Owooden slats, a hard chair, scraps of paper, thin cushions, a small desk, cold cups of coffee, morning light and birdsong; After more than 15 years of what I believe we call economic activity, I finally have a room of my own. Yes, I’m building a shed. To like Dylan Thomas, Roald Dahl and probably that guy with glasses from The Repair Shop, I’ll now be working out of the house, staring at a rosemary bush.
As a woman, I now believe this is the only way to work from home without constantly sinking into the quagmire of household chores. I say women because, as just about every sociological report on the subject has proven, in heterosexual cisgender relationships, women still do the majority of the domestic work. A filthy mix of social conditioning, an unfair labor market, unequal pay and unaffordable childcare means it’s mostly women who hang the laundry, wipe the countertops, clean the bathtub and not just notice that the floor is covered in grated cheese, but then take the drastic step of sweeping the grated cheese.
While working from home is only a privilege granted to people in a certain type of job – often non-essential, not open to the public and computer-based – it means that many of us are now seeing their day of work interrupted by guilt. -cause the sight of a full washing-up bowl or a child’s pajamas hanging from a doorknob. Not to mention the lure of the fridge or the tantalizing song of the kettle.
And so, I head for the garden. I close the door on crumbs, scattered toys, snacks, and unmade beds, and take possession of my own office. Will I start writing winding novels about middle-class families with neurotic heroines? Will I find myself writing Welsh poetry and drinking whiskey for breakfast? Am I going to create a children’s classic by lazily gazing at a magpie? I very much doubt it. But I will be facing a window, with a swept floor and no one will ask me to wipe their ass. Pure joy.