When I was at junior school, we had a double art lesson all of Wednesday afternoon with the dashing Mr. Elson. I can still see vast sheets of paper, powder paints and jam jars and remember sitting with Lesley Gill, Sue Sanderson and Jean Dunn while we kept up a running soap opera which required the endless description of medieval clothes. I’ve liked Wednesday ever since.
Now I like Wednesday because the dustbin men come. I’ve been very lucky with waste disposal. For years at the other side of London when my son was a child, we had a crew who always spoke to him, spoke to me, waved, took everything – I remember one of our two favourites leaving to go and work in his brother’s carpet shop and we were all in tears. I had nicknamed him The Saxon though he was probably nearer a Viking
– tall and robust with a high reddish complexion and red gold hair – while the gaffer looked like Robert Duvall.
But as this morning began with a sulky percolator and the pouring rain, I realised I am in grave danger of defining the week by Wednesday mornings when the next nicest crew in London take away everything I’ve wrapped for them. It is however only Monday and my mother would say I am wishing my life away.
Monday to me is like a weekly version of January. January lasts psychologically twice as long as it does in time terms. The weather is usually unfriendly – no news there then – everybody is laden with bills and colds and anti-climax. Not surprising that this is one of the two times in the year when counselling services of every variety spike – the other is when people come back from the summer holiday that hasn’t worked the hoped for miracle.
I quite like Tuesday, because it proves I have got through Monday. If I can do some task with a beginning, a middle and an end – catch up on letters, tidy the under the stairs cupboard, wash the kitchen floor – Monday feels better and the nicest thing I can say about Tuesday is that I often don’t register getting there until later in the day – rather like a dog discovering a bone it has buried – you know – “Oh Good Lord, it’s Tuesday !” Of course I have felt guilty about not cherishing time, noticing time, not noticing time and so on but then as my father taught me, time is man’s measurement for something ineffable. He thought time was the face of God. Humans could measure it but they couldn’t control it. I think of that when I see those extraordinary photos of Detroit’s great factories and workshops now decayed and overgrown with plants. To see how temporary the bricking up of life is, you don’t need to go to the ancient remains in South America, just look at the speed with which weeds take hold in the street, poking determinedly through the paving stones and walls. I am torn between pulling them out and giving them a medal.
There is another reason I like Wednesday – it’s the middle of the week. If you are depressed and time hangs like cannonballs on your hands, getting to midweek makes the management of the time remaining seem possible. So Thursday is a to do day – the day you go the exhibition, take the shoes back, something outside the house, outside general domestic order, probably a kind of internalised version of the old rhyme “Thursday’s child has far to go.”
Friday has become a different shape for me lately because I have to shop in two halves. I don’t want everything delivered to the door. I want to go out, select, carry and talk – and the only time I get marginally fed up with it is hiking home my preferred kitchen towel. And then Saturday brings me the market, a long walk, postcards, shop gazing, wandering, only ever curtailed by rain. Cold not a problem, wrap up and get on with it.
I have to be careful with Sunday. It can be like wading through treacle though I can usually beat it with books. There is of course television, the older person’s friend, if badly programmed. Thank heaven there are occasional pearls in the dross, though sadly more by accident than intention. People think that since I worked in radio, I must like to listen to it and I confess I don’t, much.