A looming tax bill has prompted me to sell my soul to the local council. Yesterday, I started working for the council three days a week, temporarily you understand, and I feel like a battery hen. I always wondered why the caged bird sings and it's probably out of frustration. My own singing is taking the form of cursing loudly every time the word 'engagement' jumps out at me from a document on a computer screen, or, even worse, when I hear it spoken with a straight face. At the moment, I am the new girl but I am beginning to understand why every person with whom I attempt to 'engage' in the kitchen or lavatory is either leaving or has just joined.
I do so miss my rural idyll. Simple things like taking the dogs out in the morning light rather than stumbling around fields as I fall over leads before the sun comes up. Chatting to my neighbours, hearing a robin warbling in the tree and making endless cups of tea and reorganising the laundry basket as I put off my next work-related task.
For three days a week, after donning my Marks & Spencer office 'uniform' of black, easy care trousers and a sensible sweater (with a brightly coloured top peeking out just to show I am a quiet rebel), I will get in my car and head for the office, some 40 minutes away. I will listen inanely to Radio 2, flick over to more serious stuff on Radio 4 and then get fed up with the line of questioning and mealy-mouthed responses. I will try Radio Local because the jingles always make me laugh. And then I will venture into Radio 1 territory but will get out quick in case I have a crash and the paramedics wonder who the hell this 47-year-old thinks she is, listening to such rubbish. At least I am wearing clean and matching underwear.
Once I get to my destination, I will be unable to find anywhere to park and will drive around and around until I am almost back home. Well, not quite, but it will feel like it. I will finally find a space outside someone's house, clip clop into town in the most ridiculous boots I have never worn, forge ahead across the crossings and walk into the office. Along the cold corridors, other battery hens will be heading for their bunkers, doors closing as they reach their daily sanctuary, emerging like Pavlov's dogs every time the tea trolley bell rings.
I will open the door but no-one will look up. I will instantly feel guilty for arriving 10 minutes after 8.30, even though I am a freelance and do not have to clock in. I will begin some incoherent ramble about being stuck behind a tractor and babble on for ages trying to justify myself before I will realise no-one is taking the slightest bit of notice. I will take off my invisibility cloak, put it on the back of my chair and log in.
How I long for the days of Russell's crow, cockadoodledooing across the valley. Cluck cluck!
That's about it
Love Maddie x
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