Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I’ve mentioned a long time ago that my very conservative Grandmother used to say ‘fiddle arsing’ in ignorant bliss when she meant to describe someone who was not concentrating on the task. Procrastinating, if you will.

I’m terrific at both. Fiddle arseing (is ‘arseing’ spelled with an ‘e’ or without? ....... see what I’m already doing here – I’m putting off writing this blog entry...) about the house and procrastinating are my usual modes of operation, especially when there’s actually some paid work to do.

Before you all groan and say things like ‘but you were only whingeing a short time ago about how hard it is to find work and now you’re blowing your opportunities by wasting precious mental energy on whether there’s a bloody letter E in ‘arseing’ and if cyberspace was truly elastic I’d reach in and angrily flick that bulb on the end of your nose until your eyes water......’ - let me reassure you of something.

Somehow – despite the rare skill of expertly hanging out THREE ENTIRE LOADS of washing inside a small apartment, cleaning the coffee machine, walking the dog, eating Sunday’s leftovers, going for a run to nowhere, chatting in broken French to the Fratman, taking the wine bottles to the public recycling bins and trying to ignore the disapproving stare of the old lady with just three tins to contribute; sneaking in an old episode of Antiques Roadshow, chasing up an old medical account with an insurer who only answers phones between 9-12 on weekdays and even then has an answering machine that says, ‘Our lines are busy. Please try again later,’ and fishing out 52 retro French magazines from the papier skip before photographing and putting them up for sale on ebay – I do manage to do all of my freelance writing gigs on time.

To be honest, it’s difficult to explain or pinpoint exactly how this is done.

Milly is the self-appointed rest-and-recreation director. Her wet nose is subtlely jabbed into the part of my back where my top has ridden up against the chair revealing 'the computer worker's jean cleavage' of bare skin. The end result is that I jump up in shock and we head downstairs for a quick sniff and wee (her), and a stretch and deep breath (me, but not near where Milly did a wee).

Back upstairs, emails are read, saved to draft, responded to, received. Job boards are scanned, applied to, Skyped and accepted. Online research is done, albeit liberally peppered with side clicks to cute animals, videos of people falling over and shameful Hollywood gossip. The printer jerks into action, whining and blinking; loose leaves floating haphazardly to the floor if my attention is on numbskulls in front of paparazzi instead of the numerical order of pages.

Phone calls are received and made - usually whilst walking through the house sipping coffee, enjoying the view of snow on the Jura mountains and pushing in the dining chairs as I pass.

The screen saver slides into action when the mouse is left idle and my head is drooped down reading something on paper. I look up and instantly get lost in a fog of nostalgia at old holiday snaps, images of a baby Sapphire surrounded by ancient Tupperware lids floating in the bath, Love Chunks holding up a freshly caught fish at Victor Harbor and dinner parties long past. Who stole the rose out of my bridesmaid's bouquet and stuck it in their.... and then photographed it.....??

Hang on, my ears feel blocked. A quick visit to the bathroom for a cotton bud excavation turns into a long one as I then clean my fingernails and examine my face for new wrinkles and – these are new and now obsessively sought – sun spots. Age spots. Liver spots. Two of the evil splodges have recently appeared and my hooded, sagging eyes are on the alert for more. It used to be that adopting a facial expression of suspicion would eradicate any crows’ feet but now all that happens is that they shift to my forehead and turn my mouth into a child’s drawing of the rays of the sun emerging from a puckered up pencil sharpener. The room echoes with a final duck quack fart as I remind myself to get on with the article due by close of business their time which is, well, an hour in our time and one that I oh-so-confidently assured them I had oodles of experience and knowledge on.

Sapphire arrives home from school, unfortunately in one of her eager-to-talk moods. The days when my fiddle arseing has been at prime level are never the days she wants to flop in her room on her own and decompress. We chat and I make her realise that it’s our pets who get the best greetings in life. “Think about it, Sapph. Every time Milly walks into the room, we all go gooey and coo, ‘Helloooooo there, sweetie’ but who does it for us?”

Diet cokes now consumed, she heads towards the study.

“Hey hey HEY, you can’t go on Skype or Minecraft, I have WORK to do!”

