Sunday, 19 August 2012


Gave up the idea of visiting the Battle of Bosworth Field for their annual bout of Richard III vs Henry Tudor.

I sat here instead, waiting for work from the husband-writer. I tried not to growl. I resigned myself to the wait. I told myself, I knew this particular project would mess up my schedule for gallivanting round the country, claiming to be providing an education for the offspring. And we'll go to their excellent museum soon. Midweek, when the kids are back at school and it's quiet.

I waited. By six o'clock I knew for sure I could have spent the entire day at the battlefield and my absence wouldn't have made a scrap of difference to the end result for this particular project (still waiting for copy).

But isn't this forever tricky? Not the working partnership, but the going out and about for a home education.

There is a fine line between enjoying oneself and educating the children. But I have to make it appear like it's a gap as big as the Grand Canyon. If Dig is home, where inevitably he is working, then I must carefully state, hand on heart, that my motive for removing his big and noisy tribe of daughters is, obviously, to keep the house calm and peaceful for his intellectual benefit. On return, I must never say, not once, how brilliant the day was, not how much fun it was, not how Richard III was fantastically handsome, nor how cheap the ice creams came in at under a tenner.

Yes, I would have been enjoying myself hugely - negotiating cut-price student entries, talking to the off-duty education officer, requesting preferential treatment for all manner of goods and services, browsing in book shops, casting appreciative glances at Richard III, and smelling vaguely of vanilla ice cream - but on return, I must dutifully exclaim, What hard work this day has been. I am quite worn out with all the education I have been doing, walking around the battlefield, having to discuss Tudor politics and watching people mess around in costume. You would not believe how wearisome this is. However, I have done this for you. I sacrificied my day, so you could work!

If the husband's face looks as if it is headed in the wrong direction (no clean socks, no dinner, nothing in the fridge, petrol tank now needs filling), then I have to quickly think up an argument that was had between Shark and Squirrel, or between Tiger and Shark. It's no good finding a minor disagreement over whether the vanilla or raspberry ice cream tasted best. It has to be a quarrel of dramatic turns, dangerously close to shame and public humiliation, courting ejection from the site; something requiring my complete and exhausting involvement. That is the only way to gain sympathy at this point. After living with me, Dig knows the taxing amount of emotional labour, stressful diplomacy, and endless patience required to unpick what is basically a pointless argument, taking it all seriously enough to provide a practical and agreeable solution. After my story of woe, he will realise I have spared him from experiencing misery, all out of the goodness of my heart.

If that fails, and I cannot elicit any sympathy with that, I say Did you get any work done?

That usually swings it. He escapes, shiftily, back to his office, and I tell the tribe of noisy daughters, Kick up a bit of a fuss now and we can all go to London tomorrow.

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