Thursday, 13 October 2011

Things I'm glad my mother taught me

Before I left home, my mother gave me a sort of short-course in self-care. Having grown up in the sort of house where books teeter in piles in every corner and picnics in the garden end up with a rotting rug and some soggy crumbs three days later, I was a bit surprised when, before I went to university, mum came into my room weilding a bottle of Cif and a sponge and saying 'right, darling! Time for you to learn how to clean a bath.' Turns out, though, that learning how to do stuff is really useful. These are the things that have served me best in my adult life. They make me feel capable and self-sufficient, calm and in control. Thanks mum.

1. How to clean a bath. Weirdly important, this, for feeling grown-up and pristinely clean. I'm now so attuned to it that I actively notice if there is so much as one stray hair against the otherwise gleaming enamel.

2. Cooking. Being able to cook is seriously useful for impressing people and feeling cosy. A good cook need never be lonely. And if you've done the cooking, you don't have to do the washing up.

3. Wearing a coat. I'd always thought that coats were the symbol of the bourgeois system, only for nerds and conformists and not for free spirits like me. What a mistake. Wearing a coat keeps you warm, and being warm enough is key to happiness.

4. Small luxuries. I don't need mink coats or holidays to Jamaica... not much, anyway. But a new bottle of Floris bath oil or a delicious supper can make the world of difference to mood.

5. Attitude. My natural take on the world is mildly cynical. But if you look at life in a spirit of cheeriness, and not one of sardony, it does seem nice. And that's nice.