Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Happy, Happy, Happy

I've taken a decision; a momentous decision: to be happy. It cannot be that difficult: to be happy. I just have to be positive: that's the gist of all those self help books my Neanderthal husband keeps reading.

There are a few tribulations to overcome: the ravages of time are creeping up on me. I avoid the mirror, the lines are getting longer and deeper, the hair just ugh. I haven't brought any new clothes in... it must be years, amazing, and in my twenties I was always in town. Really I should get some new dresses as these are getting ever tighter, I hadn't realised how dumpy I looked, and it's so uncomfortable.

Then there's the kids, trouble is they've grown up like their dad. Kriss always did have more influence over them, he was the more dominating, so they have the same greedy, grab it all, mentality. Something I found so alien.

I never was the most house proud of people, and I must admit I have let things slide a little recently. Kriss never brings his friends around any more, so almost no one visits - not unless you count the person reading the meter. Even the kids don't come round, got things to do, life's to lead, money to make.

Kriss always avoids having me anywhere near his precious Conservative Association. Trouble is I cannot help mocking his right-wing-nut-job so-called friends. So I'm seen as unsound, a liability for Kriss's ambitions, and he blames me for it, I'm the reason he's never got on, become a political success.

But then he's one of the reasons I've lost all my friends, he was always bullying, contemptuous about the arty group I used to hang around with. And over the years they've drifted away; or worse, in a couple of cases, they've become his friends, how times change. Okay then Kriss you've won, I'll keep the mocking jibes on the inside, see if I can turn into that asset for your career – become just like impersonal shares in the bank.

So here it comes, that first test of my new happy self: no alcohol. How to skip that sneaky afternoon glass of wine; or two, or half bottle? And you don't know how difficult that is. I'm fidgeting, I'm stressed already and almost ready to give in. The wine is in the kitchen, I look in the in the cupboard, there are no glasses, I start to wash one – normally I don't bother – and I find myself washing up. Washing up! Then I find myself cleaning the entire kitchen. Not to the exacting standards of the rest of the street, to be sure; but not bad. I have overcome my first craving; even if it is with a clich├ęd, sexist, stereotype.

Where has the afternoon gone? I hear a bad tempered twist of a key in the front door. My husband is home. And downstairs looks more presentable than normal: the worst of the mess has been hidden away; the carpets have been given a light going over with the vacuum cleaner; curtains opened and straightened; and, to my amazement, I even manage a smile, I'm pleased with myself, my new self.

Before I'm anywhere near the hallway I hear the thud of steps on the stairs and the slam of the bathroom door.

“Kriss,” I shout up the stairs, not expecting an answer.

Half an hour later and Kriss finally emerges. I'm slumped on the couch with my second glass of wine in hand. I try to maintain positivity.

“Had anything to eat?” I ask.

“Got to go, Conservative club, meeting, back late. See you.”

His car keys are already jangling impatiently in his hand and moments later the front door slams defiantly shut. I grab the wine bottle and drain the dregs into my glass.

Maybe I'll try again tomorrow; maybe not.

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