Undercover Work

I like to think of myself as a fairly tolerant girl, but there are some things in life that I genuinely hate. Vending machine ‘coffee’ is one of these things. Bullying is another. Not to mention cotton wool, the Big Scary Roundabout at Coleraine, war and midges.

However, the thing that really takes the biscuit and is the icing on the cake (apologies for double food analogy – I’m a bit hungry), the one thing that makes my blood boil and robs me of my peace, my Most Hated Thing In The Entire Universe is: trying to change a duvet cover.

Oh MAN, to borrow an expression from my neighbours, it has got to be the most thankless, unrewarding, physically draining, smugly frustrating task that ever was. Taking the old cover off is absolutely no problem. I’ve got that down to a fine art. I expect I could probably go pro soon in the whole taking-the-cover-off game. It’s when you attempt to replace it with the new one that things start to get so depressing you just want to hurl yourself out of the bedroom window. Turn it inside out and hold the corners says your mum. Stuff the whole duvet inside, grab an end, and shake it contradicts a friend. Everywhere, they are everywhere with their over-confident advice and their ‘foolproof’ tips that clearly haven’t come up against a fool of this calibre before. I’ve tried everything. I’ve followed every last sodding tip and still it takes me at least half an hour to complete this weekly exercise in self-punishment. Either I don’t have enough hands or the duvet is too big or God is teaching me a lesson in endurance and I’m just not getting it.

I’m standing there wrestling with the wretched thing, grimly trying to work out how much time I spend doing this as a percentage of my life thus far. What about when I’m 70? How many entire days will I have wasted by then, just shaking a duvet cover till I’m red in the face? Maybe it’s just greedy of me to be sleeping in a double bed when there’s only one of me (but I like to sprawl, and there does need to be room for Kat the Cat and Eeyore), and perhaps double duvet covers were designed to be changed by a team, not as an individual effort. It’s almost enough to make you wish you were married, so that there’d be someone to help with putting the duvet cover on.

To top it all off, tonight I had to extract a facecloth and an odd sock (could this be an answer at last??) from inside the cover before I even engaged in battle, and then when I was triumphantly buttoning the last button I realised the cat was somehow inside with the duvet, panicking and trying in vain to escape.

It should not be this difficult, and I demand, albeit somewhat hysterically, that something be done about it. In an age of both breathtaking technology and unprecedented laziness, surely there’s an easier way?


1. Coffee – genuinely, honestly, truly and sincerely – helps.

2. Friends are people who can make you laugh when it’s all going wrong, and celebrate with you when it’s going well. Good friends do both  those things, but also step in and do something to take the pressure off when they see your head’s about to explode.

3. Eating crisps by the multipack makes you gain an awful lot of weight.

4. If you drop a handful of change comprising of several pennies, lots of 2p/5p pieces, and one pound coin, the only one that will roll down the nearby drain will be the pound coin.

5. Laughing is good for you.

6. Hedgehogs climb walls.

7. If you leave a carton of milk sitting out all day, then take a drink from it, you will throw up quite violently.

8. You can go through a whole day without seeing anyone you know, but the moment you accidentally drive the wrong way down a one-way street, you will see many, many familiar faces watching your humiliation in sympathetic amusement.

9. When you’re really dreading going somewhere, the roads will be clear and all the traffic lights will be green. When you’re late, traffic jams will actually materialise before your eyes, lights will stay red for ten minutes at a time, and you’ll inevitably have to stop for a train at the level crossing.

10. When you’ve been lying awake for half an hour willing yourself to get out of bed, and you finally make the decision to do it, the cat will come and curl up right beside you, all warm and snuggly, and start to purr in a very soothing and sleep-inducing way.

Bad choices

I overslept badly on Tuesday morning. I think I pressed snooze so many times on my alarm that it eventually just gave up trying; either that or I switched it off by mistake. In any case, I woke up to the sound of Happy Handyman (who I give a lift to work) banging on the front door at a quarter to nine. Given that we normally leave at twenty to, this put me into a right oul’ flap, and I don’t think I’ve recovered from the disorientated feeling yet.

