I’m coming to the conclusion I have something of a split personality. It came to me as, in a rush, I shrugged on a pair of jeans one morning this week and scrambled out the front door.
Because, as so often happens on a Monday, the jeans I’d so hastily grabbed from the drying rack in the spare bedroom weren’t entirely dry, having been put through the wash at the last possible minute the night before. And, in my determination to get out of the door and to the station before the train left, it took the time between putting them on, hurtling down the stairs, grabbing a sandwich and a couple of satsumas from the fridge and chucking them in my bag, scrabbling round in the hall and then dashing back upstairs to find the right black shoeboots, putting said shoeboots on, throwing on a jacket and scarf, dashing to the station and getting on the train before I realised I was enveloped in a faint sense of damp.
Depressingly, if I’m honest, it wasn’t an event that’s completely out of character – at least, in my personal life.
At work, by contrast, I’m the model of organisation. My life is ruled by lists – weekly, daily, by client, by impending meeting, by priority, by the hour. There’s vast white space on the desk, and the stationery is tidied away in one of those little pen pots. Notes are meticulously kept, in several colours, in a very large notebook, and emails are carefully flagged in different colours, and filed by client and project. I have all necessary email addresses and phone numbers, and if I don’t, I know who I have to talk to in order to get them. I have the ability to tell you exactly what time is it in New York at the drop of a hat, as well as the dialling codes for France and Switzerland, and I am alarmingly punctual for meetings
At home? Not so much. It’s possibly not that much of a surprise. I clearly I use all my capacities for organisation whilst I’m at work, leaving no wiggle room to be able to manage my life admin satisfactorily the rest of the time.
Which is why I do things like wear damp jeans to work. Or have three answerphone messages sitting on the home phone for weeks at a time. Or have a study desk entirely covered entirely with old post, electrical cables from long-dead laptops and ratty old t-shirts with holes that haven’t yet made it to the bin, but no room to actually do things like, y’know, work.
Or fall over the cat whilst baking and end up with a floor covered in cranberry and vanilla blondies. Or neglect to take out the cash to pay the cleaner, necessitating late-night trips in jogging bottoms and flip flops to the newsagent to buy an entirely unnecessary Freddo, merely for the cashback. Or lose one’s glasses and not find them in time to go to the cinema, thus watching films in prescription sunglasses.
Or put the shopping away so absently-mindedly that one discovers some hours later that there’s a packet of vine tomatoes on the bathroom shelf, but a box of tampons next to the lettuce in the fridge. Or have various things in the fridge past their use-by date, leaving you to serve your boyfriend manky coffee with his croissants and Observer (I know, I know. I’m working on him. I’ve at least got him to read The Times on a Saturday). Or not have a spare top in the office for emergencies (read: unexpected stays at said boyfriend’s), resulting in your wearing the same outfit two days in a row, but on the second day accessorised with an expensive – man’s – scarf that aforementioned said boyfriend picked up at a press day.
Still, I should be grateful really. With such a capacity for my total lack of satisfactory life admin, I should thank the lucky stars things do get done at work – and that at home, there’s nothing too much worse than damp jeans to worry about.