Mrs Mearnsy Tells it Like it Is: Visitors
Mrs Mearnsy enters the stage. She is carrying a women’s magazine (containing cunningly concealed script), and a cup of coffee.
She is wearing a dressing gown and slippers and has a towel on her head.
Oh hello there. You have caught me at something of a rare moment, you might say. You know they say a woman’s work is never done? Well – do you know something? Mine is, like, actually done. So I am treating myself. I’ve had a lovely bath, and I just fancied a wee read of my magazine.
A little me time.
(Sits down on a chair, settles back, as if to read, then thinks of something to say.)
You should have seen me yesterday though. A different story. From the minute that alarm clock went, the day was like a race. I was like a greyhound in a trap – (hands to face as if penned in), released and straight for the shower. You see I had visitors coming. And as you know, visitors coming carries with it all kinds of stress.
The bathrooms have to be clean: visitor clean; the floors have to be visitor tidy; the food has to be visitor special – and most importantly, MOST importantly, the lady of the house has to be cool, calm, collected, unflustered and conveying a convincing sense that this is all NORMAL – that the house is always thus. “Let our ordered lives confess the beauty of thy peace” – that’s my motto…
And so of course I had to go food shopping. Now (hands up as if to fend off a predictable flow of criticism) I KNOW I should order online. This would save me the bother of going food shopping. But believe you me – for these guests!? – I couldn’t risk any jiggery pokery substitutions from the budget range now could I? Not that I am a grocery snob – no -no – don’t think that! Give me SMART PRICE bananas any day. But I WILL say, I HAVE gone back to Marigolds. And with good reason…
Anyway. So up to “The Cross” I went.
“The Cross” – “The Avenue” – whatever you want to call it – is fraught with pit-falls. I have played and played this game over and over, perfecting every move. And today, my focus was sharper than ever. I left early, arriving before 9.30 to guarantee the optimum parking space. I had my “bags”, so as to appear both organised AND eco-friendly to my co-shoppers. I kept my sights squarely on Hendersons, in case I saw anyone I knew in COSTA – if I had, the whole day (gesticulation) would be in jeopardy.
Keeping my eye on the ball, I scooped my trolley pound out of my trolley pound pouch and set off through the aisles, safe in the knowledge that I was AHEAD OF MYSELF. You could learn a few strategies from an experienced shopper like me, you know.
Once home, I would distract the children with a well chosen DVD and thus – The kitchen would be mine: an uninterrupted expanse of polished granite. Clean lines and surfaces. A blank canvas for culinary art.
Veggies prepped. Meat diced into bite-sized pieces. Ingredients standing to attention in order of appearance. All ready to go.
I arrive home to discover that it’s NOT dinner they’re coming for it’s LUNCH.
LUNCH! Nobody told ME! That gave me precisely an hour and a half to clean the bathrooms, make the lunch AND transmogrify into the hostess with the mostess. A pretty tall order.
At this point I should of course have delegated. It was clearly the fault of my husband-cum-scapegoat. He has a deep-seated lack of awareness of what constitutes A BIG DEAL. “Why don’t we have them over?” he quips. Aye. Very good. Invite away.
But it’s not as if delegating was an option at that point. HELP would be nice, of course, but it was too close a call to actually give anyone else any responsibility wasn’t it?
Then a small voice piped up: “They’re here!”
My heart sank as I said: “You. Are. Kidding!” – but no, here they were – as large as life – coming up the path.
I looked down at my comfy slacks and trainers. I shuddered at thought of the state of the bathroom. I looked at the worktop – strewn with ASDA bags. I closed my eyes. And came up with a plan.
I pushed the accused towards the door and retreated to the kitchen. When I heard him and the guests safely in the lounge, I tiptoed up the stairs to change: – my clothes, my hair, and the state of the bathroom.
So – how did it all turn out, you must be wondering. Did I cope? Of course I coped.
The hospitality was flawless. The food was eaten, the coffee drunk. Resolutions to meet more often were made and off they went.
And the most annoying thing was that nobody even WENT to the toilet. I might as well not have bothered.
So, as I start loading the dishwasher, he says to me, “You weren’t very sociable. All that skulking in the kitchen. Why did you not come through and chat?”
Well! “Skulking!” Does he not realise what it takes to present an organised front to the world?! And that, my friends, is what matters.
Actually, I’ll never get my magazine read with all of you sitting here watching me.
And anyway, that’s me had my wee break. I’d better get back to it. You never know who might call round. And what’ll they think of my dishwasher, sitting there with plates needing to be unloaded!?
Have you lot not got housework to be getting on with? What are you like? (waves hand disparagingly and leaves.)