Last night, following two more mornings of oh-crap-it-seriously-can’t-be-time-to-get-up-yet-can-it, which involved pressing snooze many, many times, I decided it was actually the fault of the alarm itself (and nothing to do with sitting chatting till 1am and then writing blogs). I’d had a beautiful ballad set on my phone’s alarm clock to gently rouse me from my slumber of a morning – slow, gentle piano music and a soft, soothing voice. It was too calm. Totally ridiculous having a lullaby-like song as your alarm clock, I realised.

I may have been a bit extreme with my new choice, though. I was somewhat panicked when, at 7.30am this morning, I was gently roused abruptly dragged from my dreams by the Kaiser Chiefs yelling


It had seemed like a good idea the night before. But in the cold light of day, when I was snug and warm under my duvet, having a most pleasant dream in which I was strolling along the beach with the current object of my affections in a terribly romantic fashion, it was nothing but a rude awakening and potential heart attack material. Poor Kat lost one of her nine lives and shot off the bed, out of the bedroom and down the stairs, all in the space of two seconds. I was in such a panic that I just flailed around helplessly for a moment, and the phone ended up crashing to the floor, still blaring away like it was angry with me for wanting to stay in bed.


it yelled accusingly. I did. I found snooze, and, trembling slightly, retreated beneath the duvet. Of course, no sooner had my heart begun to slow down to something approaching its normal rate, than the whole loud nightmare was noisily repeating itself, and I think I may have sworn a little bit as I fumbled with the alarm tone settings.

Ten minutes later, and a soothing ballad filled the air.

And I overslept.


Why is it that I absolutely cannot get out of bed until I’ve hit the snooze button at least 5 times? My planned morning sounds so mature, responsible and even godly:

7.15am – Alarm goes off.

7.20am – Leap out of bed praising God for another day. Make coffee, eat cereal, feed cat, prepare healthy lunch for work.

7.40am – Quiet time of reading and coffee to set me up for the day ahead.

8am – Shower, hair, make-up, clothes.

8.30am – Pick things up, tidy things away, ensure house is presentable and neat.

8.40am – Leave house.

Every single night, I go to bed fully intending to put this dream into practice. And what usually happens is this:

7.15am – Alarm goes off. Hit snooze.

7.25am – Alarm goes off. Hit snooze.

7.35am – Alarm goes off. Hit snooze.

7.45am – Alarm goes off. Hit snooze.

7.55am – Alarm goes off. Hit snooze.

8.05am – Alarm goes off. Realise time. Leap out of bed not so much praising God as asking “Why, God? WHY?”.

8.20am – Emerge from shower and do clothes/hair/make-up things whilst falling over hungry cat winding itself around my legs and crying pitifully (the cat, I mean, not me. Most days.)

8.35am – Feed cat. Note dying plant beside cat food and say “I MUST water that later.” As per every morning.

8.36am – Contemplate feeding self. Dismiss idea in favour of grabbing a packet of crisps, the stale heel of a loaf, and and out of date yoghurt. Assemble these items in plastic bag and call them ‘lunch’.

8.39am – Search for phone.

8.42am – Locate phone under ‘lunch’ bag. Search for car keys.

8.45am – Sheepishly remove keys from fridge. Run from house in flustered manner.

8.47am – Return to house. Lift lunch bag and phone. Leave house.

That Sunday feeling

Sundays would be fantastic if it weren’t for the thought of Monday morning. The sense of impending doom just takes away from the otherwise relaxed, comfy ambiance.

Have to say, I am particularly enjoying the fact that our communion time – once a 10.30am experience –  now happens in the evening service, meaning that I don’t need to be in church till noon these days. I took full advantage of this today, lying in bed till just after 11, my first real lie-in for months. I woke up at one point struggling to breathe, with a cat on my face, but apart from that one small incident it was a pleasant, lazy morning.

Went to the BonBons’ for lunch. One of the advantages of Singleness: you rarely have to cook a Sunday dinner. People feel sorry for you and allow you to experience a few hours of cosy family life with them. Made polite conversation about holidays and house prices, then came home to contemplate deeper issues.

For example, the toilet seat has fallen off and I’m trying to decide whether to repair it or just get a new one.

Also, it’s Monday tomorrow.