Saturday, 31 March 2012

I Blame Shirley Conran

It was that "Superwoman" thing in the seventies when somehow women were going to be able to hold down high-powered jobs, work all hours and then rush home and play the little home-maker; cooking delectable meals while re-upholstering the lounge furniture, at the same time being funny and flirtatious with the man in their life.

Somehow, some of that over-aspirational perfectionism still sticks with me.  So when we invite friends round for supper, it's not enough to prepare a meal.  I want the food to be delicious, the house to be spotless, the garden manicured, the planters over-flowing with flowers, the kitchen clean and tidy and me, relaxed and unstressed in some "little number" that I happen to have found at a local flea market for a song.

Needless-to-say real life's not like that, even with Tod's sterling help. It's a miracle if I've managed to shower and get changed by the time our first guests arrive and I'm usually hot and bothered in the kitchen with still wet hair, peeling the spuds and wondering if the burnt sauce can be rescued.

The problem is, anything less than Superwoman perfection can feel like a failure.  And it's only afterwards that I realise that perhaps we all did enjoy ourselves, even if the paving round the swimming pool (which nobody could see anyway from where they were sitting on the terrace with their drinks) did need weeding and cleaning.

It took a friend to remind me of Leonard Cohen's words ...

"Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
That's how the light gets in."

Thanks N.  And yes, we did have a good time.


  1. A wise friend told me
    'If you arrive at your house before your guests you're ahead!'

  2. What was Shirley Conran thinking writing that! I remember owning a copy, and being a Virgo anyway always made me want to strive for that bit more! Finally, I think I'm starting to shake the "perfect" habit and enjoy the situation loads more. x

  3. Oh, don't remind me, Sue. I've always been like you, with the last-minute shower and the less than perfect food, so now I just relax and aim for good enough....

  4. Thank you for the comfort everyone. I thought it was just me!