Saturday, December 5, 2009
Dinner is served, Madam.
'I like to have my morning newspaper ironed before I read it. I like to have my shoes boned before they are polished. I like to sit in the back of the car, and be driven. I like beds to be made, dishes to be washed, grass to be cut, drinks to be served, telephones to be answered and common tasks to be dealt with invisibly and efficiently so that I can devote my time to major decisions like the choice of wines at dinner...'
Of course, Peter Mayle was speaking tongue in cheek, when he enumerated the many delightful ways in which the toil of others, can make our own lives immeasurably more comfortable. At least I hope so, since I haven't actually read the whole text ( Acquired Tastes) and am indebted to A Super Dilettante for quoting it! And whilst I may involuntarily sigh at the doubtless pleasures of such a daydream, the wiser voice in me is alerted to a fall from grace.
Being perpetually served is I think somehow, bad for the soul.
I live in a post colonial, after-apartheid corner of the earth, in which such fantasies are entirely possible. For the price of a pair of good leather boots a person could, if they were so inclined, procure for themselves on a monthly basis, a manservant to attend to all manner of bothersome duty. Born into such circumstances, a young child could be forgiven for taking on the mantel of archetypal prince or princess, from a very early age. And that is quite an expectation to live up to.
In fact, even the most humble households, can find a humbler soul to do their bidding.
It's the nature of the beast. There are so many, so desperate to find the salvation of employment, that no amount of legislation will protect them from exploitation, and some homes number more servants then family members!
Something tells me that it is better to serve, then to be served. Although I also suspect that when done properly, there is a sacred space for the act to be reciprocal.
So. I'll cook for my own family, do my own shopping, fetch my own children and make my own bed!
I draw the line at washing and ironing!
There are some things a girl should be allowed to pay for! And every now and then a good wallow in a plush hotel room, will be worth a scuff to the soul!