There’s no one who witnessed the scenes of abuse coming out of parliament between staffers and their bosses. No one who can verify each woman’s account of events, but the stories are so plausible as to be true.
Familiar tales. This most recent: he kicked her out of bed – literally – and onto the floor early one morning when it was still dark because her alarm had gone off and woken him when he did not want to wake early. In a rage he booted her out of bed and told her to get the fuck out of his hotel room and do it quietly, so no one would see her on her way out.
A familiar tale. Come into my bed, he might have said, the night before, and we will make passionate love. Do not interfere in any way with my bodily comforts or my reputation or position, he might equally have said, or you will feel the weight of my foot against your tender body.
Century old abuse of women by men. It comes out now after a report to parliament about what goes on in the backrooms and corridors of parliament. Still it’s unlikely to change. There might be grunts and sighs of disapproval. Horror at the extent to which these activities persist, but will they stop? I doubt it.
Not in my lifetime. If ever. White male privilege trumps the day.
I did not want to rant this morning. But here I am doing just that.
The pull to sleep is more powerful than any desire to get words out. The dog woke me early and although I went back to sleep an hour or so later she woke me again. I did not kick her out because she had interfered with my sleep. Instead, I took her out for a pee. Into the garden and shivered in the cold while she scoured the length and breadth of our back yard looking for signs of I-know-not-what, as dogs are prone to do.
‘Reading their emails,’ one man said to me once as walked past one another in our local park and exchanged pleasantries. ‘They love to sniff,’ I had said to this stranger, whose long snouted dog scoured the grass around my feet.
‘Reading their emails,’ he said, and we shared a gentle laugh.
The metaphor sticks.
I’m ashamed to say, dog number one later took a shit in the study this morning, while dog number two sometime later and unbeknown to me snuck into the kitchen while my back was turned and stole a small lump of butter from the bench. Not one lump but two, that I had kept aside to use in the cooking of pancakes.
In both instances it was my fault. For leaving food out on the bench and for leaving the study door open when we know it’s the young dog’s go-to place when things go awry as they have this morning with dog parents away and a ten year old grandson in their place.
I like to think I’m a good dog sitter and grandparent, but when the two are combined it gets tricky.
My day already in disarray. I cannot see my way closer to any coherent thoughts to sprinkle over the page beyond the depths of shame, which like Mr Bennett’s in Pride and Prejudice at recognising his flirtatious daughter’s elopement to a scoundrel, will pass. He should never have let Lydia go to the beach with the regiment and I should never have left butter on the bench.
A dog is a dog is a dog. They learn when supervised but when left to their own instructions, their prey drive kicks in and all dog rules and proprietary spill from their brains.
The more time passes each morning the less the desire to write grows. Till I am swallowed by the pull of the day ahead and all efforts to go into the deep well of indifference that takes over as my fingers skate over the key board disappears.
My life tends then to the intentional. This job to do, this task to undertake, this person to ring or email, this section of the house that needs cleaning. Washing in the machine to be hung. Beds to be stripped and re-made. Vaccum cleaner lifted from its charging socket on the wall upstairs and dragged from room to room to suck up the mess of the week.
Once a week the housework. And most important of all the toilets and basins, the tiled bathroom floors, the mould and mildew that creeps into shower corners no matter how much mildew remover I spray.
Once upon a time before Covid, I had someone come into my house to clean, but once the virus arrived in our midst, I took over the weekly task and have continued in a way to plan to continue until advanced age makes it impossible for me.
If I am lucky enough to live that long. If, like my mother before me, I want to live that long or whether I might be like my aunt, my mother’s six years younger sister, who thought by the time she hit ninety that she was the oldest person alive. She hated it. She wanted to die to be free of the endless torment in a life of inertia when she could no longer walk outside for fear of slipping on the ice or when the days felt so cold into the core of her bones, she could not countenance even getting out of bed.
Not my mother though. Supreme optimist she was, she put on the small heater in her room to full strength in winter and huddled in front of her television set or large print book and relished the quiet times. She loved to look out the window of her tiny room onto the courtyard of her retirement village and watch as the seasons passed. From the cool of winter to the pleasant heat of summer. She never found the heat too much. Only the cold she hated, like her sister, but she refused to let it get her down. As I am inclined to do when things like cold get through to me. There are always additional layers to pile onto a frozen body as a trickle of sun ripples behind the thickest of clouds.
The optimist in me reigns supreme even beyond the shame of a dog who shits in the study or another who steals butter from the bench and will no doubt suffer later from the digestive pain of too much fat in her delicate labradoodle system.
Serves her right. Not a kind thing to say, but the retaliatory part of me leaps up and speaks of other feelings beyond my love of dogs.