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You’re not allowed to call it “batching it” anymore, but that’s what I’m doing right now. I’m a momentary bachelor, fending for myself, while Jocasta is off doing a show. Why she has decided to be a performer at this point in our lives, I’m not sure, but I’ve given her the nickname of Dame Sybil Thorndyke, the famous English thespian.
Of course, I plan to be in the front row most nights, cheering her on.
Dame Sybil is living in an Airbnb, over the water from the theatre in which she is performing, presumably so the stage door Johnnies don’t have too far to walk. She likes them age-appropriate, so no way should a hill be involved.
The bachelor’s life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.Credit: iStock
But back to “batching it”. The reason you can’t call it “batching it” is because it implies that men are idiots who can’t cook and keep house, while women are some weird combination of saint and doormat: the only humans who possess domestic skills.
So, if you use the term “batching it”, you are painting some image of a poor chap left suddenly, and unreasonably, alone. His wife – having chosen to attend her father’s funeral or her sister’s wedding or the burial of her cousin’s pet – has left him to fend for himself. He has, egad, to wash his own clothes, cook his own dinner, and, yikes, use a vacuum cleaner for the first time. Who knows, he may even have to clean the bathroom.
The “batching it” meme – if one can use a current term for such a decaying idea – was all about sardines eaten from the can, underpants worn once too often, and rather too many drinks being taken.
Then there are the veggies. Broccoli one night, broccolini the next. I’m nothing if not a free thinker.
These days, of course, it’s nothing like that. A modern gentleman such as myself has been thriving. I don’t miss her at all. The stage door Johnnies are free to keep her occupied.
For a start, I’ve adopted an Australian Defence Force methodology when it comes to cooking. Why cook one meal, when you could cook in bulk?
Some people might be bored by Michael Mosley’s recipe for Mediterranean Chicken, but for me, it is the perfect response to the temporary removal of Dame Sybil. As her show is on for a month, I have made 27 single servings of Michael Mosley’s Mediterranean Chicken, each nestled, frozen, in its own Tupperware.
Some might say it’s boring, eating the same meal 27 times in a row, but some nights I have a robust Barossa shiraz with it, and sometimes something more subtle from McLaren Vale. Occasionally, I’ll have a VB afterward, so no one can call me a stick-in-mud. Then there are the veggies. Broccoli one night, broccolini the next. I’m nothing if not a free thinker.
Dame Dame Sybil Thorndike and her (batchy?) husband in 1968.Credit: Getty Images
If I fall asleep in front of the tele, there’s no one to see me, which – philosophically speaking – means it hasn’t happened. I’m basically like that unobserved tree, falling in the forest. Ah, the freedom.
Also, the house has never been cleaner. I find Dame Sybil’s mind stimulating but am less enthusiastic about her theory that everything she owns should be stored on the shelf that also houses the phone chargers. Fold-up umbrellas! Bills! The dress she intends to return to the mail-order firm. A book that she thinks might interest her gal pal. A pamphlet from a bee-keeper in Mudgee she’s keen to support.
I note one fact: she has her own room, an office in the house, for the writing of shows such as the one she’s currently in. It’s a room that might enjoy the opportunity to store her many treasures.
There are other upsides to flying solo. I can watch any TV show, and – better still – not face questioning about the plot. The observation “You do understand that she’s the dead man’s daughter?” and my attempt to pretend that I’m across this point, is blessedly no longer a feature of my viewing.
Also, the regular accusation “you’re asleep, go on admit it” is pleasingly absent.
It’s true I miss reading the paper, side by side in bed, her railing against the patriarchy, reading out loud every story about a man who has done something terrible. It makes me feel special that I, unusually among men, fail to excite her total contempt.
And I miss making her tea. I put some effort into it every morning, warming the pot, using real tea, four minutes of brew time, spinning the pot three times to settle the leaves, and then the careful pour. “There you go,” I say, as I put it on her bedside table.
Batching it, I instead make a tea bag for one and feel, for the rest of the day, as if I’ve let down the tea gods. I’m virtually an animal in the jungle. I’m hardly human.
So maybe batching it is not so great. I may, after all, need her back. Please go see her show, but not in such numbers as she’ll do it again. Already I’m beginning to tire of Mediterranean chicken, tea-bag tea, and TV shows I can’t follow without her constant assistance.
Dame Sybil, come home soon.
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