Embrace error – it makes us human



Sometimes everything just goes wrong. Particularly during term time. During the holidays I looked forward to the start of the new school term, but right now I am looking fondly back on the holidays. Because of the lie-ins.

On Sunday evening I had an argument about Coldplay with Victoria. I explained that nothing on earth would make me watch Coldplay at the Paralympics closing ceremony, and that, in fact,I found it hard to like anyone who likes Coldplay. Liking Coldplay, to me, seems to show an unforgivable lapse of taste. Having wiped away the tears she had shed during Lord Coe's speech about terrorism and the Olympics, she accused me of only being interested in my own philosophy, and said if she wanted to like Coldplay then she would like them. She would not submit to my tyranny as far as taste in pop music was concerned. Did Socrates and Tolstoy have similar problems with Xanthippe and Sophia (answer: yes). I went to bed and fumed about bread and circuses while the strains of Coldplay wafted up the stairs, rebelliously.

The next day Victoria went up to London for a few days to attend to our shop, leaving me on my own to look after three children, three cats, one cockerel and a snotty-nosed Labrador. In the evening, having sunk a couple of Cotleigh Barn Owl beers, I laid the breakfast things and went up to bed for an early night, the better to get the children off to school the following morning (living in the middle of nowhere, school runs can be complicated).

But there was a cat turd on my bed. Right in the middle, on the duvet. So I had to clear it up, put the duvet cover in the washing machine and change the sheets before I could go to sleep.

The following morning I was awoken at eight by my 12-year-old son, dressed in an all-in-one green monster outfit, calling me an "idiot" because I had failed to get up at seven. It was my turn to do the school run. I was already 10 minutes late. I leapt out of bed, shouted, "How dare you speak to me like that?" at my son, and then, "Get dressed!" We drove off to pick up his schoolmates. I had not had a cup of tea, or breakfast. We made it to school just in time, though I drove the whole journey in grumpy silence.

The following night I made sure to set the alarm and also left a note on the kitchen table instructing the children to wake me up at seven. This, one of them did. I made a pot of tea and, feeling very smug, went to the car a little early to deliver Arthur to one of the other parents. The car battery was dead. My philosophy as far as cars go is "buy wrecks". They cost £600, last two or three years, and go just as fast as new cars. But the problem is that they don't always work. Anyway, the journey was less than two miles, so I told Arthur to cycle, whereupon he started to whimper. "Boys of seven used to walk three miles to school around here!" I bellowed. "And back! You're pathetic!"

At this he screamed back: "You're pathetic!" To which I countered: "Don't speak to me like that! Get on that bike and start cycling." Holding back his tears he wobbled up the lane.

It is strange that the mothers of the Czech Republic view me as a parenting guru.

Perhaps I'm not doing too badly. I am starting to catch up with various writing assignments. And I have actually cooked twice: I made pizzas one night and cauliflower cheese the next. When I say I made pizzas, I mean I made pizzas: I made the dough, spread tomato sauce on it, topped it with mozzarella and salami, and put it in a very hot oven. The children liked it. Thank heaven! Approval from one's own children.

My problem is the domestic side of things. I can manage the cooking, it's the cleaning that seems to get delayed. The vacuuming, the sweeping, the dusting and wiping. I hate housework. We both hate housework. Victoria has told me that she will shout out "I... HATE... CLEANING!" to herself while cleaning. I comfort myself by thinking about JG Ballard. He brought up his children alone in a Middlesex semi after the death of his wife Mary, and famously neglected the housework. But his daughter Bea recently wrote: "We not only thrived; we had the most idyllic childhood imaginable." She goes on to suggest that it was precisely his slatternly ways which contributed to their happiness: "If he sacrificed anything in his quest to make our lives happy, it was the housework."

And as Aristotle said, things are supposed to go wrong every day. If they didn't, we would turn into horribly complacent people. So we must embrace mess and error as part of being human.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam