By Shane Watson
Women! Stop making to-do lists for men when you go away. This is the advice for female pupils from the headmistress of London’s South Hampstead High school. Lists infantilise men, is her message. Let them make their own lists. Let them look at the pot plant, see the earth is dry and decide for themselves to water it.
She’s absolutely right, of course. We who are list-dependent, with no hope of breaking the habit, salute her and think she should go even further: let the girls see that micro-managing leads to mini-micro-managing, and that underneath the to-do list of the average wife, there is a lot of boiling frustration and hostility. She should give her girls a presentation, using a real midlife female’s to-do list, and analysing item by item what it really means.
Here is one I made earlier:
“Turn oven knob two to right for fan. Not (!) one to the left.”
What we want to say: We have had this oven for three months and explained the settings while you were making the “Zzzzz…” face, including that “one to the left” is the rapid heat-up setting which, if misused, will burn out the oven. TBH, we are not going to sleep knowing that, in the event, you will just twist the knob any old way and hope for the best.
“Buy butter (tub not block, and not Light), potatoes, steak, salad, Earl Grey, balsamic.”
What we want to say: Why can’t you just look in the fridge and see things that could be used up in a risotto? But since that’s never happening, we have made it as simple as possible. Stay away from the ”reduced” stickers: there is no time to eat 12 out-of-date hot cross buns. Also read the labels – who wants decaffeinated Earl Grey? And don’t think “Ooh, that steak comes with a rosewater and harissa pre-rub” because – how many times…? – it will be horrible.
“Book plane tickets. Asap.”
What we want to say: For pity’s sake, read the small print. Book the luggage on, too. Pick the airport nearest to our destination. Coming back, if there is a choice between the flight that leaves on the Festival of the Procession of all Processions, and one that doesn’t, pick the one that doesn’t. THINK AHEAD.
“Book doctor to check out prostate and similar”.
What we want to say: Don’t make us monitor your health. It is weird policing whether you are going to the loo a lot (also red wine, v low fruit intake), and it’s making you furtive and us feel like Nurse Ratched. Start keeping yourself alive – we are busy!