I had a mental health check with a nurse today. This is an unhelpful process whereby she attempts to cheer me up by telling me I am overweight and drink too much.(Actually, when I think about it, she tells me no such things, its just the judgement I infer). Then I have to go back to the doctor’s in a couple of weeks’ time and he will tell me to sing in choirs and go swimming. I have to go through this process once every six months because I have a history of depression and anxiety, which has been largely under control for some years now. When things are not so good I have to fill in one of those questionnaires where you have to answer how often you are plagued with unwanted thoughts or lacking energy and so on, and you can rack up any amount of misery on the low level categories but as long as you say you can sometimes enjoy something or look forward to the future you are free to go, or if you have had the most fleeting thought of topping yourself or playing with sharp objects you are straight onto deep eye-contact and threatened further action.
Curiously enough, the time in my life when I have scored the highest on one of these tests, i.e. when I have been at my least ever depressed, is when my youngest child was six weeks old and my eldest was nineteen months. And as I walked home from the surgery today I reflected on what made me so happy at that stage, when logically it should have been pretty gruelling: it was the period where I perfected the art of lowering my standards. I discovered that great secret to happiness that is Very Low Aims. Rather than attempting to raise children who didn’t require therapy, I aimed only to raise kids who did not require quite as much therapy as me or my husband. I made it a target to leave the house once a day, any other achievement was a bonus. Rather than trying to stop everyone crying, I acknowledged that someone would probably be crying at any given time and tried to make sure it was me as little as possible. And today I realised that tragically, somewhere along the line, I have lost this sense of simplicity, my goals have grown too lofty of late and my misery has soared with it. With that in mind, I have given my list of new year’s resolutions a harsh overhaul, and copied it here with some explanatory notes to follow.
Amended Resolution list 2015:
Run Successful National Campaign Organisation, in manner of consummate professional and assertive and well rounded human being
Don’t get screwed over, try to limit number of public school boys sobbed to down telephone to one or two per week.
Establish Successful Career
Get paid for doing SOMETHING.
Be wonderful wife and mother, keep on top of laundry
Have sex with husband, feed children, converse with all as necessary. Process one pair of clean socks and pants per person per day (less for husband).
reclaim sexuality, own and that of all other oppressed women, from clutches of evil capitalism and patriarchy
use the word “cunt” more.
eat and cook a healthy balanced diet of ethical, locally sourced food without succumbing to the vile monopoly of despicable supermarkets, thus bankrupting self and living in constant state of guilt and poverty
Feed children Kerry Katona meals when tired with attitude of happy blamelessness. Eat less ham.
Perhaps the most pressing of these things is the idea of being paid to do something, even if it is a paper round. It turns out that working very hard for free is not in itself enough to bring down capitalism, and is indeed not necessarily an effective protest against capitalism. Or even if it is, I can’t keep it up much longer, and I am not sure I want to.
I had thought that in the event of the campaigning and writing not taking off I might start a chat-line, for all the readers of my blogs who google things I don’t actually write about like ‘spanked by matron’, ‘anthea turner anal’ or ‘kezia dugdale nude’ (you know who you are. And you’re VERY naughty boys…). But I don’t think that idea is much of a goer because, well, I am frankly pretty un-kinky, very impatient and I have a bit of an annoying voice. I m not sure how much people would pay for me to shout ‘get on with it sunshine’ down at the phone at them in slightly gentrified northern.
Then I thought I would write a thrilling steamy novel about a young (ahem) woman who attempts to bring down the government, the class structure and the patriarchy with her attack on the boarding school system. But, fascinating and rewarding as my work is there is little scope in the narrative for thrill and steam, and I don’t have that great an imagination. So I have decided I might have a pop at erotic fiction. Mills and Boon have been, I believe, a huge part of my downfall so they owe me. And I am such an aficionado of this kind of sentiment-laden smut I would like to think it wouldn’t be too difficult, although I do feel I am running out of words for erection already and I have only drafted half a blowjob so far. So if you see me in the street/at the school gates/at mass and you have any bright ideas do holler…
While we are on rude vocab I should perhaps offer a little explanation of the penultimate point: the necessity of it was drawn to my attention by a discussion of this lovely article. My Lovely Friend Tom had been working on it and was shocked and amused by Suzanne Moore’s choice of favourite word. There is no better word when you want to have a good rant said one of his friends on Facebook. We shouldn’t be using it as an insult but for the thing of great power and beauty that it is, I suggested. Ah, that would mean replacing Tuppence, which is another favourite word, the friend continued. I bet Suzanne Moore wouldn’t say ‘tuppence’ I mused. No, she definitely wouldn’t, it was agreed. So the point is, should we? Come, come now sisters, can we really expect to live in a fairer world if we are happy to denote our most treasured body part using an old fashioned word for a low-value coin? Or should we be using a word that, as Laurie Penny suggests, deliciously enough cannot be said without the slight bearing of teeth?
I am also inspired towards this move to bolder language by a friend talking about the need to use the proper words for things with children recently. So what does your daughter (aged 3) call her noonoo I asked? (I had opted for the innocuous noonoo for my daughter when I rejected ‘fairy’ for fear of confusion come fancy dress season, or when encountering the book That’s Not My Fairy.) She calls it her vagina! My friend declared and I thought: well that’s the revolution happening right there. As much of a revolution as when my husband stood up at a gathering of my feminist craft circle and performed a poem he had written about vaginas, and it was at once the funniest and the most political thing that had ever happened in the history of anything. A poem which, seeing as it’s getting late, I will sign off with..