Life's a bastard...but sometimes it lets up

The life and times of an ordinary Dublin girl. Follow her journey as she finds out working from home really ISN'T about watching Oprah all day and that perhaps men aren't really all bastards.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Mammy Dunne: the trials and tribulations of...

ASK anyone in the world if they'd like to work from home and the resounding answer would be "too right, I'd love to work in my nightdress and watch Oprah all day". And up until a week ago, that would have been my reaction too.

Who wouldn't want to get up late, stay in their nightclothes with unkempt hair, blissfully make-up free, with daytime television on in the background and get paid for it too? (Well apart from those annoying people who claim to love their jobs, big lick arses).

Anyway, let me burst your bubble's not like that at all! Having recently gone from full- time office based employment to freelance work from home, I'm now starting to realise that maybe this home/work thing ain't all it's cracked up to be. Not least for the fact that I'm now in contact with my mother all day every day. (For a variety of reasons, I've recently had to move home, it's a long story.)

Now don't get me wrong, Mammy Dunne is a lovely woman so she is. The salt of the earth. Kind to children and animals. A good cook. The Great Worker of the Washing Machine and Iron. But she also knows best and knows everything. "Would you not get dressed like a good girl in case someone important comes to visit?" sez she on my first morning gleefully 'working' in my pjs at the kitchen table. ("Someone important Mam? Like who? The Pope?" sez I. "Don't be smart, I meant the gas man" she said huffily, sweeping the remains of my breakfast away in one easy motion even though I wasn't finished. That taught me.)

So off I sloped to get dressed, muttering under my breath and slamming every available door - and trust me when you live in a tiny council house, there aren't that many doors to slam - reverting to my teenage years. I was very close to screaming 'you're not my real Mum' a la Kevin and Perry but I caught myself just in time. "You're typing awful fast, you'll give yourself the arthritis" was another gem she came out with while noisily throwing together a Shepherds Pie later on that day "and you'll have hands like an old woman's" she added cheerfully, just to totally make my day. As we speak I'm constructing an office in the corner of my bedroom, simply to prevent myself from stabbing her over and over while howling "I like not brushing my hair, I don't work in an office anymooooooorrrreee".

Another thing I miss now that I'm at home is office gossip. There's not much to be had here it has to be said. Mammy Dunne's idea of gossip is to tell me that Mrs O'Brien in number 46 put out a very full rubbish bin for the bin man, "so she must have had a party or something, or maybe cleaned out her cupboards". Quite. And as for Daddy Dunne, if the gossip doesn't involve members of the current Government or a sports personality, then he's not interested. Oh he's quite happy to talk about "that shower above in Dail Eireann" but who snogged who in the pub is beyond him. "Wha'? Snogging? What's tha'? That wasn't invented in my day. Now shag off, I'm reading The Star." And that's on a good day!

My days of hanging around the photocopier chatting or sneakily e-mailing colleagues with all the latest news are over and now that all of that distraction is out of the way, I'm finding I actually have to do some work. It's amazing how much you can get done when you're not playing Virtual Car Parking (try it, it's hilarious) for five out of the eight hours of the day.

Lunchtime isn't the same as it used to be either. I used to have a choice about what I ate, where I went, who I went with etc. But not now. Oh no, now a hang-and-cheese-sangwich on white bread it plonked in front of me with amazing timing at exactly 1pm every day and that's that. "I suppose you'll be wanting fancy bread and sun-dried this and hummus that and parma ham the other?" enquired my mother when I moved home. Delighted I replied "Er, yes, that'd be lovely" only to be nearly knocked over by her shouts of "Well you're not getting it. It's good plain ham and cheese or starve" followed by a gimlet eyed stare at my hips which suggested she thought I should take the latter option. (Actually I could do with losing a few pounds....ok ok, a few stone!) And before you ask, I've offered to buy and cook my own food but Mammy Dunne wasn't having any of it, backed up by Daddy Dunne who sensed a row and as usual dived for cover by siding with Mam. "Sure why would you want to be wasting your money, don't we have a freezer full of food" they implored like the good Catholic parents that they are.

So I'm full to the brim with "good plain" food. Steak and kidney pie anyone? How about a nice fry up? Chicken breast up for grabs? Overcooked beef and watery vegetables? I'd taken to mooning around the 'fancy' aisle in Tesco, salivating over the plump olives and tender salmon, gooey cheeses and range of Italian oils, trying to remember what they taste like. Until they asked me to leave. I was upsetting the other customers apparently with my moaning and wailing. (They had to pry a bag of vine tomatoes out of my hand when I left, it wasn't pretty.)

And don't get me started on trying to get anyone out for a drink after work. Oh no, that doesn't happen anymore either now that I'm working from home. Drink is strictly reserved for the weekend and weddings, according to Mammy Dunne. "Sure Our Lord himself only drank at the Last Supper and the Wedding of Cana which I know for a fact were both on Fridays" she said piously, delighted with herself "and what's good enough for Our Lord is good enough for you" she finished putting an end to my musings that I could tap away on my lap-top while sipping on a chilled chardonnay.

So all in all, my first week of working from home hasn't been what I'd imagined, though I have to admit to taking a sneaky hour off on Tuesday to watch Oprah, which gave me a guilty little thrill. (It was about man-eating sharks, it was brilliant. You don't feel it when they bite your leg off apparently and you're grand afterwards.) However, who knows what the future will hold and once I get my working space sorted away from the clutches of Mammy Dunne and eircom deigns to activate my broadband line, things might get a little more bearable. I'll keep you posted! (The picture is the Blessed Virgin Mary..or Mammy Dunne as she likes to call herself! I haven't worked out how to do captions yet!)


At 10:51 a.m., Blogger Red Mum said...

Just as well you are coming to me for dinner tonight so!


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