“Well, tell me when you’ve finished then, as I have a English essay due,” she huffs half-heartedly. With Milly at her heels and an episode of ‘Take Me Out’ waiting on the telly, she’s not exactly devastated.

And that is when I work. Forty minutes before Milly’s pre-dinner Dog Forest poop-and-patrol and Sapphire’s daily cyber appointment with her Minecraft Mates. I attach, click ‘send’ and lean back in the chair, sighing in fatigue and satisfaction.

Tomorrow, I tell myself, I’ll get it over and done with early. No housework; searching for sun spots, general goofing off or time wasting. Tomorrow it'll be different.

Then again, that’s when the flea market is open; Anita wants to meet up for lunch; an interview request has just been emailed and I might have a re-think about the novel that was started a couple of months ago and set aside......


Anji said...

It's funny how all those little links and youtube videos are sooo fascinating when there is work to be done. Friends who need support often seem to write long blog posts on the days when I'm busiest.

Tomorrow is always the day for me too, when I will get the work online and have leisure to browse the internet.

No doubt when I retire I'll be too busy to surf....

Andrew said...

The bath and tiles look great. Haha at final non picture.

Kirstie said...

Now that's a fabulous smile! And a busy, busy day.
Procrastination is the devil that devours us all. I don't know a single peroson (in reality) who has never leaned back to stare at the ceiling just because they didn't want to face what they have to in the books/computer/whatever on the desk in front of them, and let's not mention youtube, facebook or 9gag >.<
As for fiddle-arseing I can't stop laughing at the image of a grandma saying that

diane b said...

I'm tops at fiddle-arsing. Loved your article, it had me giggling as usual. You sure fit a lot in your day with the extra fiddle-arsing around . I've often wondered about the school that Sapphire attends. Is it an international school with lessons in English or is it a French language school?

drb said...

I hate housework but for the last 3months, our house was spotless, even the walk-in-wardrobe had a clean out. Now it is a mess again. You guessed it - all grant applications submitted.

drb said...

Lovely photo S!! To combat wrinkles, high intake of collagen in diet helps our skin to repair itself. Source of collagen - skins and gelatin. My guess is that you would rather have wrinkles then to eat skin. ;-)

Cat J B said...

Beautiful photo!

Procrastination....doing it now actually....fun though :)

Kath said...

Yes Anji, I forgot about YouTube - start off with one funny link a friend has sent you on facebook, then click through the 'suggestions' and the morning has gone.....

Andrew, that was taken at my parents' house in Murray Bridge in 1999. They bought the place in 1968 and apart from a paint job, nothing in the bathroom was changed.

Kirstie, if you'd met my Grandma you'd find it even funnier. She was very kind but extremely old fashioned. "Long haired layabouts" seemed to be her most-used expression in the 1970s. Oh, and "hooligans."

Diane_b, Sapphire attends the International School near the UN - full of kids from pretty well everywhere, with everything taught in English but a big emphasis on learning French as well. Sapphire has only just got over her deep shame of having parents of only *one nationality* and only *one UN posting.*

drb, I'm more than happy to avoid eating skin, but jelly I could handle....?

Thanks CatJB. That photo is one of my favourites and was scanned into the computer before we left. When examples like that float across the screen it's easy to sit back and reminisce.....

River said...

Procrastination, I know it well. I recently had a week off work and planned to do this...and this...get that done....check out the other thing I'd been putting off.
Instead I spent a lot of time sleeping in and reading. And an inordinate amount of time standing around waiting for buses to take me hither and yon.

Jackie K said...

I always know I'm putting off something I should be doing when I either vacuum the floors or start some personal beautification that will take awhile (pedicure or hair dyeing).

Christine said...

I do that too, even when I have a thousand and three other things to do. I like to think of it as thinking time.

Kath said...

River, you're right - there's even more scope for procrastination when you actually *leave the house* and involve public transport.

I've never tried dying my own hair, Jackie K but it's now on my list of things to consider instead of the article I'm writing.

'Thinking time' is actually a pretty fair thing to call it, Christine. A lot of my best ideas come when I'm in the middle of some activity that's completely unrelated.

Red Nomad OZ said...

Hahaha! I wouldn't even pretend to call myself a writer, but I SO hear you!! But luckily, a little bit of pressure is all I need to do my best work!!!