‘My door is always open, the kettles not far from the boil.’ These are the tenets of my life and how I wanted my house to run from the point I had my own front door. But recently I realised that I was no longer true to these long held principles. People were now booked into my diary ahead. Visitors planned and scheduled, not impulsive and free. What has happened? Where did it go wrong?
When I first moved ‘down south’ I used to joke about how people didn’t just show up on your doorstep unannounced, everything had to be arranged. It felt very odd coming from Liverpool and Birmingham where people just showed up and the kettle would be on in seconds. Supermarket shopping queues were and indicator of how far south you were depending on whether you knew people’s life history by the end (Liverpool), had exchange pleasantries or joke about what was in your trolley (Birmingham) or heaven forfend you made eye contact (Deepest darkest south coast)! And yet here I am 20 yrs later and everything has to be arranged. I smile at the folk either side of me in Sainsbury’s and fear have I lost my northerness??
No I don’t think that’s it. The wonderful people of the south coast are not to blame for my lack of open door policy. It’s me. My judgement of myself, a 21st Century Hyacinth Bucket (for those of you old enough to remember the glorious Patricia Routledge in Keeping Up Appearances from the 1990s) too worried about how her home looks that it takes over the willingness to issue invitations.
There is a funny family story which I am sure my Mum won’t mind me telling you where as a preschooler I toddled up to my Mum who was furiously hoovering the house and asked ‘who’s coming Mummy?’ She fell about laughing realising at 3 I had understood the fact that cleaning = visitors!
When friends come over I find the words ‘excuse the mess/chaos’ issuing forth from my mouth before they barely have a foot over the threshold. Yet when I go to others houses I care not one jot about their homes. I am there to see them. Spend precious time in their company. Enjoy a cup of tea and a natter. My eyes see nothing but them and their lovely place of living. Yet I stop and think of my house before offering a cuppa…
This madness has to stop. Life is messy. Families (especially mine) are also messy. Homes are for living in, not showing off. Paperwork and piles of mail exist. Toys on the floor and craft stuff left out demonstrate creativity. Washing up means people big and small are fed. My children’s rooms well they just reveal their gloriously different personalities! Life is for living. Cleaning happens, sometimes.
Come on over to my place. Doors open. Kettle is not far from the boil. Take us as you find us.