most of us live in a time when women are applauded for fulfilling their bright dreams; they write, win prizes, run companies, travel and make choices independent of male censure, the banal details of daily life taking second place to a rich and fulfilling life.