There are a number of disadvantages to unemployment but I’m beginning to think that the main one is the morbid nature of daytime ads on TV. Particularly for someone like me.
Here I am, on the very wrong side of forty, faffing around at home every day with only a schizophrenic Golden Retriever pup for company. I am trying to get going on my third novel, nervously chewing my nails over the second, which is slowly inching towards publication in July, and all the while trying to convince myself that giving up my job and moving out of London — to find better schools, be more present for my girls, and focus on fiction writing — was a good idea. My social circle now is almost entirely canine – I am on first name terms with a range of doggies, from chocolate Labs to yappy terriers, though I keep forgetting to ask their humans their own names, ages, and whether they are up for drinking wine at lunchtime on a weekday.
Given all this, I really do not need to be reminded of mortality and the passage of time every time I turn on the telly. (I mainly do it for the company and sometimes because I am unable to turn away from the never-ending, slo-mo motorway pile-up that is British politics these days.) But apparently, today’s Mad Men think what I really need to see all day are pictures of smiling, white-teethed, grey-haired “seniors” gardening or eating lovely dinners in spotless, expensive kitchens, and talking about how happy they are to have put money aside for their funeral.
I cannot imagine a world where I would ever have this conversation. Then again, I did find myself scrubbing the windowsill in the kitchen the other day after moving all the random pieces of child-made pottery, empty water bottles and dead plants to get at the dirt (the employed me would have sensibly put MORE stuff up there to hide the dirty bits. Truly, the devil makes work for idle hands).
I have also recently re-hemmed a pair of jeans. For tea the other day, I served roast mushrooms with a garlicky sauce, or more accurately, perhaps, a drizzle. (My delightful children said: Wait, what? Mum, did you do these? We thought it was Daddy.) This week, I wrote a concise but comprehensive email to my youngest daughter’s school, detailing my ideas for an Irish stall for International Week. And yes, I have joined a genealogy site.
What I am trying to say is that I am feeling a little lost and pretty vulnerable – not unlike Will Smith as he wanders around post-viraloptic New York. He has a dog too.
Only for the fact that I am to electronic devices what water is to witches, I would probably be broadcasting a continuous distress signal on a ham radio from the back of the garden. As it is, I go down sometimes to stare mournfully over the hedge at the free-ranging pheasants.
The last thing I need right now is to be reminded that I am at that age when society seems to think the only thing I could possibly be interested in is the cost of the wood for my own coffin. Or unlocking the equity in my house (as if). Or buying life insurance.
Chirpy woman with sherbet voice: There is no medical, sir, just a few lifestyle questions. How old are you and have you ever smoked (always ending on a high note)?
Young and ridiculously healthy looking man: I’m 32 and I’ve never smoked (that self-satisfied high note again).
Cue smiles all around and cut to picture of beaming, non-whining child.
Exactly HOW is this relevant to me?
I suppose I should be grateful for the occasional sight of Eva Longoria spraying her non-grey hair to hide the non-grey. For an emergency selfie, as you do.
I have a suggestion for the Don Drapers behind this daytime mental torture. Ditch the dour, death-is-coming ads and fill our screens with foam parties, raves, orgies, and lots and lots of ads for vertigo-inducing high-heeled boots that we do not need but might just buy to help relieve the boredom of cleaning the bathroom again (I did it last week! Where has this dirt come from?). I want to see my people wigging out, I want to see middle-aged (yes, I know I’m being kind to myself here but hey, 40 is the new …. something) ladies glugging cheap wine in deck chairs and forgetting to pick up the kids from school. I want to see grey-haired ladies shaving their heads, putting on electric pink wigs and THEN picking up the kids from school. A little imagination, people.
I’m not going to buy a coffin. I might buy a pink wig, though. If it was really pink. And came with a complimentary bottle of wine.