I’ve spent the last six months knowing that I should write, either here on this sadly neglected little blog of mine, or working on editing my book that has been a work in progress for far too long. My excuse for not blogging has been that I simply haven’t felt that I’ve had anything worth writing about or that anybody would want to read. Here I am, a woman in her early sixties, who either works or is doing not very much at all, apart from bake the odd cake or clean, iron, food shop and the do the odd spot of dusting. All the good intentions made at the start of the year have not just slipped but tumbled and I’m back to where I was this time last year. Feeling frumpy, rudderless and at times invisible. It’s no one’s fault but my own and I am so frustrated with myself and am in danger of wallowing in a bit of self pity.
Last night Mr R and I sat and watched Shirley Valentine. I must admit that I was surprised that Mr R agreed to watch it. I thought that a film about a middle aged woman who talks to walls would not exactly be his cup of tea. He’s a man who prefers University Challenge or re-runs of Bullseye and Porridge. I was hoping that he would watch it as it might have resonated with him a bit. He is no Joe, Shirley’s husband. He has never demanded that his tea is on the table at six, or got nasty when he gets eggs instead of steak for tea because he ‘always has steak on Thursday. Egg and chips is on Tuesday’. When Shirley ends up with the eggs and chips in her lap, I could have cried for her. However, there are times when I am picking up clothes discarded on the floor, despite the fact that the laundry basket is inches away. I collect dirty glasses and mugs from various room of the house, including the bathroom. I have even flushed the toilet after my husband because he thinks its environmentaly friendly not to flush too often. On the other hand I’m forever turning off lights. At times our house is lit up like the blackpool illuminations. It’s not my job to tidy up after my husband but I’ve just got into the habit of doing so. Every now and again, I have a little word with him, but nothing changes. I can hear you all saying, ‘You’re a mug and a pushover, you’ve made a rod for your own back. He’s a grown up and he can damn well pick up his own smelly socks’ and I hear you. I feel like I’m doing a Shirley Valentine except that I don’t talk to the wall. In the opening scene when she confesses to talking to the wall, she also says that she knows someone who talks to the microwave, indicating that she is not alone when she feels like no one is listening. How many women have felt that they may as well talk to a brick wall? Over the course of years, they have turned into the woman who is basically the house keeper and keeps the cogs of homelife turning.
Shirely escapes and rediscovers the woman she once was. A woman with dreams and aspirations. One who has physical needs and one who has a voice. She blossoms and her confidence grows. Her adventure takes her to the Greek island of Mykonos, which I visited back in the early 80s with my then boyfriend. We were backpackers on an island hopping holiday. Watching the scenes when Shirley is in Mykonos Town took me back to my early twenties when life was an adventure and full of possibilities. It is lovely to have those memories stored away and I feel lucky to have had the opportunities to make them. Anyway, I digress. Shirley Valentine discovers that she has fallen back in love with the idea of living, she discovers her true self. A strong independant free spirit who is not prepared to get stuck in a rut or be at everyone’s beck and call again. Joe goes out to Greece to bring his wife home but doesn’t recognise his wife who is sat waiting for him and walks right past her. Apart from looking more confident and has lost her tight 80’s perm, she looks the same. Joe hasn’t really looked at his wife for a long time and had just got into the habit of taking her for granted. We don’t know whether she goes back to Liverpool with him or decides to make Mykonos her new home. I would love to think that they are both honest with each other and that she does go home but that she is no longer prepared to be invisible and taken for granted. But sad to say, I think that in time Shirley would be back in that floral housecoat and Joe would expect steak on Thursdays. Stay in Greece Shirley and drink wine by the edge of the sea and have the odd ‘want to fuck’ monents with Kostas on his brothers boat! Do it Shirley Valentine!
Can I relate to Shirley Valentine? Too damn right I can, but I’m not about to make a new life on a Greek island. I love my own Joe, and although I’m frustrated that I feel a bit in a rut and at times my main role in life is to make cups of tea, (he has just this minute called up the stairs asking for a ‘brew’ and called me Shirl, which in all honesty is an improvement on the usual ‘Oi, captain’) I’m not unhappy. My frustration is more with myself and my lack of motivation and inclination to procrastinate. I now have my own little adventures when I go off to Penzance on my own for a few days. For now that is enough. One day, I’ll do a Shirley Valentine, rediscover the woman I once was and fall back in love with the idea of living!
Well, writing that was quite cathartic. I thought that I had nothing to say, but actually I do. It doesn’t actually matter if nobody reads this. It’s helped me to realise that the only person who can make changes to how to live this one life that I have, is myself. I can either just get on with life as it is now, or get off my fat bum and do something about it.
Tomorrow I get on with editing my book which happens to be about a middle aged woman who is bored and in a rut who runs away to rediscover herself. Sounds familiar?