1 EAGLETON NOTES: A Day in The Life of A Single Man

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Tuesday, 6 December 2022

A Day in The Life of A Single Man

I'm not married and haven't been for 30 years.

So I get a tiny bit peed off when married people say to me "It's all right for you you've only got yourself to look after so you have plenty of time." 

WHAT!*!*

When I got married my wife said "I do the cooking and the ironing and you do the housework and maintenance." It wasn't negotiable but it worked. I had a bit more of a problem with "...and I don't do nights with the children. I have them all day." Fortunately I didn't need much sleep. It all worked very well.

So when I got out of bed one Sunday in November at 0645 and abluted after I'd taken my Alendronic Acid tablet. (It's taken once a week with a full glass of water and you have to remain upright for at least 30 minutes and not eat or drink anything else.) I decided to challenge the assumption.

Around 7.30 I fed the birds.

I stripped my bed and put the first load of washing on.

Coffee.

I finished a letter to my brother. We don't exchange emails and he doesn't talk on the telephone....at all to anyone.

Yesterday's Wordle was updated with the New Zealand/UK group that I play with. 

Breakfast of a banana, muesli and Grapenuts was consumed.

First load of washing into the dryer and second load of washing in the machine. 

I wrote a Blog post.

Started on the second and third Christmas cakes (the fruit having been soaked in brandy and Marsala for a week). They were in the oven before 11am.

Cleaned the kitchen and put everything away.

Coffee. Cancelled my Netflix subscription as I hadn't watched it for 2 years and the bank card had just expired. 

Had lunch (homemade soup and homemade bread) and did a crossword..

Made bread. Well, I put all the ingredients into the breadmaker.

Third lot of washing and second lot of drying.

Turned the mattress and made my bed .

Sorted my pills for the next two months. Not my favourite job but at lease it's over and done with for another 8 weeks.

Fed and wrapped the cakes.

Ironed the bedding and shirts (I still wear formal shirts and a tie when I leave the house).

Made a curry for dinner. 

During all this I had coffees, answered WhatsApp chats, chatted to my New Zealand Family etc etc.

Okay. I'll stop there because I think you've probably stopped reading anyway and are wondering why I am posting this. 

The reason is the comment an acquaintance made recently that I started with. 

I am 'single'. There is only one of me to look after in the house. BUT there is only one person to do all the chores. There's no difference between cooking for one or two (or four), cleaning a house for one. or two (or four) etc etc. 

So to suggest that I have less work is than a household with 2 or 3 or 4 to share all the tasks is plainly absurd. And, as you will now have gathered, it irks me.

I wrote this a little while ago and decided against publishing it until yesterday when someone else completely unrelated to the last person made the same comment.


50 comments:

  1. Having been there after my first wife died and before I met Miriam, I sympathize with this position, Graham. I cannot resist commenting, however, that a person who irons sheets is in serious need of psychiatric remediation! A hopeless case springs to mind, a glutton for punishment, an OCDer extraordinaire with underlying symptoms of masochism. Doubtless there is more. And as for this business of wearing a tie, there was a poll taken some time ago (by whom I no longer recall) about the ten most redundant things in history and the male necktie came in at number one. Why we think there is a need to wrap and knot a piece of coloured bunting around ours necks every day is beyond me. I own exactly two ties and one suit, both dating back to 2003. So far this year I have avoided wearing either one and with only three weeks remaining should be able to round out the year with my record intact. My entire circle of friends and acquaintances are field biologists, ecologists, university professors, botanists, lepidopterists, two classical musicians, a couple of engineers - and there is not a tie amongst us! Long may it so remain!

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    1. David, I shall take your comment on my needing psychiatric remediation in the spirit with which I assume it was made. I don't enjoy ironing but I do enjoy getting into bed with lovely clean, smooth sheets. If you dry your sheets outside in the fresh air with the wind blowing them dry after not having used a fast spin then you may achieve a similar goal. However that's not an option I chose because i do my washing on a day to suit me and not the weather. I could use polycotton sheets of course but I choose not to. As for neckties I shall address that in a separate post.

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  2. Yes I share this position with you and your observations. I could add a few others such as how I often feel that being a single person alone renders me totally invisible to some. I may be single but I do like to go out, have a good time, eat, drink and celebrate events like Christmas just like everybody else.

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    1. Thank you Rachel. I know this may sound odd but so many of my friends who came here at the same time in the mid-nineteenseventies are also now single (and mostly widows) and because we are all single we usually have friends to do things with (without any romantic attachment being necessary).

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    2. Fortunately only invisible to some. I also have mostly single friends and we do a lot together.

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  3. Graham - i couldn't agree more and you sound lime a well organized busy person.

