I am not a fan of routine – something that upsets both my dogs and anyone for whom I am trying to complete a job which requires the methodical application of an established protocol.

I get why some people hang onto it. My childhood school week was topped off with the words, ‘It’s Friday, It’s five to five and it’s CRACKERJACK,’ as the popular UK TV’s children’s show at the time blared out of the TV. The audience had to shout back, ‘CRACKERJACK!’ I never found out who Jack was, or if they did.

Monday nights have become the bete noire of my week. Monday night is bin night on my street, and in a move so cunning you could outwit a fox with it, I have used this as an excuse to push forward vacuuming my house and eject the task out of the weekend. Doing it on Mondays, I reason, means that the dirt, dust and dog hair – yes I am looking at you Lucy Piglet – is fully sucked up and emptied into the bin and out of the house in one go.

This weekend, though, things got a little mad. Because I had to go and vote, and because my knee slowed me down a lot, I ended up waiting even longer than usual for my husband to present himself for shopping duties. Rather than waste the time, I started hoovering – and well we all know where that leads, don’t we? Yup before I knew it, the whole lot was done.

This resulted in my (a) moving the shopping to Sunday, (b) getting all carried away with myself and buying an armful of cleaning products like bathroom foam at the supermarket and most importantly (c) knowing that I had an extra hour to myself on Monday evening to do with as I pleased. And it did not end there.

This morning I set off for work through virtually deserted streets. The schools were on holidays and it’s only when this happens that you realise how few people are actually going to work every morning, and how the rest of the traffic comprises harassed parents trying to offload their kids for the day. My car zipped through streets that looked like the aftermath of a zombie attack. Traffic lights turned green as I approached them. If a bluebird had landed on my shoulder, I would not have been in the least bit surprised. I arrived at work twenty minutes earlier than usual and free of stress, ready to start another day – after of course the election non-result had been discussed. Australians over the weekend had voted with one voice, and that voice had said, ‘We don’t like either of you.’

Arriving home earlier than usually, I opened the door to an empty house. My husband, who has a few days off work had taken the dogs for their evening walk. Yet more time! It was like a Time Santa was heaping gift after gift upon me. I did not waste it. I got straight back into the car and drove to the shop to pick up two items I had forgotten to buy on the weekend, because my head had been too full of carpet shampoo and there had been no room left over for frozen fruit or feta cheese.

Yet time is a thief and a slippery devil, Somehow I find myself bashing this out but the clock is the same as it would have been if I had walked the dogs and hoovered the house. Once again, I find myself thinking back to James, my wise cleaner at the pub, as I tried desperately to get ahead of the never ending cycle of a seven day a week business:

‘Babes,’ he said, ‘the more time you try to make, the more work will fall in to fill up the gaps. learn to go with the flow.’

Still, I have managed to get through Monday like a hot knife through butter. I may not be able to squeeze in an extra movie, or even finish my book tonight, but the day has felt a little easier to manage.

Now, must get those bins out…


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