Sometimes it seems like the world is trying to tell you something - the same message gets played over and over in a 24-hour period until it finally clicks. And then it's up to you to do with that message what you will.
It started yesterday. We were enjoying a typical evening at home (typical when you have two young children and require a month's planning to do anything but stay in watching telly), catered for adequately by Lloyd Grossman and Uncle Ben, followed by a parting of ways to Do Our Own Thing. I sat in front of the telly, half doing my rewrite and half watching Pride and Prejudice, followed by a documentary on why Pride and Prejudice is so utterly brilliant. It was heaven. There's the moment in the Jennifer Ehle / Colin Firth version when she tells him her feelings for him have changed and she doesn't think he's a complete arse any more - real chest-tightening, heart soaring stuff; the kind of scene that makes you want to swap your jeans for an empire line dress.
At around midnight a friend cycled over for a cup of tea. He'd been boozing with other friends since lunchtime, so he was feeling fun and spontaneous (and he won't be able to drop in on us for much longer . . . *sniff*). I noticed he was wearing slippers.
'They're nice, are they new?" I said. He nodded, grinning, the way people who've been drinking for 10 hours do.
"They're Ted Baker," he said. And then he lifted one foot and then the other to show me the soles, which had messages on them intended for The Wife: the right foot said "Tea, Please", and the left said "I'm busy". His wife had bought them for him for Christmas, completely unaware of the "hilarious" messages, and I could well imagine how many times an evening he lifts one or both feet. Jokingly, of course - he's a lovely man. But it's the kind of funny that I find incredibly sad and wearing, like babygros with "I'm A Complete Pain-In-The-Arse" written on them, or t-shirts for pre-pubescent girls that say "Total Slut". Jokingly, of course . . .
This morning we met for breakfast with Slipper Man and his wife and another couple, and while I divided my English breakfast into thirds to share with the children I was vaguely aware that The Australian (munching his undivided English breakfast) was telling the others what a completely hopeless map-reader I am, hahaha, and how many times I've got us lost, hahaha, what a silly woman, hahaha. He too is a lovely man, and yes I think I may have got us lost once or twice, but it all felt a bit disappointing, somehow.
But the icing on the cake came this afternoon in WHSmith, when I spotted a retro Ladybird collection "For Girls" in the children's book section. The titles were: Helping At Home, A Book About Knitting, In A Big Store, The Nurse, Shopping With Mother, and Understanding Maps. I'm pretty sure that this collection is intended by the publishers as a nostalgic purchase for adults, but that's not how it will be interpreted, is it? Well, not by WHSmiths, who have it alongside Charlie and Lola and other titles for tweenie girls.
So, the world has been trying to give me a message and the message is: Emancipation my arse. As to what I'll do with it: I've got a scene in the novel I'm rewriting between a teenage girl and a boy who has treated her very badly, and I think she's just about to have her say . . .