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    1. Tigger I am fortunate in being a very busy person but occasionally I would love to be more organised and less busy.

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  4. The Brit sitcoms have characters that wear ties. I compare it to a woman wearing make-up, only without the easily grab and choke factor.

    The number of people in the home increases accountability to another. Single, nobody is around to complain that I didn't do the dishes. However, it bugs me that one person makes such a mess so quickly. I can barely keep up with myself.
    In that regard, being single is easier. A bonus...immense pleasure knowing I will never have to unravel socks rolled off into a ball.

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    1. Thank you, Maywyn. I enjoy being single. I haven't lived with anyone for 22 years and I wouldn't foist myself on anyone again.

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  5. I live with three exceptionally untidy people and I think there would be a lot less cleaning and tidying to do without them! Having said that, I get your point. I've never lived alone yet but I imagine one of the worst parts is there's nobody to keep tabs on everything if you get sick

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    1. Kylie, the idea of living with three untidy people at my age is so anathema that I have dismissed it from my imagination! It sounds very much as though instead of having anyone to share work you just have to do a lot more.

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    2. Well I rarely cook any more and there are people to do the things I would really struggle with like taking bins out and mowing so it's not all bad. There's also the financial benefit of splitting bills so I have a lot of positives but I would like a little more "zen" and it's incompatible with youth, I believe 😊

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    3. Kylie, I'm not quite sure what you mean by "zen' other that it's a Buddhist philosophy of some sort so I assume you're meaning peace and quiet understanding of others.

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  6. I used to receive similar comments when I decided to be a stay-at-home mother when all other women were out working - things like, What do you DO all day? and Why don't you go out and look for work?. Their assumption I did nothing all day always made me annoyed. My days were full - I worked just as hard (if not harder) sewing, gardening, preserving etc. than the women who went to work 9 to 5, left their children in child-care, and bought everything I made at home. Being in a different situation (by choice or otherwise) does not make us any less of a person than anybody else.
    (Sorry, think that was a bit of a rant - your post must have hit a sore spot!)

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    1. Margaret, I think you've made a very apposite point. We do live in a society where cooking seems to be a sport on television rather than a household activity with the ready-meals in the stores occupying many aisles these days.

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  7. You had this post loaded just for the right moment. You do more things than the average person. We don't make bread and we don't iron anything. But we do most of the other things.

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  8. The older I get, the more I seem to have to do. I insist on a short break after lunch to watch the news or PMQ's (today), etc. But otherwise my day is non-stop from 5 am to 7 pm. What went wrong!

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    1. Cro, I would say that you have got things right not wrong. Keeping busy whilst we are able is good. I am usually out during the week and often have friends in on a Sunday evening for dinner (this particular day was a Sunday but with no friends in).

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    2. Cro, nothing "went wrong". It's all good. You slowed down (by your own admission the other day), and remember the old adage "Work stretches to the time available" or some such. Sometimes I take all day to do nothing.

      U

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    3. I love that, Ursula "Sometimes I take all day to do nothing." I recognise that!

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  9. Well said, m'dear. You are absolutely right about the sheer quantity of tasks that have to be completed every day/week/month if one wishes to maintain a particular standard/lifestyle. If you had written this at a different time of year there would be multiple outdoor jobs to add to it.

    When my Spousal Unit retired I presented him with a similar list. There followed a discussion how 'lovely' it was [for him] that he had retired and when the "?&$%£@!!" was I going to get to do the same thing? After he got over the shock of just how much the House Fairies had been doing whilst he was travelling on business there may have been a division of labour 😜

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    1. Jayne, I wonder how things are these days for younger people: there seems to me to be a greater division of labour but then both partners often work.

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  10. During the week, O.K. and I are both single households; on weekends, we are a two-person household. On my own, I very rarely cook, which means much less time spent in the kitchen. On my own, I have two loads of washing per week; one with clothes and the other one with my bed sheets and towels. On my own, I only "have to" (= want to) iron and put away my own washing. On the weekend, I also iron O.K.'s shirts (because I want to, not because he wants me to - I really like ironing!).
    Everything else, as in cleaning the flat and shopping for food, takes the same amount of time no matter whether I am on my own or with O.K. And I don't begrudge all those household tasks at all; I am the person who benefits from a clean and tidy place, and household tasks are a good way to rest the mind from the endless demands of work.

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    1. Meike, I have a friend who really likes ironing (as did my wife). I just don't like creased shirts or sheets so ironing is a need. I detest living in guddle but my house is not minimalist so takes a lot of cleaning and tidying but that is my choice. I have a place for everything and I like everything in its place. Years ago a lady who lived with me just put kitchen utensils in the nearest drawer. She always knew where she had put them but no one else did so the time spent searching was a great irritation.

