hg: A Lazy Day

Wednesday is known as ‘Hump Day’. Who knew?

It refers to the steep climb on Monday and Tuesday as we ascend the working week and trudge towards freedom. Wednesday, being halfway, is the peak of this mountain and signals our gleeful descent.

What a depressing thought. Each week a Groundhog Day rerun of this trek over ‘The Hump’, all to have a quick breather at the weekend.

I prefer to turn my hump upside down. Being self-employed (a fancy way of saying: languishing in the gig economy) I can take Wednesdays off. What madness! Hump Day is now ‘Slump Day’. A free 24 hours, mid-week, to do very little.

You may be thinking this is an irresponsible, unproductive, butchering of the classic hump that serves us so terribly. Well, I’m here to put your mind at rest and demonstrate how Wednesday might be enjoyed, free from obligation.

***

It’s a damp, grey Wednesday in February. Not actually raining, but threatening to.

I wake at 8 to the sound of my alarm. Getting out of bed is a daily struggle for me. Nevermind surviving to the weekend, leaving my duvet each morning is enough of a challenge.

For this reason, I put my phone on the other side of the bedroom. When the alarm goes off, I’m forced to get out of bed to turn it off. This works well in theory. In practise, I simply tumble across the room, grab my phone, silence it, and return to the safety of my duvet.

I doze until 8:30. By this time, Naomi is up and either having breakfast or sitting on the floor in front of the mirror, hair straighteners and curling rod in hand. Why both tools are needed is confusing to me, but hey, her hair always looks great.

Today, Naomi is breakfasting. I don some loungewear and thick socks, wrap a blanket round me, and drift into the living room. I prepare a simple affair of Shreddies and a glass of water, adding a squeeze of syrup to my Shreddies. (Breakfast cereals just don’t have enough sugar in them already.)

I stare out of the window as I eat, still lost in thoughts of slumber and pillows, intermittently chatting to Naomi about loose plans for the day. She is heading into uni and I’ll be holding the fort here, with a vague sense of wanting to write something.

After forcing down some soggy Shreddies, I proceed to do my rounds whilst Naomi gets dressed and heads out.

By ‘do my rounds’ I mean clear away the breakfast things, straighten some cushions, wipe the surfaces, make the bed, and attend to some life admin. In doing these tasks, I try to emulate a diligent groundsman or Buddhist monk, performing my daily rituals slowly and methodically.

For example, I spend a great deal of time making the bed. It’s a precise task. Everything must be taken off the mattress so it can be given a firm sweep with the hand to remove any lurking detritus. The pillows are then shaken, fluffed and stacked neatly. The duvet is also shaken out, replaced, and then folded back to let the mattress breath during the day. Another 30 seconds are then taken to straighten out any creases.

By now it’s 11 o’clock and the proper work is about to begin. I gather my tools - notebook, pen, laptop - and plonk myself at the dining table.

It’s very quiet on residential roads on a Wednesday morning. Just the occasional sound of a passing car or scream from the neighbouring baby. I write for an hour.

By midday my mind wanders and I decide to go for a run, which is most unusual. I find running to be a painful mixture of boredom and aching joints. If cardiovascular exercise is called for, I prefer a bike ride, brisk walk, or maybe football (if my knees feel up to it). And yet today, for whatever reason, I fancy a jog.

Perhaps it’s the simplicity of running that appeals. No equipment or venue needed. Just a pair of trainers and a direction to run in.

I plot a pleasant route through Heaton Park and along Jesmond Dene that brings me to a waterfall and old mill where I rest, sitting on a bench to admire the cascading water and chirping birds. My leg muscles stiffen - muscles that have been dormant for months, unmoved by constant cycling - so I attempt to loosen them with a few token stretches.

Midway through a lunge, the clouds part and I recall my objection to running. A stroll in the sun, back along the dene, suddenly seems more appealing.

Back at the flat, I shower and have a quick lunch. Two o’clock.

I decide to pop to the city library and continue writing. It’s a ten minute bike ride to the library if you pedal hard, which I do because it’s fun, and I arrive slightly sweaty and find a pew.

The library is a fascinating space, rightly accessible to all and thus home to plenty of interesting characters. A duo of Skyrim enthusiasts provide an enthralling blow-by-blow commentary of their board game. A language and integration class for foreign students is a heart-warming sight, as is the old bearded gent dozing in an armchair, newspaper perched precariously on his lap. The ever-present huddle seeking refuge from the cold are on their usual sofa, chatting jovially. Parents chase excited toddlers round the children’s section. It’s a wonderful cross-section of society. A tonic to the segregation and gentrification of our cities.

When my concentration begins to wane and people-watching opportunities dwindle, it’s time to head out into the brisk air.

I wander through the city centre, past Grey’s Monument to Eldon Square, trying to resist the inviting window display of Waterstones. It’s no use. I make my way up to the first floor, order a hot chocolate in the café, sink into a chair, and look around at the beautiful books.

A nearby collection of George Orwell essays catches my eye and I pluck it off the shelf. In one essay, Orwell advises his readers to avoid working in second-hand bookshops if you love books, lest one grows weary of the dusty smell and constant stacking and re-stacking of crappy paperbacks. Well, there goes that pipe dream. I return the book to the shelf.

With a hot chocolate sloshing around my tummy and Orwell’s stories in my head, I stroll back to the library to retrieve my bike and pedal home. Just in time for a smattering of rain.

Back at the flat again, I indulge in some idle browsing and a podcast. Then dinner beckons.

Vegetable balti is on the menu tonight. I dice up a selection of veggies, filling the chopping board with neat piles of colourful cubes. Onion, garlic, and apple chunks go into the pan, shortly joined by curry paste, the veg, chopped tomatoes and stock. Lid on and listen to it bubble away.

Naomi arrives home, later than usual but bearing cookies. What a girl! We have a cheeky pre-dinner cookie each and then sit down for a long, lazy meal.

After dinner we read our books - bit late for a film - and polish off the cookies, before heading to bed and conking out.

***

What a ridiculous schedule for Hump Day! Oh well. I don’t see why Wednesday has to be a grinding push over the top, our peak in productivity.

For as long as my job is flexible and not my priority, I shall continue to make the most (indeed, the least) of Slump Day.