Thank you for sending in your entry to the T4W/Mangle & Wringer Short Story Competition. We have spent the weekend reading over all the entries and are delighted to let you know that we all loved your story and therefore you have been declared the competition winner!
We will be organising for your prize to wing its way to you soon and your story will be posted up on the T4W website in the next day or so.
With best wishes
The Prize was a selection of goods from Mangle and Wringer… which never arrived (as if I’d want them, anyway… so why did I enter? A wine hazed Sunday afternoon? Boredom? Don’t remember) . Totally4Women did, however, publish my story on their website which meant that I couldn’t use it for another competition. I did, jokingly, contact Imogen about this, but she never replied. This is the short story I wrote for Totally4Women on the theme of ‘Domestic Goddess’:
I have few household secrets, everyone is familiar with my four second rule for anything that falls on the floor e.g. slice of toast, salmon steak and, memorably, a rice pudding. Similarly, no-one has failed to notice my apathy for dusting. An offspring cheekily wrote the date in the dust on the hall table and I responded by updating it a month later. Skirting boards and stair corners snuggle under dog hair and fluff, light bowls are a cemetery for many species of insect and opaque windows keep the harsh outside world in soft focus.
Another foible is my food hoarding fetish. We are not talking month old cheese in the fridge. That’s for amateurs. I have retained a leg of lamb from the decade before last (which came to light when the freezer broke down) and tinned prunes from before the days of ‘use by’ dates (discovered when the cat gave birth in the corner cupboard).
In my defence:
A/ I am a full-time Geography lecturer, which entails long working hours and regular field trips.1
B/ While, on the grounds of privacy, every member of the family except myself has vetoed the idea of a cleaner, none is prepared to take up the slack.
I do not rise to maternal wrath nor insist on their help. If they find their situation becomes unacceptable they must do something about it themselves.
Quentin Crisp’s cleaning theory that “…after the third year the dirt doesn’t get any worse…” eludes me for one good reason: visitors. The word strikes terror. I initiate a rout to drag the house up to… standard. Children receive cash bribes, husband Alan wields the vacuum with baleful resentment while I scrub grouting with a toothbrush and haul tails of sinister gloop from plugholes.
Throughout their visit, guests2 marvel at our lovely home. Once the intruders depart, we all deflate with relief and sink back into squalor.
That, believe it or not, is my home life.3
1/ field trips I lied about the field trips. I have a lover, George, and thus late night assignations and glorious escapes to Dubrovnik, Sorrento, Nice and the like.
2/ Guests On two occasions, George and his dreary wife – who gets on very well with Alan. Wouldn’t that be convenient…?
3/ That… is my home life Not for long. George has been offered Head of Department at an Australian university and our flights are booked.
McV: Do you think I should sue Totally4Women for loss of cleaning goods?