Lucy Caldwell: The story so far...

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The Independent Online

A dull, uninspired morning: I should be able to lounge about in bed with buck's fizz and defrosted chocolate croissants (the penniless writer's take on champagne breakfast at the Georges V in Paris) but somehow I always find myself sitting glumly at my desk by 8am. The ingrained Protestant work ethic, perhaps.

I consider calling my dad to tell him I blame his side of my gene pool. But I feel too hungover, even though I'm not: all's I did yesterday - it seems - was ironing. Mostly, I use the trick of hanging crumpled clothes in the bathroom when I'm having a hot shower. My mum irons socks and knickers, and she makes proper porridge instead of microwaving it.

I decide to have a tea break. My sister, who should be in college, wanders in. She says, "Is all you do all day, drink tea?"

"Tea is my fag break," I tell her. I am quite pleased with this, so I say it again.

"You just said that," she says.

"Shouldn't you be in college?" I say.

"I'm working from home today," she says, airily. I am about to make a witty riposte when I realise that, unlike me, at least she's dressed. "Would you like a cup of tea?" I say instead. So we sit drinking our tea and watching the pigeons. They are fornicating on our balcony. I know they do it to annoy me. There is a perfectly good balcony next door, but they only ever use ours. I once tried scattering chilli powder along it, but it just made them flap and squawk louder. I cannot stand the sound of flapping pigeons' wings. Especially scraggly East End birds with goitres and bulbous growths and missing toes.

Sometimes in restaurants my sisters get in cahoots and order pigeon breast just to see what I'll do. Thinking of this, I'm suddenly irrationally cross with my sister. She decides to go into college after all. She puts our mugs in the dishwasher. Her involvement in household chores is only to be encouraged, so I say nothing, but when she leaves I have to retrieve the mug she used and wash it by hand, because it's my mid-morning mug.

I have morning coffee in my purple A Room Of One's Own mug. Mid-morning, jasmine tea in my light-blue Thinking To Some Purpose mug. Late afternoon, lemon and ginger tea in my grumpy Russian dolls mug. If my sister comes home and I've spent the whole day cleaning, I make her tea in the dark blue one that says Hotel Splendide. A meaningful system, I think. This pleases me. Then I wonder if it's a bit odd. Then I think, my mum irons underwear. Is there any hope for me?

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