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  11. Your list of tasks has made me feel like having a lie-down on the sofa to recover.
    I only iron when it is strictly necessary, possibly only once or twice a year. My bedsheets get crumpled once they have been slept on anyway.

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    1. JayCee, I looked at my bedsheets when I got up this morning and a quick run over with my hand and there were no creases. I suppose I might be the exception but I do love getting into bed with nice smooth sheets.

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  12. Never having been married, and having lived alone most of my grownup life, I totally get what you mean. I have no garden to tend or birds to feed; and I do less ironing than you; but I manage very well to fill my days anyway - and find it very annoying when others wonder "what I find do all day", as my own problem is still more about when to find the time (or energy) to do this or that...

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    1. Monica, finding time is one of my problems too. As I get older I find that outside jobs involving ladders or heavy lifting are becoming more problematic.

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  13. A thoughtless comment, however you choose to look at it. I think it's good to keep busy. X

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    1. Yes, Jules, it was now you come to mention it.

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  14. From my observations the world is generally geared up for couples or families - it is often difficult to find single portions or packs in shops, hotels seem keen on single person supplements, invitations usually assume that there will be a significant other, etc.

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    1. Will, on the whole I agree with you. Shops certainly gear all their offers to families not to single people.

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  15. I would never suggest that someone living alone has less work to do, quite the opposite. Of course, I don't leave alone but still there are times, I wonder how I did even more when we were homeowners as opposed to apt dwellers. Now, we have no yard work, but we previously did and shared the work load.

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    1. Thank you, Beatrice. Certainly garden/yard work increases the burden.

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  16. I am single now and my eldest son lives with me. I have less work to do now that there are just the two of us and he is very helpful. I was much, much busier when I was still married with 5 children in the household.
    I don't do many of the things that you do and some days I do waste a lot of time! So I think it depends on the individual and their situation...

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    1. Your last sentence, Ellen, is, of course, true but when you have children in the household then it's a whole new ball-game which can alter for good or bad depending on their age.

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  17. I really think that it is rude to offer up unsolicited judgements on someone else's life. Every person is different. Every person prioritizes their daily tasks differently. I'm kind of impressed that you iron regularly. I take things out of the washer and hang them on hangers. I may drag out the iron for special occasions but...well...they have to be pretty special.

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    1. Thank you for your observation, Debby. We are all different. I iron because I like to get all my housework done and completed in the one day a week I try and allocate to staying at home (except for going out to dinner or entertaining) so I use a heat-exchange very efficient drier for all my washing.

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  18. When I retired, I put away my high heeled shoes and panty hose! At that time, I also vowed "no more ironing!" Then when my husband died, I vowed "no more cooking!" However, my days are filled with the constant simple chores demanded by a home and surrounding yard. I stay busy and have set routines for my day. I read, write, and work puzzles, both crossword and jigsaw. I have a class of chair aerobics twice a week and I try to have lunch with lots of older people at the Senior Center near me. Even when I was younger and full of pep and energy I never could keep up with Graham!

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    1. Thank you, Jill. I'm sure you more than kept up with me and more and it's good to have routines. Some things, like the garden, demand attention all the year and I'm not sure how I'll cope when I can't do heavy lifting etc because my garden is high maintenance.

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  19. When people say it's easier for me with no-one else to worry about, I remind them that looking after me is a BIG job, they have no idea how big. I've yet to meet anyone who has wanted to debate the topic. I think when people say things like that they just haven't stopped to think and perhaps my terse reply lets them know how I feel.
    I'm sure looking after you is a bigger job than looking after me, Graham, but you're up to it!!

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    1. Pauline, I always love your take on life and I, for one, would never wish to take you on in an argument. I suppose you're correct in that I probably make an awful lot of work for myself that I could possibly avoid. Oddly I have just run off a photo of you with a large latte wagging your finger at me because I'm taking a photo. That'll probably arrive on your doorstep after the New Year.

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  20. The remarks you referred to are not only idle but illogical too. It stands to reason that if someone lives alone they will have to deal with everything - no division of chores.

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  21. People need to think before making the comments that they do, as I work retail I hear all sorts of rubbish come out of peoples mouths.

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    1. What scares me, Amy, is that sometimes people do think before they make such remarks and often are very puzzled when I challenge them.

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  22. I also live alone, well into my seventies, put all my bins out, and quite often my neighbours. Unblock toilets, arrange workmen, do all my own housework, all my own garden, some childcare, some dog care, bake for other people, help in a community kitchen and hosted Christmas Dinner for 9. It’s Life. Sarah Browne.

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    1. And, if I may say so Sarah, it sounds like a Good Life too.

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