“Here you go, babe,” Curly hands me four crisp twenty-pound notes. I flick through them wonderingly – this is a highly unfamiliar sensation – before tucking them away in a drawer. My housekeeping money. The phrase itself seems like something from another age.

My decision to give up paid work - not to mention the near-nervous breakdown which preceded it - appears to have focused Curly’s mind. In just a couple of weeks he has drummed up two Saturday jobs and an evening course in carpentry. I didn’t even nag him, he just did it. And now he’s done it he seems rather pleased with himself. There is something newly brisk and confident in his bearing.

“See you later!” The boys and I wave as he heads off for the station in his smart shirt, for all the world like a family from a 1950s TV show. As the door closes I wonder what to do with the day. Shall I make jam? Bake a cake? Knit something? The last time I tried to knit anything was in primary school and it did not end well, but all of a sudden, I wouldn’t rule it out.

I’m not sure what’s happened to me. I used to be thrusting and ambitious. I used to dash around in taxis, schedule high-level meetings, take off for Brazil at a moment’s notice. I used to want to be important and influential.

At the moment I literally can’t think of anything worse than being important and influential. The very idea sends a shiver down my spine. I would definitely be a big disappointment to the sisterhood, if the sisterhood were to find out what I am up to. Only the other day there was an article in Style magazine by an important woman telling us we should all try harder to be more important. For a brief moment I wondered if she was right. Then I threw the magazine into the bin and squidged a dirty nappy in there too, right on top of her smug self righteous face.

The funny thing is, actually, I don’t give a monkey’s left ball about all that. I don’t care about anything except for being calm and happy and enjoying my life again. Once Moe is down for his morning nap, I take my copy of Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery off the shelf, blow off the dust, and turn to the jam section.   

“Slice one kilo of fresh pink rhubarb.” Aha. Funnily enough we got rhubarb in the Abel and Cole box this week. I get it out of the fridge and rinse it off.

Larry appears in the kitchen. “Mummy, I’m bored.”

“Why don’t you help me make jam?”

“Jam’s boring.” Busted. I snap Delia shut and put down the knife.

“What do you want to do, then?”

“I want to go to the pub.”

“You what?!”

“That’s what Ben’s mummy does. Ben gets crisps and plays Simpson’s pinball.”

I have to hand it to Larry. That suggestion is so wrong, and yet… so right. Feeling ever-so-slightly furtive, I ping a quick text to Ben’s mummy and take one of the twenties back out of the drawer. 

AuthorAlice O'Keeffe