Now I’ve got that Wizard of Oz tune stuck in my head - Tra la la la the witch is dead -
which is most apt, considering the sexuality issues attributed to that movie, as this colyoom is a tale of testicles and wicker baskets, of tractors and woe, where I play both the heroine and the hero who can't decide exactly which man I am.
My manhood was first challenged by the anti-man toilet seat in my lovely new house. It doesn’t stay up, forcing me either to drop my kecks and sit down, or to stand and take my chances.
Long-suffering colyoomistas will be well familiar by now with my feelings about the issue of toilets seats. It seems to me spectacularly clear that there is no default setting for the position of the toilet seat. Unwittingly and somewhat unwillingly, by reflex I always lower the seat after doing what men do, because it’s the acceptable social norm, but it ain’t right.
Gender equality is a strange business, and I have never understood why it is only men who are expected to touch the treacherous germ-infested toilet seat. After we do our business we lower the seat so that women can sit on a clean dry seat, as they must and should. But why, pray, do they have the right then to walk away? If we are expected to lower the seat for them, why might it be asking too much for them to lift the seat for us?
My mentor, teacher and friend Iris Leal, whom I first met when I was a militant feminist in the mid-1980s, has suspicions that I have now become a misogynist, but nothing could be further from the truth. As you’ll see while this tale unfolds, I’m a reconstructed deconstructed misconstrued mélange of ‘New Man’, Silverback Gorilla, Alpha Male and old-fashioned gentleman.
I just can’t be arsed to sit. Many moons ago I went out with a beautiful German woman who insisted when I was visiting her that I sit down to take a pee. I was outraged. I told her she couldn’t mandate how I might urinate any more than I could dictate when she would menstruate.
However, I’m in my 6th decade now, so I know that a stream of liquid doesn’t suddenly stop mid-flight. Unless you’re hovering right over the toilet bowl your manly peeper is going to hit the seat with something. Unashamedly a gentleman, I cannot leave any trace of my outgoing account for the Snapper or others to find, so I wipe with a piece of toilet paper, flush and wash my hands.
I will miss the gay (sic!) abandon with which I could use the downstairs loo in the old house. Such was the general ergonomic layout that one could stand astride, legs over each side of the bowl and perform a hands-free evacuation. Standing with hands on hips looking out the window, I felt all liberated and free.
But I’ll take this house over the last a million times over. I’m once more in the country, looking out to green fields, stone walls and the lake, yet under half an hour’s drive from good old Galway. The Snapper is commuting to her job in the city, so I am reunited with my old friend, the long country day.
I bloody love it, although moving house being such a traumatic exercise, this is the very first day for several weeks in which I have time to do two things I love: to walk along a country lane and to sit and write.
Inbetween unpacking boxes I’ve been performing the usual domestic functions, including doing laundry. Now that I’m back in a rural setting once more, I can hang the washing on a line, and the house came with a lovely long low-lying wicker basket that was born to transport wet clothes from machine to back garden.
So there I am on the back doorstep, carrying a laundry-laden wicker basket, about to step into the sunshine and
and I stop.
I stop because there is my new Landlady’s brother driving his tractor and plough down towards me across the home field, and over there is the other neighbour driving his own JCB to extract giant boulders from his field, in order to build stone walls with them, and here am I, a long laundry-laden wicker basket tucked into my hip, my arm outstretched to hold the other handle, feeling oh-so much like the heroine of a Walter Macken novel that I have to resist a strong urge to rush off and accidentally and tragically lose my left arm in a mangling machine.
What will these real men think of me if I step out of the door and hang laundry from a wicker basket? Were I living on my own I scarcely think I’d spare a second to think, but both these men know that I’m a married man. They are Country with a capital C and country men don’t hang laundry from wicker baskets. They drive tractors and JCBs and get over yourself Adley, for god’s sake, you’re losing the plot.
So out I step, testicles a-tingling, hanging the laundry, and half way through sure and doesn’t himself the Landlady’s brother wave a manly arm at me and yell
“Lovely day - windy though!”
To which I resist (so much resisting, it can’t be good for me!) the urge to yell back
“Great day for drying those thicker sweaters, d’ya know!”
Because that might just sound downright girly.
God knows what I was worried about, as a half hour later I’m dashing around in pouring rain like a seven year-old on a sugar rush, trying to wrestle sodden twisted clothes from the line.
Manly? No idea, but what could possibly be more Charlie than doing the shopping, cooking, dishes, laundry and hoovering, whilst scribbling and walking the bohreens?
Dammit - I’m more of a man than any woman I know!